EPISODE 343: An Interview with my 100-year old Great Uncle
In this special episode, I interview my 100-year-old Great Uncle to learn more about our family, life growing up in the 1920s and 1930s, WWII, and his career working as an aeronautical engineer.
We cover a lot of ground, many of the items relevant to my family but also life lessons sprinkled in throughout the conversation, especially on what he sees as big issues with our world that need to change for us to prosper in the future.
Bryan is a dad to two boys, now grown, and has built a brand around being the best dad we can be for our kids and our family.
I was actively involved in my boys’ lives not only as a dad but a coach.
Each week on my show, Dad Up Podcast, I bring on high-profile guests to share their experiences, tips, and tools they have used as a parent. These guests are high-level guests that bring so much value to the show.
Dad Up Podcast is For Dads. About Dads. Being Dads.
Episode 183 features Jim Kukral, Founder of LifeApoc.com. As an almost fifty-year-old successful businessman, husband, and father of two, Jim realized that he needed to spend his remaining days on this planet helping people figure out how to live a life of significance, impact, and purpose.
For 25-years Jim Kukral has been writing books (10), keynote speaking (150+), and building successful lifestyle businesses as a marketing entrepreneur. But the pandemic and a near-death diagnosis of colon cancer changed everything for Jim in 2020, so he threw away all his past success to start something completely different, a new brand called Life Apocalypse. As an almost fifty-year-old successful businessman, husband, and father of two, Jim realized that he needed to spend his remaining days on this planet helping people figure out how to live a life of significance, impact, and purpose.
Kids learn repeatable patterns through practice and experiences. Their characteristics, habits, skill development, and values are shaped by these experiences.
It’s done through reading and imagining, through play, through creating, and through testing.
One of the neat things as you observe this is there are minimal to no instructions. Kids correct course most of the time and in some cases learn the hard way when they don’t. Those life lessons stick with us forever and sometimes we even have the scars to remind us.
But rarely, if ever, do they learn by being told something. When it comes to deep learning, we need to let them experience it themselves, think openly, and be challenged.
The best teachers in the world do this not by giving the answers but by asking the right questions.
The next time your child asks a question you know the answer to don’t be in such a hurry to answer it. Instead, return serve with a simple question like “What do you think?” or “Why do you think it’s like that?” or anything around this questioning.
Although it may be simple to you, watch their brain rev up as they try to come up with an answer.
You’ll be amazed by the imagination they have through the answers they come up with and they might shock you with their perspective.
Who knows, It might open up additional questions and dialogue that might fuel their passion and spark their curiosity to explore more.
In the end, that’s the fun part of learning anyways.
We all want to win. We want to be on top and show that we are the best, the brightest, the most talented in a specific area at a specific time. Winning generally feels good.
But what happens after we win? There’s a letdown, a lull, an empty feeling, and a drive to win more to get that feeling back.
That’s what we get when we have a finite focus and are looking to beat others at something. That is acceptable in a game but is hard to replicate when we look at it through the lens of life.
If we don’t have a “North Star” or some vision or purpose driving us forward we’ll always be trying to rush to get to these “feelings” of victory. We become short-sighted, we rush, we sell out, we make poor decisions in the short term that affect us dearly in the long term. Happiness is in short supply.
We have to flip that mindset. We have to believe in whatever our “North Star” is and head toward it. Not with so much of a shot clock running but knowing that we’ll always be going forward and progressing incrementally. Small steps, daily, can create amazing results in the long run.
Our decisions then become focused purely on the long game and they start to build consistency in our processes and our emotional and mental state. We know we aren’t craving for that big payoff right now but a slow gentle drip of euphoria that we garner daily from walking down the path of our purpose and living in the present moment.
I had a chance to get back out to Umstead Park today with my son to go for a nice trail walk and enjoy some of the beauty nature has to offer. As we were about halfway through the walk he started to ask the age-old question, “Are we there yet”, which prompted me to share some insight about life which I’ll share here.
The trail is a metaphor for life and the only thing certain is there is a beginning and there is an end.
We all start out the same way, through birth, although everyone’s trail looks different.
My perspective on the trail and the difficulty in certain spots is based on my experiences in life up to this point. I might be able to easily navigate certain terrain more easily because I have come upon similar things before and can use those memories to help me get through. There will inevitably be spots though where I need to pause and consider a plan of how to get to the next step; which rock should I step on to propel me forward, should I jump or take a long step, is there any spot that looks slick. All of these types of things come at us at different speeds and at different times, too. You have to be ready to seize all of the opportunities when they are presented to you and make the correct calculation and best decision with the information you have to go in the right direction.
