Is College Worth It? Should You or Your Kid Go to College?

If you’ve looked at the cost of college tuition lately (which is typically around $10,000 and up per year), you might be asking yourself, “Should my kid go to college? Is college worth it?“

According to several studies, nearly 90% of high school graduates say they want to go to college of some sort after high school, yet only about half of High school graduates say they feel prepared to go to college or begin a career.

Of the large majority of high school seniors who say they want to go to college, about half of them enter college without knowing what they want to major in – without knowing what they want to do with that college degree – and around 75% of them change their major before they graduate college.

In other words, the majority of high school graduates want to go to college, yet the majority of them don’t know why.

Maybe that’s why over 70% of college graduates work in a field unrelated to their major, and approximately one third of college graduates work in a field that doesn’t require a college degree. That’s a lot of time and money wasted. (Here’s one source, another source, and one more source.)

Most people rush blindly into college without even considering the consequences of going to college without having some sort of direction. For our culture, college has become a four year long rite of passage. It’s as if we feel as though we should be able to celebrate and have a pre-adulthood party in college because, well, that’s what everyone else does

The phrase “college dropout” has become a bad word in America. We look down on people who are college dropouts and think less of people who skipped college altogether. 

We’ve created a social structure where 17 and 18 year old kids feel pressured by society to go to college so they can be successful, then statistically over 60% of them will go into debt in the form of student loans. Then, nearly half of all college students will drop out before graduating. Source Source

This is a problem.

So we’ve got a huge number of kids going to college blindly, a huge number of kids taking out loans to do so, and then a huge number of kids not even finishing college and walking away with nothing but thousands of dollars in debt. And it’s not just a few thousand, either. The average amount of student loan debt owed is just under $30,000.

So instead of having a system that’s built to equip kids to enter the workforce in a productive way, we actually send them the opposite direction by putting them in a position to take on loads of debt.

What’s even worse is, we incentivize students to stay in school and continue going into debt by telling them that they shouldn’t drop out because then their student loan payments will kick in or by telling them that if they drop out they will lose scholarship money and have to repay it. There’s very much a fear-based mentality around college that says if you don’t go to college you’re a failure, and if you drop out you’ll have to work a dead end job and be broke.

College is expected in America, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, college is a business where plenty of people make plenty of money by students blindly going to college and blindly signing their life away financially before they’re old enough to even know what they’re doing.

Too many kids end up in their mid 20s with over $20,000 in student loan debt without even feeling bad about it. They become numb to the idea that student loan debt is dumb because everyone they know is doing it and all of their teachers teach them how to do it. 

As a result, student loans feel like monopoly money to them. The magnitude of what they’ve done doesn’t sink in until they have families of their own and they’re trying to keep everything afloat while student loans expect hundreds of dollars a month from them. Then they figure out far too late that college can be a disastrous waste of time and money if you don’t know what you’re doing.

But we shouldn’t be altogether against college. College started out as a good thing and at its core it still can be a good thing. For certain career paths, college is absolutely necessary to get the additional training needed to be able to operate at the level at which the job market needs.

For example, if you want to be an engineer, you probably don’t want to go out and teach yourself that. Most people would like to know that you got some sort of formal education before you start designing, inspecting, and building bridges that people are going to drive across.

We usually also like to know that whoever is operating on a family member’s heart or brain spent a significant amount of time in college learning how to do that in a very meticulous way. I certainly hope they didn’t teach themselves and I certainly hope they didn’t learn online.

So in very technical or high-expertise career fields, college is great. The problem is when over 1/3 of college majors in four-year institutions are in things like business, communication, and arts And over 2/3 of majors at two-year colleges are in liberal arts, general studies, and humanities.

In other words, a huge chunk of money, time, and energy is being spent on college degrees that aren’t necessary. That doesn’t mean they’re not helpful, but they’re not necessary to work in fields like business, arts, and humanities.

But, as a parent, you know that most high school graduates want the college experience. Many of them understand that it’s a social pressure thing, but they want to do it anyway. Either way, if your kid is considering degree programs and wondering if they have to go to college or if it’s worth the money spent, here are a few questions to ask:

What do they actually want to do with their life?

This seems like an obvious question, and I know they probably don’t know the answer to it yet, but this has to be the starting point. Too many people start by asking which college they should go to or where they should live or whether or not they qualify for federal aid. These are all great questions, but none of them make any sense if they’re not starting from a place of honestly asking themselves what they actually want to do when all of that stuff is gone.

It’s important to remind them that they’re on this earth to serve. God put them here for a purpose and that purpose is to know and serve him as their father and to know and serve other people in their family and community. That’s why everything we do drives us towards service. 

