Tuesday, September 10, 2013

What If?

Life is full of "what if" questions. What if I try this and can't do it? What if I don't like it? What if I just can't do it? What if no one cares? What if it doesn't work? What if people hate it/me/you? What if they laugh? What if it is the wrong decision? What if...what if...what if.

Everything we do can be preceded with a what if question. Stop. Stop asking them right now. The best answer to each and every one of these questions is "Who cares". Seriously, who cares if people laugh or hate something or if you get it wrong this time. Who cares if you make a mistake or choose a hard path or do something weird.

Each time you find yourself asking what if, instead ask yourself:

Is this something I really want to do?       
If the answer is yes, do it. If the answer is no, then don't. Stop worrying about the possible outcomes and just keep moving forward. What if doesn't matter. What matters is not letting the fear of what happens next stop you from doing what you want.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

What Do You Want?

It can be tough figuring out exactly what you want. We have all these conflicting ideas and feelings floating around in our heads and we have the ability to rationalize in ways even we can't comprehend. All options are available and we can convince ourselves that each is what we really want. When we start to wonder what the right answer really is, many times we just won't know. Too much info going on in our heads...we have to take the time to reflect before choosing.

In nearly every situation, the answer that feels comfortable is often the easy way out (even if it doesn't really look like it). The one that scares you the most is usually the one you should choose. Most likely, it's what you really want, even if your mind won't admit it. Embrace the fear...choose the scary. It's not going to be easy, but it is going to be right. Isn't that what really matters?

Friday, August 30, 2013


The only limits are the ones you put on yourself. Said another way...you can do anything you want to do. It's not going to be easy. It will take work, often a lot of work, but if you put in the time and energy, you can accomplish anything.

Stop listening to the naysayers. Pay no heed to the soul suckers. Forget about the doubters. Ignore everyone around you who doesn't support you. Believe in yourself, especially when others don't. Rise above the day to day bullshit and follow the path you want to follow.

No matter what you do, there are always going to be people who think you are crazy; people who will tell you no; people who will doubt you; people who just don't understand you. If they are going to be there no matter what, shouldn't you focus on what you want to do? Find people who will support you and surround yourself with them, then hit the ground running. What do you really want to do? What's really stopping you?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Your Life Is Your Life

As you go through your day, what is holding you back from doing exactly what you want to do? If you look around you, how many of the people who work with you are doing what they want to do? How many have settled? How many are just looking for a paycheck? How many are feeding their ego? How many are truly excited to get up in the morning and attack the day? What causes us to work jobs we really don't like to buy shit we really don't need or want?

You are probably sitting there thinking that you aren't one of these people...you love your job and are doing good work to advance a great cause. Are you really? If you were completely honest with yourself, would you be doing exactly what you are doing now? If the answer is yes, then great! You are one step further along than most of us.

Hell, most of us don't even really know what we want to do. So, we settle and work a job we like, but don't love. We do work we convince ourselves is important or make money to help fund the things we think are important. What if we can do both? What if we can make enough money to fund the life we want while doing work we think is important? Is it even possible?

For some, yes, I think it is. It's not for everyone, but not everyone has the need to do this. Not everyone feels frustrated when they are only content. Not everyone continues to search for something more and better. Not everyone has the same urge to continue to push forward. Some people are happy doing whatever will pay the bills so they can have the house in the suburbs, the 2.3 kids and the family dog. There is nothing wrong with this and deep down, I envy these people. I'm just not one of them and since you are still reading, I would guess you aren't either.

What can we do? Keep wandering. Keep searching for the answers to your questions. Keep looking for what you need. Stop following other people's dreams and desires. Be different. Be who you need to be. Stop listening to the fear in your mind. Start following your heart more. Don't settle. Try new things. Don't let others try to mold you into something you are not. Forgive the people who don't understand. Be a nomad, if only in your heart. Know the constructs of society don't have to be followed. Your life is your life, live it as such. Be bold...be brave...be free.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Analyze This

It's a strange feeling, sitting at home on a Monday morning---not having anything to do and not having anywhere to be. It's been a long, long time since I could sit, relax, slow down and spend time on me. It has also been a while since I wrote anything on a regular basis. I have gotten so caught up with work and exercise and I just stopped writing. While I may never get back to blogging on as regular a basis as before, I will be writing more in the upcoming months...

The sad part is it is only 8:00am on the first Monday I have had off this year and I feel like I haven't been productive enough. I have a really hard time slowing down...I feel like I always need something to do. Part of this could be from school...getting busy work to "utilize" time. Part of this could be from previous jobs...the need to make sure the boss doesn't catch you "slacking". Part of this could be because I don't always like where my thoughts go when they wander...questioning why I do or don't do certain things. While reflecting and analyzing are good things to do, they can also be very difficult.

Did I make the right decisions? Did I do the right things? Am I living the life I want to live? What would have happened if I did things differently? Are things going to work out the way I hope? Will they work out at all? What could I have done differently? Did I give it my best shot? Did I give it enough time?

Asking these types of questions is both difficult and important. While we don't want to dwell on everything we do, we should take time to reflect. Some of the questions you aren't going to be able to answer...some have no real answers as we can't know about things we didn't do. Some are questions to help guide where you go next. Some are there to help you learn.

