I have used Quadrants many times to really help my clients and participants focus on what is most important in their everyday life. I challenge them to live a life hanging out in Quadrant 2. It appears this activity was popularized by Stephen Covey and created by Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Number of Participants: Unlimited
Time: 15-30 minutes
Activity Level: Low
Props: Quadrants Worksheet
To determine what is important, not important, urgent and not urgent.
For those who are not familiar with quadrants, here is a picture and a brief overview.
- In Quadrant 1 (top left) we have important, urgent items – items that need to be dealt with immediately.
- In Quadrant 2 (top right) we have important, but not urgent items – items that are important but do not require your immediate attention, and need to be planned for.
- In Quadrant 3 (bottom left) we have urgent, but unimportant items – items which should be minimized or eliminated. These are the time sucks, the “poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part” variety of tasks.
- In Quadrant 4 (bottom right) we have unimportant and also not urgent items – items that don’t have to be done anytime soon, perhaps add little to no value and also should be minimized or eliminated.
Have the participants fill in the Quadrants one at a time as you give them examples for each square. Really dig deep to define which areas of their life fall into different Quadrants. This activity goes perfectly with other time management initiatives that help the participants really break down the things they do on an everyday basis.
- Instead of this being a time-management activity, make it a budgeting activity. What are some items that we purchase that are in Quadrant 1 (replacing water heaters, medical bills, etc.)? Quadrant 2 (Savings, Vacation Planning, College Fund)? Quadrant 3 (overdue bills, interest charges)? Quadrant 4 (Video Games, Things from Sky Mall)?
Questions for Discussion:
- What are some things you can eliminate from your schedule (Quadrant 4) immediately?
- How do some things from Quadrant 3 keep you from being productive?
- Can you name the times when you felt most productive? What Quadrant were you in?
Be prepared with examples for each quadrant and really help each participant brainstorm. This has several practical applications if the participant will truly focus on staying in Quadrant 2.
Have you used this activity? How would you implement it into your program?
Founder, Paradigm Shift
If you would like to receive information regularly that will include new and fresh activities and materials, please subscribe to my blog by clicking here.
You can follow us on Facebook by clicking here or on Twitter by clicking here.
There are very few groups that I can really experiment with, but I love trying new activities with the Refuge Catalyst team. Sometimes the activities are successful, and sometimes they aren’t, but I always have a great time with this team. Thanks for helping me grow as a leader, facilitator, and overall person.
This last Saturday Paradigm Shift was at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in chilly Miami, OK playing with the great students from Upward Bound. We played a ton and learned a lot about leadership and goal setting.
I had a great time with you guys and look forward to seeing you dominate your dreams.
Check out the rest of the pictures by clicking here.
Almost everyone has a goal or a dream, but many do not know how to make their goals SMART Goals. This activity will help participants make their goals more specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
Number of Participants: 1-Unlimited
Time: 15-25 minutes
Activity Level: Low
Props: A piece of paper per participant (any size will work, but the larger the better) & writing utensils.
Objective: Use this interactive activity to help participants make their goals SMART goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound)
- Give participants a piece of paper and ask them to fold the paper in half 5 times.
- Instruct the participants to write their goal on one side of the paper. They can write it out, illustrate it, or be as creative as possible. (Example goal: Go to college)
- Ask the participants to unfold the paper once, flip it over, and write down a goal that is more specific. (Example: Go to college and major in Nursing)
- Encourage the participants to unfold the paper again and make their goal measurable. (Example: Go to college, major in nursing and graduate magna cum laude)
- Invite the participants to unfold their paper one more time, flip it over, and make sure their goal is attainable by writing down examples of things they know they can do to achieve their goal. (Example: I have graduated HS, I excel in science and math, etc.)
- Ask the participants to unfold the paper once more, flip it over, and now make sure their goal is relevant. This is the “why” of the SMART Goal…why would want to achieve this goal? (Example: Write reasons why they want to accomplish this goal: More money for my family, better career, etc.)
- Ask them to once again unfold their paper and make their goal time-bound. (Example: Go to college and major in nursing, and graduate magna cum laude by May 1, 2016)
- For the last step, ask the participants to unfold the paper one last time, flip it over, and write their new SMART Goal. Ask them to sign the paper and date it.
After the activity, the participants should now have a piece of paper with their SMART Goal, some factors that say how they could achieve the goal (attainable), their reasons for attaining that goal (relevant), and a date to accomplish the goal (time-bound).
- Encourage participants to draw or paint their goals, this will help them become more realistic.
- Bring old magazines and newspapers, scissors, and glue to let the participants make their last page into an art masterpiece.
Questions for Discussion:
- What did it feel like once you had a SMART Goal?
- Do you feel like you are closer to achieving your goal now?
- What is the next action step now that you have a SMART Goal?
- What were some of the things on your relevant page? Why do you want to achieve this goal?
- Who can help you achieve this goal?
It is usually very beneficial to combine this workshop with a brief introduction to SMART Goals. It works to explain SMART Goals either before the activity, or as a step-by-step guide during the initiative.
Let me know if you have any questions on how to implement this into your program or have any ideas on how to use SMART Goals Paper Fold.
Founder, Paradigm Shift
If you would like to receive information regularly that will include new and fresh activities and materials, please subscribe to my blog by clicking here.
You can follow us on Facebook by clicking here or on Twitter by clicking here.
The consultants at Experiential Adventure have decided to completely overhaul the company…and we are starting with the name. Let me say from the beginning that I loved the name Experiential Adventure. It makes complete sense to me…but there were certain reasons for changing the name:
1. Experiential is hard to say and even harder to spell.
2. Most people do not know what experiential means…I had to explain it way too often.
3. It made my email really long…and let’s face it…no one likes a long email.
4. It didn’t encompass the three-pronged approach to our consultation needs:
- Train the trainer trainings (say that 3 times fast)
- Interactive keynote presentations
- International Leadership Trips
So…since you now know why we were wanting to change, let’s get to the big name change reveal (in case you didn’t read the title)…Paradigm Shift.
We love the new name. It more easily relates to the clients we serve, and has real-world implications to the type of activities we perform. Please be patient with us as we change over all of our documents, forms, information, and all other things that might be lying around in my car.
Let me know what you think about the new change…the website is now http://www.myparadigmshift.org and my email is now firstname.lastname@example.org, but there is no need to update your emails, we have the old ones going to this new account.
