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40 in 40: Lesson #36

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40 in 40: #36

I learned some great lessons while training for the marathon that I ran a month ago. I’m planning on sharing more of those lessons later.

But one of those lessons was extremely helpful.

When you are train for running there are certain principles that are really important. Some of them are obvious: you have to run a lot, you have to gradually increase your distance over time, etc.

But here’s the one that surprised me: your best “gains” in performance are when you push yourself incredibly hard and then rest. In fact my performance got better when I ran fewer, harder miles, and then rested more. This surprised me.

I would often run really hard one day, get busy and miss a day or two of training, then run again and find that I was able to run faster and further than I thought I previously could.

There are rhythms in life and I need to learn to pay attention to them.

Lesson #36

Continuous hard effort doesn’t produce great results. Great results come from periods of intense effort followed by periods of rest.

One thing I’ve rested from in the last month is social media. I love Twitter, Facebook, Linked In, and blogs. But for the last month I’ve largely “fasted” from those things. I’ve occasionally tweeted something or interacted but by in large I’ve abstained.

While taking a social media break I’ve been working really hard on some other projects at work. That level of focus has been great.

And now I’m really looking forward to reconnecting on Twitter with people.

What would you benefit from taking rest from? What should you be pushing really hard right now?

Keep moving forward,


p.s. check out a post I wrote today for Blue Ocean Ideas, “It’s not about the tools!”

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40 in 40: Lesson #35

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40 in 40: #35

I’m waking up at 5:30am tomorrow morning.

Going to eat an energy bar, drink some coffee and drink a little gatorade.

Strap on my lucky running shoes.

Then drive downtown with my cousin, John, and run 26.2 miles.

And right now there isn’t a single thing that I can do to help me run better or faster tomorrow.

As my friend Dan said yesterday, “The hay is in the barn.”

Lesson #35

I can prepare as much as possible for things in life but at some point with almost everything you have to let go, do your best and accept the outcome: good, bad, or ugly.

I’ve never run a marathon before. The longest I’ve ever run before is 20 miles.

And there is a lot of question marks about those last 6.2 miles:

  • Can I do it?
  • Will my body seize up and force me to stop?
  • Do I have the will to endure serious pain to make it to the finish?
  • Will it take me forever?
  • Will I not be able to walk for 2 weeks afterwards?

I don’t have the answers to any of these questions, but I will in about 15 hours.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

For tonight, here’s the thing:

I can’t do anything else to get ready at this point. All I can do is show up and do my best.

I’m going to sleep well tonight.

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #34

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40 in 40: #34

The big day is actually here.

My mom tells me that as of 3:30pm I’m officially 40. (I’ve missed a few posts here and there so I will be writing the last 6 over the next week or so).

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about 40.

I’ve thought about: what I have accomplished, what I haven’t accomplished, who I have become, who I would like to become, who I have developed relationships with.

For whatever reason it has been a big deal to me.

It FEELS like I’m halfway done life on this side of eternity.

There’s some fear associated with turning 40, some joy, some feelings of maturity, some feelings of immaturity.

One idea has stuck with me for months as I’ve thought about today:

Lesson #34

I want to stay thankful.

I have a tremendous amount to be thankful for:

  • An incredible wife who loves me, and whom I love.
  • Children that I LOVE being with and who enjoy being with me.
  • A business partner that I like working with more than anyone I have EVER worked with.
  • 4 parents, siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles that make up a rich family that I’m surrounded by.
  • Work that I am enthusiastic about. I wake up wanting to get to work in the morning.
  • My Health: I’m more healthy than I have every been in my life: spiritually, mentally, physically, and emotionally.
  • Clients and staff: I get to work with terrific people at Blue Ocean Ideas.
  • Jesus Christ: I still find Jesus to be the most compelling and inspiring person that I have ever encountered. Regardless of your religious affiliation I have never met ANYONE that has studied Jesus and not been inspired. (I’ve met plenty of people that are not so inspired by his followers; that’s another topic.)
  • Deep and lasting friendships: I just had lunch with a friend that I’ve known for 20+ years. I can share anything with him. He’s not the only one either. I’m thankful for some great friends.
  • I live in a great place: I LOVE Baltimore.

