The Best Laid Plans…

Everyone’s got a side hustle these days! And it’s easy to get caught up in the idea that everybody NEEDS to have one. I started this blog because I had the notion that I needed to build it into some kind of side hustle. Along with this blog I started all the usual social media promotion pieces that go with it. My intention was to eventually “build a brand” around it. Because that’s what everybody does, right? I’m starting to wonder if that’s true, though. I love sharing thoughts and ideas whenever the inspiration strikes, but when I started to think of this blog as a “job”, of sorts, it took on a whole new feeling to me. I started to feel obligated to write something even when I wasn’t feeling inspired. I felt like I always needed to be “selling” my brand. I felt that if I wasn’t putting something out in front of people every damn day, then they would forget about me. And if you follow any of my social media outlets you will know that I have failed miserably at that. I kinda suck at this stuff! Now I’m not knocking people who are naturally entrepreneurial, but I am realizing that I’m not one of them.

I get the impression that our current culture has made the mistake of conflating the terms entrepreneurial and hard-working. It seems many people believe that unless you are building your own unique “thing” from the ground up then you aren’t doing anything of value. It is also no secret that a large chuck of our society has confused popularity with relevance or credibility. A quick browse of YouTube or Instagram will show that there are a lot of people out there building their own unique and SHITTY “thing”.

you tube famous

I have no desire to be YouTube or Instagram famous. I don’t even care about being “regular” famous. I don’t want to build a brand. Trust me, I would LOVE to make a living doing something like writing about fitness and faith topics all day long, but I am not an entrepreneurial genius that is willing to sacrifice everything else to make that happen. I just feel like I have some things to say once in a while and that I’d like other people to know about them. So this post is basically just my way of telling you that… I’m giving up! I’m not giving up sharing my opinions on things. I’m not giving up writing about things I have a passion for. I’m not even giving up blogging. I am giving up trying to build this thing into a brand. I am giving up fighting for “air time” among the social media noise that bombards us every day. I am giving up trying to be entrepreneurial and popular. I’d rather just be hard-working and relevant, and offer what I have to the people around me that want to hear it. Practically this will mean that I will probably write less, post less on social media and promote the stuff I do write even less than I do now. I may even delete the social media accounts related to this blog. I’ll still be here pluggin’ along and offering up some thoughts on stuff once in a while. And I won’t be spending all of my free time trying to get people to read it, or buy my branded merch, or trying to set up high-profile collaborations with other bloggers, or writing reviews of the daily scandal, or anything like that. I’d rather be at Disney or out for a burger and a beer with my wife and friends! Hopefully you’ll stick around and interact with me, but if not that’s cool, too.

Be blessed my friends!


Perspective… What Do You See?

It is unnervingly easy to get locked into my own vision of something. When I have a picture of how something should be it becomes increasingly difficult for me to see it any other way. I assume I’m not the only person that falls into this trap at times. For example, take a look at this image…


What do you see first? A chalice? Or two faces? For most people, once you see one image it’s harder to see anything else. I think this concept carries over into other things besides optical illusions, too.

I’ve written about my fitness journey here before. Many of you may know that I have already lost a substantial amount of weight in the past few years. But I have managed to put a few unwanted pounds back on recently. So I was looking for a way to shed THAT weight and maybe even a little more in the process. Well, in an effort to get things moving meaningfully in the right direction again I began an intermittent fasting (I.F.) protocol about seven weeks ago. I.F. can take many forms, but the plan I’m following has me only eating between roughly 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. every night. Besides the basic benefit of calorie restriction there are a bunch of other complex hormonal and science-y type things going on that make it very beneficial for your body. In my first few weeks the scale was moving like mad. I lost about 15 pounds! I was super stoked! I thought I had found a magic formula to losing weight. Ok, not really, but it almost felt that way. I knew in my mind that it wouldn’t always be like that. My first hint of this was over Thanksgiving weekend when I only lost 1 pound in four days. But hey, it was Thanksgiving. I had pie, and beer… and more pie. What should I expect, right? The next couple weeks were great again, I hit the 23 pounds lost mark. Then last Wednesday, when I weighted in, I found that I hadn’t lost (or gained) any weight. Today’s trip to the scale showed that once again I had only lost 1 pound in the past week. Now I believe that I have a couple pretty good reasons (read: excuses) for this. Last Sunday was our family Christmas party (again, pie and beer). And this past weekend was my wife’s birthday which brought with it a bit more celebrating. But like said, excuses.