Thanks for your continued support and thanks for helping us achieve our dreams.
Founder, Paradigm Shift
My wonderful wife Kristin is celebrating her birthday today! If you know her, you know you lucky I am to have her in my life. She keeps me grounded, supports me, loves me, and is considerably out of my league. Below is a picture of Kristin feeding a kangaroo some Cheetos. Happy birthday sweetheart, I love you!!
Hey folks…it has been awhile. I’ve missed ya. Sorry for the lack of blog posts (I know all the 10s of you have been missing me!). My lapse of blogs is due to several reasons, some good, some bad.
Reason #1: I love this little girl.
I love spending time with this little girl. She is tons of fun and I get so much joy watching her with Kristin. She has her mother’s easy demeanor, laugh and looks, and she lights up when she sees me everyday! It is hard to spend time writing about leadership and experiential-based activities when I could be hanging out with this little one.
Reason #2: Work has had me hung-up.
I have been incredibly busy at work! I work for a brand new Educational Talent Search grant at NSU-Broken Arrow as a grant coordinator. Basically I help students who desire to pursue a post-secondary education and get them into the college of their choice. My new coworker Lindsey and I have been hop-scotching all across the state recruiting new students, meeting with administrators, and taking students on campus tours. This leaves very little time for me to blog. I have been busy, but when you are doing a job you love, busy is good!
Reason #3: Traveling the world!
I have been traveling all over the US hosting leadership camps, facilitating workshops, and delivering keynote addresses. Momentum is building, and as my good friend and personal assistant Jerrod Murr always says, “Once you get Big Mo rolling…watch out!” I love traveling, I love facilitating and meeting new people, but it makes it hard for me to blog.
Reason #4: 70.3 = busy
I am training for my first Half-Ironman. The race is in September, includes a 1.2 mile swim, a 56 mile cycle, and a 13.1 mile run. I recently joined the world’s nicest gym and have been pulling some two-a-day workouts. I typically workout before work and on my lunch break just so I can get my body adjusted to this type of training. I love it and look forward to seeing the tangible results of my swimming and weight training (I typically drink 1-2 gallons of water while swimming). It is hard to blog while swimming, but I may try it while cycling, 56 miles is a long way to ride.
Reason #5: I have been as tired as David Ott.
When you are going like I have been going, it is easy to get tired. It is almost as easy to get complacent and lazy as well. I have just been too tired and too lazy to blog. This stops today. I have only a few events coming up, so I plan on updating my blog consistently.
A few things to look out for in the next few weeks:
1. Reflections on my recent trainings.
2. Many pictures of Sweet Baby Jane and hilarious stories of her jovial antics.
3. A list of Twitter-ready quotes. Twitter>Facebook.
4. The latest and greatest videos YouTube has to offer on experiential-based activities.
5. Several book reviews (you know you love ‘em).
6. New (and free) activities to use with your group.
7. An update on my 2012 goals.
8. My thoughts and musing on leadership.
9. Rundowns of my happenings with TRiO, ODSA, SWASAP and ETS (and explanations about TRiO’s fascination with acronyms).
10. My upcoming Leadership Conference in Brazil, and the big news about 2014. (Huge news!)
I’ve missed you. Hopefully you haven’t completely forgotten me. Let’s get reacquainted over the next few weeks. I’ll send out some blog posts, you’ll read them, it will be awesome.
As always, let me know if there is something you want me to blog over. If it isn’t ridiculous (hard to get ridiculous with me), than I will make it happen. Comment below and subscribe if you are feeling frisky.
I love YouTube. It is an excellent mix of powerful informative videos and clips of hilarious cats.
I love watching cats and their shenanigans, but I love a great experiential-based video as well. YouTube is packed with informative videos that highlight different group activities. I have been ransacking the world web for the best videos covering team-building activities, name games, icebreakers, chants and jingles, and so much more. I created a YouTube channel that highlights my favorite videos, displays my personal videos, and even has playlists of different activities. I tried to find videos that were fun and clear, but also included explanations and instructions to facilitate the activities.
Here is one of my favorite icebreaker videos, Human Javelin, by the fine folks at Ultimate Camp Resource.
Take some time, check it out, and see what other experts around the globe have displayed on YouTube. I will be consistently adding videos to the playlist, so please let me know what you think and tell me if you have any good videos I have overlooked!
Have a great day!
Founder, Experiential Adventure
On to day 37 of the Labor Day Challenge, and I can see the end of the tunnel! I wanted to challenge myself in many areas, and one area that needed improvement was our financial budget.
I am married to a CPA. She is so much smarter than me when it comes to money and numbers and finances…well most areas, but especially our budget. So, when I told her I would like to create a monthly budget to follow she was very excited. Unless you are an accountant or married to an accountant you can not understand the excitement a CPA can get when talking about creating budgets and spreadsheets. I was also excited because I just had finished reading the “Total Money Makeover” by Dave Ramsey and was ready to take complete control of our spending.
We are fortunate to make more money than we spend and to only have debt with our house and student loans. It makes it easier for us to budget and gives us the flexibility to quickly pay off debt. We now sit down at the first of each month and agree upon a proposed budget, plan to spend our entire income (whether that be for debt or savings or for entertainment), and plan for surprise expenses. We looked at what we had spent our money on in the previous months and made an educated guess on all of our budget expectations.
We have not stuck 100% to our budget, mostly because we are still trying to figure it all out, but this has been an incredible process for our family. Talking about money once a month for an hour has been much more pleasant that talking about it several times a month for short periods of time. Since we agreed early in the month where are finances are going we have been positive and agreeable about money and spending throughout the month. We both know where our money is going and how much is being spent, and our communication has been better. Amazing how that works, huh?
This is certainly a habit I will stick with for the rest of my life. I know not all of my challenges this past six weeks will stick, but budgeting will.
I challenge you to start taking ownership of your money and spending. Read Ramsey’s book as a reference on how to start, it should only take you a few days and will completely alter your mindset on money. Talk to your family about the things you spend money on and come to an agreement about your budget.
Money is a main source of stress for most people, don’t allow it to be a stressor for you. I know you can do it.
I have just set up my email for this website! Email me at email@example.com
Also, you can subscribe to this blog by entering your email address into the widget just to the right of this post!
