Permission to Fail

A few years ago, one of my friends introduced me to indoor bouldering. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the activity, bouldering is basically rock climbing without harnesses or ropes.

Contrary to what I thought, my ability to do pullups did not mean that I was automatically going to excel at this indoor activity. I remember going every month, bumming off of my friend’s guest pass, and usually going home with patches of skin missing from my hands.

I had an interesting problem when it came to bouldering: oftentimes when a few handholds away from the end of the route, I would panic, and begin to downclimb instead of using my energy to finish the climb. As my arms would fill with blood and become pumped, as I was ascending, a fear of falling would completely override any desire that I had to complete the ascent.

My friend was always super encouraging and would do her best to coach me on how to climb these fairly basic routes. And yet, most of the time, I’m ashamed to admit, that I couldn’t even hear her, over the sound of my internal thoughts telling me that I was incapable of finishing the route.

I remember watching Youtube videos and realizing that I was really just afraid of falling off of the wall. In fact, I would rather, embarrass myself and not even try to make it the last part of the way, than to try and fail.

I remember using one entire session trying to practice letting go of the wall at different parts to get over my fear of falling. But even then, that fear remained.


As I internally processed this fear of falling and failure I began to realize that this fear went beyond indoor bouldering.

One day, while wondering why I was so afraid of falling, I remembered a long erased memory. When I was maybe 10 or 11, I was rock climbing with a harness and the person who was supposed to be belaying me dropped me halfway down the wall before the rope caught me.

Suck it up, and get over it right? That happened a long time ago right?


Upon some further processing, I realized that due to childhood experiences and trauma I experienced in my life, I actually have a crippling fear of failing.

Most of my Asian friends can relate with bringing back 90-99% test scores, and still being told that ninety anything wasn’t 100%. I remember being homeschooled and writing and re-writing my papers until my teachers were satisfied with them. Somewhere in the high-performance environment, I completely lost the ability to create anything that wasn’t “perfect.”

As life continued, I became painfully aware of the fact that I could never actually be perfect. UCI’s engineering program kicked my ass and I winded up on academic probation for two straight quarters, got kicked out of engineering, and scraped by miraculously by getting into the school of social sciences for business economics. In my relationships and friendships, I realized that I could not in fact always say the right things. In fact, I could never seem to be on everyone’s good side.

I chased approval from all the authority figures in my life and acceptance from all of those I cared about, yet I seemed to fall short every. single. time.

To a healthy person, who understood that perfection was a myth, this might have just been a minor setback, but to me who somehow believed that perfection was not only attainable but expected, this crushed me.

I sunk into despair and paralysis as I struggled to find fulfillment in a life where it was clear that I could not impress anyone nor myself.


After years of not pursuing what I was passionate about and not creating for fear of creating something subpar, I began a very long process of healing and trial and error.

A friend said that anyone could run a marathon.

I knew there was no way I could.

So I said that I was going to do it.

I trained for a year. I was inconsistent. I got injured multiple times. I struggled.

When the race day came, I walked half of the race.

But I finished.

What happened next was weird. I never believed in my wildest dreams that injury-prone, kicked from the track team twice Paul could even finish a 26.2 mile race.

So even though there was shame from having walked the second half due to knee pain, there was a weird sense of “at least I finished… I already accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible.”

This experience began to unravel my flawed perceptions of life and perfection. This began to rescue back my permission to fail and my permission to be less than perfect.


From that point on, I began to approach trials and challenges in a healthier way.

I began to realize that to fail is to be human.

We might strive for perfection, but perfect just does not exist.

I began to create again and I put out videos that were shaky, low quality, and not as good as the ones that popped up in my IG feed.

One day, when I was especially discouraged I texted this rapper I admire and asked him how he managed to motivate himself to create when he started out.

To my absolute surprise, he emailed me back this awesome email of encouragement of how we must create for ourselves and not for the approval of others. He said we can’t get better without putting out cringy content in order to learn and adapt. He went on to say that there will always be critics and that generally speaking, critics are those that are salty that they themselves can not create (or lack the bravery to create).


I was over the moon when I received the email, but after processing the whole concept a little more I realized something I had missed before:

God has blessed me from the beginning of my life with people who have believed in me and have encouraged me to create and to try. My fear of failure and consequent tendency towards paralysis was a coping mechanism that I used to try and cope with feeling like I was never good enough.

