The big 3-0.
It’s supposed to be some milestone, right?
To be honest, I haven’t had a minute to think about it.
If you’re reading this on my actual birthday or the day after, I’m hopefully unplugged at a quaint resort in Coastal Maine with Megan.
Thanks to technology, I can schedule stuff to go out after writing it.
No Kaden, just us.
No phone, no e-mail, no Slack, just us.
I have no regrets, no complaints, but this last year has not been the best, and I think that’s just part of life, but you’ll certainly pick up on that in my lessons.
It’s tough for me to say that, because there were so many good things that happened this last year, like publishing my first book and all of our awesome trips we went on, but it was all a blur.
And if I’ve learned one thing….that is okay.
You don’t have be “on” all the time, and hopefully I can carry that into my 30’s because if not, this candle is going to burn out fast.
More on that in the lessons…
I really do believe we only have good days and great days, just like we only have good years and great years, and this year, it was a good year.
Here’s to hoping 30 is a great year!
I have done these “X Lessons on my X Birthday” posts for the last five years.
I really enjoy them, I don’t look back at previous years, I just start with a blank slate.
However, it’s my way of reflecting on the past year, as I sip on a hot cup of coffee in a quiet house, here’s what’s on my mind…
Find your why. What is your purpose? Why are you here? Are you actually set out to do something, or are you just taking up space and getting in peoples way. This above all else has been my foundation which is why I start with it. I may have bad years, I may feel burnt out, but I can always come back to this. When the days are long and you’re feeling run down, if you have a strong enough “why” none of that matters. I keep this written down, I read it at least once a week, and it keeps the fire burning. If you’re looking to find your “why” (you already know it, you just need to discover it), I highly recommend follow Simon Sinek and his two books “Start with Why” and “Find Your Why”.
Extreme Ownership. Isn’t it funny how these lessons are also titles of my favorite books? Extreme ownership is all about taking 100% responsibility for where you are today. You can spend time blaming others, but what does that really do? I take extreme ownership for where I am at as a person, a father, and a husband. I take extreme ownership for where my businesses are at and where my team is at. When you take that kind of ownership, you can move on quick, and implement change right away.
You’re not invincible. You’re human. As a young kid (I know moms, I’m still young, I get it), you think nothing can stop you, you’re invincible. For the last eight years I’ve been moving 110 miles per hour. Not even physically, just mentally. Growing, growing, and growing the business. More clients, more team members, more everything. I think we’ve done a nice job keeping the quality high, but still. At home, it’s been what’s next, what project can we take on next, planning the next trip before this one is even over, never stopping. It will, and has caught up to me, and if you’re like me, it will catch up to you too. Thirty is going to be about slowing down a little. I’ve busted my ass for everything you see, but I’m not sure I’ve come up to smell the roses.
Take care of between the ears. At the beginning of this year I started going to therapy. I always looked at therapy as something you go to if you have a mental illness. Well, I’m sure there are severities of it all, but I think we’re all a little crazy up there. It has been my weekly outlet for the last couple months, and it’s been a game changer. It’s the one hour in the week where I don’t feel “on.” At home I have to be “on” as a parent and a husband, when I’m around my team I’m “on” as a leader, and when I’m around my clients I am “on” as a community business owner. Just like the lights in your house, if they’re always on, they’ll eventually burn out. I’m working on that through therapy, I continue to work on that, and it’s been a game changer so far.
Everyone wants to be fed, but no one wants to cook. With all of what I said before, I still very strongly believe you have to work for everything you want. You can have anything you want in life if you’re willing to work hard enough for it. The hard truth, most people just don’t want to put in the work that’s required. Once you get past that, once you realize it’s going to be 10x as hard and take you 10x as long as you think it is, then you can start to move towards it. If you want to eat, you have to cook.
Taking risks is part of life. You take a risk every time you get in your car or buckle up in an airplane. But really, everything you do in life has a risk to it. Committing to a job has a risk, committing to a spouse has a risk, investing your money has a risk, and making a hard decision has a risk. I would say from my experience, the risks pay off more often than not. Will they always pay off, no, of course not, but more often than not they do.
Death creates urgency. In October of 2018 I lost my dad. In June of 2010 I lost my mom. Most of you know that. How has their deaths impacted me? Urgency. Make no mistake about it, there is zero coincidence that a year after my mom passing I had an LLC formed to start what is now Spurling Fitness. We all say we would want to live forever, but where is the urgency in that? We would just put everything off until tomorrow, because tomorrow would be guaranteed. Tomorrow is never guaranteed, and for me, I use that as fire to do more, serve more, and be more. Today. Not tomorrow, not next week, but today.
