One by one

We can only change the world one by one.

One person at a time.

One interaction at a time.

One day at a time.

This is how you change things and create forward motion.

Not everyone.

Not everything.



Repeated again and again.

The short term benefit to a life changing experience

Whether it is a near death experience, holding your child for the first time or simply rappelling off cliff…

Everything slows down.

For a while, you can hear the trees, the food tastes finer, the music sounds better…

Of course, the trees have been wrestling this whole time. The food or music isn’t all of sudden better.

You are just more mindful of your surroundings.


You’re carrying an attitude of gratitude.

Mindfulness and gratitude are a choice. A choice we can make every day. You don’t need a near death experience to adopt this practice. But those types of moments do remind us to stop and smell the roses.

“So you’re saying there’s a chance.”

The odds of guessing a perfect March Madness bracket is 1 in 9.2 quintillion.

And yet, 47 million Americans will bet 8.5 billion dollars during the NCAA Tournament.

The reason why so many of us are willing to play is that we say to ourselves, “What if I become the first person ever to fill out a perfect bracket?”

Before we decide which games to play we should take a moment to measure the probabilities of success.

So if you are choosing something that has never or rarely been done before (like winning the lottery), you’ve got to be extremely lucky.

The flip side is if everyone can do it, it probably not that valuable to begin with.

The good news is there is a large playing field in between. Somewhere between 99/100 and 1/9.2 quintillion, you can have the guts to pick something that is just difficult enough where most people will quit.

And then you have to stick with it long enough in order for the probabilities it to work in your favor.

[Note: The reason why some of choose projects that are so grand is because it’s a good excuse to hide. We say to ourselves and others, “It’s so big, how could I even start?”]

The hardest race in the world

In 1985, Gary “Laz” Cantrell started the Barkley Run in the Tennessee backcountry. It was originally inspired by the prison escape of James Earl Ray (the person who assassinated MLK) and the 54 hours that pursued.

Since the beginning, the Barkley Run has only had 14 racers finish the race! Making it “the hardest race in the world.”

Only 40 racers get to register each year. It may also be the hardest race in the world to register for.

Take a look at the website. That’s it. No contact info. No where to click to register. No where to send your entry.

The cost of the race is $1.60 and usually racers need to bring a license plate and a carton of cigarettes. Because as Laz puts it, he’s “in it for the money.”

Laz and company obviously don’t take them selves too seriously. The course is advertised as a 100-mile race with five 20-mile laps to complete. Except, the race is actually a 130 miles. And to throw off the racers, the course changes every year. It’s unmarked and you can only navigate with a map and a compass (no GPS or electronic devises allowed).

So, how did this race in the backcountry of Tennessee become so world-renowned?

Because the first rule of Fight Club is that you don’t talk about Fight Club. Somewhere along the way, someone started talking about Fight Club. 

This is how the best ideas spread. They start small over a long period of time. Most people will put a marathon on their bucket list. Only a few would even consider such a difficult race.

Yet, the Barkley is not for elite racers. If it were, they would charge a lot more and make the race a lot more accessible and probably put it somewhere a little more desirable. It’s “open in such a way that any runner can aspire to face the challenges of this difficult race.”

It’s for people like us who do stuff like this.

Not for everyone. For someone. Perhaps you.

Is it possible to have a good experience with a poor attitude?

If you are determined to have a miserable experience, you will focus on the things that make you miserable.

The prerequisites for anything that we deem as “desirable” or “good” starts with a positive attitude.

Where are you going to put the tired?

No one signs up for boot camp thinking they are not going to get tired.

It is designed to break you.

Yet, for those of us that have gone through boot camp, many look back at that experience feeling better for it.

Experience doesn’t always have to be “good” or “enjoyable” to be positive.

The fact is, the more complex the challenge the more rewarding it feels to accomplish.

Seeking out discomfort is what makes our lives better. Soaking in the banal makes us miserable.

You either live a drama or create one

If you were born with a disability or raised in poverty or had a parent die at a young age…These are examples of external conditions that deeply alter the course of our lives. In other words, it’s a drama that you live.

And for the rest of us, we create a drama to make our lives more interesting. Because we are bored. Because we are hiding. Because we want to be noticed or want to be heroes in someone’s story.

“Life is hard” is a mantra we can’t adopt without first having something difficult to live through.

“Life is hard”

What if we shifted from “life is hard” to “life is challenging”?

Or better yet, “life has its challenges.”

Because is life always hard? Is life always challenging?

Of course not.

It’s how you look at it.

Did you have a bad day or a bad moment?

Probably the latter. And that’s okay. The next moment will be different.

Do you love your work?

Do you love your work even when it’s difficult, when you’re in the middle of the dip, when there is no one watching, when there is no financial incentives or end in sight?

If so…

Do you believe that your work loves you?

Do you believe it is possible for your work to love you despite the hardships?

Let’s be clear, art is work.

Creativity has a price. But is it a sufferfest? Does it seek to destroy us?

I don’t believe that in order to be a great artist you need to be immersed in the dark in order to discover the light. Too many great artist have left us too soon because of this false notion.

What we need is to welcome the work—not run away from it. Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean our craft is out to get us.

Hey Google

“How do I bake Pecan pie?”

And sure enough, in 0.53 seconds 24,700,000 results come up.

Some of us are old enough to remember that before the internet and before Google, the answer to a question was more than just a click away. You used to have work much harder to find the answers.

In our culture of one-click shopping and one-click googling, we think that the answer to complex problems should also be one click away.

We have to learn to be more patient when trying to answer life’s most pressing questions. Because the answer to these questions are not on Google. They require more thought and more reason along with more research.

If the answer is only a couple clicks away, it’s probably not that interesting of a problem that needs to be solved.

[A note about Google: Without more thought and intent, eventually, the servant becomes the master and the master the servant.]