Monday, June 25, 2012

I visited the Flight 93 Memorial this weekend...

It's heart-wrenching.  And, I have to be honest.  I'm angry with where our country is.

It was very emotional to be there, just over an hour from where I grew up in southwestern Pennsylvania.  To stand so close to where every-day heroes made an unimaginably brave decision when faced with a situation that causes panic in my heart as I think about it as I'm writing this today. They made the kind of decision that few are faced with and even fewer can follow through on.  I stood in awe of their bravery.

It didn't end that day.  The bravery continues every day with men and women from across the globe fighting for the world to be a safer place.  Maybe you don't agree with war.  Maybe you do.  Either way, no one likes it.  We can all agree on that.

And this is where my anger begins....

When I stood on that walkway looking down the marble wall marking the flight path of Flight 93 and staring headlong into the boulder that marks the impact site, I was immediately sickened by thoughts of the games that our politicians and even our president are currently playing.  They are cowards.  They don't have the guts to stand up for what's right, even when it's difficult and unpopular.

I'll say this. If our politicians were on Flight 93 on September 11th, 2001, I can't in good conscience, believe that they would have had the courage to stand up to the terrorists the way those common men and women did.  I'm tired of cowards telling us what's right and wrong.  I'm tired of cowards telling us what we should and shouldn't be doing.  I'm tired of the arrogant telling the humble that we're not smart enough to make this thing work.

Mr. President, Congressmen and women, Senators and all other politicians, listen up:  We're tired of you.  We're tired of every day heroes being over-shadows by your political games.  We're tired of you pretending that you have our best interests in mind so that we'll vote for you again.  We're tired of being lied to.  I have some advice for you.  Take a day off from your childish games and visit the Flight 93 Memorial.  Reflect on that day.  And then explain to me why you spent $2 million in federal grant money to help pay for a multi-million dollar wine exhibition and culinary center in Washington State (source), while the memorial to a few of our nation's heroes remains unfinished.  Please... explain that to me.  Please explain that to the families of the heroes that died that day.  I would love to hear your reasoning.

I won't apologize for being angry.  We need to be angry.  We need to expect more from our elected officials.  We need to demand more from our elected leaders.  I know many of you don't care about politics.  I get it.  I didn't used to either.  But it's not about politics.  It's about right and wrong.  We are being led whether we like it or not and when we no longer care where it is that we're being led, we are in a very dangerous place.

I humbly ask that, if you do nothing else, please take a minute and visit the Flight 93 Memorial website:  Take a look around and think about how you can make the world a little better today.  We can all do it.  Real change happens when many people make small changes.  Make a change for the better today and I'll do the same.

Have a great day!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Your hard work doesn't matter

No one says about the guy that finishes 4th at the Olympics, "Wow, he must have worked really hard!"

No one cares about the people that almost make it.

But, if you're the one that's putting in the work, you should care.  The world will judge you based on your accomplishments, but the scale you use can be slightly different.  Of course, successes are great.  But hard work and lessons learned are most often more valuable than single stories of success.

Keep working toward your goal.  If your performance has been judged poor in the past, evaluate the work you've put in and see where you can get better.

Most importantly, don't listen to them when they tell you to quit.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

When do you replace these?

Replacing light bulbs isn't the most fun thing to do, but it's easy to know when to do it.  You turn on the switch, the flash scares you to the point where you nearly pee yourself and you go get a new bulb.

With other things in our lives, it's not so easy to tell when they need fixed.  And often, after they burn out, it's too late.

Don't wait until your friends abandon you, your family despises you or your boss fires you before you make changes.  Evaluate your relationships on a regular basis and make sure you're making small repairs along the way.  Once those bulbs burn out, it's sometimes too late to fix them.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It's like hitting an ant with an arrow

Hitting a moving target isn't easy.  That's why it's so important to determine your value system.  What is important to you and why?

Write it down.  Put it on your wall.  Read it daily.

If you lose site of your value system, what drives your decision-making process?  And why?

Monday, June 18, 2012

What if you started over?

Yesterday was a tough day... a very tough day.

I like to think that I'm a normally optimistic kind of guy, but Father's Day brings out a rush of emotion that I'm never quite ready to handle.  I know I'm not the only one in the situation that I'm in.  There are thousands of step-dad's out there with no biological kids of their own.  I feel your pain.  And yesterday once again opened my eyes to the power of perspective.

I've heard the "you're a great dad" thing and I truly appreciate the kind words.  They get me through some tough days.  But I have a perspective on Father's Day that only I can have.  I'm not unique.  We all have situations that people think they understand but they are just unable because it is impossible to fully see someone else's perspective.

I'm sure I could find numerous examples of me losing my patience with other people because I think I understand their perspective when I really don't.  I'm sure we've all been guilty at one time or another.

So what's the point?  The point is this.  Sometimes we (ahem... I) need to put my pride aside and admit that I just don't understand someone else's perspective.  I haven't walked in their shoes.  I haven't felt their pain.  I haven't seen the things that they've seen.  When we're willing to do that, we are able to learn about others in a way that is otherwise impossible.

What if today, you pretended that you've never spoken to your wife, your brother, your mom or your step-dad before?  What if you listened to them with fresh ears?  What could you learn about them today that you should have been listening to for years?  What could you learn about yourself?  What would happen if you started over?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Scheduling is difficult, but...

I've been trying to get to the gym more often.  It's tough.  The workout is hard, but scheduling the time to get there is even harder.

Most all of us are busy.  It makes scheduling difficult, but defining your priorities should not be.  For me, right now I have three main priorities.

(1) My faith: I need to continually work on improving in this area.
(2) My family: I need to continually work on improving in this area.
(3) My health: For now, I'm focused on getting to the gym more often and eating healthier.

You see, we can over-complicate and over-schedule all day long, but all of those schedules should be the result of your priorities, not the driving factor.

Set priorities first.  Schedule second.  If not, you'll find yourself being very busy but getting nowwhere.

Don't wait.  Take a few minutes right now to define your list of priorities.

[Feel free to post your priorities in the comments section of this post so that others can see (and learn from) your ideas.]

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The down side of taking a break

So, as some of you may have noticed, I took a little break from my blog writing.  The break mostly stemmed from a busy schedule (excuse) and poor planning (the actual reason).

The down side of taking a break is that it's easy to forget why you started doing something in the first place.  You can forget the importance of what you're doing and lose the desire to keep going.

I have two take-away's from my break:

  1. It's important to make a note of why you were doing what you were in the first place.  That "why" will keep your interest level up even during your break, and 
  2. It's nice to hear when people have missed what you were doing (and important to tell people when you miss what they were doing...)
I'm looking forward to getting back into this blog thing and thanks for all of the support.  Have a great day!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

3 steps to being a player

I see these license plates everywhere that say "#1 Steelers Fan" or "#1 Penguins Fan."  I don't personally have one and it doesn't bother me if you do.  But I think it says something about our culture that we are all so eager to be fans of "our" teams.  There are a lot of differences between being a fan and a player.
  • Fans gather with friends when "their" team plays.  Players get prepared and focused.
  • Fans cheer when "their" team does well.  Players feel the since of pride that comes with accomplishment.
  • Fans celebrate when "their" team does something extraordinary.  Players create a legacy that goes well beyond their lifetime.
  • Fans get upset and sulk when "their" team loses.  Players bear the burdens of their teammates.
  • Fans go home after "their" team team loses with little affect on their life.  Players sometimes feel like they let their team down.

What about the team that you show up for every day?  Your family.  Your co-workers.  Your friends.  What's your role on that team?  Are you just a fan or are you a dad?  A mom?  A provider?   A spiritual leader?   A teacher?   A business owner?   A best friend?  A son?

There are 3 steps to being a player:

  1. Commit to being on the team, not just being a fan.
  2. Define your position on the team
  3. Work to be the best at your position

A good player finds ways to make themselves better so that the team is better.  A good player learns how to encourage when things go wrong and celebrate when things go well.  A good player doesn't make excuses.  A good player cares more about the team's success than their own.

You're already on the team.  So my challenge to you (and me) is to do the 3 steps above.  Commit to the team, define your position and work to be the best at it.  Oh, and if I can add a 4th step, quit worrying about how everyone else is playing their position and just play yours.

So stop screaming from the sidelines and get out there and start playing.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The cost of appreciation

I'm guessing that we've all been guilty of not giving appreciation when we should.  From big things like forgetting to say thanks to a friend that took time out of their day to help us with a trouble of our own to not passing along our gratitude to the chef that made us the best steak that we've eaten in quite awhile.

The thing with appreciation is that it doesn't cost much.  It costs a few seconds of your time in most cases.  In some cases it may require us to swallow our pride and say, "Thanks.  I couldn't have done it without you."

