Life Happened for Sean Adams

Photo courtesy of AM 1300 THE ZONE‏ @am1300thezone

Austin media personality Sean Adams passed away yesterday at the age of 46. That could be one of those impersonal headlines that you see and think nothing of. For many people in the Austin area it is very personal. It is for me.

I recently wrote about change. Yesterday things changed for a lot of us.

Sean and I were not close friends, but we knew each other and liked each other. I went to church with him for many years and always admired him. There were many exceptional things about him. He was a great son, husband, father, and friend. He took all of those roles and responsibilities seriously. He was a man of faith, and he had a remarkable breadth and depth about him. He had talent coupled with a terrific work ethic. He and Chip Brown in the mornings were a special team discussing sports. There was true chemistry there, and it was great to listen to. It was a morning staple for many of us. It was about more than just sports – it was sports generously seasoned with wit and wisdom.

I had lunch with Sean a couple of times at his favorite restaurant, Cover 3. We talked about our families, business, and he encouraged me when I was writing my book. He was also an encouragement to our children. When I got the stunning news yesterday about his passing, I looked at my text message history with him. There is nothing profound there, but I will always treasure it.

My heart goes out to Karen, Damon, Alex, and Sean’s mother and siblings. I also grieve for Chip Brown, Mike Hardge, Mike Weigand, Anthony Williams, Thomas Graham, Geoff Ketchum, and all of the other many people who shared a close bond with Sean. He had a lot of true and genuine friends all across the country. You cannot say that about many people.

My lasting memories of Sean will be his faith and his heart for elevating others to higher planes. He was famous for the wisdom in his many sayings. They will stick with me.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • “The dream is free, the hustle is sold separately. Go to work.”
  • “Do something good for the world today, because the people who are making it worse aren’t taking the day off.”
  • “Everybody dies, but not everybody lives.”

Photo courtesy of Enrique Garza‏ @goodstuffcvms

He and I also shared a perspective on the value of sports. He spoke often of the huddle. The huddle is sacred, he would say. It is the one place where northerner and southerner, rich and poor, black and white, conservative and liberal, come together, put their arms around each other, and bond for a common goal. They sweat and bleed together, and special things happen.

Sean often said: “Life happens for those who show up.”

Sean showed up.

Life happened for him.

Thanks for showing up for all of us, brother. Rest in Peace.

Emily Brontë Died at Thirty

How Old Are You?

Charlotte Bronte coloured drawing
My wife and I recently watched the movie To Walk Invisible about the Brontë sisters. These amazing sisters created some of the most enduring works of English literature.

The eldest sister Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre (Penguin Classics). The youngest sister Anne wrote Agnes Grey (Penguin Classics). The middle sister Emily wrote Wuthering Heights (Penguin Classics).

Their decision to write and publish under male pseudonyms is an amazing story of strategy and perseverance. Charlotte was “Currer Bell,” Anne was “Acton Bell,” and Emily was “Ellis Bell.”

As with all writers in their day, their work was conducted often by candlelight and always by hand with ink and quill on paper. I am writing this post in an online editor with cut and paste, auto-spell check, and the ability to publish to the world with one click of the “publish” button. It is hard to even envision the painstaking effort they expended to bring these works to readers.

There are many aspects to their story that I find amazing, but perhaps the thing that strikes me most is the fact that Emily Brontë lived only 30 years. In fact, her youngest sister Anne lived only 29 years. Charlotte lived only to the age of 38.

I do not measure myself against women who were among the most gifted writers in the English language, but I do draw two lessons from their lives:

  1. Youth should be no barrier. If anyone told them they were too young, the Brontës did not listen. Some of us seem to be waiting until some magic future date when we are of sufficient age to do something important. Go ahead and do it now. Will you get better at it as you get older? Probably. Maybe. Maybe not. In the case of the Brontës, there was no getting older. Life is uncertain and short. That leads to the second lesson…
  2. What are you waiting for? Go ahead and get started doing something you really want to do and need to do. Don’t wait for later and older. Do it now. Get it started. Do not let resistance paralyze you. If you plan to do creative work (writing, music, art, entrepreneurship), get a copy of The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles and let it motivate you. The main thing is to act. Now.

I have to confess that while we have had copies of both Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights in our library for years, I have read neither. I am going to correct that soon. I think that as I read them knowing just how young these authors were when they wrote them, it will really reinforce the two lessons above.

Hopefully it will motivate me to act.

How old are you at present? If older than 30, take encouragement from what these young women did at a younger age than you. If you are younger than 30, follow the Bronte’s lead. Make it happen.

Too Many Irons in the Fire?

warmth-fireIdeas are portable and easily shared. In a recent conversation with my friend, Coach Deborah Newkirk, I repeated the familiar refrain: “I’ve got too many irons in the fire.” This idiomatic expression comes from the days when blacksmiths had literal iron bars in literal fires. We now use it to mean “I am really busy.” Deborah shared something that her friend Dr. Jerry George said to her (see how portable ideas are?). Since I did not hear it directly from him, I will offer this as a paraphrase. I am not even sure of the context in which he said it to her, but here it is:

When you have a lot of irons in the fire, don’t be afraid to add more irons. Accept the blessing. – Dr. Jerry George

That resonates with me. Even though I do have a lot on my plate, I need to adjust my attitude a bit and remain open to new opportunities and blessings that come my way. The “too many irons” mindset can become an excuse for not doing something that matters. It may also prevent me from accepting a tremendous new opportunity.

