Letters to my sons

"The heart of a father is the masterpiece of nature."― Abbé Prévost

My sons,

Ownership is one of the current day buzz words of the tech industry. Everyone seems to be talking about it. Amazon even has it as one of its Leadership Principles. And it’s generally accepted as an unambiguously good thing. But what is it really, and is it actually as good of a trait as we’re led to believe?

When we think about ownership, we generally think of the term in the possessive, the responsible. When it comes to something that we own, we think about the responsibility that we feel for it, the value we assign to it, and the care that we demonstrate in regards to it. We think about the joy derived from our ownership of it, of our uses for it, and ultimately for how it fits into the grand scheme of our lives.

Surely those are all good things, right?

Switching gears to our professional lives, ownership is generally associated with strong, positive behaviors on behalf of a team or an organization. When someone is said to demonstrate “strong Amazon ownership”, we associate all positives with the statement. We conjure images of the employee who demonstrates an almost devout sense of dedication to the team, the cause, and the product. We think, “wow, this person is consistently willing to go above and beyond”, and we sing their praises anywhere and everywhere that we can.

The converse is true as well. When we say people don’t demonstrate ownership, we immediately associate a number of negative connotations with them. They may be selfish, and do not do what is needed in favor of doing what they prefer. They may be lazy, not willing to go the extra mile. They may be not have backbone, preferring to back down from a fight rather than standing their ground for what’s right.

The challenge here is that there’s quite a bit more nuance when it comes to ownership than what meets the eye, and as such we should consider carefully the details that may not be entirely obvious at first glance.

We strongly overvalue the things that we have

Have you ever sold something in your possession? Whether it’s selling a car that you’ve outgrown, clearing out your dorm room as you prepare for graduation, or having a garage sale before a big move, we almost always overvalue the things that we have. This is because when we go to sell the thing, we immediately remember the great memories we’ve had with it. We remember the feeling of freedom that our first car provided, the sense of home and belonging the very first piece of furniture purchased for our first apartment brought, or the sense of accomplishment and adultness we felt mounting our first piece of artwork on the wall.

These feelings, memories, and experiences have shaped us, have made us who we are, and have left their strongly positive impact on our lives, and so we proceed to subjectively assign objective values to them.

The same is true in our professional spaces. We have incredibly fond feelings for the things that we’ve built, whether they be products, processes, teams, or even companies. The blood, sweat, and tears that we poured into delivering a risky feature in time; the long recruiting trips, lengthy conversations, and dozens of sell calls required to hire our team; the hundreds of walls we slammed our heads into before finally discovering the solution that beautifully brings it all together - all of these experiences have shaped us, grown us, and made us better professionals. They bring us joy at their memory, pleasure at their reminiscence.

And we overvalue them.

Whether it’s overvaluing the skill and effectiveness of our team, the importance of our project, or even our own contributions and impact, we have a very difficult time objectively assessing the true value of the things that are entrusted to our care.

We have a strong aversion to loss

When it comes to the prospect of losing something in our possession, our overemphasis of what we may lose is very strong. It is emotional, it is not rational. We intrinsically have a strong emotional attachment to things that we own, and therefore have a strong emotional aversion to losing those things.

This starts at a very young age. It is a very common sight to see a young child fiercely defend their toy from another, for fear of losing that toy. “Mine!”, they scream, only to put the toy down and race after another when they discover that the other kid has lost interest in their toy. The fear of losing what’s ours is incredibly strong.

This is again true in our professional lives. We have a strong aversion to the loss of whatever it is we’ve accrued; reputation, prestige, influence, team scope, headcount, even superfluous things like the bigger office, the better view, or the desk closer to the kitchen. While it may be somewhat positive to be protective of one’s team, and while there are times when having backbone to fight to keep strong value that we’re adding for our customers, our aversion to loss may often overpower those other benefits if we’re not carefully aware of ourselves.

We assume others see transactions from the same vantage point that we do

When it comes to transactional exchanges, we assume that others see the transactional targets with the same value that we do. Typically we are giving up something we currently own in exchange for something we currently do not, and we assume that the other party sees both objects in the same light that we do.

