One Year In…Choosing Fulfillment over Victory

If you want to lead better, work better, live better…and help others do the same, then join me on this journey.

One year ago I pushed publish on my very first blog post here.

For some odd reason, that is still my highest viewed post ever. That may be because of the way my site was first set up (requiring a click to view each post) vice how it is now (endless scrolling with full posts). It really doesn’t matter as that is not the whole reason I started yet another blog.

I was quite up front about trying to see if I could make any money from my “side-hustle” site this go around. I’ve tried affiliate links to amazon, signing up for various affiliate services, creating merchandise to sell, and a couple other things. I’ve posted almost every day over the past year and worked towards better SEO…although I wouldn’t say I did so aggressively. (I do have a family and a full-time job)

All of that has resulted in zero money but, more importantly, a few realizations on my part.

excerpt from The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek
excerpt from The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

1. Creation is One of My Favorite Parts of Starting a Blog/Site

I really enjoy the act of creating a site.

I love pouring through templates, seeing what is new that people like and what is old/classic that I still prefer.

Selecting and testing out fonts and color schemes scratches some sort of artistic itch that I’m not sure I could identify or satisfy otherwise. Serif versus Sans Serif, complimentary color schemes, underlining links that change color on hovering over it (via customized CSS), viewing spacing and sizing of headers and paragraph text. I love it all.

Is that weird?

I don’t know. Maybe.

I enjoy it nonetheless.

2. Volume is Not What I Want to Do Right Now

Coming up with 6 posts a week is not a lot in terms of a normal website volume. Yet, if you’re running your site solo, then it can add up over time.

Don’t get me wrong, I was able to get a pretty good routine that allowed me to come up with 3 weeks worth of material over the course of a Sunday, but that normally excluded my Wednesday posts. I tried to make those Wednesday posts a little more of an “actual post” that required me to sit, think, write, edit, and smooth for publishing.

And shocker…those Wednesday posts tended to be my more popular posts…those and the Saturday affiliate link posts. (according to my google analytics stats)

Remember though…I was attempting to make money this time around and I thought a consistent post a day would translate to something over the course of a year. Which it didn’t. At least not for what I was posting about.

That’s ok.

I’ve experimented, learned, and will adjust.

3. I Want “Fulfillment over Victory”

Those Wednesday posts I mentioned I actually enjoyed a lot more. The critical thinking aspect of writing them is often what I look for when I get that urge to share a revelation, thought, or growing concept that I want to process.

That is probably why I enjoy making my Vlog so much…it takes planning, knowledge, experience, experimentation…technical curiosity, creativity, and effort.

The thoughtful pieces are so much more fulfilling that working towards that Google SEO to try and bring in more clicks.

I don’t really want to “win” in blogging…I want fulfillment in what I do and share with others.

Basically the payoff is in the journey vice the destination.


What is Next?

I have quoted Simon Sinek a few times here and read his first two books, Start With Why and Leaders Eat Last.

I just started reading his newest book, The Infinite Game, and I realized that I have been expending all this effort on my blog for purely selfish reasons…reasons that I don’t really believe will succeed.

I don’t really think that I will succeed on this blog if I am only doing it to try and make money. That has never really been a driving factor for what I do in life and I’m not sure why I put that as my foremost reason here.

I Am Sorry

I should have known better than to stray from what really drives me in life and work. People who know me, know that I want to lead people be better versions of themselves and to teach them how to help others the do same.

I can’t do that when money is my focus.

In life, at work, or via this website.

Adjusting Course

My focus should be, as Simon Sinek says, on the “infinite game”.

So should yours.

Ask yourself:

  • Why am I doing this?
  • Do I have an “infinite mindset”? (a just cause that will outlive me)
  • What drives me to make others better?

This blog will change from here forward.

The name will stay the same for now, and I will occasionally post some of the same things I did before (interesting links, inspiring quotes, vlogs) but my focus here will be to make you better and to teach you how to do the same for others.

Quality over quantity I suppose.

I do not know how this process will play out going forward…but I do know that I am more driven by that purpose and will thus be more likely to stick with it.

If you want to lead better, work better, live better…and help others do the same, then join me on this journey.

God bless.

Scott

Top 5 Movies of All Time (my favorites)

Some of the greatest movies ever filmed…

A long time ago…I thought of writing this up. Now that I’m finally getting around to it, this is one of those posts that is just pure fun to write about.

Obviously these are my Top 5 favorites and everyone has their own. Let me know yours with a comment!!


#1

What can I say about the Sci-Fi franchise that started it all? As a kid who grew up in the 80’s I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I watched all three of these movies.

One of my very distinct childhood memories was being super sick for a couple days and not able to make it to school. So what did I do? I watched this trilogy on repeat.

