I went for a walk with Sorin and Norah earlier this week. This part of spring is where all the snow piles are melting, creating streams of water flowing down the street. The kids loved watching this and of course I had to insist that they didn’t jump in the water. They watched the water flow past other snow drifts and finally drop into the drain. I told them the water is going into the city’s pipes. Norah said the water then comes to our house. I told her there’s more to it than that, but yes we get clean water from the city. I used the opportunity to talk about how we have clean water but many people in the world do not. I told them I am asking my friends on Facebook, on Twitter, and at church to support my campaign to raise money so that people in Zambia can dig a well so they can have clean water. Sorin started talking about seeing a well every day when he takes the bus home from school.
My goal is to keep talking about clean water with our kids. My goal is to make it part of our family’s story. My goal is to get 30 friends join my team and be part of that story. Will you join?
I think the best time to set goals for a year is right about now. The emotion and energy from New Year’s Day is gone, but still lingering is a sense of promise for a better year. We’re still looking at 2014 with only twelve days behind us, so many ahead. We can make our plans, set our goals, take our aim at things with a sober mind. So obviously I need to ask: what’s it going to be?
Two of my favorite people on Twitter (Shaun and Mike) made concerted efforts in the last few weeks to focus on the importance of goals. They created programs where people could sign up and be mentored by these guys and be part of a community to help achieve these goals. I’m leery of crafting my goals in a context like this because it feels too emotional. But I respect these two gentlemen so much that I really considered each one. I retreated from the invitations to my home office to think about goals and execution. I thought about what it would feel like to hit my goals. And then of course my next thought was what it would feel like to miss them. It’s that mentality that proves that I have a lot of growth to do in this area. Maybe you feel the same. Maybe you’re afraid to fail just like me. Maybe we could take this journey together. Just a thought.
Back to the goals. It’s not too late to work on a goals project for the year. I’ve been crafting my 3 Words (version 2010, version 2011, version 2012version 2013) for the last couple weeks. I heard a great message by Matt Metzger that got me thinking about goals and taking small steps towards a goal. I’ll share that post later this week. For now, we need to establish some goals. There’s actually research that says people who set goals and focus on execution are more successful! Well that’s enough for me!
So this week I’m getting bold. I’m posting three days this week on this subject of goals. Of course I’d love for it to be a discussion, taking place in the comment section. But if you message me privately that still counts. If you keep it to yourself that’s good too but please consider going public on some kind of level. We’ll all grow if/when that happens.
Here’s to goals affecting 2014! See you this week.
Last week I met Jon Swanson for the first time in person. We’ve been friends over Twitter for a couple years. Yes, those relationships can happen, yes they can be good. This one is a home run. About a year ago, he started talking about the importance of routines. He even wrote about a book about routines. I’m very fond of conversations and initiatives that involve routine, discipline, planning and the likes. After my meeting this morning I jumped on to Twitter and came across a tweet from John about working from home. The post by Joelle was a great read. It reminded me that routines aren’t he enemy. Don’t hold freedom and flexibility so high that we think routines will get in the way.
I’m traveling the same road as Joelle, trying to figure out my daily routine when some days I have meetings, some days I work at my favorite Starbucks, some days there’s nothing like my home office. But it’s worth examining how routines fit into our daily or even weekly flow.
Last night I got to finally meet Jon Swanson. I was introduced to Jon when I was following Chris Brogan and he tweeted about not being a spiritual guy, but he reads 300 Words a Day (following Jesus). That intrigued me. I started following Jon’s blog and I’ve been reading it ever since. Jon and I have tweeted back and forth a bit and even started emailing last spring regarding one of my blog posts. His writing has always challenged me with the ease in which he crafts and presents his words, really his voice.
You can imagine my joy when Jon tweeted a few weeks ago that he’d be driving past Madison and was hoping we could make time for dinner or coffee. We made the arrangements and last night Katie and I met Jon and Nancy at the El Dorado Grille for dinner. We chatted for over two hours so we went next door to Ground Zero for some decaf coffee to end our evening. I’m documenting this on my blog because it was wonderful to meet a (Twitter) friend in person. This is the world many of us live in these days, and I love it. Additionally, I’m writing this to put a rock down and mark this moment as significant for me professionally. Jon asked me some pointed questions about my writing and my routines that have sparked tremendous creative thoughts over the last 24 hours. They’re not all fleshed out, I suppose I’ve only scratched the surface. But I’m thankful tonight for meeting a mentor of mine, a pastor of mine for the first time.
It was by far by best year of blogging. Reviewing everything I wrote and posted this year, I am filled with joy at the memories I created and captured. Blogging for me is a way to process and a way to remember. It’s also turning into a way for me to plan; more on that at the end. Blogging is about creating a web log of what you do, but to be successful (intentionally leaving this undefined) you need to do this with some sort of routine. That’s where I’ve always struggled, and that’s where I started my year 2013.
Sometimes I get to blog just about personal life things that I’ve enjoyed. 2012 was a fun year and brought many new things to life – some planned, others unexpected. Here’s a list of a few of them. I’m blogging this for my own memories, but I hope you can find some value also.
