December 21, 2017 - No Comments!

La Vie En Rose

If flowers had Instagram accounts, what kind of "colorful" personalities would they boast? Imagine them taking selfies. Would they balk at the imperfections of their own petals, or post pictures of themselves staring pensively into the horizon? I'd bet the carnation would have a massive following on Instagram. The prairie gentian would be the humble beauty with a creative spirit. None would be as self-absorbed as the red rose.

Botanists have identified over 400,000 different species of flowers ― each with its own, unique qualities and characteristics. A single bloom elicits adoration. In bouquet, they have the ability to color your heart with joy. Excuse my pining, but people actually make bouquets out of dead flowers.

Alive or not, it's interesting to note that they command your attention, yet they never demand it.

Consider a zinnia, known to be the longest-living flower. It could exist in a field for 24 days ― unseen, untouched, un-followed ― and it would blossom in unashamed delight of its own creation. That's because its beauty stems from the essence of its being, not being seen, liked or stalked.

Could you go 24 days, or even 24 hours, in the same unrequited conditions?

Not to make flowers sound pretentious (or to put them on petal-stools ...) but what's the secret to such carelessness and indifference? I learned the source of the flower's beauty from Maria, an Italian florist I met on an airplane back in 2015. This is what she told me:

Fundamentally, a flower needs three elements to survive: soil, water and sunlight. (Not likes, followers or affirmations.)

Suppose you lived similarly. What would be the soil, water and sunlight of your life?

To be honest, my chance encounter with Maria the Florist was more of a divine confirmation. Her insight came as providence to an idea seeded months before we sat together on our afternoon flight to North Carolina.

I had been studying the Bible for some time, and begun illustrating metaphors in my mind based on stories and themes within it. One of my earlier revelations came from a struggle I had with interdependent behaviors and insecurities in people (and myself), manifested via social media  and unhealthy relationships, as well as navigating the challenges of loving, or just getting along with people I found difficult to be around. All of these anxieties led me to a solution that is really the bedrock of love, according to Jesus.

"36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And [Jesus] said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” - Matthew 22:36-40

The line "love your neighbor as yourself" convicted me. It's what revealed the root of my issues with others: issues I hadn't understood within myself. If I can't love others, perhaps that's because I have trouble loving myself. And if I don't have a sense of self-love, then perhaps I'm not communing well with God, who is love.

So, what about flowers and what do they have to do with our self-image? Well, Jesus compares us to flowers in the following parable:

"28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’" - Matthew 6:28-31

Or "What shall they say about me?" How does God take care of us ― our social fears, anxieties and self-worth ― as he does the lilies of the field? He gives us the same resources:

Seed & Soil

"The seed is the word of God." - Luke 8:11

And we are the soil:

"15 As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience." - Luke 8:15


"37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified." - John 7:37-39


"12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” - John 8:12

You too are God’s wonderful creation. No amount of likes or selfies could prove more clearly the quiet knowing of this simple fact. All you need is the right heart, life-giving water and light. Anoint yourself with these elements to discover true beauty and validation, #unfiltered.

Thank you for thinking.

July 1, 2016 - No Comments!

Why It Pays to Start with “Why”

This question has plagued existentialists since the 19th century: Why did the chicken cross the road?

Speculate all you want, but how would you know? Are you a chicken?

Maybe you live like one and don't realize it ... You wake up, go to work, go home, watch TV, go to bed. You wake up, go to work, go to the gym, watch Netflix, go to bed. You wake up, go to work—ooh, here comes the weekend! Repeat.

Yes, life runs us around like chickens with our heads off, sometimes. But heads up, you are not a chicken. For the most part, people live intentionally, not aimlessly; there's motive behind everything we do. Even for the mundane activities in our lives. You just have to ask "why" enough to find out. Try it:

Why do you exercise? So I can be healthy.

Why do you want to be healthy? So I can look attractive and feel good about myself.

Why do you want to look good? So I can be accepted and find a partner.

Why do you want a life partner? Because I don’t want to be alone ...

Why? Why do you do what you do?

Who wants to know?

Entrepreneurs, CEOs, marketers, strategists, ideators and leaders, you know this without even knowing it—it's your responsibility to understand peoples' "why." More importantly, though, you should know your own.

