Just One More Thing

Just One More Thing

The 3 Little Pigs taught me what it really meant to be present with my family.

The other night, as I was putting Jane to bed, we were going through our routine. We put on blankets, and then right as I was about to walk out of the room she said, “Just one more thing.”

She then told me a story. This one happened to be about her friend Olivia, and what they had done that day.

As I kissed her and began to walk out, she said again, “Just one more thing Dad” and proceeded to make up a different story.

There are times when this is so incredibly frustrating because all i want to do is go work on a book or podcast or something else.

But this night, I asked Jane if she wanted me to tell her a story, so I told her the story of the 3 Little Pigs for about the thousandth time.

As I finished the story, she got this look of complete peace on her face and said, “Goodnight Daddy,”

It was in that moment, I was acutely aware of what it meant to be present. Jane just wanted me to hang out with her because bedtime is the only time she gets me completely to herself.

To say yes to something like dishes or working out or podcasting, is to say no to something else, and in this case, the thing I was saying no to was Jane.

Why on earth would I say yes to dishes if by doing so it meant saying no to Jane?

When you say yes to something, you’re automatically saying no to something else, and vice versa.

So think about your life. What are you saying no to without even meaning to?

Is it a quiet time? A daily workout? A healthy breakfast? When you say yes to Netflix, or scrolling social media, or sleeping in, you’re saying no to all those other things.

So make good decisions, and give your yes to what matters.

The Hope Mistake

The Hope Mistake

Are you a learner or a loser?

What I mean by that is, when you make mistakes, do you learn from them? Do you take action to figure out why you made that mistake, and then do whatever you need to do to ensure that you don’t make that mistake again?

Or are you justifying your mistakes? Explaining them away. Or pretending that they're not there.

One makes you a learner, the other makes you a loser.

Where You Focus, You Finish

Where You Focus, You Finish

What comes to mind when you think of the word “accountability?”

Probably something along the lines of, “I have a problem, and I need you to help me defeat it or get better.”

There’s nothing inherently wrong with being self aware of your own issues. After all, we are all one bad decision away from the worst day of our lives. Stupid is sticky. But when we focus on the broken, we finish on the broken.

What if we looked at accountability differently?

My 7th Grade Band Director Made Me Cry

My 7th Grade Band Director Made Me Cry

My 7th grade band director made me cry.

In 7th grade, I was the fat kid that quit football on the first day because I didn't’ want to run sprints. I didn’t fit in, I didn’t wear the right clothes or have the right friends, and I couldn’t even decide what instrument to play in the band.

One day my director made me cry because I couldn’t play the drums right, and I was mortified that everybody was seeing that I had no idea what i was doing.

Why Not?

Why Not?

If you knew that you could have your dream job, but in order to get it, you would have to tell a white lie, would you do it?

Most of us would want to instinctively say no, but if we are really honest with ourselves, a lot of us would have to think about it.

Maybe it depends on what the lie is? Maybe we could just put a positive spin on it so that it’s technically not a lie?

Success is not possible without integrity. You can win and not be successful. You can be undefeated and still be unsuccessful.

Someone once asked President Jimmy Carter in an interview, “have you always given your best at everything you do?” It would’ve been very easy for him to quickly answer, “absolutely.”

But he remembered his core values. “I will not lie cheat or steal, or tolerate among me anyone who does.” So he told he interviewer no, he had not always given his best at everything he’d done.

This is why my third core value is integrity.

“My character is ironclad. I have ethical standards and make no compromises on them. I’ve promised myself and my family to live openly and transparently without spots or blemishes on my character. I am a strong=hearted man grounded in what i believe and stand by what is true and right. I am who i say I am.”

Now, I will be the first to admit that I fall short of that standard every single day, but because of who I want to become, when I ask myself “did I live up to my integrity today?” I’m okay admitting that I failed that day.

Because of what comes next.

Because next, I get to ask myself, “Why not? What stood in my way today, and how can I do better tomorrow?”

So ask yourself tonight, “Did I live congruently with my core values today? Did I give my best in everything I did today?”

If the answer is no, ask the question “why not?”

Don't Widen the Plate

Don't Widen the Plate

I once read a story about a retired baseball coach who spoke at a coaching convention. He had coached for decades and had retired recently, but he was the keynote speaker.

