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.

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.

Take a walk.

How much time would you say you spend doing something “just because” you can. One thing I enjoy doing “just because” is walking, without a real destination or plan, just letting my legs take me places for the hell of it. It’s not because I have nowhere I’d want to see, it’s because walking with no particular destination allows me to spend more time in thought as I go.

Having a clear head for me is a full result of walking daily for at least thirty minutes. The days when I’m feeling down, annoyed, or upset about life are usually made clear by taking a walk to think things through. Based off my experience walking is a good avenue to seeing many things new and old, but also cleaning the weight of the world we know.

I work in a mildly high-stress environment, where anger due to misunderstanding is never far away. When I take a break I usually try and walk around the building to relax and think of simple things such as the mountains, my dog, jokes that I’ve heard, of the happiest times I have with friends and family.

Taking a walk “just because” is what I enjoy doing to reset and prepare myself for the next wave of discussions I will have with others. It prepares me to be a better listener, a more patient teacher, and a better friend to those I will be communicating with. I’d recommend this to anyone who works, period. Just taking a little personal time to breathe and reset can not only impact your day at work but can change your everyday happiness level.

We all know about and talk about happiness, we all are aware of what others have done to become happier people. How often are we happy? What are we doing for us that makes us happy? Personally, taking a walk for the hell of it makes me happy.

What makes you happy? Why don’t you think about it while you take a walk?


Acknowledgment.

Have you ever sat down to rest after completing a hard task at work or around the house and breathed a relaxing sigh of relief that the task was complete? Then looked back on your work and hoped that someone would see the good work that you have done? Have you ever hoped that someone will ask how the project went or how you are feeling now that you’ve completed the task? Are you looking for someone to acknowledge you for your efforts to provide that refreshing phrase we all need from time to time when we’ve poured our energies into a seemingly impossible project?

If you said yes to any of the above then you are not alone. These moments can define how we see our work and the progress we are making as an individual or professional. Acknowledgment is extremely satisfying feedback when it is given with praise and rewarded with non-verbal confirmation. Each human seeks this reassurance to know where they stand in the eyes of others, as individuals it’s good to know our efforts in friendship are paying off and trust is being built. In day to day, professional work feedback and acknowledgment are essential in finding your footing with where you were, where you are now, and what direction to continue going to make the biggest impact in your field.

Feedback can be rough to receive at times because much of feedback is either watered down and fluffed to not hurt your feelings or overly blunt and tactless upon delivery. There is a fine balance between what we want to hear and what we need to hear to allow for the best opportunities for growth. Acknowledgment throughout the process allows us to see the good in our efforts and allows us to have real-time feedback as we go.

I’m not saying that you should hold someone’s hand each step of the way. What I am encouraging you to try during a larger task is to have scheduled check in’s every few days or once a week to follow up on the progress of a task at hand, offer praise where it is due then offer constructive feedback that allows for reflection and direction towards the desired end goal. Having these quick pow-wows should allow for a trusting relationship between two people who might be family, friends, or manager and employee.

These sessions of acknowledgment and direction can be used for personal evaluation too. Following up with yourself creates personal accountability that will help you see your strengths and weaknesses and help you realign your goals to your desired destination. Is it easy to hold yourself accountable with challenging goals? Nope, but you’ll be happier because of your perseverance to the finish line.

Take a moment today, write down 5 things you are good at, that makes you a good person, and that encourages you to keep doing you. Acknowledge yourself for the good you bring into the world and know that you’re great. See where you might need to tweak your behavior to make life a happier place for you and see where you go from there.