My 10 Commandments

The front lawn of a courthouse

I’m not the least bit religious, but I do advocate for living a principled and value-driven life.

Here are my 10 Commandments.

Thou shalt…

  1. Pursue a Growth Mindset—seeing everything as a lesson and a chance to improve.
  2. Never be uncomfortable with your shirt off—remaining fit and active.
  3. Treat every human being with the same amount of humor and respect—be they a CEO or a gardner.
  4. Pick your battles, but be confident when expressing your ideas and opinions.
  5. Cherish every minute of quality time you get with close friends and family.
  6. Never order food or watch a show unless with another person.
  7. Never take anything personally—especially rejection.
  8. Go to the gym at least three times per week.
  9. Never text while driving a car—even at a red light.
  10. Spend more time in a day reading or having a conversation than staring at a screen.

Being human, I don’t stick to these perfectly. But having these guidelines has moved me drastically closer to the person I aim to be.

What are your commandments?

I asked my doctor friends about vaccines

Three doctors looking at

This is NOT a post trying to convince someone to get vaccinated. It’s a blog about humility.

How it started

A few months ago, I had a warm debate with a friend about the COVID vaccine. I found her arguments to be shaky and without much reassuring evidence to support them.

But it wasn’t what we were arguing about that struck me. It was the level of certainty she had about her opinions while clearly being nothing close to an expert herself.

Certainty that the counter-evidence was likely bullshit. Certainty that the 1% of medical doctors against vaccines are in the right. Certainty that the virus is being propped up so the government and big pharma may gain control over citizens.

In general, I’m less interested in what a person thinks and care way more about how they think.

The conversation with my friend eventually fizzled out, but I couldn’t help but think: Have you had this debate with any real medical experts?

This was my first dose of humility…because I hadn’t spoken to anyone in that field either. So I decided to change that.

I’m lucky to have friends and folks in my life who are either medical doctors or are surrounded by them. I reached out to each of them and asked for their expert opinions in a neutral way.

I didn’t state my thoughts and then ask for validation. I simply said: “I’m trying to get a clearer picture here. As a medical professional, would you be willing to share your thoughts on the COVID vaccine?”

Every single doctor I reached out to sent me paragraphs in response.

Here are the notable takeaways:

• “I’m extremely confident in my ability to read and dissect medical literature surrounding this topic. I think a lot of people who “do their own research” don’t know the first thing about how to conduct, analyze, or determine the relevancy of medical studies. A Google search is not even remotely the same thing.”

• “One of the reasons mankind is still alive is the existence of vaccines. Polio, Measles, Mumps, Varicella, Meningitis, Influenza, and more…would ravage us if we didn’t have vaccines. I think people have become more skeptical in the world today compared to 20 years ago about nearly everything and essentially with this first new vaccine coming in that time, it’s a perfect target for controversy.”

• “As far as reasons I support it? It’s literally the answer to this problem we are all dealing with. It is safe, it’s well researched, the studies are all massively in favor of it, and it’s the fastest and likely the only way to go back to our normal lives.”

• “After these years of education and practical training, I think vaccines are one those things that have received unnecessary negativity towards.”

• “I know there are people who can’t get it, and that is okay. I also know that people who chose not to get it aren’t necessarily selfish people, they are normally just extremely uninformed or misinformed. Everybody acts in a way that they think is best. But just because you think you’re right, doesn’t mean you are. And in this case, it is causing harm to other people. It’s everyone else’s job to protect those of us who are more vulnerable. It’s part of our societal duties.”

• “I understand people want to be wary about side effects which is absolutely fine, but everything we do in medicine is evidence-based practice. We all take the Hippocratic Oath and essentially we try to do no harm while doing what is right for patients.”

• “I would understand the resistance to the vaccine if there was legitimate cause for concern, but there isn’t. Every single time I see a new BS conspiracy theory pop up, I take a week or two to look at the research and listen to the various experts that I know personally or follow on various forms of media. Without fail, every concern has been comprehensively debunked.”

• “It baffles and frustrates me that people are so resistant to entertaining the possibility that they may be wrong. It’s led to so much vaccine resistance and done so much harm. It’s the reason we are still in this mess, the reason the delta variant is such a problem, and the reason so many people are dying unnecessarily.”

What to do with all this?

To be clear, if any of these doctors said something like: “I actually warn people against the vaccine because of x, y, and z…” I would’ve included that too.

These just happen to be all the major points made by the five people I reached out to. I’m also aware that five people isn’t a great sample size.

The point of all of this is highlighted in the first takeaway I listed: I don’t have the slightest clue of how to read and dissect medical studies. Likewise, my friends who think they can in a matter of minutes seem foolish to me.

I think in the world of the internet—where we can find anyone articulating any opinion—it behooves us to practice more humility.

