Celebrating Learning and Enjoyment For 2016

I remember when I was a young boy and the years seemed to last a decade. Adults would talk about a year speeding by and I would stare at them and wonder, “What are they thinking?” Little did I know I would age, my perception of time would change and I now watch the years speed past.

I enjoy reflecting on events whether it’s a golf game, a work project, a trip or anything where I’ve invested my time and energy. This reflection process is not a critique, but more of a celebration. I say celebration, because for many years of my life personal reflection was a critique, “What ‘should’ have gone better or what ‘should’ I have done better?” In recent years I’ve integrated a much richer reflective process, looking at “What did I enjoy and what did I learn from my experience?” This article is an opportunity to celebrate some of my experiences of this past year.

The overall theme for my year is acutely thinking about what is important to me in my life. The critical aspect of my thought process is taking action on what is important. What became apparent through this reflective process are relationships, learning and enjoying every day. Little did I know, at the start of the year, that my commitment to writing would open the doors to understanding much more about myself.

As a person who helps individuals and organizations with positive learning I’ve always written a lot, but this was the first time I really started to focus on me. What is important to Doug? I’ve come to learn that if I stray from writing from my heart, soul and other lived experience I get stuck. I spend lots of time at the computer, writing about what I’ve read, trying to make academic arguments and slowly learning I’m avoiding myself. In other words, I’m writing to “Be somebody” rather than writing for me, telling my stories.

Our son Kodiak is a Mass Communications major in college focusing on connecting with video, music and stories (with his eye on making Documentaries). When he came home for Thanksgiving he told me all about his final project for his Marketing class. The class was focused on understanding the deep purpose, the why. I was flabbergasted with Kodiak’s visceral understanding of the principle of “Why” and its foundational premise to organizational success.

Here I am 67 years old, Dr. Doug, been dealing with this material for 4 or 5 decades and our 21-year-old son and I are engaged in this profound discussion about the criticalness of “Why.” Then our conversation smoothly transitions to the worldwide connecting strength of stories. Kodiak goes on to tell me he is producing a video about one of his friends who has started a small clothing line. This will be his “final exam” for his course.

It was marvelous watching some of the video Kodiak shot with Will (the founder of the clothing line). Kodiak took Will and some of their friends to our Teapot property in Big Sur and shot video. The clips included interviews, majestic panoramas shot with Kodiak’s drone and the mind-blowing views of Big Sur/Pacific Ocean. It became even more special for me when Kodiak came home for the Holiday Break with an edited, three-minute video telling Will’s story. The scenery, the music, Will’s story and Kodiak’s passion (as a producer, interviewer and editor) rang through the project. I asked Kodiak, “What did your professor think?” He said, “He thought it was great.”

Seeing our son find faculty at Colorado Mesa University’s Mass Communication Department who thrive on promoting project-based learning for their students thrills me. I marvel at Kodiak’s passion for his Mass Communication classes and I am incredibly exited and thankful for the professors who understand project-based learning. What a celebration I’ve had this year watching Kodiak appreciate himself and be appreciated by others for his intelligence and hunger to learn.

Watching Patricia Qualls’ Studio sales blossom over the years is a thrill too. The past 10 years Patricia has often worked 7 days a week. She is the creative genius and creator of the art. She has lived project-based learning becoming an astonishing painter and she has learned how to sell her paintings. In my experience few artists have what it takes to create and sell art. A September 2015 article in Inc. Magazine“Why 96% of Businesses Fail Within 10 Years,” puts Patricia in rarified air. She flourished through this gauntlet. It is especially amazing, because she makes and sells her product. This year, Patricia invited me to take an active role in the management of the Studio with Katrina and Emerson.

It is wonderful to see Patricia realize her genius is painting and others can do the majority of the work outside of her creative genius. I marvel at the art she creates. I am proud of my wife for her willingness to delegate many of the responsibilities of her business and let others fill these roles. I’ve worked with many small businesses and many businesses fail, because the owner(s) don’t let go and let others grow. I am inspired by working with the folks at PAQ Studio, seeing others take responsibility for certain aspects and watching Patricia’s work get more and more exposure.

Our family has faced some additional hurdles of letting go. We sold our home in Carmel Valley, we are in the process of selling our family property in Big Sur and we have moved back to Carmel from Carmel Valley. My mother is 96 years old. We are fortunate to have a tremendous team of caregivers, so Mom will spend all her life at home. I have spent part of almost every day with her over the past couple of years and living with her during the last portion of her life is a blessing for me. Over the Holidays we had Kodiak, his friends, Patricia, Doug, and Mom all under one roof. It was a celebration for me!

Selling our Teapot in Big Sur has been something we have anticipated for a number of years. I am finally starting to realize I am 67 and not 27, it is time to enjoy aspects of our lives that we have not explored. The magnificence of relationships and asking for help played a major role in my ability to sell the Teapot. We always had the feeling that a certain family would appear that would be taken with the beauty and spiritual nature of our property in Big Sur. That family appeared early this December. Their wisdom, friendship and willingness to help, made for a remarkable end to 2016 and a grand start to 2017!

The year has been one of transitions. These transitions are guided by my relationships, learning and enjoyment. Sometimes things are difficult and enjoying the difficulty is made possible by my relationships and what I learn. The old axiom of “Looking at the glass as half-full,” immediately comes to my mind.

Patricia and I are going to celebrate this year by starting to explore some of our National Parks initially centered around visiting Kodiak in Colorado. We hope we will continue this privilege through the next several years. It is time to integrate more learning, enjoyment and relating to our gorgeous country.

Sending all of you my thoughts for a Joyous, Healthy and Prosperous 2017!


I find great joy in being able to write these articles and share them with the public! The greatest compliment to me is if you would pass this along or share it with others if you found my information helpful!