Why? Influence and purpose. If you want support for your end game, show customers and team members you value them as people, not as means to an end game. Even better, recognize and support their end games. Align your mission with their values and you will inspire a community of purpose-driven individuals ready to go all-in with you. (You have to mean it, though!)

Example: "To get to the other side” doesn’t actually answer why the chicken crossed the road. It simply states what the chicken accomplishes by crossing the road.

In business, a sales goal is a “what.” Companies driven by sales will always compete in markets through manipulation—whatever it takes to get to that number—be it sales, rebates, layaways, BOGOs, etc. Every year the number goes up. And every year they scramble to the finish line.

The most successful influencers and entrepreneurs in history, however, start with “why.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “why” was his dream of equality. Steve Jobs’ “why” was “to challenge the status quo” and inspire others to think differently. The Wright brothers’ “why” for inventing the airplane wasn’t to be first in flight. They simply had an itch to make the impossible possible.

The accomplishments of these leaders were merely byproducts of the causes they stood for and convictions they stood on.

If your brand can envision a why beyond a quarterly or yearly goal, you’ll be able to genuinely connect with people. And if you clearly state your why through a unifying vision statement, you’ll motivate your employees to reach said goals. With a truly inspiring why, you’ll receive the golden ticket from customers: loyalty.

A formula for inspiration:

Start with WHY - The vision or inspiration.
Answer HOW - The mission or strategy.
Determine WHAT - The product or call to action.

Image result for start with why

Dell—a brand without a why—will always compete in the marketplace with other computer manufacturers. Never lead. Their communication looks something like this:

We make great computers. (WHAT)
They’re beautifully designed and user-friendly. (HOW)
Want to buy one?

Apple, however, will always be a leader in the market because their vision statement is at the core of everything they do. They inspire people to identify with their brand by starting with why they exist:

We challenge the status quo and invite you to think differently, too. (WHY)
We do this by creating beautifully designed products that are user-friendly. (HOW)
And we happen to make great computers. (WHAT) Would you like one?

It’s not a pitch. It’s a counterculture rally cry.

If you’re a business owner, a leader or just a curious thinker, you might want to study this concept more by reading the book Start With Why, by Simon Sinek.

It could change your perspective on what’s important in your mission, your bottom line and even your life.

Thank you for thinking!

April 8, 2016 - No Comments!

Are You in the Ring or in the Stands?

“Don’t let Eddie in the ring with Jules,” Coach Ron insisted.

There’s no bad blood here. Jules and Eddie train side-by-side, every day. They’re friends. But during their first sparring session, Jules knocked Eddie out and it damaged him, within.

“Trust me,” Coach Zach responded.

At 14, Eddie’s a spunky little gym rat. Occasionally, he’ll show you how to throw a left hook with your body (instead of your arm), or the proper technique for a double-end striking bag. Getting fight tips from a teenager is humbling, yes.

So is his story.

Before joining the Clearwater Boxing Center, Eddie was an easy target for bullies. Gangly limbs, husky center, a frame that's still filling out; you can imagine his motivation spurred from a lack of self-confidence and an “I’m not taking this sh*t anymore” attitude.

Some people don’t change until they’re hurt enough that they have to.

After some time in the gym, Eddie slimmed down, grew in stature and grew in confidence. Unless you were there during that first sparring session, though, you couldn’t tell something was brewing deep within him for over a year.

While Eddie worked to get his step back, Jules dug the seed of fear deeper by knocking him out four more times in separate sparring sessions. Finally, Eddie threw in the towel and stepped away from the ring for a while.

When he returned, he was cautious and timid. Sparring with other teammates, he’d tense up and flinch at haphazard punches.

That’s what happens when we make bold steps in the arena of life. We think, I’ve got this, or I’ve trained enough, or I can handle it, but there’s no telling what happens until the lights come on and the bell rings. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose. Sometimes we learn, sometimes we get our teeth punched in. When life lays you out, you can get back up but that doesn’t mean you won’t second-guess your next bout.

“Don’t let Eddie fight,” Coach Ron repeated at the 2016 Fight Night. Every fighter and their mother shared Ron’s sentiment that night. Except Coach Zach.

“Trust me,” is all he said.

Zach saw something others couldn't. That Eddie was ready. He had come to himself. He had made up his mind  and that made him a contender against any opponent.

