’Tis the Set of the Sail

Dang, this is good.

And from 1916.

But to every mind there openeth,
A way, and way, and away,
A high soul climbs the highway,
And the low soul gropes the low,
And in between on the misty flats,
The rest drift to and fro.

But to every man there openeth,
A high way and a low,
And every mind decideth,
The way his soul shall go.

One ship sails East,
And another West,
By the self-same winds that blow,
’Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales,
That tells the way we go.

Like the winds of the sea
Are the waves of time,
As we journey along through life,
’Tis the set of the soul,
That determines the goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919; found here)
’Tis the Set of the Sail
By |2022-07-21T14:37:23-06:00April 19th, 2022|Faith, General Life|0 Comments

Pound The Rock

Pound the rock.

It’s in the footer of my website.

It’s in my email signature.

It’s the first phrase of three I have littered all over the internet. (The second and third being “Do good” and “Have a great time.”)

It’s the motto Gregg Popovich uses at the San Antonio Spurs. Their fan club is named after it. In fact, I’ve been told, it’s the only quote/motto/words-of-inspiration that appear anywhere inside the Spurs’ facilities.

So what about it? Why pound the rock?


When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it, but all that had gone before. — Jacob Riis

Pound The Rock - Jacob Riis

We love telling “overnight success” stories.

They aren’t true.

Every “overnight success” story is … just a good story.

A story designed to get us to believe “we too” can be as successful as the “overnight” success.

Well, we can.

But not overnight.

Because they didn’t get there overnight.

These stories, so it seems to me, often are told to sell “the overnight method.”

When we buy that method, we get burned. Expectations fall unfulfilled, and we don’t succeed overnight — because we need to pound the rock:

To pound out our weakness,

To pound in our dedication,

To pound out non-essentials,

To pound in our focus,

To pound out dead weight,

To pound in muscle memory.

The true backstory of every success (“overnight” or not) is years of trial and error . . .

. . . effort on effort, and upset and defeat followed by persistence and consistency … all of which finally yield a win.

I’ve long said the most important attribute for any marketing campaign is consistency. You can blog once a day or once a year. If you stick to your schedule, people will accomodate whatever pattern you establish … if you stick to it. What doesn’t work is rush then stop. Publish then quit. Launch then disappear, only to relaunch with flare and pizzaz in 6 months quickly followed by flame-out, just as before.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength. And again, it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize; therefore, all things must be done in order (Mos 4:27).

This isn’t bad news.

Success isn’t in one-trick ponies or luck-of-the-draw rewards.

Success is in being adept at producing desirable results again and again, at will.

Success is in knowing “the wisdom and the order” of how things work, the present limits of your strength (your lactate threshold, for example).

Yes, part of success is arriving at the destination, a destination — of finishing or winning a race.

But grander elements of success are:

falling in love with getting there

knowing you can get there when you decide you want to

knowing what it takes to get there, how to command the elements and the circumstances to combine and align in getting you there

in other words, knowing how to get there again, on command … without assigning any piece of arrival to luck or chance

experiencing your personal capacity to do work every day, to conquer in the face of resistance, and to survive or even thrive in the face of calamity.

“Pound the rock” is a motto to succeed every day.

Between each sunrise and sunset, put.in.the.work.

99 of 100 blows of the hammer end with the rock uncracked.

In a darker moment, the uncracked rock may seem to laugh or scorn.

“What are you doing? Does your work even count? You’re not strong enough. You have the wrong tools. You can’t do this. You’re not making a difference at all. What a waste. Now this, what you’re doing, this is insanity!! You keep swinging, expecting me to crack. I’ll never crack. The outcome is the same. And always will be. Move on … move on to easier ground.”

It’s tricky.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over, seeing no results, and expecting a different outcome.

Yet that definition is insufficient.

There are some tasks that are … a pound-the-rock scenario. A scenario where it just does take 99 repeated blows of no-difference-at-all results, which, when followed by the 100th WHAM! everything changes.

It may seem just one blow counted. One blow must have been different from the others. But no … all 99 changed the structure, strength and integrity of the rock until on the 100th it cracked. All 99 up to that point took mental grit and steadfastness and belief that the work was worth it.

I’m not a “good” runner.

I’m not “gifted” or a “natural.”

I don’t have lean thighs.

My VO2 max, when I’m not fully trained, is super average.

My calves are huge, the extra weight doesn’t help.

My calves also don’t connect high on my leg, so their biomechanical leverage is . . . average.

My knees rotate out and my tibia & fibula bow in to compensate, so some force from every step gets wasted in non-vertical, non-forward vectors.

My early years of swimming made my ankles super flexible, and early years of gymnastics trained them to act like absorbers; but great runners have stiffer ankles, trained to act like springs.

Yet my half marathon times keep coming down:

1:42:09 (7:47/mi) — 2008

1:40:26 (7:40/mi) — 2014

1:28:27 (6:45/mi) — 2015

1:24:35 (6:27/mi) — 2017

Why is that?

Because I pound the rock.

There’s nothing special about me.

Sure, I’m learning better form. As I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m in overall better shape … because I pound the rock.

Sure, I’m more flexible and less prone to injury … because I pound the rock (and rollll out, thanks TriggerPoint!).

Sure, I have better run gear and better workout routines … because I pound the rock.

I just pound the rock.

And anyone can pound the rock.

This much about life seems so simple and clear: when you work hard under the direction of people who understand the mechanics of how things work, you get results.

That’s why I put “Pound the rock” everywhere.

To remind myself of, and to stand for, the ethic of putting in the work.

“In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen 3:19).

“Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Gal 6:7-8).

Mastery thru repetition.

Affinity through consistency.

Results from no work are empty gains.

Dreams with no work are naught but wishes.

Gains from shortcuts are, eternally speaking, hollow.

Unearned upsides can be wonderful blessings and grace from heaven, but if converted in my mind and heart to expectations or views that “I don’t have to work because good things simply come my way” or “I will succeed because I am deserving of success” … those attitudes diminish my soul and others’.

Which brings me to another reminder baked into those three words:

To touch base, to make contact with, The Rock … every day. That rock being the “lowercase” rock of revelation and the “uppercase” Rock of Revelation who is Jesus Christ.

To meekly remember I am able from the gift of choice.

To meekly remember I am forgiven and cleansed from His gift of mercy.

To meekly remember I am empowered beyond my natural strength by His gift of grace.

So . . . I pound the rock.

By |2022-05-22T21:13:56-06:00January 3rd, 2018|Faith, General Life, Marketing, Triathlon|1 Comment

Neal A Maxwell: A Complete Chronology of His Talks and Speeches

In mid 2016, I read a book by Neal A Maxwell. Shortly after, I embarked on listening to his entire BYU Speeches archive, in chronological order.

I listened to many of these talks while making the long drive from Salt Lake to Heber City. At the time I was seeing someone who lived in Heber, and each time we made plans to get together I looked forward as much to her company as I did to the drive from my home in Millcreek, up Parley’s Canyon, past Park City and back down into the neighboring valley — my quiet, private time with Neal. The drive being an hour each way, I listened to one talk there and another on the way home.

