Category Archives: Live life more fully

Change starts with me

Owning My Thoughts May Be More Important Than My Actions

I keep waiting for someone to post my exact thoughts and emotions from this week. Some get close but then lose me for a variety of reasons. I’ve been saying lately that we can all make a difference by how we act. But I’m realizing that it’s acknowledging and owning the thoughts behind our actions that may be more important.

I see denial most everywhere I turn lately. If I’m being honest, I’ll admit that I have judgments about all sorts of people and situations. Some are great, but some I wouldn’t want to say outloud. I am guilty of that. I own that. What I continue to get better at is observing my own judgments, and exploring what is behind them. And then deciding who I want to be, and how I can take actions to make a difference.

One Level of Giving Back

This isn’t meant to be braggadocious, but instead is part of my reflection, and maybe it will inspire you to take action or share what you’ve been up to and what you want to do for next steps. In the past two days…

  • my youngest daughter volunteered at Feed My Starving Children (she and a few friends did enough work in under a few hours to feed eight children from Haiti for a year each);
  • my son and I cleaned out our toy closet and then took lots of stuff to Goodwill;
  • I revealed a wish to a new wish child for Make-A-Wish yesterday;
  • I signed up for the Moustache Run to help raise awareness to men’s health issues;
  • and, last night my three children and Beth went to our church to spend time with Families Moving Forward, to help families that are currently experiencing homelessness.

But What If I Do More Outside of My Comfort Zone?

I’m very proud of these activities, but I’m realizing all of these are relatively safe for us. These efforts may not be enough, especially now.

Maybe if I push harder outside of my comfort zone in my giving, I can make a bigger difference…:

  • I’m proud that my church welcomes and accepts everyone – how can I get more involved with showing public support for others who may be different from me?
  • I see many posts from friends whose skin is a different shade than mine, expressing anger or fear lately – and I don’t know how to express the right emotions and give support – what if I reach out to them and sincerely ask what I can do to help, or let them know I’m here for them, maybe by simply ‘liking’ what they post on Facebook?
  • In this past week, Beth had friends who were taunted on campus, and I saw friends called vulgar names online for expressing their beliefs – how can I be better at getting more involved in the fight against hate, discrimination, and truly deplorable actions?

Change Starts With Me

Change starts with me. My thoughts become my actions. I ask that you take time to observe your thoughts, be honest with yourself, and reflect on who you really want to be in this world. Own it. And then go be that change and make that difference.

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Look For What You Want To See

I’m starting Week 3 of my Boston Marathon training for Samaritans to raise money to save lives and create awareness towards suicide prevention and mental health illnesses. So far the weather has been great – I hope it continues all winter!

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As I ran this week, I was thinking about challenges and obstacles that so many face. Guess what I found everywhere I looked? Yep, challenges and obstacles. Every step seemed to find another gotcha, warning, and hazard, all filled with risk. My negative thoughts compounded, turning into doubts and fear, and made me want to turn around.

Our minds are crazy powerful

Our brains can work either for or against us. When we shift our thinking to positive thoughts, our minds can be our greatest asset that keep us going and stay motivated! As you read my alternate responses below for each picture, see which ones make you feel stressed versus relaxed. Which make you want to run versus stop in your tracks? What is your typical reaction? In the week ahead, I ask that you reflect on your reactions to all things. Think positive thoughts and get some upward spirals started today!

Obstacles I found this week & my reactions…

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Initial negative thoughts: Aaah, a gaggle of geese! They could turn on me at any moment! Why are they looking at me? And why are they so spiteful to do this to the sidewalk?
Positive thoughts: Look! An obstacle course that will help me strengthen all sorts of muscles in my legs as I dart back and forth. Thank you for waking my brain up as I have to pay attention to the road in front of me. So cool to see animals that will brave the outdoors with me all winter long!

