Growth in Linear vs Circular Journeys

We often look at journeys in our life as a means of growth or learning. However, we often overlook the way we approach the journey.

Here’s the idea –

There are two ways we could approach journeys in our life. One way is linear in which we move from point A to point B.

Linear Journey

Another way is circular in which we move from point A back to point A, realizing Ax. I’ll explain the “A squared” symbolism in a bit.

Circular Journey

What’s the difference? Let’s explore the shapes in detail.

Linear Journey

The line represents a defined start and finish. This is how most of us think about education and experiences. We have a starting point and an intended outcome or finish line.

For example, we start a new book with the intention to learn something. We finish the book, consider the knowledge received, and then put the book back on the shelf.

Primary education can also be a linear journey. We’re put in classrooms at age 5, given instruction for 13 years, and then graduated around age 18. Our schooling is considered complete.

Normal Growth

Linear journeys often represent normal growth. Going from point A to point B teaches us something new and then we close that chapter. We consider the growth received and leave the journey.

Normal growth reflects new learning.

Circular Journey

The circle represents a cycle. This is how we move through experiences without a defined start and finish, but rather a deeper opportunity to learn. We have an entry point into the circle, and then we do cycles to build more awareness and understanding.

For example, pursuing personal growth is a circular journey. I would argue that there is no way to reach a true end point or finish line in personal growth. It’s a continuous pursuit that evolves. After you do one cycle around the circle you will have a new perspective or understanding, and then it’s time to pursue another cycle.

Learning piano is another form of a circular journey. You might do a cycle to learn foundational principles, and then repeat new cycles to learn more advanced techniques. Learning any type of instrument, sport or skill could be considered a circular journey. You can never really “finish” the understanding and mastery of such pursuits.

Exponential Growth

Circular journeys can represent exponential growth. Doing cycles offers deeper learning that compounds from previous learning. Our capacity has expanded with room for more growth on the journey.

Exponential growth reflects deep learning.

Living in Circular Journeys

Life can become really fascinating and liberating if we embrace more circular journeys. Or stated another way, if we recognize that there’s always something more to learn. I think this is extremely relevant to situations where we’re taught that education is defined on a line.

A few examples:

  • It’s easy to think you learned something new from a book.
    But what if you read it again, or revisited a core concept, and then realized something profound? What if it taught you something entirely new in a different season of life?
  • It’s easy to think your parenting role might end when your children leave the house.
    But what if your best parenting experiences are yet to come as your children enter their own stages of adulthood? What if you could connect with them at a deeper level and learn amazing things?
  • It’s easy to think your role in a business ends after you exit it.
    But what if that was simply a cycle in your larger entrepreneurial journey? What if that was meant to spark purpose in your next endeavor?

As you can see, it’s mainly a mindset shift. Our perspective of journeys is shaped by needing closure. We are able to comprehend things more easily when there’s a defined start and end. That’s why we conditioned to create things with linear journeys.

That’s great, and I think linear journeys have their place, but I also think there’s a lot more growth that happens on circular journeys. I think we find exciting things when we go beyond the line, when we head into new cycles with an open mind. That’s where we can experience deeper learning. That’s where we can experience exponential growth.

In that light I will leave you with a question to ponder –

What’s something you thought you “finished” that you could still learn from?

– or –

What’s a linear journey you took that might actually be a circular journey?

Choosing Mental Clarity

Do you have mental clarity? Are you in control of your thoughts most of the time?

I recently asked my wife why she watches the news. Her answer was, “To get a sense of what’s going on in the world.” An innocent answer that many people would probably agree with. I think this same answer would apply to why people check social media – to check on what’s happening or avoid FOMO (fear of missing out).

In contrast, I don’t watch the news. Ever. I also use social media sparingly. I check Instagram daily, and then pop on to Facebook and Linkedin a few times per week to share my blogs and podcasts or answer messages from friends. I do not scroll or explore much at all.

I could give you a bunch of reasons why I think the news and social media have a negative influence on society. I could tell you how I think they’re programming us to not use our brains effectively. I could also tell you how they’re strategically engineered to induce fear and dopamine into our nervous systems.

But that’s not truly WHY I avoid them…

I avoid them because I choose mental clarity. I prefer to curate what I spend brainpower on. As a result, I am in control of my thoughts most of the time.

Mental Clarity

Our minds only have so much capacity for thought. We’re able to think around 50,000 thoughts per day, which calculates to 30ish thoughts per second. That’s a lot of thought!

In this regard, our minds are like computers. They have a limited amount of storage for thoughts. If you’re using up all the storage there’s simply no room left for more thoughts.

That’s where the news and social media come in.

Think about how many thoughts you’re generating if you’re consuming news and social media regularly. Friend and family updates, world events, professional updates, new products and gadgets. Your mind is having a thought explosion! It’s an endless party of more things to think about and process.

One simple thing can have a ripple effect that generates thousands of thoughts.

For example, you see something interesting on Facebook. So you click through to the person’s profile who posted it. Now you’re scrolling through and consuming recent activity from them. You find a YouTube video that’s worth clicking, and YouTube launches in a new window. Now you’re watching a video that mentions something you heard a few weeks ago from a friend. So you check your phone to find a text message from them, which reminds you that you have this thing to follow-up on. So you switch back to your email to find the thing…

The rabbit hole evolves into thousands of thoughts from one little thing, and now your mind is completely hijacked. You are reacting to all kinds of stimulus.

So what’s the problem here?

There is no problem if you want everyone else’s activity on your mind. That’s a perfectly fine way to live. You’ll just never generate anything authentic to yourself. You’ll never have real thoughts that you create because your mind is using all it’s bandwidth on other stuff. It’s constantly reacting to the next update or external influence. That’s the trade-off.

When we consume news and social media regularly we’re putting our minds on auto-pilot. We’re giving those sources power to influence our thoughts. We’re giving up our ability to think freely. We’re reacting instead of choosing.

