My 4-Hour Work Week

Tabitha and Noah Debating

As you know from the last few days of posts, I ran a debate tournament yesterday. Eighty students pushed through six rounds and a final – in one day – making for an exhausting day of good, hard work.

The nonprofit organization I founded and run, Training Minds Ministry, underwrote the event. The club Training Minds underwrites, the Monumentum Debate Club, ran the event. What this means is that my friends and family all tirelessly pitched in to make this massive event happen. I’m literally exhausted.

I’ll share pictures of the event tomorrow when I have time to put a good picture story together, but that’s not what I want to share with you this morning. Yesterday at one of the few slow times of the day, I got into a good conversation with the Judge Orientation staff – my daughter, Cynthia, and her friend Jeremy. It had to do with a book Cynthia was reading, The 4-Hour Work Week.

I haven’t read the book – and Cynthia isn’t finished with it either – but we three talked about it’s apparent meaning. The author advocates a lifestyle that dedicates only four hours per week to actual “money-making work.” The rest of the week should be dedicated to the things that you love to do (in his case it is travel and extreme sports).

I wondered, Am I already living the 4-hour work week? When I think about it, the actual “money-making work” that I do – store management, stuffing orders, taking care of customers – I suppose if added up throughout the week is about 4 hours. On busy weeks, maybe up to 10.

What do I do with all my time?

Competitors, Dream Big

Today’s the big day. My small debate club and I have been preparing for days – even weeks – to host 80 debaters and about 100 judges in Colorado Springs for the Monumentum Debate Tournament. An event like this is grueling, but so incredibly worth it. I’m waking up like it’s Christmas morning.

Can I share with you the letter I sent out last night to students? Whatever path you’re on, I hope you dream big. I’ll be encouraging our kids to do that throughout the day of competition.

Dear Competitor,

I hope you’re in for an AWESOME time tomorrow! Monumentum sure is. We’ve been busy all week, very much looking forward to hosting the 80 debaters who will be joining together for debate tomorrow. Let me say a word about our theme, Dream Big.

I believe so much in you. You’re “training the mind for action” (1 Peter 1:13) for a big purpose. Think of all those great skills you are learning in debate. You’ll learn and grow through every single round. The relationships you build with your fellow competitors will last a lifetime. It’ll be exhausting, but you’re being trained for big things.

The verse of Training Minds ends with “for action.” We spend so much time focusing on competition that people think we’re out for the trophy. We want you to win, sure, but that’s just a minor accomplishment. We want you to apply what you learn to the great purpose God has in store for you.

Now THAT gets us excited! Don’t settle for small, debater. Dream big.

I’ll be posting pictures on my Facebook profile and some on the Training Minds Page. Check in throughout the day, and if you’re coming to judge, be sure to say hi.

Stop, Train, Go

Question: which is more demanding?

  1. Running the largest speech and debate tournament in the history of forensics (pictured above): 600 students competing at the National Invitational Tournament of Champions, with a team of about 70 coordinators and staff people from all over the country.
  2. Running the first debate tournament for the year: 77 students, all giving their first shot at debating, with a new team of about a dozen coordinators from my club to help run it.

You’d think Choice 1. But there is one thing making me think Choice 2. I’ve got a solution for it that I’ve been applying all week long preparing for the smaller tournament, and the solution is one you’ll likely apply to your work demands. Allow me to explain. 

Love Is More Important Than Winning

I’m running Colorado’s first tournament of the year, the Monumentum Debate Tournament. My club is kicking off a small 78-student 6-round competition. Here’s something I’d like to get across to the competitors:

Love is more important than winning. [Tweet this]

It sounds contradictory, doesn’t it? I mean, debate tournaments are about winning. It certainly isn’t about losing! I train my kids to go for the win, do all you can to outthink, out prepare, out do your opponent.

But I don’t want my debaters to just win, I want them to be champions. The ones who end up on top (like many of our alumni) are in this for bigger reasons than winning. Funny how that happens. You surrender the competitive spirit and replace it with a love for the activity and for your fellow competitors, and you end up victorious.

Here’s another quote to pocket in the mind and heart:

“Instead of outthinking the competition, it’s worth trying to outlove them. Everyone is working hard on the thinking part, but few of your competitors worry about the art and generosity and caring part.” – Seth Godin

Good stuff. It’ll make a champion out of you.

