Over the past 16 years, I have learned a lot about what it takes to be a good Dad. Most of what I now know I have learned by making mistakes. Like the time I dropped my 6-month-old over a railing at the Zoo. I knew I had made a mistake when everyone around me started screaming. #truestory
One of the things I’ve learned is that to be a good father you should spend more time with your kids than writing blog posts on Father’s Day. So let’s get right to the list.
10 things Dads should teach their kids to love.
Collect Books. Read to your kids. Let them see you reading. Dads who read books keep getting smarter, more creative and more capable. It’s a great way to teach kids to fill their free time with something positive. I recommend the books with more words than pictures, but do what you have to do.
2. Alarm Clocks
Love your alarm clock. Set it every day. Let your kids know that the alarm clock helps you get the most out of every day. Let them see you get up and get productive in the morning. It will teach them to find gold in those golden morning hours.
3. Their Mom
The greatest gift a Dad can give his kids is to love their Mom. Treat her with respect and kindness, even if you are no longer together. If you are still together gross your kids out with how much you love their Mom. It’s like forcing them to eat really healthy food that they think is icky, but is really good for them.
Show your kids the world. Roadtrips. Camping trips. Trips to the store. Sunday drives. Overseas trips. They all count. Show your kids new places and it will spark new ideas, new understanding, and a new appetite to see even more.
5. Hard Work
Teach your kids how hard work leads to great results. Show them that there is no elevator to the top. You have to take the stairs. And if they see you taking the stairs 2 or 3 steps at a time they will too.
Kids who receive encouragement encourage others too. It’s one of the best ways you can improve the world through your children. You can do it. I know you can!
7. Saving Money
A kid doesn’t need a role model to know how to spend money. But as a Dad, you can teach them the critically important value of saving. Teach them to accumulate money by always saving part of what they earn. So like 50 Cent, they can watch the money pile up. And as the money piles up so do your options and your peace of mind.
Bonus: Read Rich Dad. Poor Dad. to your kids. I have read that book to each of my kids. It’s the best way to teach them about money.
The world is full of funny stuff. Enjoy it. Laugh loud and often. Teach your kids to laugh at all that goes wrong. It is the best medicine. And while it may be addicting, it doesn’t cause constipation.
Teach your kids to love donating to causes they care about. Show them how to give without expectations of a return. There are endless ways to give. Share your time, talents and treasure. Or, if you are like my Dad, give blood as often as they will let you. That stuff is more valuable than gold to a fellow human in need.
Be a good friend to your friends. Collect and maintain as many great friendships as you can. Let your kids see you connect and share love with others outside your family. It will teach them to connect and extend their love too.
In early June of 2020, following a week of heavy rains, my family of 5 went on a paddling adventure on a swollen creek in Wisconsin. Notice I said creek, not river. A creek is a narrower body of water. Rain and high water create dramatic changes on a creek. If this were a podcast the ominous music would begin right about now…
This particular creek was littered with fallen trees. The tangled trees were like traps set to snare kayaks and canoes. Paired with swift water, the trees created very dangerous conditions for paddlers. (Cue the dueling banjoes…)
After several close calls, my family flotilla of 4 boats (3 kayaks and a canoe) came upon the most dangerous section of the river. The bend in the creek and the trees it collected forced us to navigate a narrow Z-shaped course in the river. (Which is Z most difficult to navigate.)
The last of the boats in our convoy got swept into the trees at the top of the Z. I quickly tried to turn my canoe around and paddle back upstream against the current to help.
In our attempt to help free the trapped boat, my 10-year-old son Magnus and I got swept into another tree. The rushing water soon broke over the top of the upstream edge of the sideways canoe. The force of the water tipped the canoe. (And Tyler too.) The boat instantly filled with water and sank below the surface of the rushing water.
Magnus and I were tossed into the current. Thankfully, we both held onto the canoe and quickly freed ourselves from the trees by swimming under the branches which dangled to the surface of the water.
