Ideal verse non-ideal. In any goal pursuit there are going to be things that are ideal and that we enjoy doing, however there are also those things that we do not want to do, do not enjoy and are not ideal. The things we enjoy, that make our brain dance and got us excited about the project or pursuit in the first place are easy to complete and to move towards. However, those non-ideal things, the obstacles that pop up, the boring tasks, the elements that are outside of our lane, make the pursuit more cumbersome and can strip the enjoyment away from the task. It is essential that we learn to lean into the non-ideal tasks by understanding their purpose and thriving in the challenge of doing something that we might not necessarily enjoy. Take for instance, this guy. Last night at Comfest in Columbus, OH I captured a photo of him rolling a single tire down the sidewalk. Without talking to him, I ventured to guess that this is not how he wanted to be spending his Saturday afternoon. However, whatever goal he wanted/needed to complete that day required him to get a tire and move it from point A to point B. I can imagine that he would have liked a different method for transporting the tire, however, he had to do what he had to do, to do what he had to do. As such, to make movement towards his goal, he had to roll the tire down the sidewalk. So thank you tire guy for the reminder that sometimes we have to complete non-ideal tasks using non-ideal methods to achieve our ideal goals. Sometimes we all have to roll a tire down a sidewalk.
While in Key West I had a little encounter with an iguana. He/she was hanging out at the top of our cabana roof and braved it’s way over to the edge and stuck it’s neck out to take in the scenery. It was then I captured this photo. Sticking your neck out is a phrase synonymous with standing up for what you believe in and being yourself, even if it goes against the grain or is a bit unconventional. Last night I had the fortune of having some beers at @brewdog brewery. While enjoying these tasty beverages I was able to look over the Punk Equity booklet detailing Brew Dog’s story, their business philosophy, and their investment pitch. I was struck by not only their quick growth and innovative practices, but also by their deliberate embracing of a punk attitude. Brew Dog, sticks their neck out, authentically, and as a result they have received a tremendous amount of growth in a short amount of time, with little signs of slowing down. Brew Dog isn’t the only successful organization that has embraced a punk, stick your neck out attitude. There have, is, and will be many more people and organizations that will find success as a result of going against the grain, standing up for what they believe in, and being a disruptor. Will you be one of them? Stick your neck out.
Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. A timeless, though, silly joke. Probably one of the first jokes any of us learned, likely due to it’s simplicity, ease to remember, and ridiculous punch line. However, upon closer examination, I realize not only does this joke hold a punch line, it also provides a lesson in goal setting. The chicken had a goal, i.e., getting to the other side, and the method to achieve that goal was to cross the road. It’s that simple, that it is, almost, and a bit, funny. The chicken isn’t over thinking it. The chicken isn’t holding back. The chicken isn’t Googling for days about the best approach. Nope, the chicken just crosses the road. Might we take a lesson from this joke and realize that goal setting is about identifying an intent and then making it happen. Simple as that. We all have “other sides” that we are trying to get to or accomplish and there are a variety of roads that we need to cross to get there. The chicken isn’t concerned about getting to the other side of the country, per se, but it knows that if it crosses enough roads, it could certainly get there. And we can too. Whatever “other sides” we have in front of us. That we want to tackle. That we want to complete. They can be reached if we just focus on crossing each road at a time. If a chicken can do it, we sure as hell can too. Want to get to the other side? Cross the road.
Yesterday, my rock star younger brother turned 16 years old. First off, I must celebrate the fact that 16 years ago this awesome, cool, old souled, rocker, eloquent “little” guy joined the Graef family rounding out an all-star cast of characters. As he has aged our interests have aligned even more serving as an awesome foundation of music, travel, food, and fun into the future. So Dylan, happy birthday again my friend. As for the rest of us, many of whom that have already turned 16, I want to take us back. Back to the day or that year that most represents freedom and autonomy more than perhaps any other. That sweet 16. In the United States, not sure about other countries, our freedoms increase dramatically by way of being able to drive. In other countries, individuals may be able to drink, buy tobacco, marry, vote, and join the armed services. However, in this country, 16 represents one consistent thing, driving. With driving comes the ability to go where you want, when you want. This variability of when and where will alter based on parenting decisions and community sanctioned curfews, however, this newfound freedom becomes a catalyst for many adventures and a different type of engagement in and with life. Yes, sweet 16, indeed. But then where does it go? That freedom? We hold onto it for a while but then eventually we start to lose it. Some blame the government. Some age. Some money. Some time. Some kids. Regardless of excuse the message is the same…”There is a life out there that I would like to live, but one that I am not currently living, and it’s due to things that are outside our control.” So, today, a day after my brother’s 16th birthday, I encourage people to embrace their inner 16 year old. Sixteen year olds see the world from deep romantic glasses. They take risks. They experience and feel fully. They listen to and connect with art and music. They make close connections with friends. They realize their capabilities. They question boundaries. They go on adventures. They embrace and require freedom. And so can we. So regardless of politics, age, money, time, or children…I think we all can, and should, turn 16 again.
