“As an alcoholic, you will violate your standards quicker than you will lower them.”

–Robin Williams

How true that is for all of us with or without alcohol.

When I was in the midst of my own crazy cycle. The moment I realized I was nearing damage that could not be undone was when I stopped, self-reflected for a moment and realized how low my standards were compared to what my behavior was becoming.

The absolute dissolving of my standards was going to have to reach new lows in my life and my behavior was going to spiral out of control. I was going to lose it all.

Where are your standards at? Where are they headed? How do your actions compare to your standards?

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Great Data

Before an entrepreneur starts a new business, she should probably do some market research.

As lucrative as it is to run a coffee shop, she does not want to open one in a college town that already has nineteen.

Or maybe a yarn shop that only sells Bill Murray Ugly Sweater patterns is a little too niche of a market.

No matter what, she should do some research before she launches.


However, she can also paralyze herself. She starts to research her coffee shop and decides she should launch, but she is not sure what type of coffee to use and starts researching. The different coffees of the world. Eventually, she is flying all over the world to find the perfect coffee for her shop. But before she decides on the perfect coffee, she realizes that she also needs the perfect espresso machine and the perfect drip brew system.

Now she must find the perfect brew system to complement the perfect roast and make sure that they actually go together as the perfect pair. And before she knows it, she has blown her whole startup budget on researching all the perfect elements and has not sold a single cup of coffee.

What about opening her doors with a really good coffee with a really good espresso machine and a pretty good drip brewing system? She needs good data and an informed opinion, but she was trying to open a great coffee shop, not get her PhD in coffee and brew systems.

Where is research holding you back? Where are you letting yourself be hamstrung by your perceived needs versus your actual needs? Who can help you see where you are holding yourself back? Who can you help see where you are holding yourself back?

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Keep On Trucking

Long haul truckers have a special place in my heart.

My grandparents were, for as best as I can remember, long haul truckers my whole life till they started winding down to retire. They bustled all over the US trucking around hooking up loads, hauling them to who knows where, dropping them off, and grabbing a new load locally and doing it all over again.

They were pretty good at what they did and it meant a couple times a summer they would visit us for a weekend or a couple days or a weekend when they had a load that needed to come our direction.

I loved seeing my grandparents.

I so appreciate the many long hours and millions, maybe even a billion, miles they put on their truck bouncing all over the US. Mile after mile, load after load, they dutifully delivered their haul.

Much like any project, they started the load with a full tank of gas and a clear destination. And just the same, the more they worked the gas ran down. They had to stop and refill their tanks. It was not sexy or awesome, but they had to do it to keep going.

They paid attention to the maintenance their trucks needed. Kept food in the truck’s fridge. They kept going and took care of whatever it was that needed done as they went.

They did not get the load on the road and then walk away when the trip was longer than they expected because of bad weather.

They did not give up because they hit traffic and were slowed to a crawl because...rush hour.

They kept going despite being rerouted due to construction.

How are you doing with your life’s goals? Are you still moving forward despite the bad weather you have run into? What about the part of life that is incredibly slow? Are you sticking with it, knowing that it will pick up soon? How are you doing with the parts of life being unexpectedly rerouted? Are you keeping to the new course, knowing it eventually leads back to the road you were on?

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Zooming Out

An ant is tiny. The ant cannot comprehend the size of the continent it is on. It has no concept of the value and purpose it has in the context of the whole. It is digging, carrying, and working for the good of the whole with no any context at all.

Like the ant, a rat in a maze is wandering aimlessly through his labyrinth style prison following his senses looking for his goal.

To the ant, the ant hill is a large and a rocky knoll is a mountain. To the mouse the maze’s walls are the world it lives inside.

Our advantage is being able to stop and take a look down on their situations. We have perspective. There are globes to give us context of where we fit into the rest of the world. Our phones have maps with GPS to show us how to navigate the maze of roads, highways, and freeways we interact with.

How easily still do we find ourselves plowing through life with the same perspective as the ant and mouse?

My goals slowly narrow my perspective clouds from a wide angle at 150º or so down to 90º. Still a decent field of vision and useful to be successful, but not what it was. My vision still then narrows more until I am seeing less and less. At the end I am so focused on my goals I have been sucked into a 2 degree field of vision.

I am focused on my own problems and cannot see the value of my work in the context of the whole. I forget where I am and what my value is. I get my priorities out of alignment. I start to encourage marginal gains and growth sacrificing the bigger picture.

