Day 1,331 – Thankful for Finding Yet Another Way to Utilize an Awesome Lesson from Dad

Over four years ago I wrote a blog pos about a lesson learned from Dad.  We were working on a project many years before the post and he shared a little gratitude trick he practiced.  “Whenever you use a tool take a minute to think about who gave it to you, the projects you’ve worked on with it, and who worked on the project with you.”  It was Dad’s way of creating a habit of gratitude he would go on to practice most of his life.  To this day I take a brief second to stop and thing, to remember, and to be thankful when crafting with my tools.  If you want to check out the original post you can find it here: https://39yearsofthanksin365days.wordpress.com/2016/01/17/day-112-thankful-for-a-lesson-from-my-dad/

Just over two years ago I blogged about this lesson from Dad again, but with a subtle twist.  Instead of using it to think only about tools I used it to spend a moment of quiet thanks and reflection when receiving texts, messages, and other birthday and well wishes.  Not just a quick “that’s cool,” rather a thoughtful and purposeful moment of pause to think about my favorite memories with the person and be grateful for them.  This added so much extra joy to my heart and has become a practice I work to continue.  You can check that one out here: https://thankful4forty.com/2018/10/01/day-733-thankful-for-re-implementing-an-old-lesson-from-my-dad/

So here I am again with another added twist to this lesson in purposeful gratitude from Dad.  Last night as I blogged I had many thoughts going through my head.  My fingers never seem to keep up with my brain and I usually end up missing something I would’ve preferred to include in the original version.  When I hopped on LinkedIn this morning I saw something that brought on an instant face palm.  MARLENE!!!  Slap went my palm as it connected to my forehead… I knew I was forgetting something in my blog last night!

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As I was writing about a difficult situation there was an awesome piece of advice I’d picked up from my friend Marlene Chism several years ago.  There was a specific phrase that has stuck with me ever since and it served its purpose wonderfully yesterday.  “Are you willing?”  The phrase reminds us that we all see a beautiful opportunity that we want to reach for (the island) but we also have to want it so bad that we are willing to fight the difficulties (the sharks) along the way.  “Are you willing?” is a beautiful way to determine if you are truly ready to pivot and attempt something truly difficult in order to reach your goal.  This great advice from Marlene came in especially handy yesterday and helped me bridge the balance of supportive AND demanding.

After I added a quick comment to LinkedIn I chuckled to myself and realized that Dad had done it again, in a way.  There are so many times when I hear the advice of others coming out of my mouth or rumbling through my head.  In almost each of those moments I can clearly see the face of the person who shared that advice with me.  When I thought of Marlene when she shared those words with me I immediately smiled form ear to ear.  I had flashbacks to some great phone calls we had when she took extra time to help coach and mentor me.  I remembered conversations about losing Dad, writing, and dreaming big.  The memories of her road trip to Winona and La Crosse and the drive up the Mississippi River made me smile even larger.  So many amazing interactions, advice, guidance, and friendship.  I’ve been things of her often and am so thankful for all she’s helped me with in the few short years we’ve known each other.

Taking Dad’s advice in a slightly different direction; what if I took time to be purposefully thankful for the people who shared wonderful ideas and concepts with me?  In many ways they are tools they’ve given me and tools we’ve built things with together.  What a beautiful way to continue to grow and cultivate my gratitude practice on a daily basis!

Even though he’s been gone for almost three years I’m so thankful for the advice, guidance, and lessons Dad gave in our time together.  Finding ways like this to continue to learn form him help keep him alive in me some I’ll forever be grateful for.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,330 – Thankful for Well Timed Ideas and Having Clear Values to Purposefully Live Into

Over the past month and change my team and I have been reading 2-3 chapters of Grit by Angela Duckworth each week. We get together via Zoom, one team member presents the core concept and then we dive into a dialogue about how it applies to our lives (work and personal). This has been an awesome bonding experience for us while also helping us continue to live into one of our core values, Growth Mindset.