I am my own worst enemy.


This one goes out to all the self-proclaimed failures.

We didn’t meet their expectations.

Heck we didn’t meet our expectations.

Our dreams crashed and burned.

We are nowhere near where we said we would be at this point in time.

We are afraid to try because we are afraid to fail.

And so we sit and we spin and we go nowhere.

I believe in you!


One of the biggest lessons I learned from therapy, is that showing yourself grace is often one of the hardest but one of the most rewarding things you can ever do.

It turns out that you are incredible, and that when faced with failure or trials that seem insurmountable, you somehow find a way to adapt. 

But you can never adapt if you never fail and you can never fail if you never try.


“I’ve tried before… you don’t even know how many times… And all I’ve done is fail. Time after time after time”

After about mile 19 during the marathon, everything in my body screamed for me to stop. Muscles I did not know that I had literally spasmed in agony as each step felt like a jackhammer was ripping through my muscle and bone. Even as I was pathetically limping and walking alongside everyone else who was also limping along, the pain was almost overwhelming.

I remember that my thoughts went from, “I can make a decent time still” to “It’s okay if I walk, I can still finish” to “Oh God everything hurts, I don’t know if I can finish” to “I just need to put this foot in front of my other one”

Life has some seasons where we feel great and then there are the other seasons where it takes all of our efforts just to put one foot in front of the other.

Just keep moving!

Don’t give up! You can do this!

In the words of one of my favorite fictitious characters, “Life ain’t about how hard you can hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit, and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done.”

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

And.

Keep walking.

 

Best,

pH

 

 

Go Where You Grow

Some say that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

There have been many times in my life where I’ve really struggled with feeling like I was not progressing. The scenario would differ from case to case, but it always felt a bit like being a hamster on a motorized running wheel: exerting so much force, yet accomplishing nothing.

One of the hardest things as a young person is finding a sense of self-worth and purpose when family, education, and long-held beliefs are stripped away.

We look to mentors, bosses, professors, family members, friends, and colleagues to validate us and to see value in us. For many of us, the wind is swiftly removed from our sails as those we look up to, invalidate us and write us off as not being worth the risk or the time.


For years after earning my bachelor’s degree, I struggled with the tension between what my school told me I was worth and what the jobs I worked paid me.

As an engineering student who failed out and had to re-tool halfway through his college career, it was demoralizing to have that security of direction stripped away.

I allowed my bosses to critically affect how I viewed myself. I bought into the lie that as a young person, my time, my sanity, and my value as a person were worth less than the mandates of the job.

Overtime was a given, and caring for oneself was simply not the way to building a successful career.

Do better.

Be better.

Sacrifice everything.

The business comes first.


I just finished a fantastic book called East of Eden by John Steinbeck. In the book, a major theme is that of the importance of each individual’s choice.

A possible interpretation of the story is that, no one is fated to be good or evil but that instead, each person may choose the path that they traverse.

Oftentimes we believe that we must stick with something or that we must earn the approval of a certain authority figure.

We agonize as time and time again we are trampled and simply not appreciated for the work we put in and the value we bring. Living and dying for affirmation and validation, we hold onto a romanticized notion of what it would be like to finally be recognized and valued.

All the while… we know that the day will never come when we will be seen for more than the box we have been placed into.


There is a story of a boy who is tasked by his dying grandfather to ask the local pawn shop how much it would buy an old watch for. The pawnshop owner offers a paltry amount of five dollars or so.

The grandfather then asks the boy to ask the local store how much they would buy it for, and that store also proceeds to quote a price of not much more than ten dollars.

Lastly, the grandfather asks the boy to take it to the watch museum where the museum offers the boy something around a million dollars because the watch is an antique.

The grandfather tells the boy that value is in the eyes of the beholder and that it is important to go only where his intrinsic value is appreciated.


Some will read this and will insist that laziness or some other character flaw is the downfall of our generation. They might say that hard work is the key to being recognized and that believing that we are unique and have giftings in different areas is a stupid and ineffective way of falsely building the self-esteem of a soft generation that can’t handle the pressure of working hard and striving for greatness.

Indeed, hard work and diligence are critical to success and growth. However, I would argue against the labels that the older generations place on our shoulders.

We went to school even when the threat of imminent death at the end of a gun was a very real possibility.

