Day 1,618 – Thankful for a Thought Provoking Question and a Though Provoking Training

The conversation on our morning run took an interesting and thought provoking time this morning. In essence there was a question that kept my head thinking. Is the pursuit of perfection a good thing?

Personally, I love the pursuit of perfection. What’s wild is that I know that it will never actually happen, but I still find it something worth striving for. In my head I measure success as growth towards something and not the something itself. If I pause and get frustrated for not being perfect I can shut myself down in anger or disappointment. If I focus on what I’ve learned from this specific pursuit of perfection I can use it to fuel me to push harder, try again, and continue the pursuit. Ultimately, my choice in attitude determines whether or not I find motivation or disappointment in pursuing perfection.

Starting my morning with that thought forming in my head helped me focus on choosing a growth mindset through the day – something I’m very grateful for!

One of our online training sessions today really helped me see a concept from a different perspective. The topic was on vulnerability and I was quickly reminded of how much I (& virtually everyone) enjoy helping people. When someone has a challenge or struggle we find joy in helping and supporting them.

What I was also forced to quickly see is how much I avoid being the person who needs the help sometimes. This is probably a longer topic for a different day – the short version is that it is almost a phobia of mine, needing help. I want to be independent – my greatest motivator – and asking for help directly opposes that.

During the training one of my Express “heroes” admitted that they were struggling and needed help. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that would be the case. They’re the one who’s always helping someone else while motivating and inspiring so many. To witness their vulnerability was an eye opener for me. If they are willing to ask for help when they are struggling why do I struggle to do the same?

An interesting insight I found with this is to remember to view the challenge through the lens of what would I recommend to a friend. When attaining a slight different perspective it’s easy to see that I should ask for help. If I can remember to use that mindset I know can make a better choice in the future.

I’m so grateful for that training and insight today, I will remember it for years to come.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,617 – Thankful for New Holes in the Shadowbox, Patrick Lencioni

One of my favorite all time metaphors is thinking of life as a shadowbox. Jim Collins turned me on to this concept many years ago and it’s stuck with me. When I learn a profound new way of viewing the world I think back to the shadowbox.

Back when I was a kid I still remember a school project involving putting together an entire world in a shoe box. We cut out holes in the top and covered them with tissue paper so light could get in but our curious eyes couldn’t look through. We then cut a set of eyeholes in one side to view the world we’d each created.

If we paused and punched new holes in from a different side we’d see details never before seen. They existed the entire time but we couldn’t see them until we had a different angle. Not only were there new sights to see, there was also more context helping us see how things may be related. When those new holes were opened up we could see the world differently than before. When we would look back through the original eye holes we would now see details and meanings that had previously gone unnoticed. Everything inside was exactly the same but we’d never see or understand it all until we’d seen it from all angles.

I like to think of our world, my life, and my thought processes as a giant shadow box. My entire life is there in the shadowbox. Sometimes I have a new set of eye holes punched in to look through – ie Stoicism, religion, a life altering experience, etc… Quite often it comes in the form of a new idea or concept from a book or video. Regardless of the delivery system I’m provided with an opportunity to look at my thought processes from a different perspective, to see different connections, and to better see more of the whole self.

Today the new eyeholes came in the form of a Zoom presentation by Patrick Lencioni sharing The Working Genius model (check it out herehttps://www.workinggenius.com/). In the matter of thirty minutes my mind was blown from the new perspectives he shared. The model helps to show how work happens and how each of us contribute different strengths to see it through to completion. Such a simple concept with so much depth. This’ll certainly be one my brain keeps wrapping itself around.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,616 – Thankful for a Weekend to Myself

I love spending time with my family. Whether it’s all four of us together or some combination of at least two of us time with my family is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. With COVID we’ve had a ton of time together as a family over the past year.

When Becky and the boys got home yesterday after being out of town over the weekend Becky pointed something out that pretty much floored me. My jaw dropped as I tried to figure out if her comment was true. Near as I can still figure she’s 100% right.

Due to COVID I haven’t had an entire weekend to myself like I had this past weekend in well over a year. How crazy is that? These weekends don’t happen often when there’s not a pandemic, but they usually aren’t nearly this rare.

