Tag Archives: Blog

It’s Time: I’m Launching a Podcast Soon

black and white coffee mug

(Image/Pexel.com)

“How are you doin’?”

“I’m great, I got that ‘excited/scared’ feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it’s more. It could be two; it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that’s what makes it so intense, it’s so—confused. I can’t really figure it out.” – Oscar, just prior to being launched into space, in the movie Armageddon.

I’m planning to launch a podcast soon.

Like in weeks, not months.

I’ve got that ‘excited/scared’ feeling. And the 98-to-2 ratio swings wildly, depending on the moment.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone journal-style here. I really do try to keep this space about articles that are helpful, so I apologize for the interruption. This is my only effective means of telling you what’s going on.

Writing has always been easy for me. I don’t mean the quality of it. For everyone who likes it, someone else thinks it’s trash. What I mean is, I spent 10 years writing newspaper articles for public consumption, so the idea of putting words down and sharing with others wasn’t particularly scary—only the subject matter.

But this podcast project? It’s an entirely different proposition.

I have zero broadcast experience. There were a couple of times at the newspaper when a regional news station wanted to interview me about one of my stories I’d written live on television. Every time that happened, I would disappear and not answer my phone or texts until they found someone else to fill in.

That’s how afraid I was.

Because I’ve written a few semi-popular things, I’ve had the pleasure of being interviewed for a few radio and/or podcast shows, and in the process learned something I hadn’t previously considered: The ability to speak—to use tone and voice inflections to communicate ideas provides greater depth to the ideas I’m trying to share.

I can write a sentence, and it can be interpreted three different ways, and it’s sometimes frustrating as a writer to deal with feedback or criticism rooted in a fundamental lack of understanding what I’d intended to say.

Kind of like how I imagine most husbands and wives feel during every marital fight.

Why I’m Launching a Podcast

As afraid of this as I am, I am truly excited about the opportunity to communicate these things that matter so much to me, and that I believe so strongly in, in ways that I believe might resonate or connect more effectively with a particular listener.

Also, I’m just some schmoe. Some divorced guy. Some people inexplicably care what I have to say, and it’s my pleasure to keep talking about the stuff I talk about, but there’s a level of credibility I simply don’t possess to be able to legitimately help people struggling in their relationships.

And while I’ll continue to look for opportunities to share valuable insights from subject matter experts like my friend Jay Pyatt, who recently guest-posted on how to rebuild trust in a relationship following a betrayal, mostly this place is for me to tell the stories about my failed marriage that I hope some people can relate to and identify with in ways that might help them better understand their own marriage.

But the podcast? It’s an opportunity to feature experts, thought leaders, or even just really thoughtful or entertaining people I know who can have real conversations about real marriage that I hope people will like and connect with in ways not dissimilar from the feedback I’ve gotten here for the past five years.

On a Personal Note

Some of you know, but maybe most don’t: My parents split when I was 4, and then moved more than 400 miles apart.

Twice a year, my mom would drive to meet my dad, and I’d hug one parent goodbye and drive away with the other—sometimes for weeks; sometimes for many months.

Sometimes there were tears.

Sometimes I fucking broke. Just inconsolable in the backseat while one of my parents disappeared in the rear window, knowing it would be another half of the school year before I’d see them again.

I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. But the one thing I was totally certain about was that I’d never get divorced and put my future children in a position to feel anything like that.

No way.

I was certain.

Five years ago, almost exactly, my marriage officially ended when a court magistrate signed a piece of paper filed away in the downtown courthouse.

And even though I’m in a pretty solid place today—mentally and emotionally RE: my divorce—there are still these little moments.

When my son hugs me extra-tight because he knows it will be a few days.

When my ex-wife texts me photos of their family vacation on the very same beaches we used to frequent when we lived in Florida right after college.

When I attend a family reunion for the weekend—one where a bunch of us were aware that this is likely the last time we’ll all be together while my grandfather is alive. And when I go to hug him—the guy who was the first to assume the role of father-figure for me during my first year living far away from my dad; the guy who taught me to fish, and shoot a BB gun, and who fathered eight children—my mother, the eldest.

And when I go to hug him, he tells me he has a gift for me.

Then hands me a cigar.

Weird.

Near as I can tell the man never smoked, and it was super-out-of-the-ordinary to be handed tobacco from him. So I just held it and stared for a moment, confused.

And this man, undergoing kidney failure, this physically weak and deteriorating version of a guy who was larger than life when I was 5 and needed him to be, tells me: “That’s the cigar your father handed me the day you were born.”

And now I own a nearly 40-year-old cigar that is one of the most precious objects in my life.

Because my grandfather—the father of my mother—kept a cigar given to him by the man she divorced who lives several hundreds of miles away for the better part of 40 years.

And then was somehow thoughtful enough amidst his uncomfortable life and failing health to dig it up and hand it to me.

And you might be wondering what the shit that has to do with MY divorce and MY son and MY ex-wife, and I can’t really answer that.

I just know it mattered.

I just know that family matters.

Love matters.

And that’s why I write things. And that’s why I’m starting this podcast.

About the Podcast—‘It’s Not About the Dishes’

It’s not the most amazing podcast title in the world, but it accomplishes one very important thing.

It automatically prompts the question: What does that mean?

And the answer is layered—just like all of these nuanced and complicated conversations we have about relationships, marriage and divorce here.

To many of you, the symbolism will be evident—in January 2016, I published an article called She Divorced Me Because I Left Dishes by the Sink, and several millions of people read it, and it’s basically the entire reason anyone gives a shit what I have to say.

There are more than 4,000 comments on that article. Most of them full of positive feedback. Others? Not.

I don’t need anyone to like it.

But the part that’s always eaten away at me are all of the people who totally missed the point. All of the people who didn’t get it.

There were all these people who said: “OMG! Your wife was such a control-freak! Who gets divorced because of the dishes? Your feelings about where to put that drinking glass matter just as much as hers! It’s your house too! You’re better off without her, dude! Grow some balls!”

