Stumbling on DFW

My DFW rabbit hole started with his ‚ÄúThis is Water‚ÄĚ commencement speech (worth a watch on YT – posted at the bottom of this page) and trailed on for hours after that.

From what it looks like, a lot of people dislike him. I know very little about him, but wanted to post this clip because it resonated with me–a relatively disgruntled adjunct professor for the last 2 years. Too few folks are conversing about things like this. Higher Education is messed up. The system is broken.

Stumbling on DFW

T E S O

Too busy to get organized?
What a conundrum.

Contrary to what we think when there’s a massive to-do list stacked in front of us, taking the time for thoughtful planning and organization will ultimately give us more time, it does not steal it away.

T E S O

People skills

The need for specific skill sets fluctuates with the overall need of the economy. At scale, that need has been digital skills.

It’s no wonder millennials face a roller coaster of emotions when deciding on ‘developing a set of skills’ or ‘finding a career’. We’re in a transition phase.

A few generations ago (and still today), going into Tech was all the rage. “We need coders and programmers!” People doing people things was on the decline. After all, robots and machines will soon be able to do people things, too.

To the computer flocked an entire workforce.

Now, I’m no computer geek, and thus, I rejoice.

A gaping void exists in the workforce where once it was overcrowded. Our world now needs more People People, for the first time in a while.

Learn to communicate a difficult or complex message, empathize with emotions, strategize, inspire the people around you, and compete. Being human sets us apart in the digital age!

Reward Thyself

Why is it that when we reward ourselves, we are almost always choosing to do things that are only a reward in the short-term?

Good workout today?
Reward thyself: Cake and Ice Cream
Result: must commit to a grueling workout tomorrow (one we probably won’t do).

Finished project at work?
Reward thyself: 12 pack of Busch Light
Result: Unproductive next few days, stress about being behind on the next project.

When we intend to ‚Äėreward‚Äô ourselves for doing something well, maybe we‚Äôd want to choose the route of compounding returns.

Something of lasting value.
Reward thyself with ANOTHER thing worth being proud of. Be good to you.

Cheap Healthy Foods

So, this isn’t really a “secret” anymore, but there are far too many folks who I run into that LOVE LIVING A HEALTHY LIFESTYLE, but have NEVER HEARD this (seriously? you’re missing out on $ and health), so I decided to write a quick blog about it.

When people tell me they can’t afford healthy food, it’s frustrating [you just didn’t put that much effort into finding where to buy from].

I’ll fill you in, and then when you go become a member, I want you to use the exact link that I list below. Why? I make no bones about it, I want you to click my link when you sign up because I will get a $25 store credit when you sign up, AND YOU WILL GET 25% OFF. They’re cheap, they’re healthy, and they help families in need (scroll for more). C’mon, stop giving your money to Walmart or Kroger or wherever you grocery shop.

Jamie and I order from this place at least once a month to get our non-perishable groceries, body care supplies, and soaps from here (+ other things).


We’ve been saving money on our healthy goods for a LONG TIME now.

Especially if you don’t have a Whole Foods or Erewhon Market near your house, Thrive Market online should become a staple for you immediately.

They’re the CHEAPEST HEALTHY GOODS SHOP YOU WILL FIND.

Think I’m full of it? Do this immediately:

  1. Go to your grocery store, walk down the healthy food aisles and snap pictures or write down the prices of every organic or natural healthy food or body care or cleaning item that you’d like to buy, but usually would not spend much on.
  2. Go home to your computer (or use your phone) and click my link to Thrive Market and compare the prices.

Here is one prime example (screenshots from 10/31/18).
And look, just to show you how much cheaper it is, this compares ONLINE to ONLINE prices, not even ONLINE to STORE (which saves you crazy amounts more).
And this is vs. WALMART ONLINE, supposedly the cheapest place to shop on earth:

Dr. Bronner's - from ThriveDr. Bronner's - from Walmart

 

The website is called THRIVE MARKET

Screen Shot 2018-10-31 at 12.02.32 PM

“Thrive” is the solution to making organic brands affordable.

Please do not confuse this Thrive with the Thrive beauty line pyramid sales program. No. Not that stuff.