By all apparent standards my new “miracle” weight-loss method wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. It looked as if my plan wasn’t working any longer. So I did what any self-respecting modern fitness buff would do… I turned tot he internet! No, I really, I started to search all the web sites and YouTubers I had used to learn about I.F. in the first place. And low and behold, I started to find some answers. Turns out my experience wasn’t unique at all. In fact, my results seem to be pretty much par for the course. I found a lot of stories of people experiencing water retention and bloating at this phase of their journey. It seems that this just a natural response by the body when a person starts to lose a lot of weight quickly in this protocol. I just hadn’t see it discussed before and I desperately wanted my initial impression to be true. Once I began to accept the data in front of me, my perspective changed. I wasn’t failing at anything. I just hadn’t seen the whole picture before.

How often do we get caught up in an initial vision or plan, only to have that picture fade away due to unforeseen circumstances? How many parties, or dates, or other events did we think were ruined because they didn’t go the exact we had planned them out in our mind? How many relationships have been lost because the other person turned out to be different (not bad, just different) than we first thought? We can be our worst enemy sometimes, sabotaging situations before they ever get a chance to play out.

My friend Allie shared this on Facebook the other day…


She’s pretty smart! And I think it is so true! We can get so caught up in trying to make thing “perfect” (whatever that is) that we miss out on some amazing things in life. Just because things look one way starting out that doesn’t mean that they will, or even should look the same as time goes on. Learn to go with the flow when it’s necessary and you might be surprised by the picture that emerges. One that you couldn’t even imagine at beginning.


You are what you eat… and see… and hear?

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you are what you eat”, right? It basically means that your body is literally built from the food you put in your mouth. If you only eat garbage, junk food, or nutrition-less calories, then your body won’t have much to work with when it needs to repair and replace your cells. It should come as no surprise that your mind pretty much works the same way.


Related to that idea, I have read about one theory which states that we are the sum of the five people with whom we spend the most time. The implication is that our own personality is essentially determined by the people we hang out with.

I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it, too. Not me, I’m my own person and I think for myself! None of us like to believe that we are not our own person. We like to think that we are strong, autonomous, unique individuals. And that’s also true, to a degree. Just not as much as most of would prefer. The reality is that we humans are intensely social creatures, even the most anti-social people among us. We soak up all the images we see, books we read, conversations we have, music we hear, etc. and incorporate bits and pieces into our own life. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

This is basically how we learn and grow and improve our lives. The things we absorb through our eyes and ears influence and inspire our own actions. So if all you do is scroll cat memes and watch prank videos on-line all day, that is going to impact how you act the rest of the time. If you read quality books, study difficult subjects or watch motivational videos then that’s going to have an impact, also.

So my challenge to you is to think about what you consume on a daily basis. Not just what you eat, but what enters your brain through your eyes and ears through relationships, media, experiences, etc. And then consider if the information you are taking in is serving to enhance or hinder your life. If you want to improve your life, improve the quality of the information you taking in. Everything from your Instagram feed to the TV shows you watch to people you hang out with will have an affect on your life, so choose wisely. And if you find something you don’t like, change it!


Go do stuff!

Yep, I’m still here! And I’ve got a good excuse for taking a little break, too. At least I think it’s a good excuse, anyway. I didn’t know what to write about. I mean I’ve had a lot of thoughts going through my head, it’s just that none of them were developing enough to make a whole blog post about them. Funny thing is, I still haven’t had a lightening strike idea of what to write about. So I decided to write about just that… not knowing what to write about. I really do love to write. It’s just that nothing has inspired me to start striking the keys on my keyboard lately.

kite surf

So what do you do when you want to write, but have no clue where to start? In the past I have “forced” myself to sit in front of my computer mulling over ideas until something clicked. Unfortunately, that rarely ever worked out well. Often it just led to more frustration and more writers block. And one thing I have noticed over the years is that if I do manage to write anything during these contrived writing sessions, it is noticeably less entertaining and inspired than my usual writing. That’s not to say this approach doesn’t work for other people. I know some authors and bloggers see this as an essential discipline of the process. But not being a professional writer or blogger myself, it is not imperative that I churn out content on a regular basis, and this forced process just causes higher stress and lower quality results. So I choose not torment myself in that way.

That’s all well and good, but, you may ask, “How do you overcome mental blocks, then?” I’m glad you asked! Here is my well kept secret for inspiration… I go do more stuff! I go to the beach. I try something new. I read a book. I watch a movie. I go to Disneyland. I hang out with friends. I try a new restaurant. I go to a new coffee shop. I know, pretty revolutionary stuff, huh? 😉 The thing is, I really just see my writing as telling my story and sharing the lessons I learn along the way. So the more stuff I do, the more chances I have to be inspired to write. And doesn’t that ring true for life in general? It’s really just about collecting experiences and memories, isn’t it? Whether you make YouTube videos, take pictures, write blog posts or don’t do any of the above, the best inspiration in life is just getting out and doing stuff, especially if it’s something new. So go do something. Now. No, really, just go do stuff!