As an adult, like many others, I have thoroughly enjoyed the new Star Wars movies and bringing my kids to the theaters to watch them warms my heart.

Interesting Fact: The first Star Wars almost caused an actual war.

To create the barren desert planet of Tatooine, Lucas found the perfect setting in Tunisia. What he didn’t account for was how even a little movie production could lead to socio-political tensions. Tunisia shares a border with Libya, which, at the time, was ruled by ruthless dictator Muammar Gaddafi. The Tunisian government received threats from Gaddafi, warning that a conflict was inevitable if they didn’t remove a military vehicle from the Libyan border.

The “military vehicle” in question was actually a Jawa Sandcrawler. Lucas agreed to move the prop because, well, inciting an international incident isn’t a great way to publicize a movie.

the original 1976 trailer

#2

Honestly…are you surprised?

What kid growing up doesn’t want to be the storybook hero that travels around the world looking for treasures of mythical proportions?

I remember making my own treasure maps on yellow construction paper, roughing them up to make them look old, and then traipsing around the woods with my friends as we “followed” this map.

These movies still hold up today as great action/adventure movies that grab you from the very beginning for a wild ride all the way to the end.

Interesting Fact: R2D2 and C3PO make an appearance in the Well of Souls scene.

1981 theatrical trailer

#3 (tie)

I saw this for the first time a couple years after it came out.

This was the first movie that really took for for a ride mentally and straight up blew my mind at the end. I’ll keep this spoiler free, but let’s just say, to me…this defined that “twist-at-the-end ” genre of suspense/drama movies.

Quite some time later I saw movies like, The Prestige, Inception and some of the Christian Bale Batman Movies…and realized that the director for all of those movies, Christopher Nolan, had also directed Memento. Christopher Nolan has a knack for this genre, and Memento propelled him on to the scene.

Interesting Fact: Memento did not take long to make.

Despite the intricate script, Memento was a rather breezy production. Shooting wrapped in just 25 days. What’s more, all of Carrie-Ann Moss’s scenes were shot in just eight days.

the full trailer doesn’t do the Movie justice

#3 (tie)

This movie caught me completely off guard when it came out. I liked it so much, that I actually went to the theater three separate times to see it.

If you review my #1 and #2 movies, you can probably guess why this rocketed in to a tie for 3rd in my favorite movies of all time. This movie is the perfect combination of roguish treasure hunter and futuristic space movie with a dash of humor and perfectly selected 70’s music. Honestly, the perfect recipe for an all-time favorite flick.

Star-Lord (Peter Quill) gathers this band of misfits for some adventures that will make anyone laugh while also clinging to the edge of your seat.

Interesting Fact: Star-Lord’s hilarious (but obscene) gesture from the trailer was actually improvised by Chris Pratt on set.

This just goes to show why Pratt makes for the perfect Star-Lord: he didn’t even need Gunn to tell him what worked for his character!

“what a bunch of a-holes”

#4

I don’t remember how young I was the first time I watched this Christmas classic, but the holiday season hasn’t started until I’ve heard Bing Crosby crooning “White Christmas”.

This movie epitomizes the quintessential holiday musical and is one of the great classics of our time. Watch the movie and you will see which actors were cast for their singing chops and which were chosen for their ability to dance from ballroom to countryside hotel.

Interesting Fact: Bob and Phil’s ‘Sisters’ wasn’t scripted

At first, actors Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye were just playing around on set when they dressed up in parts of their female counterparts’ costumes and performed their musical number. But director Michael Curtiz found it so funny that he filmed it and worked it into the movie.

in spectacular new VistaVision!

#5

I didn’t realize until writing this that this movie came out in 1954…just like White Christmas!

The musical movie trend with these last two films is really no accident. As a youth, I didn’t have cable or even over-the-air network television. Thus, I was at the mercy of what my parents had on video.

This led to me watching a lot of musicals as, for some reason, that’s what we had on VHS.

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers was a surprise hit when it came out and it has stood the test of time as far as classic musical movies go. While the subject matter may not exactly be politically correct today…the lesson the oldest brother (Adam) learns at the end is timeless.

Interesting Fact: MGM did not have high financial expectations for the film, and chose instead to allocate its resources to Rose Marie (1954) and Brigadoon (1954)–films that, as it turned out, never matched this film’s commercial and critical success.

so many classic songs

I hope you enjoyed my favorite movies…I’d love to see yours in the comments!

Worried About Toilet Paper? Take a Breath and Look at The Big Picture

Did I ever tell you about my time in Pakistan and the guy whose job it was to scoop shit out of a port-a-john?

In 2005, I was on deployment in the western pacific and I got to be part of a multi-national military effort providing disaster relief to Pakistan. Devastating earthquakes had rocked the country, and the US was tasked with leading the relief effort. As a very junior officer at the time, this was quite an opportunity for me not only to travel to another country, but to spend about four months living with a group of people who hadn’t had Americans in their country for a few decades.

