1. Building a Loving FamilyMy wife, Maggie, is a key person in my personal trust community. Not only is she instrumental in allowing me to have a family, but she is also my greatest guide and teacher when it comes to being a better husband and father. Because of Maggie, I’ve learned that my default mode of helping isn’t always, well, helpful. Take this example: We were on a family trip to Disney years ago and were late for our dinner reservation. I decided to drive a bit faster than usual (of course while still feeling fully safe and in control) to get us there on time. Hero mode! What I forgot in my desire to “solve” our problem, however, was that Maggie and our girls are more anxious than me, and they did not appreciate my aggressive driving. In fact, they hated it. Nobody really said much, but I could tell later that evening that they were on edge and unhappy. I realized it would have been better to be five minutes late to dinner and keep them feeling safe, than to rush to make it on time, which I thought was helpful. Years later, Maggie started visiting a therapist to help her navigate some ups and downs in her relationship with our middle daughter. The therapist asked if I would come in, so we could work through family dynamics together. I learned there were many times I approached things from my perspective, as father, leader, protector. What Maggie and my girls really needed was for me to try to understand what they’re feeling and what they need—not how I can solve their problems for them. That was 10 years ago. From that moment on, I’ve learned to be more intentional in thinking about Maggie’s perspective, and our girls’ perspectives. When a problem comes up, it’s not my role to solve it; I just need to understand what they’re feeling and be there. As Maggie said to me once, “I’m not asking you to give an opinion or solve it. I just want you to listen to me.” Because of Maggie’s willingness to talk with a therapist about her relationship with our daughters, and her trust in me to grow with her, I’ve learned how to actually listen to my family’s issues without jumping immediately to “fix” them, as many of us are conditioned to do. This shift in how I understand and relate to Maggie and our daughters has helped me show up more empathetically, and brought us closer because they feel safe and heard. A good personal trust community can give you the tough love and truth you need when you need it, then hold you with love and care while you learn and grow better. That’s what Maggie does for me every day, and I wouldn’t have the family I have today without her love and guidance.
2. Building a Career With Purpose“Are you doing what you want to be doing or what you need to be doing?” My good friend Tim Dixon knew just what to say a few years ago when I called and told him I needed help. I’d taken a position I almost immediately regretted. The company environment was toxic, rife with turmoil, deceit, and discontent, and I quickly learned I wasn’t going to be the one to fix it. I’d said “yes” to the role despite knowing better, because the shininess of a leadership position at a well-known company appealed to me and ticked the boxes I told myself I needed to tick. But Tim knew me better. We go through life thinking our validation comes from who we associate with, the work we do, the title on our office door, or the car we drive. But that isn’t true belonging and purpose. I wanted a career with purpose, and Tim knew I wasn’t following through on that. He asked if I was doing what I want to be doing—as in, pursuing my true dreams—or what I need to be doing—as in, following through on whatever next step the world tells me I’m supposed to do for validation. I knew he was right, so I left that job. Tim was the catalyst for that; he reflected my true self back to me and challenged me to make the right choice when I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. That moment was a lightning bolt that led to numerous other realizations about the things I’d been prioritizing and the ways I spent my time. From serving as a board member for various organizations—albeit good ones I saw value in—to the criteria for jobs I wanted, I began to dissemble and take stock of my values. I realized I wasn’t pursuing the real purpose I knew I wanted, and things had to change. In 2020, I left the C-Suite to pursue my dream of sharing the Personal Trust Community model with other leaders and executives, and while it hasn’t been easy, it’s been the most rewarding part of my professional life. I get to share the message that matters to me, and help others do the same. “Need” is doing what others want us to do and finding validation in that. “Want” is following our true north, our real purpose, and doing what we know deep down is right for us. My personal trust community—including people like Tim, and others—has helped me stay true to myself professionally when life gets complicated or I lose sight of my purpose.
3. Fueling A Lifelong Passion for SportsSports have provided a home and family for me since I was a little kid, offering me belonging and confidence where I lacked it. When I stepped out onto the court or field, I performed. People accepted who I was and made friendly jokes and celebrated me for me. Playing sports was the first time where the awkward, quiet boy got to be himself and shine on the court or field. I think life should be that way: You’re celebrated for who you are and for doing the things you love, and it doesn’t matter if you’re awkward, or goofy, or quiet. Your teammates have your back and value you. I’ll never forget 8th grade basketball tryouts. I thought I had done really well, so when they put the list out there and my name wasn’t on it, I was crushed. But I wasn’t the only one who believed I should have made the cut. The other kids I’d met and played with throughout tryouts came up to me and said, “You belong here. You should be on the team.” I could have chosen not to trust their assessment of me and my value. I could have simply believed that I wasn’t good enough. Instead, though, I took heart in their encouragement and used it to fuel me. The next day, I showed up at practice. When Coach Turner asked why I was there, I told him, “Even though you cut me, I believe I’m good enough and deserve to be here. I want to watch practice so I can understand what I missed and do better next time.” Later that night, he called my house, apologized for cutting me, and asked if I would come play on his team. I took a risk—a risk I probably wouldn’t have taken on my own. But I leaned on the support of my community to feel confident in my belonging there. Trusting in my community helped me put forward my very best self even when I was hurt and disappointed—the version of me that Coach Turner realized he needed on his team. Sports, and the personal trust community relationships they’ve given me, have continued to provide me belonging and self-value throughout life far beyond 8th grade. From completing my Ironman (thanks to the help of my coach, Suzan Ballmer, who’s a key relationship in my personal trust community), to making deep friendships with fellow executive leaders thanks to our shared love of sport, sports and my personal trust community are deeply interconnected: I’ve expanded my personal trust community through sports, and my personal trust community has helped me continue to foster my deep love of athletic pursuits. *** A personal trust community is the safety net that buffers life’s downs, and the catalyst propelling us to and through its ups. Mine is made up of a number of key people who know me and love me enough to challenge me when I need it, to encourage me to face my fears to achieve my biggest dreams, and to cheer for me all along the way. What big achievements have you made? Who helped you along the way? Could you use some more support to discover, work toward, and achieve those dreams? I work one-on-one with clients to help them build their own personal trust communities and learn to lean into the greatness we all have. Download my FREE Personal Trust Community Workbook, or reach out if you want to chat about getting focused on your purpose or building a community to help you get there.