Building Communities

Building Communities

I love how communities pop up in different areas of my life. Right now my girls are in the midst of performing in seven Nutcracker ballet shows over four days. While the girls are performing, my oldest son and I work the show building props and working backstage during the shows.

This experience could be drudgery. It could be exhausting, busy and unenjoyable work, but it’s not. The community that has popped up around the shows makes it fun. I look forward to working with the same dads each year, loading and unloading the truck and working backstage. We catch up, talk football and enjoy being around one another. My son also loves it, and the guys like having him there. He gets to help build things, assemble props, drive the remote control bed (which I also love to do), and work backstage during the shows. The guys have embraced him there, giving him a good group of men to learn from and grow up around.

I find that communities like this pop up everywhere. At 48in48, church, school, ballet performances, etc., you can find them. The question is whether or not I will join them and become a part. I can’t be a part of every community I’m around, but I’m certainly thankful for my fellow ballet backstage dads and the community I find there.

Where are some interesting places you find community?

Building Personal Discipline

Building Personal Discipline

I taught Sunday School this last weekend, and the bible verse was Luke 16:10, “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” I was thinking about how this applies to so many things. It applies to handling money, building trust, growing a business, completing homework, and personal discipline, which is what I want to focus on this for this post.

I believe that to be disciplined in the big things that matter, we must also be disciplined in the small things that seemingly don’t. For example, if you want to be healthy, which is a big thing, taking a lot of discipline, you must start with a smaller discipline, like throwing out all the candy or getting out of bed on time. To get out of bed on time requires the discipline to go to bed on time. And, going to bed on time requires the discipline to stop watching TV, reading, etc.

Personal discipline is built one small piece at a time and grows into something exponentially greater. It’s like a muscle that must be worked over and over again so that it can be used at will.

As the end of 2017 is closing in, I find myself preparing for an intense and rewarding 2018. I know that to accomplish my goals for 2018 I’m going to have to get a lot done, and doing that will require extreme and intense personal discipline. In 2018 I want to be the healthiest I have ever been physically. I want to do see Sideways8 and 48in48 grow exponentially. I want to eat dinner with my family at the kitchen table 85% of the time (minimum), and I want to be the most amazing husband and father that I can be.

To do all of that I had better get my butt in gear. I need to be up early every day, seven days a week. I need to be in bed early. I need to read a ton, write a ton, and meet with a lot of people. I need to finish my work at 5pm sharp and work in date lunches and dinners with my wife.

I am preparing now for an intense and amazing year. That preparation starts with discipline, which starts with the small things. I will execute on the small things today so that I can execute on the big things tomorrow.

Getting uncomfortable is good

Getting uncomfortable is good

I train Brazilian Jujitsu with some friends two mornings a week. I’m not great at it, but I do enjoy the exercise and the strategy it involves. One thing that I’m reminded of over and over is the need to get uncomfortable to learn and grow.

For those that might not know, Brazilian Jujitsu is, more or less, strategic wrestling with the goal of getting your opponent to tap out. From the beginning it’s uncomfortable. You are rolling around with some dude, on top of one another, trying to choke him out or use some other submission move. Not only is the lack of personal space uncomfortable, but in my case, I roll with two guys that are much stronger than I am and have 30+ pounds on me. I am continually at a disadvantage, and that is really what I love about it.

Being uncomfortable and at a disadvantage teaches me so much! I am learning to “fight” someone that should pummel me. It’s a struggle every time. I think (know) that our teacher lets me struggle to get a good position to teach me something, and otherwise it would never happen. But, the struggle produces more growth more quickly.

I think this is true is so many areas of life. Being uncomfortable or at a disadvantage breeds growth. Often, our mistake is in avoiding those situations, avoiding conflict, risk or discomfort. Perhaps, we should embrace these things knowing that we will get better because of them.