When did experts become morons? Corruption is real and people make mistakes, yes. But what allows someone to feel certain they know more than someone who’s been studying that thing for decades?

We’re experiencing a strange death of expertise.

Which makes me eternally grateful to have people in my life I can turn to who know way more than I do.

If I were thinking of getting spinal surgery, and I had a friend—who’s a server in a restaurant, say—tell me they actually did some research and thought I shouldn’t because it could damage my vertebrae…my response would be: “What the fuck do you know about spinal surgery??”

Vaccines and spinal surgeries are obviously different things in scope and scale. But what I’m trying to hammer home is the ridiculous nature of listening to people who certainly don’t know what they’re talking about.

This goes for my friends who are for the vaccines as well.

In summary:

1) I don’t know shit. Neither do most of us…so we should turn to the people who do know shit before cementing our own ideas.

2) Skepticism is healthy, but the point of expertise is to have people we can trust to take care of the wildly complex things which keep our lives going.

3) The next time we feel certain about an opinion, we must ask: How much time have I spent challenging this opinion? Who can I talk to in order to challenge these thoughts?

3 rules for disagreeing with someone

In the past four years, I’ve had debates, discourse, and disagreements about politics, feminism, religion, race, transgenderism, vaccines, and more.

Some were heated and aggressive. Some were fun and fruitful.

I handled myself quite well during some. I sounded like an ass during others.

It doesn’t matter how much we connect or get along with someone else. We’ll never agree with 100% of what they believe. Disagreeing is a natural part of the human experience.

Through my conversational struggles and from the many mistakes I’ve made, I’ve learned three helpful (yet difficult) rules for having more productive disagreements.

Feel free to disagree with them (get it?).

1) Come to terms with this truth: We can never force someone to think, feel, or believe something. They have to get there on their own.

We are not creatures of logic. We make decisions based on emotion and then justify those decisions with logic.

In countless disagreements, I foolishly thought that if I just brought up another point of juicy rationale, I’d crack the other person and they’d see things the way I saw them.

Confirmation bias plagues us all. It will always be easy for us to pick and choose the (supposed) evidence which fits our narrative. We decide what we want to be true and identify with that belief. Then, if someone disagrees with that belief, it feels like they’re disagreeing with who we are as a person.

Yesterday, my friend told me about a heated debate between his two friends regarding the COVID vaccine.

One friend was arguing that the vaccines are probably not safe. He sent a screenshot of a well-sourced article listing the possible negative side effects.

The other friend then went to that same article and screenshotted a paragraph that was conveniently left out: the conclusion which said that the vaccine was ultimately proven to be safe.

I heard this part and thought that would be the shutting of the door to their argument. But the friend merely brushed it off and continued with his disputes.

With the power of the internet, we can find millions of people who agree with every possible opinion known to man. There are people with PhDs who believe the earth is flat. There are intelligent people who think the planet is 6000 years old.

Whether it’s opinions about vaccines or about our favorite athletes…our default is to cling to evidence that supports how we already feel and to shy away from evidence that challenges our beliefs.

Since that’s the case, we cannot ‘logic’ our way through a disagreement.

2) Ask way more questions.

There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, it’s crucial to understand fully what we’re arguing against. The last thing we want to do is misrepresent someone and challenge ideas they don’t actually hold.

We ask questions to paint a crystal clear picture of what they’re actually thinking.

A strawman is a fallacy in which we argue against the worst possible representation of someone’s point.

Example: “Oh, we need to do something about climate change? So you just want us to stop driving cars and stop having kids, huh?”

No…that’s not what they’re saying. That’s a strawman.

By asking curious and clarifying questions (not leading questions meant to achieve a ‘gotcha’ moment), we’re able to steelman. This is the opposite of a strawman, in which we’re able to articulate someone’s opinions perfectly.

A steelman would have us say: “So just to be clear, you believe…” Then they would say: “Yes.”

That has to be our starting point.

The second reason asking questions is so effective is it demonstrates to the other person that we’re not here to attack them. The more curious we are, the more we show we just want to understand them, the more their guard will drop.

This isn’t a trick. We want everyone involved to lower their guard and feel safe to express themselves without reacting in a defensive manner.

Curious questions make it a conversation, not a debate. This is ideal. Debates have winners and losers. But in great conversations, everybody wins.

The final benefit of asking questions is it adds scrutiny to the conversation, exposing the true strength of the person’s argument.

While this should never be the goal of asking questions, it’s possible that the person “defeats” themselves with their own words. It’s a great way to see if this person has given thought and research into this thing they believe or if they just want to believe this thing.

I recently had a disagreement over the COVID vaccines myself. (To be clear, I’m not super passionate about vaccines. It’s just come up a ton in recent months so it’s fresh on my mind.)

