Spark.

I’ve always wondered what it took to have a burst of energy or thought that became an idea then became reality. We have these moments where a spark of inspiration calls us to dig deep and work hard for a cause. These moments can be life-changing, leading us towards a happier more satisfying calling in life.

I think about TOMS shoes as a prime example of this. Blake Mycoskie saw an opportunity to build a for-profit business that could resonate with many, provide shoes to those who need them through a one for one business model. As of 2016, Mycoskie’s dream that became reality has donated around 60 million pairs of shoes.  

Another person with big ideas that needed to be shared is Lewis Howes. Lewis decided that he wanted to not only find out the why behind success he wanted to live a successful life. To find out how successful people lived, balanced, and found true happiness he began a podcast called the School of Greatness where he interviewed people who were known as successful folk to the masses.

Lewis has talked about his struggles after his fall from professional sports finding himself on his sister’s couch and looking for an opportunity where he could find it while battling depression. This led him to start his podcast interviewing hundreds of inspirational people and eventually authoring a book of the same name, The School of Greatness. Today Lewis continues to motivate and inspire many through his podcast, and Facebook show.

Why did I choose these two as people who felt a spark to do that ignited their way to achieving their dreams? I am a believer in both of them, when toms launched I purchased 3 pairs shoes within the first year and after struggling through some personal low points listening to Lewis’ podcast helped me see the bigger picture of life and success. The ideas they have shared resonate with me and I use them both as aspirations for the big dreams I want to work into reality.

The Unknown.

What do you feel when you think of the unknown?

Are you fearful? Needing to have a plan of what is going to happen next? Do you feel hopeful that everything will play out without any real problems? Do you even worry about it? If you were to ask ten people about their thoughts on the unknown everyone’s answers would vary, and you would find some who feel similar to you but others who’s take on the unknown are vastly different than yours.

When thinking about the unknown we need to accept that failure as an option for us. If we are able to accept the unknown we need to be prepared to fail at least once as we go forward. Accepting this frees us from the fear of failure as we start out new ventures with old or new friends.  Don’t be afraid to fail, know that you probably will.

As your wading through life allow the unknown to enrich your experiences every day. We never know what is coming our way every hour is different and we never know what might happen to us. It’s best to accept that enjoying life and its unknowns will be the happiest route to go. I’ve been on both sides of the fence with accepting and fearing the unknown, I can confidently recommend that you embrace the unknown and let it enrich all that you do.

When I first left the USA in 2007 I traveled to Peru and soaked up every moment of this experience. I jumped at the opportunity to try new foods, babble in poorly conjugated Spanish, and interact with all the locals I could. My time in Peru was a life changer that put me on common ground with the world, and a desire to see everyone as equals. I was fearless in a new place and recognized that the unknown was creating an unforgettable experience.

I’ve used the same mentality with every new culture and country I’ve visited since. Have I always been accepting of a new culture and the unknowns that come with it? No, but the more I jump in and immerse myself into the local culture the better my experience is and the more genuine the conversations become with the locals.

Having apprehension about the unknown is okay, just don’t let it spoil a good time nor hold you back from living a full life of genuine happiness.

Why.

What is your why? Why do you do things that way you do them? Why are you willing to face adversity to reach your desired destination in life. These are thoughts I’ve had before when I hear about someone with a big dream that seems to be a bit more than they probably can bite, chew, and swallow. Meaning I’m not sure why they really are doing things the way they are doing, I’m probably not alone in wondering about these things.

As a youth in central Utah, I used to sell corn on the side of the road next to the high school every fall for a few summers. My Father, Grandfather, and I would go pick the corn then we’d park the truck on the side of the street and I’d sit there till the sun went down or I’d sold all my corn for the day. I learned a few interpersonal skills with people and how to sell products to folks which is a benefit to me to this day. One of the most memorable experiences for me was trying to sell a bag of corn to a man carrying a giant cross across the USA who stopped through our little town on his way to California.

I asked him about his cross and why it had a wheel on the bottom. Man, “It’s designed to make the walk easier as I carry it.” Me, “Why are you carrying that thing? Don’t you think it would be faster to leave it behind?” Man, “Yes, it would be easier, but I want to show everyone that I can carry this heavy cross from New York to California.”  Me, “Ummm, okay, but why?” Man, “I told myself if I could do this, I could do anything.” Eight or Nine year old me didn’t get it then but have never forgotten it to this day. This man had a purpose to walk across America with a heavy wooden object, and I hope it helped him see he could do anything. I did, however, sell him some corn to fuel his trek.

To this day I see and hear about people who are setting out for challenging journeys as adventurers, entrepreneurs, athletes, and scholars. I can’t always relate to nor understand their vision for choosing the challenges they have decided to claim. I can confirm that choosing a challenge that people don’t understand can be a catalyst to the greatest adventures of one’s life.

Share your why with others, and enlighten them on your vision. If they doubt you or don’t understand that is okay. They might catch a vision similar to yours one day, and take off on their own journey fueled by nothing more than why.

Speak up.

Speaking up can be a challenge no matter who you are in a uncomfortable situation. The ability to say what you need to when it’s needed to be said is a tactful gift that few have. A few thoughts on sharing the hard truth.

First off, use your words wisely. Say what needs to be said, don’t beat around the bush when delivering the message but be tactful with the way you say it. People may not appreciate you speaking up and saying what needs to be said at first but will respect you for having the gumption to say it.

