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Fighting the Battle Between Responsibility and Passions

Posted on May 13, 2016 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

I am not really sure where I am going to go with this, but I am hoping that putting my thoughts on (digital) paper will bring some clarity.

It is likely not a surprise to anyone that military life can be somewhat chaotic and uncertain.  That is sort of the nature of the beast, and something that I understood well before joining.  Even with all of the uncertainty there are still certain times when I get to be a part of the decision making process, like it or not.

The short version of this story is that I am a navigator on the C-130H that is being replaced by the C-130J which has no navigator.  In case you can’t do the math, that means I have to find a new job.  The real problem, as I see it, is that I have a few options and none of them stands head and shoulders above the rest.

I will spare you the specifics of my different options as it is not entirely relevant to my troubled line of thinking.  What is relevant is that my choices can largely be grouped into two categories: responsible rational choices, and choices that get me excited about the future.  The best answer would obviously be something that was a good mix of both, but if it was that simple I wouldn’t be grinding my mind over this.

So how does somebody find that good balance between responsibility and passion?

I was hoping that somehow an answer would appear after typing that, but no such luck.  I did stumble across this video today though which clearly leans towards one side of the debate:

I have seen multiple videos and stories like this recently and maybe that is my answer, but I simply can’t ignore the responsibility side of my life.  Then again, maybe that is just the doubt that the video talked about.

Feel free to share some insights with me.

Including Your Spouse in Your Career

Posted on October 25, 2015 I Written By

Crash Uncle is father to three amazing kids, a C-130 Navigator in the USAF, and Crash Dad's favorite brother.

Since I finished my MBA back in April I have tried to start reading more business related material because I hope it will help me someday, along with the fact that I also just find it incredibly interesting.  My brother-in-law has a lot of expertise in this area so while we were staying in Seattle with him and his family I asked for a few suggestions, and he gave me a great one.

The book is called The Goaland it was written by Eliyahu M. Goldratt.  This book is highly regarded in the business industry and provides tremendous insight for business professionals, but this is not a business blog so that is not what I wanted to talk about.  One of the most interesting aspects of this book is the insight it gives on how your family impacts your business life.  The book is actually written as a fictional story that provides lessons and insights rather than just a non-fiction textbook full of great ideas, which made it much more enjoyable to read, and also provided a human aspect to this business story.

In the story the main character is trying to save his failing plant while at the same time trying to salvage his failing marriage.  Even as he starts to turn his plant around his marriage only gets worse and it really looks like he will lose it all.  *Spoiler Alert*  However, he starts to repair his marriage by humbly communicating with his wife and trying to explain why he was doing what he was doing, and how he was genuinely trying to keep their marriage together.  As his wife sees the effort he is putting forth she opens the door for repairing their relationship and they are able to slowly rebuild it back to a more healthy state.

The part that really struck me is when she asks to be included in his business struggles so that she can support him.  This has honestly been something I have struggled with in the past because, like many people, my spouse knows very little about aviation in general, and flying in particular.  The vast majority of what she knows is only because she has been married to me for eight years.  When she asks me how my day went I often brush her off with simple phrases of, “It was just fine,” or “It was a pain, but it is just flying stuff.”  I am generally too lazy to take the time to explain the situation because it will take a little more work then if she had the same level of expertise as me.

After reading this book I have realized how completely selfish that is of me.  Crash Aunt wants to be a part of all of my life and not just my life at home.  She asks about work because she genuinely cares about who I am and realizes that everything I do contributes to what I do as a father and husband.  While I am still far from perfect at it, I have tried to start explaining a little more about what I do so that she will understand the context of my struggles and successes.

As I am writing this I am realizing how much better she has always been at this than me.  For about a year after our oldest was born I was the stay at home dad because honestly, she made more money than I did.  During that time she would come home and tell me all about what was going on at work.  The troubles with work itself, the crazy people she worked with, and the hilarious things that sometimes happened.  I didn’t have to be an expert in her field to understand what she was going through, I just had to know enough to support her and maybe more than anything, just be a listening ear.

