Why You Should Never Say ‘I Will Never’

never say never text write on paper

Have you ever said you would NEVER do something, yet ended up doing it despite your strongest declaration?

Think back to your younger self.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on your taxes, yet you did. Maybe you said you’d never lie yet fabricated something.

Maybe you said you’d never cheat on a spouse yet did. Perhaps you’ve said you’ll never smoke, or never get a divorce yet you’re addicted to cigarettes or single.

How many times have you broken a promise to yourself after you saying you never would? How many times have you broken a promise to a friend, family member, or your kids after saying you’d ‘never’ do that.

Ever been there?

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard others (and myself) make, declarations with such conviction and confidence, I’d be a rich man, typing this from a beach in Barbados instead of my couch in fifteen-below weather.

The fact is, even the most passionate worldviews rarely go as planned and those assertions don’t hold up. As certain as some things may seem today, you may look back in a week, or year or five and realize how little you saw coming in your life that would force you to do something you said you never would.

I always think twice now before crossing my arms in stubbornness after writing something in stone.

Why should I never say never?

The main reason you shouldn’t say ‘I’ll never do that’ is because we are fated to error by a variety of factors that we have absolutely no control over.

Humans are complicated and emotional creatures. We are flooded by feelings, circumstances, and our environment which is important to note because we can’t predict a particular outcome 100% of the time.

I can’t predict the person that you’ll become or the decisions you’ll make in a year any better than Zoltar can predict Tom Hanks future in the movie Big.

The other reason you should avoid saying ‘never’ is science. #science

Your subconscious can’t understand negotiations, which is important because when you say ‘never’, it most times happens.

For instance, if I were to say something like “I will never smoke again”, your subconscious receives the order “I will smoke again.”

Let’s give it a try.

For a moment I want you to not think of a house, not think of a car, and not think of a pink elephant.

Are you noticing something?

Our subconscious is completely ignoring the term “not” and instead you immediately had the image in your mind of the house, car, and even the pink elephant.

Research shows that you and I rarely make rational decisions.

Listen to this fantastic Storybrand podcast about why your brain and mine are addicted to negativity, drama, and why we rarely make rational choices.

Conventional wisdom among researchers tells us that humans can indeed make great decisions but only when their subconscious brain is involved in making the choice.

Emotion is why we buy junk food and eat it when grocery shopping when hungry. Emotion and irrational thought is why you self-medicate with sex, sugar, or drugs when you’re lonely or feeling rejected.

By in large, you and I make the vast majority of our decisions based on emotion, not logic, which is driven by our subconscious state.

So, saying “I will never do x” is a logical statement, but will be overcome by our subconscious mind.

What’s happens when you do that thing you said “never” to?

Now, I’m not questioning the intention or sincerity of your word or anyone else’s.

If you say you’re going to do something, I have to trust you until you don’t.

But, I won’t fully trust it when someone says ‘I’ll never do x.’

I also won’t hold it against them if they go against their word. You shouldn’t either.

After all, people change. We go through incredibly hard life-experiences, and maybe something they said ‘no’ to is exactly what they NEED to do in their current season.

We shouldn’t judge someone if they choose to do something today that they once said never to because I’ve learned that life changes people, which can be a good thing.

Saying “never” is like chaining yourself and depriving yourself from something that you may change your mind about in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to run back to your ex after telling yourself that you would never go back to him or her.

What I AM saying is that there is no need for justification of your actions by doing or saying something you once said never to, after making a promise to yourself or to the world.

There’s nothing wrong with changing your mind and being flexible. Living in extremes like only black and white all the time isn’t healthy.

None of us know the kind of person you will become in the future. You don’t know what you’ll say ‘yes’ to or what you’ll say ‘no’ to. The trick is to avoid being so dogmatic in your never-attitude that you don’t burn bridges. The key is to live your life and allow yourself to enjoy the journey along the way.

Like the OneRepublic song, I Lived, the goal should be to own every second that this world could give, see so many places, the things that I did, with every broken bone I swear I lived.

Be careful saying never, and don’t be afraid to break that promise to yourself by doing what you once said you never would and live.

One Word: How The One Word Methodology Will Change Your Life


I love the movie City Slickers.

It’s a comedy starring Billy Crystal as Mitch, a vacationing businessman,  who takes on the adventure of driving cattle.

In the middle of the movie, Mitch meets a rough-around-the-edges cowhand named Curly, played by Jack Palance.

Curly tells Mitch that the secret to a great life is only one thing.

Curly even emphasizes his point by holding one finger and saying, “You need to stick to that one thing.

Mitch asks, “What is that one thing?

Curly’s reply is That’s what you gotta figure out!”

I thought One Word was a joke.

How can reading a book about a single word really have that much impact on my life?

I’ve read thousands of books in my lifetime and what I’ve found is there are very few originals. Meaning, most books about business, self-help, marketing, etc., are regurgitated from someone else’s point of view.

Most content I read in books isn’t anything profound or new.

But, once I got into One Word, I realized this was vastly different.

I’d describe One Word as this: a methodology and process for simplifying your life through the focusing on only One Word for an entire year.

This process and methodology creates clarity,  passion, and life-change.

You see, resolutions fail, and goals can be easily forgotten, but One Word sticks.

By living a single word that embodies the essence of your life at this moment, you’ll find refreshed purpose throughout an entire year.

How to choose your One Word.

Choosing your One Word is a three-step process.

  1. Prepare your heart by looking in.
  2. Discover your word by looking up.
  3. Live your word by looking out.


Step 1: Prepare Your Heart By Looking In.

This first steps forces you to take time to unplug from the noise and distractions of daily life.

It asks you to quiet your mind, listen, and ask yourself these questions while journaling your thoughts:

  • What do I need? This isn’t about what you want, rather what you truly need. What areas of your life need the most change and why is this change necessary?
  • What’s in my way? This question asks what’s preventing me from having what I need? Sometimes the barriers in your life might just be staring at you in the mirror.
  • What needs to go? Maybe you’re being held hostage by past hurts, wounds, or mistakes. Perhaps this pain and anger needs to get resolved so you can heal and in order to move forward.

Step 2: Discover Your Word By Looking Up.

Not to get overtly religious, but there IS a spiritual aspect to choosing your One Word.

This part was the most enjoyable because it forced me to surrender control (ironically my 2019 One Word was surrender) and seek understanding at the highest level.

Because this is my fourth year doing this, I typically start in September/October and take time to listen. This process of listening can take days, weeks, or months.

It’s a process of elimination where I write down several words that come to mind, pray about them, seek wisdom from my mentors and peers, and ultimately trust my One Word will come.

It always does.

Step 3: Live Your Word by Looking Out.

Once you’ve moved through the first two steps, you’re ready to live your word out loud.

You’ll want to integrate your One Word into your daily life by doing things like posting your word in prominent places, sharing it with those you trust, communicating to your inner circle, or by making your One Word a screensaver.

It’s critical to remember and focus on your word throughout the year because it’s easy to forget your word with life’s stresses and challenges constantly distracting you.

My One Word started four years ago with the word Intentional.

Then it was Breakthrough.

Then, last year, it was Surrender.

In 2020 my One Word was Change.

Last year it was Hope.

In 2022, my One Word is Resilient.

