Today is our 25 year wedding anniversary. I know this is traditionally referred to as the silver anniversary which I think is intended to be a reference to the type of gift that is expected to be exchanged but in my case, I think it may be more of a reference to what is happening to my hair.
Since we happen to live in a state with one of the highest divorce rates in the country, this is quite an accomplishment. The truth is that we have never seen it that way as our life together is pretty good and our circle of friends all seems to have stable, long term marriages.
I was 28 when we were married and had met Michelle through a mutual friend blind date just a couple of years earlier. The path to our coming together seemed long at that time as I had come to wonder if I would ever find “the one”.
We found each other and have been happy ever since. Have there been challenges? Of course, as they are part of life. Nonetheless, we have faced them together as full partners with never a thought about not getting through whatever has come at us. That is what great teams and great relationships do. They find a way to joy even in the darkest of times as it is the wind and storms that make roots strong.
We are thankful for our family, our health, our past and the possibility of what awaits in the future. I am thankful for the enthusiastic, smiling, giving, and beautiful woman that has put up with my shenanigans for all these years. I am thankful to the Lord for making me wait for that blind date to meet the person that would become the rest of me.
The years of gone by quickly and now we look forward to retiring and filling our lives with even more adventure, fun and service to others.
Marriage to many is considered to be a risky thing. Meet the right person, share common goals, and treat your lives as a singular endeavor and you will win.
I can still remember when I first read The Millionaire Next Door. I was new in my career having moved from my small hometown to “the city” (Oklahoma City) to start my adult working life. This was the early 90’s and there was a recession going on. For some reason, there did not seem to be much of a demand for people with a degree in Government from a small college and work experience that consisted of being a janitor at a hospital.
What a surprise!
I had tried to find a job for many months before I finally was offered one by Cellular One as a call center collections agent. The starting pay was $14,000 base with a possible $3,000 bonus which turned out to be the absolute minimum I thought I could survive on.
Flash forward just a couple of years later and I hear about this book that tells stories of how average people with an average income ended up being very wealthy. At the time, the primary learning I took away was that most millionaires did not drive Porsche 911 or wear an Italian suit. They instead drove used cars and shopped at JCPenny.
I wish I could say that it was at that moment that I started maxing out my savings, paying off debt, and living conservatively leading to retiring early at 40. Heck, I was hardly hanging on with a low income, a car loan weighing me down, credit card debt, and ramen noodles as my main food source.
I did buy a suit that year at JCPenny and I did enroll in a 401K for the first time. After that, I think I was done. Nonetheless, that book planted a seed of possibility into my mind that did not leave me.
If with age and failure also come wisdom, I am a really wise fellow. So much so that I want to help you in some ways to not be me and in a lot of ways to be me.
The bad stuff
Mostly this was having let fear get in the way. I have been with my employer for over 20 years which is a pretty rare thing nowadays. Unfortunately, during this time I experienced layoffs almost every year, and during those times I would “buckle down” by reducing my 401K savings thinking I needed to keep the cash up. Each time the outcome was the same. I still had a job.
The good stuff
This fear of job loss forced us into a conservative financial mindset with a low-cost lifestyle and relative to most people a high savings rate. I only wish that we had saved more sooner so we could have had even more benefit from the power of compounding.
My first real step
This started for me during my drives home from work. It just so happened that Dave Ramsey was on air at that time and I quickly became a superfan as I heard story after story from people that had transformed their lives by getting out of debt and by getting their spending lives under control. I was fortunate to have never dug too deep of a hole as I had no credit card debt by this time and instead only had the “normal” car debt and a mortgage. I loved the information so much that we eventually ended up being Finacial Peace facilitators and hosted the class at our house. By this time, we were 100% debt-free with no thoughts of ever having debt again.
The next big thing
I thought we were doing pretty well with having 0 debt, saving 10-15% of our income in a 401K all while paying for the son’s college debt-free.
Then came the wake-up call which is was in the form of the FIRE movement and awareness of the widely accepted 4% rule. I had not considered before that it was possible to retire well before the traditional ages of 62 or 67 and I certainly had never heard before that at retirement you would want to withdraw no more than 4% of your total savings.
