Thankful for Clarity on Clarity, Deeper Learning from Leaders, & the Presence of Speaking

Day 2,229


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!


Day 1,984 – Thankful for a Gratitude Filled Day with Think Days, Excellent Teams, Honoring Dad’s Legacy, a Book Causing a Visceral Response, Gavin’s Growth, and Uncle Matt on TV

Wowza, where do I even begin today? The day has been packed with so many gratitude filled moments, I’m definitely going with a conglomerate of appreciation. Even in this fashion my biggest hope is that I don’t miss one of the key moments.

My Winona team and I had our monthly Think Day and it was one I’ll remember forever. We helped each other work out some very important things and bond more as a team. Seeing the growth everyone has had over the past handful of months was incredible. There is a magic to teams in which you feel 100% comfortable being who you are, sharing emotions as you would with family, and supporting each other throughout all of life. I’m blessed to be a member of a couple of those teams.

In a moment of reflection I found an awesome way to honor Dad and help continue his legacy. Taking action on it this week has been more rewarding than I could have ever dreamt. More details to follow on May 26th. 😉

I finished reading 1984 today, fitting seeing as this is blog 1,984. This was the first time I can remember having a profoundly visceral wave of nausea strictly from reading. As I said a couple of nights ago, if you haven’t read it for a while you may want to pick it up. Mindblowingly impactful on numerous levels.

Gavin’s parent teacher conference this evening was incredible. During the last one he found a couple of things to work on and he totally crushed them over the past quarter. Hearing the glowing reviews of his teachers was music for my soul. Gavin’s leadership skills, focus, and growth make me burst with pride. Excellent work bud! Love you dude!

Becky’s brother, Matt, is in the Paralympics in Beijing for curling and I wanted to make sure we have everything set up to watch his matches live on TV. In doing so we happened to stumble across the preview pic for the match… and it was Matt!!! How wild is that??? Seeing someone we know and love on our TV was crazy! Super proud of him and so pumped to see how he and his team do.


Day 1,966 – Thankful for Camping with My Boys and Sleeping Outdoors, Even When It’s -5f

The temperature yesterday was a little chilly. The lowest I saw was -5 degrees with the windchill dropping the feel to about -16. A little cool, but nothing to get in the way of having a great time in the woods with my boys. We went for an outing with Scouts and the cold air only added to the fun and memorableness. We also learned a few lessons along the way, like the fact that butane tanks don’t like to stay pressurized in the extreme cold… and that the tanks can be warmed up to the right temperature by putting them against your chest inside a pair of bibs and jacket with a couple of hand warmers for about 15-20 minutes.

I’m always grateful for time in the woods with my family. Sharing my happy place with those I love is amongst my favorite activities. Whether camping, hiking, traveling, snowshoeing, running, or anything – time outside in nature with my family is always rewarding, even when the weather doesn’t cooperate or is less than ideal.

Last night we laughed, enjoyed time together, and stayed warm. While I rested in my solo tent with a double layer of tarps and a triple sleeping bag set up I kept smiling while listening to the laughing coming from the boys’ tent next to me. They were joking around and goofing off just the way kids are supposed to. Doing it outside in crazy weather made it all the more perfect. Times together like this will hopefully continue to instill a passion for time in the wilderness for both of them.

Not gonna lie, at one point it got so warm I had to unzip my sleeping bags and cool off!


Day 1,876 – Thankful for Dominic’s Courage to Do Anything

Dominic is starting to work on his Eagle Scout project. The potential project includes creating a dog park in our neighborhood. The first step before he can even put his proposal together is to ask all the nearby home owners if they would be okay with that.

No worries, Dominic just put on his Scout uniform, grabbed his notepad, and started knocking on doors. How wild is that? Even better, he doesn’t know who more than half the people are! Dominic is basically going out and doing cold calls voluntarily in support of a good cause.

That simple action makes me so proud. It’s be so easy to take the easy way out and find a different project, use a over, or some other form of communication. Nope, he’s grabbing the bull by the horns and has received some tremendous feedback already.

