Sunday, August 24, 2014

O' Captain, My Captain

A few weeks ago, the actor Robin Williams passed away from suicide. In his honor, a local theater-bar called Brewvies put on a special deal for a weekend where each night they would show a different Robin Williams film for free. The first film they showed was the Dead Poet's Society. It is an amazing film with a variety of messages. But as a tribute, it was a great film to embody Robin William's performance and impact as an actor on generations of people.
"Medicine, law, business, engineering: these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love... these are what we stay alive for." - Mr. Keating, Dead Poet's Society
The character Mr. Keating is an English teacher at an elite private school for young boys. He himself went to the school when he was young. And his teaching styles are very different from the rest of the professors at the school. The school was founded on the four pillars of wisdom: "Tradition, honor, discipline, and excellence." Instead of teaching the students the equations and philosophies of the great theologians, Mr. Keating teaches these boys to think for themselves. If you want to learn, learn for yourself about yourself.

The first lesson he taught the boys was about carpe diem. Every person is born and every person will die. "Seize the day boys," he said. He taught the boys that every day may be our last so we have to find the strength to overcome our fears and do those things that drive us. One of the ways we do that is by looking at things from a different perspective. It is through resisting conformity that you begin to find what makes you unique. It is how we understand what drives us as individuals. It is where we find our callings and meanings in life. It is how we leave a legacy behind us.

When we live our lives we can do so in many ways. We can be as expected. We can do our best. And we can sacrifice our all in pursuit of our passions. The gate through which we must pass is one of our own making. In order to live up to our fullest potential we have to conquer our fears. In the film, each of the boys has a fear that they must face and some are able to overcome and some are unable to do so. It is the same with each of us. Sometimes we have to take the road less traveled by so that we may have the chance to change our stars. When you write your story through the steps you take, I hope you find your own way.
"To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life! Of the questions these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless... Of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?' Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?" - Mr. Keating, Dead Poet's Society

Duet by Glen Keane

Living in the Moment

I always over analyze. I always over think. I am trying to change that by focusing on living more in the moment. The past is the past and the future is made of the choices we make right now. We don't have to wait for the future because the future is inevitable. I'm working on putting all my strategies and plans aside and trying to simply listen and choose. It's hard for me because I already have an idea of what I want my life to look like and each time I look back to see how that is coming along, it is so different from what my life really is. I wanted to be a young dad. I wanted to be married. I wanted to be able to have someone that I can talk with, laugh with, and be myself with at any moment. I wanted to have a solid career where I was making enough money that I could travel with my family. I wanted a career around helping people to become more successful. All of these things are still possible but I really have no idea on where to begin in how to get to where I want to be and to do what I want do.

Life is already a blur as it is. My days seem to slip past me as I try to fill them with good things. But if all I do is think of what could happen then I miss out on what is happening around me. I want to help people. I want to love people. I want to be loved. And the only person stopping me from doing those things is me. I feel like it is my fear of the unknown that stops me. I don't know how people will respond. I don't know if they will ignore me. I am afraid of going back to being just a face in the crowd. I want to be somebody's source of happiness. I used to be afraid of a lot of things: heights, needles, talking to women, and meeting new people. I still have issues with going to parties with big groups, dancing and singing in public, and being alone. So instead of letting these things slow me down, I want to look less for the things that aren't happening in my life and to look for more of the little things that will help me to enjoy the journey.

"Anyone that imagines that bliss is normal is going to waste a lot of time running around shouting that he's been robbed. The fact is that most putts don't drop, most beef is tough, most children grow up to be just people, most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration, most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old time journey... delays, side tracks, smoke, dust, cinders and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas, and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride." - Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

9 Things Successful People Won't Do

"9 Things Successful People Won't Do"
Travis B - President at TalentSmart & coauthor Emotional Intelligence 2.0

My last post, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve (it's already approaching 1.5 million reads here on LinkedIn). The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you won’t do as it is about what you will do.

TalentSmart has tested more than a million people and found that the upper echelons of top performance are filled with people who are high in emotional intelligence (90% of top performers, to be exact). So, I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isn’t careful.

While the list that follows isn’t exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence and performance.

They Won’t Let Anyone Limit Their Joy
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that they’ve done, they won’t let anyone’s opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.

While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

They Won’t Forget
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesn’t mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of what’s happened so that you can move on. It doesn’t mean you’ll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others’ mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.

They Won’t Die in the Fight
Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, you’re able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.

They Won’t Prioritize Perfection
Emotionally intelligent people won’t set perfection as their target because they know it doesn’t exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, you’re always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.