We watched our families crumble as our parents’ years-long stifling of their emotions manifested in mid-life crises, divorces, and ultimately fractured families.

We traversed a whole new battlefield of online bullying and complete removal of privacy as we chose to stay connected and relevant on social media.

There are so many trials that we face that generations before us did not experience in the same quantities or magnitudes.

Indeed, we are not weak.

You are not weak.


This post is for the discouraged and the passed over.

Those of us who were more than qualified and worked our asses off, yet never seemed to earn the favor of those in power.

You have value, and just because your boss or supervisor doesn’t see it or acknowledge it, doesn’t mean that you don’t.


Sometimes when we are pushed down and ignored for too long, we buy into the lie that we have nothing to offer and that we truly have no value.

When this happens we oftentimes become paralyzed and we wait for change to magically occur as we repeat the same motions that have done nothing for us in the past.

And we wait.

And wait.


The truth of the matter is that not everyone is capable of appreciating what we uniquely bring to the table. That being said, many will not appreciate us.

Significant others, family members, bosses, and friends will take us for granted and completely miss all that we are capable of.

And that is okay.

Life is far too short to try and earn the affection and approval of those who simply won’t see what is right in front of them.

Love yourself enough to say, “Enough of this bullshit. I’ll take my talents elsewhere and go where I grow.”


I worked at places prior where I was told that I was stupid, that I was too emotional, and that I was the problem that caused dysfunctionality within the team.

I spent years growing, adapting, and trying to meet the ever-moving standards that my bosses would place upon me, but I was never enough.

It was the scariest and hardest thing for me to take a step of faith and leave.

Now I work at a place where the CEO constantly praises my ability to communicate, my organizational skills, and my personality.

Not much has changed about me, and yet my bosses see the value that was always there and they go a step further as they validate and affirm it.

They constructively coach me and help me to grow, but they make sure that I know how valuable I am to them verbally and otherwise.


Deciding to journey into the unknown can be so terrifying, but remember that you are human and that you can only give so much. If you are giving your all and it still isn’t enough to appease those who you are working for, it isn’t worth dying a little bit every day to fight a battle that can’t really ever be won.

You are worth more than you know.

If the people you work for make you feel like they don’t need or value you the opposite is in fact the truth: You don’t need them.

Go where you are appreciated for who you are.

No.

My 26th year of life was full of lessons, takeaways, firsts, and adventures. However, by far the greatest lesson of the year was only two letters long.


Hamster Wheels

Do you ever feel like the passenger in the vehicle of life?

Like, someone is driving, but it definitely ain’t me.

The way I described how I felt about my life a year ago to my therapist involved an anecdote about how I felt like one of my sister’s old hamsters on a motorized hamster wheel.

I was running as fast as I could to keep up with everybody’s expectations, but sometimes my legs would give out and I would be tossed unceremoniously from the wheel as the momentum of running full speed finally caught up to me.


Boundaries?

There is a fantastic book entitled Boundaries by Dr. Cloud & Dr. Townsend that describes a both a life without boundaries and a life with boundaries. If you struggle saying no to people in your life or if you really empathize with my hamster anecdote, I highly recommend this book.

It took me about four years to finish this book after my mom had recommended it to me for years prior to that. I only wish that I had read it sooner, but alas, you can bring a horse to water, but you really can not make it drink.


Great Expectations

My upbringing was unique in several aspects, but one of the key aspects to my childhood was that both of my parents were heavily involved in my life. They made numerous sacrifices to teach us at home. As Covid-19 continues to affect the day to day lives of countless people and families, I am inspired and grateful that my parents put up with my bullshit for 14 years teaching me at home regardless of the challenges and frustrations that came with it.

Another aspect that made my developmental years interesting was my heavy involvement in church. The involvement combined with my lack of exposure to peers in the normal quantities of someone my age, formed my mind into something quite interesting.

Take the legalism of religion that oftentimes has a works based element to it, and combine it with being taught by those who see your true potential because of how often they are with you and you get someone who is bounded by all sides with great expectations.


Lost in Translation

My whole life has been a constant striving for the approval of others.

I read into each social situation, each element of body language, and I definitely notice when you break eye contact. Even with this blog, I scour the analytical side to try and understand what gets read and what doesn’t. Up until recently, I lived and died for the approval of everyone but myself.

