Appreciation: How to Exit The Complaint Train

I recently crashed while riding a very expensive mountain bike through a canyon AT NIGHT. I shattered my collarbone and had to have surgery. It’s painful and the medical bills are piling up (even with my “gold insurance”).

I admit it. I complain sometimes. I make less money than I made before. There are too many rules. The government is ineffective. My back hurts.

Most of my problems are ‘first world’

I’m fed up with my complaining and that of many other people.

There are probably 7 billion people that would happily switch places with me (or you). I haven’t done a study. I pulled a number from the air. 99% of studies that I do are made up (I don’t finish the other 1%).

Why do I say 7 billion? There are 7.3+ billion people in the world. I think I am one of the luckiest people in the world. Call that ego, but the point is that I am damn lucky. I have clean water and plenty to eat in a great city/country, a healthy family, employment and medical insurance.

There are countless people that complain. Some complain about Wall Street, politics, and/or religion. Yet, others complain about [seemingly] nothing. There are very few that tell us to shut up and appreciate what we have.

Many brave men and women have fought for the right to say what we want (in many countries). Yes, we may have the “right” to complain, but that doesn’t mean we should.

I can’t complain but sometimes I still do – Joe Walsh, ” Life’s been good

In the U.S., it is easy for the media to capture the 100-person march to end ___ (whatever they feature this week)___. It would be far more difficult to capture the other 322 million that are indifferent. Tweeting to their base of 100 [like minded] followers doesn’t do anything.

Should we complain or try to change it? Should we try to change it if only 100 disagree? What is the tipping point? 1,000? 1,000,000? Is it 51%? What about the other 49%? If it’s that divided, maybe it doesn’t matter. That’s right, maybe your “cause” doesn’t matter!

I can only speak to my observations, but a huge majority of people I meet are indifferent. Even most of the passionate ones on either side are all talk.

“Actions speak louder than words, but silence is golden”

The super passionate people on either side are the ones that act. They might fund a campaign, donate to the cause, march on Washington/Wall Street. There might be equal numbers fighting against that same cause.

No matter where we might stand on politics or religion, true progress is open to our interpretation. If our thing just ‘won’, it’s progress. It probably doesn’t matter to us if it pissed off the others.

What if we all had the courage to complain less and appreciate what we have? When should we have the courage to recognize that what is important to us, may not be to others? When should we ‘fight to the death’ to stand up for what we believe? When should we just shut up and stop complaining?

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

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I’m Too Busy For That

I feel like life gets busier and busier. It seems like every week flies by faster than the last. I have been trying to slow things down. Over the past few years, I have been spending more time being a better father. I now rarely miss a school performance or other special event. I have been taking time soak in the little moments like the bonus wave.

I often hear people say, “I can’t do that. I’m busy.”

Yep, you are the only one that is busy.

“Lack of direction, not lack of time is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.
– Zig Ziglar

People love to tell us how busy they are. This term ‘busy’ has invaded our lives. It can be true. We can be busy.

We can be busy with a specific commitment. We can be busy with volume. We can be busy with what is important to us. We are often busy with what is not important to us. Maybe it was handed to us. Maybe we aren’t passionate about it.

Often, “I’m too busy for that” is dishonest. Usually, the reality is that we don’t want to make time for that. It’s amazing how much time we can find when something truly important comes up.

Some of us are busy trying to look busy.

Do we make time for causes that are important? Family? Health? Family health? Our charity? Our work? Our art? Our tribe? Our future?

We all have to prioritize. We are all busy. We all have missions that are important to us.

What if we said “no” more often? What if we took a stand and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t think that is important to me right now”. If we are less busy, we could say yes when the important things come up.

Have the courage just to say no. Have the courage to be honest. Have the courage to put the most important things first.

How do you stay not too busy? What’s your strategy for building ‘you time’ or other time into your schedule?

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

Living With ADHD

Many people think that ADHD is a myth because major diagnosis didn’t begin until the early 1990s. It can be traced back to as early as 1798. I can tell you it’s real because I live with it every day.

ADHD is a very difficult thing to explain. Like most disorders, it is greatly misunderstood. I am going to attempt to explain how my mind works. I don’t know how well it will come across in writing.

In my case, I am not hyperactive, but that may have described me as a child. It’s not that I can’t focus, but I struggle with it at least 90% of the time. I did show some compulsive behaviors as a child. I have an awareness about this as I still have to fight that sometimes.

