Notes from this Morning #20: Intelligence isn’t IQ. Do you know what self-confidence means?

What you do by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Henry David Thoreau

There are times in my life where I’ve felt more confident than others. When I reflect back at those times, I realize that my self-confidence correlates closely to my external activities. When I’m out in the world doing things like climbing, mountain biking, snowboarding, swimming in the ocean, doing conference talks, teaching, traveling–my self-confidence soars. That might be one reason that we all might be feeling down lately, I know I feel a little down. We’ve been cooped up at home, our jobs have changed, sometimes it feels like everything has changed. But, I have to remember that things are always changing, I should just get used to it and focus on what I can do–there will always be updates, new editions, new challenges. I wouldn’t have it any other way ٩(*•͈ ꇴ •͈*)و ̑̑❀!

Let’s get to work. This morning I spent my time examining another area that I need to strengthen. Self-confidence.

You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough, you will.

Stephen King

With the proper amount of self-confidence, you will try almost anything. Your chances of success improve exponentially based on the number of ways you try to accomplish something. I can’t tell you the number of times in my life that I’ve tried to do something, failed, and then never tried it again. I didn’t try again because I wasn’t self-confident enough. Why? Well, it’s because I didn’t remember that the more times I try to achieve a goal, the probability goes up–I wasn’t confident. I didn’t reflect on the good things that happened during that experience, and I focused only on the failure. Let’s fix this.

How do we infuse our lives with self-confidence?

Brian Tracy, a professional development coach and one of the people I started listening to over twenty years ago–has developed a simple plan to increase our self-confidence. He calls it the 4-Ds to being more self-confident.

Brian Tray’s 4-Ds to Becoming more Self-Confident

  1. Desire. We must have a burning, relentless desire to become more self-confident. We have to have the desire to overcome the fears in our life, the past failures, the let-downs, and mistakes that have ultimately hurt our self-confidence. We have to not just think about this, we have to have the emotion in our hearts to FEEL the desire to make ourselves more self-confident.
  2. Decision. After we’ve felt the desire to be more confident in our lives, we have to make the decision to increase self-confidence in our lives at any cost. We have to make the decision a do or die proposition. We have to decide to go to work on ourselves and not stop working until we’ve achieved the BHAGs (Big Hairy Audacious Goals) in our life.
  3. Determination. Once the decision has been made. DO IT. It’s now our job to use the determination we have to stick to the plan. Our determination to build our self-confidence must be unshakeable. Once we have decided, our internal gyro systems will take over if we are determined, we will hone in on the target. We will begin to change our thinking into believing in ourselves.
  4. Discipline. Self-discipline is making ourselves do something whether we feel like it or not. There are many ways to build the self-discipline we need to build our confidence. If we have the desire, made the decision, and we have committed ourselves with resolve and unshakeable determination, we will have all that we need to create the discipline necessary for creating self-confidence. We will find the habits that we need to change ourselves to specifically create self-confidence within ourselves.

Self-confidence comes from knowing and not thinking we are confident. It’s only when we have a firm conviction and belief in our abilities, based on experience, that we can know that our self-confidence is not an act.

Every act of self-confidence builds our self-confidence. Every mental exercise that we do to increase our confidence builds our self-confidence, every time we learn from other self-confident people, we build our self-confidence.

I realize now that I’ve been working on my self-confidence all this time. When I go to work on myself, specifically in the areas of personal integrity, delegation skills, management, my personality, dealing with my personal issues as an adopted Korean-American, my anger issues, I’m really working on my confidence levels in these areas. I’m seeing benefits in more than just my self-confidence though. My self-image is better, my self-esteem is better. When I realize and see these things in my life. I become more self-confident. My outlook on life is more positive because I am becoming a better person with every minute that I make the right choices for myself and my family.

There was a Gallup Poll/Study done in the 80s (I’m trying to find the exact reference) that asked some of the most influential people in the 80s how they became to be the most well respected and well known. These questions were asked of Nobel Prize winners, university presidents, and the most successful business people at that time. Gallup produced a study about the five qualities these people believed were key to their self-confidence and success.

  1. Common Sense. Common sense was at the top of the list of qualities. Common sense is the ability to cut to the core of an issue. It’s learning from our experiences. Aristotle believed that wisdom is common sense, and that wisdom was developed through our experiences and REFLECTION on them. Most people, including myself, do not reflect properly on our experiences. A lot of times we focus on the failure of our experience. Instead, what we should do is focus on the positive things after we’ve experienced something. Try this next time when you have an important experience (like a call with your boss, or client). Get out a piece of paper and write down the answers to these two questions:
    1. What did I do right? and, What would I do differently?
    2. When we do this, we immediately dwell on the positive aspects of the experience. We give ourselves a much higher chance of getting better and at a much higher rate. Proper reflection on our experiences builds our self-confidence because it contributes to our common sense and wisdom to handle our lives better.
  2. Expertise. The second quality was simple to understand. The most successful people had the greatest levels of self-confidence because they knew what they were doing. We have to know we are good at something to really feel confident about doing something.
  3. Self-Reliance. Being able to look to yourself and being able to harness the creative forces inside of you to solve problems is the third quality that is found in the most successful and self-confident. Being self-responsible for building your confidence, looking inside yourself to break down the internal barriers is critical in getting past the external barriers of our lives. We are the primary source of creating self-confidence in our lives.
  4. Intelligence. Here’s where the title of the article comes from. I wanted to challenge your egos to figure out if you’re intelligent or not! This was the fourth quality. I don’t think that the people in the study meant IQ. If we dig deeper into the data of their lives, many didn’t finish college or get good grades, or any grades for that matter. Book smarts are not the focus of what we are dealing with here. Intelligence is a way of acting. Either we “act smart” or we, “act stupid”. As Forest Gump’s mom said, “stupid is what stupid does.” Mic drop. It’s so true. When we act in a way that moves us closer to our goals, we are being intelligent. When we act in ways that move us further from our goals, we are being unintelligent. See that wasn’t so bad. Every time we act in a way to build our self-confidence, we are being smart about it and we are on the path to greater self-confidence.
  5. Result Orientation. This was the fifth quality. Result orientation is being able to know you can get the job done. You have to have a “take action” mindset and a strong sense of urgency to get things done. You have to have a plan for building your self-confidence just like you achieve other things in your life.