We're going to make good decisions and we are going to make bad decisions. There is nothing we can do to change this. By reflecting on the decisions we make, we can gain knowledge to use as we move forward and make more. The key is to keep moving forward, no matter what. Sometimes we have to just embrace the chaos going on around us. Sometimes we have to jump and get as far away from it as we can. But, more often than not, we have to do both (though doing both will often mean different things to each of us). What chaos do you need to embrace? What will you do today to keep moving forward?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It's Never Too Late

It's been nearly three months since I posted anything here and I am not sure how regular my posts will be, now that I have started again. I would love to say I will post three times a week or daily, but I just don't know. I started this blog a couple of years ago as a way to remind myself (and you) of the things that are important in life and how we should be doing them/living in a different way from what I am. I'm not sure if this blog was serving it's purpose or if the purpose has been transformed into something else. Only time will tell...

These last couple of months have been a little crazy. Lot's of things have changed and I have let some of the changes bother me more than I should. Have you ever had the type of change where you felt as if you went from being part of the team to being on the periphery? It's hard not to let this feeling bother you, but the best thing you can do is just let go. Change is always going to happen and it only has the control we give it. Emotion has a place in our lives, but it shouldn't run our lives. Anytime we are feeling frustrated or angry or sad over "little" things, we have to find a way to let go and move forward. These emotions aren't going to help us advance and will only cause us to dwell on things we don't need to dwell on.

I just returned from helping in Oklahoma City after the tornado. Helping with disaster response always reminds me of how quickly our lives can change. How many of us are living the life we actually want to live? How many of us are doing the things we want to do? How many of us are putting up with way too much shit because we are afraid to make changes? If you knew catastrophic change was going to happen in the next day or month or year, would you continue to live the life you currently lead?

Don't feel despair for what you haven't done, but make changes to live the life you want. If the people around you can't help you lead the life you want, then find new people and surround yourself with them. (I guarantee there are already some people around you who can help...you have been surrounding yourself with them without really knowing it). It's okay to change. It's okay to be different. It's okay to do what you need to do to live the life you want. No matter what you do, you aren't going to make everyone happy. Knowing this, doesn't it make sense to live your life in the ways that make you happy?

Change happens. We can't let change drag us down. Embrace the change and use it to live the life you want to live. Find the people who bring out the best in you and hold on to them tightly. Let everyone else go. Life is way too precious to be unhappy. Start doing what matters to you and stop worrying what everyone else thinks. Be the person you want to be and do the things you want to do. It's never too late to start.    

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Think Differently

Happy people are happy because good things continue to happen to them. Or, do good things happen to happy people?

When you are happy, do you notice the good things more than when you are not? Maybe it's not about the things that happen at all, but being happy is based on how you perceive the things happening around you. What would happen if you looked at difficulties and challenges as stepping stones and building blocks towards making you a better person? What would happen if you viewed problems as opportunities to grow? 

What will happen when you change the way you look at the world around you? Maybe trying something new is exactly what you need to become the person you want to be...

Maybe it's time to think differently.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Some Things Are More Important

Some things are more important than being right. Some things are more important than being wrong. Some things are more important than what other people think of you. Some things are more important than getting credit. Some things are more important than your ego. Some things are more important than the money you make. Some things are more important than your possessions. Some things are just more important than everything else.

What's more important to you? If you have trouble coming up with answers, then you need to spend some time figuring out what really matters to you.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Things Happen

I was speaking with a woman the other day who had been laid off by Sprint in 2009 during a time when they had mass layoffs. Looking back on it in 2013, she said it may have been one of the best things that ever happened to her. I am sure it didn't feel that way when it happened. In fact, I am sure it probably felt like the end of the world.

Off the top of my head, I can think of some times in my life when I felt the same way. When my first marriage ended, I thought my world was ending. I didn't know what to do with myself and I didn't know how I was going to go on. I did continue to live and if that wouldn't have happened, I would have never met the amazing woman I now get to spend every day of my life with.

A little over three years ago, I finally admitted I am an alcoholic and I made the decision to quit drinking. I had no idea how I was going to live my life without alcohol. I was scared and worried and didn't know who I was going to become. It really felt like the world I knew and loved was ending. Three years later, I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made and has led me along an amazing path I wouldn't have been able to follow otherwise.

I'm not religious, but I believe things happen for a reason. We can take whatever happens and build upon it. While some things may make it feel as if your world is falling apart, it only is if you let it. You can be sad. You can be angry. You can be devastated. But, you can't let it stop you from living. It may be difficult to get up every day, but you need to get up, nonetheless. You need to keep pushing forward and finding whatever it is in this world for which you are looking.

You see, things happen for a reason...even if we can't see the reason right now. Difficult things are going to happen...you may lose a marriage or a relationship or a job or a friend or any number of things. We can't let these times destroy us, no matter how hard they are. Don't confuse the fact that you don't know the reason something happens with there not being a reason.

Things happen to all of us, both good and bad. There are reasons for everything that happens. Sometimes these reasons are visible to us at the time and sometimes they aren't visible until later down the line. But, the reasons are there. I know this is of little consolation at the time and no matter what you believe, "bad" things are hard to handle. Just know, somewhere in your mind and heart, that things will get better and in a few years, you can look back and point to a "bad" thing as something that was actually good.    

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A Smooth Sea

All too often, when the going gets tough, we quit. Think about it...we live in a society where it is easier to give up than work to do something we want to do. It happens around us every day. How many people are still going to the gym, even though their New Year's resolution was to do just that? We are only 66 days into 2013 and look how many people have already given up.

