What is Success?

November 5, 2010

How do we move from where we are to where we want to be?

How do we know that where we want to be is where we should be?

And if it is not, what do we do then?

Are we hiding from who we are because we fear the consequences of being who we are?

Do we even know who we are?

Are we afraid of the work that is going to be required to become who we are?

And if we’ve been denying our self and know it, and can’t look in the mirror and do it anymore, how are we going to connect the dots between the person we are in the flesh and who we are to become?

How do we connect?

How do we persist against adversity?

How do we make our connection?

How do we change?

This is not about management; it is about surrendering to who we really are.

This is about becoming who we really are.

The answers to “how to do” something is all about technique.  “How to” can be learned.  The commitment has to be born and we have to birth it.

We achieve the outcome by seeing it before it is here, and walking, running, pushing, meditating, cajoling, fighting, driving, diving our way through our imagination to its reality.  And if we are doing that, if we are on that path, at that moment in time, we are successful.

Chuck Markham



Independent Business People

October 21, 2010

Independent businesses contribute tremendous value.

The environment required in order for us to continue being able to do that is threatened every day – threatened by government and by big business.  We need level the playing field so that we are able to reach the public with our message and provide our products and services and show and tell and do what we do best: provide quality service and products at a great value.

What are you doing to elevate the visibility and educate the public of the value of the independent business person?





Often times when people see me that haven’t seen me in a while, they say, “hey, Chuck, you look great! What have you been doing?”  Not wanting to bore people who have know interest, I simply say, “I’ve been on a diet.”

Frequently, the response is something like, “diets don’t work for me, I find that if I just eat a balanced diet, that is the best thing.”  My judgment of their statement, for them, honestly, is based upon my unspoken value judgment of how it seems to be work for them.  One guy in my neighborhood has not only lost weight and kept it off with the, “just eat a balanced diet and walk a lot,” diet.  That is great for him, and frankly, he is a power of example for me.  But, he is not an example of what I can do.  Because, what I know to be true is that for 25 years I tried the eat balanced and walk a lot diet and failed miserably on all counts.  So, it has been necessary for me to eat an imbalanced diet that has as its primary goal, the loss of fat.  That is just what I’ve had to do.

This is something I blog about, because one of the judgmental voices in my head is – “oh come on Chuck, what’s the big deal, why don’t you just man up, eat balanced and walk a lot,” and I’m writing this to remind me that I tried that for a very long time and it was something I personally was not able to be successful at doing.

Interestingly enough, now that I have been successful at knocking off some pounds, I’m becoming more successful at walking a lot and have thrown swimming in there of late as well.  In fact, my increased activity may be accounting for some of the slowdown in my weight loss as muscle starts to form.

The answer for me, once the diet ends, is going to be another lifetime program – such as the Zone diet or something that the nutritionist creates for me because left to my own devices, I must admit, I really don’t make great food choices!!




In April, when my weight loss started, until the middle of August, it was a sprint.  Boom, boom, boom – the weight came off.  Sure there were a few issues (constipation, for instance) but I felt energetic and the diet was working.  Then came a week when my weight didn’t go down.  Let me just tell you, there is the money I’m spending on the diet, the time the … and the internal chatter begins:  The next week, up another ¾ of a pound.

During the previous week, I’d already made some obvious changes that pertain to my specific diet that may have been pushing the envelope.  Now it was time to take a look at some of the other areas where I thought things were okay but in fact were not ok.  For instance, the issue of constipation needed to be dealt with.  This blog is not intended to be a medical blog and what I do may not work for anyone else, so I won’t get into specifics, but suffice it to say that I consulted a nutritionist about that.  Over the weekend was a wedding with lots of my favorite foods.  That presented challenges.  And then Saturday night we went out and the salad I ordered came different than I thought it was going to.

All of the sudden, this sprint is turning into a Marathon.  Today, I feel like I’m settling into the Marathon stride.  It is really testing a muscle of mine that needs to be tested. I’m a person with infinite interests, my mind is like a flywheel, spinning from one thought to the next.  In the type of work I do, counseling and coaching, every hour is a different set of issues.  This requires staying power.




This was the first week since I started the diet that I didn’t lose weight.
It’s amazing how fast the negative chatter comes back. It’s not even that it comes back. It is just there. “See, you can’t do it. This isn’t going to work. Who are you trying to fool? “
Who are these people living in my head and where do they come from? More importantly, how do I get rid of them?
They are me.
Fortunately, there is a me that is not a basket case. There is a me that said, calmly, “okay; did I do this week that was different. I was eating sardines and sauerkraut this week at the suggestion of the guy at the local health food store. I got the sardines in Olive oil. Upon speaking to Dr. Cunic’s office, they suggested I get them in Water. Duh. Okay. That is one thing. The other thing is that I didn’t walk as much and lastly: most weeks I go out one night and have prime rib. This week I went out twice. This week: nix the olive oil soaked sardines, walk more and I don’t know about the sauerkraut.



