Stuff I learned

Surprising your future self

In preparing for the 2014 Oklahoma State football season I realized I needed to go back and rank all the uniform combinations OSU had worn over the last three years for some content I was working on.

I wasn’t looking forward to the work I would need to do and the research I would have to put in to doing this. It was going to be a pain.

Then I remembered I’d put together a partial list this time last year in Evernote so I went searching for it and when I found it I realized I’d actually put the entire list together as the season wore on last year.

It was already complete! I just had to add a little bit of content around it but that surprise to my future self from last year was something I’m not used to.

I’m an awful planner of content so stuff like this rarely happens but when it does I realize how much more often I should do it.

Stuff I learned

What blogging is actually like

I always struggle to explain to people what this thing called blogging actually is. It usually feels like I’m a tween trying to show adults my online journal and they roll their eyes and go back to their real jobs and I always feel pretty silly.

But a good metaphor finally descended upon me (or at least, I think it’s good) and I wanted to share it.

Blogging is like feeding a baby.

My seven-month-old child could conceivably figure out a way to feed himself, undoubtedly, but his resources are limited and he largely relies on me (okay, mostly his mother) for nourishment.

We must gather the food and divvy it up and ultimately stick it in his mouth — both for his enjoyment and well-being.

We are the bloggers in this scenario, he is our audience.

We (and he) have access to all of the food in the world but because he is limited in his resources (both time and skill) we must choose something we think is good for him and break it down into bite-sized portions for him to consume.

Does that sound familiar?

It gets better, though. Sometimes we pick two or three foods and connect (or combine) them and feed those to him. Those are his favorites. His nose twitches at the intrigue and he is satisfied.

It is a simple process for him but sometimes complex for us. Should we give him the organic or the non-organic? Should we make it ourselves and spend a ton of time building these foods or do we take the simple way out. In the end all he knows is what the final product is.

We have done our job.

He is fed. He’ll be back for more tomorrow.

Stuff I learned

What’s the point of (home) schooling?

I put “home” in parentheses because that’s where the quote comes from but I think this should actually be the point of all schooling.

From an article in the Tulsa World on home schooling:

“The bigger picture is to teach them to love learning and to find information for themselves.”

Instead, as Seth Godin writes in the Icarus Deception, we’re bent the other way.

We transformed school from a place of inquiry into a facility optimized for meeting standards. This is something the industrial age taught us — that there are answers and that you need the answers in order to succeed. Memorize enough answers and you’re set.

I hope you never feel the need to memorize the answers.

Stuff I learned

Outsource everything

Okay, don’t outsource everything but outsource everything you aren’t elite at which should be close to everything.

One of my biggest regrets over the course of the last few years is how many hundreds of hours I’ve spent trying to hone things that aren’t my craft.

I’d try to design t-shirts or make logos or build websites instead of just paying the couple hundred dollars to somebody to do it for me and focusing my energy on refining my craft — blogging, writing.

That’s the opportunity cost I so often speak of and I’ve ignored it in my own life which is a deflating thing to consider.

I think a lot of it has to do with being scared of The Work. With being afraid of just sitting down and banging out the work. Maybe it’s just laziness.

Whatever it is, I think what separates the best entrepreneurs with the other entrepreneurs is a complete understanding of this topic.

I’m still learning.


Laying the groundwork

I’ve been borderline obsessed with managing my time of late. I created a time budget to keep all the 15-minute blocks I spend in different places and I analyze at the end of every week.

As soon as I’m done writing this post I’m off to clean up my budget for the last two days, in fact. I love the finality of filling my days with productive tasks — things I’m efficient at.

That’s why this excerpt from a Desiring God post recently crushed me:

There is a process to the production of love, as the apostle Paul counsels his protégé Titus: “Let our people learn to devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). Good works don’t just happen. Meeting the needs of others doesn’t appear out of thin air. There is a process — a learning — to devote ourselves to good.

I’m supposed to schedule out laying the groundwork for doing good and not actually doing it? That’s killer for a productivity/efficiency freak like me but the theory of it is actually quite compelling.

There’s more, though:

The greatest joys come not from time squandered, hoarded, or selfishly spent, but from self-sacrificial love for others to the glory of God, when we pour out our time and energy for the good of others, and find our joy in theirs.


Now I’m off to rearrange my little time budget.


Joseph was a boss

I was reading in Matthew this morning and reminded of how boss Joseph is. I mean, think about hearing these words and the ensuing follow-through:

“Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.