But the reward is monumental.  If someone has ever expressed true appreciation to you for something that you've done, you know what I mean.  It's encouraging to hear that you've done something that made someone else feel good.  It has the power to change someone's day or even their week.

If done correctly, appreciation costs little and gives much back to the world.  Tell someone thanks today.  And most of all, mean it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My take on Mother's Day

Another Mother's Day has come and gone.  I'm not against flowers, cards and compliments when it comes to Mother's Day.  It's just that I don't think it's enough.  The flowers smell great... for a week, at best.  The card, which was most likely written by someone else, gets put in a box or in the garbage.  And the compliments boost your spirits for awhile, but slowly fade.

We, as husbands and children, need to do better than that.  Given the jobs that mother's do, you couldn't afford to pay a mother the salary that she deserves.  How much does a personal chef make these days?  How about a cab driver that takes you everywhere you want to go and waits on you while you're there?  What about a maid?  Or someone that's on call every hour of the night and day to take care of the kids when they're sick?  None of us could afford the services that Mom's provide.  The good news for us is that I don't think Mom's want paid with money when we can give them something far more valuable and long-lasting.

Buy the flowers and cards again next year if she wishes.  There's nothing wrong with that.  But, on top of the tangible gifts, give them what they really deserve.  Get up extra early in the morning and make her coffee.  Stay up extra late and take care of the dishes.  Offer to get up in the middle of the night when the kids are sick.  Take the kids off her hands for a few hours so she can relax.  Make her an appointment to go to the spa... and make it possible for her to keep it.  These are the things that I think Mom's REALLY want.  They want to know we care.  They want to know that we realize how much work they put into making everyone's lives run smoothly.

There are three more groups of people that have a special place in my heart:

  1. Single Mom's: Regardless of what led to your situation, you have a tough road.  Hang in there.  Keep your head up.  Keep making the tough decisions.  We as a church need to do more to help single mom's.  If you know a single mom, do something to help.  Do it today.
  2. Those that have lost their Mom: I lost my grandmother a few years ago on Mother's Day.  It was a very bittersweet day.  For my Mom, it had to be heartbreaking.  Take the emotion that you have surrounding that situation and pour it into someone special in your life.  You won't regret it.
  3. Those that want to be Mom's, but can't: My heart truly aches for you.  Mother's Day must be especially hard.  But don't be disappointed by your situation.  Being a "Mom" is not simply a matter of biology and genetics.  Being a "Mom" is a mindset.  It's a passion for caring.  There are thousands of kids that need a mom, both through adoption and programs like Big Brothers/Big Sisters.  Don't let your disappointment steal your passion.  Be a "Mom."  The real kind.  The kind that comes through hard work and not genetics.  And be proud of the people that you touch.  You are loved.

Mom's, we can never afford to repay you.  Words are not enough.  May God bless you richly for all that you do!

Friday, May 11, 2012

They're not getting you anywhere

Your complaints, that is.  And neither are mine.

I don't need to stop complaining because you're tired of hearing it.  I need to stop complaining because it's not getting me anywhere.  Complaining is the first step towards total stagnation in your relationships, business and life in general.

And we don't get a free pass for justifying our complaints.  Justified complaints are.... well... still complaints.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Let me see your report card

Report card time is a blast for kids... some times.  We're quick to look over their report card and point out their good and bad, but are we willing to have them do the same for us?

How about making a list of the things that are valuable to your loved ones?  Your list might consist of family time, getting chores done on time, keeping promises, keeping in touch, etc.

Then, if you're brave enough, have the people you care about give you a grade.  It only works if they care enough about you to be honest.  (If you're ultra brave, let children grade you.  They will have the guys to be honest!)

It may be hard to face the facts about your grades, but like we always tell our kids, good grades take work.  Are you willing to be graded and put in the work it will take to improve?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Solar Power 101

No, this isn't a nerdy blog about electric cars and solar panels.  It's about the power of the sun.

We've had some sunny days lately and I realized how excited I am to wake up in the morning when the sun is shining through the windows.  But, why?

I know there's this whole Vitamin D thing, but I think it's bigger than that.  I continually let outside influences affect my internal condition.  The sun.  The attitudes of my kids.  A grumpy co-worker.

If the sun works to pick you up, enjoy it.  But don't wait on those external factors to determine your mood.  Decide your attitude when you wake up in the morning and don't let anything shake it.

What attitude did you decide on today?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

It doesn't matter if you're wet

He was walking to school when I saw him and it was pouring down rain.  He wasn't running.  He wasn't frantic.  He didn't even seem to care that it was raining, so much so that he was carrying his jacket instead of wearing it.

This young man appeared to be about 10-years-old and I realized that I have a lot to learn from him.

He had options.  He could have been running to avoid the rain.  He could have stopped under one of the many business awnings.  He could have been frantic.  He did none of those things.

When I wake up in a storm in my professional or personal life, I don't often handle it as well as this little guy.  I overreact, or try to take shelter and wait for it to pass.  Sometimes I pretend it's not storming by trying my best to find a place to hide.

The difference between this boy and myself was that he never lost sight of his singular goal.  The rain did not in any way divert his focus away from that goal.  He was going to make it to school and whether he was wet when he got there didn't matter.  He was still going to get there.

If you're in the middle of a storm today, don't change your focus.  At some point in your life, you knew what your goal was.  Maybe your goal is to have a strong family.  Maybe it's to start a business.  Maybe it's to reconnect with your kids or an old friend.  Whatever that goal is, ignore the rain.  Keep your focus.  Keep moving forward.

It doesn't matter if you're wet when you get there, just get there.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Maybe I got it wrong today

Some days (like today) I don't know what to write.  Before last year, if I didn't know what to write, I didn't write anything.  But, taking advice from Seth Godin, now I write anyway.

I think we take this approach with a lot of things in our life.  It's just another form of procrastination.  We don't know the answer so we choose not to answer at all.  Maybe we don't know the words to say to a hurting friend.  Maybe we don't know how to go about finding a job after we just lost ours.  Maybe we don't know how to afford a new car after ours stopped running.  So, instead of "writing anyway" we put off the decision.

There may be something that you don't know the answer to today.  Try anyway.

Maybe I got it wrong today.  Maybe you don't like what I've written.  And maybe you'll get it wrong today too.  The good thing about trying is that I can do it again tomorrow.  And so can you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

14 1/2 minutes...

I read today that the average family spends 14 1/2 minutes per day intentionally talking and listening to each other.  I don't know whether or not that number is true and quite frankly, it doesn't really matter.

I think we can all agree on the fact that connecting with technology is becoming more important than connecting with our family to many of us.

We'd rather update our Facebook status than help our kids with their homework.  We'd rather Tweet our latest adventure instead of seeing the look on our kids' faces when we experience it together.  We'd rather check our [fill in the blank: LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc., etc.] than actually connect with family and friends through real conversation... and it's ruining us.

We took a walk last night.  We left our phones at home.  We stopped and talked to a good friend.  It was the best 45 minutes that I've spent all week.

You can have thousands of Facebook "friends", but if you're not listening when your family talks to you and you're not engaging in real conversations with your kids and spouse on a daily (or at least, weekly) basis, you're missing it.  We need to do better.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

4 Steps to a Simpler Life

Our family has been so busy over the last few weeks that it's really starting to take a toll on me (and the rest of the family, I'm sure).  I've finally had enough.  So, what next?

Here's one way to simplify your life:

  1. Define what's important to you.  For me, it's God, family, health and finances.  An easy way to get started is to list the top 3 things that relieve stress for you and the top 3 things that cause you stress.
  2. Make a list of everything you've done over the last month. Everything.  I use a planner so this was fairly easy.  If you don't use a planner, just make the list as comprehensive has you can.
  3. Rank your activities. This is where the nerd in me kicks in.  I ranked each of the activities by determining how each related to the things that are important to me.  I assigned a value between -10 and 10 to each activity in each category like this:   "Activity = Family time: God = 7, Family = 10, Health = 0, Finances = -3  (since we sometimes spend money for family time it gets a negative number) , for a total of 14 (7 + 10 + 0 - 3).
  4. Stop doing anything that has a value less than 3.  It's not worth it.  It's not valuable based on what you've determined to be important in your life.  Don't stop tomorrow.  Stop today.
This exercise may take you a little time to complete, but it's worth it.  Your schedule will be freed up to spend time doing the important things instead of being caught in the "busy with life" tornado.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Good + Bad = ???

I tell the kids all the time that there are things that you can say and do that you can't take back.  It's true.  Sometimes we hurt people and there's nothing we can do to fix it.  It's up to them to forgive us... or not.

The flip side of the coin is also true though.  If you do something good, you can't undo it by doing something bad.

Give yourself credit for the good things you do and don't beat yourself up over the bad things.  Learn from your mistakes for sure, but don't weigh them heavier than they need to be.