My plan is to dedicate myself to becoming more self-confident and getting a little better at this every day. I know that every time I go the extra mile on something or someone, every time I do more for others–I become more self-confident. My dedication to continuous growth is the plan for building self-confidence in every aspect of my life. I now have daily experiences handling challenges with the new philosophies I’ve installed in my operating system, and those experiences are getting handled better and easier. I can feel it and see it.

The more we learn, the more we can learn. If we stay true to building our confidence, we will like and respect ourselves more, we will be more positive and be able to create the things we want in our lives more easily. This is the promise. And when it comes to self-confidence, paying the price instantly gives us the promise of more confidence. It’s an amazing thing; aren’t we amazing? Dang right we are!

You are the best. I love you! See what you’re becoming! Be the best at what you’re doing. Choose excellence today. Be the exception.

Featured Photo by Daniel Minárik on Unsplash

Notes from this morning #19: Delectation comes from delegation and deletion.

“People often end up being busy on the wrong things — so they feel they’re being productive, but it isn’t getting them anywhere. Richard was a master at being productive only on the things that pushed Virgin forward.”

Penni Pike, Sir Richard Branson’s assistant for more than 30 years.

Let’s just cut to the chase here. Not being able to delegate isn’t just a problem. It’s a whole philosophy that I need to change. There is so much anxiety wrapped up in the idea of letting others do things that I believe I can do better, or faster–I’ve convinced myself of many things. I am so twisted on this concept that I need to immediately change my thought process on it. I need help immediately.

I’ve already started to buy books on the art of delegation and I’m going to get started on them. That’s the basic level. The next thing I did this morning that I went to my mentor and asked him to teach me about delegation. He’s already told me that it was one of his weaknesses and was gracious enough to spend 35 minutes to share all he knows about delegation. I’m going to share that here.

The first thing I learned is the reason why I won’t delegate. The main reason for me is not only am I good at doing a lot of things; I also feel like delegation is sometimes passing off work and appearing to be lazy. I had this idea that it’s somehow noble or honorable to suffer through crappy tasks, but this is just plain wrong. It’s broken thinking. It’s not seeing the whole picture. I’ll cover this more in the second point below.

Delegation is not abdication. I can’t just pass off a job and not expect to have to do some upfront investment of my time to make sure the job is done right. Successful delegation lies within me, not within the person I delegate the task to.

Five key points to being a world-class delegator

  1. Invest the time now to get more time later. Set aside time specifically for the act of delegating. Delegation has to be planned and executed when we are calm and thinking clearly. Even though you might be able to do it faster now, what about when this task comes up again later? We have to change our thinking to understand and commit to the fact that delegation requires an upfront investment of our time. We have to hand the baton off along with details.
    1. The results of successful and effective delegation are can empower you and the rewards are unlimited.
    2. You’ll get more time back in the future.
    3. Be patient, remember the rewards that we will get when we get delegation right.
  2. Find the right person. This can help specifically with the “passing off a task to someone else” hang-up that I have used in the past to justify not delegating. There is someone out there that loves to do the things we don’t like to do. Hate doing spreadsheets? I know a guy that loves doing them so much, that’s basically all he does, he’s a master at this. I on the other hand — I can’t stand it. But I hated asking him to do them for me because I thought that he would resent me for it. RIDICULOUS. Find the people who play at the things you think are work. Here’s the hard part for me, once you’ve found this person… TRUST them to do it. Make sure you do the upfront work to explain WHY they are doing the task, why it’s important to you, what your values are in the task. Once you’ve explained and trained them and given them your expectations–let them be the superstar they are at that task you once wallowed through.
  3. Clearly define the goal and the why. We touched on this in the last step, but I want to single it out. The act of delegation is that we are really fostering autonomy. Without clearly defining the goals of the tasks we are delegating no one will know why they are doing it. And if they aren’t clear, it’s likely that we won’t be satisfied with the results. Sometimes we will have to train skills to get to the level of absolute autonomy–but again. Remember that we have to pay the price the get the promise. We have to do the work first, then we can reap the rewards of gaining more time back.
  4. Explain how success is measured and provide clear check-in points and deadlines. I love this quote from Andrew Carnegie. It really gets to exactly how to have expectations set and a clear routine.
    1. “What I do is get good men and I never give them orders. My directions do not go beyond suggestions. Here in the morning, I get reports from them. Within an hour I have disposed of everything, sent out all my suggestions, and the day’s work is done. Now I am ready to go out and enjoy myself.”
    2. Delegate the objective, not the procedure. The other thing from this quote is that Andrew didn’t give orders, he gave suggestions. We have to focus on results, not perfection. Let the people we’ve tasked do the things they need to do their way.
    3. Inspect what you expect. Make sure that your deadlines are clear and that you are reviewing the reports that you’re asking for–pay close attention to the details and add clarity whenever necessary.
  5. Provide the equipment and let them fly. This is the scariest and best part. Once you’ve made sure the person you’re tasking has all the tools and all the information that you feel they need to accomplish the task. Ask them if they think they can accomplish it and let them do it. Get out of the way and go out and enjoy yourself. Now you have invested your time into completing a task that you don’t have to worry about again.
    1. Once equipped with all the tools, let your employee soar.
    2. Trust them, but verify that the task is getting done. Make sure you read reports, follow up on check-ins. It’s still your responsibility.