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Initial negative thoughts: Seriously, a banana peel on the side walk?!?!? One false step and I’ll be flat on my back! How could someone be so inconsiderate? What a mess!!
Positive thoughts: Wheee – I could slide down this hill! Soon I’ll be home and can refuel with fresh fruit! This peel will compost and give life to so many critters. Ha ha – had some good laughs watching MythBusters fall on banana peels.

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Initial negative thoughts: A knife on the sidewalk? Seriously? How did this get here? What if I fell on it? Was it part of a crime? Kids causing trouble? What kind of neighborhood is this?
Positive thoughts: You can’t make this stuff up – I’m in awe of how well the universe listens. I start thinking about danger and the next thing you know I’m jogging over knives! My mind has incredible power, and I need to use it conjure up money next time! And make sure I keep it focused on helping others and spreading encouragement to all.

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I jogged over this giant ball of thistles many times. As I started thinking about challenges I got this great thought to take a picture of it in my hand. The thistle called to me. It beckoned me and played me its Siren Song. How much trouble could it cause?

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Initial negative thoughts: Are you for frickin’ real? Seriously, I just want a picture for my blog and you attack me? I’ll be picking thistles out of my gloves and shoes for weeks? Crap – I shook my hand and now I’ve got thistles on my shoes, socks, pants and glove! I’ll get splinters in my feet? I’ll cut myself when wiping my nose now with my gloved hand. The more I rub my gloves together the more thistle parts are everywhere and they don’t come out!
Positive thoughts: I can’t lie, my initial reaction was a bit of shock and a few seconds of frustration, but if you would have been driving by you would have almost immediately seen me laughing and talking to myself. It was a riot to see how fast I got covered in these things. Wow – nature, you impress me! Is this similar to the story that inspired the invention of velcro? Ok, I got myself into this, now I need to get myself out of this – one burr at a time – how can I best apply this to helping others get through their struggles? The same way – we’ll get out of it together, one burr at a time.

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Initial negative thoughts: Unstable ground? I could twist an ankle in Week 2 of training. What’s the matter with this neighborhood – fix your crappy streets! Am I making mountains out of mole hills? Why would you put your dirt here on this area of town that already has no sidewalks.
Positive thoughts: More paths to make my knees and ankles stronger, keep my body guessing, and give me power. I always stay more engaged on unpredictable terrain. Thank you city for saving tax dollars and creating a fun run for me!

What did I learn this past week?

Reminders once again that the universe listens. We create opportunities (or obstacles!) by what we’re already looking for ahead of time. If you start taking steps (even small ones) and think positive thoughts, you will see things in a positive light and be happier. Our emotions are created by how we interpret everything. We can have fun and learn in every situation around us, but we have to be open to new experiences. Be kind to yourself, believe in what’s possible, and think happy thoughts (regardless of how many burrs just attacked your hand), and your challenges will start to go away! In the weeks ahead, practice being positive regardless of what you’re facing, and support and encourage those around you!

Tap Dancing in the Street

Need a pick-me-up?

Listen to the last Wits show of the season (or ANY Wits show – you can’t go wrong!).

I got to see Cary Elwes and Kat Edmonson at the last show of the 2015 season. Fantastic guests! So thankful for the way their hard work has payed off in life, and really showed that blessings multiply with positive attitude, dedication and sometimes just being there in life.

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It was a great lesson in trusting and enjoying the journey.

At about the 26:30 mark on the recording, Kat is talking about movies and songs from early films that she grew up with. She said lately she has been tap dancing* ( * NOTE: “tap dancing” = whatever your current dream is!).

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John Moe jumped right in with, “Let’s start with WHY, WHY are you tap dancing?”

To which Kat emphatically replied, “WHY NOT!” (along with a signature giggle)

Not defensive. Not embarrassed. That’s perfect! When we believe in our dreams, we are never offended or lose confidence when someone asks a question with the intent of “Why would you ever want to do that?”

Share your dreams. Share them confidently! Who cares when somebody asks “Why?”. Proudly and enthusiastically, say “Why not!

She added, “…it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do…it was on my list of things to do and I realized I hadn’t gotten to it last year and so I started taking classes.”

