An Epiphany, The Big Mistake, Cue Jimmy Hendrix, Learning to Shrug
“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort, the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders - What would you tell him?” I… don’t know. What…could he do? What would you tell him?”
— Ayn Rand (Atlas Shrugged)
Good morning, we made it to Friday; how about a high five! I left home yesterday at about 6:15 a.m., headed to Golden to host a relationship-building meeting. I arrived there early, picked up a Choice 2.2-liter glass-lined stainless-steel air pot with a lever. Next, I set up the room; we were expecting 12, many of our members were on vacation or had a conflict, one of our members is suffering from COVID. Get well, Kevin.
We checked in with the question, who are you? If you could have lunch or a cocktail with any historical figure, dead or alive, who would it be and why and what do you do for money, honey? The results ranged from Robin Williams to Einstein to Uncle Hunter S. Thompson; I’ll let you guess my pick. A guest speaker joined us, he was a ranch owner, and he lost his ranch last year in the Granby Fires. He had developed a coaching practice working through the horse to determine the owner’s needs; it was a tremendous insight into the minds of horse owners—a unique breed of human.
Years ago, my wife and I had a horse farm in Atlanta, Indiana. We would drive from our Carmel home, well, one of us each day, and feed the horses. My wife rides; she’s pretty good; she rode as a child and during a midlife crisis had to buy a horse, then a farm, and then that phase ended. So, we sold the farm, sold our Carmel home, and moved downtown to Indianapolis. We scraped a house, asked our builder to make it look like something from Boulder, CO, and moved in late 2014 to our dream home. Also, in 2014 I discovered a passion for Colorado. Imagine building your dream home and finding your lover 1187 miles away; that love was not a person; it was a place.
I had made a mistake and went to Boulder, CO, on vacation with my kids; my heart connected with the people, the mountains, and the blue sky. I felt a calling to a place like I had never felt before. I had an epiphany sitting in Boulder, Creek; I thought, this is my place, these are my people; I hatched a plan to get my partner to see my version of paradise in the coming weeks.
After getting my partner to drink the purple Kool-Aid, I scored a speaking gig for 90 people, giving me some credibility 1187 miles from home. Then, in late 2015, I asked my partner if I could try my hand at spending one week a month in Denver to develop business. I rented an office from an accountant in Arvada, CO, and the first week of January flew out, got a rental car, VRBO, and called my landlord. He had shared when renting the office; he had a road map; I asked first steps, he referred me to a meeting happening tomorrow at 7:00 a.m., be there.
I showed up, I met five people, and from those five people found a company to buy in the next few months; we leased a place from April 2016 to October and then purchased a condo downtown in the heart of our new second city. We had determined we were Chicago people until that point, but Denver had blue skies and a progressive approach to life we had not experienced. I’m a conservative, but something about the “woo” attracted these two cornfield kids.
We lived in the condo for two years, began building our presence with the help of a sales team. We used our midwestern team to service the needs of our new client base; we learned about time zones that traffic in Denver was different than in Indy, we made our way, and over dinner one night at a client’s restaurant, my partner said, “I can’t do Condo living!” So I asked, “can we buy a mountain house, and may I start my training business?
At the time, we were flying weekly, one week in Indy, one week in Denver. We looked at over 50 homes and found our mountain top chalet in Morrison, CO. My friend heard we were looking in Evergreen, his advice, look in Conifer, you get more bang for your buck. So we did, and he was right; I owe Bruce daily for his straightforward advice. We bought our mountain home with a fantastic view in July of 2018, we were going to sell the condo, but our daughter indicated she wanted to join our firm and live in Denver and share rent with us.
We first treated the mountain house as a vacation home, only going during the weekends. I had too many commitments downtown to make the weeknights work, but after a few months of living in three houses, we decided to move to the mountain and restructure our life. I resigned from most of my downtown groups, began searching mountain towns for relationship-building opportunities; we would now live one week in Indy, one week in CO, but live on top of a mountain.
This life was unique; we flew every week for four years, that’s 208 flights; we have earned an insane number of points with Southwest which we now use to fly our family and friends from IN to CO. Then, in early March of 2020, we were faced with a choice, do we lock down in Urban Indy, Urban Denver, or Rural Colorado on top of a mountain. We chose the latter, and it was a life-changing decision. We learned we no longer had to travel weekly; in fact, that was a little silly, but no “ragrets.” We had an extraordinary life, but it was time to evolve. We got stuck on the mountain for five months; it was a mind-opening and mind-bending experience, cue Jimmy Hendrix.
We formed long-lasting friendships with our neighbors and folks in the area; we decided that we would no longer fly, we got a pandemic dog, we would now live two months on a mountain and one month in the valley. We would drive the 1800 miles over three days using VRBO’s along our way, it’s a dream life, and I’m pinching myself at our good fortune. We have a new life, I’ve had many, but this is my favorite. I have no disrespect or disdain for any of my previous days; each moment brought me to this point.
I’m leaving in a bit to meet 14 men and one woman for my monthly men’s meeting. I’m there to become a better human, and I suggest you do the same. I’m the happiest man you will meet today; I got married in March, got our first granddaughter 18 months ago, and our last kid will get married in November. All three kids hit home runs with their mates and are now living their best life. We will remain here and Indy until the next chapter unfolds; I’m looking at land in Costa Rica; I think that might be our next adventure.
All this to say, if you can dream it, the universe and something bigger than yourself will deliver your wildest dream. As I pen these thoughts, the sun is coming up, my wife is stirring, I’ve had 3 cups of joe, and my fireplace is warming due to the chill in the air in this early fall of 2021. My dog has joined me on the bean as I have shared these chapters of my life, don’t envy thy neighbor, throw caution to the wind and find your dream life. Who is John Galt? I know and am happy to introduce you to him, but only if you are ready.
“I started my life with a single absolute: that the world was mine to shape in the image of my highest values and never to be given up to a lesser standard, no matter how long or hard the struggle.”
— Ayn Rand