The gift is nothing without the work.

I'm constantly blown away by the talented people that surround me in my city, my church, my creative community and my family. People who have a knack for words, dance or paint. People who have invested hours upon hours of time and energy into their craft, honing the rough edges and discovering the nuances that make all the difference.

The gift is nothing without the work.

This Overlooked Skill Set Will Compound Your Success

The world is rapidly changing and, according to the Department of Labor, an estimated 65% of current students will be employed in job roles that haven't even been created yet. There's no doubt that this is a confusing time to make assumptions about which skills will be relevant 5 years after you graduate and which won't.

This Overlooked Skill Set Will Compound Your Success

An Invitation to Intimacy

In the military, officers and drill sergeants are tasked with the grueling responsibility of breaking down a civilian and building them back up as a soldier. In the process, recruits have every metaphorical rug yanked from beneath them — comfort, victory, security, love, belonging... all stripped away. Pushed to exhaustion and on the verge of collapse, these men and women have only one assurance on which to rely: their brothers and sisters next to them. Story after story is told of men and women who, even when their own personal will to press on had faded, looked to their right and their left and leaned in to the challenges because they refused to let each other down. Within months, complete strangers became family.

An Invitation to Intimacy

The Foundation of Creating Something Iconic

This past week I attended the CROP design conference in Baton Rouge where I was privileged to listen to and meet some of my design heroes. One such designer — the king of thick lines himself — was Aaron Draplin of Draplin Design Company. He's known all over the world for his obsession with classic design — designs that worked 50 years ago and continue to work today. Their secret, he says, lies in their sense of clarity and utility. A state of being almost "undesigned".

The Foundation of Creating Something Iconic

The Beauty of Constraints

Rules are a meta-cognitive substitution for willpower. They allow us to eliminate options that won't be good for us, saving us from unnecessarily using willpower to make mundane decisions. For example, you and your spouse might make a rule of, "no Netflix until after we run" and hold each other accountable.

The Beauty of Constraints

Our Responsibility to Grow

We live in a culture that is teaching blanket-statement tolerance — as long as you love and embrace it, so will we. Anything goes. While having tolerance for some things is a considered a virtue, tolerance for others is simply foolishness. Our culture worships pop stars who sing about being "born this way" and overweight models who are embracing their unhealthy lifestyles. But if anyone speaks out against such things, they're ostracized for being intolerant of another person.

Our Responsibility to Grow

A broken city is your invitation to serve, not leave.

You can shout excuses at me about funding, infrastructure and politics all you want but unless you've put your energy and resources behind a push for change, I'm betting you're just a complainer like the rest. Is there something in your city that you don't like? Maybe that's your invitation to go serve there. It's your city — start shaping it into what you want it to become.

A broken city is your invitation to serve, not leave.

Can you aim for success and still be creative?

Within the creative industry, success is the s-word. It's that thing that you're not supposed care about because it somehow taints the art if you do. No one wants to be a sell out; everyone wants to be authentic. So this new mindset arose out of the industry and every creative blog, book and TED talk will tell you that if you're authentic, you'll find success and even if you don't, well... you shouldn't be caring about it anyway so just keep doing you.

Can you aim for success and still be creative?

10 Ways Creating Space Can Change Your Life

When we purchase a new pair of shoes or a new set of tools, we're not purchasing them with the intent of cluttering up our lives. We purchase them because—at least in the moment—we believe that they'll bring us joy, comfort, convenience or utility. All of these things are inherently good so, at first glance, why shouldn't we add them to our lives?

The problem doesn't become clear until weeks, months or years down the road when we look up and realize our lives have been overrun with clutter from our closet to our schedule. Minimalism gives us the tools we need to preemptively shut down the clutter that wants to enter our lives or get rid of clutter that's already there in an effort to provide more room.

10 Ways Creating Space Can Change Your Life

Sacrificing "Good" at the Altar of "Great"

A few years ago, I may have encouraged you to "not give up" and "you can do it all if you really want it bad enough." Today, I know better. Today, I realize that a life of more doesn't necessarily equal a life of fulfillment and joy. Rather, some things — even some good things — have to be sacrificed so that the best things can be gained.

Don't take my word for it, take the word of a man who has built an empire — simplicity facilitates success.

Sacrificing "Good" at the Altar of "Great"

Embracing Life Requires Embracing Uncertainty

Uncertainty is scary. There's potential for loss, for pain and for difficulty. There's no guarantee of success or even opportunity. But for all of the risk that uncertainty brings, if you're not diving in headfirst, you'll never grow. Carol Dweck, a well-known Stanford University psychologist, introduced the concept of a growth mindset.

Embracing Life Requires Embracing Uncertainty

The Life-Giving Practice of Assuming Positive Intent

Assuming negative intent. It's a pandemic. People from every social class, race and religion are so quick to get their feathers ruffled at the slightest disagreement. Some injustices are worth your righteous anger. Others, however, aren't worth your attention and any lashing response can only be described as childish.

