November 23, 2011

Why Should I Be Thankful?

Some people live through some very difficult, sad seasons of life. We all live through some level of pain at some point in our lives. For some people, it can be challenging to feel thankful, to find something for which to give thanks during these seasons. For others, we can find things to be thankful for, but it feels like we're flipping through a "Where's Waldo?" book as we search our memories for the few good things that happened over the past year. Of course, there are many who had a wonderful year and have plenty of obvious reasons to give thanks.

At night, I climb into bed with my daughters and ask them three questions:

1. What was the best part of your day?

2. What do you want to ask God to help you with?

3. What do you want to thank God for?

Sometimes they struggle on #3, which surprised me at first. They have so much to be thankful for, don't they? A wonderful home, parents who love them, three meals a day, a good school, friends, a dog, each other, grandparents, cousin, aunt, uncle, clothes, toys, etc.

They almost never struggle with question #2. They ask God to help them with their flaws (attitudes), physical challenges (speaking clearly for Savannah), or personal desires. They can usually think of an endless number of things they would like God to change about themselves or others, or that they want God to give them.

What if #2 and #3 are really the same question? What if the challenges in our lives are actually His gifts to us, and that's what we should thank Him for?

The breaking of the alabaster box and the anointing of the Lord filled the house with the odor, with the sweetest odor. Everyone could smell it. Whenever you meet someone who has really suffered; been limited, gone through things for the Lord, willing to be imprisoned by the Lord, just being satisfied with Him and nothing else, immediately you scent the fragrance. There is a savor of the Lord. Something has been crushed, something has been broken, and there is a resulting odor of sweetness. -Watchman Nee

Watchman Nee became a Christian in mainland China in 1920 at the age of seventeen and began writing in the same year. In 1952 he was imprisoned for his faith; he remained in prison until his death in 1972. 

How horrible, right? How awful that anyone would be imprisoned for his faith and live the last 20 years of his life in jail. It's a tragedy, right? No, it's not. It wasn't to Watchman Nee. It was a breaking so that the sweetest aroma could fill his broken body with new life and bless others. 

This is not only a spiritual concept, it is a relationship concept. Whatever your faith, what is universally true is that the challenges of this life have the power to create something in and through our lives that can bless others. That power is in our hands; we determine what is created out of the pain we experience.

When life is confusing, sad, painful, difficult, challenging, unfair, surprising, overwhelming, or unbearable, then we have arrived at a place of decision. Prior to the pain, we could float along in the moment without having to decide what we believe, who we are, what is most important, where we are headed, etc. But when the pain arrives, then we will either be victim to it or victor through it. And what a wonderful life is grown when the seed is crushed and the roots dig deep into the soil. 

I'll admit that there are times when I don't feel thankful. There have even been times in my life when I might have asked God: "Why should I be thankful?" But the response from heaven is deafening, even in a loving, small whisper: "Be thankful I am breaking you. If you were left as you are, then you would never know the treasure that lies inside or the blessing that you can be to others."

Our family has more to be thankful for than most. But there are times when instead of saying "thanks", I ask why 2 of our 3 daughters have special needs or why the road we've traveled has been so challenging in many other ways. We are blessed, though. Blessed by all we've been given, but also blessed by all that we have not been given and blessed by all that has been taken away.

What if we went around the table this Thanksgiving and gave thanks for the difficult things that we walked through this year? Many of us could because we are already on the other side of them. We can see the good that came out of the struggle. Many of us would find this challenging to do, though. Maybe you have been walking through something very difficult for months or even years. The last thing you feel is thankful for the pain. 

But maybe it's time to stop resisting the breaking, and instead give thanks. Instead of embracing the pain, choose to walk towards a place of thanksgiving. As you do, the cracks in your alabaster box will start to deepen. That might mean that the pain will the point of breaking. And then the box will be completely destroyed past the point of repair. The cracks too many, the breaking too sever. 