In the month or so since finishing the book, and with my renewed effort to be more inclusive with what is going on at work, I feel like our relationship has improved some.  By no means were we anywhere near the terrible situation that was happening in the book, but I feel like we are getting closer little by little over time, and isn’t that exactly the way that it is supposed to happen?

Little by little we learn more about this person that we were so in love with that we wanted to spend the rest of eternity with them.  As we get to know them better we find things we don’t really like, and other things that make us love them even more, but as we travel through this journey called life together, we discover that a happy marriage has nothing to do with what the other person provides to us, but what we provide to them.

If we choose to seclude them from generally the largest part of our life, our career, then we are missing out on the love and support that we will inevitably need.  It does take more effort to include them, and there will still be areas that they won’t fully understand, but I am convinced that the extra effort we put in will pay dividends in ways that we never would have expected.

For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?

Posted on January 20, 2015 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

One of my health IT colleagues has a really great blog where she dives into the inner core of humanity. Today, she asked the question “For Love or Money? What Should Drive Your Goals?” Her post is a fascinating look at people’s decision to either chase a career based on their passion or people who chase a career because it makes a lot of money. She provides two quotes which frame the question quite well:

“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.” – Maya Angelou

“Whatever you like to do, make it a hobby and whatever the world likes to do, make it a business.” – Warren Buffett

To add to the conversation, I would offer some different advice to what she offers. First, learn to live modestly so that you can pursue your passion. There’s nothing worse than taking on $200k of student loans when your passion is to become a teacher. It turns out that a teacher with an Ivy League education gets paid the same as someone who goes to the local community college and a state school. The financial choices we make early in life will open or shut doors to us pursuing our passion as a career.

Second, learn to find passion in whatever you do. Happiness is a choice. Making the most of a challenging situation is a choice. I still remember working at Wendy’s for 2 years. For the first 6 months to a year, they only ever put me on fries. Yes, I literally spent 6 months to a year as the fry boy at Wendy’s. Most people would have hated working at Wendy’s at all, but fry boy was one of the worst jobs you could get and 6 months on fries would drive most people mad.

Personally, I mostly enjoyed it. In fact, that’s probably why I was stuck on fries for so long. Everyone else would hem and haw about how bad it was. I made the most of what many could consider a tough situation and became master of the fries. I don’t list fry boy on my resume anymore, but my ability to make the most of a challenging situation is certainly reflected in my career. Ironically, I sometimes miss working at Wendy’s. I was fascinated by the process and ways to improve the process. I don’t miss the pay and thankfully I’ve found higher paying jobs that leverage these same skills, but I could be just as passionate a fry boy today as I was when I was 16.

The reality is that I’ve enjoyed every job I’ve ever had. It’s not a burden for me to go to work. Sure, there are days I’m more motivated than others, but I generally am excited by work. I think that’s because I find passion in what I’m doing as opposed to assuming I already know what I’m passionate about.

I guess like my friend, I’m somewhere in the middle of Follow Your Passion and Follow the Money. Passions make great hobbies and it’s great when our job is our passion, but we need to be careful to assume we can only have one passion. We can and do have many passions. We can’t integrate all of our passions in our work, so some of our passions will have to be hobbies. Embrace that you have multiple passions as opposed to complaining that your work isn’t your passion. However, don’t be surprised if those hobbies sometimes turn into careers.

Not So Subtle Hints

Posted on November 21, 2014 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

As most of you know, I work from home. As a solo entrepreneur, I often bounce work ideas off my wife. It’s just nice to have someone to bounce thoughts off of even if she really doesn’t know my business. Luckily, my wife is a great listener.

I just went out of my office to bounce some thoughts off of her and when she saw me she said, “Are you home from work already?”

I replied, “Do you want me to be?”

She checked the time on the iPad and then turned with a sly smile and said, “Yep!”

I’ll admit. I’m really bad at reading the hints my wife offers me. I often tell her that I’m happy to do anything for her, but I can’t be held accountable for subtle hints.

That said. I’m pretty sure I just got a subtle hint. Works over for today. Time to start the weekend!