I remember being a freshman in college and having a super embarrassing conversation. As a note, realize that this conversation was happening verbally and so I did not have the benefit of a manuscript as you the reader now does.

A colleague was mentioning how they had gone to a hookah lounge over the weekend. They proceeded to ask me if I had ever been to one.

Naive and sheltered me heard “hooker lounge” and my response was, “Wait… is that even legal?”

My friend said, “Yes… it’s legal”

To which I responded, “Huh… that’s weird. I swore that prostitution was illegal here”

My colleague lost it laughing and I never quite recovered from that moment.

Needless to say, nowadays, when I am not sure I understand something someone tells me, I keep my mouth shut, do a quick search on urbandictionary, figure out which definition makes the most sense contextually, and then incorporate the term as if I knew about it all along.

All this to say, moments like this, have shaped how I communicate with and process the world and relationships around me.


Yes

Because so much of my life was dictated by a fear of not fitting in, I did whatever possible to make sure that I was saying and doing what people around me thought was politically and or otherwise correct.

I became a chameleon that could fit into whatever scenario that life threw my way.

In high school, I would borrow classmates’ ipods so that I could see what they listened to in order to start assimilating into the San Diegan music culture. When I was at church, my homeschool Bible classes would be fully utilized as I flexed my knowledge of archaic and random Bible facts, always giving the “right” answers much to the chagrin of some of my youth leaders. I learned that asking a lot of questions in college courses was a sure way to make yourself a target to your peers, so I learned to shut up.

We learn from both the discipline we receive and the trauma we experience, that which we are allowed to say and do.

We become unhealthily reliant upon the systems which we are a part of to give our lives structure and meaning. Nobody really prepares you for life after education. You spent 16-20 years being told what to do and when to do it with little input as to what part your feelings or thoughts played in this system.

The hours of AP course work taught us that sleep was for the weak. Let’s just hamstring our personal self-care habits right off the bat. The exclusion or absence of serious issues in our religious contexts taught us indirectly that either these serious issues were not a problem for most people OR that they weren’t important enough to talk about. The ceaseless questions from relatives and family friends about “what we wanted to do,” prioritized knowing what we would become rather than knowing who we are.

And then after becoming reliant upon this breakneck schedule of studying, volunteering, sports, and work, out of the blue, we are catapulted into unemployment, more education options, or jobs.

We’d been taught to say yes to more: more responsibility, more work, more challenges, more late nights, more stress, etc.

We had been conditioned that self health comes after the needs of whatever organization we were a part of.

The questions we were asked primed us to LIE about how we were “doing” because no one cared or had the time to listen to us.

Life and our responses to the questions became an elaborate act which everyone was watching… expecting us to exceed the achievements of those before us.

The burden of these expectations and the stress of this “yes-to everyone but myself” style of life was never sustainable. So we did what everyone who went before us or was in the trenches with us did: we coped.

Coffee to cope with the lack of sleep,

Alcohol to cope with the pain,

The highs to cope with the lack of control,

Porn to cope with the lack of company

The list goes on.


Pain & Progress

When our pain is invalidated, we must find a way to reduce it so that we can continue with our lives. See healing takes a lot more time and resources than the “important” people in our society deem necessary.

To all my brothers, sisters, friends, and anyone reading this, your pain and your struggle are valid and real. Your coping mechanisms do not define you.

If anything, they serve as an annoying and sometimes painful reminder of a need in your life that isn’t being addressed.

Don’t give up on engaging with yourself to understand what’s happening inside your head and heart.


No.

When I first started going to therapy, I had reached the point where I knew that I wanted and needed help after years of thinking that these other people in my life were the ones that actually needed help.

My first session coincided with me finishing the last few chapters of the aforementioned book, and my therapist gave me an activity.

She told me to do some soul searching and to figure out what were some activities in my life that were truly life giving to me.

Activities that when I was finished completing them, made me feel like I could keep doing them.

Activities that gave me a sustained endorphin rush, a sense of accomplishment, or that made me happy.

At the next session, she told me that my homework was to incorporate these activities into my life on a more consistent basis.

Unfortunately, there was never enough time to do these things.

Or…

At least there was never enough time with the current schedule and chaos of my life.

Over the next few sessions, I realized a key concept that absolutely changed how I lived my day to day: Saying yes to: processing my own emotions and feelings, healing from past wounds and trauma, and growing into who I could be meant I would have to start saying no.