Harvard University conducted a nearly 80 year old study to try to figure out what led to healthier and happier lives, and they found that the keys to health and happiness are relationships and community.

Therefore, the purpose of college is for us to find a career where we’re best serving other people. This is important because you’ll need to reframe the way your kid sees “what they’re supposed to do with their life“. Because, very simply, they’re here to serve, and they’ll only be fulfilled when they’re serving. So when your helping your kid discover their “purpose,” what they should be looking for is:

  1. What are they good at?
  2. What do they enjoy doing?
  3. What do they find important?
  4. What do people need?

Write down the first three on a sheet of paper, then make a list, then write a list of careers where all three of those intersect. Once you have a list of careers where those intersect, then ask yourself, do people need this? Chances are, the answer will almost always be yes if it’s a viable career field where people are working and making money currently, but it’s important to run each of the careers on your list by that test so you don’t end up down a rabbit hole with something that’s just a good idea but doesn’t actually pay any money.

Do the careers you’ve discovered require a college degree?

Do the careers you’ve discovered require a college degree? If so, what kind of degree? An associates degree or a bachelors degree? Do they require a graduate degree? Do they even need a degree at all or can they substitute experience for a degree?

The quickest way to learn about how to get into a career field is to start reaching out to professionals in the industries you’ve identified and ask them what they would do if they could go back knowing what they know now. When people don’t have something to gain by giving you advice, they’ll give you the most truthful and helpful advice. So ask people who actually are doing the jobs your kid wants to do.

Once you’ve genuinely, honestly, and thoroughly, identified whether or not a college degree is necessary for some of the potential career options you’ve identified, then it’s time to move on to the third consideration.

What are the next steps they can take without debt?

Whether you’ve discovered that your kid will need college or not, the next step is to identify what they can do without debt.

Student loan debt may be normalized in America, but it’s becoming a huge problem and it will cripple your adult life. Student loan debt is now the second largest type of consumer debt category in America second only to mortgages.

So if they don’t need a college degree, then what apprenticeships and part-time jobs can they take, or where can they volunteer, to start racking up as much experience as possible? Maybe they need to live with you to save money. Don’t worry about them being free adults when they’re 19 years old and trying to get through college debt-free. They’ll have all their life to be independent. Let them take advantage of the shelters they have in place that are there to help them spread their wings and fly. 

But do have them start looking everywhere aggressively – making phone calls and writing emails and even dropping by business offices if they have to – asking people if they can apprentice, volunteer, or work for next to nothing just so they can learn. That’s the best way for them to figure out what they want to do and it’s the best way to get a jumpstart on their career.

If you’ve determined that your kid does need a college degree, then start looking at what it would look like for them to work full-time at a restaurant or some other position where they can make decent money, particularly tip money, for about a year or so before going into school. If they’re in high school, then start seeing what they can do to make some extra money now and then see if their college will let them do a payment plan for their first couple of semesters. They usually will, then they’ll have the summer to work their butt off to get money for the next round of payment plans. 

The smartest thing to do here is to flat out save up cash. A year of their life will feel like a lifetime they might feel like a loser, but the truth is, their being weird now so that they can be free from debt and the depression and anxiety that it brings on, and they’ll be the weird one who’s financially stable when their other friends get out of college making less than them and owing 30 grand in student loans.

The ideal scenario would be for them to get a job doing something even remotely close to one of the careers you’ve identified above. Then, they have a year to get experience related to a field they like, and by the time they go to school, they cash flow it and have a year of experience under their belt. Future employers will be thoroughly impressed by that.

So if you’re wondering, “Should my kid go to college and is college worth it?“ The answer is: it depends. 

It depends on what they want to do with their life, whether or not the things they want to do require a formal education in today’s day and age, and whether or not you/they have the cash to make it happen now. 

Remind them to be patient. Their life feels like every moment needs to be seized and that to do that they should go to college immediately so their dreams don’t slip away. But assure them that all of their dreams will still be waiting for them in a year or two once they get a little experience, cash, and perspective about how they can actually serve this world rather than going to school because they feel like that’s what they should do to be socially accepted.

Remind them to not be afraid to be different. Patience is unique, and it’s almost always the diligent and prudent who serve the world best and ultimately end up being the most fulfilled.

The Art of Starting Something New Without Ruining What You Have

Have you ever gotten tired of the same-old stuff and decided to go down the path of starting something new in life?

Maybe it’s your job, your car, your hobbies, your hair, your clothes, the music you listen to, the way the organization you work for operates, the work you do within your organization, or practically any other area of life.

We’ve all been there. There’s nothing inherently “bad” about wanting change.

The trick is, how do you balance the old with the new? How do you balance the exciting new ideas of change with the boring old security of what’s currently at least somewhat working?

