Archive for the ‘General Life’ Category

Sabotaging Your Own Success

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Looks like it’s been a few months since I’ve posted on this site. I guess I’ve been a little busy with my other 20 or so blogs.

Luckily today I came across a post called “Stop Sabotaging Your Own Success: A Manifesto” that really got me thinking and ready to share my own story.

The crux of the post for me is Don’t be afraid to try things you don’t think you can do.

As I read through the various quotes in the post, I remembered back to what I believe is one of the most pivotal choices I made back early in my college career. The choice itself was actually somewhat inconsequential. In fact, looking back the choice really seems like a quite simple and silly choice. It barely even resembles a choice, but for some reason I had an internal fear that doing this would be outside of my comfort zone.

The story starts back in college on a Saturday when I was bored and really wanted to get out and play some sports of some sort. I didn’t care what sport, I just wanted to get some exercise and sports adds that competitive ingredient which makes the exercise fun. I headed over to a park close by the University thinking I might be able to find a game of football, soccer, or maybe even some volleyball. None of those were found, but there was a group of people playing ultimate frisbee.

I remembered back to my childhood days where I’d played at least a couple games of ultimate frisbee and so I asked if I could join in. Turns out, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I figured I’d played ultimate frisbee before and that this wouldn’t be a big deal. Little did I know that this group really played ultimate frisbee. They could throw the frisbee in so many different ways including what I now know is called the forehand or flick. Plus, they had cleats and I was just wearing regular sneakers.

After thinking I could throw the frisbee deep each time I touched it, one of the other players kindly instructed me that I shouldn’t just huck the disc as far as I could each time I got it hoping that someone from my team might be lucky enough to get to wherever the frisbee might end up. Instead, I should be more patient and look for the “easy” throws that I knew I could make to my teammates. Even if that meant I was throwing a short one behind me to someone who could throw better than me.

Needless to say, I obviously wasn’t as good at ultimate frisbee as I thought I was when I asked to play. While we were sitting down at the end of the game, I overheard a couple of the people talking about an ultimate frisbee city league. I heard them talking about putting a team together. For some reason they didn’t ask me to be on their team. My ego assumes the team was full, but I imagine I might have gotten a request to play had I been more skilled at ultimate frisbee.

However, I must admit that I was intrigued that their was an ultimate frisbee city league. I’d never heard of such a thing and so after a quick online search (This was before it was called a Google search) I found the website for the ultimate frisbee city league. Turns out, they accepted team signups or individual signups.

I’d like to say that I just ignored this past experience and signed up. To be honest, I nearly “sabotaged myself.” I remember thinking that maybe I wasn’t good enough to play. I remember thinking that maybe they wouldn’t want me to play. I remember thinking that maybe I wouldn’t fit in. I remember thinking that maybe I’d sign up and they wouldn’t let me play. The idea of riding the bench didn’t sound like fun. Particularly if I used my poor college student money to sign up to play.

Despite these emotions, I signed up anyway. However, the emotions continued even on the first day I went to play in the opening game. I had no idea what to expect and I’d already learned that I had A LOT to learn about playing ultimate frisbee.

The AMAZING thing is that I went ahead and did it anyway. I’m a very calculated person that always made very calculated choices. However, this time the calculations didn’t necessarily add up and I went ahead and did it anyway.

Don’t ask me why, but for some reason before I signed up for this ultimate frisbee city league I felt like this was an incredible stretch. For me at that time, It WAS! However, I think it taught me an amazing thing. I can learn to do things I’m not very good at and it’s ok to take the risk and try.

This lesson has served me very well and been re-taught to me over and over as I’ve learned to stretch myself in new, valuable, and unexpected ways.

You might thinking…what about the end of the story? What happened once I showed up at the city league?

I ended up getting put on what I believe was likely the only team that accepted players that singed up individually. They were from the next town over and not very athletic. Although, a number of them had been playing ultimate frisbee for quite a while. So, I was lucky enough to become the fast one who would run deep. Plus, little by little these veterans taught me all the things I was doing wrong and how I could do better.

I spent the entire summer working on throwing the forehand and finally mastered it. At the end of the league I was invited to play on the club team that was traveling to another college to play against other college teams. I eventually went on to play at sectionals and regional tournaments in a number of different states having the time of my life.

In fact, ~11 years later I’m still playing ultimate frisbee as often as possible. I even help organize the non-profit Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee organization. When my first son was born I had him holding a frisbee the first day home.

Imagine if I’d been too afraid to sign up and “Sabotaged My Own Success.” I’d not only have missed out on learning something I now love, but I’d have set a terrible pattern for future choices.