That’s the way you dream!

Pick dreams that resonate with you. They are YOUR dreams. When the time is right, make each dream a top priority and then start taking steps. Small steps are fine at first, but just start taking steps. E.g., Look up tap classes. Research tap shoes. Buy tap shoes. Sign up for a class. Go to class. Repeat. Dance along with Fred and Ginger. Talk about it on Wits. It’s that easy.

:)

[Kat] “Actually…when I started watching these films, I actually thought…I would enter into this world where, when you went somewhere, and something happened, and…”

(she then goes into a cheery singing voice) “…you’d start to sing about it”,

“you know, and then somebody would be walking by, and they would…”

(cheery singing again) “…join in”“,

“…and then it would be this big number and everybody would be friends afterwards, and then you’d all happen to see each other at the supper club that night, drinking champagne, and then maybe you would get up on stage and sing, and then you would tap. And so I had to have tap in my arsenal…”

:)

[John Moe] “I just really DESPERATELY want to live in that world that you described!”

[Kat] “Oh, sometimes it is a lonely world.”

Sad.

Poignant.

Powerful.

But it shouldn’t be a lonely place.

What if we all REALLY listened to each other?

What if we all lived carefree, got along, supported each other and didn’t judge? What if we all paused long enough each day to listen (REALLY LISTEN) to each other?

Did you hear that?

Did you?

Watch out for those around you all the time. Let someone near you know if YOU are the one that needs to be listened to. Don’t hesitate. Get the conversation started. You never know when that can make all the difference. Maybe it’s looking for someone to dance with in the street. Maybe it’s just a pick-me-up. Maybe it’s something more. It doesn’t matter, say the first words and create a space where good conversations can happen.

Get out there. Do things. Experience life.

Don’t worry about justifying why you want to do your dreams. They are YOUR dreams. Support from others is critical, but we don’t need anyone’s blessing about why we have a dream on our list. We may not be clear why we are chasing something – but the secret is just to chase it.

I often don’t realize until later why I REALLY had a dream on my list. There are so many blessings in disguise that you’ll never realize if you don’t take that first step. Dare to dream – good things will happen.

Still need a pick-me-up?

Here’s your homework (wait…come back here…sit down…it will only take you 3 minutes). Watch the quick video below. Listen to the words. BELIEVE every word. Repeat until you believe them. Here are the simple but great lyrics.

Live some of these words today: “Happiness…heart upon your sleeve…be free…cast your troubles…lucky you, lucky me!”

Have fun stormin’ da castle

What do The Princess Bride and achieving dreams have in common?

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  • Life’s a journey filled with the unknown, magic, and wonder?
  • Persistence pays off?
  • Obstacles to overcome (e.g., flame spurts, lightning sand, & Rodents Of Unusual Size?!?!)?
  • Battles of wit and strength?
  • You may want to wear a mask until you become comfortable with YOUR dream and your intentions?
  • Accountability partner saying “As you wish” makes all the difference?
  • Fairy tale endings?

Yes, yes, yes, yes, sure, yes, and yes. Those are all great…but…

I’m thinking of something else

Last week I got to see Cary Elwes at the season finale of Wits and he made a comment that really resonated with me and tied back to my experiences with dreams.

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Cary talked about one of his classic films The Princess Bride flopping when it first came out. He said a huge reason was the the title. Adults thought it was for kids. Boys thought it was for girls. People weren’t sure if it would be a comedy or adventure or something else. Etc. Etc. They judged it only by the title and missed out (until 10 years later when VHS tapes became popular and this movie developed a cult following!).

I find introducing people to The Dream Manager, or even the word “dreaming” in general can get the same results.

Many people resist the book and the word “dream”, until possibly years later when something clicks and they finally acknowledge that they do want to be happy, do want to do things in life, and want or need some help, encouragement or company along the way.

