Day 1,621 – Thankful for Podcasts and Mental Bread Crumbs

Lots of driving today. Hours and hours. Well worth it for where we’d been. Well worth it for where we were going. All went well on the drive and we arrived safe and sound.

Something that really helped to not only pass the time but kept my brain going a thousand miles per hour was a steady diet of podcasts. Relatively short segments of learning certain topics. Amongst my favorites were a handful of Star Talk by Neil Degrasse Tyson focused on some pretty wild physics concepts. there were also a few wildly thought provoking others as well. Finding a way to keep the entire family learning while driving was pretty awesome.

Another thing I’m thankful for today are mental bread crumbs. What do I mean by those? Things like this pic from yesterday:

I snapped this pic on our hike yesterday. Without fail, at some point in the future I’ll stumble across it in my photos. I’ll pause and stare at it. I’ll read it and remember where, when, and why I took it. I’ll smile and re-live the mindset I was in when I took the picture.

This works not only with pictures, but with other random notes and quotes and thoughts saved in one of a variety of different formats including apps and paper. Today I stumbled across a quote from Walden that made me think and smile. On an almost daily basis I’ll run across a mental bread crumb or two. days like today I’m reminded of how thankful I am for the moments when I take time to leave them as well.

ThNks

Day 1,620 – Thankful for Visiting National Park #30

Number one on my dream list is to visit all the National Parks with Becky. Prior to this morning we’d had visited 29 of the 63 parks. Late this afternoon we knocked out #30 – Hot Springs National Park.

While this wasn’t the craziest or most scenic parks we’ve been too it was pretty wild to visit. The trails were completely quiet and peaceful with only a couple of other people on them. The hot springs are very interesting to see and put our hands and feet into.

One of the other parts I’m really liking about this National Park is that one of the old bathhouses that is technically in the National Park has been converted to a brewery – with beer take out! Whoever would’ve thought that beer made in a National Park made with natural hot spring water would be so delicious?

Seriously, this visit has been an awesome double whammy. First, we’re one step closer to a lifelong goal, something that’s always worth celebrating. Second, we created many memories as a family doing something we love doing together – the something that makes the dream even more worthwhile and meaningful.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,619 – Thankful for Serendipity and Intentional Scarcity

Yesterday I was plowing through my task list early in the morning when an email caught my eye. A good friend is working on a project and asked if I could help. Without hesitation I started typing up an email saying yes and seeing how many different ways I may be able to help. I was smiling from ear to ear at the opportunity to help and repay her for all the ways she’s helped me. As I wrapped up the email a bell rang in my brain…

One of my big three goals for this year is totally in her wheelhouse. Seeing I was already in contact why not see if she might have an idea to help me move my goal closer to conclusion.

The email I received bag was incredible! Not only was she happy to help she immediately introduced me to an individual who could really help me out drastically! How awesome is that?

In the back of my head I’d planned on contacting her at some point for help, but I probably would’ve waited way longer than I should have per my discomfort with asking for help (see yesterday’s post). The email she sent was so cosmically well timed I can’t help but pause and be thankful for such a serendipitous moment.

Another thing I’m very grateful for today is intentional scarcity. My brain works in strange ways. When I’ve got a project due I like to spend much time tossing it over and over in my brain. The longer I can let it ferment and rough out many different ideas and solutions the better the final product.

Unfortunately my brain has a tendency of wanting to continue working on an idea much longer than I should. As soon as I come to a right solution I immediately go to work on creating a “more right” solution. If I’m not careful I can quickly cross the threshold of diminishing returns and have no finished project.

What I’ve been working on for the past week had a deadline of late this morning. With three hours to spare I put a stop to all the ideation and moved into creating the finished project. I put myself into an intentional mindset of scarcity.

With that scarcity mindset I was able to hyper focus on putting all of my ideas into a concise and consolidated whole. I then took a step back, reviewed the “why” behind the project, looked at it through my eyes, my team’s eyes, my customer’s eyes, and then back to the why. Several revisions were made and then there it was before me.

From the outside it’s be easy to think that it was created just in those short couple of hours. In reality it was the hours upon hours of thought beforehand that was the majority of the heavy lifting. With that foundation laid the focused mindset of scarcity helped to force me to build the solution on the foundation.

