Archive for Life – Page 4

Overcoming Your Fear of Failure

Over the weekend, my wife Lindsey and I along with my brothers and their amazing wives were in Dallas. At a restaurant we played a game that would pose a question to our group then want us to discuss and answer it for the group.

One of the questions that I answered without question but stuck with me was this one:

Would you prefer to try and fail or never try?

I realize this is very unscientific of course. But the game said 81% of people playing answered “Never try” versus 19% who answered “Try and fail.”

That hit me hard. Upon reflection and mere gut intuition alone, I can see how that stat might be accurate for the majority of people.

But I’m a try and fail kind of guy. I’d rather fail fabulously than live with the regret of never knowing what could have been.

So this got me thinking about our fear of failure (been there, done that). And I want to offer some compelling reasons why you should try … and practical helps for doing so. To help you get over your paralyzing fears and to attempt great things with your life.

First Things First: Some Disclaimers

  • This post is about getting over the fear of failure and trying, starting, taking action on your dreams
  • Those hopes, dreams and goals should be positive, ones that don’t cause destruction or harm to other human beings
  • Quitting is different than trying. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t quit. I’m a quitter. But that’s all for another post. See Seth Godin’s The Dip for a great primer on when to quit and when to press on.

So with that, let me first give you some reasons for why never trying is a bad decision and add some personal perspective on them.

Why Never Trying Robs and Costs You More Than Failure:

  • You rob yourself of priceless experiences — Life is all about experiences. When you choose not to experience something you’re robbing yourself. In fact, the happiness experts actually suggest you BUY experiences.
  • You don’t learn anything new about yourself or the world — Failure is learning. Learning is failure. As my infant son learns to crawl and walk, I see continuous failure … and continuous learning. If he didn’t fall down, he wouldn’t learn how to get back up. We mistakenly cast failure in a negative light when it’s actually positive. The only true failure is not learning and growing from it.
  • It’s a waste of your time and talent on earth — We have one shot at this life (depending on your worldview). One chance, to use the skills, strengths, talents, time and energy you have. You’re a steward of those natural resources. Use them wisely and don’t squander them by never investing them in something worthwhile.
  • You’ve actually guaranteed your failure — If you never try, you fail 100% of the time. So the odds are better to try and fail than never try. I’ve found a large part of success is simply showing up, stepping out and taking the chance. Doing so means you increase the odds just by taking that one step out into the unknown.
  • Regret is a tough pill to swallow and irreversible — The top regret of the dying is “This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.” I’d rather try and fail miserably, then live with that kind of regret personally. Regret motivates me almost more than the rest combined.

OK, heavy stuff, I know … but now let’s unpack the reasons I hear or see (and have used myself) for why we never try.

3 Common Reasons We Fear Failure:

  • Fear of loss — When starting iThemes, it was health insurance and financial bankruptcy potentially. I had a great job, that allowed me to do what I wanted on nights and weekends. I could also lose credibility and relationships and my reputation. To me, those were early fears for me.
  • Fear of embarrassment — I probably live with this one more than anything, it goes: What if I fail and everybody labels me a failure? In eighth grade it was making the team but then looking stupid on the court. So I quit.
  • Fear of success — This is one I typically think of the least. I try because I can envision success and am typically energized by it. But I understand. It goes, if I submit this book proposal and it is accepted then I’ll have a ton of hard work and deadlines.