We give up on relationships and friendships and marriages and losing weight and quitting smoking and reading and watching less television and exercising and volunteering and learning languages and going back to school and cooking more and applying for new jobs and changing careers and saving money and organizing and cleaning and honesty and drinking less and doing more and writing and creating and anything else we claim we want.

Lean into the pain. Embrace frustration and difficulty. Cope with stress. Enjoy the challenge. Just don't quit as soon as the going gets tough. There will still be times you should move beyond whatever you are doing, but the reasons should be more and better than it being tough.

The difficult things are usually the most important in life.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tough Days

Some days are just going to be tougher than others. It matters how you handle these difficulties.

No one cares what you can get done when things are going well and everything is lined up for you. People will notice what you can get done when the shit hits the fan, nothing is working properly, everyone is under pressure, the tension is palpable and everyone wants to run away and hide. What you do during these moments really defines who you are. The tough days make us the people we are.

Embrace the tough days. You will learn more about yourself when things are tough than you ever will when everything is working properly.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Simple Questions

What are you doing to make today better than yesterday?

What are you doing to grow in to the person you want to be?

What are you doing to help others reach their potential?

How much more can you do?

What's stopping you?

Simple questions, but not so simple answers. What would happen if you actually answered these?

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Talk Is Cheap

On this blog, I write a lot about doing great work. You can find numerous other blogs and books that also talk about the importance of doing great work. We can talk about taking chances and not fearing failure and not caring what other people think until we are blue in the face, but talk really gets us nowhere. Once we are done talking, it is difficult to actually make changes to who we are and what we do. Without making changes, the only thing we will be able to do is continue to talk about doing great things.

I know it is hard to change the way you do things and how you think. I have the same difficulties myself. I'm not as productive as I would like to be. I don't always do the things I want to do. There are times I let fear control me. I don't take risks as much as I should. I don't speak up. Sometimes, I just try blend in with everyone else. I don't always volunteer for the tough projects. I don't stick my neck out enough.

In all honesty, this frustrates the hell out of me. I urge others to do all of the things I don't do as much as I would like. This makes me feel like a hypocrite, but I know these feelings of frustration and disappointment are not productive. Instead of these feelings, I need to use this as motivation for living the life I talk about. If I want to do more, then I need to make sure I am doing more. I am the only one responsible for my actions, just as you are the only one responsible for yours.

You see, no matter what, life isn't about perfection. We are going to have our ups and downs and we are always going to strive to be or do something more than we are right now. We all have room to grow and we all have the ability to improve. Feeling down about the things we aren't doing isn't the way to grow. Instead, celebrate the things you are doing well and learn from the things you are not doing as well as you would like. Make changes to try to improve the areas where you think you need improvement, but don't beat yourself up over what you view as shortcomings. Just keep working towards doing better.

You are not perfect. You are not going to do everything exactly like you think you should every time. You are not always going to take the right risks or do as well as you would like. You can learn to do more of the things you want to do. You just have to be conscious of the things you need to do and force yourself to do them. Force yourself to speak up in a meeting and share your idea. Volunteer for the next project offered. When you feel fear holding you back, do exactly what you are scared of.

Be cognizant of what you aren't doing as well as you would like. Don't let this frustrate you, but recognize what you need to do, acknowledge the things holding you back, then overcome them. As I said earlier, you are the one in control of your actions. If you don't want anything to hold you back, then don't let anything hold you back. You can accomplish anything you want to accomplish. It's going to take work. You have to hold yourself accountable. You know what you must do to overcome whatever has stopped you in the past.

I know I will never be perfect, but I can be better than the person I was yesterday. I will continue to work on the things I want to do better. I will be more productive. I will not let fear stop me. I will take more risks. I will speak up more often. I will volunteer for the tough projects. I will stick my neck out. I will do more than I ever have. Will you?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013


Instead of worrying about your reputation, shouldn't you be more worried about what you create? It doesn't really matter what other people think of you, if you are happy with what who you are, what you do and what you stand for.

Before you can create, you have to get your priorities straight. Spending time worrying what other people think will only lead you to produce mediocre work. Take chances, do crazy things and stop caring so much about what you think others think. They only have as much control as you give them.

Reputations change. Being able to constantly produce great work---now there is something to strive for. It will matter far longer than any reputation you may achieve.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Life Is What You Make It

I have been thinking about the idea of life is what you make it. I know we often talk about being in control or taking control of your life or doing what you love or anything of the sort, but how often do we really do any of these things? How often do we actually take control of our life instead of reacting to the stimuli constantly occurring around us? How often do we head in the direction we want, instead of following the path the winds are blowing us towards?

Some things are out of our control and it is important to make the best out of what happens around us (and to us). You may lose a job or a relationship will end or a manuscript will be rejected or you will be passed over for a promotion or any number of bad things that can happen to you. Don't dwell on the bad things when they happen. We've all heard the sayings: "there's more than one fish in the sea" or "when a door closes a window opens" or "everything happens for a reason". While we all know these are true, we have to do whatever we can to really make the best out of things that happen.

There are times, though, when you just can't make the best out of what happens. Instead of falling into an abyss of depression, sometimes you just have to shake your fist (often with your middle finger extended) to the heavens and use the anger as the fuel to learn as much as you can, pick yourself up and move forward. Not everything is going to work out in the end. That's perfectly normal and okay, no matter how many people mention a cute, little quote like the ones above. Sometimes shit just happens and we have to continue to get up in the morning and live life. We don't have to make the best out of these situations, but we do have to keep moving forward doing the best we can.

