Wednesday, January 29, 2014

There and Back Again

Like Bilbo Baggins in the book The Hobbit or There and Back Again, I will hike to the misty mountain! Unlike Baggins, I hope to encounter exactly zero trolls or dragons along the way. Queue up the Led Zeppelin songs Misty Mountain Hop and Ramble On while you read this post for for atmosphere.

This summer I am taking on a challenge like I have not done in years. A group of friends and I are taking a two day hike over a portion of the Presidential Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We will backpack twenty miles over the two day period, almost thirteen miles in day one. On the surface this is not the biggest distance challenge, but when you consider the details the journey is daunting. The hike will include almost 8,000 feet of elevation changes over some very difficult terrain. Also featured are drastic weather patterns. We hike in June, and the weather at the start will be seasonal around 70-80F, but on the Mount Washington, the average low can 30-40F degrees. A possible 50 degree swing during the day one hike. The most challenging portion of the hike will be the first four miles, non-stop uphill for 4,000 feet of elevation, and average of 1,000 uphill per mile.

 When I take an accounting of my current state of readiness, and where I need to be to accomplish this journey, I know I am not ready today. I have a lot of things to accomplish just to prepare for the trip; weight loss, cardio improvement, selecting gear, plotting my maps and strength training just to name a few. Goals are easy to talk about and set, but difficult to achieve for some reason. I believe that if a goal is not planned out with enough detail, or created in small enough chunks, chances of failure increase. Over the last few years I have run a decent amount of 5k races, and adventure races, each with varying degrees of prep and greatly varying levels of success. I am taking this year on with a renewed attitude, to not half-ass my preparation, and make sincere progress.  With five months to prepare, I am breaking down each goal, to weekly challenges and progress points. And I will hold myself accountable through a few different methods, this blog will be just one. Feel free to check in on my preparation.

As you look at your 2014 and set goals I encourage you all to do a couple things. Write goals down, this is critical. This way you cannot forget or ignore the task. Next, pick a completion date. This could be a random timeline you give yourself, on an actual date a project is due, or a race is scheduled. Set progress points to write down along the way. Don't lose a day, a week or a month thinking I will just start tomorrow. Start today. Share your progress with a spouse or friend, it always helps when someone else can ask you how things are moving, or encourage you to keep moving forward. If you miss targets, or fail to achieve your goal, make sure you review what went wrong and use the lesson for the next time. This is a great reason to document your process, to make things harder to forget and lose the opportunity to improve your plan.

Whether you are building a tree-house, running a marathon, changing career or climbing a mountain, make goal setting and tracking a part of your 2014. You will be surprised in what you can achieve, and learn a little about yourself along the way.

Monday, January 27, 2014

One Candle

“It is better to light just one little candle,
Than to stumble in the dark!
Better far that you light ust one little candle,
All you need's a tiny spark!”

This weekend I was at the baptism of a friend’s first child. The presiding Deacon had a great homily, and uses a song One Candle from a show called The Christopher’s. The songs message can cross into many parts of life; a snippet is above.

The message at the baptism was a call to all people present, to not let just the parents and Godparents be the candle of Christ’s love. You see, if one person lights a candle in the dark, you can see a small area, but if many people light a candle you can fill a room. It’s a simple, beautiful concept.

This concept can also be adopted for charity, fitness, kindness, work, neighbors, sports, just about anything. If you see someone struggling at work, try to mentor them. If you know someone dealing with a personal issue, try to comfort them. Have a lot of extra winter clothes you do not wear? Donate them now. Encourage someone trying to lose weight to make a healthy choice at lunch, or hit the gym. Have a few extra dollars or hours, try to donate them. Go shovel a neighbor’s driveway. Listen to your children, even the seemingly unimportant chatter. All these simple actions are lighting a candle for somebody.

This week I commit to lighting a candle. I am not sure for who or how yet, but I want to step outside of my routine and shed some light that was not in the world this week. Just a little extra light might be the difference for someone in stumbling in the dark.