Now, after getting all this–I had a couple of questions. The first question came from the idea that my company is still new and I can’t really afford to hire a huge staff or a bunch of people. This is what Darren (my mentor) told me.

“You’re asking how we bridge the gap. How do we go from that single entrepreneur to the millionaire business owner when it comes to delegating? Follow the advice of Ken Fisher, a Forbes 400 billionaire.

“Look, when you first start a business it’s likely that you are going to have to do everything–sales, customer service, accounting, all the way down to taking out the trash. Your goal is to get enough SALES going so you can quit taking out the trash and hire someone else to do it. Get more sales going, then quit doing the accounting; hire a specialist to do it. Get more sales going and quit doing.

Ken Fisher, Forbes 400 Member

All businesses need cash flow and sales. If you have sales and cash flow you can hire more people. Sales drive everything. Get busy quitting all the little jobs in your job and focus on leading people. Go from everything to nothing. Do this as fast as you can.”

What about people that work for others? What if I’m the lowest man on the totem pole? His answer:

“The hypothetical question, [heheh] okay, well–think about this. You used to manage people. I’d suggest that you go to your boss and figure out exactly why you’re on the payroll, if there are things that you’re doing that don’t contribute directly to the success of the company; try to figure out things that you can have other people in the organization do for you. There are likely going to be people that are below your pay grade, assistants, laborers, or others that can take some of the low-impact tasks you’re doing and do them better than you anyway. Any boss will be delighted to hear you that you are striving to do your job more effectively, and should be happy to assist you with outsourcing the things you might be doing, especially if you become more productive and make the company more money by assigning things to others that are getting paid less than you. It might even be a better tool you need or a piece of software, or maybe they will assign you a helper. You have to be creative and realize that it sometimes takes careful and thoughtful planning and analysis to find things in your workflows that can be outsourced. But, you just can’t say–I can’t delegate things in my position without doing a serious evaluation of what you’re doing. And then asking for help on things so you can be a better employee.”

The last bits of advice I have are these:

  1. Force yourself to delegate. You’ll fight it but just do it. Your success depends on this.
  2. Do it before you’re ready. Don’t be the “too little too late” person. Realize now that if you try to delegate when you’re overwhelmed you’re going to make mistakes. Do the investment, pay the price upfront and now.

Have a great day! Remember to gather from today to make tomorrow easier! Don’t just get through today, TAKE from today. Take from today and apply it to the future. I’m sending out love to you. Be the best.

Featured Photo by Zach Lucero on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #18: Are you an egotistical narcissist ? Yup, arrogant too.

"I hated every early morning workout I ever had, but I loved being a champion." -- Mohammed Ali

Hello friends. I’m not calling you any names this morning. Nope. This is the question that I asked myself today, and you can see my answer. I wish I was joking but it’s true. The reason that I’m an egotistical narcissist today is that I am a terrible delegator. People don’t call you that though when you’re out there in life, they call you a control freak or if they are kinder, a perfectionist. They whisper behind your back and say, “he won’t let anyone help him.” They let you blame it on OCD or whatever.

Dan’s NEXT Interview

Interviewer: What’s your greatest weakness?

Dan: I’m a bad delegator.

Interviewer: NEXT!

–the truth hurts.

Now I know I have other weaknesses, but the heart of the matter for me is that now that I know about this one; I need to get busy being the best delegator that I can be so that I can get on with the main task at hand–doing what I do best.

Let’s break it down a bit. Why? Well, for one thing. I’m good at a lot of different things. I’ve spent my life learning things and perfecting the things I love doing. If you look at my CV–not the abbreviated resume that I have on LinkedIn, you’ll find that along with computer, information, and data science, I studied religion, psychology, philosophy, business, and photography; I was a rock climbing guide, a whitewater raft guide, a musician, a farmer, a miner, a youth minister, a pizza cook, a horse-wrangler (cowboy), a post-hole digger, a landscaper, a waiter, a bartender, a mentor, a curriculum writer, a teacher, a lecturer, a salesman, a counselor, a song-writer, an artist, a wedding photographer, a tailor, a builder, a webmaster–and these are just some of the things I’ve been paid to do in the past.

Didn’t see CEO on that list, right? Successful company owner? Foundation starter? Why the heck not? I believe now it’s because I couldn’t get the help I needed because I WOULDN’T ASK FOR HELP. And maybe I wasn’t meant to do those things. We are going to see in real-time if this part of my life will truly help me achieve what I’m meant to do on this Earth. Because at the moment I realized my greatest weakness, I realized my greatest strength.

I am a creator.