That’s the problem.

Balance & Choice

I’m not suggesting you find a cave and shut yourself off from the world. That’s a pretty lonely way to live. I’m also not suggesting you get rid of the news or social media from your life. That might send most people into a spiral of depression with new problems.

Instead, I’m suggesting you consider more balance with choice.

Consider a life where you choose to consume media in moderation.

Instead of watching the news daily, watch it weekly or every other day. Instead of checking social media hourly, check it daily or twice per day. Instead of quickly Googling something you’ve forgotten, give your mind some time to think and use natural memory processing.

Consider a life where you choose more space for authentic thoughts.

Instead of consuming things, you create time to sit and experience your own thoughts. Thoughts of wonder, curiosity and creativity. Thoughts that only you could create. Thoughts that are so unique and exciting that they’re child-like!

These thoughts cultivate the real gifts within us, the good stuff. They liberate our minds from being hijacked. They help us find internal peace.

Authentic thoughts ultimately allow us to become the fullest expression of our true selves.

This is why we choose mental clarity.

Cultivating a Courageous Life

What does it mean to live a courageous life?

It doesn’t mean you have to be brave and courageous all the time. It doesn’t mean you have to take crazy risks. It certainly doesn’t mean you have to be a hero that wears a badge of honor.

No, it can be much simpler than that.

I think it means you’re willing to face fear. You’re willing to be with it.

To be with fear, we need to fully understand it. Once we understand it, we can evolve our relationship with it. So let’s define fear.

Understanding Fear

Most of us associate fear with unpleasant emotion caused by a threat or danger. Or, something that scares us. Fear is a powerful emotion that comes in many forms:

  • Fear of threat, safety and survival
  • Fear of loss / death
  • Fear of pain or suffering
  • etc.

We also have different types of fear – fight, freeze, faint or flee. All of these responses are defense mechanisms for us to resolve fear. And in some scenarios, we need to fight or flee to protect ourselves. For example, we need to fight if we’re being attacked or seriously threatened.

However, there is one other form of fear that consumes us. This form of fear is uncertainty. For example:

  • Fear of not knowing what will happen
  • Fear of not having all the answers
  • Fear of not being accepted
  • etc.

We spend a lot of time and energy protecting ourselves from these non serious threats. In fact, I’d argue we spend more time with uncertainty than we do with other forms of fear.


Uncertainty has a strong grip on our mind. It aligns with our ego and exists to protect us. In other words, we’re safe and comfortable as long as we’re certain of things. It’s an easier way to live. That’s why most of us avoid uncertainty and the fear it evokes.

That’s fair but it comes with a consequence. I think it actually comes with a huge opportunity cost…

It hinders our growth.

Yep, that’s what we give up when we operate under fear of uncertainty. We lose our natural ability to grow.


Because embracing uncertainty is how we learn new things. It’s how we increase our capacity for understanding. It’s how we test our limits and expand our range.

This is why so many growth minded people seek to get out of their comfort zone. They know it will provide them with new experiences, relationships, and an overall understanding of things. When we increase our capacity for understanding we decrease our uncertainty.

We grow by facing the fear.

Let me give you some examples:

We might fear the unknown of doing therapy, psychedelics or coaching.

It’s that internal voice in our mind that says, “No, that’s not for me. I already have all the answers. I don’t need help.”

Then we embrace the uncertainty and experience life-changing insights.

We might fear creating a podcast to share our thoughts and internal wisdom.

It’s that same internal voice in our mind that says, “Nobody will care or listen. I’m not worthy or credible to start a podcast.”

Then we embrace the uncertainty and realize our shares helped someone.

We might fear the acceptance of going to a unique conference or retreat.

The voice comes in again and says things like, “I’m not qualified for that. Those people won’t be interested in me.”

Then we embrace the uncertainty and meet amazing people that warmly welcome us.

By facing our fear of uncertainty we push ourselves into new territory. We learn more about ourselves, our world, and our potential to grow.

We cultivate a more courageous life.

Project Waves of Life

Waves offer so much insight into energy and motion.

I was recently inspired by a podcast with my friend Josh Painter to investigate this a bit further. He offered some awesome perspective around what we can learn from ocean waves.

Lets look at a wave’s lifecycle –

First, it starts quite calm and peaceful. Ocean water is at rest in its default state. It doesn’t really move unless something sparks change.

So then it starts to move from change or external forces of nature. This can be wildlife, wind, human activity and other factors.

Soon it starts to build momentum. The movement and gravity creates enough energy to push the water towards something. It needs a destination.

Then it grows as it builds, builds, builds. The water rises and takes massive shape as the energy evolves into a powerful wave.

And then it crashes! Boom. The wave reaches its destination and releases all that energy.

Now there is peace until the next wave comes.

Sit with that for a moment. There is so much beauty and education in that natural process. I think it matches the same kind of process we deploy for larger projects in our lives.

Our Life Projects

Consider the projects we take on in 5 similar phases.


Our default state is rest. We do it every single day, and sometimes we do it for long periods or seasons. We don’t pursue a project unless something sparks change from this rest.


Eventually, external forces come along. People, ideas, desires all start to move us out of this restful state. We start to move.


Soon this movement starts to build momentum. An idea becomes a priority. Focus is created and draws us towards a destination. There is a goal or outcome for the project.


The energy around this project grows as it builds, builds, builds. It evolves and rises into this powerful force with resources, strategy and communication.


And then it crashes! Boom. The idea is launched and realized.

Now there is peace until the next project comes.


This is so relevant to how we execute projects in our lives. For example:

  • Writing a book (like Josh)
  • Starting a new business
  • Launching a course, podcast or website
  • Big home improvements
  • etc.

Each project has unique complexity and duration, but they all follow the same process. They all go from rest to release with degrees of movement and rise in between. They all reflect our drive to take energy from idea to realization.

Thank you, Josh, for the inspiration and deeper awareness here.