Matthew 1:20-22, 24-25

It’s so simple and yet so much. I would have been like “my girl’s sleeping around on me and blaming it on a spirit! Bye, crazy lady.” Instead Joseph is like “cool, I won’t even sleep with her until after The Kid is born.”

Like I said…boss.

Stuff I learned

How much surprises matter

The one thing you have left in a world of so much noise is the art of the surprise.

Recently I’ve been trying to figure out how to find interesting stuff to read that nobody else is reading and I started signing up for all these email newsletters.

I signed up for probably 10-15 and I’ll probably keep 2-3 of them but I was struck by something in the very bottom of one of them.

It’s an email newsletter called 5 Intriguing Things and it’s written by a guy named Alexis Madrigal.

Anyway, at the very end he always includes a definition or a word or something language-y and this was the one from a newsletter last week:

Screen Shot 2014-07-21 at 10.24.14 PMThat’s pretty funny, right? And it surprised me — it was a little bit at the end of a newsletter that I wasn’t expecting and it made me laugh and that’s pretty awesome. It also means this is one of the 2-3 I’ll be keeping around for a while.


Bible syntax

The beginning of Genesis is quite beautiful

I wrote a post about the beauty of syntax a few weeks ago and though it strikes me as being slightly nerdy, I think this from Genesis 1:20-23 is a tremendous, underrated piece of writing.

And God said, “Let the waters swarm with swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the expanse of the heavens.” So God created the great sea creatures and every living creature that moves, with which the waters swarm, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. And God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

It’s so simple and yet so grandiose. I think about how big the world is and how small this verse makes it seem for God and it rattles me a little bit. In a good way, of course.


What they said, what they meant: Big 12 coaches edition (Part I)

Big 12 media days (all media days, for that matter) always crack me up. The actors get up there and recite their lines and we always buy what they’re selling. Everybody is “excited” and “working hard” and really all of it is just a steaming pile of crap, Charlie!

With that, I’ve reformatted some of the things that were said at this year’s media days and broken it up into two parts.

Here’s the first.

Bob Stoops

What he said about DGB: But as far as the process of him being a part of our team, through extensive conversations, first of all, I had a close relationship as did Coach (Jay) Norvell, our receiver coach, from recruiting Dorial personally as well as with his family. And then through extensive conversations with the people at Missouri and our people, it was something that we felt the person that he is, the potential that he has as a young man and as an individual, that we felt the opportunity to give him a second chance at our place could serve him well.”

What he meant: “Dude, have you seen him run a deep slant in double coverage? Filthy.”

Charlie Strong

What he said about saying in the spring that Texas wasn’t close to a national title: “If you think about it, we were not a healthy football team at that time. But we still have some work to do. I can’t say just how far off we are and that we will not know that until we go compete this fall. But we still have work to do. Now, we’re not as bad as we used to be.”

What he meant: “Thanks, Mack.”

Bill Snyder

What he said: “And I learned some time ago, probably 30 some‑odd years ago, that I needed to do it a little differently. And my decision was, simply put, that be where you are. And I chose to do that. And that allowed me to become better at things I was doing and never looked to move on. It wasn’t significant to me. I valued where I was, where my family was and doing what we were doing, and that was kind of the approach that I’ve taken.”

What he meant: I don’t have a translation. That’s just awesome life advice.

Dana Holgorsen

What he said: I think our players in our locker room understand what the Big 12 is all about. They understand how challenging it is. They understand what the venues are like. They understand what the teams, personnel, coaching, style of play is like. I obviously tried my hardest to be able to relay that to not only the players but the coaches and the administration and the fan base. And until we get through it for a couple of years, I knew it was going to be challenging.”

What he meant: “I already submitted my 2015 resume to be Washington’s offensive coordinator. I’m stoked about potentially living on a boat.”

Paul Rhoads

What he said: I think if you’re playing in our program, you know it’s one that’s passion-filled. It’s blue-collar. It’s hard work. It’s a program where we’re not afraid to wear our emotions on our shirt sleeve, and that kind of honesty is appreciated by our kids.”

What he meant: “I have zero athletes.”

Photo Attribution: USATSI
Stuff I learned

This is blogging in one sentence

People often ask me about what my job is about or what blogging is. I thought this single sentence from Johanna Blakley from this Ted Radio Hour on nothing being truly original was brilliant:

“The genius is really in curating things from the past and reviving them in the present.”