It is then that you will truly be thankful from the deepest part of you. You will know who you are and, more importantly, who made you. You will see others differently -- their lives, their hearts, their suffering. The pain that caused the breaking will be the key that sets you free. If you choose to give thanks through the pain, even more so, if you choose to give thanks for the pain, then you will discover a sweetness, a treasure, a person, a life that you had never known before. 

My barn having burned to the ground, I can now see the moon. -Japanese poet Masahide 

November 22, 2011

Are You Remodeling the Kitchen on a Sinking Ship?

Here's what I think a lot of us are doing with our lives: many of us are remodeling the kitchen on a sinking ship. The ship isn't taking us where we want to go -- it can't, but as far as we can tell it is the only ship we have. Instead of building a new ship, we try to turn our sinking ship into the vehicle we need to get us where we want to go.

Why do we do this?

I think we do it because we don't believe (that's a key word) two things:

1. That the ship we are on is actually sinking and cannot take us where we want to go

2. That we could build a new ship that could take us where we want to go

So if there are two things we don't believe that we need to believe, then we have a two-step process to pursue:

1. Realize the ship you are on might not be able to take you where you really want to go -- splash some cold water on your face (figuratively and, maybe, literally) and realize you don't see your kids as much as you'd like or you don't get to do all you'd like as a family, etc.

2. Identify what type of ship could take you where you want to go, and then believe you can build it

By the way, if you don't yet know where you want to go, then you have to figure that out before taking on step #1.

I wrote to a friend today who is looking for a new job/career and said this:

"I know you will have a number of options. The key, therefore, is to really determine not so much what you want to do, but where you want to end up. And, once again, I encourage you not to think of your end point in terms of a position at a company or in any "career" light, but more in terms of lifestyle and what you want your career to enable you to be able to do."

You can make small adjustments (remodel the kitchen) for the next 20 years, and you will still be on the same ship...sinking. If instead of ripping out the old kitchen, you blew up the entire ship, then you would actually be closer to your destination.  

You can try to convince yourself that it's too late or too difficult to build a new ship. There are too many responsibilities at home, there's not enough time, and, actually, you tell yourself, you are really very satisfied (yuck, hate that word) with your current situation. You are tired and building a new ship is a big mountain to climb. 

So if we don't want to go through the trouble of building a new ship (or we don't believe we can build one), then why do we even bother putting in the effort to remodel the kitchen? It's because we value hope, even if a new kitchen on a sinking ship isn't much hope, at least it's something. It's because we like to work hard, even if we aren't directing all that hard work toward building something that could actually take us where we want to go.  

I recently wrote a post entitled: "Focus on Dream-Producing Activities". Remodeling the kitchen on our sinking ship is not the right focus. Building a new ship -- and possibly living on the sinking one until the new one is done -- is the right focus. 

I understand that not everyone is on a sinking ship, and this post would not be for you. But I think there are a lot of people who are on a sinking ship and they either don't know it or won't admit it. It's really scary to admit the ship you are on is sinking -- it's scary to say out loud: "What I am doing will not get me where I want to be for me and my family." That's scary, but it's a great first step. I've often found that the best first steps are the scariest first steps. 

So for those of you who keep remodeling your kitchen year after year in hopes that this time the result will be different, this time the ship will start taking you where you want to go...maybe it's time to stop remodeling and instead it's time to start building a new ship.  

November 16, 2011

It Can't Happen If You Don't Talk About It

It's a bold step to start speaking your dreams out loud, especially if other people can hear you.

It usually starts when the dream steps out of the hidden ("safe") places of your heart and enters your mind. Then you start talking to yourself. Then you take the bold step of sharing the dream with your best friend, your spouse, someone close. That person is usually the person that you feel is the least likely to laugh at your dream. Even though you don't think it consciously, you know that the worst thing for a young, growing dream is to have someone attack it. Now that you've come this far, you want to protect that little thought that had laid dormant for so long in the recesses of your heart. When enough people validate for you that you aren't crazy, then you start to tell everyone about your dream.