This is the question of competing priorities, and I call it the tension between boats and docks.

Boats and Docks: The Keys to Starting Something New


“Docks” are the things that are secure and necessary. They’re the things that have gotten us to where we are.

Docks are not glamorous, and you may have even come to hate them, but docks are the things that if they were removed from your life, something else would have to immediately replace it in order for you to maintain your current standing.

Examples of docks:

  • The full time job you hate that pays the bills
  • The effective but “probably-not-ideal-long-term” parenting tactics you use to maintain order in your home
  • The “boring” vacation spot you take your family every year while you save to pay for your dream vacation
  • The sturdy used car you drive that you have to keep driving while you look and save for a new car
  • The mediocre standards at work that drive you nuts but that also maintain a moderate level of order and keep you afloat as an organization
  • The prayers that feel awkward and uncomfortable while you grow in your walk with God

Docks are stable. They’re not ideal, they’re not exciting, and they’re not the long-term goal. They might even be downright uncomfortable. But they’re stable. They provide a base from which you can build.

Don’t get this confused. I am NOT telling you that you should stay in a situation that is truly unhealthy mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

If you’re in an abusive or otherwise unstable situation, you should absolutely seek the relief you need. But most of us aren’t in that kind of danger. Most of us are in situations that are stable but not ideal. Those are docks.

Here’s the thing: As terrible as they can feel sometimes, docks must be your priority number one no matter how boring they may feel.

You shouldn’t throw out family vacations altogether just because you can’t go on the vacation of your dreams.

You shouldn’t quit your job just because they’re not doing things how you think they should be done.

You shouldn’t get discouraged as a parent just because you don’t have it all figured out.

When you’re starting something new, you have to start from somewhere, and it’s only from that place that you can start to build your “boats”.


Boats are the changes you wish to see in your life, and we all should have them. Boats are plans and investments into something in the future. 

Examples of boats:

  • a growing family
  • a healthier diet
  • a deeper level of intimacy with God
  • a new date night idea
  • a different approach to parenting to deepen your relationship with your kids
  • an advancement in your career
  • new ways to improve the culture at your job
  • any other “next level” you can take in your life

We should all have boats based on our alignment with God’s vision for our future.

We should all be doing research and development in every area of our lives – and this does apply to every area of your life.

Every area of your life should be moving into the future with intentionality and an at least rough-draft plan for how each area will improve going forward, because being stagnant and complacent is no life at all.

The purpose of the “boat” is to build something better for the future and to keep you engaged and creatively driving forward for the benefit of those around you and generations to come.

Balancing Boats and Docks

It can feel overwhelming at times to balance boats and docks, but it’s entirely possible. Issues arise, however, when we start getting distracted and placing other priorities above our boats and docks. If “docks” are our first priorities and “boats” are our second priorities, then anytime we put something else as third, fourth, and fifth priorities above the first and second, we’re going to experience problems.

We do this for a number of reasons. We may be trying to please or impress other people. We may be averse to conflict and not be willing to tell people no. We might just be looking for an escape from the mundane work of our “dock” and the difficult work of our “boat”. Or, we may simply not have clear priorities in our minds to know what our “docks” and “boats” are.

Too many people, myself included, hustle their faces off on four or five different things and never actually accomplish any of them. They spread themselves too thin, and pretty soon their lives are just chaos and disappointment as a result of jumping from one project to the next on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Don’t get me wrong, even when you’re only managing the top two priorities, things can get hairy. After all, priorities are meant to be put in order. When they’re not in the right order, things go haywire. When you put your boats ahead of your docks, your life becomes a ticking time bomb. Docks only tolerate neglect for so long before they begin to crumble beneath your feet.

Let’s be honest. Docks can suck sometimes. We get tired of the same old same old. We want near instant change, and when we don’t see it, we can easily get discouraged. We can easily get tired of doing something in which we’re not completely satisfied. Most driven people are not exactly in love with the way things have always been done. But docks are the things that allow boats to land, so never underestimate the value of the boring and steady.

The goal, of course, is to make the transition from dock to boat. It’s not that you’re never content; it’s just that you’re always moving forward and making progress. That process takes time, and it’s typically not one to be rushed.

So, when it comes to starting something new, prioritizing is essential. When you’re prioritizing, fill your calendar with two things in mind: docks first, boats second, and everything else in the parking lot. Whatever you do, do not let them swap places. Remember, you can only build a boat while standing on a dock, and you certainly can’t build it goofing off in the parking lot.

What Effective and Influential People Know That Most Don’t

Some people hate marketers, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s at least partly due to the out-of-hand volume of telemarketing calls trying to sell car warranties. Man, why are those people still calling?

Whether we like it or not, though, we’re all marketers, and the most effective and influential people are willing to embrace that fact.

