The Summer of Ownership

As we near then end of the season, I’ve started to meditate on it and take stock. This has been an interesting summer for sure. Filled with too many good moments to count. A bit crazy making at times, but even the downsides have informed my wife and I in important ways.

Yet, as I have thought about it personally, the theme that keeps coming back up again and again is one of ownership — specifically, my taking ownership of tasks and projects despite my fears, challenges, lack of knowledge, or other encumbrance that, in the past, I’ve used as an excuse not to. Here are just a few of the many examples that pop up in my mind.

  • I suck at sketching and drawing. At least, I think I do. I’ve always been self critical about it. Yet, I’ve been working to improve this as I’ve always admired others that are really good at it and it is a skill I have long wished to have. Getting to know, and have the skilled teaching, of Mike Rohde has helped quite a bit. While his personal encouragement and support in this area have been essential, his books have been especially important in spurring me to push well past my comfort zone. I’ve not only tried sketchnoting at conferences and meetings but I have been creating practice opportunities at least once a week by watching and sketchnoting TED Talks and other such things. Heck, this past Sunday I spent at least a half hour just practicing drawing coffee cups – coffee cups! The point being that this is a skill I’ve long struggled with personally, desired to be better at, and have actively take ownership of the work required to so so.

  • I certainly don’t consider myself "handy" but woodworking has long been something I wish I knew how to do. So, building my wife a little free library was a real push of my self-perceived limits even with the expert help of a good friend. The final result of the library itself was spectacular. But, more than that, I learned so much building it and gained a tremendous amount of confidence in my ability to tackle other building projects I’ve long wanted to tackle.

  • I’ve never implemented a website for a client that someone else was hired to design. One of the reasons was the fear of my ability to do so. When I do the design, I have the control and will only design something I know I can build. If someone else does the design, I previously had doubted my skills and abilities to execute it — what if they designed something I did not know how to do? Well, a couple of months ago, I had to confront this fear and doubt head on with a new site for an existing client that they had hired someone else to copy-write and design, but wanted me to build. It was a situation that I did all I could to try to avoid but, in the end, had to suck it up and get it done. And, you know what? It turned out great (it is still not live yet so, unfortunately, I can’t link to the results). Not only did I surprise myself with the knowledge and skill I already had, I also was forced to learn a few new things that will serve me and other clients well in the future.

There have been many other examples as well. The point being that I’ve been pretty proud of the fact that I have stepped up in areas I would previously have passed off, hired out, or stepped away from. And, every single time I have been the better for doing so.

I’m a writer. Writing is how I make this world better, friendlier, stronger place. If these words improved your day, please let me know by contributing here.

My New Bicycle

This past weekend, I found the perfect bike. I’m pretty excited about it. It’s a 1973 Raleigh Grand Prix.

I came upon it at a garage sale. Luckily, the price was right ($45) and the seller noted on the price tag that it was recently tuned up. I’d been looking for a bike like this for a long time so the second I saw it I knew it would be mine. After one test ride around the block, some cash quickly exchanged, and a little happy dance performed, it was mine.

About 10 years ago, I had just purchased a brand new Trek 820 Mountain Bike and rode it only a couple of times before I met my wife. It was an ill considered purchase in hindsight. My wife never learned how to ride a bike (a fact I hope to help change soon) so into the garage the Trek bike went and I took it out for a spin only about once a year. Partly, because I did not want to ride for hours without her and partly because I did not really like the bike that much. I wanted something light and fun to ride. Preferably, something vintage with a bit of character like my old pickup truck. Something that begged to be used.

Like the Raleigh I now own.

My wife just got a new/used bike from a friend who is taking a job out of the country so, now, she can learn and we can both ride happily together.

I can’t wait.

Some Places You’ll Find Me

I was away on vacation for most of this past week. We were up on Madeline Island, part of the Apostle Island chain in Lake Superior. Most of the island gets no cellular reception at all and few of the privately rented places (like the one we were at) have internet service as they are only used seasonally. Therefore, it is a good place to truly get away from it all.

The time spent was great. I got a ton of reading done — finished one book and put a major dent in my Instapaper queue. I spent some great quality time with my family over dips in the water, canoeing, and fires on the beach. We also have some friends who were up on the Island at the same time. So, it was great being able to share a few meals with them and watch Beatrix charm them like putty in a warm hand. In all, it was a great vacation.

That said, there are a few appearances I made before leaving that were released recently and I wanted to mention those…

  • I was on episode #130 of the Mikes on Mikes podcast where we discussed a couple of big productivity related ideas. The first of these was around a recent post by Mike Vardy about what is lost in the “Just Ship It” mindset — namely, delivering. Next, I discussed some new thinking I have come around on — due in large part to my friend Garrick — regarding blocking out time on your calendar for any task you wish to accomplish. I also asserted that, until one makes such time for any task it is essentially a wish and nothing more. Needless to say, I got a bit of pushback on this one. That said, I’m really happy with how this turned out and think it is worth a listen.

  • I was also interviewed for the latest issue of the Alpha Efficiency Magazine with a focus on Honesty and Self Belief. It is a good, short, to the point interview. Once again, I think it turned out well and it is worth your time.

  • Ben Brooks was kind enough to reach out to me for my thoughts on why we don’t mind that some of our tools and gear get a bit beat up while others we treat with kid gloves. My take — it’s about purpose.

Of course, I’ve been busy at my regular places since I’ve returned, too. The Cramped and Minimal Mac have both seen new posts and I have some more lined up to write soon. Stay tuned.

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