“I’ve been meaning to get around to that, just haven’t had time…”
“I really want to start getting healthier, just haven’t been able to focus on it…”

Think about it: the truth is probably not that we didn’t have time or literally couldn’t focus on it. It’s just that we didn’t.

Excuses are lies that make us the victim. Reasons are legitimate facts and realities. Be sure you know the difference.

Hold yourself accountable and don’t allow yourself to make excuses.

Saying no is fine. Saying yes is fine. Saying it wasn’t a priority is fine. Saying you made a mistake is fine.

But making yourself a victim and fingering the blame in another direction is not fine.

Most of our schedule and responsibilities are maintenance. Things like maintaining our physical and financial needs and obligations. And maintenance is a necessary part of life.

But it’s in the margin that the good stuff happens.


The maintenance part of your budget keeps the bills paid. The margin part of your budget is where you can support a cause, splurge on something fun, start a new hobby, and bless others. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

The maintenance part of your schedule is where you fulfill your obligations. The margin part of your schedule is where you have time to think and dream and notice and have conversations, and spend more time with people you love. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

The maintenance part of your workload is where you get done what has to be done. The margin part of your workload is where you have room to take on new projects and ideas, improve processes and systems; working on your business instead of just in it. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

If you have no margin, you have no room for the good stuff to happen.

Life is not about what you want; it’s about what you want most.

  • You want to lose weight. But you also want a piece of cake. Every time you eat the cake, you are showing that even though you want to lose weight, you want the taste of cake even more.
  • You want to be punctual and on time. But you want to hit the snooze button and not have to get out of bed most.

Look at your routines, habits, and calendar. You’re doing exactly what you want to do most.

As a young man, I worked at a radio station, but dreamed of becoming a writer. I used to always complain to my wife that I wanted so badly to be a writer. One day she finally said to me, “No you don’t.” I was shocked. I had just said I did, how could she tell me I didn’t? “Because,” she said, “if you really wanted to, you’d do it.” You’re doing exactly what you want to do most. So either change what you’re doing, or stop complaining about it. – Ray Edwards

It’s not about what you want. It’s about what you want most.


When you set big goals, even “failure” is success. Even if you don’t accomplish exactly what you intended, the goal will still have stretched you and pushed you to a measure of success.

what are your goals?

what are your goals?

  • Say you set a goal of losing 20lbs. Even if you only lose 16lbs, you’ve still made great progress.
  • Say you set a goal of increasing your income by 30%. Even if you only increase your income by 14%, you’ve still made progress.

“Shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars.” That’s a terribly cheesy and pithy old saying. But there’s actually some truth in it.

Failing at big goals will leave you much closer to success than having no goals.


I had the privilege recently to be with 1500 extremely successful business people for four days. It was fascinating to observe them, and I noticed several things almost all of them seemed to have in common.

Episode 7Upon further reflection, I realized all the other successful people I knew seemed to have these traits as well. As with any rule, there are exceptions, but for the most part people who achieve a lot in life seem to do several things:

  1. They are very prompt and show up early to things. – Not a single person that I saw was ever late to anything. In fact, they always arrived early.
  2. They take care of their bodies. – Again, there are exceptions, but I have met few people who were good stewards in every area of their life except physically. Usually it carries over. Likewise, I know few people who keep themselves in great shape and are disciplined physically, but undisciplined in every other area of their life.
  3. They read historical nonfiction, especially biographies. – I had the privilege of listening to some of the greatest business and leadership minds in the world today; people like former President George W. Bush, Jim Collins, Patrick Lencioni, Dr. Henry Cloud, Seth Godin, etc. They all constantly reference history, especially biographies they have read or are reading. If you’re looking for some great historical works to add to your shelf, I highly recommend:
    1. “Alexander Hamilton” by Rob Chernow
    2. “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson
    3. “Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the opening of the American West” by Stephen Ambrose
  4. They are very intentional about everything. – This is the common theme I saw. Whether it was health, money, business, reading, learning, etc… they are intentional about everything. There is no laziness, no haphazard stumbling through life; they do everything on purpose. There is clear intention, motivation, and values behind everything they do.
  5. They are positive. – Successful people aren’t the ones who constantly make excuses, complain about everything, and drown themselves in pessimism. They have a joyful energy and outlook about them. They see the best in things. Are they realists? Absolutely. Do they ignore the challenges and difficulties? Of course not. But they are victors, not victims. Among their ranks, you will not find the victim mentality that cripples so many.
  6. They start each day with quiet time. – I was blown away at how many of them intentionally set aside time early each morning to pray, read the Bible, meditate, read, and think. They do it consistently, intentionally (see #4), and it is a high priority for them.
  7. They are early risers. – I’m not sure what the connection is between getting up early and being successful, but it definitely exists. It probably goes back to discipline. (I use an app called Nightstand to wake me up early each morning.)
  8. They love to learn. – They are never satisfied and content. They hunger and thirst for wisdom. They love to read, listen, learn, and grow. They are passionate about it.