On March 19, 2016, Eddie ended his yearlong battle with fear, demanding Jules stand in the other corner. Win or lose, the kid showed brass. Maybe there's no scorecard for courage, but the only decision that mattered that night was his decision to fight. And yes, Eddie stayed on his feet.

Learn more about the Clearwater Boxing Center here.

"It's not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theodore Roosevelt

February 4, 2016 - No Comments!

MVP: Morals. Values. Principles.

“Arrogant. Cry baby. Scam.” Call Cam Newton what you want, but you have to respect him for winning and having fun doing it. He walks, talks and dresses like someone who knows exactly who he is, what he wants and what he’s capable of.

That self-knowing is a dangerous thing in a society polluted with noise, narcissism and negativity, but don’t confuse his confidence with cockiness.

Cockiness will empty your pocket; confidence has no budget. And the Carolina Panthers’ roster is strung with misfits and outcasts who know what it’s like to be undervalued.

Newton is a hands-down, nigh-automatic for the regular season MVP award, but what’s been most impressive about his performance this year has been the development of his character. Anyone who's followed him can attest that he hasn’t always played with the zeal that permeates the Panthers organization today.

Between his rejection from the University of Florida after a stolen laptop, which landed him a stint in junior college (’09), the allegations of his father accepting money for Cam to play D1 football (’10), two standout NFL seasons marred with a sulking demeanor (’11-’12) and his escape from a car accident (’14), his past is peppered with trials that have helped mold him as a leader.

Newton scratched and clawed his way to MVP status.

It wasn’t just his on-field performance that got him there, though. His attitude — poise, competitiveness and an enthusiasm for playing — makes him the unstoppable force he is. His maturation has been the final piece of the puzzle that took him from mug shot to shot at the Super Bowl.

MVP isn’t an award for accomplishments and statistics. It’s a game face for life. I share this acronym when challenging peers to live a more fulfilled life: MVP = Morals, Values, Principles.

Know what these are for yourself and you’ll know more clearly who you are, what you want and what you’re capable of.

Here's an example ...

Morals Values Principles
In short:
Right- vs. wrong-willed conduct. What is acceptable behavior according to your individual standards. The intrinsic worth or merit you place on any given thing, concept or persons, with regard to priority and vested interest. Individual (or universal) “truths” learned or acquired by experience, used as a foundation for behaviors.
In practice:
Regrettable decisions or actions in life do not align with your moral code (and vice-versa). “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”– Matthew 6:21 Do as you do, not as you say.
Moral Code

·     Faith

·     Hope

·     Love

·     Kindness

·     Goodness

·     Self-control

·     Honesty

·     Friendship

·     Sound Learning

·     Rectitude

·     Equality

·     Respect


·      Relationship with God

·      Family/Friends/Community

·      Wisdom

·      Health

·      Wealth

·      Travel

·      Experiences

·      Liberty

·      Individualism

·      Life


·     Be impeccable with your word.

·     Don’t take anything personally.

·     Don’t make assumptions.

·     Always do your best.

·     Give respect and you will get respect.

·     People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.

·     If there’s no enemy within, there can be no enemy outside.

NOTE: A seemingly unfortunate side effect to a life fully lived is that we often face mistakes before we can classify our MVP formulas.

December 30, 2015 - No Comments!

Resolve to Accept More Grace in 2016


Ahh, the new year is upon us. How refreshing. Look past the overcast horizon and chilly air you might say the future is [fill in prophetic word here]. New year, new goals, new desires, new workout plan, new dress, new tie: new you. Write those resolutions down, ladies and gents ... and then what?

Self-discipline: check. Willpower: you got more than you think. Commitment: scary, I know. These are virtuous faculties and all, but truth is the accumulation of years of practiced habits (good and bad) are not easily tackled in a one-night stand with your conscience.

There's no quick-fix formula for a "new you." If you really want to change your life, change your mind about how you approach change.

We assume it’s all on us. We strive for goals in order to become somebody we think we ought to be. Always chasing after future versions of ourselves. Always putting so much weight on our own actions. Like every decision leads to absolute victory or failure. It can be paralyzing.

Now, I'm all about about personal growth. What are you doing with your life if you're not stretching yourself with new challenges and experiences? What I'm speaking to are our expectations.