Don’t focus on the word “dream” – use goal, to-do, wish, task, whatever word you are comfortable with – anything you want to get done that probably just hasn’t been happening on its own. But don’t resist your dreams just because you don’t like that word. That would be silly even by Princess Bride standards :)

How about this quote I came across recently? I love the spirit of this one:

“But as hard as we work to get what we want and to avoid what we don’t want, we can never know what any experience is going to bring us.”

-Silsbee, D. (2010). The mindful coach seven roles for facilitating leader development (New and rev. ed., p. 27). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

There is potential for fun adventure all around you, every single day.

It is so easy to talk ourselves out of taking the first step in so many things in life, that we end up missing out on amazing experiences.

Or we chase a dream and are disappointed when things don’t go as planned. This is life – the unexpected will happen – keep your head up and be willing to adapt and change plans.

Just like in The Princess Bride, the path may not be easy, but your attitude and persistence will take you far! Keep your eye on your original goal but know that your journey may take some twists and turns that you never ever could have anticipated. Persist – you will succeed!

Two Year Anniversary

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on IronMegan.com personal blog, March 27, 2014 (note: his sister, Katherine, died March 26, 2012)

It’s been two years since my sister, Katherine, died.

That first year was insane. It was a whirlwind of emotions. We were constantly watching out for ourselves and each other – or just trying to get through each day as we cycled through all stages of grief. It forced all of us to deal with emotions that most of us had never even considered. But we got through it, and we continue to heal and rebuild.

The second year has been more educational & reflective for me

I’ve started to think more and more about my purpose in life. I still think about Katherine every single day, and I never know when grief will hit. The biggest mental turning point for me has been my understanding that mental illness, depression, anxiety, etc are no different from any other disease. We can watch for signs, we can take steps to reduce our risks, but in the end they are diseases that can’t be controlled. This means that people with these diseases don’t have a choice in the act of suicide. They died by suicide. They died as a result of depression. Just like you died by heart attack as a result of heart disease. They didn’t commit suicide. They didn’t choose to die. They didn’t choose to leave us. Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University has a great 24-lecture series on Stress and Your Body. He very clearly states that major depression is one of the worst illnesses out there. With other illnesses you get a wake-up call and find joy to keep on living but with depression, by definition, people have lost the ability to feel pleasure and find happiness. Anxiety may be even more prevalent than depression, and again, anxiety is also a real medical disorder.

I knew nothing about any of this two years ago

I had opinions that were wrong. I wanted to know why she chose to leave us. Why she didn’t ask us for help. Why she would want to leave so much behind. I used phrases that weren’t accurate and unknowingly perpetuated stereotypes. I come across the word “stigma” frequently and it always seems so blameful – such a negative word – I don’t like that one, which may be the point. Even in yesterday’s Facebook postings about Katherine it was very easy to find words that are wrong and mask the truth. And these are comments by loved ones who have been part of this experience. If it’s so easy for us to capture this inaccurately then of course it’s impossible for the general public to relate to and understand the complexities of mental illness and suicide. But we have to try.

Feel compassion for their death

Here’s a great short article (with audio if you prefer that) by Alan Lessik offering a great perspective from someone who lost a loved one to a fatal mental illness (and coincidentally has a connection to Pearson): Judge Not His Death

“I had to let go of my thought that if he somehow tried harder he would get better. He tried, we tried everything that medicine, psychiatry, therapy and alternatives could throw at him. Unfortunately no one can know that a mental illness is terminal until the person dies.”

We shouldn’t judge

And isn’t it amazing now how many times we see awful news about suicide. It’s all around us and can impact anyone in all walks of life. It’s still hard not to judge or make generalized assumptions when you see that it is related to a celebrity, CEO, etc. But we shouldn’t judge. It’s no different than what we’ve been through. I just read Highest Duty: My Search For What Really Matters, by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger. This is the pilot who landed a damaged US Airways flight onto the Hudson River in January 2009. It’s a good book and really shows how all of his life experiences and training put him in the perfect spot that day to save so many lives. One impact on his life was that his dad died of suicide at the age of 78 when Sully was 43 years old. He says,

