Life Comes Down to Self-Awareness

Over the years I’ve witnessed people struggle.  I’ve struggled in several areas of my own life.  When I reflect on my struggles and the struggles of others, I’ve realized that it comes down to one simple concept, self-awareness.

Thrown Out Old Mirror Standing Against Wall

When I began my transition from the military, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with my life.  I lived in Colorado Springs, the home of the US Olympic committee.  I’ve been involved in competitive sports my entire life to include the collegiate level.  I’ve always been enamored with the Olympic movement and respected any athlete or coach that found themselves participating at the Olympic level.

One afternoon, I learned of a job opening at the US Olympic Headquarters.  It involved drug testing and participating in the drug testing policy of our Olympic athletes.  I thought this might be a perfect opportunity for me to insert myself into the Olympic process.  I submitted an application and even secured an interview with the hiring committee.  I was excited to get on the phone with four other US Olympic Committee executives and was confident I could win them over; however, the interview only lasted five minutes, once the committee realized I never competed at the Olympic level.  It was embarrassing as they politely thanked me for my time and notified me that I was not qualified for the position since I never competed in the Olympics.  In my excitement to be a part of something I respected, I failed to even realize the basic requirement of being a former Olympian to even hold the position.  I lacked self-awareness.

I’ve worked with people who lacked self-awareness.  They thought they knew more than they did, they felt they were qualified to offer an opinion when they weren’t and they embarrassed themselves by pushing their opinions into a situation that didn’t belong. Unfortunately, I’ve done this on several occasions, especially when I was younger and trying to make my mark.  I’ve applied for job positions that I wasn’t qualified for, because I was confident I could do the job anyway.  I’ve said things in meetings that I had no right saying, because I thought I had the experience and credentials to back it up, when I didn’t.  I’ve been arrogant and foolish at different points in my life and I’ve paid the price.

The Power of Connections

It would be nice to only associate with people I like.  Life would be much easier if I could just get along with everyone I encounter, but alas, this is painfully not the case, in many instances.

Bordeaux puppy dog playing with bengal kitten. isolated

Relating with some people can be very challenging for me.  It would be easy for me to walk away from a relationship then to stick it out and endure the uncomfortable interactions I encounter with some people in my network.

I’ve learned over the years to appreciate all relationships, good and challenging, for each relationship represents a powerful connection that is necessary for me to grow and thrive.  The truth is that my most challenging relationships are the most important to me, because it forces me to reassess my paradigms and reconsider my position on things.

I don’t give my easy relationships a second thought, because their comfortable.  Life is good with those type of relationships, but they don’t force me to grow.  If I hang out with only like-minded people, the people that agree with me, then I can find myself in a comfort zone and then a rut. 

Your Words Matter

The old saying, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is ridiculous.  Your words matter and what you say about or towards others can have a tremendous impact on their journey.

young woman covering the mouth of her mate

My sister, Kim, taught me this lesson in my early 20s when she pulled me aside one day.  “You need to watch what you say, Erick, your words matter.”

I thought she was being a little over dramatic when she scolded me back then, but her statement stuck with me and over time I learned to appreciate her advice.  Our words do matter and what we say about each other and to each other sticks to our souls.

Everyone Wants to be Noticed

I’ve been told that I’m a positive person.  That’s always surprised me, because I don’t see myself as a positive person.  I have my ups and downs, like everyone else, and I can be just as grumpy and negative as the next person.  Recently I discovered why some feel I’m positive, and it’s so obvious that I’m baffled that I never realized it earlier.  I notice people, it’s that simple.

Woman's eye

Many years ago, while I was in high school, my parents received a letter from my physical education teacher.  He noted that I was very accommodating to my classmates, especially to the less popular ones, and the ones with special needs.  My mother teared up when she read the note, and I became embarrassed.  I still remember the feeling of being noticed by my teacher.  It made me feel fantastic about myself and increased my respect towards him.

I don’t think I did anything special by associating with my classmates, but my teacher recognized it and noticed me and took the time to edify me to my parents.  He singled me out and encouraged me.

