Punch fear in the face!

I just got back from vacation.

As a family, we spent two beautiful weeks in the Dominican Republic. Aside from sibling rivalry (picture two normally beautiful children making every effort to drive the other one crazy) the trip was refreshing.

We visited friends and family.

There were laughs and smiles on the beach.

There were adventures! I punched fear in the face. TWICE.

First, there was the zip line 50 feet above a 90-foot deep lagoon.

Next, on a whim, I went paragliding for the first time.

I enjoyed each of these activities immensely. But, in all honesty, I didn’t want to do either of them before I started. Oh, there was part of me that wanted to but there were 1,000 other voices in my head telling me no. My knees shook, my heart fluttered, I dreamt up excuse after excuse to not take the leap (literally).

Rather than succumb to defeat I politely but firmly told my fears to shut it. And you know what?

IT WORKED!

I’m on to bigger fears now. One of them is writing this post. Another is sharing some of my fears…here they are:

  • Lose 20 pounds.
  • Be more vulnerable with my family.
  • Be disciplined about habits I’m trying to create.
  • Manage money better and not be afraid of it.

Wishing each of you the best as you face fears and give them a whack!

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Where will you arrive?

Ten years from now you will surely arrive. The question is, where? Jim Rohn

clayton_workout

I’ll never forget December 13, 2015. I was mindlessly browsing Facebook when I came across this photo of a high school friend. Pausing for a moment, I thought to myself here is a guy who graduated high school the same year as I did. We both played sports, I went on to play football in college. After that I lost the intensity and focus for exercise that I had. Here both of us are, twenty years later, he’s doing weighted pull-ups and I rarely exercise. I’m overweight.

What will things be like twenty years from now? I pictured myself on the same path – gaining more weight, health problems with my heart, joints, etc. Would I enjoy activities with my kids and grandkids or would I be too tired or physically unable to participate? Would I be here?

I made an important choice that night and signed up for a CrossFit membership. My first class was on December 15, 2015 and it wasn’t pretty. I felt like passing out. I felt like a failure. At the end of the class I walked outside, hugged a dumpster and threw up.

But I came back. Again and again I came back, showed up, did the reps and worked hard.

I’m not doing weighted pull-ups (yet!) but I’ve noticed improvements. I have more energy. A few months ago I could touch the rim again, something I haven’t been able to do since college.

Starting the day with exercise completely changes my outlook of the day. I’ve already accomplished something on a day when I would have normally been sleeping. I have energy. I have focus.

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This was me today. One year later, December 15th 2016. I made it one year! It hasn’t been perfect, but there has been progress. Plenty of pain but plenty of fun and success. I’m looking forward to what 2017 will bring!

 

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Don’t stop!

I was at a trade show this week, promoting a mobile platform for the agriculture industry. We built the premier mobile platform for the grain industry – you should check it out here: https://magrifarm.com/

The trade show ended at 6:30 on Monday night, and exhibitors were supposed to leave booths up until 6:30 before starting to tear things down. At 6:05 several exhibitors were already disassembling booths, making their way out the door minutes later.

Really?

Why stop there? Wouldn’t it be better to wait? That last conversation you have might lead to the biggest sale of the year. Perhaps a prospect walks by who meant to earlier, only to see you busy being a quitter.

It reminds me of Napoleon Hill’s story of the miner who quit three feet from gold. I won’t re-hash it here, as it’s been dissected and discussed thousands of times elsewhere. You can read a good summary here: http://inspirationalperspective.com/2013/06/02/are-you-stopping-3-feet-from-gold/

After 6:30 we started tearing down our booth. Fifteen minutes later the CEO of a large agriculture software company came by wanting to talk. We answered her questions and have a meeting setup for next week to discuss working together.

Put in the extra time. Don’t settle. You never know what might come of it.

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I love food and the people I meet because of it!

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve always enjoyed food. Well, that’s not 100% true. My parents told me that when I was a baby, I was born premature and had trouble eating. This didn’t last long though. One day my dad was watching me at home and fed me an entire bowl of oatmeal. To his surprise I ate the whole thing and haven’t looked back since!

As a kid I was an adventurous eater, always wanting to try different things at restaurants. One time when I was eight years old, we were at a restaurant. The waitress asked me what I wanted and I said “PBR me!” My parents put a stop to that one before I got in any trouble. Another time we went to the original Chipotle’s (before it was a national franchise). I ordered the veggie burrito because a black bean burrito sounded like a good idea. I still haven’t lived that one down with my family, despite being 12 at the time.