Ideas for What To Do About Those Fears

  • Take a small baby step toward it to build confidence — I wrote about Eating the Elephant (aka tackling any huge project or task previously here. What is the easiest, low risk step you can take in the direction of your goal or dream? Take that one itty bitty step. Then take another. Then another. (It eventually worked for Bob!)
  • List our your emotions and why exactly you’re afraid — Too often we let fear paralyze us without truly defining what the exact fears are. Listing them out in detail can often be the most therapeutic way to deal with them. And also realize how trivial or small they actually are.
  • Do a Pro Forma — This is more intellectual, than emotional, but is a great exercise we’ve done when we’re considering big audacious projects. When you know the spectrums of the cost and the reward, it helps formulate your gut response of courage.
  • Identify your roadblocks and start blowing them up — I read recently that exactly (just can’t remember where I saw it — I think Strategic Coach). But the idea stuck to me … find the things stopping you from doing what you want and just systematically eradicate them.
  • Enlist some help — For many entrepreneurs like myself, it was having partners. Just having other people involved in the undertaking gave me more confidence and lessened my fears. For any endeavor I take on now, I ensure my wife and life partner, Lindsey, is enlisted and supportive before starting.
  • Talk to someone who’s done it before — I find other people’s stories and experiences fascinating, enlightening and encouraging. I typically realize there was some perspective I hadn’t thought about. And just knowing someone else had done it before, helps me get the courage and confidence to take the next steps. In entrepreneurship, it was watching both my grandfather’s build and run their businesses. And my business partners had also been in business for a number of years which helped immensely for me. They had experiences to share when I was walking into my personal unknowns.
  • Gather all the key resources to be successful — Change the odds by building a base to feel more confidence and to increase your chances of success like coaching, partners, moral support, money, whatever you think you need to be maximize your chances for success. (Caveat: Don’t let these things become excuses for paralysis either.)

What are your tactics for combatting the fear of failure? (Put them in the comments below.)

Two final thoughts to leave you …

They are really quotes that have stuck with me and motivated and inspired me to try and fail.

The first …

“The tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.” -Albert Schweitzer

I ache when I think about the world-changing innovations, inventions, businesses, causes, actions that humans over the history of the world never attempted — the immense opportunity that lived in so many but died with them. How much better would the world be if we had tried and taken one bold step out into an unknown?

The second is longer but equally motivating and awesome to me …

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” –Teddy Roosevelt

Live in the arena of life. Take a bold step into its center stage. And dare to be great.

My Work Is My Hobby

I say often that I don’t have hobbies, at least the typical ones like others in my life have (like golf or hunting).

For many they might not like or agree with what I have to say about the subject of hobbies, but regardless, I want to share my experiences having a full-time job which replaces most any hobbies I might or would have.

Mileage and opinions may vary. And to each his own. But I’ll do my best just to share my own experiences.

So let’s put it out there: My work is my hobby.

I’ve achieved that because I have work-life alignment. In other words, my life interests and family dreams and goals are in alignment with what I do to earn a living. Thus, I don’t feel the need or have an interest in those typical hobbies I see others do.

Here are my thoughts on why my work is my hobby:

  • I finally found work I love and am passionate about — I am an entrepreneur. After switching jobs almost every two years for the first part of my career, I discovered a job (founder of iThemes) that allows me to do what I enjoy most every day. Now after 6 years I rarely have to do work that sucks. It challenges me every day and there is always something new to learn. I wake up excited about my work. And I have a hard time shutting down at the end of the day.
  • My work is my professional obsession — I realized early on that I have a very limited amount of time and energy and I need to spend them wisely. For example, I really love video games. If I had a hobby outside of my work, that likely might be it. But after getting a Wii for Christmas and several games, I quickly sobered up to the time commitment necessary to be as good as I wanted to be would mean I’d have to sacrifice my family and professional time. So I play it on occasion with my wife and friends, but don’t spend any time by myself playing after the first couple of weeks. It was easy to say “my work is my real hobby” again.
  • I built and play my own special video game every day — As an entrepreneur it’s been a blast to build my own unique video game to play. I call it iThemes. Each day, I get to check our scores (sales, customer happiness through the Net Promoter Score, and happy, fulfilled team members using their skills and strengths so they feel like their work is a hobby too). And through my actions and ideas, I get to affect the outcome of the game. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I win. But every day, I get to use my time and talents to win this game. This is why work is fun for me. I’m pretty good at it and learning each day how to get better. Pouring my time, energy and focus into this one game has helped me succeed and given me an insane amount of enjoyment over the years. This is called “flow.” 
  • I use my “time off” to sharpen my skills — If I had a hobby, it would be reading. But I don’t enjoy reading fiction as much as non-fiction. (Yes, I realize I’m weird.) For me, that means I get to read and learn about business, leadership and marketing and the business pays for my “hobby” because it helps me do my job better. So I don’t have to justify my expensive hobbies to my family.
  • I get to spend more time with my family — Working my main hobby for 40+ hours a week means when I clock out, I get to devote more of my time and focus to my family. Other hobbies would only eat into my family time that I’m not willing to give up.
  • I still have hobby-like activities — I do many things unrelated to my work. I just don’t spend as much time honing a skill around a hobby or focusing on it in excess (which I’d be prone to do). 
  • I still need to relax and recharge — I know a lot of people use hobbies as their stress relief valve. My grandfather had a collection of antique cars (yes, a hobby) where he spent time and got his stress relief. I find R&R in a variety of ways, including getaway weekends with my wife, watching movies, traveling, and writing. (If you call those hobbies, then I have hobbies.)
  • I’m still open to a hobby that’s not work-related — I’m always thinking about a side hobby I could pick up and learn and enjoy. But most of the hobbies I’ve found I would not enjoy. On paper, I think I would enjoy golf. But having played it several times during my college years, I knew that I’d have to obsess over mastering a decent game. Not even a good one, just a decent one to actually enjoy it. But no matter how many hobbies I’d love to try, I never enjoyed any of them. For instance, I’d love to do home improvement, but the first time I hit my finger with a hammer, I’d end up throwing the hammer through a wall (this may or may not have happened).
  • I want to devote my best time and energy to go to my family and my profession — These are most important to me than anything else. And because I found work I love, it makes it super easy for me to say and do that.
  • None of this happened overnight — Finally, I want to say, all of this just didn’t happen in an instant. I spent years toiling at jobs I hated and learning what I enjoyed most and what skills I could use to build my work hobby.

All of the above reasons are why I don’t feel bad when I can’t really list many hobbies. I just love my work. It’s the best hobby I’ve ever found.

Setting Goals for 2014: What Do I Want To Achieve This Year?

Buckle up … this is a long one. But I’ve been wanting to record what I’ve been working toward and learning the past couple of weeks, months and years about success and achievement, about goals, chief aims, habits, routines, and incremental progress. Take a deep breath and let’s go.


For the first couple weeks of 2014, I’ve been aligning my personal, professional and business goals and objectives for the year. It’s been some of the most energizing days for me as I’ve never been this happy and fulfilled in my personal and business lives. (And yes, at the same time.)

I’ve always been a goal-oriented, goal-driven person. I want to take on big summits (projects and causes that amp me up) in life. I love to look ahead at a big, huge task or project and set out toward it. So I really, really like goals and big ones.

In fact one of my favorite quotes is: “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao-tzu).

But I’ve been starting to rethink or clarify how I approach accomplishing my goals. And in this post I’m going to share my experiences, lessons learned, ideas and actions with you … mileage may vary, but I’m just offering my experiences for help for you to achieve your own definitions of success.

First things first, here are some ideas and exercises I’ve been working through, trying out or used in the past related to it:

  • 10x Goals This comes from Dan Sullivan, creator of the Strategic Coach® Program. A dear friend loaned me his book titled “How the Best Get Better” and as billed it was revolutionary for me. The idea of 10X is to that when setting goals most of us think how can we double our growth. But Sullivan says that’s harder. It’s easier to think 10X. It gets you thinking bigger and bolder. (Learn why 10x goals are easier than 2x here.) I did this 10X exercise for both personal and business. It was very enlightening and worthwhile exercise I’ll be doing more.
  • 30-day Challenges Matt Cutts of Google fame has a TEDtalk about trying something new for 30 days. Something you want to add to your life and trying it for 30 days. This is something I want to do in 2014. I’ve read frequently that doing anything consistently for around 30 days helps you establish new habits. (Now I’m going to add it to my Big Picture board.)
  • Future Facts or Visualizing Dec. 31 — this is something our business coach did with us a couple years ago. It was extremely enlightening for me. I love visualization, especially of goals.
  • The Painted Picture this comes from BackPocket COO Cameron Herold, who I had the opportunity to meet in OKC a couple months ago, it’s more Future Facts in 3 years. I haven’t done this yet, but want to do the exercise soon.
  • Keeping a Daily Journal of What I Accomplished — I read about the benefits of keeping a daily journal on the HBR blog and even watched a video on it. Taking notes, I signed up for iDoneThis and have been doing it for a couple of weeks. It’s forced me to be reflective about my day and think back about what I actually achieved. (I’m looking at DayOne App right now on the iPhone.)
  • One Page Strategic Plan — I had to hunt around for this (and found a recap here), but found it in the WayBack Machine archives. I did this several times at iThemes.
  • Big Things To Get Going in 2014 — In December, I did a Big Things mindmap about what key areas I needed to focus on for our company. Out of that exercise came 5 key things for me to personally champion. When I showed it to my COO, Matt Danner, he asked for one for himself, which I promptly did. Then I’ve since done it for our Marketing / Communication Team at iThemes. Most of this formulated my/our Big Picture boards I’ll talk about later.
  • 3 Year-End Questions — I saw several people do blog posts answering these three questions about last year: What went well this year? What didn’t go well this year? What am I working toward?
  • “Goals are for losers.” It’s all about systems — I got this from reading the awesome book “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big” by Scott Adams, the cartoonist behind Dilbert. “Goal-oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do.” He goes on to say: “A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.”  This got me thinking about processes and habits and making incremental progress.
  • Listed of key things I need to do on a weekly basis to be happy, productive and successful — this comes down to 5 buckets, which are: 1. Leading, dreaming, planning, aligning — I need to be always looking for what’s next and how to lead us there. 2. Reading, learning — I have to be learning or else I’ll whiter and die. 3. Writing, sharing, communicating — I

    need an outlet for what I’m learning. I have to share it. And I feel like I haven’t done this as much as I’ve wanted to in a while (more on writing later). 4. Connecting, building influence and impact — this is a big reason why I’ve been successful so far in life, and want to focus on connecting with new people this year while also growing key existing relationships. 5. Optimizing, refining, reflecting — I always want to be improving everything I do.

That’s all kind of background (and a healthy list of resources) to get here ….

How I’m Approaching 2014

Confession time: In the fall last year, for the first time in my life, I had a hard time visualizing what the next stage of success looks like for me. The reason? I’ve accomplished all of the big, audacious dreams I had since I was a teenager. I got to the point that the things I had always dreamed and worked for, I had finally achieved. And was left somewhat empty when, again, as a goal-driven person, started to look for that next summit to climb. It was a tough time.

Then I watched a documentary/biography of Ted Turner who said his father told him to always have huge dreams so that when you accomplish some you’ll always have something next to look forward to.

I think I had reached a level professionally where I knew the next stage might require sacrifices I wasn’t willing to give (namely time with my family). And simultaneously, I have never been more fulfilled and happy in my personal life. I have an amazing life partner, lover and friend in Lindsey and I have a beautiful, amazing, sweet baby boy (the highest item on my Bucket List).

So I set out to find new ones. And here’s where I’m at currently on two big areas of life — personal and professional:

  • Professionally — I want to keep growing iThemes and ensure its continual health and prosperity for all involved. The key things we did last year have energized me and made me very confident and excited about our future there. I have the best job in the world and want to keep it for as long as I can. Any strategies and effort I employ in 2014 will be to only bolster and build on to that success.
  • Personally — This was the soul searching one. But they centered around my wife and son first and foremost. Being healthy for them. Doing some family estate planning (it sucks, but we had to do it). And then starting to dream about extending our family with a second child, while also wanting desperately to eventually be a grandparent. Mostly it just involves cherishing and maximizing the time we have together on our little adventure.

Back to success now, and what I want to achieve in 2014 ….

I love Scott Adam’s philosophy on establishing systems and processes that increase the odds of luck and happiness and success. I agree that setting a very specific goal and feeling constant failure if you don’t reach it gives off negative feelings. Success is “the accomplishment of an aim or purpose.”

