Occasionally we make mistakes that were preventable. Sometimes we made the best decision we could in challenging circumstances. Either way, hindsight is 20/20 and it’s easy to look back and second guess yourself. It’s healthy and important to deal with your past, but you need to remember to keep your past in your past and not let those mistakes and feelings ruin NOW. I’ve been fairly successful in most aspects of my life. However, I’ve spent about two years dealing with resolving some things that have bothered me for a long time and its challenging.
It’s not just challenging to deal with past mistakes and errors of judgment though, it’s MORE challenging to keep it there and not let myself stewing on and trying to learn from these things create new challenges in the present. What I have tried to focus on lately is keeping my eyes focused forward while dealing with some that bother me while not second-guessing myself.
Good leaders frequently make challenging decisions.
As a leader at work, at home, and in life we often have challenging circumstances with no “correct answer”. When we are in those situations all we can do is rely on our gut, our training, and our moral compass to keep us pointed in the right direction. Remember this: Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your path. (Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV) If you have done that there is no reason to second guess yourself. You have done the best you could with the tools you had. Knowing more now or having a better toolset can sometimes make you look back and say: “I wish I had done this differently.” or “Why did I let this happen?” allowing yourself to dwell on this just frustrates you and makes you angry.
All you can really do with your mistakes is learn from them, add to your toolbox and move forward armed with new experiences and skill sets. If you’re doing this regularly you are doing the best anyone can do and that’s all that is reasonable to ask of yourself. Sometimes you just need to take your lumps, learn, adapt, and change so you can grow.
Where do the answers lie?
I wish I had all the answers. I spend a lot of time here sharing answers with people and giving sound advice on leadership, sales, and, marketing issues but some answers are just out of reach for most of us. Fortunately, I know someone with ALL the answers and I turn to him frequently to guide me through troubled waters, to aid me in making sound decisions, and to lead me in the right direction when I am unsure. I attribute 100% of my past and future success to my faith and reliance on God and my relationship with Jesus.
10 Verses to meditate on when life is challenging you.
When I am down or face difficult decisions I focus on this knowledge:
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
II Corinthians 9:8 NIV And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
Colossians 3:23 ESV Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
Psalm 5:3 (NIV) In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning, I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
Philippians 3:13-14 (NIV) Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
Romans 12:2 NIV Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.
II Timothy 1:7 NIV For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.
Mark 8:36 ESV For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Joshua 1:9 NIV Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.
Habakkuk 2:3 TLB But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, do not despair, for these things will surely come to pass. Just be patient! They will not be overdue a single day.
So how did I deal with my challenges?
I spent a good chunk of my early morning today in prayer before I went to the gym and thinking about this post. Fortunately, after I got there I had time to meditate some more, my pre-workout was kicking, I had a solid workout, and my week is off to a great start. I am constantly reminding myself to remember to keep a positive attitude, focus on the things I can control, and to not let circumstances beyond my control keep me down. I’m not perfect, and life isn’t either, but I put a solid effort in every day to improve myself and my life in some way. Staying focused on the #1 thing I CAN control (my attitude) keeps me happy, positive, and focused on whats most important.
I try to remind myself in life despite my stumbles and mistakes, Jesus wants me to win! In fact, the Bible commands it: Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. (I Corinthians 9:24 NIV) So that’s it right there. I have to get up every day and run with all my heart and energy, my eyes focused forward, and my heart filled with the joy of the lord. No challenge is too big and no race is too long because I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)
Finally, I’ll leave you with this thought: Behold, I am doing something new! It’s already happening; don’t you recognize it? I will clear a way in the desert. I will make rivers on dry land. (Isaiah 43:19 GOD’S WORD® Translation) I hope reading this has helped you like writing it helped me. Feel free to drop me a comment with your thoughts. I promise I’ll respond.
I read an awesome post by Mary Morgan earlier today that got me thinking about trust, values, and honor. It really had me thinking about your personal brand in relationships and how that effects business.
Whether we are talking about leadership, sales, marketing, or even parenting, trust is an essential element in any healthy relationship. Earlier this week I wrote about Why Your Social Media Marketing Sucks. I hope that beyond the hard skills you walked away from that thinking about relationships and trust as an essential part of that mix.