4 Conferences in 4 Cities in 4 Weeks

Posted on November 19, 2014 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Yes, that’s been my schedule the past 4 weeks. Plus, it’s been made harder since I’ve come back to Vegas in between the 3 conferences that were away (San Antonio, Orlando, and New York City) for those keeping track at home. I have a sincere love-hate relationship with traveling. I prefer to say that I love to go places, but I hate to travel. Although, Mark Suster (a famous venture capitalist that you’ll only know if you’re nerdy like me) once said (and I’m sure he stole it from someone, but I heard it from him and so I’ll credit him), “Business travel is only sexy to those that don’t do it.”

That’s not the point of this post though. While I’m away, it’s pretty terrible for my wife. At least that’s what she tells me. She actually does an amazing job with the kids and everything else in life and I have no worries. She’s wonderful. Although, she does tell me how much she dislikes me traveling.

To be quite frank, I’m not sure if I should be excited by this news or upset by it. Seriously. One of my favorite parts of the show Mad Men is when the main character (I’m bad with names, don’t judge) goes off to California without telling his wife or his company and basically disappears for a month or two. No call. Nothing. He just disappears. Of course, this was pre-cell phone days, but he still could have called since he’s a rich NYC ad exec.

Once he comes home, there’s this amazing meeting between the main character and his wife as he enters their house. After an exchange where she asks where he’s been and he partially responds, Betty (well, at least I remembered the wife’s name, and I realized his name is Don Draper) says, “Well, the sad thing is, it hasn’t really been any different.”

Talk about a knife through the heart!

The first time I saw that I sat up straight and said, “WOOOOO!” I immediately wondered, “Is it any different for Crash Mom when I’m gone?”

I guess that’s why I say that I have mixed emotions when my wife tells me that it sucks (she might not use such a terrible word) when I’m gone. A part of me is pumping my fist as I think, “I’m not Don Draper! I actually do something of value in our house.” However, an equal part of me hates seeing my wife suffer. It’s one of the most terrible things in the world. Now you understand my love-hate relationship with travel.

The irony of this post was I was going to write about everything that went wrong while I was gone. Although, it went a different direction. I guess I’ll save that topic until the next time I travel. Hopefully that won’t be for a while.

Fridays!

Posted on October 17, 2014 I Written By

My name is John and I'm a working dad with 4 beautiful children. I'm a full time blogger and entrepreneur. These are my musings. I hope you enjoy.

Today is Friday! The official start to the weekend for most people. You’re as familiar as I am with the comments on Facebook:

“I’m so glad it’s Friday!”

“When will this day be over, I need my weekend!!”

In fact, people love the idea of Friday and the weekend that when they work odd shifts or have Friday off they say “Today’s my Friday!” It’s almost as if they’re rubbing it into your face that they have something special coming.

I definitely know and understand this feeling. I’ve certainly been in a job where Friday was a heaven sent. The idea that I wouldn’t have to be at work for a few days was something special. I still remember the deep joy I felt as a child leaving school each Friday. Unfortunately, Friday means something very different for me today.

Don’t get me wrong. I still love Fridays and the weekend. I usually go on dates with my wife on Fridays and Saturdays. Definitely something to look forward to. I love going to church on Sunday. I love doing cool stuff with my kids on the weekend. I usually play ultimate frisbee on Saturday and that’s something to always look forward to. Right now, there’s plenty of Football on TV and I love enjoying some time in front of the TV enjoying some sports. No doubt, there are a lot of great things about the weekend.

With that said, my excitement for the weekend isn’t nearly what it used to be. It turns out, I really love my job. Sure, there are parts of my job that I don’t enjoy very much, but overall I love doing what I’m doing.

For those not familiar with my story (you can read some of it here), my hobby became my job. That’s right. I was a blogger on the nights and weekends well before it became my full time job. I was doing my job when no one was paying me to do it. That’s saying something.

Think about this in the framework of Friday. I’m basically going from something great to something great. Am I excited for the weekend? Yes! But I’m excited to work as well. They’re both great. Think about what that means for me on Monday. I’m pretty blessed that way. Although, I have to admit that sometimes I miss the excitement of Fridays.