In general, I am a very determined person. I don’t dabble in things. I am either “all in” or “all out”. I am obsessive about completing things that I start. My work looks different than most other people that I observe. I might work on 1 thing for 10 minutes, then the next, then the next, back to thing 1. I don’t want to do that. I liked thing 3 better.

Creative
I never considered myself creative. I am not artistic in most traditional senses. At work, people describe me as highly adaptable and a creative problem solver.

I can see angles that often others can’t see. This can create a problem when I can’t describe what I’m seeing.

I struggled to embrace creativity to describe me for many years. I finally identified that my creativity comes from my ability to assess situations and likely outcomes at a rapid pace. I am a great problem solver and resourceful.

School
School teachers – “Trent would be great if he applied himself”.
Me – “This isn’t interesting. Let’s ride bikes or go to the arcade”.
Reading was virtually impossible through high school and college. I couldn’t focus. This is especially true of subjects that were of no interest to me and teachers that were out of touch with reality. I dropped out of college early.

In 2012, when I enrolled in San Diego State Master’s Program for Hospitality Tourism Management, I was laser focused for the whole year. I thrived with audio books and applicable material. I thrived with teachers that cared about me as an individual. I thrived with determination to be better as a leader and a person.

Work
My mind can go a mile-a-minute. I excel in fast-paced environments. While I can be a procrastinator, I never miss a deadline.

I worked at Mcdonald’s from age 14 to 16. It was fast paced and challenging from a volume perspective. For the following 2 years, I worked nights and early mornings in a drug store. I figured that if I worked overnights, no one will notice that I can’t stay in one place. Later I switched to shipping and receiving so no one would see me fidget in the back of the store.

I finally found my element in hotels. It is a world of distractions. Every. Single. Day. I did that for about 9 years and then was lured away with money and a lot less pressure in 2003. Unfortunately, it was an office job and it was torture. I was out of my mind with repetition and boredom. I became a day trader to keep things exciting.

I was finally officially diagnosed with ADHD in 2004 and was prescribed one of the popular medications. I became a zombie and had some weird side effects. I stopped taking it after just a few months.

After 5 years, I returned to hotels and I am back in my element. I was an opening and takeover specialist in hotels because I could make things happen.

Sleep
It’s hard. Some nights impossible. They say eliminate alcohol, don’t eat late, exercise, do this, don’t do that. Try this medicine, meditate. Get up at 4 am. I’ve tried it all, to no avail. My mind won’t stop.

Downtime
Laying on the beach soaking up the rays? Impossible. In the water, exploring, finding creatures, even coral formations…amazing.

I don’t go to the movie theater. In the rare instance I watch a movie at home, I usually pause often to walk around and do random tasks.

Working out is tough. A gym is boring (and gross). Riding trails on a mountain bike and finding new trails is the only fitness activity that I have found that I enjoy.

Listening
Listening can be torture. My mind wanders. My work-a-round is asking questions that I am interested in. I find that asking relevant questions keeps my mind in the conversation. If someone decides to drone on about themselves, my mind ‘bails’ and I tune out.

One of my employees is from Russia. I’ve never been there. I asked her about the culture, the people, the prisons (I have read about them), and even the vodka (I have “researched” those). What was it like in the 80s? How does it compare now? If you didn’t have family there, would you ever go back?

Overall, life with ADHD is fun and torture in a neat, scrambled package. It can be a weakness but, it can also be a strength in many situations.

Living with ADHD is fun.
Living with ADHD is a nightmare.
Living with ADHD is real.

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

Thank you to Jeffrey Strickland and Sarah Elkins for giving me the courage to talk about this important subject!

Who Are The People In Your Networkhood?

Here are some thoughts for my friends that don’t use LinkedIn.

Throw your phone book and your contact list away. You (almost) don’t need it. If everyone maintained complete profiles, we could just use LinkedIn to stay connected.

We wouldn’t have to worry if Bob changed to a company cell phone or Jenny moved cities and has a new email. We don’t even have to remember what their name is! “What was the contact I met from XYZ company?” Boom, answered by LinkedIn.

I hear from peers (about not using LinkedIn):

-I don’t use it.
-I don’t need it.
-I don’t know how.
-I don’t need another thing.
-I am too busy.
-This feature is broken and it is frustrating.

Here are my thoughts on why/how to use LinkedIn. They may be different for you.