Thrive Market is changing the way families shop for quality goods by offering over 4,500 organic, non-GMO brands at savings of up to 50%. They also ship it right to your doorstep.

What do they sell? It feels like¬†everything. But in reality, think non-toxic cleaning supplies, organic groceries, clean cosmetics, and healthy snacks (but they don’t have Baruka Nuts yet! Hopefully they will soon).

The Thrive Market Collection is their home-brand, it’s full of top quality products at frighteningly (today is Halloween as I write this)¬†affordable prices.

How is it so cheap?

They cut out the middle man, and did the dirty work of going to each of these healthy brands one by one and building a business model that would dropship all of their products. If that doesn’t make sense to you, just don’t worry about it. Enjoy the work they put in to organize this.¬†Better access to healthier food means a better and healthier American society. That’s good for all of us.

Skip the drive.
Skip the lines.

Shipping is free on orders over $49 every damn time if you’re a member. I believe they let you make one order before becoming a member as a trial run.
Membership is around $50-60 at the time I am writing this, but we save that in gas alone, not to mention the hundreds we save by not buying all this stuff from retail stores.

The filter by diet/type feature saves SO MUCH TIME.

Filter by Diet

Sold yet?

Here’s the best part:
For every PURCHASED membership, Thrive Market DONATES a membership to a family in need.

They’ve made it their mission to make healthy food available to everyone.

Boom.

How can you not be on board with that?

It is still slightly more expensive than the cheap (unhealthy) groceries and goods, but if you are spending money on healthy stuff already, then make the move to Thrive. It’s a no brainer.

If you join Thrive Market by clicking this link, I will get $25 of in-store credit, and you will get 25% off your order. Simple as that.

CLICK THIS LINK to join THRIVE MARKET


Love & Areté,

Jakob


Defining Aret√© (arete) | greek: ŠľÄŌĀőĶŌĄőģ

Commonly written: arete
Sometimes written:
ar√™te (which is actually defined as a ‘sharp mountain ridge’. This is not correct, but the imagery of a ‘peak’ correlates strangely with our definition).


Defining areté

The most similar words to areté that we have in our modern english language would be virtue, excellence, greatness or goodness (in thought, in action, or both).

In its most basic sense, areté might be used to describe any person, thing, action, or thought, of which has achieved, or maintains a presence of, whole excellence.


Why is it so hard to define?

To depict¬†aret√©¬†in a simple way does injustice to its potency and meaning as a singular word. It has a somewhat elastic meaning depending on its context, but it’s tremendously inspiring. The greatest of things are not to be undersold. That is probably why we have no equivalent word in our modern English language.

Rhetoric does its best to describe an experience, and pictures/videos might do even better, but words cannot typically replicate our perception, in its totally, of an amazing event. “I’m speechless”, “Words cannot describe”, these are responses to moments that fall into a unique category of near divinity. We can’t pinpoint what left us in awe, but we felt it.
Side note: Each experience is one’s own experience only. An example: Some cry tears of joy at the waving of a flag or in the presence of a religious statue, while others feel anger or injustice at the same sight.

We might take complex terms and use simple shared experiences to help us better understand them. That’s what storytelling and metaphors are used for.

To understand areté, we must have assimilated a great thing at least once before, in story or in reality, from which we can derive a shared meaning.

What’s the closest you’ve come to observing or feeling that awe? That moment of aret√©? Close your eyes and think back to the last time you were truly¬†awestruck or¬†breathless¬†in observance of a person, thing, or event. Now, try to place yourself there again…


Origin of Areté

Where did we derive this thought? Of potentiality? Of fulfillment of purpose?
We have an innate obsession with reaching our fullest capacity.

“To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift.”
– Steve Prefontaine

The vigor and passion of “chasing our dreams” or “doing something incredible” all stem from the thought that we each have a bound potential waiting to be unchained, and when we do, that is what it means to live.

We resent the lazy, the leeches, those who squander opportunity.
Where does this obsession and pride in personal mastery come from?

