Serendipity

Making progress in life has plenty of serendipity in it.

It is hard to ignore the fact that MySpace was on the decline when Facebook was in the midst of their pseudo grassroots rollout to colleges. Hard to ignore Apple’s immense success following the release of the iPhone when the market was struggling to figure out what a smartphone was going to be and Apple released the simplest solution to the problem.

The rest of the time, you are left to make success on your own. Waiting for markets to be right means you might never go to market. Whereas finding the right first customer will always make a sale.

There are few guarantees in finding the right customer. You have to pick your customers and sell to them. Over and over again you sell to them. There will be many customers not buying before your first customer buys. Some of them will not be ready. Others will not understand. And yet, some will still just be afraid.

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But after your first customer buys, you will sell to your second customer some time later.

Then your third a little less time later.

Never will you have your third customer without your first two.

Likewise, your fourth is not without your third.

Your continuing to sell is what will lead to the right moment. You continued to be who you are until you found your right customer.

Who is your right customer? What does it look like for you to sell the way you are not the way you think you should be? How can you try more often to spread the word about your work?

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Success

Success seems to be an elusive unicorn. There have been so many different measurements and tests and surveys and models. Yet authors have not been able to write the definitive book that will lead to the success anyone is looking for.

On many levels it is easier to assume fairies show up and sprinkle success dust over the successful and do not sprinkle success dust over the unsuccessful.

I know I would rather assume the successful writers, speakers, authors, and software companies I want to align myself with are sprinkled with success dust and that is why I have not been able to attain a certain level of success or accolade in my life.

The more difficult assumption is to assume the successful showed up and put in the hard work and now they are successful because they started putting in the hard work and did not stop.

They

Did

Not

Stop

I am sure they wanted to stop. I am sure they had reasons to stop. There were hard moments when they were losing it all. Things were on the verge of not working and everything was about to catch fire if they stopped working.

Still, they kept going. They did not stop. And today they have the mark of success I look at and admire. It was not given to them. It was not an award the received for being the 1 millionth startup that year.

They showed up. They kept working. Especially when it was hard, they kept showing up.

What are you working on? What excuse are you giving yourself about not showing up? How can you start working on your project? When can you show up again? Have you put the appointment on your calendar to keep yourself from scheduling over it?

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Outsourcing

My mental health is my own to manage and no one else. I cannot outsource my mental health to anyone else. Given that I have no known chemical imbalances and do not suffer from any major life traumas, I am solely responsible for my own mental health.

Seeing a counselor helped me sort through some of my own thoughts, questions, perspectives, and ideas. But truly, my mental health was still my own to work through. I could not work on anything I was not willing to engage. I could not grow in any area I was not willing to assess and discuss and I could not improve if first I was not willing to admit an ability to be wrong in an area.

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Even still, at no point in my journey with a mental health professional was she responsible for my mental health. If I went off the deep end, nobody was going to be calling her. If I became a superstar, nobody was going to be questioning her about my accomplishments.

My friends are not responsible for my mental health. They can help me make good decisions and focus on the right priorities through their suggestions, pointed ideas, and willingness to have hard conversations with me.

Nobody was ever going to be calling them if I went off the deep end to get answers or calling them to credit them with a super success if I suddenly was achieving greater than I was ever achieving before.s

My mental health is my responsibility and I must focus on it and be conscious of it and be working on my mental health. It will not naturally improve on its own. It will always be improving or deteriorating. I must work to make sure I am involved in where it is going and not let it be influenced by unintentional factors.

I cannot outsource my mental healthcare.

You can outsource you car maintenance, housework, and even your meal planning. But you cannot outsource your mental healthcare.

How are you doing at self care? Are you paying attention to your mental state? Have you been generally grumpy lately? What emotion are you putting out to your friends and family? How are you doing at interacting with other people? Are your social skills up to the par they should be at? How is your mental health? What friend can help you assess your mental health?

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Switched

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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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I Woke Up Like This

Beyoncé may have woke up the way she did. But you and I oddly enough did not.

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It has taken us our whole lives to get to where we are. We are who we are because of the course of life we have lived, the decisions we have made, and the experiences we had as we lived life.

Your over or under productive lifestyle did not start yesterday and it is not going to disappear tomorrow. Your craving for sweets, dessert, ice-cream, and candy did not start three minutes ago and it will most likely not stop three minutes from now.

Similarly, our social standards did not start yesterday. The government policy was not born last week. The highway and transportation infrastructure was not built over night.

Why then do we expect to lose weight, pick up new habits, and perform social reform in a week.

Set a realistic incremental goal for yourself and start there.

Do you want to lose weight? Start going for a walk once a week. Once you have mastered your once a week walk, add in a second walk.

Whatever your incremental goal is, get a teammate to help you in the process. It is easier to shoot for the moon when you have teammates and friends to help you assemble the rocket.

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There and Back Again

Last summer, I had the opportunity to transition from Real Life to Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) at the Event Center. All in all, a pretty seamless transition. Of course I was sad to leave the Real Life family whom I had become so close to over the 8 years I had been a volunteer or staff member. All in all, it was the right move to make. I genuinely believe I was taken there for a reason and I am glad to have had the opportunity to be there.

