When you were young you competed all the time. You competed in the classroom and on the playground. You competed in the sports you played, or for the part in the play.
You competed for the best position in the band, orchestra or choir. Or you competed in chess, robotics, or forensics. Perhaps you competed for student council votes, in milk-tasting, in dance-offs, and with your Uncle Rico.
Then you competed for the attention of the boys or girls you were attracted to. You dressed nicely, took care of yourself physically, hygienically and follicly. You were thoughtful, kind, and you smelled good.
You competed to get into the good school or program. Then for the great job, the promotion, the raise. You competed to attract the great customer, client, project, or assignment. And you cared about the obscure awards that only your industry cares about. Like Outstanding Use of Whiteout in The Annual Low-Tech Secretary Awards.
Today, ask yourself Am I still competing?
Am I competing with my personal best? Am I still trying to learn, grow and improve? Or am I slowly coasting to a stop like a car that has run out of gas? Or like a skateboard that has run out of skateboarder?
Am I competing at work? Am I pushing to win for my customers and my teammates? Am I still trying to add more value? Are my biggest contributions still ahead of me. Or am I still milking my success from the 1900s?
Am I competing for my spouse or significant other? Am I taking care of myself? Am I treating my snuggle bunny in a way that makes me hard to beat? Am I still being thoughtful? And romantic? Do I buy flowers on non-holidays and when I don’t have to apologize for something I did, said, forgot, or broke?
Am I competing against time? Am I trying to do as much as I can within the limited time I have on this planet? Or at least during my pre-embalming fluid-filled time on the planet? (I have no idea how to properly hyphenate that last statement. If you are still competing in hyphenation let me know).
Never stop competing. Keep growing and improving. Keep pushing yourself and finding new ways to contribute. Keep competing for your spouse or significant other as if they have lots of other great options. Because they always do. Re-earn your role and your respect from others every day. Compete to make the most of every day. It is the best way to live your best life.
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By all outward appearances Friday was a normal day. I woke up, went to work, came home, had dinner and watched a movie with my family. But Friday was one of the most important days of my life. What happened on Friday explains a lot about me. It doesn’t explain the glitch in my brain that alerts me of of every possible double entendre and innuendo. But it does explain a bunch of other more important stuff.
On Friday, December 27th, 2019, my parents, Robert and Jill Albrecht, celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. These 2 kids from Minnesota, who got married in their barely 20’s, have now spent 50 of their 70-ish years of life married. To each other. Which has been incredibly valuable to me. My parents have played a critical role in my existence. In fact, I don’t think I would be writing this blog post, or much of anything else, if it weren’t for them.
What is craziest about my parents’ big anniversary is how totally normal it seems to me. I never doubted they would make it to 50 years of marriage. It was just a matter of time. Heck, I even predicted the day it would happen.
The Power Of Normal
President Warren Harding ran for president in 1921 on a simple campaign promise to return normalcy to the United States following World War I. Because normalcy what the nation needed most.
I greatly appreciate Harding’s campaign platform. Because I am a product of normalcy. Despite that fact that I had an adventurous childhood, and lived in 5 states by the time I started 7th grade, I was raised on a solid foundation of normalcy. My parents 50th anniversary helps quantify just how much normalcy I have enjoyed.
What does that mean?
I think of the normalcy my parents marriage has provided through the filter of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Simply put, all of my basic needs have always been met. I have always had food, chocolate milk and shelter. I have always felt safe and secure. Except for that time when I was 3 years old, and I threw nails at my dad after he told me not to throw any more nails or I would get a spanking, and he chased me as I ran all the way from our barn to our house, thinking this is how it ends.
On The Wings of Love
Thanks to my parents, my psychological needs for belongingness and love have always been met. Which has enabled me to focus on the higher order needs of esteem, prestige and accomplishment. And the highest needs of self-fulfillment, self-actualization and achieving my full potential. This has been key to my personal and career success. I know this is going deep, like the necklace the old woman dropped off the side of the boat in Titanic. But it is all true.
One way. Not the only way.
To be clear, there are lots of ways to provide your children with a solid, normal foundation. It can just as easily come from single parents, divorced parents, same sex parents, and perhaps even sexless parents (which is more pleasant to think about than sex-having parents). I am simply sharing that my situation has worked for me.
