Love = Joy = Suffering

This weekend I preached at Calvary United Methodist Church in Wichita, KS. Below is the video. If you don't have time for the whole sermon (12 minutes) I included a short transcript of my favorite part below. It will give you a window into what I talked about.

Philippians 4:4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 

One contextual note: We sang "Joy To the World" right before the sermon.


I've not had to endure much suffering in my life. For the most part I'm the spitting image of White Male American privilege! Gross right?  Anyways, the one time in my life where I did experience some struggle was when Ashley and I adopted our son.

We made connections with the birth mother three weeks before the due date and quickly tried to wrap our heads around this opportunity to become parents. On the day he was born we were waiting in the next room and our son was rolled in to meet us at exactly 5 minutes old.  It was a moment of JOY I will never forget.

Not 24 hours into our lives as parents the birth-father decided to contest the adoption. This meant that our becoming a forever family took 4 months of communication with lawyers, an extended stay at my gracious in-laws home, and several moments where we thought we might lose this precious child in our care.

Our son was born several states away and when we when to get him there were some well meaning people who warned us that adoption is the kind of thing that isn't final until it's really really final. They encouraged us to guard our hearts just in case things didn't work out. 


Yeah, right.

You see when they bring you this beautiful, vulnerable, bundle of love in the form of a tiny human you have no choice. The only thing I could do was to pour every ounce of love I had into this child. To give him every bit of my being in any way I could.

And the whole time I knew that the more I loved him the more I opened my self up to experiencing great amounts of Joy. I also knew that the more I loved him I also opened myself up to great amounts of suffering. Now 5 years later, that hasn't really changed. If we are going to people of love we must take joy and suffering together. 

You see joy and suffering are not opposites. They are linked together in an inseparable kind of way. And because of joy I laugh more easily....but I also weep more easily. 

The goal of Joy is not to be happy. It is to be conduits of love a world that needs it desperately. And the way to experience more joy is to be completely and relentlessly connected to sources of love.  

Next weeks blog post I will be sharing some practices that are specifically designed to help increase joy. Be sure to sign up to the Tune In Tip. This weekly email will help you stay connected with all my content as well as give you a weekly practice that will keep you in tune with the person you want to be in the world.



Being Joyful So I Can Cry More Easily


Another week, another blast of horrifying news. 

Viewing the pictures from Las Vegas, Puerto Rico, Houston, etc makes it nearly impossible to avoid the fact that our world is suffering and like many I am desperate to respond. After feeling pretty helpless at first, I've decided on how to stand up to this suffering.

I will be joyful.


Yes, Joyful. Not because I like watching people suffer, but because real joy allows us to be closer to real suffering. Here is a quote from Archbishop Desmond Tutu, 

"Discovering More joy does not, I'm sorry to say save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennoboles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken." The Book of Joy, pg. 12.

These are words from a man who has suffered greatly, yet has held fast to a type of joy few actually experience in this life. That is the kind of joy I want to know, practice, and share in the world. That kind of joy makes me feel powerful instead of helpless.  Instead of being swallowed by the suffering I see each day, this spiritually centered joy helps me turn suffering inside out. 

I weep, but I don't crumble. I repent, but I am not filled with shame. And finally I respond. Often the response feels too frail, too trivial, or too pale in comparison. But the world has enough suffering and I will not beget suffering with more suffering. I will match suffering with joy. 

Over the next several weeks I am going to focus on the topic of Joy. You can see a weekly blog about Joy here and eventually I will do live show on my Facebook page. I am still working on topics for this series and would love to hear your comments, questions, or reactions about the topic of joy. 

My hope is that we will be able to learn, practice and share joy in the world. so stay tuned to the blog! You can sign up for the Tune In Tip and get weekly email reminders about the blog post and a tip to stay joyful in the world.

U Journaling

A few years ago I stumbled on the Presencing Institute and U Theory. I've been fascinated ever since and am even taking an intro course on the ideas via

The practice I use most often is a guided journaling exercise that helps discern and work through moments of decision or desired change.

Check out all their work at

The guided journal exercise is here:

Self Awareness Quiz

For most of my life when I was experiencing distress I would fail at answering the most obvious question, "What's the matter?"

My co-workers, family, and friends would ask this question out of genuine concern only to receive the most unsatisfying of all answers....."I don't know."

The problem was multi-fold. Here are a few of the many...

1. Often my distress was tied to a root issue that I had been repressing, making the pain less immediate and more like a lingering achy-ness.

2. I wasn't actually looking for solutions, just pity. My mom use to say, "When you're a grump, you don't spare anyone."

3. My only strategies for dealing with my stuff were borrowed from people who didn't understand the world like me. Like the coach who said, "suck it up" or the friend who invited me to "be more committed to my causes." The projection of their favorite motivators only pissed me off.

The common theme? I was completely unaware of what was going on within me. 

Are you self aware? This is often the first hurtle of coaching relationships. Just naming the crap from within.  

Take this short quiz to get your self awareness score. Want improvement?  You can sign up for a coaching session today!

