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Culture, Leadership

A Message Uniquely for Me

May 6, 2013

So I turned 32 this past week. And I received a card with the below message from my amazing co-workers. Here is what it said on the front:

“We didn’t come here to fit in.

We came here to be who we are.

We didn’t come here to work.

We came here to live our dreams.

We didn’t come here for the stuff.

We came here to love each other.

We each came here with a purpose

that is uniquely our own.”

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Then on the inside it said:

“Be

Dream

Love

Thrive

Always.”

I was blown away. My first reaction was did they have it custom made or was it from an Avett Brothers song?

There is nothing better than being at a place where I can be who I am. I definitely let out a Coldplay yell (the refrain from Viva La Vida if you don’t know me) once I got the card. And I am at a place where I am really living my dream. I came to make a difference that starts with loving people. And there is no accident that I am in the place I am right now. Because I get to fully live out my purpose each day. And I don’t ever want to forget that. I just want to make the biggest impact I can but also be the most down to earth person I can be. And what I am doing is just the game I choose to play. So it is no more important or less important than what anyone else is doing.

But I am sure having a lot of fun. And I want everyone around me to thrive in the process. So at 32, I am just excited to see what shows up this year. And I am so appreciative of all the amazing friends, co-workers and family in my life. And appreciative of a greeting card that seemed to have a message uniquely for me. Or was it a message for everyone?

Culture, Leadership, Presence of Mind

Why am I in such a rush?

March 17, 2013

My neighbor was outside near my patio and wanted to say hello. However, I could hardly say hello and definitely didn’t have time to chat. I was in a hurry again heading to the airport. And I felt terrible as a drove away having rushed off when a friend just wanted to catch up for a few minutes.

Later that night I was at an amazing dinner in Arizona at this place called Different Pointe of View that overlooked the mountains.

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And probably still in a pattern of hurrying. As soon as we got our salads, I was almost ready for the entrees. Until a co-worker said lets slow down and just enjoy this meal. It was just what I needed. The chance to pause, really slow down and experience dinner. We were there for four hours and had an incredible time.

A few days later, we took a three hour hike up the mountains. We had some tunes going and just had a blast. The three hour hike felt like a whole day.

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It was like my 25th hour idea all over again. If only I could keep reminding myself :).

As much as I strive to be present and create more space, I can still fall into this pattern of rushing and hurrying sometimes. So I have started to think about…what am I in such a hurry for? I sure don’t want to miss life. I read this quote from the Dalai Lama recently that sums it all up.

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(source)

So this week I invite you to experience what you are doing more and take it slow. It made a difference for me and hopefully my neighbor will notice next time.

Culture, Leadership, Uncategorized

Sharing her Passion with the Market

March 4, 2013

Below is an interview with Lynn Caldwell who is the market manager at Atherton Mill Market.  It is another one in my “Follow your Passion” series. Lynn gave a few of us bloggers in town a private market tour last fall. She is an extraordinary person that is making a huge difference in Charlotte. Hope you enjoy.

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Lynn, thanks so much for talking with me for my series called “Follow your Passion.”  So tell us all a little bit more about what you do at the Atherton Market.

Hi Jon.  I do a little bit of everything at the market. I was originally engaged to vision it, and do vendor recruitment as well as manage day-to-day operations, but my role  has evolved to encompass community building around the market, consumer education, and engaging other businesses and organizations in Charlotte in partnerships and shared efforts.  I want the market to become a hub – not just for shopping and meeting tangible human needs but for creating connections between people.  I truly believe that people want to be connected to each other in real ways and because of something meaningful.  People want something to believe in, and that something ties them together.  I spend a great deal of time listening.  Sometimes it is interesting and sometimes it is not, and I’m sure the people who listen to me feel the same way.  I am grateful for them, and for those who want to share some piece of their life – their passions or their dreams or their talent – with me and the market.

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How did you identify this as a potential career path?  What were you doing before you started this venture and why did you make the change?