The rock solid upbringing I experienced, thanks to my parents, has been a key factor in my entrepreneurial journey. Throughout my childhood I saw that things just seemed to work out. Which has influenced my perspective on life. I figured that if I tried to start my own business, and walk away from a nicely salaried and benefited situation, it would all work out. I was never really scared or worried.
I launched my advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, in 2016. And over the past 3.5 years, I have had more control over my life and my time. As a result, I have experienced more moments of self-actualization, flow, or rapture than some people experience in their entire lives.
But I know that it all began with a sold foundation provided by two young farm kids from southern Minnesota, who turned out to be great parents.
The truth is I am far more normal on the inside than I probably appear on the outside. As are my sisters Heather, Alison and Donielle. We all enjoy spending time together. Yet when we don’t spend holidays or birthdays together, no one gets mad. It’s all kinda normal. Which is one of the best gifts you can give your family.
Celebrating 50 Years
You know what we did to celebrate my parents’ 50th anniversary? We did nothing. I mean, I called them. And we laughed a lot. And we did some rudimentary mathematics on the whole thing. But we didn’t get together. My parents went out for breakfast together. And then they watched football. Normal stuff. I am sure we will celebrate together sometime in the 50th year.
The Rest Of The Story
However, a simple breakfast and a little football is not how Bob and Jill are really celebrating their 50th anniversary. My parents have put a lot of good into the world. And when you do that you get a lot of good back. On New Year’s Day my parents are flying to Hawaii for the first time. There they are going on a cruise, visiting the Hawaiian islands for a week with a group of 20 friends and family. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate 50 years of marriage. Clearly they are doing something right. And perhaps they are doing everything right.
My parents have made me the person I am today. They provided the genetics and the lessons that have shaped me. But they also provided a sense of stability for me to balance everything else upon. And like the road less traveled, that has made all the difference. Thank you Mom and Dad for all that you have done. Even when you didn’t realize you were doing anything at all.
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If you want to do something great, like create the perfect agency, it’s helpful to have a great partner on your side. Like my wife, Dawn. It doesn’t even matter which side of you they are on (just choose one and go with it). But finding a compatible partner for your life-business is really hard.
I reflected on this as I heard about the shocking break up of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Ok, so I wasn’t really shocked. While I am certainly not a pessimist, I am pretty good at spotting trends. And I know that if you are a famous person and you marry another famous person, you’re not likely to end up in the Marriage Hall of Fame.
Despite the fact that we once shopped at Famous Footwear, my wife and I are not famous. And while studying for our marriage (yes, we really studied) we learned some important facts. One was that 50% of marriages die before the people in them do.
Like most couples, Dawn and I celebrate the victories in our marriage. Like anniversaries. Next week we will have been married 14 years. And we celebrate the anniversary of our first kiss. Mostly because it was the day I stopped hopping like a frog.
But there is another thing we do in our marriage that most couples don’t do. We view other couples’ divorces as our wins. I realize this sounds bad. But if 50% of marriages fail, this is a game of survival. And while we are always saddened to hear of a friend, coworker or family member that got voted off Marriage Island, we’re thankful to still be playing the game. When we hear of a couple splitting up, Dawn and I always high-five (seriously). It’s as if we just scored a point in the Marriage Sand Volleyball league. We knew someone was going to lose that point. And it wasn’t us.
There are lots of ways to help ensure your marriage is successful. But if I was in charge of the Department of Homeland Matrimony, I would create 3 laws to improve the marriage success rate.
No famous people marrying other famous people.
No getting married before you are 30. We change too much during our 20’s and make too many dumb choices.
Everyone must listen to the audio book, Marathon Marriage by David Moore. Dawn and I got this 4 CD series as an engagement gift from my Auntie, Jan Faust. It made us think about and discuss important issue before we signed the contract. It tried to scare us out of running the marathon. And it forced us to think about building a strong marriage that will last. And not just throwing a great party.
Brad and Angelina, if you are reading this, I’m sorry things didn’t work out. I’m sorry you and the six kids have to go through this tough time. I’m sorry it is being talked about in all of the media. But I’m thankful it is you, and not me.