Day 1,361 – Thankful for Heeding Wonderful Advice from Others & Extremely Hard Working Teams

Whew!!! This past week has been a wild one! Work life has been crazy busy. We’ve made several interesting changes and investments and are already seeing some things pay off. More importantly we can all feel the shifting momentum.

As of right now we have over 200 open jobs available in the Eau Claire, Menomonie, Chippewa Falls, and Winona areas. Yes, you read the correctly; 200 jobs. The majority of these are for manufacturing and warehouse positions of many different skill levels. Almost all of these positions could lead to long term employment.

Surprisingly, somehow even in a recession we’re finding a shortage of people who are looking for employment. Had you asked me if this were possible even four months ago I would’ve struggled to find any possible way it could happen. Regardless, here we are now.

And that’s where my gratitude for today comes in. I’ve received some truly wonderful guidance, ideas, thoughts, feedback, and support from so many people over the past few weeks. The ideas and concepts piled up quickly but just as quickly started to blend together in actionable ideas that are very aggressive and yet very complete-able. My teams and I have put together some truly special solutions as a result.

Thanks to all of this great advice from so many we’re about to see some of the best progress we’ve seen in a very long time. As the pieces ad strategies all come together I’m so excited to be able to share the successes with all of those who helped to shape and create it. For clarity this includes all of my teammates as they not only helped in creating these ideas – they’ve been busting their butts to make it all happen. I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work with them!

Watch out world, there are some very exciting things happening in the world of employment!!!

Thanks!!!

PS – If you know of anyone who’s looking for a new career please send them over our way and we’d love to talk. We pay a $150 referral bonus directly to you after someone you refer works only 75 hours!

Day 1,360 – Thankful for a Larger Than Life Uncle

My heart is heavy at the loss of my Uncle Frank today, but it’s also been full of joy as I remember times spent with him. He’s helped to create some wonderful memories for me and my family.

Today my mind is continuing to be blown away by the positive impact Uncle Frank left on so many. So many people have shared stories and memories with Uncle Frank over the past few days. Whenever I open up my phone there are more Facebook posts, Twitter tweets, and even new reports about him.

Each shared story and memory has several common themes. The overwhelming positivity and upbeat attitude. The way Frank gave so much of himself. His huge heart. The way he helped other people feel. His passion for the Packers. The loved he shared with everyone.

As the past week has gone on I can’t help but continue to be so grateful for a larger than life uncle. There is so much to learn from how he lived his life. The lasting positive impact Uncle Frank has left on so many continues to become more and more apparent.

A little over three years ago I wrote a blog post about Uncle Frank. When I read it today I couldn’t help but smile and see such more true the post was today than ever. https://thankful4forty.com/2017/02/16/thankful-for-uncle-frank-allowing-us-to-hitch-a-ride-on-his-dream/

Uncle Frank, you’ll be greatly missed by many. You’ve left such a wonderful legacy that will live on in the memories of so many and inspired them to do the same.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,359 – Thankful for Adjusting My Mental Diet

Want to lose weight? When I dropped 60+ pounds I learned something very important. Exercise and calorie burn are a key component of weight loss. They pale in comparison to diet. I tried everything to fight this and prove it to be wrong. “If the engine is burning hot enough it’ll burn anything as fuel,” right? Nope. Not by a long shot.

When the pounds melted off and stayed off it was when I was fastidiously tracking my food intake. When the pounds have come back on it is usually when I’m not tracking anything. If I’m not focused on intake and tracking it my habits drift away from my goals and suddenly I find myself going backwards.

Yuck… Dieting… Gross…

One benefit of our current situation is a reduction in car time. It’s great, there’s more time to be productive AND more time to live. I’m finding there is a significant challenge to this change that I must work on.

If I’m in the car 12+ hours per week it’s easy for me to read via audiobooks and podcasts. My mental diet is usually very good. I eat my vegetables (some bland business related books and short thought based podcasts), enjoy my proteins (autobiographies and books by favorite authors), and even sneak in a dessert or two (a fun podcast and fiction). It’s very balanced and there is a consistency to it.

I haven’t been driving nearly as much and my diet has really gone to garbage. It’s not that my intake is of bad choices (I’ll avoid FoxNews and CNN like the plague), but rather I’m not consuming as much as I should be.