People who lived a very different way of life than my cushy American upbringing.

Not only did the joint efforts help with food, supplies, temporary housing (many homes in northern Pakistan were built in to the hillsides and thus destroyed), but we also brought out and deployed Army and Marine hospital units. We even had one or two full-blown MASH units that provided surgical care, trauma centers, dental care, and more.

I remember at one point people bringing reports and commentary back from those field hospitals. Many of the people they were seeing and treating said they had NEVER received care like this. Nor even had the option for care like this.

Before these MASH hospitals…before the world’s disaster relief efforts came to town…before the earthquake, many of these Pakistanis had never even seen a dentist, a pediatrician, or a doctor period.

This earthquake was estimated to have killed over 70,000 people and left close to 4 million homeless.

Think about that. And we have these MASH units ready to go in our backyard.

The Big Picture

image via wikipedia

Step back and take a look at your house, community, city, state, country…compared to other parts of the world. Don’t just look at other “advanced” countries. Remember there are “emerging” and “developing” countries as well.

For this report we grouped countries into three economic categories: “advanced,” “emerging” and “developing.” These categories are fairly common in specialized and popular discussions and are helpful for analyzing how public attitudes vary with economic circumstances. However, no single, agreed upon scheme exists for placing countries into these three categories. For example, even the World Bank and International Monetary Fund do not always agree on how to categorize economies.

—Pew Research

Take a quick look at this 2019 report from the United Nations. It lists the various country classifications with slightly different terms but the same concepts. There are large parts of this world that aren’t worried about the local store running out of toilet paper.

They just want to be able to eat with a roof over their head.

Or get paid to scoop shit out of a port-a-john.

Back to that Deployment

I wasn’t exaggerating about that. The local contractors that were hired when I first showed up outside of Islamabad, helped with some basic facility support. We were essentially camping out for a few months next to an ad hoc airport. We had the military tents, gear, and people…and they provided things like port-a-johns, water supply, some transportation, etc.

One day I was sitting, eating an MRE, and saw a gentlemen with a large ladle looking thing…almost like a shovel but the end was larger, flatter, rounder. Then I saw him start scooping shit…out of the portable outhouses we had been using.

This contractor didn’t have large trucks that could suck all that stuff up in to the back to later dispose of it at a treatment facility. These guys had to scoop the shit out before they got all the rest of the blackwater out!

Needless to say I lost my appetite for that MRE.

That give you a different outlook on your toilet paper tensions?

Values

Photo by Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

I have always appreciated the perspective that being in the military gives me. For some reason, I don’t talk much about my work here. Most likely because I normally see this site (and my past websites) as an avenue for me to express myself and my interests outside of work.

However, I would be doing a disservice to those who read this to pretend that my work is not a big part of who I am. I got to college, met my wife, and have a career…all because of the US Navy.

I have taken courses on leadership, ethics, thermodynamics (unfortunately), constitutional law, engineering, joint military operations, and national security. Leaders throughout my career have taught me humility, selfless service, hard work, sacrifice, harder work, and core values of “honor, courage, and commitment”.

Take Comfort in Your Leadership

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

I am writing to my fellow Americans, but I hope that this can speak to those beyond our nation’s boarders. Yesterday I wrote about companies that are closing up but still paying employees, three days ago there was an Italian opera singer who serenaded his neighbors, professional photographers are giving away their paid courses for free, and so much more!

I can only assume that if you a re reading this, you probably don’t have it that bad.

YES – doing what you can to prevent further COVID 19 spread is important.

YES – take your local authorities seriously

YES – do your part

But please, step back….look at the big picture….and know that you are ok.

I trust our leaders have our best interests at heart and I know (for a fact) that they are working around the clock to make sure that people are taken care of. Those leaders that taught me how to lead, to serve, to be a man of honor…many of them are retired and work in government now. As a collective, our representatives and leaders will help us through this and we will be ok.

And please, don’t sweat the toilet paper.

At least you’re not scooping shit out of a port-a-john.

This was first posted over on Medium. If you like these longer form posts, you can get early access to them by becoming a Patron for $1 a month.

COVID-19 Secondary Effect: Reduced Air Pollution Due to Reduced Global Activity

Never would have thought about this kind of secondary effect…

Kottke.org found an interesting article with a different look at the secondary effects of COVID-19:

Stanford professor Marshall Burke, who does research on the social and economic impacts of environmental change, wrote a post about how the decrease in economic activity in China due to COVID-19 quarantine and other countermeasures resulted in a significant drop in air pollution, which Burke estimates will save more lives than deaths caused by COVID-19.

