Day 490 – Thankful for Doing Something Specifically to Reach Only One Goal, To Get Better

Today’s been an awesome day so far.  It’s pretty sure to be the highest scoring day yet on my checklist (from last week, if you missed it you can check it out here).  That said, today’s post goes back to trying to stand balanced on the end of a log that’s floating in the water.


Another week of logrolling, another week of interesting thought processes afterwards…  I’m so glad Becky talked me into trying this for the first time a little over a year ago.  Never in a million years have thought it’d give me the insights that it has.

Under most (or almost every) circumstances I’m very competitive and goal oriented.  If there’s a record I want to beat it.  If there are milestones to hit I’ll bust my butt to hit them.  If there’s an extreme boundary I want to push it.  If there’s a competition I want to win it.  That’s one of the ways my brain is wired, I enjoy achieving.

When it comes to log rolling I have zero delusions of grandeur.  Seriously, I’m terrible!  I have no desire to compete, to set a record, or anything like that.  There’s no specific time goal that I want to achieve.  There’s only one goal that drives me when I’m rolling…  I want to get better.

That’s it, nothing else.  Each time I go I want to be just a little bit better than the last time.  No score keeping, no chase for perfection, no nothing like that.  I just want to get better, and it feels great!

When I’m pushing hard for a goal or trying to set a new personal record for something I sometimes get overly stressed.  When I push that hard I sometimes lose sight of the reason why I started in the first place, and I just want to be the best.  It seems like when that happens I start to make mistakes or miss out on things that would’ve helped.

Logrolling is totally different.  After each attempt I run through it in my head, listen to our coach, and try to make one small improvement.  No wholesale changes, just consistent progress.  As I think about it, yoga is a very similar sensation.  Each session I try to stretch a little further or push a little harder.  In both cases there’s no long term goal besides continuous improvement.  There’s no finish line, endgame, or competition, it’s just improvement for the sake of improvement.  It feels pretty awesome!

Today I’m thankful for this simple lesson, remember to enjoy something more by having one goal…  to get better.  In taking any project just one step at a time, becoming a little better than I was the last time, not only will there be progress, but I’m more apt to enjoy the ride.


Day 489 – Thankful for a Wonderful Piece of Advice from a Friend, How to Say No Honestly & Politely

About a few weeks ago I reached out to a friend who does some excellent motivational speaking to see if she would be interested in a little gig for our teams.  We have an annual event in which we get all of our teams together and we were looking for someone who would leave us all with an awesome send off message.  This friend is super high energy, upbeat and positive and my first thought went to her.  I reached out right away via text.

“Thank you so much for thinking of me!  I would love to, but I have my nose to the grindstone on a couple of projects and I need to stay in my lane.  What kind of topic are you looking for?  I could recommend someone…”


When I read it I just smiled.  How cool of a rejection was that?  To the point, thankful for the offer, and honest about having a few other projects that needed to be focused on.  As I read her rejection there was no frustration, I totally got it and could understand.  Thinking about it more I grew more respect for her for just saying it like it was and still offering a different way to help.

Not only did I appreciate her very well put rejection, I saved that text to remember that verbiage for those times when I need to say no.  As I’ve mentioned earlier this year there are three specific work goals I am focused on achieving this year and I’ve already had to say no to several incredibly awesome and interesting opportunities.  In the past I’ve struggled how to put the rejection.  How do I say no without sounding too harsh, but directly enough that the person knows that the answer is no.  Her response was exactly the tool to put in my belt for this year.

Fast forward to today when there was an email to get started on a project that I really enjoy and want to dive into in a bad way.  I’d let it sit for an extra day just because I couldn’t quite bring myself to say no to it.  This morning when I saw it in my inbox the text from my friend popped into my head and I was able to politely say no until I’m ready to take this project on…  And it felt great!

Thank you so much to my friend for not only giving me one of the nicest rejections I’ve ever had, but also, and more importantly, for helping me find a better way to stay in my lane.



Day 488 – Thankful for an Awesome Weekend with Awesome Friends

This past weekend was built around spending time with a few of my closest friends and it was everything I’d hoped for and then some.  My three closest childhood friends and I spent time hanging out, shooting the bull, and having a lot of fun.  There was a really cool combination of one on one time with each as well as with the group.  All in all, it was flat out an awesome time.