So that’s probably a little too extreme. It’s not really terrible. That said, it’s not where I want it to be. What I’m learning is what my reading “stable state” is currently. To use Becky’s research terms I’m finding that this “basin of attraction” has caused my “stable state” to change due to the “regime shift.” LOL – I still love the way she explained that part of her work, it really helps me see a visual of how we shift from one “normal” to another.

This is very much like my eating. I now know my stable state isn’t what I want it to be. My mental diet is not as healthy as I’d like it to be. Time to buck up and move it back to where I want it to be. Funny thing is that the term Becky would use for that is resilience. Both of the books I’ve read and am reading currently include Grit and Mindset. The focus of each? Essentially resilience. What did it take for me to lose weight (and accomplish several of the other goals)? Resilience.

I know I can do this and will get back to the mental diet I know I prefer. I just need to follow the steps I know will cause me to be successful: Set the goal, determine the lead measures to get me there, determine how to track my progress, and get to work. Pretty simple.

Bring it on mental diet, I’m ready!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,358 – Thankful for Life Lessons from SUP Yoga

One activity that lends itself very well to social distancing is Stand Up Paddle Board Yoga. For the first time in many months I had the opportunity to participate in a real life yoga class again and it was AWESOME!!! Everyone was very spaced out from each other throughout the entirety of the class so it was great way to be able to have a class and stay very safe.

This was from last year’s SUP yoga – I still can’t believe I held wheel like that on a paddle board!

While out on the water there were so many moments when I caught myself chuckling, sometimes aloud. Throughout the entire practice there were little reminders of life lessons – many of which seemed very fitting in the moment for many reasons. Here are a small handful that really hit home:

  • Shift slowly – The more you move and adjust quickly the more likely you are to fall. Easy movements keep you dry.
  • Stillness is your ally – Balance is so much easier to keep when I quiet my mind and become still. The answers to challenges are right in front of me, slow down and let the clutter get out of the way.
  • Go with the waves – Certain forces are 100% outside of my control. Recognize the quickly and go with them as opposed to fighting them.
  • Trust in yourself – I can do this. I’ve done this before. The variables may be slightly different, but I know how to be successful. Trust myself.
  • Dissect your fear – Quite often I was nervous and that fear got in my way. What was I afraid of? When I really thought about it the worst thing that could happen was falling into water that comes up to my shoulders on a hot day. Did I mention the water was already very warm and refreshing? What was there really to fear? Why would I let it hold me back from anything?
  • Choose my attitude – During the practice there were three young men playing loud music, splashing around, and making all types of noise. For one nanosecond I was frustrated. That quickly changed and I choose an attitude of gratitude. With that change I was suddenly flooded back with memories of hanging out with my buddies during summers as kid. We had so much fun doing those exact things they were doing. I couldn’t help but smile when I heard something loud followed by a loud laugh from them. With the wrong attitude I heard noise, with the right attitude I heard joy and nostalgia.
  • Presence is the key – There were moments of pure bliss when I totally lost myself in the moment. I felt no worry, no expectations, and no fear. There was only life, love, and a deep appreciation of both in those moments.

So many beautiful lessons wrapped into an hour and a half of serenity. What a blessing it was to attend yoga today.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,357 – Thankful for Starting the Week with a Morning Run with Becky

Yeah, there are some activities in life that just never seem to get old. Waking up for an early morning run with Becky is one of them.

This morning the dogs were both exhausted from our time on the boat so we ran without them. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy running with them, but it was a nice change of pace for the day. We didn’t have to stop multiple times along the way. There was no yelling to get them to stop sniffing. As I type this I have to admit I kind of missed that as well…

Not from this morning, but you get the idea 🙂

We ran further than normal and just chilled while we did. No rush, no stress. The sunrise was spectacular. The bright pinks combined with deep reds and dark purples. The wind created just enough ripples on the water to make them shimmer a silvery pink liquid metal. On the run back we stopped in our tracks to watch a bald eagle land on a branch almost directly above us. While we stopped and stared it started making it’s call. What a serene way to start off the morning!