The entire weekend was spent doing thing on my time. Go to bed early, wake up when I feel like it. Not much of an agenda, just a list of what I want to accomplish. Change my mind and want to do something else? Sure, why not? Turn up the music a little louder than normal. Eat at the random hours when I’m actually hungry and eat whatever I’m in the mood for (corned beef? Yes, please!). When I want some quiet time I just turned everything off and chilled. When I wanted to walk I went. Hmm… which movie do I want to watch as I wind down? Oh, that’s right, whatever one I’d like to watch. The entire weekend was at my pace, my volume, and on my timeline. Ahh…

For sure, while it felt amazing, part of the reason it did was because it had been a while since the last one. Granted, I didn’t have any idea it had been over a year, but I knew it had been a while regardless. There’s a crazy deep level of peace and serenity when I have quiet time like that once in a while.

If I could only choose one for the rest of my life I’d choose family time over solo time without having to put any thought into it. That’d be an easy choice. It is wonderful that it is not a binary thing and I’m able to add the occasional alone time to the mix of family time. Weekends alone like this help me to be a better husband, dad, and friend. My batteries recharge and I’m able to be a better me than I would be without time to myself.

This weekend was exactly what I needed and I’m so grateful for having the entire weekend to myself. The next one doesn’t have to be anytime soon, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it does happen in less than a year this time.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,615 – Thankful for Rest and Taking Adam Grant’s Advice

Last night I did something crazy. Becky and the boys were up at her parent’s house for the weekend while I stayed back due to work yesterday. This meant I had the house all to myself for the night. Usually that means I’d watch a few movies, chill out on the couch, listen to some music, and then eventually go to bed sometime around midnight wondering where the hours had gone. Last night I tried something pretty wild… I was in bed before 8pm!

When I got out of bed this morning it was just after 7am. I woke fully rested after a wonderful almost eleven hours of sleep. Over the past few weekends I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as normal and I’d gotten out of my normal weekend rhythm. Last night got me caught right back up with where I should be on a regular basis. I got out of bed with a little extra spring in my step and got to work on what I wanted to accomplish for the day right away in the morning. Amazing what that much sleep can do for my attitude and mindset!

While getting some of my tasks knocked out today I took some advice from Adam Grant and took in a different opinion. During the Democratic primaries I pretty much wrote off Andrew Yang right from the start. His idea of a universal basic income sounded ridiculous to me on the surface. I scoffed at it, laughed at it, and thought it was a horrible idea without giving it any more than a fleeting thought. When people would mention it I would politely move on to the next topic and couldn’t understand why they would ever think that it would be a good idea.

As luck would have it I was looking for something I’d seem a long time ago. It was a graph showing not just the typical “Left v Right” of American politics on the X axis, but it also incorporated a Y axis – Authoritarian at the top, Libertarian at the bottom. I’ve never felt my views really fit either the Democratic or Republican ideals and often find myself voting both sides of the aisle. This chart reminded me that there is another dynamic and maybe I have a bit of a different view than others. When I found the chart it also showed where all of the 2020 presidential candidates fell on the chart. Low and behold, Andrew Yang was the closest to where my personal beliefs are. I hopped online, did a little research on Yang and found that he’d written a book, The War on Normal People. In a matter of minutes I was downloading the audio version.

His book was very interesting and got my head going in many directions at once. To be clear, I’m not in 100% agreement with him on everything, I haven’t decided I would vote for him, or am not sure how I feel about his “Freedom Dividend.” What I do know is that by listening to someone else’s differing thoughts I had to pause and question some of my own ideas. There was information that was a little different than I was expecting. There were interpretations of happenings that were different than I’d heard in the past. All in all, my brain got some wonderful exercise in while listening to the book and it has me thinking more deeply – rather re-thinking more deeply on some of the ideas I’ve had in the past. Reading the book has definitely widened my perspective.

If you’re looking for an interesting take on why labor participation has been dropping I would highly recommend it. If you have a book recommendation for me please let me know in the comments section as well – I’m working on being more and more open minded to books outside of my current personal perspective.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,614 – Thankful for the Learning the Story Behind the Creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Normally at this time of the year I’m flying to a different part of the country for training and a celebration of the previous year with Express. Last year at about this time we were all in Nashville and were wondering what this COVID stuff was all about and wondering what impact it may have on our business. Never in a million years would I have guessed how different the world would become just a few weeks later.

