First Place

There is something special about being in First Place. You worked hard, put in the time and effort, made sacrifices, and you took the lead.

This First Place status may be with your customers, your employees, your team, your family, or your relationships. They appreciate the work it took to get into First Place, and you are proud of your accomplishments and they are proud to put you in First Place.

But there is something tempting about being in First Place. Once you arrive, the temptation is to rely on the good will you built along the way. Your First Place status is like a trophy put on a shelf and keep pointing at when interacting with those same customers, employees, teams, family, or relationships.

Your over-reliance on your past actions can lull you into almost feeling entitled to be in First Place regardless of our current effort or actions.

“Look at what I did for you.”

Pointing to the past becomes your mindset, and your language.

First Place is not a destination.

First Place is not a trophy to place on the shelf and continually reference.

You are not entitled to First Place.

First Place is more of a journey, a continual effort towards something great.

First Place is the culmination of your daily work, effort, conversations, and progress.

Instead of focusing on, always being in First Place, try focusing on each day’s actions and ask yourself a few questions.

Did I bring value today?

Did I help others?

Did I connect with those who matter?

Did I focus on the important things?

Did I make a difference?

When you answer “YES” to these on most days, your status with those around you should take care of itself.

P.S. Sorry for the long hiatus from writing, I have missed connecting with you through words.


The Perfection Perception

“Wow you have such a perfect job.”

“Your life is perfect.”

“Your [relationship, marriage, kids, world, career, friendships, family, neighborhood, choices…and the list goes on] is so perfect.”

The Perfection Perception catches a glimpse from the outside.

The Perfection Perception sees you at your best.

The Perfection Perception creates comparison.

But this is a distorted view.

The Perfection Perception doesn’t see the mess inside.

The Perfection Perception doesn’t see your doubt, worry, stress, and struggle.

The Perfection Perception doesn’t see the hard work, the failure, and the loss.

Beware of the Perfection Perception, it is a cloudy lens that creates separation and unnecessary comparison.

The Hard Work of Dreams


(Image courtesy of the One of My Dreams, and the road trip)

Sometimes our dreams don’t work out.

But dreams (goals, aspirations, how we want things to be) can fool us into thinking that the road will be easy.

We have this idea, so it should just happen right?

I want this or that, therefore it should become a reality.

Yes it may be a little work, but hey “I have been working on this dream for over two weeks.”

During a recent discussion with a close friend, we talked about how dreams are the result of hard work. The result (that dream state) is typically achieved after years of sacrifice and working a plan that made that dream a reality.

We laughed at how much we dream without counting the cost. Big dreams without counting the hard work it will take to make them happen.

The “overnight success” band dream. Fifteen years of crossing the country to work every small bar, festival, or venue.

The “retirement traveler” dream. Thirty-three years of saving, investing, and saying no to the daily temptations of purchases.

The “dream job” dream. Ten years of attending school part-time while working, raising kids, and unpaid internships to gain experience.

The “business start-up” dream. Thirteen years of finding a market, staying up late working on proposals, being rejected, making mistakes, borrowing money, trying to keep records, making a product or service, building relationships, inspiring trust, learning to ship, and trying to convince others that you bring value.

The “perfect parent” dream. A lifetime of relationships, negotiations, cleaning up, providing for, apologizing, correction and guidance, time, energy, and intention.

The “great relationship” dream. Seasons of distance, making time, grief, disappointment, non-response, frustration, misunderstanding, forgiveness, and rejection.

Dream away.

But know that dreams require something in return.

The hard work of dreams is what takes a concept or idea and makes it real.

It will cost you, but the reward is worth the hard work.


P.S. A few days ago marked four years for this writing dream. Just a few more decades to go…

Three Things I Learned from My Mom

While reflecting the other day, I wondered where we pick up things in life that help shape us as people.  We all experience different events, and those events, interactions, and examples (good or bad) shape the very nature of who we become.  Some of who we are is the product of who our parents were and we take some of it from them, reject some, but it shapes us nonetheless.

There were things I learned from my Mom.  You see, she was a single mom raising three boys.  She worked primarily as a waitress her entire life.  The hours allowed her to be there in the morning, and when we got home from school, but the work was hard.  Three major lesson come to mind that were passed from her to us.  Intentionally or not, those lessons were pretty clear.

Be Tough.  Work Hard.  Celebrate Events.

Be Tough.  This may have been less intentional, but more a product of circumstance. Money was tight, our roof leaked (a lot), and there were times when chopping wood was the deciding factor between being warm or cold.  I am sure there were days when she wondered if she could make it another day, but she kept pushing forward.  She demonstrated that even when life is hard (which it totally is at times), you need to be tough in order to survive.

Work Hard.  Long hours and weekends on her feet “slinging hash” as she liked to call it, was what she did.  It is not glamorous work, but it paid the bills (most of the time).  Weeks, months, and years passed and you could tell that the work took its toll.  Sore feet, sore shoulders, and shoes that looked like they had seen a war.  I recently remembered sitting down as a kid and helping her dab on that white shoe polish that would make those shoes look like new again.

Celebrate Events.  Whether it was a birthday, a holiday, or some life event, we celebrated.  When I look at old photos, I can see the amazing cakes she decorated, the cookouts we had, the birthday parties with all of our friends.  Despite the lack of funds, we had fun.  When report cards came, if you did well, you got a “skip day” that meant a whole day with Mom doing something fun.

These lessons helped shape who I am today.  I have had to be tough to ensure hardship. Working hard helped me in life, in college (I was the first in many generations to attend), and in my career.  Most of all, I love to celebrate events.  Birthdays, anniversaries, or life events are savored like fine wine.

The other major lesson that is buried deep is an appreciation for what I have.  And it sometimes hits me in weird ways.  A roof that doesn’t leak.  Heat when you turn up the thermostat.  The ability to fill the gas tank in the car without having to dive into my change stash.  All of these things we may take for granted, but it is nice to remember and be content.

By the way, I don’t think she reads this blog and she would be embarrassed to be the subject matter.  But just in case she reads this someday…

Thanks for the lessons, Mom.