Don’t wait until you need it. LinkedIn can be an incredible networking tool. We can reconnect with old connections or find new connections. We may have HR professionals and recruiters solicit us for positions or referrals. If you are an entrepreneur, someone may hire your company. You may find future business partners and become an entrepreneur.

We can learn from each other. Writing a post can be intimidating but there are many ways to get started. Comment on posts. Contribute to conversations of others. Instead of just liking something, say something. This is how this content relates to me. This is how this content is right/wrong.

Make a commitment. This is a tough one. Hold yourself accountable in public. In March, I committed to writing a post per week for 6 months, even down to the day. This was a big step. I declared my commitment and have stuck to it even when I am really busy (or broke my shoulder).

“Don’t Wait Until You Need It” – Me

Try a small commitment. Here are some ideas:
-Connect with 5 past co-workers per week.
-Check LinkedIn once per day for 5 minutes.
-Read 2 articles on LinkedIn per week.
-Comment on 2 articles per week.
-Set a daily calendar reminder to accomplish these tasks.
-Write 10 post topics, and then pick the one that you are the most expert in and write a post. (HT James Altucher)

Have the courage to give yourself the gift of a complete profile (there are hundreds of other articles on this topic). Have the courage to not be anonymous. Have the courage to contribute and get noticed.  Have the courage to engage in this platform.

How do you use the platform?

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

Note: This draft sat in Evernote for a long time.Jeffrey Strickland‘s post of “Why I Use LinkedIn” encouraged me to dust it off and hit publish. Nothing to disclose. I do not work for LinkedIn or any company that has any direct relation to the company. I was not asked or offered any incentive to write this article. There are a couple LinkedIn employees in my network, but this is not an advertisement. This is about the power of a tool that I use.

Image: linkedintelligence

The Jeffect

Jeffect header

When I first started writing on LinkedIn, I was a bit lost. I had never blogged or written anything significant. I asked many in my network to support me early. I emailed links and asked for likes/comments. I figured people would grow tired of this so I stopped asking so many people.

Except for a couple of “hits” my traffic numbers waned. I didn’t mind that, as I was learning my own style.
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I think Jeffrey Strickland found me first. I had made a comment on a post by Brigette Hyacinth and he commented on one of my posts. He was brief but very supportive. I reciprocated. We connected (I could have these events out of order but that isn’t important).

A couple of weeks later, Jeffrey wrote a post about ‘The Harder Way‘. I was being a bit selfish by providing him a link to my post ‘The Easy Gear‘. I just felt that they tied together so well, that it warranted a “link bomb”. He was in the U.S. Army…he can handle a bomb, right? Well, he did with grace, and then some. Maybe it was his comment. Maybe it was my link bomb. All I know is that I found the Jeffect and it wasn’t stats.

I have learned much from Dr. Strickland. Some of the predictive and math models are clearly over my head, but so many of his other posts hit home. He has exposed himself (no, not in that way) and some of his experiences to us.

His I rode with Wallace series skillfully summed up his military career in little paragraph bites. While I assume there is virtually a book behind each one, I still feel like a was a fly in the wall, watching a quick film about all of his incredible experiences.

I Rode With Wallace Part I  II  III  IV  V  VI  VII

Jeffery has had to overcome incredible obstacles but instead of complaining, he has chosen to kick ass at each one. With each interaction, he’s gentle, considerate, and an example that each of us might aspire to become. I bet he could still kick ass at more than a predictive model. He kicks ass at being genuine. He regularly promotes others with his writing and encourages others to do the same.

The Jeffect is about being better person as a result of my affiliation. He’s in my network. How about yours?


Intro: DebThe Queen of ConversatingHelfrich

Getting started on LinkedIn – How to begin building a community

I love Trent’s story about Jeffrey Strickland. It is not an exaggeration to say that Jeffrey is leading thousands of people every day by simply being himself on LinkedIn.

I joined LinkedIn in August 2005 I had a nearly empty shell as my account for 10 years, I was able to get work as a software consultant easily through other channels, and being an extreme introvert I had a long-standing belief that I was not meant to be on social media. After a nice long sabbatical from consulting and ready to do something entirely different, I decided to open a business earlier this year. I wasn’t quite sure how to do what I really wanted to do, so I went with something that seemed easier to market – become an interview coach.

