Working ahead really paid off today! I am becoming more and more trusting in one of my biggest habit changes for 2023… planning further and further ahead (while also providing some wiggle room). There were a small handful of last minute changes today that I was totally not expecting. Had I not already been ahead for the week I’d be in full blown panic mode and putting things together more with a focus on done than done right. I’m so thankful I’m working ahead of where I need to be, it allowed me additional flexibility today!
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been on a fun reading detour. I started with The Wim Hof Method by Wim Hof, moved into Breath by James Nestor, and chased it up with What Doesn’t Kill Us by Scott Carney. For dessert I’ve just started reading Deep by James Nestor. The first three spend a lot of time focused on the healing powers of breath and cold. Last night I utilized a meditation and breathing based treatment to help with a nagging injury and I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time. All are based on reminding ourselves of just how little we know about our bodies and the ways that little changes and practices can make a big difference. Pulling practices from each is already showing some beneficial results on my heart rate.
My reading diet typically consists of a rotation of business / leadership book, a biography / autobiography, and fiction. Mixing in a healthy dose of fitness minded books has helped to remind me that without my health the rest of what I read doesn’t matter nearly as much. Getting on a reading kick like this has been a treat!
This snow is so beautiful!!! The way it has stuck to all the trees has made so much of my drive to Winona look like it is a black and white scene in a very unique and spectacular way. Even shoveling felt great today. This morning I was out early in nothing but a tshirt, shorts, sandals, hat, & gloves and I enjoyed every shovel stroke. So peaceful with the snow falling all around me.
So often it is difficult to see the growth from each rep that gets put in. There are seemingly no gains for quite a while when putting in work towards a long term goal. At some point enough momentum is created and the entire wheel seems to turn almost effortlessly. So easy to see the final pushes and credit them for the success, but more accurate to look at each rep that came before it as equals to the last.
This afternoon I was able to see the breakthrough. Honestly, I was quite surprised! Once I realized what had happened I looked back and saw I had taken so many more reps than I thought, they’d all blended together in my memory until I paused to focus on them.
When working towards a long term goal stay on target with the minor details and menial tasks. Stay focused, stay consistent, and trust the process. The breakthrough will come as a result of all the repetitions.
My task list for the week is extensive but all with end of the week deadlines. I started on one of the larger projects today and cruised right past the finish line I’d set for myself for the day on it. My thought was to hit a certain point and then move on to the next project. Instead I went with the flow I was in and just kept rolling. Rather than switching gears I was able to keep the momentum going and accelerate through the end of the work day. Tomorrow I’ll head back to the other stuff on my list.
What I’m really thankful for is the awareness to know when I’m in the flow and able to keep rolling AND for working ahead on almost all of the other projects so I have the flexibility to stay on one task longer.
I got myself a new office “toy” for my standing desk. My balance board arrived today and I’m already in love! Standing on it and attempting to balance brought me 100% into the present moment as I felt all of my foot, leg, and core muscles working and twitching to keep myself upright. Talk about a great sensation! My right achilles has been bothering my a little lately and the time on the board helped loosen it right up.
I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve watched the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. Sometime around the holidays it ends up getting played in our house, just like clockwork. Each time I start to watch I kind of groan a bit and halfheartedly look for a distraction. Tonight Becky fired it up and I found myself gravitationally pulled towards the living room to watch it with her. Even though we didn’t finish the movie tonight due to a band concert it seemed worthy to write my blog tonight around the theme of It’s a Wonderful Life.
No one steps in the same river twice. Today I was reminded of how the same concepts land differently with the changes lived through life. There were different spots resonating more deeply than ever before, just as other things had done in each of the past viewings. What I’m impressed by most is the ability of the movie to capture so many common emotions at so many different levels. Each time watching it is like a whole new experience
As mentioned above there’s always something a little different that hits home each time I watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Based on a handful of reasons I’ll keep to myself on this one I was almost sobbing she I caught this short scene…
What incredibly powerful words those are below the picture of Pa Bailey. The words are never spoken, just shown in the bottom corner of the screen for only a few seconds, and can be so easily missed. Blended with emotions building over the past couple of weeks and my mind and heart have been stuck on this concept all night. What a gift this movie still gives after more than 75 years. A dozen words, a lifetime of wisdom.
