What My Christmas Past Teaches Me About My Christmas Future

Posted Thursday, December 15, 2016



Christmas Day 1988.

Our whole family had gone to DC to celebrate Christmas. Although I was excited to see DC, I was upset because I was slated to miss the annual church youth group winter trip that started on the 26th.

I woke up on Christmas morning with a surprise gift. My dad had gotten me a plane ticket and a chance to be with my friends for the rest of the week. I was going back alone--ahead of the rest of the family--two flights--DC to Chicago and Chicago to Milwaukee.

I was in awe. All day.

I remember Christmas 1988 like it was yesterday. I saddled up next to that window and attempted to take it all in. Every light in the distance was a Christmas tree and my heart was full. My dad loved me. My dad trusted me. I was going to get to see my friends. The world was an amazing place. I was flying home on Christmas Day all by myself.

It's now December 2016 and I'm flying alone--DC to Chicago. I just said goodbye to much of the same family from that Christmas back in 1988. Today, however, there is no fanfare. No heart welled up with pride. No childlike wonder. But I am noticing myself. My experience has me thinking; what about that 17-year-old version of me do I want to bring back? What is still there? What do I need to drop?  Read More »

Crossing the Continental Divide

Posted Thursday, October 27, 2016

Nearly two weeks ago, I left Chicago behind. I had lived there for 27 years so this was no small move. The sun, the ocean, and the hills of California called me as they’ve been calling me for years. I finally packed up my car and started the journey west. 

On my journey, I spent time with family and friends and slowly worked my way west. Last night, I arrived at my destination—Southern California. The journey was an adventure to remember for a lifetime—the chance to see America in a new way—but one moment from my journey stands out: the Continental Divide at Independence Pass. In the US, the continental divide is a geologic feature—a line down the middle of the rockies—where all water on one side of the line flows into the Atlantic Ocean and on the other side it flows into the Pacific Ocean. 

Metaphorically, in our lives, a continental divide is the moment where, when you cross it, everything goes in a new direction. We’ve all had these moments—the day you sign the lease on your first apartment, when you cross the threshold of your first job and start making your own money, getting on a knee and asking your love to marry you, saying yes to said question, quitting the job that is sucking your soul, getting on that plane to travel internationally for the first time, starting your own company, signing your name for 30 minutes to own your first home, and the list goes on and on. These are the moments where we have understandable fear but we move ahead anyway. We don’t know exactly what is on the other side but we move forward boldly.

As I approached the continental divide this past week, I noticed that some of its features also seem to coincide with this metaphorical divide. 
  Read More »

Do Scary Shit

Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Do something that scares you every day. ~Mary Schmich

I'm in Athens today and I'm scared. I saw a police officer in full riot gear on my Uber ride back to my Airbnb last night. My driver seemed to slough it off like it was no big deal as he said that "this here is the anarchist's area." Umm...Cool. 

I realized that I'm doing a lot of scary stuff lately. Scary for me anyway. 

I left Chicago last November and traveled for six months. Since returning in May, I have been all over the eastern US and northern and Southern Europe. I calculated that over 80% of my days have been spent in a bed other than my own. I woke up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago with no clue what continent I was on. I was in my own bed.

My changes in Chicago may be the scariest. I ended a long term relationship and set out on choosing singleness for a period of time in my life. This is scary for me because I've rarely been single. I'm what you would call a serial monogamist. Since the age of 16, I have had a significant other for all but 9 months of my life. I have no idea what to expect from it but I can tell you that it feels damn uncomfortable.

In a typical life, we run into the same things, the same roads, the same foods, the same relationships—all with an occasional step into the unknown as we meet a new friend or take a new path to work. In this new reality that I'm creating for myself, however, every day, every moment, can be an adventure. 

There are good reasons why most people don't do this. 

  Read More »

Heading Towards the Pile of Goo

Posted Thursday, May 12, 2016



I used to be smart. Really smart. My life depended on it. My inner life anyway. I competed with my classmates in physics and calculus to get the highest score each exam. As a young leader in business, I needed to have the best idea, the best team, the most innovative take on the idea. And I often thought I did.