A very good friend of mine pointed out the correlation between these four words. Take a look:

Intentional -> Breakthrough -> Surrender -> Change -> Hope -> Resilient.

I don’t believe there are coincidences in life, and everything happens for a reason. That said, the correlation is astonishing as to what my One Word’s are doing to change my life.


Since penning this blog piece, I’ve endured some soul-crushing life circumstances which has made this process that much more important to me.

I almost lost my business as a result of the pandemic, I went through a divorce, and experienced some mental health struggles that were excruciating.

The One Word process isn’t about choosing a word to guide your life, rather it’s about uncovering a word that will drive growth by examining your past successes, struggles, as well as your future hopes, dreams and concerns.

As a part of this growth, I was challenged by someone who’s very close to me. They said this: Start being the kind of man that would make a woman want to stay with you and love you. 

I’m choosing to take this a step further by focusing on being the kind of human people want to hang out with, the kind of dad that kids brag about, and the kind of man that a woman would want to gush over as her forever-partner.

Once you have your word you’ll find you can narrow your focus and simplify just about everything in your life and work.

My biggest takeaways were:

  1. Busyness is a modern-day epidemic robbing us of our life.
  2. Busyness puts you into survival mode, leaving no time for mission and meaning.
  3. Busyness makes me callous and can make me hard to caring about the things I care about.
  4. The key to eliminating busyness is a narrow focus around simplicity provided by my One Word.

Let me challenge you, intrepid entrepreneur and reader, how are you simplifying your life and embracing focus in order to grow?

Get your copy of One Word by clicking here to learn more. 

What I Really Mean When I Say, ‘I’m Fine’


In the 2003 hit movie The Italian Job, there’s a scene where the main character says he’s fine.

The supporting character, played by Donald Sutherland, quickly corrects a young Mark Wahlberg by saying “Do you know what fine stands for?

Freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional.

And that’s why I love Donald Sutherland and his character.

How many times have you said ‘I’m fine.

Dozens of times?

Hundreds perhaps? Maybe even thousands of times over your lifetime.

I’m no psychologist, but here’s what I’ve found it to really mean when people say they’re fine.

  • I’m trying hard to pretend that I’m okay inside, but I’m really not.
  • I’m not fine, and I don’t feel safe/comfortable sharing with you what’s really going on in my life.
  • I’m too scared to tell you how I really feel.
  • I don’t know how I’m doing, to be quite honest.
  • I’m afraid if I admit to not being fine, you’ll see me as weak and as a complainer.
  • I’m not fine and I don’t want to burden you with my problems because I don’t think others really care about me.
  • I’m tired because of my life circumstance and don’t have the energy to explain why I’m not doing well.
  • I’m frustrated or upset, but I don’t want to rock the boat.
  • I was taught by my super-strict Christian parents that feelings are bad and that my feelings aren’t valid, so I suppress them.
  • I need someone who will listen to me, and not try to fix things so I can open up and tell you why I’m not fine.
  • I am sad inside, maybe struggling with anxiety and depression, and want to isolate myself.

How to respond when someone says they’re ‘fine.’

The next time your waiter at a restaurant asks how you are, I’m not saying you need to share your life story with them.

On the contrary, use prudence and discretion.

The expectation should be that many of our daily interactions are superficial, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Not every conversation needs to be, or should be, deep and meaningful.

As you and I go about our days, especially working in a professional environment, we should understand that over-sharing can be an issue. But not all interactions are surface and superficial.

The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes the norm. The problem begins when “I’m fine” becomes a habit, like a reflex that you apply to your interactions with friends, family, and even the person staring back at you in the mirror.

If every response to the question ‘how are you’ is ‘fine‘ then I’d argue you’re not.

And sometimes that’s okay!

It’s okay to not be okay every once in awhile. It’s okay to be just fine if you’re going through a rough season or your life situation sucks.

Recently, a good friend of mine had to cut out his business partner of over 20 years. They had a long history of conflict and strife, and the one had to go. “I feel fine, Dave. I don’t feel horrible, but I also don’t feel great. What I’m going through is hard and I’m grieving losing my best friend and partner. So, I’m fine.

Another friend of mine recently became a single dad. His wife left him for another man, leaving him to raise three kids on his own, two of which are girls. That’s tough for any dad to raise girls, let alone as a single father. “I’m fine, Dave. Really, I’ll be okay I’m just fine.

Another business professional I’m close is going through a divorce after his wife has been openly cheating on him for years. The worst part: he’s got a terminal illness and she’s choosing her other relationship over him. “Dave, I don’t know how to say it other than to say I’m fine…and for now I’m okay with that.

Ever watch the YouTube video called It’s Not About The Nail?

Click here to watch it. –> (https://bit.ly/MnyfOZ)

It’s great. It’s about a couple where she’s simply trying to tell her partner about some frustrations she’s having, only to find him wanting to fix the problem instead of listen to her.

When someone says they’re fine, the worst thing you can do is try to dig only to learn what they’re struggling with and try and fix their problem.

The best way to respond to someone who’s fine, and clearly struggling, is to listen to them in order to understand. (listening and listening to understand are not the same)

Stop what you’re doing for five minutes and ask some probing questions to get them to open up. Tell them things to make them feel safe because if the person who’s really struggling with being fine doesn’t trust you, they won’t open up.

Things like:

  • Being fine doesn’t sound awesome. I’m wondering if you can tell me how you’re really feeling?
  • Just fine? Sounds like fine is masking something else you want to get off your chest. Can you open up to me and tell me more?
  • How come you’re just fine instead of good, or great, or even horrible?
  • Look buster, Donald Sutherland once said that being fine means your freaked out, insecure, neurotic and emotional. Tell me more…how come you’re only fine?

When responding, try not to use the word ‘why’ in your sentences because using the word ‘why’ can trigger a defensive reaction. Instead, ask your questions using the phrase ‘how come.’ It’s softer and will yield a better result in your conversations.

Going through tough stuff is okay.

It’s okay to grieve the loss of a close friend and business partner.

It’s okay to admit you’re tired from your life circumstance.

It’s okay to have rotten days.

But, living in a state of perpetual misery is not ever okay or fine.

Living in a state of perpetual misery is robbing yourself of the beauty of opening up to someone through the exercise of vulnerability. As humans, we all need connection through relationships and that can only come from the courage to respond with authenticity.

It’s hard, I get it. Sharing hard things and being vulnerable can feel like you’re getting naked in front of a sea of people who will laugh at you once they see what you look like. Getting vulnerable can feel like going against the grain.

Being vulnerable can put you in the position of being hurt. Maybe you’ve opened up to someone recently and instead of extend some empathy and grace, they wounded you with their response.

Being vulnerable can be a little painful.

But, what’s the alternative?

Bottling up what you’re going through can lead to negative stress, anxiety/panic attacks, affect your heart-health, decrease your lifespan, force you into isolation, and puts you at risk for depression.

I’m no Einstein, but that doesn’t sound fun or desirable.

The next time somebody asks you how you are, respond intentionally with these words and watch your interactions change.