Your Personal Brand
Here is the deal… everything you do or say is either helping or harming your brand. Yes, you have a brand, even if you are not a speaker, writer or consultant. Obviously, your company has a brand and the product or services that company produces affect it. However, many professionals forget that they themselves have a personal brand and that hiring decisions are frequently based on it. In this day and age understanding this is critical because everything you do or say affects it. If you want to get an idea of what your personal brand looks like right now you can do a couple of things.
First, you can ask people who are close to you to candidly share some information about what they or others think of you and why. Second, you can Google yourself. You can learn a lot about someone by Googling them. If you just looked at mine you can see that I have spent years monitoring and developing my personal brand, but when you dig into it you can see that I am consistent and real. There are no surprises in there. My blog and LinkedIn come up prominently, but digging deeper you can see I have been mentioned on a lot of top-notch sales and marketing blogs. These are all things that reinforce my brand.
Why Should I Care About My Personal Brand?
That’s easy. You should care about your personal brand because whether you are aware of it or not it is representing you everywhere you go. It’s more than just your reputation, its who you are and what you stand for and people are checking up on it.
After my divorce, I started dating again, and I Googled everyone I went out with. I was looking at where they worked, who they were friends with and what they were posting in social media to ensure I saw parity between what I was being told and what I found. I have custody of my kids and I was making an effort to ensure that moving forward I was certain the people I was seeing were people I would be ok eventually exposing my children to.
When our kids come home talking about a new boy or girl, my wife and I are doing the same thing. We are looking at what that kid is posting, who their parents are, and seeing if they know people we know so that we can get an idea of what kind of person our child is (potentially) dating. We also make an effort to meet the kid and ideally their parents.
Professionally, I research everyone before I extend an offer. I’m reading your LinkedIn Profile, checking your Facebook and Twitter, and again making sure I do not see anything that seems contrary to what I heard in my interview process. A lot of my hiring process is based on personality and fit with my team. A large part of determining that it is based on manners, morals, ethics, and emotional intelligence so I’m checking to see if what you are posting, liking and commenting on are aligned with your words.
In all three scenarios, s I’m trying to confirm trust. I’ve decided I want to trust you now I’m doing some due diligence to ensure I can. If you are a company I am reading your reviews and looking for customers you use your product so I can talk to them and see what they think. I do not like to make mistakes and I make very few “bad hires” because I am meticulous and careful in this process.
My Personal Brand
I’m going to share a little about my own personal brand because I think it is helpful to see before you start thinking about how to craft your own. Mine is heavily focused on trust, sound leadership advice, and outstanding sales and marketing industry knowledge. When it comes to relationships your reputation and trust are all you have. It follows you everywhere you go and your actions are either improving it or tarnishing it. If you read my blog for any period of time you know a few things about me:
I value relationships
I’m generally more concerned with happiness than money
My family is important
I’m generous with my time and knowledge
I try to be humble and kind in all situations
When you google me nearly everything you find reinforces those ideas and or is displaying my excellent sales and marketing industry knowledge and experience.
Developing My Personal Brand
My personal brand is heavily influenced by the Navy / Marine Corps Core Values of Honor, Courage, and Commitment. Largely, this is because that was a driving force in molding who I am as a man through young adulthood and because those values were driven in repetitively and I owned them. Later in life, I became a Christian and I was able to develop a much deeper level of commitment to those same ideals based off of sound biblical principles.
This one is tough to define. How does one act honorably? For me, this revolves around keeping my word and behaving in a way that honors God and makes people want to say good things about me. Being selfless, putting the needs of others before myself. leading with integrity. Think about it like a modern knights code of chivalry.
Being courageous is easier to define. It’s not about running into harm’s way, though there are times that is the honorable thing to do. Far more frequently, your opportunity to be courageous revolves around being honest in a difficult situation or making tough decisions based on ethical principle you hold that are unpopular but important.
This is easy. You follow through on what you agree to. You are a person who keeps their word. You do not lie even when it would be easy and you are unlikely to be caught. When people ask for help you give freely.
