The battle within.

The theme of the past week has been that I’m discovering the battlefield is all in my mind. The hardest things I’ve had to do last week were all related to wrangling my mind into compliance.

It puts me in the mind of a quote I heard from Lebron James about how being tired is a frame of mind. While I don’t know if I 100% believe that to be true I can say that my ability to accomplish things is deeply tied to my mental fatigue or discomfort than any true physical limit being reached.

Last week was an exercise in meeting the self-imposed limits of my mindset.

By brushing up against the limits of my standard mindset I hope that I’m in the first stages of a dramatic change in what I’m capable of.

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How do I imagine this happening?

Phase 1: Find the limits of my mindset – run into the things that make me uncomfortable. Notice the things I do to escape that discomfort. What am I willing to do to prevent myself from experiencing the mentally tough tasks that I must complete? What compensatory things do I do to make myself feel better? What money do I spend to make myself feel better? What story do I tell myself about these behaviors?

I’m knee deep in this phase. This is the phase where I start to ask myself questions that seem to revolve around self-care and work/life balance.

Not that these are bad questions – but in my case often these are questions I use to grease the wheels toward quitting.

While those things are definitely important – what is more important for the future of my family and I, is that I learn how to achieve the goals that I’ve set for myself. Or at least give the pursuit of these goals my absolute best effort.

How can I actually know what my best effort is until I have given absolutely everything I have to the goal in front of me?

I can’t.

So what is the goal I’m looking to achieve?


  • I want to learn how to work hard while maintaining mental flexibility and toughness (a.k.a Not Quitting until goal is achieved)


  • I want to pay off some consumer debt.

This year we finally had the celebration for our COVID postponed wedding and managed to rack up around $23k of debt on two different credit cards.

In the two months since the wedding I put in some extra shifts and budgeted very precisely to be able to pay off $10,500 of our wedding debt. However, we’re heading into month 3 and austerity historically hasn’t served as a great long term plan for me. Right around this time I usually end up letting my foot up off the pedal.

This time I want it to be different.

That means that continuing to work long days is the plan of attack for me. What started as working Saturday’s to gain a couple of extra dollars has started to grown into 16 hour days where I work two jobs in order to speed up the process.

For me, 16 hour days have a special ability to play with my mental toughness. Usually ten hours into a sixteen hour shift I can come up with all sorts of reasons why this is no longer a good idea. The other thing that can happen is that I start to make all sorts of unnecessary purchases on account of the fact that you “deserve it”. All this of course ends up just short circuiting any progress you’ve made financially.

It’s very interesting that a lot of my posts this week have all been related to mental health and the challenges we face when we choose to do hard things. Focusing on growing the mental toughness necessary to accomplish the tasks that will significantly move my life forward has been intriguing and helpful. It’s allowing me to get a 30,000 foot view of my habits and weaknesses.

Now that I have a family I’m feeling like if I ever want to experience the life that I’ve dreamed of – I have to become a better man. A more patient man. A man who is capable of being able to accomplish more. A man who may have to suffer more without spewing his pain onto others. A man who is also still able to love and express joy.

A man who is deeper than the man who I am today.

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I know that one missing part of me achieving the things I want to is that I need to find communities to plug into that will support me in getting to the outcome that I desire. My family is a great support but I’ll need to seek out men who are on similar journey’s and who can inspire me to be more than I am today.

Fly or Fall.

Workplace Attire

“Those who carried burdens were loaded in such a way that each labored on the work with one hand and held his weapon with the other. And each of the builders had his sword strapped at his side while he built.”

Nehemiah 4:17-18

I’m doing a 30-for-30 challenge this month with some members from my church.

We all are endeavoring to walk/run/jog an additional 30 miles outside of our usual activity in order to jumpstart some physical health related goals.

It has been an interesting experiment so far.

The leader of the pack at the moment is a lady who could be my mother. She logs 4 miles every day as consistently as a german clock tower.

During my walk today, the Nehemiah story in the bible came across my Spotify, and a specific passage struck me as a good example of the type of attitude that I should have consistently.

For background – Nehemiah is the central figure of the Book of Nehemiah, which describes his work in rebuilding Jerusalem during the Second Temple period. He was governor of Persian Judea under Artaxerxes I of Persia. 

His big project was the rebuilding of the wall even though there were a LOT of powerful people who were arrayed against him in this task.