Learning From Temper Tantrums

Next time you see a child throw a temper tantrum, pay attention. You might just learn something about yourself.

What in the world am I talking about??

Let’s start with some limiting beliefs. It’s probably safe to say:

  • Most people see temper tantrums as a negative thing.
  • Most adults are uncomfortable in the presence of a temper tantrum.

Sound about right?

Ok, now let’s define what a temper tantrum really is.

From my perspective:

A temper tantrum is an example of how we move emotion fully through our body.

That’s why they seem so intense. All the yelling, screaming and crying is the body’s form of letting out emotion in a very raw and uncontrollable way. By not controlling them, we’re experiencing a full expression of emotion.

This emotion comes from feelings. Typically, a temper tantrum is a mix of anger, fear and sadness.

A child throwing a tantrum in a toy store is a perfect example.

It usually starts as Anger

– Something needs to change – child wants a new toy.

Then it can evolve into Fear

– Something needs to be known – child starts yelling and screaming to make this known.

And then it can evolve into Sadness

– Something needs to be let go of – child starts crying when realizing they won’t get the toy.

And the best part of a temper tantrum?

Once it’s over, it’s over.

Have you ever noticed how young children throw a tantrum and then completely forget about it 5 minutes later? Yep, that’s because they moved all that anger, fear and sadness through their body. There’s nothing left so they’ve shifted their attention elsewhere.

But what do adults do when we experience stress?

We don’t throw a temper tantrum. Nope. We’ve been conditioned to suppress the emotion and keep it buried in our bodies. We block the real feelings and tell ourselves all kinds of stories about why it doesn’t matter, why we shouldn’t be mad/sad/scared, why we should be strong, etc.

Then years later we have an “ah-hah” moment when we realize the trauma and actually feel the real emotion.

And why are we conditioned this way?

Because when we were younger our parents told us not to throw a tantrum! They literally taught us how to NOT feel our feelings.


Because it made them uncomfortable, like I said in the first place.

It still makes most parents uncomfortable because they’re not in tune with their own emotions. They fear being a parent who’s child throws a tantrum for all kinds of reasons.

Have you ever witnessed a parent who yells back when their kid throws a tantrum? Yep, that’s their anger firing right back, which is usually guarding the real fear (or sadness) deeper inside.

In short, most parents simply lack emotional awareness and intelligence to hold space for a temper tantrum. That’s why it makes them uncomfortable.

Ok, my game of question and answer is over. I appreciate you playing 🙂

I’ll leave you with a few points to consider.
  1. Consider a temper tantrum for what it really is, a demonstration of emotions. These emotions can teach us a lot about ourselves.
  2. Then consider if we [parents] can actually learn from our children in these moments. Why do we fear being in the presence of real emotions?
  3. And finally, consider why you don’t throw tantrums, or why you’re committed to not fully feeling your feelings. What kind of emotion are you suppressing?

Self Knowledge is True Freedom

Our greatest wisdom often comes from internal understanding.

What do I mean by that?

It’s easy to learn something. Just open a book or have a conversation with a friend about their latest experience. The ability to learn new things is in endless supply.

But that’s not where we really grow.

It’s a kind of growth… but not the kind many of us are looking for. Not the true “personal growth” that many of us crave. Not the internal wisdom that makes us feel most alive.

That kind of growth, real personal growth, only comes from learning new things about ourselves. It comes from a deep understanding of how our world works. It comes from acquiring real internal wisdom.

Real personal growth comes from learning new things about ourselves.

Let me give you a couple examples:

  • Learning how pizza is made is fine and logical. Most of us can understand that. However, making a pizza from scratch is a completely different understanding. Being with the ingredients, working through the process of making dough and baking at the correct temperature, and then realizing the actual taste of the end result. That’s a true understanding.
  • Hearing about startup stories is exciting. Most of us can understand the general process of starting a new business. However, actually creating a startup is a completely different understanding. Being with the fear and uncertainty, working through the early challenges of product development and marketing, and then realizing actual revenue from your efforts. That’s a true understanding.

So while it’s easy to hear or read something new, it’s an entirely different thing to actually experience it for yourself.

That’s where we gain real wisdom and become free of things.

Why do we need to become free of things?

When we understand something we can become free of it. Free of the questions, fear and uncertainty. By answering the questions, facing the fear, and realizing the uncertainty, we can experience peace. We can experience freedom.

Many of our desires and questions are related to lack of freedom. We become fixed on ideals and chasing things simply because we don’t know what it feels like to actually experience them. This constant pursuit is similar to being stuck in a cage.

For example:

  • We chase being wealthy until we have enough money. Yet most of us still feel stuck because true wealth is not gained by having money.
  • We chase being liked until we have enough followers. Yet most of us still feel stuck because true friendship is not gained by having clicks.

We can chase things all day long and simulate what others experience as freedom. And we can get really good at this! There are prescriptions and how-to’s for just about everything.

But we will continue to feel stuck… and never feel truly free.

True freedom comes from our own unique experiences. It comes from knowing who we are deep down inside. It comes from self knowledge.

Scheduling Time for Space

Humans have become a species that fill space.

More specifically, we fill our minds and schedule with things that occupy space. This is part of our modern culture and social conditioning. Take a quick look at the world we live in:

  • We have small devices in our pockets that allow us to find information and communicate with others instantly.
  • We have immediate access to world news, events and social media as it happens LIVE.
  • We pride ourselves in staying busy and active with a never ending checklist of desires.
We have so much access to information and things that we’ve simply forgotten what it’s like to live without them…

Lost are the days of sending a hand written letter or reading the newspaper. That’s simply too slow. We need instant gratification, and we need it now.

Lost are the days of being bored with nothing on our mind. That’s simply too uncomfortable. We need dopamine, and we need it now.

Lost are the days of having open hours in our day with nothing to do. That’s simply too lazy. We need to show the world that we’re achieving things.

But Why?