And here’s the thing: my life is FAR from perfect. I’ve got issues. I’ve got struggles. I have pain.

But when I stay thankful the imperfections, issues, struggles, and pain make sense. They are part of the process of maturing. They are the things that allow me to be thankful.

Take all that away and I’m just a man who takes it all for granted.

What are you thankful for today?

Stay thankful my friends,


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40 in 40: Lesson #33

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40 in 40: #33

I had a great experience on Sunday. I took a risk talking with someone that I had been meaning to talk to for a long time. Talking about a topic that was a bit scary to bring up.

I’m so glad that I did.

I moved toward the relationship and as I did the other person moved towards me. We ended up having a great conversation. I don’t know where our relationship will go next but I do know this:

If I hadn’t taken a risk I wouldn’t have the relationship.

Lesson #33

Risk is the currency of relationships.

As I think back over the past few years. My life has been filled with taking some degree of risks in relationships. Here are a few examples:

  • This spring, at the last minute, I invited myself to a conference that a friend was going to. I’m so glad I did. We had a great time and have a richer relationship for it.
  • This fall I asked an acquaintance that I had met only a couple of times to mentor me in a particular area of my life that I felt like I needed help. He said yes and we’ve met together a number of times since.
  • I reached out to a couple of friends that I haven’t heard from in a long time. In my head they had “lost interest” in getting together with me but when I did they said yes and we had lunch a few weeks later. It was so great to catch up.
  • I had a pretty significant life hiccup a month ago. I was stressing about it. It took some humility but I needed to talk to someone about it so I approached one of my close friends that I share office space with and talked to him about it. I was a bit embarrassed but he was gracious, encouraging, and gave me some great wisdom. What a difference a month makes.

In each of these relationships the easy thing to do would be nothing. But nothing get’s me the same thing I’ve been getting.

Are you taking risks in relationships?

Keep Moving Forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #32

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40 in 40: #32

I’m full of quick judgments. Especially about people.

My brain is constantly feeding me information about the world. I judge circumstances, people, public figures, friends, family and more.

Often when I meet someone, within a few minutes I’ve made a number of determinations about them, their life, and their circumstances.

And to be fair my intuition is often right. I have a certain ability to take a wide range of information, process it quickly and make determinations. And in my work as a brand builder and a consultant this ability is often very helpful. It’s one of the strengths I bring to the table.

But many times reality is not what my brain tells me it is. Often I misread, misinterpret, and misunderstand people.

More often than not when I get slightly deeper into a relationship I find a different reality than what I expected.

Lesson #32

If I leave room for a wide range of possibilities to be true I will often get a far clearer picture of reality.

There are some HUGE benefits from practicing this perspective:

  • My circles of influence are wider.
  • My depth of friendships is deeper.
  • I’m able to hold things in tension with less anxiety and worry.
  • My ability to respond to difficult circumstances is less fatalistic.
  • I see the world more for what it is and less from what I THINK it is.

The consequences of living with a small and narrow perspective is equally powerful:

  • My world closes up and I distance myself from relationships.
  • Friendships are not as safe and I’m not able to stay in them.
  • My reactions to situations is often poor and consequences are negative.
  • I don’t see the world for what it is and I see what I THINK I see (or worse what I WANT to see).

How wide open is your world?

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #31

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40 in 40: #31

I asked a simple question on Twitter earlier today:

“What will u do in memory of the man who gave u the most powerful device u can hold in your hand? #stevejobs

It took less than an hour for the first negative comment to come in:

“Probably the same thing I’d do in memory of a man who cancelled 100% of Apple’s philanthropic activities in 1997, and attempted to deny a child his girlfriend bore out of wedlock.”

Now it is true. Steve Jobs did those things.

And he owned up to them. One he later regretted. One he didn’t think was a mistake.

What saddened me was that the person who wrote the comment identifies himself as an orthodox Christian. Jesus taught forgiveness, patience, mercy, and grace.

Lesson #31

Judgment is without mercy to one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Those words come from Jesus brother, James. I imagine he picked this up from his brother.

Steve Jobs was a flawed human being. I’m sure of that.

