The three levels of gratitude

Level one can start with a simple thank you. Showing appreciation for someone’s work doesn’t have to cost us anything.

The second level is to give something back in return. We can say, “Thank you. I appreciate this service. Here is 20 bucks. It’s not much but it’s the least I can do.” While it is nice (and essential) to get paid, it’s not what brings us closer together.

The third level is to share what we learned and experienced with someone else. “Thank you. That book changed my life. I have so many notes, highlights, and dog-ears through the pages. The book has inspired me to work on this new project.” Sharing the gift and spreading the idea is the best form of gratitude. By sharing the work with others it brings us all closer together.


It’s much easier to fix a crooked tree when it is sapling before it becomes a full grown tree.

When a tree is left on its own it will have been subjected to the elements and grows in the direction the wind pushes it causing it to become crooked.

To fix a fully mature crooked tree requires a lot of work: straps, cranks, tools, muscles.

The task may be futile.

To grow upright so much man-power could have been saved if at a sapling a string and a stake was placed to hold it still and steady when the winds come.

Much similiar to what we see with goods, products, services, work, businesses, families, relationships, respect, code, and so on.

The little kid

We have all gone shopping and seen the little kid in the cereal aisle crying and begging his mom for his favorite cereal.

Inside each and every one of us you will find that little kid. The little kid is the enemy in each of us.

This little kid is a former version of ourselves, he screams that we are hungry, angry, lonely and tired.

He tells us that we need to have that new thing because the old thing isn’t as good. If we just had the new thing we would never ask for another thing ever again. We would be so happy if we just had the new thing.

We need to teach this little kid to behave and to be generous.

Delaying gratification is the only way to make the little kid behave.

It’s not where you start

It’s not where you start but where you finish.

It doesn’t matter that you didn’t come from money.
It doesn’t matter what gender you are.It doesn’t matter what your ethnicity is.
It doesn’t matter what kind of education you have.
It doesn’t matter where you were born.
It doesn’t matter how old you are.
It doesn’t matter how you look or sound.

Don’t worry about the constraints: Google’s home page is so simple but yet so brilliant because the founder, Larry Page, was limited in his abilities to code. The beauty of Twitter is that it is limited to 140 characters not 140,000.

What does matter is that you are willing to start something that is so ridiculously hard, a project so big, that it consumes every bit of you; a project that will make a difference in people’s lives.

Why does it matter?

Because you will be different in the end and the people you touch will be different too.


Draw a picture of where you are currently at: physical, mental, spiritual, social, economic, family/relationship, career. Use symbols, text, pictures, collages – whatever your imagination draws up.

Now draw a second picture on a separate sheet of paper of where you want to be.

Hang them on the wall next to each other.

You have just drawn a comic.

Scott McCloud, in his brilliant book called Understanding Comics, explains why comics are a powerful medium: you have two images that can be seen side by side. The magic of comics is that all of the action takes place in the space between the two images. We can’t see it, we have to imagine it.

Now look at the two pictures you drew again. Look at the space in between. See the contrasts between the pictures. What is the person on the right doing that the person on the left should be doing?

We can’t see the action to get us from here, to there, to Heaven knows where. But we can imagine it.

Too much weather

It’s funny listening to people talk about the weather.

When it is summer it is too hot or there is too much inversion.
And when it is fall of course the trees are too dead or there are too many storms.
When it is winter it is too cold and there is too much snow.

People seem to look forward to the magical time of spring, that it is one of the best times of the year.

Then the 72 degrees day with blue skies comes someone complains that their allergies acting up too much.

The line

Too many of us stop on the line.

But the line is imaginary. It’s made up. It’s all invented.

We fear that if we go outside the line we will be marked, docked, or deducted.

When we are finished and we have kept within the boundaries that others have set, we wait for recognition followed by more instructions. There is no growth. And then we wonder why we weren’t picked for that promotion.

What did we do wrong? Why didn’t we get picked?

We didn’t pick ourselves to draw outside the lines.

We don’t realize how far past the line we can go. The lines were placed by someone else. (That’s the way it has always been and that’s the way it’s always going to be.)

But we don’t have to stop on the line. We don’t need to turn around when we see it. We can follow through. Think outside the page.

Assume that you have the authority to go past the line until someone else says you can’t.

Where all good ideas come from

When you’re out of good ideas, start working with the bad ideas.

Bad ideas are great.

You have just found out how this tweet, or email, or blog post doesn’t work.

Go through enough bad ideas, a good one will finally show up (and it will be what you least expected).

But you have to be okay with being laughed at.

There will always be that one person that deliberately goes out of their way to show us why something isn’t good enough.

Them: This is stupid. You know you can’t make it as a blogger. I am just being realistic. I am trying to help.

Us: Thank you. Now I have to get back to work.

Is it weird enough?

Shaving your head and tattooing your hair is certainly a way to be noticed. But there is little trust in doing this. Only a few members of the tattoo community will find it appealing. Most of us will not remember this.

We can find other ways to express ourselves so that we can be remembered.

How about the time when Rage Against the Machine was “accidentally” booked in Spanish Fork, Utah? Back in 1996, this was a big deal – it’s still weird enough to think about today. People remember this: that’s why you can still find comments online about the anniversary to this day.

There is a giant misconception of weird enough: are you trying to get us to notice or are you trying to be remembered?

Weird enough to be noticed is easy (tattooing your hair). Weird enough to be remembered is much harder (Rage concerts in a small town full of ranchers).

We fear what we don’t understand

There is a strong rhetoric from those in power (executives, management, parents) that fear the next generation will be ruined by social media.

We’ve heard it before: “They are addicted to playing on their smart phones. It’s ruining them. They can’t look at each other in the eye. I am sure glad I had my childhood where we got to play outside without these distractions.”

Ten years ago, social media platforms were brand new. The world had never seen it before. Human beings had a new tool and weren’t sure what the purpose was or how to use it correctly. So like all new tools you get excited, play with it, exhaust it until it is no longer new. Social media is wearing off its “newness.”

We now have defined the purpose: it’s a tool to bring us closer together. When we are closer together we are more likely to solve interesting problems.

But we fear what we don’t understand. People will always use tools for the wrong purpose (watching cat videos). However, those in power that have more of their life behind them than in front of them can help us. They can teach us to search for more meaningful experiences but they will need to embrace social media for all the good it brings, not just the bad.

As more and more people globally adopt social media in their lives we will continue to see this shift for better content, design, and purpose that will ultimately lead us to stronger bonds – which is what we are looking for. We ALL want the same thing.