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Learning to Risk. Risking to Learn.

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VISIT

You have today.

03/05/2014

Days are a tease. Mornings inspire us with bright lights and flashes of color, giving us reason to rise. We switch from slumber to speeding through time, doing everything possible to act upon what matters most – to pursue success in its million forms. In one instance everything is aligned. The deal has closed, the project was approved, he or she said “yes,” everything is right. Then, in seemingly the very next moment, everything goes awry and we must start again.

All of that work, all of those hopes, all of those grand visions…squashed and seemingly squandered.

The best part of our days is not that they begin, it’s that they’re always followed by another day. Each day, then, is an opportunity to begin again.

No matter how many times you’ve tried or how many times you’ve failed, it’s not the end.

You have today.

Be Daring

02/19/2014

Do you know the feeling of watching someone who’s about to attempt something dangerous?

You notice the sweat bead on their foreheads as they prepare. Everything around them is being tested, primed, pumped, and prepared for their feat – all of it in slow motion.

Anticipation builds.

As time counts down, everyone moves to the edge of their seat. Will they succeed? Will they fail? The more at stake, the greater the anticipation.

Then finally, they’re off!

At this point, no matter what happens, that person has done something remarkable. They have dreamt and done. They have wondered and attempted. They have seen and dared.

As we watch these people and events, we become curious, “could that be me?”

The only thing stopping us from daring, is never moving past that question. We examine it like a priceless piece of art, when really, that question is nothing more than the beginning of the amazing exhibition that is the rest of our lives.

So, go ahead. Try something grand. I dare you.

And, if you do it, you’ll be daring us.

You are not a machine.

02/12/2014

Do you know why you work harder? Longer? Too much?

I wonder if it’s because you spend too much time with a machine.

It’s been said that people are most influenced by the five people we spend the most time with. What if that was true about our devices?

The only way for you to see the world, and yourself more clearly, is by spending more time with people than with things. Otherwise, you’ll let those things play a role they were never meant to play. Rather than becoming a helpful tool and part of your environment, those things become a destination, or worse, an example.

Remember, you can’t just be flipped open, scanned for endless information, rebooted in seconds, and light your way through dark rooms on a seemingly never-ending source of rechargeable power.

You’re not a combination of replaceable parts.

You are more than the sum of your output, speed, and appearances.

You are not a machine.

So, stop acting like one.

You should quit

02/05/2014

Yep, you read that right. You should stop right now.

Stop that new project, quit that new habit, and forget about achieving your new goal. At the end of the day, it isn’t worth it. Even if it does turn out well, no one will care. You probably won’t earn much more and the overall social gain will be minimal. In fact, people will just see how hard you work and demand more of you for less.

Quit while you’re ahead and just do the easiest thing to please yourself.

Find a quiet job that doesn’t ask too much, purchase whatever you want as often as you want, and do what makes you happy in any given moment. Doing hard things is overrated.

You should quit.

This will inevitably go through your mind at some point when you’re starting something meaningful or doing something worthwhile. You’re not alone. If you start hearing these thoughts, don’t quit. Not yet.

Never quit when you’re tired, alone, or down. These thoughts are just that…thoughts. They are as immaterial and fickle as the wind.

Decide now that you will only quit when you’re in sound mind and good company.

That’s the only time you should quit.

Save Stories, Not Things

02/02/2014

Our lives dance between the material and the immaterial. We love what we can touch but we long for what we can feel. These things are only heightened in today’s age of mind boggling technology and mass connection.

In a great act of defiance, there has been a resurgence of makers – those who step away from the 2-dimensional to create things that have textures and aromas, things that are passed and shared. These people are craftsman, bakers, builders, artists, musicians, chefs, farmers, and carpenters.

Together, they make the things that fill our homes and are passed down for generations.

Still, as special as those things are, they are exponentially more valuable when accompanied by their stories.

It is our stories that have the great and immeasurable power to bring hope and direction to this life and the lives of those to come. They console us when we grieve and accompany us when we succeed. Time will pass, and so will we, but our stories will remain.

Our challenge, then, is not to conjure the immaterial or to create more of the material, but rather to live, tell, and cherish the stories that have inspired us.

We are lost without the stories we’ve believed.
And, we are moved by the stories we now see.

