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Continued Education.

Today I stand as a 28-year-old man. I’m a husband, father, employee, leader, follower and among many other hats and identities, I’m a learner. This is a dangerous prose, because as a learner, it is really hard to declare to the world that I know anything, or any different. This is because I have learned so many times that I was wrong, that I have failed, or that I made mistakes. All the while, before the mind-opening changing experience, I wholeheartedly believed I was correct, right or infallible.

I know I have many strengths and weaknesses. In my office, we did a Strengths-Based Leadership conference, and I learned my top 5 strengths (after taking a rather intuitive survey) were:

  1. strategic
  2. learner
  3. ideation
  4. relator
  5. individualization

The survey doesn’t break down your weaknesses or even list how the other 30 or so categories rank in your list, because the purpose of the exercise was to focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.

For those who know me, strategic should not be a surprise to anyone. Whether it’s doing chores, working in the office or playing video games, I’ve likely already thought through several scenarios to estimate the best course for action in order to be the most efficient possible.

This leads into my second strength, Learner. How many times did I think I was following the right plan and crash, due to something I didn’t see throwing me off course? Answer: many. I like to think that most of the time, I learn from those interactions and figure things out for the next time, such as when I have to figure out how to best carry in the most amount of groceries, in as few trips, without destroying anything (groceries, doors, walls, etc.).

Now, I could tell you more about my other strengths, but the point of this post is this: my strategic strength helps to form my learner strength, in that I am motivated to using my strategic strengths to continue to learn. For instance, while I have yet to learn how to create good habits such as closing drawers, picking up laundry, or five minutes before I’m ready to sleep, to pick up after myself – and while these are likely all things that Sara has probably lost a few hairs over through the last few years – I will always try to improve my habits and be more aware of the simple things that I can improve upon.

I can try to improve in all settings, from work to home. I can try to “clean up my act” at home. The point is this: I will always be focused and comfortable working to improve my strengths.

Part of being in a good relationship is being balanced out. Sara and I always used to joke that we had nothing in common, but I think the greatest trait we do have in common is our ability to focus on our strengths and overlook our own weaknesses as a well as each other’s shortcomings. For instance, while Sara is very organized and is passionate to a fault, she would be the first one to tell you that she struggles to embrace housekeeping duties, like doing dishes or cooking. Thankfully, she has me to pick up those tasks, which I don’t mind doing (most of the time).

Perhaps we drive each other crazy from time to time, but you won’t be surprised to hear that we blend our strengths together quite harmoniously. As we pick up each other’s weaknesses, we are allowed to focus more on our strengths. It makes for a successful family, even though it is trying at times.

Operation Nerd Mode.

L-Jord-Computers

The week before last, Sara asked me about a new game she saw me playing while monitoring me from afar. Immediately, I went into describing what Hearthstone is. As I started talking about a strategic collectible card game where all your minions, spells and heroes are put on a game board in a balance of luck strategy and skill, before I could finish explaining the game, Sara started laughing so hard that Lionel felt necessary to join in.

This isn’t far from typical. Sara noticed me playing a different game because I play a rotation of four to five games pretty consistently, and adding new games to my list of interests happens rarely. This is for a few reasons:

  • I have a lot less time with a job that includes a commute, a family that is growing, and interests that prioritize other budgets, which means that I didn’t get the new PS4 or XBox One like I may have in the past.
  • Also, I love the games I have, and I’m not interested in picking up many new ones.

But, Hearthstone has changed all that. I began playing the game because it’s free to play, but here I am, one month later, and Hearthstone has taken most of my video game time. Civilization, Starcraft 2, Halo 4, Madden 25 all still exist to me and remain on my list of current video game interests, but they only supplement Hearthstone anymore.

But to get back on point: I love my wife, and I don’t mind at all that she laughed uncontrollably at my nerd speak. In fact, I think she may be coming around even a small step at a time. There would have a time when the fantasy genre was no interest to her, but Viggo Mortensen’s portrayal of Aragorn in Lord of the Rings started to turn that around, and now with Game of Thrones and other adventures she’s shared with me, she might just be even slightly interested. {Editor’s Note: She’s not remotely interested in games of magic; she just likes cute boys and good storytelling!}

All that goes to say that my next personal project will be to build my first-ever gaming PC from scratch. I’ve always wanted to build my own PC, but the task always seemed daunting, expensive or one step away. Now that I can afford to do it, our iMac, while still a great tool, is dated for gaming standards, and I have a house (and Sara has a space in mind) for me to set up my “gaming station.” I’m very excited to go forward with plans.

Over the last few months, I’ve been researching various pieces and parts, reviews, and configurations and short of starting a Pinterest board, I’ve been “practicing” various builds and price lists to “sleep on” just to see where I’m at. Hopefully I’ll decide on the pieces and parts that I want to buy in the near future, and then I’ll take all of you along with me on a journey of building a computer from piece to piece. Here’s to hoping that you might just learn something, but if not, I’ll make sure that pictures of baby L are in every post so that you have something interesting to look at!

2014 – It’s already a 1/24th over.

Zoooooooooom!