Since we tend to overvalue things we own, we are already prone to seeing our side of the transaction as having a higher value than it might objectively have, which our transactional counterpart will not see. Further, our counterpart will in turn see their side of the transaction as having a higher value than we will see, making this a double whammy and creating potential hurdles for us to have mutually satisfying transactions.

Overvaluing ideas

A final observation is that these quirks about ownership apply to the idea marketplace as well! We tend to overvalue our ideas and opinions, and will feel a sense loss when they are not valued, changed, or discarded. This too is natural.

Earlier in my career, I had a really great idea. I was working on the C# compiler at the time, and my buddy and I had this great idea to take the compiler and split it out into distinct phases, allowing those phases to be called at various times from the IDE. We spent a bunch of time building this, getting all our tests passing and all that. Then when we pitched it to our boss, he said no. I couldn’t believe it. How dare he! I couldn’t even hear his reasons I was so mad!

I made all of the mistakes we’ve been talking about. I overvalued my idea because it was mine. I overvalued the work that we had done on our prototype because I had poured my heart into it. I assumed he saw things from my perspective and valued the same things I did. Turns out, all those things were blind spots for me.

So what do we do with all this?

I believe that the key is to be aware of these quirks about ownership. There are undoubtedly many great outcomes to be had from demonstrating strong ownership, and it is without question a trait that is highly valued - required even - on great teams. But like most other things in life, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing, and these small quirks of ownership can rear their ugly heads at precisely the wrong moments if we leave them unchecked.

My hope for you is that you encourage one another to check that. That you never let your strong sense of ownership turn into competition, jealousy, overprotectiveness, or any of the other myriad of challenges that come from overcompensation of a good trait. Keep each other accountable in this, and be well.

My sons,

One of the most important factors that give life meaning is the passage of time, and its finite supply for each person’s existence. Without it, our actions have no meaning. With it, everything we do is viewed with the lens of the finite, and as such is a trade off of all the other things we could have done but have chosen not to.

A necessary (though often not taken) reaction to this is the act of maturing, of gaining perspective, of acquiring wisdom. As our time spent on this earth increases so too should our understanding of the big picture, of the tradeoffs required of us, and of the balance required to live a rich and fulfilling life.

Dying nobly

A beautiful characteristic of youth is its tendencies to lay it all out on the line, to throw caution to the wind, to go big (albeit without the slightest consideration that one might actually need to finish the second half of that phrase, “or go home”). Call it youthful arrogance, call it inexperience, call it a lack of perspective, or whatever else you may desire to call it, it is pretty widely accepted that youthfulness tends to be bold, to be idealistic, to favor action.

When we are young, we get fired up. We lean into causes, we want to go all out. We feel indignation at the errs and inconsistencies of the world. We want to fight, we want to make our lives count.

Our culture promotes this. We revere fallen heroes, we memorialize those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. We write stories about those who stand up, those who fight the good fight, those who refuse to take injustice sitting down. Everything seems more dramatic, more urgent, more impactful.

We feel more, love bigger, suffer more intensely, and even soliloquize more dramatically. We dream big. We long for a perfect world. We see injustice and we want to fight it. We see suffering and we want to end it. And we want to make grand gestures to do it!

Unfortunately, we are also indiscriminating about the cause which we want to fling ourselves headlong into. How many of us have not spent agonizing hours in a hair-pulling, helpless, even hopeless state over some unrequited love, some immovable and unchangeable consequence that prevents us from pure joy? And how many still cannot commiserate with the thought of making some life-ending (or at least, life-changing), impulsive, and probably stupid gesture as a result?

Come now. Be honest.