Your good deeds cannot be undone by your failures.  So forget about where you've failed, get back up and go do something good today.  Because that good can never be taken away.

Monday, April 30, 2012

How to ride the pine

Sitting the bench normally isn't fun.  Everyone wants to be in the game.  Everyone wants to participate.  But, let's face it.  We all have to ride the pine sometimes.  So, if we must do it, we might as well do it right.

I was on the bench this weekend when I watched an amazing person get baptized.  I wasn't in the game.  I was just on the sidelines, but it was at that moment that I realized how important the bench players are.

In sports, it's evidenced by cheering on your team, but in life it's often more than just cheering.

Maybe you're not the one that's stuck in a hospital bed, but you can be the one to show up just to let them know that you care.  Maybe you're not the spouse that lost your job, but you can be the one to build encouragement and self-confidence to pick themselves up and get back out there.  Maybe you're not the one that's lost in life and has no idea which way to turn, but you can be the person to grab their hand and lead them in the right direction.  Maybe you're not the one being baptized, but you can be the one to watch in awe as someone you love gets a brand new perspective on life and thank them for being a great example to you and your children.

Sometimes we're not in the game because we're not supposed to be in the game.  Sometimes we're meant to be riding the pine and seeing things from a different perspective, a perspective that can't be seen from the field.

Don't be disappointed that it's not your turn to play.  Just because you're not on the field, it doesn't mean that your role is unimportant.  Keep your head in the game and ride the pine with helpful eyes.

Oh, and Corie, thank you for being a great example to the kids and me.  We love you!

Friday, April 27, 2012

We have a plan and we need your help

I try to avoid using my blog to promote my business.  In fact, I try hard.  But, in some cases I think it's worth it.

As some of you know, we're working on a plan to create a free mixed martial arts (MMA) program for less-fortunate kids that may be struggling in life.  The goal is give them their God-sized dreams back.  To teach that the only limitation that they have is the one in their head.  To teach them that they were created to do something special and unique that only they can do.  And to give them the tools to accomplish their dreams

The funding for this project is currently done through our business.  So, if you have some time, check out our new designs and see if there's anything you like.  It's not about buying a cool t-shirt.  It's about a good cause.  Thanks in advance for your help!  Also, if you think your friends may be interested, please share.

If you'd like to know more about our gym project, please contact me at:

Have a great day!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stop them from stealing

There's a guy begging for money along the interstate off-ramp near my house.  We've heard from credible sources that he actually has money and begs because it's easier than working.  But I don't want to focus on him.  Frankly, I don't know him, but I'm sure he's a hurting, desperate soul if he is doing what we've heard.

Here's my concern.  What about the men and women that are standing along the off-ramp that are at the end of their rope?  What about the ones that are so lost that the truly don't know where else to start?  Do we stop helping everyone for fear that we may be deceived?

The deceitful ones are few and far between.  The hurting are many.  And, quite frankly, money is not the answer for either one of them.  Instead of worrying about someone stealing your money by lying about how needy they are, ask their name and offer to bring them lunch.  Learn more about them to find out how you can truly help.

If you give enough times, you will be deceived.  Just don't let that deceit steal the love that's in your heart that caused you to give in the first place.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The problem with milestones

This is my 200th post since I started blogging.  A real milestone, right?  Not really.  200 is just a number.  It may make me feel good about writing, but have I accomplished a real milestone... something that's getting me closer to my goal?

The ultimate goal of my blog is to share my experience with other people and try to challenge each of us to be better at this life thing.  I hope to stir up dialogue and be challenged by all of you so that I can grow also.  So, what does writing 200 blogs have to do with that?  Nothing.

But here's the real problem: How do I know how many people I've challenged?  How do I know if one person had one better day because of my blog?  How do I know if someone has changed their daily routine for the better (or for the worse) because of what I've written?  That's much harder to measure than the number of blogs I've posted.  And much more important.

The point is this.  Make sure you're measuring (or trying to measure) the right thing.  Don't measure how much money you have in the bank.  Measure how you've spent the money that you don't have in the bank.  Don't measure how many Facebook friends you have.  Measure how many people you've truly connected with in the last month.  Don't measure how many hours you've spent at home.  Measure how many hours you've spent truly listening to your children and your spouse.

Milestones are good.  Real milestones are better, and sometimes harder to measure.  Look for milestones along your path, but just make sure you're measuring the right thing.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I don't have a daddy...

I heard a little boy speak those words a few weeks ago.  He was too young to have to feel that burden.  He was too little to feel the weight of being different.  He was too precious to have to wonder why everyone else had a daddy when he didn't.  His situation wasn't his fault, but he was hurting.

As I watched his little face, I could almost feel that weight.  Almost...

When someone is hurting we can only feel so much of it.  And too often I miss it altogether.  I miss their pain because their arrogance annoys me, their gossip disturbs my daily routine or their hurtful words anger me.  In actuality, all of those things come from a hurting soul.  Their situation may be their fault, but they are still hurting.  They are not much different than that little boy.

Regardless of whether it's self-inflicted or not, pain is still pain.  Be patient with the hurting because you have no idea how big the burden is that they are carrying.  The closest you can get is "almost."  And almost isn't good enough.

Monday, April 23, 2012

What if we all did it?

If you're like me, you believe that you have a purpose in life.  You believe that you were created to do something.  Maybe you know what it is; maybe you don't.  Either way, you do have a purpose.

What would the world be like if every single one of us was living our purpose?  What diseases could be cured?  What violence could be curbed?  What marvels could be created?  What would the world be like?  The potential impact of humans living the life that God intended for them is limitless.

What if half of us were living our purpose?  Half as many diseases cured?  Half as much violence eliminated?

And what would happen if just you were living your purpose?  What impact would it have on your family?  Your spouse?  Your kids?  Your community?  Your church?  Your business?  Again, the potential impact is limitless.

Don't wait for everyone to join you.  Figure out what your purpose is and start living it today.  You will be amazed at the impact.

Here's an incredible (free) resource to get you started:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Say these words... and mean them

I read this quote yesterday that said something like, "What if you woke up today with only what you thanked God for yesterday?"

That's a scary thought.  I'll ask another question: What if your spouse only does today what you thanked him or her for doing yesterday?

Imagine a list of things that people do for us regularly.  Make dinner, wash clothes, clean the house, cut the grass, make our coffee, serve us at a restaurant, pump our gas... the list is endless.  What if, one-by-one, when we began expecting those things and forgetting to thank the people doing them, they marked that thing off of their list.  Never to be done again.

  • No "thank you" for dinner tonight? No dinner tomorrow.
  • No "thank you" for taking out the garbage last week?  No taking out the garbage this week.
  • No "thank you" for clean clothes?  You better learn to use the washing machine.

I realize that this is a bit extreme, but it highlights our lack of appreciation for the every day things that people do for us.  People appreciate sincere words more than you know!  So say, "Thank you."

And mean it.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

You should ALWAYS follow the rules 90% of the time

Rules are made for the masses.  Entrepreneurs, creative thinkers, great spirits and those that we label as brilliant don't follow all of the rules.

Don't assume that just because there is a rule, that it's right.  Find a better way, break the old rules and show us why your way is better.

We're waiting for your innovation.  That only works if you do it your way.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Are you bold enough to try this?

We have to stop the divide.  Our nation seems to be falling into this trap of "us vs. them." Our communities are quickly following suit and it's ruining us.

Republicans vs. Democrats. Skilled vs. "unskilled" laborers (a term I hate).  White collar vs. blue collar.  Black vs. white.  Natives vs. foreigners.  Rich vs. poor.  Educated vs. uneducated.

The bottom line is that we are all human.  We are all flawed.  We are all partially right and partially wrong.  We all have strengths and weaknesses  Until we can admit that, we arrogantly believe that we are better than the other group.  Pride stops us from admitting that we're really all the same.  We become stagnant in our thinking.

Put your pride aside.  Admit that your "enemy" just may be right.  It doesn't discount what you've done or who you are when you admit that you're wrong.  In fact, it does the opposite.  The person that has the boldness and confidence to admit that they are wrong is far more intelligent than the most educated of those that believes they are always right.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The polite and honest paradox

I'm a firm believer in brutal honesty.  That often gets miscontrued as "I don't care how other people feel."  It's actually the exact opposite.  I care enough about my family and friends to be honest even when it's uncomfortable.

I'm also a firm believe in being polite.  And herein lies the paradox.

If I'm honest, you are the one that chooses whether or not I'm being polite.  And, if I use your definition of "polite", it may be very difficult to be honest.

Timing is everything.  Keep your relationships clear by having the tough conversations.  Just make sure you're not complaining to your spouse and kids about the carpet color while the house is burning down.