Did you see that? The first three weeks of 2014 has come and flown past! In a blur that can only be described as a shrug of the shoulders, three weeks of 2014 are come and gone.

Now it’s not uncommon for people to make resolutions or changes in their lives based on the turn of a calendar page. I’m not really set to make resolutions; I am always trying to improve my already good life on a daily basis. But, I figured I could share some of the things I’d like to accomplish in 2014:

  • Focus more on doing things I want to do and quitting things that take my time, but aren’t making my life better.
  • Read something to Lionel everyday.
  • Blog twice a week.
  • Start/maintain a garden.
  • Build a computer from scratch.
  • Double Extra-Life goals.

I hope that was exciting for you! I obviously hope to blow this tiny list out of the water, but time will tell.

What are you resolving to do this year? Are you the resolution type?

Catching up.

Much like Sara mentioned, I’m also behind in blogging. It is not because there is a lack of things to blog about. But, there’s been a struggle for focus on things outside of being a father, husband and employee.

Never mind that! Life is quite good. Since the last time I’ve written, I have completed my Extra-Life goal. In our third year of participation, we doubled our fundraising efforts yet again. Brad, Cyle and I raised over $1,000 this year for the Sioux Falls Children’s Miracle Network. We played video games for 25 hours, and by the end, we were zombies. It was fun, and I’m already looking forward to the 2014 event in ten months.

Thanksgiving was an exciting time; for the first time in our new house, I prepared our house for both of our families to come over and enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. My brother smoked a turkey, I baked a ham and also provided a small buffet of random munchies. Everyone brought over some treat or food of their own, and it was a wonderful day. We were delighted to share the holiday with both Sara’s family and mine together at the same time, which is something we have wanted to do for years.

That night, we scored a new TV for our basement with my brother and brother-in-law when we door-busted Wal-Mart. Now there were people waiting for hours. However, we left my house on a spur of the moment (in fact, I had just opened a fresh beer), and by time I returned my beer was still cold. It took about 45 minutes to get a 55″ TV for half-off. Score.

Christmas was the next super event, and it was really fun to wake up and have our first family Christmas in the house. Putting up Christmas lights, Sara putting up trees and decorations, and Lionel taking them down all added up to a really fun holiday season.

With life getting pretty cold around here, a lot of my time is now spent inside. Sara and I have been binge-watching “Game of Thrones,” movies and other things while spending the rest of our free time playing/reading with Lionel.

Looking ahead in 2014, I want to make it a point to blog twice a week, so expect many more updates!

Extra-Life: A Special Event

For the third year in a row, I will be participating in Extra-Life. Extra-Life is a annual event that raises money for local Children’s Miracle Network chapters across North America. The event caught my eye four years ago when one of my close friends asked for donations. I participated in the event myself the following year.

Extra-Life Donation Page

Extra-Life is an event created by guys who loves to play games. The creators had someone close to them who loved games and who also needed help from Children’s Miracle Network (CMN). In the end, CMN touched their hearts in a way that inspired them to start this annual campaign that has now earned millions of dollars.

For me, Extra-Life started as an event that allowed me to really take down two birds with one stone: I was able to serve my community while doing something that I love: play video games for an entire day. That was pretty true for the first year that I participated, and I think that’s an okay motivating factor. For Extra-Life last year, I invited a few local friends to take part in the event: Brad, Cyle, Josh and Ben. We had a ton of fun, and we did pretty well in raising funds for CMN. But for me, something about Extra-Life last year was clearly different.

Last year, Extra-Life came when baby L was just a few months old. In that short time, becoming a father was eye-opening for me; my participation in the event wasn’t simply motivated by my love for video games. Participating in Extra-Life last year helped me to realize just how blessed my wife and I are to have such a healthy and happy child. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and organizations like CMN make a difference for families who have to deal with some of the hardships that life can deliver to children.

Extra-Life Donation Page

This year, I am gearing up for Extra-Life differently. Life has been busy, time is flying by, and many changes have occurred. But, as this Saturday’s Extra-Life event creeps up, I can’t really contain my excitement. This year, my friend Brad and I are teaming up again, and we’re getting more proactive in asking for donations. We’re jamming the message down the throats of friend and family, because supporting the work of CMN is THAT IMPORTANT.

This year, we’re holding a 25-hour video game marathon. Whether you can support us by donating a small sum of money, or pledging your financial support for us on an hourly basis, it doesn’t matter. What is important that we need your help to make a bigger difference. As of right now, we’re already past our 2013 goal of $500 raised, which is double our fundraising amount from 2012, and double from 2011.

In this last week, I want to double our goal. Let’s break four digits and help all the local kids here at Sanford’s Children’s Hospital in Sioux Falls!

This year’s event is going to be the best one yet, and I’m already laying down plans for a bigger event in 2014. Extra-Life is special to me, it is important to me, and I appreciate all of your financial gifts and cheers of support thus far. For those who have given, thank you! For those who are on the fence, please consider donating.

Donate by Credit/Debit Card: Extra-Life Donation Page
Donate by Cash/Check: Contact Jordan!