Do you have these eight traits in your life? Which ones do you need to work on the most?


Opportunity Clocks

June 24, 2016

I once overheard: “We don’t have any alarm clocks at our house. We call them opportunity clocks.”

alarm clock
I love that! For the Christian, there is no cause for alarm. Each time your clock wakes you up, it represents the beautiful opportunity God has put before you. The opportunity to live, laugh, work, love, breathe, and glorify Him.

As a human race, we are often terribly oblivious to our surroundings.

We are often so task-focused that we don’t notice what is around us, or take time to contemplate or observe it.

Tasks tend to blind us to everything but the task. And this is a built-in, necessary part of tasks.

But that’s why it’s so important to have set aside time to abandon all tasks. Task-less time, like Sabbath, is so we can stop doing and start observing; time to become more aware of our environments, our blessings; time to wait, listen, watch, rest.

Resolve to never let tasks dominate 100% of your time. Be intentional about setting aside task-less time each week.

I learned from Seth Godin that there are three different time-frames in which you can address a problem:

  1. Before the problem occurs. – Avoiding a problem with foresight and good design is a cheap, highly leveraged way to do your work.
  2. As soon as you realize there is an existing problem. – Extinguishing a problem before it gets expensive and difficult is almost as good, and far better than paying a premium when there’s an emergency.
  3. After it becomes an emergency. – The magic of margin (a little extra time in the chain, a few extra dollars in the bank) is that it gives you the resources to stop and avoid a problem or fix it when it’s small. The over-optimized organization misunderstands the value of slack, so it always waits until something is a screaming emergency, because it doesn’t think it has a moment to spare.

Fretting about an impending problem, worrying about it, imagining the implications of it… is worthless and does no good.

Action is almost always cheaper now than it is later.


Stating organizational or family values is a great way to reinforce and remember them, but it does not CREATE them.

Just because you have a sign in your lobby that says you care about customers doesn’t mean your company actually cares about customers.

Consistent ACTIONS and DECISIONS that reflect your values are the only way to create a culture built around them.

Here’s to the good dads.

The ones who didn’t run away.

The ones who weren’t alcoholics.

The ones who did say ‘I love you.’

The ones who were faithful.


The ones who traded promotions for family time.

The ones who put their family first.

The ones who read bedtime stories.

The ones who gave hugs and kisses.

We constantly mourn the masses of men who fail as fathers. And rightfully so, because the wounds they inflict on their children may never fully heal.

But let’s take a moment today to stand and applaud the men who got it right. The valiant warriors who chose character over convenience. The ones who set an example, even though they may not have had one to follow.

To my dad, and those like him, who fought the good fight of faith on the battlefield of fatherhood, please hear our heartfelt gratitude, and let our applause echo through the chambers of your heart.

Thank you that your children will never know what it’s like to be fatherless. Thank you that they’ll never feel the suffocating pain of abandonment. Thank you that the unique little place in their heart that can only be filled by a father’s love is not empty.

Here’s to the faithful, the providers, the patriarchs of steady love and quiet strength. The ones who made their little girls feel like princesses and their little boys feel like super heroes.

Here’s to the good dads.