See, not everyone embraces self-promotion so whole-heartedly. But I believe the reason more people don’t “market” themselves is that those people don’t understand how society works, and it’s natural to avoid or be downright abrasive to something you don’t understand. 

Here’s an oversimplification of how the world works:

In society, people need things. Food, housing, education, transportation, etc.

In a society where people have choices – in particular, a capitalist society where goods and services designed to meet people’s needs are produced and distributed privately – people need help deciding which goods and services are best-suited to fill their needs.

This may seem trivial, but not all products and services are commodities. In other words, some products are better than others, and much of the time it’s extremely important to make the right decision when deciding between goods and services.

For example, purchasing tires for your vehicle from a second-rate tire company can mean the difference between life and death. So how is a reputable tire company supposed to let people know how safe and reliable their tires are? That’s where marketing comes in.

Let’s say Jane Doe traditionally buys any old tires she can find, but for whatever reason she sees a marketing email from Firestone about their new run flat tire. So she goes in and buys a pair, thanks in part to those emails she’s been “bombarded” with. A month later while driving down the road with her small children in the car, she hits a huge nail. Only instead of her tire popping and her swerving off the road and hitting a tree, she drives safely down the road to the nearest gas station where she can call for help. All because of her new run flat tires that were marketed to her.

Were those emails from the tire company bothersome? Maybe in the moment. But Firestone had a solution to a problem the world faces, and I guarantee you, sitting safely at that gas station, Jane Doe is thanking God for Firestone’s marketing.

When we put ourselves out there confidently and unapologetically to the world around us, we’re helping people solve problems – real problems with real consequences. And that’s certainly worth doing.

So let’s tie this back to you:

There are people around you who need things. They have choices where they go for those needs to be fulfilled, and some of those places are better than others. Just like Firestone has a burden to communicate to the world that their solution is best for them, you also have a burden to communicate the value you already have to the world around you – even when it feels “sleezy” or like you’re being arrogant. 

The truth is, they need you to put your best foot forward and market yourself to them. And I don’t just mean self-promotion. I mean the way you dress, talk, and carry yourself – the way you live out your everyday life giving the parts of you your afraid people will judge. Those are the things people badly need, so why hold them back out of fear?

When we go on a date, we dress up and put a mint in our mouth because we’re marketing ourselves. We’re not ashamed of that. When we go to a job interview, we dress nice and try to say the right things because we’re marketing ourselves. And so on and so forth.

We’re always marketing, and that’s a good thing. Too many people shy away from putting themselves out there and being vulnerable, when in reality, we need to know how you can best help us, and that requires vulnerability. So please don’t hold back, even if at times it feels “pushy”. That’s normal at times, but I promise it’s what people need.

Every major religion and political movement throughout history spread because of marketing. Someone had an idea and they went out and told people who probably didn’t care to hear about it. But the fact that they did tell people about it changed the course of history.

Great leaders, innovators, fathers, and husbands throughout history were only able to change as many lives as they did by first committing to the idea that what they had was worth “marketing” to the people around them. They didn’t hold back. Do you think they were uncomfortable and ruffled some feathers along the way? Absolutely. And the world is a better place for it.

The Truth About Fear and How to Overcome It

The biggest opponent to loving deeper, leading better, and leaving a legacy is not the lack of knowledge, experience, or will-power. Your biggest opponent is fear.

Fear is the number one robber of all things good in life. The reason you don’t have the life you want, the character you want, the memories you want, the job you want, or the friends you want is fear.

Fear tells you to hold back, play it safe, don’t let people get too close, don’t be too vulnerable, don’t go out on a limb, don’t dream big, don’t believe in anything bigger than yourself, and don’t have hope for a better tomorrow. 

Fear also tells you to compare yourself to others and criticize them. After all, you must be accepted by as many people as possible, fear will say, so build yourself up so that you look good even if it means tearing others down.

And fear is usually subtle. No one thinks this stuff out loud, after all. It’s typically deep-seeded from years past and experiences compounded over time.

Think for a moment. Everything in your life right now that you’re unsatisfied with – whether it’s an anger problem, stress, worry, feelings of insignificance, or anything in-between – likely started because you tried to control a situation that felt uncontrollable. For example, we lose our tempers when things around us get beyond our control, and trying to control a situation is simply a way to avoid the fear of chaos. Therefore anger is rooted in fear.

The same is true of anxiety and depression. Anxiety is caused by unthrottled and mismanaged thoughts about situations outside of our control. When we have a painful experience, our minds sometimes try to protect us from that pain in the future by attempting to control potentially harmful situations. Of course, we can never control all potentially harmful situations, and when we realize that control is an illusion, our brains search frantically for another solution to gain control. 