Thursday, January 23, 2014


Change is hard. Change is scary. Change is unpopular. A change takes hard work. Change can take a long time. There are a lot of terms that can describe change, many are not pleasant ones. Leadership involves change from time to time. The question I ask myself is what makes the idea of change so difficult? Why do leaders often face such strong opposition from folks when implementing change? When do you know if a change is needed? All questions hard to know the answer.

What I have come to understand is if you believe in a good goal, and have vision to achieve that goal, the choices become easier to see. Having conviction to stand up and makes the best decision will not always be popular. Time will tell if you we right or wrong. In the meantime if you made the decision with a heart and a commitment to do the right thing, you can relax. The point is to live and make choices with a purpose. Do not waffle to keep everyone happy; do not cave to a vocal minority. Certainly, be respectful and open minded to others opinions, but stay focused on your reasoning.

I have seen the same results in every personality/leadership training I have taken in my career. It normally goes something like this: "You are a person that likes to interact with others, often become the center of a room, I can tend toward dominating conversations and people’s perceptions of you matter." This makes decisions difficult to make at times, I do not want to anger others with my ideas or opinions. I am working on changing this approach. Not that I will personally change, but I actively work to listen more, pay attention to other ideas and slow down what I want and consider the whole picture first.

A bit of a ramble today, but I'm working through a lot of changes now, personal, volunteer, family and professional. Staying focused on the right goals and staying tuned to my natural tendencies will help. I have changes to make, and will stay committed to doing so with compassion, cooperation while staying true to the best ideals.

No matter what you have to change; health, work, programs, a leader today.

Friday, January 17, 2014


I believe people that work hard will find more luck than those that look for luck. I am not sure I worked hard to find my wife, or my family for that matter, but I sure am lucky. Day-to-day work issues, time requests, lack of sleep, non-existent exercise plan, and so many other stressors can wear a person down. I recently had to schedule a time to spend talking about being thankful for what we have in my family. Turns out, this was a nice exercise. My thought for the day is spend more time, even a few minutes verbalizing with someone you trust about what you are lucky to have in your life. It could be that you have a good job, a roof, a close friend you have stayed in touch with, or your health. The point is not what you list or discuss, but that you take a minute to allow the other distractions in life to be placed aside, and you give time toward positive reflection.

I could make more money, have a bigger house, drive a 1988 canary yellow Lamborghini Countach, weigh less, eat better, work out more...but this list pales in comparison to all the great things in my life. I will focus on what matters, work hard, love my family, and continue to realize I am lucky in the only ways that count.

Monday, January 13, 2014

A Little Blood

We just celebrated the boys first birthday over the weekend. Watching my wife spend every ounce of energy she had to send invites, buy all the supplies, decorate the house, make cupcakes, make a smash cake, and bake a beautiful Mickey Mouse cake I realize how lucky I am. I look to Jenn as an example of selflessness, and just dumping love into the family. My kids are so blessed to have Jenn for their Mom. And the outpouring of love and generosity from friends and family was touching, another reason to be truly thankful.

The boy is so different than his sister. C$ was easy with almost everything we threw her way. She slept, ate, walked, and teethed with relative ease. C-Dub is much more of a T-2000; a relentless machine of destruction. He happily bulls his way though everything; sleep, eating, climbing, digging out drawers, eating, drinking and eating. C-Dub was running from his sister last night and ate a fistful of toy groceries. I did not flinch at first, he falls a lot these days learning to walk and run, but the lil' pool of blood under him on the floor stopped me cold. Seeing your kid bleed is never fun. A skinned knee is not too tough, but Dub looked more like Rocky after eating one too many jabs from Clubber Lang. Nose bleed, cut lip and tears. I yelled to Jenn I think he broke his nose, that did not help much. One day I will master the art of think first, then speak. After a cold compress and a little more Mommy love, Dub was fine. This morning I wiggled his nose with no reaction, just like Rocky, kid can take one and roll.

What I am reminded of today is that blood is important. Just like stopping when you see blood, you should stop when your blood needs you. Friends and family are are blood, and we should all take a little more time to see if your close ones have blood on their nose and need some help. One day you may eat a plastic corn cob, and need someone to throw you a towel.