Religion?
Early in Christianity doctrine, God uses biblical figures to portray what the ideal person or what an ideal life might look like. Of course, later, in the new testament, Jesus Christ is the figure of exactly that‚ÄĒthe ideal.¬†This might be why, in America, that the pursuit of an ideal is so broadly understood, but aret√© is not biblical.

The thought originates in ancient Greece, and is tied inextricably to Greek philosophy.


An Act of Areté

We see it in the¬†Iliad, associated with the perfect compilation of physical skill put to action. Characters like Achilles and Hector exemplified this perfect bodily representation of a war hero figure, who’s stature was associated with skill, bravery, tenacity, and valor.

Defining the entirety of what this word, aret√©, meant to the ancient Greeks, might be too difficult. So, we tell stories that others might resonate with. Only then can we begin to imagine the meaning of the word from the same platform. Although no story ever places the receiver of a message in the same exact mind-frame as the sender, it’s a better place to start than without the story.

Think about the defining, climactic action of your favorite characters and heroes, fiction or not.

It’s Dr. King on the podium, deviating from an already powerfully written speech, and changing the course of the world with his words.

It’s Carl Brashear (Cuban Gooding Jr) taking those damned 12 steps in the diver suit in the movie “Men of Honor”, with Chief Sunday (Robert DeNiro) passionately pushing him through it (video below – must watch).

It’s DaVinci painting the Mona Lisa.

It’s Leonidas of the brave “300”, fighting for Sparta’s freedom until his dying breath.

It’s Michael Jordan, dazzling us with a dribble move, then hitting a game winning jump shot in a championship game.

It’s Einstein working through an equation.

If we were to see one of these things, it’d most likely be unlike anything we’ve ever seen before, and likely, ever again.

At the moment we encounter a truly amazing feat, or a flawlessly executed endeavor, not only does the action rise above our perceptions of possibility, but it takes along with it every observer, transcending the grey, the mundane, the real, and approaching the ‘the ideal’, embodying pure perfection and inspiring¬†limitless potential.

When we see this potential in action, we can better formulate our own unique, personal version of perfection. That might be your pursuit, that might be your areté.


Areté of a thing

Objects as well can have, or stand to represent, areté.

The perfectly designed home might be described as having areté, or it could also be used to describe the architect of such a home.

A pot or vase, crafted with an upmost artistic touch could have areté.


Areté of the Mind

Like the marines slogan “Be all that you can be.”, a life lived in¬†aret√© would, in theory, include the actualization of our full potential. Of which we know, in itself, is an undefined pursuit.

What does true potential look like? How do we know if we’re on track?

“In¬†The Odyssey,¬†arete¬†is used to describe Odysseus, who combines the warrior-hero’s courage with wit, cunning and resourcefulness.¬†Arete¬†is also used to describe Odysseus’s wife, Penelope, who demonstrates that even misfortune and sorrow can be suffered with excellence.

And lastly, the Greeks provide us with still another manifestation of¬†arete¬†: Socrates, a very new and different kind of Greek hero. Socrates was a real person, a Fifth Century BCE Athenian who has come to symbolize for us the life dedicated to the pursuit of moral and intellectual excellence.”¬†¬Ļ

The mind bears a stricter burden than the body or an object when it comes to excellence. Because we know that as humans, we are capable of malevolence, we know that a physical act of perfection could carry with it some evil intention or misguided abhorrence. Therefore, areté also implies the presence of honorable thought and moral choice. Humans distinctly have the ability to reason, and should therefore, use that reason for good.

The minds perceptions of excellence and perfection are often daunting. It almost never feels like the low hanging fruit. In fact, it frequently feels out of reach. That’s ok, though.

True excellence acts for us like the carrot dangling in the eyes of the horse, pushing us forward in a desirable direction, but never definably completing a linear course of action. What trajectory are we on? Our aim, and our intentional thought about our aim, offer an array of lessons in excellence. In Plato’s “Allegory of the Cave”, the pursuit of a thing’s ideal shape or state would be its¬†aret√©. Its the elusive achievement, but not for achievement’s sake, that we all strive for. Its always out of reach, but also coordinating our placement on the path that will show us exactly what we seek. Aret√© of the mind is a constant process in the practice of: excellence, wisdom, honor, virtue, knowledge, happiness, joy, wit, modesty, courage, mastery, love, honesty, synergy, valor, passion.

