Shut Up and Color
Nothing is set in stone. Everything will inevitably change and many times, the greatest lesson we can learn is to accept who we are, work hard, and admire the beauty around us. I am so so lucky to be married to a beautiful amazingly talented woman who has helped me appreciate me. When I graduated high school, my two goals were to earn a PhD in physics and play in the United States Open Golf Championship. Sixteen years after leaving Sheridan, Wyoming I rarely play golf and I make a living as a project manager.
To put this in a broader context, after high school I attended the United States Air Force Academy and started out majoring in physics. When I graduated I received a degree in behavioral science by way of an anthropological study of Native American medicine wheels (inspired by the Big Horn mountains back home) and the Academy’s Character Development Department. I lived in Portugal for a little while, became depressed enough that I needed some help, and then moved back to Colorado. In January 2006 I had an appendectomy performed on a Wednesday, was released from the hospital on a Thursday, went home, and on Saturday woke up in an ambulance being rushed to the emergency room. If it wasn’t for my mom who lived 8 hours away and her cat Katie, I probably would be living with my grandparents now in heaven eating peanuts and drinking Pepsi. In May 2006, I asked my future wife for her phone number.
I say all this to share some of my favorite phrases.
“Shut up and Color”
“Don’t should on yourself”
“It is what it is”
The military taught me to “shut up and color.” I have never been the smartest guy in the room and many times I have found hard work be more innovative than algorithms. I don’t disagree with working smarter but I think too many people waste time trying to look smart when they should just zip it, roll up their sleeves, and get back to work.
My child psychologist handed me a piece of paper I hung by my bed that read “I will never should on myself.” Every time you ask someone what she/he wants to do in life, if the answer begins with “I should….” everything after that is a lie because it is what that person thinks the world would like to hear instead of answering “I want to…..” or “I must…..”
Then there is the old standard, “It is what it is.” Don’t over think it. The world will continue hurling through space and there is nothing we can do about it. So instead of worrying , appreciate the beauty around you and take a walk once in a while.
I left Sheridan with aspirations of becoming the smartest golfer on the planet and traveling the world trying to help everyone. Thanks to the military and the fact I had to make a living, I pay my bills as a project manager. What fascinates me though is if you strip away our titles, all we are doing is learning stuff and helping folks. No matter our intentions, good or bad, we are trying to make this world a better place.
My dream was to become a combination of Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society , Indiana Jones, and Payne Stewart. But I never liked extremes. I don’t like sitting in an ivory tower all day hypothesizing and not to sound like a martyr but I couldn’t sit on the driving range all day when I had the opportunity make a difference somehow. I also didn’t care for working for the sake of just working. That is probably why I have become fascinated with project managers, designers, and developers. The new age of folks who are getting it done strike that balance between theory and application. Just like the Denver designers and developers I admire, sometimes sweat and grit is the most creative thing you can do.
Keep it simple, keep learning.