As you talk about your dream, your level of belief grows. As you talk about your dream, the possibility that the dream could actually move from your heart to your head to a living reality becomes stronger. You can't live something you don't talk about. Why? Because you can't live something you don't believe. And if you aren't talking about your dream, then you are dealing with one of two possible issues:

1. You thought it was your dream, but it's not really. You haven't searched deep enough in your heart. There's a door to a room that you determined long ago never should be opened. Your dream is living in that room, and you need to set it free. You are scared to, so instead of doing that you decided to try to convince yourself to believe in a different dream. It has to be the one. The dream.

2. It is your dream, but it scares you to death to talk about it. You've found it. You opened the door to that room, and now it spends its days walking around in your head. But you have not given it the green light to start announcing itself to the world. It took so much work just to get it from your heart to your head, you don't want to risk losing it!

Guess what? You can be 100% confident that if you never talk about your dream -- announce it to the world -- then you will never live your dream. There's no need to worry about losing the dream or failing in the pursuit of it if you never talk about it because in not talking about it the dream has already been lost -- you failed before you even started the pursuit.

Dream big and then talk about that dream. Tell people about it. If all they can come up with in response are questions and reasons as to why you'll never realize your dream, then just say this: "Oh, I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number." But if they get excited for you and want to support you and encourage you, then you know you've found someone to be a part of your "dream team".

When you talk about your dream, you quickly begin to discover who will be valuable in your journey to achieve that dream and who will not. There is only so much time in one day, and you need to spend it building your belief. Therefore, you need to spend your time with people who believe in you.

When you talk about your dream, then you are stating who you are to the world. Everyone knows where you are headed, and they either fit into the picture or they don't. That's not mean, it's reality. If they don't fit into your world, then you don't fit into theirs. You are not only doing yourself a favor, you are doing them one as well.

So go discover your big, hairy, audacious dream, and then go tell someone. It can't happen if you don't talk about it.

November 15, 2011

Is it better to work 8 or 10 hours per day?

A friend reminded me of a saying today: "Work as if it depends on you. Pray as if it depends on God." For me, that used to mean: "Work really, really hard. And pray really, really hard." Now, it means "Work hard, but don't overdo it because it really doesn't depend on me. And pray -- ask God what He wants me to do and do it."

In my opinion, it doesn't matter how hard I work because I can't make great things happen. Instead, I should seek to become an expert at listening to God and then acting on what I am told. This is not an advocation of a "La-Z-Boy" lifestyle, rather it is a realization that one more hour at the office is not going to be the key to huge success for my company and/or career.

Quite frankly, whether you believe in God or not, I think this theory applies. Balance is an essential component of a "successful" life. And no career or company can be considered a success, in my opinion, if we have to sacrifice everything else in order to achieve it.

It's about tradeoffs. If you are going to put in 9 hours on the job, then you have 1 less hour per day (and 5 less per week) to give to your family, yourself, your faith, your community, your other passions (assuming you are passionate about your job), etc. Are those 5 extra hours really worth it? If it can't be achieved in 8 hours is there any life-changing, earth-shattering reason why it can't wait until tomorrow or after the weekend? And if the answer to that question is that you might lose your job if you don't put in 9, 10, 11 or 12 hours per day, then I'd proffer that the job isn't right for you.

In fact, I wonder if the person who works 8 might actually get more done (more output, more efficient) than the person who works 10. What if we only had enough energy every week for the job we do? That would mean we'd miss out on many other people and opportunities in our life that could help us grow. A one-dimensional employee is not a rock-star. When we spend the majority of our week pouring ourselves into just one area of our life, then eventually we won't be any good for ourselves or anyone else.

So how does this relate to dreaming and pursuing our dreams? A few ways:

1. I hope all of our dreams are balanced. I think it is healthy to include all the people and things that are important to us in our biggest dreams -- our family, friends, faith, community, etc. I'm not a big fan of a dream that only focuses on one aspect of life. For example, a dream of building a big company -- that's not a complete dream to me. Why do you want to build a big company? How does your family fit into your life as you build the company and once the company is built? How about your friends, faith, community, etc.?