I think all of us know what we should be doing in life. It’s that little voice you hear whisper to you, it’s the part of you that sometimes, and in my case, you want to push back against. A lot of my life’s choices were not just at odds with that little voice–I was in active rebellion against it. I was determined to do the opposite. I was specifically taking the wrong path thinking I could get to the destination I wanted. I’m fully listening to that voice now. I’m writing it to you now as you read this. When I reflect back on the people in my life who have told me, over and over again what my greatest strength was… I never heard it. I listened, but it never got me until today. Thank you to all of the people in my life that tried to tell me what I needed. I’m with you now.

I can create something from anything.

Daniel Hwan Oostra

Growing up I had religion in my life. A lot of it. Unfortunately, I started to look at religion as something bad, and therefore everything associated with it was bad. I wanted to be different from my adoptive family, I didn’t want to do the things they thought were right. I wanted to be independent of them, so I would sometimes decide that if that was the right way to do things, I’d do it the wrong way. If stealing was wrong, then I’d make it right to steal. If cheating was wrong, then I’d cheat the right way. I wanted to win the wrong way. Luckily, as a younger man, I adopted the philosophy of being a force for good in the world. My wife’s grandmother taught me that. That helped me overcome many of my character flaws. It didn’t take care of all of them–but, it probably kept me out of prison. Now, I hope you can see I’m in beast-mode in regards to finding my blindspots and getting the full bright light of the sun on them to either kill or plant new things that defeat them. I’m in command. Watch out universe, get ready to get dented.

I hope that you find some inspiration today to figure out what your blind spots are and to take action to make that change that lets you know what to do. It’s taken me a long time to be able to write this article, to be so open about my thoughts, but I’m grateful. I can tell you my morning workouts have been tough, maybe not Mohammed Ali tough–but I love being my own champion.

I love you! I hope you know I’m cheering for you and sending love every morning. We are the best. We are winning.

Featured Photo by Quino Al on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #17: What are you willing to give up to get what you what?

My family and I were watching Olympic swimming and gymnastics last night. I was definitely impressed with the daring and speed that some of these athletes have in the water and flying over some gymnastics equipment, pulling moves that made me feel they were doing something truly impossible. I don’t know what all the moves they were doing but I did know one thing. It wasn’t easy. These young men and women obviously put in hundreds of hours of practice to be able to do what they are able to do, and they aren’t getting paid like some of the professional athletes who now perform in the Olympics these days.

What struck me though while watching this was the question. What had they given up to be there?

Just follow the story of one athlete, you’ll find that she gave up her first year at Stanford–delaying enrollment because COVID changed the schedule on her. Another gave up her senior prom, parties, friendships, all to represent herself and the USA for a chance to do what she wanted to do. I think we could go on and on through all the sacrifices that these athletes, their parents, their coaches, and all the other supportive people in their lives made to get them to the Olympics, and we only hear the stories of the ones who are medal contenders or champions.

Would you trade your first year to attend Stanford to swim in the Olympics only to miss the finals by 1 second and come home empty-handed? Of course, you wouldn’t. Especially if you knew that was going to be the outcome. Yes, we’d all trade it for a gold medal and our chance to be written in the history books. But medals aren’t a sure thing, there are no guarantees when it comes to the experiences we choose.

What’s exceptional about these athletes is that they know it’s not a sure thing, but they are going to try their absolute best and give up everything and anything to achieve the goal of standing on a podium and hearing their country’s anthem being played in the background. From the interviews we watch, that’s all that it seems they care about. They aren’t guaranteed to become the hot gold medalist that ends up on a Wheaties box; I’ve never heard that as being the goal for any of these people. What I have heard is a ton of respect and care given to the other athletes they’ve competed against when they’ve both won and lost. What I have observed is that these people are working at a higher level of attention and focus.

I want to perform at a higher level. I want to be the best Dan I can be. I want to be the best husband, the best father, the best friend, the best colleague, the best co-worker, the best writer that I could be. To do that, I also have had to and am still figuring what I need to give up to become the best version of myself. My goal isn’t to be better than anyone else. I do believe that I have God-given talents and intend to spend the rest of my life figuring how to use them at a world-class level.

Over the last few months, I’ve made a lot of changes in my life. It’s been both easy and difficult to navigate the forces of change and my desire to slip back into old habits and patterns. Easy because I’m inspired by my daily progress, and hard because some of my habits had been carefully nurtured for years–and are like giant oak trees in my yard, very hard to remove. So let’s start with that today. Let’s do a quick accounting of the things that I’ve decided to give up recently.

What I’ve given up to be a better ME.