The chapters this week were related to parenting for Grit in our children. As Duckworth discussed this wasn’t just for parents, this was for coaches and anyone who cares for others. To help demonstrate the concept she showed a grid. The X axis was Undemanding to Demanding. The Y axis was Unsupportive to Supportive. In each of the quadrants created by the axis were different parent styles. What was found to be the ideal for fostering grit was a combination of Highly Supportive AND Highly Demanding.

This concept was very well timed for me today as there was a specific situation in which I had a choice to make. It would have been very easy to be highly supportive and not demanding. The person was in a tough place and it felt like pushing would have been very uncomfortable. That said, the right thing to do in the situation is exactly what would have been uncomfortable. If I truly cared about their future success I needed to be the voice that helped push them as opposed being permissive, allowing the cycle to continue, and the issue to persist. As I quickly though through what action would be best I saw this model in my head and made the right decision. Was it uncomfortable? Definitely! Was it what needed to happen and what needed to be said? Yes.

Something else that helped me down the right path when it would have been so effortless to take the easy way out were my core values. My team and I do our best each day to live into our four core values. Are we perfect every moment of each day? Nope. Do we take time to talk about our values and find how to better live them? Yes and often. Our four core values are rather simple yet complex: Grit, Growth Mindset, Gratitude, and Do Right. When we take time to think about our core values before taking action we always seem to make the best decision. When times are tough and there are multiple options our values are there to help guide us towards our vision. I’m so thankful for having this clear values burned into our brain as they help keep us on track so many times throughout the day.

Today there were some difficult decisions and situations. There were also many times the correct course of action was crystal clear when viewed through the lens of our values. Well timed ideas like Parenting for Grit Matrix also helped us out. Funny how when we live to our values everything becomes almost effortless as the right thing to do becomes so clear and bolsters our courage to do the right thing as we are doing it out of love.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,329 – Thankful for Regular Time to Think Out Loud & Another Reason I Appreciate Blogging Daily

My Monday mornings have included a standing appointment for several years now.  At 9am each Monday I have a call with one of my mentors & business partners, Norm.  The original purpose fo the call still holds.  This call is an opportunity for me to pause, think about everything going on in business, and then determine my most important projects to focus on for the week.

One of the things I appreciate the most about this time is the ability to walk through my thought processes out loud.  Funny how ideas sound one way when they’re in my head and a completely different way when they’re said aloud.  Norm does an excellent job of letting me walk through the thought completely and then bounces great idea, questions, and counterpoints back off of me to help me round out the thought.  By the time we’re wrapping up I’ve had the opportunity to think through the concept from a few different angles, go down a few seemingly different yet still related paths, and then re-focus for the week.

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This is one of my favorite pictures.  I took it while in Australia and love the one single person sitting on the rock looking into the ocean while either deep in thought or deeply enjoying the present.

As we had our call today we had one of those moments when things were clicking well and his responses led me down a few different trains of thought than I was expecting.  While I was feverishly jotting down notes to retain I realized that there is another reason why I enjoy blogging so much.  In some ways writing a blog is very similar to thinking out loud.  When I start typing I have a general idea or two in my head.  Thinking as I type helps me get the thought out completely without overthinking and I often end up going in a slightly different direction than when I started.  The act of writing helps me flesh out the thought and see it differently.  Having the written thought process afterwards is a wonderful resource for me to review further down the road.  My blog post from yesterday about failing was a great example of that.  Blogging daily provides the opportunity for me to think out loud on my own without anyone listening, yet while allowing others to listen in and offer advice and ideas… and it’s saved for me to go back to when I need it. It’s a little gift I’m giving myself both now and in the future.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,328 – Thankful for a Rainy Sunday and an Excellent Reminder of Each Failure Being a Step Closer to Success

I know there’s a pretty significant chance someone slaps me for this one, but I am thankful for the rainy Sunday we’ve had so far. The weather we’ve had recently has been pretty outstanding and there’s been a lot of sun. One day of gloomy, overcast skies and continual rain is very peaceful and was an excellent reminder for me to slow down and relax. Everything seems a little more chill today. The change in lighting is beautiful as well. The purple blooming lilacs in our neighbor’s backyard really pop against the steel gray sky. The grass seems even more green than normal. The lighting has been soothing. Today I’m just soaking in the feeling of the rainy day and enjoying the sweatshirt weather.

