Today isn’t even close to over and it’s been AWESOME!!!
The morning started out with our Prayer Breakfast, the annual opening to our International Leadership Conference. This event is always one of my favorites and this year’s was great. Between three franchisees sharing their stories, a fantastic singing of Amazing Grace and How Great Thou Art by Wintley Phipps, and an inspiring speaker (Bob Goff) it was a very uplifting start to the day. The message that it all kept coming back to was making ourselves available to others.
Throughout the day I had many opportunities to catch up with many of my Express friends and family and I was so fortunate to have so many wonderful connections with them. One of the meetings was particularly heartwarming as a friend shared the story of his connection with his mother after she passed away. We all shared many smiles and stories and it felt so awesome to spend time connecting with everyone again.
Number 17 on my dream list was to “Meet Jim Collins.” His business books have helped shape many ways in which I look at business and I admire how he blends stories with data to show what makes the most successful businesses better than the rest. My dream was to meet him and tell him thank you for the positive impact he’s had on me.
As luck would have it I ran into him in the hallway and was able to meet him today! There was no hiding my excitement as I met him, I was pretty much babbling like a true fanboy. It was embarrassing and I’d really like a do-over, but mission accomplished, Dream #17 is complete!
When he presented later in the afternoon I had a couple of fiends who took great care of me and both helped me to get seats front and center for his presentation. One helped me be the first person in the room and the other gave up a reserved spot so I could be literally front row and in the center. It was awesome!!!
Now we’re off to Universal Studios for a night of good food and some rides. How incredible of a kickoff to ILC is this?
Today’s been a nonstop ride of awesomeness and I’m thankful for every minute of it.
Today was a pretty spectacular day overall. There was an airboat ride, many alligators, seeing a heron spear a large bass, a lot of time with teammates, and a FaceTime session with Becky & Gavin (Dominic was in church)/
To wrap up the evening we had a meeting and reception for Express Leadership Academy. The event was a great time to hear from both of our founders as well as learn about an upcoming ELA event.
The highlight of the night for me was being able to spend time with several of my ELA buddies catching up on what they were up to. In some cases they’d opened new offices, in others they set the pace for all of us in 2017. Spending time with them over a cold beer was a great time and was motivating for me to keep pushing to grow more.
Just over two years ago we didn’t really know each other, but now we’ve become friends and it was awesome catching up with them. To each and every one of my ELA friends I was able to talk with tonight – thank you for making it a great night!
Today was a great reminder for me to let go of the wheel and let the travel gods do what they will. As Becky was driving me to the airport my phone buzzed with an alert from Delta telling me my flight was cancelled. The person at the service desk was surprised to see me smiling, she was expecting I was going to be upset. As I told her, I had taken a deep breath and knew that I had no say in the matter so I might as well choose a smile and figure out a way to get to Orlando. She helped out a ton and pretty soon I was on the road to Minneapolis. As luck would have it I made it just on time, my flight started boarding less than five minutes after I got to the gate! Thank goodness I made it!
While I was flying I had promised myself that I would work on my book. I wanted to watch a movie, play a game, or just take a nap, but instead I busted out my iPad and keyboard and went to town.
There were distractions galore including turbulence and the family sitting all around me (dad and son on my left, mom and the three youngest on my right, grandma and grandpa in front of me, aunt, uncle, and niece in front and to the right – I’d offered to move but they were set where they were). Every disruption caused me to pause and second guess switching to something else, but every time I stuck with the book. It took a few seconds to gather my thoughts and jump back in, but it felt great!
Before I knew it my three hour flight was almost complete I had finished about a chapter and a half – much more than I’d expected to cover today. After Sunday I should be no more than a chapter away from wrapping up the rough draft, not too shabby!
It was a very productive flight and I’m thankful to have stuck with writing on my flight today, it felt wonderful to make progress!
Tonight we had some strips of bacon to go along with our roasted red pepper soup and chili & biscuits (I know, a bit of a mishmash, but actually quite deliciously perfect!). As we metered out how much bacon the boys could have I couldn’t help but smile when my calculations led me to tell the boys they could each have two and one half strips of bacon. My grinner got wide with anticipation of the upcoming conversation…
Immediately Dominic called for Gavin to come in to cut the one strip in half so Dominic could then choose the one half that was exactly one half of a milligram larger than the other. Gavin was too slow and Dominic was too hungry so Dominic finally relented and made “the cut.”
Gavin immediately proclaimed that he was choosing the larger half. Dominic laughed and told him that was actually the smaller half because Dominic’s half was wider. Gavin made a comment about his piece being thicker. Then there was a second measurement which resulted in each boy still having the larger half… though they each seemed to be a little nervous that they got the smaller half.
Watching this all play out I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and think of all the times my brother and I had played this scenario out in our childhood (and sometimes in our adulthood!). Whether it was a strip of bacon, a rice crispy bar, a slice of pizza, a glass of soda, or a bowl of cereal everything was measured under the tightest scrutiny that would have made a nano particle physicist proud. We used every possible form of measurement to make sure we were able to get the largest piece. At some points we resorted to unusual cutting patterns to try to trick the other. It was an exercise in futility, but it was also awesome and a perfect example of what it meant to be brothers.