  1. Staying up late–I used to think that I was so productive late at night. I wasn’t. My nights would start with me finishing up some work and then diving into videos, movies, and shows. I’d have a nightcap that was supposed to put me asleep, but then I’d get stuck doing something like online poker, reading some trash articles, random shopping, then I’d be “seasoning” some awesome new drama–3 episodes and 3 drinks later… I was overstimulated, hazy, and half-drunk, and I’d wake up late, grouchy, and already behind.
  2. Random TV/Videos–Ending my late nights effectively ended this as well. It’s so easy to open YouTube and, poof! I’m off in the matrix. Now, if I’m going to watch a show or video I plan ahead to watch it (like the Olympics) and make it an experience. Last night it was the three of us on the couch rooting loudly for the athletes–it was fun and I enjoyed myself. I also try to carefully curate what I do watch and schedule it specifically as downtime.
  3. News/Social Media/Howard Stern–This was hard. I can honestly say I have no idea what’s going on in Congress, with Kim Kardashian, or if we are on the brink of nuclear war. I know that if any of these things went critical, I’d find out in time. I’ve also decided that I’m going to give myself one day a week to check out the news, it’s Sunday. But, I don’t really care anymore, this last Sunday I didn’t even check any media/news. Now, I know I might be a little uninformed, but, ignorance is bliss, right? I feel better, and that’s all that matters. I’m not stressed or even thinking about what’s happening. That’s not to say I don’t know what’s going in cryptocurrency markets or with my mining operations, sure, I read some industry news in those areas. But I’m not locked on Twitter when I’m in the bathroom anymore. I’ve given up listening to Howard Stern–he was a great distraction in the car, but now I listen to audiobooks, the occasional favorite songs from my playlist, or I just have a conversation with the person or people in the car with me if I’m with someone.
  4. Getting Angry–I spent a lot of my life angry about one thing or another. I didn’t always know why, but I’ve had to spend a lot of time doing work unraveling the anger that was in my life. I was angry about a lot of things, being abandoned as a young child, global racism, my failures, not living up to my promises to myself and others. Yes, anger was something I used to cope with these things, mainly because I didn’t take the time to understand and educate my emotions so that I could understand them in a way that would help me. I still get angry now and then, I’m not cured! But, now I recognize more and more of the things that do bother or trigger me, and I try to change my frustration into fascination. When someone says something to me that triggers me, I look at them and say to myself, “How did you get to this point in your life?”, “What kind of person are you?”, “What experiences did you have that would cause you to do or say such a thing?”, “Why am I feeling this way about this interaction?” I try to let curiosity sneak itself into my perspective and take over slowly. Try this sometime when you feel the urge to just go ballistic on someone. Try to figure them out. This one change has already helped my relationships and my mental state. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not perfect and I still slip up, but I’m learning to get better at channeling my anger into other things. (like writing!)

Let me make a point here. This is my list. This isn’t a suggestive list of what you should give up or try to give up. I’m just telling you exactly what I’m doing now. What I can tell you is that I’m making progress. My relationship with my family is better than ever. I spend more time with them, I’m more present and I’m seeing the fruits of these efforts come to life, I’m happier and healthier–I have more hope for the future than I’ve ever had. I don’t hate anyone or any group. I’m not wrapped over a barrel on any personal/social/political/financial issue and my conscience is clear. I do know that giving up the things I’ve listed has made me feel lighter and more alive. I’m on my way to becoming the best husband, father, friend, and person I can be. ᕦ(ò_óˇ)ᕤ

So, let me ask you the question you know I was going to end with. Are there things in your life that are holding you back that you need to give up so that you have time to get the things you really want?

Love is being sent to you all! Have a great day! Be the best.

Featured Photo by Karim Ben Van on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #16: Don’t let the dogs eat your goals.

"We can't direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails." - Thomas S. Monson 

NASA does more than just look at stars, in fact, a large portion of their mission is focused on the Earth. I should know after spending the better part of a decade working with the team at the Atmospheric Science Data Center headquartered at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, VA. I spent a lot of time looking at satellite data that was focused on the Earth; so, when someone would ask me about a shuttle launch or something that was happening on the Mars Mission, I would smile and tell them I worked in Earth science and didn’t really know a lot about what was happening in space. That’s usually when I’d lose them, and I realized now I was missing a lot by not looking up sometimes. Let me explain.

Today, and more recently, I’ve been looking forward and upward–with you, my inner circle. Instead of trying to understand the beginnings of hurricanes and staring at the data about them, I’ve been trying to sort out the storms that I have on the inside, trying to find the reasons for inner turbulence, exploring my personal dataset.

My inner studies have taken me a while to bear fruit. It took me a long time to take responsibility for every aspect of my life; I wanted to blame others, to assign excuses to things, I wanted to make up reasons for my failures. All of which clouded my perspective on the problems in my life. There was a time that I didn’t see us all using the same sun, the same moon, the same winds, the same government, the same company policies. It was easy to blame the winds. It was convenient to blame everything but myself for my problems.

I feel in command today. In command of the USS Oostra, to be sure, my family is battened down and they have PFDs on. However, today, now, I understand and see things differently. I see now that we all have the same winds, and it’s up to me to decide how to use them. I’ve learned and am still learning from others who have been able to harness the proverbial winds of our world–I’m learning that with greater precision, mindfulness, and awareness–I can tune my sails and get me to my destinations faster and with ease. It feels good to be on the razor’s edge of success and failure; at least it’s me at the helm.

This command and my personal integrity have forced me to look harder at the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Not in a mystical or magical way; but in a physical, tangible way. Try to think about trying to get a boat out of a channel at low tide, you’re gonna get that keel stuck if you have one, the water’s depth is at it’s lowest. The smart sailor waits until high tide. The tides are controlled by the moon’s position and relative distance from the Earth. So, why wouldn’t we think about the other forces of nature when trying to manage our lives?

July 3rd – August 11th: The dog days of Summer

The “Dogs Days of Summer” have been defined by as “A period marked by lethargy, inactivity, and indolence.” But why? Who decided this? The ancient philosophers and Greek poets associated the dog days with random and intense thunderstorms, heat, fever, and unrest–they had noticed that one of the brightest stars, Sirius, would also be rising and prominent in the heavens during this time. Since Sirius, the star primary to the Canis Major constellation is “rising” during this time, the dog days were born.