Timing, timing, timing!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't be afraid to do it

We all know someone that has their mind so made up that no one can change it.  Maybe that someone is us.  We get so sure of something that we refuse to believe that we could be wrong.  Sure, there are things to be sure of.  The shirt I'm wearing is blue.  That's a fact that can be easily proven.

The dangerous place to be is when we believe so fully in something that can't be proven, but we refuse to open our eyes to other options.  This is admittedly a tough topic for me because I consider myself to be a Christian.  The strongest argument against Christianity is that it can't be proven with tangible evidence.  I'm not saying that argument is right or wrong; I'm just saying that the argument exists (again, a fact that I can prove).

So, what's the point of all of this?  The point is this.  You can't prove facts by using opinion.  Separate the two as much as you can.  Most conflict in our life (and our world) has to do with differing opinions.  When we focus on the opinions, nothing changes, but when we focus on the facts, progress is made.

Don't be afraid to let your guard down and forget your opinion for awhile.  This trait is essential in long-lasting relationships and is a great key in solving past issues.  If the relationship is worth it, you'll do it!

Friday, March 30, 2012

You need it more than you know

As my 9-year-old and I walked into BJJ class last night, I was wondering what the atmosphere would be like.  Even though the guys that I train with are great, it's a place to go to blow off steam and I didn't know how well they'd like a little guy being part of the mix.  But I was about to find out...

The things is, last night would have been very cool for my son and me to just show up and train together.  Instead, it was way more than that.  It was wonderful for him to see a group of men that are comfortable being themselves.  Men that are kind, but not soft.  Men that are competitive, but not cruel.  Men that are a little (or a lot) rough around the edges because they're too real not to be.

With all of the madness going on in the world, I'm very thankful for these men that are a good example for my son.  And best of all, I get to call them friends

If you don't have a group like this in your life.  Start looking.  You need it more than you know... and so do your kids.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Did you put your glasses on this morning?

We found out last week that two of the three kids needed glasses.  We probably should have realized before now, but... we didn't (don't judge me...).  Several hundred dollars later, the kids have their "new eyes."

If only it were that easy for us to have a new view of the world around us.  You know those days when you're tired and nothing seems to be going your way.  Wouldn't it be great if you could just slap your glasses on your face and have an entirely new perspective?

We can do it; it's just a little harder.  For us, it takes a desire to see the good things in life.  It takes a trust that there is still good in the world.  And most of all, it takes a commitment to doing the right thing regardless of what's going on around you.  It's easier to see the good in the world if we're the ones initiating it.  It's much harder to see when we're passively waiting for it to drop in our lap.

So when you get up in the morning, put your glasses on, then take a look at the world around you and tell me what opportunities you see.  And if you're creating them, they'll be right in front of your face!

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

3 Steps to Building the Sun

It's warm today it will be cold tomorrow and there's nothing that you can do to affect that.  Let's face it.  There are things that we don't (and will never) have control over.

Stop worrying about the weather.  Instead, grab your coat and your sandals and keep pushing forward with the things that you can affect.  Try these three things:
  1. Listen to your loved ones instead of talking
  2. Call your friends instead of waiting for them to call you
  3. Reach out to those in need regardless of how they got where they are
Taking those three steps will make your life warmer than a sunny day ever could.  It's like building your own Sun!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Are these two things the same?

We often look at other people's lives and wish and wonder what it would take for "us" to be like "them."  I have good news for you.  You already are like "them."

We look at our neighbor, our friend, the guy at church or our co-worker and think that they are living the good life.  It appears that they "have it all pulled together."  It's not true.  They struggle.  Things go wrong in their life too.  It's all about perspective.

I once heard Stephen Furtick say (paraphrashing), we think we're failing because we're comparing our 'behind the scenese' to every else's 'highlight reel.'

We all have struggles, hard times, 'bad luck' and tough days.  The struggles are different, but the emotions are the same.  Don't wish to be in someone else's shoes.  Yours fit just fine.  And besides, you're good at being you!

Monday, March 26, 2012

What if you just had one?

That special thing.

The thing you've always wanted.

For a sports fan, maybe it's a baseball signed by Babe Ruth or an Honus Wagner card.  Maybe it's your grandmother's ring that she left to you or a rare black pearl necklace.  Just imagine if you had one of those things with no chance of getting another.

It would be locked in a safe, never to be disturbed accept to brag to your friends or tell stories of past times.  You would value it.  You wouldn't take it for granted.  It wouldn't get boring.

The good news is that you do have something that valuable, that rare and that special.  But you'll take it for granted.  You won't cherish it as you should.  You'll forget the value of it.  You will if you're anything like me, at least.

I lose site of how valuable my life is and how important my time here is.  I forget how special it is that I was created to be in this very moment as I type this.  I will only get one chance to make today what it is meant to be.  If I miss it, I can try again tomorrow, but I will never get another today.

It's not by accident that you are where you are today.  You'll only be here once.  Don't take it for granted.  Live today and don't lose site of how rare it is.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Better late than never

Well, sometimes it is.  But sometimes, late is just not good enough.

Being late to notice that your family is slipping away.  Being late to realize that your kids are tied up with the wrong group.  Being late to notice that your best friend has been trying to reach out for help.  Those things aren't acceptable and sometimes being late is just not good enough.

Define what you refuse to be late for.  And then show up on time.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

To most of the world, it's just Thursday...

But for me and my family, it's different.  It's more than a beautiful Thursday in late March.  Today, March 22, is the anniversary of the day that a tremendously special person was born.  Maybe a person that the world will remember forever, or maybe a person that much of the world will never know, but a person that has drastically changed the course of my life.  For that I am forever grateful.

To most of the world, it's just Thursday, but for me it's a day to celebrate.

If only we would live each day of our lives like this.  Like a celebration.  There may not be a special birthday to celebrate today.  Worse, you may have even gotten some bad news today.  But today, this day, is a day that you will never get back.

So, while today is very special to me, you can make today special for you too.  Try something you've never tried.  Grow like you've never grown.  Weep like you've never wept.  Laugh like you've never laughed.  Forget your worries.  Help someone.  Take a quiet walk.  Meet someone new.  Forget someone old.  Smile.  Choose to do something special today.

To most of the world, it's just Thursday... but to us, it can be incredible.

[[[[   Happy Birthday, Corie!  ]]]

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Celebrate it... but not too early

I run a retail business (  I've had a few great opportunities that recently popped up, which give me reason to celebrate... almost.

I'm all about celebrating small victories, because it's important for us to be happy when we achieve something.  But we have to be careful not to celebrate prematurely.

Small victories build confidence.  They help us to remember why we started.  The encourage us to keep going.  But celebrating prematurely can have exactly the opposite effect.  It can be discouraging.  It can make you lose focus.  It can cause us to forget why we started.

Celebrate often, but not early!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

If I could only get out of the way

Adults take risks.  Calculated risks.  Mostly too calculated.  It's human nature.  It's a way to challenge ourselves and realize for a moment that we can push ourselves further.

So many times as a parent I am more concerned with protecting my kids than helping them grow and learn.  Our kids (especially boys) need to take risks.  We need to stop being so uptight and let them.

When they want to try riding their bike by themselves, let them fall.
When they try jumping over the creek, let them get wet.
When they are playing just a little too rough, let them play.

Our kids need to learn and grow on their own.  If I could only get out of the way and let them!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Walking the tightrope

It was beautiful outside yesterday.  A great day to take the kids to the park to play basketball.  There are several parks in town.  The first park was overcrowded.  The second park was overcrowded.  The third park was just crowded.  I'm tired of driving to look for a park.  The third park wins.

Four basketball courts, three of which are filled with kids/adults between the ages of 10 and 30.  All of which are swearing beyond measure.  Now, to be completely honest, I'm no saint.  Never claimed to be.  But I do try to be careful about the things my boys see and hear.  Which brings me to the dilemma...

I'm left with 3 choices in my mind:
  1. Stay and play.  We teach the boys right from wrong and they know bad words when they hear them.  We can't "protect" them forever.
  2. Leave.  Just cash out and live to fight another day.  There are other things to do in town.
  3. Ask the people playing to stop swearing.  Asking the thirty (suspect) people playing to stop swearing would've not only made me look like an idiot (rightfully so?), but may have led to a mob beating.  Nah.  I'll pass.
So what did I do?  I stayed.  And the boys and I talked.  The point is this.  I think we as parents have to walk this tightrope of protecting our kids vs. sheltering so much that they don't know how to interact with other people.  I look at it this way.  If hearing some guys swear on a basketball court for an hour on Sunday afternoon corrupts my boys, I messed up somewhere else along the way.

Protect your kids by all means.  By ALL means.  But more importantly, have fun with them, talk with them, and love them.  Those are the things that they will remember... not the words they overhear on a basketball court.

Friday, March 16, 2012

How does the ending go?