  • Sad
  • Nervous
  • Excited
  • Anxious
  • Lonely
  • Energized
  • Confused
  • Frazzled
  • Aroused
  • Irritated
  • Content
  • Elated
  • Angry
  • Lost
  • Melancholy
  • Fatigued
  • Overwhelmed
  • Engaged
  • Hurt
  • Frightened
  • Relieved
  • Embarrassed
  • Jealous
  • Unsure
  • Grief-stricken
  • Grateful
  • Rough around the edges

You can even respond with just fine.

I think we all can agree that this life is stressful enough without empathy, grace, and compassion.

Imagine a place where people you interacted with actually listened, loved, and cared enough to understand.

Imagine a world where you and I listened to those who inside were once miserable, but because you took time to understand their struggles they’re no longer fine.



Why Parents Shouldn’t Teach Their Kids To Be Nice (do this instead)


This goes against everything I’ve ever been taught.

Do not teach your kids to be nice. 

Before you begin sending me hate email, assuming that I’m somehow advocating that you should teach your kids to be narcissistic jerks, let me ask you something:

  • Do you want your kids to have healthy relationships? (on their end at least)
  • Do you want your kids to have relationships that aren’t one-sided, one’s where they don’t get taken advantage of?
  • Do you want you kids to get out of life what they want because they practice the art of good communication?
  • Do you want your kids to be a doormat to the schoolyard bully?
  • Do you want your kids, especially daughters, to have a strong, independent backbone, not having to rely on someone else to dictate their future for them?

I don’t want my daughters to get taken advantage of, and I want them to learn to communicate what they want in life, instead of being afraid to speak up because of social conditioning that taught them to “be nice.”

I want them to be classy and lady-like, similar to their great-grandmother, but I also want them to be tough and know how to change a car tire, if need be.

Lord knows most young men (the Starbucks-drinking-bearded-hipster-types) don’t know how to do these things.

There’s something to be said for nice kids, but there’s also plenty to be said for not raising kids who become doormats to people who knowingly hurt them.

The question I ask myself is this: Am I raising my daughters to give away their cookies, their lunch, their homework to the schoolyard tyrant? Or, am I raising my daughters to be ninja-like in their pursuit of openness, vulnerability, and even radical candor, as Kim Scott calls it.

Lets first define what being nice is and the detriments to it.

What does it mean to be nice?

First, “be nice” is one of the most common phrases we say to our kids, especially little ones.

It comes out of our mouth without thinking, like a gut reaction to our fear that little Tommy or Tammy will grow up to be unscrupulous and cruel.

If we are brutally honest with ourselves, when we teach our kids to “be nice” it implies:  “do whatever it takes to keep the peace,” or “don’t ruffle feathers,” or “don’t be so darn assertive, vociferous, opinionated and loud.

On a deeper level it carries the mandate to “give up something about yourself or your belongings even though you don’t want to.”

Girls, especially, are given a heavy dosage of “be sweet” because being sweet and nice is lady-like.

But what does this really mean?

It usually means “stuff your feelings down inside, swallow them hard, and just smile even though you want to scream.”

Let’s talk about the deeper meaning of these mandates we pass onto our children. Being nice means:

  • Deny, avoid and distract yourself from your true feelings.
  • Avoid conflict and find a compromise at all costs.
  • Don’t be assertive, instead find a way to get along with the other person even though that person is a narcissistic fool who wants to use and abuse you.

In my experience, especially in business, what I’ve found is this: the core problem with the message of “be nice” is a lack of appreciation for the sacred power of boundaries and vulnerability, even though by being open and vulnerable it will hurt someone’s feelings.

When I do this as a dad, teaching my daughters to be nice instead of emotionally self-aware, I teach them that it’s more important to be in a one-sided and dysfunctional relationship, personal or professional, no matter the damage it does to them.

That’s what it means to “be nice.”

What’s it mean to be kind? (the difference between being nice and kind)

Being “kind” isn’t the same as being “nice.”

Don’t confuse the two. You can still be kind, while tackling conflict and being direct with people.

Kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

When I was younger, I thought kindness meant being nice to other people and making them happy.

What life has taught me is that kindness starts with yourself and kindness starts at home. It means treating yourself as you would anyone else you care about. We usually talk about and hear about kindness in relation to other people, but kindness towards yourself is just as important.

You might have heard the sentiment you can’t love other people until you can love yourself. While I don’t believe this is 100% true, I think how you treat and talk to yourself becomes the foundation from which you approach other relationships. Kindness isn’t only about how you treat other people, it’s about extending the same intentions to our yourself too.

Being kind does not always look like being ‘nice.’ Having a ‘pleasant disposition’ does not mean always making other people happy. Some of the happiest looking people I know are completely and utterly miserable on the inside. Sometimes kindness means disappointing other people because you have to say “no” and disappoint them.

Kindness is based on your own values and worldviews, while niceness is how how other people see you.

Kindness is difficult. Sometimes being kind means saying “no.” One of the most common situations in which this is the case involves the line between kindness and enabling.

For example, if someone keeps asking for money but spends it on drugs, alcohol, or by racking up unnecessary debt, it’s kinder to refuse to lend them more money and instead look for other ways to support them rather than to keep enabling them. It might be nicer (and feel more comfortable) in the short-term to lend or give them more money, but that’s not helping them in the long-term (and it’s probably not helping you either).

If someone is struggling with unhealthy behaviors or patterns, sometimes it is kinder to let them face the consequences of their actions than to keep enabling them to continue.

The same principle applies to your relationship with yourself. There’s a subtle but important difference between self-care and self-indulgence. Self-care rarely looks pretty or feels comfortable in the moment. Sometimes kindness means telling yourself to get out of bed and go to the gym, even though it’s cold, raining and you’d much rather stay in bed and veg out in front of Netflix.

True kindness can be tough, and it might leave you feeling less than kind. But even when you say no to yourself or others, you can do so from a place of love and compassion.

That’s because kindness is rooted in empathy and acceptance.

Teach this instead of being nice.

The focus needs to change from creating a false sense of harmony by “being nice”, as Patrick Lencioni calls it, and instead teach our kids this:

  • Engage with others from an authentic place.
  • Know your boundaries and don’t allow anyone to cross over them.
  • Respect the boundaries and freedoms of others.
  • Not everyone is going to like you nor should they have to.
  • You don’t need to be friends with everyone nor should you feel the need to. (family included)
  • You are not defined by others, your actions, or your mistakes.
  • Lying to yourself for the sake of a relationship will ultimately end in dysfunction.
  • Sometimes it is more important to be honest than “nice” even if it means someone will end up crying because their feelings got hurt.
  • If “nice” comes at the cost of authenticity, it is better to veer away from the relationship.
  • Those who love you will allow you to be honest and authentic at all costs.

The next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home bemoaning the fact that their bestie was mean to them, which caused her to be mean back, don’t be quick to jump in and say, “be nice!”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what true friendship means, and more importantly, how this experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for the soul and which damage the soul.

Relationships that are good for the ego will always let us down in the end, but those that are good for our soul will stay eternal no matter how “not nice” we are because they value the valor it takes to be vulnerable over any other virtue.

It is time to move away from robotic messages of convenience that we feed our kids and instead challenge ourselves to probe toward more inconvenient truths.

It takes a lot longer to teach our children how to honor boundaries and stay authentic than it does to parse out the phrase, “be nice.”