Feel free to email me and subscribe to the blog!
Today I did something new…I learned how to ride a unicycle! Let me rephrase that, I tried to learn to ride a unicycle. It is very, very difficult. I will have much more later, including photos and videos, but tonight I am hanging out with the fellas and having a great time! In the meantime hear is a video of unicycle crashes.
Day 17! This Labor Day Challenge is flying by. I have struggled a little bit in a couple of areas this week as life has kept me busy. I am still reading consistently, still working out, and still eating healthy, for the most part. I have been really craving unhealthy foods lately, but I have fought through it and I am back on track. I have dressed for success everyday, but I have been having a hard time getting to bed before 10 p.m. every night. Last night, however, I was out sound asleep at 9:45…I felt great.
One thing I have struggled with during my Labor Day Challenge is consistently reading my Bible. Before some of the “holier-than-thou” crowd finds me and beats me with their Bible, I must admit that I have actually been trying.
I downloaded a “read the Bible in a year” app on my phone, and tried it out at first. It had me reading a chapter of Psalms, a chapter of Proverbs, and a chapter from John each day. I would read this right before bed, and I was not enjoying it…just being honest here. It wasn’t that I don’t enjoy some good old-fashioned Psalms or Proverbs, it was that breaking it up into short segments was not good for me. The moving around from book to book wasn’t cutting it for me, and I said as much to my good buddy Jerrod Murr.
Murr is my advisor and mentor in most areas of my life, and solid as a rock in his faith. Our relationship goes back to high school, when we went on one of the world’s worst double dates. We didn’t know each other well, but ended up spending most of the date with each other. We still had a good time, and now love to retell the story. In college, Murr was one of the people who challenged me to join Lambda Chi Alpha, and we led the fraternity life together. I had many reservations about joining a fraternity, but knew without a doubt that if Murr was in it, I would never have to compromise my character, because he never would. We lived on the fraternity floor together where we made up games like Shoe Ball, and where we goofed around and lived it up! For as long as I can remember, Murr has never wavered on his faith, his beliefs, his morals and his character. I have always respected and admired him for that.
One evening, when I first began thinking about starting Experiential Adventure, I called Jerrod up and asked him for advice. He challenged me to get started and even gave me my first job. He has pushed me further than I ever thought I could go, and this is only the beginning. One area he pushes me without even trying is in his walk with Christ.
This is why I called him the other day and told him I was not enjoying reading my Bible. He gave me some direction, told me which sections to read, and I have been doing much better since! Murr challenged to read my Bible everyday, and I am tankful for it. I encourage each of you to find a “Murr,” someone who pushes you without even trying, simply because their life leads such solid path.
When I read the Bible, I have always wanted it to draw me in like “Lonesome Dove” or “Of Mice and Men.” I have never had a moment while reading where I couldn’t put the Bible down or fall asleep. I am pushing through however, and I know that this will become a habit. That is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Welcome back! It has been a crazy few days, and I have been super busy! I don’t foresee it slowing down just yet, but I am learning to slow down and make time for the more important things in life, and I am still cranking out the Labor Day Challenge.
So, lately I have been focusing on hitting the gym four times a week. I want to build lean, solid mass to my frame and become overall more fit and athletic. I have always wanted a six-pack (still not there), and I think it is the most elusive thing on my bucket list. Even more elusive than going to space or learning to dance…I am truly a terrible dancer. Right now I look about like this:
Just kidding…I wouldn’t mind if my workouts led to that. Therefore…I have been going pretty consistent to the gym, and working out at home when time is a crunch. I do an intense routine following this four-day a week workout schedule. Schedule is as follows:
Sunday: Shoulders and Triceps
Wednesday: Chest and Biceps
I have mixed it up some, but for the most part, this is a workout that gets me very sore and has shown some immediate results. I am like most typical instant gratification Americans, and I wonder why my body doesn’t look the same in the mirror as it does in my mind. I have to remind myself that this is a slow process that will take months and years of hard work and dedication to get my desired results.
I do not like working out as of yet…I prefer running, biking or swimming. However, I know those activities will be better facilitated by hitting the gym, and my body will build the base I want in the gym that I will keep for the rest of my life. I know that six weeks of eating healthy and working out will not give me the overall results I want, but I know it will give me the foundation for a brighter future. I have faith that the hard work I put in today will pay off later in life…that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Welcome back to the Labor Day Challenge! I’m updating this from my phone, so sorry if it is short.
During this challenge I have devoted 15 minutes a day to read. I wanted to read a myriad of books, from classical to modern, Christian to self help. I read Weird by Craig Groeschel, a Christian book about being more than the norm, more than the average.
I loved this book, it challenged my thinking in so many ways. He started out by describing how weird it was for him to create a Bible study for his fraternity in college. He was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, so I could relate. He talked about how everyone gets way too busy doing way too much. He said it was weird to do less and focus on doing better in the few things you were passionate about. I could relate to that too.
That was the main thing I took away from the book. I need to find out what I am passionate about and pursue it fervently, pushing aside the things I want and focusing the things I need to do.
I am challenging myself to create a to don’t list, to eliminate some things in my life that aren’t allowing me to achieve my ultimate goal. That is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
I want to start today by thanking everyone who has read and commented on my previous blogs, specifically yesterday’s post about running. It really means so much to me when someone says I am inspiring them in some way. I am excited that this process has facilitated that in you!
I am officially done with the first week of my Labor Day Challenge. I have eaten healthy, read everyday, became more prompt, given thanks, prayed and ran. I have also stepped up my level of dress attire. This is today’s focus on the Labor Day Challenge.
I work at a very flexible job, which I love, where we are given many freedoms and liberties, including our dress attire. Officially, the University where I work has a business casual policy Monday-Thursday, and a jeans with an NSU shirt tucked in on Friday policy. When discussing the professional side of my Labor Day Challenge with my good friend Braden Gibbs, he said, “You should totally dress up better for work.” Ouch. However, this was not an insult, because I knew he was right, and he was sincere in his bluntness. To understand why he said this, I will tell you a little about him, and a little about me.
Gibbs is a sophomore in college and a member of Lambda Chi Alpha, the fraternity I advise. He is an impeccable dresser. He always is dressed slightly better than the occasion would call for, wearing a tie when it was only business casual, and a coat if it was only a tie kind of day. He says that it is important to make the right impression by dressing nice and then let your character live up to your style.