Time keeps on slippin’…

It never fails. It happens like clock work. And there’s nothing I can do to stop it, no matter how hard I try. Every damn year… I get another year older! It just happened again this past weekend, and it ain’t fair!!!

old meme

For a lot people the time around their birthday is a reflective or introspective season. We question what, if anything, we have done to improve ourselves over the past 365 days. We question our relationships to try to figure what they add to our lives, or what we add to theirs. We search for significance and meaning to justify the past year and build hope for the year to come. For many, the days or weeks around their birthday can be either enjoyable or dreadful, or both at the same time. And just thinking about how to celebrate the occasion can be the most stressful part of all.

In reality, this focus on an annual celebration of our birth is a fairly modern and largely Western practice. And, in my opinion, it has been drastically enhanced, for better or for worse, by our current more narcissistic and social media driven culture. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against celebrating birthdays! I just think it’s increasingly easier to set ourselves up for disappointment by comparing our own parties, our own aging, and our own lives to the carefully crafted, and usually unrealistic, images that proliferate our Facebook or Instagram feeds. We can feel cheated if our friends don’t throw us the same VIP club bash that our favorite celebrity got for their birthday. Or we get disappointed if we don’t get the same outfit (or shoes or jewelry or car) that “so-and-so” got from their parents on their 16th birthday! Have you ever seen the show “My Super Sweet 16”? Don’t even get me started on that one! Anyway, I’m not here to just bash social media or MTV or anything like that. I really do enjoy many things about our culture today. I just think it can be dangerous when we get so wrapped up in the images we see there, that we get disappointed with our own real life! Because the truth is, most of what we see on social media or on certain “reality” TV shows is not even close to real. It can be a fun escape and enjoyable entertainment if you can keep it in your mind that that’s all it is… entertainment!

I actually really enjoy my birthday time every year. And I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that I tend to be a fairly reflective and introspective person all year round anyway. I don’t wait for a specific time of year like my birthday, or New Years day, or anything like that to take stock of my life. I am constantly trying to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and adjusting my thinking and action as I go along. At least that’s what I try to do. It’s a work in progress, for sure. But I think that is one reason that I never get to caught up in things like New Years resolutions, or the thought of a mid-life crisis, or anything like that. I also have very realistic idea of what my life is like. Please don’t read that as me saying that I’ve just given up! I haven’t! I absolutely love my life. I just know that it is beyond the realm of possibility that I am going to wake up on my birthday to find a new Harley with a giant bow on top sitting in the driveway. That’s not the life I have. Even if I see some of the celebrities or athletes I follow on social media getting things like that, I know that is not part of my own life. And I’m perfectly OK with that. And I am not setting myself up for disappointment by expecting it. That hasn’t always been the case. As a kid I wanted all the toys and the big party and I was often disappointed if I didn’t get it. I’m sure most of us can relate. It just takes some of us longer than others to get in touch with reality on things like this. But the sooner we do the better off we are. I still set myself up for disappointment once in while, but it’s a much less frequent occurrence and less drastic let down than it used to be. These days I like to think I’m a fairly simple man in this regard. I am typically very happy if my birthday is spent with good friends, good food, good beer, and maybe a simple little surprise gift or two… Hey, I never said I didn’t want ANY presents! 😉

I guess my message with this post is that I think we can do ourselves a major disservice if we get caught up in a cycle of setting high and unrealistic expectations for the special events in our life, only to be let down when the reality doesn’t live up to what was in our mind. We can have hopes and dreams and goals and things to aspire to, but when those things become more of a source frustration than inspiration then maybe it’s time to rethink them. And in my opinion, living a life of constant self-examination is one of the best ways to do that.


Our Investments Pay Off

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” -Matthew 6:21

Our investments ALWAYS pay off! I’m not talking about our stock portfolio here. I’m talking about where we invest our time and energy. The best part about these types of investments is that they do ALWAYS pay off. If we invest in exercise and eating well, our health improves. If we invest in reading and studying, our intelligence and wisdom improves. If we invest in our friends and family, our relationships improve. You see what I’m saying here? The unfortunate part is that the rule works for negative things also. If I invest heavily in sitting on the couch and watching T.V., that can have negative affects on my relationships and fitness. If I invest in food just for taste and enjoyment, it will eventually have a disastrous impact on my health. In the finance world they refer this as “Return On Investment” or “ROI”.


Somewhere around 25 years ago I met an incredible woman and decided to invest in a relationship with her. My “return on investment”, or ROI, was an amazing marriage that has lasted over 24 years and counting! About 15 years ago I began to invest heavily in my education. My ROI was a ton of knowledge and a Masters of Arts degree in Leadership Studies that has helped me land, and advance in, various jobs over the years. Somewhere around 5 or 6 years ago I started to invest in my health and fitness. In the process I lost 170 pounds, radically improved my conditioning and gained a ton of muscle! My ROI was a drastically improved quality of life and a body that could physically do things I had never been able to do before.

before and after

Unfortunately, over the past year or so, I have invested more than I should in beer and ice cream and not enough in purposeful, intense exercise and proper nutrition! My ROI on this has been regaining some of the weight I had lost and seeing a slight decrease in my over all physical health. I don’t totally regret this, I have had fun and found some really good beers and ice creams that I never knew about. But this is not a path I want to be on long-term. I’ve been down this road before. I know where it leads. I’m not interesting in revisiting that place! As many of you know, I still workout and eat healthy most of the time. But what I’m doing on my own isn’t working like it used to. I need to change some things… NOW!