It is the goal we all seek.

Individual human potential.
The eminent figure.
To not only be great, but also morally sound.
To accomplish without conquering.
The true hero. To be not only the technical expert and great communicator, but also, the respected benevolent leader.

Each of us has our own distinct idea of what our life might be like if we committed to areté. The direction is unclear, the path unkept, but the purpose behind our decision to pursue it, is the only thing that matters.

Trying to live out our full-potential is far easier said than done, but there’s not better time to begin that journey than here and now.


¬Ļ http://faculty.grandview.edu/ssnyder/470/Arete.html
² https://quatr.us/greeks/arete-virtue-greek-philosophy.htm
³ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arete

Flying with feet

To fly, we need wings.
To begin to fly, feet!
Think, every flying thing has feet or wheels, yes?
Birds, planes, insects, people with jetpacks.

Thus he cried,

“I traded my feet for wings! 
No doubt a mistake, but why?
Without feet I can’t get to running,
Which I MUST in order to fly!”

Creativity is no good by itself, with no action or learning.

All effort and do and order are a waste of time and energy, with no thoughtful reflection to pair it with.

No person embodies all of one or the other, though. And rarely, is our mix of the two, balanced enough to be effective at both. But it’s true, the greatest of our human achievements come from the far end of one spectrum or the other. The eccentrics.

The great balance.

We need both the imaginative spirit of the drunkard artist, AND the staunch discipline of the conservative.

Our synergy is obvious, if only we’d see our roles, and choose to work together.

If you’re a doer, I’d best find a creative and make friends… else you’ll never fly.
If you’re a creative, put down the brush for a minute when the doer finds you… else those wings will be a waste.

Many Worlds

We might be living in too many worlds.


Magically-engaged in a passion project, he hurredly leaves his desk, zips to Whole Foods on a Lime Bike for a to-go box and a 6pm Allegro Americano, then heads without pause to a shared workspace, mingling with other entrepreneurs until the wee-hours of the morning. Wishing the night were longer, he taxiis again back to his high-rise for a few quick hours of sleep. 


Anxiously pushing to finish the shed he’s been contracted to build, he thinks, above all, about his son arriving home from college soon. At home, his wife readies the grill and proudly slips her¬†Eagles jersey on. It’s Monday Night Football, and soon, voices and banter from the whole family will fill their modest 3 bedroom home to enjoy a few too many Bud Lights and endless supply of laughter.


Border collie at his side, he enjoys waking up at 4:45am and strolling a middle-cut path of the road in a quiet, wooded neighborhood with more horses in site than people. Contemplating clearing and tilling, for a market garden, some recently purchased land, he enjoys the moon and stars from the back-end of the dark night.


Each in their own world, like so many others, these men might find a consistent joy.

Adding a social app or the national news to any of these paintings, and their nostolgic perspectives might fade.

Our minds aren’t often capable (yet) of comprehending the overload of environmental stimulation that we allow it access to.

Inter-connectiveness draws us in, then it ties us up in a knot.

It could possibly be that¬†our mental capacity has not biologically adapted yet to be able to understand the complexities of EVERY regional culture + weather pattern, physical environment + city size + social norm + family dynamic + unwritten rule … the list goes endlessly on.

It’s ok to have your world, and to let other’s have theirs as well.

Before criticizing someone for their lack of personal diversity or cultural understanding, it’s worth considering that less than 40 years ago, talking to someone in another city meant writing a singular letter and waiting days or weeks before hearing back. That bought us a little time to reflect and maybe comprehend another’s experience.

While our physiology has been adapting for millions of years to outside stressors, our minds are trying to go from living within a few mile radius village setting to being able to empathize with the entire planet in the matter of 40 years.

Most of our minds are already on overload.

Be patient with one another.

We’ll catch up, but it’ll take some time.

Introvert AND Extrovert

Redefining our realities is a common theme in our digital world.

Imagine taking every social construct we know to be true, and duplicating it with a  digital reality. Each platform like a new dimension. We can be whomever we choose to be, and not one world needs to have likened carry over.