(Gibbs looking good)
I agree with him and have heard this said many different ways. “Dress for success.” “Looking good means being good.” “You are how you look, and first impressions are usually the only one you get.” Fair or unfair, we do judge people based on their appearance. Will a boss think their employee will be able to handle the responsibility of the big project if they can’t handle the responsibility of their appearance? Will the girl like the guy with bad breath, unkempt hair and smelly clothes? The answer is usually no, even though I have been guilty of the preceding grooming and wardrobe atrocities.
What am I, a farmer?
In college it was not uncommon for me to skip a day or two in between showers. I shaved rarely and wore whatever I could find that was halfway clean. I wore a hat everyday that I could so I wouldn’t have to fix my hair. This carried over to how I handled my classes, my relationships and my jobs. I only went halfway. I didn’t care too much for my appearance, my future success or what people thought of me.
I have decided to dress well everyday for my Labor Day Challenge, but specifically to work. I am going to dress to impress, groom myself well and look good. Pressed slacks and shirts, cleaned shaven and smelling good. I plan for my work to match my appearance. I plan to be more like Gibbs, more like Jack Donaghy and less like the Ryan of old.
This is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about. If you can be good, be good. But if you can be great, do not be good, be great. I will be great.
Welcome back again! I am finishing up my first week with my Labor Day Challenge. Things are going well, even though my gym decided to give away tons of free pizza right next to the free weights. (Kudos to you Planet Fitness, for creating such a secure and sound business plan…let’s get them to workout by giving away pizza. Genius!)
In the past week I have already sensing a change in my behavior, my attitude and my enthusiasm (not to mention my waistline!).
Today I want to talk about one of my favorite parts of the Labor Day Challenge…running. I am a marathoner. I have completed 4 full marathons on two continents and have completed 6 half-marathons. I am currently coach of H1, the fastest of the half-marathon groups within the amazing training program at Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa. I have loved running…but I have become complacent. I do not have any races on the future schedule, therefore I have slacked off a little bit (for Tim and those of you that I coach in H1, don’t be appalled…read on a little further). I am still running a ton compared to the average person. I love the reaction from people when I say I am going for a short and easy 10 mile run. People immediately tell me who they hate to drive that far and how they could never, ever do that. I have signed up and have stayed committed to running long runs on Saturday mornings with FF. It is those pesky short weekday runs that I have been pushing aside for more relaxing activities…like eating and watching football.
That is all about to change. I have dedicated myself to follow my training for 6 weeks. I know that I am not training for a race in particular, and this is all the more reason for me to work hard. To prove to myself that I have the dedication and willpower to follow through with something for no other reason but the proof itself. I need this dedication and willpower in my life, and running has given it to me before.
As long as I can remember, I have been a gifted runner. Not an elite runner, but pretty dang fast and it came very naturally to me. I remember our church having a 5 mile fun run/walk for missions that pretty much the whole church participated in, and I was about 6 years old. I ran the whole thing and finished in first place, far ahead of the other participants (it wasn’t a serious run). I ran a mile for the President’s Fitness Challenge in 5th grade and I distinctly remember running it in 6 minutes and 22 seconds. One classmate, Baby John Coker, was right there with me, and everyone else was at least a half mile behind.
My freshman year of high school I found my best races, the 400 and the 800. I remember running my first 800 at the high school level, I hated it! It was a half mile of pure torture. Two laps of agony as I practically sprinted around the track. I finished my first race in 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Not bad, but not great and certainly not good enough to medal. I swore off the 800 and told my friends and family that I would never run the race again, and I didn’t, until the next track meet when Coach Heard made me run it again. The only time I really ran was in practice or at meets, and I didn’t take practice seriously, mostly because my coach, the football coach, didn’t take track seriously. Each race remained difficult, but I got faster and faster. At the regional meet I can remember looking behind me on the straight-away to see if anyone was going to catch me (very poor form), but no one ever did. I placed first that day and earned a trip to state…the only kid from my entire school to go to state in any sport that year (we weren’t known for athletic prowess).
As I lined up at the state track meet to run my race, I noticed that I was the only freshmen in the 800. There were also no sophomores. Only juniors and seniors and myself, the fresh-faced lanky 14-year-old. When the starting gun went off I raced full-steam ahead. My enthusiasm rushed straight through me as I jumped out to an early lead. I ran a 53 second first lap, which would put me on pace for a national high school record, not just a Oklahoma state record. At the 500 mark I was at least 4-5 paces ahead of the entire group of older runners, but I was starting to struggle. At the 600 mark, I heard several coaches yell “GO!” and in a matter of seconds 9 of the 13 other runners passed me at one time. I tried my best to keep up, but my inexperience and lack of training had betrayed me, I just couldn’t do it. I gutted it out and finished a respectable 7th overall. I finished my second lap in 66 seconds, 14 seconds slower than my first lap for a time of 1:59. This was some of the first lessons running taught me…it doesn’t matter where you start, but where you finish, and you can only go so far on talent and ability, hard work will take you the rest of the way.
In the beginning of my sophomore year, in basketball offseason, Coach Daniels had us run timed 400s. He was going to work us out all offseason and re-time us at the end. I ran my 400 in 49 seconds, my fastest time ever. I had not trained, had not practiced and was actually out of shape. I was just older and more physically mature, so my times were great. That 49 second time was fast enough to win state in almost every class in any year, and certainly in my smaller division. I was ready to put in the effort to be a champion, and then it all changed.
A week later I was coming back to Muskogee from my high school girlfriend’s house in Haskell, OK with two friends. It was after midnight when we were hit head on. A drunk man passed out while driving and crashed into us going over 70 miles an hour, and he died on impact. Our driver, Ryan Irvin, knew it was coming, but couldn’t stop in time, and our truck was demolished. We were demolished too. Ryan had broken bones all throughout his face, a hole in his intestines, punctured lungs and a busted up heel. Brandon Nickell came out pretty much unscathed and he was extremely lucky (We told people he was in a bike wreck) I was not so fortunate. I broke my left hip in 3 places, my pelvis in 7 places, my tailbone in 3 places, my nose and shattered my right leg. I spent the next 42 days in the hospital in traction and a cast from my toe to my hip. I got out of the hospital standing 6’2″ and weighing 128 pounds, confined to a wheelchair and unable to walk. I even walked with a noticeable limp until I went to college. The doctors and physical therapists said I would never walk again, and even if I did it would never be competitive. I have forgotten more than I can remember from that time, but I do know it took rehab everyday for nearly a year to relearn how to walk and to run again. I transitioned from wheelchair to crutches to a cane. I had to work harder than I had in my entire life just to do the things I took for granted in life.