My tunnel vision is now costing us any progress we should be making and instead I cannot see around the biases I have developed. I cannot hear other voices through the noise I make. I are so focused on not tripping and being hurt again we cannot see the cliff we are about to walk off.

When was the last time you zoomed out on your life? When did you last assess your goals? What are your goals? What do you want to say you accomplished? What do you want to have said of you when you die?

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Dimes, nickels, pennies, quarters, fifty-cent pieces, Sacajawea dollar, silver dollar, and Susan B. Anthony’s to name a few.

Change, I have some in my pocket most of the time. It is heavy, cumbersome, and ladening. For the most part it is even on the way out as we transfer to a more digital currency and transactions. Long gone are the days of cashing a paycheck, for better or worse.

All the same, the change once so common and regular is now becoming more burdensome than fireman carrying a human sized sack of potatoes all day. It is dirty, germy, easily lost, rarely do we have enough to cover the exact change we need and more often than not, I end up with my change leading to more change.

And life is no different. Change is burdensome. I do not deal with it well. I especially do not deal with it well when it is brought into my life by other people. I want to be in charge of what I do or do not change.

And usually, if something changes, then something else is going to change too. Or whatever just changed will need to be changed further to make it work better for more use cases.

By the end of it all, there are enough changes to necessitate a full on retooling of the whole system.

Whether we like it or not, change happens. It is necessary. And we need it. We cannot expect the same system to work forever, we can expect to have to work together to make it work well.

How do you deal with change? What changes are going on for you at work? How are you dealing with them? What changes are going on for you personally? How are you dealing with those?

What changes do you need to make, but you have been putting off?

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Being Baby Bear

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Growing up I heard the story of Little Red Riding Hood. The story, as I remember it, is about this girl who stumbled upon a bear’s den, sampled their porridge, ate her favorite, and fell asleep in the most comfortable bed. The bears came home and were displeased with the eaten porridge and then punished the girl.

Obviously, the mom and dad bears were the judge, jury, and executors concerning her punishment. And Baby Bear was the innocent bystander watching the goings on.

Baby Bear did not have a say in the situation. As a matter of fact, he probably went to his Baby Bear bedroom, played with his bear legos, read a bear book, and maybe daydreamed about living in a bear’s galaxy far far away.

Baby Bear, had nothing to do with the situation besides having potentially shared some of his cold porridge with his mom who was woefully without porridge due to Red Riding Hood’s selfish porridge eating ways.

I realized I identify with Baby Bear. You might say he has been my spirit animal. However, the issue with being Baby Bear is that he has no active part, takes no active part, and does not participate in the story. It is time for me to take part, participate, and engage the story.

What is your role in the story? Which character do you identify with? What are the pros and cons of that character? What can you do to better engage your story?

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Moment of Offense

When someone offends you, there is a moment.

There is a decision in the moment to be offended. To react and to engage.

In all these parts and pieces. The moment of offense is lost. You take action and are moving on and making assumptions or decisions. Acting or overacting and being hurt and engaging accordingly.

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The moment of offense is the match.

Your processing of the offense is the fuse.

And your actions post processing is the dynamite.

The entirety of it all started in the moment of offense. But you are only in control of the fuse and the dynamite.

What if the next time you are offended, you decide to remove the fuse from the flame? Take it away from the burning unhealthy flame that is going to set fire. Instead, you investigate.

What caused your friend to make this decision? Why did they strike the match?

These are questions only they can answer, your assumptions cannot answer these questions.

How do you do when someone offends you? What is a healthy reaction? What is an unhealthy reaction? How would you want someone to respond to you when you offend them? How can you do this for people, even when they might not deserve it?

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I was pacing around the apartment for uninteresting reasons. As I paced I started finding a warm spot in the carpet.

Once I convinced myself I had not spilled warm liquid, my son had not drooled or peed, and the warm spot on the carpet was not about to spontaneously combust. I then decided that spot in the carpet was warm because of my pacing.

Obviously, I kept stepping in the exact same spot over and over again. The friction from my pacing then started to heat the spot, and only that spot, in the carpet. Then reality came crashing down.

The spot I kept stepping was warm because it was right next to the oil electric heater we had been running in the apartment.

This was a quick, 30 second, event. This is only a symptom of what I do all the time.

Convince myself of something completely inane using flawed logic leading to a crazy assumption.

What are you convincing yourself of? What is your thought process to get there? Where have you been using flawed logic? Who can help you sort out where you are using flawed logic?