So much so that in order to ensure success Nehemiah had to command the workers to not only work but also carry a sword while they worked.

This image of workmen who were busy being productive but who also stood at the ready to pull their sword and defend their work struck me as a great metaphor for how we should approach our daily lives.

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I like to think that all of us are in the midst of a great work. We’re building, day by day, a hopefully exciting and meaningful life. Perhaps that structure includes the responsibility of a family, or the pursuit of a great purpose, or even the cultivation of the self-love it takes to take care of yourself.

Regardless of the work that we’re involved in – making sure that we’re engaged in both the work of building and being prepared to defend what we’re building is beyond important.

We must carry both hammer and sword.

While not necessarily literal we must stand ready to defend our great work from internal and external foe.

If you’re building a family – we may have to say no for a season to the distraction of what would otherwise be worthwhile pursuits in order to ensure that our “great work” isn’t given less than what it deserves.

If you are early (or late) in a marriage – you may have to defend your relationship from old habits, old ways of thinking, shifting societal norms, or friend’s and family’s unrequested opinions.

If your learning to love yourself – you might have to delete social media accounts or unfollow the fabulous people who inspire envy, social comparison, or insecurities for a bit until you build the self-confidence and foundation of your self-worth. You may have to avoid celebrity gossip and reality shows that may, in and of themselves, be harmless.

“So neither I nor my brothers nor my servants nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us took off our clothes; each kept his weapon at his right hand”

Nehemiah 4:23

One thing I realized was that if I can maintain this attitude and position of readiness – resistance less often knocks me off my course.

Regardless of the work, we shouldn’t be surprised when we encounter those at our gates who are determined to destroy what we’re building.

It was that way in the 5th Century when Nehemiah was building his wall and it is that way today.

I wish you the best in your Building.

fly or fall,



What’s your BHAG this year?

And no I’m not talking about your momma.

BHAG is a term I think I came across when reading about Harvard Business School (HBS).

What does it stand for?

Big. Hairy. Audacious. Goal.

I’ve started (hopefully) a new habit of writing weekly priorities to conquer at the start of every week. The first week went swimmingly, and I knocked out my list before the end of the week. Now I’m here at week 2 and realizing that I don’t have a cumulative goal for this week.

Even more troubling, I don’t have an overarching goal for the year.

This is a problem.

Not a world-changing problem. Maybe not even a lose sleep problem but a problem nonetheless.

Not having a long-term goal that I’m applying daily pressure to is short-sighted.

I think it may be time to revisit some of the bigger goals that I’ve given up on in the past and see if there are ways to make something shake.

BHAG, Here I come!


Consistent effort.

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Today I was listening to a podcast from BiggerPockets.

The guest was talking about something that I’ve been fighting against and losing for a good portion of my adult life.

He describes the fight that we all have when we’re trying to go from Zero to One while maintaining all the machinery that keep our day-to-day lives on track.

He explained how our brains were not designed to address the important, but instead were made to ensure the urgent was taken care of.

The problem comes from the fact that the important is almost NEVER urgent.

The actions that will lead to financial security in 20 years does not feel urgent.

The workout that you should do today to stave off illness in 40 years does not feel urgent.

The schooling that you should pursue in order to have a better life in 5 years does not feel urgent.

Figuring out how to work less so you can spend more unstructured time with your children doesn’t feel urgent.

ambulance architecture building business
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On the other hand..

The bill laying on the kitchen counter with the red writing feels urgent.

The email your boss sent you about a report due next week feels urgent.

Because of these misleading feelings – we can go our whole lives taking care of the urgent and missing the opportunity to do anything truly important.

Distractions like tv, social media, and screen time don’t help.

They distract us from our inner voice and prevent boredom from creating space for us to reflect on where we are falling short and missing the mark.

Adding to the problem is the fact that addressing the truly important often feels like wasted time. We may put in hours, weeks, months, or years of work before we see a significant change in the circumstances we are trying to affect.

He calls the urgent that fills our daily life “the whirlwind”.

Our biggest challenge to being truly effective is learning how to manage the whirlwind and make sure that daily we are accomplishing something truly important.

This has been the biggest struggle I’ve faced in the past 5 years, as what is most important get’s a lot murkier after graduation. The surrogate marker for success of schooling or certifications isn’t always the most efficient way forward. 

I’ve set goals, and tried to make my important goals tangible.