I finished a book last night (the Steve Jobs biography, if you're interested).  It's such a great feeling to finish something.  Why then do I so often start things that I don't finish?

I do all the "right" things: Write down my goals.  Set small milestones.  Keep my lists in front of me to keep me motivated, etc.  It doesn't work.  None of it works.  I think I finally figured it out.

I make all of my lists based on what needs done, but I lose interest when I lose sight of why I should do it (Why did you start dieting?  Why did you start on your business plan?  Why did you join that team?).

I'm going to try something new the next time I start something.  Before making any of my "what lists", I'm going to write my "why list".  Why am I starting and why should I finish?  That way, on those tough days, instead of looking at a to-do list, I can tap back into why my actions are meaningful.

To-do lists are boring, but "why lists" remind us why the things we do are valuable.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

If you've ever read my blog, please read this (and share)

Hello all,

I try not to ask for favors, but I feel like I have to today.  If you've ever read (and enjoyed) my blog, please share this post (see share instructions below if you need help).  It's the only way I know to get more subscribers.

First of all, thanks to those of you that have been reading my blog.  I truly appreciate it.  I've tried to make it as easy as possible for you to get my blog on a daily basis without being a nuisance.  If you enjoy the blog, here are some easy ways to make sure you get it:
  • For many of you, subscribing via Twitter will be the easiest.  You can follow @CrucifixMMA to get my blog there, but with Twitter being so busy it's very easy to miss since I only post each blog once.
  • Second on the list is probably Facebook.  That seems to be where most of you are reading from so far.  You can send me a friend request or you can "Like" the Crucifix MMA page.  Either way works for me (feel free to do both if you'd like).
  • You can signup for the daily email if you'd like.  It seems some people are moving away from email, but if it works for you it's very easy to do (if you've already signed up you don't need to do anything).  You will only get one email from me each day.  No more, no less.  To do so, go here and look on the right side for the email subscription box.
  • If you use a Kindle, you can subscribe to my blog that way.  The downfall is that you have to pay for it.  That's not my choice, but to make it available from Amazon, I have to play by their rules.  It's also not available for the Kindle Fire yet.  I'm still working on that.
  • If any of you use an RSS reader, it's very simple.  A very easy-to-use one that works well on your PC and mobile device is Google Reader.  There are plenty more out there, but you can sign up by copying this link into your RSS reader:
  • Lastly, you can always simply bookmark my blog site or set it as your home page if you'd like to do that.
I've gotten some good feedback on my blog so far and I would like more people to be aware of it since some of you seem to have found it useful.  Please feel free to share the blogs that you like with your friends.
Thanks again to each of you and I'm thankful for your sharing.

Have a great day!

Sharing Instructions:
To share, just look at the icons below each post (see arrow) and choose where you want to share it.  There are a lot of icons, but most of them are pretty easy to find.  The Twitter, Facebook and Google+ icons are first on the list.  Just click the icon and it takes care of the rest for you!

They don't care what I think

Our kids are looking to us.  They're not telling us that they are; they just are.

You may be thinking, "Yeah, right.  You don't know my kids.  They don't care what I think."

You're wrong.

As adults, we're pretty crappy at communicating.  Our kids have unfortunately learned that from us and we're left to deal with what we've made.  Just because your kids don't ask to have dinner with you, just because they don't tell you that they want to hear you say that you love them, just because they don't seem like they want you to care about the things that they care about does NOT mean that they don't feel that way.

They are watching you.  They are watching me.  The question is, are they seeing that we care or are they just hearing about all of the things that they could do better?

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The art of being a dad

Alright, let's be honest ladies and gentlemen.  The art of being a guy is really getting lost in our society.

The art of being a dad seems all but gone.

As a guy, I'll be the first to admit that I've fallen short more times that I can recall.  But, in my failure there is the ability to get better.

Men, here are three things that we can start with:
  1. Be the leader: Both in our families and in our communities.  Stop telling your children what you want them to be and instead be the example that you want them to be.
  2. Be the provider:  I'm not talking (just) about providing for them financially.  We also need to provide love, strength, guidance, advice and solid fundamental truths to our families.  They depend on us for it.
  3. Be unselfish: This means sometimes we need to do things that we don't want to do. Sometimes we'll be tired. Sometimes we won't get recognition when we think we should. Tell your ego to shut up and just do the right thing.
Do I have all of these things nailed down?  Not even close!  I, like everyone else, am a work in progress.  The danger isn't in failing.  The danger comes when we stop working to get better.  Hang in there, men.  Your family is worth it.
[SIDE NOTE: You don't have to be a "dad" to implement these ideas.  We can be leaders and providers for friends, nieces, nephews, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program, etc.  It's all about doing the right thing.]

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My 9-year-old is smarter than me

He had chores to do last night.  And in the midst of them, he figured out one of life's sweet victories.

Let's first agree that work (sometimes) stinks.  You know that.  I know that.  He definitely knows that.  But as he was vacuuming the house last night, he figured it out.  He figured out the key to work.  He made it fun!  (In his case, "fun" was sticking the vacuum nozzle to his head and laughing hysterically.)

How many times as adults do we have something to do that we just don't feel like doing (dishes, home repairs, landscaping, etc.).  Hating every second of those tasks only makes them last longer.  I've found that out from experience.

Stop complaining about what you have to do and get creative.  Figure out how to make your "work" into play and you'll have figured out the same thing my 9-year-old has.  Just a word of advice: Be careful when you stick the vacuum nozzle to your head.  I hear it can leave a nasty mark.

Monday, March 12, 2012

When you look back at this day in 6 months...

I hurt my shoulder awhile back and I've been using it as an excuse while I put off "starting."  For me, "starting" is getting into better shape.  The thing is, it's not the workout that I hate.  It's getting started.

I think this is true for most of us.  Not just with working out, but with growing our faith, building better relationships with our kids or starting that business that we've always wanted.  We go through a phase where we know that we need (or want) to do something.  We know it's the right thing.  We know that we'll be better off for it.  But we don't start.  Instead, we find every excuse not to.

I think we put off getting started because it's easier to be complacent.  Even if the end result will put us in a better place, we get very comfortable where we are... and we hang on to that comfort with all of our might.

No more excuses.  I'm starting today.  I hope you choose something to start today also.  Because even though starting sucks, when you look back at this day in 6 months, you'll wish you would have started today.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I really dropped the ball

I had an opportunity this morning.  It would have been incredible.  It would have been something that I would have been proud to write about... but I really dropped the ball.

My day started with an early morning grocery run.  I pulled into the grocery store parking lot and across the lot was a woman that had apparently locked her keys in her car.  In the moment, as I stepped out of my truck, my mind raced: What could I do to help?  Would I be able to help and still get home in time to get ready for work?  I don't know how to get into a locked car.  How did she lock her keys in there in the first place?

So, I climb out of my truck... and walk directly into the grocery store.

I got what I needed and went back out to my truck.  On the way out, I noticed a man helping the lady.  Guess what?  He didn't know how to get into a locked car either... but he tried.

I'm embarrassed to tell this story because I put myself first when someone needed help.  After all of this blogging about doing the right thing and challenging yourself and the importance of trying, I didn't try at all.  I really dropped the ball.

But there's a lesson in it.  We don't have to have all of the answers when someone is hurting, down on their luck or locked out of their car.  We just need to be willing to help.  I wasn't.  If you know of someone (or see someone) that needs help today, please do what I chose not to do.  Be willing to help.

And, if by chance, that young lady is reading this, I should've helped you.  I should've tried.  I apologize.

Have a great day, everyone!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

It will affect you whether you believe it or not

I know that many of you won't enjoy this post, but it's important.  Not to me.  Well, not just to me.  But to our families, our friends and most importantly our children.

We, in America, tend to think that politics don't affect us (probably because we're disgusted by the whole process).  I have some bad news for you.  They do.  The people we elect will create laws that directly affect us, and more so our children.  When I hear someone say, "Politics don't interest me", I wonder if they realize the impact of that statement.  I may not be "interested" in whether or not my house is on fire.  That doesn't mean that it won't affect me.

So, I have a favor to ask of you.  Three favors, actually:
  1. Please vote.  It really does matter.  If you don't believe that, I'd love to hear why.
  2. Please don't make an emotional decision when you vote.  Voting based on emotions is like loving your kids based on logic.  There are some things that just don't work.  We have to look at this thing logically and put our ego and emotions from the past behind us.
  3. Vote for the people that believe to be honest.  Too many times I hear people asking where candidates "stand on the issues."  Quite frankly, I want to know the person's character.  You can have whatever opinion you want on the issues, but if I can't believe what you say your stance means very little.
This post is not political.  I'm not "endorsing" anyone.  I do, however, believe that it's very important for us to realize that our elected officials will affect our future.  Our children are too important to not care about the men and women that will be running our country.