The entire point sailed a thousand miles over their heads: It’s not about the dishes.

And that conversation is rife with peril.

The complex and layered nature of that conversation is the very reason we continue to see more than half of all relationships fail. (About half of all marriages end in divorce, and MOST dating relationships fail before marriage.)

I hesitate to make promises, but in an ideal world, there would be one episode published per week. I’m thinking 45 minutes each, with the majority of them featuring a guest who I perceive to be qualified or well-suited to discuss whatever the topic of the day may be.

I want it to matter to people. To be useful. And maybe even fun. We’ll see.

This is a subject I take personally—relationships. Marriage. Divorce.

My life has been defined by it.

It’s rarely been pleasant, but I usually try to make the best of things. And if my experiences can somehow help others avoid some of the negative consequences of broken homes and families, or if my experiences can make someone suffering from them feel less alone, then maybe I can die one day feeling like I did something worthwhile.

Something that mattered.

I hope this can be that—something that matters.

I’m really scared. But I’m also really looking forward to sharing it with you.

Thank you so much for being a part of it.

…..

Here’s What I Sound Like

So, I had to do a mic test. It’s full of poorly calibrated mic settings, and contains some vocal flubs, but I recorded an audio version of You’re Right Guys—You Can’t Make Women Happy, and if you’re interested in hearing what the podcast will kind-of sound like (minus guests), you can find that recording here:

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What’s Next For MBTTTR?

metamorphosis

(Image/The Bridge)

“Shit or get off the pot,” is a fairly common idiom where I’m from.

Aside from evoking troubling images of Jesuit standoffs and triggering my (somewhat exaggerated, but totally real) bathroom-related phobias, it translates loosely to “Make a decision, you mook!” or “Start actually doing the things you keep saying you want to do!”

It’s also one of those times where it’s more okay than usual to write or say bad words. #smallwins

This blog has been a great project for me since drunkenly posting my first amidst my darkest days as a human being 40 months ago.

But we need to get serious about next steps. It’s time.

I hope you’ll help.

I want to do and be more than some random idiot writing the same stories using different metaphors over and over again on his blog.

The conversations we have here about marriage and human relationships matter. Maybe more than anything.

We all have our own individual goals and interests and dreams and pursuits. Things we chase, perhaps because we believe there will be some great sense of reward, happiness and forever-satisfaction if we ever get around to capturing it.

But no matter what is going on in our lives—no matter how wealthy, or accomplished, or “successful” we are in those individual pursuits—the quality of our human relationships is the most influential factor in how good or bad our lives are.

When we have conflict with those we’re closest to—spouses, partners, siblings, parents, children, friends, co-workers—life can get unpleasant in a hurry.

Only deteriorating health can affect us more profoundly, but even in a worst-case scenario, the unhealthy person who loves and feels loved can speak honestly about a life well lived in ways physically healthy people with crappy relationships cannot.

This. Stuff. Matters.

What Do You Want?

People ask me for books.

People ask me for coaching.

People ask me for membership forums.

People ask me for video content.

People ask me to speak to groups.

It remains difficult for me to wrap my head around that. I still think of myself as little more than some idiot blogger.

And I’m mostly right about that. I AM mostly just an idiot blogger. But for the right people, I’m something else too.

I am—for the right people—able to communicate concepts they’ve been unable to communicate in their biggest life problem regarding the things and people they care most about. Their marriages. Their families. Their close personal relationships.

Their very way of life is threatened by the brokenness that creeps in sneakily through the years, poisoning our hearts and minds, further damaging our already-shitty translators so that we can’t understand each other, adding anxiety, fear, shame, guilt, depression, cynicism and apathy to our already-heavy loads.

It’s terrifying when you feel doom coming.

It cripples you when the bombs finally drop.

There is no amount of money, material wealth, fame or “success,” that can help broken humans wake up in the morning happy to be alive when EVERYTHING hurts. People try to numb it with alcohol or drugs. Distract from it with escapism or sex. But there’s nowhere to run.

It follows us. Tries to consume us. Tries to kill us.

Until we unbreak.

There are many brilliant and scholarly people out there who fundamentally understand what it takes to heal the broken. People who are smarter and know more than I ever will.

But—and this applies to every husband, wife, person in an argument, politician, lobbyist, etc. who has ever lived—how much does it matter how true or right what you’re saying is if no one ever listens anyway?

My gift or purpose or value seems to be my ability to frame relationship problems in ways that resonate with people.

So, even if I never bring any good ideas to the table, if my ability to effectively communicate important concepts to the right people can be the difference between a family or marriage staying together and thriving, or breaking and creating life-long regrets, then—no matter what—I have something to offer.

I really care about the things I write here. It breaks my heart to see or hear about children crying as they wave goodbye to one of their parents. More than three years later, it still breaks my heart to wave goodbye to mine.

So, What’s Next?

I must decide. We must decide.

I think it makes sense for me to eventually transition Must Be This Tall To Ride into a multi-contributor publication. I think it makes sense for me to build out my own site, where perhaps I can combine my passion for these subjects and desire to help into something tangible that actually CAN help.

It seemed asinine to me to position myself as any sort of relationship expert or fake-ass therapist. That’s not what I am.

I am, for lack of better terms, a translator. An explainer. A decent question-asker.

And perhaps there’s a place for someone like that to work more directly with humans trying to find their way through difficulty, or who want to avoid it altogether.

I want to collaborate with others to create content of lasting value. I want to write books. And have conversations. I want to discuss the formulation of programs and curriculum developed by the appropriate thought leaders, tailored for the appropriate audiences and executed in ways that create fundamental, paradigm-shifting change in the way people think about their human relationships.

People are afraid, sad, angry, broken, and the thing that can help heal those wounds most effectively is the simple realization that we’re not alone. That others are fighting the same battles.

My story is your story.

People don’t read this stuff because they care very much about things that happened to me.

