Today I was able to find a pretty big “AND.” You know, rather than choose “this” OR “that,” how can you choose “this” AND “that.” It can be so easy for me find the “OR,” the “AND” takes work to find and create. The “AND” is typically more elusive, it hides quietly in the the deep dark corners and has to be coaxed out. If I don’t intentionally seek it out the “AND” will sit quietly and wait until I’ve settled on the “OR.”
Today I found the “AND,” and it made all the difference in so many ways.
I like working on projects alone. I enjoy the sense of independence and control. This is not the best way to work. I may make good things, but we can make truly exceptional things.
A meeting with a small handful of teammates this morning reminded me of that fact. When taking on a rather large concept with huge implications I realized I couldn’t do it alone, especially not in a great and meaningful way. My teammates came up with some mind blowingly amazing ideas AND are ready to implement them right away! Together we saw a much larger opportunity than any of us, especially me, would have seen individually.
It is so easy to take on a task alone, it is so much more successful when we take it on together.
Last night after blogging I was about to head off to bed when Dominic appeared in the living room. With no agenda, specific topic to discuss, or anything like that, we started talking. Well over half an hour flew by while we shot the bull with each other. Moments like this don’t have too much longer to happen as the calendar slowly reminds us that he’ll only be living at home with us for another year and a half… Depressing thought, he’s over 90% through his life at home with us already. Where did the time go? Moments like last night, spending time relaxing and talking together, are some of the highlights of my life. I’m beyond appreciative for the bonus time with him last night.
The drive to work was a chilly one, but dang was it scenic! The air was so clear due to the extreme cold (-18 degrees F with windchill dropping the feel below -29) and helped color the sky even more spectacularly when the sun rose. The pinks and purples combined with the dark orange of the rising sun was beautiful!
On my way to work I finished an old favorite… Tribal Leadership. When I read it the first time it rocked my world and I basked in the glory of “knowing” what an incredible job I had been doing. The first time made me feel like I had it all figured out and was more of an acknowledgement of my infinite wisdom. This time? Holy shit do I have a lot to learn! This time around I realized the arrogance I had in the past and saw in painfully clear ways how I’ve done the wrong things at the wrong times. There were glimmers of hope and I can see the path, but it was mind rocking to see just how poorly I’d misjudged and over estimated myself the first time around. As one of my favorite thought leaders has often said, “We never read the same book twice” because we are a different person when we read it again.
On my drive home I fired up a new book that has been blowing my mind for so many reasons. More to follow on this one, but the short story is that I have had it on in the background for many hours today while driving and in the quiet of an empty home. A story of someone riding a bike from Oregon to Patagonia? Yes please! To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins has already been blowing my mind.
Each night before I blog I read my blog posts from the same day for each of the past six years. I cannot begin to get over how fun it is to see the cyclical nature of life. Lessons learned, lessons forgotten, lessons remembered and found, and lessons lost again. The circle continues in so many ways, yet it always seems to revolve around a small core of things: family, the outdoors, travel, and presence. The point on which so much of it pivots is gratitude.
Something which really caught my attention was this fantastic quote from Robert Frost. So fitting in so many ways. I’m grateful for stumbling upon it after listening to a recording of him reading The Road Not Taken.
Over lunch I hit the pause button on the work day and drove to a bookstore in Eau Claire. My team gave me a gift card for the location for Christmas and I was pumped to head into the store for the first time without an agenda or a booklist in mind. The store was wildly more immense than I’d thought and I meandered the aisles in a book-drunk stupor, smiling like a mad man the entire time. It was AWESOME!!! From the travel section to graphic novels to biographies to classics to fiction to business to self improvement to boxed sets to the clearance section I strode. In each section there were easily 2 or 3 books I would have picked up, and that was after only a cursory glance. By the time I looked at my watch I realized I had to cruise to get back to the office so I wandered out without a purchase.
I love reading. There is so much knowledge and wisdom and life to be gained from books. Spending time amongst all of them with so many possibilities awaiting and a seemingly infinite supply of new ideas was borderline intoxicating. That 30 minutes in the store were amazingly refreshing. I’m definitely going back next week when I’m in town. Heck, I might even buy a book or two this time 😉
If I do not intentionally choose how to utilize my time it is so easy to watch it quickly slip away after it has already passed.
If I am not intentional on what goals I want to accomplish it is so easy to watch my time quickly slip away after it has already passed.
Once I slip just a little if I don’t intentionally stop myself from sliding further the gravity will take hold and it becomes to easy to watch my time quickly slip away after it has already passed.
Over the past few days I’ve caught myself in each of these scenarios multiple times. In each situation – intentionality, goals focused, and recovering from a stumble – I was successful. In each scenario I was also more often failed.
I am grateful for the time to reflect to see these patterns. I am appreciatative of the awareness of my actions. I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from my missteps so that I may choose better next time. I am appreciative of the grace I give myself when I slip and the humility to remember my successes are only fleeting. I am grateful for the reminders of the importance of gratitude in the learning process.