Second, keep your message simple and filled with the truth. Allowing the discussion to be built around fluff and misinformation can deteriorate the trust you share with the person you are conversing with. Keep the message as lengthy as it needs to be but not too long. Use clear words that communicate the message effectively without question, use strong statements that effectively relay your message without belittling the person you are talking to

Thirdly, be mindful not to back your communication partner into a corner. When giving a hard message it’s essential to deliver a clean message with the intent to help not harm the other person. Giving others clear options will be a safe bet to avoid emotional defense and rebuttal from another. Although you clearly know where you want or need the conversation to go have options for another than can effectively lead them through the desert to the oasis that is your desired resolution.

Is this an easy skill to learn? Not really. Is it a good way to become a better communicator? Yes, say it as it needs to be said, use your words wisely, share the simple truth of your message, and keep the trail ahead open with options that lead your communication partner to a clear understanding of your desired outcome. You’ll fumble a few times until you get the hang of delivering the hard message, but once the message is delivered and you can breathe a sigh of relief it’ll be easier to relay the next time around.

Validation.

Not everyone can admit that they like to feel validated in who they are and what they do. Validation is something we all seek after unconsciously or in a very conscious manner. Why is this? Because we like knowing that we are doing good, that we are doing okay. It can be an extremely strange feeling wanting someone to say something about what we are doing but when they say something it can be the sweetest moment.

Have you ever wondered why we enjoy being validated, it’s a reassurance that what we are doing is making the cut. The understanding that our efforts are being recognized by others helps us continue to pursue the best direction in our personal and professional relationships. As business professionals, we need to know that the hours we toil on projects are paying off not only for our personal portfolios but for the organization who employs us. The projects we are able to successfully complete can be stepping stones to greater success in our chosen field of employment. The failures we experience will also be stepping stones of evaluation and remapping our pathways to successful days of validation in the future.

In our personal relationships validation is key in the sustainability and health of your relationship. If your partner or friend does something right let them know, give them a pat on the back, a hug of gratitude, or simply use your words to say “Thank you.”. We need validation in our relationships as reinforcement for the rocky times that are guaranteed to happen throughout the life of any relationship.

Being able to be genuinely grateful for the things your partner or friend does can build up emotional storage of affirmation and validation that can carry a friendship through the dark times.  We need to remind ourselves that from time to time we will not be in the best emotional state to be a good friend, but to be a friend who needs a good friend to drag us out of the muck we are laying in, clean us off, cheer us up, and help us move forward with life.

We need to remember to be a good friend who is grateful to our friends, acknowledging and validating their good traits, so they know where your friendship stands then can be there when you need it most. Providing that feedback isn’t always an easy thing to do, it is, however, an essential thing to do often in healthy relationships.

Thank you, friends, for reading this simple message. May you find a way to validate your friends for the good people they are and help them become the people they hope to be.

Time.

Being a bit of a nerd I held off a while month before dropping a Lord of the Rings reference, so here is one that truly sucks out to me as something to think on. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’” – Gandalf to Frodo in the fellowship of the ring. I think about time often, because I never feel that I have enough of it. I’m always feeling if I had more time I could do _____. If only that extra time was available to me right? I’d never miss out on anything I wanted again. Not so.

We are all handed the same amount of time each day. 24 hours a day, a few hours to sleep, a few hours for work, a few hours of to do’s, and never enough time for recreation. As busy people are handed the balancing act of trying to figure out where to invest our time. We are required to choose what we value most, choosing one thing over another can be terrifying because we’re afraid to hurt the feelings of others based around choosing one thing over another.

As something we all experience we can admit the balancing act is difficult, we know that choosing one thing over another could mean missing out on the little things. Those little moments we share with others are key to keeping relationships alive and healthy so choosing the relationships to maintain can be a challenge of monumental proportions. Choose wisely who you spend your times with, trusting your relationships to benefit both parties in the friendship.

Don’t be afraid to be open and honest with others about the health of your friendship, it can be hard to admit that your bonds aren’t as strong as they once were. Knowing where you stand in any relationship is vital for your own health and wellness too.

Youth.

What do I need to say that would convince you that you need to live a little more each day than you did the day before? Today I had a friendly reminder from my Grandpa and his friend of how quickly life can pass you by. They explained to me I needed to spend less time in front of my damn phone and more time outside fishing with friends before I was forced by age to spend my days inside in front of the tv. We laughed together for a moment and my Grandpa’s friend casually said, “I’m not kidding, don’t waste your youth.”.

Obviously, that got me thinking about what I’m doing every day to live a full life. Over the past few years, I’ve lived by the line, “Live and die on this day.”. I borrowed the life from a film called The Grey, I’d never think of this film as anything other than a wild story of a plane crash and just under two hours of Liam Neeson action-packed goodness.

However, the words inspired me to live each day as if it were my last. They’ve helped me to be more of a yes man when I’ve needed the extra push to get out there and accomplish something that could be a life-changing experience. After all, you never know if today will be your only or last chance to do that something.

We all know people who are older than us, who’ve lived good lives and have countless stories to tell about the grand adventurers of their youth. I’ve learned that is because they really lived, full lives of adventure and experiences they’ll never forget. Perhaps my Grandpa and his friend were right, I should put down my damn phone and not waste my youth.

With that being said, I’ve committed to a big summer of hiking, cycling, and more time fishing with my friends. Hopefully, that’ll be a good start to living a little more.