As he sauntered onto the stage the audience couldn't help but notice the full size home plate hanging from a string around his neck. It stayed there for the entire speech, but he never referenced it.

As he was closing, he finally mentioned it. He asked coaches at every level of the game, from t-ball to the major leagues, how wide home plate was.

For every single one of them, the answer was the same: 17 inches.

He asked the coaches, “if a pitcher can’t manage to get a strike across the plate, do we widen it? Do we change the rules?”

He went on to talk about how this was the problem with the home, education, church, and politics today. He kept talking about how we don’t teach accountability. We don’t teach consequences. We don’t hold people to standards.

When they fall short, we just widen the plate.

If we are unwilling to hold ourselves, our families, our teachers, our players, our churches, and our politicians to a higher standard, it’s no wonder we are seeing all the problems we are.

Coaches, keep your players, your families, your colleagues, and everyone in your life, at 17 inches, and don’t widen the plate.

We need to hold ourselves to the highest possible standards, and don’t let anything keep us from achieving the goals that we’ve set for ourselves, and we’ll never get there if we keep widening the plate.

Be Where Your Feet Are

Be Where Your Feet Are

I recently heard the craziest statistic.

90% of the time that you will spend with your kids happens within their first 18 years of life.

Stop and think about that for a minute. If you have a six year old, that means that ⅓ of that time is gone. You can’t get it back. That time is over.

How much of that time have I spent doing things that didn’t matter? Or things that I didn’t even want to be doing?

I’ve got my own set of core values, and the very first one, the one that I place above all the others, is presence. Emotional presence, physical presence, whatever it takes. I don’t want my family to have a memory that I’m not in. I want my kids to be able to say “Dad was always there.”

Much like the bumpers in bowling keep you in the lane, core values keep you on track. They serve as the bumpers of your life to make sure that you stay moving towards where you want to be headed.  

I am the worst at multitasking. I can only give so much of myself, and eventually I get tunnel vision. I get so focused on something that I can’t put it down.

We can’t only be present when things are going well, we have to be present emotionally, physically, spiritually when things aren’t going right.

Start living as if your days are numbered. I’m convinced that so many of us waste our time because we don’t realize that our days are numbered. We don’t realize that we have a finite amount of time here on earth, and we never get it back.

I’ve started practicing two things in my life to be more present:

1. When I come home, I turn my phone off for 30 minutes. Not just keep it in my pocket, but power it off and put it in another room.

2. I’ve started sitting in silence at the beginning of each day. Not as some mystical yoga thing, but just to spend some time with my own feelings and thoughts.

We get 90 years here if we’re lucky. That’s 90 Super Bowls. Or 22 Summer Olympic Games.

What are you doing with your time? How are you being present with your families?

It's Time to Give Up

It's Time to Give Up

My biggest pet peeve is really simple:

People who complain about their situation, or their circumstances, but have refused to do anything to change the place they’re in.

I can’t process stories about someone who is unwilling to take action to change their circumstances, because let’s face it, whining is easier than working. Griping is easier than grinding.

The majority of things in our lives are there because they’re things we’ve chosen to have.

As I was thinking about it this week, it got me stewing on what I believe are the 3 things you’re going to have to sacrifice in order to be successful, and they’re really simple.

1. Time

You’re going to have to sacrifice your time. You’re going to have to say no to things that are fun so that you can spend time chasing the dream that you have.

2. Freedom

You’re going to have to sacrifice your freedom. The freedom to sleep in late, the freedom to binge watch Netflix. Sacrifice the freedom of doing the things that you “want” to do in order to do the things that you “need” to do in order to chase your dream.

3. Pride

You’re going to have to sacrifice your pride. You’re going to have to be willing to risk failure. To risk the possibility that you may fall short of what you’re trying.

Choosing to say yes to one thing is choosing to say no to another thing. They're connected.

You’ve to to reach a place in your life where you’re willing to do whatever it takes to realize your dreams.

Buy Wisdom

Buy Wisdom

Anybody who knows me knows that I’m a lifelong learner. I am a firm believer in the fact that you should always be learning.

And I know of no greater source of wisdom than the Proverbs. Even if you’re not religious, the Proverbs are loaded with wisdom for everyday life. There are 31 of them, so every day, I read that day’s corresponding Proverb.