Sunday night I drove up from Columbus to see Jamestown Revival at the Grog Shop in Cleveland, OH. I was still a bit tired from a hard celebration of the Cavaliers Game 4 win, but I had rested enough to warrant the 2.5 hour drive to take in an emerging favorite band. Though JTR did their thing, which I’ll speak to soon, the entire night represented elements of excellence. After parking I walked a mile to go get some pre-show drinks at Barrio. The bartender Sarah was attentive, quick-witted, positive vibed, and was customer service all the way. She was damn good at what she did and it didn’t go unnoticed. By doing the little things, Sarah’s impact was big. Sarah, the bartender, was excellent. The opening act at the Grog Shop, The Gage Brothers, proved themselves as a worthy opener playing a set of their smooth flowing, harmonizing tunes. “All You Are”, “Where can I go” , and my personal favorite, a near perfect song called “Caged” stood out in particular. Though in a supporting role, The Gage Brothers, just a band from Akron, was excellent. The next artist, Cole Wall, took us back in time to where country music wasn’t about “shaking sugar shakers” or dubbed overtop hip hop beats. Nope this musician was paying homage to the classics, respecting history and carving his place in it along the way. Cole Wall, a red haired, deep voiced, good ol boy from Canada, was excellent. And finally, Jamestown Revival came on around 10:00pm and nailed it from the first note. Taking little time for chat they just performed song after song with as much passion and vigor as they had when they probably first wrote them. Un-phased by the unique, but certainly more stressful aspects of a job as a touring musician…being away from friends, family, or a young son. Despite any potential off-the-stage concerns, the best show up and play. Jamestown Revival, a hard working, folk soul rocking, band of friends from Magnolia, was excellent. In summary, Sunday night was a night of excellence and reminded me of the importance of doing the little things right, supporting others, respecting those who have come before, and being ready to perform when the lights go on. Thank you all for a night of excellence, I look forward to noticing it again.
While driving from Bryce Canyon to Escalante Canyon we stopped at an overlook to take in this vast, inspiring view. At this location was a piece detailing the work required to make the winding road below. Highway 12, or the Million Dollar Road as it’s called, was a major connector between the town of Escalante and Boulder, Utah. The completion of this section took five years and required a significant amount of skill, sweat, and dynamite, as the plaque states. As a result, business was able to occur and more efficiently between these two, otherwise isolated, towns. A necessary and welcomed marvel of engineering for the time. Fast forward to today and we are all on a pursuit to forge our own road. To connect that which we are passionate about to that which can help others, make money, support our family, tickle our interests, or serve our communities. And just as it did back in the 1930’s and 40’s, our success of forging our own roads will also require skill, sweat, and dynamite. We need skill to complete the necessary requirements in whatever industry we are in. If we don’t have them we either need to learn them or elicit the help of others that do. Not only does success require skill, it also requires effort. Hard work. Sweat. Skill needs effort to be successfully applied. You have skill…great. Get to work. Now the final piece, the X-factor…is dynamite. Dynamite makes a big impact. It’s explosive. In order to level up we have to blow things up. To be explosive and to make a big impact. Grant Cardone is big on the 10x Factor. That if you shoot for goals that are 10x larger than what your expectations are then you will be guaranteed to exceed them. This is the dynamite in practice. Blow up your goals. Make them explosive. Make them impactful. So in summary, whether an athlete, a performer, a business owner, or family member. If we want growth or goal pursuit, apply your skills, break a sweat, and move mountains with dynamite.