So $1,000,000 in retirement savings would mean only $40,000 of pretax income. No way!
Oh, how I wish I had this information 15-20 years ago. Regardless, I have it now and my goal is to pass it onto you at a high level so you can learn and get control of your financial life.
Sorry for the long back story but I wanted you to know where I was coming from before laying down some information to help you join me where I am going with the rest of our conversation.
Are you ready now for the big secret?
The formula for winning with money is really quite simple.
Save at a high rate over a long period of time
Live below your means
Grow your income
Define your money values
Define your life values
Surround yourself with like-minded people
Yep, that is it.
Do these things and you will never work for money again. Instead, you will set up a perpetual wealth-building machine that makes money work for you. Sounds great huh?
The sauce to bind all of these things together is education, action, and averages. Go deep to learn many different opinions on how to reach financial independence, do something right now to get started, and increase your life average by surrounding yourself with people that are already where you want to be someday.
For me, I have several resources that have been my go-to these last several years. If I would have had access to this information AND had taken action way back in those early 90’s days I am convinced I would at this point in life be a very wealthy person.
Here is my win with a financial education list and please if you have others that you recommend please add them in the comments.
The Total Money Makeover-Dave Ramsey. Read and do this if you have debt
The Automatic Millionaire-David Bach
Unshakable- Tony Robbins
The Simple Path to Wealth- J L Collins
Think and Grow Rich-Napoleon Hill
The Chris Hogan Show
The Clark Howard Show
The Stacking Benjamins Show
I could add even more but do not want to overwhelm you. Just trust me that if you do nothing but go through these resources and then the next most important step with an action you will win!
Have more that you would add? Leave a comment for others (and me) to know.
This week I read the wonderful obituary of a man known simply as “H”. His actual first name was Harold but based on the description of his life I get the feeling that he lived it with such gusto that he simply did not have time for the formality of his full name.
Now that is a man you can hang out with on the front porch while sipping a cold one or bushwhack through a jungle on a grand adventure.
I kind of imagined what it would have been like to meet him for the first time. Hello, my name is Harold and I move pretty fast so all my friends just call me “H” and since pretty much everyone is my friend that is what you can call me”.
Nice to meet you “H”
Here are just a few facts there were listed about his life:
Met the love of his life in 2nd grade and was married to her 54 years before her passing
Grew up on a 125,000 ranch near Mexico
Started work as a roughneck at the age of 12
Went to college on a scholarship and hitchhiked to get there carrying all he owned and his life savings of $300
Was a star college athlete and in the ROTC
Served as a Green Beret officer in the 101st as a low altitude paratrooper and sniper. Saw action but spoke little of it
Post military was a pro football player
Husband, father, grandfather and a “special friend” to a nice lady
There was even more listed but I think by now you have joined me in forming a picture of the man that was “H” and the life he lived. My favorite part of the obituary is this quote they provided as attributed to him, “life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well-preserved body, but rather to skid sideways. Chivas in one hand – a taco in the other-body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming, WHOO-HOO, ITS BEEN A LONG DUSTY RIDE.”
Consciously or unconsciously, the majority of us spend our lives seeking the safe middle ground without the risk or the joy of discomfort. We are content to get through our day, our week, our year and for many, our life without having ever really stood up stood out or taken a risk.
There is a great joy to be found in the unknown and the uncomfortable. Perhaps the craziness that is 2020 is the year for you to do some deep reflection regarding your well-preserved self and to make some uncomfortable changes.
What is one thing you can do right now this day to be bold and beyond the comfortable you? Write that thing down and make a public commitment to make it happen no matter what the cost.
I know for many this is going to be hard and I know for all that do it the reward at the end of the journey will be worth it. I am with you. After all, don’t we all love a good drink and great taco?
It seems like it was just yesterday that we were at work with friends, co-workers, and the long talker that would trap folks for what seemed like hours to tell a random story about their weekend. Suddenly the world has changed and all of that is gone as millions of us have suddenly found ourselves forced to work from home.