I think it’s related to our inability to be still and sit with ourselves, which requires space. I think it’s related to our inability to be patient and slow down, which also requires space. I also think it’s a bi-product of the dopamine driven culture we’ve created and accepted, which doesn’t want us to have any space at all.

Let’s look at our typical day:

– Wake up and check our phone instantly. We tell ourselves we’re just checking the time but our mind is anticipating some new notification to check.

– Make a cup of coffee to jumpstart our day and then open a news app or email while we wait. Sitting in silence while coffee brews is not an option.

– Scroll through Instagram while going “number 2.” There’s no way we can have a bowel movement in pure boredom anymore.

– Eat a quick breakfast that can be microwaved or toasted. We don’t have time for a thoughtful meal, plus we’ll have 2-3 more cups of coffee to get us to lunch.

– Hit the gym for a quick workout while listening to a podcast. We didn’t even break a sweat because we paused several times to check text messages.

– On our drive home check Facebook at a stop light to see if we have any notifications in between the last time we checked it (10 min ago).

– Get home and help the kids get ready for school. They shuttle into the car and expect their ipads before they can buckle their seat belts, which they’ve learned from seeing us on our devices. Our mind is spinning on something we read earlier, so there’s no space for actual conversation on this drive.

– Arrive back home and head into the home office. We can now expect 6-8 hours of Zoom meetings, checking email, scrolling social media and staying distracted. We get up once or twice to use the bathroom and grab a snack. We had a meeting scheduled during lunch so there was no time to really eat.

– The kids get home and there’s a 10-minute window before getting back in the car for soccer practice. This was scheduled back-to-back with no time for a nap or rest.

– We get to soccer practice and none of the parents actually talk or communicate beyond a quick hello. That’s too awkward. It’s way more comfortable to just put some earbuds in or act like we’re reading a super important article (a.k.a. playing Candy Crush).

I’m not going to finish this day because I think you get the point…

By the time we reach the end of our day we’re exhausted. Our conditioning for staying active and distracted has sucked all the space out of our lives. There’s simply nothing left.

We don’t schedule space, we schedule THINGS to occupy space.

My schedule does not currently reflect that typical day, but it did at one point. And that’s exactly how I experienced burnout.

What was the common denominator?

I had no space. I was filling my life with distractions, commitments and things to do.

I didn’t have space to be still or stay bored. I didn’t understand how to go slow. I had one gear and a full schedule. As a result, I was basically running on fumes and it caught up with me. Burnout was a nasty thing that helped me realize rock bottom. An emotional abyss with no sense of purpose or direction.

Today things are different.

Hitting rock bottom was also the lesson I needed. It forced me to look at my priorities and lifestyle in a new way. So I took time to study how our minds work. I practiced slowing down and removing things from my schedule. I simplified my commitments and started building space into my day. For example:

  • I start my day in silence.
  • I rarely have my phone by me, and check it a few times throughout the day.
  • I don’t watch the news or consume any form of mainstream media.
  • I walk or run (alone) every day.
  • I write, record and journal every week to nurture my inner creator.
  • I say no to most things that are not a “whole body YES.”
  • I limit the amount of meetings I can join in a week.
  • I check out out of work around 5pm every day.
  • I take my time with work and meaningful projects.
  • I generally go slow and avoid things that fill space too fast.

As a result, I’ve realized a new level of internal peace and awareness. I learned that filling my mind and schedule with more things was no longer serving me. I operate better and show up more authentically when I have space.

The rest of the world still moves fast and chases more things, which is totally fine for them. However, I see a lot of stress, anxiety and burnout happening. I see people running on fumes with no awareness to even realize it.

I see a global culture that’s suffocating from lack of space.

What about you?

Are you hooked on filling space? Do you pack your schedule with things to stay busy and feel good? Are you truly exhausted inside?

If so, the answer might be to create a little more space.

Awareness of Projections

Projections are all the rage in human interaction. Yet most of us rarely even realize we’re projecting.

Before we dig into this hidden piece of psychology, let’s give some context to what a projection is.

According to Karen R. Koenig, M. Ed, LCSW, projection refers to: unconsciously taking unwanted emotions or traits you don’t like about yourself and attributing them to someone else.

While I understand this definition, it’s focused on “negative” perceptions of projecting. I’d like to revise the definition in my own terminology to be more neutral and accepting.

Here’s my definition of projecting:

Unconsciously attributing your own emotions onto someone else.

From my perspective, this is neither good or bad. It’s not a positive or negative thing. It’s simply projecting your emotions.

Let’s look at a few examples of projections:

1. You yell at your kids for making a mess.

They destroyed the living room in acts of absolute chaos. You get triggered and your reaction is to yell and scold them for making such a mess.

This is a form of projecting. You’re projecting your subconscious ANGER onto them, as if you are the one who has to clean up the mess. The act of cleaning up messes has likely caused lots of frustration in your own life, which is why it creates anger for you.

It’s not your mess, it’s their mess.

2. You tell your sibling they need to grow up and get a job.

They’ve lived a fairly nomadic lifestyle, much different from yours. They don’t worry about money and seem to get by with odd jobs. You lecture them on why it’s important that they find a real job and build a career.

This is also a form of projecting. You’re projecting your subconscious FEAR onto them, as if you are the one without a steady job and paycheck. That possibility scares you because you value the certainty and stability you’ve achieved in your own life.

It’s not your life, it’s their life.

3. You tell your parents they need to lose weight.

They’ve put on a bit of weight as they’ve gotten older and it’s become noticeable. Their diet is not great and they rarely exercise, so you decide to lecture them on how they should change things.

Another solid projection here. It’s easy to think you want to help but under the hood you’re projecting your subconscious ANGER and FEAR onto them. You may be angry that your parents aren’t valuing your advice. You’ve lived a healthy lifestyle and don’t like the thought of them not being able to realize similar results. You may also be scared that your parents’ health will decline quickly if they take no action. It scares you to think about your life without your parents.