2. We won't achieve our biggest dreams in a day, a week, a month or a year. Big mountains take time to climb. We'll get there healthy, sane and with our family and friends cheering us on if we have spent time along the way taking care of ourselves, loving our family and others.

3. To some degree, we can only achieve the dream if we in some part start living it now. Do you ever catch yourself saying "one day, I'll be able to..." In balance, that's a great thing to be saying. You want to dream of the day you can take your entire family on a trip across Europe or work full-time from home or buy a bigger home, but you don't want to miss out on spending time with your family and friends, or give up pursuing your passions just to get there. Will you have to make some sacrifices? Yes. But don't give up everything for the hope of one day gaining it all back. You can set priorities and be disciplined enough to get a taste of your dream now, so that when you reach your dream you can enjoy it with everyone you love.

November 14, 2011

As Dory Might Say: "Just Keep Climbing. Climbing. Climbing."

Our stories can often be told by the seasons we live through. Some seasons we describe as "good" and others we define as "challenging" or "difficult", while others are very simply "bad".

Here's the thing about pursuing our dreams: we are all in different seasons of life, but we are all pursuing the same thing -- our dreams. Different dreams, yes, but the mountain is essentially the same -- it's big. We each have to climb a "Mt. Everest" if we want to achieve our dream.

So here's how we can help each other: we're all climbing a very similar mountain, we're just going through different seasons of life while we do it. The neat thing is that you have probably already gone through the season of life I'm going through, and vice versa. So I can help you through your "challenging" season of life, and you can help me through my "bad" season of life. And the great thing is that I just went through my "challenging" season, so I should be very helpful! And you don't know it, but you are about to go through your "bad" season next so helping me will really prepare you! And what is best of all is that as I help you through your season, that makes my "bad" season a little less bad because I'm not as focused on it. And the same for you!

And sometimes, the only thing we can do through our seasons of life as we climb Mt. Everest is to just keep climbing. And that's probably the best encouragement we can give each other, as well. As you pursue your dream, just keep climbing. You can't fail if you don't quit!

November 13, 2011

Focus on Dream-Producing Activities

I think I need to re-learn to calculate the net present value of time. For example, how do I compare: 

#1 The present value of driving through a McDonald's and eating my lunch on the way to my next meeting 


#2 The present value of spending 30 minutes the night before to prepare a healthy lunch and then taking 45 minutes to pause during the middle of my day so that I can enjoy eating it?

On the surface, it would seem that if we are measuring the value of time then option #1 wins. But, as you might have guessed, this is a bit of a trick question. It's not actually correct to only measure the amount of time spent in that moment. Instead, we need to measure the value of time spent in that moment. 

If we take our one-day experiment to an extreme, we can imagine how we might calculate the net present value of time of option #1 vs. option #2 if we continued with each option every day for 10 years. 

While it might take us 10 minutes to drive through the McDonald's and eat the burger and fries, it might also require we spend more time at the doctor, in the hospital, and sick, as well as possibly dead at an earlier age. In addition, it's not just about the impact of what we would be eating every day, but also about the fact that we never paused during our busy day to rest. So with extra stress, loss of energy, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed, we might experience additional side effects that "waste" our time. 

With option #2, it would take us some time to buy the groceries, then 30 minutes to fix the meal, plus 45 minutes to eat it. That's at least 10x as much time required as option #1. But the result might be that we see the doctor, hospital, and sick bed less, and we get to live a longer life. In addition, with reduced stress, extra energy, and a general feeling of well being, we can actually enjoy the free time we have with our families in the evenings and during the weekends. 

Can this be analogous to the pursuit of our dreams? I have talked to a number of people who want to dream, but they have determined -- often before even analyzing what exactly is required -- that they do not have time to pursue their most audacious dreams. This thinking usually holds true whether the person is single, married, a parent of one or a parent of four. There is only time to pursue what can be had now or what "must" be done now -- in this moment, in the near future. To some degree, I believe many of us -- including myself -- choose "the McDonald's drive through" in regard to our careers, our families, and generally how we spend our time every day, instead of setting aside time to make the healthy lunch and actually take the time to eat it. 