Make it a great day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

I met a man today...

We'll call him Mark.  He's ordinary on the outside.  A rough beard that he hasn't shaved in a few days.  A little overweight.  Dirty clothes from the hard days work that he's put in today... and it's only 8:30AM.  He's ordinary on the outside.

And then you get a glimpse of his life through a ten minute conversation and you realize that he's not even close to ordinary.  He's a grandfather.  And now, due to the loss of his own child, he's "inherited four grandchildren."  The children are all under the age of seven with the oldest being autistic.

He wasn't complaining.  He was just stating facts.  Facts about life.  Facts about hurting.  Facts about change that he had no control over.

As he runs his own business and deals with the hand that he's been dealt, I think we'd all give him a free pass to have a bad day now and again.  Or would we?

You see, this man's story, in all of its uniqueness is not as rare as we think.  We, unfortunately, don't take the time out of our busy day to learn about the gas station attendant, the waitress or the grocery clerk.  Instead we rush through our day and only notice them if they take too long bagging our groceries or pump our gas.

I'm going to challenge myself, and you too, to meet someone today.  Someone ordinary on the outside.  We may be amazed at the story they have to tell.  And, if we're lucky, we'll meet a man just like Mark.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Remember... It's just paper and metal

Paying to get a car fixed sucks.  Of course, it beats the alternative of not having a car or we wouldn't pay to get them fixed, right?

In reality, the suckiness has nothing to do with the car, but everything to do with money.  We, as Americans especially, tend to think differently about money.  We look at it as something that defines who we are, what we stand for and how we fit into our social groups.  Remember... It's just paper and metal.

The sooner we realize that money is just a tool, the better off we'll be.  It's no different than a shovel.  We could get creative and dig a hole with just about anything if we had to, but if we have a shovel it makes things easier.  If we really need to dig a hole, we'll find a way no matter what.  However, if we run short on money, we panic.  Instead of panicking, we really just need to be creative and find another way.  Remember... it's just paper and metal.

Live your life looking at money as a tool, not as a definition of who you are.  When you start defining yourself by the amount of money you have, rest assured that everyone else already has their definition of you.  And theirs is probably more accurate than yours.

You're so much more than the money your make.  Define yourself by your passions, not by your checking account.  The person you are means so much more than the money you have.

[Just to be clear, a person's tendency to define themselves by the amount of money they have has absolutely nothing to do with how much money they have.  "Poor" people define themselves by the amount of money that they have (or don't have) just as often as the "rich" do.]

Monday, March 5, 2012

Don't buy it...

You don't need some top-secret, over-priced, over-marketed system to lose weight.

You do need one thing.  I've written about it before and I probably will again because it's THAT important.

The key to losing weight is consistency.  That, in my mind, is the hardest part about life.  Showing up with your game face on every single day.

This key is most important because it applies to every part of your life.  Being a good dad, a woman of faith, healthy, wise, a good friend, having a clean house, a maintained car... the list goes on and on.

Don't buy the gimmicks.  Instead of wasting time buying into all of them, instead figure out a way to hold yourself (or have someone else hold you) accountable for staying consistent.  That will change your life more than any "As Seen On TV" product can.

Friday, March 2, 2012

He hates homework

I'm nerdy enough that I don't mind homework, but my 9-year-old believes that homework is a direct spawn of Satan himself.  He hates it.  He thinks it's dumb.  He thinks it's worthless.

As adults, we're often dealt "homework" also.  It comes to us by way of tough situations in life: Losing a job, losing a friend, getting a flat tire on a busy morning, a homeless person asking us for money when we have little of out own, etc.  Unfortunately for me, I often miss the point of this "adult" homework the same as my 9-year-old misses the points of his.

If we look at our tough situations as homework, as a chance to learn more about life and get better at it, those situations seem much more manageable.  So I have to ask, what home work have you been working on lately?  And what grade would you give yourself?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The kids are sick

And when they are, your perspective changes.  The things that were important, somehow don't seem so important any more.  So, if they aren't important now, why were they important before the kids got sick?

We tend to prioritize our tasks relative to each other, but the bottom line is that something is either important or it's not.  Look at the things you're involved in; look at the tasks that you have to do throughout your day.  Then figure out if they are important based on your values, your life goals and your relationships.  If they aren't important, stop doing them.  I'm sure you have enough important things to do!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Guard rails and remote controls

They both do the same thing.  They keep things going in the right direction.  There is one major difference though.  A remote control is meant to continually correct the direction before anything goes wrong.  A guard rail is meant to allow a mistake but put you back on the right track.

As parents, I think we often act as remote controls trying to steer our kids through life, helping them to avoid every possible bump that life throws their way.  Remote controls keep our kids focused until we have to give up the remote.  But then they have no idea how to do life on their own.

Instead, I think we should try to be guard rails.  We should let our kids make some mistakes and when they get too far off track we can still bump them back on.  Guard rails allow them to feel their way along and get pointed in the right direction, with a little help, until eventually the rails aren't needed any more.

Put the remote control down and put up some rails for your kids!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

If their "payoff" is money...

I can't begin to explain the value that I put in someone that is willing to work hard.  I hope and pray that each one of us will instill that solid work ethic in each of our children.  It seems to be a dying trend in some regions.

So, to me, the question is not, "Should we teach our children the value of hard work?", but rather, "What will your children work hard to get?"  What do you want your child's "payoff" to be?  We often think of a "payoff" as money, but it can some in so many forms.

If their "payoff" is a strong family then that payoff will come when they spend many hours figuring out family dynamics and how to build stronger relationships.  We can help by being a great example of a father, mother, brother, daughter, etc.

If their "payoff" is a good education and strong financial future then their payoff will come when they spend countless hours studying, both books and real-world economics.  We can help by providing them the means to learn through books, taking them to the library and learning about real careers.

If their "payoff" is a strong relationship with God then that payoff will come when they spend their time focusing on reading the Bible, praying and working hard to be more like our Savior.  We can help by being an example of a true Christian, not telling them how to be a true Christian.

If their "payoff" is philanthropy then that payoff will come when they devote hours upon hours helping others that are in need and truly making a difference for future generations.  We can help by being great examples of cheerful givers.

If their "payoff" is purely money, I think we failed to teach them about the true values in life.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A case of the Monday's...

Actually, Monday is exactly the same as every other day. We just think about it differently. So, if we can train ourselves to hate Monday's, we can re-train ourselves to love Monday's.

Use today to plan the week and (more importantly) what you'll be doing next weekend.  Monday's are a great time to look back at the weekend and see what worked and what didn't.  Use that knowledge to make this Saturday the best one yet.

Planning your week isn't always fun, but planning your weekend can be!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Sometimes they aren't interested

I want my kids to clean their rooms. I want them to work hard. I want them to be honest and caring and loving. And I want them to listen when I'm talking, but sometimes they just aren't interested in what I have to say. When we have a passion in life, something that we are determined to accomplish, we want everyone to be a part of it. We tell them our grand idea with the expectation that they will love it. But sometimes they just aren't interested and that leaves us feeling let down. The problem isn't in their reaction (mostly), but in our expectation. Share your passion. Encourage people to join you. Just don't get upset with them when they aren't interested. (Sidenote: This is especially tough with family.)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's not failure

You made a mistake. You just messed up. When we realize that we made a mistake we can learn from it. Failure is making a mistake so big (or making so many little mistakes) that we can't recover. Mistakes happen often, actual failure is rare. Make your mistakes and move on, but don't confuse your mistakes for failure.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fighting the cure

The wonderful world of pink eye has entered our home recently.  I have had the privilege of administering the eye drops a few times.  If you've ever tried to give a cat a bath, you have some idea of what it's like trying to give a four, six and 9-year-old eye drops.  It's the medicine that is going to make them better, but yet they fight   it.  How silly.

And how silly we are as adults for doing the same thing.  We avoid things because they're hard.  We constantly move the hard things to the bottom of our to-do list when we could immediately relieve stress if we would just take our medicine and get it over with.

What cure are you fighting today?  Stop fighting.  Open up, take your medicine and move on to better things.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Are you not entertained?

The entertainment is the easy part.  We have at our disposable more entertainment options than there have been since the beginning of time.  It's extremely easy to be entertained.  While entertainment definitely has its purpose, it's not learning, it's not connecting, it's not building, it's not growing, it's not helping.

So, I challenge the parents out there with the same question that I challenge myself with:  Are you growing your children or just entertaining them?

Anyone can grab a child and take them to a park, put them in front of the TV, put a video game controller in their hand and sit back at watch.  It takes a bigger commitment to play along with them, to understand why they like the TV shows that they like and to go down the slide behind them at the park.  Entertainment just takes time and resources.  Growing your children takes love, interested and long-term commitment.