This was the best worst decision I ever made. I helped a lot of people over the years get jobs and they all said I was very good at giving them the perspective and practice that helped them in interviews, so it seemed like a pretty good place to start, but my heart was not fully invested. That is always a mistake. But the fact that I wanted to help people who were interviewing, meant I needed to tackle my resistance to LinkedIn.

It was not easy. I spent a few months coming to the site, getting overwhelmed, and clicking away within minutes. I was spinning my wheels. In June, I finally challenged myself to just spend time every single day reading articles on LinkedIn. I am a world class reader so I started with what came naturally and didn’t force myself to be anything I wasn’t. I left 35 comments in June. I doubt anyone noticed me and I had no conversations.

Over the 4th of July holiday, I finally asked myself why couldn’t I commit to figuring out how to use LinkedIn. I decided to go for it. In July I left 439 comments – you can get an export of your comments from LI along with the rest of your data. For most of July, I was just practicing. I read widely. I scrolled through Pulse every single work day. Talking about interviews was merely work, but when I could find a post that really interested me, I got excited and developed a style of commenting that felt right to me. Still my network was around 40 people.

Then I bumped into Jeffrey. On July 21st, he thanked me for viewing his profile. And my life changed. The person I am able to be today on LinkedIn is because of the simple act of kindness he extended to me and that I watch him do for others every single day.

How to start a professional relationship on LinkedIn:

When I went and found this exchange and realized how perfectly it demonstrates a number of the principles that both Jeffrey and I stand for – and why we both support the concept of Unfluence – I reached out to him for permission use this screen print to write a how-to post on the simple act of making a new connection into someone you are having a conversation with.

Well, he is a lot more prolific than I am, I think and reflect a lot before I write, probably way too much. So he beat me to the punch and wrote a post about conversating that is probably one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. Of course, I needed I return the favor.

If you know Jeffrey Strickland your life has been enhanced. If you don’t know him, view his profile – you never know what might happen!

4.5 of his favorite posts (we tricked him into sharing this with us):
How I Overcame
Can We Agree To Disagree?
Measuring Success by Friendship
Who Are the Unfluencers? (and Redux)

What Will They Say?

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In the herd, the buffalo usually run when the lion pounces for the kill. Sometimes the herd is bold. Sometimes a group stands up and fights the lion so that valuable herd member survives. Will the herd protect you, even to their own peril?

Sometimes I don’t fit in with the herd. I don’t always follow the rules. I don’t consider myself a rebel, but I’m not a blind follower. I don’t agree with “the way we’ve always done it” or “best practices” or “goals”. Sometimes I get strange looks when I say these things, but my herd has my back because I’ve got theirs.

Has anyone ever said these things at a funeral/retirement party/going away party? 

“We loved him/her because
– she was so good at following the rules”.
– he scored high on his audits”.
– she met the deadlines”.
– he wrote good posts on LinkedIn”.
– she was just like everyone else”.
Probably not.

What will they say
– about that thing she built?
– about his latest creation?
– when she leaves office?
– when she is out if the room?
– when the lights go down?
– about what she meant to the world?
– about his ability to connect? How he made people feel?
– in 10 years?
– when she is dying?
– after he is dead?

They might say:
“She will be missed because she
– created that thing”.
– always made me laugh”.
– made me/them/the world better”.
– connected with everyone”.
– was honest”.
– cared about me”.

“I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time.” – Banksy

Will they say anything? Did she make an impact? Was it positive? Who will be listening when they say it? How do you want to be remembered?

Have the courage to write your eulogy and work backwards. Have the courage to be who you want to be, not just who they expect you to be. Be the buffalo that matters.

What will they say about you? I’d love to hear it in the comments.
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Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

I Know How You Feel

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A few weeks ago, my dear friend’s mom committed suicide. Shock to me? Yes. Shock to everyone else? I think so but I don’t know how they feel or what they think.

A few days later, we were all sitting around the dinner table. I was uncharacteristically silent while friends expressed condolences in their own way. It was ALL WRONG!

Many of us have been subconsciously trained to say “I can relate” or “I know how you feel.” The reality is that I can’t relate and I don’t know how you feel. Even if we were identical twins that lost a parent, we wouldn’t be able to say these things. Even if we are soul mates, best friends, or brothers from a different mother, we are all unique.

Empathy is a myth

As a “man”, I have a tendency to want to fix things. I want to have the answers. As humans, we want to provide comfort. We want to believe that we can relate. We want to share what “worked for us.” The horrible truth is that there isn’t a Google Map. Everyone has to navigate their own trails.