Biblical Principals That Drive My Personal Brand
I’m not a person that walks around quoting scripture all day, but my relationship with Christ is a large part of who I am and a strong influencer of my overall philosophy in life and business. With that in mind here are a couple of my guiding principals of Bible verses that further explain my own philosophy on trust in relationships and define the personal brand I personally am trying to maintain.
Luke 6:31Do to others as you would have them do to you.
The golden rule. Treat everyone like you would want to be treated. Be kind, thoughtful, and respectful in everything you do.
Proverbs 19:20Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.
I try to continually improve myself. I study, read blogs, listen to podcasts, and seek wise counsel frequently. I own my mistakes and learn from them. I go out of my way to accept even painful correction or discipline with an open mind and soft heart. I seek out mentorship and focus on being coachable.
Proverbs 13:20Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.
1 Corinthians 15:33Do not be misled: “Bad company corrupts good character.”
Who you hang out with defines you to some degree. A wise friend told me once to look at the 5 people I spend most of my time with and I would become an average of their qualities. I’m not sure about the math, but I know that over time your thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors are absolutely influenced by who you chose to spend your time with. Choose your friends wisely. Try your best to be a good influence on those making poor decisions or displaying qualities of poor character, but make every effort to spend time with people on your level or better. Be forward thinking. Some friends of the past are better left in the past.
Colossians 3:23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.
Whatever you do be all in all the time. Always work with honesty and integrity. Provide your best quality of work no matter what you do, who you do it for, or how much you are being paid.
1 Peter 5:6-7Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
Remain humble. Pass on credit for wins to your staff and own your losses. Remember without those around you. Always remember that alone you are nothing. No man is an island, you need your family, friends, and coworkers to support you and nobody gets behind someone who is arrogant or a bragger.
Ephesians 4:2-3Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
3Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
This one is tough for me sometimes because my early leadership experience comes from the infantry and I will always have a warrior’s heart. It’s taken time to get good at this, but I try in any situation to be humble consider that I could be wrong, to control my anger or frustration, and think clearly while acting with love and kindness in my heart. Being tough is a hard like to walk. You can not allow yourself to be weak or pushed around, but you cant be too hard either.
Honestly, I could go on for days here, but you get the theme.
How Do You Develop Your Own Personal Brand?
I really could dedicate a 2000 word post just to this one concept, but for today I am going to keep it brief. Think about who you are as a person and what defines you. For me, that is being a Sales / Marketing / Leadership professional that displays Honor, Courage, and Commitment in all situations and I back those guiding core values with sound biblical principals.
For you, it may be different. Try writing a list of adjectives that describe you. Rank them based on importance and work from there. Then write your own personal mission and vision statement and get after it. You won’t have to tell anyone what your brand is. That’s the brilliance of it. Your reputation will stand on its own. Your goal should be to craft a reputation you can be proud of which brings us back to trust in relationships.
Trust in Relationships.
Most of my readers are sales and marketing professionals, so I’m going to circle back to this idea. When you are marketing a brand or selling a product what you are really doing is establishing an identity for your product and making promises about what value it will add. I have a relationship with Toyota and Porsche because that is what I have driven for years and I trust the quality and reputation of those companies. I invest with Edward Jones for the same reason. I buy exclusively Cascade Platinum because I’ve used it for years and trust it to deliver clean dishes even when my kids fail to rinse them thoroughly. You get the idea. What you should notice is I’m buying based off of reputation and performance.
For products sold by salespeople, you are a big part of that reputation. I have frequently bought from the second best deal because I saw value in customer service or because I trusted and liked the salesperson. I recently switched from Verizon to AT&T based on price and was hating myself for making that decision based on the experience I was having as I switched over. That was until AT&T sent an area sales manager to my house to help us. He was amazing. He fixed all my problems, made great suggestions and gave me his cell phone number with instructions to call him if I needed anything at all. Guess what. I have called him and even post close he has been helpful. He dropped a SIM card off to my wife at work. My relationship with AT&T is pretty solid now thanks to his effort.