So, I'll ask you again.  Are you growing your children or just entertaining them?

[Before you all jump down my throat, I get it.  I know that as parents we all need a break sometimes (I know for sure that I do!).  I'm all for letting them run around at the park while I sit and breathe.  There's definite value there.  The danger is when we mistake that for growing our children.]

Friday, February 17, 2012

Video game focus

In our new-age, ADD world, I'm going to need some help understanding something.  If we say we can't focus on anything as a society because we're mentally unable, why is it that when we plug into a video game we are 100% focused on the game?  Everything else goes away.  Our focus is committed to one thing and one thing only.  So, why is it that we can't achieve that same focus when it comes to writing a business letter, creating a personal budget or re-arranging our office?

I think it's because every tiny goal is laid out and presented to you in the video game, automatically.  Your next goal is constantly being fed to you as you complete the last one (think Super Mario Bros.) without you having to ask for it or figure it out.

What would happen if we arranged our days so that we were completely engaged in our current task and our next goal was automatically fed to us?  What if you made a list of every task you needed to do and you didn't "put the controller down" until you finished each task?

I'm realistic enough to know that this technique is NEVER going to work on a daily basis.  You'd spend more time planning than actually getting things done.  But, if you feel like you're falling behind, take an hour and meticulously schedule your tasks.  Write them down, get started and fight feverishly to ignore potential distractions until tasks are completed.

Now, who says you can't learn anything from playing video games?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Breakfast with a friend

If you haven't done it in awhile, you need to.  It'll take a sacrifice of some sort, but it will be worth it.  If you don't believe me, try it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Being "manly" vs. being a man

As guys, we have this manly reputation to uphold.  And I fear we're going about it all wrong.  Just because I know how to sew (yes, it's true), read Junie B. Jones to my daughter, write love notes to my Valentine and like IKEA doesn't mean that I'm soft.

As men, we often use a watered-down, societal idea of being a man that is more about ego than anything else.  Being a man requires responsibility, leadership, self-control, courage, self-discipline, etc.  Being "manly" just requires and ego so big that you can't be honest with yourself so you overcompensate by doing only manly things.

I'll choose the former.  I hope you other men will too.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

To My Valentine...

Everyone says that life is short.  And I guess that's true, but more than that, I think we let it go by too quickly.  We wish the "bad times" away, but we often forget to enjoy those rough-around-the-edges moments.

I love the moments when one of us is sick.  What other day do we make time to be by each other's side, catering to every request and intently listening to every word to make sure that we get each detail just right?  Thanks for taking care of me and allowing me to take care of you.

I love the moments when we fight.  It shows our passion for each other and the fact that we won't let anything break us.  We're willing to be uncomfortable in the short term to guarantee that we're unshakeable in the long run.  Thanks for being willing to be uncomfortable with me.

I love the moments when we're tired.  When we can't keep our eyes open.  When the world is slowly fading to dark and I can't help but watch you drift off into your own world of dreams.  Thanks for dreaming with me.

I love the moments when we're in the car for hours.  Long trips can be a pain... or they can be a wonderful reason to disconnect from our media IV and learn about each other yet again.  Thanks for learning with me.

I love the moments when we're apart (kinda).  It helps me learn about myself while knowing how loved I really am.  Those moments help me to realize how important your role in my life is.  Thanks for staying close even when you're far away.

I love struggling together.  We've had some "life" stuff come up in the past.  And it will happen again.  It's gives us one more chance to learn with each other and about each other.  It allows us to become better people together.  Thanks for always being there to pick me up when I'm struggling to do so on my own.

And my favorite moments are the spontaneous ones where we can't stop laughing with (or at) each other. The moments when the world is silenced by the volume of our love.  Thanks for laughing with me.  I'm forever thankful.

It's so easy to fall in love with you...

They can say whatever they want

So our 6-year-old comes home from school the other day and she says that someone is "not being that nice sometimes."  It happens, right?  Kids call each other kids names.  They say your hair looks funny (which was the case this time).  They say your clothes aren't nice.  They say all kind of mean things.

Here's a little secret for my 6-year-old.  They can say whatever they want about you, but that doesn't make it true.

This advice goes for adults too.  When someone puts you down, tells you that you'll never make it, tells you that your idea is dumb or that your business idea will never work remember this: They can say whatever they want, but that doesn't mean it's true.

Keep your chin up.  Keep believing in yourself and doing the hard work to meet your goals.  And let them say whatever they want.  While they're putting you down, you can bring a smile to the rest of the world.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Why don't you care?

What is it about politics that turns us off?  (I know, I know... stay with me.)

I would say it's the drama, but Snooki is way too popular for that to be true.

I would say it's the feeling that we're being lied to, but we put up with that in our daily lives from friends, family, etc. and continue allowing them into our lives.  We don't typically give up when we get lied to... we get angry.

I would say it's because politics are boring, but we sit and read Facebook statuses all day long that say things like, "Just got a new pair of shoes!"  Seriously?  We're not easily turned off by the mundane.

The only thing that I can think is that we feel like we can't make a difference.

I'm concerned that this feeling of helplessness will bleed over into our family relationships.  We work so hard to teach our kids that they can make a difference when we don't believe that we can.  Before we can fix our country, our kids, our relationships, our faith, etc. we have to be aware of the shortcomings that we have.  Mainly, the self-imposed ones.  The limits that we put on ourselves that no one else does.

Believe that you can make a difference, because, quite frankly, you can.  But only if you believe it.

Friday, February 10, 2012

3 Reasons to Not Care

There are tons of things that we care about... and tons of things that we don't.  It's helpful to know when you should or shouldn't care.  Here are my guidelines:

I don't care if:
  1. It doesn't truly affect people.  I don't care a whole lot when the 37th version of a smart phone is released.  Your cell provider may care, but I have more important things to worry about... like my family, friends, job, life, community, etc.
  2. It's self-sustaining.  I, thankfully, don't need to change my oil once a week.  So, it's pretty self-sustaining between changes.  Many things in our life are like this (think plumbing, electricity, etc.).  However, we tend to assume that relationships are... they aren't!
  3. I can't do anything about it.  There are some things in my life that I would love to change.  Unfortunately, they're all in the past.  If I can't change it, why care?  Again, there are too many wonderful things to care about.
Think about what you care about.  And then care... today!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dare I say it?

I read a book by the man who ultimately became famous in the U.S. for creating MAXIM magazine (he was famous in Europe long before that).  He's rich.  Actually, he's REALLY rich.  In the book he tells of living in a nearly abandoned apartment with his phone being the only utility that hadn't been shut off.  He was literally breaking his furniture into pieces and burning them for heat while watching his girlfriend leave him for his best friend that had "a real job."

You see, the reason Felix Denis is rich is not because he was luckier than I am.  It is because he was willing to sacrifice more than I am.  He was willing to risk more than I am.  He was willing to be uncomfortable more than I am.  But, for me to admit that he earned his wealth, I also have to admit that I'm not willing to follow his scarcely trodden path.

This post isn't about wealth.  It's about anything worth working for.  When you see someone that has a nice car, a nicer lawn, a devoted wife, respectful children or a stronger faith, it's most likely because they were willing to put in the work to make that happen.

Yes, it's easier to pretend they are just luckier.  But dare I say, the truth is that they probably worked harder.  

The good news for you and me is that there is nothing stopping us from working just as hard!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Why don't I have cancer?

I've seriously asked myself that question on several occasions.  The answer is always the same.

I have absolutely no idea.

We often think that we're entitled to a good life and that anything that disrupts that ideal is "bad luck."  What if we looked at it the other way?  What if each of us is entitled to a bad life and everything that distrupts that ideal is "good luck"?

What if every time your brakes work when you push the pedal, it's good luck?  What if every time your heart beats without you having a heart attack, it's good luck?  What if every day you don't lose your job, it's good luck?  Would that change your perspective?

We're often quick to blame bad luck when something goes wrong, but we're typically not so thankful for the thousands of little things that go right every day.  It's all a matter of perspective.

So, what went right today?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The bad part about anticipation

Waiting for the big game.  Waiting for a loved one to come home.  Waiting for a much-needed phone call.  Anticipation is wonderful.

The only bad part is that it seems to make time take longer.

In that "extra" time, are you more productive or less productive?  Use that extra anticipation energy to get more things done instead of just using it to wait.... longer.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Losing sight of your value

Put your glasses on.  This sometimes takes work.  You have value.  We all do.  What is yours?

Ask yourself this single question:
"What is the thing that only I can do?" 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Waiting is not a plan

So stop waiting for a job.  Stop waiting for the economy to get better.  Stop waiting for your relationship to heal.  Stop waiting for your kids to get better grades.

Change is the result of action.  If you want change you must initiate it.

The question is not, "When will this situation get better?"  The question is, "What can I do to make this situation better?"