*The results of this quiz are 100% confidential. Nobody will look at them but you!

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PCM is Magic!

How to win over the scariest person you know...

We were at kindergarten round up this week and a veteran parent said, "That's the office Secretary. She's pretty scary, so be sure to get on her good side." When it was her time to speak she exhibited clear behavior of the Thinker PCM type and immediately I knew what to do.

After the event my wife and I went up and said, "Thank you for all your work getting this organized. The information was clear and helpful. We are looking forward to attending such a well run school."  You could see her swell with achievement and pride.

While other parents fear her, I see her as a gift and PCM is the tool for unlocking that gift. That's why PCM is magic! If you want some of that magic register this week for two days of training and get some great discounts! Look for the June 14-15 combo option when registering and get 20% the regular cost!

Hope to see you soon!


Training BOGO

Currently offering an amazing deal! Sign up one of the courses below by Friday, March 24 and you can bring a friend, co-worker, or spouse for FREE!  IT'S BOGO BABY!

To register for the offer complete the form at the bottom of this post.

April 3-5: PCM Seminar 1 in Wichita, KS

PCM is an applied, practical methodology for appreciating the impact of personality differences and maximizing their contribution. In PCM: Core Topics you will learn how to identify personality preferences through behavioral observation, adapt your communication to connect, motivate, and resolve conflict with different personalities.  You will explore applications for a range of business challenges such as physical environments, incentive systems, leadership development, performance evaluation, marketing, and customer service.   This course is required to move toward PCM trainer certification.

April 6: LOD Core 2.0 in Wichita, KS

LOD Core Concepts introduces the theory and concepts of Next Element’s Cycle of Compassionate Change. This course will launch you on a journey of self-discovery, give you new insights for dealing with personal and professional drama, and set the stage for our advanced conflict-resolution courses. 

To complete the offer sign up below.

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Discounts on December Training

When you sign up today for an December training there are discounts available! 

Use promo code Train to get 15% off. Expires Sept. 10

Methodist clergy or church staff get 50% off use promo code Methodist

December's Training Schedule

I guess this is my own version of cyber Monday. I am offering a discount on the December training courses for this week only.  If you'd like to get a taste of Process Communication Model or Leading Out of Drama this is your chance!  

Enter discount code: DECEMBER for 20% off the courses!

December 14: Process Communication Model Experiencing Excellence: PCM is an applied, practical methodology for appreciating the impact of personality differences and maximizing their contribution. In PCM: Experiencing Excellence you will learn about personality preferences through behavioral observation, adapt your communication to connect, motivate, and resolve conflict with different personalities.  Through extended learning you can also explore applications for a range of business challenges such as physical environments, incentive systems, leadership development, performance evaluation, marketing, and customer service. 

December 15: Leading Out of Drama Core Topics: LOD Core Concepts introduces the theory and concepts of Next Element’s Cycle of Compassionate Change. This course will launch you on a journey of self-discovery, give you new insights for dealing with personal and professional drama, and set the stage for our advanced conflict-resolution courses.


Persistence Pays: REI's Black Friday Genius

Recently the outdoorsy retailer REI made a huge splash in the news.  Google REI Black Friday and you will get page after page of major news outlets going nuts over their announcement to close all their stores on Black Friday.  Not only are they closing the stores they are paying their employees to go outside instead of going shopping.  Clearly a bold move on the nations highest revenue day for retail companies.  

The Washington Post points out that a big factor in REI's decision is that they are a cooperative.  The Post explains...

REI is a consumer co-op, and the largest in the country. Like some credit unions and food co-ops, its membership base is composed of its customers. Yet, though REI has held that structure for 75 years, it's something the outdoor retailer is increasingly showcasing—due in part to growing desire among Americans to spend money at companies that share their values.

When you stick to your boundaries in the face of an entire culture heading in the opposite direction it is a sign of integrity and leadership that compels people to follow your lead.  REI has formed it's business on this model.  It is a collective of people who value persistence and when it states that publicly it re-engages its target market and unintentionally becomes the news darling for an entire month.

If you want to up your persistence skill you might consider exploring Leading Out of Drama or LOD.  LOD defines persistence as...

Persistence - sticking with it; dependability; perseverance; courage; and an undying optimism.

In the Leading Out of Drama training you learn strategies for being persistent and practice the skill until it is a natural rhythm of your communication.  Persistent people state their boundaries and commitments, aspire to quality, and accept responsibility and make it right.  If these are tough things for you naturally LOD can help!

As REI is finding out when you utilize persistence well the whole world pays attention and many will follow you to your destination.

Sign up for Leading Out of Drama today by checking out our public courses.  


3 Ways to Avoid the Drama Hook

Often people will ask me what makes PCM and/or LOD worthwhile.  I have several answers, of course, and lately one has been rising to the top.

Because of PCM and LOD I don't get hooked by other people's drama.

I am a sensitive guy, and I consider that one of my strengths.  I also know that because of my sensitivity it is natural for me to internalize the distress of others and find ways to make their stuff about me.  About 85% of the population tends to do the same.  We say things like...