I had learned as an adolescent that if I knew the right answer, I would garner praise from all the important people in my life. I was told that if I worked hard and got good grades, I would get a good job. I was told I would get promoted if I got the advanced degree or if I knew how to do all the right things better than anyone else.

This all worked out just as they had said. I was the A student. I got the good job. I got promoted. I led big teams of people. It worked.

Until it didn’t.

  Read More »

The Case For Love At Work

Posted Thursday, March 17, 2016




I was nervous to ask him a question. Ken Blanchard. He is the founder and owner of an organization with such a big impact on the world. His books have sold millions of copies and his companies' training courses have been delivered to millions of clients.

It was the winter of 2003 in San Diego. I had just spent 3 days learning how to lead teams using their Situational Leadership II model and as a special treat on the final day, Ken Blanchard was stopping by to say hello to our class.

I finally rustled up the courage and asked him how this model related to his book on servant leadership. He said it was love. Being a situational leader or being a servant leader is exactly the same thing. They are both based upon love.

When as leaders, we make the needs of our people real and truly give them what they need to succeed, we are loving them. When we put aside our own style for the style that best fits the situation, we are loving them--we are loving ourselves, we are loving our organization.

Harvard Business Review recently came out with a study that tells us more about love. When associates feel loved at work, they are more productive, more engaged, and of course they get more results.

I'm not surprised. I'm sure you aren't surprised either. Love. It's one of those words that's taboo at the workplace. I imagine partly because in English--love can mean so many different things.

In order to clarify--my definition of love is simple--love is doing what is best for the object of your love--including yourself. HBR defines love as warmth, affection, and connection.

What would our workplaces look like if we all loved our associates, loved our co-workers, loved our bosses? They would be radically different that is for certain. It starts with me though. It starts with you.

My mission in this world is to create more love in this world. My mission is to teach people how to give and receive real love--including myself. That's why, bring it full circle, this week I'm getting certified to teach the course that Ken Blanchard was talking about years ago. I've chosen this program because of his words 13 years ago. It's all about love.

How about you--what are you doing to bring more love to your workplace, to your life.

Here are five options:
  Read More »

You Are Richer Than You Think

Posted Saturday, March 12, 2016




I met this man the other day. The man in the photo above. He lives in San Juan La Laguna in Guatemala. He is a farmer who has some of his own land and also works for others who don’t have time or the skill to plant their own land. 

All of the farming is done by hand—with a simple hoe and no other technology besides the cool pouch he has created to carry the corn seeds that he is planting. I can just imagine him frustrated by carrying the bucket of seeds, setting down the hoe, and then picking it up again between every single planting. What a leap in productivity it must have been when he created the pouch out of an old plasticy burlap bag.

He is reminding me of how ridiculously full my world is. Full of material resources. Full of education. Full of connections. Full of friendships. Full of fullness.

I sat down with a client the other day to dream about what was possible. We made an expansive list of all the hopes he had for creating a life of deeper meaning and sustaining his family. We then dreamed the impossible. What if we stopped letting our dreams be stunted by reality—what if we just simply stated them out loud? Then his dreams got interesting.   Read More »

Un Poco De Dinero pero Mucho Amor

Posted Tuesday, February 23, 2016



I was 16 years old and never been more than an hour's drive from Lake Michigan. I had just woken up in Ecuador after my first ever plane ride. I was simply not prepared for what I saw next.

Mountains. Everywhere. In this moment, 28 years later, my heart still leaps at the thought of being surrounded by mountains on that perfect morning. How lucky was I? I was in a completely different culture, surrounded by natural beauty that I had never seen. You couldn't wipe the smile from my face.

Our stated purpose on our trip was to serve the Ecuadorians who were poor and in need. There was no doubt that the financial need was great. On the other hand, I had never met individuals as happy as the men, women, and children who I met in circumstances far worse than anywhere in the US.