The reason I am thankful for this is because life is busy as all hell but we’re still able to find ways to get together at least a couple of times each year as a big group.  These are the friends who know me incredibly well and have shared memories of growing up together.  Ever since we were kids we’ve been a constant in each other’s lives and it’s amazing just how close we’ve stayed throughout the past few decades and change.

When we get together as a group we pick right up where we’ve left off.  Many of the same jokes and memories are shared.  Our perspectives continue to change and evolve, but we’re still the same group of dudes getting together that we were many years ago when we’d hang out in James’ attic.  Weekends like this feel great, it’s like being present in the now while also going back in time.

We’re there to help each other out through the curveballs life throws us, listen when we need someone to share a thought or idea with, and to celebrate life’s successes.  Long story short, we’re always here for each other.  Weekends like this are a great way to make sure that bond continues over the years.

This weekend we re-lived memories, created new memories, and laughed our asses off and it was awesome.  An awesome weekend with awesome friends…  I am so thankful for this time we had together!


Day 487 – Thankful for a Woodah Tradition in La Crosse

Every time my buddy Garwood comes to La Crosse there are a couple of things that are guaranteed. First off, we’re going to have a great time chilling and relaxing. Second, there’s always at least one tradition that we follow without fail… a trip to Buzzard Billy’s!

We stayed true to tradition tonight and the food was awesome as always. While there we shot the bull, watched some tennis, and had a great time.

It’s always an awesome time when the Woodah comes to town, and this goofy little tradition is usually one of the highlights, not just for the food, but mainly for the time to talk. When we get together we spend a ton of our time playing games and being active, this is that chance to just chill and talk… and I’m very thankful for it.


Day 486 – Thankful for Taking Advantage of an Opportunity

Another great day is not even close to being done as we just got back from dinner and I’m about to spend some great time with friends tonight. It’s actually pretty fitting that this is the case tonight as it’s a perfect example of what I’m thankful for today.

Without sounding overly cryptic today I’m very thankful for taking advantage of the opportunities i have with friends and family. Life is way too short to miss out on spending time with the most important people in our lives. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the race of daily life and miss some of those moments.

Since Dad’s passed I’ve kept this in mind often and it’s caused me to change my actions occasionally. Tonight I’m very thankful for that slight attitude adjustment, it’s paid off well in amazing ways.


Day 485 – Thankful for Working Ahead

Today has been a very productive work day.  There were many projects that I’ve been able to get a jump start on.  As I think about all that I am thankful for today I think that is something that rally sticks out to me.  I’m working ahead on upcoming projects as opposed to my normal mode of getting things done right before they need to be done…  and it feels great!!!

There’s something to be said for scarcity, it can bring out my best in high stress situations.  A few weeks ago I talked about being in the middle of a sprint.  What I’m realizing is that now this week I’m sprinting again, but on things that don’t have a deadline of tomorrow.  My pace is the same, but I’m working on things long before they need to be done.  As I’m working ahead I’m still feeling the rush of working rapidly and focused, but it’s also allowing me the time to take a step back when I run into a roadblock.  I’m able to pause, think, and then act all because I have extra time.  When something doesn’t quite seem to flow right I’m able to take a deep breath and get other input and advice because I have a more time to process the answers.

Over the past few years I can clearly see just how much working deadline to deadline has hurt.  Sure, I’ve done well, but had I been working ahead like this I can see where there may have been some really cool solutions that would’ve been more successful.

The funny thing is that what’s finally gotten me feeling this way is something one of my mentors has been telling me for many years.  “Dude, you’ve got to say no once in a while.”  This year I’ve made a commitment to myself, Norm, and my teams that I am going to keep all of my work energy focused in one of three specific areas.  There have already been many rabbit holes I’ve wanted to dive into this year (all four weeks of it!) and I’ve continued to say no if they aren’t in alignment with my teams goals for the year.  Sure, it’s frustrating at times, but on days like today I smile and realize that I’m able to do much more good with more time and focus.

