I haven’t been here in a while and for that I am a little bit sad. This is a season in my life where I just don’t feel like I have time to write in the way that I wanted to. And so I have changed or deleted expectations. I am in the process of building a new coffee business and I am in love with it. It could fail, hell at this point it looks like it is going to, but I don’t care and I am going to grind until I change my fortunes. For now I am going to leave tidbits that solve my own issues. Follow along if you would like but at the end of the day this is for me, this is my therapy and I am just putting it out there so maybe it sparks something for someone else.

So from here on out it is going to be short and sweet until I get some time for a little long form. I hope you don’t mind but really that is your choice.


Empathy is only the precursor.

Society has gotten so singular in it’s focus on happiness and empathy that we have forgotten they are the after and the before not the goal. Either the fuel or the byproduct but not the answer.

The goal really is compassion. That is the action. That is the outward expression of being empathetic and it requires some form of detachment. That is where the value lies.

Empathy is the emotion, it is the feeling you get when someone is in the shit. Empathy is required to be compassionate but they are not one and the same. For a long time I prided myself on being empathetic. I was always in the muck with people trying to save them and what I didn’t realize is they didn’t want to be saved. That is the problem with empathy it is exhausting. How many “empath’s” do you hear talk about how much of a burden it is to bare. And absolutely it is. What I am working on now is to find some level of detachment, to pull back enough from the situation to see the whole picture. Think of it this way, do you ever see a truck pull another truck out from being stuck in the mud by getting in the mud with it? Never.

When I can see more of the picture I have a better ability to actually be compassionate and support, rather than being raw from too deep of an emotional connection to the situation.

I am not saying there is any issue with being empathetic, it is actually a key in being compassionate. The problem is we have discussed it like it is the holy grail and it has left many of us raw, beat down and exhausted because we didn’t learn the skill of detachment which leads us to compassion which is what actually serves those we feel so much empathy for.

Feel free to ask questions or argue but I don’t feel empathy is the answer, it’s just the precursor. We need as a society to be less emotionally charged and more emotionally guided. We need to lash out less and utilize that energy to understanding. We need to move to compassion and understanding so that we don’t make everything an issue because we are feeling everyone’s feelings. Here is to hoping we can enter an era of compassion as the era of perpetual empathy and happiness hasn’t exactly panned out for us.

While I read through the garbage I have written and decided not to post (and some of the stuff I have posted) I am struck with something. I come across as an asshole. Now this isn’t ground breaking news, I am not surprised by it, but it is interesting when you read your own material and there it is. I can appreciate as a guy who has been in charge of people for years now that I don’t always connect for the simple fact that I have become somewhat unrelatable. Not in the worst way but I see that I often don’t tell stories I share facts. I out logic those that are emotional beings and that probably doesn’t make them feel great. Hell it actually kind of pissed me off, at myself, and I wrote the shit. Do most of those that know me understand that my main focus is to help and to make a difference? I think and hope so. As I truly do want to see all those I am connected with succeed. But as a guy who has touted the “it’s not what you are saying, but how you are saying it” line more than a most I should probably check my own shit from time to time too, hey?

I have support and people have told me how they enjoy my writing. I don’t doubt that it connects with those that read it. But am I steering others away by not sharing the shit that I have been through, the shit I have put myself through to get to a spot where I feel I can write on things like mental toughness? Well as a guy that loves to get on his soapbox and preach about everything you need being in you already, and you just have to work to bring it out that is just what I am going to do. I am going to work to tell more stories directly about my life, how messy it has been and how much dumb shit I have done to get me to a point where I had enough pain in my life that I had to consciously choose working on my mental toughness every day. I do not talk about it because it has come naturally to me. I am such a big proponent of working on mental toughness because I have lacked these things in my life and have had to learn them later than most through trial and error (a lot of error). It is the journey that has spurned the research and writing. Yet I still have become so enamored by those ahead of me and so driven to improve that at times I lose sight of where I am and start to assume I am already there and that doesn’t help anyone. Especially not me.