However, at the end of the day, it is these teachings that will hold true to them in times of strife. It is here that they will remember their parents telling them to attune to the truth and follow it, all based on a foundation of authenticity, self-awareness and direction.

So, the next time little Tommy or Tammy comes home (whether your kids are little or teens like mine) bemoaning the fact that their bff was mean to them, avoid saying “be nice.”

Instead, engage in a deeper conversation around what healthy relationships are, and more importantly, how their experience is a lesson about learning which friends are good for them and which are not.

I Have Tourette Syndrome and Why I Love It

Famous Marvel Universe screenwriter and producer Christopher Markus said, “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

He couldn’t be more right. 

When I was 8 years old, I was diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

This is my story of being diagnosed with TS and why I love it. 

The diagnosis. 

It all started when I was about 7 or 8.

I started having these weird, uncontrollable movements with my body.

I couldn’t explain them. My parents couldn’t explain it. No one could explain it.

At first, these uncontrollable movements came in the form of flexing certain parts of my body like my hand, arm, or neck. Then, I eventually started making weird sounds that I couldn’t control. The sounds were even more unusual, like small grunting sounds or a faint barking. (I know, it sounds really weird) 

It was insanely scary. 

My parents didn’t really know what to do so they sought help from neurological experts and doctors where it was finally determined that I had a rare neurological disorder called Tourette Syndrome. (aka TS)

The worst part: I was about to enter my tween and teen years with an affliction that awkwardly drew attention to myself through very unnatural means. The tween years and teen years can be mean and cruel, and that’s without without drawing attention to yourself with TS.

Here I was making noises and movements that resembled something out of the Rob Schneider movie, Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo.

The next 5-10 years would be pretty tough.

What is Tourette Syndrome (TS).

First, let me explain what TS is not.

TS is nothing to be scared of. It’s not a disease, it’s not a bacterial infection or a virus. You can’t spread it by shaking someone’s hand or by breathing on someone.

TS is a neurological disorder. Meaning, I was born with it. 

To give you some context, here are some common types of neurological disorders that you’ve probably heard of, that are similar to Tourette Syndrome:

  • Epilepsy
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease

TS is nothing like the devastating nature of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or Epilepsy, but living with it (especially as a kid) is still hard. 

TS is characterized by one main symptom: repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations called tics. Remember the weird movements I talked about earlier? Those are called tics.

Tics are a part of life for TS’ers. Tics can change, they can go away, and they can get worse under stress.

That’s what TS is and isn’t.

Living with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

The disorder is named for Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, the pioneering French neurologist who in 1885 first described the condition in an 86-year-old French noblewoman.

The early symptoms of TS are typically noticed first in childhood, with the average onset between the ages of 3 and 9 years.

TS occurs in people from all ethnic groups; males are affected about three to four times more than females. It is estimated that 200,000 Americans have the most severe form of TS, and as many as one in 100 exhibit milder and less complex symptoms such as chronic motor or vocal tics.

Although TS can be a chronic condition with symptoms lasting a lifetime, most people with the condition experience their worst tic symptoms in their teens, with improvement occurring in the late teens and continuing into adulthood.

While having TS is challenging, you can live a pretty normal life. 

Normal being running, jumping, making decisions, and doing long division. 

Dealing with Tourette Syndrome (TS).

In many ways, I felt like a guinea pig in growing up with TS.

Not only was I on medications that had other unintended consequences, but there wasn’t much in the form of support, outside my family. 

Dealing with TS wasn’t as simple as taking a magic pill and the problem went away.

Dealing with TS was far from easy. At the time, the late 1980’s, TS was rare. Less then 100,000 people worldwide were diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome. That’s less than .002% of the entire world’s population being diagnosed with TS. 

If only there was an actual easy button, like the Staples commercials.

I dealt and coped with TS through a variation of ways, some good and some bad.

  • Medication helped me cope, but it also messed with my metabolism and caused weight gain. (as if having TS and being a teen was bad enough, I was instantly the resident chubby-kid)
  • I would cope by isolating myself from the shame and embarrassment of not being able to interact with my friends because my tics were so bad. 
  • I struggled with a negative self-image of myself because I was overweight and stressed, and I was suicidal and depressed. 
  • I read books and comic books. (Silver Surfer was my favorite comic hero)
  • I would write.
  • I even read the dictionary and encyclopedia when I ran out of books to read. 
  • I played baseball up through little league and developed a love of soccer.

Dealing with TS has other interesting challenges, too. I tend to be a perfectionist, who hates clutter on desk surfaces and counter-tops. I rearrange things when I travel and even fluffy carpet needs to be pointed 100% in the same direction. 

Sounds nuts, I get it. I’ve had to get really creative in working through the struggles of having Tourette’s. Looking back, however, I wouldn’t trade the experience of dealing with it for the world. 

What I learned from Tourette Syndrome (TS).

Christopher Markus, one of the screenwriters for the Marvel movies, said “hardship often prepares an ordinary person for an extraordinary destiny.”

I believe he’s right.

You can consider hardship as this terrible, unfortunate event, which makes you hard and bitter. Or, you can use hardship to learn and grow.

I’ve never viewed hardship, trials, or failures as a bad thing. I’ve always viewed trials and hardship as something to mold me and shape me. 

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy pain or humiliation. I don’t think any reasonable person does. But, I also understand that trials in life exist and that life isn’t fair. Not everyone wins, not everyone gets a trophy (and shouldn’t) and not everything is rainbows and unicorns. 

Even though life ain’t always fun and sometimes you wonder if the good Lord is punishing you, you must choose where to emotionally live.

When encountering life’s trials and hardships, you have the freedom to chose how it affects you. We all have this freedom. You can choose to live in these circumstances or you can choose to move past them and focus on finding the joy in your situation. 

A CEO friend of mine put the word grateful into his companies core values because of how impactful it is to find joy when walking through the valley.

When battling the symptoms of TS, in the in the thick of my teen years, I was ridiculed by my fellow students, mocked by mean kids, and teased incessantly. I wanted to die. I thought my trial would never end and most days wanted to be invisible. 

Then it all changed. 

How Tourette Syndrome (TS) changed me.

As I grew through my late teen years, many of my more severe tics and symptoms of TS went away.

I eventually stopped taking the medications that helped subdue my tics, and my body returned to normal. 

My tics slowly went away and my confidence improved. I began the journey of healing through many of the emotional hurts and wounds I had experienced during the worst times of growing up with Tourette Syndrome. 

It was like a new beginning. I refused to be a victim and refused to live defeated. 

TS has changed a lot about how I view things.

At 40, I now view trials through a different set of lenses. My life, and yours too, is a direct reflection of the perspective we hold.

When you and I look at the state of our lives, what does it reflect? What does it reflect about who you are and how you see yourself? What does it reflect about your relationships, your work, your hobbies, and your purpose?

Is your life merely happenstance, or are you intentional in creating a life that reflects a rich tapestry of moments?

TS changed me in that I started to realize that my life doesn’t need to be an artificial state of bliss, yet it doesn’t have to be dead, either. Just because I have a physical ailment that’s awkward and sometimes embarrassing, doesn’t mean I’m doomed to living a pessimistic, monotonous, and frustrating existence chock full of cynical patterns.