We swiftly corralled all of our belongings and swam downstream with our submerged canoe until we found a creek bank where we could unload the soaked contents of our canoe, and flip the 17-foot vessel again to purge the water.
After a few minutes of rest, we reloaded the canoe and climbed back into our seats in the bow and stern of the canoe. We pushed off from the creek bank, caught the current, and resumed our travels downstream in the canoe.
The experience provided a few important lessons:
It was a reminder that things can go wrong at any time.
It is how you respond when things go sideways that matters most.
Teamwork matters most when the stakes are highest.
If you keep your head things will be okay.
A little planning ahead, like packing your smartphone in your dry bag, makes you feel smart and well prepared when you open the dry bag to find your dry phone.
Now Magnus and I have a fun story to share and a stronger bond thanks to going through the experience together. We have seen how the other person stepped up in a crisis. Knowing that we can trust each other in difficult situations has brought us closer together. Which is the long-lasting reward for going through challenges with others.
Don’t be afraid to take risks. We learn more about ourselves and others in hard times than in good. Adversity is when character is revealed. And when relationships become strongest. The best memories and greatest stories are created when things don’t go according to plan. Embrace the challenges and mishaps that come your way. They will teach you how much you are capable of.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
This spring I took on a fun new challenge. My daughter Ava was a freshman in high school and was very interested in competing in track and field. She is a good runner and jumper, but she was most interested in throwing the discus and the shot put. I expect that had something to do with the fact that I used to throw the disc and shot myself. And that we have a few of each at home.
When Ava was in 7th grade she competed in the sprints and the throws for her middle school team. And because it was a minimal time commitment, I volunteered to help teach the kids some throwing techniques a couple of days a week after work.
But as Ava entered high school I reflected on my own high school experience and recognized that the only reason I was successful was because I had a great high school coach named Jude Dutille. Jude guided me to 2 school records in the shot and discus, 2 New Hampshire state titles, 2 New England championship titles in the discus, and a state record in the discus. What Jude taught me created the amazing opportunity to throw for the University of Wisconsin’s track team. Which was one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I debated whether or not I could commit to the demands of coaching at the high school level while leading my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry. Ultimately, as with entrepreneurship, I decided that I would rather fail at my attempt than regret not trying. So in April I officially became the throwing coach for the girl’s track team at Homestead High School in Mequon, Wisconsin.
I immediately recognized how little I knew. Because participating in a sport as an athlete and coaching are very different. I tried to learn as much as I could about coaching the throws by reading and watching videos on YouTube. I followed great throwers and coaches on Instagram. And I sought out insights and advice from experts, including my great high school coach, Jude Dutille, and Dave Astrauskas, the throws coach at the University of Wisconsin, who is one of the elite throwing coaches in America.
I enjoyed the experience very much. I had 9 girls on my team. Thanks to Covid-19, only one of them had ever thrown a shot or discus in high school before. So we had a lot to learn in a short amount of time. And while I would love to talk about all of my athletes here I don’t want to violate any coach/athlete confidentiality/anonymity issues. So I will only talk specifically about the athlete I sign the waivers for.
We started the season strong, and Ava won the discus in her very first high school meet. Which I thought was crazy, because I don’t think I won my first meet until my junior year of high school. Then, she went on to win her second meet in the discus too, throwing 12 feet farther than the first meet. And no, I didn’t set up a series of 1-person meets so that she would win, although that sounds like a great idea. (There were 20 throwers in both of the first 2 meets. And I was as surprised she won as anyone.)
The third meet of the season was our conference relay meet. In a relay meet you total the distances of your top 3 throwers’ best throw for a team score. Homestead won the discus and took 3rd in the shot put. And Ava had the second farthest throw in the meet.
But then we began to struggle. And we couldn’t hit the same distances again. The low point was at the conference championships when Ava fouled all 3 of her throws and had no mark at all.