The wreck was in the end of August, I was released from the hospital in October, I was finally in crutches in November, a cane in February, and I ran track that April. It was the proudest day of my life. I only ran the 800, I limped around the track, I nearly came in last, and I threw up after the race…but I could not have been happier. That was the second time running taught me a few lessons…don’t ever let anyone else tell you what you can not do in your life, and never give up, ever.
Throughout the rest of high school I came nearly close to 100% and tore my ACL, forcing me to forego all athletics my senior year. I missed running, but gave it up in college while I lived the fraternity life and studied for class. Fast forward 10 years past the wreck. I was married and living in Tulsa, overweight with no friends in the new big city, and I decided I needed a change. I trained for and ran a half-marathon with Kristin at the Route 66 in Tulsa, and I have not looked back.
I signed up with Fleet Feet Sports Tulsa to train for my first marathon at the OKC Memorial Marathon in April of 2009. I started out knowing no one, in M4 a group primarily of women who were certainly social runners, and I fit right in. There came a point, however, when I needed to move up and go faster, and I met my dear friends Loyd, Jessie, Jake and Tiffany. People who I know will be lifelong friends, people who have pushed me to be the best person I can be. They were there when I ran across the finish line in OKC. I experienced every emotion possible during that run…joy, anger, sadness, frustration, fatigue, pain, and finally elation. Ten years after my wreck I had run a full marathon, something the doctors would have never guessed.
I moved on to run 3 more marathons, and even ran one in Beijing, China, where we started at Tiananmen Square and finished in the Olympic Village, on the track that the Olympic marathoners had run 2 years prior. I have since ran a 4:48 mile, an 18:28 5k, a 1:38 half marathon and a 3:41 full marathon. Running has taught me discipline, determination, dedication, and perseverance. It brought a sense of mental toughness and follow-through I had never had in my life. I was able to keep going when I thought I could not possibly go any further. It has given me a sense of pride and confidence in myself that will never be shaken.
This is why I run. This is why it is important for me to consistently run during my Labor Day Challenge. I will follow my training plan like I am supposed to and give it 100% effort, even though I don’t have to. This is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about, being the best person I can possibly be. My students now and people who have met me in the past 10 years would never have guessed I couldn’t walk for a stretch of my life. Most of my new friends don’t even know this story, and I hope it inspires you to do more.
I encourage you to start running. If you can’t run, walk, then eventually run. I am absolutely convinced that every person in the USA should aspire to run a marathon. Anyone can do it if they are willing to throw away all negative connotations about themselves, forget what others say they can’t do, and actually head out the door, putting one foot in front of the other. Feel free to contact me if you want to run but have no idea where to start.
Welcome back to my Labor Day Challenge. I have almost made it a week, and I am still going strong. I even went to my parent’s house to visit with my sisters, and instead of being greeted with hugs and hellos, I was greeted with cookies and pizza. I resisted, and ended up cooking them a healthy breakfast the next morning. Like I’ve said from the beginning, I wanted this to challenge me and hopefully challenge others too.
As mentioned in my first post, I am trying to improve my life in several different areas: physically, mentally, professionally and spiritually. I want to challenge myself spiritually because I know it is important to stretch myself every day to become a better Christian man. I am not perfect, far from it actually, so I challenged myself to pray everyday. I am not setting a time limit to my prayers, it can be short prayer, or a long prayer, as long as it is a prayer.
I grew up in church, going every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and several times in-between. I went on mission trips, drama tours, and worked in the community. It was a staple of my life that everything revolved around, and the man I am today was formed in church during my youth. I am thankful for M1A and strong Christian influences in my life, such as Eric Smith, Pastor Rose, and especially my parents. I still have the foundation gained from my younger days, but I do not have the passion I once had in my life. Therefore, I will challenge myself to pray everyday. To do more, to gain a habit. I know this is a valuable one, a Labor Day Challenge worth implementing in my life.
Today I prayed for everyone who experienced 9/11. I remember that day so well, and it is as vivid in my life now as it was that day. I was asleep in my dorm room in SE Loeser at NSU, and my roommate, Cousin Kyle and I, received several phone calls after the first tower was hit. Slade Cochrane called Cousin Kyle and told him he needed to wake up and turn on the TV. Kyle said OK and then fell back asleep. Ryan Fenska called my phone and told me to wake up and turn on the TV. I said OK and then fell back asleep (we were in college, 8:45 was early!). Fenska fortunately called back, because he knew me well and knew I went back asleep, and Kyle and I finally turned on the TV to watch the news.
At first, I thought it wasn’t that big of a deal. I knew it was bad, but I was surprised a plane hadn’t flown into a high rise building before. I mean, planes fly high and those buildings were high, so I figured it was just a fluke. Then the second plane hit. Kyle and I sat there, jaws open, watching the television. The news kept coming in: The Pentagon had been hit, another plane had been hijacked and crashed on the way to DC. We watched as the towers fell, and I knew that so many people had died. I was sad, I was mad, and I was confused. I didn’t know why we could let this happen.
I was a freshmen on 9/11, which means I actually went to all of my classes. I was very glad to go to my first class, Political Science, as Dr. Sharpe was able to explain to our PLC class what actually was behind the attacks. I remember walking out of Seminary Hall with Kristen Schell and seeing a girl run down the steps screaming and crying. She had a relative in the World Trade Centers and was somehow just finding out about the plane crashes. We certainly said a prayer for her that day.
I remember walking around campus and calling all of my relatives to discuss the days events (an Eller trait). My grandparents had just recently came back from NYC and had toured the World Trade Towers. Ma was able to tell me how big the buildings actually were and how massive the destruction must have been. I called my parents and my sisters and told them that I loved them.