Do you have a brighter vision of what your life would look like if you stepped up in certain areas? Maybe you'd like to create more value for yourself at work or in your community? You know what you need to do because it’s already on your heart. Your dreams are your dreams. Go for them, but don’t get hung up on the outcome.

We paint glamorous pictures in our minds about how life should be, only to get frustrated with the childlike images we actually produce. Relax, kid. Give yourself a little grace. As you narrow your focus on the coming year, try not to be so narrow. Take joy in the process and you’ll be pleased with the product.

Who you become and who you inspire others to become in 2016 will be more meaningful than what you do.

A couple weeks ago the pastor of our church mentioned that we are all called to one of two missions throughout the seasons of our lives: you’re either called to be somebody, or to do something. For the past two years I’ve felt the need to perform.

I wonder if there was a transition I missed, or if this is it.

Life is good. Too good not to enjoy. God is good. Too good not to trust. My goal this year is to stop putting so much pressure on the works of my flesh. Stop being self-led and be more Spirit-led. Start believing that God has it all mapped out already. He’s the vision-caster. He's the captain of this ship and his course will be a fantastic voyage.

Go ahead, gain wisdom and insight. Acquire new skills. Take time for personal reflection. But most of all, trust Him.

When the ball drops, don’t think about how you might have dropped the ball in 2015. God’s bringing the celebration. He’s lighting the fireworks. All we have to do is show up and enjoy his marvelous display.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths."

Proverbs 3:5-6

- Updated on Jan. 7 -

Hungry for more? Listen to Kurt Parker's message on "keystone habits," from January 3. If you're not inspired, go eat something unhealthy. I'm sure it'll go away soon.

December 26, 2015 - No Comments!

My Grandmother’s Eulogy: The Nancy Polka

This is the eulogy I wrote and delivered for my Grandmother, Nancy Golombisky, shortly after she passed away on May 26, 2015. Today, December 26, 2015, would have been her 77th birthday.

We can all learn a lot from the way she lived. Enjoy.

“What then is Appollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.”

1 Corinthians 3:5-6

This passage touches on the idea that, in life, we all have a purpose. Some of us plant seeds, some of us water the plants; God gives the growth. And when a flower is fully grown, some people, like Grandma, pluck it out of the ground, put it in their hair and say, “Ain’t I pretty?”

That’s how it was for Grandma. She loved life and delighted in it.

Before preparing this eulogy, I considered, “what would Grandma say if she were here today?” Then I realized there wouldn’t be enough time during mass — she enjoyed sharing stories with family and friends too much. Luckily, during a visit with my grandparents in January, 2014, I had the foresight to put my camera on a tripod and record her retelling some of her life stories. This is an excerpt from that video:

Speaking on her life, Nancy said:

“I think that I have a lot of interesting things to say … You go to bed at night and you think, I need to write about myself. What I remember, what I first remember. My farm life. My marriage. The places that we’ve gone. The places we’ve seen. The states that we’ve been to. And about my family and my kids. And then you think, who really cares?! If I did that for all my grandkids and my kids to read, would they really find it interesting?”

You’d be surprised, Grandma. Anyone who has ever felt touched by Nancy’s love can recount a favorite memory with her. Personally, I can’t decide which memory that is. All I can say is that many of my fondest memories in life involved visits with Grandma. She was always there for us. No matter how small or large the occasion — fireworks at the lake, baseball games, music recitals, dinner parties, birthdays, graduations, holidays, card games, summer vacations, first communions — Grandma always made herself available to share time with loved ones. She truly embodied a family-first mentality, and “family” was often a loose term that included extended family, close friends, the local community and an exchange student from France. She was an incredibly loving and equally loved wife, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt and friend.

Now, I said I couldn’t really pick a favorite memory, so instead I’ll share my favorite story from her early life, which is about how she and Grandpa met.

The short end of it, if I were to recite it in a polka rhyme, would be: Nan met Dan when Dan hired Nan to play in Dan’s polka band.

Grandma met Grandpa as a young farm girl in Owosso, Michigan. Coincidentally, Grandma lockered with Grandpa’s sister, Sharon, for two years in high school. But all Sharon ever said about her older brother was that he was an engineer from Michigan State, and he was cocky. However Grandpa was, it worked. At that time Grandma’s brother, Ben, also played with Dan in his polka band, and when he decided he couldn’t hang with the boys anymore, Ben suggested Nancy play because she was more skilled as a musician. She did, and a year later the farm girl from Owosso milked her last cow on April 21, 1956, the morning of her wedding. Music brought Grandma and Grandpa together, and for the next 59 years music remained the heartbeat of the Golombisky family.