So along those lines, I tweaked my life’s purpose to Nurture Greatness in Others. Several years ago, I had established it as Inspire Greatness in Others. But last year, I realized I don’t want to just inspire it, I want to nurture, guide and be intentional about it. To know my life’s purpose has tremendously helped me establish and focus on the right goals and the right priorities.

And so here’s how I’m going about 2014 (so far) and what I’m setting my sights (my energy, time, focus, efforts) on this year.

My big aims or targets (yeah yeah, another word for goals right?) are:

  • Make the most out of our family time together — I have an amazing life partner and best friend who I cherish. We have a baby son who is turning 1 this month. It’s been a tremendously exciting year for our little family and only getting better as we are building our dream home this year and are hoping to get pregnant with our second child. This is the top of my list as I want to cherish every moment we have together. Learning to be a dad has been so awesome (something I hope to blog more about soon).
  • Build influence and impact — I want to be intentional about building new relationships and growing existing ones this year. This has been a recurring theme for me for the past several years. But this year, I’m setting my sites on key people and events where I can connect with those key people. Setting my 2014 calendar has helped me be a lot more intentional about it. It’s one of the areas I want desperately to focus on but seems to get pushed down the priority ladder more often than not.
  • Learn and grow, teach and share — This is foundational to my happiness. If I’m not learning, I’m dying. And if I’m not sharing what I’ve learned I feel like I’m wasting those lessons. Thus, I’m seeking to build processes and habits (which I’ll discuss later) around this key priority. One of the exciting things I want to continue to learn about and share is being a father. Additionally, I want to hone my public speaking and learn about angel investing. All subjects I want to impart what I’m learning on to others (mostly in the form of this blog).
  • Make  steps toward living a healthier life — when we had our son, Caloway, I put a new item on my Bucket List. I want to be able to meet my grandchildren one day. (Sorry for that pressure, Cal!) But I am 37 currently. And have known I will be an older father than most. Last Father’s Day I asked for a FitBit in order to make progress toward being healthier. It’s been a great reminder to walk more. Now I want to start adding in other healthy elements in my life — like trying to walk on our treadmill at work at least 15 minutes a day, drinking two glasses of water (minimum) a day, eating breakfast (I’m currently eating oatmeal), and being conscious to make smarter food choices. I think I’ll try some 30-day challenges a la Matt Cutts (above) for this. Honestly – this is going to be the toughest thing to do all year. They involve adding and changing habits. If I can make 1-2 healthier choices a day consistently, I’m going to be happy and hope to add on to that foundation with even more as the year goes on.
  • Keep optimizing for joy, health, love, happiness — For the last 3 or so years in particular, I’ve been intentional about optimizing every element of my life for happiness. Sometimes it’s meant ending relationships. Mostly it’s been about establishing healthy boundaries. The one great lesson my wife Lindsey has imparted to me is that time is precious and valuable. I don’t want to squander what time I have being miserable.

So this all begs the question:

How do I make progress toward these big overarching aims in 2014?

I believe in incremental progress. The steady, bite by bite, kind of progress that I’ve seen throughout my life make a huge difference in taking my life to the next level (sometimes beyond my wildest dreams). I know that my happiness depends on feeling like I am making progress — daily steps in the journey of a thousand steps — toward my goal.

And if each day I’m giving my best of my time, talent and treasure toward those summits in my life, I don’t need to necessarily put some arbitrary, lofty, fictitious, unrealistic goal on them.

So here’s how I’m setting out to make incremental progress on my chief aims this year:

  • Create and make a Big Picture list of my chief aims and refer to it daily. You’ll read more details on that next.
  • Keep a list of strategies, tactics and ideas for making incremental progress. What are all the things I can do that will make a meaningful impact toward my life summits, while also make the best use of my limited resources? Willpower, as Adams and others suggest, is a scarce resource that you have to manager well. I want to create this list so that as I make daily progress and time opens up I can pick from a pre-defined list of tasks to do.
  • Document progress so I have something to look back on. I’m still working on how to this efficiently and effectively. Lindsey and I were just chatting about how it’d be neat to be able to score points for things you do (like Weight Watchers for life goals). In the past I’ve been very bad at remembering and recording what I’ve done and accomplished. I’d much prefer to look to the future than the past, but realize this might help me remember and rejoice over the journey I set out on and steps I made.