So here goes. I started this blog because I want to have the chance to help people understand something I had to learn the hard way. Something someone didn’t tell me needed to be practiced and cultivated throughout life. I think like most of us through the advent of the internet and the typical media sources I had been sold a bill that happiness was the ultimate destination. Now I think more people are becoming aware of this pursuit of happiness as one of the largest issues we face today. It is not that happiness isn’t a place to be, it is just that pursuing it has wrought havoc much more than it has helped. I know for myself as I spent much of my 20’s doing the things my simple mind recognized as stuff that made me happy I had to do more of it more often to get the same feeling I was looking for. At some point the things I thought made me happy provided me with nothing and for a time I was mostly about numbing the dullness of the day just hoping something would happen that would bring forth some emotion. I also spent an exponential amount of time running from my other issues, as they piled up it became hard to ignore and with the pursuit of happiness along came many of the other issues we see prevalent in society today. I had a minor drinking issue, had cultivated a great debt issue and had found a way to alienate myself from the person I loved and was married too.

I’m sure for some this sounds similar and in some way most of you can relate.

All of the things I have posted to date are in reflection of a lesson I had to learn in my life. Most typically through pain because I wasn’t capable enough to learn before it hurt. I am sharing this journey in hopes of making the things I have had to unearth for myself more available to someone out there who needs it and as a place to house reminders for myself as I so constantly forget the lessons that are so important to my well-being. Maybe at times I am a rung ahead of someone on the ladder and am able to reach down to help but what I need to be reminded of is that I am nowhere near the top of the ladder and to share in a way that expresses that. No one has ever “made it” and there is always work to do.

Nobody actually cares about authenticity. We might say we do and we may say that we are finding or being our authentic selves but does it actually fucking matter? Like have you ever met an asshole that described themselves as authentic and were just so grateful you crossed their path. And no one for damn sure wants to be in a relationship with the “authentic” jerk, in any way, shape or form because just like happiness I think people are barking up the wrong tree with authenticity.

We think it is something we care about or more importantly in our society that others care about but the only time that authenticity actually matters in our lives is when we are looking in the mirror. Are we being true to ourselves, to who we say we are going to be? From there the only thing that matters to anyone else in our lives is our actions. They can’t judge us on what we think of ourselves, how would they know and even if we told them, it is often only partially true. So it boils down to are we presenting ourselves truthfully to the world.

I used to ask myself what that looked like, I would look in the mirror or think quietly to myself “who am I?” I really had no idea, I was so lost because outwardly I was often living my life in a way that was built to keep others happy, to appease their judgements of me and to do what I thought would make people like me. But the worst mistake I think I was making was that my internal vision of who I wanted to be was not being outwardly expressed. I had suppressed myself to try to make others happy. I stopped striving to get better for myself and spent all of my time trying to have others like me and I just hated myself more and more as I did it. I spent so much time trying to live the way I thought others thought I should or in a way that I thought would impress other people and I had lost sight of who I wanted to be, of who I actually was inside.

Now I believe that we all have an aspirational image we hold onto internally of who we are and as we make choices that don’t align with this image we bifurcate the way we feel about ourselves. It may not be an issue every once in a while but I don’t think any of us had an aspirational image of being unhealthy, drinking beer, watching Netflix and bitching about our job. I know that much of the anxiety and depression I felt in my late 20’s and early 30’s could be traced back to short sighted, instant gratification decisions that did not align with who I aspired to be. You see I have always believed myself to be an athlete. It is just in my nature, I pick up sports quickly and find the most joy in being competitive and active. As I got older this became less of a priority. It is so easy to “find the time” to stay active when we are younger and have less responsibilities and I fell right into the middle aged dad-bod trap.

Now I am going to divert a little here as I feel this is important to say before I discuss my changes. Not everyone needs to be an athlete, not everyone needs to exercise every day like I have or attempt endurance feats or push themselves in the ways I have. They just need to align with their true self. With who they believe they are deep down inside. That is where I believe real joy and self-love comes from. It is wrought in the work it takes to become or improve on who we are and believe we are. These will ebb and flow but as long as we are consistently working on ourselves we will maintain an internal love and fire that will carry us through our darkest days.