Jon write at 300WordsaDay and he is the one blogger I read daily. He writes about following Jesus in 300 words per day – brilliant. Short posts but they cause me to reflect and think deeply about my faith.
Workout Gear: TRX
I did a project for a grad class this semester where we looked at the biomechanical analysis of the TRX. The TRX is suspension training and my research reminded me how efficient and challenging this workout can be. For our class, the professor built a quick make-shift TRX so we could work with it. His craftsmanship inspired me so I’ll be building my own this season.
Phone: iPhone 5
I couldn’t resist. I was due for an upgrade and a couple weeks ago I got the latest Apple phone. My main reason was that Katie requires higher megapixels on our pics since she uses them for calendars and photo books, and my iPhone 4 wasn’t cutting it. It’s a wonderful upgrade.
New Project: Sorin’s photo book
Katie has been making photo books each year for our kids as gifts to my mom. This year I jumped in on the fun and did all of Sorin’s book. I had so much fun! And now Katie and I are working together to revamp how we organize our pictures so we can do these books easier and more often. What a fun project.
Start-up business: 8Bit
My blog runs on Standard Theme, a product of the guys at 8Bit. John Saddington and his crew do great work, they’re fun to watch as a team, and they are a pleasure to work and talk with on Twitter. I find a lot of inspiration from these guys.
News feed: Zite
One thing I do every morning while eating breakfast is check Zite. It’s an iPad app that puts together various feeds of news based on categories I choose. Then when I read or star certain items, Zite gets even better at providing relevant news.
Lists/Groups: Facebook and Twitter
I was so much more productive this year b/c I was able to filter out my Twitter and Facebook feeds using lists. I get very annoyed at people who complain that there’s too much on the social media sites. The fact is a little discipline and you can make the social networks work for YOU. I’m spending part of my winter break slimming down the lists even more for 2013.
Notebook: Moleskin and Evernote
I’m a hoarder, I admit it. But with Evernote, that’s not a problem. I literally keep my life in Evernote. But you can never get away from analog writing, planning, drafting. So that’s where the Moleskin notebook comes in. I’m almost to the point where the two are perfectly in sync. But that’s just me.
Business tool: Fit411
I had a fantastic conversation with Briana from Salus this semester and concluded that her software has so much potential to advance my business. I’ll stop here b/c you probably don’t care. Again remember, this is more for me than you.
Though they had quite the PR debacle at the end of the year regarding their terms of service, Instagram was a ton of fun this year. It’s amazing how well a picture can tell a story and how creative these pictures can be. I’ve enjoyed looking back at my Instagram feed from the year. (there were a lot of coffee and espresso references)
There you have it! These favorites from 2012 don’t represent everything from the year. These are essentially just the things that have come to mind at the end of the year. Probably what’s more important than looking back is looking forward. That’s what will happen later this week when I write about my 3 words for the new year. Having a great year is all about goals, not resolutions.
How about you? What are a few of your favorite things from 2012?
On Friday I’ll be shipping a new website for H&H Arborists. It’s been a fairly big project because I’ve worked with two programmers and a photographer. I’m acting more as an executive producer, but I’m ok with that. I received the latest copy tonight and I’ve been working on our last round of adjustments for a couple hours. I’m so excited to go live with this site.
Shipping is important for small businesses and creative people. I ship blog posts about twice a week. I try to ship interesting things on Twitter (which posts to Facebook, to some people’s dismay). But what I’ve realized is that successful people need to ship. Shipping just means putting out quality product. Some people think it should be perfect. I think it should be a work in progress. Of course you always want it to be excellent, but don’t wait for perfect. Is anyone perfect? You’ll find a laundry list of failures when you look closely at any “successful” company.
Shipping gets it out the door and into the hands of people to use it. You can always make adjustments, right? When Tom sent me this last draft tonight, I learned a ton about things I should have thought through. So I’ll make some adjustments and ship on Friday as planned. It will be a huge sense of accomplishment and the learning will continue as I mess with the site more and help it evolve.
Do you ship? Do you create? Blogging is a great way to ship. Twitter is easy because you can grab other people’s important Tweets and retweet. Do you have a book in you? You could write the first chapter and I’d help you get it online for the world to see.
Think about what you have to offer and make a plan to ship by next Wednesday. You thought I’d say Friday, didn’t you. Ship Wednesday – because you can.
One of my biggest frustrations is not being able to find time to read all the good stuff I come across on a daily basis. First, of course, are the books I have going. As I mentioned back in December, my reading list is long. Currently I’m getting back into Principle of the Path so I can get a family book club blog back up and running again. I’ve also started to read Where Men Win Glory by Jon Krakauer. But as I mentioned earlier in the week, the GRE has been my main text for the last few weeks.
So there’s the books, but then there’s the internet. Critics will have a field day with this, but Twitter has put a huge burden on my reading list. I follow some pretty smart and compelling people on Twitter – you should too. And I don’t want to hear that you don’t have time b/c it’s as much or as little as you make it. Sure, I’m kind of complaining about Twitter adding to my reading list. But I’d rather take time to sort through the stuff than not be connected like I am. Anyway, Twitter feeds me with articles about blogging, fitness, news, and leadership which I all find completely fascinating.