Showing People They Matter

Thursday, September 8th, 2011

In a community that I’m apart of, I mentioned to one of the members of the community (we’ll call him Steve) that I’d sent a text to another member of the community (we’ll call him Dave). There wasn’t much to it. I basically just sent a text to Dave that said, “Are you coming tonight?” However, I was completely shocked by Steve’s reply to me saying I’d sent a text to Dave.

Steve asked me, “Dave is such an attention whore that he came out after you gave him some attention?”

I must admit that I was complete blown away by this comment and still am today. As I thought about it, I realized that Steve was right about Dave enjoying attention. However, that wasn’t the intention of my text at all. I just wanted this person to attend and so I sent the text to encourage their attendance. I’ll admit that I don’t even understand the thinking that someone wouldn’t do something as simple as sending a text because they didn’t want to give someone attention.

This idea really came together when I saw a TedXDesMoines video where Angela Maiers talks about the idea of showing people that “You Matter.” Watch even just the first 5 minutes to get the idea:

As I thought about my experience with Steve and Dave above, I realized that all my simple text did for Dave was say, “You Matter.” Plus, Steve wants to know he matters almost as much as Dave, but Dave is just more vocal about it. However, I wonder how many people avoid showing other people around them that they matter all because of some idea that they’re feeding someone’s need for attention. It makes me sick to think about.

Let’s be honest. We all have a need to know “You Matter.” Who doesn’t like to feel appreciate for something or wanted? We all do.

I think Angela Maiers is on to something with “You Matter.” There’s a real power to showing people that they matter to you. Time to look for more ways to show this quality in more aspects of my life. Even if it’s something as simple as a text message.

Life is Good – Busy, but Good

Sunday, June 19th, 2011

The last month or so I’ve been extraordinarily busy. Actually, much busier than I like. However, I love all the projects that I’m working on and so I keep driving them all forward. Here’s a quick summary of what I have going on (in no particular order).

I’ve helped organize Startup Weekend Las Vegas (happens this weekend…Woot!). I’m happy to say that Startup Weekend Las Vegas has sold out. I can’t wait for this weekend.

Along with Startup Weekend, I’ve grown this new passion for trying to do some small part in helping to grow the number of internet startup companies and internet startup entrepreneurs in Las Vegas. I even launched with the help of a number of other people a new blog called Las Vegas Startups. However, the most rewarding part of it all has been the number of interesting Las Vegas internet entrepreneurs that I’ve met since doing these things. It’s a great feeling to be connected to so many interesting and amazing people. I can feel that it’s laying the ground work for something special in Las Vegas.

Many of you probably don’t know of my love for Ultimate Frisbee. Well, it’s real and fantastic. I always say my addiction to ultimate frisbee is my key to staying skinny (or at least relatively skinny). Lately, I’ve been helping to keep the Las Vegas Ultimate frisbee community organized. It’s a completely selfish desire since it’s hard to play ultimate frisbee without other players. I even organized a Las Vegas summer ultimate frisbee league which starts on Monday. We exceeded our registration goal and so life is good.

On the blog side of things, I’ve grown the Healthcare Scene blog network to 14 EMR and Health IT related blogs and still growing. Almost every site in the network is growing and improving in all the important metrics. I think we’re up to 9 people blogging across the network. I certainly couldn’t do it without all their help. July 1st, I’m changing the way I handle ads on the various websites. Let’s hope that the change goes well. Each day I’m in awe at the power of blogging and the influence blogs can have.

The Pure TV Network is doing really well. Pure DWTS, Pure SYTYCD and Pure America’s Got Talent are all killing it with amazing readership (and amazing writers that help me) and we even launched Pure X Factor. I’m lucky to work with the dozen or so writers that participate on those sites. After reading this post, I think they’ll realize why I haven’t had as much time to post myself.

I also just got put in as Scoutmaster. I’d been an Assistant Scoutmaster for the past couple years, so it hasn’t been all that much different. Just getting to know some new leaders and help them understand how scouting works. I love the impact a Scoutmaster can have on these fine Young Men. I can’t wait until July when I’m going up to a high adventure camp for a week. Certainly there’s some level of service required to be a Scoutmaster, but honestly I’ll probably have as much fun at this camp as the boys. Although, don’t tell my wife I said that. That’s the only bad part about scouting, being away from my wife and kids.