In the pursuit of wisdom, here are 6 lessons on how to truly grow in wisdom every single day.

W: Write it down for your future self.

What you’re learning today may not be directly applicable to your current situation, but one day, it will be. One day, you will need that knowledge.

If you learn how to learn today, you will always be ready to learn, and you will have a fountain of knowledge to draw from.

I: Intentionally ask questions.

In every single situation you’re in, wherever you are, ask questions. Be curious and try to figure out the “why.” Let curiosity drive you to always seek to understand why things are they way that they are.

S: See it from a different perspective.

When you find yourself saying, “I just can’t see how someone could ____,” ask yourself how would someone else see it. Play the devil’s advocate.

Even if it doesn’t change your opinion, and it likely won’t, it will help you to get a better grasp on why it is that you believe the thing that you believe.

Seek to understand before you seek to be understood.

D: Don’t assume that you know it all.

Remember that you aren’t the smartest person in the world. Other people have learned and experienced things that you can’t fathom, so let them teach you.

By being humble, you are allowing yourself to be placed in a position where you can constantly grow and learn and be taught.

O: Opportunity is everywhere.

If you don’t hear opportunity knocking, it’s not because it’s not there, it’s because you've not built any doors for it to knock on.

Most people only see the obvious opportunities, while wise people see opportunity everywhere.

M: Make gratitude your attitude.

Let your default position be one of thanks, of trustworthiness, of assuming best intentions, and of positivity.

The wisest people have the best, richest, fullest lives. Because they recognize that life is happening for them and not to them.

What's Your Chicken Line?

What's Your Chicken Line?

What is your chicken line?

One of my buddies talks about the chicken line as the place in your life where, at a certain point, you become a chicken about stuff.

Maybe you would jump off a 10 foot cliff into the water, but at 20 feet you draw the line. That’s your chicken line.

There’s nothing wrong with having a chicken line. We all have them. The thing we need to make sure of is that our chicken lines are in the right place.

When our chicken lines are too low, sometimes, we miss out on what life has to offer us. Sometimes, we need to work on moving that chicken line out just a little bit further, so that we don’t miss out.

Tim Ferriss talks about how usually, the thing we most need to do is the thing that we fear the most. In other words, the majority of the effort that you put into self-improvement needs to come from your fears.

Where are you afraid? Is it being vulnerable in relationships? Is it taking that leap in your career? Or settling down and starting that family? Maybe you need to move your chicken line.

Whatever area of your life that you want to grow in is going to require you to adjust that chicken line. To grow, you’re going to have to go to a place that you’ve never gone before.

Again, chicken lines aren’t bad. It would be harmful if we just got rid of them all together. When they’re all out of whack, they look like fear. But when they are fine tuned, they look like healthy boundaries, set by someone who knows what they want and where they are going.

So where are your chicken lines?  

Don't Flinch at the Impossible

Don't Flinch at the Impossible

You know those times in life when it seems like something is impossible? When you can’t possibly get over that obstacle that’s standing in your way?

Commander Mark Divine talks about not flinching in the face of the impossible.

Last year I ran the Spartan race. If you don't know what the Spartan race is, it’s basically a gigantic obstacle course with a 5k thrown in for good measure.

At one point, there was a rope climb. I have no experience climbing ropes.

As I stood there and stared up at the rope, I realized that no matter how long I looked at the rope, no matter how much I tried to psych myself up, that rope climb was never going to get any more possible for me than it was at that moment.

So I relied on the one thing I knew I had going for me. My upper body strength. I attacked that rope as if it were possible, and before I knew it, I was at the top, ringing the bell. I had conquered it. Because I didn’t flinch in the face of the impossible.

Where are you flinching? What is it in your life that seems impossible? Maybe it’s a conversation that you know you need to have. Maybe it’s a decision you know you need to make. Whatever it is, know that flinching is only going to delay the discomfort.

Leaning into the impossible is what will get you through to the other side.

On the day I am recording this podcast, it is Loving day. If you’re not familiar with Loving day, it’s the anniversary of the day that the Supreme Court struck down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the United States. Behind that court case were Mildred & Richard Loving, an interracial couple from Virginia who never flinched in the face of the impossible and changed the world with their refusal to back down. They made the impossible possible.

If they can stand unflinching in the face of the impossible, surely we can as well.