26

In January of 2019 I went on a trip to Turkey per the invitation of my friend Crystal. As someone who saw the United States as a highly advanced country, I was of the opinion, that why should I want to travel to places where the standard of living was lower? I remembered that my cousin had visited the country and there had been a coup, but nevertheless, my overworked self was ready for a change and an adventure even if it was way out of my comfort zone.

The trip was awesome. But the downside… was that life at home was nothing like the absolute adventure that the journey into the unknown had been like. I returned to normal stateside life depressed and finding a support group in my fellow travelers. Due to restrictions of needing to support myself, the joy of traveling was a dream that had to be deferred.

In February of 2019, I began volunteering with the media and broadcasting arm of Mariners church. I re-fell in love with film, but due to prior expectations and commitments, my work did not allow me to volunteer regularly and this life giving activity was deferred.

In March of 2019, I participated in and completed my first marathon with the coaching and support of my friend Will. The process to get to race day was wild and one of the most disciplined things I’ve ever done. The mental strength and grittiness that the race taught me were lessons and skills that I am so glad I was able to learn through that experience.

In April of 2019, in real Breakfast Club fashion, a group of people who never should have been friends, started meeting to share about life and some of the darkest trials that we had ever experienced. Today amid the chaos of Covid-19, we continue to meet.. albeit by Zoom call. They are some of the most genuine and awesome people I’ve ever met, and yet the scheduling required to make this weekly meeting a reality, was one of the first steps in which I practiced saying no to some of the expectations placed on me.

With all these events happening in such quick succession, I began to question a lot of norms in my life. I began to ask questions about why I worked where I worked. I began to ask questions about my coping mechanisms and why I returned to them.

I began to challenge what was accepted as normal, and I began to question the importance of the hamster wheel that I had been running on so long.

The year would be filled with concerts where I would get to see some of my favorite creators sharing their art with the world, and each concert was a reminder of what it looks like to do what you love.

In the summer, my family took a trip to King’s Canyon where we had this crazy experience with a rock and our tire leaving us stranded in the heart of the park with no cell reception. That experience taught me the importance of everything that I had been taught up until that point in my life and how it was all coming in to play.

In the fall, I went to Morocco, Spain, and last but not least, Mexico City with my friend Imon. We went to learn and to help out in any small way we could. We left with a lot more than we bargained for and a lot to think about.

At the end of the year, I took some of the biggest steps I’ve ever taken in saying no to the organizations in my life that were dictating my life and I began to say yes to the passions, dreams, and aspirations that had been discovered or reborn by engaging with myself in those life giving activities.


Seasons:

Some of us have made it this far in life without learning how to say no to those who constantly and consistently ask more and more of us. It can be terrifying to consider the possibility of saying no to some people and maybe upsetting them by setting boundaries to help our own selves.

I spent so much of my life trying to please people by consistently giving in to their requests or demands. Ironically, when you spend your life trying to win and earn the approval of others, you yourself never actually end up happy, and oftentimes, people aren’t that impressed with your performance either.

For as long as you are alive on this earth, the only person you can be sure is going to be there, at the end with you is yourself. If we have to live with the decisions we make then it behooves us to make the best decisions for ourselves.

There is a freedom and peace that I have experienced from engaging with myself and who God has created me to be. I still weigh what people think of me or advise me to do, but at the end of the day, I reflect on the gifts, talents, and skills that God has given me and I choose the path that most aligns with how He can continue to grow those traits.

You are more than the sum of what bosses, people, and organizations say that you can accomplish. The world will never understand you, for you are much too complex. A boxed version of you, is the best they will ever be able to comprehend, because their minds can not fathom who you have been created to be.

I hope that you are encouraged, that boundaries sound a little less scary, and that you start incorporating the word “no” just a little bit more.

Here’s to you! 

Five Loaves, Two Fish, a Chicken Sandwich, and a Doorknob

As some of you are aware, I recently left my director position at Chick-fil-A after a super jam-packed three years. During those years, I was given the opportunity to travel to the Chick-fil-a corporate office, facilitate training for team members that were at grand opening stores, and work in several different capacities at the store across the street from UCI. Much of it was an amazing experience and just as much of it wasn’t.