The weight that I’ve carried is the accumulation of frustrated nights standing alone in front of the fridge eating a pint of ice cream while I figured out what to eat, of comforting moments away from my worries in restaurants where they treat me like a a patron instead of the escape artist I am.  It is the accumulation of emotion, of tragedy that my life has known, and the fears that never happened, of my broken heart and the hearts I have broken. Meals have validated my exaggerated sense of self and buried my low self worth.  My weight has been a burden but it has also saved me from feeling my pain.  Finally, however, the joy my weight has kept me from, outweighed (literally) the pain it kept at bay.  My fear is that it will be back, my faith is in a vision of a better self that takes care.  It is the faith I plan to feed and let the fear slip into entropy and fade, fade, fade away.



Weight Loss, An Analogy

August 19, 2010

A little over sixteen weeks ago I weighed almost 212 pounds. Today, I weigh about 171.  My goal is 150.  I’m 2/3rds of my way there.  When people ask, “how long it has taken,” I say that I’ve been on this diet for about sixteen weeks, but I’ve been trying for twenty-four years.  What has made it so hard?  Is it the right diet? Or exercise?  These technical facts cannot be ignored, but truth be told, in the last twenty-four years I’ve read, studied and even tried many different regiments, some of which have worked for countless others.  They did not work for me.

I think the biggest challenge for me is that twenty-five years ago I went on a diet, it worked, and I gained the weight back so fast I barely had time to go out and replace my wardrobe. The resulting sense of failure and frustration has been a hard mountain to overcome.

What finally moved me forward occurred last Christmas Eve.  The number 212 seems to play an important role in all of this because this past Christmas Eve I was hospitalized with blood pressure of 212 on fears of a stroke.  One could reasonably expect that my dear wife would have been sympathetic to my plight, but as I lay in the hospital bed with tubes poked in my veins, I could tell that she was really pissed.  To my wife, the type “A” attorney that she is, being pissed is her way of dealing with fear.  She was angry that I’d let this go on so long, had not taken care of my self and she was afraid I was going to die.  The anger was what she was willing to show.

I looked at my 9 year old, whose Christmas was being disrupted and the concern in my 24 year old daughter’s eyes.  I want to see more of their life than I was on a trajectory to do.  I want my wife to know that I would do anything for her.  Neither of those things were happening at the moment.

I wish it hadn’t have taken all of this to get me to act, but, the fact is, it did.

Two-thirds of my way to my goal weight, I’m recognizing that many challenges that I have in my life bear a striking resemblance to my issues with weight.  Most all of the issues I have, are deeply ingrained, of long standing to the point that I’ve almost come to accept them as normal.  I just accepted that I was over-weight.  I’d come just say, this is who I am.

Twenty-nine years ago, I stopped drinking.  At age 26, I had, God willing, my last drink.  There had been times when I looked in the mirror of the bar, or above the sink in the Men’s room, and stared into my drunken face and said, “You are just a drunk.  This is who you are.”

For generations, deep into my family tree and broad into every member of the family to which I was born, alcoholism reigned.  I said to myself, “I’m just a drunk and this is just who I am.”

On a hot July morning, in 1981, I woke – or came to would be a better description – and saw my wife curled up in a fetal position in the corner of the bed.  I was never blessed with black outs.  Like a puzzle, shaken up inside my head, events of the night before came tumbling out to me, one piece at a time.  The most humiliating pieces of the night came first, sending a cringe up my spine.  The cringes came in waves.  I reached out to her and she flinched.  The night had been a nightmare to her.  Often she’d seen me stumble in drunk, but never had she seen the process of me deteriorate through the night, from jolly, to boisterous, to humiliating and humiliated to ranting, to giving up and collapsing.

That morning, I sought help, 29 years ago.  There wasn’t much about that night that was different than hundreds of other nights.  But, the combination of things and feelings brought me to my knees.  That was much like Christmas Eve and missing Christmas morning with my family.

As I look forward, from the vantage point of where I am now, in my life and business, I want to change without such extreme circumstance.

Weight is what I’ve carried and it is what I am shedding.  As I shed it, I also want to shed everything that it represents and to do it in a transparent way so that others may understand it for all that it is, and grow from it in every way that I can.