One more reason I’m proud of Dominic, he understands that some of the best things in life lay well beyond the point of discomfort. Never give in to fear when courage is the right answer.

Super proud of you dude! Love you bud!


Day 1,873 – Thankful for Walking Meditation and Stillness in the Woods

Rather than boarding a flight to an ocean beach I was wandering the woods in the snow. Quite the contrast, right? I was exactly where I should be.

Becky and I spent most of our morning at Pike’s Peak outside of MacGregor, Iowa. Due to the cold weather and snowfall we were amongst the few in the entire park. Once we were more than 100 yards from the observation area we never saw another soul.

I drew in breaths of fresh autumn air through my nose and concentrated on soaking in each exquisite little detail of the sights and sensations around me. The bright red leaves and even more scarlet berries of one type of plant. The drops of water resting on the waxy underside of oak leaves. Each little “brick” in the elaborate lattice work of the limestone rock outcroppings. The sensation of the cool winter-ish breeze and snow rushing against my face and tickling the hairs of my beard. The lighting of the woods shifting and transforming as the sun danced amongst the clouds. The music of Becky’s voice as we shared our joys of the wilderness. Each step. Each breath. Each individual second. Pure magic, pure joy.

Our morning was spent in a walking meditation in the stillness of the woods. Exactly where I was called to be in those moments.

If this were my last day I would go peacefully, full of joy, fully satisfied, and with a heart full of love. Today I have lived.


Day 1,831 – Thankful for a Wonderfully Meaningful Short Story – The Artist of the Beauty

I’ve read portions of Walden by Thoreau but haven’t read it all the way through. When I went to order a copy online I happened across a book with that story as well as a handful of others. My plan was to read from Walden through the rest of the book, but last night I felt compelled to read the last story for some odd reason.

Laying in my hotel bed last night I read The Artist of the Beautiful by Nathaniel Hawthorne. I could hardly lay still in bed afterwards as my brain was consumed by the tale. The story has been on my mind all day long for a variety of reasons. I have a suspicion that it will haunt my thoughts the entirety of my life moving forward.

I do not want to spoil it for you if you have it read it before and will do my best to describe without giving anything away. If you’d ever like to talk with me about it in more detail I would be happy to.

While reading it there were many emotions stirred in my soul. Grit – the determination to see something through to completion. Self-worth – doing something specifically for oneself specifically because one can and also possesses a desire to do so. The stoic mindset of controlling only what one can control was seen throughout. Belief in one’s own ideals and a refusal to bend to the thoughts of the world. The beauty and simplicity found in nature. The passion that drives one to accomplish great things. Sacrificing desires for the grandest of dreams. The importance of living into one’s true self. All of these thoughts, themes, and emotions in one short story from a century and a half ago!

As I face my own personal trials and am at a crossroads of pursuing my true self this story has inspired me to be the best me I can and to trust and follow my dreams of creating something beautiful. I plan on revisiting this story often both as reminder and warning to help my choose and stay on my right path.


Day 1,809 – Thankful for the Journey of Writing with Dad

As the pieces come together on my writing I’m continually grateful for this journey. Losing Dad was the most difficult time of my life to date. The pain can still be raw at times. I often wish for an opportunity to have a few more minutes with him, another conversation, or another hug. The sense of loss will never leave my soul.

What’s interesting is that the more I write the more my thoughts shift from loss to gratitude for the time I had with Dad. So many wonderful moments, memories, and experiences with him. I am so fortunate to have had Dad in my life.

The more I write the more memories come back. The more I write those memories down the more memories that also rise up to the surface. And so it goes.

In many ways this journey has brought me closer to Dad. I’m seeing more clearly the impact he’s had on my life and the legacy I hope to leave my boys. As I write I’m seeing the good and the bad, what I’d love to grow into and the gaps I need to cross.

LOL – my hair, his mustache… two things we’d both like to forget 😉

All the while I know Dad is with me in this journey. I can feel him supporting and guiding me. We do this together. It isn’t my story I am writing, it is our story we’re writing. Each step is a smile, a discovery, a lesson, and a moment I’m grateful for.