In 2017, I started listening to the entire archive of his General Conference talks.

His perspectives certainly colored this piece I wrote, where I included just one of his golden nuggets.

I thought I’d put together all the speeches and talks of this man who seemed so well to maintain proper perspective for all life’s experience. For as he once said, “This world is not the one we are preparing for.”

The first book I read was We Will Prove Them Herewith. I think it’s out of print, but you can find it on Amazon.

Will update this with all of his Ensign articles, books, etc. I have a book that isn’t on the Wikipedia books list, so I think it will take some work.

I also recommend his biography, A Disciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A Maxwell, which I finished fall 2017.

Neal A Maxwell - A Disciple's Life

From the Life of Neal A Maxwell

b. Jul. 6, 1926

1970 – Appointed Commissioner of Church Education

1970 – Feb. 23 – Spiritual Ecology – BYU/CES

1971 – Oct. 23 – Mormon Milieu – BYU/CES

1972 – A Time to Choose – Deseret Book

1972 – Apr. 27 – Freedom: A “Hard Doctrine” – BYU/CES

1974 – Jan. 15 – Family Perspectives – BYU/CES

1974 – Apr. 6 – Called as Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1974 – Apr. – Response to a Call – LDS General Conference

1974 – Sep. 1 – But for a Small Moment – BYU/CES

1974 – Oct. – Why Not Now? – LDS General Conference

1975 – Apr. – The Man of Christ – LDS General Conference

1976 – Jan. 4 – Taking up the Cross – BYU/CES

1976 – Apr. – “Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King” – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 1 – Called to the Presidency of the First Quorum of the Seventy

1976 – Oct. – Notwithstanding My Weakness – LDS General Conference

1976 – Oct. 26 – Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1977 – Nov. 8 – All Hell Is Moved – BYU/CES

1978 – Feb. – The Gospel Gives Answers to Life’s Problems – Ensign/Liahona

1978 – Apr. – The Women of God – LDS General Conference

1978 – Oct. 10 – Meeting the Challenges of Today – BYU/CES

1979 – Nov. 27 – Patience – BYU/CES

1980 – Apr. 21 – In This Time of Complexity and Challenge – BYU/CES

1980 – Oct. – The Net Gathers of Every Kind – LDS General Conference

1980 – Oct. 7 – True Believers in Christ – BYU/CES

1981 – Jul. 23 – Called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

1981 – Sep. 15 – Grounded, Rooted, Established, and Settled (Ephesians 3:17, 1 Peter 5:10) – BYU/CES

1981 – Oct. – “O, Divine Redeemer” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Apr. – “A Brother Offended” – LDS General Conference

1982 – Sep. 5 – Meekly Drenched in Destiny – BYU/CES

1982 – Oct. – “Be of Good Cheer” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Feb. 18 – Try the Virtue of the Word of God – BYU/CES

1983 – Apr. – “Shine As Lights in the World” – LDS General Conference

1983 – Oct. – Joseph, the Seer – LDS General Conference

1984 – Apr. – The Great Plan of the Eternal God – LDS General Conference

1984 – Jun. – Friend to Friend – Liahona

The subtitle of this article is “From a personal interview by Janet Peterson with Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve.”

And from this article comes this quote, which is plastered all over the internet and attributed to Elder Maxwell without proper citation — in all but one instance.

Elder Maxwell would like to give this message to the children of the Church: “It’s extremely important for you to believe in yourselves, not only for what you are now, but for what you have the power to become. Trust in the Lord as He leads you along. He has things for you to do that you won’t know about now, but that will be revealed later. If you stay close to Him, you will have some great adventures. You will live in a time when instead of just talking about prophecies that will sometime be fulfilled, many of them will actually be fulfilled. The Lord will unfold your future bit by bit.”

The internet memes and quote-spiration pages often end the quote here, although the conclusion is:

All the easy things that the Church has had to do have been done, so you’re going to live in a time of high adventure. You were brought to this earth because you can handle that time of adventure, and you will do well.

So long as Janet Peterson transcribed her notes correctly, what can we do but say this is indeed Elder Maxwell.

Kudos to Tim Tanner for tracking down and citing the Liahona source in his Aug 6, 2019 BYU-I devotional address.

1984 – Oct. – “Out of Obscurity” – LDS General Conference

1984 – Dec. 4 – If Thou Endure Well – BYU/CES

1985 – Mar. 19 – Part of Destiny – BYU-I/CES

1985 – Apr. – “Willing to Submit” – LDS General Conference

1985 – Oct. – Premortality, a Glorious Reality – LDS General Conference

1986 – Feb. 7 – Good and Evil Spoken of Among All People – BYU Management Society

  • Address given at a dinner event of the BYU Management Society, Washington, D.C. Chapter.
  • Only exists as two print copies — no known recording or transcript. Print copies on file at HBLL Special Collections – Americana Collection, BX 8608 .A1 no.2968.

1986 – Mar. 30 – Joseph Smith: “A Choice Seer” – BYU/CES

1986 – Apr. – “Called and Prepared from the Foundation of the World” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. – “God Will Yet Reveal” – LDS General Conference

1986 – Oct. 11 – Great Answers to the Great Question – BYU/CES

1986 – Oct. 21 – “Meek and Lowly” – BYU/CES

1987 – Apr. – “Overcome … Even As I Also Overcame” – LDS General Conference

1987 – Oct. – “Yet Thou Art There” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Apr. – “For I Will Lead You Along” – LDS General Conference

1988 – Oct. – “Answer Me” – LDS General Conference

1989 – Mar. 26 – “A Wonderful Flood of Light” – BYU/CES

1989 – Apr. – Irony: The Crust on the Bread of Adversity – LDS General Conference

1989 – Oct. – “Murmur Not” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Feb. 4 – The Children of Christ – BYU/CES

1990 – Apr. – “Endure It Well” – LDS General Conference

1990 – Oct. – Put Off the Natural Man, and Come Off Conqueror – LDS General Conference

1991 – Mar. 31 – “In Him All Things Hold Together” – BYU/CES

1991 – Apr. – “Lest Ye Be Wearied and Faint in Your Minds” – LDS General Conference

1991 – Sep. 27 – On Consecration, Scholarship, and the Defense of the Kingdom (pp 12-21 in the PDF, printed as pages x-xix) – FARMS

  • The version linked to above is the transcription Daniel C. Peterson published in the Interpreter in 2003. Peterson got the transcription from Matthew Roper, who was present and recorded the speech, and then transcribed it on 5 October 1991, slightly more than a week after the event. As far as anyone knows, that recording (and no others) exist.
  • This speech is more commonly known by the title “Discipleship and Scholarship,” under which it was published in condensed and polished form by BYU Studies in 1992.
  • That he would speak at the FARMS annual banquet in the Wilkinson Student Center at BYU is reported in the Sep 1991 FARMS newsletter, INSIGHTS, page 5.