The Life-Giving Practice of Assuming Positive Intent

Start Infusing Google's 20% Time into the Classroom

Google is famous for their 20%-Time where, on Fridays, they allow their employees to work on personal projects on company time with company resources. The only catch is that they must present their projects to the rest of the team when they're through. This practice not only endears the employees to the company but also encourages creativity and passion within the employees. Solutions to tough problems, new ways of thinking and innovative products stem from these Fridays where Googlers are let loose to chase their own dreams. These sorts of practices, I believe, are worth looking at within other contexts beyond Google.

What would happen if, on Fridays, schools turned into incubators of creativity and passion?

Start Infusing Google's 20% Time into the Classroom

Simplifying the Dormant Clutter

Two things happened in the past week that reminded me of the weight of dormant responsibilities. The first was that I filed my taxes and, rather than file only my W2 from my employer, I had to file for the minimal amount of freelance income through my photography/design business I started 3 years ago. The second was that I got a notice in the mail that my business account had been overdrawn for seven days and I owed the bank $4.34. I had mostly emptied my business account and it has lain dormant for nearly a year now since I've started at the creative agency but rather than shut it down, I had left it open, accumulating small fees here and there that slowly eaten away at the few remaining dollars that I had left in the account.

Simplifying the Dormant Clutter

Supercharging Your Learning by Teaching

You always think you know something until someone asks you if you wouldn't mind standing up and explaining it to the class. When you're standing there in the spotlight with every ear tuned in to what YOU have to say, you suddenly wonder if you ever knew it at all.

Supercharging Your Learning by Teaching

We haven't been destined to greatness, but to goodness.

There's no quantitative way to measure great. How do you know if you've arrived? If you've done something incredibly well but it isn't recognized beyond your city or even your network, is it still great? Can you build a business worth $1 million or does it have to be over $100 million? Is writing one book enough or do you have to be a bestselling author? The more we pursue the illusive "great" the further it can feel because there will always be someone more accomplished than you (unless your name is Elon Musk...).

We haven't been destined to greatness, but to goodness.

We Teach Others How to See Us.

When I hear stories of the Prisoners of War who tell jokes to each other to keep up morale or Paul and Silas who sang songs of praise while in the Roman prison, I'm struck by the brute force of their will to shape perception — both their perception of their own circumstances and our perception of them. Joy in trails is not our default human reaction, however, those who, with great strength of will, choose joy, end up bending the perception of all who hear their story.

We Teach Others How to See Us.

How Planning Empowers Spontaneity

I'm a planner. Have been since college. And while I enjoyed spontaneity, it wasn't something that I purposefully embraced. In fact, it wasn't until I backpacked across 11 countries the summer after graduation that I realized how planning and spontaneity actually work together! It's an unusual concept, I know, but hear me out.

I believe that planning, in the sense that you have a good grasp on your own life, can actually empower you to embrace spontaneity without screwing up your life in the process.

How Planning Empowers Spontaneity

Leveraging Discipline to Overcome a Lack of Motivation

One of my favorite moments is sitting down over a hot cup of coffee with a friend and listening to them tell me of their most ambitious dreams. Months later, I find that no steps have been taken to realize that dream. Or maybe a few have, but then... you know... life happened. The motivation ran out.

Leveraging Discipline to Overcome a Lack of Motivation

What you focus on, you will follow.

I did gymnastics when I was a child, parkour when I was in high school and cheerleading in college and in each discipline, the technique for doing a backflip was the same. You were taught that where your head goes, your body will follow. If you tilt your head and look back, your body will naturally go backwards. Mid-flip, as you spot your landing, your feet will follow through and land where you are looking.

What you focus on, you will follow.

The Magic of Writing it Down

A friend called me a couple of weeks ago with a lot on their mind. After explaining everything they fell silent and waited for my response. Once I had given what I hope were some encouraging thoughts on the matter, I suggested that they, "go write it all down." Being a writer themselves, they immediately understood my reasoning and promised they would do just that. Sure, there's a therapeutic element to writing something down, but beyond that, writing helps to untangle the web of confusion within our mind.

The Magic of Writing it Down

A Short Guide to Becoming a Creative Pioneer

After you've been in an industry for some time, you tend to see the same ideas over and over again. (This post is probably one such idea.) Sometimes, just to get a different perspective, you must venture outside of your field and go explore something completely new. When you're diving into a new topic, much of what you'll consume will be foreign to you which will prompt your brain to perk its noodly ears up. You're not blocking out ideas you've heard before, you're not wading through pages of old material and you're not bored. You're attention is at its peak and you're soaking up everything that you can in a childish attempt to understand this new perspective.

A Short Guide to Becoming a Creative Pioneer

7 Methods to Breaking Bad Habits

The institution of habits is a method of survival, energy conservation and productivity. By putting certain aspects of our lives on auto pilot, our mind is able to allocate it's energy toward the situations at hand. Were it not for habits, we'd be mentally exhausted by noon. Needless to say, habits are great!

7 Methods to Breaking Bad Habits

3 Steps to a Career that Sparks Joy

Creative people love dabbling in everything from design to painting and it can be difficult to let go of some pursuits in order to let others thrive. But if we don't learn to focus, we reduce our chance for substantial growth in the areas that we truly love.

3 Steps to a Career that Sparks Joy