For me, it was seventh grade. Or perhaps ninth. Tenth? Twelfth for sure. Really, probably all of the above. My high school years were characterized by many immense mountaintop highs followed almost immediately by some unfathomable lows. Being dumped by my first girlfriend of a whole long 3 weeks, 2 of which were over Christmas break… over a written note no less! Or having my existence ignored by the pretty brunette whose name I can’t remember but whose face I can’t forget. Or wanting to crawl in a hole after thoroughly embarrassing myself in front of someone whose approval I longed for. Or almost failing to secure my first job because of some laissez-faire attitude applied to a misread situation.

Yeah, I’ve had my fair share of moments of wanting to go out in a blaze of glory.

Living humbly

Thankfully, those moments passed and I grew up. I matured. I developed more resilience, more balance, more understanding of the nuances of life. It has been said that

“The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one” - The Catcher in the Rye

Absolutely beautiful.

As we mature, we begin to discover that our impatience tempers, our bias for action slows, and our once raging fire tapers down to an unobtrusive flame. Our youthful hotheadedness begins to cool, if not intrinsically then at least extrinsically due to our newfound understanding of social ramifications of unconstrained actions. And so we inevitably mellow out.

The danger here is to take that mellowing too passively, as so many do. Too many of us take the uninspired path of allowing the loss of our youthful arrogance to be replaced by a mature apathy. We fall out of our fiery and hyper-sensitive experiences into pools of insignificance, of lukewarm, purposeless living, and we follow an all too familiar path towards the midlife crisis - that existential crisis of purpose and belonging.

The best of us, however, learn that there is another path, another way to go that doesn’t lead to either a flame out in a blaze of glory or a slow and lackluster burn out. The answer is to put in the hard work necessary and learn to live humbly.

Why is this hard?

  1. Living humbly means genuinely caring about a cause greater than ourselves, more than ourselves.
  2. Living humbly is counter-culture. In a world fixated on Instagram photos proclaiming our wealth and experience, LinkedIn profiles touting our professional accomplishments, and ever more curated filters and edits of our public personas, being humble is quite unfashionable.
  3. Living humbly means suffering in silence, taking those inevitable injustices thrust upon us nobly, with dignity, and with a patient and calculated temperance that tempers our instant desire to rage out with indignation.

Lin Manuel Miranda’s rendition of George Washington says it well when he admonishes Hamilton:

“Dying is easy; young man, living is harder”

Living, indeed, is harder. Living humbly, harder still.

A few suggestions

By no means do I have all the answers, and by no means have I figured this out in a way that I can daily apply this to my own life, so take these suggestions as simply my thoughts in my journey.

  1. Actively look for places where you’re not the smartest one in the room. Our egos desire recognition and praise for our contributions and efforts. In seeking environments where others are further than us, we increase the ease by which we can place ourselves in postures of humility.
  2. Read. A lot. One of the most beneficial impacts of reading is that it puts us in our place. It causes us to come to terms with the fact that there is an incomprehensible amount of information, knowledge, and wisdom that we do not possess. At the time of this writing, it is estimated that the world currently contains anywhere between 125-150 million books. The amount of collective wisdom, experience, and knowledge contained in those volumes is enough to humble even the most arrogant among us.
  3. Measure your learnings, not your accomplishments. Instead of measuring what you’ve done, measure what you’ve learned. What we’ve learned tells us story of the journey; what we’ve done, the destination. The journey is infinitely more interesting.

My boys, my desire for your lives is that you would be kind, that you would be surrounded by people of integrity, and above all else that you would live lives characterized by a posture of humility and an eagerness to learn.

My sons,

I have always been a firm believer that the written word has power. Words have the power to create, to bring life, to elevate, and to empower, but they also have the power to tear down, to diminish, to dishearten, and to bind. They are the tools we use for communication. Whether we are conveying ideas, expressing sentiment, sharing dreams, or commiserating loss, they allow us to connect with each other with great depth and high fidelity.

We are a communal species. Whether you believe in creation, evolution, or whatever the latest theory of the day is, human beings are social creatures. We need one another. Together we stand. Divided we fall. And humanity has stood for many millennia, and hopefully will continue to do so for many more.

And so it behooves us to not only understand the power of our words, but to study, to learn, and to develop mastery over them. When used effectively, great authors and speech writers can smash through walls with them, can distill even the most complex of ideas for the masses, and can embolden an entire generation with them.