1991 – Oct. – Repentance – LDS General Conference

1992 – Apr. – “My Servant Joseph” – LDS General Conference

1992 – Aug. 18 – The Inexhaustible Gospel – BYU/CES

1992 – Oct. – “Settle This in Your Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1993 – Apr. – “Behold, the Enemy Is Combined” (D&C 38:12) – LDS General Conference

1993 – Jul. 4 – Provo 1993 Freedom Festival Fireside – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 25 – Wisdom and Order – BYU/CES

1993 – Aug. 26 – Out of the Best Faculty – BYU/CES

1993 – Oct. – “From the Beginning” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Mar. 27 – “Called to Serve” – BYU/CES

1994 – Apr. – “Take Especial Care of Your Family” – LDS General Conference

1994 – Oct. – “Brightness of Hope” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Apr. – “Deny Yourselves of All Ungodliness” – LDS General Conference

1995 – Oct. – “Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Jan. 23 – “Brim with Joy” – BYU/CES

1996 – Apr. – “Becometh As a Child” – LDS General Conference

1996 – Oct. – “According to the Desire of [Our] Hearts” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Apr. – “From Whom All Blessings Flow” – LDS General Conference

1997 – Oct. – “Apply the Atoning Blood of Christ” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Jan. 4 – The Pathway of Discipleship – BYU/CES

1998 – Apr. – “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel” – LDS General Conference

1998 – Oct. – Hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ – LDS General Conference

1999 – Jan. 12 – Sharing Insights from My Life – BYU/CES

1999 – Apr. – “Repent of [Our] Selfishness” (D&C 56:8) – LDS General Conference

1999 – Oct. – Lessons from Laman and Lemuel – LDS General Conference

2000 – Feb. – Jesus, the Perfect Mentor – BYU/CES

2000 – Apr. – Content with the Things Allotted unto Us – LDS General Conference

2000 – Oct. – The Tugs and Pulls of the World – LDS General Conference

2001 – Apr. – “Plow in Hope” – LDS General Conference

2001 – Oct. – The Seventh Commandment:A Shield – LDS General Conference

2002 – Apr. – Consecrate Thy Performance – LDS General Conference

2002 – Oct. – Encircled in the Arms of His Love – LDS General Conference

2003 – Apr. – Care for the Life of the Soul – LDS General Conference

2003 – Oct. – How Choice a Seer! – LDS General Conference

2004 – Mar. 16 – “Free to Choose” – BYU/CES

2004 – Mar 19 – Blending Research and Revelation – adaptation of remarks made at BYU President’s Leadership Council Meetings

2004 – Apr. – Remember How Merciful the Lord Hath Been – LDS General Conference

d. July 21, 2004

Neal A Maxwell: A Man with Perspective


BYU Speeches by Neal A Maxwell

LDS General Conference Archive of Neal A Maxwell

More Interesting Neal A Maxwell Resources:

Maxwell Bibliography. An on-going project by Tyler Snow. Elder Maxwell’s lifetime cited works, grouped into Books, JD, HC and CHC, and then sorted by frequency of citations.

From “A” to “Z”: A is for Alliteration, Z is for Zion. By Don Duncan. 1997. (Working on converting this to a spreadsheet format.)

By |2024-03-05T16:10:29-07:00June 29th, 2017|Faith|75 Comments

For My Future Mate: The Pillars of Our Partnership

Hey babe,

Been thinking about you.

I don’t know what you’ve been up to, but I’m sure it’s good and I can’t wait to find out. I’ve been working on this thing I’m calling The Pillars of Our Partnership. I’d give anything for a window into your world, if even for only an hour. Here’s a little window into mine.

The other day I was telling Nate, you know, my buddy who started The Loveumentary — the podcast where he’s interviewed hundreds of couples and relationship experts like Gary Chapman who invented the 5 Love Languages — yeah, that guy. I was telling Nate I think he needs an anthem.

Not a song (are all anthems songs?) but like a creed.

(Brian, from Boston, said, “yo! a manifesto!”)

Yes, a manifesto.

A statement of values, the pillars he is gonna preach and that he can build a community around. Something that people listening to Loveumentary episodes, and who might show up to one of his events or a conference or a meetup or join a Loveumentary Facebook group, could all point to as the foundation of what they are working on in their relationships, and a set of ideals they can use when offering support to each other. In Seth Godin language, it’s the “people like us do stuff like this” situation. For Nate, “things like this” hasn’t been codified (yet).

So I suggested he do that.

A few days later I thought, “why wait on Nate? I’ll write my own.”

Before I share what I’ve got, a few obvious things:

[1] It’s a work in progress.

It’s about partnership, and until you and I actually start working on our partnership, all this counts as preparation.

And preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing.

[2] Perhaps even more importantly, I can’t even say we’ve come to a “first draft” until you add your say.

What’s below are my words. I know I’ve come a long way in learning and practicing the fundamentals of partnership, so I believe in my contribution, but that’s just it. It’s my contribution and I’m awaiting yours to round out this super rough draft.

I know you’ve got so much to contribute that’s unique and powerful. What you’re doing right now, what you’re learning . . . ah, I can’t even imagine how much awesome you have to contribute. Your perspective will deeply impact my understanding of partnership, as well as my performance of actually being your partner.

[3] These aren’t practices and positions I’ve perfected. I am a work in progress. It’s OK that you are too.

Just as preparing for a thing isn’t the same as doing the thing, knowing enough about something I’m striving for to write a handful of paragraphs about it doesn’t mean I’ve come anywhere near mastering the practice of it. Working with and toward the ideal of these pillars is something we’ll do together. I imagine that even if starting in a “maximally prepared” state (I read all the books! Listened to all the podcasts! Went to ALL the seminars!), actually being in a partnership will be incredibly challenging, shaping, stretching and growth-inducing. (Those are positively sounding words for HARD, incredibly frustrating and at times SUPER challenging.)

So yeah . . . this is my first cut and I eagerly await your input to get us to draft 1.

From there, every year and month and day we’ll get to revise and refine.


There are a couple life fundamentals that aren’t unique to partnership in my book, but are necessary pillars for living. Those are Choice, Responsibility and Communication.

Choice: people get to choose and we not only tolerate choice, we celebrate and embrace it . . . man, this is the first one and I’ve already re-written it several times. There are SO MANY THINGS that go into what all I mean by “choice” and how important it is. Our words and actions allow for others to choose. Every moment is a surprise because in humility we cannot predict and should not judge what others will do, and even when we do predict and predict correctly, we don’t arrogantly assume our prediction had anything to do with the outcome. Like I said, there’s a lot here. I could really use your help boiling down my thoughts. God’s ultimate gift to us is power to choose; we choose, circumstances and other people don’t choose for us no matter how much it seems the contrary, and we’re responsible for our choices.