Thanks to the power of technology we were able to still have the meeting this year, albeit virtual instead of in person. The main speaker this morning was Richard Montanez, the creator/inventor of Flamin Hot Cheetos. I had not heard of him before and was not sure what to expect from his presentation.

From the beginning of his presentation I was hooked. He shared his personal backstory, how he’d grown up, and how he went from being a janitor at Frito Lay to presenting his wild new idea to the CEO. You can check out much of it yourself at https://thehustle.co/hot-cheetos-inventor/ – it’s a wild story!

What I appreciated the most about Richard’s story was his grit and how he looks at the world differently. As a janitor he volunteered to ride along with a sales rep on his day off to learn more about the business. Once he had an idea he kept driving and pushing until he got it presented. He saw a niche and an opening where no one else did.

This morning it reminded me to focus on my passion, to push towards my dreams, and to stay gritty while looking t the world through my own eyes. I may never come up with something as wild as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but I’ll credit Richard for a little bit of whatever it is I do come up with. His speech this morning was some pretty awesome dream fuel.

Whoever would’ve thought the backstory of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos would be inspirational?

Thanks!!!

Day 1,613 – Thankful for a Milestone Moment, Dominic’s Probationary Driver’s License

Whew, another milestone today! I took a short break from work this afternoon to drive Dominic to the DMV. Today marks the halfway point between 15 and 16 for him so he wanted to get his temporary driving permit. He flew through the test with flying colors and walked out with a paper copy of his license… and a huge smile.

When we got off the interstate on the way home I pulled to the side of the road. We both got out, switched seats, and then I saw this:

The next thing I knew we were cruising down a quiet road coaching him on how to drive. It’s all easy when it’s online, it’s another thing the first time another car is coming towards you. He did an excellent job and knocked out his first 15 minutes of driving. He’ll certainly be doing more of that in the near future.

My mind is blown thinking about how quickly he’d growing up. Dad always said time would fly by more and more quickly and I’m really seeing that now.

So proud of him for getting this license and getting one step closer to adulthood.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,612 – Thankful for Un-swollen Knees and Reminders of Ocean Vacations

First things first, I am grateful for healthy and un-swollen knees this morning! After some icing a couple of times yesterday my knees were back to normal this morning and I was able to run with no issues whatsoever. Yesterday I was thankful for the reminder of how blessed I am to have no normal knee issues. Today I was grateful for no pain and no swelling in my knees. Feeling healthy is one of the best blessings I could ever ask for.

As we wind down for the night the boys and I opted for an episode of River Monsters. While watching Jeremy Wade solve the mystery of which fish killed people in the Atlantic Ocean we were reminded of many memories of our times on the ocean together. Snorkeling over sharks. Seeing dolphins and seals playin in the water. Observing some of the blue-set blue ocean water. Getting close to volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean.

I’m grateful for the memories of our ocean vacations, especially seeing as we haven’t been able to go for a while. I’m also especially thankful for the opportunities we took to make so many memories in the ocean. Watching these episodes with the benefit of real life experience makes it even cooler… and it brings back some awesome memories!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,611 – Thankful for Swollen Knees

For the most part I wasn’t in too bad of shape this morning after my first snowboarding experience last night. As the day went on it felt like the legs of my pants were not quite feeling right. At one point in the afternoon I took a closer look at what was going on and was shocked to find my knees were both pretty swollen. They didn’t hurt, but they were definitely not looking good. Usually I work at a standing desk and that extra work coupled with the snowboarding experience last night left them a little worse for wear. I grabbed a couple of ice bags, sat down, and elevated my legs while I worked. In no time the swelling was already starting to subside.

The ice bags reminded me of a time a long time ago (like almost 20 years ago). Way back in the day when I weighed a lot more than I do now we took a trip to Glacier National Park. After our hike to Iceberg Lake I was pretty much in tears because my knee hurt so bad. The hills and trail had left my knees all beat up, especially the downhills.

My knees were terrible back in the day due to a variety of reasons. They would hurt after almost any physical activity. After awhile I just got used to the consistent pain. It really sucked.