My friend who was super wary of the vaccines was sharing his opinions. I did my best to just ask questions. As I did, I felt that their answers were on shaky ground and I found many holes in their arguments.

There were a lot of “I don’t know’s” and “I don’t remember’s.”

Again, I wasn’t trying to slam dunk this person I have a ton of love for. I just wanted to get a clear picture of their beliefs.

Asking questions is hard, especially when we don’t feel curious at all. Curiosity is tough to fake. But it’s the only way to ensure nothing gets lost in translation.

3) Separate the person from the argument.

We’re not arguing with people; we’re arguing with ideas.

I could go on for hours about how much I hated having Donald Trump as our president. But I’m also super close with people who absolutely loved him.

That doesn’t mean I actually hate these people. It just means I don’t connect with their ideas. We don’t need to agree with someone to hug them or to have a beer with them.

So in a disagreement, it’s powerful to avoid saying things like:

• “Where you’re wrong is…”
• “What you don’t see is…”
• “I disagree with you on…”

With phrases like these, it sounds again like we’re disagreeing with them as a person.

It’s better to say things like:

• “My problem with that perspective is…”
• “That argument to me is…”
• “The way I see things is…”

With phrases like these, we make it apparent that we’re just discussing ideas. It’s not a battle over who’s more righteous, more intelligent, or more sophisticated.

Conclusion

We have to pick our battles. I’ve ruined social events because I thought it was the perfect time to argue against Catholicism.

But we should also feel safe and free enough to express ourselves. This can best be done if we change our goals for disagreement.

Instead of wanting to win, we should want to collaborate and learn.

“Seek out people, books or ideas that contradict your current beliefs and one of two things will happen…A) you will discover that you are wrong or B) you will improve your arguments for your own ideas.”

-Mark Manson

Talk to your friends

Two friends laughing together while sitting on a bench

I had an incredible phone conversation with one of my best friends yesterday.

They’re usually great, but this one really hit all the nails: a ton of laughter, business updates, and vulnerability.

One of the silver linings of the pandemic has been the multiplication of how much I value my friendships. I find it vital to go out of our way to visit and maintain communication with the people we share our lives with.

We all have those friends with whom we can go a year without talking to and then just pick right back up where we left off. That’s lovely…but if it’s a close friend, I see that as an utter waste.

Let me explain.

I’m 27. I started my own business this year, am single, and have no kids. I’ve never been more career-focused than I am right now.

All this to say I’m hyper-aware that we’re all living our own lives. We’re stressed. Many of us are still figuring out who we are and what we want. Some of us have families. It’s not like high school where we can spend every weeknight and weekend having fun with our buddies.

However, since that’s the case, there’s never been a better time than right now to sustain healthy and fulfilling friendships.

I’ve had…

• one of my best friends ghost me out of his life with no explanation to this day
• friends get arrested
• friends have quarter-life crises

It’s when we’re the most anxious, the busiest, and most overwhelmed that we need our friends the most.

If we let a year go by without any communication…yes, maybe we can pick right back up. That’s fine. But how many total hours of laughter, connection, and memories did we miss out on?

I love knowing what my friends are working on, are afraid of, and are thinking about on a consistent basis. I’m not saying I need to talk to them every single week, but more than twice a year is preferable.

We can start small. That friend we see once a year…we can bump that up to twice a year. We can set up a monthly call with our busy friends with kids.

It feels like work. Because it fucking is.

Let’s assume the major facets of life are health, wealth, and relationships (broadly speaking). I’ve noticed we put a ton of effort into working on our physical health, our mental health, and our careers, but we sort of expect our relationships to just take care of themselves.

When really they’re just like anything else important to us. They require effort, practice, and collaboration to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

When I’m an old ass man, I want to look back and think I’m glad I did…as opposed to I wish I had…

Right now, I’m so glad I had that phone call with my buddy. And I’m looking forward to visiting him in two weekends.

Dammit, our parents were right

Parents helping their daughter learn to ride a bike

I’m almost the same age my mom was when she had me.

As my friends and I approach the ripe age of 30, I’m realizing more and more that the cliches of getting older are cliches for a reason.

There are the funnier ones, like:

• hangovers get worse
• it’s easier to build fat
• we enjoy quiet alone time more

But in this blog, I’d like to briefly discuss a recent shift in my perspective. Let me explain.

Until now, I’ve relished a fairly obligation-free life. I’ve been single most years. I have no kids or pets. I’ve never owned any real estate.

But something struck me the other day as I was laying on the couch with Hank—my friends’ dog I’m pet-sitting.

Hank the dog laying on the couch
Sorry for the crouch-shot.

I’ve spent the last two weeks walking, feeding, and playing with this other living creature. Here’s what I’ve realized.