“Naturally, I was distraught, angry, and upset with myself. I thought that I should have been paying closer attention to him. Intellectually, my mom, my sister, and I knew better. As with so many suicides, I don’t think any of us who loved him could have prevented him from doing what he did…After Flight 1549, people wrote to tell me that they could sense how much I valued life. Quite frankly, one of the reasons I think I’ve placed such a high value on life is that my father took his…his death did have an effect on how I’ve lived, and on how I view the world. It made me more committed to preserving life. I exercise more care in my professional responsibilities. I am willing to work very hard to protect people’s lives, to be a good Samaritan, and to not be a bystander, in part because I couldn’t save my father.”

It’s up to all of us to help raise awareness.

Take care of yourself first. But if you’re ok then keep reading. We should share our experiences. We should proactively ask others how they are doing, especially if they have given us any depression/anxiety/suicide comments or hints about themselves or others in their lives. And then listen to them and be there for them. We should be conscious about our choice of words. I meet with anyone that wants to talk to me about related topics…once I’m aware (and that is the hard part). I have met with co-workers and friends, people concerned about their kids, and people concerned about their parents. I have a Pinterest board. I have offered to help anyone at church who needs to talk on topics I can relate to. These are just some of the ways I try to spread positive values and help others. We’ve been through it, and we are better equipped to help others.

So what can we do?

Professor Robert Sapolsky (who I mentioned above) acknowledges that he has 22 lectures of bad news before he gets to some positive messages in his last two lectures in that series. His focus is on stress and how bad that is for us. But my particular interest was the connection to depression and anxiety. Here’s what we can all do:

  • Take care of ourselves. Do the obvious things like eat well and don’t smoke. Duh – you’ve heard it before.
  • And you need to exercise. You’ve heard this how many times before? Yes, exercise. 30+ minutes every day. It needs to be something that you enjoy doing. Make the time for this. I have made this change in my life and can stick to it most weeks. But I have to be intentional about it because it is important to me. I don’t know if depression sneaks up on you or if wham! one day I get hit by it, but if finding 30 minutes a day will help me (and provides so many other benefits) then sign me up.
  • He also recommends transcendental meditation and having a strong support network. I’ve been very blessed to have a small group of people who watch out for me and that I feel comfortable talking to. I don’t shy away from any conversations about what I’m thinking about and how I’m feeling. It’s good for me and good for others too. Hearing about vulnerability in others makes it ok for more people to share.
  • He also mentions having a religious belief but it is harder to show correlation since people with these beliefs are typically doing other things right and their church provides them a support network that is crucial.
  • The last thing he mentions is essentially your coping strategy. Knowing what you can change or control and what you can’t – when to accept and when to move on. Knowing when to change your strategy. Keeping the right things in perspective. I have learned how to be open and share what is on my mind. I absolutely try to continually educate myself so I am best equipped to make the right decisions. Sharing this information with each other is essential to this and part of my process.

“Mitigate the alonenesss”

Here’s a short related excerpt from an interview with Andrew Solomon who has suffered from depression and his advice on how best to support others:

“I often say to people who describe having a friend who’s depressed “You need to make sure that the person is never alone.” Sometimes that means talking to them, and sometimes when they are too miserable to talk, it means sitting quietly by their bed. And sometimes when even having another human being in the room feels overwhelming to them, it involves sitting right outside the bedroom door. It never involves going away and it never involves taking seriously their claims that they want to be alone. Depression is a disease of loneliness and the best way to address it is to mitigate that aloneness.”

My purpose in life

I was in a discussion recently with someone in a book study at work about our purpose in life. I don’t know how I would have answered that two years ago. I don’t think you can just pick your purpose and expect to get it right and for it to be meaningful. Sometimes it finds you, like it or not. I’m not sure that we can help or save everyone. But what we can do is live for being happy today, be there for those around us, chase your dreams, and live life with no regrets. A huge focus in my life now is thinking about how I can make a positive difference in the lives of others. Concepts from The Dream Manager have absolutely changed what I focus on in my life in the past several years. I talk about these principles at work and with friends. I am working on doing the same at church this year. I am looking at more local groups on depression/grieving/suicide to see where I may fit in to help. I’m trying to build a larger presence on Pinterest. If you’re interested in talking more about any of the things I mentioned and seeing how we can make an ever bigger impact please let me know.

