History has its eyes on you

If you didn’t make it through my first post in this series, I don’t blame you. What was supposed to be a 300-word post turned into 2000. Long story short, I have an assignment to publish a blog a week for the next 14 weeks based on the readings in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at BYU-Idaho. Those assignments are being published on my blog.

When I first read the syllabus for this course, my first thought was that this process of defining my life was going to require a lot of work, and a lot of collaboration with my wife. How right I was!

We have been anxiously engaged for the last 5 weeks discussing the life that we want to build together. With so many options and decisions in front of us, it is incredibly overwhelming at times. Then I saw this video from Randy Komisar and shared it with my wife early in the week. Komisar talks about the propensity to become paralyzed by the amount of choices and passions that are possible. His guidance is to set a direction, as opposed to an ultimate destination. Once that direction is set, near term decisions that point you in the right direction can be much easier to make. The quote that stuck out the most was, “My career makes no sense at all in the windshield, it only makes sense in the rear-view mirror.” Chewing on that thought this week has driven most of the conversations I have had with my wife.

With that conversation as the foundation of this week, last night my wife and I were able to experience Hamilton, the incredible musical by Lin Manuel Miranda about the story of Alexander Hamilton and the early days of our nation. One of the most piercing concepts from this story is just how focussed Alexander Hamilton was on the mark that he wanted to make on the world from an incredibly young age. Much of his life was focussed on building his legacy. To Komisar’s point, Hamilton didn’t set out to create a national bank and financial system as a young man, but he did know that he wanted to be part of building a nation. From the Revolutionary War, to a legal career, to the Secretary of the Treasury, his career made much more sense in the rear-view than it did in 1776 looking forward.

I look forward to more reading, contemplation, and conversation next week.

The Formula

If you didn’t make it through my first post in this series, I don’t blame you. What was supposed to be a 300-word post turned into 2000. Long story short, I have an assignment to publish a blog a week for the next 14 weeks based on the readings in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at BYU-Idaho. Those assignments are being published on my blog.

This week I finished the book Launching Leaders by Stephen A. Hitz. This self-help book for millennials was an interesting read which has given me several things to think about and apply to my life. One of the most surprising lessons that I have already started to apply comes from a concept called ‘The Formula’ which was shared in a chapter from a guest author Jim Ritchie.

The 6 points of The Formula are as follows:

  1. Get Up Early
  2. Work Hard
  3. Get Your Education
  4. Find Your Oil
  5. Make Your Mark
  6. Give Back

Each of these steps may require additional discussion. Today I want to focus on the first step – Get Up Early.

I have always considered myself a ‘night person’. Mornings are not my favorite time, and I tend to be very productive in the late morning and late evening. Left to my own devices, I tend to fall asleep between 1 and 2 am, then wake up between 7 and 8. Truthfully, I could sleep later, but ever since my oldest daughter was born 10 years ago I think I have only slept in past 8 a handful of times.

Nearly 6 months ago now I started pursuing my Bachelor’s degree online. This pursuit has added 15-25 hours of additional commitments into my weekly schedule. Finding this time while juggling all of my other commitments and family relationships has been tricky to say the least. One of the most significant impacts has been on the relationship with my wife. My wife is someone I have always considered a ‘morning person’. She is up with the sun, and ready to go to sleep much earlier in the evening than I typically am. With all of my additional time in school, she has been heading to bed by herself most nights while I stay up working on the next paper or assignment. We have almost always gone to bed together through our marriage, so this has been a big shift for both of us.

Upon reading The Formula, I was a bit skeptical of the value of waking up early. In my opinion, the 24 hours in a day are the same, whether the sun is up or not. 2 hours spent in the evening when my circadian rhythm is supporting me seems just as effective or more so than waking up early and trying to focus while I am a bit more groggy. However, in the context of school commitments, and wanting to get back into a schedule more aligned with my wife, I decided to try an experiment.

I had the thought, if I wake up at 5 am, I can do 2 hours of school in the morning, and still start getting ready for the day around 7 am like I normally do. I should still be able to have the same amount of school hours available, but instead of sneaking into bed in the wee hours of the morning, I can go to bed with my wife, and maybe even have a few minutes to talk to her before we both fall asleep. Best-case scenario – we get to see each other a bit more. Worst-case scenario, I realize I am not as productive in the mornings, my grades slip a bit, and I can go back to my old ways quickly.