And his conclusion is not that viral pandemics are a net positive for the world (you will see people naively arguing this, siding a little too closely with a snapping Thanos for my comfort) but that situations like this remind us, as Burke summarized on Twitter: “the way our economies operate absent pandemics has massive hidden health costs”:

Not something I would have ever thought of.

Decrease in Economic Activity Due to COVID-19 Reduced Air Pollution and Saved Lives

What is in a Name?

A bit of a paint job…

There is something that I’ve always struggled with when writing or vlogging.

My name.

More specifically it has been attaching my name to whatever I am writing or vlogging about. Now your raised eyebrow or narrowing your eyes are warranted…because on a vlog my face is there…no hiding it…there I am, talking to you the whole time.

However, when my vlog was also Patagonia Dad, there was still anonymity. That comes with the incredible volume of videos on YouTube. Here on this site it is the same thing…what does Patagonia Dad really mean? It may mean something to me, but to be honest…that is difficult to convey to a passerby. There really is no “elevator pitch” that would generate interest when telling someone what Patagonia Dad means. I have a good explanation (I think) but when I ask myself, “how would I explain this to my uncle…or my cousin…or an old friend” then it kind of falls flat.

Sure I could try to explain the article that inspired this website name, or the fact that many of my friends know that I am an absolute sucker for almost anything Patagonia (the company) makes…but those aren’t the people that might be clicking on a link to this website.

Scott from California

I changed the name of my vlog to Scott from California because I felt it personalized and explained it a bit more. Or rather…explained me a bit more. Since I am the vlog it made a bit more sense…and that “elevator pitch” is almost unnecessary. The name says it up front…this is about a guy “Scott” and he’s “from California”.

Whether you find that interesting or not, at least you kinda know what it’s about. And to be honest, the fact that California is a well known place throughout the world…and known for many things…doesn’t hurt.

Probably Overthinking It

Does this name change help this website? I honestly have no idea…and right now it’s only the URL that has changed (both still work)…but I have always tried to treat my websites as a place for me to do what I like. Just like a house you own and you feel like painting it…a name change can be much the same.

In the end it comes down to good content that people find interesting. So don’t go anywhere…this is gonna get interesting.

Happy Thanksgiving

Tomorrow is officially Thanksgiving.

I hope that you get to spend some time with friends or family.

Make sure you ignore your email and silence your work phone since time off is good for your brain.

Last, I want you to know I am thankful for you. I try to make your time on this website valuable and I appreciate each like, comment, share, and more.

God bless.

Scott

I Figured out Why Kids Don’t Eat the Crust

Lessons from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Lessons from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich


There are many things that kids do that confound us. As a parent, I often look at my kids sideways, wondering why they thought it was a good idea to see mud and head straight for it, why they think that dipping cheetos in chocolate milk will make them taste better, or why they diligently avoid the crust of any sandwich they eat.

Today it hit me…

They’re Going Straight For The Flavor

I was standing there watching my daughter eat a bagel with peanut butter, getting it all over her face. After I had wiped her face a couple times, I gave up – waiting for her to finish before I went in with another wipe. As she chomped away, her eyes were focused; she was determined to get to the heart of the semi-melted peanut butter bagel that held her attention like no preschool teacher ever could.

All she could think about in that moment was how good that peanut butter was going to be and again how good it was while she was eating it. Nothing else. She could have had peanut butter from her lips to her ear lobes and she would still be happy.

Which led me to my second realization…

They Don’t Stress The Mess

A couple days ago my oldest had jelly from his pb&j on his ear and either had no idea or didn’t care. His first priority was not making sure he looked good or wasn’t messy, he was enjoying the moment. He wasn’t really avoiding the crust of his sandwich, he was just going straight for the flavor, and not stressing the mess. No inner voice saying “Look at your face man!! You look like you rubbed an uncrustable all over it!”.

He was all in on that pb&j…not a care in the world about the somewhat superfluous things that adults care about.

Two Lessons From A PB&J

Think about those two things.

  • Go straight for the flavor
  • Don’t stress the mess

How many places in your adult life do you think you could apply those two lessons? The next time you plan a family fun night…a trip…a kid’s sleepover?

Maybe it’s just me, but I think that as we gain more responsibility, it becomes harder for us to let go – because we know that we have to do the “adulting” on the backend of any event, big or small – sandwich or family vacation. However, thinking about everything you have to clean up or do afterwards often takes away from your ability to enjoy the moment. Hell, sometimes I end up not enjoying it at all…I don’t get any flavor from the peanut butter and jelly of life! That’s no way to live.

So what do you do?

You step back, self-reflect, decide to change, then change. Next time you take your kids out you go straight for that flavor and don’t stress the mess.

I know that I may be stretching my illustration a bit…but I think next time I eat a pb&j…I won’t eat the crust.