This past couple of months has been overflowing with transition, discomfort, and self-discovery. As I’ve tried multiple times to gain closure on this past season by writing, I always found myself scrapping my work. The tone always seemed to come off in a different way than I intended and thematically, many pieces just didn’t fit into the whole narrative.

Now, three months after returning from Mexico and one month after leaving Chick-fil-A, this is what I learned.


I remember the first time I ever had Chick-fil-A.

It was after I got a haircut at my barber’s shop in Mira Mesa. I went across the street in my family’s red Toyota Sienna, and I drove through the drive-through. I remember asking the order taker if there was a dollar menu or a value menu to which she responded that they did not, in fact, have one. I remember being conflicted between the original and the spicy so I ordered one of each and left the window in disbelief that had I just spent five bucks just for two sandwiches (this was in the late 2010s).

As I was driving, I was taken aback by the foil bags which I had never before seen. I didn’t pay much mind to it, simply noting that it was different than what I was used to, and I unfolded the red bag as I took a huge bite of the spicy sandwich.

Bad idea.

I definitely cursed as the roof of my mouth and my tastebuds got severely burned from the steaming chicken that I had just taken a bite of.

I remember thinking to myself that it was crazy that this fast food place could have such hot food.


Fast forward four years and I’m sitting in an office above a post office as the future operator of the UCI Chick-fil-a franchise was interviewing me. Ironically, I had just gotten a haircut and because of that, I was in cargo shorts and a tank top. I shared of my experience at El Pollo Loco, and that was the beginning of Craig and my relationship.


Fast forward two more years, and I was sitting in an uncomfortable chair being grilled by my new supervisor at Honda Finance (on a Saturday). He complimented my work ethic and my ability to pump out work at a rapid rate, but he was trying to understand why I was late to overtime all the time.

The conversation ended with him telling me that if I wanted to move out of the temp position, that I would need to be able to commit to overtime on top of the daily 9-5 schedule to show that I was committed to the job and company as a whole.

I remember driving home and coming to the conclusion that I couldn’t see myself working at a place in which all of their six or seven upper management positions had turned over in the short nine months I had been there.

I texted Craig and asked him if he needed someone to work temporarily. I explained to him that I was going to try and follow in my dad’s footsteps by studying for the LSAT and going to law school.

He graciously offered me a position as a team member.


In seven months, Craig would offer me a director position after I had decided while taking the LSAT, that law would be too frustrating for my personality to have a career in. I would start as a director of operations, transition to a director of facilities, and eventually become the director of food safety.


The director role was the first legitimate management role I had ever had, and it taught me so much about people and ultimately myself.

If I can be candid, it took me so long to be able to say confidently to people that I was introducing myself to that I worked at a Chick-fil-A franchise.

I swore I could feel the judgment as I wrestled with what it was exactly that I accomplished in obtaining a four-year degree from UCI.

That combined with the fact that I felt like an impostor in a role that I was not prepared or trained for made for an incredibly rough time.

I remember the first time I felt like I might belong, and that was when I visited Chick-fil-a’s corporate office in Atlanta.


Chick-fil-a’s corporate vision statement is:

“To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us and to have a positive influence on all who come into contact with Chick-fil-A.”

Truett Cathy

I remember, being pleasantly surprised that such a successful company could have religious roots and yet not use religion as a reason to be mediocre.

I owe it to the entire Corporate Certified Training team for making me feel as I believe Truett Cathy would have: having intrinsic value and skills that would make me a valuable asset to the company and the world.

So much of how I chose to grow and develop my management skillset and style is heavily attributed to the affirmations I received at the corporate office.


One of my favorite things about Chick-fil-a was the diversity of background and personality of the people I met.

Rachel, thanks for training my family at CT. Your compassion and mentality towards us trainees helped me to frame how I then passed on information to those who I would train and there are so many generations of trainees that have benefited because of the manner in which you taught me.

Keisse and Jordan, thank you for encouraging me. I will never forget that post grand-opening debrief that we had in the Monterey Park store. Your unshakeable confidence in my ability to get into LDP and your affirming of my work ethic and personality helped me immensely to get through a very confusing time in my life. I wish you both the best and I hope to visit y’alls stores when I have the opportunity. Thank you for everything. You taught me more about honor, dignity, and respect than you will probably ever know.