I love that I have Tourette Syndrome and that the experiences of living with TS refined my attitude. I embrace my 32 year old diagnosis because it’s a part of me that’ll never change. I’ve overcome many things that others have not. I’ve learned forgiveness, perseverance, and empathy when many around me will never get to endure this life-lesson.

What’s your Tourette Syndrome?

Everyone has a “thorn”, or their own version of Tourette Syndrome. 

In 2 Corinthians 12, the apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away…but he said “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses…I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

That “thorn” is some weakness or experience that’s shaped you or impacted you, something to keep you grounded because of your weakness. For me, that grounding is in Christ because I am weak, so His grace and strength lifts me up. 

Maybe you’ve struggled with, and beat, breast cancer.

Maybe you’ve gone through a divorce, or the death of a child or spouse. Perhaps you’ve suffered emotional or physical abuse, had an abortion, are a recovered drug addict, or a recovered alcoholic. Perhaps you’ve even cheated death.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, you have a choice when learning to live with your thorn.

You have the freedom to choose to use this adversity as a means to finding purpose in your life, as well as incredible joy and growth, or you can fall into the common trap of letting something negatively define you as some sort of victim.

Whatever it is you’ve gone through, or are in the midst of, use your experience as your ministry to encourage others and encounter tremendous joy.

And if you’re a fellow TS’er, like me, I’d love to hear from you and encourage you. Email me by clicking here and I’d love to listen to your story. 









The 5 Things I Learned in 2017

2017 was a good year.

I saw some births, some deaths, and some new beginnings.

I saw a close friend lose his battle to cancer. I left a comfortable career with a quickly-growing company. I made some personal decisions that forced me to get outside my comfort zone.

Yet, 2017 was a year of tremendous growth.

So here’s the top 5 things I learned in 2017.

Don’t be afraid to rock the boat

I used to work with this guy who would tell me one thing, then do another.

Know the type?

He’d say what he wanted to do, then completely fold under pressure. He was fearful. He was afraid to do the right thing because he was comfortable, fat, and happy. He was afraid to rock the boat.

If he rocked it, he’d likely be branded as “negative” or “stressed.” If he’d done the right thing by causing some much-needed discord as a catalyst to growth, he’d possibly have lost his job. (highly unlikely, but possible)

He was the kind of guy to tell you one thing, and then do another. He lacked courage and conviction. He’d talk a good game, but lacked the backbone to draw a line in the sand when a difficult conversation needed to happen.

These are folks who lie to themselves and lie to others around them. It’s a false harmony they’ve created in their minds as a survival technique. It’s a terrible way to work and live.

Last year, I started rocking the boat. I began with speaking up, and speaking out. I finally grew a backbone.

As a consequence to rocking the boat, I was unfortunately labeled as stressed and negative, but I wasn’t.

For 39 years I’ve lived under the guise that it’s okay to lie to people because it’s unkind to tell the truth to someone when it might offend them or hurt their feelings.

Are you okay with lying or being lied to?

Or would you want someone to offer you radical candor, like author Kim Scott did, when she needed to hear it the most?

When you choose to introduce change by rocking the boat, you’ll encounter resistance along the way. You’ll encounter resistance from your own insecurities and resistance from those around you. Keep rocking the boat.

Stand up for yourself

Let me clarify this point by first stating what it’s not.

Standing up for yourself is not punching someone back if they insulted you. It’s not vengeful or retaliatory. Standing up for yourself is not about teaching someone a lesson.

Standing up for yourself is learning to be transparent and authentic. It’s going to be difficult at times, but if you learn to express yourself openly and honestly, you’ll feel like a hundred pound weight is lifted off your shoulders.

Often times, we hide behind halfhearted smiles and nods instead of saying what needs to be said. This discipline takes lots of practice, but learning to be authentic about what you are feeling or thinking is step number one. Once you get in the habit of making yourself heard without being overly accommodating or defensive, people will be more open to hearing you.

Standing up for yourself means you’ll learn to how to handle when someone attacks you. You’ll learn the value of facing those who want to override you, as there will always be personalities who are set to attack mode. When you learn to properly stand up for yourself, you’ll be able to remain calm yet assert yourself when you feel like someone is trying to bully you. You’ll avoid becoming frazzled by reacting with low blows. When those around you attempt to browbeat you, walk the high road but stand your ground and stand up for yourself.

Filter your relationships

There are givers and takers in this life.

Givers are those who put into you. They are those who encourage you and challenge you to be a better person. They’re honest with you, they push you, they force you to think. Givers impart wisdom and sound counsel that’s geared to make you uncomfortable, yet loving enough to motivate you to be a better version of yourself.

Takers on the other hand are people who are critical, lie to you, and make excuses through a victim mentality. Takers are manipulative and rarely change. Takers go behind your back with gossip. When you encounter takers, you have to set up boundaries and keep them at a distance.

Takers are false victims. They typically have a pessimistic attitude and struggle taking responsibility for their lives. Takers are also bullies. Bullies don’t laugh at themselves, rather they laugh at others. If this person in your life makes fun of others but isn’t self deprecating, they’re a taker and need to go. Think of this person as dramatic and loud-mouthed. Bullies want submission and that’s the unhealthy relationship of a taker.

If you want to grow and mature, surround yourself by mature people by getting rid of the takers in your life.

Be open and honest

A few years ago, I was in business with a very good friend.

My friend is intense, ambitious, and driven. Because of this, he sometimes came off as unapproachable. Others we worked with would come to me to voice frustrations, instead of going to him. They would complain and vent, without being open and honest with my friend.

It was maddening. I became a go-between and I hated it.

After while, I simply challenged those on my team to go directly to my partner-in-crime to talk with him, open and honestly.

Few actually did. They chose to talk about my friend and colleague, instead of talking to him. They weren’t open and honest and failed at the most basic form of communication: direct one on one dialogue.

It’s tough talking about sensitive topics. Choosing to be open with someone can be incredibly scary.

But wouldn’t you like the freedom of a good nights sleep because your conscious is clear, rather than perpetuating a bigger problem?

In 2018, choose to be more open and honest with those around you. Don’t be the go-between and encourage those around you to tackle issues directly.


You have to love three things about your job, or whatever it is you do as a vocation.

You have to love the people, the place, and the product/service your company is selling, in order to not be miserable.

If any of these is completely out of alignment, then consider a professional career change.

The motivation I needed to question this aspect of my career came from a friend of mine who ultimately died from cancer. I did some deep introspection while watching him struggle.

One of the things he said he’d miss most was the smell of freshly cut grass.

He also said he had regrets in his life. Regrets that would bother him until his death. I listened and learned a tremendous amount while praying for my sick friend.

He encouraged me, even pushed me, to take the risk I was apprehensive to take. The fear of not taking a risk scared me more than taking a risk and failing, so I did.

I quit my job as the head of marketing at a quickly growing SaaS company to pursue being self-employed as a solopreneur.

You can listen to the story on this podcast.

The company I quit had an awesome product that solved a HUGE problem for small businesses. From a marketing perspective, it was great to market. It offered amazing automation results, had virtually no competitors, was innovative, and game-changing for technology businesses.

But the people and place were changing. The culture wasn’t the same when I first started and I didn’t like what I saw. So I did something about it. I took action by quitting and went back to the world of self-employment.