They Won’t Live in the Past
Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe you’ll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isn’t easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they can’t do this when they’re living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you can’t allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.

They Won’t Dwell on Problems
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that you’re facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people won’t dwell on problems because they know they’re most effective when they focus on solutions.

They Won’t Hang Around Negative People
Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they don’t want to be seen as callous or rude, but there’s a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.

They Won’t Hold Grudges
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means you’re holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.

They Won’t Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When it’s time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I don’t think I can” or “I’m not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.

Loving You Is Easy

"Loving You Is Easy"
Ben Rector
Loving you is elementary
It's easier than 1-2-3
I passed school so consequently
It's coming so naturally

So A is for all that you've done for me
Being with you is the only place I want to be
Seeing you is the only thing I want to see
Cause loving you is easy
One cause you're the only one for me
Two is you and I and I hope you agree
Three is for the words that you're making me speak
I love you it's so easy

It's easy
It's easy
It's easy
Oh loving you is easy

So let's not make this complicated
I never made the honor roll
Overthinking's overrated
And there's something that you should know
Let me count the reasons why

So A is for all that you've done for me
Being with you is the only place I want to be
Seeing you is the only thing I want to see
Cause loving you is easy
One cause you're the only one for me
Two is you and I and I hope you agree
Three is for the words that you're making me speak
I love you it's so easy

It's easy
It's easy
It's easy
Oh loving you is easy

The hardest part was finding you
But once I did I knew
Oh, I knew
My love let me count
Let me count
Let me count the reasons why

So A is for all that you've done for me
Being with you is the only place I want to be
Seeing you is the only thing I want to see
Cause loving you is easy
One cause you're the only one for me
Two is you and I and I hope you agree
Three is for the words that you're making me speak
I love you it's so easy

It's easy
It's easy
It's easy
Oh loving you is easy

Progression in Relationships

I have been having a set of interesting thoughts and conversations lately when it comes to dating. I have a close friend of mine who recently went through a divorce. It was over so fast I didn't realize it had happened to be honest and his wife had changed so much her parents apologized to him and still want him in the family regardless. I don't think that is going to happen but it was a nice way to apologize. Still, the fun part being back in the dating game is upon him. He has spent time with a few different girls that family friends have introduced him to but he is still in a stage where things are weird. He wants to walk up behind the girl and hug her but his first thought is that this isn't his wife. A girl gives him a tight hug and squeezes his sides and he thinks well that's new! He is still a bit fresh to say the least.

The catch is that he has met a girl who he and she both had gotten out of serious relationships recently (nothing is more serious than marriage so his was much more in comparison) and so they were only spending time together as friends. In fact, he didn't find her especially attractive at first. And those are typically my last words as well... "At first." So now he is at a crossroads were things can get awkward because he is starting to have feelings for her but he also is obviously not over his ex-wife. What to do? The only advice I can give is to be honest. Be honest with yourself. Be honest with her. Say what your frustrations are, your feelings, what you want to do, but be careful because you have no control over how she will react. I personally am not as careful as I should be and I typically say everything but maybe that will change in time. But here is our mutual problem that he and I both share: Progression in a relationship.

Every relationship that we make with people starts somewhere. We are strangers and acquaintances. We have a few conversations and interact more and eventually we become friends. Sometimes that last particular piece is hard for me because I overthink things and I get ahead in my head. Honestly if I can just be decisive, confident, and PATIENT, I think I would have had things figured out by now. Oh well... But for most people, we get to know each other through conversation and shared experiences. We begin to develop a depth of feelings for the other person, we share more of our personality, we sacrifice our time and make an effort to spend time and help that other person feel unique and special.

One of the most amazing things I think that is present in relationships is intimacy. It is physical. It is emotional. It is mental, spiritual, and psychological. Intimacy is trusting someone to the degree where you come as you are and every act is shared, purposeful, and for a shared experience. I feel like intimacy is the process where we become unified as couples in every way. It is the raw. It is the unaltered truth. It is both the fear as well as the support. It is the pain and the pleasure. It is the sorrow and the joy. True vulnerability of being able to say that you not only need that person but you want no one else. It is the completion of yourself.

But this leads to a different idea of are we capable of being complete by ourselves? Is there a way that we progress in our relationship with ourselves? Is there a purpose in our need for companionship? What value does it bring? And when it does come to talking about ourselves, how will we be measured? How will we be remembered?