After lunch and as I was driving to my next class, Cousin Kyle called me and told me I had better fill up my truck with gas. He said that the US was going to run out of gas, and Tahlequah was going to run out. Kyle told me that gas was going to go up to as much as $3 or $4 a gallon. I assured him that I would push my truck to China before I ever put that expensive gas in my truck. (Little did I know it would one day become the norm) My class was a Zoology Lab field day across from Clear Creek, and as I pulled past the Clear Creek gas station, I saw Kyle in line for gas, as well as about 200 other cars and trucks. They were lined up at each pump and down the street and around the corner. Traffic was stalled in several directions because people were trying to get gas. I later found out that most of the gas stations in Tahlequah did exhaust their gas supply as the townspeople felt it necessary to fill up.
I don’t remember much more from that day, and I couldn’t tell you what I did later that night. I do know that I watched hours and hours of coverage of 9/11, and I was enthralled and devastated as the news continued. We eventually went back to life as we knew it, and as a college student in Oklahoma, I was hardly effected by the new “post-9/11″ America. I did not fly, I did not live in a populated area, and I did not serve in the military. It was uncertain times as my best friend Thomas Sterling and several of my friends were called to Iraq. I will always appreciate their service and know they are greater men than me.
In April 2004 I was able to go to NYC and see the 9/11 site. I was amazed by NYC, where all the buildings went straight up. It was more massive than I could have even dreamed, yet as I walked up to the World Trade Center towers had been, I had to look down at the holes in the ground. It was the only spot in Manhattan where there was no buildings, no skyscrapers. They were still cleaning up the damage that had been done nearly three years prior.
I say a prayer for those people who died on 9/11. I say a prayer for those who lost a loved one. I say a prayer for those who lived in NYC and will forever be changed. I say a prayer for the US people. I say a prayer hoping that I will never forget. This is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
Welcome back! I am officially five days into my Labor Day Challenge, and so far everything is going great! Yesterday, someone mentioned that 42 days was a long time to blog everyday, and people might not continue reading…well, I reminded them that it was not about them, but about me! Hopefully people continue to follow up on my progress and hopefully people are inspired to improve themselves through this process, but ultimately the Labor Day Challenge is about my self-awareness and self-improvement.
Regardless, it is day five and I have challenged myself to write a thank you note to someone everyday for six weeks. This is a fun one, because I thoroughly enjoy letting people know how I feel about them. I am a very positive person, and I like to let people know when they are doing great things, when they are working hard or looking good. I enjoy dishing out compliments and it comes very easy to me.
I want these notes to be sincere. I do not want to write the same thing in every note, and I do not want to write a note just because I have to write a note. I easily have 42 people who have impacted me, 42 people who are doing great things, or 42 people who deserve some accolades. I want these notes to be hand written and well planned out. It is easy for me to say something nice or Facebook or Tweet someone a compliment. I want to do more. I need to do more.
My good friend Matt “Porkchop” Recktenwald inspired me to add this to my Labor Day Challenge (he says I inspired him to write his note…funny how reciprocal kindness can be). He left me a note taped to my computer when I arrived on a Monday morning. On the envelope was a Post-It Note that said, “Open when you feel you are ready.” I loved it already. I opened it up and inside was a heartfelt thank you note written by his hand and in his own personal way. It literally made me tear up first thing in the morning (I’m a softy). It meant so much to me, and I will treasure it always. If I am ever having a bad day, I will reach for that note and read it again.
Porkchop was not the first person to leave me notes. My good friend Keith Badgett left me notes and pictures letting me know he cared about me. Kristin wrote me a very awesome letter that followed 1 Corinthians 13, and detailed how she loved me in every way. My Dad was the best at leaving notes. He had impeccable timing and would leave a note in my room or in my truck letting me know how much he cared about me and how proud he was of me. He has always given me a thank you note on his biggest days like the note he gave me on the day he graduated college. It meant so much and he is so self-serving.
I want to do this for people, not in a self-gratifying way, but in way that shows people how much I care about them. A way that shows people how much I appreciate their hard work or friendship or mentorship. I know I can not write a thank you note everyday for the rest of my life. Writing a note everyday for 6 weeks will be tough enough, but I hope to always acknowledge those who impact me. I hope to have the timing of my father and know when someone needs a pick-me-up. I hope to be like Porkchop and let others truly know how much I care about them, and how much they mean to me. If you do get a note, please do not feel as if you are just one of many who get one…you are getting one because I really do care about you, I really do want to say thanks.
This is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about. I challenge you to write a letter soon to someone who deserves it…I promise you they will never forget it.
So far everything is still going according to plan, even though I have needed to make slight schedule adjustments to make it happen. One thing I have been working on everyday is being on time, specifically on time for work. Currently I live in Broken Arrow and commute to Tahlequah. It is quite a haul, 62 miles to be exact, and takes almost exactly an hour for me to get from Point A to Point B. Sometimes I am legitimately on-time for work, and I am always proud of those days. I am usually one or two minutes behind trying to rush into the door. There always seems to be different reasons for being late, sometimes it is construction…
Sometimes it is Shelia the cat…
Sometimes I get behind slow drivers…
Sometimes I have car trouble and have to improvise…
Whatever the reason, I am trying to not be late for work for the next 6 weeks. So far, so good. It’s been easy, one day I stayed in Tahlequah and another Kristin had a doctor’s appointment. Regardless, I know I will struggle with this one everyday, because so much can happen in my hour’s drive.
Being prompt is something that has been typically hard for my extended family. I have read about cultures in Africa where there is no concept of time, and being on time is relative to how many people you stop and talk to on your journey. This describes my family, we get distracted easily, especially in conversation, and especially in conversation with old friends we see along the way. It is not unusual for the whole Eller group to be the last people to enter a room and the last to leave a room. Kristin’s family is very prompt, usually extremely early, and it drives her nuts to be late…for anything. So, I need to work on this, and I need to start with my Labor Day Challenge.
I am accomplishing this by going to bed earlier, getting up earlier, picking out my clothes the night before and leaving the house earlier than usual. Eventually I will transition to NSU Broken Arrow, and my commute will be 6 miles and 10 minutes, but until then I am hoping the techniques I am using will get me to work on time! Like everything else I am attempting during the Labor Day Challenge, I hope this carries over to being prompt in all areas of my life!
Does it drive you crazy to be late? Does it not matter at all?? Hit me up and let me know!
