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Venture Outside of Your Comfort Zone

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Getting outside of my comfort zone is something I feel I regularly do and I can honestly say, some of my coolest and most memorable life experiences have come from doing so!
This past April, I was traveling to Aspen, Colorado for some business meetings. My flight from Cedar Rapids to Denver was a breeze. The flight was on time and I didn’t run into any travel challenges. However, the next leg of travel from Denver to Aspen was entirely different. Some of you may remember hearing about the “Bomb Cyclone” snowstorm that hit Colorado and dropped several feet of snow along its tracks. Well as luck would have it, this was the day I was on my way to Aspen.
On Wednesday, April 10th, I boarded a small regional jet in route to Aspen and patiently waited along with the other passengers for the flight to take off. But shortly after boarding, our friendly pilot informed us over the intercom that our flight would be delayed due to poor landing visibility in Aspen. If you’re familiar with the Aspen airport, then you know that landing there is already challenging enough in good conditions due to the way the airport is sandwiched between the mountains (then pair this challenge with the frequent low hovering clouds). But, the pilot was confident that within a matter of time, the clouds would lift and we’d be on our way. This continued for roughly an hour and a half with him popping onto the intercom every 30 minutes to inform us we’d be taking off soon. Finally, the pilot informed us of the news we’d been dreading… our flight was canceled. Furthermore, ALL flights out of Denver were canceled for the remainder of the day due to this massive storm that was about to hit the area.
I immediately made my way over to the customer service counter to see what my options were. I wondered if there were any other airports I could fly into that were close-by to Aspen so if I needed to, I could drive the rest of the way to make my meetings. Sadly, I was informed that the earliest flight they could get me on was on Sunday. Keep in mind this was Wednesday and my meetings were slated to start the next day – so that clearly wasn’t an option.
While contemplating my next move, I overheard a gentleman behind me in line on the phone with his wife, explaining the situation to her as he was trying to make it back home to her in Aspen. I decided to introduce myself and asked for advice from a “local” on the best way to drive to Aspen. He assured me this was a frequent occurrence flying into Aspen during the winter months. I shared my situation with him and told him I had driven to Aspen from Denver before and was comfortable driving in winter conditions, but my primary concern was whether or not they’d close the interstate. He immediately looked up all the road closures for the state and noted that one of the major interstates I’d need to travel was closed. He explained that even those it was closed now, that they often re-open them after a period of time. If they didn’t, he knew of an alternate route that he could share with me that was 90 minutes out of the way – but could still get me up to Aspen.
After conversing for about five minutes, I told him I was planning on renting a car and driving to Aspen if he wanted to ride with. Mind you, this is a 3+ hour car trip and I’ve just asked a complete stranger if he’d like to hitch a ride. But, I knew I could help him and that he could help me navigate the back roads in the event that they didn’t reopen the interstate. He said he’s never hitched a ride before (nor have I) but he was eager to get back home to his wife and kids so he said, “Sure, this will be fun”!
In a hurry, we rented a car, grabbed our luggage, and headed off towards Aspen. Two complete strangers who had never met before, making the best of a situation and truly trusting one another to reach their final destination. It was a little over three and a half hours in the car and not once was the ride awkward. It was like we had known each other for years and the conversation flowed naturally the entire ride
Upon our arrival to Aspen, we thanked each other for making the trip and were in such a hurry to get about our day that we never exchanged contact information. So that night, I looked up the website for the company he works at and reached out to him via e-mail. I thanked him again for making the trip with me and shared that it was an experience I would not forget. He thanked me too and since then, we’ve reached out to one another a couple of times!
Because I left the security of my comfort zone, I gained a memorable life experience!

Are You Still On Track?

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It’s February and we are 1/12th of the way into 2019. Every single one of you had 31 days to live by your new personal and professional goals. Are you on track or have your goals gone to the wayside? With anything in life, your plan is only as good as your execution and your willingness to hold yourself accountable. You can’t sit here in six months and wonder why you haven’t achieved what it is you’ve set out for if you lack self-discipline. Make discipline a new way of life! Give it your all!

You still have 334 days to accomplish your goals. Keep pushing yourself forward. In life, nothing comes easy. But if you truly have a desire to win, you will find a way to push past the pain endured throughout the journey, until you achieve success!

Success & Happiness

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It is a brand new year and with that, comes a year of new challenges, goals, and desires. And new challenges, goals, and desires all have the same common denominator – you!

You decide your attitude for the day

You decide how much you are willing to push and hold yourself accountable

You decide the path you’re going to take

Let this be the year excuses don’t overrule your accountability. Do everything in your power to ensure that 2019 will be the year you push yourself on a daily basis to make the most of every possible opportunity. Get out of your comfort zone (I’m talking way out of it). Go try something new. Empower yourself to make changes for the better. Move forward and truly grow as an individual. Remember, it is not success that brings you happiness, instead, it is happiness that brings you success!