I want feedback for future articles

I also am thinking about changing some of my writing style to be more focused on an audience that doesn’t know me and my story. Largely when I write it is very beneficial for me – but I get great comments from some of you throughout the year too. But could I write on topics that I know about and help others on their journey? Other than these being way too long (I know, I know) I’d love feedback. Respond in comments or send me a separate email. What do you like about how I write? Where can I improve? What topics should I cover? What questions do you have? Misconceptions? Uncertainties? Things you’ve learned that I could elaborate on and share? How about this – would you like to hear more on happiness and pursuing dreams?

Take care of yourself

Dream big. Be there and even just listen to those in need. Educate others. Think about your purpose in life and what more you can do.

Only 10 people on average will cry at your funeral

One last comment. Jeff Olson in The Slight Edge referenced an article saying that only 10 people on average will cry at your funeral and that

“the number one factor that would determine how many people would go on from the funeral to attend the actual burial would be…the weather.” “If it happened to be raining, said the article’s author, 50 percent of the people who attended my funeral would decide maybe they wouldn’t go on to attend my burial after all, and just head home.”

Katherine touched lives

Just think of how many people cried at Katherine’s funeral. Think of how many lives she touched. Think of how long that line was. And think of how many people did go on to the actual burial and stood in the rain on a cold New England day for Katherine. She was a special person and is still loved and missed so much.

Are there jigsaw puzzles in heaven?

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on IronMegan.com personal blog, November 25, 2012 (note: his sister, Katherine, died March 26, 2012)

So who the heck is watching over me?

Are there jigsaw puzzles in heaven? Too many distractions up there keeping my angels busy? I’m not sure how else to explain the complete lack of assistance I got controlling mother nature recently. Unless all of my angels are up there laughing at me – and I think that would be worse! I was less than 5 minutes away from having our 20’x10’ pool completely drained & towel dried, disassembled and ready to bring indoors for the season when the rain hit. This is the second time I’ve completely dried it this fall. I had Colleen and Christopher out helping me take the pool apart as fast as we could because I knew rain was forecast in a few hours. The sky wasn’t that cloudy, I had done my weather homework. You know how sometimes you feel a drop or two and then you get a gradual build up to a gentle rain? Or you know how sometimes the rain is warm and feels healing and soothing? Well…this was neither of those…it started as an instant burst of a cold downpour. At the point it dumped on us we had already taken out three of the four long support beams (Colleen & Christopher were holding each end up of the heavy last side) so there was no way I could set the pool back up to easily dry it again. I only needed 5 minutes to be all done. That’s all. This was the start of four straight days of rain…followed by cold Minnesota weather.

I should have at least three angels looking after me.

I can understand how God is too busy to focus on everyone and to worry about little problems but what else do Katherine and Grandma & Grandpa T have to do up there? Finishing puzzles, going on bike rides, playing cards, and making fiber flowers & casseroles ;) Help me out. Delay that rain just a few minutes. Create a dry pocket for me. Anything. A little help here. Are there rules for angel interventions? Do they only get a limited number? Do they have to learn how to use their powers? Do they save them for ‘signs’ versus actually helping us out? Can they team up and combine powers?

Or maybe I need to pay attention more.

Maybe they help all the time and I’m too busy to notice. Or I don’t give them credit. Or I take countless mini-interventions for granted. Maybe they’re busy all day long saving me from car crashes, house fires and other life changing disasters. Maybe they’re helping out with an extended green traffic light every so often, or moving my car keys where I can easily find them. Maybe they helped me get to see one of my Make-A-Wish children one last time before he died. Maybe it was my angels who helped us when Megan started choking recently while we were out to dinner (I think my heart has finally settled back into a normal rhythm a few weeks later). Life gets so busy it’s sadly way too easy to miss these every day blessings.