It’s not your health, it’s theirs.

See how all of these examples have nothing to do with you, yet you make them about you by projecting?

Anger and Fear are powerful emotions that fuel most of our projections. It’s also completely natural to project from these emotions. While it’s easy to perceive these as “negative” interactions, as stated earlier, I think they’re simply a reflection of being human. It’s a form of attempted empathy. We want to sit in someone’s scenario and then give them our take. Virtually all of us have instances of anger and fear in our lives.

Projecting from Ego

In addition, we can also project from a place of pride or ego. These projections come in the form of mentorship, advice and general counsel from our own experiences.

Let’s look at a quick example:

You give a friend business advice.

Your friend is having challenges with their business. They know you’ve grown a successful business so they ask you for advice, which you share willingly.

There’s no anger or fear here, but rather a desire to serve. You’re projecting how you would handle the situation from realized experience in your own life.

It’s not your business, it’s theirs.

How to avoid projections?

Avoiding projections is actually quite difficult. Many of us project every day in our interactions with others, and it’s simply a part of how we communicate. Avoiding it all together is unlikely for most of us. However, there is a way to decrease how much we project.

The way to avoid projecting is to ask questions and hold space.

In other words, replace your thoughts and feelings with a question. Any of the examples I shared above could be reversed into questions.

For example:

  • Instead of giving your friend business advice, ask them where they think their business is most challenged?
  • Instead of telling your parents to lose weight, ask them if they feel healthy right now?

Asking questions is a form of holding space. It’s easy to share our thoughts and feeling around a topic (projecting), but it’s more challenging to hold space for it (questioning).

Why hold space?

Most of us already have the answers to our questions and problems. We simply need someone to hold space for us to find them. Finding our own answers and truth is more effective than following someone’s projection. Why? Because following someone else’s projection is not living authentically, but rather living vicariously through them.

I believe this is one of the biggest human issues. We spend so much energy trying to be like other people, emulating their lives, and striving for their status. Then years later we do some soul searching to realize we never truly wanted their life. We just want to show up as ourselves.

We are also more receptive to finding our own solutions than hearing them projected from someone else. Most of us would rather feel empowered to solve our own problems versus relying on someone else. This is why we’re resistant to coaching and therapy. It’s not in our nature to rely on someone else. It’s in our nature to find our own way. A great coach or therapist helps us find our way.

So when possible, think about how you might hold space next time you’re about to project.

The American Coder

This is a story inspired by The Story of the Mexican Fisherman.

A venture capitalist (VC) was at a local coffee shop one morning when a young man with a laptop came in. The young man ordered a coffee and sat down to open his laptop. He began working on a client project while sipping his warm cup of coffee.

The VC complimented the young man on his focus and asked what he was doing?

The young man replied, “I’m working on a new client project. I’m building them a website to showcase their products and sell them online.”

The VC looked at the young man’s work and noticed its quality. He then asked how many clients the young man had? The young man said he had enough clients and work to support his family’s immediate needs.

The VC then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The young man replied, “I sleep late, cook breakfast, play with my kids, take walks with my wife, travel a bit, and play soccer with by buddies. I have a pretty full and active life.”

The VC scoffed, “I have a Stanford MBA and run one of the most successful tech funds in the country. You have potential to be more and I can help you. Here’s what you should do…”

“You should spend more time working and with the additional profit, get an office. With the office you could bring on a few employees, which will allow you to build a team and take on more projects. With a team you could implement systems and processes to refine your project management and streamline your operations. You would then build your own product, which you could sell directly to your clients and new clients in a targeted niche. Then you can take an investment from my firm to expand vertically and offer additional products in your niche.”

The young man paused… and then asked, “Ok, but I have no idea how to do all this. I really just enjoy writing code and bringing ideas to life.”

To which the VC replied, “No problem. All you have to do is give up some equity in your business and report to a board of directors. They’ll tell you exactly what to do, who to hire, who to work with, how to scale, etc. You can still make some decisions every now and then. You’ll become knowledgeable in every aspect of your business from sales and marketing to building a team. Over time you’ll evolve into a CEO, but you can still write some code from time to time.”

The young man paused again… and then asked, “Ok, and how long will this take?”

To which the VC replied again, “Probably 5–10 years. You’ll have to work some nights and weekends to keep up with the investor milestones. They’ll keep you on track to make sure your business is profitable and growing. You may have to replace some of your travel with work conferences to stay up to date with industry trends. Your weekly soccer matches will probably be replaced with work happy hours and team building. It will be a “grind” but totally worth it to become an industry leader.”

“And then what?” asked the young man.

The VC laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to become very rich. You would make millions!”

“Millions – then what?”

The VC said, “Then you would basically retire and have time to sleep late, cook breakfast, play with your kids, take walks with your wife, travel a bit, and play soccer with your buddies.”

The point of the story here is simple.

Sometimes we already have what we ultimately want.

Dropping Should Bombs

Should can be a very strong word.

It might seem like a subtle part of English language, but I think it’s a powerful word with more impact than we realize. Let’s start with the definition.

• should

Used to indicate obligation, duty, or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions.

Obligation, duty and correctness are all words that relate to an attachment. Something to which we have a responsibility.

And then the last part – typically used when criticizing someone’s actions. This is the part that’s powerful. Another way of saying this is – telling someone what to do.

This is the part that carries more impact than we realize. I call it dropping “should bombs.” As humans who communicate constantly, part of our communication is telling other people what to do. We do it all day long…

  • You should do this.
  • You should try that.
  • You should get in shape.
  • You should talk to them.
  • You should really think about that.

All. Day. Long.

Great, so what’s the problem here?

Using should can be a major projection.

When we use that word we’re usually projecting an idea of our own onto someone else. We’re feeding them some thought that we’ve come up with because we think it might help or support them in some way. It seems rather innocent.