I couldn’t be happier.

One book that inspired me was The Reluctant Entrepreneur by Michael Masterson. Check it out, here. If you’re considering making a change from a W-2 employee to self-employment, you need this book.

Don’t just take a paycheck to take a paycheck. To me, that’s the same as stealing. Instead, formulate a plan to take the plunge into doing something you love. There’s no such thing as a dream job, so don’t chase that. Rather, find that one thing that you love to do and chase it until you catch it.

What were some of your highlights in 2017?

Share in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them.

The Two Reasons Why Traction and The Rockefeller Habits Won’t Help Your Business

Every few years, a new business methodology gets published that gains traction (pun intended).

And like the ice-cream flavor of the day, these leadership and management principles eventually fade with the onset of something newer and more innovative.

(I am a huge fan of Traction by Gino Wickman, btw)

What I’ve found, however, is that implementing change through a philosophy like Traction can fail and there are two main reasons for this.

The two primary pitfalls in applying any business management approach are ego and lack of alignment. These are the two nails in the coffin that will kill how successful you are, or aren’t, in how you effectuate your growth plan.

Being an agent of change inside your business is hard enough to accomplish, but ultimately won’t work unless you have the following pieces in place. (keep reading)

The positive news is this: when these pieces are in place, you’ll eventually catapult your company into something you only dreamed of.

Why business leadership and management philosophies (like Traction) won’t work

I’ve worked in multiple Fortune 1000 organizations, as well as with dozens of high-growth start-ups, and have used a myriad of business management ideologies.

I’ve had the pleasure of learning portions of Six Sigma, The Rockefeller Habits by Verne Harnish, and most recently Traction by Gino Wickman.

They’re all great, but they’re only as good as the team that works to execute them. To do this, you and your team need to be aligned on three important pieces for this to be something you celebrate. Your team has to have the right balance of people, process, and technology.



The team you have in place needs to be talented, experienced, and committed to the process. They need to have access to the best technology tools in order to execute the plan.

If you have employees that are junior in skill set, or have employees who’ve never worked in other environments with you benefiting from their experience in navigating difficult times, you’ll fail.

Here’s a metaphor: a professional football team won’t make it to the Super Bowl with a bunch of inexperienced rookies and college grads. (no offense to college grads)

A Super Bowl caliber football team needs to possess the right balance of veterans and rookies who are utilized in the right roles, the right system, and under the best coaching tutelage. Your teams skill set, experience, and background should complement one another.

Growing from $5M in annual revenue to $20M in annual revenue takes different people doing different things. You’ll have to make tough choices with your people and even let go of certain team members as you grow, in order to make your company vision a reality.

I’ve found the toughest part of getting this arrangement solidified is the fact that your loyalties will be tested. You will have to let certain people go and hire new ones. The same employees, contractors, and team members that helped you grow from $5M in annual revenue to $10M in annual revenue won’t be the same ones who help you get to $20M in revenue, and beyond. It’s impossible to do the same things, with the same people, and expect a different result.


Second, if you have broken processes, and don’t address them through action, you’ll fail.

These are processes that you can identify AND actually document with the intent to address them through action. And let me stress action. Action is important because without taking action, you’re just talking about the problem without actually solving it.

Each business function needs to have an outlined and documented set of processes which are realistic to execute. Sales, marketing, operations, human resources should have their set of operating processes so every one is working from the same playbook.


Third, you need the technology tools necessary to execute your mission and vision.

Let’s take sales for instance.

  • Your sales teams needs to have the right amount of leads to sell to.
  • Your sales team needs to have a scalable sales process in order to sell your product or services.
  • Clarity wins deals and confusion loses, so your sales team needs to have a product/service that’s gone through a systematic product development process to make it easy for your buyer to buy.
  • Your sales team needs to trust the delivery of your product/service.
  • Your sales team needs sales goals and a CRM software or business management software for accountability.

Another example of having the right technology tools is marketing automation software.

If your marketing team is operating out of spreadsheets, you’ll fail. There’s nothing like a good pivot-table to get a marketer excited, but attempting to grow a company from $5M in annual revenue to $20M in annual revenue using spreadsheets means you’re doing it wrong.

Another example of having the right technology is in the function of accounting and billing. Cash flow and financial management is absolutely paramount to your business.  If you don’t have the right collections technology and financials tools, like QuickBooks, in place, you’ll fail.

People, process, technology. Get these aligned because it’s important.

One of the biggest reasons business leadership and management philosophies (like Traction) fail


One of the biggest reasons business leadership and management philosophies stymie is because of ego.

When you have inexperienced managers, with little to no experience leading growing companies, along with an over-inflated sense of self, you’ll fail on executing Traction, The Rockefeller habits and other management philosophies.

Here’s are six examples of what ego looks like.

Ego doesn’t recognize the need to learn and change.

Many, not all, business leaders think they have every answer for every problem. Admitting they could improve by learning something new is like admitting a weakness. That’s ego. Admitting you need to learn is not a weakness. Don’t be afraid to be judged by others or what they think about you when you ask questions and accept opportunities to learn from others. Good leaders and employees seek wise counsel by asking questions of those around them. Asking questions and seeking wise counsel, keeps your head in innovation and helps you improve.

Saying ‘no’ to new opportunities and ‘yes’ to being focused.

Steve Jobs once said that focus is about saying ‘no.’ He’s right. Jobs said ‘people think focus means saying yes to the thing you’ve got to focus on. But that’s not what it means…it means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are.’ If you’re in business, and you haven’t mastered your current target audience through offering them your solution, then don’t chase another industry or audience. Focus on being the #1 or #2 market leader in your specific industry, along with achieving your profitability goals, then chase something new.

Over-estimating your abilities and the abilities of your team.

A lot of business leaders think they’re smart enough to figure out everything.  Ever been there? I have. Business owners are expected to wear multiple hats, but don’t kid yourself that you need to wear every hat, every day. Having self-confidence is one thing, but as you grow your business, you need to have people on your team that are more talented than you are, at what they do. Don’t let ego fool you into believing that you’re a master at everything in your business, because you’re not. For instance, I was afraid to tackle my accounting and bookkeeping and afraid to learn about how to track and measure the numbers inside my business. Instead of trying to do it on my own, I hired a CPA and outsourced this function. Now, this person can focus on tax deductions, tax codes, and regulation related to my company. Once I learned to let go of over-estimating myself, I instantly became less stressed and can now focus on running my business.


This one is huge. Like a lot of business leaders, I’ve struggled with this. I feel like having control puts me in position to eliminate worrying about things I can’t control. Yet, the more I try and control through micromanagement, the more that gets missed. Most business leaders certainly care about the details but often focus on the wrong things by not accepting that those around them aren’t perfect. Expectations won’t be met and this needs to be perfectly acceptable because if you’re expecting perfection 100% of the time, with no margin for error, you’re going to frustrate yourself and everyone around you. Did I mention that good people leave your company when you frustrate them? Instead of being overbearing, critical and constantly wondering what your team is doing, you need to create trust and accountability among them, so everyone can communicate freely. Easier said than done, but understand that micromanagement kills innovation and productivity.

Every decision involved me.