I felt the frustration of being a new and inexperienced coach. I was frequently disappointed that I wasn’t able to help Ava or the other girls more. I saw all of their challenges as my failures to help them with the guidance, feedback, and input they needed. While I have never experienced imposter syndrome as an entrepreneur, I felt it big time as a small-time coach. I felt like I was a phony baloney coach who didn’t have the answers my girls really needed to improve.
But we kept working and things began to improve again for Ava and her teammates. In the last meet that all 9 of my girls competed in, I think that we set 7 personal records in the discus and 7 in the shot to end the season on a high note, like Mariah Carey.
After that, we had a final regular-season varsity meet with all of the teams from our conference again. I had 4 girls competing. And all 4 of them threw their personal best. It was capped off by Ava’s last throw in the discus that not only won the event, but was the farthest throw in the conference all year as we wrapped the regular season. In Ava’s 3 meets with all the teams in our conference she came in 2nd, then dead last, and then first. Which was a great sign of resilience that will serve her well in the future.
The Post (Malone) Season
Last Monday we had our state regional meet, which was a mix of success and disappointment for my girls. The top 4 finishers in the meet move on to sectionals. But in the shot put, my 2 best throwers came in 5th, (just 3 inches shy of qualifying and moving on), and 6th, less than a foot from qualifying. We were close, like Glenn. But just short of our goals.
In the discus, my 2 great senior throwers both threw their best ever, one throwing her personal record by 4 feet! But they finished 6th and 7th, just shy of moving on. Ava was in 3rd place going into the finals. But then got bumped down to 5th when 2 other girls hit big throws in the finals. She then hit the distance she needed on her 5th throw to move back up to 4th place and qualify for the sectional meet.
The Sectional Meet
Thursday night was the sectional meet. Despite starting the season with 9 girls and having 4 in the regional meet, I only had one athlete left. A freshman named Ava, who also happened to be my daughter.
A.C. (short for Ava Claire) was now competing for a chance to go to the Wisconsin State Championship meet. Only the top 3 make it through. And it was obvious that all of the competitors were feeling the pressure. A.C. opened up with a decent throw, but then fouled her next throw. In fact, I saw more fouls per competitor in this competition than I had seen all season as the girls pushed to try to qualify for the state meet.
The finals were intense. Each throw had the potential to re-shuffle the girls. But after the final throws were made and the results were announced, my athlete, my daughter, the reason I got involved in coaching, was in 3rd place. She qualified for the Wisconsin Division 1 state meet as one of only 2 freshmen in the state to make it.
I am looking forward to the state meet next Saturday in La Crosse. A.C. But the win was simply getting to the meet this year. Anything else is a bonus.
At the end of every practice, and after every meet this track season, Ava has come up to me and said, ‘Dad, thank you for coaching.’ She recognizes the commitment of time and energy it takes. And all that I had to do to work my day job at The Weaponry around the coaching by going into the office early and working late into the night.
I have told Ava there is only one reason I am coaching. And that is to steal time with her. Because as a freshman in high school I recognize that I only have 4 years left with her at home. So I am stealing 2 hours of her life every day that was supposed to go to someone else. And while this season she may have won medals, taken first-place finishes, and qualified for the state meet, I was the big winner. Because I took home the most valuable prize of all: irreplaceable time with my daughter.
Remember to volunteer your time and talents to help others whenever you can. Pass along your knowledge. And spend as much time with your kids as you can, while you can.
Happy Father’s Day from one very happy and thankful dad.
My daughter Ava and I went out for a mid-week dinner date on Wednesday night. She had qualified for her sectional track and field meet. Which in Wisconsin is the last step before the state championship meet. If she finished in the top 3 at the sectional meet she would make it to the state meet.
So the night before the meet we decided to go grab her favorite carb-loading meal from MACS Macaroni and Cheese joint. Which, in my opinion, should be the official restaurant chain of Wisconsin.