Ha – if I tried to map my career journey it would only make sense to me, but I can truly say that what I am doing now draws from everything else I’ve done.  I started on the restaurant scene in the late 80s, getting experience in the front and the back of the house.  Let’s just say I have a short attention span and also like to explore every potential role when I am part of an organization.  I left there to work for a company that does Human Resources support, and gained experience in accounting, training, and software support.  I then went to work for one of our members – Microsoft.  I was there for 9 years, both here and in Redmond.  In the Northwest I came to appreciate good coffee and farmers markets.  In my 9 years at Microsoft I did everything from support to user education to building an Office Developer community to marketing.  I left to be a Mom, though I stayed on as a contractor for the press group working from home.  I got tired of technology, and in a signature-Lynn move did a 180 and accepted an invitation to apprentice to an urban farmer running a CSA off of a half acre in Plaza Midwood.  I learned a lot, but farming was clearly not my thing.  However, in the many hours spent hoeing (there’s a joke there somewhere) and weeding, I began to hatch a plan with the farmer to start an urban tailgate market.  I fortuitously attended a seminar in Fletcher, NC where I met Nina Planck, who continues to be my “muse” in regard to markets and “real food.”  We had our first market on the little piece of green beside the Common Market in PM and that is where my market journey began.  We operated two seasons there, two in South End until the tent from hell collapsed, and then an opportunity emerged to take my passion indoors at Atherton Mill and pull all of my skills together to do this thing.

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I always hear people talking about the importance of not being afraid to fail.  The idea that sometimes when you follow your passion or make a big change, there is no way of knowing how it will turn out when you start.  How did you handle those thoughts?  Did you have to take some risks along the way and was it hard to make the change knowing you were leaving a secure job?

There were many times in those first days in Plaza Midwood when I was sure people were laughing at me, not that I much cared.  Days when no vendors showed up, or worse, no customers.  I got more “nos” than affirmations when trying to establish partnerships. But I dug deep and decided to rely on my passion for writing to try and get beyond the early hurdles that sometimes felt insurmountable.  I was fortunate to have a supporting and loving partner who was gainfully employed, and willing to let me try this.

I don’t do a lot of second guessing.  I decide what I’m going to do and I find a way to do it.  It doesn’t always work, and I’m learning when to back off.  But in this case writing made the difference.  I started a blog and got on my soap box.  I got a few fans who were connected with what the market needed to grow.  And I spent a great deal of time meeting farmers, getting my head around their issues, and taking a stand for them in a very public way.  I still do a lot of that, for farmers and artisans who are creating products with integrity.  I’ve upset some apple carts, but I am not afraid of change, taking a chance, or taking risks.  Nothing worthwhile happens without that, whether it is an individual effort or a team.

I love hearing when people find a career that brings them real purpose.  When I came by to visit you I remember you talking about your vision for the vendors you have at the market. That it really meant a lot for you to provide a place for their businesses to succeed and thrive. Can you talk more about this idea and why it is important to you?

I admire people who inspire me with their passion and aren’t afraid of hard work.  Those are minimal requirements for any farmer or business who is bound for success.  I have also spent the last handful of years immersed in educating myself about the importance of local food and building the local economy – most consumers aren’t aware that the infrastructure of big ag is crumbling.  We need to have systems and resources in place at the local level to be ready to meet the inevitable demand.   Sourcing from local small businesses will no longer be a luxury, it will be a necessity to survive.   That is not chicken little.  That is inevitable.   We’re planning for the future.

How have you felt both personally and professionally about doing something you love since you started at Atherton Mill Market?  How did it all turn out for you now that you have been there for almost 3 years?

We’ve been open since May of 2010.  Personally it has been a rollercoaster – riding the highs of the good times and confronting the challenges.  Experiencing a great deal of frustration in figuring out the Charlotte consumer mindset and attaching to their priorities, and maybe changing them a little.  Meeting people where they are and embracing them (figuratively speaking and sometimes literally… I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with hugs).  I have grown so much as a person.  Learning to lead, guide, listen, building our tribe.  Letting the spirit of the market whisper to us what is next.  I have an idea of where we are headed, but I try to maintain enough flexibility to change as it becomes necessary.  We’ve come a long way, which is easy to forget when I’m there, in it every day.  We have a long way to go and grow, and I hope you’ll come along with us on the journey.

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Any advice to readers out there contemplating a career change?

Don’t be afraid to follow your heart.  Maybe try it as a side gig first, and maybe that will be enough, but life is too short to spend the majority of it slogging along down a path that drains the life juice out of you.  Find ways to connect with people who are doing what you suspect you want to do.  Surround yourself with people who can energize you and infuse you with confidence and direction.  Don’t overthink everything.  Don’t be afraid to fail boldly.  And no whining.

