This past year has been incredible and life changing for my family and me.
I was awarded my Master Coach Certification by the International Coach Federation and I also wrote a leadership book. We sold our house in Boulder and completed a remodel of an original homestead cabin in Alaska. I resigned from a position in the Middle East and moved my family and dog up to our cabin in the Alaskan Interior. I also launched my new brand Mike Green Leadership, supported an adaptive athlete in completing an extraordinary challenge (more in another post), and for the first time in my life took almost three months off from work.
The process has been interesting to say the least and a huge growth moment in how I show up as a husband, father, friend, and coach. We surrounded ourselves with great people—from our contractors and financial advisors, to my Master Coach Mentor, the Nonfiction Book School program, and my incredible editor—who helped support our family in this leap forward. And all of it has been a fresh lesson on what I’ve long valued, taught, and imperfectly lived: cutting what isn’t necessary and giving intention to the values, person, or task at hand.
This came up for me in a big way in my book.
My manuscript ended up being over 110,000 words—a length I’m told is very impressive, and one I also felt good about. I poured a lot into those pages, which all rose out of extensive reflection and then my commitment to do what my book coach told me to do: “Just keep writing, Mike.” What came together meant a lot to me. Yet in the end, my editor cut my manuscript in half, leaving only what was most essential. The lesson for me was that although each of those words was important through the lens of my life, having less of them in the manuscript would better allow the reader to focus in on my message.
I’d never written a book before, but this idea of stripping away excess to find the gold is familiar to me in other ways. It’s at the heart of my coaching, whether in leadership adventures out in the wild or in regular sessions done virtually or face to face.
It’s also behind my family’s move to Alaska.
Now that we’re here, there’s less noise and clutter. We can really focus on the character, truths, and values we want to instill in our boys, now age five and eight, through immersing in what is in front of us.
“Character building,” as my dad would say, is best experienced with a pickaxe and shovel. Which is convenient, since our Alaskan homestead is sixty-three years old. With a main cabin, garage, and various outbuildings, there are a lot of opportunities to build character.
Our latest project was digging a 45-foot-trench from the house to the garage to bury an electric cable. The main tools for the project? The pickaxe and shovel. It was my boys’ first introduction to these classics.
After some simple instruction on our objective and on how to use the tools, my boys took to the project with great vigor. I’m happy to report the boys did a great job digging the trench from the start to the finish. Often, they encouraged each other, took turns on the tools, and proudly showed other people their “calloused hard-working hands” and the results of their labor.
Much of what I’ve been doing in the last three months in my own life, taking away what isn’t needed to focus in on what matters most, is similar to what my coaching clients experience when they participate in the Alaskan Leadership Adventures. Going of the grid, focusing on the task at hand with full attention and intention, working hard, taking the opportunity for introspection, and making memories that align with their truths or values. Those same things are also present, in slightly different ways, in my ongoing work with clients that happens across an office or on a Zoom screen.
It feels great to connect more deeply with what’s most important. Like my clients, I feel the rich meaning in such experiences.
I wake up each day with deepening gratitude for the experiences, lessons, choices, and epiphanies that led me to this place—a life of beauty, friendship, intention, living my truths, and making memories with the people I love.
I wish this place for everyone.
So I’ll ask you: Is there anything you can strip away to better focus on what matters most?