On to day 3! So far, I have accomplished everything within my Labor Day Challenge, which includes my charge of reading a minimum 15 minutes everyday. First, let me define what reading means to me concerning the Labor Day Challenge. It does not include magazines, blogs or internet articles. It does not include the comics, the sports section or ESPN.com. These are all fine sources of reading, but it is not much of a challenge for me to read from these types of media. I am hoping to read from leadership books, self-help and relationship books, academic journals, contemporary novels and literary classics.
There are so many reasons why this is a challenge for me. First and foremost is time. As I get older and older I get busier and busier. Part of it is my own fault, I have tossed my hat into many different organizations and opportunities that keep me busy. I am a Guidance Specialist with ETS, founder and facilitator with Experiential Adventure, a half Marathon Coach with Fleet Feet Tulsa, the High Pi or Chapter Advisor for the NSU Lambda Chi Alpha Chapter, on the Oklahoma Divisions of Student Assistance Executive Board, a Southwest Association of Student Assistance Programs Emerging Leaders Institute Participant, and an international Leadership Consultant, not to mention husband, son, brother, friend and soon to be father. These things keep me busy, and I am working on staying organized and putting into practice many of the time-management skills I learned throughout college. (Most of those I learned the hard way!) I came across this quote from Confucius: “No matter how busy you may think you are, you must find time for reading, or surrender yourself to self-chosen ignorance.” I must find time to read, that is what my Labor Day Challenge is all about.
The second reason this is a challenge is typically I am not motivated to read. If I start a really good book, “Of Mice and Men” for example, I will become intertwined with it and read it until I finish. Some other books however, I have to chew through to get the complex information and rhetoric. Bottom line, sometimes I am too lazy to read. Well, not this next 6 weeks. I will read everyday. I hope to read about a wide variety of books.
Already, I have read one book, “Who Moved my Cheese” by Spencer Johnson.
Currently I am reading the following books:
“The Success Principals” by Jack Cranfield, “The 108 Skills of Natural Born Leaders” by Warren Blank, “Followership” by Barbara Kellerman, “The Prince” by Niccolo Machiavelli and listening to the “Purple Cow” audiobook by Seth Godin. I would like to read another classical fiction piece, a contemporary fiction and a marriage and relationship book. So, any suggestions would be appreciated.
I read when I have breaks, such as in the evening before Kristin comes home from work, and at night before I fall asleep, and the occasional bathroom break. (Just being honest) I am excited about this challenge. I hope to start a habit that sticks with me forever. One of my main goals in life, and for the Labor Day Challenge is to become a greater leader. Harry S. Truman says, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” If want to become a better leader, I must read, and read a ton.
Do you read? If so, what are you reading? I need a couple great suggestions for a good book about finances and a good book on marriage (not that I need help in either area, I just feel you should study about things that are important to you). Check back tomorrow to see how I am doing and what is next on the Labor Day Challenge.
Welcome to Day 2 of my Labor Day Challenge! If you want/need to check out why I am doing this challenge, or what it is all about, read my first post from yesterday.
One of the biggest changes in my lifestyle and reasons for attempting the Labor Day Challenge is my commitment to eating healthy. As I stated yesterday, a couple years ago I weighed nearly 240 pounds. I had fluctuated in my weight ever since I went to college, where I didn’t gain the freshman 15 but the sophomore 30.
I was tall and broad shouldered, so I carried the weight fairly well, with most of it going to my chin(s), chest and belly. (I have always had my chicken legs, even at my biggest) However, it was a far cry from the skinny kid I was all throughout childhood and high school, where my nickname was “Bones” because I was soooo skinny. I was skinny enough that my ears and nose didn’t match the rest of my body. (They still may not, but at least it is more proportional now!)
Right when I graduated college, I had gotten to a weight that was decently healthy, a respectable 200-205. It was the smallest I had been since high school, and I was happy with the way that I was looking. Then I met Kristin, got her to marry me, and became complacent again. Over the next couple years I ballooned to a plump 235-240, and was feeling uncomfortable, sleeping poorly, and unhappy with the way I looked.
I decided to do something about it. I started running with Fleet Feet Tulsa and completed my first half and full marathon. I lost a little bit of weight, and when I crossed the finish line at my first marathon in 2009 I weighed closer to 225, but I was still not happy with my results. I was not watching my diet, and was actually eating more to compensate for the extra running I was doing.
Then, at the beginning of 2010, I got serious. I kept track of all of the foods I ate for a couple weeks, and found out there were some foods that were killing my caloric totals. (Probably killing me too) Foods that I didn’t even think about being unhealthy or unwise, but added to my habitual eating problem. I created a list of foods that I would not eat, placed it on Facebook and challenged others to hold me accountable. Here is my initial list:
1. Fired foods of any kind
a. French Fries
c. Deep Fried anything
4. Side Rolls and Bread
a. Texas Toast
b. Crescent Rolls
5. Ranch Dressing
13. Sweet Tea
15. Ice Cream
18. Fast Foods
20. Cheese Dip
23. Chocolate or Strawberry Milk
24. White Bread
25. Macaroni & Cheese
28. Cinnamon Toast Crunch
29. Cream Cheese
I stuck with my diet, and as I learned more and more about healthy eating, I developed a plan that worked for me. Because I was running so much, I needed to have a healthy diet with more calories and it didn’t hurt for me to have some extra carbs. I worked it into a diet consisting of 40% carbs, 30% protein, and 30% fat (healthy fats, such as foods high in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats). I went mostly organic, not organic in the sense of non-chemically treated foods, but organic foods that were not manufactured or processed foods. I ate a ton of lean meat, such as chicken and fish, whole grains and pasta, low-fat dairy products, and of course, fruits and veggies. It was a complete change for me and really only the second time in my life I had altered my lifestyle so dramatically (the first was when I started running).
The results were unbelievable. My body responded in ways that I could have never imagined. I started my healthy eating on Jan. 1st near 215 pounds. By Feb. 1st, I weighed less than 200 pounds, and by March 1st I weighed less than 185 pounds. When i ran the St. Louis marathon in April, I had gotten all the way down to 175 pounds. It was smaller than I was in high school, and actually smaller than I needed to be. I had to actually start consuming an extra 1,500 calories a day to stop my body from losing weight. I had achieved success I never though possible, and I have students now who have only known me as thin that don’t recognize pictures of me from the past. It has changed my life forever, and I now can live a more active lifestyle and achieve more physically than I could have ever dreamed.
