24 Day Challenge

So I just completed the AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge and I thought I’d share a few thoughts from the experience.

Over the years, I’ve looked at a lot of different diet & supplement programs (including Advocare) and had never found anything that looked particular worth jumping in to. I’d managed to lose weight once or twice, but it always came back. Over the last 6 months or so, I’ve felt particularly out of shape and out of energy, so when my friend Johnnie started on AdvoCare this winter and saw some success, I thought I’d give it a shot.

First of all… I did lose weight. Not earth shattering numbers, but progress is good. I ended up losing 10lbs over the 24 days. There are definitely people who have lost more, but I can’t complain about a great start.

More importantly, though, my energy level has been incredible. As a personal goal/challenge, I not only jumped in to the challenge, but took those 24 days and cut out all coffee as well. I literally don’t think I have have felt this consistently awake and energetic at any point over the last 18 months. To me, this is the point of healthy eating and living.

For the next 30 days or so, my plan is to continue with the supplements and shakes and get back into a regular exercise routine (I was walking fairly regularly last fall). My goal is to lose another 35lbs by mid summer. You can check out the AdvoCare line at ChrisMarsden.com/AdvoCare. (BTW… AdvoCare is a great business opp and I’m an independant distributor, but seriously, the products and the endorsements speak for themselves).


When It All Just Clicks

This past week has been one of the craziest, busiest weeks of recent memory. I’m wearing extra hats at work, had a few extra events to manage, and had a few hiccups in a few of those event details that made for extra work and stress than what I was even prepared for.

On top of that… I have a few business projects that are really clicking into place. Not only do they look like solid projects that will pay fairly, they look like they are going to be fun. And the scope of the work is right up the alley of what I am really good at.

And then there is our new Tuesday night schedule. On the wrong week, we have to have all 3 girls in 4 different places on both sides of town.

And yet… it all is just clicking nicely. Seriously. I have never been busier. I have never had this much responsibility at work (and the potential stress that goes with it). And I have rarely felt like things have been this good.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m feeling pretty drained today. I think the weather has me feeling, well, under the weather. And there was a moment or two, briefly, when I thought, “this might be too much for one person.”

But somewhere in the last few months, everything has just clicked. Can’t wait to see what God has in store for me next.

What’s Next

I think one of my greatest strengths as an individual has become one of my greatest roadblocks working on a team. The ability to answer the question, “What’s next?”

In my personal life and my various business projects, I often have a pretty specific picture of the next steps that are coming up. We know where we want to be in a few years, we know the three or four intermediary steps we need to take, and we have an approximate timeline to get us from step to step.

If roadblocks come up, we take a step back, re-evaluate, decide if we are still heading in the right direction, figure out the next course of action, and make things happen.

When I worked  on smaller teams, this is about how it worked. And I was almost always in the conversation, even if only as a passive observer. But as the teams I’ve worked on have gotten bigger and the projects I’m a part of have reached a new level of complexity, I sometimes have to serve in my role without a clear picture of what comes next.

On my best days, I let the uncertainty of the future become fuel for creativity and optimism. On my worst days, though, I allow it to become a trap. That simple question ends up feeling like captivity to the whims of a vindictive overlord. Sound too dramatic?

One of the big themes for last year was planning. Maybe that emphasized for me the areas where I felt like I had less control of the plan, initially, but I realized something part way through the year. The details of my plan – the what’s next – is less relevant than the values and direction that inform the plan. In other words, what I want to be true about me as I head in the direction that I see God leading me is more important than when I arrive at particular milestones or the particular steps that get me there. And ultimately, it is more important than even arriving at all.

So what’s next? I continue to plan for my personal, family, business, and ministry futures. I continue to watch for the doors God is opening and pray that they are successful and a good fit. And I continue to fall back on the values that define me as me whenever I wonder about the details of what’s next.

BTW… a few of us are spending some time in early February in St. Augustine wrestling with these questions. Want to join us?