Empathy is a myth. Yep I said it. Here is the definition from Merriam-Webster: “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions : the ability to share someone else’s feelings”

We can believe that we can share someone else’s feelings but that’s our ego talking. We can’t know and we can’t mirror someone’s pain.

It is also irresponsible to say:
“This is the solution.”
“This is what I did when I lost my dad.”
“I feel your pain. I had the same experience.”
“Some ‘being/god/fate’ will fix it.”
“It’ll be OK.”
“Time heals all wounds.”
Even if we believe these things, it may not be what they believe. It may not be true.

Perhaps the most valuable thing that we can provide is a shoulder and an ear.  Maybe it’s presence. Maybe it’s a ‘load off’ like taking care of the kids or dogs. Maybe it’s a meal. Maybe it’s just sitting there and listening. Maybe it’s asking questions. Maybe it’s just staying away. Maybe there is no answer, anywhere.

I am not a psychologist or a medical doctor. There is evidence that people contain mirror neurons which allow us to “feel” the same feelings of something we observe. The issue with this feeling is it is framed in our own experiences. If you feel pain by licking a 9 volt battery, and I kind of like it, I may “mirror” a different feeling by watching you do it.

It doesn’t have to be a tragic loss. It can be her boss yelling at her. It can be his blog failing. It can be a car crash.

Our context is different than theirs. It always will be.

As I sat there, listening to the condolences, one made me snap. I said “Stop. That’s what worked for you. Everyone is different.” Silence fell over the table. We don’t know how she feels, and we never will.

Listen for cues and clues of ways to help, or ask questions. Have the courage to just listen. Sometimes silence is golden.

You might think that this doesn’t belong on LinkedIn. Rest assured, “I know how you feel.” Please eliminate “I know how you feel” from your lexicon.

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

The Deadline Is Coming…The Deadline Is Coming

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Last Friday, I was working on a report. It’s due the first Friday of every month. It is pretty mundane and likely that no one will read it. It was sufficient. It met expectations.

I am working on a new venture that I am very excited about. It has a long way to go but it’s a lot of fun. I have some great partners and the plan is coming together. I have a date in mind but I may have to put something pretty good out there to test the waters. I may have to adjust based on the response. I can’t assume that a customer wants what I think they want.

There is another project that is due I have been told how “super important” it is to meet the deadline. There are emails with red exclamation points and ‘hard due dates’. I have to miss that deadline. It’s just not ready.

We are often faced with deadlines and expectations. Maybe they are self imposed. Maybe they are imposed by others.

With deadlines that we can’t deliver our best (ht-Sarah Elkins), we have a few choices. Sufficient, pretty good, or miss.

Sufficient 

Sometimes, we have to just offer what we have. Sometimes it’s not the best but it will suffice.  Maybe no one reads this report anyway. Maybe no one really cares. A marginal report or a generic summary. “It’s just something we do”. Why should we put in all of our effort to something that no one really cares about?

This is OK; as long as we are shooting for sufficient. I don’t want to be known as the best report writer anyway.

Pretty Good

We tried. We gave it our best. Maybe we paid it forward and someone else will step in to help us finish our magic.

If we are a lean startup or someone publishing their first post, we might have to find the courage to throw an idea at the wall. Maybe it’ll stick. Maybe it will get stickier with each toss. If not, maybe a friend will help us pick it up off the ground. Maybe we can clean it up and move to the next thing.

It was pretty good. Maybe our best effort just wasn’t good enough or we needed feedback to make it better. Maybe it’s dead.

Miss
Sometimes, it might be better to hold back. Miss a deadline. Disappoint someone. We might have the courage to wait for perfection when it is there, but just not ready.

Maybe we decide we didn’t need to put in any effort. Maybe we need to miss it and send a message that the deadline isn’t important. Maybe it is an outdated report or procedure. Maybe it should have never existed. Maybe it’s a waste of time.

Always
I don’t always like absolutes. Sometimes I like a gray area. Sometimes something is too important to miss, but it might not be a deadline. It might just be a commitment. Maybe it’s family or friends or that thing we love. We might miss an ‘always’ but it’s rare.

Sometimes we have to make a choice when the deadline is coming. Have the courage to know which one to choose. Results are not guaranteed with any of them.