For those of us at home, our role now is to maximize the time to be the best possible worker we can while also balancing whatever may also be going on in the house as we deal with stir-crazy children, barking dogs and the reality of spending 100% of hour time with our family.
It will come as a surprise to many to learn that the transition to working from home can be difficult. First, there is the design of the job itself. Your company may not have previously used tools like Zoom, Webex, Skype and others to connect workers with each other. Fortunately, these can be learned quickly if you have a tech leader that can help others to adapt.
Next is the work at home transition for the individual employee that may have never had this opportunity before. The worker that is disciplined and structured at the office most likely will be this way as well at home and as a result will adapt quickly. The undisciplined and poorly focused person is going to struggle more and will need to have a solid plan for every workday and in some cases for every hour.
I have been a remote worker in the past and now am that way again. Here are a few tips that I think will help.
Set up a dedicated space
Already have a home office space? Lucky you! If this is not something that you have already then make the most of a card table, kitchen table, or some other space that you can declare to everyone in the house, “this is where I work now”. Make sure you have plenty of room with good natural light and strong access to your internet connection. This is a great time to try using a stand-up desk and if you do not have that option be sure and get a quality chair since the one you have now may not be designed for long term sitting.
Remove possible distractions
It can be easy to drift away from work and lose time to the constant stream of news that is blasting from the TV, the movie the children are watching or your various social media outlets. If these are a possible issue, turn them off and be sure your workspace is not near the temptation. There is no need to cut yourself completely off, just be reasonable with the amount of time. Have trouble staying away from the phone, use digital wellbeing, and other similar tools to set limits to your social media accounts.
Establish clear boundaries and rules with others at home
Working from home now is different than the old remote worker normal. Many employers before had clear rules for work from home employees including what to do about barking dogs, kids at home, and distractions. These rules will return but in this temporary world hopefully, most are providing some understanding and flexibility. At the same time, it will benefit you and the others at home to have clear communication to understand when you are working and when you are available. A good thing here is to transfer much of the same discipline you are using over to the children as they “work” as well on chores and learning activities. If your work area has a door, consider posting a schedule so your new co-workers can be aware of important times when you will be in meetings and do not want to be interrupted.
Take a shower
At first working from home can seem like a terrific form of a staycation with sweatpants, comfy shirt and lack of hygiene requirements. Even Ferris Bueller took a shower on his day off. The wake-up routine of getting ready for work combined with some decent casual clothes will help with the mental transition into work mode by providing a clear transition from not at work to at work.Those ratty sweatpants are a message to your mind that you are not at work and instead have moved to casual mode. Plus, with the extensive use of conferencing through cameras, it is still important to be mindful of your personal branding to demonstrate your level of professionalism.
Create goals and checklists
It is always important to have a plan and to know when your todos have moved over to done. Without some set goals for the day, it can be too easy to lose focus, let the day slip by, and then by the end have no idea what was accomplished. Let your checklist help to bring a smile as you reflect back on your accomplishments at the end of another day of work.
This is best to do at the end of each day and then again at the start of the next next. When you reach your stopping point, reflect on what you accomplished and then sketch out some goals for the next day. The following morning, it is time to tweak the plan with a few clear goals for the day.These goals should involve more than just work productivity as you will want to…
On average, I would walk at least two miles during the normal course of the day. The restroom was well down the hall and so was the breakroom with coffee and people for a quick personal chat. At home, things are more compact and it can be way too easy to get into work mode and have very little physical change.
Our minds are wired to work best in chunks. At least once an hour it is a good idea to do a quick walk around the house just to clear the head. Watch the health too as it can be very tempting to snack throughout the day due to easier food access. You will regret the bag of chips when it comes time to slip on the work clothes and you find you have expanded.
Take a break
Yes a real break, this means at lunch to step away from the desk and do something very different. You could go for a nice walk around the block, spend some time interacting with your new co-workers (kids, dog, cat), or just do anything that is not work-related.