We may begrudge adding more responsibility to our plates, but it makes our lives more fulfilling and purposeful.

When I wake up at 6:30 and can’t see straight, I hear a rhythmic thumping as Hank’s tail wags and slams against my wall. It doesn’t matter how many times we do it; he’s elated to get up, eat breakfast, and go for a stroll around my apartment complex.

Every morning.

If that doesn’t motivate someone to get their day started I don’t know what would.

Parents might roll their eyes reading this. I’m aware I’m just watching a dog here.

But this is my first true experience of another living being depending on me to survive and live an enjoyable life. It’s been a real jolt of energy to add some responsibility to my life.

One of my best friends, for example, just had a baby. Even being ‘Crazy Uncle Dill’ has added some meaning to my days.

Her first words were: “Dillan is hilarious.”

I’m not saying I’m trying to have kids tomorrow. I’m saying I’ll remember this as a pivotal mindset shift as I become…dare I say it…an adult.

Simple lesson (pt. 3)

A simple lesson I learned this year:

It’s lovely to craft a successful career for ourselves. But what is twenty times more important is sustaining fulfilling relationships with other people—friends, family, and colleagues.

Is people-pleasing so bad? (pt. 1)

A young couple looking at menus in a restaurant

Two weeks ago, I ran a workshop on people-pleasing, saying No, and protecting our time and energy.

It was lovely to hear a group of friends, family, and colleagues collaborate and share stories and ideas.

The underlying notion of the conversation was that people-pleasing is bad and should be avoided. But then one of my coaching friends posed a challenge.

“I think people-pleasing gets a bad rep,” she said. “Sometimes it’s totally justified to do something we don’t feel like doing for the benefit of ourselves and especially others.”

I needed to hear this.

In the self-improvement and entrepreneurship worlds, it’s normal to hear things like:

If it’s not a Hell Yes, it’s a No.
No is a complete sentence.
Say No to most things.

What I realized as my friend was sharing her thoughts was that all these ideas are contextual. If we’re running a business, these rules are quite helpful. We can’t say Yes to every opportunity. We’d get distracted and pulled in too many directions.

But part of having healthy and fruitful relationships is being selfless for those we care about. Again, my friend made an excellent point:

“If you say No to five invites in a row, don’t get upset when your friends stop inviting you to things. Plus, how many times have you gone to something you didn’t want to go to…and you ended up having a lovely time?”

I love when I have my mind changed. Since this discussion, I’ve been more cognizant of saying Yes to things which would bring me closer to people…without burning myself out.

Do you really want this?

A man shooting a scene with a camera

We often think we want things that don’t actually fill us up.

We may desire to:

• run a thriving business
• read a book every week
• be in impeccable shape

But there’s a lingering question in all this…

Do we actually want to do what it takes to do this, or do we merely enjoy the idea of it?

I thought I wanted to be a full-time YouTuber, so last year I did a daily vlog for two months. I burned out hard and realized I fucking hated it. This felt crushing because I would watch Casey Neistat’s videos and feel like I didn’t have enough grit or determination to achieve what he has.

Comparison aside, I had to come to grips. I wanted the result but resisted the work needed to get the result.

What I wanted:

• millions of subscribers
• a community
• ad revenue

What I didn’t want:

• to shoot scenes
• to be “on” all the time
• to edit for hours each day

So what does this mean? How can we look forward to the boring and mundane stuff?

I love running a coaching business, playing chess, and working out. Even when I don’t.

It’s okay to not like the things we think we like. We just have to find the work we like.

All good, dog

Yesterday was strange.

One canceled session, two no-call no-shows, and a ton of dead time. I don’t do well with dead time.

I rarely have even one call in a day that doesn’t happen. Yesterday there were three.

As uneventful as the day was, it was mentally draining. Fears and doubts about my ability as a leader came creeping in.

But then something happened which made me forget about all of that.

My best friend dropped off his dog so I could watch him for the weekend.

Hank the dog playing at the park

Life ain’t so bad.

30 more visits with Grandpa

A grandpa smiling while sitting on a couch
Not my Grandpa lol.

Vacay

I went on a lovely family vacation this past weekend. Lakehouse, swimming, tubing, laughing.

But the most memorable moment came when I walked down to the boathouse to find my Grandpa standing at the bottom of the walkway. It looked like he was mentally preparing himself to ascend a mountain.

He had just gotten a pacemaker put in days before. I asked him what was up.

He told me he gets out of breath easily and so I held out my hand to help him up the steps. Once we made it up the first section, he thanked me and assured me he could take it from there.

“All good Gramps,” I responded. “We’ll go up together.”

We got to the deck and he took it from there since he had the handrails to balance himself. I walked back down to the dock to grab the beer I wanted and I noticed I was crying.