As I wrapped up work today I had a great feeling of accomplishment.  Many of the upcoming projects I have are either now completed or are well ahead of schedule.  Working ahead today has felt AWESOME!!!

While I am not in Colorado chilling like I was in this picture it is about how good I felt from working ahead today!


Day 484 – Thankful for a Great Article by Ryan Holiday – You’ll Never Really Feel Like You’ve “Made It” (and Why That’s a Good Thing)

Earlier today I had a conversation with one of my teammates about confidence and their role. In their tone I could almost hear their inner dialogue asking when they’d be at a certain level. I swear that’s what I heard… mainly because I’ve heard my own inner dialogue say the same thing in similar situations.

In trying to help I sent them an article I’d recently received from one of my favorite authors. Ryan Holiday does an excellent job of helping me see that I’m not the only one who things like this and to remember to enjoy the journey. Throughout life I’m constantly growing, but I won’t always notice the changes as they are small and slow and I’d often like to see huge improvements very quickly. His article helps me reset my expectations and I’m thankful for it.

Hope you enjoy it as well!


You’ll Never Really Feel Like You’ve ‘Made It’ (and Why That’s a Good Thing) by Ryan Holiday

A fourth grader lines up obediently to return to class after recess. Looking around, surrounded by boys and girls the same age and the same size, he sees out of the corner of his eye a group of other kids who seem different.

They are older. Bigger. More confident. They make their way leisurely to their own line, not nearly as rushed by the thought of seeing their teacher. Their clothes look better. They have clearer cliques, roles within those cliques. They seem like they are having more fun too. They are cooler. So much cooler. These kids: Sixth graders.

The kid thinks to himself: In two years, I’ll be a sixth grader. Soon, I’ll be just like them.

Maybe you remember thinking this in fourth grade. Or you had your version of it as a freshman in high school. Or college. Or maybe you remember some moment in your childhood where it occurred to you that your parents were a certain age, and that one day you would be that same age. Or maybe for you it was with your career or with earning a certain amount of money. You had this vision of arriving at some special, better point in the future.

Whatever the analogous situation, you know now a truth that the fourth grader in line is still two years away from learning for the first time: You’ll never be just like them. You never end up feeling like a sixth grader. You never actually “arrive.”

I remember when I started in my first job in Hollywood, I worked for a powerful talent executive. He made a lot of money, had phone calls with interesting people and did cool work that I admired. He also had this dream schedule. I remember he thought it was a waste of time to be in the office or attend pointless meetings, so he was always making up excuses to work from home or do what he wanted—and he was so good, they let him get away with it. I remember thinking: Man, this guy is living the dream.

There was this sense to me at the time that he must have felt very powerful to have all that. And I just assumed that, of course, everything about his lifestyle was conscious and deliberate. More than anything else, I think that’s what I wanted. Not the perks per se, but whatever feelings went along with them: Confidence. Appreciation. Enjoyment.

It was only many years later that I would realize, having built up my own career and had my own successes, that I had long ago objectively worked out my own version of the schedule and lifestyle that I had once admired. I did what I wanted. I had a cool life. I even had my fair share of younger employees who looked at me a certain way.

And yet, not only did I not feel those things I thought I’d suddenly feel, I really hadn’t even noticed that I’d arrived in the vicinity.

In the wonderful new novel, The World is a Narrow Bridge, by Aaron Thier, the characters go on a roadtrip across the country. It’s full of all sorts of beautiful observations about history and life, but the best is the one he makes as the characters are driving through St. Louis and crossing over the Mississippi river. This is where they literally enter the American West, with all its grandeur and significance. And yet, everything seems the same. The same trees, the same scenery, the same air. “It’s the old story,” Thier writes, “You wait for the big moment, and what you get is gradual transition.”

Most of us who work very hard, or drive ourselves to do things—even if it is not our primary motivation—have this idea that when we get it, everything will be different. We’ll feel more whole. We’ll be satisfied. We’ll feel the way we made up in our heads that the people who first inspired us obviously felt.

And when we get it? That’s where the awkward truth comes in: You really don’t feel anything different. You’re still you. Except now you’re you with a million dollars or a gold medal or a hot spouse or an office on the top of the building. And what you missed on your journey to get these things was your own gradual transformation. Your evolution.