That is why I was hoping to get back into jiu jitsu a few weeks ago. Jiu jitsu provides a great workout, is a ton of fun, and provides a great community for encouragement and accountability. I was really looking forward to having those things back in my life again. But, as I wrote in a previous blog, it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work with my schedule. There is one other thing I have done recently that provided all of those things and works well with my schedule and other interests. So it looks like I’m going to start doing CrossFit at Ion Strength and Conditioning again soon. I need to refocus my investment in my health and fitness, and this will be a great way to do it.

The flip side is that I need to stop investing as much time and energy in things that work against my health and fitness goals. Yes, this means less beer and ice cream. I know, I know… it makes me sad, too! But if want to get back on track then something needs to change. An added bonus is that if I invest less time and energy into these things, that means I will be investing less money by default. So divesting in one area will fund the investment in another! It’s a win/win!!!

So my challenge for you this week is to take stock of where you are investing your resources. Where do you spend your time and energy? Do those investments line up with your long-term goals? Remember, these types of investments are guaranteed to yield results, whether they are positive or negative! The best news is that it is NEVER too late to adjust your investment “portfolio”! 😉



All aboard! We’re following the leader!

If you read the tag line of my blog you will see the statement “I believe everyone is a leader”. I absolutely believe that! I also believe that leadership has many forms and functions. Watch this short video to see what I mean…

How to Start a Movement!

I have always considered myself a first follower. I am a creative person. I love to start things. I love the excitement of a new venture. I am usually pumped about change. And I like getting other people excited and on board with a new idea. But, truth be told, I am not much of a visionary. I don’t have much experience or success with looking out too far into the future to plot a course. That really frustrates me sometimes, because I see the people who are really good at that and I think that I have just as much talent, education, passion, drive, etc. as they do, so why can’t I do that??? The reality is that I’m just not wired that way. I can learn the same skills, read the same books, or attend the same conferences as a visionary but I would never apply my thinking the same way they do.

I had a mentor describe leadership once as being like a railway company. Some people have the job of surveying the land and planning the course for the track layers to put down the tracks. The track layers look at the surveyors map and figure out the best way to make the course work for the engineers to drive the train. Engineers see the track, understand the lay of the land and determine what it will take for the workers to make the train move on those tracks. The workers get direction from the engineer and do what it takes to make the train move and deliver their cargo safely. As with any analogy, this too will breakdown at some point, but you get the idea. The point is that it takes many people to make a train run well. Every job is essential. And it takes a wide variety of personality types to fill those jobs. If you put a visionary in the back of the train to watch the rear wheels they would go mad in no time. Likewise, if you put an engineer out front to survey the land you would never get any plans made.


The reality is that we all have probably done all of these “jobs” at different times in our lives, but most people tend to settle in to one primary role eventually. For example, I know I have done all of these “jobs”, but I see myself fitting into the role track layer quite nicely. Once I catch a vision for something my creative juices start flowing and, for better or for worse, I can be tough to stop once that happens. But like I said, this can be frustrating, also. Because there are times that I want to be a visionary. I want to be way out front deciding the course for myself. I just don’t think that way, though. That doesn’t mean I can never make any plans of my own or that I can’t ever do my own thing. It just means that I need to be aware of this fact and that I need to team up with people who do naturally think and act as “surveyors”, “engineers”, or “workers”.

So my homework for you is this, using the train idea, think about where you see yourself. Are you a visionary, a track layer, an engineer or a worker? Remember, none of them are any better or worse than the other. And as I said earlier, we will likely do all of these “jobs” at some point in our life. But we tend to naturally gravitate to one, or maybe two, of them. Once you think you have it figured out explain this train idea to a friend or family member then ask where they see you and why.