It would be great if someone could just give us a shortcut on making life exactly what we want it to be. We look around and we see people who seemingly are living the life they want and we just want to know how to get there. The real answer and the one most people don't want to hear is they worked their ass off. Yes, they may have had some lucky breaks along the way, but they still worked their assess off. I know, it's not the answer I wanted either. I was hoping for an easy way too...but everything you really want is going to take a lot of hard work. There really aren't any shortcuts on this journey, unless you don't really care about the outcome.

As you are trying to make your life what you want, remember no one really has all the answers. If they act like they do (or actually think they do), they are going to do more harm than good. You can read tons of books or listen to people speak or subscribe to all the self-help blogs and podcasts out here, but you are never going to find all the answers externally. Part of life being what you make it is knowing what you want with your life. Other people have their own agendas and ideas that probably don't mesh with yours. The only way to get all the "answers" from other people is to give up your own ideas. No matter how you spin it, this sounds a little too cultish to me (and trust me from experience, no matter how smart or well-known a leader is, they aren't going to be right about everything).

This life is what you make it. The good, the bad, the happy, the sad, the anger, the joy...everything rolled into one. While we are never going to have control over everything that happens, we do have control over ourselves. We can react to the things that happen and we can work towards the things we want to happen. We can fight. We can get angry. We can work our asses off. We can get lucky from time to time. We can have things ripped from our grasp. We can try to make the best of the shitty things that happen. We can just dust ourselves off and push forward when the really shitty things happen. We can curse the gods. We can thank the heavens. We can learn and dream and hope and pray. We just can't stop trying.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

What Role Do You Play?

As a "huge" snowstorm continues to head towards Kansas City, it makes me think of the roles we all play. Some of us will go in early to make sure work gets done. Some of us will sleep in. Some of us will just work from home. Some of us will bitch and moan about how difficult the snow makes things. Some of us will welcome the snow. Some of us will stock up on food and water. Some of us won't worry about anything. Some of us will spend this time with friends. Some of us will spend this time alone. Some of us will not venture out at all. Some of us will go sledding.

We all have a role we play. What's your role? Do you like it? If not, what do you need to do to change it?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Keep Your Coins

Today, your life is going to change. The change might be monumental or it could be minimal, but today will be different than yesterday and tomorrow will be different than today. How are you going to react to this change?

Maybe you will be scared of the change. Maybe you will run and hide and hope nothing really changes. Maybe you will do everything in your power to keep things exactly as they are. Maybe you like the way things are and even if your life isn't exciting or passionate, you are content. Maybe you will shirk from opportunity.

Maybe you will embrace the change that comes along. Hell, maybe you will encourage the change and cause your own changes to happen. Maybe you will realize life isn't meant to be played safe. Maybe you will take risks. Maybe you will try new things. Maybe you will run with whatever life hands you. Maybe you will be excited for something new.

No matter what you do, today is going to be different. Tomorrow will too. Each day to come will be different than the last. Since change is already going to happen, wouldn't it be great if we learned to embrace it? Wouldn't it be great if we could welcome it and work our asses off to actually change things for the better?

Well, what exactly are we waiting for?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Defusing a Bomb

Not knowing what to do and doing nothing are not the same thing and shouldn't be treated as if they are.

Pick something and do it. Unless you are defusing a bomb, you can always choose something else later if what you pick isn't what you expected. Just quit wasting time in indecision and procrastination and get to work.

Your future self will thank you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


Fact: At some point in time in the future, you are going to die.

The important question to ask yourself: What are you going to do to make today special?

(Really think about this...don't just read this post and then pass by without actually thinking. Pause right now and spend a little time figuring out how to make today matter for you. Do something crazy or new or different or scary or brave or happy. Just do something. Then, repeat this exercise every day.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Do A Little Each Day

In my last post, I wrote about how embracing discomfort will help us succeed. As an example, I mentioned running and how the little voice likes to scream at me to stop during the first part of my run and then somewhere near mile two. If you would have told me six months ago that I would be able to run two miles, let alone more, I would have laughed. Six months ago, I wasn't able to run 100 yards without being extremely winded.

Six months ago, I may have looked thin, but I hadn't exercised regularly for a couple of years. It had been nearly a decade since I had regular cardiovascular exercise. I have been an on again-off again smoker most of my adult life. For a good number of years, I drank way more than is healthy. I was lazy and spent very little time taking care of myself. I would have been extremely overweight if I hadn't become vegan a decade ago (as I was overweight prior to this). I wasn't a healthy person.

I was driving to work one morning and saw a billboard for a run in town and decided I wanted to be able to run a 5K. With delusions of grandeur running through my mind, I believed I would be able to get in shape and do this very easily. I was wrong. The first time I tried to run, I thought I was going to die. I hated every second of it. My body hurt, my lungs burned, my mind screamed and I thought I was an idiot for even attempting this. I wanted to give up and just say running wasn't for me.

Instead, I decided to do things in a smart way. I followed the advice of others and began the Couch to 5K program. I built up my stamina by running shorter periods of time, enough to feel it, but not enough to make it hell. I still wanted to quit, but every time I was supposed to run, I did. I forced myself to put on my running shoes and get out the door. I didn't give myself an out, even while I was on my honeymoon. After a while, I looked forward to my runs. Exercise became fun.

