If you know me well, you know that I tend to be an idealist. I create high expectations for myself that often get me into trouble, but that same idealism is much of what drives me to do the things I do. I have this belief that I can do much more than I realize right now, and I’ve shown this to myself time and time again.

I wasn’t always this way. In fact, for most of my life I drifted from day to day with a calm, cool indifference. I was out of touch with my own heart. Much of what I wanted originated from anywhere but myself, and much of what I did was underlined by a feeling that I was in the wrong place. 

Chance would have it that during my first semester of college, I found an internship at a company that wasn’t much of an internship at all. It was a crash course in running a house painting business, and it put me starkly in charge of my own destiny in a tangible way for the first time. The number of doors I knocked on, the sales I closed, how well I hired and managed my painters, would all determine my level of success – not on a report card, but in actual relationships with real people. Families were counting on me to take care of their homes, and I could follow through and do honest work for honest pay, or I could screw something up and cause a mess of issues that didn’t need to exist for my customers or for me.

Beyond painting and practical business knowledge, the whole experience revealed to me that I had been coasting through life, something I never saw before. It felt as if a veil had been lifted from my eyes, not least by the hand of my decision to throw myself at a new challenge.

So now I knew that I could make my life better by making a choice. I started asking myself if there was a limit to that. I haven’t found it yet.

This photo was taken last week on a shoot for one of my clients. I was flying the drone when I looked up at my colleague, Daniel, right as he clicked his shutter. I remember looking up at him but what I don’t recall is that huge smile on my face. When I saw this picture, I laughed at how purely joyful I look, and that prompted this reflection. I really love what I do, and this image is evidence enough to know that’s true.

So it begs the question: How did I get myself into this position? To me, the answer is simple. I choose.

Most of my work is challenging and difficult, and moment-to-moment it often feels uncomfortable, especially lately. But I’m happy. And I’m happy because I choose. We are all the creators of our own destiny whether we know it or not. The choices we don’t make shape our lives just as much as the choices we do make, so we might as well put our own hands on the steering wheel.

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