Alright, let me wrap this up by saying that I didn’t just write this post to babble about leadership and trains, or share a funny video. I struggle with this issue all the time. I’m almost 50 years old and I still don’t feel like I have ever decided what I want to do when I “grow up”. I constantly think about the possibility of changing careers or starting my own business. Then I start doubting myself because I’m not much of a visionary. Some days I’d rather just help someone else build their dream than take the risks to build my own. The thought of doing my own thing is kind of scary for my non-visionary, track-laying mind! But as I get older I am realizing that time is passing anyway, so I might as well build MY dream with the time I have left! And writing things like this reminds me that I don’t have to do it alone. I know visionary “surveyors” that can guide me through the planning process and level-headed “engineers” that can teach me the practicalities of running a business day-to-day. So I guess that just leaves actually doing it then. And that’s the easy part… right? 😉


Just when you think you have it all figured out…

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post declaring that I had it all figured out. (Read it here) I had sifted through my options. I had evaluated my resources. I had carefully and thoughtfully come to the conclusion that I wanted to invest my available time and money in persuing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training. I was all set to jump into classes this week and (re)embark on my jiu jitsu journey. Everything was looking awesome. My plan was coming together. And then… it wasn’t. And the kicker is, I don’t even really know why that happened. Two weeks ago I was stoked to spend hour after hour in the gym drilling and sparring. I couldn’t imagine wanting to do anything else with my free (and not so free) time. Sure it would have involved some sacrifice, but I thought I had wrestled with that issue and come to grips with that fact. Apparently I hadn’t. Go figure!


But a few days ago, as the time approached to actually commit to signing up for bjj classes, I started to have some doubts. And then I just had an awesome weekend hanging out with family and friends, and it really hit me hard that I would have to give up a lot of these experiences to invest the necessary time required to advance at jiu jitsu the way I would want to. Here’s how my thinking works on this; bjj is a substantial financial investment. Which doesn’t bug me at all. Anything worth learning requires an investment. And those that teach well deserve to be compensated appropriately. So paying for classes isn’t the issue. The issue, for me, is investing in something monetarily that I will invest my time in as well. So in my mind, paying the require fees to only attend class twice a week is tough for me to justify. The rift occurs when I realize that I probably won’t be able to consistently invest more than two days a week for training. So then I begin to second guess signing up for classes at all.

I honestly thought I had worked through all of this stuff in the weeks leading up to my previous blog post, but it doesn’t seem that I have. Some people might read this and think that I’m just being lazy or that I don’t want to put in the hard work to learn and advance in jiu jitsu. While being lazy is always a possibility (and a temptation, frankly) I don’t think that is the case. I still feel that the over-riding issue for me is not wanting to just pick one thing to focus all my time and energy on. I have too many interests and hobbies to land on only one. I can’t even begin to tell you why this is such an issue for me, but it just is.

A lot of the sentiment from my last post about being too busy still rings true to me, though. So maybe I just need to spend some more time thinking about this and whittling away at some the peripheral interests and activities that I do, instead of just going cold turkey on picking only one thing to focus on. One of the activities from this weekend that sparked  a lot of these thoughts for me was going to Venice Beach with my wife. I started to realize that I would have less time to spend at the beach once I started classes. And I didn’t like that thought at all! We haven’t been spending enough time in or near the ocean as it is. Maybe this all just means I need to go meditate at the beach for a while and see what comes to mind! 😉

beach meditate

Anyway, I write this today to encourage you to know that it’s OK to not have everything figured out all them time. There are things in life that we need to make sure are taken care of; bills are paid, food’s on the table, the kids have clothes to wear and a place to sleep, stuff like that. But there are some things in life that don’t need to be “figured out” right away, if at all. Life is a journey, and we all take different paths. If you’re the type of person that is motivated and driven to be the best you can be at one thing then that’s awesome. And if you’re like me and want to sample every thing at the buffet before you settle on your main dish, that’s OK too! It can be frustrating at times, but I am more and more making peace with the fact that I really wouldn’t want it any other way!


Busy, busy, busy!

Whew! It’s been a while. I hope you are all still up for reading my posts? Sorry for the gap in my blog activity. Things got a bit busy for a while there. I had a little vacation to celebrate my anniversary. Then things at work got pretty hectic with having to cover for people who were out for a variety of reasons. But hopefully I can get back to posting at least once a week again now, maybe more.


It wouldn’t be totally fair to say that this busyness wasn’t at least partially my fault, though. This morning I was thinking how my previous post, Minimal Inspiration, applied to this issue. I have always been a person with many and varied interests. The phrase “Jack of all trades, master of none” is definitely fitting for me. I get hooked on new interests or hobbies, and bored with old ones, very easily. My love for reading was severely injured during grad school. But it is returning lately and I tend to have at least two or three books on a wide range of topics in process at any given time. It’s also no secret that I am Disney freak and spend anywhere from 5 to 15 hours a week at the local theme parks. I have been obsessed with working out for about 5 years now and spend roughly 15 to 20 hours a week engaged in some type of fitness activity. One of the longest running obsessions I have in my life is bicycles, and on a good week I can spend up to 15 hours riding and/or maintaining my bikes. I have a mild obsession with surfing that flares up once in a while and makes me feel guilty for not spending enough time in the water getting better at that sport. A recent addition to my interests over the last couple years has been jiu jitsu. I started training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 2 or 3 years ago. I am not currently enrolled in classes, but I will be soon. That can easily occupy 6-10 hours a week, not to mention the hours I spend watching related YouTube videos. When you factor in my work schedule and my family time I often wonder how I can squeeze out enough time for sleeping or eating some weeks! I say all this just to point out that much of my busyness is self-inflicted. And to be honest, much, if not most, is probably unnecessary.