As we drove we talked about track and field. We talked about her upcoming meet. And we talked about life. Our discussion got deep. Like Johnny Deep. Or Deepak Chopra. During our convo, A.C. (Ava Claire) asked me the following question:
Ava: Dad, what do you think is the greatest pain?
Me: (resisting the urge to say T-Pain…) Physical or emotional?
Ava: That’s exactly what I was thinking!
Me: In entrepreneurship, we say that failure is far better than regret. When I started The Weaponry I wasn’t afraid of failing. I was afraid of getting to the end of my days and having never tried to start my own business.
Ava: I love that.
Remember what Teddy Roosevelt said:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to lose. Be afraid of regret. That feeling hurts more. And it lasts forever.
*If you know someone who would benefit from this message, please share it with them.
If you asked me what the best day of my life was I couldn’t tell you. My wedding day was spectacular. So was the day I first met my wife Dawn. And our first date. And the day I asked her to marry me. And the day we moved into our first home.
There were days snowmobiling and riding roller coasters that were thrilling and made me feel as alive as a human can feel.
There was the Father’s Day when my family and I hiked on Mt. Rainier and then watched a purple-sky sunset at Mt. St. Helens that was epic.
I had a day in Iceland that never turned to night. (And I ate like 12 lamb dogs with crispy onions.)
The day I broke the state record in the discus, 8 months after ACL reconstruction surgery was indescribable.
But I don’t have a clear and obvious answer to which day was the best of the best.
But if you asked me what the best moment of my life was I have an easy answer. It was the moment my son Johann was born. But I didn’t choose the moment. The moment chose me.
At the time Dawn and I had a 21-month old daughter named Ava. And right up until we met baby #2 we didn’t know the baby’s gender. In fact, we didn’t find out the gender of any of our 3 children before they were born. That surprise is perhaps the greatest surprise of your life. And Dawn and I are both don’t-eat-the-marshmallow types.
Minutes before the baby arrived the delivering doctor asked us what male and female names we had chosen. We told her Johann and Giselle. (Although I was tempted to say Tina and Uncle Rico.) And then, when the new addition to our team made the grand entrance, the Doctor held the baby up like Simba in “The Lion King” and declared, ‘It’s a Johann!’
When she said those 3 words, and I saw the evidence for myself, and double-checked to make sure I was not looking at the umbilical cord, I was filled with more joy than I could ever imagine feeling.
However, it was not because the baby was a boy. It was because I now had everything I could ever want. Finding a spouse, and then having both a daughter and a son were out of my control. The universe would have to provide those things for me. And I would have been perfectly happy to have 2 daughters. But in that moment when Johann was born, I immediately realized that I had everything I ever wanted. Or ever could want. I checked all the boxes. I had the complete set. I felt like I had won the lottery. And in many ways I had.
Happy 14th Birthday Joh! Thanks for being a Johann. And for making my life full and complete.
The end of the school year is fast approaching. And what a school year it has been! At graduation time I often reflect on my own schooling. It’s interesting to see just how much detail I can remember from that time. I can still picture where I sat in each class, the grades I received, and the number of times I laughed until I sprayed milk out of my nose.
There were a lot of numbers in school. And not just in math class. Do you remember your high school GPA? Or your class rank? How about your College GPA? Or your ACT, SAT, GMAT, LSAT, or MCAT scores? (If you had experience with BVDs, HPV or OPP you probably remember those too.)
Most of us have a pretty good memory for these scores. Because it is how we measured how successful we were in school. They represented the scorecard of academic success.
However, there is another number from our school days that is even more important to your long-term success and happiness. Very few people think about it. Almost no one has it memorized.
Perhaps the best indicator of long term happiness and success is the number of friends you make in school. While the overwhelming focus is on academic statistics, the great residual value of your schooling is measured in humans.