What a perfect day to spend some time up in my workshop! While I was up there Dominic finished the last flower box for the deck for Becky while Gavin and I made a sled for my table saw. Each of us were focused on the task at hand while occasionally talking or asking each other for tools. The time up there creating was fantastic as always.

After a while the boys had other things to do so I was up there on my own. There’s a project I am working on for some of my friends and I got to work on the next step of it. I had a specific plan in mind but opted to change part of the execution of it to both look nicer and add strength to it. In order for me to do this I had to build a box joint jig, something I’ve never done before. I was both excited to try it and nervous as I figured it would be a little tough to learn.

As I put the jig together and started making adjustments I had failure after failure after failure. The saw blade was too high. The pin was the wrong size. I started cutting the board in the wrong place. The pin was too far left. The pin was too far right. The pin was too far left again. Trial and error, trial and error, over and over again. The funny thing is that I’d often get frustrated at this. Sometimes I’ll get frustrated to the point of swearing. Other times I’ll get discouraged and switch to something different for a while. Today I was totally chill and even smiling while failing.

Each time I made a mistake I thought to myself, “One failure closer to success.” I would make a mistake and that mantra would go through my head, over and over again. One failure closer to success. One failure closer to success. I knew I would ultimately be successful at it, I would persist until I had completed the task. I was open minded to trying new things, I was confident in may ability to learn, and I knew each failure was teaching me something. One failure closer to success…

After a pile of failures guess what happened? I figured it out! It was kind of funny, while I was happy to have success I immediately moved on to the next challenge. After a while I realized that I hadn’t really paused to celebrate the hard fought success and I started wondering why. That’s when it hit me – I always knew I would be successful at it, it was only a matter of time. I knew resilience and growth mindset would win out, each failure was a lesson to help me grow, and I would be successful eventually. No need to get pumped and excited, it was all part of the process.

This project is going to stick with me for a while. The next times I run into a challenge I’m going to remind myself of this project and how I attacked it. I’m going to remember the mindset I chose while learning the new task and will remember that each failure is one step closer to success. Today I’m so thankful for the excellent reminder of each failure moving me one step closer to success – as long as I choose the right attitude. Confidence, willingness to learn from mistakes, resilience, growth mindset, and flexibility.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,327 – Thankful for Rising Early for a Family Biking, Physical and Instantly Gratifying Work, and Dominic Power Washing

Day 1,327 – Thankful for Rising Early for a Family Biking, Physical and Instantly Gratifying Work, and Dominic Power Washing

Even though it is Saturday we were up and moving before 5:30 this morning.  There was a lot we had planned for the day so we wanted to get at it early to have enough time to pack it all in.  We were on the trails early and it was awesome!  Shortly after starting we had an up close and personal experience with a bald eagle.  It was only 15-20 yards away in a tree and we were pumped to see it.  Along the rest of the ride we were able to enjoy relatively few people on the trails, many birds, and a bunch of other wildlife sounds.  It was so peaceful to spend time in nature on the trail with the family.  I so love the driftless area, the Root River Trail is an incredible way to experience it.  Being out early with my family on a Saturday morning made it all the better.

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One of the big projects we’ve got planned for the next couple of weeks is re-finishing the deck.  The first step was what we took on today, stripping the old stain and prepping for the new one.  After some struggles we finally were able to make some serious progress on it today.  While my lower back is feeling a little stiff now it felt really great doing some manual labor.  Another huge benefit of it was that the work was immediately gratifying.  Each movement of the power washer showed what appeared to be new decking under the stain, mold, and mildew.  There was scrubbing, spraying, bending, twisting, and everything else and it felt wonderful!