The new approach I plan to adopt is to not be afraid of all of the irons I have heating, but rather to attend well to them while being open to even more irons. Now, not every iron is as important as the others at any given point in time. I may need to focus on some more than others at this moment, but they are all a blessing.

Having a lot of irons in the fire is a very good thing.

If you don’t believe me, just ask someone with nothing to do.

My Responsibility with Regard to My Potential

And Yours with Regard to Yours

We have all seen it before. A naturally gifted athlete with tons of potential refuses to work to develop that potential, and he or she ends up wasting it. We had a guy like that on our team.

It is sad.

I find it easy to get judgmental about that guy and about others who waste their potential.

Yet, it occurs to me that I also have specific and unique talents, abilities, and background that create my potential. The real question is whether I am putting in the work to realize my potential? Am I living up to my potential or am I instead wasting it?

That is a challenging question to answer with total honesty.

I have come to believe that it is my ethical responsibility to live up to my potential and to achieve my ambitions. To do anything less is to waste what I have been given. To me, that would be unethical.

My family, my community, and my world are counting on me to contribute what I can and to be the best version of me possible. They deserve nothing less.

So how do I achieve my potential?

Dan Fogelberg’s lyrics in “Run for the Roses” resonate with me:

It’s breeding
And it’s training
And it’s something unknown
That drives you and carries you home

While he is talking about race horses, I find application there for us. There is nothing we can do about our “breeding,” but the training and the “something unknown” is where we can reach our potential.

So, what is your potential? What is your responsibility with regard to it? What are you doing today to achieve it?

Identify Your Gaps to Reach Your Goals

IMG_0567 (2)Let’s say you are twenty-five years old and have a goal to become a ukelele player.

Or, let’s say you are fifteen and want to become a doctor.

Perhaps you are fifty-three with a strong desire to be a beekeeper.

Or, let’s say you are seventy years old and want to help relieve hunger in the third world.

Whatever your goals are, you need to identify the gaps between where you are now and what it will take to achieve those goals. What stands in your way? Before you can actually achieve your goal to become a ukelele player, a doctor, a beekeeper, or an aid worker, you have to be honest about what it is going to take to make that happen. If you allow your gaps to go undefined, your goal is just a dream that will likely go unrealized.

What do we do when we encounter a gap or chasm that we need to cross? We build a bridge.

Since some gaps are small and some are huge, there are bridges of all sizes. Some chasms are so large that a bridge is not possible. Have you noticed that there is no bridge from the United States to Ireland? That gap is just too large. We navigate that space in different ways.

Step 1 – Identify the Gap

These are the things missing in your life right now that must be bridged before you can reach the other side. Again, honesty is vital here. You will do yourself no favors by minimizing the task ahead or by lying to yourself about what it is going to take. Be brutally honest in defining the gap. What do you need to learn? Who do you need to meet? What certification do you need to achieve? How much do you need to pay? How long will this take?

Step 2 – Design Your Bridge

Break the bridge down into smaller steps. No one builds a bridge, or a house, or a nation without a plan. Use what you know about the gap you defined in Step 1 to create your plan for bridging the gap. Design it well so that you have confidence it will get the job done.

Step 3 – Start Building

Your bridge will be built by actions. Just as no bridge ever designed itself, no bridge ever built itself, either. The best bridge design in the world will bridge no gap if it is not actually built. Actions taken in the proper sequence will lead you to build the proper bridge and reach your goal. Establishing and following great habits is a key to making these actions effective.

Step 4 – Glance Behind You and Take Heart

Once you have built your bridge and crossed the gap, you will have achieved your goal. Now is a good time to look back over your shoulder at the bridge. See that bridge for what it really is. It is a testimony of the power you possess to envision a Forward Story, to design the practices necessary to achieve it, and to follow through on that design to realize your goal. You should now realize that you can do that over and over again. None of us truly arrive at a point where we have no ambition left. The sense of accomplishment you get from crossing the bridge and achieving a goal provides a powerful shot of confidence that you can use on bridging your next gap.

My gaps are currently gaps in taking my business to the next level and in my health goals. In other words, I am currently working on bridging more than just one gap. I have a couple of bridge-building projects going on right now. As Step 4 explains, I have bridged enough gaps in the past to have confidence that these current bridges that are under construction will take me where I want to go.

What gaps are you trying to bridge at the moment? How is it going?

How to Find Your Dream Job

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is graduation season. A lot of freshly minted graduates are streaming out of our colleges, high schools, and technical programs. A lot of new graduates are looking for their dream jobs.

How do you find your dream job?

I want to share some insight from a good friend of mine named Bill Martin. Bill is an octogenarian with a lot of wisdom. If I told you his entire career history you would be amazed at this man’s success. If you could meet him, you would be amazed by his humility and charm.

He recently spoke to engineering graduates about how to find their dream jobs. Here it is in all its wisdom and simplicity:

  1. Get a job. Work hard and do great at it.
  2. Get a better job. Work hard and do great at it.
  3. Keep repeating this until you…
  4. Get your dream job.

I sort of understood this when I was young. I did not expect to have a dream job right out of the gate. I knew it was out there if I worked and produced value for my employers. A job well done leads to a recommendation and to advancement. The idea of an entry-level position is that you do not stay there long. It is simply where you enter.

In your pursuit of a dream job, don’t forget to get a job and do really well at it. That will lead to good things.

Thanks, Bill!