Then the holidays hit, the weather turned cold and I stopped again. I came up with excuses about why I could wait or told myself that I could take time off and start again later. I convinced myself that starting this time would be easier and I would be able to start right where I left off. I was wrong. My first run was horrible. I had gone from running five miles to nearly falling over after ten minutes. I was frustrated and wanted to quit, but I wasn't going to have it.

I found that no matter what it is, you have to put in the work. If you just do a little each day, it becomes easier to do more. But, if you take a day off, it becomes easier to take the next day off. Once you take off two in a row, it starts to become a habit to not do what you want to do. I know I can't run every day, but I can do squats every morning or chin ups at night or sit ups or push ups or anything else to get some exercise in. The key is to do something each day to help you towards your gaol (no matter what the goal is).

I use the same mindset for writing and reading and flossing and anything else I know I should do or want to do. Start doing things in small increments and then build them up over time-just make sure you do something every day. If you want to write, start by writing a sentence each day. If you want to read, read a paragraph each day. If you want to learn a foreign language, start with one word each day. It's never going to be easy to start, but it can be hard to keep going. Figure out what you want to do and get up off your ass and start. Then, do it again tomorrow.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Get Good At Discomfort

As I was reading one of the blogs I follow, I came across this quote: "Get good at discomfort. Avoiding discomfort is very common, but a big mistake. Learning to be OK with some discomfort will change your life." The idea of learning to be okay with discomfort has stuck in my mind and I know we would all be better off if we followed this advice.

I look at my own life and think about the times I have kept going, despite discomfort. Hell, I can think about my morning run today and my mind screaming at me to stop, even though I was just a few minutes in. I was able to quiet it down and keep going, but the voice popped up again about 2 miles into the run. I have a love/hate relationship with running and feel the discomfort each and every time I hit the street. I don't let it stop me. I know I am going to feel it and keep on going.

Many times, we shirk away from things that make us uncomfortable or feel discomfort. We don't have the difficult conversations. We don't speak up for our ideas. We don't try new things. We don't set goals and stick to them. We don't exercise as much as we want or should. We don't go to new places. We don't strike up conversations with strangers. We don't ask for help. We don't push ourselves as hard as we could. We don't chase our dreams.

We don't do a lot of things because we might feel some distress or mild pain. We choose to stay where we are and avoid discomfort at all costs. Does this make any sense to you? Look at your life and any accomplishment of which you are proud. Did it come without discomfort? Were the great things in life the easy to accomplish?

Get good at discomfort. Hell, for the next couple of weeks, go out of your way to do things that bring discomfort. Feel some distress and mild pain and see how easy it is to keep going. Don't listen to the voice telling you to stop and keep on pushing. You are never going to know what you are capable of accomplishing until you push further than you thought possible.

Discomfort is good...when you feel it, you know you are trying. Stop avoiding it.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stop Listening

Sometimes, you have to stop listening to what other people think. If you know what is right for you, then it really doesn't matter what they think anyway. They aren't you. Stop using them as an excuse. Stop allowing them to let fear in. Stop letting the doubt creep in because of them. Stop blaming them. Stop holding back.

Be confident in your choices and your abilities. Trust in yourself. Don't let anyone hold you back from doing anything you know you should do. Go after what you want and need, no matter how scary it seems. You deserve more (and better) than anyone else thinks. Take control of your life and get to work doing what you want to do.

Monday, February 4, 2013

What Will Make This Week Better?

It's Monday morning and as you are getting ready for the week ahead, what are you going to do to make it better? What are you going to do to make this week different? What are you going to do to step out of your comfort zone? Here's a short list of ideas to get you going:
  • Do something that scares you
  • Go out of your way to make someone happy
  • Learn something new
  • Start a new project
  • Make time to read
  • Focus on smiling
  • Meditate
  • Exercise
  • Make "to do" lists every morning
  • Volunteer
  • Buy a homeless person lunch
  • Start a conversation with a stranger
  • Get enough sleep
  • Eat a healthy meal every day
  • Listen to people
In all honesty, it doesn't really matter what you do, just as long as you are doing something. Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Stop wasting time and start doing what you need to do to live the life you want. Start today. What are you going to do?

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

It's Up To You

Change happens.

It's up to you to decide if the change is good or bad. It's up to you to decide how you react. It's up to you to take control of any situation. It's up to you to figure out how to make the best out of anything. It's up to you.

Start acting like it.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Easy To Say

No one is going to give you everything you need. No one is going to push you as hard as you will push yourself. No one is going to show you the way. No one is going to give you permission to lead or create or make art or do important things or be happy or make your life the life you want. No one is going to make you do what you know you need to do.

Take control. Figure out what you need. Start working. Create something amazing. Start again.
(So easy to say, but so very hard to do.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Nothing hurts more than rejection. Being told you are not good enough to do whatever it is you want to do sucks. There isn't any way around this. The rejection could end up being a good thing or it could lead you down the path you really should head down or everything could turn out alright, but when the rejection happens, you are going to be angry and sad and frustrated (and probably any other "negative" emotion you can think of). If you are anything like me, your logical mind will try to convince you the rejection is an opportunity, but your emotional mind will want to yell and scream and curse and throw things.

How you react is important. It's okay to get angry and frustrated and sad, but don't let your emotions completely blanket your logical mind. As with any other event, we can't allow our emotions to smother our logic...we need them both and it is often a very difficult balancing act to contain them. I know how hard it can be to think logically when you are feeling frustrated, angry or sad, but you have to try. Rejection has to be seen as another challenge...another path...a change in the fabric of your reality. So, be angry, be sad, be frustrated, but get over it quickly. You can't let the rejections of life control you.