One of my favorite questions that Brian Koppelman asks on his podcast, The Moment, is whether the actors and artists and producers and comedians he interviews feel like made guys. That’s a mafia term that Brian uses to describe the kind of Hollywood person—man or woman—who has done enough, or done something so brilliant, that they are guaranteed a career. In one episode, he talks to a well-known director and asks, if he saw a group of other famous directors at the commissary on the Sony lot, whether he would feel comfortable walking up and sitting at the table with them. The director says, no, probably not. But you’re a made guy, Brian says, of course you deserve to sit at that table.

But that’s the crazy part. Very few people ever feel like that. Even when they objectively deserve to.

I bet Aaron Thier could speak to this notion, how it felt to publish one novelthen a secondthen a third. Eventually you feel like a writer, right? Like you’ve done it, are doing it? Nope.

This is probably why on a certain level, we admire—if only sideways—incredibly egotistical people like Kanye West or Donald Trump or Joni Mitchell. We suspect that there must be something great about that comfortable bubble of confidence. They must never have these doubts I am having. They have the power, the appreciation, the enjoyment. They must really feel like they’ve arrived, like they’ve made it and deserve what they have—and have since the beginning. Of course, that’s not true either. It’s just more of the same wishful thinking. In fact, my suspicion is that these people actually feel worse. They’re the fourth grader who was beaten down, literally and figuratively, by their schoolmates and their parents and life itself. The outsized public persona—all the remarks and the craziness and the ego—it’s just a way of distracting from what they feel even acutely than the rest of us in moments when they are alone.

Isn’t this all imposter syndrome in various forms? You might think so, but I don’t. Imposter syndrome is the scared feeling that you’re a fake and that other people will catch on. That’s not the feeling I feel. That’s not what you felt your senior year, wondering why it wasn’t quite as great as you naively assumed it would be as a freshman.

No, this is more like chasing the horizon. You can never quite get there. It always seems a little bit further away.

In a way, it’s a curse. Some people see it that way. It angers them: The thing they want so badly will never be fully theirs to grasp. They whip themselves, they neglect life in the present as they plan the next thing, the thing that will finally, magically, permanently solve all their problems.

What they miss is the journey. That’s the blessing.

That sense that the director doesn’t quite belong at that table with the other directors? That’s what keeps pushing him to make great movies. It’s what gets a fourth grader through the difficulties of the fifth grade. It’s what keeps the road trip interesting.

Most of all, it’s what keeps us looking forward in life—towards what comes next, towards better days and better things.

We might never “arrive” but the transition is not so bad either.

Day 483 – Thankful for Using a Simple Checklist to Simplify a Difficult Thing… Behavioral Change

A while back I talked about a great book that I read, Triggers by Marshall Goldsmith. A few days ago I put some time into putting one of the key concepts to work to help me change some behavior for the better. Don’t worry, it’s nothing crazy like rehab, just a few somewhat subtle changes that would help bring more joy to my life.

Back in 2007/2008 I worked on losing weight and was able to drop 60 pounds much more quickly than I’d thought possible. That was the same time that I started running and exercising a lot more. One of the behind the scenes things that made me successful was a simple spreadsheet that I used as a checklist each day. Each item was totally under my control and at the end of the day it provided me the opportunity to reflect on what I had done well as well as see what I did not do well. This reflection both helped me feel completion and success while helping me plan my game plan for the next day. It was wild to see how much that little spreadsheet helped me focus my energy and efforts in the right direction.

Fast forward almost a decade to today. Some of the great habits I had have fallen off by the wayside. Additionally, the changes in life being a decade older have also changed both priorities and goals. As I think about the gap between who I am and who I’d like to be there are more than a few things I’d like to change about how I am living.

I’ve pulled the first six questions straight from Triggers as they are a core set of questions that can help lead to a more joyful life. The next six are specific to the behavioral changes hat I’d like to make. Each day I rate myself on them on a scale of 1 to 10. It causes me to pause, think, and plan for doing better the next day.

Over the course of the day today it’s already led to several things I’ve done differently knowing that I have to answer to myself at the end of the day. It’s kept important things top of mind and has helped keep me pointed in the right direction.