There’s a lot to accomplish this week and starting it off with a peaceful run like that was about the most perfect start I could’ve asked for. Getting some exercise in right away in the morning. Spending time alone with Becky. Enjoying nature’s beauty. Yup, that was an awesome way to kick off the week!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,356 – Thankful for a Quote and Concept I Love to Hate

There are many quotes and comments that have stuck in my brain throughout the years. They are the guideposts I look to when I’m not sure of the right action to take. These are slightly different from my values. In my values I see the ideals, in the quotes I see context to better help me understand. The majority of the quotes have a story or memory tied to them that help to embed them deeply into my brain. I wish they only came to the top of mind when I called for them, however they often do so exactly when I’d prefer they’d stay hidden in the shadows.

Over the past weeks I’ve been focused on many deep thoughts. Between the anniversary of Dad’s stroke and death, reading a few well timed books, some great thoughts from friends, to getting back into writing, and a few other situations my brain has almost been on overdrive trying to process some seriously intense concepts. What’s interesting is that there are definite connections from one large concept to another. As I think on them I start to see them weave into a larger and interconnected whole. Gratitude tied to presence tied to growth mindset tied to stoicism tied to living while alive tied to purpose tied right back to gratitude. Throw in a little essentialism for good measure and there’s a lot going on in my brain.

So where am I going with all of this? Normally I’d ask this cute little line to help people see the link between what I was just saying and where I am going. Tonight? Yeah, that question was definitely for my thought process. I’m still working this blog out while I type. I’m one part giddy and one part nervous right now. I’m totally opening up my thought process and might end up with a piece fo garbage that I delete (that’s my nervousness). I’m also excited as the blogs written in this fashion in the past have led to some enlightening thought processes (giddy).

So where am I going with all of this? There’s a quote from Blaise Pascal which has been repeating in my brain throughout much of the past week (and it’s in the voice of Father Mark Pierce – that really makes my heart smile!).

“Sometimes when I set to thinking about the various activities of men, the dangers and troubles which they face at court, or in war, giving rise to so many quarrels and passions… I have often said that the sole cause of our unhappiness is that we do not know how to stay quietly in our room.”

Blaise Pascal, Pensée 136

When Father Mark introduced this quote I immediately became best friends and archenemies with the concept. I loved the simplicity of its meaning and I could 100% agree with the statement. I also couldn’t help but continue to squirm more and more in my seat as I felt the crushing weight of what it meant upon my chest. Even after seven years this quote is bound to make me take stock in the gap between who I am and who I am called to be.

Here’s why I am most thankful for this quote / concept. It makes me intensely uncomfortable. The dissonance it causes in my soul is palpable.

I am naturally a person of action. My brain is full of fantastic ideas in a crazily complex imagination. Keeping my mind quiet and focused on thought in of itself without distraction is difficult for me.

All that said, I know this comment is correct. The reason I feel such discomfort is that I know that I haven’t followed it and my life would be better for me if I did. The discomfort this quote causes me also helps push me to action.

Over these past couple of weeks I can sense my thoughts and mindset are reaching a wonderful tipping point. So many thought streams are diverging into one river. I need to help continue to push them in the right direction in order to fully connect. Sending time in thought on them is exactly what I need to do in order to make this happen. Time spend on wasted activity does no good in this endeavor. Quite to the contrary, it sets me back and may cause the ideas to never quite coalesce.

Several times over the past few days I’ve heard this saying (read in the voice of Father Mark) repeat in my head. It’s often when I’m doing something that wastes time and is of no true significance. Maybe I’m playing a game alone. Maybe I’m listening to music to clear my brain instead of thinking. Maybe I’m just wasting time on non-essential tasks when I should really be sitting still with my eyes closed and focused on my thoughts.

Thanks to hearing this quote from Pascal play in my head I’ve spend time on different actions. Even tonight, I was going to just sit, write a short and most likely somewhat insignificant blog and do some Sudoku to quiet my mind. Instead this quote prompted movement. I spent time in thought. I decided to blog as a form of meditation to get my thoughts out. As I do I can feel myself making progress to where I should be going, towards my purpose. What an awesome feeling that is!