Don’t sweat the small stuff

Or maybe they’re watching and deciding not to jump in so that maybe one day I’ll learn once and for all not to sweat the small stuff. They’re giving me ongoing reminders about what really matters and doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. Who cares about my frustrations with this silly pool? It is a fun memory with the kids while the rain dumped on us and I made them continue to stand there holding the ends of the pool regardless of the futility of the situation. We were soaked in a matter of seconds and laughing while daddy was helpless against the rain.

Everyday miracles

Maybe they can’t change the course of things but instead can use their powers to send signs. And maybe I’m too busy to notice these too. Or I’m waiting for something so grand and life-changing that I’m missing minor miracles every day. Maybe someday this will all make sense to me. Or maybe not. Until then I’ll continue to wait for that special day when the orchid in my office blooms again and I find the last state quarter to fill my collector book.

“Help me today to enjoy every moment. No matter what I deal with today help me to walk with a smile and enjoy this moment. This time and this day. I will never see it again. I will be thankful!” -DL Watson

You do something about it – you don’t just wait

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on work blog, October 31, 2014

My advice for anyone asking more about the concepts I follow related to actively pursuing and achieving dreams throughout the year is to first create a long list of dreams (aka Bucket List). 100 dreams is a nice round number to target. 100 forces you out of your comfort zone. 100 makes you put some effort into this. 100 makes you write down things that you think about but don’t want to write down (Too silly? Too far-fetched? Too personal? Too much effort? Too much money? Too much of facing the reality that you may not achieve all of your dreams?). 100 pushes you in many ways that I think are good for you. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. REALLY tried it.

Next, pick some top dreams and take steps toward achieving them. Yep, that’s it. Simple. Genius – I know. Don’t worry about all the steps after your first step. Don’t worry about creating a SMART goal or whatever other trendy acronym is out there. Just take that first step. Take it confidently. Enjoy that step. You can worry about the next step tomorrow (enjoy that step too, and the next one, and the next one). Step by step – every day – they add up and take you places you never ever dreamed possible. But you’ve got to take that first step. Don’t wait any longer to take it.

And then I have lots of advice on next steps and tools…dream storming sessions, accountability partners, making weekly progress, how to handle roadblocks, how to tackle dreams that aren’t clear or that aren’t measurable, and on and on. Don’t ever hesitate to reach out to me if you want to know more. I’ve been blessed (or cursed?) with over-thinking things, being detail-oriented, uncontrollably tracking data, and getting pleasure from digging into struggles we all face every day. I am always happy to apply what I’ve learned along the way to helping others.

Regardless of your approach the whole point is to find things you believe in and live life TODAY. Don’t wait. Don’t keep pushing things off. Don’t wander around too long in life without finding some sort of focus. Having a list of dreams that you are actively pursuing helps with all of those things.

A cool video surfaced in the last few weeks about a dream on my wife’s list. She is 2 1/2 years into a five year Ph. D program in genetics at the University of Minnesota. She only has a few items on her dream list but her dreams are big! This video is about her boss (Dr. Jakub Tolar, who does amazing things with pediatric blood and marrow transplants) being introduced by Eddie Vedder and getting to speak at a Pearl Jam concert on October 19th. I hope it inspires you to add a few items to your dream list TODAY.

Here’s a link to the video and also the comments he makes in the video:

VIDEO 1: Cause The Wave: EB Research Pearl Jam Xcel St Paul MN 10/19/14

“You have no idea how the 30,000 of you boil down to a single kid that Ed had in his hands in my hospital yesterday. He’s the real thing. When you listen to his music, his lyrics, you know that it goes to your brain, your heart, to your marrow. I am a bone marrow transplant physician and what I do for a living has lots to do with what he does for a living. What we both do is give people hope. And that is why almost immediately we understood each other because he’s the real stuff…When you go back home to your loved ones remember that this is a man who understands that the essential is invisible – it’s down, down here (heart & inside you) and he gets what we all need to know which is if you want to fight a disease like EB, you go to www.debra.org and you do something about it. You don’t just wait. Thank you!” -Dr. Jakub Tolar, Pearl Jam concert, Oct 19, 2014

Here’s another video on this topic. As Dr. Tolar says…do something about it…don’t just wait.