Rejection says as much (if not more) about the rejector than it says about you. Often times, you will be rejected out of fear. As humans, we have been programmed to not take risks, to not stand out, to not do anything that may not work. While this may keep people from making as many mistakes, it will also keep them from having great success. Don't allow other people's fear control who and what you do. Other people do things they think are right, in the same way you do things you think are right. The difficulty comes in realizing there isn't one right. The reasoning behind what you do is just as important as what you are doing.

There are going to be times when you are told you are not good enough. You are going to be rejected. You are going to get angry. You are going to be sad. You are going to be frustrated. You may scream. You may break some things. You may cry. It's okay. A big part of you is going to want to prove them wrong...but many times you can't. You are going to have to stand up, dust yourself off and move forward. One rejection, one door shutting, one change in the plan isn't going to change who you are. It doesn't make you someone else. Use this rejection as a chance to grow and learn and do something different. Succeed despite people's fears (even if this success will "prove" they were right in their rejection).

Everything that happens to you throughout life, good or bad, is an opportunity. There are always going to be people who make bad decisions and think they are good. There are always going to be people who are afraid to take risks. There are always going to be people who don't understand you. There are always going to be people who want you to be someone else. There are always going to be people who just don't get it. There are always going to people who reject you. Don't let any of it stop you from being you.

Rejection is just another obstacle along your path. Don't let it keep you from doing great things.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Who are you?

Who are you? Who are you really? Many of us have so many personae that we have forgotten who we actually are. (I have told people for years that I am an asshole and I don't really care what people think of me.) We're afraid to show our true identities to the people around us. Why is this? Part of it is because we don't trust the people around us, at least not fully, and part of it is because we afraid of what these people will think of the true us (and I am sure there are other parts to the problem).

We want to fit in. We want to be a part of the "cool crowd." We want to be a leader or a manager or an artist or a gatekeeper or a star or a writer or anything else we can think of. We want to easily fit into a slot that any of these names will fit, even if it isn't who we are truly meant to be. We want people to understand us and respect us for who we are, even if we aren't really showing them who this is. We want to be just like them.

Our education systems drove out any and all individuality and creativity we had. If any small amount somehow survived school, it was quickly squashed during our first job. We're afraid to be an outlier. We're afraid to stand out. We're afraid of being labeled as different or strange or weird. This is all normal. These fears have been pounded into our heads for as long as we can remember. We know what it feels like to be bullied. While our fears make sense, they are holding us back from doing what we really want to do and what we are capable of doing.

No matter what we say or think we believe, there is always going to be a part of us that cares what other people think of us. What we fail to realize is there are always going to be people who like who we are and what we offer and those who hate who we are and what we have to offer. If this is going to be the case, wouldn't it be better to be true to who we are? We don't have to fit in with the "in" crowd. We can find our own crowd or start our own crowd.

You don't have to hide who you are. If people don't like you, that's their problem. It's okay to believe in yourself. It's okay to be a little arrogant. It's okay to have an ego. It's okay to believe your are right. If you are being true to yourself, then you are right. If the people around you don't agree, then oh well. Why should you care? There is never going to be just one right answer...your right isn't always theirs and their right isn't always yours.

Be you. Believe in this you. Stand up and speak loudly about anything you want to stand up and speak loudly about. Have opinions and share them. We're not going to create anything amazing by fitting in, following the crowd and not questioning things happening around us. Creativity doesn't come from being comfortable and always being true to yourself is usually uncomfortable.

Be proudly you. Be loudly you. Be you, not the one person other people think you should be. Speak your mind. Solve the problems in ways you think will work best, even if they are problems no one else sees. If you want a different outcome, then do things differently. Stop fearing being different or strange or unique or loud or weird or angry or happy or anything else you fear about yourself. Give this world you.

It's going to be scary. It will probably be hard. You are going to make some people angry. You are going to make some people happy. You will be called names and you will be looked up to. You will be right and you will be wrong. Through it all, just be you.

Who are you?

Monday, January 21, 2013


Everyone has their own agenda. Too often, we lose sight of this fact. Of course people are going to do things that don't match up with your agenda...they are more worried about theirs. This isn't right or wrong, but just the way it is. Logically, this makes sense, but emotionally, it doesn't always feel good.

We're emotional animals and this can make our interactions with others difficult. We want things the way we want them and when people don't agree, we can become angry and frustrated. For some, they handle this well. For others, we don't. When we don't handle it well, things can get ugly quickly. Other people can get involved. Lots of feelings can get hurt.

When emotions are involved, people often lose their minds. Things are said that shouldn't be said. We behave in ways we wouldn't normally behave. We do things we regret. Our emotional side is running the show...all because someone did something that didn't fit our agenda.

Why take things personally? If someone does something you wouldn't do or doesn't do something you would do, know they have their own reasons. They did it because of their agenda. What's the point of letting it bother you? Should other people have that much control over you and how you feel?

I'm not saying you have to ignore it, either. You can discuss with people what you would like or how you would have preferred they acted, but don't let emotions get the better of you. You, and you alone, should be in control of you. Don't give other people the power. Focus on the your agenda and let other people focus on theirs. If they don't mesh, then get out of the others way and move on. It's so much better and more productive than getting mad, frustrated or bitter.