So as I got older, drank more beer, watched instead of played sports and let anything fitness related I owned collect dust. So too did my image as an athlete. And as that collected dust my anxiety and depression spiked through the roof. I literally developed eczema on most of my body at one point as I was so stressed. I fully believe it had everything to do with how far out of alignment I was with who I believed I should be. Now here is where most people tell you the “found” themselves by repeating their affirmations every day and telling themselves they loved themselves over and over again and it all just got better. Well I don’t know, maybe that shit works for other people but every time I have tried, I just feel like a liar, it usually leaves me feeling worse as the person I am lying to is myself. So instead of trying to like who I was right now I went to work. I found a little luck in a book you may have heard of called Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book helped me deconstruct all the old shitty habits I had and helped me construct much more positive ones. I went all in on his word and started small. Like way smaller than you could ever imagine an ex-college athlete who did not seem to be in terrible shape would ever consider. I started with 5 push-ups and 5 sit ups a day. That was all I would allow myself to do for the first 2 weeks and then I added 1 push-up and 1 sit up a day after that until I could do 100 of each. The hardest part at the start was absolutely my pride. I knew I could do more but I also knew I had a track record of “going all-in” and then flaming out 2 weeks later when something came up or I hurt myself.

Almost instantly I felt more solid in who I was. I was more able to cope with day to day shit that came my way. My energy level increased and I was just much more content. Until I wasn’t. It didn’t take too long before I felt the anxiety creep back in. As I made gains physically I had this constant dread of slipping back into the way I used to be. I was so afraid of making a mistake that would crumble everything. I had been doing so much for my body to correct the physical image I saw in the mirror without realizing it was all for vanity and what I really needed was toughness but of the mental variety. Where I was struggling to perform was in adversity which is the true hallmark of a great athlete.

I struggled for a while feeling as though it was all so fragile and I was destined for failure. Then I failed. During the 4x4x48 I was unable to run many of the legs and was resigned to walking. I had trained, I was in phenomenal shape so this was a huge blow to my ego. But when you are sleep deprived, it’s cold and you are alone at 1am limping 4 miles you get some time to reflect. What did I learn? Well no one actually cares how you get it done and the mental benefits you reap from swallowing your pride and persevering are one of the greatest gifts you could ever receive. It is with that mindset shift that I have been able to counter act all of the fear I was feeling. I know it sounds too easy but it wasn’t, it was only simple. It took all of the work and fear to get there. I just hope that in my writing this maybe it doesn’t take someone as long as it took me to realize that I get to do all of the things I was doing for my physical health in the way I like doing them, I just have to adjust the lens with which I view the situation, changing my focus from vanity to mental strength. Really all I did was move my perspective to the internal benefits rather than the external rewards. I gave up on others noticing and went all in on intrinsic motivation. Completely selfishly it feels fucking fantastic accomplishing shit most people wouldn’t even attempt. I think that is one of the keys to unlocking true confidence and inner peace.

So as always don’t hesitate to reach out. I write this mostly for myself but if it resonates at all I would love to hear from you. I love helping others improve in any way. Thank you for reading and your feedback is truly appreciated!

How many times have you gotten all geeked up over something, gone all in, bought the gear, made the plan and then completely flamed out when things got tough. Everything is sexy when its new. The luster wears off quick and we realize oh shit this thing I enjoyed or thought I might be good at still takes work (I think there is a theme in what I write about hey). Talent will only take us so far but the worst is when we think if we have all of the best stuff that it will somehow make us stick to whatever we said we were going to do or be better faster. Well as a guy that has played basketball his whole life, when it came time to pick teams I have never picked anyone wearing the newest Jordans or the nicest clothing, that guy probably actually gets picked last. I’m picking the guy in the shoes with some scuffs, the guy with the sweat stains on his t-shirt because you know what? I can tell that guy has done some work. He has seemingly put in the time and is willing to grind versus trying to fake it till he makes it and worrying about how he looks while he does it.