I’ve started to work on those goals, but usually give up when the whirlwind of life has made being consistent too difficult. And I usually don’t spend a-lot of time defining the actions that will make my final goal attainable. 

I’m tired of this cycle and not seeing progress.

I have to move forward this year.  By setting clear goals, defining clearer action plans and lead indicators, and finally by executing on those goals.

And I wrote today.



My regular lawn guy left me high and dry.

One day I went outside and noticed that the lawn was getting taller than usual and that I hadn’t seen my regular lawn guy recently. So I shot him a text. “Just checking in on everything!”

Later that afternoon I got a text informing me that he would no longer be able to service my lawn. I’ll admit, I felt a bit rejected. I quickly recovered and texted my back-up lawn guy (good to have options) and within a couple of weeks my lawn was back in its C+ condition (i need some landscaping done). In the interim, the shrubs had grown considerably so there were a ton of trimmings that had to be left in paper bags by the trash can.

These trimmings, limbs, and general yard waste didn’t bother me the first week they were out on the curb awaiting pick up from the garbage guys. Or the second. But by the third week, I was irritated by the sight of these three bags that were apparently invisible to the weekly garbage truck.



But, God wanted to give me a chance at redemption. It just happens that around week three, the electric company decided to do the yearly tree trimming for the power lines. They left a ton of limbs on my front yard on the first day of trimming. I was hopeful, but dubious. The new trimmings had bright green leaves, and looked as if they were still alive. It looked like they could just be sewn back onto the tree and they’d be back to exchanging carbon dioxide for oxygen like they never stopped.

My bags of trimmings were old. Yellow and haggard, they wouldn’t fool the electric company’s tree disposal guys. They’d take one look at my trimmings and leave the three mounds of sticks and leaves right where they found them, i thought to myself. So I waited. By the middle of day one, the new electric company limbs were looking weathered. I left for work and returned. The next day I awoke early to take a glance at the front yard.

I was surprised by what I saw.

Just a couple of hours separated from the tree and the limbs were looking more like my old trimmings than they looked like the new trimmings that they were. I had to run to work so I didn’t have a chance to dump my trimmings onto the electric company’s. I decided I would do it once I returned. I was encouraged that upon my return, the electric company’s trimmings were just about indistinguishable from my almost month-old trimmings. I decided to do one more errand before I got down to the hot work of opening up my yard waste bags and dumping them on top of the electric companies.

Much to my chagrin, the sneaky electric company snuck in and got rid of them while I was celebrating the success of my master plan before its completion. smh.

However, as I was lamenting the failure of my leaf disposal plan and even more so my inability to act on the plan, something hit me. I realized that the lesson, wasn’t a lesson about acting fast. It wasn’t even a lesson about keeping other people accountable. The lesson was about connection.

In the last couple of weeks I’ve been disconnected. Anyone who has known me for any amount of time could probably tell you that work is my drug. Self-improvement is my crack-cocaine. The quest for perfection is my idol & money is one of my favorite mile markers.

I’m in a constant battle with myself to pull back on my natural tendency towards being a workaholic and making sure that I’m investing in my relationships.

And I’ve been on a work-binge the last couple of weeks. A 60-hour-a-week bender.


I was working 10-12 hours every day until my body started to protest and came down with a sinus infection. I realized that I had, on-accidentally-purpose, edged God and other people out of my life. Unfortunately in America, edging people out is easy. American culture is founded upon the idea that work is good, and Hard Work is Holy. The hustle is our nation’s real pledge of allegiance. I found it easy to hand out the excuse that “I’m working, sorry, can’t talk now” or “Busy at work, I probably won’t be able to make the baptism”.

People don’t really push back against that.

But the truth is over-work is just as harmful as other drugs. It’s symptoms are less clear because it’s benefits are so apparent. Bigger bank accounts seem to outweigh empty relationships in the short-term. And fancy titles and promotions seem so much more tangible than time spent with people you care about. For these reasons,  over-work can be insidious.

The episode with the yard trimmings made me realize that the same way limbs died when they were cut off from the roots that fed them, I was letting certain parts of myself and certain relationships die by scheduling myself into the ground.

Soon afterward, I made the decision to reconnect with the source that feeds me (God) and make sure that I was investing in other people and the relationships that feed me.


Life is short. Work can’t be priority #1.

Here’s to better balance.

Fly or Fall