This takes me back to Mary Morgan’s article that spawned this entire post:
No more over-promising and under-delivering. Your customers expect transparent authenticity. You must say what you mean and mean what you say in every communication. Being consistently truthful builds trust.
Mary nailed it right there. If you want to sell more focus your energy into doing the right thing and being honest and respectful. Genuinely care for your customers. Learn about their business and refer them clients. If they tell you about a problem your service cannot handle refer them to someone who can. Share resources and research that will help them grow their business. Most people are friends with others who need similar services. Consistent first class service from knowledgeable caring professionals will be rewarded with return and referral business.
What I love about running and triathlon is the competition, not just against the other runner though, I compete with myself more than anyone. I like to work, I love pushing myself, and I get excited about the little improvements I see in my performance and how I feel. The other thing that excites me though is that I know in a big race some of the best in the world are out there with me, and I’m running with them, competing and doing my best. I KNOW I’m not going to win, but I enjoy knowing that some of the very best are out there sweating and trying just as hard as I am.
Marathon running, like golf, is a game for players, not winners. That is why Callaway sells golf clubs and Nike sells running shoes. But running is unique in that the world’s best racers are on the same course, at the same time, as amateurs, who have as much chance of winning as your average weekend warrior would scoring a touchdown in the NFL. – Hunter S. Thompson
Remember dead last still beat everyone who never started! Run for your own enjoyment. For me, it’s a competitive outlet and my opportunity to commune with God. I meditate and pray when I run. It’s how I clear my head and focus my heart. I also run to stay fit and healthy. With a wife and 5 kids, I have a commitment to stay healthy and strong so I can support them for many years to come.
If you are thinking about doing your first 5k you really should check out Run For God. It’s a 12 week 5K (3.1 miles) training program with a Christian focus where Mitchell Hollis will help you grow not only as a runner but spiritually as well. I hate to list a price in my posts because Amazon prices change daily, but I was shocked how inexpensive this book was used so please check it out.
You are a leader in everything you do. Not just the moments you have positional authority over others. Every second of the day presents the opportunity to lead. This is true whether you are a CEO, receptionist, father, child, coach, or athlete. I’ve been thinking about leadership a lot because it is popping up in my personal life with my wife and kids, at church, and at work. I’ve also recently transitioned into project management and for the first time in my career, I am managing processes almost exclusively and not directly supervising people. I still deal with a lot of people and I still use essentially the same skill set. However, nobody does anything for me now because of any true authority it’s 100% relationship oriented. I’ve always lead in a way that was dependent on developing relationships. However, it’s still a small adjustment and it started me thinking about leadership in general and how it’s a bit different.
Being a Leader With Your Family:
I was talking to my wife Shawna the other night and she reminded me of something I do consistently that comes straight out of one of my favourite leadership books of all time: The 360 Degree Leader. It was about doing something trivial that everyone knows I do not want or like to do, but I do anyway because I know it is important to set the right example.
“As a leader, the first person I need to lead is me. The first person that I should try to change is me”. – John C. Maxwell
I’m going to be honest here and say I HATE green beans. I don’t just dislike them, I detest them. However, I am aware they are good for me and I have some picky eaters in my family so I eat them without complaint. Part of it is so they will eat something healthy and see me do it too. Another part of it is so nobody can say: “Dad doesn’t eat green beans so I’m not either!” I was smart enough to know that asking them to eat something they don’t like when I would not, was hypocritical at best and a poor display of leadership. Knowing this, I suck it up and eat them anyway. My wife was using this as an example to one of the kids about doing things you don’t want to do because it is the right thing. Whats funny is this kid knew I did that and acknowledged it. I’ve never mentioned that I do this and I don’t make a big deal out of it, but I can tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they know I don’t like them, that I eat them anyway. Honestly I was a bit surprised, but it reinforced the idea that your kids watch and listen to everything you do.
“A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” – John C. Maxwell
Another example that is a bit more serious is related to dealing with my Adult ADHD. I had gone 42 years and never been on any sort of ADHD medicine. I didn’t want it and honestly, didn’t think I needed it. Both my ex and current wife encouraged me to try something for years and I just refused for a number of reasons. If I’m being honest, I was aware I had some annoying issues, but I had learned to live with them and I had what was in my mind a reasonable expectation everyone else would as well.