The boys are currently at Scouts, Becky’s getting a few things done, and I figured it would be a good time to blog early so I can plan on hitting the rack by 8pm tonight. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that makes me sound old and I’m 100% cool with that 😉
In starting my blog early and without the deadline has potentially led to an interesting blog. With no temptation to write quickly so I can go to sleep I paused and reflected on my day. I started a list of what I am thankful for and the list just kept growing and growing. Not only that, but I was smiling the entire time.
I know I’ve written about this before, but there is a peacefulness to be found in shoveling and snow blowing. My first activity after getting out out of bed was putting on winter clothes and heading outside to attack the new fallen snow. It was quiet, calming, and gave me time to relax while breathing in fresh air outside. Perfect.
Gavin and I were up in the workshop attempting to figure out a project. After trying a handful of different ideas I could feel my stress level rising. I took a deep breath, looked at Gavin, and asked, “Do you know what time it is Bud?” His response was more accurate than the one I had in mind.
“Time to hang it up and play a game before we get too frustrated?”
100% right dude! And off we went into the house and played a couple of games before he had to head out to Scouts. We had been having a good time in the workshop and rather than end with frustration we opted to fight another day and enjoy time playing. I’m glad he gets the concept of pausing when frustrated rather than pressing on and getting more frustrated.
Normally on a day like this I would have headphones in or have music playing. Maybe a podcast or an audiobook. Today the sound of silence was so much more appropriate. Rather than having a stream constant audio stimulation I chose silence. I also have largely left my phone aside for he same reason. Last I checked it has been on for less than 10 minutes today. Having quiet has helped me pause and reflect while soaking in even more peace and calm.
An old blog from a couple of years included the lyrics from a popular tune back int he late 90’s by The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Odds are you’ve heard this song before, possibly many times. What caught my attention when I blogged about it last time were the nature of the lyrics. I fired up the song again after reading the old blog post and these lyrics really hit home for me.
I’m not a coward, I’ve just never been tested I’d like to think that if I was I would pass Look at the tested and think “There but for the grace go I” Might be a coward, I’m afraid of what I might find out
The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, The Impression That I Get
Speaking of earworms, ever since Thursday night I’ve had the song Hello by Martin Solvieg and Dragonette stuck in my brain. Our family doesn’t watch much TV, but we’re all hooked on Ted Lasso and watch it as a family. This last episode had one of our favorite characters, Coach Beard, ends up a wild night in a rave and the song Hello is playing in the background. The scene is priceless, the song is infectious, and I can’t help but smile every single time I think about it. Check it out here: https://youtu.be/zPU5iPhD77k
Writing blogs like this remind me why I enjoy blogging so much. The process itself brings me tremendous joy.
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I, I took the one…
What a wonderfully perfect line for the day and for the entirety of the year. Some choices will not be popular. Others may not be understood. So long as I honor the right choice I’m moving in the right direction.
Once the path has been chosen there is no reason to look back except for guidance and wisdom for future decisions. Rather than wonder about what if’s and suffer the fear of missing out it is important to remember to go in the direction of the river of time, always forward.
Today that led me to the woods, that quiet place in which presence is so much more easily reached. Walking up and down the valleys of rock and wood demanded my full attention. Pausing to climb the rock outcrop to soak in the sight of the natural wonderful sprawling out was an awesome way to focus on the present and that moment. I regret, no second thoughts, only the serenity of being exactly where I’d chosen to be at that moment.
Life is full of decision points. So often it is easy to go with the flow and direction in which I’m already moving. There are times when the right direction is heading in the other direction. Slowly but surely it is becoming easier to get a foothold, push back, and head the right way. Even more slowly it is becoming easier to look ahead without being frustrated and looking back.
One of the pieces of Stoicism I am most appreciative of is the focus on remembering that there is one thing under my control, only one. My response to the world. The world will react as it wants, people will do what they want, and I have no control over that. What I can control are the choices I make (and there is always a choice to make, even not choosing is making a choice) and the attitude I choose as I face the world. With daily practice it is becoming easier to do both. For sure, it is still incredibly difficult to both remember that there is a choice and to choose the right emotional response, but it is ever so slowly becoming easier.
Today I was tested. While I didn’t pass with flying colors I am happy with my response. It was not perfect, but it was much better than my actions would have been even a year or two ago. What made the biggest impacts were choosing the uncomfortable and remembering where my control was to be used. I’ve made mental notes to myself on how to improve this in the future, specifically to waste less time with emotion. Even though it was largely self contained (a big win for me) there was still extra stress and emotional energy used which could have been put to such better uses. At times my focus wasn’t exactly where it should be as my mind drifted back to the other situation. By the end I was able to see that had I just moved to action rather than wallow in emotion more quickly I would have had more space for myself during the day. Once I finally got my head to the right place I reacted almost exactly as I would have liked, only a couple of minor changes. Overall, I passed. Still much work to do, but better than I would have done previously.
