It only took me 40 years to really see how life moves along in themes.
At least in my experience.
It only took me 40 years to really see how life moves along in themes.
At least in my experience.
The older I’ve gotten, the more I won’t just give my time to anyone who asks or pushes anymore.
I’m very generous with sharing my experiences and expertise.
When asked to speak, or when I write like this, I’ve sought to be more and more vulnerable and transparent in order to help people. Sharing openly what I’ve learned. With the minimal return of knowing I made someone’s life better or easier.
I’m generous with my contacts and relationships. Likely too generous sometimes. If you’re a friend, and I can help you by introducing you to a mutually beneficial relationship, I’m fast to do so. In fact, I love introducing good people to each other just because they are good people who can do good things together, most often without me.
And for so long I was VERY generous with my time. And because of that, I allowed others to dictate the use of my time.
I got run over. I got taken advantage of. I spent time with people or sat through meetings where I literally felt the life draining out of me. And other times I was absolutely horrified and embarrassed to be in the presence of people who didn’t share my values.
Now I’m greedy and stubborn and insanely protective of my time.
Just because I seek to be supremely generous with so much of my life, doesn’t mean I give you free reign to my time and calendar.
So much so that I don’t have voicemail on my phone any longer. I figure if you need to get a hold of me and have my cell phone, you can text or email me, my preferred method of contact.
I usually don’t take blind appointments, without context and expectations, or those that drip of an obnoxious sales call. Just because you call me doesn’t obligate me to answer or return the call.
And I protect our team’s time too. We do that by locking our office up tight, don’t have our business name on the front of the building and have a doorbell that only rings to our executive assistant, who serves as our bouncer (we call her Painkiller).
You get my time generously if … you’re my wife, my children, my team, my partners, my family/friends, and my customers (in that order).
I prioritize those relationships first, so they get dibs on my time. Anything leftover likely goes back to another group in that list.
I’m not a closed door though … you also get some of my time if you’re a good and decent person who wants to learn and grow, and help others.
Here’s what I’ve learned about those who don’t deserve my time …
Try to get my time like that and I’ll say: Ain’t no one got time for that.
And this isn’t me saying I’m more important than anyone else, or even trying to rant or complain … it’s merely saying, I possess and am the steward of a limited resource that I don’t intend to squander what’s left of on those who aren’t worthy of it.
It’s also sharing what I value most (the opposite of the ‘Ain’t Got Time For That’ list). And who I’m striving to be as a human being, dad, teammate, leader, entrepreneur, and friend.
And, yes, if you get upset about all of this, then you just self-selected yourself out …
So thanks for saving me time.
For those of you who are on the list, or share my values but aren’t currently on the list, I can’t wait to share my time with you.
How about you? How are you managing the scarcest, non-renewable resource you have? And specifically who or what do you have in your life that’s pirating your precious time? And how do you scrub them/it out?
I’m confident the path to a better world is through understanding, respecting and then treasuring our differences.
When we see and believe in each other as all unique pieces in a masterful, beautiful puzzle, then we can feel the pride and purpose that comes with contributing to each other’s betterment.
We can then say we were part of something bigger and better rather than the fractured and dysfunctional people we too often are, daily by our actions discounting the reason that makes us unique and wonderful.
Just as I cannot do all things, but rather a few things well and good, others come in to offer their greatness.
That’s true wholeness and oneness and exponentially powerful.
We were created as equals but different and unique for a reason.
We need our differences, to come together as one, for each other.
That’s the world I want my children to eagerly rush into as they discover their unique purpose and place in it, and then to be fully free to give of themselves wholly to it.
I’m not sure I may see it … but my hope is forever in us, and them, to finally accomplish it.
One of the amazing takeaways I’ve had from my experience in the Oklahoma chapter Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO) is a saying I’ve heard often:
Carry Your Own Bags
The idea is … what you get out of the experience is what you make of it.
Your experience, happiness and fulfillment is your responsibility. Period.
It’s particularly appropriate within a group of successful entrepreneurs, but it applies to the rest of life as well — from your career, your business, traveling, or doing anything new or novel in your life.
And the effect of this advice has been profound for me — revolutionizing my life and business as I’ve actively employed it.
It forces me to say in any experience:
How will I make the most and best of this?
For instance, we have two toddlers. At one point, they were both in diapers. Sometimes, saying no to a toddler is an experience in hostage negotiation.
It’s tough, physically draining, emotionally exhausting work at times.
One would start sleeping through the night while the other was waking up. Or one would get sick. And then the other would too just as the first was getting better. Or it would rain and we couldn’t let them out in the backyard to burn off some energy. Or [insert every excuse to have a bad day and blame it on someone or something else here].
(Right now, if you’re thinking I was acting like my toddlers, you would be correct.)
And through it all, my wife Lindsey would often say … they are only this small for this time, let’s enjoy it.
To be honest, in the midst of a tough day, I didn’t want to hear that. Instead, I wanted to wallow in the misery of it. And ultimately, deep down, I wanted someone else to carry my bags, my responsibility and fix everything instantly so I could be happier.
But slowly I started realizing how right she was … and I said to myself: I must own my experience. I must make the most of it. Indeed, one day they will leave our nest and I’ll crave having them sit in my lap while I read a book to them.
My thinking, my attitude changed. For the better. And so did my experiences with them.
Now that doesn’t mean we don’t have bad days still. But it totally reframes my experience of it and seeks to move the needle from negative to positive.
Barbara Bradley Hagerty says, “Your thinking is your experience.” And she writes that experts claim 30-40 percent of our experience is what we think about it.
With a slight tweak, this is how I think about Carrying Your Own Bags now:
Your Attitude Is Your Experience.
I’ve done numerous things with a poor and negative attitude and made it worse for myself. I clouded my thinking to only see the bad. And in turn, I’ve spoiled countless experiences in my life as a result.
Bring a terrible attitude into the experience and the likelihood of you having a bad experience is pretty high.
You get what you put into it.
In fact, I’ve written before about how I changed my thinking and approach to attending an annual conference for WordPress entrepreneurs changed from terrible to awesome in one year.
It was all my attitude and approach.
It was completely my responsibility and fault that I previously had a bad time. No one could (or should have) made me happier, because that was totally on me.
So I took a step back, realized if I was going to keep going (my choice by the way), I needed to make some major adjustments.
Since doing that, now I thoroughly enjoy the event and it’s on my “Don’t Miss This” list every year.
Night and day difference … just by my attitude and approach.
So now with any experience (new or otherwise) I seek to switch my attitude from negative to positive. I try to reassess how I could be happier in the midst of a formerly bad time or event. I seek to be more open and flexible. I set aside my bias, past bad experiences and frankly, crankiness, and look to the brighter side and be productive and positive with my time in any experience.
I say to myself: “This is my day. This is my time. How do I make the most of this?”
This is my life. This is my time. And I’m going to carry my own bags through it.
What experiences are you expecting others to carry your baggage through?
What attitudes and approach could you change today to make your experiences better?
And then think how changing just a one thing — your attitude — could drastically make everything look and feel better.
It’s a better way to live.
I turned 40 this week. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about for the last year, and it finally happened.
So for my own sake, and for my children, and others who might enjoy it, I challenged myself to write 40 things I’ve learned in 40 years on earth.
Please note: I reserve the right to be wrong, to change and amend anything, but I think this is it. Mileage may vary. But grey hairs persist.
Here’s to the next 40!
P.S. — While the hair on my head has thinned and greyed … ear hair never stops growing. To the 20 or 30 year old reading this please know, the hair on your head retreats and replants in awkward places. Facts of life, people!