My son has a different perspective. For starters, he is much shorter than me so his view on the world is already different. Everything looks bigger and scarier and his footing is a little unsteady because of the surface area of the roots and rocks. It’s not harder, it’s just different. But he also doesn’t know what he doesn’t know. The things that I am looking out for, right or wrong, may not be things that he even considers and that can work in his favor, too. There is also a lot more fear of the unknown because he hasn’t seen as many paths as I have and hasn’t climbed as many hills so his mind isn’t callused as much as mine is. That will come in time and he’ll have to endure these when they come upon him.
That’s why support systems and having people you trust are so important to get through life. We all need mentors and guides at various times and those lessons taught (like Yoda on Luke’s back during Jedi training) will come in handy as we are on our own and have to make decisions in real-time. You can walk the trail of life alone and maybe do just fine but it gets lonely and dark and depressing that way. Finding purpose is a lot harder.
You won’t always know if this path will lead to the right spot but if you continue to evaluate the terrain coming ahead you can try to get back on course if you happen to veer. So this hits another parallel, what happens when you get way off course?
We all get deep into situations we shouldn’t have whether it is a poor career choice, poor health, or a poor financial situation like when I was in $18,000 of credit card debt. That sucked. I couldn’t believe I got myself in that big hole on top of the car payment and student loans that needed to be paid off. Not to mention the other bills that had to be paid each month.
But I had a choice.
I could continue to go down that path even though I had a feeling of where that was going to lead me; more stress, more anxiety, more frustration, less happiness, or I could alter course and use my judgment and newfound experiences to lead me in a better direction.
It wasn’t going to be easy and it wasn’t going to be quick but for me to get back on level ground I had to keep chopping away in small increments. I had to choose that new path every day. In order to tackle newer challenges that were important to me then I had to make the sacrifices in the short term to help me out in the long run. Eight years later, I was completely debt-free, over 50k paid off, and I felt back on track to conquer new adventures.
And so that’s the moral here, as I told my son, the trail is the fun part and not the destination. Oh, you’ll certainly get somewhere someday but what stories are you going to be able to tell when you get there and what level of pride will you have that you navigated tough terrain and not only achieved your goals but worn the path just a little bit more to help people that are coming behind you.
That’s what I wanted him to learn and I hope it’s a great lesson for you reading this today.
Enjoy the peaks and valleys because they are inevitable.
Stop and smell the roses and don’t be in such a hurry to get somewhere.
Help others by being a guide and marking the trail with your experiences.
Don’t let fear guide you on your path but the belief in yourself that ultimately you know the direction if you just trust your own judgment.
Good luck as you navigate your own trail and hope to run into you at some point on the journey!
Like realized it wasn’t fitting into your life and just quit it.
We all want to do more. Workout more. Make a few more calls. Spend more time with family. If you’re not doing more its said that you are falling behind or missing out.
But at what cost?
When was the last time we prioritized our day/week and analyzed the things that are distractions versus the things that are actually helping us grow or are important to us?
I believe this is one of the most ultimate struggles we have inside ourselves. We want to do everything and be everywhere. We stretch ourselves too thin.
Whether it’s wasted activities that are “time robbers” or giving our time to others who simply don’t respect it, there are a lot of applications to this question.
Something I’ve continued to ponder when it comes to prioritizing my time and efforts because I was doing so many things at surface level and feeling like I was just treading water. It wasn’t until I realized that I needed to go deeper into only a few of them and “quit” the others that I started to gain momentum.
By the way, it wasn’t easy, nothing ever is.
So, Here is how I prioritize some things now…
And the list goes on….
There are a lot of balls to juggle and only so much time available. So let’s take a step back so I can share a bit more of how I found time.
For the longest time, my Sundays were filled with NFL Football all day long. As a huge 49ers fan (still disappointed in our Super Bowl loss!) I never missed a game. And I didn’t miss others, either. I played fantasy football, used to bet on games, and wanted to “enjoy” my Sunday. And that’s fine if you choose to do this. But for me, it wasn’t cutting it.
My son was growing, and it was a priority to be there with him and for him.
I started the Just Get Started Podcast and wanted to spend time editing it for the following week.
I also had business ideas I wanted to work on and test out.
And I was getting into CrossFit and had lofty goals of strength and weight gains.
Oh, and another HUGE priority of mine is sleep. I am a firm believer in all of the sleep research out there that you need a minimum of 7 hours per night of actual sleep, not just laying in bed.
So when I started to add it all up it made sense. Remove as much of the Sports/TV that I could while still allowing myself enough to satisfy those “cravings”. And that’s what I did. I only watched my 49ers and occasionally a game or two here and there if they were on a bye or played the primetime game. I also took out almost all TV watching during the week and spend that time with my son before bed and then work on some projects after.