If you have a dream that is far beyond what your present situation currently looks like...That is to say, if your dream is a Mt. Everest and you really want to pursue it -- to climb it -- then the climb requires a disciplined adjustment of how you spend your time. The pursuit requires that you change the way you are currently living, change the direction you are heading. The pursuit requires that you find time, that you make time. The pursuit requires that you re-learn how to calculate the net present value of time. 

How valuable was it to you and your family to do what you did yesterday? Does its value change if you change the lens through which you evaluate it? What if you switched out the "immediate, now, must be done" lens for the "future, long-term, life-changing" lens?

The bigger we dream, the more patient we must be. Notice I did not say: the bigger we dream, the more time we must be willing to spend. Instead, what I mean is that the bigger the dream, the longer the road and the greater delay in satisfaction. Immediate satisfaction often means a smaller level of satisfaction. Delayed satisfaction often means the opposite. Think of it as a graph. The x-axis is the amount of time, starting at the present and extending 5, 10, 20 years into the future. The y-axis is the size of your dream, starting at what you can have now and extending to the most big, hairy, audacious dream you have for you and your family.

The key question is this: what would you need to stop doing now so that you could start doing activities that lead to your biggest, most audacious dream? What activities now seem to matter, but when viewed through this lens really don't? What did you do yesterday (or this past week) that drove you closer to the biggest dream in your heart? And what did you do that did not? What are you doing that produces some measure of "reward" today (or this week or even this year) that will not have any bearing or value on your ability to achieve your biggest dream? If you can, stop doing that. Instead, focus on dream-producing activities. 

To some degree, I think we have to go back to the McDonald's analogy and use it in a different way: we need to retrain our tastebuds. We might have convinced ourselves that the best we can do given the time and responsibilities we have is a value meal at McDonald's. I don't think that's true; I think for our families, and for ourselves, we can make time every day to pursue our most audacious dreams. And when we get a taste of those dreams, then we'll never go back because we'll realize our dreams are worth pursuing...and a "McDonald's value meal" is not.

November 12, 2011

The Kryptonite of Our Dreams

Some time ago, if a customer bought something "on the slate" it meant that the customer would pay at a later time. Whatever he or she owed would be written on the slate. Once the debt was paid, the slate would be wiped clean.

I think to some degree, in order to pursue our dreams we must have our slates wiped clean. Here's the interesting thing: the decision to wipe my slate clean is not solely made by me. If we refer back to the origin of the idiom, we see a situation in which someone's slate is wiped clean only if:

1. He or she pays off a debt

2. The one owed forgives a debt

Either way, it's a transaction.

We actually often use this idiom when we talk about moving forward in a new direction. It's interesting that we consider it important to consider our past as a requirement to move forward. Once someone's debt is paid, the relationship mended, or the mistakes forgiven, we start to see a brighter hope or future for that person. Just think of the scandals we witness all too often through the media of famous movie stars, politicians or professional athletes. Until that person has somehow paid his or her debt or made something right, we really don't see an opportunity or possibility for them to move forward.

It's the same way with us and our dreams. If we struggle with seeing the possibility or the opportunity of an audacious dream, then it could be because our slate hasn't been wiped clean. If we struggle in the pursuit of a dream, then it's possible that the one thing weighing us down is a marked-up slate.

Do you ever find it difficult to dream?

Do you find it difficult to believe you could successfully pursue your most audacious dreams?

Do you struggle with allowing yourself to dream?

Maybe your slate needs to be wiped clean. We often won't allow ourselves to pursue something or become someone because we know we are living with a marked-up slate. There is some debt in our lives that needs to be paid; maybe a relationship that needs to be reconciled. Half of the journey is getting to this point: a clean slate.