We often look at the people that are ahead of us in whatever it is we are trying to do and say well I would be that good too if I had what they have. Would you? I would love for you to look your ass in the mirror right now and think of someone farther along the path than you and actually tell yourself that bold faced lie. Because the way I see it most of those people, they earned what they have. Anyone worth their salt in anything has put the time in, they have fought to do whatever it is they are doing, typically with some massive limitations and adversity put in front of them and they still succeeded. Sure there are some anomalies, the uber talented ones are tough to follow and guess what if you know about them they for sure still had to put some kind of work in. Think about  it? Put yourself in their shoes. Is there anything you have achieved in your life? How would you feel if someone came up to you after said achievement and told you what you did was easy because of your circumstances. What if they told you that you were just talented? Would it make your blood boil? For sure it would because you worked your ass off for it. You bled, you lost sleep and you overcame a lot to achieve whatever it was you achieved. You see what we often think is holding us back is almost always the thing that we need to become better.

I am literally writing this blog at my too tall kitchen table on a laptop that is over 10 years old that I just described to my wife as sounding like a diesel motor. Not the most serene setting to put myself in a state of writing flow. Don’t get me wrong I would love a new laptop, it would be great but there may be more important things to worry about first. Like making sure I can write consistently every day before spending the money on a new laptop. I should maybe make sure that I really enjoy it and it is filling the mental need I think it will before I get a proper desk and commandeer a room in our house as my writing sanctuary. Maybe I should read some books, take some courses or just generally learn about blogging, SEO and marketing before I go spending that money on a piece of tech that will in no way enhance my ability to be a better writer. The only thing it will enhance is my ability to fit in with all of the hipster douche bags at Starbucks or the independent coffee shop when I whip out my sleek MacBook pro that I overpaid for. Really lets be honest all they are doing is stealing the Wi-Fi at Starbucks to watch YouTube fail videos while procrastinate actually writing anything or working on their online “start-up”.

But I digress, no need to throw too much mud at those working the fake it till you make it plan. To be honest I probably still fall in that party for now until I can prove that my limitations are not the things holding me back but propelling me forward, until I stop making excuses for that which I don’t have and start realizing that I already have everything that I need right in front of me.

So here I sit on my diesel powered laptop focused on doing the things that unlock the next level, that find me a few more followers I connect with and staying into the process rather than worrying too much about my image or outcome. I haven’t always been like this but I am glad I am getting over what others think of me because it is showing me that the process is going to be messy, embarrassing and it is for sure going to carry with it a lot of failure. Just like anything new and great we attempt. But what I choose to do is reward myself based on effort not outcome. It is ok to buy the MacBook but only as a reward for work done, not to try to make it easier.  In this way I convert the limitations, the obstacles into milestones on the journey and I can look back and see (or in my laptops case hear) just how far I have come.

We often talk about our pain and tough times, our darkness, like it is a cave that we retreat into. But it dawned on me that maybe it isn’t a cave. Maybe like so many other things in our lives it is just our perception of it rather than the way it truly is. And man was this a big perspective shift for me recently. What if instead of that cave it was a tunnel? What if it was something you went through rather than into?

 While I much prefer writing about things I have fully tested I was so fired up about this mental ju-jitsu I just played on myself I couldn’t wait to share. I cannot find a lot of holes to poke in this theory and it gave me a pretty big pause when it dawned on me. I tried to prove it wrong and I just couldn’t, it actually made infinitely more sense than my philosophy around pain, trauma and dark thoughts which is that they are a cave we enter into, sit down to deal and then walk out of.

So hear me out. Like I said this is not fully thought out and I have not put the time in to prove this right or wrong. But what if it wasn’t a cave, what if it was a tunnel, just a tunnel of the variety that is so long and deep you do not see the light from the other end immediately. Or maybe it is just unfinished and all it takes is a bit of hammering and the other side will open. What if it was less of something you went into and came back out of, but was much more of something that you went through and came out the other side. I find this theory covers so much more ground in my brain. When I take this to the areas of fear, happiness, trauma and sadness in my head it just fits so much cleaner. It just feels right. The cave philosophy while not wrong just never sat perfectly for me and didn’t make sense as it always felt like when you were coming out of the cave you would just be coming out in the same spot you started from, that just never clicked in my head.