Getting back to my blog post on minimizing, though. I have been going through a shift in thinking, not only about the stuff I own, but also how I spend my time. It has taken me years to figure out what most people probably know instinctively… the more time you focus on one thing the better you get at it. I know, I can be kinda dense like that sometimes! I mean, I “know” this intellectually. But I don’t KNOW it personally. It has always been something I have struggled with my whole life. A quick review of my resume will show that trait has carried over into to my work life as well. But this is something I want to change now. I actually WANT to choose just a couple of things to focus my time and energy on. I want to get really good at something and not just have enough knowledge about it to carry on a conversation at a party or mildly impress the uninitiated with the information I know. I am valuable as a partner on your Trivial Pursuit team, but beyond that…??? I often tell people that I graduated with honors from the “Cliff Clavin University of Useless Information”! And I’m sure that joke dates me, horribly.

So, what I have been doing over the past few months is evaluating how I spend my time. What activities give me joy and add value to my life? What activities are just there, but don’t really excite me? And what activities take away from my time and energy, but don’t add any real value? I have come to the conclusion that jiu jitsu is the thing I am most passionate about right now, so I will be focusing on that as my extracurricular activity. I am jumping back into formal training in just a couple of weeks. But what I have realized is that I can fulfill a bunch of my other interests through this one activity as well. I have already started reading books on the art form. And not only jiu jitsu books, but topics related to it as well! Fitness, nutrition, mobility, meditation, and anything else that will improve and enhance my jiu jitsu ability and experience. All of my workouts now include movements and exercises that will help improve my jiu jitsu performance. I have also started taking steps to transition to (mostly) full-time bicycle commuting for my daily activities so I can still get my fill of that, too. The really tough part though is admitting that there are some things that I will just have to give up. As much as I enjoy surfing, I know I cannot invest the necessary time in that along with everything else to get as good as I would like. So I will have to be satisfied with occasionally body boarding during our beach days to get my wave sliding fix. And as much as it pains me to say it, I will also need to cut down on the number of hours spent frolicking with Mickey and his pals if I want to get better at jiu jitsu.

Like I said above, this is a lesson that a lot people learn early in life. I wasn’t one of those people, so I am having to make these decisions now. I don’t really regret the way lived in the past. It made for a very interesting ride and has allowed the ability to make friends in many communities that I wouldn’t have done otherwise. But I think it’s time hone my focus a bit more and stop letting myself be distracted so easily.  There is enough busy noise in life already, there is no reason for me to voluntarily crank up that volume knob up to 11 all the time!


“Fake it ’til you make it!”

Have you ever heard the phrase, “fake it ’til you make it”? Has anyone ever told you to just “put on a happy face” when it’s pretty obvious that “happy” isn’t what you’re feeling at the moment? Some days I’m just not feeling it. I don’t want to smile. I don’t want to pretend. I don’t want to try to be something on the outside that I’m not feeling like on the inside.

fake it mask

Unfortunately, this phrase has become popular in the church in recent years, also. It was an especially favorite response from youth pastors when their students said they didn’t feel like singing or even standing during youth worship services. I know this is true because I used to do it myself as a youth pastor. And I probably owe some of my former students an apology for doing that.

I know, I know, there are always things that we NEED to do even if we don’t WANT to do them. I get that side of it. I got out of bed at 5:15 this morning to go to work, and trust me when I tell you that I did not WANT to do that! I never WANT to hand over my hard-earned money to the car insurance agent, but I do it anyway. As a functioning adult in our society these things are just part of life. I get it!

But we do ourselves and others a huge disservice when we apply that logic to everything in life, especially when it’s our feelings and emotions. And when we do this in the context of our relationships it can be incredibly dysfunctional and damaging. I know my kids were never happy about doing their chores (unless it was allowance day!) and for me to expect them to wash the dishes or take the trash out with a smile on their face, just because, would be setting us both up for disappointment. We both knew how they felt about it. The important thing was that the task got done. It didn’t matter what the expression on their face was. On a more “adult” topic, my wife knows I hate talking about money, or our lack there of. And she doesn’t expect me to talk about our bills or budget with a smile on my face & a song in my heart. But she does expect me to talk about it. I don’t have to fake or stuff my feelings about the discussion or the topic to get it done. In fact, being honest about it has been better for our relationship because it gives us a better idea of when and where to have those discussions. By the way, first thing in the morning, in a crowded Starbucks, is NOT that time or place, in case you were wondering! Returning to the youth pastor example I used above, this can also be applied to our relationship with God. We don’t need to “fake it ’til we make it” in our relationship with God. If I can handle my kids not being thrilled to spend time with me, but still want to spend time with them, then I’m pretty sure God can handle us being honest about our moods and feelings, also! There are plenty of days that I go to church and don’t sing a single line of a single song, or speak a single word during the common prayers. But I still know that God wants to be with me just as much as anyone else. Whether I’m too angry, too sad, or even just plain too tired to utter a single word or crack the faintest smile, I am confident that God is still thrilled that I chose to be there with my faith community. And since that’s the case, my mood or facial expressions shouldn’t really matter that much to anyone else there either.