VIDEO 2: Cause The Wave: Eddie Vedder and the EB Research Partnership

Believe in your dreams – live life with passion and focus every day – make your dreams happen!

Dream YOUR Dreams

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on work blog, September 19, 2013

My roommate freshman through junior years in college knows how to dream big and chase down crazy adventures. In college he was the one who ended up in Alaska during the summers removing barnacles from boats. Last year his holiday email started with “I thought I’d share a bit about this year’s adventure, a backpacking trip. I had always wanted to visit China. I also dreamed of hiking the Himalayas. With scores of frequent flyer miles, and ample downtime, the timing seemed perfect.” That was the start of a 2-month solo trip through many countries. Once he got back to the states he started his own consulting company (“I don’t have much more than a nifty logo and generic web content at the moment. I’m hopeful, nonetheless.”). Soon after that he got the urge to help a friend raise some money which started an 8-week, 4000 mile solo bike ride across the country from San Diego to Virginia Beach. Similar to Forrest Gump, once he reached Virginia Beach he said “I’ve always wanted to see Maine…”, so he biked up the coast…and then decided since he’d made it that far he might as well bike back home to Indiana. Finally, this week ended his 4 1/2 months, 7,000+ miles of biking solo around the U.S.

When I hear about people and dreams like this I tend to have a moment of self-doubt that my dreams are way too boring and safe by comparison. Are his dreams better? Do great dreams require adventure and risk and spontaneity and pushing you way beyond your comfort zone? Nope, and sometimes. His dreams are great – for him. My dreams are great – for me. All of our dreams and goals should be about pursuing happiness and living life with no regrets. Even Bil acknowledges his freedom comes with “serious trade-offs, both personally and professionally”. That’s why it is so important to write down and pursue dreams that are meaningful to YOU and incorporate all aspects of your life.

Here are things we can all apply from Bil’s latest adventure to some of our dreams:

  • dreams require a lot of hard work and preparation;
  • he shared his dream publicly and had a support network throughout the journey – people who were constantly rooting for him and checking in on him;
  • there were many opportunities for spontaneity but he had clear objectives and goals;
  • it connected to a higher level purposegiving back to a cause that he believed in;
  • having a positive attitude is very important to get you through all sorts of unexpected obstacles;
  • and, the journey was clearly as much a part of this as the destination.

Dream YOUR dreams!!!

Who’s Your Monkey?

Originally posted by Dave Thompson on work blog, May 17, 2013

I saw Dr. Henry Cloud present last week at the Chic-fil-A leadercast conference. He was a great speaker and told of an experiment where monkeys were placed in cages and subject (without harming them) to intense scare tactics including flashing lights, loud noises, shaking the cages, etc. The monkey’s brain activity was monitored and their stress levels spiked (wouldn’t yours?!?!?).

Next the researches added another monkey to the cage that was a companion to the first monkey. They put the monkeys through the same intensity yet this time the stress levels didn’t rise even half as much. Having a companion with you keeps you calm, comforted, focused, and increases the positive energy.

Dr. Henry Cloud challenged us to “find our monkey”.

Who brings you comfort, security, and support? Who do you want in the cage with you as you navigate life’s challenges and adventures? He said our brains are wired for achieving happiness and emphasized the importance of creating structures that build and support relationships and connections. I think having a dream list and chasing down your goals in life is perfect for bringing monkeys together! Share those dreams. Find an accountability monkey (uh…partner). Share the journey.

(connecting with others reduces impacts of depression….I should do more research here…)

Homework assignment: Ask at least one person, “Will you be my monkey?” in the next week!