When you truly think darkness, of the emotions that create enough inner turmoil that we have to make a choice, you are never the same after those events. Whether you were an active participant or not. You do not journey back to your original spot. You travel through. Do some people get stuck when it gets really dark? For sure, but for those that find faith, discipline and will to guide them, like finding a headlamp they eventually come out the other side. No one dealing with pain and trauma is trying to get back to the way things were, they do not want to go back to the original destination. They want to journey anew, to find new places, emotions and feelings.

This also sat so well with me for the fact that I have for a long time now talked about having to “go through” your shit. You truly have to deal with it and there is no way around it. I used to say that you had to sit in your darkness but as of late that has been less and less in my mind and I have realized while it is good to sit with it sometimes, just like in life I deal with my shit much better when I am moving. So why not walk with it, or better yet run through it. We can go through the tunnel headlong knowing full well there will be some goblins and ghouls in there but we don’t have to sit around the fire in the cave with them if we don’t want to. We can just keep going. We can decide on the time frame that we would like to deal with them in rather than dealing with our demons passively. For a long time I would sit in my darkness, really I was wallowing but now I realize I just walked into the tunnel and sat down for a bit when I could have kept walking, it may have been dark but I didn’t need to lose all of my momentum and I would have come through my shit a little bit faster and maybe with some mental cardio to help the next time things get tough.

So I don’t know if it helps  create a different perspective for you but it definitely shifted some things in my brain. I love the idea of being in control of my feelings and this put a little bit of that control firmly back in my hands. Maybe it’s a little half baked but I am sure there will be time to suss it out. So expect more to come around this!

I know I have heard it somewhere. Showing up is half the battle or showing up is 90%. I agree with a lot of that statement but like so many of the clichés out there I think this is an unfinished statement, it’s only a half truth and at the end of the day it’s the easiest part of the equation. We are built to try to take the easiest path, that is our nature but it is only how the species survives, not how it thrives. I actually do believe that showing up is one of the hardest things to do. Hell it took me a full year to show up and post my first blog post even though I have been paying for this domain for almost a year. But there is a huge chunk we have left out… Just completely forgotten about.

So yes if you want to win the battle you have to show up to even have a chance. But what is your weapon? Your ammunition? How do you not just play but win?

Think of the difference in people you know in your life. Those you work with, go to the gym with, or just generally spend enough time doing something that is more than downing a pint with. There are people you know that do the same shit day in day out, week in week out. Man they are incredible at showing up but they don’t really improve and if they do it is never sustained for very long. You see them at the gym 3, 4 even 5 days a week and they look exactly the same as they did 3 years ago (and they aren’t already on the fit side), the golfer who has been a 16 handicap for the last 10 years or the person whose business has operated at basically the same level as long as you have known them. Now I am not hating on these people, I think we should actually commend them while helping them find what they are missing as they are doing a hell of a lot more than most people. At least they are showing up, that’s a lot better than most of us.

But after a while showing up becomes pretty tough when the results don’t come through. I don’t care how relentless you are, what crazy work ethic you think you have, at some point if it isn’t improving we should probably throw in the towel right? Well before we do that I ask that you add one more ingredient, that you finish the sentence. The missing piece here I hope is obvious but it may not be and it wasn’t obvious to me for a long time. The second part and what I feel is a 1B to the 1A of showing up is to bring some damn INTENTION.

Intention is the ultimate difference maker. It means the difference between maintenance and improvement. And I will get into it at another time but maintenance may be the biggest fallacy we have ever known. There is only getting worse or getting better and if all you are doing is showing up you are just slowing down the inevitability of getting worse.

Where do you find it?  Let’s get the “find” it out of the way, you don’t, it isn’t something you can find. It is not something on the outside to be searched for, it is something you decide on. You decide on it each and every day, sometimes you might even need to decide on each and every moment. Now that being said getting that granular can be pretty anxiety inducing. Are there days where your intention may just be showing up? For sure. I actually had one of them this morning. The fact that I even made it downstairs to workout blew my mind, but if you truly want to improve, those days need to become fewer and farther apart until they are almost non existent.