Awe & Fear

01/29/2014

When we were kids, everything was new, big, and amazing. We didn’t even know what we could know. Everything was beyond us, yet everything was seemingly right in front of us.

In one moment, we would be frightened to the point of screams and tears, and within seconds we could be giggling with delight.

When did that stop?

How long did it take for the scales to tip in the direction of everything becoming mundane and normal? When did being awed by what we don’t know become being afraid of what might happen?

For me, it happened in the sixth grade when I realized that I was a bit heavier than the other boys my age. I stopped wanting to explore because the more I was seen, the more I would realize how inadequate I was.

The reason I stopped being fascinated and awed by what I didn’t know was because I felt that I needed to measure up to those things, or become more like them. That’s when I became afraid.

But, when I stop comparing – when I pursue a relationship out of love, or experience something for the sake of learning, or explore a new place to simply soak in the surroundings – when I remove myself from the picture, I become less afraid.

In fact, like the little boy I once was, I am filled with awe.

Removing fear, then, entails nothing more than removing yourself.

Speed

01/26/2014

There are few things more exhilarating than speed. The thrill of moving quickly, the show of courage, the feeling of controlling space and time. It makes us teeter between invincibility and fragility, and dabble with vision and fear.

Life begs for speed.

Like a jockey prodding its horse, we are ridden by expectations to win a race being watched by strangers.

The faster we run, the more blurry the sights, the greater the feeling, and the more we toy with destruction.

Remember speed, in all its forms, will eventually kill its indulger. Whether by exhaustion or by oversight, it will become a quick and inglorious end.

I say this not so that you will only move slowly, but so that you will enjoy speed when the time calls for it. Knowing its power is an invitation to study it, understand it, watch for it, and occasionally, dabble in it.

Move slowly often.

Speed rarely.

And, when you do, be quick about it.

Choosing Chances

01/22/2014

Most things in life can be taken or given; but few things offer a reward if you do both.

Chance is one of those things.

Throughout our lifetime, we have opportunities to take chances – to pursue something with the hope of something greater taking place.

Or we can give chances, offering someone the space to attain something that otherwise would have been impossible.

At times, chance seems rare. We want more chances; second chances, third chances. Some of us even  want the resources or reputation to offer chances to those close to us.

But, chances are all around us. They are simply hidden by excuse.

We both excuse ourselves from the opportunity, convinced that we’re not capable or good enough to truly seize it, and we create excuses for why we can’t offer a chance to someone who may flourish.

Remember, nothing great in life came without finding, taking, or offering chances. Everyone and everything was unknown, underdeveloped, and unrecognized until someone saw and took a chance to bring it to life.

Our chances are valuable. Choose when to take them and where you give them. They may cost you but, they’ll be worth it.

Design. Delight.

01/19/2014

I have a favorite winter jacket. The exterior is designed very simply: black, slim fitting, minimal hardware, reaches to my thighs, and a simple hood hangs from the shaped collar. It’s well-made.

However, the designers didn’t stop there.

The zippers are small tractors, the lining of the hood is purple flannel, and when I open the jacket, a bright baby blue liner sheds a radiant glow.

At first, I thought this was ridiculous; but something drew me to it. It was the attention to detail. It was one part stunt, one part branding, and all parts play.

It’s difficult to create something that’s truly functional. But, it’s inspiring to create something that is functional and delightful. The small touches and little details are the fingerprints of your company, organization, and personality.

Don’t just design for people, delight people.

Go Write

01/15/2014

Do you know why people write?

I know everyone has their reasons: reflection, pleasure, communication, direction, expression, and the occasional reprieve from reality. All of us process life differently.

A monk befriends silence.
A photographer captures images.
A videographer moves pictures.
A painter strokes colors.
A dancer cuts the air.
A musician makes sound.
A runner clears distances.

But a writer? A writer sits…and stares.

Why? Why choose this medium as the means to capture life and all the ways it moves and sways and feels. Why try to capture pain and glory and sadness and joy through nothing more than this endless stare at lines and curves?

Our imaginations are powerful.

Like a room packed to the brim with fireworks, all it needs is a small spark and an explosion of colors and images will dance across the skies of our minds. Writing, good writing, has the power to be such a spark.

Oh, to paint a thousand images at once, to run a million miles in one stride, to offer fanciful and fabulous images of what could be…

…to help others imagine.

That is why I want to write.

That is why I write.

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