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So go see Lynn and her crew at the Atherton Mill Market. You can feel the energy she has created when you walk in the market. And her perspective on work and life is so refreshing. She really took a stand for what she was passionate about and then was intentional about causing the change to happen. And now she created a space for others to do the same. That is the essence of co-creating a world where one plus one is more than two. Have a great week.

Culture, Leadership, Presence of Mind

That crazy idea that became a reality

November 18, 2012

Have you ever really wanted to do something but had no idea how and weren’t sure it would ever happen? And like me, when you told people about what you wanted to do, you had very little evidence or experience that it would work. And what if within a year, this crazy idea became a reality? That is what happened to me in the last six months. And it has been an incredible ride.

Back in February, I was still working in commercial real estate. However, I came to one of our courses here at The Center for Intentional Leadership. And it gave me the tools to go after the vision I had for myself and our world. I had been in other leadership and self-awareness courses starting with one in California with the wonderful people at LaL. And after being in a few of these courses, I saw that the majority of leadership development work was usually supporting executives and an older demographic. And I became very passionate about bringing this work to young people.

In particular, my life had been impacted in such a positive way by getting real clear on who I am and then getting committed to an intentional path for myself. I wanted to help people align their personal and professional lives around what is most important to them. So that people could bring their most authentic self at home and at work with strong sense of purpose and direction. I believe when this happens we can make a greater impact on our organizations and the people around us. And why not get this work to people as early as possible in life??

So at that course back in February, I wrote down that I wanted to start a leadership development program for young people. Then I declared it out loud in front of about 12 people in my course. The funny thing was I was still working in commercial real estate at the time and had very little experience with this work. But when I talked about doing I felt really alive, and it got my wheels turning.

So I left my job to go work for the Center for Intentional Leadership back in April. I started on a project called Intentional Leadership for the Next Generation which is a leadership development program for people in their 20s and 30s. And a few weeks ago, we completed our first course with 15 amazing people.

As I reflected, I just couldn’t believe things happened so quickly. It seemed to validate a continuous running theme in my life. For the longest time, I wouldn’t take big risk or make a major change because I couldn’t see the path to do it or the end result. However, what I continue to realize is that when I am able to get real clear on my purpose and have a really pure intention with something important to me, the path and people to make it happen seem to emerge. And even when I finally got started on this Next Generation project, there were plenty of times I doubted myself, wasn’t sure if people would like it and even thought about shutting down the idea. But luckily, I work with some amazing people who knew how important this was to me and kept pushing me. I was reminded that our work really isn’t about a “course” but about making a significant contribution in the lives of people.

So you may wonder, how did the course turn out? We recently had our follow-up day and below are a few things some of the participants mentioned about how the course impacted them.

  • I quit smoking.
  • I let go of my past and am creating a new life for myself.
  • I am not afraid about where I am going in life anymore.
  • I am comfortable in my own skin.
  • I have a more positive relationship with my husband.
  • I am now in charge of who I am and who I want to be.
  • I am replacing my madness with a smile.
  • I am done not trying and now bringing my full self.
  • I am more in the present, in the now and not lost in future.
  • I have a new perspective on my life and the world we are in.
  • I am ok just being me and that is all I need.
  • I am overcoming my fears.
  • I feel the power of my declaration in my life.
  • I have more internal calmness, self-love and compassion.
  • I am not worrying about trying to figure this out.

That sure makes one plus one more than two for me. Have a great week.

Culture, Leadership

Making the Culture Stick

November 4, 2012

Below is a post I recently wrote for our company blog at the Center for Intentional Leadership. Enjoy!

We were recently at a client dinner when our CEO Mike Whitehead shared an amazing story.  He told us how one morning one of our employees was out in our parking lot as a large company was arriving for a meeting.  She noticed a cigarette butt lying in the rocks of our parking lot.  Without hesitation, she reached down and picked it up to throw in the trash.  An executive at a large company noticed what happened and stopped her to ask why she picked it up and if someone had told her to do it.  She said no one had ever told her to pick up cigarette butts, but she knew how important it was for our property to be a great representation of us.   And a place where clients feel completely comfortable and at home.  This executive was so impressed by her action that he later told us it was a big reason he ended up sending us more business.  He wanted to do business with a company that had a culture like us.

A few weeks later, I saw a piece of trash in our parking lot as I was walking into work one morning.  If I hadn’t heard this story, I am not sure if I would have picked it up.  Instead I picked it up without hesitation as I walked into my office.  No one had ever told me to pickup trash in the parking lot either, but I knew from Mike’s story that it is important to us and someone could be watching.  It also crossed my mind that somehow keeping our property clean could even lead to more business.