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Another highlight of the day was showing Dominic how to run the power washer.  We walked through how to use it, demonstrated how, ran it with him, and then he was off and power washing.  In a flash I was remembering when Dad taught me how to use new tools.  I remembered how it felt to be a son wanting to grab it and run right away and now having the twist of seeing Dad’s point of view made me chuckle.  I could feel myself squirm with discomfort as he took over and was nervous when I stepped away for the first time.  Quickly I felt more and more okay with it and next thing I knew I was enjoying the extra help.  Chalk up another one of those great father son moments I’ll remember forever.  I’m thankful for every single one of those with the boys.

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Thanks!!!

Day 1,326 – Thankful for Simple Things In Life, Playing Horse with Gavin

There were a handful for more deep and profound thoughts I was going to write about tonight. Lessons remembered on decision making, purpose, and role models. I might write about the in the future, but as I sit here on the couch and blog I’m still smiling wide after playing Horse with Gavin.

Funny how sometimes life gets so complex and confusing, or at least that’s how I make it. Stressing about things out of my control, taking on too many challenges at once, spreading my attention to thin, and so on. I so easily let it turn into a go, go, go mindset and next thing I know I’ve spent several days of the little precious time I have in a rush and blur of activity. Not only that, but once I accomplish something I want to accomplish something bigger.

Tonight Becky was online with her friends talking and Dominic hopped online with his buddies to play some games. I asked Gavin what he wanted to do and he wanted to shoot some hoops. Outside we went on a perfect May evening in La Crosse. At the end of our driveway we goofed around, played some basketball, and had an awesome time hanging out. As I kept smiling to myself after we played I realized some of the reason why I enjoyed it so much. I was hanging out with one of my favorite people in the world. We were outside and not distracted by anything except occasionally noticing just how perfectly clear the sky was and how perfectly we could view the bluffs in Holmen from our house. It was the two of us, no devices or phones, just us hanging out spending time together. It was a simple game to play and we were both 100% present in it. Our time together was simple, fun, and memorable in its perfectness.

All the big thoughts and ideas will have their day some other time. Tonight I’m thankful for playing Horse with Gavin and enjoying some of the simple things in life.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,325 – Thankful for Humbling Moments and Books That Are Better Than Great Movies

Hmm…  Speaking of nudges last night it seemed like I needed a nudge in a different direction.  Today there were several humbling moments throughout the day that caused me to pause and re-evaluate just how big the gap is between who I am and who I should be.  Some of them were rather humorous, some were very petty but indicators of other things and others were reminders of skills I need to take more time to hone.

One in particular reminded me of how I need to either let things go or help fix the problem.  During our nighty family walk after supper (a tradition during COVID times that I’ve become very fond of) I got all bent out of shape because we passed several people who were walking on the wrong side of the road.  When walking or running pedestrians are supposed to be on the left side of the road instead of the normal right side.  For some reason the simple act of others walking on the wrong side drove me BONKERS!!!  How silly is that?  For reals, there was no impact to me other than walking out of my path to go around them.  Also, I didn’t take the time to explain the right answer, I just complained and got irritated.  I didn’t let it go, I didn’t help to fix the situation, and I didn’t take time to just be thankful for so many people being outside getting exercise and smiling and waving as they passed.

Moments like that were around me often.  For clarity, they didn’t all revolve around frustration.  Some were a lack of action.  Others were a lack of discipline.  In others I was trying to control something I couldn’t control.  The biggest ones mainly involved me thinking a little too highly of myself and letting my ego get in the way.  Here’s the deal though, I am so grateful for those humbling moments.  They remind me of the work I have to do on myself while also reminding me that I’m making progress.