The way my knees feel today is nothing at all like they used to feel. Today the only sensation is the feeling of them being swollen and almost stretching the skin above and below my kneecap. No pain, but just enough of a reminder to take me back to the memories of what they had been.

After losing 60+ pounds and changing my running style my knees have been fantastic! I’m so fortunate to have had both a condition that was curable AND found the solutions to fix them. Since those two changes I’ve been able to hike without issues, run marathons without pain (in the knees), bike as much as I want, and have pretty much no limitations (I’m still hesitant to put the broom ball shoes back on).

Today my knees may be a little swollen, and I’m thankful that they are. Thanks to the swelling I’m reminded of how blessed I’ve been to have had such knee health since the issues I used to have. The sensation of swelling reminds me to be grateful for the normal lack of swelling and lack of limitations I’ve had due to my knees.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,610 – Thankful for Learning to Snowboard, Coach Dominic, and the Joy of Being a Beginner

LOL – while I’m grateful for something specific now, we’ll see how I’m doing tomorrow morning when I wake up. It might be a pretty rough run. 😉

Earlier in the year Gavin and I talked about learning to snowboard. Life got busy (doesn’t it always – even when we live intentionally?) and now the ski/snowboard season is almost done and we had not gone snowboarding.

On our run this morning Becky made a comment about taking Dominic snowboarding sometime this week or next before the snow melted. Something clicked in my head, I checked my calendar and saw I had a window to pick him up, drop him at the ski hill, and would pick him up later. I asked him about it and he was pretty pumped. Later in the day he texted and said it would be a great night for Gavin and I to go with and he’d teach us how to snowboard. How cool is that? Next thing we knew we changed our plans and headed to the hill right after work.

Dominic and his buddy did an awesome job of coaching and teaching Gavin and I how to snowboard. He was right alongside of us coaching us through each step and maneuver. When direction was needed, he gave it. When support and motivation were needed, he gave it. Dominic did an absolutely fantastic job of catching the two of us snowboarding rookies for a couple of hours.

Gavin and I were high five-ing each other after some of our turns, laughing hard at our spills, and enjoyed learning something new. At no point did either of us get frustrated or discouraged, we just kept going up, trying things, improving incrementally, and then doing it again. It was a blast!

The humility of starting something new was so calming and peaceful as always. Something about getting into the learning mindset before attempting it really makes it go from something scary to a wildly joyful event – even when I really sucked at it from the start! Nothing like being a novice to set the entire ego aside to focus on being okay with starting from scratch and building from a starting point of nothing.

All in all, I had so much fun learning to snowboard with the boys tonight. It’s a night I’ll remember forever and one I’ll draw ongoing motivation from. If I can be okay with and enjoy hurling my 44 year old self down a hill covered in snow with a board attached to both my feet, laugh at myself while falling, and get back up to attempt it again I’m pretty sure I can be okay learning just about anything new.

As I started with, we’ll see how I feel in the morning 😉

Thanks!!!

Day 1,609 – Thankful for Sticking With It

I am a self-diagnosed sufferer of “Shiny Syndrome.” This affliction is closely related to “SQUIRREL!!! Disorder” and can lead me in the wrong direction from time to time. For those of you who are more inclined to stay focused and on one path both of these fun diagnoses mean that when something catches my attention I tend to lose track of what I was focused on then follow the new thing. In the case of “Shiny Syndrome” I’m usually drawn to something shiny, glittering, or bright.

Throughout life I have a tendency to see something shiny and create a big shiny dream to go with it. I’ll focus on it (thank you Gollum for defining it as “my precious”) and latch on to it… until a new shiny thing becomes my new precious.

What’s been interesting to me is the shift in my morning behavior to start my mornings. For almost two months now I’ve kept the same process going. On a daily basis I’m finding I live “into” who I want to be more and more often than at any other point in my life. I’m more focused on my goals and have them in mind as I take action.

There have been many things I’ve been grateful for today and I’m finding that many of them have a common theme… they were inspired, at least in part, by my sticking with the morning routine. By intentionally reminding myself each morning what I want to accomplish and who I am as I live into those goals I’m more naturally living into the person I want to be. Sticking with it certainly seems to be paying off!

Thanks!!!