So what are some of the great stories about your company culture?  I would love to hear from you, so please share them with me in the comments section.  Have a great week.

Culture, Hiking, Running

Runnin Free with Devon Sibole

August 25, 2012

Below is a new interview with a good friend named Devon Sibole for my series on “Follow your Passion.” Devon has a powerful story that she told me one day on a trail run in California. She really epitomizes the message I want to share with this blog series. Enjoy!

Hey Devon, thanks so much for doing an interview on my new series called “Follow your Passion.”  So tell us all a little bit more about what you do at Outside PR & Sports Marketing.

I’m a public relations account manager, working on various outdoor and fitness brands, including DownTek, Pearl Izumi, GU Energy, Hydrapak, Road ID, Ambler, Injinji and AlterG Antigravity Treadmills.  Generally, I’m working with journalists, athletes and clients, helping to create and identify publicity opportunities.  I also spend a healthy chunk of my day writing press releases, pitches and other press materials and planning and prepping for events.

How did you identify this as a potential career path?  What were you doing before you started at this company and why did you make the change?

In 2008, I was working in media planning on a few very high profile clients.  It was a job with merciless hours and zero creativity.  I was unhealthy and uninspired.  But, it was a beautiful paycheck and we were staring down the barrel of a recession.  One particular morning, as I was walking to the office, I stopped to look at the people around me.  Gulping coffee and barking on cell phones, we were all marching ants rushing in droves to our desks or to meetings.  We all had matching suits and matching scowls.  I had a simple realization that made me stop in my tracks: This is MY life.  It wasn’t so much of an “ah-hah!” moment. It was more like a full-bellied SOS scream.  All I wanted to do that day was to go on a trail run and be with people who made me feel alive.  I wanted a job that made me feel unique, interested, challenged and that made a positive impact.  I wanted to be with people who were happy and knew that life was measured in more ways than in paychecks.  

When I reached the office, I felt genuinely relieved.  I trotted into my manager’s office, sat down across from her at her desk and gave my notice.

That same day, as I was signing up for a marathon, I clicked on a link to a company called OutsidePR.  I didn’t know much about public relations, but the company worked with brands I used and prided itself in creativity.  Additionally, the outdoor industry couldn’t have been a more perfect match for a person like me.  Even if I didn’t get this job, I knew there were hundreds of other like-minded companies to stalk until I got an interview.  I applied.

For a solid week, I reveled in unemployment.  I surfed my ass off, drank green tea by the boatload and ran all the trails I could find.  (I live in San Francisco, so that really is a ton of running.)  I squeezed in an interview with OutsidePR, too.  A few days after my interview, I got a call with an offer.

I always hear people talking about the importance of not being afraid to fail.  The idea that sometimes when you follow your passion or make a big change, there is no way of knowing how it will turn out when you start.  How did you handle those thoughts?  Did you have to take some risks along the way and was it hard to make the change knowing you were leaving a secure job?

There is no formula for how to live life, nor any guarantees that if you play all your cards right, things will work out in the end.  I wasn’t afraid of failing, I was afraid of never trying.  I knew there had to be something better out there for me, and I was intent on finding it.

As it turned out, I wasn’t lying during my interview at OutsidePR – I was a quick study and was able to take on more and more in the following months.  I absorbed everything I could, took on as many projects as possible.  I fell head over heels in love with my company and really enjoyed the people with whom I worked.  The industry was exciting and growing by leaps and bounds. I found a mentor.  Then I found another one.  Before I knew it, I had my own mini board of advisors.

I was encouraged to take time every day to work out.  Instead of drinking coffee, I’d take afternoon hikes.  Although my life had taken such a major change, my head had never been more clear.

There’s a quote, stated by the Grand Old Man of Nature, “Leap and the net will appear.” I think you have to have that ambition and courage to take that leap.  The passion part is integral – you need to know the kind of net in which you’d like to land.  Blindly jumping into anything isn’t a smart idea. Preparation and honesty with yourself is integral to any major life change.

How have you felt both personally and professionally since you made the change to pursue work you love?  How did it all turn out for you now that you have been with them for almost 5 years?