I think it’s appropriate, then, to say that Nancy’s life is comparable to your favorite song: it ends too soon and all you want to do is replay it.

She left an incredible, loving legacy through her husband, her sons, David and Greg, and her grandchildren. And that legacy can be summarized by the joy and zest in which she lived, loved and snorted ... I mean, laughed.

If Grandma were here today, I believe she’d say, “Stay close to your family; cherish your time together; and if life gets you down, just play a little polka and do a little dance.”

December 18, 2015 - No Comments!

Our Life’s Work: Lessons From M.C. Escher

“In mathematical quarters, the regular division of the plane has been considered theoretically ... [Mathematicians] have opened the gate leading to an extensive domain, but they have not entered this domain themselves. By their very nature they are more interested in the way in which the gate is opened than in the garden lying behind it.” – M.C. Escher

Forget your theories and calculations. M.C. Escher had a vision and needed to project it in a very specific way. Simple as that.

In his infinite realm of tessellation, impossible constructions and regular divisions of the plane, Escher merged beauty and complexity with the precision of a mathematician. Unlike scholars of his time, though, he wasn’t concerned with formulas that explained his work. He found something that made him tick and just went with it.

Escher discovered his passion early and mastered it over a lifetime, producing 448 lithographs, woodcuts and wood engravings, as well as over 2000 drawings and sketches. By volume then, he is the masterpiece, not the pieces themselves.

While he will always be remembered for his impossible staircases, checkerboard patterns and drawing hands, the most inspiring part of his story is the maturation of himself through his workmanship. His life was the work of art.

We all have this in us. It’s the same for musicians and their compositions, dancers and their choreographies, and even mathematicians with their calculations. It’s an innate desire to express thoughts, feelings and ideas in ways that cannot be done simply, or even sincerely, with words alone.

As proven through Escher, the most authentic way to live is to find out what makes us tick—and just go with it.

Consider these lessons from Escher to begin sketching your life as a work of art:

Perception is reality.

“We don’t see things as they are; we see them as we are.” – Anaïs Nin


See: Hand with Reflecting Sphere, 1935

Everything is connected.

Checkers. Flies. Tiles are reptiles. Bees are butterflies. Fish are boats, and fish again. Farm animals are birds. Mail flies. Birds fly. They both fly to the city. Now let’s play chess.

Did I miss something?


See: Metamorphosis III, 1968-67

We are control freaks.

“We adore chaos because we love to produce order.” – M.C. Escher

How often do we box the world in around us in ways that make the most sense to us, rather than observing life with an objective point-of-view?

Image result for escher box

See: Thinking Outside the Box

Let true beauty be.

Escher rarely used his wife, Jetta, as a subject. Though he adored her, he recognized that some beauty can’t be duplicated, nor should it be tampered with. With the exception of Bond of Union (1956), Escher’s pieces featuring Jetta were printed without his signature twists on reality.

The Salvador Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL., once hosted a sketch of his nude wife which I haven't been able to identify online. The portrait was drawn with her turned away from the artist and her features are subtle, not exaggerated, as you might find in modern photography for models. From that image, you get the sense that he loved her exactly the way she was and wouldn’t dare alter her appearance.


See: Portrait of Jetta, 1925

It’s all about perspective.

Eyesight vs. mind-sight: Do you judge according to appearances or by interpretation of what you see?

Like many artists, Escher’s early pieces reveal moments of his artistic self-discovery. Coast of Amalfi (1931), for example, is a snapshot of a landscape that became a focal point for many later pieces. Peering under the shade of a tree, into the distance, you get a glimpse of Escher’s curiosity for perspective and vanishing horizons.


See: Coast of Amalfi, 1931

Remember your creator.

Every person is hardwired to create. We’ve been endowed this way because we are designed in God’s image, and He created us. Therefore, we create. We construct. We produce. We make things happen.

So, what's your vision and what are you doing with it?


See: The Sixth Day of Creation, 1926

Linked images do not belong to the author. Their use is primarily for comment only and are protected by "fair use" according to 17 USC Section 107.