Responsibility: directly following choice . . . because people choose, they and they alone are responsible for their choices and the following consequences. If this has a boundary where it’s no longer the case or becomes conditional, I don’t know where that is yet. This makes a lot of people uncomfortable. I feel uncomfortable at times. Especially nowadays when people love to blame life’s circumstances on “the system” or “the man” or some external object. Yikes. Ah . . .  so much to say!

Here’s another thing on my mind in this realm: expectations! Expectations are like choices we try to make for other people. They represent, among many things, made up rules we think everyone knows and has agreed to, even when they haven’t.

Example close to us and what we may face as we date: “If you really wanted to be a good boyfriend, THEN you would _____.” SAYS WHO? I mean, maybe. But is there a DEFINITIVE manual on being a good boyfriend? No! So if you WANT me to ____, ASK me. If you don’t ask . . . I may . . .  but I also may not! It may not be something I’m even thinking about . . . so if you want to be sure it happens, and you’re thinking about it, then ask me! Then I can choose to say Yes or No. And then I’ll be responsible for it, truly, because I have chosen.

Wow, there’s so much in here about boundaries of responsibility to unpack, but for now I’ll say: no circumstance can force choice upon a person, all choices are ours, therefore all results are ours.

OK OK OK some more here too . . . when it comes to development and personal needs, it’s my job to find out what I need to learn, it’s my job to then learn what I need to learn, it’s my job to seek mentors and teachers, it’s my job to learn and develop; it’s my job to be healthy, it’s my job to be fulfilled, it’s my job to discover what I like and what nurtures me and then do the work to obtain those things; it’s my job to ‘discover’ and decide what’s important to me — my values; it’s my job to declare for myself that “I am enough.” It’s no one else’s job to do any of those things for me. The same is true for you. Can I ask for help? Absolutely. I look forward to yours. Can you ask me for help with those things? Absolutely, I want you to.

Communication: pretty inescapable from the above on responsibility. Communication is . . . using words to express yourself as accurately as you can — yourself, meaning mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually; all the aspects of you.

Communication is using the words “will you” for requests (see my unfinished rant on people saying “Do you want to ____?” as an imperative or invitation). In response to people’s requests, communication is using the words “Yes,” “No,” or “No, and here’s my counter offer.” Communication is verbally expressing wants and desires, and then for the ones you want right now actually making the request (Will you…?) beyond the statement of desire.

Communication is transforming all internally held desires/hopes/expectations into words. Communication is not ever putting someone else in a position to mind-read their way to connecting/helping/working with/serving/loving you. Communication is not attempting to mind read, but is instead asking questions to let the person you are interested in hearing from speak the truth from their own mouth rather than getting answers from your imagination.

Communication is knowing you can only hold people to the promises they have actually made with speech and signatures (that sounds like responsibility and choice too).

Communication is acknowledging fulfilled promises and healthy behaviors; I think that’s a not-yet-complete functional definition of gratitude.

Communication is: owning and stating your stake in the ground, what’s important to you, what you value, the thoughts and intents of your heart, and taking the responsibility to let the world know what you’ve chosen in those realms.

See? I need your help here.

What’s missing? And how can it be said better . . . more simply and in fewer words?

With all that in the background . . .

Here’s my start at:

The Pillars of Our Partnership

The Pillars of Our Partnership
Not a stock photo — snapped this at Yale. Inside there are memorials for every student who has ever served and died in the U.S. Armed Forces. I was moved.

Why Partnership?

Because we believe that all performance is elevated and enhanced when done with the support of a dedicated partner. Even if the ‘act’ is solo (such as running a race or giving a speech or performing a piece of music) . . . a human preparing/practicing/living/acting without a dedicated partner will always, in the long run, underperform a human acting with the support of a dedicated partner.

What do I mean by dedicated?

Tennis star + coach  >  tennis star + coach(*0)

tennis star + coach + spouse  >  tennis star + coach + spouse(*0)

A coach could be called a partner. But a coach isn’t a dedicated partner. A coach is a partner for the activity they coach. A dedicated partner is a partner for all things.

This ‘math’ is our belief.

And it’s not performance alone that’s elevated and enhanced, but experience too.

Shared sorrow is half sorrow.

Shared joy is double joy.

Remember in Into The Wild when Alex Super Tramp writes “happiness only real when shared”? Yeah. All experience of that sort happens in the space between the Self and another.

And on.

The Pillars: Priority, Striving, Belief, Equality, Service, Togetherness, Forgiving, Vulnerability, Unconditionality

Priority: Partnership is a relationship that comes first. When I can respond to several people, I respond to you first. When I choose to allocate my time to several opportunities, I allocate time for us first. Regardless of circumstance or proportion and in all cases of competing choices, consideration goes to our partnership first.

Striving: I am a human. You are a human. I live and act imperfectly. Even when my intent is thoroughly pure, my actions will fall short and be laced with imperfection. The measuring stick, therefore, is not result or absolute ability. What counts is striving, putting forth effort that matches the bounds of present ability, accompanied with a willing heart that were it immortal and perfect would perform perfectly. Jesus asked if anyone had any fishes and loaves. He didn’t complain when the numbers were few. They gave what they had, and He made that work. Likewise, I give what I have and you make that work. You give what you have and I make that work. Together, we give grace to each other for our imperfect humanity.

Belief: Ready for this?

  • I believe in my own goodness. You believe in me believing in my own goodness. I believe in you, believing in me, believing in my own goodness.
  • You believe in your own goodness. I believe in you believing in your own goodness. You believe in me, believing in you, believing in your own goodness.

This is the ever presence and victory of belief (over fear and doubt). We give each other the benefit of the doubt. We assume first and always that the other has and is acting with the best intent — even when it seems and feels there’s ill will or intent to do harm. We assume positive will because we believe in each other’s goodness.

Believing in goodness also means believing you always have something to contribute and teach, while believing the other has something to contribute and teach you. Belief is believing in value.

Belief includes courage, and when I say, “you are enough,” you believe it, you believe that for me it really is enough and because I haven’t said so, I truly am not expecting more.

Equality: I hold myself to the same standards to which I hold you. Every agreement is a two-way street. Everything we ask for is also something we are willing to give. What applies to me, applies just the same to you.

Service . . . and Acceptance of Service: This is a pillar to love AND be loved. It’s not enough to give. Sometimes giving is easy. Service here is also to receive it. Sometimes, it is hard to receive help and support.

I look for ways to serve you, you look for ways to serve me.

You look for ways to ask me to serve you, I look for ways to ask you to serve me.

We both ask for help and support and service from the other. Especially in areas where we know the other may be lacking competence, comfort and confidence.

Because I know you embrace my meager, imperfect offerings of service, I look forward to you asking me to do things I’m no good at doing, but that will make the world of difference for you and for us. This is one way I really show my love and demonstrate Priority. Likewise, I look forward to asking for your help with things I know will be hard for you or that you may not enjoy, but you’ll strive (just as I strive) to serve because you, like me (equality), put us first (priority), being more willing to serve our partnership and be possibly embarrassed or frustrated, than tickle those insecurities and withdraw from growing our union.

