Risk.

Whenever I’m out exploring the great outdoors I understand that there is a general amount of risk that needs to be understood as I seek out places that few see in person. Knowing that risk is an ever-present weight to be balanced and measured is a good reminder to be sure your next steps are in the right direction. Risk can be taken in adventure, day to day transit, business, school, and relationships. By understanding what risky behaviors can be taken appropriately we can do our best to know that the risks we may take can payoff positively for us.

As a natural born risk taker, I’ve always walked the fine line between smart risk and reckless risk. There was a goal I had to learn how to balance atop a fence about five feet off the ground and about 150 yards from my parents home. I understood what could happen if I learned the skill I needed to walk the line, I would be able to brag about my superior balance and have a skill that few have. If I was unsuccessful I could fall and break any number of bones and hurt myself in other ways. I knew I would fall, I expected it and that understanding made the challenge a little easier to start and helped me balance the risk to reward from my little venture.

I practiced this balancing act for years at times only making it a foot or two before bailing off one side of the fence or the other or take a sudden slip and ending up bouncing to the ground without a moments notice. As the years added up so did the number of feet I was able to balance and the number of times I became closer to succeeding at my little conquest to balance the entire fence. I only made the entire fence one time, one time that has taught me countless lessons in life balance and perseverance since.

Along with those two great assets under my belt I also learned how to manage the risk I was deciding to take every time I climbed the fence and began my balancing act. I learned to avoid walking the line if it had just snowed or rained a wet metal bar isn’t so grippy and you will either end up in mud or snow. Watching the weather was key to a good session on the bar, the wind was not your friend either. Wearing the right footwear is key to being able to walk the greatest distance, wearing boots or shoes with bad traction is a bad choice, wearing shoes that are muddy, shitty, or wet are also a guarantee that you’ll fall faster than you’d intended.

This childhood experience is a simple lesson in goal setting, perseverance, trial and error, and risk management. Can the lessons I learned from my years walking the fence from the farm to the house be used today? Absolutely, I can weigh the risk in the actions I take and examine the payout that could take place if my risk pays off.

Together.

We are better together, we do better together, we work better together. I don’t know how else to say it, we need to do a better job at being united together to help each other to become better people. It’s something we all see every day the stories designed to divide and weaken us.

We see this no matter where we turn, the idea that we need to look down on others and unite against them because we do not see the world as others see it. That because some believe in one truth and we believe in another that there isn’t a common ground that we share. Are there bad people out there? Yes, many but overall we can agree that people are good and can surprise us if we give them the chance.

What are we? We are the human race, all struggling everyday with challenges that involve money, relationships, mental and physical health, food, borders, education, and work. We all breathe our way through another day and hope that our days can be happy, each one hopefully better than the last.

Together we can contribute to a better world for everyone if we are a little nicer, at little more patient, a little better to listen, and a little better at understanding each other. Is this the easy road to take? Once again no, but this is the best road to being more people together.

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.

Listening.

Listening is a challenge for me. If you know me I a great at talking and participating in the conversation at hand but terrible at times at listening. I’m not saying that I never listen to others, I do a pretty good job more often than not. What I am saying though is that at times I have a hard time sharing the stage with others.

I think there are many out there who can relate to this thought about themselves that they are not the best at listening all the time. It can be a challenge to practice active listening when you have the greatest tale to share. However, allowing yourself to be patient and listen can dramatically change the depth of your relationships. Listening is a key element to real relationship depth. The ability to give more than just words to any situation opens the doors to genuine relationships.

Over the past year, I have started having to listen more due to my new job. Being active in listening and responding at the correct times. There are times when I’d rather be anywhere else but listening to someone complain about their frustrations and misunderstandings. When I am able to fully listen to the person I’m talking with and walk with them on through their frustrations it creates a better experience for both of us.

I have had many repeat conversations with these frustrated people when they remember our last conversation and have the confidence that we together through speaking, listening, and working together can make the troubles of the day less of an annoyance and more of a process to a better understanding.

Along with listening in the workplace, listening to friends, family, and new acquaintances that might become friends will be extremely rewarding as you work towards stronger ties with those you want in your life.

Legacy.

What do you want to be remembered for? Your ability to smile through challenges, kindness towards others when it is needed most, your zest for life? or your work ethic? There are countless things to be known for and remembered by. Each day we are forging experiences that will be used by others to remember us by when they think back on us.

Each of us can look back and remember someone who was a light in the darkness, or a stain on the situation. There are also those who we have forgotten entirely due to the fact that they weren’t key players in the experiences we think back on. These are facts of life we will be remembered for the things we have done, or forgotten entirely by some.

When I think about the legacy others are leaving for me to remember I think warmly of the experiences I’ve had at wrestling tournaments watching my father coach others through successful defeats of their opponents or comfort and coach them through defeats they suffer themselves. My father as a wrestling coach taught me how important it is to show up ready for anything, to be prepared for any outcome, and to recognize the opportunities for growth in any situation.

Being taught how to look at opportunities doesn’t mean that there won’t be hard losses that take some time to work out. However, during these times you can stand tall, recognize the struggle will pass, and you can still look your opponent in the eye and shake their hand knowing that the next match there might be a different outcome.

One thing to remember is these challenges aren’t always against other people, we can agree that some of the hardest matches we will face against are the battles fought within, against ourselves. We are our own challengers more often than most will want to admit. However, there are many who are the strongest, kindest, happiest people we know who’s championships are won without anyone seeing the event happen.

Your legacy can be a variety of many things. Successful businesses, holding public offices, works of art, tales of travel, or being known as a mentally strong person who has balanced many things and smiled through the hardest days. Be confident and know that you are great, you can always do better but today, you’re great as you are your legacy is still being written.