True to almost every situation in life when one door closed another opened. With my mind made up, action taken, and attitude chosen I couldn’t help but keep bumping into the bright sides, not just one, but several. Yes, I removed the option I initially wanted most, but several new possibilities opened themselves up and I immediately started taking advantage of them. Had I kept my emotions and attitude pointed in the wrong direction I most likely would have missed these opportunities. By keeping them in check my heart was full. Full of a different joy than expected, but full of joy nonetheless.
It has been a very good day in many aspects of life. The blog I’ve written is actually focused on not just one situation but a couple. The results of these bled into other areas of life and have had a very positive impact. I found purpose in my struggle and it brought great joy.
Dad always used to say that time kept moving faster each day that goes by. As a kid I remember the summer break from school lasting an eternity, now it is but the pop of a flashbulb (if you’re under 40 you may have to look up that metaphor). There is no question that dad was right, days have seemingly dwindled into hours.
While time itself has sped up there’s an interesting reaction much to its opposite. I’ve talked before about those moments when you’ve done something so many times you can “see the stitches on the curveball.” Those moments when time almost slows down and you can react prior to the action actually happening. The older I get, the more experienced I become, the more that life situations seems to slow down and my reaction time improve drastically.
Maybe that’s what we mean by wisdom?
Regardless, today held many of both moments. Time flew by before my eyes while simultaneously slowing down as my reactions sped up. I wish there were more time, but I’m also seeing that I’m doing more with it than in the past. What a wild balancing act it is!
Looks like I’m going in a few different directions for today’s blog. Even as I’m mentally compiling my list of appreciation my brain is probably missing a few things I’d tagged earlier in the day. Maybe they’ll come back, maybe they won’t. What’s fun about this is that knowing that I’ve spend time being thankful for those moments earlier in the day I can know I’ve been focused on gratitude more often than just this one moment of the day.
In between a few Zoom meetings I had a short break in the action. Reflexively I reached for my task list and my email. Before my hand got there I realized I could really use time to pause and think. There was a lot of information and I hadn’t really had time to reflect on it, I hadn’t truly digested it yet. Rather than dive back in I closed my laptop, rolled my chair back, and closed my eyes. I wasn’t tired in the slightest, the closing of my eyes allowed me to focus my thought, to slow down the train hurtling down the tracks. Focusing my thoughts I was able to see how what I’d just learned could be applied to other situation. I could see the right next steps more clearly. I then opened my eyes and jotted down notes to myself and added the appropriate tasks and appointments to my calendar. Had I not taken time to pause and really let the knowledge sink in it would so easily have been lost.
Later in the afternoon I could sense that there was a resource that could help me as I put a few other things together. I turned my chair and stared down the two bookshelves in my office. Without a clue of what I was specifically looking for I soaked up all the dozens of titles printed on the spines of books I’ve read. Yes, I found the answer I was looking for eventually (Tribal Leadership), but I also found something else. I’m extremely grateful for my full bookshelves (& my 200+ book Audible library). Each of them provided insight, wisdom, best practices, and thought provoking exercises. Some are more memorable than others, but each of them helped me learn and grow. Those bookshelves have been some of the best investments I have made in my professional life.
Throughout the workday I kept feeling a strong sense of living my purpose. I can’t really clarify it more at the moment, my mind is getting too close to bed, but it was a feeling like I was in the right place doing the right things. That sensation is powerfully rewarding, I appreciate it as it helps motivate me to do more work along those same lines. In a way it was like the universe was reminding me that I’m exactly where I should be – while hinting at how to grow it to the next stage as well.
Last, there were a couple of times today when I was reminded of trips to New Orleans. If you weren’t reading with me when I went on those trips here’s my short synopsis. New Orleans – not really my kind of place… other than the food! The food is soooooooooooo delicious there! Specifically, look at this plate of awesomeness:
Talk about one of the all time great breakfast plates I’ve ever consumed. Still blows my mind a few years later. I’m very grateful for memories I can still taste so clearly.
With some of the changes I’ve made for the year I’m finding more and more positive returns on my investment of intentionality. One in particular has been how much more reading I’ve already done this year than in most years.
I just finished reading a favorite classic, The Godfather, and have now moved on to The Godfather Returns. The other fiction on my dresser to fire up afterwards is Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. I’ve also got a small handful of business related books and a few philosophy books to cruise back through as well.
In reading before bed each night for a short time I’m reminded how much better I sleep than if I were mindlessly watching TV or doing something on a screen. My mind relaxes so much more. The amber glow of my reading light cues the sleepy time pattern for my brain and I fall asleep so much more quickly.
When I focus my mind towards my goals I’m reminded of what Stephen King once wrote about always carrying a book with him rather than pulling out his cellphone. My brain is stimulated in such a more productive way with a book. I’m glad I’m making more time to do so.