People read this stuff because it connects with them on a deeply personal level, and because things I thought, felt or experienced are the same types of things they think, feel and experience.

It was never about me. It was always about them.

All of this, if it ever has the chance to matter, must be about you.

Please help me take this thing somewhere where good things can happen. Good must spread.

It must.

If you care about the things we talk about here, I hope you’ll share any ideas or suggestions you have about evolving into whatever comes next.

Thanks, everyone.

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We Interrupt This Broadcast

interrupt this broadcast

 

Hey guys.

I’ve never written a Purpose Statement for MBTTTR, but if I ever do, I imagine it will be something close to this:

To use honest storytelling as a tool to help people achieve healthy, lasting relationships by raising awareness of uncomfortable truths regarding the things commonly causing divorce and human conflict. To courageously demonstrate personal accountability with hope that others will too. To challenge the status quo. To fight for people, all of whom have intrinsic, immeasurable value and are capable of intensely heroic, beautiful and inspiring things. To encourage men to be great. To encourage all to choose hope.

A Peek Into My Life

I’m just one guy. Divorced with a shared-parenting agreement. I’m 37, but you’d never know it from my behavior patterns.

I’m looking around at piles of papers and unopened mail and unread books on my kitchen counter. There’s a frying pan on my stove top that I didn’t clean after cooking breakfast for my son and I yesterday.

We had a Cleveland Indians-themed (Go Tribe!) casual day at work Friday and I waited until that morning to hunt around my house for the Indians hoodie I wanted to wear. I couldn’t find it, until I went down into my basement laundry room and realized it was one of three sweatshirts matted down and covered in cat hair because my old pet cat Eli used to lay there all the time.

And that would be all well and good except that Eli died the day before Thanksgiving LAST YEAR.

I wake up in the morning and I go to a job for more than 40 hours per week. At that job, I have many meetings and things to do.

Additionally, I am a partner in a young digital marketing agency which we started last year, and is now officially the thing taking most of my time.

I have a little boy at home with me 50 percent of nights and weekends. A child who has homework assignments, food and clothing and bathing needs. A child who needs lunches packed, haircuts, and new clothes.

During the rare moments we are not doing things we MUST do, he craves his father’s attention very much.

My life is:

  • Wake up.
  • Go to work to pay for house, vehicle, child needs.
  • Build business in effort to create more flexible lifestyle.
  • Write here, when possible.
  • Repeat.

Things like grocery shopping, lawn mowing, house cleaning, and laundry steal time from these things. Traveling steals time from these things. The now-ultra-rare social/family event steals time from these things.

I want no sympathy. I choose to have a full-time job. I choose to grow my side business. I choose to write here.

If I want things to change, I’m responsible for making different choices. (The idea is that once my agency is my full-time work, some of these time constraints will vanish.)

This is not meant to convey that anyone should feel sorry for me. Not by a long shot.

It is meant to help you understand a little more what my life looks like.

Which brings us to…

The Comments-Section Shit Show

I do not possess the powers of omnipresence.

I don’t even possess the powers of people with average attentiveness skills.

I am a highly disorganized ADHD-diagnosed, divorced single dad who is NEVER caught up. With anything. Ever.

What that means is, I don’t see each and every comment that comes into this blog. And when I DO see comments, I am mostly seeing them out of context on my phone’s WordPress mobile app. It’s a back-end admin tool, and things don’t look anything like what they do when seeing them on your computer or phone.

So, if you read something and think to yourself: Isn’t Matt seeing this?! WTF?, there’s a pretty good chance I haven’t.

Because, I assume, the kind of people who tend to be dickless wankers in internet comments don’t often read 1,500-word blog posts about relationship-related things, the comments section of this blog has never had any problems.

Until recently.

And as a STAUNCH advocate of free speech, I’ve always been inclined to let comments stand. I’ve been called plenty of bad things, and those comments are easy enough to find if you feel like reading through 4,000+ on the dishes post, or any of the predictably cliché blame-shifting ones from butt-hurt guys in the Shitty Husbands posts.

That’s a personal belief. That truth matters. That we must navigate life even when we don’t “like” things.

I live in the United States where every time a president is elected half of everyone is pissed off. And I feel like you can be the kind of person who takes their ball and goes home when things don’t go your way, OR you can take responsibility for helping people see things your way, so that maybe next time, the candidates who share your smarter, better ideas can win.

We MUST navigate life even when conditions aren’t optimal. Conditions are rarely optimal.

Thus, I’ve been ultra-hesitant to silence voices in blog comments simply because I disagree with them or simply because others don’t like them.

This is where I write. Plenty of people have not liked things I’ve written. But I’m not going to stop, nor change what I’m writing to placate anyone who doesn’t like my ideas.

But Then There’s This Other Thing

Despite my many shortcomings, I’m self-aware.

I KNOW that I don’t know many, many things. I KNOW that I’m statistically likely to be wrong about all kinds of things.

So, when I cringe at things I read in certain comments AND dozens of people share my reactions, it’s all very hard to ignore.

I am divorced today because I denied my wife’s right to her own reality. I repeatedly told her throughout our relationship that her emotions and thoughts were “wrong” or “crazy” or “unfair.”

And I am afraid that my instincts to stand up for the rights of people to say unpopular things may be the wrong choice here.

So, Here’s How It’s Going to Be

I’m pissed about this.

I have enough life problems and tasks. And that I have to babysit these comments and take crap from people for my lousy moderation is aggravating.

To be crystal clear on this, I’m NOT saying people don’t have legitimate gripes. The gripes are totally legit. I’m saying people have unrealistic expectations.

I’m both unable and unwilling to moderate these comments to the level required.

There have been tens of thousands of comments left on this blog since it launched in June 2013, and until now, there hasn’t been problem.

But now there is.

How We Say Things Matters

One commenter in particular leaves unpopular comments with regularity. I equate this commenter to the guy I used to see standing up on park benches outside my university’s student union screaming judgments at people walking by.