Clay Christiansen is one of my favorite businessmen that I have gotten to hear in my lifetime. His books are extraordinary and I feel like this talk does an amazing job at identifying the difference between immediate evidences of achievement and investing in long-lasting sources of happiness as well as the way that our lives are measured are by how well we helped other people be better people.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Self Mastery and God

A few weekends ago, I was spending the night at my brother's home and myself, my brother, and his wife got into a religious discussion. One of the topics was good and evil. We believe that there is opposition in all things and we also believe that God existed before the world was. But if God cannot create evil and Satan was a fallen angel, how does that happen? And the answer is as simple as looking around us here on earth. We can choose evil and we can push out the good within us but people are not born evil.

So if we think again about Satan and how he became evil, we can look to the scriptures and the prophets and can see that pride is the cause of his fall. So when we talk about pride, we are talking about people that are out for themselves, focused on their success, their efforts, and it's all about them! Them! Them! How do I get ahead? It is all about the competitive have-to-be-better-than-the-next-guy personality. So if we look at Christ and the Atonement, it is the opposite. It is a community. It is Zion. It is about helping people and serving and forgetting yourself. It is about family. It is about loving people. It is being humble and looking for guidance. It is trusting the Spirit. It is trusting God. It is about acting in faith.

So from our discussion, I feel like life is really about two things when it comes to our relationship with God: Self-mastery and the sealing of the family. I feel like the Atonement teaches us to love other people as well as how to build a relationship with God through revelation and faithful covenant-making and covenant-keeping actions. The sealing of a family is the highest ordinance a person can make and it is the culmination of all the promises and blessings of the temple. And with a family, we are able to find both the greatest joys and sorrows in life as we care so deeply for another person. We share in their successes and in their failures. We are there to lift each other and cheer one another on. And throughout this journey, the only person whose choices we control are ourselves. I feel like one of the biggest battles that we can have is with ourselves.

Honestly, I believe self-mastery is a journey where the commandments and the covenants we make become descriptions of our character and who we are as a person and less of a list of things we have to check off. We don't need a temple recommend to have a temple recommend. We need a recommend so we can go again and again and again to learn from God and serve our fellowmen. We are becoming like God through repentance and following Him in faith. This is what I hope is at the core of everything that I am and everything that I do.

Saturday, August 16, 2014


Resilience is one’s ability to bounce back from difficult times, and it’s one of the most captivating character traits you can possess. Yes, some people have thicker skin than others, but I believe everyone is capable of being resilient if they are motivated enough to progress in life rather than be dragged down when things take a bad turn.  Most of what we want in life is within our power to obtain. Here’s why resilience is inspiring:


You Know How To Cope

You cope in the healthiest way possible, and that’s what is so alluring about you. Instead of turning to substances or emotional eating, you turn to exercise.In lieu of venting, you let it go. Instead of self-blaming, you solve problems. Rather than staring blankly at your bedroom wall, you create something.


You’re the Eternal Optimist

You believe that you control your own destiny, and you’re driven to succeed. You view negative events as valuable life lessons, and instead of setbacks, they become your pathway to prosperity. You ooze confidence, and your happy energy is what draws others to you. A positive attitude is incredibly sexy and it’s a character trait among the resilient.


You Reinvent Yourself

Instead of crawling into a hole and playing dead, you breathe new life. You let yourself feel sad, but you use that sadness as motivation to find new avenues of achieving fulfillment. You bounce back from that sadness in no time as you reinvent yourself, discover a new passion or start a new activity. You are your sexiest self as you explore and open new doors to your well-being. You’ve got a fresh perspective on life now and things are looking up.


Nobody Has To Coddle You

You’re not fragile or viewed as a delicate flower. Your friends and family know you to be the person who remains calm in a crisis, rather than falling apart. The fact that you can roll with the punches makes you much more attractive than you would be if others always had to baby you, knowing that you might crumble if faced with a setback.


You Don’t Dwell On the Past

Sure you have baggage (everyone does). Yours, however, isn’t the obvious kind that would be so discernible on a first date that it would turn off your prospect. The negative events that have occurred in your life stay in the past, while you’re more focused on your bright future. There are many ways in which resilient people focus on the silver lining; it just requires a different way of thinking. If you’re let go from your job, stay focused on the anticipation that your next job will be significantly better. If you have a falling out with your best friend, realize it’s a blessing in disguise, as you now have an opportunity to become closer with your sister.


You’re Getting Stronger By The Day

Life can’t throw you a punch hard enough to knock you down, and that’s a beautiful quality. Every time you’ve been forced to overcome an obstacle, you took the lesson you learned with you, making it less likely that you’ll make the same mistake again. Rather than being coddled, you’re the person your friends will go to for advice on how to be strong.