Togetherness: We do all things together. See above re: how this holds even for solo performances.

You still have your victories, I still have mine. You are still responsible for your choices, as I am responsible for mine.

And yet we embrace an element of togetherness in all things.

We invite and value and recognize an element of shared victory. Of contributing service that enhanced the outcome. Of a material impact worthy of acknowledgement and commendation.

We don’t have boundaries about “my things” and “your things.” There’s always some shred of sharing and togetherness. If it isn’t obvious, or if it’s tempting to do solo and to push the other away, we resist that urge and look for and invent some way to do all things together.

Why? Because at least tangential involvement is always possible, and because of complementariness: my strengths support your weaknesses, my weaknesses are supported by your strengths. Complementary support IS how we grow together. And that’s what we’re committed to as partners: growing, excelling, experiencing . . . together.

Are we attached at the hip? No. Do we text each other every hour of the day? No. Do we relay every thing that happened to each other every day? No. Must we like the same things? No. Must we always travel together? No. Is asking for space ok? Yes, with a definite time limit of when we’ll reconnect.

All experiences are OPPORTUNITIES to grow individually and they are LEARNING experiences in how to come closer together, more fully knowing each other, operating together and fulfilling … partnership.

Forgiving: I see two kinds here.

One is forgiving in response to misperception: seeing that our experience of hurt follows our mistakingly and temporarily believing the other’s intent was for harm or driven by ill will. To come around and believe there was no ill intent and our hurt was not desired is to forgive. It’s not so much forgiving me as I didn’t intend to harm, but it’s forgiving yourself and our mutual imperfect communication that led to your misunderstanding. This again is a humble acknowledgment and an embrace of our common humanity, and it is where leaning on the Lord is so helpful. I didn’t mean for you to feel hurt. Yet, you felt hurt. It’s OK, because He felt that hurt. He can take the hurt. I didn’t want you to have the hurt. But now you’ve got it. Give it to Him. You can be whole.

The second kind is forgiving in response to actual ill will or intent to harm. I pray these situations between us will be few and far between. Ideally, never. To not include forgiving as a pillar would condition partnership on perfection. Perfection is unattainable in this mortal sphere. The moments we stand on this part of this pillar will hurt the most.

But the Lord has healed me and He has healed you. We can be made whole again and again and again.

Vulnerability: Vulnerability is a particular type of communication. It’s communication where you and I share and express all our thoughts and feelings, even the ugly ones.

There is a boundary here which is “dumping.” That’s vomiting all the nasty, which is sharing all that with no commitment for healing, improvement, forgiveness, etc. That’s not vulnerability. That twisted “vulnerability” is a form of dominating and emotional manipulation.

As Brené Brown says:

“Real authenticity actually requires major self-monitoring and isn’t . . . [communication with] the lack of self-monitoring.”

Healthy vulnerability, what I’m talking about, is that anything could be shared. There’s a willingness to share anything, and what actually gets shared is the complete truth of what’s relevant. (What’s relevant? Hmmmm . . . )

Vulnerability, in both directions is knowing it’s OK to be fully transparent because sometimes thoughts and feelings are just passing by and temporary . . . and hanging on to them and not sharing them has a way of keeping them around longer and allowing them to do more harm. So we share them, to be honest about how we feel and where we’re at in the moment. And (together) we work through them so they soften and then lose their grip.

It’s OK to share because I can stack up what you’re thinking and feeling in the moment as an experience you’re really having and not as something you’re committed to forever. And likewise, you won’t hold anything I ever share over my head, especially the stuff that I’m passing through. How can I say this better? Maybe we can borrow straight up from Neal A. Maxwell and Joseph Smith:

“Our light speeches from time to time, have nothing to do with the fixed principles of our hearts” said Joseph Smith. Should we not distinguish between the utterances of the moment and considered opinions? Do not all of us wish for that same understanding on the part of our friends, hoping they, “with the breath of kindness,” will “blow the chaff away”? (NAM, Mar 1986)

More . . . some of this came out in the section on service: vulnerability is asking for things that seem and feel hard to ask for . . . help where it feels embarrassing you can’t do it alone, desires that seem dark or weird or unconventional, challenges you’d rather me not know that you have.

Vulnerability is sharing the “darkness” within. Our inner demons. Our naughty thoughts. Our carnal natures. We all have light, and darkness. Vulnerability is letting down all propriety in each other’s company. It’s OK to be 100% you, even all the things you’ve ever thought were never OK about yourself.

Everything that’s there is you, and all that makes up the you that you are that I love. Therefore, it’s OK to share.

What else?

Vulnerability is also this: I can be strong for everyone in the world, but you are the one person where it’s OK for me to expose myself completely . . . I don’t always have to be strong for you. I will be strong. I will be strong with you and for you. But in my weakest moments, it’s OK to bare my all and be completely weak and exposed. It’s OK to have moments of powerlessness with you, moments where you have total advantage over me. And it’s OK because you’ll love me still. And I’ll love you still. And you won’t take advantage of me. And I won’t take advantage of you. And we won’t abuse the privilege of seeing the other in our weakest, most exposed positions.

I am a man. I’m supposed to be strong . . . and with you, just you, my partner, it’s OK in those moments if I’m not strong. While I’m strong for everyone else, you are the one person who gets to be strong for me.

Unconditionality: We live and choose and speak and love and act on these pillars. No. Matter. What. Nothing you do earns my fulfillment of my promises. Nothing I do causes me to deserve your fulfillment of your promises. We each, independent of the other, at all times and in all things, choose to strive to fulfill our promise in the partnership.

# # #


I have no idea how grand and soul-stretching a journey this is going to be.

If being an entrepreneur has been a rollercoaster, then I imagine we’re in for the face-smashing, extreme-Gs of interstellar space travel. But tell you what, and this is probably obvious, I’m up for it. Not looking for an ordinary-tier partnership. I want and am working and will work for what’s extraordinary.

So, there they are for now: nine Pillars of Our Partnership.

Nine though? Don’t like the number. Would rather there be 8 or 10 or 12. I bet you’ll point out some biggies I left out. We’ll get there.

I’m so . . . just brimming and teeming with anticipation for you and what you’ll add.

When you get this, will you holler?

Onward and upward,

Nat Harward

P.S. also toying with mottos, crests, etc. “Truth and Kindness, in Deed and Word.” <== What do you think? (what led to this: strive to be kind, but never demote the truth. Words are powerful, but greater sermons are preached in action.)

P.P.S. [Nov 15] Had this thought . . . conflict and negotiation gotta go somewhere, right? Are they pillars? I don’t know . . . conflict is inevitable, you and I will never be 100% on the same page and that’s a good thing because it means we’re both continuing to have unique and meaningful contributions. We need each other. And when we’re not on the same exact page, that reality requires negotiation . . . which is communication that gets at how two people who want to choose differently will then choose to choose together . . . ok, so maybe there’s a second tier of pillars, things that combine pillars . . . communication + choice + togetherness ==> conflict; resolving conflict requires negotiation.