Some Foundational Things I’ve Done So Far To Make For the Best Year Yet

Out of all of the above came a couple of key actions already that I think are going to pay rich dividends for me/us in 2014. Here they are:

  • Mapped out our iThemes 2014 Big Picture Board (using Trello) — This is what we’ve called our Strategic Plan in the past. Matt and I met for almost a day in early January to work through our company goals for the year and are in the process of meeting with each team and team member at iThemes to connect the dots and work through plans for achieving them. Matt is a Trello guru-genius. So much of how we did that board was his own insight and recommendations. For instance, on our Executive Big Picture Board, we have 7 key themes/areas, then we prioritized them (labeling them 5 as the highest to 1) and put one of our faces on them for action. Priority 5 (our top level) items must have due dates. Now we’re fleshing out notes and to-do items each week to ensure we’re making progress on these items. We’ve both been giddy about it frankly because we know it’s going to make a huge impact throughout the year toward reaching our goals.
  • Mapped out my Personal & Professional 2014 Big Picture Board (using Trello) — After doing our Executive Big Picture Board, I was inspired to do one for myself, both personally and professionally. Since then, I’ve since shared and work through it together with my wife, Lindsey, and she’s included her own personal goals and aims on it. We are partners. Wherever we go, we go together. And having one Big Picture Board together has been awesome for me. Overall, we’re still working and crystallizing it. But I have high hopes to accomplish key things this year.
  • Reviewed and set my 2014 Calendar — Several of the items on our Big Picture board had to do with personal and professional travel. One night (for maybe an hour) Lindsey and I worked through our 2014 calendar to think through and plan our year (without it planning us as has happened). I had set a goal of attending two WordCamps and two professional events outside of WordPress. Most of the dates are tentative, but we even set a tentative date for our annual Halloween party.
  • Wrote this post. It’s 2800 words so far, but I’m so happy and fulfilled doing it. It’s a recording for me and others to look back on. #BOOM

OK, so there are my thoughts, ideas, plans, research, lessons learned on goal setting. If you’d like to share your tips, please do so in the comments below!

Movie Review: Lone Survivor

My wife Lindsey knew I had read the book Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10 by Marcus Luttrell and was eager to see the movie based on it. And last night she scored early release tickets for us. My friend Matt and I went to see it together.

I won’t rate the movie in typically movie terms. That doesn’t seem right. It is based on a true story about real events and real people. Men who died fighting for our freedom. The film was in my mind a tribute to their story and to bring their story to a broader audience.

In that context, the movie does that in a huge way.

But I’ll give a word of caution: the movie is extremely graphic and brutal and painful … as were the actual events. To say it is not for the faint of heart is a serious understatement. That’s not to say you shouldn’t see it, that’s for your own judgment. But the bulk of the movie is extremely brutal and raw and resemble the first-person account I read in the book many years ago. As such It could be very disturbing to many.

My strong suggestion is this though: Read the book. Learn the full first-person story of patriotism, valor, sacrifice and brotherhood. Learn why those men willingly choose the hardest training on earth in one of the most dangerous places in the world. And finally, learn about the compassion and bravery of one Afghan village and some pieces of Afghan culture and history.

I read the book several years ago — mostly with tears and goosebumps. And I am going to begin re-reading it soon.

I remember thinking it should be read broadly for several reasons: 1. to understand the sacrifice and commitment of those who serve us in our military, and 2. to remind us to be thankful for them and the freedom we enjoy because of their service to our country.

The opening scenes in the movie have clips from real Navy SEAL training — details about which are intertwined brilliantly in the book and what makes it one of the most amazing stories I’ve ever read. (Marcus Luttrell also makes several cameo appearances in the movie.)

I have always been fascinated with the SEALs (and the military) as my brother wanted to be one. In my mind they are the real superheroes to me.