I am fascinated by foods in different cultures. They are a gateway to understanding a culture’s history and behavior. There are always amazing stories around food. Ask someone to tell you about their favorite meal or dish, and their eyes will light up. They will share a memory of a meal at their grandmother’s house or perhaps a travel experience.

For this reason I started a group in Fargo called “The International Potluck“. It’s mission was to connect people through food and story-telling. My own selfish ambition was to meet new people and try some good food. The first Potluck was held in February of 2016. 25 people showed up, all invited by me. We had a great time sharing food and stories. Someone offered to host the next one at his studio. Oh, of course there should be a next one!

Attendees of the first Potluck
Attendees of the first Potluck

Two months later we did just that. This time 65 people came! I knew 10 of them. I thought to myself, I might be on to something here…

The second Potluck -
The second Potluck –

In June we hosted another. Same thing – 65 people, I knew a few of them. People asking if we would host another one in July. They offered to help with setup, graphic design, etc. It was growing!

The third Potluck, hosted in June
The third Potluck, hosted in June

Shortly after that event I received an e-mail from a dear friend. She introduced me to the CEO of the Plains Art Museum. The museum wanted to host community events in the cafe; was I interested in hosting my Potluck there? Of course I was! We met, planned an event for October. 100 people came! We had a speaker who shared the story of the Yazidi people. A TV crew came to interview him.

Fourth Potluck, first one at the Plains! This was a proud moment for me.
Fourth Potluck, first one at the Plains! This was a proud moment for me.

I’ve met many wonderful people through this event. In the coming weeks I will share stories about each of them, telling their background and some of the fun we have had.

Many cultures, one plate
Many cultures, one plate
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Setting goals, big or small

Several weeks ago I hurt my elbow and have been using modified workouts at CrossFit. Today I was doing air squats and sit ups while the rest of the group was on the row machines and doing pull ups. For my first round I worked hard (or so I thought) and logged 25 air squats and 24 sit ups. During the minute break I thought to myself “I wonder if I could do 30?”

The next round I did 35 squats and 30 sit ups! Now we were rolling. I had a challenge each time. Rather than going into the minute thinking “get as many done as possible” I had a challenge…I had a mission. Hit 30 of each. Most of the rounds I hit my goal but I noticed a few things about the workout after I changed gears:

  1. Going at it by yourself is tough. When you are working out with a group, there are people around you to challenge you. It’s a natural competition and drive to do better. You are all in it together. When you are doing your own thing, those driving factors are gone and the motivation needs to come within.
  2. Set specific goals. When I approached the minute with a goal in mind, it changed my intensity. I had focus. The minute had a purpose.
  3. Celebrate! When I had a specific number in mind, it gave me something to look forward to. I was working towards that number and felt GREAT when I hit 34 or 35. Without that expectation it wouldn’t have felt the same way.

What are some of the ways you set goals for the small things?

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How do you start your day?

 

Several weeks ago, Jeff Bajorek posted a short but important video on YouTube. “What’s The First Thing You Do Every Day?”  Once you are ready for work, how do you start? Most people would answer by saying they check e-mail or social media.

Jeff notes that most people look for something to react to, rather than seizing the day. Do something positive! Take a few minutes to read 10 pages from a book that inspires you. Watch a motivational video on YouTube. DO SOMETHING that inspires you to approach the day with vigor.

His challenge was to take the rest of that week and next to start your day like this. I thought to myself, “I like this! I’m going to do it.” Here’s what happened.

When I wake up in the morning, my mind is like a coiled up spring. Energy bottled up from the previous night’s sleep that needs to go somewhere. I noticed the following on days that started with exercise a positive mindset:

  • I was more focused, accomplished more, and was more fun to be around.
  • Time felt more effortless.
  • Days had a clearer purpose.

On the days where I missed exercise and the right start:

  • My activities were less efficient.
  • It took more energy to get started with or move between tasks.
  • Negative thoughts increased exponentially.

Jim Rohn once said: “Don’t start the day until it is pretty well finished — at least the outline of the day. Leave some room to improvise. Leave some room for extra strategies, but finish it before you start it.”

This begins with your mindset. Have a positive mindset, set a vision for the day, then approach it with vigor!

What’s the first thing you do every day? Are there certain authors or people you follow, things you do to get motivated? Let me know in the comments.

 

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Opportunity Knocks

That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often it comes disguised in the form of misfortune, or temporary defeat. Perhaps this is why so many fail to recognize opportunity.