However, that word can carry so much weight. Using should can plant a seed in someone’s mind that they need to do something. In doing so, it can easily be perceived as a prescription or solution to a problem.

I think this does more harm than help, especially when help is not asked for. It’s one thing if someone asks you right out – “What should I do?” In that scenario, go ahead and unload your should bombs! But outside of that context, I think the word can be used sparingly.

Let’s dig in a bit more…

External Effect

Should has become a part of our daily dialog. It’s the most common way for us to give advice. We drop should bombs on our friends, family and acquaintances as if we’re all doctors of life with all the answers. We hear them say something and then we rush to give them a suggestion (or projection).

The question this brings me to is – “Who am I to tell anyone else what to do with their life?”

It’s their life and my thoughts are my own. I have no place to dump my thoughts on them. Now I’m just projecting or trying to feel helpful. When in reality, I’m likely just filling their mind with my own baggage and stories.

The caveat here is when we’re coaching or supporting someone. Again, they may ask for direct help, in which case it’s easy to justify saying should. But even here I would caution the use of should bombs. People generally already have the answers to their own questions. I believe we’re truly helping them if we ask more questions to guide them to their own answers instead of prescribing advice.

Internal Effect

Should is also a common word we use in our minds. We create the internal dialog of:

  • I should do this.
  • I should do that.
  • No, I shouldn’t do that…
  • Should I do this?

We create this this constant thread of debate with ourselves, which can be exhausting. The word is extremely heavy, even if we’re only thinking it. One subtle thought of should can stay with us for long periods of time. Furthermore, we can get hung up on past should’s – i.e. “Man… I should have done that.”

This type of internal narrative can be powerful and hard. However, there is a way to soften it.

Replacing Should with Could

I understand the need and context for the word should. However, I think using “could” is a better alternative in most situations.

Could is a lot softer with more flexibility. It stays open whereas should is very closed. Let me give you some examples –

Someone asks for help with diet and weight loss.
  • You should do Crossfit.

This implies that I have the answer for you. I know what’s right for you.

  • You could try Crossfit.

This implies that Crossfit might help. I’ve experienced benefits in my life from Crossfit.

Someone asks you for help with a relationship.
  • You should go to therapy.

This implies that I know what’s best for your relationship. I’m confident you need to go to therapy.

  • You could consider therapy.

This implies that therapy might help. I’ve experienced benefits in my relationship from therapy.

Starting to see the difference?

Should is hard and arrogant. Could is soft and graceful.


To be clear, I’m not saying you should stop saying should. That would be comical after everything you just read 🙂

I’m just sharing an example of how our words are powerful and important. Should is one of those words that can have impact. I’m becoming a lot more mindful of when I use it.

What is Enough?

I’ve been asking this question a lot lately –

What is enough?

It’s a recurring question that applies to so many aspects of our lives. For example:

  • What is enough sleep?
  • What is enough food?
  • What is enough exercise?
  • What is enough personal growth?
  • What is enough spirituality?
  • What is enough social interaction?
  • What is enough money?

The list goes on forever…

To be content with enough is not an easy thing for humans. We often seek more in our lives, especially if we realize joy, pleasure or some measure of success. The desire for more is a recurring human pattern.

But why?

The simple answer is our ego. The part of our mind that facilitates identity and self-importance, known as our ego, is not easily content. Give the ego some external influence and you’ve got a dangerous combination to never have enough.

Let me explain…

I think it’s important to start with the modern day definition of enough:


as much or as many as required

So then, what’s actually required for us to live?

Some oxygen, water, food, shelter and sleep. Most of us have that, and most of you reading this have all of that in abundance. In other words, you have way more than what’s required to live.

Yet it’s easy to not think this is enough. We still tend to strive for more.

For example, it’s easy to want a bigger home than what’s required. More space and areas to play? Yes please! We love feeling like our home is a big and spacious place to be with others. Am I right?

But let’s step back and analyze what’s happening here…

Instead of living modestly with what we need, we tend to level up and live beyond our needs. There’s ego underneath having a nice, large home to host and entertain guests. Our friends and families have nice homes, so why shouldn’t we?

Not only that, but we also tend to extend ourselves financially. Many of us take out 30-year mortgages to simply live the “bigger” life. We fail to realize the effects and imprisonment of this choice. We give up our freedom for a 30-year commitment. 30 years! That’s a lot of life. But without the big house and new mortgage we don’t feel like we have enough. The ego wins the battle.

Another prime example is gift giving around the holidays. You probably know where this is going. The Christmas music starts playing around town and then everyone becomes Santa Claus! More gifts, more giving, more sales, more madness. The ego kicks in and we simply want to become someone who gives.

To be clear, I’m all for spreading holiday spirit. However, Christmas has evolved into a societal brainwash driven by marketing. We could all be perfectly content with a gift or two, yet we tend to extend ourselves from external influence. We take on the extra pressure and burden to get all the gifts for all the people. And somehow we still don’t feel like it’s enough. Ego wins again.

And so it brings us back to the question – what is enough?

Well, I think it goes right back to the definition of what’s required. You see, all the other animals in the world only need what’s required. They don’t seek more or extend themselves. They can be content and live by nature’s design. That’s basically how life and all of its awesome biology works.

So… why don’t we do that?

Because we’re humans with egos who are easily influenced by others and our environment.

We live in cities and towns with other people who have a bunch of stuff. And then we turn on our TV’s or smartphones only to find more ads and marketing for even more stuff. We’re surrounded and inundated by the desire for more. This inflates the ego and sparks the feeling of not being enough.

However, there is a way to feel enough.

It goes right back to nature…

In nature, enough is easy to feel because there are no distractions or influences to fuel the constant desire for more. There are no people or marketing campaigns to make us feel inadequate. Nature provides everything we need. Everything that’s required to live.

And if you step into nature every now and then, I bet you’ll feel like you have enough. In fact, I bet you’ll feel like have more than enough. The ego will calm down and you’ll see nature’s amazing design.