Our inputs inform our perspective

The things we take into our system inform our perspective. The things we read and hear daily impact the way we see our world. The words we commit to memory, the phrases and mantras we recite, the encouragement we hear from our environment - these all impact not only how we respond to our world, but also the people whom we are becoming.

It therefore is in our best interest to be vigilant in managing the inputs we get on a regular basis. Remember that it is not the severity of the input but the frequency that matters.

My mentor told me once that as a manager, when I feel that I’ve repeated myself so much that my team must think me to be a broken record, that is the point at which they may actually begin to hear me. So too are the inputs in our lives. When we encounter something once, our brains can filter that out as an outlier, but when we are consistently bombarded with the same message repeatedly across multiple channels, we begin to give credence to the message regardless of the strength of our defenses.

As such, we must watch our inputs.

The words we say and write shape us

Closely related is the fact that the words we say and write also shape us! Turns out that we like the sound of our own voices. Our ego is the portion of our personality that is experienced as “the self”, or “I”. It is the consciousness of your own identity that distinguishes itself from others and the external world. And the voice it listens to the most is our own.

This means that the things we say and write not only impact others, but they impact ourselves too! They reinforce ideas, they alter our emotions, and they change the way we see the world. We’ve all heard of the power of positive thinking, of power poses and of self-affirming inner (and outer!) dialogue. The reason that those things work is because they leverage the fact that our ego, our conscious mind, our “self” listens to us.

It is therefore important not only for us to guard our inputs, but for us to tailor our outputs as well! The things we discuss and debate, the company we keep, the topics spend our time learning about and sharing with others - all of these are important in shaping the people that we become!

This is why the Good Book tells us in Colossians 4:6 to

“Let your conversation be always full of grace”.

In speaking with grace, we become people of grace. In sharing big ideas, deliberating, debating, challenging, questioning, and reframing them, they become a part of us. In talking about great character and lofty traits that we desire for ourselves, we slowly but surely take them on. In speaking of our love for others, of why we love them, and of the things that desire for them, we not only encourage our listeners but we enlarge our own love for them.

We live in a time of influencers and trend setters. We live in an era where people are bombarded with all sorts of inputs ranging from traditional media, books, articles, social media, and podcasts that it is easy for us to become silent. Let us speak. Let us speak of elevated things. If we wish to be always relevant, let us speak of eternal things, of character, of compassion, of love for our neighbors, and of our moral duty to our world.

The power of writing

Finally, we must write. The written word has power for those that read, but it has an even greater strength to impact those that write! As surely as speaking changes our lives, how much more so does writing! Writing requires deliberation. It requires thought. It requires us to sit in silence, contemplating the concerns of our hearts so that we can express. It allows us to refine our ideas and discover the coherent themes across them, and in doing so makes us better.

And so my sons, I urge you to endeavor to master your words. Be mindful of your inputs. Be thoughtful in your outputs. Speak. Write. Listen. For these are the things that refine us as men!

My sons,

It has been said that life is a series of moments. These moments can vary across many dimensions. They may vary in duration, in intensity, in importance, and in their impact on the overall trajectory of our lives. But it is these moments, strung together with some invisible string, that guide us, that give us meaning and purpose, and that ultimately define who we are and who we will become.

When we take the time to look back and be introspective about the strings of moments in our lives, we often discover that there were some moments that seemed more important than others, more prominent in our memory. They may not have seemed important at the time, or may even in retrospect be small or unremarkable, yet they nonetheless are critical moments that we remember as having some strong impact on us.

In the 2015 Pixar movie Inside Out, the writers propose the concept of core memories. These memories hold higher importance, and are memories that strongly shape our personalities and our character traits as we grow. But they don’t explore why these memories are important, why they become core memories for us.

I believe the reason is that these memories are memories of keystone moments in our lives, moments that hold strong value and have an overall greater importance than the rest. But what are these keystone moments and why do they have such a strong impact? I’ll define the following:

Keystone moments are moments that bring clarity to all the little moments along the way, causing us to introspect and compelling us to decision and action.