P.P.P.S. Guaranteed I will keep thinking of more facets; this chain of post-scripts will prolly get mighty long. Will work in those thoughts with you.

P.S.x4 [Nov 16] The word mindfulness belongs here. It’s laced in throughout already, but is so distinct it deserves to stand on its own, no? Perhaps as a pillar of living and there’s a version of it for partnership.

By |2023-11-05T21:00:28-07:00November 14th, 2016|Faith, General Life|3 Comments

Year In Review: 2015

It’s my birthday real soon.

There’s a lot I could say about the past year, and what I’d like to do in this Year In Review is share one theme that impacts everything and then a list of small adjustments that make a huge impact, along with shout outs to the people who hooked me up.

These adjustments are easy to implement, and I believe they follow the 80:20 rule: 20% of decisions account for 80% of the impact.

And before recapping this year … first an unmentioned win from 2014:

Reduce phone notifications as much as possible.

I watched Ryan Seamons of LinkedIn give this talk. (Highly recommend, it’s 14:34.)

Ryan is unmistakably clear: attention is an asset.

And I had cheaply sold my attention to pings that didn’t add value to my life:

  • every email arrival
  • every Facebook notification
  • every Instagram notification
  • and more I don’t even remember now
  • AND the circle indicators of all the apps

Here’s what my phone does now:

  • rings when people call
  • buzzes when I get a text/voicemail to my private #
  • nothing when I get a text/voicemail at my public #
  • nothing when email arrives
  • calendar alerts

I get a few more notifications, such as Delta alerts when I’m traveling. These are highly limited in time and tied to when I know I need the info.

Further, I turned off almost all those pesky red “unread” circles.

Those circles say, “You need to open me!” But the truth is, “I will open you when I need to.”

Reclaiming my attention has been extraordinary.

I imagine my resting heart rate dropped a few clicks.


Year In Review: 2015

Theme of the year: Priorities.

  1. Family – dating – marriage
  2. Health: physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual
  3. Financial stability
  4. Physical performance
  5. Career success

Those are my priorities. God is in them all.

During the year, I’ve aligned my life (time, attention, resources, work, environment) with my priorities by:

  • moving out of New York
  • withdrawing from a business club
  • working more deeply with fewer clients
  • drastically cutting travel (Sept 1 and on), including cancelling trip to Australia and not spending the winter in AZ
  • putting podcast on temporary hold
  • moving to Utah (permanent as of Jan 2016)
  • turning down an exciting job offer to be the first Director of Marketing at a company in Manhattan; it would have had me move back to NYC Aug 2016

It’s like I lived as if I were writing my Year In Review every day.

And now … 16 Small Things that Make a Huge Impact:

2-meter Phone Charger via Peter Lombard

Year In Review: 2015 - 2m Apple USB cable

I once made the mistake of buying a HALF-meter charging cable. That size is a joke. On a business trip Peter pulled out a 2m cable. I thought it was cheap aftermarket crap. “Nope, this is genuine Apple.” So much distance. So much convenience.

($29 on Amazon, Apple)


The Jackery via Peter Lombard

This wallet-size portable battery packs a punch. It charges my phone 2.5 times and hasn’t lost its power in the year I’ve owned it. It has an LED flashlight built in. And it’s orange.

($30 on Amazon)

The 95 Whitney by Gregory via Josh Wright

Year In Review: 2015 - whitney95

If you wear suits to work this probably isn’t a good plan for your road warrior arsenal; stick with a roller. But if like me you’re typically shod in Rainbows or Sperry’s and sometimes hauling a bike, slinging your clothes on your back is the way to go.

95 means 95 liters and it’s large.

The pack holds my year-round wardrobe and workout gear, sans shoes.

Pro tip: get a plain, massive tote bag (this is the one I got) and slip your pack in when you check it at airports. That’ll save the life of the pack’s straps, buckles and finish.

(The Whitney is out of production, but you can scan Amazon for used deals, or check out Gregory’s new 95-liter pack, the Baltoro. $239-379 on Amazon)

Pro tip part dos: check SierraTradingPost.com, don’t buy it, and wait for them to push discount codes to you via Facebook ads.

Air Bag, Zippsack + Zipptwists by Granite Gear via Josh Wright

Year In Review: 2015 - zipptwists

Companions to the 95 Whitney, these are like portable drawers. They add no volume and insignificant weight, but do add organization and convenience to the max. How many shirts and pants does one need? Only as many as fit in one sack. I love arriving at my destination, sliding the sacks out and putting them immediately into a drawer: and boom, I’m moved in.

Thanks, Josh. You saved me hours this year.

($18 and up on Amazon)

Hang closet items longest to shortest, left to right by Marie Kondo via Eric Brief

Year In Review: 2015 - Clothes Left To Right

Maybe it’s different in societies that read right to left…

But for this American, life happens left to right. And upward lines inspire positivity. This method handles my hitherto unanswered question: what IS the best way to sort my closet? Every item has a place. Every item has a hanger. Unneeded items are no more. Benefit? Pleasantness and time saved.

(Free, pull yourself together and give that little OCD gremlin a stroke)

Where does this tip come from? A little book that, as the title promises, will change your life: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

($9.99 on Amazon)


Intermission from ‘Year in Review: 2015’ to praise …

Year In Review: 2015 - Deep Fried Pizza

My friend Jimmy “The Dude” Fahey

… who introduced me to deep-fried pizza on the Venice Beach Boardwalk.

About Jimmy: He’s a legit studio engineer.

We started a podcast production business together too.

These Small Things come from The Dude:

Live Music

It’s good for my soul. Whether I hate the show or love it, I watch people perform. They’re the ones with the guts to get up there. When I shut my phone off and let the music roll, I access a level of chillness that the rest of my ad- and commercial-message-saturated life doesn’t get.

High Drags (ahem, live music)

Year In Review: 2015 - High Drags

I praised High Drags a year ago. Still stands. Great songs. Favorite: “New War Games”

(Free on Soundcloud)

Engineering Mindset

We were talking about inbox flow.

“But see that’s flawed thinking. I don’t need that to come to me. When I need it, I’ll find it.”

I was promoting Unroll.me and defending my practice of keeping commercial subscriptions … stuff like deal-alerts from Bonobos.

“Yeah but sometimes an amazing deal comes through…” I protested.

“Doesn’t matter. If you don’t need it, it’s waste. Think like an engineer.

And just like that I was convinced.

I’ve been eliminating wasted communication and alerts by unsubscribing from everything that is unnecessary, and in the process, steadily taking my attention and inbox real estate back.

Think like an engineer.

When I need something, I will go and get it.

I don’t need unsolicited stuff flowing to me.


And the pruning spread …

Drastically Prune Accounts Followed

I’ve unfollowed hundreds if not +1,000 accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

I don’t need, I can’t properly process, I won’t really be served by so much information.

Just say ‘No.’

Or better yet say ‘No more.’