Chuck the Clique
It can seem cool to find your core group of friends and circle the wagons. Or to create an exclusive group. But that won’t serve you best over time. A much better approach is to become part of many different social circles. This vastly expands the total number of people you are exposed to. And if you volunteer to be a sketch or sculpture model for art classes you getexposed to even more people.
There are a wide variety of high school and college opportunities that are ideal for developing long-lasting relationships.
Streaking The Quad
Smoking In The Boys Room
Epic Prank Planning
Outing or Adventure groups.
Special Interest Groups Of All Sorts
In high school, make a point of knowing as many people as you can. Get involved in extracurricular activities. Introduce yourself to your classmates. Learn names. Meet the kids in grades above and below you. It is especially easy and beneficial as an upperclassperson to introduce yourself to younger students. Because younger students will highly value having older friends, who can drive a car, and grow a mustache like Pedro.
In college, live in the dormitory for 2 years, or even become a Resident Hall Advisor (dorm leader). By doing this you are exposed to far more kids than you are living in off-campus housing by yourself or with a handful of roommates. Having hundreds or even thousands of other kids within your orbit on a daily basis vastly increases the total number of friends you are likely to make during that time.
At parties and at bars introduce yourself to other people. Make a point of meeting someone new every time you go out. Then connect with them on social media too. Because social media is an easy and informal way of turning weak relationship into strong ones.
The Number That Really Matters
My GPA in high school and college was fine. My SAT scores were fine. But I know far more people than most people I know. And that has been one of my greatest advantages in life and business. And one of my greatest sources of happiness and fulfillment.
Make as many friends in school as you can. Because the benefit of having many friends lasts the rest of your life. And while there is little chance for you to Billy Madison your way to a higher GPA or class rank later in life, it’s not too late to make more friends. Make it a lifelong habit. Or hobby. Or both. Collect as many people as possible. Because at the end of our days the person who has made the most friends wins.
*If you know a student who could benefit from this message please share it with them.
On March 16th, 2020 my family and I began playing an epic game of dodgeball with the COVID-19 virus. We played to win. And winning meant not getting the virus. Every day the virus didn’t hit our home felt like a win. Like we made it to the next round on Frogger.
Gamifying COVID avoidance made it a competition that my family and I could win. But we didn’t hibernate. Not even close. In 2020 we traveled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and road tripped from Wisconsin to Idaho. But we were smart and precautitory. We wore masks, socially distanced, washed, sanitized, wore garlic necklaces, burned our stuffed animals as sacrifices, and drank the blood of albino newts. You know, the basic CDC stuff.
I have been a big fan of a vaccine for Covid-19 since, well, since the first talk of developing one. Because it is the only way we as a planet can beat the virus and party like it’s 2019.
Just as polio, chickenpox, measles, and corded telephones feel like challenges of the past, I wanted Covid-19 to be retired to the lore of yesteryear. That’s why I was ready for the vaccine as soon as I could get it.
On Saturday I got my second round of the Pfizer vaccine. I had no side effects other than my arm looked band-aidy. I know that there are still a few days before I reach maximum resilience, but I feel like I have won the game of dodgeball. And I am taking great pride in defeating my opponent, thanks to an army of scientists who quickly whipped up a sweet vaccine like Tom Cruise whipped up sweet cocktails in that movie where he whips up cocktails. (I forgot the name of the movie.)
Reasons For Getting Vaccinated
I was never afraid of getting sick. I’m not high risk. I have a robust immune system from all the dirt I ate as a kid, and as an adult. But I have plenty of other reasons to get vaccinated. Here they are in a particular order.
5Reasons I got vaccinated.
Because my kids can’t. I didn’t want to bringCOVID home and infect 3 kids who didn’t have an option to get vaccinated. I didn’t want to be the reason they missed school, sports, music programs, or the Dad Appreciation Parade (that I am organizing).
I don’t want to get other people sick. Other friends, family, coworkers, and lovely elderly people would be vulnerable if I got infected. I don’t like the idea of doing avoidable harm to others.