Understand, it is okay to step away from the computer. Trust is especially important for WFH teams and your team will know the work is getting done even if you are away from your desk. If you are on a more structured team as far as requirements, make sure your lunchtimes and break times are clearly communicated with the team and manager. That will leave you with no guilt feelings or worry when away.
Continue to collaborate
With the tech we have access to, there is no reason at all to work alone in a silo. Stay in touch with peers on your team with daily check-in calls, frequent e-mails or IM chat groups. This includes people from the fringes of your work circle as well. Out of sight can be out of mind and so this is a good time to reach out to experts in areas of the organization that may be able to provide you with insight or assistance.
Thousands of years of norms have wired us to live in tribes. It is not natural to be alone all the time and complete social isolation can have a negative impact on mental health. For your work tribe, take time to have non-work talks and sharing during a meeting. Consider a virtual webcam happy hour where work talk is banned and all the time is spent being personal.
What a great time to actually build deeper personal connections with your working peers and experts in your profession. Many teams are going deeper with each other with virtual team happy hours and other fun ways to get personal. Every day now is a bring your kid, cat, dog, fish to the workday. Keep these happy hours as a work-free zone and use them to build personal connections with each other.
If using a webcam, keep in mind that not everyone may have the same level of workspace. This means not being judgemental of what you may see as you peak into the home of another. With that said, it is a good idea to test your camera view in advance to ensure what will show up behind you is work appropriate. Some video conferencing applications like Zoom and Teams allow you to modify backgrounds. If that is a concern, give it a try.
Plan a hard stop
If non-exempt, do not forget the rules regarding hourly work continue to apply. This means work should occur during the scheduled times and any work outside the agreed-upon boundaries should result in compensation. Just be sure and follow the guidelines you have been provided or ask for them if you do not have any. Most employers will ask for advance permission to work outside of expected hours just as they did before the move to working from home.
For the exempt employee, stopping can be a difficult challenge since work is now always just a few steps away. The temptation to never stop can be strong for work from home employees especially if other teammates seem to always be online. As a team, this is a good opportunity to ensure it is understood that work is not intended to be 24X7. This is not the time to get into every day and every hour work habits as it is not healthy for you or for your family.
Working from home can be a wonderful experience if treated with a positive attitude and strong discipline. You can get through this and may even find yourself thriving in many unexpected ways.
These are just a few tips based upon my work from home experiences. What about you? What are some of your top tips that you would share with others?
Last year I created a video and wrote a blog post challenging people to start each day in a state of gratitude and to write down their thoughts of thankfulness.
Now with the growing pandemic and fear about where this is going to take all of us I see gratitude as more important than ever. I have to be honest. At the start of all of this, I went into full got to work hard and got to stay focused mode. I forgot for a very short time to take my own advice and spend some time each day reflecting and be thankful.
Gratitude is the enemy of fear. No matter what others may be feeling or maybe doing, for each of us there are many reasons to be thankful. This morning I pulled up my list and the memories flooded back on of the past times and people that have brought such joy in my life even when times were hard. Reading the list and reflecting on all the years of good resulted in a wave of joy and positivity.
Have you got gratitude? Are you clear on the many blessings that are in your life even as the world around you is not what it was just a few short weeks ago?
Now is the time to take inventory of all that is good and thank the world around you. So here we go, time again to throw out the gratitude challenge. Start your list, share your thoughts and for goodness sake reach out to those around you that may be hurting and let them know they mean something and have a future.
What a time we are living in with the Covid-19 virus hysteria that is in progress where I live and around the country. It seems that things are changing almost minute by minute and for sure what we have been experiencing is historical. There has been a stock market crash, rush to buy goods including toilet paper, “social distancing” requiring events and businesses to close down. Now millions of people are working from home and schools are closed. The list just goes on and on.
It is not an exaggeration to say this feels very much like a fictional disaster movie.
Group panic and group fear is a real thing. It is not out of the question to imagine people fighting over food items as this has happened already over–toilet paper. Meanwhile, there are even fake news stories out there about things that have not occurred which are intentionally trying to magnify hysteria.