Minimize In-Between-Time

In NY, people take cabs and the subway. When I lived there, I made use of commuting time like everyone else because my mind wasn’t occupied driving. Texting and driving don’t mix. Subway riding and mobile use do.

But in LA (and elsewhere ex-NY), people drive. And the distances can be long, especially in LA. This creates in Jimmy’s life an abundance of In-Between-Time.

In-Between-Time is getting from waking up to work, and work to working out, and working out to the show — driving, showering, eating, waiting, etc. is all “between” the real stuff of life.

The game of Jimmy’s life is minimizing In-Between-Time.

Again, think like an engineer.

Reduce waste. Reduce In-Between-Time.

Minimize all stuff that isn’t most imporatnt.


Stand Up Comedy: Sunday late nights at The Comedy Store and Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee

Year In Review: 2015 - Comedy Store
The Comedy Store in Hollywood.

I so appreciate comedians.

I couldn’t write my Year In Review: 2015 without mentioning them.

How on earth does a stand up comic have a 1-way conversation with a room full of people … for AN HOUR?

Sunday nights at The Comedy Store — not the main room, the small room upstairs at the back that you get to going up a flight of outdoor stairs from the back parking lot (orange arrow) — are where stand ups go to test their material in front of … other stand ups. It is brutal vulnerability and instant feedback to the extreme. I now know because Jimmy took me there. We were probably the only non-comics in the place.

Successful people get rapid feedback from people who are more willing to tell the truth than to be nice (or stroke your ego so you’ll like them). As painful as it is, that’s why the comics show up. To get the truth, the brutal truth. I haven’t yet braved the mic. Don’t know when I will, but I will.

I have tremendous respect for the craft. Yet again, another craft where the path to mastery is clear: test your material, test your material, test your material. For years. And after 10 years and 500 dingy shows, you might then knock it out of the park with a TV audience.

(Free, Sunday nights at The Comedy Store)

Once I left LA, I wanted more comedy. I got into Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee by Jerry Seinfeld and I love it. Two comedians being themselves … looking for, celebrating, ridiculing and exploring what it is to be a human.

I like comedy because successful comedians always add to the conversation and move the action forward. The act dies and they fail if they don’t. I value that. I want to learn the craft.

Episodes are 10-20 minutes. One episode at a time does wonders for the mind and heart. As of now, there are 7 seasons and 48 episodes.

(No longer free at ComediansInCarsGettingCoffee.com … coming soon to Netflix)

Many thanks, Jimmy. You think as a genius does, and my life is better for it. Now back to the Year In Review: 2015.

Removing Gmail from my phone via Eric Sharpe

Year In Review: 2015 - Gmail app in phone screen
That app is GONE.

Here’s the truth about my former email habits on mobile:

  • waste time
  • use as a crutch from engaging
  • use as a distraction/diversion from something else
  • mostly scan and worry about how soon I could get to a computer to actually handle the request in the email
  • provide pithy responses if I did reply

So basically …

My email responses on mobile were subpar at best and worthless at worst.

Hat tip to Eric for the initial analysis and his willingness to share all this at Camp Good Life Project.

Eric ran a computer repair shop in Savannah, Georgia and had a large team of freelances/contractors/interns handling IT consulting, graphic design, web design and all kinds of tech support for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Then, and even in his role now as Director of Marketing at an IT firm, he gets a lot of emails from people who need support and direction. AND he deleted the Gmail app?

I agreed with his analysis of his personal mobile email use and saw mine was the same.

I got rid of the Gmail app right then. And I moved the native email app to the last screen so I would only access it when I really needed to.

No regrets since.

I’ve trained people in my life to call or text with truly urgent requests. The rest goes to email which I handle when I’m in a real position to handle (i.e. sitting at a desktop with available attention).

The Gmail app allowed me to fill In-Between-Time with worthless busyness.

I’d scan my inbox for emails where I only needed to read the subject, highlight the message and delete it. I felt “productive” … staying “in the loop” and lowering the unread count on my inbox.

But it was a losing battle.

The “productivity” wasn’t central to my priorities. Was ALL unnecessary. Back to think like an engineer — why get emails where I only read the subject? A great signal to unsubscribe.

Having no Gmail app on my iPhone eliminates an avenue for a worthless distraction, making In-Between-Time more intolerable, giving positive pressure to reduce In-Between-Time and maximize Life Time.

Just delete it.

And then hide your native inbox app.

And turn off the display of unread emails.

And write about it in your next Year In Review.


Swearing via myself

…under my breath that is. And sparingly.

In a research study, 71 undergrads in the UK were asked:

“to submerge their hands in freezing water for as long as they could bear it. One group was asked to repeat a swear word of their choice — one they might use if they banged their head accidentally, for instance — while their hands were in the water. The other group was asked to repeat a control word they might use to describe a table. Then, both groups repeated the task using the word they hadn’t previously tried. The researchers found that 73% of the participants kept their hands under water longer while swearing … lasting 31 seconds longer in the cold hand plunge” (TIME).

I’m NOT saying swear AT people.

What I’m saying is I think allowing the experience of anger and frustration to get voiced and released in a word is a better option than holding it in, unexpressed at best and suppressed at worst.

As I “let it go, let it goooo,” I’m more level headed when in contact with others and in situations that are stressful. In those moments, I manage only the stress of the situation and not the stress of my whole life because I already let the rest of it out.

Spare use is key to the pain-limiting effects of swearing.

More from TIME:

“Interestingly, however, the more frequently participants reported swearing during the course of their daily lives, the less effective cursing was at killing their pain and the shorter their endurance time in the cold water test.”

May not work for everyone.

Has been healthy for me.

(Free, more info here)

LDS Scripture Citation Index app via Josh Guest

Year In Review: 2015 - LDS Scripture Citation Index

(From swearing to studying the word of God … an unplanned juxtaposition.)

There’s no excuse anymore to begin your Sunday School comment by saying (or to tolerate others doing so), “I’m not sure who said it, but I remember reading a talk …”

Just. Look. It. Up.

The standard Gospel Library app has loads and then the Citation Index has tons more and makes validating and finding useful commentary very easy. It includes:

  • The Scriptures
  • All LDS General Conference talks from 1942 and on (I just dropped the f-bomb to myself as I kept typing 1042 on my phone instead of 1942)
  • The Journal of Discourses
  • Topical Index to the Journal of Discourses
  • Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith

How the Citation Index app works:

Find the scripture you are reading/studying/discussing, and click on it in the app and BAM you get a list of EVERY instance that scripture got cited in the aforementioned sources.

It’s bomb.

Keep it open in Sunday School this week. My experience is 1000x when I use it.

(Free, on iTunes)

No More Mr. Nice Guy by Dr. Robert Glover via Nate Bagley

Year In Review: 2015 - No More Mr Nice Guy

(Specifically: eliminating covert contracts)

Eliminating covert contracts has relieved a lot of relationship tension and makes it easier to accomplish what I want.