Over the past few years, my position has grown and changed in ways I didn’t know were attainable when I first took the job.  Personally, I love what I do because it reflects who I am.  I am proud of the work I do and excited for my work week.  My professional relationships are in many ways personal.  I get to go to a job everyday and work with friends.   We are a strong (and competitive) team that produces some amazing work.  I really do feel like the best is yet to come.

Any advice to readers out there contemplating a career change?

1. Figure out what excites and inspires you.  Immerse yourself in the activities and outlets that get you stoked.  You’ll end up meeting some incredible people who might be able to open a doorway for you.

2. Get a board of advisors that will tell you the truth but won’t try to shield you from failure.  Failure isn’t always a bad thing.  All of my failures have made me be that much smarter about my next decision and much more resilient and resourceful.

3. Join professional organizations in the industries that you are interested in exploring.  I met recruiters, friends and coworkers through the Outdoor Industries Women’s  Organization (www.OIWC.org.)- these connections have played a pivital role in my life and continue to shape my career.

Devon sure has a powerful story. The reason I loved it so much is because she is an amazing person to be around and so authentic. She has such an infectious, fun loving personality and really lives life to the fullest. I really feel that when you have the courage to follow your passion like Devon, not only will you be happier but you can make such an incredible impact on other people. So thanks Devon, for being the person you are. Keep running, leaping and living the way you do. Because you continue to invite others to come alive with their authenticity. And that is a world I want to co-create with you! Have a great week everyone.

Changing Jobs, Culture, Leadership

Staying Close to the Soul

July 15, 2012

A few people have asked me recently what it is like at my new job at The Center for Intentional Leadership. Well the best way I can describe the new job is that it allows me to stay close to the soul. I truly feel that our company is making a difference in everything that we do.

It was a major change going from commercial real estate to leadership development work. The transition hasn’t always been easy, and I am learning the importance of taking things slow. I have tendency to try and figure everything all at first and can overdo it. So I am learning to be with the process and trust what is happening with my training.

I am with an amazing group of people that are so dedicated to making an impact in the lives of both people and organizations. Everyone I work with is incredibly supportive and wants to help me in every way they can. The other day I was feeling a little overwhelmed trying to manage several different new tasks. One of my co-workers noticed this in me and came by to see me after a meeting. She helped me see that I was actually overwhelming myself and had let the tasks control me. I also had not created enough time for activities that energize me. The next day I thanked her for being so supportive and helping me gain this perspective. She responded, “you know what Jon, I just really care.”

On my second day of work our CEO said this to me, “you know Jon, I really want you to learn from my experience but also learn from all the mistakes I have made in my life. Because in the end what I really want for you is to be much better at this work than I am.”

Recently during one of our engagements I wasn’t sure about sharing some insights with our lead consultant. He really encouraged me to share my thoughts with him and our client and then said “Jon, I completely trust you.” I am feeling more empowered every day.

This past Thursday we had a kickoff event to discuss our new upcoming course called Intentional Leadership for the Next Generation. It is a course designed for people in their late 20s and 30s to align their passion, potential, and unique strengths in both their personal and professional lives. We had an amazing discussion with over 40 leaders in Charlotte, and I couldn’t have been happier with the result. It was a big deal for me personally because back in February I declared in one of our seminars that I would start a leadership development program for young people. This was before I had any idea I was changing careers, but I was passionate about doing it one day. And within six months it was happening. Thursday was an amazing night!

So my work really allows me to stay close to the soul, and I can really be myself each day I go into the office. As e.e. cummings wrote, “To be nobody but yourself when the world is trying its best night and day to make somebody else is to fight the hardest battle any human being will fight.” I don’t have to fight this battle at my new job. And now I get to devote my life’s work to making sure others don’t have to fight this battle either. Have a great week.

Biking, Culture, Food, Hiking, Leadership, Running

Joy and Meaning List

June 23, 2012

One of my favorite exercises from Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” was creating a “Joy and Meaning List.” It really helped me align what I was doing with my life with what brought the most meaning and happiness.  As my good friend Carole tells me, it is important to focus on activities that raise your energy. This list was especially helpful as I debated what to do with downsizing and making a big leap with my career path. I have had this list below since last fall and then decided to add a few more tonight.