The constellation Canis Major, the Greater Dog.

In 2011, the American Express Open Forum did a study on the decline in productivity during the summer months. This study found that there was a 20% decline in workplace productivity, a 19% drop in employee attendance, a 13% time increase in project completion, and lunchtimes increase 2.6 times the normal time. Even more shocking was that they found a 200% increase in shopping during working hours, and a 120% increase in employees searching for another job during the dog days. Wow.

Now that we know that the dog days are real, we can take action. Lean into this knowledge and into the dog days. Do this by understanding the wind. It’s a puff, barely blowing now… So if you find yourself in the dog days and you can’t get out, I suggest that you lean into the punch. Do the counterintuitive; instead of trying to work harder, take time off.

Yes! I said it. Be lazy and enjoy it. Don’t fight it. Plan a vacation during this time–some of you need it desperately. With a lot of us working MORE from home, we need to take even more time off. Check out this IPX work-study shows that during COVID 37% of us put our vacation plans on hold (amongst other things). My family did. We didn’t go to the beach cottage in RI last year; we postponed my birthday trip to DC where we stay at the Ritz Carlton and order room service for a weekend, we were going to visit my friend’s new home in London–all our plans down the drains. My son just asked me last week about the trips we didn’t do last year in the hope to rekindle those lost plans. I need to do this, and fast.

The other thing we can do is plan our playtimes. Make sure that we plan for times to rejuvenate. I’m a huge believer in taking time to specifically “make yourself young again.” This was reinforced after hearing a 75-year-old scouter on my trip to Raven Knob Scout Camp last week tell me that going to camp adds years to our lives. I also heard a former BSA climbing instructor tell me the same thing on the top of Pilot Mountain where we were setting up climbs and rappels for our certification course. Our playtime is just as important as our work time. We have to respect it the same way.

Let’s slow walk the Dog Days.

My business partner and I have a philosophy of taking things slowly when we know we are going to win. We “slow walk” on the fairway down to the 18th green as Tiger Woods did during his greatest times. Lots of things can happen on that walk, but if we just take the time to put one step in front of the other we will get there. The dog days are when we just hit a ball into a sand trap and have to take a detour to “the beach.” When we are on the beach, we should be on the beach! We need to stop thinking about the destination for a minute and just relax and deal with the situation.

I challenge you to make a plan to deal with your dog days today, and the future dog days. Make a plan to take time off and stick with it. When you’re there on the beach, BE ON THE BEACH. No phone calls, meetings, zooms, or whatever. I can already hear half of you saying, “I can’t do that! I’m busy! I have work to do!”, and yes that’s all fine and good. But, you can also make plans to deal with those things to give yourself a week, a day, or even just an afternoon. Use the time to shut down your work brain and turn on your rejuvenation brain.

For me, this is about personal integrity. If I don’t take time off to be with my family–I’m missing the point [deep breath].

Whether you believe it or not, the forces of nature are in full affect in our lives. They will have an effect on us no matter where we hide. It’s our responsibility to recognize the effects and plan to use them for our greatest advantage. I’ve started to begin new projects and initiatives under a new moon, and now I’m going to start to plan for downtimes and energy conservation during the dog days. I’m going to use them for maximum rejuvenation and healing. I believe this gives us a huge competitive advantage.

Remember, it’s not the wind. It’s the set of our sails.

I love you guys/gals! Have a great week. Make someone smile this week, especially yourself. Slow walk!

We are winning!

Featured Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #15: Elephants aren’t goals.

there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” - Desmond Tutu

I don’t know about you, but sometimes this phrase/quote/question really chaps my ass. No offense Desmond. First of all, I’ve never eaten an elephant and I’ve never taken a 1000 mile journey on foot. So for me, the analogy is a bit off. Let’s look at some more equally ass-chapping quotes:

  • Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds you plant.~ Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.~ Robert Collier
  • Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. ~ Doug Firebaugh
  • Each step you take reveals a new horizon. You have taken the first step today. Now, I challenge you to take another. ~ Daniel Poynter
  • Success is the sum of small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward. ~ Chinese proverb

The problem with all of these quotes, is that it doesn’t help us figure out what the proverbial elephant is. What is the harvest I want to reap? What is success? What is a better tomorrow? What is a new horizon?

A little negative I know, but right now, I almost feel like asking: How do you get drunk? One glass of wine at a time.

It’s been a rough week. We all have our ups and downs, and this week I’ll acknowledge… I’m down. It’s hard to get to work when you feel a little lost and not sure what’s up. I do a lot of work thinking about my goals and goal attainment. So, like I said at the beginning of the week. Reconnect, Refocus, Rejuvenate. Has it worked? How are you doing? For me, I’d score myself a 5 or 6. I do feel refocused, but not as connected as I want to be. Thankfully, I have a lot of good people around me that keep me young, and a large portion of that must be credited to my family and my closest friends.

So, when you’re in a slump–what do you do? Well, let me show you what I do when I’m not sure what I should be doing. I go back to the goal setting drawing board and figure out what really means the most to me.

This week, we talked about Pareto–using it to prune your life down. Figuring out what your area of excellence is–what are you good at? Well, if you’re still scratching your head, get out some paper and answer these questions. These will help you figure out what’s most important to you, and help you set a foundation for all the elephants you decide to eat–and even more importantly, WHY.