I have friends and family who have served in America’s military. I hold them in the highest regard. I stand in awe and have the utmost respect and admiration for the men and women who serve as I did not serve.

But I love my country and am so incredibly thankful for those men and women who sign up to serve, protect and defend us. And whose stories are hardly ever told in this light.

So I added a new Bucket list item: I want to meet Marcus Luttrell, shake his hand and tell him thank you for his sacrifice and service.

That’s something I try to do to every soldier I see whose names I won’t ever know.

They are all heroes to me.

So I Went to My Mental Health Counselor Yesterday …

There it is. All public and for the world to see. And now in a blog post for Google to index and cache and be permanently logged into my life’s record.

Yesterday, at 3:30 p.m. to be exact, I went to see my mental health counselor. His name is Kyle.

I’m posting this loud and proud because I’m an open, passionate advocate of good mental health. And as an advocate, I regularly encourage it for others when speaking to people publicly and privately.

I believe regular mental health checkups are just like physicals. You should get them regularly. Just like when we get the flu, and then typically go to our physician for help, we should also seek professional mental health guidance when we have issues we can’t seem to get past.

But that’s not what we do. It’s taboo to talk about mental health. I’ve seen and heard how people use the word “feelings” when referring to mental health. We paint it like some kind of touchy-feely weird thing that we don’t want to get close to …. mainly because I think we’re afraid of expressing those inner thoughts, the ones you have and never share, to anyone else. It makes us feel vulnerable and we don’t like feeling vulnerable.

And that has to change. Now.

Read the headlines and you can see how bad people are hurting. I promise you, it’s worse. It’s the world’s most hushed or silent epidemic.

And if it doesn’t change, these headlines are only going to get worse and more prolific. And the people hurting around you, the ones dying inside, are going to continue to suffer in silence.

I can almost guarantee you that someone you know (and love) right now is suffering with something so deep and hurting so profoundly … but hiding it all under the surface. They wear a mask of a smile, while dying inside.

So today, I want you to know … I live what I preach. I walk the talk.

I have a mental health counselor that I see 3-4 times a year (for my regular checkups) and have consistently for the last three years. And in my life I’ve had several counselors who have helped me work through things I needed an objective, professional assist with. For the big life change stuff — like divorce, marriage, having a child, death, even moving — I have sought and will continue to seek help. And in particular, if I find any combination of those big life events happening in life and I try to make that appointment ASAP.

So last week, I realized I was way overdue for a session with my counselor. I was dealing with some issues that I needed some help and perspective to sort through it all and to manage it better. So I went to Kyle yesterday. I talked it all out. I got and sought feedback and guidance on some things in my life. Afterward, even during, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I had new clarity to address certain issues in my life.

And I felt better and healthier for it.

He described this particular session as a “tuneup.” And yes, I feel tuned up. I feel like I’m running at a higher level of performance (and happiness and peace).

But let me say this … I’ll be back to see my mental health counselor. It’s not a one and done kind of thing. Just like I know at some point I’ll get physically sick again and need to go back to my doctor, I know I’ll need another tuneup. And maybe, most certainly actually, at some point, I’ll have something bigger that I’ll need someone to help walk me through it and the emotions that emerge from it.

So here’s the deal. The real reason I wrote this.

I let you know something that ordinarily my own first instinct would be to hide because I want to help you, help yourself.

I figure if someone who runs a 21-person award-winning, profitable company, who is respected in his community and by his peers, competitors and customers, says all of this so publicly, it might give you the courage to take a next step for your own mental health.

So here’s my challenge to you: If you don’t have a mental health professional you regularly see, find one today. Make an initial appointment. Find someone you can trust, has professional credentials and that you feel confident listens and can help walk with you through life’s challenges and obstacles.

Do it for yourself. Do it for those who love and care about you. Then once you do, encourage others to do the same.

It’s the only way we will help those silently suffering while making progress against an epidemic that no one really wants to talk about.

I will tell you … my life, my happiness, my peace, my joy, and those who love and care about me, are all better because I take care of my mental health.