Planning the Future

I’m a big believer in planning your future. I know there are details and obstacles that will get in the way. I know the plan won’t be executed perfectly. But I also know you have to plan. I haven’t always been that way.

Last year a few friends and I got together to make a plan for 2013. We were tired of watching years at a time slip by without any obvious progress towards a better future. After a few days of talking and brainstorming, we had a direction for a new year.

And we had something else, too. We had accidentally packaged together a 3 day retreat, perfect for anyone who wants to make a difference in the world. 3 days of looking at the future, their lives and goals, and setting up a plan for a better year.

We ran the retreat again for one of those friends whole church staff. I’ve started the conversation with a couple of people in one-on-one coaching. And as we close 2013, instead of 3 friends having a better planned year, we have 7 people who are on better journeys.

Don’t get me wrong. Obstacles got in the way. We missed milestones and realized we left important steps out completely. But looking back a year later, we have laid the foundation not just for a better year, but for a better decade.

I’m excited to see how the continuation of sharing our experience with more people changes the future of humanity.

The #FUTURE is coming. Hope you can join us.

A New Year

For most of my life, the “new year” has always started with fall. Back to School. Cool(er) weather. A fresh start. “New Years”, was just the end of the Christmas Break. It was the signal to head back to the grindstone.

With 3 little girls in school, a wife who teaches, and a ministry calendar that tends to see the pause between Christmas and New Years as a much needed breath before the onslaught of Easter, not much has changed. Except a genuine desire to pause and reflect and start fresh.

The last few days of 2013 and the first few of this new year have found me excited and encouraged by the potential for a new year. 2013 was hard. It was busy and it was challenging. We (finally) opened the doors on CPR Global, we launched Dylan’s Dogs, we moved away from the house that we are still fighting the bank about. And I spent much of the year struggling through the what’s and the why’s of where I had landed.

And yet I find myself at the beginning of another year, hopeful for a future that is still uncertain. I continue to plan, knowing that often those plans are just a direction to aim rather than a map to follow, and I hope. I hope that dreams are realized, that plans fall into place, that questions are answered, and that next year, as the calendars are refreshed once again, that I will continue to hope.

Summer Living

20130813-085951.jpgIn my mind, when I think of summer, I picture warm days, a slower pace, late evenings watching the sun set. This morning I’m sitting on my back porch enjoying the world coming to life around me, coffee in hand, music playing. The humidity is low, the temperature tolerable. It’s a week away from back to school and this might honestly be the first slow moment all summer.

I’m not sure when or how it happened, but those slow summer days that play in my head just haven’t been real for several years. My summers seem to be as busy, and sometimes busier, than my normal hectic schedule driven life. Where is that tropical beach in my head? Where are the lazy days by the pool.

This summer I visited/drove through 5 states, flew to 1 other, manned a booth for our new(ish) non-profit project, taught a 3 day leadership training workshop, drove to St. Pete a few times, and never visited the beach once. Did I mention we also moved this summer?

I have got to slow down.

Typically people make New Year’s Resolutions in late December or early January – it is, after all, New Year’s. For me, though, the year has always started with September. I’m not stopping to make pages of unrealistic resolutions. I have a couple big goals I’m working on over the next 12-18 months, but the one that is hitting me this morning as I get ready to ramp back up to full speed is I really need to slow down. I need to spend time each day with less noise and busyness and more quiet reflection. I need to write. I need to read. I need to enjoy the wonder of the world around me.

At some point I need to take all that and make SMART goals for the next season, but for now I’m just going to slow down, drink my coffee, and watch the world come to life.

Where Is This Going?

Do you remember watching that first season of Lost? A simple plane crash that leads to mystery. And the question… Where is this going?

My wife and I watched season 1 on DVD over the course of 3 or 4 days. It was amazing. The stories of the survivors. The mystery of the Island. The Others. And as we watched the final episode… Where is this going?

