Me against the world

Me against the world mentality is a useful tool in preserving ourselves. It also elevates us to challenge the status-quo, to do something remarkable.

This posture, however, can hinder us as we deepen our relationships with family, friends, neighbors and strangers.

Because this story isn’t just about you overcoming the world, it is about us. Us against the world.

When we see that we share the same struggles, we learn to treat outsiders as insiders. We quit dehumanizing people and see them for who they truly are and what they can become. We develop empathy. Real empathy. And then we can better ease the burdens of those around us. Because it isn’t about going fast.

If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.

Movies with terrible beginnings finish with terrible endings

I don’t watch a lot of TV. When I do, I usually choose a movie because a) there are no commercials, b) there is closure after 2 hours and c) I don’t have cable.

I watched a terrible movie the other day. I got halfway through it before I had to stop for bed. The next day, I had a choice whether I was going to finish it or not.

I chose poorly.

The lesson is an important one: We need to recognize when something is a sunk cost.

We tend to rationalize our decisions that maybe if we put in more resources (time, money, energy) that there will be a more favorable outcome.

In the end, we will be better off finding something else that exponentially grows rather than working overtime to break even.

[The point I am trying to make is not to quit in the middle when things get hard. That is the worst thing we can do. Instead, quit things before you start that you know you won’t see through. And quit when you hit a dead-end so that you don’t waste anymore finite resources.]

Emergency storm warnings

Like the emergency storm warning on the bottom of your TV screen, our brains will always display a never ending message of fear.

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has kept us alive for thousands of years. It gets us to duck our heads when someone yells fore and it gets us to swerve out of the way when we see someone cut us off.

The problem is that our brain is also afraid of being judged. It is afraid to try anything new because you might look stupid–all in an act to preserve ourselves, to keep us save from harm or shame.

The thing is, this type of fear is perceived. It isn’t real. We are not going to die giving a speech in front of an audience (even though our brains think so).

We need to understand that no one gets on a bike for the first time and is an expert. At some point you are going to fall. At some point there will be shame and embarrassment and discomfort. But that failure is what leads us to growth. Overtime, we get a little better with each interaction we make.

The challenge of our time is to not make the fear go away, but to learn to dance with it.

Do something remarkable despite the presence of fear.

Don’t wait for the fear to go away because it is never going to happen.

The thin line between clever and stupid

What is an artist?

They are more that those who put paint on a canvas. It is anyone who puts human work into the world to make a connection. Ellen Langer has written, “All it takes to become an artist is to start doing art.”

The waiter who makes a presentation, delights his customers. He is an artist.

The nurse who goes out of her way to put a smile on a patient’s face. She is an artist.

The bus driver who waits 20 extra seconds for someone to get on. He is an artist.

The individual who picks up a piece a trash on the sidewalk. It’s not her job but she does it anyway. That is what artist do.

Artist solve interesting problems. They inspire us. Connect us. They strain the bonds of the status-quo. The dance on the edge of something great and daring. They leap. They fail, over and over again. They have the ability to reach out and touch us.

Mainly, they know the work they do might not work. People won’t always get the joke. It is a thin line between clever and stupid. One that artist walk every day. One that you can walk too–if you care enough.

Tomorrow is here today

We’re all tired.

The question is where are going to put the tired?

Where are you going to muster the courage to start living the life you always wanted?

Tomorrow is not the answer. Tomorrow is here today.

Yesterday would of the been the best time to start. Today, right now, is the next best thing.

Leadership paradox

The best leaders stick out from the masses by:

Listening instead of talking.

Acting instead of waiting.

Reading instead of browsing.

Finishing instead of starting.

As counter intuitive as it seems, leaders do the opposite of what is expected of them.

Instead of focusing on popular they do what it is important.

Is the goal to never make a mistake?

Since we were young, school has taught us to follow the step-by-step instructions to get an A, to blend in, color in the lines, follow the rules and you will be rewarded.

But in the real world, what are the rules? We have social norms and laws but there is no map to living a life of meaning because living a life of other people’s expectations is neither fulfilling nor rewarding.

The alternative is to break the rules–the false boundaries we put on ourselves. Challenge the status-quo. Make something better. Do something you haven’t done before. Stand up. Stand out. Make the change you are seeking to make.

Better to live one day as a lion than a thousand years as a sheep.


It was only two hundred years ago that the first municipal water treatment plant was built. Since that time, this piece of tech has become ubiquitous in the first world. And now, we have taken it for granted.

If you are like me, we didn’t have to worry about where we were going to get water to drink, to cook, to bathe, to clean, to live, to celebrate today.

If you are feeling fortunate to be where you are, consider giving thanks by donating the to Charity: Water. (Or if someone was kind enough to provide Thanksgiving dinner today, consider using the money you would have spent for Charity: Water.)


There are 663 million people who still live without clean water. 663 million that have to walk long distances just to get access. 663 million that could have used that time learning or working to better their situation. 663 million who are susceptible to getting sick. 663 million stuck in the cycle of poverty.

What can we do?

It can be overwhelming to think how we are going to solve something as big as poverty. So instead, lets help solve one problem for 10 people.

Please consider donating $30 to change the life of one person.

Let’s give thanks.



[This is one of my favorite stories: Scott Harrison for ten years was a club promoter. He would party for a living. Until he realized that the road of instant gratification was not enough to fulfill his life. After taking two years to serving the poor, Harrison went and started Charity: Water. Charity: Water has since raised more than $252 million for more than 23,000 water projects in 24 countries. Bringing access to clean drinking water to those without it for millions. What a difference one person can make.]

Easy, difficult, (nearly) impossible

If it is easy then it means anyone can do it.

If it is difficult it might mean few are willing to finish.

Impossible, however, is something big and audacious with no chance of success. This is a trap, a form of hiding because there’s no intent of ever shipping.

But nearly impossible means that you have never done this before and while failure is certainly an outcome so is success.

It is fighting through these false limits and misconception that make the journey feel impossible.

What we are really trying to say is unlikely. Unlikely we will finish but let’s give it a shot and see what happens.

We are in the business of enabling the nearly impossible.

Narrow vision, straight paths

Sure, you can make the change you seek to make vast and wide.

Of course, you are only fooling yourself to believe you can touch everyone.

The alternative then is to touch someone.

(How are you going to change the entire world if you can’t change one person?)

Better to focus, narrow your vision, make the path straightforward: What is the smallest group only you can change?