Character

How to look good on the Internet.

Last Wednesday, my wife and I took our daughters to the new American Girl Doll store in Nashville.

My kids had gift cards from a friend and were eager to snatch a doll from the cold hands of the grave. That sentence took a dark turn but American Girl Doll will “archive” dolls, taking them off the market for years if not forever. My kids have decided this marketing method is akin to killing the doll. Occasionally they will say chilling sentences like this to me: “They killed Samantha but now they brought her back, so she’s like zombie Samantha.”

Internet

While we were in the store, I took a photo of my daughters and was going to post it on Instagram. I was planning to caption it with this:

“How do you balance business travel and home life? You take your kids to the American Girl Doll store at 10:45AM on a Wednesday.”

That’s a true idea. I’ve learned in the last two years that part of the key to travel is that when you’re home you need to really be home. I need to take time during the week to be present with my family. Morning daddy/daughter dates, early afternoon adventures and summer Fridays when I stop working early help offset the days I travel. It helps with parenting and it helps with marriage, too.

Right before I posted the photo, I asked myself in the middle of the mall, “Why am I really doing this?”

I wasn’t posting the photo to help other business travelers with an idea that worked for me.

I wasn’t posting the photo to share a fun family moment.

I wasn’t posting the photo so that years later I could dig back through digital archives and remember that time at the store.

I was posting that photo because I wanted strangers to think I was a good dad.

I was posting that photo because I was worried that strangers thought I traveled all the time and was a bad dad.

I might not have vocalized it, but what was really going on in my head was this:

“I bet some people think I’m never home. I post photos of my travels, but not a lot of my home life so it probably feels out of balance. If I share this photo of the American Girl Doll store, maybe people will think I’m a good dad.”

That thought in itself is ridiculous, but here’s where it gets super stupid.

I was ignoring my kids to write a caption for a photo I was sharing in order to convince people I was a good dad.

In summary, I was being a bad dad in real life in order to look like a good dad on social media.

Hitting pause before I hit publish gave me a second to realize a few things.

1. No one online has ever said I’m a bad dad.
2. Even if strangers online said I was a bad dad, who cares? They don’t really know me.
3. Sometimes I miss moments in my attempt to document them.

That third one is a bit of an epidemic right now and the reason is that a significant shift happened in social media a few years ago.

We used to use social media to document moments we experienced. Now we use it to create moments so that we can document them.

We stage our lives because the whole world is a stage.

Instead of being present to a moment with my kids, I tried to use the moment to create a message about who I was as a dad.

Don’t do that.

It’s dumb.

Post lots of photos. Share lots of updates. Have a ton of fun on social media. I love it and will continue to use it in healthy ways. I am going to wear out the Acuff family hashtag, #WickedAwesomeAcuffSummer but only when my motives are honest.

Hit pause before you publish.

Don’t perform for strangers you’ll never meet. Be present to the people you’re actually with.

Skills

How to get motivated every time you open your phone this summer.

According to the calendar, summer officially started last Sunday, but according to the #DOSummer2015 hashtag on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, it’s been in full swing for a couple weeks.

In fact, as of Monday over 10,000 people have downloaded the #DOSummer Checklist!

Already working on the checklist? Awesome! (Don’t have one yet? It’s a simple, free PDF that will help you work through all your goals this summer. Click here and I’ll send it to you.)

I thought it would be fun if every time you opened your phone you got motivated to stay on top of your DO Summer goals, so I created these lock screens. The goal of DO Summer is to help you spend 1,500 minutes doing something awesome this summer via 15 minute chunks of time.

It’s impossible to climb a mountain with one step but you’d be surprised how easy it is to knock things out in 15-minute segments. Every time you open your phone, you’ll be reminded to complete another 15 minutes of something you care about. Click the links below to open a new tab and save the one you want.

lockscreenoptions

OPTION 1

OPTION 2

Hopefully you can make one of these three resolutions work for you, depending on the phone you have.

(For iPhone users, save the image on your phone and use as wallpaper. They work best if you turn “Perspective Zoom” off and pinch the image so it fits perfectly into your screen size.)

Don’t forget to post your updates every Monday with the #DOSummer2015 hashtag!

Hustle

Short cuts are fun, but fictional.

My friend produces albums. (If you live in Nashville for longer than 19 minutes you too will be able to say that sentence.)

He often meets young musicians and noticed that their narrative is changing. The new thing that fresh off the bus musicians  tell him is, “If you produce my EP for free, I’ll split the licensing money when the songs get put into commercials and TV shows.”

At this point, my friend tries not to giggle, because saying that is akin to saying, “I’ll split my Grammy money with you.” He also knows that in 8 years of producing albums, the biggest check he got for licensing a song for a commercial was $5,000, split 6 ways. Granted, once you’ve netted a cool $833.33, you’ve got it made. You can now buy 1/74th of a Rolex President Watch.

When you move to Nashville it takes longer than an hour to get a song on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. It could take a whole weekend to get a record deal. Headlining tours sometimes take an entire month for you to land.

