Direction.

What is your passion?
What direction does your passion pull you towards?
How have your passions guided you to where you are today?

These questions are perfect to answer when you are looking at where you want to go next. We live our lives in different phases that spn from a few years to a few decades. Perhaps you stick with one hobby or job for five years then decide that it no longer drives you like it used to. You begin to look for change and find yourself doing something new and life pivots.

As you pivot into that something new your daily routine changes, your workplace or surroundings change, the people you interact with are different, and you change. This change can be seen little by little, or dramatically depending on how quickly you immerse yourself in the new direction you are moving in. As we adapt to our new lifestyles we might not only shift our day to day routines but also our behavior and outlook towards different opinions, ways of life, and activities might change too. This is a strange natural part of the process.

A few summers ago I became friends with a guy named Kevin, he was a person who lived a life filled with adventure, hard work, and was one of those people who could lift you when you were down. He was an adventurer and lived life a day at a time and explored the far reached of the earth any way he could. He lived by a motto that I think on almost daily, “I follow my own trail, not worrying about its odd twists and turns because I have faith in my own sense of direction.”.

He always knew that no matter what everything would turn out for the best, that he could make the best out of any situation. I believe he did and it’s something that we all can take a lesson from. To have faith in our own sense of direction, and move forward knowing that you can make the best of the next steps, being a kind person along the way.

Reading.

Last year I challenged myself to read as many books as possible by reading at least thirty minutes a day. I made it my mission to read those thirty minutes anywhere I could which led me to read on the train, airplanes, early in the morning, late in the night, and once on the side of the road. Reading helped keep my mind active, and my interest in personal development consistent. I learned to enjoy reading different types of books, with different outcomes. Some were business related with life hacks on optimizing my time. Others were stories that helped me escape the day to day stress that I was living with but taught me life lessons through the fictitious works designed to make readers think about situations in a different light.

All the reading that I did last year inspired me to continue reading this year, but to start writing more to share what I was learning and my take on the life lessons I was reading about.  Mankind has been writing for about ten thousand years now, meaning that reading has been around roughly the same amount of time. Early on reading and writing was a skill held by religious leaders, the wealthy, and often self-taught intellectuals who kept the skill hidden from said leaders to avoid punishment. We have progressed from times where few had the opportunities to learn how to read and write to today where we do our best to teach each other how to read and write daily. What a world to live in where we have printed and digital copies of written works by many who wrote publically and secretly for the benefit of mankind.

I wrote that small thought on reading and writing as a reminder of how fortunate we are to have the ability to read and write today. That nearly anyone who wants to learn these skills has the opportunity to do so no matter their race or gender due to the progress we have made in society. There are those who try and hold back these opportunities from others but the desire to learn can outsmart the ability to withhold said information.

Today, be grateful that you can read this. Remember that reading for fun or pleasure isn’t a waste of time but an investment in your mind.I’m not saying read thirty minutes a day as I did for a year but I am encouraging you to find time to learn, read an article, full out a crossword, and find a way to engage your mind daily in the learning process.

Together.

Tonight I finished watching the Netflix series, Russian Doll. Warning, possible spoilers ahead if you haven’t finished the series. The lead character in the series Nadia begins a series of loops where she struggles to find a safe way to navigate life, eventually finding herself cautious yet still struggling to move forward in life. She eventually meets Alan on an elevator and shares a unique moment that leads to a friendship of shorts leading to an understanding that they need to work together to help the other move forward a better person.

This process takes some time as they struggle to better understand each other, find balance in their friendship, and take some time apart to realize that friendship is a challenge accepting even when the other person might demand you get lost. After an extended time, they recognize the benefit of working together to free each other from past baggage and move forward together as friends into the unknown.

Friendship comes in all shapes and sizes due to the fact that we all bring different pros and cons together at the table as friends. Our strengths and weaknesses become well known to others as we spend time together and dare to share the truest parts of ourselves as the friendship grows from the first contact to extended years of experience. We know that having true friendships can benefit us if we are willing to trust our friends and welcome them in when we need them most and vice versa we need to be ready to be a friend who can listen at times, speak at others, and just be there for brunch on an odd day when opportunity knocks,

Some are fortunate and have the ability to easily make friends and build lasting relationships in a short time. Others might struggle to find real common ground with others and hold back on trusting their friends with heavy thoughts and feelings out of fear of oversharing and scaring away friendship. There are friends who are a mixture of these two types where one party is vastly more open and another is a better listener who shares smaller pieces back that are solidifying pieces of the friendship.

We are great as individuals, we can accomplish great things on our own, and nobody should tell you otherwise. Add any number of friendships and you will be strengthened by others and aided in your day to day conquests by supporters who believe in you too. Alone we can do many things, together we can do anything.

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.