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I’ve been listening to the book that inspired one of my favorite movies and my mind has been blown.  Fight Club is a movie I fire up at least once every couple of years.  I find it very entertaining and some of the thought processes in it leave me thinking (in a positive way, not the crazed chaos that is the second half of the movie).  I didn’t even realize there was a book about it until a content creator I enjoy said something about it.  I’m so glad I fired the book up, it’s been amazing!!!  If I thought the movie was great, the book is a couple of steps above it for many reasons.

This is one of those awesome times when the book is so much better than the movie.  For clarity, I know a lot of crappy movies from great books, but I mean books that are better than their already great movies.  In addition to Fight Club the other one that I think back to is The Godfather.  If you’ve enjoyed the movie but never read the book you’ve got to check out the book.  Incredible.  Flat out incredible.

Ahh…  always nice to go in with high expectations and find something even greater!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,324 – Thankful for Still More Nudges From The Big Dude Upstairs

Almost exactly a year ago I wrote a blog about being thankful paying attention to nudges.

https://thankful4forty.com/2019/05/09/day-953-thankful-for-paying-attention-to-the-nudges-the-universe-provides/

Just last month I wrote this blog post about more nudges.

https://thankful4forty.com/2020/04/21/day-1301-thankful-for-additional-nudges-from-the-big-dude-upstairs/

When I have spent time thinking about my blog tonight I kept going back to a handful of interesting coincidences from the past week or so.  There are many things I am thankful for today (including just happening to set my dentist appointment for two days after they re-opened) and I realized that they almost all shared one common bond…  they were all nudges.

Some of what’s happened includes the following:

  • A conversation with a friend reminding me of the importance of gratitude
  • A book review reminding the power of purpose
  • A conversation with my team reminding me of the impact one person can have
  • Multiple conversations relating to the importance of having role models to help us shape our behavior
  • A reminder of a story from a friend showing the power of positively impacting even just one person
  • A completely blown sales call that reminded me of what happens when I go against purpose
  • A handful of highly successful calls reminding me of what happens when I go with purpose
  • A unique opportunity to help someone specifically because it is the right thing to do
  • Seemingly random inspirational quotes all pointing in the same direction
  • Many reminders of how gratitude can increase the amount of joy in the world
  • and a few others which I’ll keep to myself for the time being

As I keep thinking through how all of them tie together I can’t help but notice that all of them keep nudging me down certain paths.  When I focus on certain things and directions I see how they fit.  When I go against the grain of them I find myself either struggling with internal conflict or a lack of passion and purpose.

While I still don’t quite have it figured out on how it all fits I’m certainly seeing that I’m walking on the right path.  Where does it go?  Who knows, and I’m okay with the idea of never quite knowing.  What keeps me moving is that I can tell that I’m making progress and moving forward.  Sometimes I seem to stray off the path, today I’m thankful for additional nudges that help guide my feet back to where they belong.

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Thanks!!!

Day 1,323 – Thankful for Workshop Time with the Boys and Two Dead Flies

After our walk tonight the boys and I headed up to the workshop.  Dominic was focused on putting together the second deck box for Becky and it was great seeing him utilize the skills he’d learned from building the first one with me last week.  Gavin was helping me with a project I’m taking on.  In the process I taught him safe table saw usage, how to use a feather board, how to rip boards to size, and using a planer.  Throw in a couple of opportunities to test his shop math and it was great time.

I’m sure I’ve been thankful for workshop time with the boys at least a couple of times in the past, but I have to write about it again.  Spending time with them doing something I love, something that Dad loved, and something my Grandpas loved is fantastic.  Throughout the time together I’m often caught in a very amazing nexus of being present with my boys and at the same time remembering wonderful times with Dad.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

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Crazy to see that this is from two years ago!  Looks like I need to get a picture of us in the workshop in the near future!