  1. Connecting with others
  2. Enjoying wine with friends
  3. A nice cooked meal
  4. Inspiring someone with a new perspective
  5. Learning something new
  6. Traveling to Europe
  7. Beautiful mountain scenic views
  8. Davidson athletics
  9. Coffee shops
  10. A casual walk
  11. A mid-afternoon nap
  12. Running with friends
  13. Being with my family
  14. Taking Brooks swimming
  15. Any activity with Brooks…
  16. Helping kids and young people
  17. Music…especially making a new mix
  18. Sharing ideas and being inspired
  19. Creating space for other people to embrace their authenticity
  20. Feeling loved and appreciated
  21. Writing my blog
  22. Living a life full of purpose
  23. Dancing…usually in a “unique” way
  24. Question games at dinner or Catch Phrase
  25. Getting to know someone at a very personal level
  26. Making an impact
  27. Being outside in the sun
  28. Hiking
  29. A healthy meal
  30. Eating at a nice restaurant
  31. Working out especially at an exercise class
  32. Making homemade pizzas
  33. Making someone laugh or smile
  34. A long bike ride
  35. Being a positive example for my younger brother
  36. Reading a great book
  37. TED videos
  38. Being around my Let Me Run boys at Nations Ford Elementary
  39. Protecting people’s access to information…a Library
  40. Laughing at my own jokes
  41. Tailgates and sporting events
  42. Live music
  43. Being there for a good friend
  44. Trying a new recipe
  45. Being present with others
  46. Encouraging people to do what they love
  47. Cultivating a sense of wonder and being in the moment
  48. Having a larger perspective with my life
  49. Intentionally trying to make someone’s day with my words or actions
  50. Being grateful for what I have

Well those are the ones that came to mind, and I am sure there are many more.  I would love to hear what some of yours are!  I invite you to share at least three that would be on your list in the comments section. Have a great week.

Culture, Diversity, Leadership, Running, Uncategorized, Volunteering

How they let me be me

June 14, 2012

I recently finished coaching my spring Let Me Run team when my boys all ran a 5K together. They sure are incredible kids, and I learned so much from them over the last seven weeks. It was really one the greatest experiences in my life. So what did I learn from them?

I learned the importance of having some fun. At our last practice, we had a competition to see who could do the best soccer goal celebration.  Ja’Wan clearly won this contest below. It was a “laughcry” for me. That is my term for when you laugh so hard you cry.

I learned about the excitement of a big race through the eyes of a group of young people. It was a great reminder to me about keeping life simple and treasuring each precious moment.

I learned the real meaning of unity and doing something together. After most of the boys finished on Saturday, we realized our last runner, Ja’Wan, was still out on the course. The boys wanted to find Ja’Wan and finish with him so we could all do it together. Several people at the race noticed what was happening including the Charlotte Observer. They wrote a really nice article about the story in Sunday’s paper. Most importantly, what do you think it meant to Ja’Wan to have his teammates come back and support him in such a positive way? And it clearly impacted all the people watching.

I learned the importance of giving people the space to open up. At some of our practices, many of our boys shared stories of losing loved ones and other difficult events that no person should have to deal with. After some of these conversations, you could see the boys feeling lighter after having the space to express their emotions. The great thing is now they have some tools to continue this practice. And they created some wonderful friendships to keep this going.

I learned what it feels like to have someone run up and hug you for no other reason than to just say hello. Many of the kids did this before each practice and it always re-centered me on the real purpose of being with these kids.

I learned that young kids can completely energize you. They run around without a care in the world and many times only care about when they can “play” again. I was reminded how it important it is to have plenty of time to “play” in my own life.

I learned that friendships can happen between two people at any age. My other coach was a 64 year old man, and we couldn’t have connected more as friends. He was a major part of making this such a great experience. Joe is also incredibly passionate about giving back and being with our youth.

I learned what it means to be a team and achieve goals together. It sure was special to see all of our runners complete the race. Seven weeks ago they all set a goal to finish the race, and they all did it together. I am very excited to stay connected with these kids and watch them grow over the years.

I learned how enjoyable it can be to surprise someone with a little gift. I surprised my boys on their last day of school with framed pictures of them at the race. Thanks to my friend Caitlin for the idea! However, most of them just wanted to know if I had any extra medals. It was amazing to hear that “Coach Jon is here” and see them come running.

Most importantly, I learned that when you find the courage to just be yourself, many times you invite others to do the same. I know my boys sure did this for me, and it really allowed me to open up and be authentic with them.

What extraordinary lessons from an amazing group of nine and ten year old boys. My Nations Ford team sure personifies the meaning of co-creating a culture where one plus one is more than two. And they let me be me.  Have a great week.