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 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 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 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!