It wasn’t a sob. My mouth wasn’t moving. But tears streamed out of both eyes.

This was the first time I got a ‘slap in the face’ reminder of the universal truth: Our time is limited here.

A new lens

After that happened, I saw my Grandpa in a different light. I already love talking to him. He’s hilarious and one of the cleverest men I’ve ever known.

But for the rest of the weekend, I didn’t just enjoy my talks with him…I cherished them.

Every joke and story he told, I found myself uncontrollably beaming. I also looked at my calendar to find the best weekends in the coming months to drive down and visit him and my Grandma.

On top of that, I did some math.

My Grandpa turned 80 this year. Assuming he lives to be 90 years old, I have 10 more years left with him. But that’s incorrect.

On average, I see my Grandparents three times per year. Maintaining that trajectory, I don’t have 10 years left with my Grandfather…I have 30 more visits.

After this weekend, I can check off one of those boxes. 29 to go.

Is this depressing?

No. Not to me.

Talking about this shit is sad, yes. But I much prefer to be open and candid about the inevitable, rather than bury my head in the sand and pretend like death doesn’t exist.

I know people who do the latter and they tend to be the ones who shut down when the worst occurs. Not productive.

Understanding that we’re all approaching death isn’t morbid. It’s empowering.

It forces us to desire more presentness, listening, and compassion.

It invites us to say “Yes” to the things that matter more often: trips with friends, phone calls with family, playtime with kids or pets.

We can obsess over the number of checkboxes we have left with the people we love…or we can focus on the quality of each of those boxes before we check them off.

Having people we love who are alive is a gift. We get to call them, laugh with them, disagree with them, hug them, learn from them…

Even with someone we don’t particularly like—if we found out they had a month to live, we’d forgive their faults and forget our grievances with them. We’d hear what they had to say and make sure they were comfortable and cared for.

What if we did that more often with more people?

Conclusion

It’s up to us to enjoy the box we’re currently checking.

I’m not dreading the number of boxes I have left with my Grandpa. I’m ecstatic for the next box I get with him in a few months.

3 days of little tips (pt. 3)

Ask each of your close friends—or the people who know you best—what they think you’re biggest strengths and blind spots are.

What can I do more of? What can I do less of?

The more people you ask, the more you can put together patterns and work on things. Plus, you’re guaranteed to hear things you never thought you would hear.

How I maintain my energy

A pile of double A batteries

On a coaching mastermind call yesterday, we discussed ways we stay energized.

For me, it’s three things.

1) When I’m in a rut, I check my health trifecta.

• Am I getting at least seven hours of sleep each night?
• Am I eating a lot of processed foods and sugar?
• Have I exercised at least three times this week?

2) I take one weekend off each month.

I happily work on weekends since that’s when many of my clients are available. But once a month, I take a long week or weekend off to travel somewhere (usually on the east coast).

It’s a refreshing break after three weeks of hard work and I always return home feeling amped to get back to my routine and do it all over again.

Since I have no kids or other major responsibilities at this time, I figure I should take advantage of it while I can.

3) I spend a lot of time doing things I enjoy.

Chess, martial arts, exercise, quality time with friends, reading…

I find it vital to our souls to spend a good amount of time away from anything having to do with work or money. Like a vacation, it makes us appreciate our time back even more.

We should all have a thing. Preferably something challenging—a skill or a craft—we can practice and get better at.

For me, these three things are perfect substitutes for any drug or stimulant.

Marry pt. 2

The wedding I went to this weekend was amazing.

I saw old friends I haven’t seen in years, got all dressed up (something I love to do), and danced the night away.

I also:

• DoorDashed $60 of McDonald’s at 1am and fell asleep before it arrived.
• Laughed until I cried as my friend crawled (literally) into the room the morning after.
• Am pumped for the five weddings I’m attending in 2022.
• Feel eternally grateful for staying in people’s lives.

Fun fun fun.

Dance if need be

Sometimes, the best thing we can do for ourselves is put on our favorite album and pace around our home.

Mouth along with the songs. Dance if need be.

Start the day right.

Fulfillment formula

A woman in front of a chalkboard with formulas written on it

Here’s an overly-simple formula to ensure a level of fulfillment in our lives:

Step 1: Find something we like to do that’s difficult

Step 2: Do it all the time

Step 3: Get better at it

Step 4: Repeat steps 2 and 3

Be it an instrument, a sport, or a craft…having an activity we look forward to or something that challenges us is crucial—especially if it has nothing to do with our work.

When it comes to this, I’ve found that “Find your passion” is shitty advice.

Every now and then, someone finds something they are obsessed with immediately and that’s lovely. But for the other 99% of us, passions are developed…not found. They are grown like a plant, not discovered like pirate’s treasure.