Blaise, you mathematical and philosophical genius, thank you for taking time to write your thoughts on paper to share with countless numbers of generations. You were 100% correct and your thoughts have helped me take action tonight. I’ve still got a lot of work ahead of me before I would say that I am good at living it, but I’m sure I’m at least on the right path. As soon as I start to stray I know I’ll hear your voice in my head calling me back.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,355 – Thankful for Playing In the Dirt, Car Time with the Boys, and Typing Under Our Newest Deck Project

Today presented itself with a unique opportunity to play in the dirt and I totally took it! I had so much fun (for reals) playing shoveling, leveling, and compacting dirt. Ahh, who am I kidding? It really felt a lot like playing! The hours flew by while thoroughly enjoyed the time outside. Isn’t if funny how much my attitude impacts how much joy I find in an activity? If I looked at the same activity as work it would’ve been more of a drag. By looking at it as fun the time flew by and I had a blast!

The boys and I had a nice long ride home afterwards. Again, I’m amazed at the power of my attitude. I know some rides of 30 minutes that have drug on like an eternity. Today? The two and a half hour drive flew by! The boys were both in talkative moods. The whole drive back we shot the bull, joked around, talked about their adventures from the past week, and had a great time. Spending time with them when they were both in that outgoing and upbeat mood was AWESOME!!!

Lastly, I’m thankful for writing this post while sitting under our newest deck project. Over the past week we’ve been putting in lights so we can enjoy some additional outside time during the summer. Tonight we had just enough time to put up the lights and then chill under them for a little bit. Once I’m done typing I’ve already got a book ready to go and then it’s total chill time. Spending time reading on the deck under our new lights makes it all the more peaceful.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,354 – Thankful for 40+ Years with Dad and the Power of Gratitude

Day 1,354 – Thankful for 40+ Years with Dad and the Power of Gratitude

Throughout the day I’ve thought of Dad often. Of course I miss him, but I can’t help focus the overwhelming majority of my thoughts and emotions in a different direction. The theme of my thoughts today has been gratitude.

I was blessed to have Dad in my life. Each day, no matter what I may have done right or wrong, I knew he loved me and he was proud of me.

Whenever we talked we ended the conversation with a heartfelt “Love you dude” or “Love you Bud” spending on which way the wind was blowing.

When we got together the first thing we did was give each other a giant bear hug. When it was time for us to part the last thing we did was give each other a giant bear hug and exchange the our normal “love you’s.”

I knew Dad would always support me in whatever I did. He’d also be there to give me tough love when I needed it.

There is so much I’ve learned from Dad. Wood working, home improvement, hunting, living, business, leadership, and the list goes on and on and on.

Dad had a beautiful way of transitioning back and forth between being a dad AND being a best friend. He always seemed to know just when to lean on one more than the other when the situation called for it.

Dad knew how to bring a smile to anyone when they needed one. Friends and strangers were one in the same to him; the only difference was that he knew the name of friends and hadn’t yet met the stranger.

Long story short, today was filled with so many awesome memories fo my time with Dad. I’m so blessed to have had the 40+ years I did with him. I’m thankful for all of the memories we made, the things we did and made together, and all the experiences we shared.

All day long when the sadness of missing him started to kick in I focused on being thankful for having Dad in my life, thought back to those memories, felt my heart fill with joy, and I smiled.

Gratitude. What a beautiful gift from The Big Dude Upstairs. He gave us the cure to our pain and our heartache in a way we have 100% control over. We may not have control over what happens to us or our loved ones, but He gave us the ability to choose gratitude to help us smile joyfully through any storm we may face.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,353 – Thankful for a Day Flying By

Whew – what a day! From the point I woke up until now it’s been a flurry of activity. Even Becky made a comment about how much time I spent on calls and Zoom meetings. In between it seems like I was either finalizing proposals, prepping for later conversations, or churning out emails to clients and teammates. After work Becky had supper already cooked which was awesome! We ate, went for our walk, and then I hopped online with some friends for some gaming.

It felt like today flew by like the bobsled around a corner!

Throughout the day there were many awesome things that happened. It seemed like there was much positive progress mixed among obstacles, both expected and unexpected. There were some frustrating moments as well. The overall feel of the day has been positive balanced with exhausting.

So while the day has been exhausting I am thankful for how fast it has flown by. It has been a day that flew by in the blink of an eye. The pace of the day was tiring, but invigorating at the same time. There is a rush to days like this that remind me of how much can be accomplished with focus, planning, adaptability and resilience.