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

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#whyiserve And Talk About It

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Surf Dog 2015

A few weeks ago, I spent the whole day at a place I don’t particularly like. It’s dirty. It seems to follow me for days. It was hot and humid out. I grew up in San Diego and I don’t like the beach, mostly because of the sand (tough life, I know).

Charitable contributions are part of many cultures (churches, communities, businesses). Sometimes we do it as individuals, sometimes as a group.

On that day a few weeks ago, our group of hotels was out sponsoring the Helen Woodward Animal Center – Surf Dog Surf-a-Thon.

I talk about what I do and where I give. Many people give time, money, food, and/or resources anonymously. Here’s a few selfish reasons why I give, and then why I talk about it. It may be different for you. I am not claiming to be better in any way.

Feels good (Selfish)
I am very proud of my efforts in the community. I love to feel like I am helping save a life or make life a little better for someone in need. I get a rush when I see that I made a difference.

Someone may think “He does it to make himself feel better. He’s self serving.”
That is not accurate but I don’t mind if people think/say that.

Networking
(Selfish)
It helps build my network. I meet other people. We already align with a cause so maybe we align in other ways.

If we team up for the cause, maybe our efforts will go further. Maybe we even have business for each other which will allow us to give back even more.

Pay it forward/
back (Selfish)

It allows me to give back to the community that supports me. By giving to causes relevant to me, I pay it forward/back.

Marketing 101 (Why I talk about it
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I share stories because I want to inspire others to follow. It’s not about my efforts but it’s about how and why I chose them. It’s about the story of the cause, not mine.

It’s about the story of the impact. It’s about marketing those efforts to others.

I talk about what I do to others. Even if that means they:
– choose a different cause.
– give in different ways.
– choose not to talk about what they do.

Everyone will make their own choices on how, what, where, and, why. I totally respect that. Would you like to share a story about a cause that you are passionate about? I’d love to hear it in the comments!

This past Friday, our same group of hotels accepted an award from the American Red Cross. This year’s video isn’t live yet, but it’s similar to last year when we won the same award.
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Every year, we help the local Veterans Affairs assemble holiday meal kits.

Each year, through various events, our hotels raise over $100,000 for Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego.

Four to eight times per year, I train with my local CERT team and the American Red Cross. I am preparing to help my community in the event of a disaster.

Comments, likes, shares are appreciated. Click for more information about the author: Trent Selbrede or simply click the follow button at the top of the page. See any of the prior posts here.

The Bonus Wave

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My parents divorced when I was 6 or 7. It was very confusing.

I think I sucked as a father for the first 5 years. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do. There are books about it but I wasn’t a reader at the time.

My only job in life, is to keep her off the pole. – Chris Rock[1]

I think I am a stereotypical guy sometimes.  I like to figure things out. That’s OK if I am assembling IKEA furniture but I probably should not have toyed with misplacing a part as a dad.

One of my current dad duties is the morning drive to school. It’s about a 10 mile loop that takes an hour before I get to work. Some days, it feels like forever.

Out the door by 6:50.  5  minutes late means another 15 minutes due to traffic. The kids read or study for tests the whole way. Why not knock out some homework, right?

The Toll
There is a toll to exit the car. Each day, I get a hug and a kiss, and a “love you” before getting out of the car. Many parents get this. I watch them. Some don’t get this and I secretly judge them as if I am better. I know I’m not. I’m just lucky.

Sometimes the drop off line is horrendous. The angles of approach, speed, and strategy of each driver varies to insane degrees. There are the most courteous parents and the possibly intoxicated.

The rules are: dump your kids and get out of the way.

The Bonus
My kids exit the back seat with their backpack and walk off. I break the rules and don’t hurry to get out of the way.  About 20 steps later, they turn, smile, and give me a little “bonus wave”.

My daughters are 10 and 13. I grew up with 3 older sisters so I feel like I have a slight understanding about how little I will know over the next 8 years.  One day, the tolls and bonuses will wane.

For now, I cherish the bonus wave.

They pay the toll and then add a little more. I wonder how much better things would be if everyone just added a little more?

Have the courage to give it a little extra. It could be a smile, a wave, or the “pow” in your next project. Have the courage to make your art a little better.

I think I’m a better father now.

I had been thinking about this and whether it was worthy of a post. Sarah Elkinspost on 9/1/15 gave me the courage to hit publish.

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[1] Chris Rock – Baby Girl