With a state of emergency declared, it would not be surprising to next see for the first time in our lifetime the military out in key areas where panic is possible like hospitals, grocery stores, and critical supply chain locations. Again, this is not a movie or a new Netflix series. It is all real.
All of this for some reason made me think of my wilderness first aid training I took years ago as a Scout leader. In the training, we were taught during a crisis, often the situation is made even worse by poor decisions taken while in a state of distress. Scouts have a great model for this that applies really well in other stress situations especially including what we are experiencing now. When in crises–S.T.O.P.
Sit— Often when there is a crisis in the wilderness the person will panic, take off running, and end up even more lost than before. The key here is to quit moving and take a pause. Often doing nothing is the best way to be rescued. Sounds a lot like staying home in this current situation huh?
Think–Now that a state of calm has been achieved, it is time to do some deep thinking and begin the process of rounding up years of skills, experience, and training to help formulate a plan. There have been many catastrophes throughout history and yet we are still here. This too shall pass.
Observe–This is a critical skill to measure the surroundings to identify and additional dangers that may be in the area and better yet additional resources that may be around to help. Be an optimist but also take care to follow all the guidelines provided but the real experts. This is not a time to make up your own answers about the future and what to do in the present.
Plan–This is where the real work starts. Where others may panic and make the situation worse, now is the time to make a detailed plan for you and your family. No, the sky is not falling but at the same time, you do want to be ready for the impact created by those who think it is.
What we are going through now and for the next several months could be some of the worse times ever experienced in our generation. It is the time to remain calm and know that whatever is happening now and whatever is going to happen will pass.
Years from now, we will all look back and remember how we reacted. These memories can be of how we kept our cool and used our gifts to help those around us or they can be memories of how we contributed to the negativity. Every day is going to be a choice.
Make sure your choices are such that you will be proud years from now when you are sitting joyfully in your family circle to say, “here is what I did when the world went crazy”.
I am a long-time listener of the Dave Ramsey show going back to when I first started getting fired up about being out of debt. We hit that milestone several years ago and thanks to his show being available 24×7 now on iHeart radio, I still listen often for motivation and information.
After more than 20 years on the radio, Dave is consistent with his message and his method. Quite frankly, I wonder at times if some of the people calling in with questions have ever actually listened to the show. There are certain callers that every time are ensured to get blasted as they tell about the money mistakes they have made and their non-Dave approved strategies to fix them.
Most recently I was listening when a fellow called in that was asking about what do with his car debt. As a recall, he was making less than $60,000 a year, had little savings, credit card debt, and payments on a $40,000 truck that he had purchased new. Through the radio, I could almost sense Dave’s blood pressure rise as he was about to lose it on this guy.
And lose it he did telling the man he had to sell the truck right away even though it would be at a loss and replace it with a beater car to drive until he gets his “mess” cleaned up. Even though this person had called in asking for advice, the man pushed back on the idea of selling the truck at a loss again and again until finally, Dave was able to beat the man into submission and agreement.
“You called and asked my option and that is a dangerous thing to do sir because I will give it to you”
Dave’s style for sure is not mine but I certainly understand his anger. What if you discovered that the secret to being out of debt and building wealth was actually not a secret at all? What if you personally experienced the joy winning and realized that just about ANYONE at ANY income could do the same? Wouldn’t you be angry that so many people with so much access to the formula listen and do nothing with the information?
The universal truth that you can’t help someone that will not help themselves. Most people seem to be living in denial and just are not thinking deeply enough about the future and instead are just concentrating on the present.
I totally get that. For me, it was my cancer experience combined with working for a company with frequent layoffs that finally turned my fear to the debt-free and save for later direction my life became. The thought of being jobless or worse ill with a pile of debt and bills to pay has kept me awake for many nights these last 20 years.
In those early days, there really was no 24X7 access to Dave Ramsey, blogs, YouTube videos, and the vast resources that are readily available now. If you are reading this on your phone, everything you need to learn about how to live a debt-free life and build wealth is right there in the palm of your hand. There really is no excuse.