Your Ability to Adapt to Change Advances You in Life

Sometimes resilience involves a much-needed ability to adapt to change. Change can be a great thing and an excellent opportunity for personal growth. While you adapt to change, you progress in life. New patterns become new routines, and before you know it you’ve accomplished amazing lifestyle changes that are much healthier and tremendously more beneficial. Not only have you bounced back from difficult times, you’ve started fresh.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New Paths to Walk and Treasures to Find

This last week was interesting. I was busy working both jobs and watching my roommate's house until it sells. We have had a lot of looks which is great but an offer would be nice. It would be a huge blessing for him and it would give him a lot of freedom to pursue what he wants when he graduates this next year. Other than that, I had a picnic with a friend, went to the zoo with my work, and I also did a few geocaches. Geocaching is a hobby of mine that I started with a few of my roommates.

It is like real life treasure hunting. You use GPS coordinates to find hidden log sheets anywhere in the world and sometimes there are little exchangeable items that you switch out. Sometimes there are puzzle caches, multi-caches with multiple locations that you have to find before you find the log book, and other times the whole thing is virtual almost like a trivial pursuit game. The first time I saw someone geocaching I was in Estonia. My cousin, one of the younger boys, ran behind a sign and pulled out a small film canister and popped the cap to find a log book and a little G.I. Joe figurine. I was completely curious about how he knew where it was, how it was hidden, and what geocaching was. It was amazing! Now I have a goal to find my 100th geocache when my MBA program goes to Japan in October.

Whether I am looking for hidden treasure or hidden memories, I am continuing to navigate on to my next adventure. I love to travel. It is one of my biggest passions in life. The reason I like to move and travel as much as I do is not just because the world is a big place and there is so much to see but because I am curious. I ask questions, I look at things from different perspectives and so I like to try and understand different cultures. I also have a big heart and I like to move because I find myself leaving pieces of it all over the place. I love easily and I care a lot. It doesn't hurt to get your heartbroken. It hurts to find the pieces left on the ground behind the ones you love. So I like to move to different places. It helps me to move on.
"You don't have a choice if you get hurt in this world, but you do have a say in who hurts you. I like my choices, I hope she likes hers."
I have lately been looking for a lot of good distractions. I am trying to go to all the Utah temples before I graduate. I am working on trying to find a great job after graduation outside of Utah. It's not that Utah is a bad place to live but it's more that so much has happened here and this chapter of my life feels as if it's finally coming to a close. When I go back to my old stomping grounds, I remember so many different things. I remember all the different emotions of more than 5 years of my life. There were the nights filled with laughs, smiles, inspiration, and adventure. I remember the friendships, the loves, the heart aches, and heartbreaks. There is so much of my life that is connected to this place but I am ready to find something new... New challenges, new loves, and new places to call home.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Benefits and Costs

I am halfway through my MBA program and there was a little economics formula that a few of my classmates and I were discussing when we were walking around downtown last night. We were talking about business strategies and how we value our employees. It was amazing how I started to see connections all over the place. The fairly well known formula is pretty straightforward and simple:
Value = Benefits - Costs
 As I sat there in church today, I read a scripture in Moroni 7 which says, "For behold, God hath said a man bein evil cannot do that which is good; for if he offereth a gift, or prayeth unto God, except he shall do it with real intent it profiteth him nothing. For behold, it is not counted unto him for righteousness." So if we take that concept and apply it financially it would look something like this:
If obedience has no real intent,
Then Cost => Benefits and Value =< 0
This explains so many things that are prevalent in our faith. It is the reason why God requires the heart. It explains why there is a difference between living the letter of the law versus living the spirit of the law. It explains how conversion is such a big deal when the cost is so high. We are talking about people sacrificing their entire status quo, lifestyle, relationships, belief system, etc. So in order to do this there must also be a significant benefit. It also explains why some people fall away from the church as well in that they don't see value in the doctrine because they don't understand it because they don't try and live it. If this equation governs not only our actions but others as well it says a lot about us as individuals.

Christ died not only for the sins of mankind but for your temptations, weaknesses, sins, and afflictions. He died for you. The cost for your salvation and exaltation was the life of the Son of God. If that is so, what does that say of what each and every person's value? An eternal and infinite sacrifice means that you have eternal and infinite worth.

So the next time you begin to doubt yourself or look at someone in pity or spite, take a breath, and remember it would be better to doubt your doubts. God loves you.