I’m not planning on this perfecting everything in the span of a week, this is a long term project to help me stayed focused. As I feel like I’ve progressed enough on something I’ll take it off. When I think of something else I’d like to work on I’ll add it to the list.

Today has been partially shaped by this simple checklist for the better, and I’m thankful for each wonderful new bit of joy it’s brought. Special thanks to Cheryl, Danielle, & Keli at Express Leadership Academy for bringing this book up!


Day 482 – Thankful for a Random Comment Made at Our Den Meeting

There’ve been many great things today.  I was able to get everything I wanted and then some done at work.  I came home to a hot meal made by Becky.  I got to spend a little time with the boys.  I’ve had many moments that have brought me joy.

There’s one moment that has me still smiling tonight and I’m thankful for the humor it’s brought to my day.  Our den meeting today was focused on planning a meal for the scouts to cook for our pack at our next camp out.


While in the middle of the den meeting the question was asked, “what is a dutch oven?”

An immediate response came from one of the scouts.  Myself and the other adults all tried to hide our laughter when he blurted out “it’s when you pull the covers over someone’s head in bed and fart!”  There was a round of LOL’s from everyone and it took a few seconds to get us back on tracks.

We made great progress in the meeting and had a productive meeting, but that one moment is still bouncing in my head and making me laugh.  I can only imagine what their poor teachers hear on a daily basis!  Thanks for the great laugh today bud!


Day 481 – Thankful for Old Texts with My Dad

Today has been filled with knocking many things off of my checklist.  From pre-making lunches for the week to arranging a hotel room for an upcoming business trip to cleaning off my dresser to getting unpacked to all the normal stuff it’s been a busy day!  With all that going on I’m especially thankful for the chunk of time we took as a family right after lunch to play several games of Blockus, Tenzi, & King Kong with all four of us.  It also felt great talking with my mom and brother for the first time in over a week.  Once I’m done with my blog pretty much everything is done for the day and I’ll be off to bed.

There was one thing that’s been on my list for a while that I just hadn’t taken the time to do and I’m thankful that I did tonight.  Earlier this summer I switched phones but kept my old one as a back up in case something happened to the new one.  At some point I realized that I no longer had the old texts that my dad and I had sent to each other and I was overjoyed to find that I still had many of them saved on the old phone.

When I went back to read them I couldn’t help but smile and hear my dad’s voice reading each one.  I scrolled through all of them and took screenshots of them to save them for the long haul.  Tonight was the night I got them all loaded onto my file sharing info to save.

As I went through the texts I literally laughed out loud at some, smiled happily at great memories in others, and had a tear or two when reading a couple as well.  Reading them was like going back in a time machine and brought back so many memories.  In some ways it felt like he was back with me for a little while – what a gift!  I could hear his laugh and see his smile in each line.

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Dad’s texts are the white ones on the left, mine are the blue on the right.  As you can see, we loved giving each other a hard time!

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As I read through them it helped me remember why I’m blogging daily and why I’m writing a book for my boys about the experience of losing my dad.  At some point I won’t be around for them anymore.  Knowing how much it means to me to be able to go back and hear my dad’s voice on a voicemail or read texts that he and I sent each other I feel that the least I can do is leave them some fun reminders of our times together as well.  At some point it may help to bring them joy and help them figure some things out about themselves after I’m gone.

One text exchange in particular hit the nail on the head in a way that almost borders on eerie as I look back a year and a half later:

May 25, 2016 10:05pm

Me:  Whew…  Today’s blog (click here to see it) was a very happy yet very tough one to write and is a reminder of why I write it every day to take time to appreciate some memories that could otherwise fade away.  It’s also why I share it publicly, my hope is that everyone who reads it will take a moment to think about someone they’ve lost and focus on keeping that memory strong.  Love you dude!

Dad:  Thanks Mike, your blog was so awesome!  I too wish I could have just 5 minutes with him.  Love you, Dad

As I read back through our texts I feel so close to him and am reminded of so many little moments that could have been forgotten.  I’m thankful for these old texts with my dad, not just for the memories of him and joy it brings me, but also for reminding me why I keep blogging and writing every day…  to be able to give my boys the same gifts he’s given me.