Well then what is it? How do you craft it? Honestly it’s much simpler than you probably think. It is walking into every situation in your life aligning the feeling you would like to create for yourself and those involved and then doing the things you believe fulfill that intention. Rather than reacting to a situation once you are in it.  Remember intention has nothing to do with outcome. It is not I will bench press 300lbs but I will execute every rep with perfect form. It is not I want my wife to feel beautiful but more of I will do 1 little thing a day that will lead to my wife feeling more beautiful. The funny thing is that while it is not outcome driven if you enter enough situations with proper intention you are probably really going to like the outcome over time.

Now I can only describe what intention is to me, I can’t tell you what yours should be and honestly it is going to vary based on your vision and values. But I can help and would love to hear from you on how you craft and execute on your intentions! It would be great if you dropped me a comment with your thoughts on this post and where you are nailing intention and where it might need to be a little more thoughtful.

Life is hard. We inherently know this. What we don’t realize is it is also the point. Not saying you want to purposely put road blocks in front of yourself. But it isn’t so bad when given the choice to take the hard path every once in a while. If you think about it what’s the fastest way to something you want? Usually the hardest. And so many of us (yes me too!) don’t realize how often we try to take the easier route. Or avoid doing anything altogether. Yet we expect things to be different. Well I am sorry to burst the bubble but if you want things to get better, get used to hard, train it into yourself. In the end he who can cope with more shit probably has a happier life.

Now hear me out. This isn’t some doom and gloom blog where I tell you to suck it up and get tough. While I believe there is a time and a place for pushing harder what I really want for you and what I have had to train into myself, is to disassociate the word hard with bad. Think about where your brain went in the first paragraph. I wrote hard, you though something bad. Right? If I tell you to do 50 push-ups it would typically feel like punishment, it by no means needs to be a reward but push-ups are the single handed best bodyweight exercise a human can do? Wouldn’t that help make you stronger, tighten your core and reduce back pain. Are those bad things? Not at all, they are actually awesome. Doesn’t make them any easier, especially at the start but the reward at the end far outweighs the short term hard.

Unless you live under a rock and have denounced all electronics you’ve probably been to a movie or watched one at home in the last couple of years. It doesn’t matter at all what the movie was, could be a rom-com, horror or a children’s show. Think about the movie for a moment. Was there adversity in the movie? I can guarantee it. As a species we literally crave the shit. No one wants to watch a movie where the premise is everything’s easy and nothing goes wrong. Adversity is built into our DNA, it’s built into every living things DNA. Almost every story we ever tell has adversity in it otherwise it probably isn’t worth telling. We are meant to strive, to work hard for what we want and to maybe make a sacrifice along the way. Easy is boring it’s vanilla and it doesn’t put us in the situation where when it is our time we are ready to succeed.

I am a guy that had to learn this. And I learned it the hard way. I was 32 I had a 2 year old daughter and I was soft in every way imaginable and my life was crumbling around me. Now when I say soft I mean I was breathing heavy going up the stairs, a minor inconvenience would cause a meltdown and I couldn’t cope with anything, sometimes even when it went the way it was supposed to. I would either grab a drink or wallow in my own self pity. I was close to destroying my marriage and I hated myself. I would love to pretend I didn’t know how I got there but even as it was happening I knew, just like you probably do too. I spent most of my energy avoiding anything hard, procrastinating and just generally trying to have the easiest life possible. I thought that was where happiness would be.

But there is a funny thing about happiness. It is never where we are looking for it but always right where we left it. Think about it. Have you ever finished a workout and been upset with yourself? Nope, typically your pretty content, maybe even a little proud. But then you don’t go back to the gym for a week while you are out searching for happiness like it is somewhere you don’t know of yet. All the while you probably have a building frustration as to why you can’t find happy. How have we become so dumb and brainwashed that we cannot retrace our steps to happiness. Why do we always need to search for it in a new place rather than the last place we had it? What a funny thing when you really think about it. Happiness has never been lost, It can’t be but what we seem to forget is that it has to be earned, it is made and the payment is hard work.

But the best part about the hard work is it’s all relevant and hard and fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Your hard is just that YOURS. It may take something completely different for me to feel I have put the necessary work in. But isn’t that awesome? You get to define the rules of  the game and the more you understand that and work at it the better you get at the game. It doesn’t get any easier but you know what is really fun? Being the best at the hardest game, not winning the easiest one.