One of the trails the Graef family hiked in Zion national park was the Narrows. The narrows is an incredible hike that takes you along and, sometimes in, the Virgin River. The ice cold water feels great on the legs and hiking between 1000 ft high canyon walls is nothing short of amazing, but it’s also hard as hell. Even for me, a semi physically fit individual, I found this hike, especially the way back, particularly challenging. Walking in water, navigating rocks, and stepping against the current are all doable for a few paces. But do this over the course of 7 hours and it becomes a much different experience, aka hard as hell. Fortunately, we had help. Prior to the hike we rented these water proof boots and socks, and this walking stick. Now for the $23 rental price tag, one might wonder whether we actually “needed” these additional items to have a successful hike. Well, as I witnessed the difficulty people in regular shoes and even bare feet were having, not only do I believe these items helped facilitate a successful hike, I believe they were essential for one. Two simple items made something potentially terrible into something manageable, if not, enjoyable. They weren’t overly fancy. They weren’t particularly expensive. They just acted on the two major elements needed for a successful journey…traction and balance. If you’re hiking in a river, that’s what you need…traction and balance. In fact, I think that’s what we all need. We’re all on a hike. Our own personal Narrows. Stepping on and around rocks. Going against the current. It can be very easy for us to slip up, if we don’t do things to maintain a solid grip on our path. It can be very easy for us to fall over, if we don’t have resources to help maintain our balance. Sure I slipped a few times. Absolutely I fell over. But thanks to the boots and the stick, I was able to get back on my feet and continue my hike. What are your boots? What are those people or things that help you to stay grounded on your path? What about your stick? What are those people or things that help you remain upright and balanced? We can’t leave it up to chance, otherwise we will find ourselves miles in with sore feet, wet socks, and succumbing to the current. Establish traction and balance, get your boots and sticks.
This was a picture I took alongside the Angel’s Landing trail in Mount Zion National Park. Cactus are known for a few things, even to a lay person. They’re green. They grow in the desert. They can prick you! What I never realized is that they can blossom into a beautiful flower as well. Maybe not all of them, but certainly this one did and it caught my eye. Such beauty coming from a protective, somewhat dangerous, beast of a plant. Which reminded me that this is often the same in life. Those things that can cause us pain, that can hurt us, that can be prickly, and even puncture, are often things that can also create beauty and something good. Hard work hurts, yet on the other end is product, services, or way of being that is better than before. A tough conversation with a family member or co-worker. Breaking off a relationship. A hard workout. Putting paperwork in place for an LLC. Renovating a house. Changing leadership. The examples are many, but the lesson is the same. Oftentimes we have to go through some prickly situations in order to blossom. Appreciate the pricks. Soak in the pretty.
I was in Utah this past week with the fam visiting Mount Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks. Between being on west coast time, early rises for hiking, and earlier than usual bed times, blogs fell by the wayside…until today! I’m back with plenty of fodder from the trip. So here begins what will likely be a Utah dominant blog for the next few days. My mom actually brought this picture to mind. What I love about this picture is that there in the sand are footprints. Different footprints. Some small. Some big. Some wide. Some narrow. Different tread marks. Some basic. Some fancy. Regardless, however, they are all making the hike and here in this picture, we can see it. All of these marks coming together for the same purpose…to move forward. To go down the trail. To go uphill. To go downhill. To go over obstacles. To go around turns. To see what they likely haven’t seen. To hike what they haven’t hiked. And there, in the sand, is the proof. What trail are you on? What hike are you hiking? What proof are you leaving behind? We are all on a journey. Our own journey. As well as our journey together. Though the footprints may be unique, they are all there, in the same spot, together. This journey may be uphill. It may be downhill. It may have obstacles. It may have turns. However, if I/we/us continue the journey, we too might be able to see what we haven’t seen and hike what we haven’t hiked. Lace up the shoes. Get on the trail. And let’s leave some proof…some foot proof in the sand.
This is a photo I took at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. Though I was a bit surprised at the amount of green foliage in the park overall, make no mistake that it is still Utah, and especially at Bryce Canyon, there exists a plentiful amount of desert mountain rock. And here, on that desert mountain rock, grows a small little tree. Despite it’s less fertile ground, limited supply of water, and rocky foundation this “little tree that could” continues to grow. Despite it’s limitations, difficult upbringing, lack of resources. It makes no excuses. It doesn’t complain. Instead it stands there proudly, on the edge of a mountain, growing despite. The lesson is clear. Not all of us come or currently experience fertile ground. We might be lacking that constant supply of refreshing water. We may have a rocky foundation. We likely have limitations, perhaps a poor upbringing, and in some ways limited resources. Yet, can’t we, too, stand up? Can’t we move to the edge? Can’t we root ourselves? Can’t we make the most of what we have? With pride? Yes, take a lesson from this “little tree that could”…just grow damnit?