Allow me to explain…

Growing up in a Christian home I learned The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I can still see my mother’s handwriting in Sharpie pen, having penned those words with their Biblical citation on a piece of shiny gold cardstock that ran the length of my family’s fridge, held in place with magnets at exactly my toddler eye level. It’s a fine phrase. And I agree with the spirit of it.

There’s an upgrade to The Golden Rule:

…do until others as they wish to be done unto.

(This variation eliminates assumptions and provokes conversation to find out what people care about … topics for another time.) The limitations of a not-yet-fully-developed child’s mind (we’ll take mine as an example) can produce a perversion of this principle:

I am to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. OK, if that’s the case … THEN it follows when I want something ‘done unto me,’ I should give/do/act that way toward others so I get it in return.

In time, two addenda developed in my young brain:

…doing unto others what I want done unto me IS how to get what I want.

And later, a further perversion of The Rule:

…AND it’s better to do that than to ask for what I want.

This misinterpretation of The Golden Rule and my misguided accompanying strategy for getting what I want are common among so-called Nice Guys in Dr. Glover’s paradigm. Read the book. I’ve been a “Nice Guy.” And there are not only limitations to being one, but unhealthy consequences to boot.

Back to covert contracts. Almost there …

From my misinterpretation and misguided strategy, I developed strategies:

  • to get attention, give attention rather than ask for attention
  • to receive service, serve instead of requesting service
  • to get support, falsely or disingenuously be supportive instead of asking for support
  • to get gifts, give gifts to avoid asking directly for gifts

And so on. Giving attention, serving, being supportive and giving gifts CAN all be great … IF done agenda-free and without attachment to reciprocity.

Doing those “good” things as a covert strategy to get what I wanted created problems, didn’t consistently work, and when it did, ultimately was unsatisfying.

If the thought process of a covered contract were spoken out loud, it would go something like this:

I’ll serve you … but I’m serving with a contractual expectation that you’ll serve me in return. I’m not even going to tell you I expect something, which is why this is a covert contract. And by the way, if you don’t eventually serve me, I’ll throw this back in your face.

Imagine being able to read someone’s mind and hear those words explain why they are being kind to you.

What would you think of that? What would you do?

Back to The Golden Rule…

I’m no moralist but I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t give The Golden Rule with the preface, “here’s a pro tip on manipulating others to get what you want.” The healthiest way I’ve learned to get what you want is to be upfront and ask. Then work hard to get it or cause it to come to fruition. Asking is revealing. Revealing is vulnerable. So that’s what I do. I ask. Serving, giving, helping and encouraging with zero expectation of a return is awesome.

If you’ve interacted with me in the past year and knew me further back from that, maybe you’ve had the thought, “Nat doesn’t seem as cheery and nice as he used to…”


A lot of my nice-ness was a front.

I’m working on it. Stay tuned for life impact. So far, the impact is the satisfaction of a corrected and healthy relationship with myself. A foundation of that thing we call Integrity. (Free + your humility) By the way, this scratches the surface of what I am getting out of the book. I listened to it a second time in December. And I will again and again. ($9.99 on Amazon) Nate, thanks dawg, for the recommendation. Learn more good stuff from Nate inside Love School.

“Tomorrow!” via Cherie Romney

Replay this familiar scenario …

You’re at a social event. There are many new faces. You’ve arrived with excitement and anxiety, and the intention to meet someone new.

Throughout the event, you get introduced. You introduce yourself. You take in the faces. You evaluate who is who.

You wonder if you’ll click with anyone at all, and perhaps someone amazing.

And then you do.

You chat and talk and trade laughs and jump from topic to topic like familiar friends. It seems the planets aligned and every good thing that’s ever happened is happening right now.

Wow! I’m SO glad I showed up,” you think.

The fun continues.

Then you notice the event winding down. There’s now a deadline. You sense the connection has run its course for the first encounter, but not to worry … you’ll connect again.

“Let’s get together!” you say, hoping your excitement is reciprocated.

“I’d like that!”

It was!

You continue…

“When works for you?”

“Ummmmm. Hold on, let me check my schedule … “

S/he pulls out his/her phone.

S/he reads an unread text … and replies.

S/he scans for the calendar app, gets a ping for a new email … and opens it.

Quick glance.

Now the calendar …

“Hang on, sorry, just checking something…” s/he says.

You can feel it.

The energy fading. The moment losing its luster.

“What’s happening?!” you think. “Such good convo for so long. I’m sure it was good for him/her too … now why such a shift as soon as we bust out our phones? Maybe s/he doesn’t really want to meet again.”

You tune back in.

S/he speaks.

“Ok ok ok. Wow. This week is bad. I’m traveling next week, then work is nuts … but I’m totally open the weekend after that.”

Back in your thoughts: “IN FOUR WEEKS?”

End of the drama.

Here’s the thing. Not every connection is important. But some are.

At the moment of planning the next rendezvous with a new acquaintance, an important something gets communicated in the words you both choose.

What gets communicated is one of two things:

You are important.


My existing life is more important than you.

I used to say that very thing: “Let me check my schedule…”

And I did it ALL the time.

I had no idea what was carried in my words.

In saying, “Let me check my schedule,” what’s carried, intentionally or not, is the message: “My present life is more important than you. Let me see if I can fit you in.”

Dieter Uchtdorf threw down on this in 2012:

We even wear our busyness as a badge of honor, as though being busy, by itself, was an accomplishment or sign of a superior life.

Listen, for some connections and relationships this is fine to say, “Let me check my schedule.” Because some connections ARE less important than your overall existing life.

In the case of business, that might be “Hey, you are the exact supplier we want to work with, we’re on track to need your services in Q4. I’ll call you in August to set up an order.”

But when we’re talking about dating and major partnerships…

Expressing priority in word and deed is huge.

And so now I say (only if I AM interested of course):

“How about tomorrow?!”

EVEN IF I’m getting on a plane tomorrow morning and I KNOW that in the moment … I still say “how about tomorrow?!”

Think about it: if you also knew I was getting on a plane tomorrow and you really valued our connection, wouldn’t you like hearing the suggestion that we meet tomorrow anyway?

Saying so signals, “YOU, this this new connection … this is priority right now.” And communicating priority status first is more important than landing on workable logistics, which can be handled second or third or at any later time.

Next time you’re in the beginning of something important, try it out: “How about tomorrow?!” Or even better, “What are you doing right now?” Let that land, then sort out the details.


I could write an ENTIRE Year In Review with nothing but diamond tips from Cherie. More here.

So that’s it … my Year In Review: 2015!

A Toast to 2016

Having spent 2015 aligning time, attention, resources, work and environment toward priorities, my toast for 2016 is…

By continual alignment, the promise of fulfillment.

To your health, happiness and success,

Nat sig

P.S. Since you’re reading this you made it all the way thru a super long Year In Review, and I think that means you found something valuable, entertaining, useful or fun. I’d be so appreciative of you sharing that … in a comment, with a friend, by email or around on social media.

By |2021-05-06T16:58:42-06:00March 6th, 2016|General Life|2 Comments