Each of us, existing in multiple dimensions, multiple realities, with multiple versions of ourself at once. All, however, with a singular, all-knowing mind.

The real life one.
The Business Facebook Brand one.
The World of Warcraft one.
The Instagram one.
The Twitch one.
The I’m-gonna-catfish-somebody one.
The Music.ly one.
The anonymous-shit-poster one.

Each taking on different character roles, thus making it possible, for the first time ever, to be both an introvert and an extrovert at the same time, simultaneously.

Feeling schizophrenic lately?

schizophrenia definition

It’s no wonder we have identity crisis’.

We don’t know who we are. And uncertainty, of all things, causes the default response mode to our limbic systems (fight or flight) to perceive uncertainty as a threat.

Defensive.
Aggressive.
Depressed.
Anxious.

No composure.
Remember, it’s ok to role play from time to time, but don’t forget to bring it back to¬†real reality¬†more often than not.

E-Sports Superstar ‘Ninja’ being featured on ESPN says a lot about our Culture.

Changing times.

E-sports superstar, Ninja, is the first professional gamer to be featured on the cover of ESPN.

League of Legends, Call of Duty, Counterstrike, Overwatch, Fortnite. These are a few of the titles we should familiarize ourselves with.

The best players of these games are treated like celebrities. Many of the most notable ones are making well into the millions of dollars on endorsement deals and tournament prizes.

“More than 360 million people watched a livestream of a 2017 “League of Legends” eSports competition.” (Link).

That’s massively more engagement than both The Super Bowl and The NBA Finals.

WHAT?!

Are E-Sports a “sport”? Probably not.
However, if you’ve ever tuned in, there is a ton of vocal communication, strategy, critical thinking, and finger-eye coordination necessary to perform. It’s fascinating, and VERY difficult to be good at. But a sport? I’m not so sure.
They’re something much larger than that.

So, is anything that’s founded in competition¬†considered a sport?
Stock trading?
Sales pyramids?
Grades in school?? ‚ÄĒ Wait, kids might be totally juiced up to see that the Spelling Bee Champ is featured on ESPN’s cover! Good idea!¬†Nope. It’s a video game god instead.

A league of their own. A lot like current reality, but scarier.

I’ve been draw to the following terrifying thought for some time, but rarely voice it.
Bare with me while I piece these ideas together.

Are we somehow drawn to self-sabotaging behaviors? People have a hard time accepting social hierarchies as a natural tendency already.
You know, the whole male-physical-dominance, capitalism, and success or social aptitude and status credited only to the people who learn how to ‘win the game’ (currently based on money and sex appeal). That’s a grossly lean explanation, but if you’re reading my blog, you’re probably intellectually sound enough to already understand the commonly-complained-about social structures. What happens then, when we plug into Virtual Reality (which is the obvious next step for E-Sports, and don’t argue with me on that)¬†and the entire goal is to ‘compete for dominance’? Well, the trend is for more and more folks to be plugging in, right? We’re well aware of the possibility of future generations spending more time in virtual worlds than in reality. Is this the social structure we want to start with? Absolute dominance and 1% fame? Yikes. The socialists of the world should hate e-sports.

Many people dislike our current reality because they feel displaced, and unwanted, valueless to society at large… so they leave, and enter another world, sometimes virtual. It looks to me like we’re not heading toward greener pastures, though.

In these virtual worlds, these ‘games’, these sports: tyranny, power, and dominance is king. This is what we’ve popularized. The first big step toward VR in my opinion is Professional Gaming. The winners are celebrity heroes making millions while the majority-millions spend countless hours wasting away in these games without any hope for E-Fame.

Sound familiar?
Sounds eerily similar to what non-gamers and gamers alike currently complain about in our social circles and in the work place.
Chasing things like Money and Hollywood A-lists has left people depressed, anxious, and all-together miserable.
One real problem is, an e-gamer who’s not famous still doesn’t make minimum wage. They can’t take care of themselves.
They might waste away in the basement, shirt full of cheetoh crumbs and mountain dew stains, sometimes relying on their parents’ income to survive (this is a depiction of the extreme of course).