To be sure, I hope tomorrow is a little more normal pace. That said, I’m thankful for the pace today – it’s been a crazy, yet great day!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,352 – Thankful for Perfect Summer Weather and a Nudge Named Eric

The ability of the weather to have an impact on my mood never ceases to amaze me. At the end of the day I always have the option of choosing my attitude, but isn’t it so much easier on perfect summer nights like this?

Three years ago today it was a stunningly perfect weather Saturday. Dominic had a couple of soccer games in the Madison area. The boys all brought squirt guns along with and had an epic water fight after one of the games. Gavin found a tree to climb. Becky and I got way too much sun, but it felt awesome!

Why do I remember the weather so well? That was one of the toughest days of my life. That was the day when I knew in my gut that Dad was not going to pull through after his stroke.

There’s a lot that happened on that Saturday. Even with it being one of the most difficult days in my life I remember it with such vibrancy – the highs and the lows. The day seemed to be a constant rollercoaster of emotions. One moment I was ready to break down, the next I was smiling and laughing. Then I’d feel a little crushed and just need a little time to myself, and then I’d be surrounded with great memories of Dad.

While the tone was so dark, it was still a day I am very thankful for. I learned so much that day, felt things I’d never felt before, and had experiences I still can’t even being to explain. Reading the chapter I wrote about that day I can’t help but shake my head wondering how that much could’ve happened in one day.

One thing in particular really resonated with me today for a variety of reasons. Over the past year or two I’ve talked a lot about “nudges,” those times when something seems like it nudges you down a certain path or in a specific direction. I can’t really explain it, I can’t will it into being, but when nudged I’ve learned to go with it.

That beautifully sunny Saturday included a very different kind of nudge.

We had opted to carpool with one of the other parents to the soccer game. We weren’t even two miles out of La Crosse when I got the call that recovery wasn’t an option and Dad wasn’t going to be around much longer. I was sitting shotgun while Eric drove. Becky sat right behind me and held the hand I stretched back from the front seat of the vehicle. I explained to Eric what I’d just learned and he very calmly asked if I wanted to head back home.

Throughout the past couple of soccer seasons I’d gotten to know Eric enough to know he’s got a huge heart and is a great person to talk with. Every interaction I’d had with him left me smiling more than I was before our conversation. That said, we weren’t best friends or anything like that, more like friends of consequence due to being soccer dads. Up until this point we hadn’t talked about anything overly personal.

When Eric asked if I’d like to turn back I had a feeling the right thing to do was carry on. Little did I know just how powerful my time with Eric would be that day.

On the drive he did an awesome job of following my lead, listening when I talked, talking about other things when I uncomfortably shifted the topic of conversation to change my focus away from Dad. I still don’t know how he did it, but he handled the situation perfectly. Even more important than handling it with perfection were a couple of key things.

First off, he shared his thoughts from the perspective of both a father and son. With Dad not there Eric did a wonderful job of helping me remember both perspectives.

The other thing he did will stay with me for the rest of my life. In one of the many moments of he silence he asked, “Mike, can I tell you a story? It might not be what you want to hear, but it might be one you need to hear.”

I was amazed at how calmly he asked that question. The fact that he asked instead of just telling was especially poignant and was greatly appreciated. Since this conversation I’ve held that memory tight in my head and have often emulated his question when I’m talking with someone who’s facing a difficult moment and might need to hear something tough. When they say no I respect that, just as I know he would have.

After I’d said yes he went on to tell me a story that related to Dad’s situation. To say it was heartbreaking would be an understatement. That said, it truly was EXACTLY what I’d needed to hear in that moment. It made a profoundly deep impact on me and I carry it in my soul to this day.

When I talk about nudges this wasn’t anything so subtle. This story was a full blown kick in the shins! But it was exactly what I’d needed to hear. I’m eternally grateful for the way Eric shared this story with me.

As I said, there were so many things that happened that day. While the overwhelming majority were difficult, there were many more bright spots; I just needed to take some time to see them. One of the brightest was that time spent with Eric. While nudges are usually something very subtle, Eric was exactly the nudge in human form I needed that day in addition to my family.

Eric, for reals, thank you so much for listening, sharing, and taking time to care for me on what was one of the most difficult days of my life. I’m so thankful for the incredibly compassionate way you helped guide me in the right direction. Thank you!

Thanks!!!