While I was there I was able to make new friends and acquaintances with so many people within SEL and the Moscow-Pullman communities as a whole. I am so glad to have these new relationships. I am glad to have been a part of an organization wholly dedicated to producing quality products for their customers and continuing to be a staple of the community not only only on the Palouse and the Lewis-Clark Valley but all over the world. SEL is truly dedicated to making power safer, more reliable, and more economical.

After forty weeks, three weeks, and three days I have returned to Real Life to join the staff again as a part of the Creative Arts Team. I have been developing the way we plan and prepare for Sunday Mornings, our larger events, and finding and sharing the stories of God working in people’s lives within Real Life.

My time at SEL was not the best of times for a variety of reasons. I cannot speak to the parts of it that were not my responsibility but I can speak to the parts for which I know I am responsible. And there is no doubt I had a role to play in my time at SEL.

The biggest personal change I experienced is being knocked down a few notches. Going into SEL, I was very full of myself. I had grown and developed far beyond where I had started.

And

I

Knew

It

I left Real Life with an axe to grind, a chip on my shoulder, and my nose turned up at the world. My experience at SEL reminded me of who I am. I am a member of the cast of life, not the star of the show.

I learned several lessons in my time at SEL. I hope to lose none of them. But this one lesson I hope will never leave me personally. I do not know that I could ever teach someone the experience I received in developing my humility. My humility will now and forever be the best tool I have in learning from others, loving those who matter, and leading those who I am so fortunate to lead.

Humbly,

–JT

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Whole Task

When I start something I have a hard time finishing it. For instance, I have a hard time actually putting a post up after I have written it. I get lost or bored or distracted and then I just do not do it. I still agree and like what I have written, but it just does not make it from my computer to the front page.

This is merely a symptom of the overall problem and the lack of followthrough I can have. I have lots of great ideas, but not a lot of follow though.

Lately, I have really been working on my ability to follow through. To actually complete a task. Not to wait, or set it aside, or do part of it now and part of it later. I have been working to do the whole task in the moment I start it. And when I do not have time to do the whole task, I do not start the task.

It is so hard. I had no idea how many things I do part way.

From putting dishes in the sink when they belong in the dishwasher to sending a text or email to someone for lunch. I am finding so many things I have not been completing for no other reason than a lack of discipline and followthrough.

I started focusing my attention on completion sometime mid December and I quickly recognized I was sorely lacking this skill in so many areas of my personal life.

How do you do with bringing things to completion every time? How do you do with completing things in a timely manner? Where are some areas you lacking as a completionist?

Completing,

–JT

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Cranking Away

Given all of the changes and upcoming changes in my life. I am looking at a lot of turbulent times as far as my regular schedule goes. My schedule is actually becoming much more dynamic than it has been. Between my work schedule being variable and then you add a baby into the mix. I hear these babies like schedules but take some time to get into a rhythm and the amount of time it takes is relatively indeterminate.

Knowing these changes are not controllable, I have to pay attention to my priorities. I have to pay attention to the importance of my marriage, my health choices, and relationship choices. It is going to take discipline to maintain some semblance of sanity while I am in the midst of having my world rocked and yet trying to maintain these priorities.

As a matter-of-fact, I believe it is going to take me focusing on discipline to make sure I do not let myself give up my priorities in the midst of the change. All the change is going to test my resolve to whether or not I actually do prioritize these things or if I have only been giving them lip service while things are easy.

What other way do I have to prove how important these things are than when they are tested in the midst of the fire?

What do you prioritize? When was the last time your priorities were tested? Did the testing show your actual priorities to line up with your stated priorities? What needs to change?

Priortizing,

–JT

Diligence

Stumbling into success is not the way things happen. Stumbling into success like winning the lottery, it is rare. It is unreliable. It is not a sure thing. It is not the way to accomplish much. In order to reach my goals, I cannot expect I am going to win the lottery. 

I have to do the work I have to put in the time and learn my craft. I do not get to rocket up into history. Very few have ever rocketed into the history books without doing the work first, and most of them who have ‘made it’ without doing the work are called, ‘One hit wonders.’ In order to do something of value and of worth, I have to do the work required of me. I have to learn how to be a professional or an expert at what I do. 

The hardest part about doing the work is I have to do the work. I do not get to circumvent the process. The work must be done monthly, weekly, and, truly the best practice is to do the work, daily or more. I must be trying and pushing forward every day. Doing the work takes effort from me when I do not think I have any more effort.

Doing the work requires I am constantly trying to take the next step and get to the next level. Doing the work requires me to decide over and over again I believe what I am doing is the right thing and I have to believe I can succeed. I may not be excellent today. I may not be excellent tomorrow, but it will happen. It will take time and more than time . But it will happen.

What work do you need to be doing? How have you been doing at deciding the work you are doing is worth it? What is the next piece of work you are doing to provide meaning to others?

Working,

—JT