With so many folks tuned in, I have a hard time feeling good about the fact that we’ve chosen to replicate a tyrannical social structure and competitively dominant hierarchy within the most directly relevant virtual society that we know. Don’t get me wrong, traditional sports have the same primal aggression and simplistic hierarchy structure, but much fewer recreational athletes fall victim to the downsides. Real sports are actually a very healthy recreational activity. E-sports? Not so much.

To Ninja and other famous e-gamers, I don’t blame you one bit.

To America? “Scoreboard”.

Robots 1 – Humans 0

A Call to Leaders — please read this.

LEADERS! — please take the 2 min to read this.

I speak to my wife and my closest friends about this frequently, and I hope that at some point I am able to talk to each of YOU about this as well.

WE’VE GOT TO MEET PEOPLE ON THEIR MEDIUM.

What I am about to say is one of the only reasons that I even spend (not waste) time on social media. This is not something to be taken lightly.

Trust me, there’s a very distinct sinister side to media, and it’s damn ugly; social media, and the entire culture of fleeting, dishonest, alternate personalities, BUT…

Where the cause of misery exists, so too must the forces that work against it.

I want to educate, to bring value, to serve. These technological communities can be of tremendous value to us if only the leaders of our world would join the party, and not for ‘the likes’. That dopamine hit can grab any of us, but we need leaders that don’t give a damn about clickbait and stats and ads and likes, but that want to “Make Wisdom Go Viral”, as so eloquently, and frequently, shouted by Jay Shetty.

“Ugh, social media is exhausting. It’s fake. It’s irrelevant. The people on there don’t matter anyway”. I’ve heard it all.

Maybe I’m ‘folding to pressure’. Maybe not. Look at any great leader, they’ve ALWAYS walked the streets of the people, even if it means having rocks thrown through their window, death threats, discouraging experiences, or harsh criticisms (from peers, too). To any self-reflecting person, it’s obvious that social media is equally as treacherous: depression, anxiety, suicide, failing critical thinking and communication skills that will ultimately lead to a very dull human experience unless our minds are completely wired to VR.

Professor of Leadership. That’s my title currently. How can I completely ignore THE MOST FREQUENTLY USED MEDIUM OF COMMUNICATION today, and call myself any sort of leader, or, an educator of leadership!

I plan to be one of them, one of the positive voices of great lasting impact, but we need so many more than what we have now.

This is a call to anyone that’s a true leader.

We have to learn the language. Simple as that. Like it or not.

I am talking to YOU!

If you hear this message, and most won’t, (it’s like a dog whistle — “the call to leaders”) but if it resonates with you, like it does to me, then I need to hear from you. Message me. It’s time to collaborate.

To me, the duty to education immediately follows any level of personal success or mastery. I have not mastered myself. Maybe you have. Although, I do feel comfortable saying that I’ve got a good foundation. I worked hard to build that.

While we continue this daunting climb, it becomes more and more evident to me that it is our DUTY to throw the rope back down, and pull everyone else up with us.

For some of you, I won’t take no for answer, you’re coming along. You know who you are. For others, let me know when you’ve made that choice.

I can help. I can educate you. Coach you. I can provide you the weapons you need. All you have to do is ask. Let’s lead.

4 Ways to Train Our Brain to Habituate ‘Incremental Progress’ – Inch by Inch Mindset

Inch-by-inch.

The Inches Speech by Al Pacino in the movie “Any Given Sunday”¬†gave me chills when my best friends and I, like some teenagers acting out a heroic warrior legacy, would listen to it before we¬†set out for battle…¬†football games.

The playing field is different for me now, and I must admit, I giggle a bit thinking about my 14 year old self listening to that speech, squeezing my hands over my headphones to block out the surrounding noise, Pacino’s words rattling through my skull:

“We can stay here and get the s*** kicked out of us, or, WE CAN FIGHT OUR WAY BACK! Into the light!”

“THAT’S WHAT LIVIN’ IS! THE 6 INCHES IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE!”

Inch-by-inch. 