I have to give credit to my friend, Chris Emick, who helped me finish the thoughts for this post during a recent podcast. He helped me realize that I always feel enough when I’m in nature. For example:

  • When hiking, I’m not thinking about material desires. I’m content with the adventure and beauty that nature provides.
  • When camping, I’m not thinking about sleep tracking or a bigger home. I’m content with the ground and natural shelter that nature provides.
  • When fishing, I’m not thinking about a gourmet meal or fine wine. I’m content with nourishing my body with what nature provides.
  • When snowboarding, I’m not thinking about a new car or my next vacation. I’m content being one with the mountain and gliding along the snow that nature provides.

When I remove myself from the “material” world and people who focus on such things, I become content. I find internal peace from nature’s design. The ego is silenced and I feel like I have enough.

Okay, okay… enough already!

I think you get the point by now. There is a fine line between enough and more. We often cross it. The ego and external influences play a major role. My intention with this post is to simply encourage you to consider why you need to cross it. Because at the end of the day, you probably have enough.

Perhaps you just need to realize that. Or, perhaps you just need to get outside more 🙂

Take Off Your Mask, Please

Have you ever met someone that seemed like they were putting on a show? Or better yet, have you been that person that said something that didn’t feel true to you?

I’ve been that person. I’ve worn “masks” to act like I’m something other than my true self.

I didn’t even realize I was wearing masks until recently. I used to think this was just how you’re supposed to fit into society. You gain external validation by pleasing others, instead of pleasing yourself. You take on identities that serve this external validation. This is the core recipe for wearing masks.

Accumulating the masks

It all started for me in junior high. I remember the day I changed lunch tables to sit with the “cool kids.” I left my friends and current status for a new set of friends and status. Little did I know that would change the trajectory of my life. This was the first major mask I put on.

In high school I added more masks. Most of them related to partying, being liked, acting tough… anything to preserve the social status I had gained. Most of the actions I took in high school were not authentic to my true self. In fact, I threw away my love and talent for soccer because of these masks. I was simply too blind to see it at the time.

Then in college I acquired a few new masks. I learned to work hard, play hard, and then enjoy the social pleasures that college has to offer. I drove my dad’s old Mercedez-benz and thought I was “so tight” as we used to say.

In my 20’s and 30’s I continued to picked up masks. I became consumed with entrepreneurship. The competition of business and status games took center stage in my life, and I got good at playing the role. I attained the things most people want. From the outside, these masks made me super successful.

However, on the inside, these masks made me miserable.

I got lost in a state of confusion and turmoil. Some call it a mid-life crisis. I call it emptiness. Regardless of the name, it was clear that all the masks had gotten the best of me. They buried my soul, blocked my heart and took over my mind.

Removing the masks

Luckily, I became aware of this and started a journey to find my way back to self. I started removing masks which was scary, uncomfortable and painful. It’s wasn’t easy to undo things that people liked or valued about me…

But realizing my truth was more important than what others wanted. So I did my work. I got clear on the masks that needed to go.

Now I’m able to show up more authentically and spot the masks before I try them on. I’m able to live life on my terms with less dependency on what others think. I’m designing a life that supports who I really am.

After all this mask wearing I’ve found clarity in my true self.

  • I’m an introvert. I like to be with myself most of the time, but enjoy others in moderation.
  • I’m an athlete. Give me a sport with some rules and I’ll get lost in my passion for play.
  • I’m an artist. I see the world in shapes, colors and balance.
  • I’m a builder. I can create beautiful things when given space and freedom.
  • I’m an explorer. I thrive in new environments and experiences with nature.
  • I’m a guide. I like the challenge and responsibility of helping others find where they want to go.
  • I’m an author. I get energy from creating and sharing content, especially if it helps people in some way.
  • I’m a family man. I love doing life with my family and supporting them on their own journeys.

These aren’t masks, these are part of my core identity. They are the labels that define who I am today and what lights me up. They give me purpose and courage.

But all that other stuff… the identities wrapped up in the masks… no thanks. I’m done with that. And if someone doesn’t like or see me for who I am, they can take a hike. That’s their issue, not mine.

I’m also done investing time and energy into people who still wear masks. Take the status games somewhere else, please. I’m not interested in your latest and greatest performance. I’m interested in who you truly are.

What about you?

Are you still wearing masks or showing up authentically?

The Power of Creating Space in Nature

Sometimes it’s hard to create space for ourselves in normal routine.

In fact, I think we can make it really hard. There’s constant pressure and influence to keep us busy and suffocated. We subconsciously, or consciously, commit to a packed schedule with little room to breathe.

A few examples you might relate to:

  • The constant bombardment of media, news and events.
  • The powerful connection to our devices and FOMO (fear of missing out).
  • The pressure of keeping up with our peers and social groups.
  • The demands of being a parent and spouse.

With all this pulling our energy we can find ourselves in a state of exhaustion and overwhelm. We can become robotic in our routines with no sense of freedom or creativity. Our resources simply become depleted and most of the time we may not even realize it.

Does this feel familiar at all?

It has for me. I’ve felt this way many times. I’ve found myself following subconscious patterns that keep my resources depleted.

However, I have a secret method that’s always helped me reset. And funny enough, this method is free, accessible to everyone, and requires no instruction. So what is it?


Yep, good ole’ mother nature.

Nature is one of the most powerful ways to create space in our lives.

I just returned from a 4-day camping trip with 3 other men. These are good friends and brothers in my fatherhood community. We cleared our schedules to camp, hike and fish in the back country of Montana. The experience was spectacular. We created space on different levels, from hiking to deep discussion. We connected with each other, with ourselves, and with nature.

As a result, I came home fully rested with newfound space. My mind is clear, my heart is full, and my soul is more alive.

Nature’s Impact

This has been the recurring pattern for me after recent adventures. In other words, I always feel these benefits after an experience in nature. Sometimes the impact and space created is so profound that it takes me days to “recover” and blend back into my normal routine.

