Thanksgiving 2019!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I realize that this year hasn’t nearly been as active as other years on the blog, but after three years of daily blogging, I needed a bit of a mental break. I don’t know that I’ll go back to daily blogging in 2019, but I might set up a specific schedule to start to move back towards more regular posting.

However, despite all of this, I still didn’t want to miss posting an annual Thanksgiving post. It’s easy for me to be thankful, because I was lucky enough to be born in a situation where, with hard work, I am able to achieve success in life. As we look at the situation around the world with refugees, and the rise of homelessness at home, it’s easy to forget just how lucky many of us are. I would encourage everyone who reads this to continue to be generous with charities that are trying to make a difference in your neighborhood and around the world.

I’m also very thankful this year for my friends and family who put up with my constant angst over my job and purpose in life. I’m truly blessed to have so many great people in my life that are willing to give me a safe space to process things, as well as bits of advice along the way. I don’t know what the future will hold, but I’m grateful for the support around me (especially my wife!).

Finally, I’m thankful for the wonderful communities that I’m a part of. Specifically the wonderful trail running communities here in Minnesota. The people I’ve met through this community have been amazing, and many of them have become close friends. They are some of the most supportive and encouraging people I know, and getting to reciprocate has been a true blessing.

So from Lisa and I, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and may you have a blessed holiday season!

Hashtag Living My Best Life

A month or so ago, I was sitting in a small brewpub in rural Wisconsin, listening to some nice folk/bluegrass music on the PA, enjoying a nice beer, and soaking in a wonderful evening traveling with my wife. I was feeling wistful and relaxed. Therefore, I did what everyone does now, and I posted a selfie on Instagram, and for some reason decided to add the hashtag #livingmybestlife. img_3609I was feeling at peace with everything. We had just spent the evening with some great folks, talking about Winter Ultras, and in the morning we were going to get to run on a new trail. I had a craft beer in my hand, and music that I enjoy in my head. I was sitting in a lovely little place with my amazing wife, and at that moment, everything was perfect. The hashtag felt appropriate, and so I went with it.  One of the unique things about the photo I took was that it was a profile shot where I was gazing off into the distance and not looking at the camera. A little while later I was on a boat, performing a wedding for my brother and sister-in-law. While I was out on the deck I decided, “What the heck, let’s do another profile shot.” Because I was having a good time, I gave it the #livingmybestlife again. That’s when things started to take on a life of their own.  img_3727I’ve now embraced the profile shot with hashtag, and I’ve started doing it more and more often, just for the heck of it. It’s become something that is a mix of humor and emotional release. Humor, in that I’m obviously doing something very silly, and playing it up for laughs. But, emotional release because I’m trying to highlight the times in my life when I’m the happiest. It’s cathartic to me to go back and look at the pictures and remember those moments, breathing in the memories of simple times of joy.  Needless to say I’ll keep posting these shots, as I’m having a great time with them. I can’t promise that they’ll all be “influencer worthy”, but hopefully, they’ll give people a chuckle, and maybe a brief moment of reflection of what bring you joy in your life. img_3752 

More musings on life and career

Regular readers of my blog are no stranger to my semi-regular musings about my vocation and purpose in life. It’s a pretty regular theme, but as the years have gone by, I feel like I’m getting closer and closer to more clarity around what I’m all about. It’s time for another brain-dump of thoughts, so if you’re not interested in someone doing self-reflection, I’ll post something more entertaining in a few days…

This recent episode of angst come courtesy of my current job. I’m not going to go into many details, but I had some unpleasantness last week that put me in the position of not feeling like I can trust those around me, including my direct supervisor. It has me questioning again what I’m doing and why I’m doing it. However, it’s allowed me another time of reflection. I’ve started to piece together more of what it is that drives me, and why I’ve made some of the choices that I have.

As I’ve contemplated things, I’ve broken it down in to three key areas: Leadership, Community, and Experience.

Leadership

One of the things that I figured out a few years ago is that I like to lead. It’s not because I have a burning desire to always be in charge, but because I like seeing a vision take shape. I also really love guiding people and helping them reach their goals. As a manager I’ve had the opportunity to help salvage a few different careers and bring them back from mediocrity to something that gives the person a sense of accomplishment and value. My favorite moments as being a manager is when I can help someone better themselves, and discover more about their skills and talents. My leadership style encompasses Transformational Leadership and Servant-Oriented Leadership which are all about building up others. These two paradigms are what drives me to want to help bring things to life.

Community

I’ve discovered that I love bringing a community together. As the president of the board for Upper Midwest Trail Runners, I love seeing our small community come together around one another. We’ve even managed to (mostly) keep politics out of our community, keeping ourselves focused on our shared love of the outdoors. Just this past weekend we had our annual banquet and it was so much fun to look back at what we’ve done and share time with people who love this as much as I do.

I love being a part of a community, and I think that everyone’s life is richer because of the communities that they’re a part of. Some of the most amazing things that can happen in life, can only happen as a part of a community. I’ve written extensively about how powerful our trail community is, and the effect that it has on me. Being able to play a part in making this community better is incredibly important to me, and it’s something that I believe drives me in who I want to be in life.

Experience

Something I’ve had the honor of doing recently is creating events that bring people together. I’ve put on multiple fat-ass (fun) runs in our trail community, and I’m starting to get in to the race directing world. Just this past weekend, at our UMTR banquet, we had an incredible night, and everyone walked away feeling happy.  Next week I’m putting in my annual fall fat-ass and I’m excited to get everyone together for a few hours of fun. Making memories is something that brings me joy.

As I look back at this list, and the things that drive me, it really sheds a light as to why I wanted to be a pastor. All three of these things are key to the experience of being a leader in a church. Even though that career isn’t really in the cards for me anymore, it’s nice to be able to put some words and thoughts around what drives me, and why that career was so compelling to me.

The struggle now is trying to figure out how to take these insights and apply them to the second half of my life and what I do with my time. My friend Michael and I had breakfast this morning and in our conversation we talked a little about all of this. I contemplated if I could ever just find a mindless job and then focus my passions on things outside of work. Michael, who has known me for nearly 25 years, observed that this probably wouldn’t work for me. I think it’s because I’m just too prone to diving in completely to the things that I do.

So, as usual, I’ve got a lot of thoughts and questions, without a ton of answers. As I think about what might lie ahead, at least I have something more solid to hang my hat on than just vague feelings. I feel like I might be able to start putting some pieces together to build something. I joke with my wife that if I had my druthers, I’d have a career of writing/blogging, podcasting, photography, event directing, and non-profit management, all while traveling around doing #vanlife part of the year.

The more reasonable side of me realizes that this is probably silly, as making a living doing that is sketchy and difficult at best. I’m a highly skilled and experienced, strategic-thinking oriented, organizational leader, which means I understand the big picture of how things go work, and when things are difficult or easy. It’s just harder to see when it’s closer to home.

That leaves me thinking about more practical things around what I could do for an organization that has a meaning and mission I can get behind, that builds community, and creates meaningful experiences for people. I’ve contemplated getting into some type of executive directorship of non-profits, but I don’t have much of an “in” to that community, so that might need to be something I work on as a goal in the near term.

In the meantime I’ll keep posting brain-dumps here, listening to those around me and their thoughts, and building up a wider tapestry of understanding of myself and the legacy that I want to leave behind.