That’s my story. Step-by-step. Scrapping my way out, from a meaningless, predestined self-sabotaging hell that I blindly accepted as ‘normal’ at one point in my life. Why? WE ARE NOT DISCIPLINED ENOUGH TO GET STARTED DOING THE THINGS THAT WE REALLY ACTUALLY WANT IN LIFE.

Not me. I wanted to be uncommon. To be great. The secret?

Inch-by-inch. Incremental progress.

I can’t give you a guide for every unique step, but understanding THE CONCEPT of incremental progress¬†is a must.

Not one damn thing worth having or achieving in this life is randomly happened upon or a result of overnight fortune. It is always a culmination of time invested, preparedness for opportunity, often countless immensely agonizing thoughts, and mostly, disciplined consistency.

Read it again. Go back, and read it again, say it to yourself.¬†‚áĎ

When I pulled out my notebook and began theorizing what it was, besides Pacino, that helped me to understand the importance of incremental progress, I came up with 4 very commonplace, basic training tools that anybody could implement into their life.

These 4, small, easy-to-do activities can help each of us train our brains to appreciate and catch momentum with incremental progress. The good thing, almost any person at any time of day, at any age, in any place, can do these things:

1) Piggy Bank

Seems like nobody keeps a piggy bank anymore. Maybe that’s because change is largely worthless these days. That said, we can just switch over to paper bills. I pop a $5 or $20 bill in a jar every couple days. There’s no better feeling than cracking that thing open and realizing that over time, the money we probably hadn’t been missing has been stacking up. Last time I cashed my piggy bank I had $600 saved up. Yay for me. Now I can afford 1 month of A/C in South Carolina. More importantly, it gave me the mental reinforcement that my consistent contributions truly were adding up.

2) Planting a Tree

This is a no brainer.
Planting and tending for trees probably takes the cake for “Most Life Metaphors Learned Ever”. Incremental progress, discipline, weathering storms, starting small (even when we’re weak) knowing that one day we’ll be strong and sturdy. It’s all there. Planting a tree, or tending a small garden in our yards is not only greatly beneficial to our overall psyche and worldview, but it’s a minimally time-consuming way to train our brains that consistent input starts the upward spiral, and we can physically see it every day/week/month that our tree continues to grow.

3) Physical Fitness

This one is easy. Even if it’s just a few walks a day or a 15 minute light rotational workout, consistency in a physical routine not only puts us in a better mood, but we’re mentally rewarded by¬†the progress we see in the mirror. That’s usually incentive enough to keep going. Just a few days of discipline to build the momentum. That’s how most difficult tasks are, just need to take it rep-by-rep, inch-by-inch.

4) Book Reading

If you’re like me, a consistent reading habit has come way too late in your life. I look back and think, had I known how impactful reading was going to be on my overall success, I would’ve started a better habit years ago. “It’s boring” or “I’m a slow reader”, they’re the worst excuses. Start small. Incremental! If we do 5 pages a day before we roll out of bed, we can finish a book in a month or less. To people that rarely read, the idea of finishing 12 books in a year sounds ludicrous (Self-Check: what is the last year that you did that in?). What’s not so crazy sounding? 5 pages a damn day. It’s not a death sentence. Start there. It’s unbelievably healthy for us, and to be honest, once that train gets moving, it’s hard to stop. Addiction to something that makes us better? Impossible! Not really.¬†

All 4 of these habits can be built into a daily schedule without much difficulty. Not to say that they won’t require some discipline, because they will. Over time, like all things, our natural understanding of incremental progress will improve with repetition.

If we train our brains with these habits, maybe we will one day stand as examples of how those small daily tasks are the only true way to achieve the great big dreams.

The inch-by-inch, step-by-step, the incremental progress mindset is one worth adopting.

 

nineeleven

It’s not what it once was.
Nothing ever is.

I think back to the tragedy that caught the Nation’s attention 17 years ago, and the way everything stood still, collectively suspended, in awe. Together, in awe.

Maybe the last time we stood collectively about anything.
Neighbors that hadn’t spoken in years, sharing tears.
Family who’d procrastinated making phone calls, chatted all night.
Games stopped.
Drama stopped.
Walmart probably didn’t close.