I think, more than anything, that is why Dave and why many of us are indeed so angry. Looking back, my greatest regret is that it took me so long to transition from a fear-based got to have money for crises to a joy based focus on a WOW future post working. The good news is that now I am awake to all that is possible.
Are you awake? Are you angry yet? If you are not driving to being debt-free with a secure future this is your siren moment. Do not let this moment pass and instead take action.
I met my wife over 26 years ago as a result of a blind date and our 24 year anniversary of marriage was last week.
That simple lunchtime together led to more dates, marriage, a child and wonderful life that has had its fair share of ups and downs. Through it all, I have striven to be as good of a partner and a husband as I can. I have often failed to live up to my own standards and have tried to take in my inner lessons to be better with every year.
It is almost cliche’ for some guys to joke about having married up but I can tell you for sure that is the case for me. I often feel unworthy of this woman I get to spend my days with and want to ensure I am doing my best to live up to being the man she deserves.
This week is the start of our 25th year of marriage and a good time to reflect back on what has made our marriage a success and mistakes I have made along the way. It takes a proactive effort to live a life together that thrives through the grind of day to day living and serves as a positive example for those around you.
I do not want to cheat my wife.
As long as we are going to be together until death do us part I want this life to be a good one filled with joy, satisfaction, and success. As I have thought about this deeply over the years there are five ways I want to be sure and not cheat her. My inner expectational failures have fortunately served as important lessons. If these ways to cheat are common to me, they may be common to you as well.
Want to know how to cheat your wife out of being her best and out of having the kind of man she deserves?
Don’t support her dreams
Fellas, it may surprise some of us to learn that the world does not completely revolve around you. Our wives have dreams too.
They could be career goals to find amazing success in high levels of leadership, they may be dreams of travel to exotic locations in far off lands. She may want to write a book or start a company. You will never know unless to simply just ask the question and then listen. Support her dreams and be active to help them come true.
Don’t live as partners
The Leave It To Beever days of the man coming home with dinner on the table and then time with a paper while the Mrs. diligently works away cleaning, changing diapers, shopping for groceries and taking care of every child issue all while wearing a pretty dress and pearl is long gone.
Make absolutely sure that you are part of family inc through your assistance around the house and with everything you can do together. I have no skill when it comes to loading the dishwasher correctly but I am a master vacuumer and moper.
A key partnership here is also around finances. Money issues are one of the top causes for divorce so it is critical that you have complete transparency in your finances and that you are working together on your get out of debt and save for the future goals. Separate accounts send a message that this is mine and that is yours. No, it is all ours. Even if the “yours” is debt or issues that were there before the marriage. Be of one in everything.
Don’t continue to pursue her
You were pretty awesome back in the day. Remember when you worked to look and be your best as you perused this person? You wore sharp clothes on dates, combed your hair, worked out to look good, and most importantly put on the charm.
Then you got married and suddenly all of this ended.
Quite often while out I will see a couple having a nice dinner. One is dressed to kill with a flattering outfit, hair done just right and an overall nice look. The fella, on the other hand, appears to have just rolled out of bed, thrown on a raggedy shirt, and has put no thought at all into the self-marketing to the wonder woman sitting across the table.
It is important that we never stop pursuing each other.
Remind her often how beautiful she is and tell her that you love her. It does not take a lot of effort to surprise her with some flowers you pick up on the way home, a card hidden in a drawer, or even that random text letting her know you are thinking of how great she is. Key here is to not do anything because you want something in return for the attention you are giving. You are doing this to lift her up and to make sure she knows you love her as much or more than when you started together.
If you have children, be public with this praise by sharing in front of them why you think your partner is so wonderful. Remember, you are modeling how they will treat their own partner someday in the future.
Don’t let her have her own life
Women are far more social than most men. This means they may have friends away from your circle or perhaps hobbies that have no interest at all to you. Hey, that is okay! She needs to be free to be her own person and have her own interests. Encourage the hobby, the book club, the girls night out and make sure she can do these things without any feelings of guilt coming from you.