For sure, a state of constant and uncontrolled scarcity would have doomed this project. That said, using it to apply the right pressure at the time and in the right place was pure gold!

It reminds me of the story I’ve mentioned many times of Dad telling me about taking time to assess the solution completely before choosing the right tool and plan of attack. I’d just spent minutes grunting, groaning, and sweating as I wrestled with an old cabinet I was attempting to remove. As he told me the story he calmly picked up a crowbar, sized up the cabinet, stuck one end of the crowbar into a very specific spot. Finishing his story he smiled at me, winked, gently nudged the crowbar… and set the entire cabinet free.

That is the smile Dad gave as he taught me this valuable lesson 😁

Intentional scarcity as a tool… definitely a lesson I need to remember more often!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,618 – Thankful for a Thought Provoking Question and a Though Provoking Training

The conversation on our morning run took an interesting and thought provoking time this morning. In essence there was a question that kept my head thinking. Is the pursuit of perfection a good thing?

Personally, I love the pursuit of perfection. What’s wild is that I know that it will never actually happen, but I still find it something worth striving for. In my head I measure success as growth towards something and not the something itself. If I pause and get frustrated for not being perfect I can shut myself down in anger or disappointment. If I focus on what I’ve learned from this specific pursuit of perfection I can use it to fuel me to push harder, try again, and continue the pursuit. Ultimately, my choice in attitude determines whether or not I find motivation or disappointment in pursuing perfection.

Starting my morning with that thought forming in my head helped me focus on choosing a growth mindset through the day – something I’m very grateful for!

One of our online training sessions today really helped me see a concept from a different perspective. The topic was on vulnerability and I was quickly reminded of how much I (& virtually everyone) enjoy helping people. When someone has a challenge or struggle we find joy in helping and supporting them.

What I was also forced to quickly see is how much I avoid being the person who needs the help sometimes. This is probably a longer topic for a different day – the short version is that it is almost a phobia of mine, needing help. I want to be independent – my greatest motivator – and asking for help directly opposes that.

During the training one of my Express “heroes” admitted that they were struggling and needed help. Never in a million years would I have ever thought that would be the case. They’re the one who’s always helping someone else while motivating and inspiring so many. To witness their vulnerability was an eye opener for me. If they are willing to ask for help when they are struggling why do I struggle to do the same?

An interesting insight I found with this is to remember to view the challenge through the lens of what would I recommend to a friend. When attaining a slight different perspective it’s easy to see that I should ask for help. If I can remember to use that mindset I know can make a better choice in the future.

I’m so grateful for that training and insight today, I will remember it for years to come.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,617 – Thankful for New Holes in the Shadowbox, Patrick Lencioni

One of my favorite all time metaphors is thinking of life as a shadowbox. Jim Collins turned me on to this concept many years ago and it’s stuck with me. When I learn a profound new way of viewing the world I think back to the shadowbox.

Back when I was a kid I still remember a school project involving putting together an entire world in a shoe box. We cut out holes in the top and covered them with tissue paper so light could get in but our curious eyes couldn’t look through. We then cut a set of eyeholes in one side to view the world we’d each created.

If we paused and punched new holes in from a different side we’d see details never before seen. They existed the entire time but we couldn’t see them until we had a different angle. Not only were there new sights to see, there was also more context helping us see how things may be related. When those new holes were opened up we could see the world differently than before. When we would look back through the original eye holes we would now see details and meanings that had previously gone unnoticed. Everything inside was exactly the same but we’d never see or understand it all until we’d seen it from all angles.

I like to think of our world, my life, and my thought processes as a giant shadow box. My entire life is there in the shadowbox. Sometimes I have a new set of eye holes punched in to look through – ie Stoicism, religion, a life altering experience, etc… Quite often it comes in the form of a new idea or concept from a book or video. Regardless of the delivery system I’m provided with an opportunity to look at my thought processes from a different perspective, to see different connections, and to better see more of the whole self.