This is another gut check moment. Just because you love your logo, your tagline, or favorite color, doesn’t mean that another logo, tagline, or color scheme isn’t the best possible option for your business. You may not like a specific color, a certain team member one of your managers is hiring, and might not agree with the decisions your employees are making, but that’s not the heart of the problem. The problem is you being involved in every decision. You can’t be involved in every decision in order to be successful at executing Traction or The Rockefeller Habits. The real problem with you being involved in every decision is the mindset that won’t allow other ideas to be suggested or considered. The ego problem I’m talking about here is the mindset that remains inflexible. Sometimes you’re simply going to have to accept that the best decision isn’t yours and you won’t have any input into the outcome. Your business isn’t about you, rather it’s about your customers and helping make their lives better. Focus on that instead of being involved in every decision.

You cannot back down and the need to ‘win.’

Ego always wants to be right. Even if this means teaching someone else a lesson because you couldn’t lose. When you get into a spirited discussion on ways to make your business grow, do you back down when listening to others thoughts and opinions or do you persevere until you’ve gotten your way? Do you waste time fighting the wrong battles by looking for ways to win, or do you set aside your pride and fight for something that will help your team embrace your vision? Great leaders know when the battle is over.

Get aligned

These principles are tough to do.

Unless you’ve started and grown a business, it’s hard to understand the struggle of starting and growing a company. The good news is you’re not alone. By embracing these business principles and learning to let go of things you once strongly embraced, you’ll grow your company, your people, and have more peace in your personal life.

Align your people, process and technology and eliminate ego inside your company.

Click here to learn more about Traction.

Check this out to learn more about how to align people, process, and technology.

Why Anger Isn’t Bad, Unless You Do This One Thing



A few years ago, I had a pretty intense conversation with a very close friend.

We worked together. We prayed together. We enjoyed life together. We were close.

But during this one particular phone conversation, my colleague was angry. He was angry about life, business, and a plethora of other things.

And the entire exchange was one of the most hurtful conversations I’ve ever had with another human being.

Why it hurt

The conversation was painful because my friend chose to use his anger to wound others, namely me.

The anger in the conversation was vindictive, cutting, barbed, and poisonous.

It was also inappropriate, uncalled for, and completely unwarranted.

How do you react to others when you’re angry or offended?

I’ll never forget how I felt as he attacked me, during our conversation. I felt belittled, small, and unloved. I felt like the child of an angry parent who passes their frustrations onto their kids through a physical beating.

I became defensive as my main goal was survival. And as the discussion progressed, my emotional state and mindset was transformed into a warrior, as a byproduct of fight or flight syndrome.

Like someone who was prepared for verbal-battle, my reaction was to fight, and bear my sword and shield, while clinching my teeth with raw emotion that propelled me to strike back. The verbal conflict that ensued was mean and crude.

When the dust settled, after about an hour of dialogue, there were tears and emotional-lacerations that would need to be healed.

But being angry wasn’t the problem. Being angry isn’t a bad thing, unless in your fit of emotional indignation you intentionally attack and hurt others.

How to react

In Matthew 21, Jesus discovered some men were cynically profiting from those who came to worship in His Father’s house.

He too was angry. Jesus expelled these men and said “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.'”

But Jesus’ anger was far different from ours.

When we get angry because we feel offended or because we feel someone is keeping us from doing something we want to do, we get upset and lash out.

When you and I feel this way, we seek to hurt the person who is preventing us from getting what we want because our anger is centered only on ourselves and our desires.

But Jesus’ anger wasn’t like this.

Instead of a selfish anger, His is a righteous anger. He was angry because the merchants were treating the Lord’s House with contempt. He was angry because they were cheating and treating people unjustly.

And when God gets angry at sin, it’s because He knows the terrible damage it does to us, whom He loves.

  • Unjustified angry outbursts put your heart at risk because of the physical damaging effects on your cardiac health.
  • Needless anger increases your risk of stroke.
  • Unnecessary anger weakens your immune system and can make anxiety worse.
  • Anger is often times linked to depression and can even shorten your life.

Unless your anger is a righteous anger, like that of Jesus’, it’s going to cause emotional issues, physical problems, and damage your quality of life.

Fools give vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm

Proverbs 29:11 says, “Fools give full vent to their rage, but the wise bring calm.”

Don’t excuse your anger.

Don’t let it destroy you and relationships around you, because left unchecked, it will.

The goal of being an emotionally healthy person is to learn to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.

What to do

Have you unjustly attacked someone recently, (knowingly or unknowingly) because you let your anger get the best of you?

Have you wounded someone with how you angrily reacted when you were offended or didn’t get what you wanted, because you were focused on yourself and your desires?

I have.

If this is you, then seek restoration in your relationship. Seek forgiveness. Go to the person whom you offended and tell them you’re sorry and ask for their forgiveness.

This will build trust, show humility, and over time repair what was broken.

And when you’re angry, choose to react to life’s frustrations with patience, instead of anger.

Why Every Fargo Realtor Needs To Blog About Special Assessments [and what every Fargo home buyer needs to be aware of]


One of the most frustrating things about my move to Fargo is special assessments.

I have about $45,000 worth of them to pay off, as a part of my newly built house.

Special assessments, also known as specials, can be confusing and frustrating.

So I wanted to write about them to help you because I figured by being helpful you’d avoid some of the stress I uncovered when learning about specials.

Not to mention very few realtors or real estate offices in the Fargo-Moorhead area are blogging about them. And they should be. They should be talking about special assessments because by educating readers, they’d fill their sales pipeline with potential clients by building trust and credibility.

If you’re a resident of Fargo or someone like me who recently moved here, you need to know about special assessments and how they impact you. Because they will.

What are special assessments?

If you live in a house, condo, or town home that is part of a planned, covenanted community, you most likely have to pay monthly Homeowners’ Association (HOA) fees and, at times, you will have to pay special assessments (referred to as specials. credit: www.answerthepublic.com)

Special assessment is the term used to designate a charge that your local government or municipality can assess against a real estate parcel for certain public projects. This charge is levied in a specific geographic area known as a special assessment district (SAD).

Pretty boring, right?

In West Fargo, specials are a method the city uses to pay for infrastructure improvements. Specials cover things like the diversion project, which protects Fargo from flooding, water main replacement, etc. The cost of these projects is divided among home owners in a geographic area.

It’s essentially a method of financing that’s legal because of the local law. Not all city projects are paid for in this way, just most of them are in West Fargo. Some infrastructure projects are funded through the city’s general fund or bonds.

What is the special assessment fund?

When you pay your specials, the money goes into a designated fund.

Think of a HUGE checking account with millions of dollars in it. These funds or accounts are set up for expenses incurred for capital projects.

But this fund is different and separate from your taxes.

Special assessments vs taxes.

Property owners, like you and me, often confuse property taxes and assessments.

They’re not the same. For instance:

  • Special assessment costs originate from a lump sum that’s divided over a period of time.
  • Taxes do not originate from a lump sum.
  • Taxes are deductible when you file your federal tax returns.
  • There is no tax benefit for specials.
  • Assessments, not taxes, are determined by local assessors.
  • Taxes are determined by school boards, town boards, city councils, county legislatures, village boards and special districts.
  • These jurisdictions are responsible for taxes, not assessments.
  • Your specials can also increase at any time, while your taxes may actually decrease (or vice versa). It’s crazy, I know.