So while there are some things that we need to just do whether we feel like it nor not, faking our feelings and emotions aren’t among those things. I’m not saying that I think we should all just be rude and mean to people whenever we’re in a “mood”. I am saying that we would all be better off if we were honest with ourselves and others about our feelings and emotions. We need to learn to give others the space they need to experience and express their emotions on their own terms. So next time you see one of your friends looking sad don’t just tell them to “put on a happy face”. Ask them why they look sad. And if you can’t do that then at least give them the space they need to be sad. Don’t try to change their behavior in the moment just for your own comfort. Because, I don’t know about you, but when I’m in one of those moods I really don’t have the energy to “fake it ’til I make it” and that’s the last thing I want someone to tell me to do!


Different roads, same destination.

Way back when I used to earn a paycheck as a pastor people would often ask me how they could tell what their “calling” was. My typical response was usually  along the lines of, “Imagine something you love as much as breathing. Something that, if you weren’t doing it, you would feel like you were suffocating.” For me that thing is teaching. I don’t necessarily mean the typical type of teaching we often think of when we hear the word. Standing in front of group with a board full of scribbles behind me and text-book in my hand. Although I do enjoy that sometimes, what I mean by teaching is the process of helping someone learn something new or figure out a solution to a problem. And for many years, as a pastor, that most often took place in the form preaching from a pulpit.


I served many years in church leadership positions as both a volunteer ministry leader and a professional pastor, working with groups of people ranging in age from elementary school students to senior citizens. And in all of those roles I had the honor and pleasure of being able to teach, preach and speak to various sized groups. Sometimes it was a dozen junior high students. (Don’t tell anyone, but those were usually my favorites!) Sometimes it was a couple hundred adults or more. But the size and demographic of the group didn’t really matter much, because I loved doing it no matter what the audience was like. Which is kind of surprising if you think about it. For a someone like me to enjoy public speaking is a bit of a lark. I was always the awkward, fat kid, that didn’t wear the cool clothes, wore thick glasses, and was even know to stutter a bit when nervous. I spent most of my school days just trying to be invisible. But now here I was, getting up to speak in front of people… on purpose. And loving it! Some people even tell me I’m pretty good at it, too! Go figure. And my usual response when I’d get a compliment like that was, “It’s my calling. It’s like breathing, I feel like I’m suffocating if I don’t do it.”


Here’s the rub. I’ve taken a bit of a detour lately. It’s been a few years since the last time I stood in front of a group to teach. And guess what? I didn’t suffocate! I’m still here. I’m still inspired to teach. And I still feel like I’m living out my calling. It just looks different now. What I realized was that even though I identified my “calling” with being in the pulpit, it was actually the teaching process that I was called to. Sometimes that process looks like me standing in the pulpit with a bible in my hand. Sometimes that process looks like a casual conversation with friends over a beer (or two). And sometimes that process looks like writing a blog post that my wife and maybe one or two other people will read. And that’s cool with me. As much as I loved teaching groups of people, I am finding out that some of the other roads of this teaching process have some pretty incredible pit-stops and scenic views that I would never get to see on that other road I was on for a while.


Whether you feel like you’re called to be a teacher, or a business person, or an entertainer, or whatever, I encourage you look at the map creatively and realize that there are usually many roads that will get you to your “destination”. Some are like a highway, direct and well paved. They’ll get you there quickly and with relative ease. Some are like old country roads, dusty, crooked and way out-of-the-way. Both types of roads are OK. But you should never feel bad about choosing or having to take the long way around, because you’ll probably pick up some cool snap-shots and stories along the way that you would have missed from the highway!


Minimal Inspiration!

I thought a good way to start off this blog would be with a review of the movie that inspired me to jump back into blogging again. That movie is Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. If you haven’t seen this movie yet I highly recommend it. This documentary follows Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, also known as The Minimalists, on a tour to promote their books and the minimalism movement.