He’d hold up the Bible and yell at sorority sisters, calling them lesbian whores who will burn in hell. He’d yell at groups of friends minding their own business telling them they’re frat-boy sinners who need saved.

As a baptized Christian and churchgoer, I think there is merit believing in—and living for—things greater than yourself. In loving other people and ourselves. In pursuing truth and trying to live a meaningful, spiritually healthy and balanced life.

But that guy standing up on the bench? EVEN IF every word of the Bible is 100% true, the reality of life is that you can’t communicate with human beings in that manner and expect them to listen to you. If his goal was to GENUINELY “save” people and introduce them to his faith in an effort to help people discover Truth, he was never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever going to accomplish it by calling people sinners and whores.

Jesus, not one time in any recorded text, treated people that way nor taught anyone else to.

Thus, misrepresenting the faith is either an accidental disservice to good Christians, OR a deliberate attempt to fuck with people under the guise of trying to “save” them.

Either way, I don’t like it.

We have a commenter here who kind of, sort of, does that same thing. He believes certain things and shares them. Maybe he’s genuinely trying to help people consider an alternative perspective. Or maybe he’s deliberately fucking with people under the guise of trying to be “helpful.”

Either way, NO MORE.

I would—under no circumstances—allow that asshole preacher guy to stand outside of my house and yell at people visiting my home, my neighbors, or the people walking or driving down the street. Free speech, be damned.

Moving forward, if someone I know to be aware of this post and nonsense side drama writes anything that violates this…

To use honest storytelling as a tool to help people achieve healthy, lasting relationships by raising awareness of uncomfortable truths regarding the things commonly causing divorce and human conflict. To courageously demonstrate personal accountability with hope that others will too. To challenge the status quo. To fight for people, all of whom have intrinsic, immeasurable value and are capable of intensely heroic, beautiful and inspiring things. To encourage men to be great. To encourage all to choose hope.

I’m deleting the comment just as soon as I’m aware of it.

I’ll have tolerance for people who might not know better.

I’ll have little tolerance for people who intentionally engage, or bait, or flame someone whose ideas they disagree with.

It’s totally possible to read things on the internet and not reply to them.

It’s IMPORTANT to understand the perspectives of people who think differently than we do, because we get to use that information to correct false beliefs, or reinforce existing ones.

But in the end, all I’ve ever asked for is basic decency and kindness, and that’s apparently too hard for some.

Life tip: When 30 people tell you the things you say are indecent and unkind, it’s an indication of a problem.

I think Louis CK said it best: “When someone tells you that you hurt them, you don’t get to decide that you didn’t.”

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

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There’s Gonna Be Some Changes Around Here

iron fist

(Image/YouTube)

I’ve been forging my shiny new iron fist and intend to wield it mercilessly on properly informed violators.

The purpose of blog comments is to provide a tool for feedback and the exchange of ideas. As a staunch opponent of censorship, and a strong proponent of free speech, I have intentionally avoided anything resembling the policing of comments.

For most of Must Be This Tall To Ride’s existence, the posts were little more than ultra-personal, first-person stories, leaving comments that might be deemed “offensive” in the camp of being critical of my ideas or insulting me.

I’ve always been okay with that, and I’m still fair game. But other people are not.

Things are different now. Human beings—real people—most of whom are kind, conscientious and respectful of others, are having ongoing conversations in the comments that live beneath MBTTTR posts. In certain respects, it has become a living, breathing community.

Communities have guidelines. Established and agreed-upon codes of conduct designed to protect the community and cultivate an environment where its members can thrive.

By allowing community members or visitors to knowingly violate the spirit and principles of the community, the community will eventually cease to exist because all of the principled people with healthy values and boundaries will find a better way to spend their time.

MBTTTR community members have always, and will always, come and go.

But it can never again be because someone who doesn’t represent the core values, mission and purpose of this place is poisoning the well.

What that means is, moving forward, if someone knowingly poisons the well, I’m going to stick my digital iron fist directly up their ass and ask them to leave.

The Case for Being Intolerant of Intolerance

“Hey, Matt!!! What kind of comments will you delete?!”

The simplest and most generic way to explain the new comment-enforcement policy would be: A comment should not grossly violate the Kindness litmus test.

Kind DOES NOT mean the same thing as “nice.” But they’re close. This isn’t about everyone liking one another. It’s about everyone treating others with the requisite amount of dignity and respect.

KINDNESS
“Kindness is a behavior marked by ethical characteristics, a pleasant disposition, and concern for others. It is known as a virtue, and recognized as a value in many cultures and religions.”

If it doesn’t pass that common-sense sniff test, I’m trashing it.

“Hey, Matt!!! Isn’t it possible something might feel unkind to me and others but NOT you, which would cause more disagreements?”

Totally possible.

Because I remain staunchly anti-censorship. I am anti-censorship because I believe so strongly in personal responsibility. I believe people are in control of themselves and responsible for their choices. Choosing to share an idea publicly, which is then rejected by another person or group, is a fundamental part of the free exchange of ideas. And sometimes that will hurt people’s feelings. And that will create paradoxes and situations which flirt dangerously close to hypocrisy.

But so long as I adhere to the principles about to be shared, and so long as most of you do the same, we will often arrive at a great place.

“How?”

Moving forward, we will be a tribe.

A tribe that (when exchanging ideas in MBTTTR comments, at least) is united in its effort to lift up all tribe members. More on this in a moment.

The Magic of Defining Yourself

The best thing I’ve read recently is The Book In A Box Culture Document—something that very intentionally, deliberately, and thoroughly defines the culture of Book In A Box. (An MBTTTR reader thoughtfully shared it with me, and I can’t overstate my gratitude.)

One of the most important lessons of my first year as a partner in a startup company is the power of an organization putting clearly defined ideas to paper regarding its mission and purpose.

When you define your purpose, difficult decisions mostly go away. Because a choice tends to either serve the mission and purpose, or not.

The fantastic BIAB Culture Doc served as my model for fleshing out the principles that will guide the MBTTTR tribe moving forward.

