In over 30 years as a commercial and industrial electrician in Los Angeles, I’ve been able to work on some iconic projects.
- The Library Square Tower which in ’89 was the tallest building on the West Coast
- The LAX Control Tower in ’94, where I hung on the exterior of that building for 6 months installing the lightning protection.
- The Nokia Theater (now Microsoft Theater) which in ’07 was the first multi-million dollar job I ran.
- A 5-story tall Class 2 cleanroom and sound chamber to build and test space satellites.
- And, my last big project, a $1.6B LAX Terminal
And all of these projects had one thing in common.
They all required a strong foundation.
2 Years in the Dirt, 1 Year in the Sky
I’m sure if you have lived in any big city, you’ve seen one.
One of those boarded-up sidewalks surrounding a construction site. Sometimes, they cut in viewing windows but often they do not.
It seems like for years, there’s nothing happening except a lot of irritating noise. It can be going on for years sometimes, just a big hole in the ground with little apparent progress.
Then all of a sudden, one day, you start to see the steel going up above the boarded sidewalk.
And before you know it, there’s a towering structure.
Those years in the dirt were important, vitally important. The construction and engineering crew were digging down to the bedrock and making sure the foundation was strong enough for the stress that the building would create.
And you can’t just guess, or the consequences could be dramatic. Pisa anyone?
Especially for tall towers, you have to dig down to the bedrock and test the compaction. If it’s not strong enough, you have to drive in piles, tall columns of reinforced steel and concrete, into the ground to increase the compaction-density.
But once the foundation is in place, then you can start setting the steel-skeleton, and that goes up quick and easy.
How Strong Is Your Foundation?
What is your life about?
Where do you stand?
More importantly, where are you going?
When I ask clients these questions, I get the usual answers; have a loving family, be a contributing member to my community, be successful at work to create a good quality of life, etc.
And while these are great answers, I tell my clients it’s important to dig deeper. We’re not talking about a good life, we’re exploring how to create a powerful life; a life of impact, inspiration, and legacy.
And for that, you need a strong foundation.
You need to dig deep, test your convictions, and see how big and tall of a structure you can build off of that.
Weak foundation, weak structure of life. Strong foundation, strong structure and life.
Building Your Foundation
On the field of the Self stand a knight and a dragon. You are the knight. Resistance is the dragon.
Steven Pressfield, Do the Work
For many of the people I work with, I have them read Steven Pressfield’s, Do the Work. It’s a supercharged condensed iteration of his phenomenal book, The War of Art.
If you haven’t read either of these books, I suggest you stop right here and order one, if not both of them right now, then come back.
Did you order them?
Good. I mean it, they are that good.
I’ve probably read and listened to each of them at least a dozen times. Every time that dragon by the name of Resistance rears its ugly head.
If you want to create a powerful life, you need to take on the role of the knight.
And that’s where the exercise comes in.
My Monday Evening Men’s Group Meeting
For about a year now, I’ve been a member of a high-level men’s group. Successful entrepreneurs, coaches, authors, investors, and tech leaders.
Throughout the week, we gather over a variety of topics and one of my favorite meetings is a Monday mastermind group, the Regal Roundtable.
On Monday nights we discuss what it means to live regally, with chivalry, leadership, and service to our communities.
Part of the process is that each year, we design and build a coat of arms. In this past year, in the time of COVID, our coat of arms has taken on the form of Zoom backgrounds as compared to the usual heraldic image that would be on a shield.
There are 5 aspects that we dive into for our coat of arms;
- Your regal animal — what animal and its qualities represent you?
- Your kingdom — where do you hail from, what is your community?
- Your signature — what areas of expertise, superpower, or image helps to identify your uniqueness?
- Your heritage — what is your lineage, who are your ancestors you draw strength from?
- Your motto — what is your creed, what is your rallying cry?
Uncovering Your Coat of Arms
Exploring and diving into creating your coat of arms is a powerful exercise.
Not only does it have you questioning who you are and what you stand for, but it also challenges you to create a visual representation of it that communicates those values, your foundation.
Better yet, do it with a group, each of you sharing your coat of arms and what it means to you is a wonderful exploration into what does it mean to be a leader, and in what areas do you choose to lead.
There comes power and strength from being connected to your convictions, displaying them publicly is all the more powerful.
My Latest Iteration
Here’s my latest version for 2021 of my coat of arms.
Starting at the top is my motto which served me well when I was afraid, “Attempt the impossible so that the difficult becomes easy.”
Below that to the left is that it is important that I come from a place of service and helping one another. And also, to remember personally to reach out when I need help, something that is often difficult for me.
Next to that, are my two regal animals that honor both my Chinese and European heritage. Both the dragon and the griffin were viewed as protectors of precious treasure. Having been bullied as a kid and young adult, I see myself as a protector of our most precious treasure, each other. I do my best to create safe environments so that every individual can feel safe to be themselves.
In the upper-right corner, is my secret sauce. Being physically small, I’ve always have had to learn how to use leverage to accomplish my goals on the mat and on the job site. Now as a coach, I use my willfulness and values as a leverage point to be of service, helping others to create powerful success.
On the bottom-left, is the Kanji characters of Do Shim, which means “Way of the Heart,” it comes from a scroll I saw everyday training in Hapkido, under GM Bong Soo Han and may very well have been this most important lesson I learned from him.
Next to that is where I grew up, in Honolulu, right next to Waikiki. It is still dear in my heart because it is where I learned of ohana and family which has nothing to do with blood, and that we are of one family.
And finally, the lower-right is a more nuanced take of the Taoist yin-yang, where it is further refined by the five elements and how they both support and decay one another. Reminding me to continually be in flow with my environment, in all of its myriad forms.
Now It’s Your Turn
I hope this inspires you to create your own foundation to build a powerful towering life.
A life that you can be proud of to share and lead with.
I would love to see what coat of arms you come up with and share it here for others to see and be inspired by.