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Mass transit is great for getting a lot of people from here to there on the predetermined schedule. In Europe, the mass transit systems more extensive and reliable than we might be familiar with in the United States. However, most of us have at least experienced the yellow cheese wagon buses that took us to and from school during our elementary school days.


No matter what, mass transit is a great resource with a very clear purpose and definition of what it is for.

Likewise we have many things we are for or in favor of. From washing dishes and cooking dinner to getting things done at work and running errands on the weekend. We have many things we are in favor of. We even have people we are in favor of. People we are developing relationships with or maintaining long standing relationships.

We also have people who are in favor of us. People who have helped us grow and mature. Decipher between right and wrong. And people who have helped us when things were not going so well.

These are people who have decided they were for us. They put themselves aside and chose to be for us in small and large ways. The network of people we have in our corner can be as numerous and extensive as the European transit system or as simple as a bus getting school children too and from school on any given day. Either way, the system of these people are in favor us and our success.

Who are you for? Whose corner are you in? Who are you supporting and helping? Who do you have in your corner? Who could you ask to be in your corner?

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How You Doing?

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“How has your week been?”

Simple question, and how we respond is what matters. We can respond with an oversimplified answer, ‘good, fine, or bad’. And that will suffice for a surface level conversation or passing greeting.

We can respond in the negative and unload all of the bad things that happened in our week regardless of any good things that might have happened in our week.

We can respond in the positive and blast all the happy-go-lucky positive veneer as if there is not hardly a single thing wrong in our corner of the universe.

Or we can be honest about where we are at and respond with the truth. It might be skewed that day or week depending on the majority of happenings in our week.

None of these responses are empirically right or wrong. When I am feeling antisocial, I will give a surface level response. And when things are generally anything other than really bad, I’ll give a positive response. Maybe it is time for me to be more honest in my responses.

How do you respond? Are you overly positive? Overly negative? Overly shallow? What would it look like to be more honest?

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Stay on Target

You have seen your organization state their goals. You you have seen your organization act on their actual goals. Hopefully the two are aligned.

Spending your time on your organization’s goals will always net a positive. Your role has stated goals. Spending your time on your role’s stated goals will always net a positive.

In your personal life, spending your time on your simple goals will net a positive. So that when you achieve the measured result, you can celebrate. As you execute the actions needed to attain your goal, you can check off the associated boxes. Once more, we can celebrate our completion especially when we hit our goal in the allotted time. And nothing feels better than hitting a goal that is relevant to you, your family, and your personal life.

What goals do you have for your life? Are they simple, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time specific? (Yes, I tweaked SMART goals to fit some of my priorities.) When was the last time you set, tweaked, or took action on your goals?

How about failure? Do you know what it would like to fail at your goals? Do you know what it would feel like to fail a your goals? When will you assess these decisions so you do not accidentally set yourself on the path to failure?

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Acting Out

Children react to things that they do not want to do with a pretty standard reaction. They push back on reasonable requests. Say no. Throw a fit. Or just plain ignore you and do what they want to do.

As they mature we help them see healthy ways to have these conversations. We help them see when they should do things they do not want to do. We help them convey their emotion in a healthy way. They start to develop their own ability to process their thoughts and feelings and convey them in a socially acceptable way.


Through the process, they become more mellow.

Their behavior changes when their parents call them out on unacceptable behavior.

How are you acting like a child (saying no, throwing a tantrum, ignoring requests)? How are you acting like a parent (calling others out when they act in unreasonable ways)?

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Habitual Nature


We are creatures of habit for the most part. We will do the usual thing in the usual way. Our habits and repetitive nature keep us predictable.

For someone you love, their predictive nature is why you love them. For someone who annoys you, their predictive nature is why you are annoyed.

What if you used the habitual nature of those who of others for your success? What if you took action in expectation of others’ habitual nature?

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“This is like shooting fish in a barrel.”

I have never shot fish in a barrel, but I am pretty sure it is not actually that easy. These fish are not sitting still. They are swimming around and bouncing all over the place. Especially when they get the scent of another dead fish in their water. How much will they be bouncing around then?

How about your teammate you just asked to take care of some odds and ends? It seems like it is going to take more than you expected. They are reasonable people. They are the expert in their field. That is why you went to them for help.

Maybe it is not as easy as flipping a switch.

Who is helping you? Are you doing everything they need to help them help you? Are you actual weighing the cost of your actions?

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Name Time

Giving your money a name or a category is nothing new. Dave Ramsey even says it is essential for budgeting. You give your money a name before you spend it so it ends up where it needs to go.