…..

Thrive

(Image/likesuccess.com)

The MBTTTR Mission, Purpose, Values & Principles

MBTTTR’s beginning was firmly rooted in the Me, Me, Me space.

MBTTTR’s future will be firmly rooted in the Us, Us, Us space.

Our collective mission, purpose, values and principles will be clearly defined while ALSO being subject to scrutiny and change when new information demands change. Those conversations will happen with the passage of time, and we will collectively adjust course as needed. Together.

Mission (What are we doing?)

To tell honest stories about the human experience—even when it’s uncomfortable and against our natural self-preservation instincts—to connect others to good people, good questions and good ideas in ways that help humans thrive.

Purpose (Why are we doing it?)

To use judgment-free storytelling as a tool to lift people up—mending hearts, enriching minds and uplifting souls—for the betterment of human relationships.

We believe human relationships are the things which most strongly influence an individual’s quality of life. That people with healthy, high-functioning relationships have measurably better lives than those who do not.

We believe human relationships thrive when individuals are prepared to contribute positively to them.

We believe a person is best prepared to contribute positively when she or he is balanced in four key areas: Mind (mental health), Body (physical health), Spirit (spiritual health), and Emotion (emotional health).

Values (What do we care about?)

1. Things that matter.

“Hey Matt! What matters?”

Who do you want to be with if you only have one day to live? What do you want to do? What are the things you’re thinking about?

Those things matter.

Here, we mostly care about the earthly thing that matters above all others—people.

2. Learning and growth.

“Knowing things is great, but the reality is that most “facts” are either an illusion, or have a short half-life,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “The success of our tribe will not be determined on what we know right now. It will come from our ability to learn quickly, and implement what we learn.

“This means every person in our tribe must be an active and lifelong learner. We all must be curious, willing to ask questions, and most important, willing to change our minds when new facts demand a new perspective.”

Come to discussions with a Beginner’s Mind. With humble inquiry.

If your goal isn’t to find the best answer, but to win an argument on the internet, our relationship will be short-lived.

The MBTTTR Tribe cares about finding the best idea. The closest thing to Truth we can arrive at in all of our flawed humanity.

“Let the best idea win,” says PayPal founder Peter Thiel.

And it will be a guiding principle here.

The beauty lives in the trying.

3. Results.

While we celebrate, encourage and admire those who try, we value results. Another BIAB-inspired guiding principle of MBTTTR will be just that.

You get brownie points for trying. You also get divorced.

Intentions often matter. But if you’re trying earnestly to be a good spouse, but failing as evidenced by your shitty, dysfunctional and broken relationships, we think that should be taken into account.

If you don’t TRY to hurt your wife, but you ACCIDENTALLY hurt her, the following becomes true: You hurt your wife.

If NOT hurting your wife is a guiding principle in your marriage, then your intentions mean little.

Another BIAB gem: We award medals for results. Not attempts.

“While we deeply value results, results by themselves are not enough; we must get results the right way. Of course this means being ethical and honest and doing the right thing. But it goes beyond that,” the BIAB Culture Doc says. “Getting great results means that we must be focused on the experience that people have when dealing with us.”

4. We value human connection and shared experiences.

By considering the experiences of the other people we interact with, it requires us to be empathetic and considerate. It forces us to see everyone as another human, with their own wants and needs and desires, and it compels us to consider those in our actions.

The most important life lesson I’ve learned post-divorce is:

A. Ohhhhh. THAT’s what empathy means!, and

B. Holy shit. Empathy is the most important life skill people need to succeed in relationships, but few people ever explain or define it for young people.

[Author’s Note: The remainder of this document is mostly in note form and heavily modeled after the content generated from the BIAB team. For the sake of time, I need to move onto other things. I will make this document a permenant fixture as a page on this site, and I (or WE!) will more clearly define these principles moving forward.]

Principles (How do we apply our values?)

The First Principle: We before me

 

The Second Principle: Tell the truth

“Amateurs want comforting lies. Professionals want to hear uncomfortable truths,” the BIAB Culture Doc says.

Truth is about caring. Truth can be painful, but if you deliver it right—with both candor and authentic kindness—it helps people more than anything else you can do for them.

The Third Principle: It’s not necessarily what you say or do, it’s how they feel

Again: Medals for results, not attempts.

There must be room in our hearts and minds for others’ experiences. Our experiences DO NOT and CANNOT define the thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and expieriences of others.

The Fourth Principle: Our goal is to find the best idea

From BIAB:

We criticize ideas, not people.

Why? Because most people tie their identity to their ideas.

This attitude is toxic and destructive to creative and free discussions. We are the opposite. Confrontation is good, as long as it’s about the ideas and not the person.

We call this “shoot the message, never the messenger,” and the point is that all discussion is always about an idea, and never about a person. We discuss what is right, NEVER who is right.

However: You are not your ideas.

People must feel like their identity is safe–even if their ideas are not.

This is very difficult to achieve (it is in some ways against core parts of human nature), but if we can do it, we create an environment that has people intensely debating and rigorously scrutinizing ideas—that is simultaneously respectful of people.

This creates the best outcomes for everyone, because it means the best ideas will almost always win—which means the tribe will win.

CLARIFYING NOTE: This principle also means your beliefs must be based on facts, and you must be willing to change your beliefs if the facts change.

Feedback must be our North Star. It’s HOW we navigate and calibrate and make sure that we are serving the MBTTTR mission, the interests of the tribe, and the other people we affect. How else can we know we’re doing the right thing, unless we’re hearing it from the people we affect?

…..

For the love of all that is good and beautiful and worth caring about in this life…

Pretty please…

Be kind to each other.

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A Quick Note About Stuff and Things 5-31-2016

stuff and things

(Image/samantharosling.tumblr.com)

Hey guys.

I had an unusually busy and not-super-fun weekend at a car dealership. I’ve decided that buying cars is one of my least favorite things.