Seven Things To Do When You don’t know What To Do

  1. What are the five things that you value most in your life? (write these down) What are your most important values? What are the five things that you’d fight for, stand up for, or pay the most for? (Only a small percent of the population has ever written down their five most important values, doing so makes you one of the few. These five things comprise the foundation of your life–and will be the basis of all your goals.)
  2. In 30 seconds or less, write down the three most important goals in your life, right now.
  3. What would you do if you won a million tax-free dollars? The real question here is, if there were no financial limitations to what you could do today, what would it be? Would you pay off bills? Would you go on a trip? What would you really do?
  4. What would you do if you found out today that you only had 6 months to live? This question exposes what our true values in life are. If what you would do is different than the answers to the first three questions, then you might need to re-evaluate what your values truly are. You might be fooling yourself.
  5. What is one thing that you haven’t done because you are afraid to try? Remember that fear is just a conditioned response to your past, your beliefs–or even someone else’s belief that they’ve taught you. Many of us are or aren’t doing something because, that’s the way they or someone they know has always done it. Fear is just a conditioned process, we can break down and overcome fear with courage.
  6. Look at your life and reflect on the things that give you the greatest feelings of well-being, the greatest feelings of satisfaction. What makes you feel most important and satisfied with your life? Answers to this question or not being able to will also tell you a lot about your self-esteem and self-worth.
  7. Finally, imagine if I gave you a magic pill that if you took it, you’d be able to accomplish one thing without fail. What would that one thing be? The beauty of this question is that if you can put your pen to paper and really write what your heart desires, then you can accomplish it. I strongly believe that the universe, nature, the gods are not capricious; I know that if you can crystalize this one thing in your mind and put it on paper, then you can achieve it. No questions. The only question will be is, are you willing to pay the price. Are you willing to do the thing that your heart desires?

I’ve done the above assessment on myself a few times already–and I had forgotten how much I love the outdoors. Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, Whitewater rafting/kayaking/canoeing, Snowboarding–any physical adventure were the things I used to live every second of every day for, I’d forgotten this. But today, I’ve taken the magic pill and I’m not turning back.

I challenge you to take time today or over the weekend to answer all of these questions and pull them from the ether and put them on paper. If you can do this, you’ll not only feel better, but you’ll give yourself a road map to your greatest accomplishments.

Next week, I’m in North Carolina teaching Boy Scouts and their parents how to rock climb near Stone Mountain. It’s beautiful there. I’m going to still try to post my NFTM–since when I’m at camp I’m usually up even earlier than when I’m at home. I look forward to the change of environment. I’ll send some pictures.

Happy Friday! Love you all! Let’s have a great day today.

Featured Photo by Neil and Zulma Scott on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #14: Nurture your Nature: A guide to figuring out your talents.

The best way to ride a horse is in the direction it's going in.

In yesterday’s NFTM #13, I asked you a common question that I’ve struggled with in my life, “What are you REALLY good at?” Or, what are your natural talents? How do we make them better? Let’s dig deeper today and try to come up with a guide that can provide us with clarity on this question that seems to come up often and always.

Excellence as a philosophy: Our Competitive Edge

Before we get onto the guide for this, let’s first talk about something important. One thing that I believe you have is to drive for excellence in your life. I do; I want to be an excellent father, husband, and friend; Second, I want to achieve excellence in all that I do professionally, I want to be in the top 10% of whatever I’m doing for my work.

The last point I want to make is that very few of us are striving for excellence in our fields. Some studies say that 80% of us are just getting by, doing the minimum, and just rolling along in life. That gives us a huge opportunity–by simply committing to excellence in your life’s work, you already have an advantage.

8 Ways to Find Your Unique Talents and Abilities

The goal here is to identify one or two things about us that we are uniquely good at or have a natural talent for; once we find that thing about us, then we can go to work honing and sharpening that skill or talent.

Let’s start with a quote from the great Michael Jordan and use it as inspiration for following through on our task to nurture the natural talents in us.

“Everybody has talent, but ability takes hard work.”

— Michael Jordan

Eight ways to identify your special talents:

  1. You are the best and happiest when you are doing your “thing”. You love doing it. If you could afford to do it for free, without pay, you’d do it in anyway. This activity brings out the best in you. When you are engaged in this work, it gives you tremendous enjoyment and it feels like it is the most rewarding.
  2. You do it well. You have a natural ability to perform in this area–even as a child you might have been given compliments about this ability.
  3. This talent has been responsible for most of your success and happiness in life up to now. Go back and review your successes–you should always be reflecting on your past success when trying to create new success.
  4. This ability has always been easy for you to learn, and easy for you to do. You might have even forgotten how you learned this ability in the first place. It’s because when you first did it, it came so easily you just started to do it and never even thought about it.
  5. It holds your attention like a moth to a flame. It totally absorbs you. You’re fascinated by it. You read things about it, you talk to everyone about it.
  6. You like to learn more about it. You’re always trying to get better at it. Maybe you’ve taken time away from it now, but, quietly you’re always learning about it when you can.
  7. Time stands still when you’re doing it. You’re so engaged when you do this activity, you can work for hours, days, weeks and not even realize how much time you’ve spent on it.
  8. You admire and love other people who are doing what you are most suited to do.

I’ve always had a hard time with this. It’s why I’m writing about it now. What you can never do is get down on yourself about not knowing. In some cases, other people, society, our upbringing, our previous bosses, jobs have all influenced or even told us what we are “worth” or good at. Don’t believe them. This process takes two ingredients. Self-knowledge and change. Once we identify something that we missed, all we have to do is change our habits or something to focus on taking better care of ourselves. We all have busy and sometimes unmanageable lives. The trick is to put your oxygen mask on first, take care of yourself first, respect your career choices, and move forward with resolve to figure it out now and start building excellence into your talents.