Life is way too damn short to spend your time being mad, frustrated and bitter.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Itch

I'm in a bit of a holding pattern at work and I am starting to get the itch. I get the itch every now and again, but I haven't really listened to it since I was in my twenties. Then, when I did listen to it, I moved from my hometown to Syracuse. This led to additional moves and before I ended up back here five years later, I lived in five different states and had a lot of great experiences while I was gone. While everything wasn't always unicorns and rainbows during this period, I did have a lot of great times.

So, every now and then, I get the itch. Times are a little different now, though. I own a house. I have a good job (coming up, especially). My family is in this town and my wife's family is within a short drive. But, I still wonder what life would be like if I moved to the mountains or out West (I've spent enough time on the East Coast) or to another country (though this would be much more difficult with the dogs and cat).

Would I be able to get a job? Could I sell the house? Is the job here good enough to be worth staying? Would I be running away from things here or just looking for something new? Would I find something better than I have now or just something different? Would it be worth the effort? What else is out there?

I don't know the answer to these questions and I am pretty sure I will ignore the itch this time around. Will the itch come back? I don't know and if it does, I have no idea how I will react that time, either. In my life, I have felt the itch a lot, but I haven't listened to it nearly as many times as I have. Maybe I should listen to it more often...

What kind of "itch" do you get? What do you do?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Enjoy The Ride

You don't have to listen to the advice people give you. Hell, most of the time you probably shouldn't. When someone starts telling you the best way to chase you dreams or why you should do this over that or how to live a life of happiness, be wary. This may seem a bit ironic coming from someone who has built a blog on giving advice, but it's the truth. The life you are living is your life...do with it what you will.

You see, what works for me may not work for you. There's a good possibility what works for you won't work for me. You can listen to the what people say, but you don't have to embrace it. You can learn from the people around you, but you still have to figure out what works for you. No one has everything figured out, no matter what they tell you.

We all struggle through life, never knowing if we are making the right decision. They key to it all (and yes, I realize this is advice) is to never stop trying. Succeed or fail, as long as you are doing something, you are on the right track. No matter what happens, just never stop trying. Struggle, fight, fail, succeed, move forward, stumble back, fall down, get up...just do.

No matter what, enjoy the ride. If you don't enjoy (at least at some level) the life you lead, what's the point?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Love The Now

Too often, many of us get stuck and start wondering if we are doing what we are "supposed" to be doing. We wonder why we aren't happier. We start to question decisions we have made and the path we are on. Looking around, we only see people who are doing amazing things. We believe everyone else has their act together and knows exactly what they want and how to get there.

You are not alone in wondering what if. From time to time, everyone questions what they are doing and searches to see if there is a way to be happier doing something else. It's okay to question. It's okay to look around and wonder. It's okay to be human. Just don't let the questioning and wondering bring you down. Use them as a motivator and not fodder for depression.

Everyone wants to do what they love to do. Most of us don't really know what that is. It's not always about finding it, but enjoying the search. Unless you are really lucky, you have to continue doing other things while you look. Find ways to love these other things, too.

We are going to spend the rest of our lives searching for that something better, but we can't get so lost in the searching that we don't allow ourselves to enjoy the now. I have to constantly remind myself to enjoy the now. It's so easy to get caught up in what may happen tomorrow or next year, that I ignore today. When this happens, I get into a funk that is really hard to shake.

The questioning and wondering and searching shouldn't pull us down, but should build us up. Don't beat yourself up for searching and wondering, but be sure to find things you love with what you have today while you do. We're all going to search and wonder and question, but only a few of us will figure out how to do this in a positive way...wouldn't you like to be one of them?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Lead or Manage?

As I was reading last night, this passage really struck a chord:

"Management is almost diametrically opposed to leadership. Management is about generating yesterday's results, but a little faster or a little more cheaply. We know how to manage the world-we relentlessly seek to cut costs and to limit variation, while we exalt obedience.

Leadership, though, is a whole other game. Leadership puts the leader on the line. No manual, no rule book, no ├╝berleader to point the finger at when things go wrong. If you ask someone for the rule book on how to lead, you're secretly wishing to be a manger."
                                                             -Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception

Maybe I have been in middle-management for too long, but these paragraphs made me pause. I bet I reread them ten times last night and as I am writing this, I've reread them another three. I don't think most people look at leading and management this way. I've always thought of them being similar and even going hand in hand, but they don't. They aren't even dissimilar, but diametrically opposed.

When I first read this, I didn't understand what Seth Godin was trying to say. Honestly, I was a little confused. The more I thought about leadership and management though, the more this made sense. Leadership is not only more, but is also different than management. Even though many people utilize the terms as synonyms, they are not. I have been in meetings where we have bounced between talking about managing people and leading them, sometimes in the same breath. The problem arises when we try to manage people while thinking we are leading them.

You can't manage and lead at the same time. Too often, our leaders become trapped in the idea of managing people (or the world around them) and by doing so, stop leading. There are also a lot of people who call themselves leaders, but do nothing more than manage. We have enough managers in the world, but we are very short on leaders. Leading is more difficult and a hell of a lot scarier, but it does so much more. Look at yourself...when you think you have been leading, have you really? I know I haven't.

What can we do differently to lead instead of manage? (Hint: this is going to be different for each and every one of us. You have to figure out what you can do differently and I have to figure out what I can do differently.)

