Sep 222014

It is amazing what two people can accomplish together. I have had many victories this year… both career successes and many personal successes. I was reflecting on the year so far today, and I realized all the biggest wins in my life (this year and throughout my life) have been with the support and partnership of someone else.


Some random successes that popped into my head were when I was younger and writing lyrics for local singers. That success came because a coworker read my poetry and demanded I take it to her producer friend. It was a great partnership but I would never have gone down that path without her.


Achieving my black belt–especially when it became a personally difficult choice–came because my long-time friend and teacher, Shihan (Master) Peterson, was behind me the whole way, telling me I could do more than I ever thought I could, and then showing me it was true! Moving to Grand Rapids on the tail of a failed career, divorce, and financial ruin could never have happened without the loving support of my brother, Milo. He quite literally dropped everything to make sure I had what I needed to succeed.


It is hard to imagine how I would have succeeded in many areas without someone else there to hold me up, hold me accountable, or sometimes just help me hold it together. All my successes happened with partners. On the other hand, all my biggest failures happened alone (divorce, trying to go into business for myself by myself, bankruptcy… all the bad stuff was with the help of me, myself, and I).


Looking at whatever you are trying to accomplish right now, pause and make sure you have a partner. In a world as complex and chaotic as ours is, you can probably find a way to go it alone, but I can tell you unequivocally it is easier, and more fun, to have a partner in crime.


(But, of course, don’t actually commit crimes. Hopefully both you and your partner are not that dumb…)



Sep 212014

My cheap shirt annoyed me the whole time I was walking today.


At first thought, there was a small bug caught in it or something. With every step, something pointed seemed to rub against my chest, making me itch. I realized it was the shirt itself.


I have slowly been upgrading my wardrobe over the last year, replacing two or three older (usually inexpensive) items with one high-quality (usually higher-priced) item. Paying more for something is not always a smart thing to do but it does seem that better quality often comes at a higher price.


Adopting a minimalist approach has allowed me to have more freedom by buying less stuff (which means less stuff to store, clean, repair, upgrade, and maintain). Being minimal also allows me to spend more on the stuff that really matters to me and I am learning the difference that quality can make is astounding!


One thing is for sure: I am excited to put a better shirt on as soon as I get home!



Sep 202014

I have been very lucky to work with and for many great people, including my current boss. He is as much a friend as a mentor, even though we work mostly remotely.


Occasionally my boss will send me a token gift to let me know he is thinking of me or just that he appreciates me. The gift might be a book or a gift card or sometimes even a funny toy. Nothing extravagant, just something to say thanks.


I have adopted the same practice with my team. My company has a gracious “generosity” budget–a few bucks that I can use to fund a random act of kindness. I exceed that budget every week by bringing my frontline managers coffee, cookies, fun vegan snacks, or sometimes I will just take them to lunch.


This is not part of a company plan or any master-ploy. Maybe it is just “Leadership 101″ stuff, but it really sank in while I was reading a book my boss sent me. It is not something that is even top of mind. I don’t plan or budget it in; I just grab something on my way to work to let someone on my team know, “This is just because you’re awesome.”