In his book So Good They Can’t Ignore You, Cal Newport proves that the number one factor in how passionate a person is with something is their amount of experience/skill level in it.

We’ve all felt this. As we get better at something, we have more freedom to play around and do cooler shit, which tends to make us enjoy it more.

I’ve felt this with soccer, chess, tennis, jiujitsu, and writing.

Not that I’m particularly good at any of these things…but I have gotten better at them and have subsequently felt an increase in how much I enjoy doing them.

What do you like doing? What would you love to do consistently until you get pretty damn good at it?

Some days are perfect

It’s 10pm as I’m writing this.

Today, I cried tears of joy while driving home.

I got breakfast and mimosas with one of my best friends and his fiancé. I haven’t seen them in months since they’ve been up north preparing to have a baby. Today, I met that fucking baby, held her, and reached enlightenment.

Then I met my other friend to see a movie—The Green Knight—in theaters for the first time since the pandemic began. We rode scooters back to his apartment in perfect weather.

I drove straight to my mom’s house to take care of her dogs—walk, feed, and play with them.

Finally, I met up with another best friend to play chess, go out on his boat, and grab dinner. Leaving the dock, I looked back at the pink-sky sunset over the water and couldn’t believe this all happened in less than 12 hours.

I write about the lessons, struggles, and questions I explore on a daily basis. But sometimes I just need to sit back and reflect on how fucking grateful I am to have the life that I do.

My friends, my environment, my capabilities…

I’m not sure if I deserve them, but I certainly try to.

I think I like today. I think it’s good.

Effortless

I just finished reading Effortless: Make It Easier to Do What Matters Most by Greg McKeown.

It was the perfect sequel to the book that changed my life last year: Essentialism—The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.

This book challenges the notion that anything important or valuable has to be hard work.

Hard work is lovely, but it’s wildly beneficial to us if we stop and ask: “What would it look like if this were easy?”

I’m a slow reader…and I flew through this in two days because I enjoyed it so much.

My biggest takeaways:

• Burnout is not a badge of honor.

• The more you complain, the more you have to complain about. The more grateful you are, the more you have to be grateful for.

• When you focus on what you lack, you lose what you have. When you focus on what you have, you get what you lack.

• Establish clear conditions for what ‘done’ means, then stop.

• There is no mastery without making mistakes. And there is no learning without the courage to be rubbish.

Laughing on a boat

A couple laughing on a boat
A better-looking, more muscular version of me.

I took most of this weekend off to spend time with friends.

We had a shrimp boil, played corn hole, and drank Coors Light on a boat. Simple living.

It was one of those weekends where you find yourself belly-laughing every five minutes or so.

Being on the water. Telling jokes and stories. Discussing ideas about life.

I’m not a religious man. I don’t really believe in purpose or destiny…

But I dare say that’s what life is all about.

Letting go

I had a lovely coaching session with a client this past weekend where he let something go after seven years.

He had been writing songs since he got out of college and they have been unfinished all this time. The challenge is, his music tastes have changed a ton so he doesn’t feel inclined to go and finish the songs he started years ago.

By talking it out, he decided to let those songs go and archive them.

“I’m not going to finish them and there’s a reason why.”

He decluttered his life. He made space for more time and bandwidth.

What can you let go of to do the same?

Losing power

For the first time in my adult life, we lost power at my place.

We lit candles and reminisced over the good days when we could sit on our phones with the lights on. Instead, we had to sit on our phones with the lights off.

It got me thinking…what else do we constantly have at our disposal that we totally take for granted? It didn’t take me long to realize the answer: everything.

The fact that I…

• can see and hear
• have all four of my limbs
• don’t have any major disease
• have friends
• have parents and grandparents who are alive

The list could literally go on forever.

One day, these things will be taken from me. The only thing I can do is cherish them in the present.

Morning walks

Today I’m going on an early morning walk with my buddy.

I couldn’t think of a better way to jumpstart the day.

It’s a lovely reminder of how important (and impactful) it is to do something with others with no phone around.

No internet. No notifications. Just laughs and conversation.

A friendly weekend

It’s always a bittersweet morning when a friend leaves after visiting for the weekend.

When he arrived on Thursday night, I thought, Wow, we have three nights. He’ll be here forever!

But as happens every time, the weekend flew by and before I knew it I was hugging him goodbye.

He left me with some insight as he packed up his stuff. He said it rarely feels like his trips last the perfect amount of time; it’s either not enough time or too much. “I prefer when it feels like I wish I had more time. I remember the trips purely as fun, with zero frustration. Also, it makes me excited for the next one.”

It certainly wasn’t enough time…I am looking forward to the next one.

Visit your friends.

VYF

I took the weekend off because one of my best friends is visiting.