When we arrive at that point, then we should pause for a moment, take a deep breath, and smile. All that might have weighed us down, held us back or been waiting to trip us up is no longer on the slate of our lives. We can step forward with resolve -- no looking back and no second guessing. Personally and professionally, we are in right relationship with people. We have humbled ourselves before the "past" of our lives and, in doing so, we face the future with confidence. Nothing is owed, all is forgiven.

Therefore, without restraint we can dream big. We can pursue a dream we never thought possible because before it never really was possible. Without a clean slate, those dreams could not be pursued. But now that it is clean, we can dare to dream beyond the walls that held us in, beyond the anchors that held us back. It's like someone has taken away the kryptonite, and now we can run faster, jump higher, love deeper and dream bigger.

If you find yourself struggling to dream big and/or pursue those big dreams, get rid of the kryptonite -- wipe the slate clean.

November 11, 2011

Does God Speak?

I am going to try to write a blog post every day for the next few weeks. Hopefully, this will be good practice for me and encouraging for any readers out there.

Currently, I am reading a book called "God Guides" by Mary Geegh. Mary was a missionary to India from 1924-1962. She is originally from Michigan.

In her book, Mary tells story after story of asking God to speak to her about a specific situation. She writes down whatever God tells her to do and then she obeys. Sometimes what God tells her to do does not seem to relate to her question, but she obeys anyway. As you might guess, once she obeys she sees why God asked that of her and how it related to her original request.

I am of the opinion that:

1. There is a God

2. He loves us

3. He wants to communicate with us

So, yes, I believe that God does speak to us if we listen. I think that we, in fact, often hear from God, but maybe we don't always like what we hear. Or maybe it is difficult to hear Him in the midst of the clanging and clatter that surround us every day. Not that God can't raise His voice loud enough to be heard above the noise, but I think He is usually not that way (sometimes, though, He most definitely is that way -- ask Paul about his journey to Damascus).

More often than not, I think we hear God when we listen. I dare to say that He is always speaking to us, and I mean that literally, but we so rarely pause to listen. You know which word I think is most important in the previous sentence? Pause.

Why do we rush? Why are we so anxious? I think it is because we do not pause to listen. If we paused to listen, might we hear from God and might the words He speaks calm our anxiety? If we paused to listen, might we actually stop rushing because, truly, what is the hurry? Does anyone who believes in God believe that he or she can accomplish more in a given amount of time than He can? In fact, we might save a lot of time by pausing to listen. Slowing down in order to allow God to guide might actually increase our daily level of "output" -- our personal and professional efficiency.

Beyond efficiency, I believe hearing from God is key to our ability to dream and pursue those dreams. Of course, we can dream without hearing from God, but are those God-given dreams? Maybe. Maybe He places dreams in our hearts and we don't even know it. And maybe we never need to know it in order to dream those dreams and pursue them. But how much more wonderful would our dreams be if God spoke them to us? And how much more confident would we be about pursuing those dreams if God spoke them to us? And, more so, what if every day He told us what to do that day to pursue the dreams He spoke to us?

I'd love to send a copy of "God Guides" to anyone who would like one. I won't have extra copies to mail out for a few weeks, but if you email me your address then I'll make sure you get one. I'm at:

I wonder what God might say to you if you spent some time listening to Him tonight? Ask Him what He would like to say to you and when you hear from Him write down what He says. Then obey. As Mary Geegh says, "Where God guides, God provides."

November 6, 2011

Are we scared to dream? Are we scared to pursue our dreams?

What is your #1 goal right now? Evaluate the way you spend your time, then give me your answer.

Can you tell me your top five dreams in order of priority without having to think about your answer even for a second?

Are we living every day the way we do because we want to live that way? Even those of us who would consider ourselves satisfied, even happy, with our lives, is it because we truly are happy? Or is it because we believe we are doing relatively well considering...

...considering most people go to work five days a week for 8-10 hours, right?

...considering most families only see each other for a short time in the morning and then around the dinner table at night during the work/school week, right?

...considering most people only get 2-4 weeks of vacation per year. And most people don't have the luxury of taking all their vacation, right?