There’s something special about sharing emotions and tears with a spouse / significant other / loved one. More than once we both sniffled together and caught each other looking to the other for emotional support and validation of our shared feelings. Knowing that we are in tune with each other at such a deep emotional level is a profoundly powerful sensation.
I’m a slow but sure learner sometimes. Over the past handful of vacations I always plan on organizing my photos and videos but it often doesn’t happen. This means that while there’s a pile of memory starters there is also a big pile of near duplicate photos to be deleted.
On our flight back today I focused on cleaning up my photos. They’re all sorted by day, in chronological order, and with the near duplicates and photo fails deleted. Took some songs today but will save a ton of time in the future.
One of the biggest reasons for heading to Iceland was to see the Northern Lights. The odds of doing so are spotty at best, even in the best of conditions. The clouds fought us the majority of the nights and when it was clear the Aurora Borealis was too shy and stayed away.
Last night while sitting in the hot tub I pulled up the forecast as we looked up at the stars. According to the Aurora app we had an exactly 1% chance of seeing them. Steve laughed and quoted the line from Dumb & Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance!”
After some games we all started to close out our nights. On a whim I decided to walk outside and check one more time. As I turned to the north I was rewarded with a ribbon of light rippling across the sky. I ran inside, grabbed Gavin & Steve, and headed out to enjoy the show.
The really big lights didn’t last very long and some clouds moved in, but we’d accomplished our goal and beaten the 1 in 100 odds.
My dreams were very intense afterwards. Much of it was a reminder to me of the dangers of taking on too much. It reminded me of the importance of saying no more often, of slowing down, and remembering to stay focused on what’s really important to me. It was so intense I woke up in a sweat at 4:41 am.
When I got up I looked out my window and was so shocked at what I saw I didn’t trust myself to wake everyone right away. I quietly snuck out of the house and saw tendrils of light stretching through the night!
I woke everyone up and we spent well over an hour in astonishment and joy watching the lights. We took photos, we just looked up in awe, and enjoyed every single minute until it started to dwindle. I’m still awestruck at what we witnessed.
I am so grateful for our luck and our timing.
Last night and again early this morning as we watched the Northern Lights there was a very specific moment I’ll remember forever. Amongst the spectacular light show Gavin put an arm around me and pulled me in close. “We did it! Thanks for bringing me to Iceland!” You betcha buddy, happy to have created these memories with you.
In one of our learning sessions today the speaker shared this thought provoking insight, “Clarity is controllable.”
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a leader is providing the necessary clarity of goals for my team. This comment reminded me that of all that I do as a leader providing clarity is amongst the most important, if not the most important. What a perfect reminder for me to be intentional about being completely clear in our vision and goals!
One of my favorite The Far Side cartoons by Gary Larson is one which the line is, “Mr. Osborne, may I be excused? My brain is full.” That is exactly how I am feeling after 24 hours of our Express Leadership Academy Alumni Retreat. So many ideas are already stuffed into my brain bucket, I’m afraid if I add any more some will slosh out when I walk!
What I’m most appreciative for is the opportunity to learn from other leaders. Yes, the strategy and tactics are fantastic, but I’m talking about the deeper learning that is there is I remember to watch for it below the surface. How does the leader show their values in the way they communicate? If I listen to a deeper frequency there are more profound and impactful lessons to learn. There were two specifically today which moved me deeply.
One leader who is amongst the most successful in our 800+ offices showed such a deep level of humility. She’s done a superb job of quieting ego while continuing to lead the way to success. Her integrity shown through so clearly as well, everything she does is with excellence. She’s focused on the most important and gets at it. As I re-read Meditations I can’t help but see how she embodies so many of the Stoic principles.