As my boys went through the same ritual I smiled from ear to ear thinking about all the ways that this will escalate over the years and all the laughs they will have over those memories as they get older and are able to watch their kids do the same. Tonight I’m thankful for experiencing one of those moments of brotherhood with my boys, it was awesome for all three of us!
As we all snuggled in for a family movie night to wrap up a busy weekend we fired up Wonder and it got me right in the feels. At various times almost everyone in the house teared up, some more than others.
The thing I really liked the most was how the movie didn’t do just the normal “here’s life from the perspective of the main character” rather it looked at the world through the eyes of many of the people involved. Telling the entire story like this really helped me see the world briefly through each person’s eyes. In some cases I caught myself feeling like I wasn’t the only one who felt a certain way, while in other cases I realized things I need to work on and remember. So often I don’t take the time I should to pause and consider what the world looks like from someone else’s perspective, but this movie put that front and center.
It was made all the more special by watching it with my family. To be able to have time together seeing the same story was great and I’m sure there will be several times this movie gets referenced… Auggie: “Why are we whispering?” Dad: “Because I’m afraid of Mom!” 😉 I’m thankful to have watched this movie together, it was a pretty awesome way to wrap up a crazy busy weekend.
While Becky and Dominic had a relaxing day at home together Gavin and I were out at Camp Decorah for Polar Day Camp… and it’s been AWESOME!
This is an annual event that the boys and I have been attending for about 6 or 7 years. It is a combination of the district’s one day event and our pack’s winter camping experience. The camping isn’t necessarily hardcore camping, we stay in a big cabin instead of a tent, but it’s still a lot of fun.
Today’s event has included many fun events including sledding, broomball, ice and human bowling, shooting BB guns, hiking, and some games of Gaga ball. After spending the day outside and the “Winter Olympics” were over we headed back to our cabin so our scouts could finish up their Cast Iron Chef award. This meant that the boys had to make an entire meal for the rest of us. The meal included eggs, bacon, potatoes, & cheese in a Dutch oven as well as chocolate chip monkey bread in another Dutch oven. As I type this the smells of the Dutch ovens cooking smell great! After dinner we’ll goof around, have fun and eventually fall asleep (and sleep like champs!). All in all, it’s been a very active day with lots of fresh air time. Lots of fun!
One of the parts I enjoy the most about days like this is being able to be a big kid and play with the boys. Today I jumped in during broomball, shooting BB guns, and Gaga ball, and it was AWESOME! Throw in some wrestling and whatnot and it’s been a blast. It brings back memories of great times when I was a scout while showing the boys that you’re never too old to have fun.
All that said, I’m most thankful for the time with Gavin. Sure, he’s running around with his friends most of the time, but the moments that the two of us get together have been exactly what I wanted. In broomball we had fun getting into a little tussle as we were on opposite teams. While shooting BB guns we worked together to help him shoot better. After Gaga ball I was able to walk with him for a while and thank him for playing fairly and honestly. Every so often I check in with him to make sure he’s having fun and every time he’s got a huge smile on his face when he says yes. That makes it all worth it!
I love that my boys are both very excited about scouting and I’m so thankful to be able to spend time with them at events like this. Their fun and smiles warm my heart as a dad while making me smile as a past scout. Life is pretty awesome!
While packing up our stuff for camping last night I couldn’t help but smile as Gavin brought up our backpacks. They’re a great pair of Jansport packs that always seem to have just enough room for everything and the perfect number of pockets to keep everything separated. Even after almost 16 years and much use all of the zippers still work great! The way it balances weight on my back always feels just about right. All that said, they’re not what I appreciate the most about them.
The thing about these bags that had me smiling as I packed were the memories I had of where these backpacks came from and who gave them to us.
When Becky and I were opening our wedding gifts almost 16 years ago we got to these two beauties! Inside were many, many small camping supplies that were all individually wrapped. From first aid to containers to supplies it was a camper’s dream! The packs themselves were amazing, the additional treasures were the icing on the cake! At the time we didn’t have enough cash to get all of these things, it was so awesome to get all of this – especially with our upcoming honeymoon to Glacier National Park!
Even better than the gift was the person that it came from, my second mom, Maggie DeSota. Every single time one of these backpacks are used I can see Maggie’s smiling face in my mind and it puts a huge grin on my face and warmth in my heart. She helped to create many incredible memories for my friends and I in our teens and I’m so thankful for all that she’s done for all of us over the years. These backpacks aren’t the same as spending time with her, but they’re about the next best thing and always bring me great joy.
As we packed our bags last night I just smiled and thought back to so many happy memories with Maggie and her kindness… just as I have every time either the boys, Becky, or I use those packs. They’ve been on countless family, camping and scouting adventures, and I’m thankful for them and the memories they bring from each and every use.