Schools stopped teaching (or testing).
Children didn’t stop learning, though.
I was a child in 2001‚ÄĒa 5th grader.
I learned a great many things that day. There’s a lot I still have not learned.

Are we wiser than our former selves?
Who was the enemy?
That fear, for months following, made every other small issue disappear.
How could anyone do this to innocent people?
We are innocent people, but we are not AN innocent people.
What will it take to unite us again? 

Many of our enemies are faceless, big and small. A great many heroes emerged that day and for years after, many of whom are also faceless.

To the faceless, uncommon humans, the hero sort,

Thank you for your courage. Thank you for freedom.

To anybody living courageously in the name of something truly just, at any time, thank you.

Our Intellectual Paralysis

The sort of person that can’t wait to learn something new,
to expand my mind into uncharted territory, that’s me!

Spending all day thinking about thinking,
and toying with the ready-to-pop potential that each author boasts,
I can’t help but buy the book.

All the hours of the day
I spend thinking about all the new things that
I could be learning.

And so I sit. And so they sit, those books, as heaps of useless words,
like a junkyard of 8-tracks and CD’s in a world of iPhones.

It’s a wretched, frightful thing to own a vast library
of books,
most of them never opened.

The thirst for knowledge,
That chalice of existential meaning,
Is more like the Holy Grail than any of us would prefer.
The path is rugged and daunting.
The commitment, great.
The detail, mundane.
The time, tiresome.

The chance, the lesson, the reward?

is Areté

Pick up the next book you see,
and start now.
It’s always worth it.

Trusting Our Vision

We should never feel guilty for staying true to our vision.

In the process-of-progress, it’s difficult for people to conceive in their mind the same outcomes that we have–our vision.

Any great vision is too complex for bystanders to fully comprehend. Spend no time or energy pondering the side-comments or evaluations of those who do not understand the bigger picture.

Those who do understand our vision, we need to hear, heeding their advice if necessary.

Maybe, it’s worth revisiting our vision. Especially so, if we never took the time to make sure it was the right vision in the first place.

The Calling

a poem by Jakob Gollon

You must not follow your heart.
You must not follow your heart.

For if you do
you’re sure to find,

its madness knows no walls.

Mountains have tried the pursuit of such,

and down to dust they fall.

Scattered bones, the Sirens call,
no footsteps in the sand.

Trails of crumbs are blown about.

None to guide the needing hand.

Do, though, chase along,
but do it not for cause, please son,
or reason

or for truth.

Take the reigns, and carve your way,
if the chase so howls your name.
Bludgeon the doubt that creeps within,

and find out why you came.

But if you’re the coward that heeds my bell,

and heavy flows the fear in you,

Then please my boy, start home at once,

By air, by boat or train.

‚Äėcause your heart wandered lost
way long ago,
and your whole pursuit
will be in vain.

Honeymoon to Ireland (2018) – I think we did it right

IMG_2697Only read this post if you love Ireland or you plan to visit there. It’s long-winded, and it goes into detail on what we did so that you might better plan your trip there.

To my regular blog post readers: this is unorthodox. Certainly, I am not a travel blogger, else you’d only get a blog update about once every 4 years.

I wrote this because I had numerous people that reached out to me about their own trips to Ireland coming up, and I thought it better to write it well, write it once, and be able to send them a link rather than spend an hour telling 20 different people about our experience. It also turned into somewhat of a memoir piece for Jamie (my wife) and I.

I hope this helps you on your trip! Share it with your friends if they plan to visit, and if there are questions, ask in the comments! Honeymoon to Ireland (2018) – I think we did it right

Time or Money?

What sort of value are we providing to our personal relationships?

Take for example, the father who pays $100/week to send his son to a top-notch baseball trainer. That father might make the assumption that his investment in his child is a valuable gift, but in what way?

There is value in that experience, specific to sports skills, but the financial investment by the father adds only abstract¬†value to the relationship that he has with his son. No matter how much it costs, it’s merely a money-gift, and the recipient can’t always quantify that.

Take now, the father who spends 2 hrs/week playing catch with his son in their yard instead. The relationship value added here is not abstract. Time or Money?