I wanted to write a post today, but Time is being an inconsiderate jerkface, so I’m unable to. I’m writing this fake post instead just to say hi, and tell you random things you might not care about.

1. Read ‘Why You Will Marry the Wrong Person’

Alain de Botton wrote this extremely thought-provoking piece which ran in the New York Times Sunday, and I thought it was really interesting. Also, several people I know in real life or through the blog shared it with me, so it clearly has appeal with the kinds of people who read things here.

British author de Botton is the founder of the London-based School of Life which is dedicated to All The Things we discuss here, and is geared toward helping people “Develop Emotional Intelligence.” Frankly, I’m embarrassed I didn’t know about The School of Life before this past weekend, because it only took watching the 90-second intro video for me to realize their mission to help people with all the life stuff we don’t learn formally or informally as children is something easy for me to get behind.

2. Reader Lynda asks: ‘What Are You Going to Say to Your Son?’

What we teach our children about healthy relationships is THE key to changing the world RE: How to stop having crappy, dysfunctional relationships, and keep couples and families together.

Her specific question was this: “My question for you is what are you going to say to your son to teach him how to have a healthy relationship as he grows up? What seeds are you going to plant to help break the cycle? I have only a few years left with my boys under my roof to teach them what they need to know, and I don’t want to feel like they are doomed, given the family history. What are your thoughts?”

It’s a great question, and will be a post in the near future.

3. How Do We Rank Living Things?

You probably heard about the gorilla that was shot and killed by zoo workers this past weekend at the Cincinnati Zoo while rescuing a 4-year-old boy who crawled under a fence and fell into the gorilla exhibit while his mother’s back was turned.

The internet lost its mind, and after watching a minute or two of video on Facebook, everyone suddenly became experts on gorilla behavior with small human children.

Harambe, a 17-year-old, 419-pound male western lowland silverback gorilla died tragically having done no wrong. You’ll read no heartless commentary from me on his passing.

Animal lovers globally were weighing in on whether the gorilla should have been shot or tranquilized, and questioned whether the life of one human of which there are 7.4 billion should be valued over the life of a rare and endangered silverback gorilla.

I have a variety of thoughts on the matter, but there’s really just ONE question I’m most interested in exploring: How do we rank the value of life?

Are we wrong to automatically rank humans over animals? What about certain animals over others? What about certain people over others?

We must, and will, discuss.

4. Do Women Complain More Than Men?

I might be misremembering, but I think I read MBTTTR commenter Linbo ask this over the weekend, in the spirit of: “Are wives sometimes too demanding of their husbands? Are women more likely to complain about something than men? If so, why?”

I think that’s another post and discussion to be had.

5. Try Brain Surfing. It’s Fun.

This month, I had the good fortune to cross digital paths with author and brand strategist Heather LeFevre. She wrote a kick-ass marketing strategy-travelogue hybrid book called Brain Surfing The Top Marketing Strategy Minds in the World” which I’m in the middle of and liking very much. If you’re in the marketing world and/or are passionate about international travel, you’ll like it because it’s exceptionally creative and offers crucial insight to business owners and marketers about brand empathy, community building and storytelling. 

6. Please Root for the Cleveland Cavaliers to Win the NBA Finals

Pretty please, and thank you.

7. Watch ‘Bloodline’ if You Have Netflix

I’m serious. Season 2 just recently released. That’s just a good life tip you can thank me for later. Check it out here.

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Testing the Medium Waters

Some of my favorite writers choose Medium as their writing platform of choice, and I’ve long admired its graceful simplicity and pleasant-to-read type.

I’ve decided to occasionally share updated and rewritten versions of posts originally published here on Medium. Maybe you’ll care. Maybe you won’t.

If you want, please read my first crack at this and “like” it because it’s true: We don’t have any idea what we’re doing, and the sooner we start admitting it to ourselves and one another, the sooner everyone gets to feel less alone.

Because we really are all in this together.

View story at Medium.com

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Should I Be Afraid to Publish My Name?

Bloody pen

The words have to bleed. If you want to write about what it means to be human. (Image/Genius.com)

Most of you have no idea who I am (and don’t care).

Some of you know my name is Matt.

Fewer still know I’m Matt and I live in Ohio.

And a super-small group of you know my last name or actually know me in real life.

Does it Matter if it Doesn’t Bleed?

I don’t want to be critical of writers who entertain, inform or educate us. Those are great things.

Sometimes I keep it light, too. I’m immature and playful, so it’s often hard for me to leave that out of things I write.

But matters of the heart and mind are what I choose to spend most of my time exploring. I want to be a better person, and I’m sensitive to my flaws. I think it’s hard to be a human being, and it often gets harder in adulthood.

I think a lot of us frolic through childhood blissfully unaware, and then one inevitable day, that first tragic thing happens, rapes our innocence, and then we never get to be that version of ourselves ever again. Those moments take our breath away. They’re really hard. Some people freak out when life is really hard. They become addicts. They lose jobs. They have affairs. They commit suicide.

Awful things. Things I used to observe and think: What the hell is wrong with those people?

And the answer—in a macro-human sense—is: Nothing. They’re just people, and you can’t know how unmitigated fuckness feels until it’s stabbing your heart and mind mercilessly while you sob in the fetal position.

If you’re going to write about matters of the heart and mind, I don’t think there’s a lot of room for half-assing it. This is real life. When you strip away everything superficial about our lives (the jobs, houses, money, cars) the only things left are the people we love and our mental and emotional state of being when we wake up in the morning.

Mostly, we take this stuff for granted. Mostly, we feel just fine, with pockets of frustration and pockets of fun. Mostly, our relationships aren’t suffering, and people we love aren’t dying, and we’re not afraid of sickness or death ourselves.

No matter how many times a day we hear about some crazy-scary thing happening, or about some tragedy, or how many people around us get sick and die, we STILL just carry on in a That will never happen to me! sort-of way.

But bad things can and will happen. They test our character. They test our faith. They test our mettle.

