February 16, 2016

Certainly I Can

Here’s a great rule to adopt in your own life.

A quote from Theodore Roosevelt:

“Whenever you are asked if you can do a job, tell ’em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

The heart of this message is in showing the confidence necessary to accomplish something difficult. Whether or not you believe in your ability to carry it out, it’s important to realize that, given enough time, anyone can solve almost any problem.

But it begins with confidence.

Never before have we lived in a time when we’re most equipped to gain the knowledge necessary to accomplish almost any task. Having access to Google is one of the key tools of some of the smartest people I know.

Want to learn to change your own oil? There’s hundreds of YouTube videos for that.

Want to learn a new language?

Want to learn to code?

Next time you’re faced with a difficult task and the question of whether or not you can do it, there’s a simple answer.

Certainly I can.

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There have been dozens of books written on the topic of professional success and optimizing your goals and career path, but I’ve realized that there’s actually only two steps that are necessary to developing a successful career.


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I’m going to say something that you might not like, but you need to hear it.

Most people don’t care about your life.

With the rise of social media, we’ve become increasingly self-centered. Look at your Twitter timeline, and you’ll regularly see dozens of “look at me and what I’m doing and what I like!” tweets. I’m guilty of it, too.

If you too join in on this trend of constant self-promotion, you’ll often be greeted with the same amount of attention you give the majority of those other self-promoting folks – silence.

It’s not just a social media problem. Look at most of the conversations we have with one another, and you’ll see how often we instantly jump into talk about ourselves as a way to fill the silence. Most of us don’t know any other way of carrying a conversation. When you continuously attempt to build connections and friendships this way – totally devoid of interest in others – you’re doomed to start making enemies out of people over time.

There’s actually a very simple solution to this problem. It takes the form of becoming truly interested in other people, and showing this in our behaviors and conversations.

Dale Carnegie describes this in his famous book, How to Win Friends and Influence People:

So if you aspire to be a good conversationalist, be an attentive listener. As Mrs. Charles Northam Lee puts it: “To be interesting, be interested.” Ask questions that the other man will enjoy answering. Encourage him to talk about himself and his accomplishments.

Remember that the man you are talking to is a hundred times more interested in himself and his wants and his problems than he is in you and your problems. His toothache means more to him than a famine in China that kills a million people. A boil on his neck interests him more than forty earthquakes in Africa. Think of that next time you start a conversation.

So if you want people to like you, be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.

Taking interest in others is one of the healthiest social behaviors that you can develop in your own life. When we train ourselves to truly look at things from other peoples’ point of view, work towards understanding these views, and maintain a genuine interest in them, you’ll learn more about yourself and the world around you.

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February 11, 2016

Leave home

When my wife and I got married, we were given a piece of advice by a trusted mentor.

“The very best thing you can do when you first get married is to move away from home and forge your own path.”

It stuck with us.

Within a year of receiving this advice, we headed out on our way to a new home several hours from where we grew up. We put a good bit of distance between ourselves and our family and childhood friends. Though it was a scary step in our lives, we soon discovered why this advice was so important.

A few months after settling into our new home, we met a wonderful group of friends, several of whom hadn’t taken the chance to move away from home beyond going away to college. We noticed something hanging over these people – pressure. Pressure to keep up with the example set by nearby family members. Pressure to keep up with friendships that should’ve faded a long time ago. Pressure to accomplish the goals they set out to accomplish in the eyes of the peers they grew up with.

In my view, it’s incredibly important for all of us to see how we handle life without any of these pressures or influences.

You need to see how you react to your car breaking down 400 miles from the nearest friend or family member (it sucks).

You need to experience building relationships without those initial connections to assist in the process (it’s hard).

You need to know what it’s like to be missed by those you love.

You need to have the opportunity to let failing friendships die gracefully.

By never moving away, we lose the chance to learn more about ourselves in these scenarios.

All of this is especially true if you’re married. For my wife and me, moving away has given us the opportunity to maintain strong relationships with our families while also providing the distance necessary to form our own married life and build our own experiences.

When we fight, we resolve it head on. When faced with a tough choices, we make those together. When it comes to big decisions like having children, we’ve been fortunate to make those judgments without influence or pressure from 3rd parties. After all, being 2000 miles away from family means that at the end of the day, the only people we can lean on are each other, and for us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Move away. It’s ok to come back, but you need the time to discover who you really are away from the influences that built you.

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