I have 3 kids with ADHD all three of whom benefit tremendously from taking their medication. I’m not sure what sparked it but two of them were occasionally resistant to taking it and saying it didn’t help. Everybody knows this is simply not true and I had told them how important it was for months but gaining little ground. I had spent a lot of time thinking of ways to show them how important this was and was getting nowhere fast. Finally, one day I woke up and said: “self, you need to take the same stuff they do.” I had finally realized what a hypocrite I was being. Nobody had to tell me, I just reflected one day and realized I was a huge jerk if I insisted they do something I refused to do. That same day I told Shawna: “I think I need to start taking Intuniv too.” Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I am so much happier now and I am able to relax in a way I have never been able to in my entire life. I wish I had done it years ago. Besides feeling better, by taking it myself I was able to show that I was 100% bought into the process of dealing with not only their ADHD but my own as well. My entire family is happier because of it. If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are watching everything you do. Because of this one decision all three of my kids are now happily taking their medication and we have a calmer happier home because of it.
“If you are a parent, you have probably already realized that your children are always watching what you do. And just as children watch their parents and emulate their behavior, so do employees who are watching their bosses.” – John C. Maxwell
Being a Leader at Work
One of the most fun things I use to do as a sales manager was to jump on the phone Saturday morning during our phone-a-thons and set some appointments. It was fun for several reasons. First, I’m a great salesperson and it’s fun to do things you are good at especially if it’s out of your norm. Second, I’m competitive and I wanted to set more appointments than anyone because it’s fun to talk a little smack with my top performers and work hard. More importantly, my mid and low performers saw me demonstrating skills I had taught in training and it reinforced that training because I could prove I not only talked the talk but could walk the walk. Finally, I dialed because they LOVED it. Seriously, everyone likes to see their boss do their job and it’s good leadership to join in on Saturday morning when nobody wants to be there.
Opportunities to lead are everywhere if you are looking for them. in everything, you do someone is watching and learning. My goal every day is to make sure they learn something positive.
Well, it looks like I haven’t written anything here since April 10, 2013! That’s 4 years, 3 months and 11 days ago today. It’s crazy to think about because honestly blogging is something I really enjoy and I generally create time for if I can. A lot has happened in that time, so I guess I need to catch you up on some history. There is nothing worse than reading someone’s older posts and thinking: “Wait a second… what happened here?” This is a personal blog after all and with that comes a few small details of my life occasionally that are generally there to help you better understand my thought process. So… without any unnecessary drama, I’ll briefly fill you in on the history of this blog and last 4 years.
My blogs – A brief History
I started blogging on WordPress.com in mid-2006 as Brad Trnavsky Sales and Management Blogger. This blog started out as a way for me to share some ideas and just connect with others and learn. It didn’t stay that way for long though. I saw some fairly rapid success on that blog, met some great people there, and ultimately it lead to the Sales Management 2.0 blog (You can find some of the archives of both of these blogs in the Business tab of this site) and eventually a podcast and social network under the same name. The social network was a lot of work that despite being cool and fun didn’t provide many benefits financially or socially that I was not already getting in other places. After about 2 years I decided to focus on my core brand and shut it down to focus on blogging, podcasting, and doing some coaching and consulting. I met some great guys during this time many of whom I’m still friends with today. Honestly, a bit of the reason I relaunched this blog is to go back to those roots and start sharing some thoughts on leadership, management, sales, marketing, etc. and hopefully reconnect with some old friends.
My blogging didn’t stop there though. In April of 2011, I got the bug to get competitive again and I started obstacle and endurance racing. I started another blog called Running for 365 Days because I wanted to learn and share information with others. For me, blogging and learning go hand in hand because I do a tremendous amount of research when I write. This blog was basically a workout journal but I also shared products I liked, recipes, and other information related to running, fitness, and Paleo eating. I really enjoyed writing this blog and made some great friends and connections. Unfortunately, my career got a little crazy and it was unsustainable for me to continue writing every day so I ended up pausing that project in January of 2013. Fortunately, the archives of this blog are still available under the Fitness tab on this blog as well.
