Five days, five people

1. Think of five people you can encourage this week.
2. Encourage one of those five people each day this week.

Don’t make it complicated, just send them a card, give them a call, go visit them, or do whatever else you deem necessary to gently encourage these five people.

If you get tangled up on the part where it doesn’t seem like “enough,” just consider how you would feel if someone did it for you.

Who can you encourage? What about a co-worker, a spouse, a teammate, a family member, a clerk at the grocery store, a friend, a soldier, a boss, a neighbor, a pastor, a volunteer, a barista, a childcare provider, a child, a mechanic, a healthcare provider, an assistant, a public servant, a server at your favorite restaurant, or maybe even an enemy.

The best is yet to come

Geoff Welch and family10 years, 7 months, and 9 days ago I signed a seemingly endless number of documents as a promise to make a seemingly endless number of payments, all so I could take ownership of half of a printing company.

As I click “transfer” to send my last payment across the internet, I am keenly aware of how naive I was those many years ago.

28 year old me thought I was buying a business, 39 year old me realizes I was really buying an education.

My first decade in business has proven eventful. Many of you know the peril that came with the fall of 2009 and how I was terrified the business would fail. I would never have asked for that experience, but I can’t help but be thankful it happened because so many of the best parts of my work today are a direct result of coming face-to-face with losing everything.

Without that experience I might have never realized that I am surrounded by an incredible family who loves me without condition…and the prospect of losing everything is really just losing every “thing,” which is far different.

Without that experience I would probably still live my life like a victim instead of choosing to take responsibility for my choices and the quality of my work.

Without that experience there would be no Thanks Fairbanks, no Fortress of Gratitude, and no realization that gratitude is a powerful elixir for the stress and cynicism that are around every corner.

Without that experience I wouldn’t be sharing my story with people around the world. There would be no Powered By Humanity, no Sixty Second Sundays, no talk at TEDxAnchorage, no weekend with Seth Godin, no conversation with Simon Sinek, and no interviews with some of my professional heroes.

Without that experience I wouldn’t enjoy the many rich relationships that color my life in the best ways. I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to get to work and play with some of the very best and brightest around. I don’t know why they put up with the likes of me, but I learn so much from each of them.

I don’t want to know where I would be if everything had just gone according to plan.

I may have made my final payment, but I’m not done making a ruckus. Not by a long shot.

The best is yet to come.

Should you stay or should you go?

Whether it’s best to break up or stay together depends on the relationship. (Or the job, or the partnership, or the blog, or the non-profit, or the…)

Quitting when things are difficult is an obvious choice. So is refusing to quit when things are easy. What’s less obvious is doing the opposite of the thing that seems natural because you have a deeper sense of purpose.

The magic isn’t in quitting, or in refusing to quit. The magic is in knowing which is the best course of action as early as possible.

Are you playing it safe?

On a recent trip to a Phoenix water park I spent some time watching my 8 year old daughter gleefully jumping over the small swells near the edge of the wave pool.

She was having so much fun, but I was struck by how many of us do something similar in our work and relationships. We stay at the edges, safe from any real danger, and we derive a great deal of joy from succeeding at things that aren’t all that challenging.

There is deeper water out there. There are greater challenges waiting for you.

Your work and your relationships will be defined by whether you choose to stay in the shallow end or venture out a little deeper.

It’s them, but it’s also you

You know that one person who drives you crazy? Yeah, that one. 

I’m guessing that you know at least one person who, for personal or professional reasons, you have to endure. It’s a strained relationship at best, and maybe it really is their fault, but if you are going to have to work, live, or play together then you may as well do whatever you can to keep yourself sane.

I wonder if a simple exercise might not change the story you tell yourself about this person. What if you made a list of 10, or 5, or 3 things that you appreciate about this person. Maybe they smell nice, or they bring in donuts on Fridays, or they have excellent penmanship, or they have great taste in music, or they know everything about the Civil War, or they have incredible table manners. Anything.

This list is not meant to excuse their negative behaviors, but to prove that there is more to them than the things that irk you.

Changing the way you think about this person is a great first step because you may be a larger part of the problem than you’ve led yourself to believe.

File this under “advice to myself”. With all the others.