Thursday, February 2, 2012

What is your art?

Everyone has one.  Maybe you like it.  Maybe you don't.  Maybe you're good at it.  Maybe you're not.

But the fact remains.  You will create some type of art today.  It may be a creative way to make a PB & J or it may be painting the next Mona Lisa.

So, I'll ask again.  What is your art?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I have all of the answers

At least that's what I'm going to pretend.  I'm the adult, right?  I should have all of the answers.

Actually, we shouldn't.  I think our kids are a lot smarter and a lot more creative than we give them credit for.  I think we can learn a lot more by listening to them than we can by telling them what we think.

See, the problem is that we've already been tainted.  We've already bought into the status quo.  We already believe the lie about fitting in.  Our kids, on the other hand, have a fresh perspective on life.  They see things that we don't because the world is still amazing to them.

I think we have a lot to learn from our children.  But first, we have to admit that we don't have all of the answers.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why do we love faces so much?

She left for Haiti yesterday and I found something out very quickly.  She's tough to be away from.  A long, emotional day ended right here, at my desk, with a lot on my mind and more on my heart.  And then it happened...

The moment her face popped onto my screen in the Skype window my day changed.  I had heard her voice several times throughout the day, but seeing her face changed things.  Why is that?  What made it so much deeper?

There's truth in a smile... or not.  But either way you can see it.  This is one of the main reasons that it's so important for us to actually spend time with each other.  To look each other in the eye.  Sure, social media is convenient and it's a great way to meet new people.  But there's a big difference between meeting people and knowing people.

If you really want to know someone, you have to look them in the eye.  It's true for our business partners, our colleagues, our spouses and our children.

Call your kids.  Post on your spouses Facebook page.  Text your best friend.  But at the end of the day, you don't really know what's in their heart until you look them in the eye.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The joy of missing someone

Have you ever missed anyone?  I'm sure you have.  We all have.

It's a wonderful thing.  It's wonderful to have someone in your life that you care so much about that your life is not the same without them.  And likewise, it's wonderful to have someone in your life that you bring so much joy to that when you're gone, they miss you.

It's good for us.  It's good to miss and be missed.

Who would miss you if you didn't show up today?

Who would you miss if they didn't show up today?  Instead of waiting until they're gone, tell them today.  In fact, tell them now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The danger of making them smile

We give in to our kids to "make them happy."  We work to give them everything they want because they "deserve it."

The truth, if we're honest with ourselves, is that we aren't always giving them what they want to make them happy.  We're actually doing it because it's easier for us.

It's easier to buy the new video game than listen to them cry that the 15 they have at home aren't good enough.  It's easier to send them off to a friends house for dinner for the third time this week than it is to listen to them tell you that your house is no fun.  It's easier to step in for them at every fleeting altercation than it is to let them figure out how to do handle some situations on their own.

The danger is not in giving in to them.  The danger is convincing ourselves that we're giving in because it's what is best for them.

Stand up for your kids.  Do things to make them smile.  Buy them a new video game.  But don't lose site of why you're doing it.  And don't forget your responsibility as a parent: to give our children every opportunity to be God-loving, productive adults.

Help them succeed.  Don't give them success.  If you can do that while making them smile, even better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just hang on

Maybe it's been a long week.  Maybe it's been a long month.

When times like this roll around there's nothing wrong with just holding on, but make sure you're holding on to the right thing.

Holding on to guilt, remorse, bitterness, anger, sadness and pride are not going to make things better.

If you're looking for something real to hold on to, try this.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The benefits of having pink eye

I know it's nasty, but anyone that's ever had pink eye will be able to relate.  What do you do when you wake up in the morning and one (or both) of your eyes won't open?

I'll bet I know.  You lay there for a few seconds until you're awake enough to make sense of what's going on and then you do something amazing.

You adapt.

Our kids have this awe-inspiring way of adapting to nearly any situation.  They are presented with a new challenge, they try something, they evaluate the results, they try something else, and the process continues.  They continue this way until they eventually succeed (or ask for help, which also may lead to success).  They are learning to adapt.

There's one main key to the adaptation process.  We must be willing to try something.  If we don't, we simply lie in bed all day hoping that our eyes will open.  We, as adults, like to play it safe.  We don't want to take a risk because we're afraid of what might happen.  We lose our confidence in our ability to adapt.

Don't settle.  Don't outgrow your ability to adapt.  Don't assume that there is an age limit on adaptation.  Take a chance today and make changes that will make you a better mother, a more devoted father, a more sincere brother and a more trustworthy friend.  Sure, it's a risk.  You may try something that doesn't work.  Or... you may try something that changes lives forever.  But, pass or fail, you can always adapt and try again tomorrow.

As for our house, only one of us has had to adapt to this pink eye situation.  Let's hope it stays that way!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I love to play with Lego's

I was playing with Lego's last night.  I was supposed to be playing with the kids, but in reality I was playing with Lego's and they just happened to join me.

Lego's are in the running for the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World, in my opinion.  They are unique in their ability to allow a child to imagine anything in the world and then create a 3-D model of it.  The only limitation is in their mind.  As long as you have the pieces (which are fairly easy to come by) you can build anything.

We often lose sight of the fact that this is true in adult life too.  We limit ourselves by not imagining anything that we would want to build.  Or, we have a wonderful idea, but decide it's not worth trying to find all of the pieces to put it together.  Or, we don't want to run the risk of building something that may eventually just fall apart.  But one thing remains true.  The only thing holding us back from fulfilling our vision, our dream, is the limitation in our mind.

What limitations are you putting on yourself that aren't really there?  And more importantly, what are you going to do to change it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Did you sleep in?

When's the last time you had one of those mornings?  Not the kind where the coffee pot overflows, the basement is soaking wet, you forgot you had a morning appointment and the kids are sick.  Not that kind at all.

When's the last time you slept in without a care in the world?  One of those mornings where you get up and say, "Wow!  I must have been tired!."

We all need those.  Not just with catching up on sleep, but with regrouping in general.  Allow yourself the flexibility to rest and get caught up.  It's okay to sit down and relax for a few minutes.  The mess of toys on the floor will surely be there when you stand back up.

Give yourself permission to rest.  It's not only encouraged, but essential to keep you moving forward efficiently.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What if only one person believed?

Did you dream last night?  I may have, though I never seem to remember mine.  But when I do, there's something really cool about it.  I can tell you and you don't have to believe it.  It can be crazy.  It can be weird.  It can be obnoxious.  You can think anything you want about it.

But here's the coolest thing.  When I have a dream, I'm the only one that has to believe it.

Our real-life dreams are the same way.  You can tell me I'm crazy.  You can tell me that it's never going to happen.  You can laugh.  You can try to dissuade me.  But the thing is, I'm the only one that has to believe in it to make it come true.

Believe in your dreams.  Write them down and hang them on your refrigerator.  Scribble them on the bathroom mirror.  Do whatever you have to do to remember your dreams and remind yourself that you do believe in them.  And remember, it only takes you believing in them to make them come true!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That is ridiculous. It's never going to work.

That's what they'll say anyway.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be people that don't want you to succeed.  They may even be people that you expected to believe in you.

You see, there is no "bandwagon" when you're just getting started.  People won't want to hop on board because you're not the "next big thing"... yet.

I would suggest two things:

  1. Do great things even in the face of naysayers.  They aren't going away.
  2. When you succeed, remember those select few that supported you.  They are the ones that truly believe in you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just stop already

If the great minds of past generations would have asked permission to make drastic changes in the culture of their time, they would have most certainly been told, "No!"

Make a new product, design a new website, re-think the way your family works, take a new leap at work... and by all means, stop asking permission before you do great work!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Read the label

I had something eye-opening happen a few months ago.

My oldest is in that "he's a 9-year-old boy" stage.  You know, the one where he knows everything and he's totally amazed by snakes, lizards, little boy noises, video games and mean little girls.  He also tends to tell crazy stories, which led to me saying to him on several occasions, "You're goofy."  Well, I didn't realize that I should have just gotten out the Sharpie and written it on his forehead.  He took that label and ran with it.  He became "goofy" and on several occasions his response to, "Why would you do that?" was "Because I'm goofy."

Now "goofy" isn't the worst label you can have, but we tend to run with the label whatever they are (kids and adults alike).  We use labels like:

  • "He's a nerd."
  • "I have a bad temper."
  • "I'm not creative."
  • "She's not a morning person."
  • "He's so stupid."
These labels range anywhere from funny to life-limiting to scarring.  I simply challenge you to do two things:
  1. Stop labeling people (including yourself) unless you really mean it.  We all hang on to those labels more than we realize.
  2. Figure out what labels you've already given to yourself and tear them off.  Start fresh and decide what you really are.  Stop letting your labels hold you back.