If, like me, you feel your assessment is too high, then you need to discuss it with your assessor and work to contest your assessment amount through your locally elected officials. (a huge battle to fight, by the way)

What special assessments are tax deductible.

The short answer is none.

When you file your annual taxes, homeowners can deduct the cost of state and local real estate taxes on federal income tax returns. According to the Internal Revenue Service, property taxes are deductible only if they are imposed uniformly on all properties in a jurisdiction and based on the assessed value of a property.

Special assessments do not fit this criteria, however. There’s zero tax benefit with specials.

How are special assessments calculated.

While taxes are paid annually, through a monthly payment escrowed inside your monthly payment, specials are a lump sum divided over a period of time.

For me, my specials are in the amount of $45,000 and broken out annually over a 12 year period. $45,000 divided by 12 = $3,750.

That’s a lot of money. I pay that amount annually just for my specials. My taxes are completely separate…and similarly expensive.

My property tax cost is calculated differently and the annual cost is determined by your local school district, whereas specials are calculated by the cost of infrastructure.

Specials can make it tough when buying a home.

I’m not a millionaire.

Therefore I’m not flush with tons of cash to be able to afford anything and everything that I want to buy. Including costs associated with a new house.

When I was considering building a house, I knew that location was the most important aspect. Next, I knew that choosing a house with a great layout was key.

Then there were specials. I essentially had to tack on $45k in expenses (or whatever the specials costs were in that area) and plan accordingly.

Early on my journey to buy a home in Fargo, it sucked. I was priced out of homes in a certain price range because of special assessments.

And some of those homes that I was interested in buying are still sitting for sale, a year and a half after I moved to Fargo from Minneapolis-St. Paul. That’s sad because someone’s paying for them and somehow that cost is being passed on to you and me.

Specials can make it tough when selling your Fargo home.

A quick story. There was a house for sale in a neighborhood close to where I now live. It was newer, and really nice. A rambler with a lot of details that I loved.

But…the house had over $50,000 in specials on it. For me, that’s a lot.

Then, a competing house across the street hit the market. Same price, similar specs and just as nice. Only it had $20,000 in specials, instead of $50k.

If you’re a buyer which one do you think you’ll choose? The one with the lower specials, of course.

The point is this: special assessments can make it harder, or easier, to sell your place depending on the amount of your specials that are owed.

Specials are a part of life, plain and simple. While they’re annoying and costly, it’s pretty hard to completely avoid them.

Before you buy your home, or build one like I did, be sure and ask questions. Lots of them. No one is going to educate you or tell you about these points related to specials.

You’re going to have to take responsibility and educate yourself through a lot of research.

Blog about specials.

And if you happen to be a Fargo realtor, you need to be blogging because its one of the best and most economical ways to get customers and keep them.

I’d consider blogging about all kinds of topics, specials included.

And if you happen to be moving to Fargo or recently moved here from another area and have questions about specials, email me by clicking here. I’d be happy to give you some good advice and wisdom to help navigate these murky waters know as specials.


How to Accept the Apology You Never Received

Note: This is a guest post from Lisa Arends of Lessons From The End Of A Marriage.
In an ideal world, everyone that causes harm to another, either intentionally or unintentionally, would immediately offer up a genuine apology: accepting responsibility, acknowledging the pain, express empathy and remorse, immediately changing behavior and, if appropriate, making amends for the damage caused. But we know that rarely happens. And it never happens as quickly as we would like.Instead, we receive a “sorry” tossed out with little thought and nothing to back it up. We hear, “I’ll do better” and better never comes. We may find that in place of an apology, we instead receive blame and misplaced anger as defensiveness leads instead of empathy. The apology may be discounted by the excuses that accompany it. We may see an utter lack of comprehension at the pain that was inflicted.

Or we may just be listening to radio silence, waiting for an apology that never comes.

An apology that maybe we don’t even need.

photo 1-104


Why do we want apologies?

Children are taught almost as soon as they can talk to say “please” when they want something, “thank you” when they receive something, and “I’m sorry” when they hurt someone.

At the most surface level, we view an apology as a basic ritual of societal order that preserves a sense of fairness and responsibility.

Apologizing has become almost a knee-jerk reaction for many.

How often have you bumped into somebody or inadvertently cut someone off with your grocery cart and had the word, “sorry” out of your mouth without thinking? Even in such a minor interaction without much empathy or remorse behind the word, the apology still carries importance. When it is uttered, it acknowledges the infraction and its impact on the other person. When nothing is said, the other person feels invisible and insignificant.

At its most basic, an apology says, “I see you.” And a lack of an apology is a passive rejection.

What do we expect from apologies?

Pain wants to be heard; the need for our suffering to be acknowledged drives our need for an apology.

And the greater the perceived damage, the greater the perceived need for an apology. We all have an inherent sense of fairness, a balance of how things “should” be. When someone harms us, that balance is disrupted and we presume that an apology will make strides towards correcting that imbalance and restoring a sense of fairness.

We often see an acknowledgement of the slight and remorse for the actions as the keystone in the bridge to healing. As though once that apology is received, the remainder of the recovery follows. And so we wait.

Because we want to be heard. Understood. And the pain keeps screaming until it is recognized.

What are the limitations of apologies?

Apologies can never undo what was done.

They are not a magical eraser than removes any harsh words or caustic actions. When we imbue them with these special powers, we increase our expectations to a level that can never be reached.

photo 3-89

No apology will ever be good enough to abolish the pain and reverse the damage. Just as you cannot control somebody else’s apology, they cannot mitigate your suffering.

You can’t outsource healing. You have to do it yourself.

Do we need apologies?

An apology or a lack thereof is a reflection of the other person’s character, not your worth.

When somebody causes harm and refuses to accept responsibility, they are telling you who they are, not who you are.

When someone is too cowardly to admit fault, they are showing you their shortcomings, not yours.

And just because somebody displays an utter lack of empathy, it does not mean your pain is not real and valid.

When you wait for an apology, you are allowing the person who harmed you to continue to harm you. You’re letting them decide if you get to be okay again.

And is that really a decision you want to place in the hands of someone who lacks empathy and courage? If this person is still involved in your life and they are unable or unwilling to authentically apologize, take a good look at your boundaries.

Is this someone that you want to remain in your life?

How can you accept the apology you never received?

The most critical component of accepting an apology you never received is to eliminate any magical thinking you have about apologies.

They are no holy grail of healing. They do not have the power to erase what has happened. Once you realize that, it becomes easier to let go of the driving need for acknowledgement and amends. An apology is only required if you give it that power.

Your well-being should not hinge on somebody else’s shortcomings.

Their inability to accept responsibility is their problem.

Not yours.

Your healing is your responsibility. Accept it.

photo 2-4


If you’re having trouble accepting an apology you’ve never received, this online course can help.


About the author:

Lisa Arends is the author of the best-selling book Lessons From the End of a Marriage and a frequent blogger. Lisa inspires others through her blog, which is a space for those who have experienced the trauma that comes from the end of a significant relationship, and are seeking to move beyond grief and anger. Check out her blog. Be sure and check out Lisa’s online course, where she aspires to help those who feel victimized and stuck as the result of divorce. Learn more about her course, here. Continue reading