If it is true that our lives are indeed a string of events, a series of moments, then keystone moments are the ones that bring clarity, understanding, and unifying themes to some series of seemingly insignificant and disconnected moments along the way. They are moments that light up individual moments and allow us to see patterns and derive meaning from the otherwise endless and continuous stream of moments along our path. And they are moments that bring sharp attention and focus, compelling us to consciously examine ourselves and actively decide what path to choose next.

Very often, a keystone moment may not be immediately obvious. We may fail to notice their significance at the time of the event itself, only recognizing their significance later on. Often it is when our minds are quiet, when our hearts are at peace, and when we’ve got the head space to reflect that we then notice a significant moment has occurred.

At first glance, these moments may not seem significant - a note from a friend, a feeling of peace after a storm, opening your first piece of mail at your own home - but in context, they become incredibly important. They allow us to elevate our thinking, to see our lives in perspective, and to step back and look at the big picture. Perhaps the note came at the end of a long series of struggles and conflicts, the peace was hard fought through a long stormy period, the mail symbolized your first touch of freedom. Regardless of the context, these moments are the culmination of a set of experiences that have deeply impacted us.

Keystone moments cause us to introspect and evaluate

A trademark of a keystone moment in the making is that when it happens, we are compelled to introspect and evaluate. Maybe you’re like me and like the dramatic and romantic thought of looking out the window at the evening city lights with a glass of scotch in your hand as you reflect, or maybe you prefer sitting in your PJs wearing your favorite robe with a warm cup of coffee on a quiet Saturday morning to think. Regardless of your choice of dramatic underscoring, keystone moments nudge us towards rumination.

These moments strike a chord with us. They are moments that reach through the veneer of everyday life and touch some deeper vein of consciousness within us, begging us to turn off the autopilot of our lives and to strongly consider the implications of what we’ve just experienced. They resonate with our core values, perhaps contradicting, perhaps amplifying, but always causing us to pause and evaluate.

keystone moments allow us to strongly pivot and change course

Some years ago, I was at yet another work conference in Vegas, staying at my favorite Vegas hotel, the Wynn. One night after some conference events, I found myself at a bar next to the casino floor with two friends, drinking and chatting way into the night. This itself is a fairly common event for me - working in Big Tech, I must have been to two or three dozen conferences in Vegas by then. This night was like many others - a couple of friends, a thinning crowd at the bar as the hours wore on, and of course, several rounds of drinks which led to deeper and more meaningful conversation. Again, nothing new.

Eventually, 5am rolled around and we all decided that we should head back to the rooms in order to make it to our 8am meeting the next morning (unsurprisingly, two of us didn’t make it), so we left the casino to escort our one friend to the hotel next door where she was staying. Walking out the front door we immediately felt tired, and attributed it to the myth that Vegas hotels pump oxygen into the casinos to keep people awake (they don’t). We all had a good laugh at that, and that was that.

Some years later as I prepared for my transition out of that company, it dawned on me - that night in Vegas was more than just our typical after-conference evening. Something about that evening that to this day I’m not perfectly clear about impacted me. For some reason, that night solidified my understanding that the thing which mattered most to me was not the work. It wasn’t the brain stretching problems, the perplexing people management puzzles, the exciting new product ideas, or even the inspiring visions for how the world ought to be, how it could be. No, the thing that mattered most to me was the people. It was the relationships. It was the friendships.

From that day onward, I changed the way I thought about my career, about the roles I was willing to take, about the team environments that I sought out. That keystone moment brought about a clarity that allowed me to pivot, to change the way I behaved and the paths that I pursued.

One of the realities of an increasingly connected world is that the strength of the current of the path expected of us gets ever stronger. With an almost nonstop scrutinization of our lives in the form of friends, social media, professional networks, and public personas, the force required for us to adjust course is almost insurmountable for most.