On the inverse, be respectful with your own interests to ensure you have a balance to make sure whatever it is you do does not dominate your time taking you away from your responsibilities.
Don’t honor her when she is not around
This, my friends, is very important and something every man should strive to do at all times.
One of the best definitions of integrity is what we do when no one is watching. Our thoughts, our actions, and our behavior matter at all times and this is especially true with our relationships. It may seem harmless to vent about your wife to your co-workers. It may seem harmless to click on that website or watch that movie when she is not around. It may seem harmless to watch the beautiful lady as she strolls by.
Smalls steps can quietly lead to roads you do not want to travel. Be better and don’t sway a bit. Ask yourself this. If she were here or if she could read your mind would your actions make her proud?
And for sure, never, ever, put down your partner in front of in conversations with your child.
What about you? Are you a wife cheater? What are some areas where you feel you could improve to ensure you are not cheating your way out of the marriage that God intended for you to have?
Conner is starting his final fall semester of college and will essentially be done with his degree at the end of this semester. The spring will bring his capstone class, graduation and the start of being fully on his own.
It is the dream of every parent for their child to grow up and exceed the life they have lived. We want our children to have an amazing life with a good job, a loving family, financial success, adventure, service to the community and a heart for God.
I grew up without strong dreams for all of these things and yet somehow ended up blessed to have much of them. Could I have done more and could I have been more? Absolutely! Nonetheless, we have done our best to live our lives as a positive example for our son and fully expect that he will move on to excel in his own way on his own journey.
The path to this point has not come without adversity. Conner is a survivor after having experienced the great trama of his cliff accident his senior year of high school. The scars of that time and the rods in his back will stay with him as a reminder that he is different. He is a miracle to be here. The blessing to have survived comes with a positive burden. It will serve him as a reminder of the frailty of life and the responsibility to live it with gusto. Thankfully, I know he understands this burden and will use his story to stay strong and to inspire others.
The truth is that the vast majority of people take the easy path and chose to be average. Being different is hard. It kind of sucks at times to skip the shiny object and instead stay out of debt while saving for a reward that is 20+ years away. It sucks at times to work the extra hours and put in the extra effort when others are just skating by and are getting the same benefits. It sucks at times to pass up time on the couch and instead hit the gym. It sucks at times to spend a day in service of others when instead you could be hanging out and just relaxing. It sucks at times to spend hours a week on your own learning in an effort to grow as a person.
Everything worth having and everything that leads to excellence takes effort and time.
For Conner, we have seen the positive desire to do the work, give the service, and live with a long term mindset during these college years. We have no doubt that his future will have many challenges and opportunities. We also have no doubt that he has the talent and the drive to make his dreams come true and live to the potential that has been intended by God.
I am so very thankful for this moment and for the blessing of being a father to an amazing son and a husband to an amazing wife.
Have you ever seen the movie, Gladiator? It is one of my all-time favorites and I have watched it many times. The lead character Maximus is one of those guys every man would wish to be. He is a true man’s man that is willing to die in the name of honor as he seeks to avenge the death of his beloved Emperor and family.
My favorite scene in the movie takes place as Maximus is standing in line with the other Gladiators awaiting his first fight in the grand coliseum of Rome. Slowly he rubs some soil in his hands and soon after a terrified man in front of him pees on himself out of fear.
There is no fear in the heart of Maximus. Instead, there is a steadfast resolve to face whatever challenge awaits on the other side of the gate.
Soon after the epic arena battle has been won the evil Emperor and murderer of his family asks “who are you?”
And here is his famous answer:
In many ways, I see this as a picture for the battle that is our lives. Every day we are stepping into an arena full of enemies and obstacles seeking our destruction. Every day is a battle to be faced and fought with full abandon.
The only way to win is to truly know with every inch of ourselves who we are and why we are here. Only then can we face it all with a conviction so strong that we would rather die than give up who God intended us to be.
At the end of my life, I want to die fully spent knowing that I gave it all for what was really important in this world.
I am Gladiator!
I am husband, father, and servant. I am passionate. I am positive. I am persistent. I connect people to success and I will win this day.