As I’ve built this habit, it’s been amazing how I’ve trimmed even further without even noticing. I don’t have the NFL Sunday Ticket not so I can only watch my 49ers when they are on Primetime slots. I have taken out almost all weekly TV watching as well besides catching a few shows I like to watch like Shark Tank or Westworld. Since these are streamed, I can watch whenever I want so I am in more control.
Again, you may decide to do something different but it first starts with your priority list. What is most important in your life to focus on. Do those things first and if you are running into trouble with time available then you have to look farther down the list to what you are doing that is causing the problem. Although it may be fun or cool to do, you may have to make the sacrifice because, in order to grow and evolve and be fulfilled, you have to be focusing on the things that are most important.
Figure that out and I am confident you’ll free up a lot of wasted time and be much happier each and every day.
When Was The Last Time You Quit?Brian Ondrako2021-03-19T10:42:27-04:00
I’ve had a ton of interesting experiences in my life, and some, where I made wrong choices and had to do things over or I made them harder than they probably needed to be. I hardly looked at the choices I was making, how I was reacting to them, and where I could improve. Unlike Sherlock Holmes, I wish I had laid the pieces out and tried to fit them together to unlock the mystery.
Then I hit what I have affectionately called my “Renaissance Period” in my early 30s.
It has been a journey of deep learning and discovery filled with eye-opening lessons and revelations that have helped alter my path and set me on a more meaningful course for my life.
As I reflected and thought of the impression I wanted to make on the world, I was reminded of my grandmother, Nana Ro, as I called her. She was my everything and she taught me so many very subtle lessons that I didn’t realize until much later. She had been through a lot. She had witnessed pain. When she was in her mid-20’s and with two toddlers at home, the love of her life and father to her boys got killed in a car accident. She didn’t find out until a day later.
She had several miscarriages later in life, worked 3rd shift to make ends meet, and raised five children along the way. She deserved to take a break every once in a while. She deserved to get waited on like a Queen. But she never once complained about it. She was the epitome of servant-leadership.
For the years I knew her it was extremely rare for her to do anything first or for herself, especially when her grandkids were around.
She cooked dinner, we ate first.
We wanted to watch a TV show, she turned the channel.
She cooked Christmas cookies, we always ate them first (and found her hidden spot in the downstairs freezer and raided that as well)
I wish I realized this all in my younger years. It wasn’t until this Renaissance Period and deep reflection that I realized (very luckily) that some of this rubbed off on me and a whole bunch more of it needed to be refined. It took some work to iron out the learnings and apply them to my life. But here’s what I came up with. Simply put like Nana Ro would have done.
Feed others first that otherwise can’t feed themselves.
Translation – Many people, to no fault of their own, have a narrow view of the world, business, new technology, etc. and you have the opportunity to be the guide of information for them to open up a new way of thinking. You can help people help themselves by feeding their minds with creative ways of solving a problem or simply suggesting to them to ask the correct question to themselves to gain a new lens on the same situation. You need to do it with honesty and humility, however, as this is the way for people to start buying into those ideas but you have to let people be the hero of their own story and you are just the guide to get them to their destination.
Don’t be so polished and lighten the room up
Let the ego go! Nobody wants or needs the hard-ass and it doesn’t go over well anymore. I’m not saying to not be professional especially in business environments but try to be “business casual” in your encounters with most people. They’re human just like you and do you think they are as happy as they seem or don’t have 15 other things on their mind or even want to be at this particular job? So lighten up the room, have fun, be personable. It not only differentiates you from almost everyone else but you get more out of people that way. Being yourself builds trust and respect much quicker than putting on “a show”. Trust me, people can see right through the charade. Just stop it!
Bring a smile to everyone you encounter
Smile more often. Take the glass-half-full approach to life. There are a lot of bad times and challenging situations but you have a choice to make each and every day. You decide on the attitude you’re taking into your family life, your business, your workouts, and everything else that matters to you. Even though things may not be perfect, be the strong one that others can use for inspiration. I know it can be hard but looking at life through the positive lens ends up making it much easier and manageable. You somehow can breathe a bit more freely. The storm clouds seem to pass and the days just appear brighter. Trust me, it works, because I’ve tried it both ways.
Although I narrowed down to three bite-sized chunks, I learned so much from Nana Ro that I can’t put in one article. Some stuff I am still uncovering periodically as I reminisce about my childhood and the time I was lucky to spend with her.
I miss my Nana Ro very much. She passed away in the Spring of 2019 and I think about her often. I think about her kindness and the love she projected out into the world and hope she’d be proud of my mission and the impact I am trying to make on the world.