At that point, one of two things happens: We either give up control or our brains go haywire with stress, anxiety, and panic.

This is how mental breakdowns happen. This is why people snap under pressure. They’re walking around afraid of the future – consciously or unconsciously – and they’re doing the safe thing by trying to control their environment. But eventually, it will catch up with them.

You may not describe yourself as scared, but I assure you, if you’re avoiding something you see that isn’t working like it should in your life, it’s because you’re either afraid that it can’t be fixed or you’re afraid that you don’t have what it takes to fix it. Neither of those are true, and until you acknowledge that, you’re going to live a life that’s small and boxed in.

Fear is also the number one thing behind all evil in life as well. The Nazis only killed Jews because they were afraid of what the world might look like without a perfect race. Fear drives hate, which is why sometimes we’re surprised when people who seem like they’re otherwise well composed end up saying or doing things that are uncharacteristic of their composure. Why is that? It’s because of fear.

What is fear?

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion that comes from a belief that something is dangerous or a potential threat. 

Basically, when we experience fear, what our minds are doing is weighing probabilities. We look at any given situation, and our minds start processing, the main question being processed is this: Is this situation dangerous? It doesn’t actually matter if a situation is dangerous, only whether or not our minds perceive the possibility of danger. When we do perceive a possibility of danger, our minds trigger processes that produce the emotion we label as fear.

On a chemical level, fear is a complex process that involves multiple parts of the brain and releases multiple chemicals, one of which is adrenaline. On a very basic level, when we take in information throughout our day, our brains consider previously known information and apply that to our current circumstance to determine if a situation is normal or not.

For example, if you suddenly hear a knock on your front door at 2 o’clock in the morning, your thoughts will immediately go to the idea that something is wrong. Why? Because your brain knows that normally, people don’t knock on front doors at 2 o’clock in the morning unless something is wrong. Your brain is taking information from your past and from other sources of information such as TV and radio and other forms of media, and it’s applying it to the current situation. 

More than likely, in that situation, your brain will determine that this is not normal and every experience you have with someone knocking on a door at 2 o’clock in the morning is usually bad. Maybe you’ve seen movies where bad news is delivered in the middle of the night, or maybe you have a past experience with a similar situation. Either way, your brain is taking what has been put in it and applying it to what is now being put in it.

This is largely an unconscious process. We can’t forcefully push fear away – not long-term at least. No matter how hard you try or how intensely you focus, the fear you avoid will ultimately find it’s way back in if the right circumstances are present.

Fear isn’t usually some external force pressing in on you that you just have to press back against hard enough to overcome. Instead, most fear is simply a judgment issue. 

If you have a fear of public speaking, it’s probably because at one point in your life you spoke in public or you witnessed someone speaking in public, and there was some sort of outcome that you labeled as negative. Maybe everyone laughed at you or maybe your face turned really red and people commented on it. To you, your goal in the moment or of the goal of the person you watched in the moment was to be accepted. After all, that is largely our motivation for almost everything we do. So anything you See that results in negative progress towards that goal will automatically register in your brain as being “bad“.

So you see, most fear is an issue of information and judgment. In the mid-1900s, white people were largely afraid of black people. Were they physically afraid of them? Maybe. But there was a deeper fear at work. 

The fear that drove the hatred from whites against blacks in the mid-1900s was solely based on the fear that society would change if black people were included equally. Many white people didn’t want change, so they fought it in order to control it, and anger was the mechanism by which they exercised their control. But it was all rooted in fear.

This is important because almost everything you do in your life is driven by either fear or faith. By faith, I’m not talking about religion. I’m not even really talking about spirituality. Faith is a much broader term, and it is the direct opposite of fear. 

For example, in the mid-1900s, white people could have had faith in human nature and in their system of government and trusted that their lives will not be ruined by the full inclusion of black people into society. Having a mindset that’s willing to trust and open to solutions is what starts the process of overcoming fear.

How to Overcome Irrational Fear

The only way to overcome this type of irrational fear is to give your brain accurate information to make better judgment calls. That’s not to say we should avoid fear, but most of the time, fear is rooted in a lack of information. 

Like pretty much everything else in life, fear and faith are balancing acts. You have to input the right information in your brain to make a decision with sound judgment. Not enough information, and you’re operating in fear, too much information and you are again operating in fear, this time it’s just the fear of making a wrong choice. But right there in the middle, there is faith – the place where you let go of being certain and walk forward despite fear.

And again, faith is not limited to religion or spirituality. 

We put our faith in human nature every day. For example, if you drive down the road on a two-lane road, then you’re putting your faith in the person in the other lane who is speeding in the opposite direction of you only feet away from your vehicle. If that person veers in your direction even slightly, you’re either severely injured or dead. Yet we trust them.