– Napoleon Hill

I spoke with a friend who is facing some critical decisions for his business. The results of the choices will dramatically change its future direction. Challenging the practices that have brought the business to this point has created tension. The results of the choices will mean letting go of some practices and focusing on others for growth.

On one hand, it would be tempting to be nostalgic. After all, he built the operations around this area and it would mean letting go of that part of the business. It could be tempting to take a negative view and see this as a defeat. I could think “I failed because we are no longer doing this part of the business.”

I’ve also struggled with this mentality. It would be easy to look at my time moving back to Kulm as a defeat, rather than an opportunity. My mind would then be filled with regret. I would want to avoid thinking about my time there. I could feel shame about the decision.

Instead, I see that “temporary defeat” as a gateway to new opportunity. I learned things about myself that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I was able to learn valuable skills in business operations, sales, and marketing. Our family was able to spend two wonderful years living right next to my parents. Those memories are invaluable and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

During our conversation we talked about an upcoming project that will be stressful. My first reaction was to say: “It will be fun!” (People soon learn I have a strange definition of a fun time…)

It goes back to how I think. Will I look at a tough situation with fear and doubt? Or will I approach the endeavor with a spirit of enthusiasm, optimism, and curiosity? Certainly the work will be real, there will be legitimate problems to solve, and I will feel stress at times. But if I begin with a spirit of enthusiasm, optimism, and curiosity I will discover those moments.

How do you approach difficult situations? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!


Earlier this week I started re-reading Napoleon Hills’ classic “Think and Grow Rich.” I’d like to post my thoughts here on a regular basis for your own reflection. Hopefully this sparks some thoughts in your life and a conversation with me about it!

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The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work (And How to Fix Them)

Looking back on the past eight years I’d be lying if I said that everything has been wonderful. There have been many stressful moments, most of them self-inflicted.

I got involved with a family business for the wrong reasons. Our family relocated…twice. I sat with indifference for several years at my day job just waiting for the right moment to be anointed as a leader. I fought with those around me – my spouse, my children, myself, my brother, my parents. I waited for others to make decisions then blamed them for my own lack of self-determination.

James Clear has identified three stages where people fail in life and work:

https://medium.com/the-mission/the-3-stages-of-failure-in-life-and-work-and-how-to-fix-them-5d69196e0b38#.i5xy28qag

The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work
The 3 Stages of Failure in Life and Work

I’m not ashamed to say I’ve fell down on all the points listed in the article. The idea that struck me most while reading this article was the example of Emerson.

Like many children, Emerson followed the path of his father to the same school and the same profession before opening his eyes and realizing it wasn’t what he wanted. Adopting someone else’s vision as your own — whether it be from family, friends, celebrities, your boss, or society as a whole — is unlikely to lead to your personal dream. Your identity and your habits need to be aligned.

My work in progress from this article is to determine my non-negotiable. I also stand to improve how I handle criticism (read: I don’t handle criticism well at all).

Which stage do you identify with most? Where are you at on the journey? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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“I think I just tooted”

Last night I went through the normal bedtime routine with Emma. We read our princess story, sang a few songs, then snuggled and prayed.

As I got up I looked at her and said “I love you so much Emma, I am grateful for every moment with you and thank God for you every day.”

Emma smiled and responded: “I think I just tooted…”

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“The Land of the Lines”

I don’t impose limits on myself. If I find a better idea for a scene, I adapt the story. That way, the narration remains instinctive, which is especially important for a story like The Land of Lines.

-Victor Hussenot

One of the things I love about having children is the opportunity to see the world through their eyes. It keeps my sense of wonder fresh and new every day. Stuff that could easily be ignored by adults such as graphic novels or animated films are part of a parent’s daily rhythm.

Several months ago I was browsing through Zandbroz Variety (my favorite store in Fargo) and started flipping through a book. At first I found myself idly flipping through pages waiting for the words to start but soon realized there were no words. Only lines and pictures.

Intrigued I started over and began my journey in the land of the lines.

Click the picture for a great interview with the author – but beware the spoilers if you plan on reading the book.

Slowly but surely the story drew me in and I followed this journey of discovery, adventure, and more. I found myself feeling connected to these characters and feeling a sense of sadness when the story ended. How could I feel sad about a few lines after only a five minute read?

There is power and beauty in simplicity. If you haven’t read the book, stop by my office and take a quick peek (it only takes 5 minutes to read), then buy yourself a copy and pay it forward.

In the land of lines, anything is possible…

 

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