Flying In a non-COVID year I fly a lot. Flying is odd right now. And the empty middle seats are going away. To fly again regularly I will feel best if I am not immunally naked.
I want to see people again. Getting together with other people who have been vaccinated is a no-brainer. Getting together with people who have not been vaccinated is still a brainer. I don’t want people to have reservations about seeing me. I just want people to have reservations with me.
To get back to business. Yes, my team at The Weaponry has been fully functional throughout the pandemic, with one notable exception. We really haven’t spent time with our clients or prospective clients in person in well over a year. There has been very little in-person relationship building. That is one of the greatest joys of business. And my next 2 weeks are already filling up with plans to see clients and friends (and client-friends) for the first time in 15 months.
Getting vaccinated feels like a win. It is how we defeat the threat of COVID-19. It is how we protect each other, especially those who can’t or shouldn’t get the vaccine right now. It is how we get back to life as we want it to be. And it is how we get back to developing culture within our organizations, and relationships within our communities. I am thrilled to be fully vaccinated, and I hope to see you in person soon!
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
When I was in 3rd grade my Mom, Jill Albrecht, attended my parent-teacher conference to hear how I was doing in class. Before the alliance began their conversation about my academic progress, or lack thereof, my teacher shared with my Mom that when filling out a form preparing for the conference I had listed my mother’s occupation as Zookeeper. With 4 kids under 10 years old, I thought that was an accurate description of my mother’s primary job as a Stay at Home Mom.
Her Real Job
However, today, as I reflect on my Mama’s career I have a different answer. My Mom has been my ultimate life mechanic. Whenever something went wrong in any area of my life she could fix it.
My Mama’s Life Mechanic Services
When I was hungry, she fed me.
When my clothes were dirty, she would clean them.
When my bed was was a mess she could remake it.
When I had trouble with my attitude she adjusted it.
When my wallet was broken she put a couple dollars in it to patch the holes.
When poison ivy blistered my skin she polished me pink with calamine lotion and stopped the itching and oozing.
When my confidence was cracked she welded it back together.
When my grades were broken she fixed them (before I could do anything else).
When my eyes leaked, she found the source and stopped the drips.
When my knee was broken my senior year in high school she organized the doctors to put it back together.
When my public speaking sputtered she fixed it. And fixed it... AND FIXED IT! (With a smile, a pause for impact, and eye contact.)
When she made chili and the muffler stopped working she… actually, she never could fix that one.
When my steering was off she aligned it.
When I ran too hot she added coolant.
When my headlights padiddled she always had a spare bulb.
To make sure my visibility was good she gave me fresh wipers, window washer fluid, and an ice scraper (because I grew up in Vermont).
My mom also taught me how to properly adjust the rearview mirror. Because some of the best views are behind you.
However, my Mom no longer needs to step in when things go wrong because she has taught me how to fix things myself. She has given me all of her tools. And today, there is no problem large or small that I can’t handle with the tools my Mama gave me.
When I was a kid there was a famous commercial where a group of idealists sang, ‘I’d like to buy the world a Coke.’ The commercial made me believe that together we could solve world-thirst. But despite how much I enjoy an occasional ice-cold Coca-Cola, if I could give the world anything at all, it would be more confidence.
The Dictionary Definition
Merriam Webster, a woman who knew a lot of words, defines confidence in the following way:
a feeling or consciousness of one’s powers
b: faith or belief that one will act in a right, proper, or effective way
c: the quality or state of being certain
Becoming A Confidence Donor
Many years ago I made a conscious decision to contribute to individual confidence whenever I could. I began handing out compliments liberally. I complimented people on strong performances. I noted how much potential or ability I saw in others. I highlighted skills and talents that people were really good at.
I let my positive inner dialog about others become an outer dialog, where I tell people the good things I am thinking about them. Kinda like Jim Carey in Liar Liar. I comment on quick math skills, strong customer service, a smart suggestion, good hair, a great attitude, a fun clothing choice, or the refusal to stop drinking Tab just because the rest of the world did.
