Accidental Inspiration



I just got the nicest note from a colleague regarding my post about Loyalty. He said: “You always tend to inspire me to take more action and to improve my self-discipline.” What a great way to start my day, knowing I was an inspiration for someone else.

I’ve heard this a few times during the last 18 months of making positive changes in my life.

When I spent a year losing 40 pounds, a few people told me I inspired them.

Then I spent eight weeks turning myself into a morning person who gets up at 4:30 a.m. and a few more people said I inspired them.

Then I decided to quit drinking alcohol 24 days ago and, you guessed it, more inspired people.

Inspiration for Others

Here’s the thing. I haven’t done any of these things to inspire anyone else. I’ve done all of them for me, and the inspiration is just a byproduct.

Don’t get me wrong. I love being an inspiration to others. Making positive changes is rewarding, and knowing you might inspire others to do the same adds even more motivation to succeed.

Most of the time, when I start working on a big change, I tell others about it so they can help hold me accountable.

Sometimes people just notice, like my colleague Stuart.

Work every day on being the best version of yourself. You might inspire someone else to follow your example.

Photo by Thought Catalog


loyaltyLet’s talk about loyalty.

I celebrated my 26th anniversary at American Family Insurance this month. Go ahead. Make your old guy jokes. I’ll wait…

Ok, with that out of the way, here’s a quick overview of what 26 years of loyalty to one employer has looked like for me.

  • 3 states (MN, IA, WI)
  • 4 cities (Eden Prairie, Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Madison)
  • 6 offices + 3 years of working from home
  • 5 divisions
  • 9 job titles plus 8+ months working and coaching in our lean startup innovation accelerator
  • 18 different managers

I tried to remember how many desks I’ve occupied, but we move around so often that any number I come up with would only be an estimate. I’ve definitely had more desks than titles, though, and probably more desks than managers.

The reaction I get when I tell people outside the company I’ve been there 26 years is priceless. But inside the company, I live firmly between two groups of people–those who’ve been there less than 5 years and those who’ve been there more than 40. My tenure just isn’t a big deal. As a matter of fact, it’s almost impossible to attend a meeting where there isn’t at least one person in the room who’s been there longer than I have. Longevity is the norm, at least for the time being.

What is loyalty?

People tend to call long-term employees loyal, but loyalty is not the same thing as years of service or willingness to move to a different city or office. Those things don’t mean much if you’re not increasing, or at least maintaining, your level of motivation and passion for your work every year. I’m 50 years old with 26 years of service behind me, and I’m more engaged than ever. Every day I show up driven to do whatever it takes to serve customers, business partners and colleagues, and to learn as much as possible to be an even better employee tomorrow. That’s loyalty.

It’s a two-way street, though. The company has also shown its loyalty to me, especially this past year when they encouraged me to pursue my passion for innovation by allowing me to step away from my marketing job for a year to work on an innovation team and develop my coaching skills in our Ignite lean startup accelerator.

I’ll always be grateful to my leadership team for approving my request, and to my social media marketing colleagues for taking on extra work every day for a year so I could pursue my dream. How do I pay them back? It starts by continuing to bring my best self to the office every day.

That’s what this blog is about; building and maintaining my best self every day, both at work and at home. I’ve been disrupting myself for the past 18 months, and that disruption will continue. Stick around, and I’ll share stories about how I’m accelerating my life and taking control of my future.

It’s never too late, and I’m here to prove it.

Photo by Patrick Hendry on Unsplash