Today the new eyeholes came in the form of a Zoom presentation by Patrick Lencioni sharing The Working Genius model (check it out herehttps://www.workinggenius.com/). In the matter of thirty minutes my mind was blown from the new perspectives he shared. The model helps to show how work happens and how each of us contribute different strengths to see it through to completion. Such a simple concept with so much depth. This’ll certainly be one my brain keeps wrapping itself around.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,616 – Thankful for a Weekend to Myself

I love spending time with my family. Whether it’s all four of us together or some combination of at least two of us time with my family is pretty much my favorite thing in the world. With COVID we’ve had a ton of time together as a family over the past year.

When Becky and the boys got home yesterday after being out of town over the weekend Becky pointed something out that pretty much floored me. My jaw dropped as I tried to figure out if her comment was true. Near as I can still figure she’s 100% right.

Due to COVID I haven’t had an entire weekend to myself like I had this past weekend in well over a year. How crazy is that? These weekends don’t happen often when there’s not a pandemic, but they usually aren’t nearly this rare.

The entire weekend was spent doing thing on my time. Go to bed early, wake up when I feel like it. Not much of an agenda, just a list of what I want to accomplish. Change my mind and want to do something else? Sure, why not? Turn up the music a little louder than normal. Eat at the random hours when I’m actually hungry and eat whatever I’m in the mood for (corned beef? Yes, please!). When I want some quiet time I just turned everything off and chilled. When I wanted to walk I went. Hmm… which movie do I want to watch as I wind down? Oh, that’s right, whatever one I’d like to watch. The entire weekend was at my pace, my volume, and on my timeline. Ahh…

For sure, while it felt amazing, part of the reason it did was because it had been a while since the last one. Granted, I didn’t have any idea it had been over a year, but I knew it had been a while regardless. There’s a crazy deep level of peace and serenity when I have quiet time like that once in a while.

If I could only choose one for the rest of my life I’d choose family time over solo time without having to put any thought into it. That’d be an easy choice. It is wonderful that it is not a binary thing and I’m able to add the occasional alone time to the mix of family time. Weekends alone like this help me to be a better husband, dad, and friend. My batteries recharge and I’m able to be a better me than I would be without time to myself.

This weekend was exactly what I needed and I’m so grateful for having the entire weekend to myself. The next one doesn’t have to be anytime soon, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it does happen in less than a year this time.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,615 – Thankful for Rest and Taking Adam Grant’s Advice

Last night I did something crazy. Becky and the boys were up at her parent’s house for the weekend while I stayed back due to work yesterday. This meant I had the house all to myself for the night. Usually that means I’d watch a few movies, chill out on the couch, listen to some music, and then eventually go to bed sometime around midnight wondering where the hours had gone. Last night I tried something pretty wild… I was in bed before 8pm!

When I got out of bed this morning it was just after 7am. I woke fully rested after a wonderful almost eleven hours of sleep. Over the past few weekends I hadn’t gotten as much sleep as normal and I’d gotten out of my normal weekend rhythm. Last night got me caught right back up with where I should be on a regular basis. I got out of bed with a little extra spring in my step and got to work on what I wanted to accomplish for the day right away in the morning. Amazing what that much sleep can do for my attitude and mindset!

While getting some of my tasks knocked out today I took some advice from Adam Grant and took in a different opinion. During the Democratic primaries I pretty much wrote off Andrew Yang right from the start. His idea of a universal basic income sounded ridiculous to me on the surface. I scoffed at it, laughed at it, and thought it was a horrible idea without giving it any more than a fleeting thought. When people would mention it I would politely move on to the next topic and couldn’t understand why they would ever think that it would be a good idea.

As luck would have it I was looking for something I’d seem a long time ago. It was a graph showing not just the typical “Left v Right” of American politics on the X axis, but it also incorporated a Y axis – Authoritarian at the top, Libertarian at the bottom. I’ve never felt my views really fit either the Democratic or Republican ideals and often find myself voting both sides of the aisle. This chart reminded me that there is another dynamic and maybe I have a bit of a different view than others. When I found the chart it also showed where all of the 2020 presidential candidates fell on the chart. Low and behold, Andrew Yang was the closest to where my personal beliefs are. I hopped online, did a little research on Yang and found that he’d written a book, The War on Normal People. In a matter of minutes I was downloading the audio version.