The total impact on my life was huge. As a 17 year old HS student, I vowed to become a missionary doctor and bring medical care and a religious message back to Latin America. This is what I thought I should do and in the language that I used a the time—it was what I thought God was calling me to do.

It didn’t happen. Life had very different plans.  Read More »

We Want to Hear Your Speech

Posted Wednesday, February 10, 2016




"The only reason to give a speech is to change the world." JFK

You are about to go onstage. You have an audience of 25,000 people waiting to hear what you have to say. They've paid to see you--there is even a crowd outside hoping to get in. You are watching the minutes tick down. Your hands are clammy. Your heart is racing and your stomach is twisting.

You get up and stand tall. Your speech is prepared and you know the anxiety is worth it. Your voice MUST be heard.

Can you articulate what your heart wants the world to know? What you want the world to feel?

This. This is what you are here for.

Life begins when you open up your heart and start sharing this message. Every day.

No more excuses because I don't believe them. You have everything you need.

“The choice is yours. You can hold the shape of a consoling lifestyle for decades. It only costs your life.” David Deida

I can’t wait for you to share it with the world. I’ve signed up for the journey. How about you? Tell me about your vision—tell me about your true voice.
  Read More »

How to Come Alive

Posted Thursday, February 04, 2016



“There are only two things that pierce the human heart. One is beauty. The other is affliction." ~Simon Weil

He's on fire. My client. He's having one real conversation in his life after another. He went to a big event last week intending to be bold and deeply connecting in all of his conversations. He was. He's becoming more alive.

She's excited and scared and happy and worried. My client. For the first time in her life, she's giving herself permission to be herself; to be a jumble of emotions. The phrase "of course I am" is passing her lips and it feels good to simply be. She's becoming more alive.

I'm having a very emotional few weeks. I've spent more time in the last two weeks with my mother than in my entire adult life. It's bringing up all sorts of junk from my past and I'm noticing blind spots that I thought were long gone. I'm grateful to be in it but there is no doubt that I'm struggling. I'm becoming more alive.

This is the real stuff of our lives. Suffering and affliction and beauty. It's real. It's all real. We gotta get at the real stuff if we want to come alive.   Read More »

Your Life is Not A Movie

Posted Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I woke up confused and laughing. My thrilling dream ended with a bunch of my friends trying to drink milk while lying on their backs. Huh? No resolution to the dream. No idea why everyone chose that moment to lie down and drink milk. 

If my dream had been a movie, I would have walked out of the theatre. There was just no making sense of it.

Isn’t that just like my life. If my life was a movie, it would get sent back to script writing over and over again. I was looking at my vision board for 2015 and the realization hit me even harder. I had many plans for 2015 that either just didn’t happen or actually the opposite occurred. 

I’m scratching my head at the reality. I was going to run a Half-Ironman in another country last year. Nope. I was gonna get a promotion at work. Nope. I was gonna teach leadership in Spanish. Nope. Instead, the company I was working for went out of business; their biggest client in upheaval. I ran less than I ever have. I didn’t swim once. And my Spanish skills took a nose-dive.

I suspect your 2015 was much the same. Things came up. Some important things didn’t happen. 

So why did I do it again for 2016? Why did I sit down and spend an evening setting intentions, cutting out magazine photos, and building another vision board that I know will not work out as planned? 

It’s simple: Our lives move in the direction of our thoughts. 
 
It’s about the direction of my heart. The direction of my life. It’s about the other half of things on that 2015 vision board that actually did happen like biking Europe, getting coach certified, falling more deeply in love, and creating other new adventures.   It pointed to what I really wanted more of in this life. It got me dreaming (consciously) about what I truly was committed to. 

Will you join me? Will you do a vision board for 2016?   Read More »



Check out our last 6 eNewsletters:

November 4, 2016--Crossing the Continental Divide (Both Literally and Metaphorically)


May 13, 2016-Are You Embracing Your Goo?

April 6, 2016--Micromanagement is Good Management


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