On that note, I’ve saved the best for last. I’ve been able to spend a lot of time with my kids lately. Mostly because my wife took off for a week to go on a Sister’s trip. It’s been pretty exciting watching the kids for a week. We’ve had some good time to bond. I’m sure I couldn’t do it all the time like my wife does, but I’m glad I had time to enjoy my children. I’m even happier my wife got a break and some time away from the children. Needless to say, I’ll be very happy to have my wife back.

There’s my update. As you can see, I have one or two things going on right now. Not that any of you really care, but I started writing and just couldn’t stop. There’s something therapeutic about getting it out in the open.

One Trick I Use to Remember to Be Thankful

Saturday, June 18th, 2011

I’m not going to go into a long rant about why it’s so important and valuable to show gratitude and be thankful in this life. Suffice it to say that I’m a big believer in the idea of gratitude and being grateful for the things, people and even the challenges that life brings. It not only enriches your life to be thankful, but it also enriches the life of those around you.

I’m certainly not perfect at this, but I generally appreciate the life I have and have many things to be grateful for even if sometimes I forget.

I think it was about 6 years ago when I moved to Las Vegas that I started doing something that helps me to remember to be thankful. It’s a small, subtle thing, but pretty much every email I’m provided a reminder to be thankful.

The trick happens with the signature that I include in my emails. Thankfully, a while back Gmail figured out how to do email signatures properly (on a per email address basis) and so I’ve really leveraged the benefit of their email signature. Not only does it put some nice links to my various websites and phone number (when desired), but the signature helps me to know that I’m sending the email from the right account. I use Gmail’s awesome feature which lets me send as if from dozens of domains all from one email account.

When using the signature feature though, I deliberately set it up to not put “Thanks,” before my signature. Sure, I could include it in the signature and save me a few seconds by not having to type it. However, that’s why I actually leave it off. I want to take a few seconds every email to think about being thankful. In fact, every once in a while, I consider whether I should include thanks in an email or not. However, dozens (and sometimes hundreds) of times each day I take a few seconds to write “Thanks,” in my emails.

Sure, sometimes even typing it so often I forget to be really thankful. However, many times a day I do think about being grateful when I type it. It’s certainly a small and subtle thing, but it’s a small thing which I think makes a huge difference.

If you want to be more thankful, try it out and let me know how it goes.

The Irony of Holiday Vacation Time

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

The other day my wife asked me how much time off I’d get for Christmas. I thought it was a really interesting question since I now just work for myself as a blogger in the evening and my sports fundraiser and boy scout fundraiser during the day.

As I think about a holiday vacation like Christmas, I think that most people split that time between family and some hobby. How many people have projects they’re working on that they’ve saved for their Christmas break from work? I know a lot of people who do this.

The question is, what do you do when your hobby is your job?

Makes for an interesting experience. Needless to say, I’ll be enjoying plenty of time with family for Christmas, but I’ll also be spending plenty of time working with my websites. Call it work if you want. I just call it enjoying my time off.

I’m Such a Minimalist

Saturday, December 11th, 2010

As I think about my use of various technologies I realize that I’m really a minimalist. I’m all about finding the easiest way to do something. For example, when I first started with Firefox plugins, I was installing things left and right. Quickly I realized that I didn’t want to have all those plugins installed. Plus, when it was time to upgrade Firefox, I was always afraid to upgrade since I wasn’t sure what impact that would have on all the plugins I’d installed. I quickly removed a whole bunch of plugins which sounded like a good idea and just left the ones that I used regularly.

When I started WordPress, it was a similar story. There were a ton of plugins to do all sorts of cool things with WordPress. I added one after another and loved a lot of the extra features. Then, it was time to update WordPress. Unfortunately, in the open source world not all the plugins get updated for the new version of WordPress like they should. So, this would mean that I would have to go through and test to make sure that when I upgraded WordPress, that my plugins would all still be working.

Yep, you can imagine that I quickly started removing the WordPress plugins that weren’t really adding any value to my life. Not to mention I moved to a number of more mainstream plugins which I was certain would be upgraded as WordPress released new software (ie. plugins from WordPress in many cases or plugins with enormous install bases). However, I still wanted as few plugins as possible. It was all about value.

This really goes on and on in my life. For example, as much as I love automation, I’d rather have a car that didn’t have all the bells and whistles. The more features it has, the more places it could break. When something breaks it takes me away from doing what I really want to be doing. Some people like fixing broken things (and there is some satisfaction doing so), but I prefer to create things.

This is why in so many aspects of my life I look at ways to minimize and simplify how I do things. Take a look at my blogs and you’ll see that their designs follow the same sort of pattern. It’s all about minimizing and simplifying.