Ideally, you would prevent yourself from spending money frivolously. But there are tools like YNAB [You Need A Budget] or Mint that will automate the process helping you retroactively finding out where your money through classifications.

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But still, why stop there? What about time?

Our time is worth more than money. We have a limited number of years, months, days, and hours. Why do we only dictate the purpose of our money. We can earn more money. We only get so much time.

We cannot invent more time. We cannot rewind the clock.

How can we create categories for our time. Fill our calendars with intentional blocks of time dedicated to what we care about. Instead of letting our days be wasted by people who want to constantly steal away our time for pop up meetings and unplanned non-emergent meetings.

Where are you spending your time? How are you keeping track of your time? When you look back on what you have done this last year, month, or week, did you do what is most important to you?

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Say It Ain't So

You can say whatever you want, whenever you want, to whoever you want.

Go look at your Facebook feed. You can say whatever you want and there is little to no recourse for saying something wrong, offensive, or polarizing. You might get some rough comments from people polarized the opposite direction as you. You might get affirmation from people who agree with you.


But either way, you can say whatever you think to be true to a community of people who have decided they want to be your friend.

Is this really so different from two thousand years ago sitting around in the local city gates or town square and talking about the politics of the day? You could say whatever you want then too.

If you walked up to the conversation and someone didn’t want to hear what you had to say, they could walk away. But I am guessing people still sat around and agreed with their counterparts and objected against the other side.

The only difference I can see today is scale. Facebook connects us to more people than before. Today we are responsible for what we say just as much as we were 2000 years ago. And the same as 2000 years ago, the guy who thinks the earth is flat was not persuaded otherwise over the campfire or the Facebook post. Nothing any of the round earth people said ever made a difference. Why would they be persuaded today?

Should you post the next opinionated Facebook post? Should you gush your opinion into the comment section of your friend’s political post? Should you really post that? Should you really?

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I have never finished a stick of chapstick.

They have melted in the car or the drying machine. They have been lost in my regular routine and while traveling. I have accidentally thrown them away. And I have loaned them out and they were never returned.

As much as I would like to assume there is some creepy gnome out there with a hoard of partially used chapsticks, I am sure the issue is my ability to keep track of this little tube of lip balmy goodness.

What would it take do you think to finish a stick of chapstick? How much time, concentration, and routine would it take. Would it be the difference of buying some bulky Bluetooth tracker and then making sure it was in my vicinity at all times? Or maybe I need to take the gas station bathroom key approach and attach a one foot long piece of 2x4” to my chapstick.

In comparison, I have finished many sticks of deodorant. I do not struggle with losing them or misplacing them. They are always right where they need to be.

I use deodorant less than I use chapstick. I use chapstick multiple times a day but deodorant, for better or worse, only once a day. Why then do I struggle with losing one but not the other? They are both similarly important. They both require me to be consistent and careful about putting them away in the same place And still. I continually lose one but not the other.

How many other things in my life are like this? How many other things could easily be more useful if I was more careful and attentive to them? What other details am I missing or losing because I am not being careful enough?

How many relationships are you as careful with as you are your deodorant?

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Terminal Beard

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There is a phrase referring to beards called the terminal beard length. It is the maximum length a man can grow his beard. This is the longest a given man can grow his beard.

It is not limited by the man’s ability to curate and encourage his beard to grow, but instead it is limited by his genetics. He can’t grow a longer beard because he just does not have the capacity to grow a longer beard.

There is no cream, oil, or balm that he needs. There are no supplements to make it grow longer. There are only genetics, a healthy grooming regimen, and the beard. Most other factors do not matter. Therefore, he is limited to his given terminal beard length.

Similarly, we are limited in our given capacity for friendships and relationships. There are many different hairs of relationships. Short and long, the random gray hair. The hairs that end up knotted even though we just combed them last night. Or even the hair that feels like an iron spike despite the fact that we condition every morning.

There are many hairs and lengths of hairs. But we are still limited by the terminal beard length in the deepest relationships we have. The relationships that stretch all the way out to the very longest points in our beards. We are careful to condition and oil these hairs to keep them from falling out.

Our relational capacity is then limited to our ability to be there for the relationships that matter most to us. We might care about all the hairs in our beard, but we have to stop and invest in the ones longest and strongest.

Who are your friends who mean the most to you? Do they know they are so important to you? What are you doing to curate those relationships so they continue to be your longest strongest hairs?

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