His book was very interesting and got my head going in many directions at once. To be clear, I’m not in 100% agreement with him on everything, I haven’t decided I would vote for him, or am not sure how I feel about his “Freedom Dividend.” What I do know is that by listening to someone else’s differing thoughts I had to pause and question some of my own ideas. There was information that was a little different than I was expecting. There were interpretations of happenings that were different than I’d heard in the past. All in all, my brain got some wonderful exercise in while listening to the book and it has me thinking more deeply – rather re-thinking more deeply on some of the ideas I’ve had in the past. Reading the book has definitely widened my perspective.

If you’re looking for an interesting take on why labor participation has been dropping I would highly recommend it. If you have a book recommendation for me please let me know in the comments section as well – I’m working on being more and more open minded to books outside of my current personal perspective.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,614 – Thankful for the Learning the Story Behind the Creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos

Normally at this time of the year I’m flying to a different part of the country for training and a celebration of the previous year with Express. Last year at about this time we were all in Nashville and were wondering what this COVID stuff was all about and wondering what impact it may have on our business. Never in a million years would I have guessed how different the world would become just a few weeks later.

Thanks to the power of technology we were able to still have the meeting this year, albeit virtual instead of in person. The main speaker this morning was Richard Montanez, the creator/inventor of Flamin Hot Cheetos. I had not heard of him before and was not sure what to expect from his presentation.

From the beginning of his presentation I was hooked. He shared his personal backstory, how he’d grown up, and how he went from being a janitor at Frito Lay to presenting his wild new idea to the CEO. You can check out much of it yourself at https://thehustle.co/hot-cheetos-inventor/ – it’s a wild story!

What I appreciated the most about Richard’s story was his grit and how he looks at the world differently. As a janitor he volunteered to ride along with a sales rep on his day off to learn more about the business. Once he had an idea he kept driving and pushing until he got it presented. He saw a niche and an opening where no one else did.

This morning it reminded me to focus on my passion, to push towards my dreams, and to stay gritty while looking t the world through my own eyes. I may never come up with something as wild as Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but I’ll credit Richard for a little bit of whatever it is I do come up with. His speech this morning was some pretty awesome dream fuel.

Whoever would’ve thought the backstory of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos would be inspirational?

Thanks!!!

Day 1,613 – Thankful for a Milestone Moment, Dominic’s Probationary Driver’s License

Whew, another milestone today! I took a short break from work this afternoon to drive Dominic to the DMV. Today marks the halfway point between 15 and 16 for him so he wanted to get his temporary driving permit. He flew through the test with flying colors and walked out with a paper copy of his license… and a huge smile.

When we got off the interstate on the way home I pulled to the side of the road. We both got out, switched seats, and then I saw this:

The next thing I knew we were cruising down a quiet road coaching him on how to drive. It’s all easy when it’s online, it’s another thing the first time another car is coming towards you. He did an excellent job and knocked out his first 15 minutes of driving. He’ll certainly be doing more of that in the near future.

My mind is blown thinking about how quickly he’d growing up. Dad always said time would fly by more and more quickly and I’m really seeing that now.

So proud of him for getting this license and getting one step closer to adulthood.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,612 – Thankful for Un-swollen Knees and Reminders of Ocean Vacations

First things first, I am grateful for healthy and un-swollen knees this morning! After some icing a couple of times yesterday my knees were back to normal this morning and I was able to run with no issues whatsoever. Yesterday I was thankful for the reminder of how blessed I am to have no normal knee issues. Today I was grateful for no pain and no swelling in my knees. Feeling healthy is one of the best blessings I could ever ask for.

As we wind down for the night the boys and I opted for an episode of River Monsters. While watching Jeremy Wade solve the mystery of which fish killed people in the Atlantic Ocean we were reminded of many memories of our times on the ocean together. Snorkeling over sharks. Seeing dolphins and seals playin in the water. Observing some of the blue-set blue ocean water. Getting close to volcanic islands in the middle of the ocean.

I’m grateful for the memories of our ocean vacations, especially seeing as we haven’t been able to go for a while. I’m also especially thankful for the opportunities we took to make so many memories in the ocean. Watching these episodes with the benefit of real life experience makes it even cooler… and it brings back some awesome memories!

Thanks!!!