In the Summer of 2012, I started Just My Life in Words as a fun place to share random things and blog about whatever I wanted to say without the confines of a more topical blog. I had a lot of fun with this, but by April of 2013 things were just too crazy in my career and personal life to continue blogging. With the intention of returning to blogging again at some point, I consolidated my sites and set up re-directs for my other blogs to pull all of my content to Just My Life in Words where it would be easier to keep up on autopilot.
So… What happened? Why did I stop?
Ok, enough about the history of the blog… What the heck have I been doing for 4 years? Well, it’s tricky to talk about without hurting anyone’s feelings or “oversharing” so I’m going to give the highlights. I said earlier there was some “drama” in my life that made blogging difficult and that is very true. It all started with my (now Ex) wife having what she calls an “emotional affair” (Is that actually a thing?) with two different people in two years. This really hurt me deeply on many levels. I’m sure I didn’t respond in the best possible way at the moment because I was upset, but I tried diligently to fix things with her. I spent a lot of time in prayer, focusing on self-improvement, and reading things I thought would help me to get over it. I’m not sure I ever truly got over it though. I was, however, able to forgive her and move forward eventually.
About this same time, I also started a new job at DeVry University so the combination of emotional drama and a new job positioned me in a tough spot to do anything extra. That meant that running, blogging, coaching, and consulting all fell by the wayside while I focused on my marriage and career. In June of 2013 I found out my new job (a little over a year) at DeVry was going away because they were shutting down three locations in my state and mine was one of them. I was offered an opportunity to work at the Seattle location or take a severance.
We moved to Texas
I have always believed that God makes you take some small test of faith before he blesses you. I also believe that everything that happens to you happens for a reason even if it isn’t evident to you at the moment. With that in mind, I prayed a few days and decided that my best option was to take the severance and trust that the job I was supposed to have would somehow find me. The DAY AFTER I told DeVry I was going to take that severance I got a random call from a head hunter about a job in Texas. He asked me if that was someplace I was interested in going, and I told him it was. I also said that it was funny he called because my Dad was in Texas right now looking at houses and seriously considering moving there. He laughs and asked, “Where?” I told him somewhere in the Piney Woods. His answer shocked me when he laughed and said, “That’s funny because of this job is in the Piney Woods!” Knowing nothing else I scheduled a phone interview later that day and two weeks later I was in Texas house hunting with my (ex) wife. I worked nearly a year at Vista College before I decided I needed to spend more time with my family and made a radical change in careers to teaching and coaching (football, Basketball, and Track).
More career changes and drama
I taught and coached (Football, Basketball, and Track) for three years, expecting things to get better (It did for my relationship with my girls). What I didn’t expect was, somehow, my sudden increased presence in the home had made things far worse. A tension I thought was gone had returned full force. Eventually, I started noticing a weird vibe with my ex and another guy. I just wasn’t comfortable with their relationship. I approached her about it, but she insisted there was nothing to worry about. Trying to trust her I “ignored it” to some extent but kept a careful eye on that situation. We had several other conversations, but she insisted nothing was going on. In the winter of 15/16 though, my neighbour told me there was a guy coming to my house every day after I left for work and that they were pretty sure what was going on based off careful observation and conversation. I confronted her and calmly said “look, I know what’s going on, I’ve been through a lot, and I don’t know if I can get over this. If I can’t this is what I want/need.” She vowed to try to fix things again, but there was not a substantial change in behaviour that I could see. I knew in a few weeks it was over and started mentally preparing for what was to come. We basically lived like roommates for MONTHS before she took a long vacation with the girls and finally moved out. We filed for divorce, and somewhere in the middle of all that I started powerlifting as a way to reduce my stress and ended up losing about 50 pounds that I firmly believe were gained primarily, because of stress and unhappiness. Through the divorce process, I was blessed by getting custody of my beautiful girls and we really had a blast all summer just playing and doing fun stuff together. It was a tough period in my life, but surprisingly I was truly happy for the first time in a very long time.