Consider for a moment, though, if you had a bad previous experience with driving. Imagine if the first time you drove a vehicle, the first person that came past you in the opposite lane veered into your lane ever so slightly and rammed the front end of your car. 

If that was one of the only memories you had of driving down a two-lane road, then two-lane roads would probably cause you to feel a certain amount of fear. That’s because that’s all you know, and your brain is simply acting on the knowledge you have. 

Memories are very strong sources of information for our brains. We all have things that have happened to us throughout our lives that shape the way we see the present and the future. Our brains are very good at processing information, but sometimes we make false connections between a memory and a fact. 

In the example above, you might be led to believe that cars are inherently dangerous or that driving down two-lane roads is dangerous. But in reality, another person may go their entire life without having a wreck, and for that person, driving down two-lane roads probably brings about zero fear at all.

So, one person is willing to put their faith in other drivers, and the other is not. They both face the same reality and the same probability of having a wreck. But it’s the way we interpret the information and experiences we have that create fear.

Fear can be very subtle. Some fears are blatantly obvious, but others lie just beneath the surface driving our actions without us ever noticing. 

For example, the fear of spiders is very apparent. You see a spider, your brain thinks of every negative experience or piece of information connected to spiders, the adrenaline is released, and your body is now in fight or flight mode. But not all fear is that dramatic.

Some people live their lives surrounded by a safety net of comfortable living. They base every decision they make on the amount of money and comfort to be gained from that decision. 

Many people fear not being accepted, respected, and remembered. They fear looking socially inadequate by not driving the right car or having the right clothes. Many people fear not having the right size house. They wouldn’t admit to it, and they probably don’t even know it’s going on, but at some point society, the media, or the family and friends around them convinced them that being accepted was the chief goal of their existence. So they drive on towards this goal they don’t even realize they don’t need.

So what does faith look like as an antidote to fear? In order to get past a fear of spiders, for example, you have to choose to place your faith in something that has the potential to protect you from the fearful ideas in your mind about spiders. 

Maybe you’ve spent time around someone who knows a lot about spiders, and they’ve shown you the reality of the nature of spiders, which is that they are actually not out to kill you. This may be contrary to the movies and social media posts you’ve seen about spiders or all of the Halloween decorations that include creepy spiders, but that new information can give your brain something to work with in order to then place your faith in that information going forward. Or maybe you just simply put your faith in your ability to get away from spiders quickly.

Here’s the bottom line:

To combat the fear that lies just beneath the surface that drives us to make irrational and unproductive decisions, we have to offset fear with the faith and trust that we don’t have to control things in order for us to move forward. 

In fact, embracing fear as a necessary obstacle to doing anything worthwhile is one of the best things you can do. And your life and legacy as a husband, father, and leader will be marked by courage not because you overcame fear but because you let go of being in control and walked right past fear to do what matters most. 

Why Am I Never Satisfied?

Have you found yourself jumping from thing to thing without ever being satisfied? Have you ever wondered why you never seem to be content? You’re not alone. 

While being discontent isn’t ideal, it’s all-too-normal in American society. One study found that only 14% of American adults say they’re very happy.

We all have “if I could just” moments. Here’s what I mean:

Most of us want things that are better than what we currently experience, but we’re not typically willing to put our short-term desires in the backseat long enough to see them come to fruition.

But when our short-term desires collide with our long-term dreams, it causes our brains to start calculating the shortest distance between us and what we want right now, which leads to “if I could just“ moments.

“If I could just” is code for “I think I’ve found a shortcut”. It’s our way of outsmarting the process. 

We think that everyone else has to work their butts off to become financially healthy, but “if I could just” make more money, then I’ll be fine. We’re miserable at our jobs, but instead of embracing the challenges we face in the present as a way to grow into a more mature version of ourselves that can actually sustain the future we long for, we’d rather tell ourselves “if I could just” find a better job or “if I could just” become my own boss, then everything will be fine.

“If I could just” thinking is a lot like standing in front of a flight of stairs and telling yourself, “if I could just jump to the tenth step, then I could make it no problem.” The first nine steps are unattractive and, frankly, don’t provide enough progress to be enjoyable. They might even make our legs burn from the repetitive movement. We don’t like those first nine steps. Step number ten, we think, is where true progress is. If we could just jump there in one giant leap, then that would clearly be better than the tedious one-by-one walking approach. We see the first nine as a waste of time. That’s what we tell ourselves. 