Well, at least I tried to make it work. What more could I have done?
Only if I would have planned better I could have escaped this imperfection.
It seems like their upset by way things are going, but I don't know what the next step is.
I should have done more please them.

My personal favorites are avoiding responsibility by trying just hard enough to not get the job done followed by a creeping desire to please others even at the sake of my own happiness.  When I experience someone who is unhappy, critical, or angry (especially angry) I can spend days dwelling on what I did to make them so upset.

PCM and LOD filled me in on a secret.....IT ISN'T ABOUT ME!

I didn't "make" them anything.  Emotions are a deeply internal experience and we each are responsible for recognizing and expressing our own emotions and none others.  In the same way I can't "make" others feel good or bad; they can't "make" me feel good or bad.  These are choices that we get to make.  The ability to navigate these emotions is a skill set and tools like PCM and LOD help exercise that skill and grow it's ability.

So, if you want to avoid getting hooked by drama here are three skills PCM and LOD taught me that you can use too.

1. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

First I name for myself what emotions I am experiencing and then remind myself, "I can choose to feel this or not.  I cannot make others feel good or bad."  An internal check on where I am at keeps me from diving into the familiar drama habits I've formed.  In becoming open to self I chose my own potency moving forward.

2. Speak Your Truth.

For long periods of my life I chose to not speak my truth for fear of how it would "make" others feel.  Armed with PCM and LOD I now can frame my truth in a drama-free, distress-free way.  Because I can speak my truth in a healthy way I can be confident that drama or distress is not about me, and I have tools to respond with invitations to exit drama and move toward compassion.

3. Recovery takes Intention.

Finally, I have learned how to recover when I do get caught.  The beauty of our always on technology driven world is that there are endless mulligans when it comes to communication.  I've made a practice of sending emails that say things like, "Yesterday during our conversation I wish I would have said...."  Another key part of recovery is self care.  After experiencing negative conflict I am way more likely to recover if I can spend time playing guitar or banjo for an hour.  That "me" time is not selfish, it is self-full.

If you'd like to gain some tools to avoid the drama hooks in your life sign up for a class today.  There are public courses listed here and if you have 6 or more we can schedule a private course anytime.  

How to Argue with Kim Davis

Recently on Facebook I've seen this video about the Kentucky clerk Kim Davis posted with some frequency.  It is an incredibly thorough dismantling of her stance against issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.  In it Ben Swann calmly and rationally lays out definitions, history, facts, and hard evidence to help the viewer see the complete lack of logic in Kim Davis' choice.  

I love this video.....and it won't mean anything to Kim Davis.

I imagine if Kim Davis watched this video she would miss nearly the entire argument.  It is not lack of intelligence, but because Kim Davis' preferred lens for understanding the world is opinions and not thoughts.

People who view the world through opinions are looking for moral backbone.  They want to know what you believe in and that you will be firm in those beliefs.  Agreement is not always required, conviction is!  (look at Bill O'Riley and John Stewarts strange mutual respect).  So when Kim Davis hears Ben Swanns logic and reasoning she may leave still wondering...."What do you believe?"

My guess is that Mr. Swann wasn't actually trying to change her mind, but rather show with certainty from his own perceptual framework that this was a poor choice.  People who see the world through thoughts like Mr. Swann prize logic, research, and well defined arguments.  For Mr. Swann the idea that someone would believe just because they believe is bankrupt.  

Ben Swan and Kim Davis get to make a choice.  They can choose to be justified and continue to talk past eachother, which is great for publicity and ratings.  Or they can choose to shift their energy to match the language of the people they are trying to convince.  

This decision is played out daily in your home, work, school, clubs, or anywhere else people exist together.  The content may be your child's homework, the best presentation tool, a health tip or any other endless topic that make up our lives.  While it doesn't go viral in the same way we can choose to remain justified in our miscommunication.  

"Don't they see how logical this all is?  How stupid can you be?"

"I don't care about the research I know I'm right, if you were more committed you'd see that too."

Or we can choose to shift our energy to become effective.

"Your opinions matter to me.  Will you share what you believe?"

"You seem well informed on this issue.  Do you have any research that might help us make a decision?"

What choice will you make?  

Sign up for PCM and LOD today to help assess, connect, motivate, and avoid distress!

Bluegrass Discount on PCM and LOD Courses

Special Discount on Classes This Week Only

This is my favorite week of the year.  IT'S BLUEGRASS WEEK!!!  The third week of September is the annual Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival which is basically my slice of heaven on earth.  In honor of it's awesomeness.  I am offering a discount on all my 2015 classes for this week only.  Just enter promo code: bluegrass.  Ends Sunday, Sept. 20.  

Nov. 2 Process Communication Model Experiencing Excellence

Regular $300.....Now $250

Nov. 3 Leading Out of Drama Core Topics

Regular $300.....Now $250

Dec. 14 Process Communication Model Experiencing Exellence

Regular $300.....Now $250

Dec. 15 Leading Out of Drama Core Topics

Regular $300.....Now $250

Not sure which class to take?  Read up on my FAQ post from last week.