It often requires some large event, some crisis moment that shakes us loose and forces us to move and to pivot. Those moments are one class of keystone moments that cause us to action and give us the leverage we need to pivot.

In 2019, we had a global event that caused crisis moments for virtually every person on the planet. This global pandemic had many, many negative impacts, but for some, for the thoughtful, the intentional, and the mentally strong, it also created a flurry of keystone moments that allowed for a strong pivoting of their lives.

In the comically light hearted movie Deadpool, Colossus is trying to convince Deadpool that being a hero doesn’t mean living a life with a perfect track record. He shares:

“Four or five moments. That’s all it takes to be a hero.” - Colossus

Four or five moments. Four or five keystone moments where we pivot hard and make the hard choice to be better. That’s all it takes. I love that.

My sons,

A good friend recently recommended I read The Pathless Path by Paul Millerd, a book that describes the author’s journey in finding meaning and fulfilling purpose in his life. In the book, Millerd lays out a concept that he calls the Default Path, a blueprint for life that outlines purpose, value, and success. It is a one size fits all path that we are all expected to adhere to. He asserts that for most people, the notion that a second path exists is almost entirely unbelievable.

The Default Path, Millerd argues, is the one that our upbringing, background, social, and economic systems work together to daily reinforce. It is the model for our lives that has been imprinted and reinforced in every interaction and every experience. It is so deeply engrained, so fundamentally expected that we never stop to ask if life must in fact be led this way. And when we eventually (and, arguably, inevitably) question the path at an inflection that many have taken to calling the midlife crisis, there is such an overwhelming amount of peer pressure and societal structure to overcome that we often end up concluding that rather than being an issue with the path there is instead something wrong with us.

For North Americans, that default path often resembles what’s globally known as “The American Dream” - the belief that anyone can achieve financial and social success through hard work and dedication to that work. Images of single family homes with white picket fences, a pair of cars, a pair of kids running around with a happy spouse, and financial independence - all attained through hard (and recently updated to include meaningful) work.

Everything in our upbringing reinforces that message so strongly that most of us never stop to consider if there is another path. Legendary economist John Maynard Keynes (aka “Our Hero, Lord Keynes” to anyone who has ever had the great privilege to have taken Larry Smith’s Econ classes at Waterloo) famously said that “worldly wisdom teaches us that it is better for reputation to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally”.

And so we play to not lose.

We play the game of life in a way that doesn’t seek to win, doesn’t seek to conquer new horizons and be filled with awe-inspiring experiences and journeys. No, we play in a manner filled with fear of losing, fear of failing. We fear missing out on what everyone else is doing, fear being left behind by the masses moving in the direction of the inevitable path.

We feel so strongly that not only is this the right path, but it is the only path. And so, on we go, putting all our energies and resources into working harder, making more money, having more social influence, and raising children who do the same.

We play this fear-driven and defensive game with the hope of not losing for so long that we inevitably wake up one day sometime in our 30s and 40s and wonder what it was all for. We have spent the entirety of our youth and the majority of our most productive years on a path that we didn’t even set for ourselves! No wonder we come to a moment of crisis. Coined in 1965 (coincidentally a short decade or two after the beginning and wide-adoption of the 9 to 5), the midlife crisis is a recognition that we have been passive players in the direction of our lives, and this terrifies us.

A rude awakening

We wake up one day realizing that we don’t have any earthly clue what our life’s purpose should be, and that our goals to this point were not in fact our own. Worse, we are thoroughly unequipped to set meaningful goals for ourselves and define what a rich and fruitful life looks like, so we revolt. We buy sports cars. We get plastic surgery and update our wardrobes. We do any number of nonsensical things in an attempt to silence that inner voice telling us that we’re playing this game wrong. What many of us never realize until much too late in life is that there is another way to play this game, another path that we can be on.

We can play to win.

We can learn to play the game differently. We can endeavor to gain much more clarity on the rules of the game, the terms of engagement, and, most importantly, the conditions for victory.