A fresh start
I really didn’t take all that long to start casually “dating”. I think this is at least partly because I had already been processing what was happening for about 6 months and by this point was just happy to be moving on with life. I really wasn’t looking for a serious girlfriend (I found one though). What I wanted was a break from day-to-day life and an opportunity to get out by myself and do something fun like catch a movie or go mini golfing with another adult. In mid-July, I met a girl I really liked and by August she was really the only person I wanted to see. We went on a joint family vacation (separate hotel rooms because we are good kids) in August and I (accidentally) got my first taste of what a BIG family could be like (really kind of fun). I had a bit of an unexpected mental gear shift on that trip and started asking myself if this was a girl I could spend forever with (not that I told her that yet).
Football season was pretty rough as a single dad, but Shawna was really good to me and took care of my girls every Thursday and Friday night all season long. This was a blessing because I’d only known her about 6 weeks and I wasn’t getting home from work until close to 10 pm for Thursday games and about 1 AM after Friday games. She really impressed me during this time with her faith in God, a strong sense of morals, honesty, loyalty, and willingness to help me. I was also fairly certain she is one of the most beautiful people I’d ever met.
I got Married (again)
By mid-fall, we were seriously talking about marriage but keeping it on the down low because of a number of issues. We considered eloping for a while because we were in love and thought that would be fun, (we are both rule followers) but eventually decided against it (sadly we are rule followers) because we knew with 5 kids there was a lot for them to process and our parents would want to be involved as well.
In February of 17 though we got married and it was beautiful. Truly beautiful in a way I can’t accurately describe. Not because we spent a lot of money (we didn’t) or because of the venue (a barn). It was just beautiful to me. The pastor was fantastic and this ceremony affected me in a very different way than my first marriage. Shawna was beautiful and she surprised me by walking down the aisle singing to me. It was honestly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen (I love her voice) and I tear up a little now just thinking about it. We had a lot of well thought out symbolism that included our kids in what I think were some fairly unique ways and I surprised everyone with a small butterfly release at the end (Shawna and I both have a thing for butterflies and they are symbolic as well).
The girls and I moved in with Shawna and her 3 kids the next week. It was a bit rough at first, but we all slowly adjusted (honestly, we are still adjusting to some degree). After 3 or 4 months of living like that, we decided our house was way too small and we opted to look for a different place to live. In a rush, we placed offers on a few places and nearly bought two, but I’m glad we didn’t because God truly blessed us with the home we eventually found.
We bought a new house
Shawna saw an estate sale around the corner from where she works and called me at work to tell me I needed to go to this address as soon as I got off. I agreed to, and I saw what I thought was a weird house that was full of REALLY cool stuff. There were a lot of things that looked like they came right out of my great grandmother’s house, and we bought several items that day. Shawna told me the house had gone on the market THAT DAY and told me the price. I said, “We need to make an offer.” Fortunately, she was already on that page. We placed a full price offer that was accepted later that weekend. It was still a rough process though because now that I was married again I had decided that I needed to get a regular job and transitioned back to “normal” work at a full-service marketing and advertising agency. I did this because I would have a more family friendly schedule and get paid a bit more with a substantially better long-term upside. It was tough, but Shawna and I with a great deal of patience and a lot of prayer and help from God pushed the deal forward and we ended up with a beautiful home that we are now in the middle of renovating for less cost than the house we were living in. That’s right we got more space for less money. How often does that happen? I feel truly blessed by our home.
Life is good
Things are settling down a little now. We have a house that fits, I have a fantastic job, kids all seem to be doing great, and Shawna and I are on a healthy eating path. Life is good and with that comes the free time I need to be a bit of a writer again… so here I am. I’ll be writing about some of the things I did before but as I’ve grown in my faith I’ve decided I need to let that come out here a bit more than I have, so you will see a bit more of my personal life and my thoughts on faith, love, and parenting, as well as the business, leadership, and fitness content I have done in the past. I hope this helps and that you now have a good sense of what’s been going on and why
I write some of what I write. Hopefully, I didn’t offend anyone too deeply here or share something that hurts anyone in my personal life, but sometimes you just have to put things out there. I make no excuses or apologies for what’s happened none of it can be undone. I am exactly where God wants me now doing exactly what I feel lead to do, and when I do that, good things happen. I hope you enjoy my little corner of the internet.
