Commit to a Path

I receive an email from Chris Brogan every Sunday. In it he talks about some topic of interest to him. I didn’t get to read it yesterday. This morning I’ve been cleaning up things from my bike ride absence. As I worked my way thru emails, I came across Chris’s. The title: Commit to a Path. Here’s his opening paragraph:

Over the last few years, Damon,  I’ve invested a lot of effort in the area of rework. I’ve changed every aspect of my life in some way, from what I eat, to how much I sleep, to my relationships, to all aspects of my business. In all cases, I’ve pursued improvement and growth, but also clarity and a more integrated approach to my goals and the path required to get me there. I want to help.

Wow! That sounds just like what I’ve been doing over the past few years. I found that clarity on the road from LA to DC. I’m trying to figure out how to integrate it into whatever I do next. I have also noticed, like Chris has, that many people don’t take the time to enjoy themselves. They don’t even enjoy the things they do for enjoyment. They’re too busy flailing around from one thing to the next.

Everybody slow down! Running this stoplight won’t keep you from getting caught at the next one. Movement may look like progress, but sometimes progress comes when you’re being still.

Spend a part of your day going slowly. I bet you find something there.

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Snow Days Provide Reflection Time

Today is the first snow day of this winter season. Falling on the day after Christmas leads to an extended time away from the office. However, it’s like I stole the time. I’m torn between enjoying a free day and being guilty for slacking off from work. I know that seems crazy, but it’s the truth. As I sat eating a late breakfast, I considered how I ought to spend the day and two very distinct options came to mind. First, I could fire up my computer and catch up on some of the things that I don’t get done at work because of other distractions; and second, I could hang out with my family and take advantage of this time gift from nature.

As I pondered the choice, I looked at the people around me and realized they were dealing with similar thoughts. So I took a few minutes to reflect on my predicament. I love my job and I work hard at it. Having the day off will not make any of the things I need to get done go away. It will only make them more pressing when I get back to them. On the other hand, I have my son here from DC, and he can’t cut out to hang with his friends. My mother-in-law is here from Terre Haute and she really has nothing to do, especially since we don’t have the Big Ten Network. And of course my wife is at home wondering how much work she can get done from here.

I chose to split the difference. I’ll work until everyone has had time to get dressed and fed, then we’ll spend some time together enjoying one another, and remembering how things like snow storms have a way of dramatically changing our priorities.

Opening and Closing Doors and Windows

Image2012 has been a year of change in my life. Besides the fact that I celebrated my 50th birthday and all of the angst that goes with that, I moved for the first time in more than two decades; I started another company, I merged my twenty-one year old company, and I’m about to close the company I just started. In addition, I nearly killed myself riding around southern Indiana in the middle of one of the hottest summers on record. And I threw out my back so badly that I think I may have ended my career as a recreational runner.

On top of all of that, my mother came closer to dying than I’d ever considered. She’s fine now, but she can no longer drive herself around and we don’t think she’ll ever be able to live alone again. My brother and sister won’t let me tell her that so I keep changing the subject when she brings it up.

These sound mostly like doors and windows closing, but in a strange way, they are also openings. We moved downtown into a condo that was owned by a guy we met by chance at a beach bar in Belize. How can that not be cosmic? The place is fantastic and Susie and I are extremely content with being downtown. We can walk to work, and to just about everything else we need to do. This couldn’t have happened without the move. As a bonus, we became landlords to avoid the crazy housing market and that’s working great so far.

It was from meeting my neighbor in the condo below me that the new business got started. It was a combination of an idea he was dabbling with and a concept that my partner Rob and I had been discussing over the years. Our goal was to build a master database of restaurant menu info to seed other developers who needed the data. Two things worked against us: several other companies started the same concept around the same time and they got BIG venture funding; and, it turns out that my neighbor drives me up the wall so we’re detrimental to one another’s creative genius. I’d rather be a good neighbor than a bad business partner who lives next door, you know?

The merger? That becomes effective on January 1st. Port-to-Port Consulting ceases to exist and a new organization called Spectrum Technology will begin providing outsourced IT support to businesses in central Indiana. For the first time in a very very long time, I will not be the majority owner of the place where I work. So many of the headaches are connected to that ownership fact. Adjusting will take time, but I’ve got time.

I wrote about the bike ride while I was doing it back in July. You can read about it in those posts.

The 50th birthday really wasn’t much for me.

Revolutionary Running

Vibram Five Fingers shoes

A couple of years ago, I decided to quit coaching high school Cross Country. I felt like I was the only person who cared about the program. The students didn’t show up half the time. We finished perpetually last in every meet. I had lost the joy, so I quit.

Later that year, as Winter approached, I found myself with another nagging injury from my running routine. I started doing research online to find a miracle cure for what ailed me. In the process, I came across the POSE method of running. As I studied this new way to run, I discovered this funky shoe called the Vibram Five Fingers. I immediately knew I had to have a pair. I fell in love with them the first time I put them on my feet. Now, two years later, they’re riding the leading edge of a revolution in running. It seems a lot of research lately is showing that high tech running shoes are leading to more injuries than they are preventing. As a result, the running shoe companies are racing to market with a lower tech shoe designed to mimic running barefoot. Nike, the inventor of the high tech shoe, leads the pack with its Free line of shoes.

I completely changed my running form and have been running injury free for nearly two years — something I have not done for more than a decade prior. Along the way, I discovered that more people cared about the Cross Country program than just me. My runners stopped me in the hallway to tell me they missed me. I’ll be back on the sidelines this Fall, and I’ll be teaching a different running form, but my runners will still wear shoes.

Sanity is a Fragile Thing

My wife and I were awakened in the middle of the night on Sunday by a loud noise coming from downstairs. We didn’t hear any further sounds so we just went back to sleep. At least we tried to go back to sleep while we lay there listening for additional noises for about an hour. In the morning, we discovered that someone had thrown a large clay pot thru our garage window, shattering the double pane glass and scattering shards all over the garage.

We cleaned it up and considered it to be a random act of vandalism. On Monday night, we were awakened again by noises from downstairs. This time we jumped out of bed and rushed downstairs to see that someone had shot out the windows next to our front door. Two nights in a row means we’re targets to us. We called the police and reported the whole thing. Who knows what will come of that.

Last night, after two nights of restless sleep, I woke at 2:00 AM in anticipation of another nightly visit. We were spared last night. Hopefully, our tormenter has moved on to terrorize someone else. As I sit here now, three days without restful sleep, I feel like I’m on the verge of insanity. I can’t hold a thought. My attention wanders. I need some rest.

I find it amazing that in only three days I went from a normal, rationally functioning individual to a mental wreck. I have enough awareness to know that I’m not functioning properly but not enough to get it together.

Tonight will be a restful night.