There’s No Tragedy in Focus

I love the Olympics.  Every four years I’m thrilled to watch the world’s best athletes converge and compete at the highest level for the ultimate prize of being crowned Olympic champion and the right to be called “the best in the world.”

nager natation jeux olympiques visage athlte bonnet respirer

What fascinates me; however, is when an athlete falls short of winning a medal and misses the podium.  The announcers and fans sound disappointed and lament that a particular athlete spent his/her entire life preparing for that Olympic moment and will return home empty handed.  Their words and tone make it sound as if anything short of Olympic gold is utter failure, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m honored that the staff at the Missouri River Energy Services asked me to come and speak to their delegation on the importance of building an effective Key Accounts Program.


Date: September 21, 2016
Event: Missouri River Energy Services "Tech Days"
Topic: The Importance of Key Accounts
Sponsor: Missouri River Energy Services
Location: Sioux Falls, SD
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

If you would like to hire me to speak at your event, click My Speaking Page

Life Takes Time

When I ran for the first time with my dad in 1981, I had no idea that decision would impact and shape my life.  I just wanted to gain my dad’s approval and be more like him.  Dad was a runner, so I ran too.

Running in the country

I didn’t achieve success early when I ran, in fact I quit for a couple of years, because I wasn’t sure I liked running.  I thought running was about my race times, medals, and finishing in first place, when in fact, I was learning so much more.  I was learning life lessons that I’m now passing onto my kids.

I’ve learned so much from the sport of running, and the greatest lesson is that life takes time.  It took seven years of training before I won my first major race, Indiana Boys’ Cross-Country Semi-State my sophomore year.

I wasn’t a productive and effective runner in college until my senior year at West Point, after three long years of injury and frustration.  I’ve tried unsuccessfully to qualify for the Boston Marathon the past three years, but I know if I keep trying, eventually I will qualify, because if I’ve learned anything from running, it’s that LIFE TAKES TIME.

The Principle behind an Extraordinary Life

Sweat drips from the brim of my hat and into my eyes.  I try to rub the burn out of my eyes and keep my pace moving.  It’s hot and I have two miles left in my eight mile run this afternoon.

2014-06-21 07.32.48

“Wait up, Dad!” I hear a voice in the distance.

I turn to find my son, Ryan, sprinting towards me.  “What are you doing, Ryan?”

“I want to finish out this mile with you.” He responds as he catches up to me, breathing heavily, but with a smile on his face.

I’m scheduled to run eight miles and told Ryan he could stop after six miles or when we find his mother and brother, Adrian, walking along the trail.  We find them at 5.4 miles and I notify him I’ll meet him at the trail-head, once I finish my eight miles.  I leave Ryan with his mother and brother, and proceed with my run, without him.

Once Ryan catches back up with me, I smile down at him, “Why did you want to continue on with me?”

I’m pleased to speak to the utility folks up in the Northwest about the latest in key accounts management.



Date: September 13, 2016
Time: 10:15 am - 11: 30 am
Topic: Learn the Latest on Managing the Biggest Stars in the Sky – Your Key Accounts
Sponsor: Northwest Public Power Association
Location: Missoula, MT
Public: Public
Registration: Click here to register.
More Info: Click here for more information.

If you would like to hire me to speak at your event, click My Speaking Page

Plan Your Life with a Pencil

I once heard someone say to “plan your life with a pencil” and to not fall in love with your current path, because it will invariably change.  Life is fueled by change and we must remain flexible if we plan to live our lives to the fullest.

Hands folded in prayer on table with pencil

Blackberry laughed at Apple when its new iPhone was introduced.  Blackberry was the gold standard back in 2007 when the iPhone joined the market.  Every business person I knew carried a Blackberry and were constantly connecting with the world through e-mail.  Apple changed the game and expanded our world.  Now the only person I’ve seen that still carries a Blackberry is the President of the United States and Blackberry is all but forgotten, a small footnote in history.

There’s been several times in my life that I thought I had it all figured out and my plan in place, but then God shook things up and I had to rethink my plan.  The truth is, life is fluid and change is a force to be reckoned with.  Companies fail, marriages fail, and friendships end because people have a hard time dealing with change.

How about you?  Are you planning your life with a pen or pencil?  Do you have it all figured out?  What’s going on in your life that is frustrating you the most?  Are you willing to change and alter your paradigm or will you remain rigid in your thinking?

There are areas in my life that are forcing me to reconsider my thinking and alter my plan.  There are variables in my life that I simply cannot control, so I must manage what I can control and don’t get so upset with the rest of it.  It’s not easy, but necessary if I desire to remain relevant.

Is something bothering you?  Is something not working in your life?  Could it be time to pull out your “pencil” and change some things?