Another leader is exceptionally courageous while also leading with dynamic clarity. She is willing to try new things, to see where the world is going and get there before anyone else does. She reminds me of the Wayne Gretzky quote, “Most people skate to the puck, I skate to where the pick will be.” That takes courage and old fashioned guts. New ideas are never easy and are often criticized… until everyone realizes just how brilliant the idea really is. Her courage to do what’s right is truly uplifting.
There is no question I can draw inspiration from both of these leaders at a level deeper than their tactics and strategies. From them I can learn to be a better me. I am so thankful today for the opportunity to learn from them.
Speaking in front of a group is one of my favorite ways to be 100% focused in the present moment. There is no room to day dream, to drift off, or to consider all the things going on in life.
There is only the audience to focus on, watching their nonverbals and responding accordingly. What’s hitting home, what’s not. Who had a deeply emotional connection to the specific line. Which phrases or points packed the most punch. The speaking itself is muscle memory, the true presence in in the micro adaptions to the audience to provide them the best possible experience.
Having an opportunity to speak to an audience is a practice in forced presence and focus, I am so appreciative for that opportunity!
What a ride home it was today! While waiting at a red light I was rear ended. I pulled to the side of the road, saw there was damage, and then got back in to pull over in a safer place. While I did that the driver of the other car hit the gas and drove away.
Rather than getting angry I took a deep breath – heeding my advice from yesterday’s blog. I calmly called the police and they were able to get everything rolling. While I sat in the car and awaited further instruction I took another deep breath and started typing this blog.
I would normally have gotten very upset in a situation like this. Having just written about this very topic only yesterday helped me remember that what was done was done, there was no point in wasting emotional energy over it. I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks! 😉
Way back in the day a friend really caught my attention by asking a very simple question.
“Are you okay? You don’t seem yourself.”
For ways I’ll keep to myself that question literally altered the direction of my life for the better. I can honestly say the likelihood of my life being the same is almost zero thanks to her moment of focus, concern, and caring. I learned so many valuable lessons in that moment – about myself, life, and others. It was transformative.
The question was simple, the intent heartfelt, the impact profound. I appreciate that question, that moment, and that friend tremendously.
Sometimes we must listen with more than our ears. I know, technically you can only “hear” with your ears, but I swear there are other ways to “listen” to other people. Today I’m thankful I paused to really listen and take the appropriate action. I’m also thankful for the moment I described above as that helped me see the right action to take to help.
The growth moment for today is one which has presented itself in a handful of ways over the past week or two. The lesson has shown up as a very clearly and directly as well as undervocer as a metaphor and as a lived example of why it is important. All around me are these clues and gestures which point to a better way of being.
The lesson? There’ve been a handful of subtle variations but at its core is this…
Count to three, take a deep breath, and then respond. Don’t react immediately, take a moment to pause and think, and then take action.
So wonderfully simple and easy, yet wildly difficult. So much more work to put into my practice of doing this correctly.
My gratitude today comes as a result of a few different articles in APNews.com recently. I am so blessed, fortunate, and grateful for my life in this country. While I drive with my family to go for a leisurely hike in the bluffs there are so many people living through unspeakable challenges throughout the world. The situation I live in each day is very fortunate and I’m thankful for the life I’m able to live. My heart aches for those in difficult situations, I know I must do better to help others who need it.
Hiking in the bluffs always brings about such calm. The smell of the woods mixed with the spectacular vistas could help me lose myself in the beauty of the present in an instant.
What really jumped out to me today was something truly exquisite. While atop the ridge of a bluff we looked over the expanse of the Mississippi River Valley. So many trees, plants, rock formations, backwaters, and so on along the river, beauty ot be found everywhere. Where I lost myself in the present during that time was when my eyes chanced upon a single maple in blazing red standing all alone amongst a sea of green leaves. It was simply stunning.
Our LuLu is definitely showing her age more and more quickly each day. She’s got some serious elbow issues that are causing a great deal of pain. The vet has her on a few doses of pain pills to help until we figure out if there’s any viable way to help her get healthy-ish.