Success has no measurement. What is successful in your eyes? All of you reading this right now have your own version of success in your mind. And I would guarantee that each of us who answer that question has a different answer. Only you can determine what success is. For some success is being a great parent. For some success is a job or an amount of money. For some success is serving others. There is no right, there is no wrong, as long as its your definition of success.
Stop living someone else’s dream. Reread number seven. We’re here for a good time and a short time. Why would you want to live someone else’s life? With todays social media heavy world we only see peoples highlight reels and we tell ourselves “if I could only be like them.” What you don’t see is all the shit going on behind the scenes and how they are just using social media as a distraction for how crappy they actually feel. But now, we tell ourselves “I wish I had what they had.” Too many kids went to a school or took a job that they didn’t want, but their parents told them it would be good for them. Too many people are not doing what they truly love, out of fear, they are living someone else’s dream. Life is too damn short to not be doing something you love.
The art of being present is still by greatest area of opportunity. It’s something that therapy has helped with, it’s something that just being self-aware of it is helping with, but enjoying the present is still a large area of opportunity. I’m sure I’m not alone in this either, always dwelling on the past, always dreaming of the future, but not enjoying the present.
It’s never as much work as you think it is. Do you ever have this big project that just sits over you like black cloud? It seems so daunting, and because of that you don’t spend any time on it. Earlier this year I published my first book. Was it a lot of work? My brain tells me yes, but my gut tells me no. No, it was not. I wrote a chapter (1-3 pages) every morning for a few months. I compiled them on a Google Doc, sent it off to the editor, a few back and fourths, and done. Am I simplifying it? Yes. But was it the hardest thing I ever did in my life? No. We quite often make it up to be more work in our minds than it actually is.
Who is your team? We all need one. Whether you’re a business owner or not, we all need a team. Who are the people that are not competing against you, but working right alongside you. It could be a supportive spouse, it could be some close friends, we all need a team. The largest accomplishments have always been, and will always be, team efforts. Even things like individual sports, they all have teams of people behind the scenes, and without those people, nothing would be possible.
What’s the first “check” you write every single month? Mortgage, utility, student loan? No. Write a check to yourself ever single month. It’s the first “bill” you pay. I’ve been able to create a strong financial security for my family because of this. We often save whatever is left after we pay our bills. Screw that. Even if it’s $5, pay yourself first. Put it in an account that can’t be touched. For more on this, I highly recommend that book “Profit First.”
Good questions get good answers. Slow to speak, quick to listen is a great line I learned from my team member, Kim. I haven’t mastered the slow to speak part yet, but when I do speak I try to ask really good questions. The better the question the better the answer.
The cookie. I got this one from Dean Jackson and I’ve used it a lot lately. If I’m over your house and you tell me “Hey Doug, grab whatever you want in the kitchen.” What are the chances of me doing so? Slim, right? No one wants to be that person. Instead, if you went up to me and said “Here Doug, here’s a cookie, please take one.” Who is going to say no to that? No one. So, next time, be direct. Don’t say “Do you need help?” or “Do you have any questions?” Just start helping, be direct.
Problems. I was talking with a business coaching client yesterday and she was asking “When is this going to stop? I just want it to run smooth without problems.” Umm, sorry, that’s not going to happen. Life is about trading problems for better problems. Eight years ago I was not sure how I was going to pay rent on my lease for the gym, today I’m not always 100% sure how to lead a team of nine individuals. A problem, but a better problem than not being able to keep the lights on. If we approach life with the goal of eliminating all stress, all problems, we’re just going to keep frustrating ourselves. The goal, instead, might be how to trade problems for better problems. For more on this, I highly recommend checking out “The Subtle Art of Not Giving A F*ck” by Mark Manson.
A decade in a day. That’s what you’re doing when you read. Chances are the person that wrote that book is sharing a decade or more of knowledge on those few hundred pages. Is that not worth the $15 on Amazon? 250. With a quick count the other day, that’s how many books are in my office that I’ve read. I didn’t start enjoying reading until a couple years into running Spurling, so probably 2013. That means 250 books over the last ~6 years. That’s just under a book a week. Yes, I read a lot. Yes, you need to make sure what you read gets put into practice. But I do believe it’s one of the best ways to learn.
You’re seeing their best work. My therapist and I talked about this just last week. A lot of times we’re modeling our 24/7 behaviors from someones else’s “best hour.” I am on stage right now as I write this. I’m trying to reflect, but also add value. This is one of “best hours.” What you don’t see is 8pm last night where I can’t move off the couch and I’m stressed out of my mind. You watch a TED talk, you read an article, or you see someone on stage, and you try to model that behavior 24/7. Little did you know, they are just like that for that one glimpse in time. It’s not being fake, it just is reality that we can’t be “on” all the time, and we should not try to model someones “best hour” behavior by trying to live our entire life like that.