The reality is, one of two things are going to happen with that kind of thinking: You’re either not going to jump because the ten-step leap is too intimidating, or you’re going to be audacious enough to actually make the leap only to find yourself landing face first onto the jagged edge of one of the first nine steps. Then, in all likelihood, you’re going to roll back down the steps and find yourself laying at the base of the first step, except this time you’ll be starting over with a bloody nose. It’s at that point you’ll find yourself discouraged and complaining, regretting that you ever attempted the journey in the first place. Or am I the only one this has happened to?

I get it; the first step isn’t exciting or “fulfilling”. Neither is the second, the third, the fourth, or the fifth. But from step zero, each one of those steps is progress, which is more than you can say for the failed ten-step leap attempt. 

I know, I know. I get it. I really do. You’re thinking, “But that doesn’t apply to me. I actually can make the ten-step jump. My plan is just that good. I’m exceptional.”

Listen, I realize there are outliers in every scenario. I realize some people make the leap, and it seems unfair. And when we see people make the leap to the 10th or the 15th step, we stand back and think that we should be able to as well. But here’s something you already know: life isn’t fair. We all get different breaks. And I would be willing to bet that the person who made the leap from 0 to 10 was probably willing to take step one. In fact, they were probably on their way to steps one, two, or three, when they were catapulted to step 10 or 15. And even if they weren’t, it doesn’t matter for you. You’re not them. 

So forget about becoming an overnight success. The ones that accomplish that are very few and far between. I can tell you this much: Luck falls sparingly and unpredictably, but favor always falls on the side of the humble and diligent.

The truth is, “if I could just“ is a thief. It’s a mindset that attempts to rob the opportunities of now and elevate our minds to a prideful place that keeps us from taking the baby steps necessary to get where we want and need to get. The tragedy is, there are some very important people in our lives, and people who are not yet in our lives, who are depending on us to take those baby steps. But all too often we give away the immense value of the moment to “if I could just” thinking, and in doing so, we lose our opportunity to grow to where we want to go.

Wherever you’re at today, no matter what step you’re on – whether you’re on step 10 or you haven’t started the journey at all – please don’t fall for “if I could just” thinking. Your purpose and your most impactful life is only found on the steps, not at the top of the stairs.

What Some of the Greatest Innovators in History Have in Common

What do Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Oprah, and Steve Jobs all have in common?

Of course, they are all iconic innovators who have changed the way the world thinks and acts, but that goes without saying. Looking beyond the obvious, each of them faced the same issue at some point in their journey to paramount success, and each of them triumphed.

It’s the same problem you and I (along with practically every other person in the universe) face at some point in our lives. What do some of the greatest innovators in history have in common?

They didn’t invent anything.

To invent, by definition, means “to create or produce (something useful) for the first time.” By that definition:

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb. (>>)

William S. Harley and the Davidson brothers didn’t invent the motorcycle. (>>)

Henry Ford didn’t invent the automobile. (>>)

Sam Walton didn’t invent the department store. (>>)

Walt Disney didn’t invent the animated cartoon. (>>)

Oprah Winfrey didn’t invent the talk show. (>>)

Steve Jobs didn’t invent the computer or mobile digital media player or cell phone. (>>) (>>) (>>)

Bill Gates didn’t invent the computer or operating system. (>>)

Jeff Bezos didn’t invent the e-commerce website. (>>)

Larry Page and Sergey Brin didn’t invent the internet search engine. (>>)

What each of these individuals did do, however, is take an idea that already existed and improved upon it. They invented their own version, a better version, of an already-innovative idea.

In the words of King Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun.” (>>)

You don’t have to re-invent the wheel. Almost every time, it’s better to steadily improve than it is to try to start from scratch. In your marriage, with your parenting skills, in your walk with God, in your career – what do you have at your disposal right now that you can improve upon in order to serve someone well today?

Just because there’s something in your life that’s not where you want to be doesn’t mean it can’t be improved and morphed into something that changes everything. 

Stop thinking you have to find the perfect solution and start iterating and improving on what’s currently there. That’s what all the greats do.

Why Dreams Die

Have you ever wondered why dreams die? Why do people settle for lives that are less than what they imagined? How is it that too many of us (most of us) quit on our dreams and decide they’re no longer worth chasing?

People talk a lot about making a difference and changing the world, and that’s all well and good, but the problem with dreams is that they are just that: dreams.

Dreams don’t pay bills. The exchange rate on what-ifs is not great.

It takes a certain, somewhat rare, mindset to come up with purposeful ideas that will change things for the better, but it takes an entirely different mindset to bring those ideas to life.

See, most people hear success stories and think that great ideas and the audacity to dream is all you need to succeed. But it’s not true.

Dreams require a lot of planning, and more than anything, a lot of action. Thinking and dreaming and hypothesizing mean absolutely nothing until you take the necessary steps to bring it to life.

It can be inconvenient to map out the details, and even more inconvenient to actually take the small steps to carry out the details, but you have to have a detailed plan and detailed action to make it work.