...considering most people take the promotion when it is offered. And if it requires that the family move, then that's a sacrifice worth making, right?

...considering most people have to work for someone else to have health insurance. And most people cannot afford to start their own business, and of those that do, most aren't successful. And most people cannot take their family on a two-month mission trip or vacation anytime they want. And most people need to work for someone else to have the security and stability they need in order to responsibly raise a family, right?

We have a great church, a wonderful group of women we have coffee with every Tuesday morning, two nice cars, the money to meet monthly payments on student loans and the mortgage. We live near family, our kids attend a nice school, we spend one week every year at the beach, we get to see most of our kids' basketball games, we volunteer at the local Boys and Girls Club. We are progressing in our career -- next year Bob will get a bump up to $120K or Laura will have her own P&L to manage or Tim's church will pass the 1,000-member mark.

Our lives are pretty good, aren't they?

What would big, hairy, audacious dreams (BHADs) do to our lives? If your response is that you are already living your dream, then I'd ask you to dream bigger. Would dreaming big upset the balance, disturb the satisfaction, and cause us to feel a little uncomfortable?

Your dream isn't big enough until it makes you feel uncomfortable.

So are we scared to dream? Start with your spouse and your children. Start with the people who need you most, who love you most. What would your life look like if you got to schedule it? What would your family do every day, every year if there were no restrictions? What could you do for your kids, where could you be for your kids, if anything was possible? Who could you bless and how big could the blessing be if there were no limits?

Don't dream within the parameters of your current situation. Don't restrict your dreams to fit within the "nice" life you are living. Do not color within the lines just because someone gave you an 8x11 piece of paper with a picture on it. Who said that's the picture for your life? Who said the height of your joy is dependent upon how well you color that picture? Forget the picture, forget what you see all around you, forget where you've been, forget every challenge that flies in your face every time you begin to dip your toe in the ocean of your wildest, most audacious dreams.

When you dream big, hairy, audacious dreams then you challenge everything about the life you are currently living. It can feel much easier to limit your dreams than it is to dream without limit.

And what if we do dream? What if we do allow our hearts and minds to reach beyond the page; to start imagining what the picture would look like if we drew it?

And what if we found a way to pursue those dreams? What if there was a vehicle that could take us and our families to a place we once never thought possible?

Might it take discipline to achieve for our families what we once never dreamed possible? Might it require that we step outside of our comfort zone? Might it require that we take the road less traveled?

I've always wondered why "a road most traveled" even exists. Aren't we all unique? Aren't we all made to pursue our own path? Don't we actually long to break the mold, draw our own picture, and dig a tunnel under the prison wall? Do you ever look up from your computer screen and look at all the "cubicles of life" that surround you and wonder what it might be like to walk out?

But there I go dreaming again. Silly me.

But just for a moment, dream with me. What if there was a way to pursue your big, hairy, audacious dreams? What if it all was possible, but it just required you to do things a little differently in order to get there?

Maybe you will dare to dream, but will you also dare to pursue the dream? Will you dream big enough for the dream to be worth pursuing? The dream has to be valuable enough to replace the comfort of your current situation. The dream has to be big enough to overcome any fear or laziness or apathy or even satisfaction.

What if there was a vehicle to pursue your dreams? What if it didn't look like any other vehicle you'd ever driven or ever even seen? What if there was a way, but it wasn't familiar or comfortable?

Then I'd say the vehicle might match the size of your dreams. I'd say you might have found a way to draw your own picture. I'd say that you've journeyed beyond your fears and arrived at the outskirts of a forrest that most have never dared to trek through, most have never even dared to step into. The trees loom large and the fog is heavy. You can't see far ahead of you, and everything within you is screaming: "Turn around! It's not worth it. You probably won't find what you are looking for anyway!"

But you take that first step into the unknown, armed with your greatest tools: a commitment to always dream bigger, hairier and more audacious dreams and a daily resolve to wake up every morning, fold up your tent, roll up your sleeping bag, put out the campfire and walk one more day in the direction of those dreams.