LuLu has quickly brought the specter of loss into my life again. In many ways I know Death awaits us all, but when it gets close enough to sense it feels like a whole different level of awareness.
This evening I couldn’t help but chuckle at a somber realization that here I am, my book about grief just about to be published, and I’m humbled the impending sense of loss. We haven’t even gotten the worst of news, yet the feeling of loss is already catching like wildfire… and it feels wildly humbling. There is zero control I have in this part of the future, I have a similar feeling to being in Iceland alongside the mountains – I am so powerless and insignificant compared to the power of death and of nature.
While this feels (& sounds) very dark in many levels, there’s also an appreciation for the sensation buried down deep past the emotions. If I allow myself to look into the abyss of loss and don’t struggle in futility to gain control the sense of being completely humbled can feel oddly comforting and centering. I can only control how I respond, how i react, and how I process the moment. Truly letting go and accepting the lack of control, the tremendous powerlessness allows me to more clearly focus on choosing my response, how I frame the loss, and how I find purpose in the loss. It still hurts like hell, but there is a faint glimmer to be found when I look deeply enough for it.
We feel the fullest loss for those who we’ve loved most. The more the hurt, the more the love there’s been. As someone put it when Dad was dying, “don’t be sad for what you’ve lost, rejoice and be grateful for what you’ve had.”
As I laid next to LuLu on the deck, snuggled with her, and rubbed her belly I was on used on all we’ve been blessed to enjoy together. She’s brought me so many smiles, so much joy, and more love than I’d dreamt possible from a furry companion. LuLu has created so many awesome memories I will cherish forever and continue to talk with family about for as long as I’m blessed to walk the earth. I’m so fortunate for all the love she’s given in our years and years together.
I’m thinking back to what I learned from losing Dad I’m also reminded to more deeply appreciate each moment I get with her. She’s not gone yet, and who knows, she could still be with us for a very long time. One of the beauties of loss (& yes, I just said that) is the reminder it provides us to appreciate each moment we have. The specter of loss may be looming, but it doesn’t have to create shade.
As the old saying goes, “the nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.
Tonight I’m choosing to embrace the specter of loss. I will use it to create flowers in the garden of now until my tears water the flowers of tomorrow.
As I prep for bed and conduct my daily ritual of blogging my mind is going in a couple of different directions for my blog. There are a few distinct appreciations which all seem to flow into a common theme. Just a heads up, this is all going to sound familiar as the path is one I’ve traveled recently.
Starting my morning yesterday with an early morning hike with Becky was outstanding. To share time in the woods with her while we both take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors is something I enjoy immensely. Amongst all I do in life this type of activity hovers continually near the top. Not only does it provide moments of awe and wonder leading to extreme presence, but I get to share it with my best friend and soulmate. Doing what we love while sharing in that love together is something I do not take for granted. We are so fortunate to have the common love and appreciation of nature. Those times together hiking the trails, whether exploring a new to us National Park or wandering the same old trail for the ten thousandth time, are one of the ways I re-charge, refresh, and refill my reservoir of energy. By taking that time to the two of us I have the strength and energy to live into my sense of purpose and am much more likely to live more closely into the person I am called to be – it helps me work on the gap. All the while my heart is filled with tremendous joy.
This morning I spent a lot of time with a teammate I haven’t had a ton of one on one time with. The entire experience was incredibly enlightening as well as a ton of fun. I was able to learn so much about her, hear about her motivations, her dreams, and her story. Throughout I kept thinking about how this was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. Hearing her share her experiences helped me see how we’ve made progress towards living into our purpose while simultaneously providing an opportunity to dream a bigger and better vision of what living that purpose could look like. It was a conversation which will leave lasting fingerprints on our future.