The bigger lesson here is to not only make a plan, and not only take action on that plan, but take consistent action. Meaning, don’t give up after a week. Don’t give up after a month, or two months, or six. 

It’s tough, I know, but you have to pace yourself in order to be consistent, and consistency builds amazing things. After all, you know what they say about eating an elephant.

And there’s another reason why dreams fizzle…

I think the word fortitude best describes it.

Building a dream sucks. It’s easy to look at other peoples’ success and lose sight of that, but the truth remains. It’s a TON of hard work to build something that makes a real difference.

When you’ve worked 90 out of the last 120 hours and you haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what it’s going to take to launch your idea, much less keep it going, that’s when most people stop. When you’re exhausted and stressed out, and it’s all for a vision, that’s the moment when the awesomeness of your dream kind of starts to go away.

You absolutely must have a plan of action that includes struggles and failure. That plan also needs to include some long hours, late nights, and sacrifices, but you need to plan for what happens when you hit a wall and are ready to quit – because it will happen. Anything else is wishful thinking. 

It’s easy to overlook that part because the dream is the fun part. But consistent work and fortitude is what puts you in the place to grow into something great and inspiring generations to come.

Look, having a dream is a wonderful thing, don’t get me wrong. Trust me, I’m full of them. After all, dreams are how all great things start. But until there’s a plan to actually put legs and feet and boots on that dream, it’s nothing but another cool story to tell people about. And frankly, most people are tired of talk.

The Power of Perspective: How to Balance Everything Without Losing Focus

We all get blinded by our own ambition from time to time. We get so caught up in what we want and how we see progress unfolding in our lives that we forget to back up and adjust our focus on what’s truly important around us. That’s when we need perspective. 

Perspective is defined as an attitude, a way of regarding something, or a point of view. Perspective is the difference between looking at an unruly child and seeing potential instead of brokenness, and perspective is always what will keep you focused on what’s most important as you pursue your purpose.

If you have commitments, a full-time job, and a side project you’d like to be doing full-time, you know exactly what I experienced in that moment with my son. It’s a worthwhile journey to pursue your purpose, but it’s a delicate balance.

So how do you make it all work?

How can you pay the bills, spend time with the family, and work on your dream – all without letting any of them go to ruin? Better yet, how can you maintain perspective in the midst of everything you’re pursuing?

I would be lying if I said I have a secret for you. But I do have a story that might help:

A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mason jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was. 

The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar.  He shook the jar lightly and the pebbles rolled into the open areas between the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was. 

The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students just laughed, and when the laughter subsided, the professor explained.

“Now,” said the professor, “I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things — your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favorite passions — and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full. The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car. The sand is everything else — the small stuff.” 

“If you put the sand into the jar first,” he continued, “there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.”

Pay attention to the things that are critical. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Laugh with friends. There will always be time to work. Take care of the golf balls first — the things that really matter. Set your priorities.  Adjust your perspective to see everything in your life -and everything you’re worried about – in the right order of importance. The rest is just sand.


When it comes to balancing the things you need, the things you love, and the things you want, I can tell you one thing: The goal is to make time for all three; but you absolutely must remember which order they go in.

Think about your eulogy. What do you want your legacy to be? What do you want your life to stand for?

Do you want to be the guy who missed everything or who was stressed out and irritable all the time? Of course not.

Keep that in mind next time you’re making decisions about what to invest your time in.

Truthfully, there will be times of imbalance. When you’re learning a new skill or creating a new project that will make an impact, you’re going to get out of whack. But you have to bring yourself back within a reasonable amount of time. Don’t let it get away from you.

I think the best thing to do is to plan on sleeping less. Seriously.

Either wake up before everyone else gets up and work on your side gigs or do it after everyone goes to bed. Don’t do it while your son is jumping up and down on the couch next to you crying for your attention. That feels terrible.

Lunch breaks are good too. It’s a solid hour every single day, and if you plan it right, you can get a lot done in that hour a day.

Whenever it is, make time for yourself every day, but schedule that time around everything else.

I actually used to write blog posts while driving to the store to pick up things we needed. If we needed diapers I would go to the store and take my phone so I could use Evernote and speech-to-text in my iPhone to actually “write”, or speak, a blog post into my phone.

It probably wasn’t the safest thing in the world to do, but I kept my eyes on the road and I was able to accomplish something on an otherwise useless ride to and from the store.

Whatever you do, don’t guilt yourself into giving up on your dream altogether, but don’t talk yourself into thinking it’s the most important thing for right now, because it’s “building you and your family’s future”.

Your wife and kids won’t remember how great it was to build your dream from the ground up. You’ll just be the person who’s not in the pictures.