It’s a real hassle and the worst part is that it’s not just the music industry. Turns out it takes a lot of hard work to accomplish anything lasting in any industry.

Short cuts are fun, but fictional.

Don’t lose hope when you don’t get one.

Don’t give up because a producer won’t cut your album for free.

Don’t feel like a failure because you failed to win the lottery.

Put your head down, work three part time jobs and sing your heart out. Save up to get one song recorded. Turn that into two. Work that into three.

It might take you years, but that’s OK.

Slow success turns into long success. Quick success enters and exits our lives at the same speed.

Hustle

A stupid lie I believed when I quit my last job. (And why you shouldn’t believe it.)

“Do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”

That’s one of those syrupy, motivational statements you see floating about the Internet. It’s often plastered on a photo of someone standing on a vista overlooking a mountain range, the ocean, a unicorn or all three if you happen to live in the Pacific Northwest where those items are all found.

Is it true though?

If you find something you love doing, will you never work a day in your life?

If you discover a passion that fills you up, will you ever have to work again?

If you dig up your calling from the millions of options and find the “one,” does your sense of work end?

The short answer, for the population of people who are no longer reading long blogs, is no.

The long answer, for those who like long form ideas, is still no.

I spent 15 years working in corporate America. Twenty-one months ago, I had a huge Do Over and ended up writing full time. I secretly believed that since I loved writing, I would never have to work again. I thought that any sort of drudgery or disappointment or hard work was behind me.

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Hustle

Please stop telling me you’re too busy.

Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to look for a new job and then show me your perfectly detailed fantasy football team.

Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to write your novel and then give me intricate plot details about the six television shows you’re watching.

Please don’t tell me you’re too busy to update your resume and then update your social media accounts incessantly.

Time

We are a busy people. Our clocks are thin and tired, our schedules full and bloated.

But somehow we find a way to give our time to a host of wonderful distractions.

There is a reason the average 21-year-old has played 10,000 hours of video games.

There is a reason the average American watches 35 hours of television a week according to Nielsen.

There is a reason American companies lose an estimated $6.5 billion during the 15-week fantasy football season.

Time is a squirrely thing. It only goes where you tell it to go. It has no mind of its own. It won’t naturally gravitate to things that matter or work you really care about. It always looks for the easy way out.

This summer, I dare you to rescue some time. Not all of it, just a little. I’m talking about 15 minutes. I don’t care how busy you are, you have 15 minutes hidden somewhere in your day.

I dare you to rescue that tiny amount each day and then watch what happens this summer. That first 15 minutes will grow into 30 and then 45 and then 60. By the end of the summer, you will have worked for 1,500 minutes. You will have 25, on purpose, goal-crushing hours under your belt.

I’m rescuing my time this summer because I love Netflix too much. If I open up the app, it’s all over. I can’t just watch one episode of a TV show. My hours will be swallowed up by show after show after show. So instead, I’m going to DO Summer.

If you’re with me, sign up to get the free PDF I created to track time. Pick one skill you want to give your 15 minutes to and then get going.

Time won’t find you. You have to find it.

Get started right here.

Character

I got fired from a job because I didn’t listen to Louis CK

I got fired from my second grown up job.

I was 23 years old and working at a small startup tech company as a writer.

I lasted there about 4 months until they let me go. It was the right decision on their part. I was a terrible employee.

When they would give me feedback, I would ignore it and instead write what I wanted to. When they would correct me, I would inwardly roll my eyes, disappointed they were unable to fully recognize my genius. When they would ask me to work harder or redo something, I would huff and puff at the inconvenience they had just thrust upon my day.

One afternoon, they had experienced enough of the Jon Acuff show and fired me.

The problem wasn’t my age, I know lots of wonderful 23 year olds who are capable of amazing things. It was my attitude that blinded me to the simple fact that I was there to do the work they hired me to do, not the work I wanted to do. I was their employee. You would think that arrangement would be painfully obvious and yet, so many people, of varying ages, seem to forget that.

Have you ever hired a developer to build a website? Sometimes in the middle of the project, as you give feedback on changes you’d like made, they get frustrated. They revolt and act like they are client. As you write an apologetic email to them, expressing your regret that you see a few things they need to fix, it will hit you, “Wait, I am paying them money. I’m the client. I hired them to do work, not the other way around. Why do I feel guilty right now?” (Great developers, and there are many, know that if you want to absolutely dominate the marketplace, you should never make a client feel like this.)

Comedian Louis CK commented on this phenomenon recently on Late Night with Seth Myers. When he was in his mid 20s, writing for the Conan O’Brien show, he forgot how work worked.

“I was in my twenties, so I just thought that I wanted to get my stuff on the show. Now I know that I was working for people that I should have been helping because they were giving me money. If somebody hires you to do anything and they pay you money that you then go live your life with, you should really want to do anything that they need. At the time I didn’t believe that.”

I didn’t believe that either and I got fired.

You will too if you’re not careful.

Whether you’re 23 or 53, don’t show up to work like they’re doing you a favor. Show up like they are paying you to do something and then go do that something. Show up helpful. Show up grateful. Show up humble.

Listen to Louis CK.

It just might save your job.