During the day there was a moment in which I took a couple of actions which I would have most likely skipped in the past. Before I could help myself I was leaping into action and unaware of moving myself outside of my comfort zone. The action itself was taken because it was necessary based on purpose, on our why. So many times in the past I’ve taken action more for ego’s sake, if I’m completely honest with myself. This time was 100% for the cause, to protect the purpose. I was reminded afterwards of a comment from Tribal Leadership: the right purpose, the right reason, they work through us. This was a moment in which the purpose warranted action and action was taken immediately. Afterwards a passing conversation in an elevator showed me the importance of the action. Purpose caused necessary action which wouldn’t have otherwise happened.
Purpose, such a powerful thing. It is truly humbling, each time I feel like I’m understanding the power of purpose more I quickly realize how little about the power of purpose I truly know. Each time I start to get a glimpse I quickly see there is so much more than what I am getting a glimpse of. What a beautiful journey this has been and will continue to be!
Instead of our normal run I opted for waking up a little earlier than usual and went for a hike. The woods were dark when I entered but quickly started to lighten up. The weather was just about perfect and there was no one else on the trail when I started.
Just a little ways into the hike I encountered something I have never experienced. An owl started hooting loudly and almost immediately there was a response from another owl. The hooting then got more intense, more rapid, and higher pitched. There was just enough light that I could make out the shape of one owl flying towards another on a branch. Both owls spread their wings to increase the size and they were so close together I could not make out where one stopped and the other started. Within a second the one on the branch took off like a shot and the other took its place. The one that had flown was easily trackable against the dark blue pre-dawn sky and I watched as it settled into a new location. It was awesome!!! I could not believe the luck I had to see such an event.
I then walked up and down the valleys while listening to both the bird songs and their echoes. The sound bounced and resonated through the coulees and added a little extra beauty to the music. I was surprised to hear the changes in the types of birds as the minutes ticked by, it was almost like each species had their own alarms set.
Along the path I scared up a deer. He was well off the trail by the time I saw him. I slowed my pace and was rewarded with an encounter with two more deer, neither or which were startled. It seems as if they know there was no threat to them from me and we spent a few seconds just enjoying the sight of each other before I got back to my trail and they slowly walked and ate.
The woodpeckers all kicked in at about 5:35 and were going hardcore for a good 10-15 minutes. There were at least three different types based on what I saw and observed with their pecking patterns and sounds. A few times I just paused and watched them go to town on top of a dead tree, so entranced by watching them do what woodpeckers were made to do. I was lost in a state of awe watching their heads pile drive into the tree over and over again in rapid succession while also remembering that their tongues wrap around their brains to provide extra cushion. That’s legit, look it up 🙂
By the time I’d reached the top of the bluff and started heading down the sun was up and the woods were as light as ever. Thinking I had enjoyed pretty much all I would see I was left in quite the state of shock when I came across three different deer. They were also not at all spooked by me and took their time crossing the trail. We slowly watched each other as we went our separate ways, me descending, they heading up the bluff. In many ways it felt like going to church, seeing and acknowledging the people you know by sight and haven’t had a conversation with, but you’ve always both smiled at each other. We shared what seemed to be an acknowledgement of each others company, four beings enjoying the wonder of the woods.
My morning was so enriched by the time in the woods. The sights, the sounds, the smells, all of my senses except taste enjoyed the journey. Throughout the day there was a different level of calm I carried with me, a peace which can only be found by spending time in the woods.
I was so struck by it that I used my lunch time as an opportunity to hike a very short distance into the bluffs near my office, put up my hammock, relax and eat lunch, enjoy more of the woods, and then head back to the office in almost exactly 60 minutes. That extra dose of the outdoors time only enhanced my day further.
Late in the morning some friends were texting about current affairs and all I could do was laugh. I responded with a text sharing that I feel like I’m living in a different world and shared all I had seen in my morning hike. I can only imagine so many of the ills of our world would be slowly solved over generations if we all paused to get outside and experience a sense of awe in the outdoors. I know, I’m totally biased on this one, but there are so many wonderful benefits to being outside more often. This was proven to me multiple times today.
So many incredible experiences seemingly in my own backyard on an early morning hike. What a perfect way to start the day!