If you want to see a 150lb Jujitsu Champ take on a 250lb bodybuilder to get a better idea of what Brazilian Jujitsu looks like and why it’s interesting, here you go:



Photo by James Pond on Unsplash

The value of one minute

The value of one minute

I’m reading 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management by Kevin Kruse and enjoying it. One of the first things Kevin talks about is the limited number of minutes in a day and how that is one of the only things that you have that you can never get back. He also had a part in the book listing off some of the things you can do in one minute. If you think about it, you can do a lot in one minute, and some of those things are far more valuable than others. Here are some lists I have come up with.

Highly valuable things I can do in one minute:

  • Tell my wife I love her
  • Show my kids attention and affection
  • Write an encouraging note or email
  • Pray
  • Meditate
  • Read one-page of a book that can impact me
  • Think
  • Rest
  • Declutter my desk or some other flat surface
  • Send an encouraging text to a friend
  • Write out ten things I’m thankful for

Less valuable things I often do in one minute (or more):

  • Play a smartphone game
  • Read an article I don’t care about
  • Veg out to a video I don’t care about
  • Surf Facebook, Twitter, etc.

I think you get the idea. Kevin’s point is that successful people are aware of how they spend their minutes. And, they choose to spend those minutes on things that matter and move the ball forward rather than things that don’t. I’m learning to be more aware of how I spend my minutes.

Photo by Sabri Tuzcu on Unsplash

Help First

Help First

This morning my son went out to the chicken coop to get eggs (yes, we have nine chickens in your backyard). On his way back in, his hands full of eggs and struggling not to drop them, he got to the back deck and (in a typically 10-year-old-boy agitated fashion) demanded that his younger sister open the door. I don’t know if she didn’t like his tone, or the combined look of anger, frustration, and fear about dropping an egg, but she refused to open the door. He bellowed again for the door to be opened. She just sat there.

Normally, I would praise my daughter for demanding proper treatment, after all, she is a princess. But, in this case, when her brother was obviously in need of help, it was not the time. I told my daughter to let him in, even though he had not asked nicely and then I sat down with her to explain this.

When someone genuinely needs help, help first; then deal with the other stuff.

I don’t think my son meant to be a jerk at that moment; he just didn’t want to drop the eggs before getting them inside. The best choice was to help him, and then afterward explain to him that asking nicely is a better option.

This is one of the mantras I want to live by and that I want to teach my kids. Help first. If you see a need you can meet, meet it. Then deal with the other stuff.

Photo by Brina Blum on Unsplash

This phrase is changing my perspective, and really everything

This phrase is changing my perspective, and really everything

Lately, I have added a phrase to my vernacular. I repeat it in my mind and aloud. The phrase has become somewhat of a mantra and a mini-meditation of sorts. It has helped me to calm down, take life a little slower, and take in my surroundings. You want to know this magical phrase right? Well, it’s not magical, it’s just a reminder. The phrase is, “I’m in no hurry.” Goofy right? But, insanely effective.

Historically I’m always in a hurry. At every phase of my life, I can remember being in a hurry to get to the next one. Even as a kid my mom used to laugh at how I always wanted to rush to the next thing, often at the expense of the current thing. I can tell you from experience, that is a terrible way to live your life. It is unsatisfying because you are always looking for fulfillment in the next thing rather than enjoying the thing happening right now. Deferred fulfillment is not fulfillment at all; it is emptiness chasing a ghost.

Somewhere along the way, over the course of many years, I have realized this and have methodically slowed down to smell the roses. I have reduced what I do and refined my habits to get rid of excess. And now I’m implementing this piece of the puzzle. This phrase, mantra, meditation is helping me to realize that I am in no hurry. I don’t have to yell at that slow driver because I don’t care if I’m driving slow. I don’t have to get stressed about making it to my next meeting because I have left in plenty of time to be at least 30-minutes early. I don’t feel pressure because I move from thing to thing throughout my day with purpose and with enough buffer between events to know that I’m in no hurry. My pace has slowed. I’m living more in the moment. And, I’m getting more done than ever before! This is a better way to live.