I don’t feel awkward about offering others such positive comments either. Because I know it is like making a valuable deposit in their confidence piggy bank. And the fuller the piggy bank the more valuable it is when you need to butcher the pig.
Just as we can pay each other with money, we can also pay others in confidence. In fact, some of the compliments, encouragement, feedback, and support that I have received throughout my life have been more valuable than money. Because they have forced me to see myself as better, stronger, smarter or more capable than I recognized. Which in turn encouraged me to take bigger bets on myself.
The bets I’ve made on myself include raising my hand for challenging assignments, speaking up when I thought someone needed to, and stepping out of my comfort zone to develop new abilities. In fact, when I decided to start my own business it was my confidence in both myself and my team and our ability to make the business successful that made all the difference.
I string together my own successes like popcorn on a old-timey Christmas tree. Or Cheerios on a preschool necklace. That string of successes helps me believe that my next attempt will be successful too. Of course this is not guaranteed. And I have plenty of failures, missteps and mistakes. But I don’t string them together to tell a story about myself. Neither should you. Because it simply doesn’t help.
Confidence is one of the planet’s most valuable forces. It fuels a can-do, will-do mindset. It provides courage to take on new challenges. It is like armor that helps you survive the attacks of life. Help build confidence in others through genuine compliments, support, and encouragement. It will prove amongst the greatest investments you will ever make.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message (because they are amazing) please share it with them.
Yesterday I was in Atlanta on a business trip. I had been there since Thursday. My return flight was scheduled to be the last flight back to Milwaukee on Saturday night. Pre-Covid, when I used to fly with a naked face, I took that 2-hour 10:30 pm flight all the time. Because it allowed me to get a full day of work in before hitting the airport. But yesterday I finished early and was thrilled to be able to try to catch an earlier flight from ATL to MKE.
I got to Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport at 3 pm, and went to a Delta kiosk (unpaid endorsement) to try to change flights. Because when I tried to call to change flights the phone system told me there was a 2-hour wait time. Which I thought was phoney baloney. But after just a few taps at the kiosk (tap tap tap in) an option to take an earlier flight at 4:30 pm appeared. However, it also came with a $75 change fee.
I considered the fee for a moment. And I did the following math:
I get home at 6:00 pm CT. Not Midnight.
+ I get to see my kids today.
+ I get to run in the house screaming MAYDAY! MAYDAY! MAYDAY!
+ I get to have dinner with my family.
+ I can go for an evening walk with my wife.
+ I can watch the sunset over the pond in my backyard.
+ I can participate in family game night.
+ I can toss a lacrosse ball with my son Magnus.
+ I can work on some discus technique in the backyard with my daughter Ava.
+ I can look for the new baby geese that just hatched in the nest in our backyard.
+ I can tuck my 3 kids into bed.
+ I can have a glass of red wine with my wife Dawn. (I can, but I won’t because I have the palate of a 6-year old and think alcohol tastes ucky.)
+ I can watch Netflix and chill with my wife Dawn. (Or I can watch a repeat SNL and probably no chill.)
I could do ALL of these things for $75.
In that moment, I had the clarity and insight to realize that there will come a day at the end of my days when I would spend everything I had for that opportunity. I swiped my credit card and quickly snatched up one of the greatest bargains life had ever offered me.
Thank you Delta for getting me home early last night. I did everything on the list. Plus it was 88 degrees in Milwaukee, which is unseasonably awesome in Brew City. Game Night was Klask. Dinner was Culver’s Butter Burgers on our back patio. And I didn’t take a moment for granted.
Time is the most valuable commodity on Earth. Enjoy every moment you get. Steal it if you have to. If you ever find it on sale somewhere, don’t think twice about paying for it. You’ll never regret more time spent on or with your top priorities.
*If you know someone who would benefit from this message, please share it with them.