Earlier today I heard a sound I hadn’t heard for a while, the buzzing of a fly in my office. At first I started to ignore it, but then I heard a second one.  After a quick moment of thought I realized I needed to take a few minutes and fix the problem.  Within a couple of quick (and frustrating) minutes the problem was solved and I was able to get right back to work without distraction.  And then I chuckled to myself as an idea came to mind…

This morning I got frustrated with a minor issue that’s been bugging me for well over six weeks.  Each week it’s a little pain – nothing evenly remotely serious – but it causes me to have to pause everything for a short period of time and get back to work.  I’ve known the fix for quite some time and I just hadn’t taken the time to do it because I always planned on doing it later.  The fix would take just slightly longer than the work around so I kept setting it aside.  Today I finally took care of it.  Which brings me back to the two dead flies…

There I stood chuckling to myself (and at myself).  How foolish that I didn’t take time to get fix of the annoyance right away, but I figured out I was better off just taking the flies out right away?  How often do I skip fixing something that is relatively easy to correct and yet I fix something that is slightly more annoying immediately?  This was definitely a great learning experience from a very mundane task.  To the two dead flies in my workshop, I salute you and thank you for your annoyance and lessons taught.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,322 – Thankful for a Great Question on My Gratitude that Got Me Thinking More Deeply About Gratitude

Last week I was having a conversation with a friend and they asked me an interesting question.  I may have been asked questions like it before, but not quite in this fashion (at least that I can remember).  Ever since she asked it my brain has been letting it ferment a bit as it provides a very interesting thought process.

“Do you choose what you’re thankful for at the beginning of the day and focus on that throughout the day?  Are you being intentional in your gratitude?”

My initial response was a quick no.  Each day when I write my blog I usually write it at the end of the day after I’ve had the opportunity to experience the day and put it all into some sort of perspective.  As I thought about it I realized that there are many days I kind of choose what I’m thankful for early in the day and then my mindset stays focused on that train of thought throughout the day.  So maybe, but not really?  The interesting point about the question that was asked was the difference between what I’d call intentional, experiential, and transcendent gratitude.

Intentional gratitude would be when I choose to be thankful for something specific.  I focus on it, dig into why I am thankful for it, and I am then grateful for it.  While my initial response to her question was “no” I realized that there are definitely times in I chose to be grateful for something or someone because of the specific; ie Mother’s Day, birthdays, anniversaries, etc…  In those scenarios my mindset of gratitude is different.  It causes me to intentionally dig which often provides a different level of thankfulness.

Experiential gratitude is when I see, hear, smell, touch or taste something that causes me to pause and be grateful for the experience.  Seeing a spectacular sunrise or the beautiful fresh green leaves on the bluffs over the Mississippi River cause me to pause and be thankful for what is all around me.  In those moments I am thankful for something because I have experienced it and that moment has reminded me to pause and be grateful for the experience.

Somewhere on a different level is what I would deem transcendent gratitude, though I would be very open to another name for it as this was the first one off the top of my head.  This gratitude in some ways is amongst the most meaningful to me as it helps me absorb life and its lessons in a very different way.  Examples of this are like a couple of weeks ago when I fell while running.  As I got back up I saw how the spill I’d just taken was a metaphor for running into challenges and obstacles in life.  When I spent time finding a reason to be grateful for the fall and thinking about what I could learn from it I was able to find gratitude that transcended the event itself.  When I focused on being thankful for the event I found a deeper meaning that made me significantly more grateful than I would have been without taking the time to focus on gratitude.  Transcendent gratitude seems to be derived from either experiential or intentional gratitude.  In many cases when it is achieved it seems to be the most powerful form of gratitude for me.

What do you think?  Is there a different form of gratitude that I missed?  Would you explain it in a different way?  Please shoot any ideas and thoughts out there, I’d appreciate more to think on related to this topic.

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Long story short, today I am very thankful for my friend asking me a question that has my brain thinking more deeply on the topic of gratitude.  Funny how sometimes all it takes is one slightly different question to help our brains grow?

Thanks!!!