And then we wallow and despair. Or we demonstrate courage. Or we climb our mountains with joyful hope. Often we do all of those things over a long period of time while we fight to find ourselves again.

THESE are the things that really matter to me. These are the things I want to write about.

I’m afraid of writing about those things, and then having my boss read them. I’m afraid of all the guys I work with, and imagining them laughing and snickering and calling me a pussy behind my back while they read about how I used to cry a lot after my wife left.

I’m afraid of my mom, or grandma, or aunts and uncles reading about how I lost my virginity or about doubting my faith sometimes or just all the bad words I use.

I’m afraid of my son reading it someday and being ashamed of his father. I’m afraid of other parents at his small Catholic school reading it and judging me. Even worse? I’m afraid of my son’s classmates reading it and punishing him socially for it.

Within the first few weeks of blogging, I stumbled on How To Be A TV Star by James Altucher and it completely changed the way I thought about first-person writing.

In the piece, he wrote about how he lied to get on television because he was afraid of flying after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. His boss was asking him to fly to a business meeting, and he needed a way out, so he lied to investor and TV personality Jim Cramer about how much investment money he managed.

He wrote this, and I’ve been hero-worshipping him ever since:

“Once Jim asked me to go on I couldn’t stop shaking,” he wrote. “I knew I was a fraud and I was finally going to prove it to everyone I went to high school with.

“I assumed they would all be gathered at the same place, eating popcorn and laughing at me.”

After retelling his experience on Cramer’s show, he said this:

“Afterwards two things happened. My dad wrote me an email congratulating me. Since we were in a fight and I tend to avoid people I’m fighting, I didn’t respond to him. Then he had a stroke and died.”

Something about it just slapped me across the face. Penetrated my soul.

THIS. This is how I want to write, I thought.

It’s Just About Time

Whether I wait until I publish my book, agree to let other publications use my first and last name, or finally break the seal here, the day I start publishing my full name draws nearer.

I met an editor at The Good Men Project who charitably praises my writing and has asked me to contribute regularly. I’ve agreed.

He has been kind enough to let me keep my last name off the work for a while.

My first post (repurposed content from this blog to start with) should run this week. It will be interesting to see what happens afterward.

In the meantime, there is only one way to write anything related to the mind, heart and soul, and have it matter: Honestly.

I hope I’m tough enough and brave enough to do so even after taking off that final mask and submitting to the judgment of internet commenters everywhere.

Even if those people can affect my professional future.

Or even if they used to change my diapers and tuck me into bed at night.

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Check Out This Other Thing

boy-covering-mouth

A very funny person named Mandi Castle, author of the recently released “Dear Stephanie,” and self-proclaimed “worst sisterwife,” invited me to participate in her monthly feature at the SisterWives blog called The Man(di) Cave where she gets guys to open up on subjects they might not want to talk about.

I accepted her invitation and was flattered for receiving it.

She asked me and a couple of other guys to answer questions about sex. I managed to do so without wanting to set myself on fire afterward. Small wins.

Please check it out and say hi over there. You can see the feature here:

http://sisterwivesspeak.com/2015/06/25/the-mandi-cave-gets-intimate-kind-of/

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One Year Later

It's remarkable how one year can seem so long and so fast all at the same time.

It’s remarkable how one year can seem so long and so fast all at the same time.

A year ago, I was crying at least once a week.

Drinking all the time, because distracted fun was the only way I knew how to not think about it.

Terrified, because I was online dating (even though I wasn’t ready) and no one was interested, confirming my worst fears of dying sad and alone.

Everything had been going according to plan for nearly 30 years.

Grade school.

High school.

College.

Gainful employment.

Engagement.

Marriage.

A child.

Then 30.

Then fuck you, Matt, now you’re going to see how good you really had it.

I lost a job.

We lost her father.

Our marriage fell apart.

We spent more than a year sleeping in separate bedrooms.

She left.

And then everything inside me just broke.

Despite my parents’ divorce at a young age and being 500 miles away from one or the other every waking moment, and despite never having any money, it turns out I lived a VERY charmed life for my first three decades.

I had never experienced misery. True misery. You hear about broken hearts in books and movies and in whiny Facebook posts, but you don’t really know what that means until your insides break.

It’s spiritual, almost. And it pierces the soul. And there’s no medicine for the unreachable wound. You just sit there and bleed without the benefit of a merciful death. You simply hurt until you don’t anymore.

Everything in life had been going according to plan. Everything had happened, for the most part, exactly as I had mentally prepared for. I never knew failure until the job loss. And that’s a pleasure cruise compared to what happens when the person you love and trust the most checks out and decides life with someone else, or alone (doesn’t matter, so long as it’s not with you!) looks better than what they have now.

Life becomes a book full of empty pages needing written but you’re all out of ink.

I am so afraid of all the things I don’t know or understand. I am so afraid of all the questions I don’t have answers for. I used to believe that everything would always be okay, because for most of my life, everything always ended up okay.

But then something didn’t. Something didn’t end up okay. The most-important thing.

And now I don’t know that everything is going to be okay anymore.

And sooner or later, I need to learn that THAT’s going to have to be okay. That NO ONE knows how things will turn out.

And then maybe I can start filling those blank pages again instead of just rummaging around for ink.

A Year of Blogging

So far, the best thing to come out of my failed marriage is this.

That won’t seem silly to all of you who are writers, but may seem so to everyone else. Writers need to write. But I was never interested in writing for the sake of writing. I always believed it was important to have something to say.

Must Be This Tall To Ride gave me a platform for writing about things that mattered to me. A place to divulge all that human-being stuff stirring around inside. Stuff that had to come out because it was killing me all bottled up.

When you start writing stories about real-life stuff, things start to happen. People get it.

Not everyone.

But enough.

And then they realize they’re not alone. And they say “Thank you.”

And then you realize you’re not alone. And you thank them.

Then people are grateful.

And people feel connected.

And so much good can come from those things that the process bears repeating over and over and over again.