He’s sitting right behind me on his computer as I type away on mine.

Today we’ll go for a hike, get some lunch, play some chess…

Life is good. Visit your friends.

Find a buddy

Two buddies drinking at a bar and celebrating

This morning, I swam laps with my best friend at the local center.

There was literally no chance I would’ve done that alone at 7am. I needed a buddy.

Get yourself a buddy. They’ll motivate you and hold you accountable for things you don’t really want to do.

The sexiest things in the world

To me, are:

• Great storytelling
• Listening skills
• Competence and skills
• Ambition and the drive to pursue something
• A person who is eager to learn

Nothing’s wrong

One plus one equals three
A real photo of my senior thesis.

I got coached by a friend yesterday. I came into the session with the past two weeks containing more stress and anxiety than I’ve felt in years. Here’s what happened.

It went well. She’s a great coach. But often times we go into a coaching session thinking we’ll leave with total relief and clarity. We believe if we come in with negative emotions, we’ll talk out our feelings and reach the insight that we don’t need to feel them at all.

But that’s not always true.

When she asked what was going on, I told her that in the past two weeks:

• my biggest possible client pulled out
• I have a big presentation coming up, and
• I’ve been falling off with my habits

Talking this shit out is always powerful. Talking it out with a coach who knows what she’s doing is always 50 times more powerful. These were my three biggest takeaways:

1) Nothing’s wrong.

Feeling discomfort—stress, anxiety, uncertainty, doubt, fear—is a natural part of the human condition. Why then do alarms go off when we feel these ever-occurring emotions? Our fight or flight response is activated and our bodies tell us in one way or another that something’s wrong.

I had to remind myself that I’m constantly stepping out of my comfort zone, I’m running my own business, I’m new at it. Rather than thinking I don’t need to feel stressed, I came to the realization: Of course I feel stress! And that’s okay. Who wouldn’t?

In other words, nothing’s wrong.

2) Three magic questions.

Be it with my coaching, my hobbies, or anything else I want to pursue in life…I basically boiled down my life purpose into three questions:

• Am I having fun?
• Are other people having fun?
• Is this helpful?

The answers to those three questions tell me whether or not I’m in the right space.

3) I always figure it out.

I have flunked out of college, tried to kill myself, and been in $80,000 worth of debt with no job. And I’m still here…typing out this blog.

We often feel like if we don’t “figure it out” (whatever the hell ‘it’ is), we’ll fall into a black hole. But no, we just wake up the next morning. We adapt. We figure it out.

The important thing is to continue to be vigilant about figuring it out. Ask questions. Get a coach. Share thoughts and feelings.

When we do all of these things consistently, we come to understand that no matter how we’re feeling…nothing’s wrong.

Why do I feel this way?

A baby playing with macaroni

Yesterday, I had a conflict with my best friend. The thing was, he had no idea because it happened entirely in my mind.

The details aren’t super important. We had made plans to do something that I was excited for. He backed out the day of because he wasn’t comfortable doing it until next week.

All the logical parts of me were saying: Of course man. You don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with!

But my automatic emotional response was something entirely different. I felt like: Really man? Come on, you pansy.

I noticed right as it was happening. If I logically know his choice makes sense and is fine, why do I feel hurt and frustrated? Or, put in a cheesier way: Why is my brain saying one thing but my heart is feeling another?

I wanted to text him back but I worried about being in too emotional of a state to say anything of substance. I remembered the advice I’ve heard and have given several times: Don’t respond in an incredibly emotional state—be it anger, sadness, or even excitement.

The reason being that our emotions are fleeting. Especially if it’s a powerful emotion, we most certainly won’t be feeling that way for very long. So naturally, when we respond to someone in that state, we tend to regret what we’ve said or done when time passes and we come out of it.

I didn’t respond. I remembered my training.

As the day came to a close and I finished working, I still felt a slight tinge of disappointment. But I was quite glad I didn’t say anything earlier. Whatever it would’ve been, it wouldn’t have been productive.

I went to jiujitsu and called him when I got out. I told him everything.

It was a truly lovely and utterly strange conversation. I wasn’t saying sorry, but I felt bad. He had nothing to forgive, but he felt reconciled.

We came to the conclusion that I tend to have emotional reactions when things don’t go the way I thought they would. I’ll have it in my head that it’s going to be this, but when that doesn’t happen, my internal response goes, This isn’t how it was supposed to happen!

I asked him about times when his logic and emotions were saying two different things. We shared stories, discussed mindfulness, and expressed gratitude for our ability to have such open conversations.

We laughed as we compared this phenomenon to when someone’s partner dreams they cheated and wake up pissed off at them. Logically, they know nothing happened…but they just emotionally experienced something traumatic.

Lessons:

• We’re emotional beings. We make decisions based on emotion and then justify them with logic.