Supporting Young People

It seems like everyone under the sun wants to give to young people. But if we’re honest with ourselves, most of us don’t do much at all. We may believe in education and the youth and all that, but we don’t actually do anything.

These young people are awesome, and I really want you to get to know them. Here’s how.

Reality: We should all be supporting our young people. They are our future. [Tweet This]

There’s an opportunity coming up this Thursday that is big, and it involves me, my family, about 80 suited-up teenagers and about the same number of adult volunteers. It’s the Monumentum Debate Tournament in Colorado Springs, and because I’m running the event, you now have my personal invitation to attend.

Either you live driving distance or you don’t, but there are ways you can help. I can honestly say without hesitation that you will be richly blessed. Here’s how. 

Cost Breakdown of My Office Suite

If you’re self-employed, you know how valuable workspace is to your operation. The “desk in a room solution” (I bet a lot of people do that) just doesn’t cut it, so in October I set out to remodel my garage to make a home office suite.

We’re now in touch-up phase for my office. Doesn’t it look nice?

Wow, we have come a long way. Hard to believe it has been only a month. Here’s what we started with:

How much do you think I spent on this? You may be surprised to hear that it has been just about $2,000. Not too shabby! A number of things are finished, and the entryway/workroom has sanding and painting to go. We’re getting close!

The $2k covered a number of things: 

Why Gossip Never Wins

I recently dealt with a small group of gossips that created a bit of a problem for me. I was worried about my reputation, thinking I would need to “pull people aside” to give my own gossipy analysis of the situation. I chose not to, and am very glad I didn’t.

Even if you feel alone and defeated, don’t participate in the gossip. You’ll win in the end.

Have you ever found yourself betrayed by a gossip, feeling the urge to jump into the complicated relational web? This happens all too often in workplaces, families, and circles of so-called friends. I hope you’re not one to gossip, because if you are, you will never win. Why? Because…

Gossip never wins. Joining in will only ensure you lose. [Tweet this]

In work, family and friendships, I have the greatest people around me. Every so often I find myself in uncomfortable situations due to inappropriate “talk” from those around me, sometimes talk about me. But I know they will pass and I’ll be left the victor in the end. Here’s the how and why of it. 

The Real Lincoln, Not the Romantic

I saw Lincoln on Monday. I tweeted going in, “Something tells me that I will identify with Lincoln, and I’m going to hate it.” That came true, and I’d like to explain what I identified with.

I have never been fond of the romantic image of Lincoln (or any historical giant). I am much more interested in the honest and human struggles of great men of faith.

  • Romantic image: Lincoln championed the abolition of the hideousness of slavery. He had his chin high as he led the nation through the Civil War.
  • Real image: Lincoln was hated, betrayed, ridiculed, nagged and attacked. Eventually killed. He personally agonized over his responsibilities and decisions.

There was one scene where Lincoln explains the Emancipation Proclamation. I found this short scene fascinating.

20 Pictures That Show What I Am Thankful For

I woke up this morning with an idea: Scroll through last year’s pictures and highlight what I’m thankful for. I chose my favorite 20 pictures and posted them here. But you know what?

I’m humbled at the tremendous blessings in my life. Why am I not thankful everyday of the year?

I’m serious. Are you like me where you can get frustrated, depressed, angry at the nuances in daily life that drag things down? After clicking through the hundreds of photos I took this last year, I’m thinking I’m the most blessed man on the planet.

I believe you, too, are most richly blessed. Enjoy your day of Thanksgiving, my friend, and enjoy these pictures… 

I’m Going Big

My debate club is running a tournament next week. We’re going to have nearly 100 debaters, 100 judges, and a boatload of parents and grandparents with video cameras running around Vista Grande Baptist Church in Colorado Springs. It’s going to be awesome.

What we’re doing with debate is bigger than you might think. (Photo by Heidi Mittelberg)

As Tournament Director (TD), I get to give a series of speeches throughout the day. Some TD’s get bogged down into details: speeches to students are about picking up trash, to judges about filling out ballots, to parents about keeping their little kids under control. I have logistics coordinators that will make sure these details are communicated.

I’ve dedicated nearly 20 years of my life to this activity, so I’m going big. I’ll have only a few minutes to speak to some of these people, and I want to make an impact. There are three big ideas I want every competitor, parent and judge to walk away with next week.