So am I. So are you.

In the face of his flaws he created amazing products that have blessed my life and many other lives. There’s a pretty good argument that Steve’s accomplishments may have been the greatest act of philanthropy that he could have performed.

When I was a younger man I was pretty judgmental. Until I realized just how weak and flawed I am. Approaching 40 I’m grateful for mercy and grace. I need them.

Keep moving forward,


p.s. For another great tribute to Steve check The Night the Lighthouse Went Out.

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40 in 40: Lesson #30

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40 in 40: #30

Steve Jobs died a few hours ago.

Steve was an inspiration for me, for my business partner Brody Bond, and for our company, Blue Ocean Ideas.

We almost daily acted on something that was inspired by Steve. Whether it be commitment to excellent design, relentless desire for innovation, or philosophy on how you should or shouldn’t treat employees, clients, and others.

So the lesson today is from Steve himself.

Lesson #30

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. (Steve Jobs, June 2005)

Steve Jobs

Steve’s words remind of something Jesus said:

For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it.

This is my one and only life. Steve thanks for the reminder. May you find eternal peace.

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #29

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40 in 40: #29

I spent much of life in ignorance about myself.

I could tell you what I did, who I was related to, who my friends were. But on many of the deeper issues in life I wasn’t very self aware.

It wasn’t until I was in my middle 30’s and was repeating some of the same negative patterns in life over and over that I realized I had some inside work to do.

Since that time I’ve spent a fair amount of time and some amount of treasure trying to learn more about myself. I’ve taken personality assessment, gift inventories, and strength evaluations.

I’ve sought help from professional counselors both as a younger person and even more recently in this past year. I’ve found that help invaluable.

I’ve also looked for spiritual direction, professional coaching, and business consultants when needed.

Lesson #29

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Obviously this lesson didn’t come from me. Shakespeare wrote that in Hamlet.

And when I first hear “to thine own self be true” it sounds selfish and self-centered. But the older I get the more convinced I am that honesty to self is probably one of the most powerful tools to personal growth available to us.

It reminds me of the airline instructions when you get on a plane: In the event of a sudden loss of air pressure put the oxygen max on yourself first and then help those around you.

Until we take a hard look inside and try to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves, we may not be of much use to those around us.

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #28

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40 in 40: #28

When I was around 30 my kids were 9, 6, and 3. I was in the thick of young kid chaos. And I wasn’t sure how things were going for me as a dad.

So I looked for a solution. I asked a mentor, whose kids I thought had turned out terrific, this question:

“Pat, I need help. What were the rules that you used with your kids when they were young?”

First thing Pat said was, “Greg, I think you need to think differently about this. We have principles that guide our family, not rules.”

And then he shared those principles.

That was an invaluable lesson.

Lesson #28

In life, principles trump rules.

When I change my frame from “rule” to “principle” I see things differently.

The world gets a lot bigger. There is freedom. I can be creative.

I can look for solutions that work in my circumstances and in my life. I don’t need to live by arbitrary “rules” but rather by the things that I want to move toward in life.

There is joy in looking at life like that.

Are you striving to obey rules or are you looking for the principles that you want to be guided by?

Keep moving forward,


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40 in 40: Lesson #27

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40 in 40: #27

One of my sons went through a difficult experience recently.

It was not something he had anticipated, not a situation he wanted to be in, and changing the situation was going to be painful.

No parent wants to see their kid deal with a painful situation.

But pain is inevitable and in many circumstances the only thing you can do is act.

And then wait.

Lesson #27

You have to give time, time.

That may sound trite.

But for a lot of issues that we face, time will be what is needed. In fact for many things time is the only solution.

  • Great relationships don’t happen overnight, they take time.
  • Businesses don’t happen overnight, they take time.
  • Children don’t mature overnight, it takes time.
  • Broken legs don’t heal overnight, it takes time.
  • Culture isn’t affected overnight, it takes time.
  • Doctors aren’t trained overnight, it takes time.
  • Getting a job if you are out of work takes time.
  • Creative work like we do at Blue Ocean Ideas doesn’t happen overnight.

It all takes time.

What things in your life do you need to give time, time?

Keep moving forward,


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