The power of writing it down. If you took a few notes when reading this about maybe some small tweaks you want to make, or an action you want to do, you’ll get something out of it. If you just read it, get a little spark of inspiration, and then move on, you’ll be no different tomorrow than you were today. The power of writing things down is incredible. It’s not a guarantee that it will happen, but I do know that it’s a thousand times more likely to happen if you do write it down. I write down everything. My goals, my thoughts, what I like, what I don’t like, everything. The craziest part? I have things I wrote down in 2015 like “five years from now I want to travel to these places, obtain this much financial security, or complete these projects.” And guess what, it’s not 2020 and those are already accomplished. Are there other things that I wrote down that have not happened, or a year later I decided I didn’t want to do anymore? Of course. But more got accomplished, and will continue to get accomplished by writing it down.
Stress is real and we have to manage it. Similar to number 16, just like we can’t eliminate problems, I don’t think we can eliminate stress. In fact, some stress is good. It forces you to be aware, it forces you to make better choices. However, just like anything else, too much of something is never good. We know stress has a real impact on our mind and body. I can always tell when I’m under stress; I don’t sleep as well, I gain weight, I have more anger towards people. We all have our own outlets for stress, mine is reading, writing, meditation, and exercise. Find how you manage your stress.
It never stops. Fitness never stops. Personal development never stops. Time never stops. Being a better father, husband, and leader never stops. In the immediate future, that can be stressful. But if we take time to stop ourselves, the excitement that we can always get better, we can always do more, we can always serve more, that is what keeps me going.
The memories we make our what makes life so great. I have a lot of great memories in my 30 years. I have memories as a kid going on vacation. You know what I don’t remember? Any toy my parents bought me. I have memories from the early years of starting the gym, my dad sleeping on a recliner in the middle of the gym floor during renovations. You know what I don’t remember? What I bought during the first month for equipment. I have memories of holding my moms hand as she took her last breath, memories of holding Kaden as he took his first breath in this world, and memories of all the things we DO, not HAVE, as a community, a team, and a family. Make memories, not a collection of stuff.
Communication. Communicate to your spouse more about how you’re feeling. Communicate to your boss more about what you like and don’t like. Communicate to your friends and family. Communication is how we connect, and we can never communicate enough. Most problems in business, at work, or in our relationships come back to a lack of communication. Talk out loud more. Communicate more.
It can wait. The e-mail can wait. Responding to the text can wait. It can wait. The world will not end if you don’t refresh your Facebook or instagram feed one more time. I write this, and really all of these, as lessons for all of us, myself included. Whatever it is, it can wait.
Success is never straight. This last year I watched Kaden learn how to walk. I watched him learn how to climb the ladder on our swing set. We could all benefit from learning from babies. They don’t try walking, fail, and say “screw it, I’ll just stop trying.” They get up, try again, and again, and again. Anything in life that is worth having is not going to happen on the first try. Fall and get back up. Life is about better iterations of things, over and over again. The best version is never version 1.0.
Your environment matters. Just like a goldfish, you may need to change your water. Way too often we “swim” in toxic environments, whether that’s in a toxic work environment, a toxic relationship, etc. Change your water.
I wish. That’s the last thing I want to say when I’m on my death bed. I wish I went for it. I wish I tried harder. I wish I served more. I wish, I wish, I wish. Stop wishing and start doing. No regrets. I want to say I did everything, I gave it my best, and I left the world a better place.
If often doesn’t matter. We tend to stress, worry, and argue over things that don’t actually matter. I’m not saying it’s not worth fighting over something you believe in, and you can make change, but quite often the things we spend our time stressing over, arguing over, and worrying about are either so small it doesn’t matter, or it doesn’t actually have any direct impact on you.
Freedom & Happiness. I believe that’s what we’re all after. The ability to be happy in the moment. Happy with who we have, with what we have, with who we are. Freedom. Freedom to do what you want when you want. Freedom to make the choices you want to make. Freedom to live life on your time, your agenda, with your goals.
1% Better. What are you going today. Yesterday is in the past, we can’t change it. Tomorrow is not here yet. What are you going to do today? How are you going to get better today? Give your best effort today. Small wins stacked daily. That’s how I try to live my life, it’s treated me very nicely for the first 30 years, and I don’t plan on changing the approach. Wake up, do the best I can do, and go to bed knowing that I did the best I could with what I had. 1% Better.
That’s really all I have to say.
I try to show up and be the best that I can be everyday.
The best father.
The best husband.
The best leader.
The best member of the community.
Thank you for being a part of it.