Our health directly impacts our ability to operate at peak performance. While I am not perfect in this area – just check out my fat kid food problems on Instagram – I am working to continually improve. It's one of the reasons that when I organize community events I ditch the fucking pizza for healthier food options. As for corporate environments, I have never understood why companies give out free sugar-packed snacks and soda then complain about the three o'clock crashes. I would rather have my gym membership reimbursed. In fact, you could say that picking up heavy things and putting them down at the Iron Church is part of my religion. When I lived in Boulder I started getting into races like the Bolder Boulder and the Warrior Dash. A recent injury has delayed my goals in this area, but I have decided to forgo winter sports in favor of future races. Honestly, I never thought these types of events would be possible for a body type like mine, but now I can't stop thinking about them. I guess being Type-A and beating up your body go hand in hand. No matter where you are or how old you are, it is never too late to start being fit. I saw a shirt on the back of a pretty large man walking in a race in Colorado. I will never forget it. It read something like "I am one step of ahead of where you are sitting on the couch." It only takes a small amount of effort to try, and I will always try and believe it is better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all.
Participation trophies are an abomination. Understanding that failure is both to be expected and perfectly acceptable is normal. We are not great at everything, and that is okay. Each and every one of us is special, but it is our challenge to figure out how to find that specialness; no one can do it for us. Regardless of what you think of Ashton Kutcher, he gave an amazing speech at the 2013 Teen Choice Awards. One of my favorite parts was him saying, "I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job that I had was a stepping stone to my next job and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work." I can relate. I watched my parents work their asses off for us, and that hard work, that grit, carried through to me and to my beliefs today. Part of life is never giving up hope, pushing for what you believe in for as long as it takes. I don't count how many hours I work each week. The weekends are just another day for me. I push myself to stay positive no matter what hits me, and I am not always good at it. Gary Vaynerchuk once wrote, "Once you start understanding yourself, once you start actually executing on who you actually are, versus who you wish you were, things start to change very quickly!" This is the strategy I employ in my life. The more I understand what I am great at, what I suck at, and how I can help others, the better my life is. Success is not measured by how much money you have in the bank. It starts with how you view yourself.
You may have read this word and immediately thought, "college." While I am a supporter of going to college I no longer feel it is the only path to take, especially if you are going to take on a ton of debt. Also, let's face it, not all schools are created equal, and if you're taking on debt from Stanford that is a lot different than your local community or Division III college. If I were advising a young adult today, I would much rather they finish school over five or seven years combined with real-world experience in startups and enterprises to get both book and business smarts. I also believe that team sports such as football, basketball, and baseball teach invaluable lessons in discipline, focus under pressure, and team dynamics. Looking at me, you know I can't dunk, so I would also recommend wrestling and triathlons to my young ones. Understanding just how far you can push yourself – your body and your mind – is a strength that not many focus on. The most important factor of education in today's marketplace is the concept of "constant learning." Just as money never sleeps, learning does not stop when the fictional bell buzzes at 5 pm and you leave your cube. Markets are always changing and if you're in technology like I am, it's hard to visualize just how fast it changes day to day. Gone are the days of only knowing a single programming language, especially if you want job flexibility. I encourage becoming a programming polyglot and understanding which tools are best at solving specific problems in the market.
My vision and passion can be summed up by a great quote from Tony Robbins: "Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change." I have been knocked down more than I care to share and I am still alive. Each and every day I try to reach my goals. While I am not always successful I believe that trending in the right direction stands for something. I have also come to understand that change takes time, and that people, places, and even things will come into and depart from your life for "a reason, a season, or a lifetime." The more we are in touch with who we are inside, what we believe, what our hopes and dreams are, the more we will be able to spot these events as they are occurring versus in hindsight. Like everyone else I have flaws, and a number of scars that will never heal. I used to carry a lot of this with me every day and considered it a load that was handed to me. I dropped that shit off years ago, and have not looked back. We only have one life to live. Regardless of gender, race, creed, or socioeconomic status, it's the one thing we all share and we can't take any material thing with us where we are going. My hope is that we live it, to its fullest, at a 110 mph.