There is a lot of talk about education right now and a lot of blame cast on the schools for not doing their job but I think it’s important to consider what the job of a school is. Most people would quickly agree that the job of the school is to impart knowledge. I read a very interesting article that talked about the difference between knowledge, wisdom, and insight and I had a bit of an a-ha! moment… if the following is true:
Knowledge VS Wisdom VS Insight
Knowledge is the accumulation of facts and data that you have learned about or experienced. It’s being aware of something, and having information. Knowledge is really about facts and ideas that we acquire through study, research, investigation, observation, or experience.
Wisdom is the ability to discern and judge which aspects of that knowledge are true, right, lasting, and applicable to your life. It’s the ability to apply that knowledge to the greater scheme of life. It’s also deeper; knowing the meaning or reason; about knowing why something is, and what it means to your life.
Insight is the deepest level of knowing and the most meaningful to your life. Insight is a deeper and clearer perception of life, of knowledge, of wisdom. It’s grasping the underlying nature of knowledge, and the essence of wisdom. Insight is a truer understanding of your life and the bigger picture of how things intertwine.
Then the job of the school is to present the student with facts and information and help them develop some research and investigation skills. That’s really all they are on the hook for. It’s our job as parents to teach values, impart wisdom, and hopefully, help them develop insight. The gamer in me is going to come out here for a second… In Dungeons and Dragons Intelligence (knowledge) and Wisdom are the two primary character statistics related to intellect. In application: a knowledgeable character knows a situation is dangerous and what type of danger is present. A wise character has a solid strategy based on experience to deal with that situation, and an insightful one knows how to either avoid it all together or benefit from the danger.
I started thinking about parents I know and students I see at the school where I work and it got me thinking about the fact that many parents rely on the school to teach not only knowledge but to also values and wisdom. The trouble with that is that simply isn’t reasonable or wise.
Knowledge is simply not enough to ensure success in life. You must have the wisdom to apply that knowledge for it to do any good. That wisdom can only come from experience and our job as parents is to provide that. Moreover, I do not think it is smart or wise to rely on strangers to impart a value system on my children. I want them to have their own strong, well-developed value system to the point that they can stick up for their own beliefs. I do a lot with my kids. We play games, work out, talk, read, and travel together. I also try to expose them to the arts through film, theatre, and music… and you can see when talking to my kids they are very bright. They figure stuff out quickly… That’s what it takes to be successful. and they do this because they have actively involved parents.
I do a lot with my kids. We play games, work out, talk, read, and travel together. I also try to expose them to the arts through film, theatre, music and museums. Because of this, you can see when talking to my kids they are very bright and capable. They figure things out quickly on their own and are effective problem solvers even in unfamiliar situations. That is what it takes to be successful. and they can do this because they have actively involved parents.
What My Parents Did
When I was a kid my dad took me hunting and fishing. I spent time in the mountains, we sailed, played sports, and built and repaired things. He spent a lot of time talking and teaching with me. This was not him talking AT me but really talking TO me, and I think that is a big part of what made me successful despite their lack of formal education. My parents owned my success and failure in life and viewed the school system as a tool… I’m not sure as a society we do that anymore.
I have some BIG plans for my kids: backpacking trips, hunting, fishing, vacations, sports, church, volunteering, etc… varied experiences where they learn about themselves and where I can help them apply the knowledge they have gained to be not only wise, but god willing insightful.
For Further Study
There are two books I recommend parents take a look at if you are interested in raising smart wise, godly children. The first is Shepherding a Child’s Heart and the other is Instructing a Childs Heart. Both of these books are going to challenge you as a parent to re-examine your thinking and make changes to how you do things. However, the long-term benefit of purposeful parenting is well worth the effort.
Without overtly slamming the public school system, I’m curious to hear what other people think about this idea. How are you helping to prepare their kids for life? I have not had time to fully develop my thought on this and am interested in the conversation so please leave your thoughts in the comments below.