As you can probably guess from the title, the movie is about downsizing your life or at least the physical “footprint” that your life leaves. What you might not understand from the title is that this is not just a movie, or a movement, about merely throwing stuff away and de-cluttering your personal space. Instead, the Minimalists encourage you to ask yourself a question about everything you own and do… does this item or activity add value or joy to my life that I wouldn’t have without it? You might be thinking, “Well, everything I own brings me joy, that’s why I own it!” But when we are honest with ourselves, many of our possessions might make us happy occasionally, but so much of the stuff we own just sits around taking up space waiting to be used once in a while. In the movie one of the authors shares a story of when a person asked them if they needed to throw away their extensive book collection. The author asked if the collection added value to their life. The person responded that their books brought them great joy, connected them with their friends through book clubs and lending/borrowing clubs, and that they often sought out old books they had read in the past for information when reading about other topics. This person’s collection obviously added value and joy to their life. So there was no reason to get rid of that. The crux of the minimalist movement is not to own the least amount of things possible, but to only own possessions that add value and joy to your life.


So why should we be concerned with how much stuff we own? The authors answer this at their events with an exercise for their audience. They say…

 Imagine a life with less. Less clutter. Less distraction. Less debt. Less waste… Now imagine a life with more. More time. More available resources. More authentic relationships. More of the things that are really important in life.

Their reason for having LESS stuff is so they can have MORE of what really matters. There’s an old adage that says “the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you.” That is true for the vast majority of people. We have bought in to the lie of the “American Dream” that we need to work hard (or go in to debt) to get more stuff so we can be happy. That way of thinking is completely backwards and a lot of people are waking up to that fact! To quote Tyler Durden from Fight Club…

I see all this potential, and I see it squandered. God damn it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables – slaves with white collars. Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need. We’re the middle children of history, man. No purpose or place. We have no Great War. No Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives. We’ve all been raised on television to believe that one day we’d all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars, but we won’t. We’re slowly learning that fact. And we’re very, very pissed off.

Most people in our country live to work, they do not work to live. Logging excessive hours on the job is commonplace just to support the lifestyle they think they need. Debt acquisition is welcomed as a necessity for being a good, productive member of society. This lifestyle is killing us. Cases of stress related heart disease have skyrocketed. Disparity between the upper class and the lower class is constantly growing. And self-medicating with alcohol and recreational drugs to ease the tension of that realization is accepted as normal. The Minimalists and the minimalism movement are offering an exit ramp from that hamster wheel existence!


So, somewhere in the process of watching this movie I was inspired to give this over saturated blog-a-sphere another shot. And here’s why, writing adds value to my life and brings me joy. Sharing my story with people adds value to my life and brings me joy. And if my writing or my story can help someone else, that adds value and joy to my life. There is no doubt that to do this blog well I will need to remove some other stuff that is taking up space and time (without adding any real value or joy), but I am confident that it will be worth the trade-off!



I’ve seen some stuff…

Yeah, I’ve seen some stuff. And I’ve done some things. And I’ve even managed to learn a little bit here and there. So I figured I’d start sharing some of it with people that want to read about it. I know what your thinking, “What makes this guy think he has anything to offer?” I get it. So the official resume type answer looks something like this… I have a bachelors degree in leadership and a masters degree in leadership and personal development from Vanguard University. I have 15+ years experience in a very wide variety of church/ministry leadership & development. Beyond that I have 15+ years of leadership and management experience in the retail and automotive industries. The not so official, more realistic answer is that I’ve seen, and done, some stuff. My interests range from punk music to religion. From meditation to action sports. My hobbies include a variety of things from trying to surf to learning Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. From cycling to weekly Disneyland visits. I have attempted a lot of different ventures in life. Some were successful… many were not. But they all taught me something in their own way. And as much as I appreciate and respect my formal education, the diploma I earned from the “School of Hard Knocks” is just as, if not more, valuable to me than the one in a frame on my wall (and that I will be paying for for years to come).


So here’s the deal with this new blog. I want to share some of the stuff I’ve seen. One thing I’ve noticed over the past few years is that when you start talking about leadership development or life coaching or anything like that, most people automatically assume that kind of stuff is just for the suit and tie crowd. The upwardly-mobile, corporate-climber types. One of the most valuable lessons I have learned is that EVERYONE is a leader, or at least has the potential to be. The guy fixing cars at the corner service station can have just as much impact on others as the CEO that owns the Mercedes he’s fixing. The lady who owns a food truck can be more of an influencer than the real estate mogul that owns the office building she’s parked in front of everyday. But very few people ever learn how to use that influence to make the world a better place. The average person is never offered the opportunity to develop their skills, traits and potential to be the best leader they can be.

What I want to do with this site is provide some bits of information, insights and lessons from my life and lives of others that might be helpful. I plan to tell my own stories, review books, movies, videos and other media that I found helpful and tell the stories of people that are on a path of self-development, who are learning to lead and grow themselves.

So I invite you to grab a cup of coffee or a beer (if you don’t know me, you will quickly find that those are two of my favorite things in life!) and enjoy reading and commenting as we learn and grow together.