Love you guys/gals! Have a great day. Head up, shoulders back–get out there and wrangle this day into submission. We are winning.

Featured Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash

Notes from this Morning #12: Little things mean a lot.

The irony of not reaching our goals usually comes from the smallest of errors. We launch off into the wild blue yonder with heated emotion and a clear vision. Then, day after day we find that the easy things to do are the easiest not to do. We slowly drift away… we know it’s the set of our sail that gets us to the destination, but, as with all things that we create, we don’t do it perfectly. So what do we do?

I got caught up in this alternate history show about NASA and a different space race. One where USSR gets to the moon first, they get a lab in space, and so on; it’s thought provoking and I find the characters to be well thought out and developed in the story.

There was this one scene where they launch a shuttle to the moon, and they lose communications with Houston. They are freaking out because they were on a rescue mission after the Russians attacked the US station on the moon. The Flight Director of JSC (Johnson Space Center) is calmly explaining to NASA’s administrator that you don’t just launch a vehicle to the moon like shooting a gun at it and then just riding the bullet all the way there. Throughout the trip, there are dozens of delta-Vs maneuvers that the pilot has to perform all along the ride. Calculations are close but not perfect she explains… without communications with JSC, the shuttle was currently going to miss getting into the moon’s orbit by a few hundred miles. And, if that happened. they’d shoot off into the void. The delta-Vs are done to course correct, they are plotting each mile the spacecraft travels–and they check quite often, the course computers are calculating the projected course multiple times a second to be sure.

So let’s take a minute to step back and think just a second about this, and let’s look at some other examples to solidify the idea that we need to constantly course correct. I’m also going to tell you how I was taught to do it.

Ever watch golf? I know, boring. But watch the golfers and the caddies, they are looking at little books, testing the wind, they are constantly getting inputs from wherever they can so they can track their progress along the course. They write down everything, they record everything. They come up with a plan for almost every play and they execute. The difference between the best player on the PGA and the 2nd best is literally a few strokes, seconds of time, the margins are crazy.

I could go on all day–the professional _______ (you fill in the blank) stock broker, teacher, mechanic, pilot–the high performing people who do these jobs are certainly logging, reviewing and tracking progress to make small course corrections throughout their jobs and journeys. It’s how they get better.

There are many financial gurus out there that tell you to track everything about your spending. This is something I do myself, I write with pen and paper every penny that I spend on myself and family. I just got a new moleskin notebook set up this morning to do that. I also track my time, I am tracking my time down to 30 minute blocks, that reminds me that I need to do it now.

Let’s get to the why, why track? Well, we need data to draw conclusions… that’s the data scientist in me coming out. In other words, we need to measure things to grow them. We need to build awareness–I’d argue that most of us need to have a hyper-awareness about our behaviors and things at first, so we open our eyes and see what we are actually doing. Whatever we track we have the ability to grow, if we don’t track it we really can’t systematically grow that thing.

You want to have better finances, track your spending. To the penny, do this for a week and you’ll be in. Do it right after you spend. It might keep you from buying that 6.00 coffee you don’t need, just because you don’t want to write it down. You want a better relationship with your significant other, track your progress–write down the things you’re doing to make the relationship better, then write down the result… it’s not hard… it’s easy to do, and therefore easy not to do.

This stuff isn’t magic, it’s discipline, it’s mindfulness, it’s staying in the moment and considering the things that you do every minute of the day. If you end up at the end of the day and you can’t remember what you did, well… that’s just sad in my opinion. I can’t remember sometimes, that’s why I’m recording it on a little piece of paper that’s sitting in my pocket.

Track, then you can reflect and make course corrections.

If you do this you’ll know what to do, just give it a shot. You really have nothing to lose. Try it for a week, track your behaviors and see what happens. You might not be able to make any excuses about why something isn’t done if you have a lot of watching TV, reading Twitter, or other things that are just distracting you from making it happen.

Little things mean a lot. It takes two air molecules to hit each other someplace over the Atlantic Ocean to start a hurricane. It takes a little rock or snowball to start rolling down a snow-filled mountain to start an avalanche, it only takes a spark to start a forest fire. I know this all sounds super cliche, but the fact is, we need to do the little things to make the big things happen in our life.

Have a great Tuesday! Sending you love, good vibes and hope. Let’s go get it!

Featured Photo by Justin Kauffman on Unsplash


My first Three.js app

Major re-design for MY NASA DATA

The MND website has gone responsive! Gone are the klunky fixed width themes, now MND looks great on mobile. It’s interesting how just by making an extremely responsive theme, the website looks great on really any platform. That’s really the whole idea.

So we had some issues with our data viz tool, we didn’t get hacked but the software we use did get hacked in another organization. For security purposes, we pulled the app and worked on it ourselves. After about 3 months of coding, and re-coding, and working with the security folks, the original developers and others, we got a clean scan and the app was back online. During that time, I also thought that the site needed a face lift, and the first theme was really a collaborative effort–I wasn’t the one who picked all the colors etc.

Anyway, the new design features captured video from the International Space Station, through their incredible HDEV (High Definition Earth Viewing) experiment. It’s comprised of 4 HD cameras that are mounted on the ISS. You can see live video there through their Livestream.