Life Posts

People Inspire People

My first book of 2022 was The Storyteller by Dave Grohl. Dave is the frontman of the band Foo Fighters and was the drummer for Nirvana. I’ve been a Dave fan since his song “Everlong” enamored me as a junior higher.

The book is a fun look at the life of a rockstar. What’s most surprising is Dave’s humility every time he meets one of his musical heroes. He recounts story after story of these encounters throughout the book and the joy he has in each one is contagious. Throughout these stories he repeated a phrase that has stuck with me.

“People inspire people.”

As an artist, he attributes much of his inspiration and creativity to the people he’s interacted with in his life. I appreciate the simplicity of this idea and it seems this is an insight we would do well to keep at the forefront of our lives.

We’re all trying to keep our heads above water amidst a collective weariness in our world. Michelle and I have noticed that we seem to be getting Covid emails from our kids’ schools every day for every grade. None of us are quite sure what ‘normal’ looks like anymore. We are likely spending less time with others these last few years than ever before. Now more than ever it matters that invest ourselves into the people around us.

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Holding Something While it Rots

I once heard the marketing guru Seth Godin say that “Too many people are holding onto something while it rots.” If you think of this idea in physical terms—say of holding onto a rotting piece of fruit—it seems absurd. We wouldn’t do that. Yet when it comes to the intangibles we often don’t realize the absurdity of our actions.

I think this tendency to cling to what is rotting is why we are slow to embrace new things.

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Useless Space

Useless Space

Our family is back in Arizona after spending the last few weeks in Oregon. Before we left we stopped by a Starbucks that had a path into the forest behind it. Naturally, I had to take the kids on a little exploration walk to find out where the path went. Much to our enjoyment, we got to walk across a super cool bridge over a river and through a meandering forest. There were a few signs along the way and one of them caught my attention.

On it I read these words:

“Sweek Pond is one of several small wetlands nestled within Tualatin’s urbanized landscape. Often dismissed as ‘useless’ lands, these pockets of natural vegetation provide critical habitat for many animal species.”

The phrase “useless lands” stood out to me after the beauty I had just walked through. Who on earth would call this beauty useless? Yet the more I thought of it, the more I realized why someone would say that. There isn’t a lot you can do in the middle of wetlands.

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The Enrichment of Time

When I was younger I remember clearly thinking that people who spent a lot on vacations were wasting their money. The reason for my thinking was that after a vacation, you had nothing to ‘show’ for the money spent. You may have the memories—and likely photos—but nothing else to show for the vast amounts of money spent. It seemed better to spend that money on physical items that would be around long after the vacation.

But I’ve noticed a shift in my thinking in this area over the years. Now I’m far less interested in physical items and far more interested in making memories and creating moments with the people in my life. I think part of this is the result of getting older and raising kids (even though some people seem to have never struggled with this type of thinking no matter their age). I think in different terms now: I have six more summers until my oldest is an adult. This causes me to view the time I have with them with a sense of focus.

The Psychologist Tim Kasser has argued that the enrichment of time will lead directly to happiness. Conversely, he suggests that the enrichment of material objects will not.

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The Kid in Right Field

My eleven-year-old son recently started playing baseball again. I realized this weekend that I’ve become the dad that explains baseball nuance and rules to the parents around me. I can’t help it. Even as an introvert, I have to respond when a parent randomly asks out loud (to no one in particular), “Why did that kid just run to first base on a strikeout?”

But this last weekend I saw something I didn’t have an explanation for. If you look at the photo below, my son’s team was on the field in green. And if you look closer, the kid playing right field is wearing a bright orange jersey (look in the red circle).

That’s because he was on the other team.

Our team was short two players, which also explains why there were only two outfielders. Evidently, they went to the other team and got someone to play the field. I couldn’t help thinking how challenging this must be for this kid. How hard should he try to play defense against his own team? Were his parents rooting for him to play amazing defense too? What if his team lost because of an amazing play he made against them?

It’s a bit of a tricky situation which leads to confusing motivations. But this is actually more common than we may realize.

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3 Types of Comparison

It’s been noted that we can compare ourselves to others in at least three different ways.

  1. Upward comparison – with people we perceive are better than us. This leads to envy.
  2. Lateral comparison – with people we perceive are at our same level. This leads to competition.
  3. Downward comparison – with people we perceive who are worse off than us. This leads to arrogance.

We’d all love to say we’re above the comparison trap, but I’ll be the first to admit how easy I can get sucked into this. Even in areas that shouldn’t matter.

Michelle and I have been working out at Orange Theory together now that all our kids are in school during the day. This week we had what they call a “benchmark row,” which means you time yourself doing 2000 meters on the rowing machine. Afterward, you input your time in their computer so it saves it to your profile.

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