Most people spend the majority of their lives sitting in the passenger seat, having fully assumed the role of spectator in the unfolding narrative of their life and having fully accepted that the majority of decisions are made for them. We were never told that there is another way to play, another path to victory, and another role that we can assume.

Think back to the first big decision you made in your life; the one where you felt the true gravitas of the situation. For a fair amount of us, this was the act of deciding which college to apply for, and hopefully to attend upon acceptance. Think of how that decision was made, of the inputs, the factors taken into consideration. How small a role did one’s passions play in that significant decision? How much more did we consider things like future earning potential, prestige of the school, respectability of the profession, desires of our parents, or just plain ol’ common wisdom?

Discover yourself

From that early age we were taught to make decisions by someone else’s standards. Playing to win means that we need to throw out those standards and to come up with our own. We need to first discover ourselves, to do the hard work of uncovering the things that bring us joy, that excite us and ignite the passion within us.

We need to let go of the need for external validation, the compulsion to measure against what our peers are doing. We need to remove the mental pollutants in our lives - the likes, the retweets, the perpetual feed of an abundantly glamorized default path - and instead look within for validation, for meaning. We need to learn to trust our internal compass.

Own it

And then we need to own it. Once we’ve discovered what makes us tick, what things bring us joy, what types of people we desire to become, we need to unapologetically own it.

One of my great mentors told me once long ago that as a society we have become so focused on the next big thing - the next promotion, the next million users of our product, the next milestone in our children’s lives - that we forget to think about the people that we are becoming. We get so wrapped up in impressing someone else that we forget about what it does to our character, our morals, and our decision making framework. If left unchecked, we become like the environment we place ourselves in.

So we need to own it. We need to own how we show up at work, what we’re willing to do based on our boss’ orders or company expectations, and how we determine what a successful time in our place of employment looks like. We need to own what we work out with our children to actually be the best for them, and not what all their peers happen to be enrolled in. We need to own what traits in a partner make us happy, whole, healthy, and growing human beings, regardless of their social standing or their pedigree.

Playing to win means playing by your own standards, and not conforming to the expectations of the world. It means being okay with walking off the beaten path. It means spending the time and effort to discover your unique personal path that will bring you much lasting joy. And that is an incredible thing.



Appearances (2) Authenticity (1) Balance (17) Beauty (1) Books (4) Brotherhood (2) Celebrating (1) Changing the world (15) Character (75) Confidence (12) Conflict (1) Connection (15) Consistency (1) Content (2) Context (1) Courage (4) Creating (2) Curiosity (7) Decision making (1) Dedication (1) Discipline (8) Diversity (1) Dream (2) Empathy (5) Empowerment (4) Encouragement (2) Epic (10) Equity (2) Excellence (1) Faith (10) Family (2) Fear (5) Feelings (2) Focus (14) Forward (5) Fulfillment (3) Gentleness (1) Grace (2) Gratefulness (1) Grit (5) Habits (6) Hard choices (2) Harmony (1) Having Fun (3) Hope (1) Humility (4) Identity (1) Inclusion (3) Inspiration (1) Integrity (6) Intentional (29) Introspection (4) Joy (4) Laughter (2) Leadership (6) Learning (11) Listening (1) Little Things (1) Loss (1) Love (10) Loyalty (2) Meaning (2) Mentoring (2) Mercy (2) Mind (5) Mindfulness (1) Mindset (6) Movement (4) Music (2) Optimism (1) Ownership (1) Passion (2) Patience (1) Perseverance (2) Persistence (2) Personality (1) Perspective (20) Prayer (1) Prioritization (2) Productivity (4) Purposeful Living (67) Purposeful-living (1) Range (2) React (2) Reaction (1) Relationship (18) Relationships (1) Resilience (1) Respond (2) Responsibility (2) Rest (2) Reverence (4) Silence (1) Space (2) Storytelling (3) Strength (6) Struggle (1) Temperance (3) Thankfulness (2) Time (9) Tolerance (1) Tomorrow (2) Tradition (1) Trust (1) Truthfulness (1) Unity (2) Values (2) Vulnerability (1) Words (1) Writing (1)