Twabu, I hope that you are still kicking ass wherever it is that you are. I hope that your gifts are being appreciated and that you continue to extend the same grace to others that you extended to me when you were training me on how to operate machinery that I was supposed to be training on. #doitfortheminorities

Kelsey, I admire your bravery and your resolve so much. I will never forget unpacking that difficult conversation of workplace tension with you. You helped to completely change my outlook on difficult workplace relationships. Even though it didn’t solve everything, it began a process in me that I believe has made me a better co-worker and collaborator than I was two years ago. Thank you.

Truett Cathy once said that he wasn’t in the chicken business and that he was instead in the people business. Numerous stories exist of how he and his family suffered while trying to break out of humble beginnings and poverty. Even more stories are told of how his generosity was unmatched. From paying the tuition of students who worked for him, buying clothes for those who were interviewing at other jobs after graduating, or his classic and signature table touch-in conversations, it was evident that he saw the value in people.

Because contrary to common belief, a business is really only as successful as the people behind the business. You can have the best product in the entire world, but if you don’t invest in the people that work with you to get your product to the masses, then your business will fail.


In three years, I met more people than I probably had during my time at college. And yet, some of the best parts of those three years were the redeeming of past friendships/relationships that had been abandoned after I left Chick-fil-A the first time.

See, I learned something super valuable from my second tour in Chick-fil-A: every person you come into contact with has something to teach you. Beyond that, people are beautiful when they are their true selves.

When people are empowered to live in their strengths so that they can be the truest versions of themselves they change the environments and people around them.


In one of the relatively more famous stories in the Bible, Jesus feeds five thousand people:

Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!”

Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”

“Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.”So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves.

As a child, I loved this story because to a young reader, the hero is this boy who was willing to share his lunch with all these people.

As I got older, I related more with the skeptical questions of Philip and Andrew.

Now, I see something else entirely.


Religious or not, if you are reading this, you have been given natural gifts, talents, and knacks for things that others do not possess.

It might be your personality, a specific skill set, the way you see the world, how you connect with people, or personal struggles that allows you to empathize with others who struggle similarly.

Any way you slice it, you have specific strengths!

And you. Yes you, have so much to offer our world.

Watch the news for two seconds, and anyone can gather that our world needs help.

We need innovators, entrepreneurs, artists, and more to address all the problems that continue to arise.


YET, society spends so much time and effort telling us that we have a generic place that we belong to.

We are constantly being placed into boxes.

Typecast based upon what people believe we are good at or even worse, placed in roles because that is how we can aid their organizations most.

We wonder why we wrestle with a life devoid of purpose and identity when we deviate from a life that is built upon developing our natural and innate strengths.

Do you believe life is permanent enough to risk wasting more time being someone or something that you are not?


An oft-heard phrase regarding contentment goes as follows:

The grass is always greener on the other side.

I have also heard:

The grass is greener where you water it.

Both, can be interpreted different ways depending on how one reads them.

It is my opinion that we have a personal duty to ourselves and the world to utilize the short lives that we have to be the truest version of ourselves as we possibly can be.

I belive the grass is indeed greener where you water it, but that if you live in Southern California, maybe you should look into growing succulents, since those will do better in the drier client.

Trying to keep grass alive in Northridge is often a fool’s errand, but that doesn’t mean that someone living there has nothing to offer when it comes to cultivating a garden.


When I was a kid, my dad taught me how to change a doorknob on one of the doors of our house. The first time it took us hours. It was embarrassing and boring.

The second time it didn’t take nearly as long.

To date, I’ve probably changed about ten or so and it takes me maybe ten minutes now.

When I was in Mexico City, there was a broken doorknob that I saw on the very first day I arrived. But since I knew exactly what I needed to fix it, I bought a doorknob the second day and replaced it before class started that next day.

Because of my experience in the past and the foresight of my father, I had learned and developed a skill that though small and seemingly insignificant, managed to be used to respond to a need.


Oftentimes we believe the lie that we have nothing to offer.

We look on our social media feeds and feel that we don’t possess the power or talent to make a difference.

Truth be told, sometimes it feels like we just have a lunchbox with a couple pieces of bread and some fish…

Or maybe a chicken sandwich and some fries…

Or maybe a screwdriver and a doorknob..


You have so much to offer the world and life is too short to waste it not playing to your strengths.

Show the people you encounter honor, dignity, and respect.

Learn from everyone who comes your way.

What’s in your lunchbox?