Sacrifice Required

Sacrifice Required

When it comes to reaching your goals and dreams, a lot of things are optional.

Talent is optional. There are a lot of successful people with very little talent.

Genetics are optional. There are a lot of “too short” players in the NBA, and there are a lot of “too small” players in the NFL.

Privilege is optional. It may help you get there, but you don’t have to come from the right place.

The one thing that is not optional is sacrifice.

Sacrifice is required. This is easy to hear, and incredibly hard to understand, and even harder to put into practice, because out of the overflow of your heart come your actions.

This is why it’s so easy to get hyped at pre-game, but it’s so hard to win the game.

If you want to get stronger, you’ve got to put more weight on the bar. If you want to get faster, you’ve got to get to the track. If you want to get smarter, you’ve got to crack the books.

Success is expensive and it’s currency is sacrifice.

A lot of people talk about success, but very few people will do anything about it, because as soon as it starts getting hard they throw in the towel.

You will never regret sacrificing for the right thing.

Why do i sacrifice?

Because the reward of success is greater than the sacrifice required.

While You Rest

While You Rest

I was recently talking with a hero of mine.

We were chatting about life and careers and work, and he told me a story of when he was a little boy. His dad would send him out to work the farm during the day, then at lunch time, would give him chores to do during his “break.”

It got me thinking about the value of rest, and how a lot of folks tend to have a skewed view of what rest actually is.

There’s no secret to success. You want to be successful? You be the first person your boss sess in the morning and the last person your boss sess in the afternoon.

You find out what your boss is reading and what they’re into, and you read and care about those things.

While you wait, work. Waiting is an active thing, it’s not passive. So many people in this hustle culture are down on time off, or vacation, or rest, because they have a flawed idea of what rest really is.

Rest is not being lazy. Rest is not doing nothing. Rest is doing things that refuel and recharge you, and often times those things are active and take work.

Think of it this way: eventually, your car has to refuel. So you pull into a station and fill up. Technically your car is sitting, but there is still activity happening in order to refuel that car. There's something happening to get that fuel from the pump to your tank

While we rest and wait, we are pausing one aspect of our movement so that we can do something else to put the fuel back in so that we can move forward.

While you wait, work.

Just because the season comes on the calendar, doesn’t mean you’ll be ready for that season. It’s very easy to put something on the calendar, but it’s also easy for that thing to come and you not be ready for it because you haven't’ been preparing or refueling adequately.

So by all means, unplug. Take PTO. Leave the office and turn off the laptop. But if we don't do something to actually refuel, we are never going to feel truly rested, and we are never going to be ready for what’s to come.

They Say it's Better to Give Than Receive, But....

They Say it's Better to Give Than Receive, But....

You’ve heard the old adage, “It’s better to give than to receive.”

And to some extent, that’s absolutely true. But I think that we need to put a caveat on this saying.

Yes, it is better to give than to receive, but you cannot give unless you have received. You cannot give unless you’ve been given to.

The reality is, receiving help and gifts and wisdom is not something that a lot of us are very good at. What happens is that a lot of people give and give and give and then up completely burned out because they’re giving everything they have and not being filled up at all.

Yes, it is good to give, but we can’t give if we don’t receive.

Be filled up.

If you’re at a place where you need to receive, don't’ be afraid of it. Much like a cup that is full, receiving doesn’t hinder your giving, it enables it.

The Undisciplined Pursuit of More

The Undisciplined Pursuit of More

Our culture wants more.

More money, more status, more square footage, more horsepower. More.

More is not always bad. Here at 2Words, we are doing everything we can to reach more people with our message, get in front of more students, and impact more people with the 2Words curriculum.

But my friend Brian reminded me of a quote the other day by Jim Collins that says, “The undisciplined pursuit of more is how the mighty fall.”

When our pursuit of more becomes undisciplined, when it becomes more for the sake of more, we lose sight of what is really important.

Our eyes shift off of our core values and pride begins to creep in. We think, “if I just got that promotion, or that house, or that spouse, then I’d be happy.”

It can be easy to look at the season of life you're in and think that it is the only place you will ever be. But you know what’s great about seasons? They change.

So by all means, pursue more. Seek to be better, seek to grow your impact, touch more people, do more good, and be more generous.

Just make sure that your pursuit of more is disciplined. Otherwise you’re just doing more for the sake of more.