What about you? What are you reading? Do you have a regular source for keeping up with the world or your personal interests? Of course I’d recommend finding some interesting people on Twitter. Tell me your interests and I’ll try to point you towards some smart people.
Blogs are also great for finding good stories. Recently I came across two great posts I want to share with you. The first is from Spence Smith who works for Compassion International and has a great blog. This article is called Leaders Who Blog Engage Their Audience is a great argument for why leaders should blog and the influence they can experience. Look around Spence’s website for other articles – I read him every week.
If blogging and leadership aren’t your thing I’ve got a compelling story for you. Katie found this blog from a friend of hers and I’ll give you three guarantees: (1) you will see beautiful photography and excellent writing, (2) it’s a long read (3) you will thank me for pointing you to this when you’re done. If it doesn’t affect you, check your pulse. Enjoy the story of Nella.
Most of my readers know I’m really into social media – blogging, Twitter, Facebook. The whole point of social media is to be social. So I’m sharing what I’m reading.
This Haiti Challenge has been a mini-series on The Game Plan. I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s made me think of the project from many different angles.
It helped people: 10 days ago this money hadn’t been given. The need arose, people responded, and money was donated. People benefited from our work.
Teamwork wins: I’m very proud of the fact that my efforts in combination with the efforts of my team produced more dollars than would have been donated with just one person. Some would have donated anyway, some donated after reading the Challenge. We formed a team.
Not everyone will join: My biggest frustration and learning moment is that not everyone will join the cause, as good and as necessary as it may be. I admitted in my first post of this series that,
It’s too easy to pass up opportunities to help. I’ve done it so many times in the past.
I knew only a small percentage of my friends on Facebook and the blog would respond. My blog has a small readership, and I know I have exactly 416 friends of Facebook. But I honestly thought I could get at least 20-30 people to donate $5 or $10. This honestly baffles me. Maybe it shouldn’t b/c I’ve passed on other similar opportunities to give. It’s leaving a sour taste in my mouth, so I’m done digitally processing this thought.
(Alright, tt’s still pissing me off)
People appreciate a good story: I thoroughly enjoy researching a topic and presenting it to my readers and friends. This story of course was a global disaster, but I took it and organized a sub-story for people to join. If I’m frustrated with those who didn’t join, I’m equally joyful with those who did. They joined my story.
Social Media will be a platform for really good things: Not everyone is into Twitter and Facebook. I hope they will see how quickly good information and stories can spread if we get involved in networks that are so viral. And texting generated so much money. Technology can be such a powerful tool.
Every cause needs a champion: I’m not saying I championed this Haiti cause, but I moved towards it. For 7 days I was a leader for a really good cause. This disaster will pass, recovery will happen. In the big picture this is a small story. Serious but small. What are the bigger stories? What stories need to be told? What stories need a champion? How has God gifted you or given you experiences that have drawn you towards a cause or problem that needs to be solved?
I’m not going to go back and delete that point about my frustration with those who didn’t join. I know many may read it and be turned off by my harsh words, but I can live with that. My frustration is equally directed at myself b/c in years past I haven’t put my money where my heart was. Hypocrite? No. I’m learning and I’m growing. I’m willing to challenge people to excellence even if I can’t always produce it myself. I want to be in the game and leading myself and those I love towards goals that are bigger than ourselves.
Jack wrote his check to World Vision on Friday. I wrote my checks this morning – $45 each to World Vision, Compassion, and Red Cross. Thanks for reading about this Haiti Challenge. Let’s continue to do good things and cheer each other on to greatness.
There was no way I was going to process the reports from Haiti and not do anything. It was impossible. Over a two day period I watched Twitter and glanced at nytimes and cnn.com. I saw the tragedy unfolding and knew that as a God-fearing man and father of a little boy that it was my responsibility to take action. Families were being torn apart and forced into extreme conditions. It was my obligation to assist in whatever way I could to the relief efforts.
What I did was not revolutionary. It wasn’t even my idea. I was reading my Twitter feed and saw that Bebo Norman (singer from Nashville) was donating $5 for every person that mentioned that a link where you could donate:
Bebo has 5,000+ people “following” him, so you can do the math and see how their bill could add up really quickly. But the idea inspired me. I talked to Katie about us donating, and then I decided to create my own Haiti Challenge.
I’m happy to report that my team raised $133 in six days. The challenge was posted on Facebook and on my blog. One of my blog readers then decided to match whatever I had to match. So “Jack” is contributing $133.
Our grand total is $399! Sorin just found four quarters in our couch, so you can tell people that the Haiti Challenge raised $400.
I would like to thank each person who joined my team for this effort. When people work together for a single cause, big things can happen. $400 isn’t even a drop in the bucket for the problems in Haiti, but that money will certainly provide assistance to someone who needs it a whole lot more than we do.
(Stay tuned: my next post will include additional thoughts about this project and I’ll report when I write the check and where it goes.)