Reflections on 2023


As I reflect on 2023, I experienced two main things:

  1. It was a challenging year
  2. It was a growthful year

Of course, there is a strong relationship between my challenges and my growth. I take the attitude in life that any challenge I experience is 100% of the time here to make me a stronger, more connected human. This is the warrior spirit I aspire to embody every day of my life. 

This year my challenges delivered some serious leadership lessons. Here are four of the big ones.

Leadership lesson 1

Don’t fight people who demonstrate they can’t get it, won’t get it, and never take any responsibility. They don’t deserve a second of my time. Walk away. 

Leadership lesson 2 

Don’t step too far back with someone or something you claim you value. If you do, it creates a void for dark, negative leadership and energy to step in. 

Leadership lesson 3

When you take years to create something deeply meaningful, find a way to continue to value it, treasure it, and hold it, even if your attention is moving elsewhere.   

These lessons remind me of the garden metaphor. I use it all the time when I teach about partnership. 

It goes something like this…

Treat your partnership (or anything you value) like a beautiful garden. When you take the “garden” view, you understand that if you’re not attending to the garden daily, the weeds will come in and take over. The “weeds” show up as growing further apart, distancing, not successfully working through conflict, missing the underlying deeper issues that keep you stuck, and the justification that you no longer like, or are attracted to, this person you once were so committed to. This neglect and stuckness lay the seeds for resentments, unresolved hurt feelings, an affair, a breakup, and eventually a divorce because the gap has grown insurmountable. When we “fall asleep” in the areas of our life we claim we care about, the weeds will slowly take over.  

I think this metaphor applies to a lot of things in life and in next week’s newsletter, I’ll unpack it a bit more. 

Leadership lesson 4

Social media has negatively impacted my mental health so I’m rethinking it.

This one is a certain kind of leadership lesson. I go through different stages with this, but as someone who has influence and creates content on social media almost daily, I don’t like that it consumes so much of my time and energy. I also don’t like how I feel when I’m on there at times. 

I’m in the question, “How do I want to play the social media game in a way that is in integrity for me while serving others?”  I will be writing more on this soon, but I’m reworking my relationship with social media as we speak. Stay tuned.

My Growthful Year

My wins almost always come from my painful lessons as you can see above. Most of the time, I come out as a stronger person, partner, parent, leader, teacher, friend and boss. 


I deepened many friendships and went on several bro trips with my closest male friends. From mountain biking to psychedelic experiences, I continue to value my time with men. My men’s group was there for me every two weeks and it’s a critical support system in my life. I also met some amazing new friends and am eager to see where the seeds of these new connections will grow. 

Time off

As I continued to re-orient the direction I wanted to go in my life, I needed space. I needed time. I needed to step back from my business, my screens, and my constant “trying to figure it all out.” 

Thus, I took over 75 days off this year with family friends, creative time, healing time, and a few business trips. That’s the most time off I’ve taken since before starting the Relationship School.


My wife and I had some amazing times together and we co-led an excellent Present Centered Couples Coaching training that we both co-designed over our combined 40 years of experience. We continued to balance our parenting with prioritizing each other. She stood by me through the hard leadership lessons. I’m so grateful for her and our connection. We’ve got some ideas cooking about the future too! More soon on that.

As a family, we traveled a lot and spent so much quality time together. We traveled to Costa Rica, Indiana, Park City, Buena Vista, Florida. We didn’t get to our happy place, the Utah desert, for the first time in years. That was sad for sure. But we got in our family backpack trip in the Colorado mountains. Wow, was this another epic backpacking trip! It’s so good to get our kids outdoors in the elements for days and teach them how to live and thrive out there with no phones, no tech, and no toilet. Ha ha. 

I also took my son on an 8th-grade graduation father/son trip to Florida birding and scuba diving. It was awesome. My relationship with him continues to deepen and develop. We talk openly about his changing body, his sexuality, his fears, dreams, and goals. He’s an inspiration.  

We are now doing a weekly family meeting every Sunday. Lots of powerful stuff goes down in that meeting. Perhaps Ellen and I will share more on a podcast. 


My health continues to be a high value. I’m still lifting weights and have never felt stronger. And, I have so much more to go! But being over 50, my health is a deadly serious matter now. I want to live beyond 100 and have deep relationships with my grandkids (if I’m so fortunate). Another awesome thing is my wife and I share this high value now. She’s always been way more on it with her health than me, but now that both of us are lifting heavy things and talking constantly about optimizing this part of our lives. It’s so challenging and fun. I’m grateful I have a partner who invests so much in her health and well-being. Many of my male friends are all over this part of their life too so we rib each other and compete with each other to stay accountable to our fitness goals. 

A few other highs worth reporting. 

  • I was on national TV in Canada speaking about the importance of the conflict-repair cycle in all our most important relationships
  • I performed a new spoken word poem at the MAPS psychedelic conference in Denver. (It’s on my YouTube channel)
  • I became a Wall Street Journal best-selling author
  • I put out a new video on YouTube almost every week (I missed a few here and there) and I’ll be investing more time on YouTube in 2024. 
  • I learned video editing software and began the process of making awesome “how to” YT videos. Here’s a popular one.
  • I reunited with some old friends which felt amazing
  • I met new friends which has been eye-opening and heart-opening.
  • I spoke in Toronto in front of over 100 entrepreneurs and dropped a spoken word poem at the end of my talk, which got awesome reviews
  • I presented my work on the conflict-repair cycle in California with about 25 entrepreneurs
  • Ellen and I did a private couples workshop locally
  • I learned to juggle clubs

My relationship with myself continues to evolve. I always have a therapist and a coach and of course my men’s group. But the most helpful place I learned about myself is in my partnership. My wife has a way of not only surfacing old wounds of mine, but she’s my biggest fan and supports me in becoming the best version of me possible. 

My therapist and I are working on this little pocket of my relationship to myself, which at times, isn’t great. Overall I really like being me, but when things are not going well, I tend to not like who I am and get sucked into an old pattern of mine. 

With all of this, it was another good year. 

A very memorable one. 

And, like you, I don’t like going through the hard stuff. But I know I can do it as I have a lot of support in my life and I always come out the other side a better person. 

What was your year like?

Have you taken the time to reflect?

Here’s a simple exercise:

Pick the 1-3 hardest things and journal about them. Ask yourself, what did this teach me? How did I become stronger through it? If it’s still going on, and I’m struggling still, what exactly am I doing to prioritize working through it? 

Pick 1-3 victories you had and celebrate it. 

A quick reminder that if something bad happens in our lives, it can often eclipse the good progress we made or the great experiences we had. Sometimes my daughter will come home from school and report she had a terrible day. When I ask for more details, we eventually get to the good stuff too, that I don’t want her to forget. I’m not invalidating her bad day. I always start by validating her hard day, but I know there’s more to the story, so I help her remember the truth as I believe it helps her build character, perspective, and resiliency. 

So, don’t forget the good and try your best to feel the good as having happened. Savor those moments as another challenging wave will probably come. 

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