I am writing this post on the third morning of this experiment. Thus far the results have been quite impressive. My time in the morning has been very productive. I’m still not sure how all of the logistics work, but I feel like I have an incredible amount of additional time in my day. I normally am scrambling to finish school assignments by Friday or Saturday. It is Wednesday morning and I am already nearly complete with my assignments for the week. Last night I got to play games with my kids instead of starting school promptly at 7:00. Every night this week I have gotten to go to bed with my wife and have had time to talk and connect with her.

In summary, I have more time to focus on the things that matter most, and am still feeling very productive. I plan to keep this experiment running for a while longer and am very excited to see the long term results from this new habit.

What time do you like to wake up in the morning?

 

Personal Code of Conduct

If you didn’t make it through my first post in this series, I don’t blame you. What was supposed to be a 300-word post turned into 2000. Long story short, I have an assignment to publish a blog a week for the next 14 weeks based on the readings in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at BYU-Idaho. Those assignments are being published on my blog.

This will be an interesting one to post publicly. We are talking in class about the importance of setting up ethical guardrails early in your career, to prevent these questions from coming later when times are harder and poor decisions are easier to make. We were asked to write 3 phrases for each topic: things I will never do, and things I will always do. I will share these below, with a few comments afterwards.

I will never…
…handle money improperly (steal, embezzle, cook books, etc).
…take credit for another person’s work.
…put my ego above the greater good.

I will always…
…do my best work.
…care deeply about the work and the people involved.
…learn and adapt.

As I wrote these, I was intrigued by the statement “I will never put my ego above the greater good”. Over the last few months I have been trying to come to terms with how to balance an ego, and humility. I have very intentionally avoided boasting of my own skills and abilities to avoid creating an oversized ego. I value humility, and assume that others will see the good work that I do and make their own assessments as to my capabilities. While this has been a semi-functional strategy thus far in my career, I’m sure I would be a bit further along in my career if I were a little more vocal about my skills and abilities. This issue has made itself very apparent through some experiences in the last 6 months.

Because of those experiences, I have been contemplating this time in my career. I have wondered if that humility that served me well to this point may have outlived its usefulness. I have been slowly realizing that being confident in my abilities, and expressing that to others is a healthy thing to do. As I was writing these statements for this assignment, the concept of putting my ego in its place behind getting the job done makes a lot of sense. Self-promotion is important, and something I need to work on, but that will take a back seat to actually getting the job done for me.

How have you handled the balance between ego and humility?

Living Your Dreams

If you didn’t make it through my first post in this series, I don’t blame you. What was supposed to be a 300-word post turned into 2000. Long story short, I have an assignment to publish a blog a week for the next 14 weeks based on the readings in my Introduction to Entrepreneurship class at BYU-Idaho. Those assignments are being published on my blog.

This week, the most impactful topic of the hours of reading and videos came in a 30-second clip from a lecture from Randy Pausch at Carnegie Melon. 9 months before his death from pancreatic cancer, Pausch gave a lecture on achieving his childhood dreams.

“So what were my childhood dreams? You may not agree with this list, but I was there. Being in zero gravity, playing in the National Football League, authoring an article in the World Book Encyclopedia – I guess you can tell the nerds early. Being Captain Kirk, anybody here have that childhood dream? Not at CMU, nooooo. I wanted to become one of the guys who won the big stuffed animals in the amusement park, and I wanted to be an Imagineer with Disney. ”

The 30 seconds that were the most impactful to me of this lecture were his discussion about winning the stuffed animals. The most mundane of all his listed childhood dreams captivated me. I too have childhood dreams that seem mundane, but are incredibly important to me.

A few years ago I had received some birthday money that I was wondering how to spend. With my oldest daughter beginning to express interest in creative processes, I went out and spent close to $300 on several large collections of Lego and K’Nex. While $300 doesn’t normally go very far when buying Lego, I found ways to make my dollar stretch, and ended up with 2 large totes full of the toys, without talking to my wife about them. When they all started showing up in the mail, finding a place to store these started to pose a problem.

The following conversations between me and my wife turned up the fairly obvious realization that I wasn’t actually buying these toys for my 6-year old daughter, I was buying them for me. I was unaware of my own childhood dream of owning more Legos than I knew what to do with. Meeting that dream was surprisingly important to me, and I didn’t even recognize it.

Several additional ‘mundane’ childhood dreams have come up in the years since. Things like having an ice maker in the refrigerator door, buying a coffee table, and owning a dog have all been major milestones in our lives. Allowing ourselves to recognize and experience these simple dreams have had a dramatic improvement in the life of my family. Hearing Randy talk about the stuffed animals as one of his dreams was very cathartic this week as I have wrestled with the assignments of setting life long goals and creating a bucket list this week.

What are the little dreams that you have realized, or still hold on to? What could you do bring those dreams into reality?