Furthermore, I don’t have to take a 4-day camping trip to create space. I get similar benefits from quick hikes, walks and time at my local parks. These easy additions to my day have a profound impact on my health and mindset.

So why is nature so powerful in creating space?

Because it’s where we all come from.

And it’s as simple as that. Sure, there’s plenty of science and research around the benefits of being outdoors, exercising, etc. But forget about all that for a moment and just realize that every single human on this planet comes from nature.

  • We don’t come from skyscrapers or offices. We come from mountains and forests.
  • We don’t come from sitting behind desks and computers. We come from exploring the land and water.
  • We don’t come from looking at smartphones and TVs. We come from watching sunrises and sunsets.

Starting to get the point?

Everything in our DNA comes from nature.

That’s where we started as a species and where we’re meant to be. Yet we’ve transitioned into beings that rarely choose nature. We forget its natural power, often choosing technology and medication over natural healing.

No wonder we have no space.

Finding nature is easy.

The great news is that you can shift today. You can use the most powerful method of creating space to rest, recover and heal. And again, it’s completely free, accessible to all of us, and easy to implement.

Just get outside and find your way back to where you belong.

What ASAP Really Means in Business

We need this ASAP – as soon as possible.

This phrase and acronym gets used every minute all over the business world. It’s littered in emails, phone calls, Zoom conferences and anywhere else that we’re discussing tasks or initiatives. It’s the standard for requesting something NOW.

While it may seem fine, and even polite compared to other request based terminology, I think it’s extremely toxic. In fact, I think it means something entirely different than “as soon as possible.”

I think it means “I want it now” or IWIN for short.

Let me explain…

When ASAP is mentioned it’s usually associated with someone making a request. For example:

  • A boss or CEO makes the request.
  • Someone in a leadership position makes the request.
  • Or, you simply make the request without any authority involved.

Why do we say this? Because the person requesting it thinks it needs to happen NOW. Whether or not that’s true is usually arguable. However, the true fact is that person is making the request with a sense of urgency. Something is driving their desire to have it as soon as possible.

And that right there is the problem…

We live in a speed driven culture.

We think everything has to happen as fast as possible so we can get to the next thing. So we push ourselves and others to work harder and faster for the sake of speed. We promote stress and anxiety through our desire to have things done immediately, instead of slowing down to let things happen organically without any applied pressure.

Why is this a problem, exactly?

Because speed kills creativity.

It forces an agenda where none is needed. It chokes off our unique abilities to design and explore with space. It makes something mediocre that could have been great. Speed rushes us to do shitty work, instead of amazing work.

It also fuels toxic games.

Speed promotes the endless games we’re all playing that yield winners and losers. We’re competing to see who can get to market first, up their competition, or [insert any business game here]. We praise and congratulate others for “crushing” their competition and putting them out of business. We hand out badges of honor for people who “grind” and put in more hours.

That’s where my new acronym IWIN comes into play. We’re saying ASAP because we’re trying to win. We don’t consider others when we say this. It’s all about us. “I want it now. I want to win.” That’s what I hear when I see that phrase.

So next time you say ASAP, consider what game you’re playing and why you want to win so badly.

3 Powerful Ways to Create Daily Space

The ability to create space in your day can have massive impact on your quality of life.

I can only share this from a place of experience. I used to be the type of person who had a packed schedule with very little “free time.” There was always something to do, someone to see, or another experience to have. I thought having space in my day meant I needed to fill it.

Now I embrace the total opposite thinking. I look for ways to create space in my day, especially if it allows for an opportunity to be quiet or still. I read a great passage from “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” around this – ______________.

I think we learn a lot about ourselves when we take space.

With that said, here are 3 powerful ways to create daily space in your life.

1. Quiet Mornings

Mornings are the perfect opportunity to find space. Especially if you’re an early riser like me. I typically wake up naturally around 4:30am and enjoy an hour or so of silence and solitude. This time with myself is imperative to set the tone for my day. In other words, I’m intentional about the quiet space I create in the morning.

Some common activities for a quite morning:

  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Meditation
  • Stretching / yoga
  • Something creative

Basically, find something that gives you energy which you can do in silence. However, do NOT jump on your phone or a screen (more on that below).

2. Daily Walks

Another way to create space in your day is by taking a walk. This can be a short 10 minute walk or a longer trek, preferably outside. Walking is a powerful way to clear your mind and experience natural health benefits. It also allows you to create space away from your normal micro environments (i.e. home office, kitchen, living room, etc.). I often take walks after lunch (alone) or after dinner with my family.

Some common ways to take walks:

  • Early in the morning when the sun rises
  • During your lunch break
  • After dinner (helpful for digestion)
  • With a friend or family member

3. No Screens after Dinner

A third and final way to create daily space is to disconnect from all screens after dinner time. This means no phones, computers, tv screens, and anything else that offers digital media. This is arguably the most powerful way to create space in this list, and something I’ve implemented for years now. It can offer massive peace and balance back into your life.

Why? Because using screens are generally the opposite of creating space. They fill our minds with thoughts that occupy tons of space. Whether you’re watching the news or scrolling your Facebook feed, you’re basically sparking fireworks in your brain. The dopamine and other chemical reactions are igniting feelings of fear, excitement, FOMO, and other powerful emotions. You’re also building more dependency and habit around needing these feelings regularly.

So, take some space instead.

Some common ways to stay off screens:

  • Put your phone in another room on silence mode
  • Shut down your computer or laptop
  • Keep the TV off

Our time after dinner is often used to relax or decompress. So it’s natural to hit the couch and fire up Netflix. But again, that’s not actually relaxing. On the contrary, it’s giving your mind a nasty workout right before bed. So think about ways you can truly relax the mind and body without a screen.

For example:

  • Take a walk
  • Read a book
  • Listen to a podcast or music
  • Watch a fire

You may be surprised at how therapeutic these activities can be.