On June 21, 2013, I was drinking vodka, or tequila, or beer, or all three, and hit publish on a weird, rambling post. It was a process (minus the drinking, for the most part!) that would, for many months, become an addiction.

Writing about the things I was thinking and feeling and experiencing became more than just important for me. It became therapy. And I needed every bit of it. I probably need more.

People feel like me.

We’re not alone.

There aren’t a lot of feelings more helpful during difficult moments than the realization that other people know and understand your particular brand of misery.

We’re now one year in, and despite hitting that blue Publish button more than 300 times, I’m not sure I’ve found a groove. I’m not sure I know who I am or even who I want to be as a writer.

I want to help, but people don’t want to be preached to.

I want to be funny, but I’m sort of sad and borderline-pathetic half the time, and afraid you won’t laugh the other.

I want to document the journey because I think it’s important for people going through similar life events to see what happens and doesn’t happen to me because sometimes that helps people in their own lives, and I’m pretty sure it helps me.

I want to organize my thoughts and feelings and experiences as I try to make sense of this unexpected life.

Everything was going along as it was supposed to.

Right up until it wasn’t anymore.

I suspect that’s how everyone’s life is, and you just don’t know it until life starts firing shots your way for the first time.

Run for your life.

One year later, I still hurt and I’m still sad. But not nearly as much.

One year later, I’m still hopeful and I still believe good things are coming for me. I just don’t know what that might look or feel like or how to get there.

One year later, I still love writing. And now I have a place for that to happen.

I’m 35 years old and I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

I’m divorced.

I’m a father to a six-year-old boy.

I’m afraid of all the uncertainty. I’m afraid because of money. I’m afraid because I don’t know what tomorrow looks like on every conceivable level.

But I’m a little bit strong, too.

Because I took the punch and got back up.

Because only shitty things seem to happen and I still have hope.

Because I look around and see a whole bunch of darkness.

And I intend to be a light.

Be one, too.

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Do What Matters

what-matters-most-678x278

What matters most varies from person to person.

Often it’s our children. Our family. Our friends. Our faith.

We value our pets. Our homes. Our jobs. Our money. Our cars.

We’re passionate about our hobbies and interests. Our pursuit of fun. Adventure. Pleasure.

But what really counts?

I’ve been thinking about this for a couple weeks because of two things I read.

The first was this great blog post by Seth Godin, titled What kind of media counts?

In the post, Godin writes about how actors would rather be cast in low-rated cable television shows than appear in YouTube videos that will be seen by millions.

Godin writes about famous newspaper columnists that look down at bloggers—even though there are bloggers (like Godin, himself) with significantly more readers and impact than the columnists have.

He writes about how television didn’t count when radio ruled. How cable TV didn’t count when network sitcoms were all the rage.

His point? The definition of “what counts” will always change and evolve. And we need to think about which line we want to stand in.

The second thing I read that really has my wheels turning is James Altucher’s Choose Yourself.

Altucher might come off a little radical to some people. He’s anything but conventional. But as I read him, and I read some of the more “outrageous” or unconventional things he espouses, and then think about them, my initial reaction is never: “That guy is wrong.”

I always just nod.

This guy makes so much sense, it frightens me.

I brought it up a week ago today when I was losing it and wrote about some overdue library books I had at home.

I’m beginning to question so many things about my life. About how much it makes sense for me to go to work every day so I can just have enough money to pay for my house to sleep in, and my vehicle to get me to my job.

That’s it. A cycle of senseless suck.

It BEGS the question: Does any of this make sense?

Every day is one day closer to my death. Every day I’m running out of time.

The hourglass is always spilling from top to bottom. And if I knew I only had one week, or one month, or one year, or whatever to live, how would I choose to spend that time?

What Makes Us Happy?

I always cringe a little when I write about happiness. Especially after yesterday when I labeled feelings “bullshit.” I do not want to come off hypocritical, but I hope people can appreciate the distinction between how we feel about our human relationships versus our never-ending quest as human beings to pursue happiness.

Happy is just a word. It’s a word we use to describe a feeling. And it’s the feeling we have when things are going really well in our lives, or when we feel peace, or love, or pleasure, or fun, or some combination.

Our happiness is triggered by a variety of things and it varies greatly from person to person.

I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: What makes me happy?

I don’t have a comprehensive list. But here’s a brief overview:

1. I feel happy when I’m with my son and we’re getting along.

2. I feel happy when I’m with a woman who makes me feel loved and wanted.

3. I feel happy when I’m in good physical condition.

4. I feel happy when I am spiritually balanced—when I don’t feel dark and disconnected because I’m not living the way I believe I should.

5. I feel happy when I’m connected to friends and family. When I’m physically present with them, laughing and sharing moments.

6. I feel happy when I travel, exploring new places or revisiting places I love.

7. I feel happy when I do things for other people.

8. I feel happy when people appreciate and acknowledge the work I do—both here and professionally. It feels nice to have your efforts validated.

9. I feel happy when I have financial peace.

So, here’s the question: What really counts?

How important is my house? How important is my job?

Shouldn’t I ONLY spend my time pursuing the things on this list? Isn’t everything else meaningless and wasteful?

I don’t know. But I think it might be.

I think I waste a lot of time. I think I procrastinate. I think I rob myself of the joy of feeling happy by not taking small steps that will accomplish many of the things on this list.

I think I’m running out of time. I think that life is precious. I think that I want to be so much more than I am.

I want my life to have mattered. I want my life to be substantive. I want my life to be happy.

I’m chasing it. That dream.

We all are, really.

Do you feel stuck on the hamster wheel, like me? Just running in place all the time but never really getting anywhere?

What makes you happy?

Don’t you owe it to yourself and to the people you love to pursue those things? With vigor?

Of course you do.

Think. Pray. Feel. Love.

Choose yourself. Be grateful.

Find the best-possible you. Maybe help someone else find theirs.

This is your pursuit of happiness.

It happens once in a lifetime.

So please figure out what really matters to you.

Then make it count.

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