I tell you this whole story to show you how important it is for me to eat healthy during my Labor Day Challenge. I have not eaten healthy since the beginning of July, when I went to Cuba, and I have set new goals for myself (i.e. six pack). I have stopped running as much, I am still coaching a half marathon group with Fleet Feet Tulsa, but I am not putting in the 50-70 miles a week I needed to compete for PRs in marathons. I currently weigh between 185-190, which is actually a great weight for me, but I am shifting my focus to gain mass through lean muscle and eventually becoming “ripped.” I know that some of this is vain, and will not lie to you and say that I don’t want to look good. Primarily, however, my purpose returns to the original meaning behind the Labor Day Challenge. It is 6 weeks of working harder than usual to build a base I can maintain for long periods of time, to change my life forever.
To become successful in this endeavor, I have created a system to hold myself accountable, to track my intake and complete my end goals. I am back to counting calories, protein, fat, carbs, etc. on Livestrong’s My Plate. I have found this to be the most comprehensive calorie counter available.
I emptied my house of unhealthy or tempting foods, and will not go out to eat until I can trust myself to not over-indulge. I know that I will not be successful if I go to a buffet, so I will not even think about going until the end of my Labor Day Challenge.
I write out my diet a week in advance, so I know what to eat and when to eat. I takes some time every weekend, but I am prepared for the rest of the week and do not have to worry about foods on a day-to-day basis.
I know I will be tempted, and I know I may fail every once in awhile. However, I must give this my best shot, because I know I need to, and I know I will be happy with my results when the 6 weeks are over.
I would be more than happy to talk to anyone on an individual basis about my healthy eating if you would like some insight or advice. I know what worked for me will not work for everyone, but I challenge you to attempt to live a healthier lifestyle for the next six weeks. Maybe it means you track your calories, maybe it means you cut certain “calorie killers” out of your diet, maybe it means you can go hardcore with me. Whatever you need to do to become healthier, I challenge you to do it.
“There is no better time to do than now, no better person than you to do it. The longer you wait the harder it will become, and the less likely you will achieve your goals.”
Labor Day Challenge – Day 1
Last week, I decided to undertake the Labor Day Challenge. An opportunity to challenge myself in several key areas of my life…a six-week period for me to cleanse my body, engage my mind, stimulate my spirit and power-up professionally.
I was talking to my good buddy Ross Moyer (who doubles as my personal trainer) about getting back into the saddle of routinely working out. A couple years ago, I lost a ton of weight – about 65 pounds – through hard work, careful diet and consistent perseverance. I got to a place where I was comfortable with my size and have mostly maintained this weight ever since. This year, I decided I was going to do whatever it took to get buff..you know, the mental image every guy has of pure physical beauty – six pack abs, chiseled arms and chest, etc. (I even cared about my chicken legs). I have done well a few of months of the year, but I have not worked out or eaten healthy since my trip to Cuba. In other words, I have gotten soft. I realized that something needed to be done, and this is why I was talking to Ross. As we set in his living room talking about working out and dieting, he told me that it took six weeks of consistent weight training to see visible and noticeable results. I told him I was considering the Labor Day challenge, six weeks of hardcore training to get the results I desired. It so happened the Labor Day was approaching, and that six weeks after Labor Day was the college’s Fall Break. This gave me a time period to focus on, and an opportunity to try out the Labor Day Challenge.
There has been a multitude of research on the successful results of a high-intensity focus over a short time period, and how dedicating all of your efforts toward your goal will help you succeed. Think about it like a garden that is overgrown with weeds and grass, to get the beautiful flowers and plants you someday want, you must put in hours or days of hard work cleaning it all out, picking weeds and tilling earth. After you clear it out, you have a fresh start, and must then invest time and energy on planting the seeds or bulbs and developing them with high intensity. After the plants are grown and the weeds are removed, it is much easier to maintain your garden, systematically watering and feeding and removing weeds as it is necessary. However, this is much easier than the sweat and hard work you initially invested in your project. The Labor Day Challenge will help me get to a point to where all I need to do is maintain my results, and enjoy the progress.
The best-selling book, “The Happiness Project,” delves into these ideas as the author, Gretchen Rubin, tries to achieve her resolutions by focusing on a specific goal for a month, and then maintaining that goal with less intensity throughout the year. Hopefully, the things we focus on for the intense period become habits, and are easy to maintain. In the first month of her journey, she dedicates her life to improve her vitality and boost her energy. She accomplished this by sleeping earlier, exercising better, organizing her life, tackling a nagging task, and by acting more energetic. By doing small things well for a short period of time, she truly became happy. I hope the Labor Day Challenge does this for me. Happy body, happy mind, happy job, happy marriage, happy soul.
After talking to Ross and developing a workout plan, I was more determined than ever. I decided that I cannot just focus on the physical aspect of my life, that I must also develop other areas of my life as well. After much consideration, I decided to focus on five areas of my life that I would like to see measured improvement: Physical, Mental, Professional, Marriage, and Spiritual. It is not that I am poor in any or all of these areas, in some areas I am better than most, or do extremely well. I am reminded of the quote my Uncle Garry said when Cousin Amy graduated high school, “If you are good, be good. If you are great, do not be good, be great.” I think I can take it to another level, “If you are great, be great. But if you are excellent, do not be great, be excellent.” In some of these areas I am good and need to be great, but in most of my life, I am great and need to be excellent, and there is no better time than now, no better opportunity than this. One of my favorite quotes is from Aristotle, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act, but a habit.” I want to make excellence a habit. This is my Labor Day Challenge.
I challenge you to create your own Labor Day Challenge. An area of your life you need or want to improve, and set out to do whatever it takes to improve it in six weeks. Each day I will be discussing the things involved in my Labor Day Challenge, so check back every day for some ideas and an opportunity to see what I am planning in my life for the next six weeks. Also, comment below to let me know what you are working on, and hopefully we can spur each other to success.
Who is a better leader? George Washington or Genghis Kahn? Gandhi or Hitler? They all have different styles and approaches to leadership, but undoubtedly were dominate leaders in their time. Who is a greater leader? Tell me what you think!
What do you think? Who would be a great World Leader Rumble? Do you think we should have the first ever “World Leader Royal Rumble???”