So as we waited for season 2 to air, we watched the behind the scenes of season 1 and I realized something. Nobody knows where this thing is going. Six seasons later, and re-watching the series a couple times, I’m pretty sure I was right.

Let’s contrast that with Harry Potter, a boy who should have died at the age of 1 but will instead go on to defeat the ultimate evil villain. Whether you are a fan of the books, the movies, or both, what we find a consistent storyline that progress from Harry as a young hero on to Harry as the ultimate victor.

What’s the difference? The last chapter of the last Harry Potter book was written almost 7 years before it was finally published. Whereas Jack Shepherd, one of the key characters in the Lost series, was originally slated to die in the pilot.

Rowling knew where Harry was going. Abrams knew there was a guy named Jack Shepherd.

So what does this mean for me?

It means, I want a plan for my life. Not a vague idea of where I might be headed, but an actual plan. This past winter, a couple of us sat down and talked through what it would mean if we actually wrote down the values we were striving to live by and the dreams that were yet unfilled. What do we hope is true 10 years from now? What can we aim for?

Now we can’t predict the future. And in the short 5 months since we sat down, there have already been some detours and changes of plan. And yet, this year has been so much more focused than the previous 5 (or so).

There is still a long way to go until we reach that 10 year mark, and I know there will need to be some adjustments to the plan from time to time, but I am looking forward to living the next 10 years on purpose. I am the main character of my story, not some extra who may or may not make it out of the first episode.

A New Chapter

So often, people talk about starting a new chapter whenever they talk about a new segment of their lives. But this feels like a new book. CPR Global is kicking off strong with D Cubed. We are getting ready to officially launch a couple new projects later this spring and open up applications for future projects starting this summer.

The problem is, it doesn’t feel like a new chapter. It feels like a new book. Written in a foreign language. With a plot structure that isn’t remotely familiar.

For the last 15 years, I’ve worked for churches. It is never boring, but the rules have been basically the same. Whether it was a Church as small as 50 or as many as 14,000; wether I had the title of  youth minister, associate minister or tech director, I basically understood “the rules”.

So now I’m co-leading a not-for-profit business that is pursuing individual and corporate sponsorships leading projects that will (hopefully) change the future. And “the rules” are gone. The language is vaguely familiar, but I can’t quite place the accent.

The future is uncertain; the book is only beginning. But I am loving the story so far.

When Dreams Come True

I remember taking my girls to Disney a few years back. They had high hopes as we got in line to meet the princesses. We had high levels of impatience as we waiting in line with all the other little girls and their overly impatient parents for our turn.

And then we were in. Second to last in a batch of people. Each taking their turn, talking to the princesses, moving to the next. And then we were free. Free to head out and enjoy some rides. My girls had fun, but as a Dad who has waited in far too many lines in one day, I was ready to do something else.

“Wait a second, sir.”

Crap! This Disney attendant has somehow sucked us back in. And for what?!?

5 mins later and my girlies are enjoying their very own private session with all 3 princesses. They got to talk and laugh and dance. It was a dream come true, and I’m not sure it was even a dream they knew they had.

That’s how the last few weeks have felt. 15/16 years ago, @phatrok and I started dreaming some dreams. Out of those dreams came the next iteration of Phat Rok’s Bean Krib. Out of those dreams came countless small projects, our work with FCYC, some crazy nights and the airport, and countless adventures. And out of those dreams came CPR Global. It literally is a dream come true. And yet we couldn’t have predicted this moment back in those days at FCC.

The last few weeks have been a blur as we launched our first project (and as we prepare to launch our second). It has been exciting to see fans like us on Facebook or Twitter and to see money start to roll in. And I keep pinching myself and thinking, can this be real? Or is this just a dream I didn’t even know I was hoping for.

And then I think about the dreams to come. The dreams that will be fulfilled through the projects we will lead. The dreams that kids don’t even know they are hoping to have fulfilled.

You know. I’m not sure this is a dream come true. I think it is just the start of a dream with an amazing future.