Sharing Interests

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As an avid outdoorsman, I have always wanted my soon to be 18-year-old son, Carson, to take a liking to the outdoors as well. I wanted the opportunity to hunt, fish, and snowmobile as father and son; to take these opportunities and simply enjoy what God has created. Be granted yet another opportunity to create memories that we would both be able to cherish forever.
After years of sharing my hunting and snowmobiling stories with Carson, he has slowly begun sharing those same interests. This past January, we went on a father and son snowmobile trip at our lake home in Northern Minnesota and after four days of playing in the powder and riding hundreds of miles, I have him hooked. He now looks forward to those white flakes falling from the sky so we can ride once again. Having him excited to snowmobile was a definite score for me but I was excited to see if I could get him hooked on another one of my favorites – big game hunting Rocky Mountain Elk!
For the past four years, Carson and I have attended the local Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Fundraiser. I will admit, he begrudgingly attended with me the first year as he was almost certain he would be bored. But four years later and he was looking forward to the event and to his first big game hunt for my favorite big game animal, Rocky Mountain Elk.
When Carson and I first talked about going on an elk hunt together, he wasn’t completely sold on it. He was concerned about several things including the length of the hunt, whether he would get a good enough shot to actually harvest the animal, and how rigorous the actual hunt would be. So you can imagine my excitement when he shared that he was finally interested and ready for his first big hunt.
Together we started prepping. We went to the range to get him comfortable and confident shooting at long distances with a high powered rifle. We spent time hanging out watching elk hunting shows and talked about what would relate to our future hunt together. Finally, this past month – we ventured to Southwest New Mexico for their youth elk season.
The first night we arrived, our guide took us out to do a little scouting in hopes that Carson could hear his first bugling bull elk in the wild. Within minutes of getting to the scouting ground, he saw several cow (female) elk and heard his first bulls bugle from nearby. His excitement was palpable as he stated: “there is no way I’m going to be able to sleep tonight, Dad”.
The next couple of days were absolutely amazing. Carson experienced first hand what drew me and so many other hunters to this amazing sport. He passed on a couple of mature bulls on the first and second day as he was beginning to question whether or not he would be successful in harvesting a bull. His patience was tested and I had to encourage him to not get frustrated and continue to wait for his opportunity. Finally, on the morning of day three, he made an excellent shot at 325 yards and harvested his first trophy 6×6 bull.
To be right at his side, witnessing how calm he was in waiting for that perfect shot after waiting for what seemed like an eternity was so incredibly rewarding for me as a parent. Watching him walk up to his first bull elk after harvesting it is something I will remember and cherish forever. As you can see from the smiles on our faces – this is a memory of a lifetime for both of us.
I am beyond excited that he is hooked on another one of my favorite activities and I look forward to enjoying this wonderful sport with him for many years to come.
I share this story with you not to push or force your children into doing what you like. But instead, to give them the opportunity to experience and take interest in your “likes” on their own. Be patient. Give them time. Talk about your interests and eventually, they may begin to enjoy and share your interests so you can experience them together. Almost 18 years later and I am excited to have a snowmobile and elk hunting partner for life!

 

Summer’s End

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In a few short weeks, my wife and I will be sending our oldest child of three off to New York City as she begins her career in Fashion. This is something I’ve dreaded for years as my family is everything to me and I truly love being together as one unit. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve shed a tear or gotten anxious just thinking about this day. Although I’m nervous as hell, I’m very excited for her to embark on something she truly loves and to watch her live out her dreams.

As a parent, I can tell you the last twenty-three years have flown by faster than I had ever imagined. I am extremely grateful we as a family were able to spend this entire summer together under one roof. As a family we enjoyed boating, crying, laughing, arguing, sleeping in late, cuddling, watching the stars, warming up by the fire, making s’mores, eating popcorn, fishing, getting lost in conversations, and most importantly – creating memories that we’ll never forget. As I watch her prepare to spread her wings and explore this thing called life, I can only hope Lisa and I have done a good job of raising her and giving her direction to make sound decisions for the rest of her life. For those of you who have children – embrace your time with them. Enjoy every single moment and create memories that will last a lifetime.

-Bill Bradford

Time

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People often ask me what the one thing is that I wish I could change. My answer is consistently the same… time. I would do anything to turn back time. To have my children be small again so I can truly cherish and embrace everything about them and our family. Time is something that no matter what you do, you can’t get it back or slow it down. Don’t wish time away. Make the most of every moment. Create memories that you can cherish forever!

-Bill Bradford

Hard Work, Dedication, and Determination

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I’m sure by now you’ve all heard of Maddie Poppe. Many of you, including myself, spent the last few weeks glued to the TV as she won us over with her amazing voice while competing on American Idol. This 20-year-old from small town Clarksville, Iowa has spent her entire young life devoted to music with the dream of someday making it big. A dream of someday being able to perform on a stage doing what she knows and loves – entertaining people with her soothing voice and humbling charm. This past week, her dreams came true as she was crowned the winner of American Idol. From the moment she was announced as the winner – her world forever changed. With a national recording contract, her new life of stardom has only begun. But I’m sure it didn’t come easy or without sacrifice.

Her father started her down the path of loving music but it was her hard work, dedication, and determination of never giving up that put her on that stage in front of millions! Her desire to win helped crown her as the 16th winner of American Idol! Imagine for a moment if she would have given up or thrown in the towel when things got tough. Imagine if she had never put herself out there and auditioned for American Idol. Would she be where she is today? We will never know. But what I do know, is all of our lives are similar in the fact that anything we do or try will require commitment, dedication, hard work, and sacrifices in order to achieve success.

So the next time you want to give up and quit – push through it! You never know what the outcome of all your perseverance will be!

Simple Reminders

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Live beneath your means.
Return everything you borrow.
Stop blaming other people.
Admit it when you make a mistake.
Give clothes not worn to charity.
Do something nice without having to gain recognition.
Listen more; talk less.
Take a 30-minute walk every day.
Strive for excellence, not perfection.
Be on time.
Don’t make excuses.
Don’t argue.
Get organized.
Be kind to unkind people.
Let someone cut ahead of you in line.
Take time to be alone.
Cultivate good manners.
Be humble.
Realize and accept that life isn’t fair.
Know when to keep your mouth shut.
Go an entire day without criticizing anyone.
Learn from the past. Plan for the future.
Live in the present.
Don’t sweat the small stuff, because at the end of the day – it’s all small stuff!

I can’t take credit for the simple reminders above but I found this list a couple months ago and it was too good not to share. I believe in a lot of these and try to incorporate them into my everyday life.