Monday, January 7, 2013

Be Better

We live in a world where very few people want to make decisions. In school, we were trained to do what we were told. We were instructed on how important it is to be on time, to do the assigned work, to memorize useless facts and to fit in. Failing at anything was the worst thing you could do, followed closely by thinking for yourself and standing out. Many of us spent years and tens of thousands of dollars learning how to be a good, little employee, but nothing else.

This world has enough followers and good employees. Too many people have become so afraid of being wrong, they do nothing. They freeze. What we are desperately lacking are people who can think for themselves. We need leaders. We need people who can make decisions. We need people who can learn from their mistakes. Hell, we need people who have the guts to stick their neck out and make mistakes.

It's okay if you just want to be a cog in the machine. You can be a follower and a good employee, never making decisions, never taking chances and never really making a difference. This blog is probably not for you. For everyone else, take some chances. Make choices. Decide. Think for yourself. Make mistakes. Stick your neck out. Stand out. Yes, you may "get in trouble" or "get called to your boss's office" but are these really things to be afraid of?

What's really the worst that could happen? What happens if you make a choice and it turns out to be a really smart move? We have to stop being so afraid of being wrong. Instead, we should fear being insignificant. Fear doing nothing. Fear being only a cog. Fear being one of the masses.

Be a leader. Start making decisions. Make mistakes and learn from them. Think for yourself. Be better than you have been in the past. What do you have to lose? More importantly, what do you have to gain?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

If You Really Want To Do Something...

How did the first week of 2013 treat you? We're a week in and I haven't started to focus on any of my goals. This is the first blog post I have started to write. I haven't run. I haven't read much. I haven't made the time to do the things I need to do to succeed this year. Many people (and the person I was for many years) would throw up their hands, become frustrated and give up because they couldn't get started doing what they needed to do. They would quit without even really trying. We can't give up that easily.

I could also make excusing about why I didn't do what I needed to do. Work has been crazy and I have been putting in ten to twelve hour days. Even on my days off, I get phone calls from work (the last time I didn't get a call or text from work was while I was out of the country). By the time I get home, I am usually fairly tired and want nothing more than to relax with my wife. Friends were in town for some of this week and we had guests staying at our house. There were other things I had to get done around the house.

All of that is true, but none of it really matters. There are tons of people who work more hours and still find time to start a business, write a novel, go to school, learn a language, write a successful blog, invent something or do any number of things that many of us don't. Many people have responsibilities, commitments and schedules that keep them amazingly busy, but they find ways to chase their own dreams and goals. There are people who are able to do way more with way less.

Don't accept the reasons you try to give yourself for why you aren't doing what you want to be doing. They are excuses and nothing more. If you want to accomplish a goal, you can find ways to do it. No one else is going to hold you accountable...you have to hold yourself accountable. Maybe you get up an hour earlier. Maybe you go to sleep an hour later. Maybe you just schedule time into your hectic calendar and stick to your appointments to run or read or write or learn. Do it on breaks at your other job. We can find a way to do the things we really want to do.

Are the goals you set important to you? Think honestly about them...at one point they were important enough to set as goals. If you are able to work on them, would you still want them as a goal? If so, then figure out how to succeed. Decide what needs to be done and then work on doing it. If you need more time to train or learn or practice, then make more time. You have control over your life, if you choose to take control. No more excuses. We can either make the time and put in the effort or we can give up. I know I don't want to give up. Do you?

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Welcome to 2013

Welcome to 2013! I have spent the last few weeks thinking about what I was able to accomplish in 2012 and what I would like to do in 2013. I don't really like the idea of a New Year's resolution as they have become a bit of a mockery and are easily ignored. I do set goals, but I don't think of them as resolutions...I look at the beginning of the year as a clean slate and plan accordingly.

As for 2012, here is a brief list of some things I was able to accomplish and also some things where I fell a little short:
  • I married an amazing woman and my best friend.
  • I finally made it out of the country again...spending time in Cahuita, Costa Rica. This was the best trip to date!
  • I started running. Though I didn't run the 5K I planned on running, I still trained for it. I ran further than I ever have.
  • My goal to read 52 books in 2012 fell short with only having read 44.
  • At work, I helped lead Great Plains SPCA to the best year of adoptions in our history (though I wouldn't have been able to do it without all the staff around me). 
  • I also worked way too many hours helping open our brand new adoption center.
  • I wrote my 176 blog posts and saw my 20,000th page view.
  • My credit card debt was eliminated.  
  • I celebrated (is this really the right word?) my third anniversary of sobriety.
In 2013, I have some goals I plan on reaching:
  • Reading 52 books is back on the list.
  • I will run a 5K.
  • I will run a 10K.
  • I will write 3 posts (at least) each week for this blog.
  • In just a few days, I will celebrate my tenth year being vegan.
  • I will pay off three more monthly bills.
  • At work, I will help lead Great Plains SPCA to another record year.
There are other things I really would like to do, but I haven't set them as actual goals (yet). Some are still ideas I am toying around with (a novel) and others are still a little vague and not yet goal worthy (taking less personally, living more in the moment, laughing more). What goals do you have for 2012?

Write them down. Figure out a good way to track them. Hold yourself accountable. Tell them to someone else so they can hold you accountable. Hell, comment here and we can hold each other accountable. Then, start working on them. We only have 365 days in 2013 (now 364), so we have to start now. No more procrastinating. No more waiting until tomorrow. No more waiting on other people. Let's get to work. This is going to be an amazing year, but only if we help make it one!