• While it can be scary or uncomfortable, having totally candid conversations with our close friends is one of the most rewarding experiences out there.

• We cannot control our thoughts or emotions. They simply arise. What we can control is whether or not we let them dictate our words and actions.

2 Dills

A bowl of pickles

There are days where I’m energetic, motivated, positive, proactive, ambitious, present, and on top of my fucking shit.

There are days where I just want to sit in bed for 12 hours and watch YouTube videos and I have to fight tooth and nail not to. I’m anxious, tired, lazy, uncertain, and doubtful.

But regardless of what kind of day it is, I will:

• Show up and do the work
• Be kind to others
• Be as helpful as I can

So long as I can keep these in my daily life, the Dark Dill will never win.

We’re all different, we’re all the same

A man with one blue shoe and one yellow shoe

After all the conversations and interactions I’ve had with people, this paradox is my favorite thing about the human condition.

We’re all different…

We all vary wildly in our: values, interests, senses of humor, perspectives, strengths, weaknesses, appearance, and styles….

I love how I can never truly know who a person is until I have a conversation with them.

I’ve met white people, black people, gay people, tall people, short people, trans people, asian people, hispanic people, skinny people, fat people, smart people, and not-so-smart people…who are hilarious, compassionate, and kind.

I’ve met white people, black people, gay people, tall people, short people, trans people, asian people, hispanic people, skinny people, fat people, smart people, and not-so-smart people…who are boring, selfish assholes.

When a person is born, it’s like pulling on a slot machine. We never know what kind of human is entering this life.

We don’t choose our parents and we don’t choose our environments. Meaning, we don’t choose our DNA or our brain makeup. Meaning, we don’t choose any of the things that truly make us different.

I didn’t choose to not be born in the middle of the Syrian civil war. I didn’t choose to be born to parents who didn’t beat me. I didn’t choose anything about me.

We’re all different. But….

We’re all the same…

This didn’t really hit me until I started coaching people: sitting down with individuals to have deep and vulnerable conversations about what they want and what’s getting in the way.

How are we all the same?

To get the obvious answer out of the way, we’re all made of the same stuff. I’m made of bones and organs and tissue. And I’m willing to bet that all of my neighbors are too.

Speaking of neighbors, we’re all living on the same giant, floating rock in space.

“This is my area of rock. You stay in your area of rock.”

“We’re hurting this rock!”

“No we’re not, get your facts straight!”

But the simplest fact that ties us all together is by far my favorite.

No matter where we are or what we do for a living, we all want to feel like we’re spending our time well while we’re alive.

My job is to talk to people about what they want. Yes, there are patterns and similarities between the desires of different people: productivity, meaningful work, freedom. But they each pop up with different levels of stress and anxiety.

But at the end of the day, we all want stuff, and most of us feel like there’s something in the way of us getting that stuff.

Figuring out what we want and how to overcome what’s getting in the way is a life-long battle. We’re all fighting wildly different battles.

But at the same time…we’re all fighting the exact same fight.

Cliches are true?

People often say: “It’s cliche but it’s true.”

That’s always confused me. Of course it’s true! That’s why it’s a cliche.

Here are a few that I live my life by:

1) If you want something different, you have to do something different.

In other words, if we’re doing the same thing over and over again, we can’t complain that we’re not getting the results we were hoping for.

For many months, I wanted a thriving coaching business but was unwilling to put myself out there and make it happen. Needless to say, I wasn’t reaching enough potential clients. Only once I gritted through the fear did I really start to make the business sustainable.

2) You get back what you put out into the world.

The happiest and most fulfilling moments of my life are always when I’m the most positive, grateful, and compassionate person I can possibly be.

Shockingly enough, people enjoy being around folks who make them laugh, make them feel listened to and supported, and make them feel inspired to take action.

It’s similar to another cliche:

If you’re not getting what you want in life, help more people.

This has been true for me in business and in my relationships.

3) Do what you love.

I know, barf.

But let me explain.

I hated my full-time job and had to quit and start my own thing to keep my sanity. I’m well-aware that most people have no interest in doing that.

Doing what we love doesn’t mean we have to uproot our careers and fight tooth and nail to make money with our passions. I have a ton of friends who work jobs they don’t necessarily love so they can pay their bills and have the time and money to have fun on their days off.

Doing what we love can mean:

  • Trying more new things
  • Developing our passions
  • Spending more intentional time away from anything to do with work
  • Taking more trips
  • Spending more quality time with loved ones

I love writing this blog, so I cut out a chunk of time each morning where I type away. I say no to most things on weeknights so I can do jiujitsu. I play chess every day. I take one vacation each month. And yes, I work my ass off to continue this career I absolutely love.

It’s cliche…but it’s true.