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2011, My Year in Review

By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest. ~Confucius

This year, 2011 has been a very good year to me. This highlights include more travel, both domestic and international, than I have experienced in quite a few years, the start of my blog of which this is the 100th entry (for those of you reading on WordPress, the other 60+ entries are on Blogspot, the maturing of all three of my children into fine young adults, increased satisfaction on the job, and an improved social life with my crew of cycling friends, and meeting my current girlfriend. There were also some frustrations like not getting a delegation to a foreign land and missing my target of 1000 cycling miles. All in all, the positives far outweighed any frustrations. I wasn’t sure how to reflect on the year though I had some ideas then I found a template and figured it was a good a way as any so here goes….

In 2011, I gained additional Insight into leadership at the Willow Creek 2011 Global Leadership Summit and brought in programs to my company to help align the software development group to pursue the type of work in which they excel and to ensure they are appropriately challenged in their work. I am excited that my leadership abilities are finally being recognized by the company. I have been studying leadership for about 20 years and feel I am finally at a point where I can effectively train up people to be effective leaders. A significant part of my reading (books and blogs) are about leadership. I recently updated my twitter account (DavidAOlson2) to track leadership knowledge. Twitter is a great feed for learning from other leaders.

I lost one of my one of my Uncles this year, the third in my dad’s family to pass in the past 4 years. There are just two of the original 5 left. Each death is a huge loss to our families as we are a very close bunch. I also lost one of my dogs. She was with the family for about 13 years. You can read about her at: R.I.P. Mia or R.I.P. Mia those are two identical blogs hosted at different sites. I have one dog remaining, a dog that acts more cat than dog. It will be the last pet I own because I want to travel more and it would be much more difficult to travel if I had a pet to worry about. That, and I am really, really sick of dog hair being everywhere!

I don’t missing coaching soccer very much though initially it was very difficult. I spent 14 awesome years coaching my kids and others but quit when I needed to help raise my grandson. (He is now being raised by his Mom and Dad. I am thankful that my son-in-law has admirably filled in the father role for my grandson, his step son.) I tried coaching again when he was 4/5 but found my enthusiasm for coaching was no longer there. All things have their season and it seems my season for coaching has passed. I am content now to sit in the stands and watch my kids and grandson play. Of course, I still have minimal tolerance for the ignorant parents who yell at their kids and berate referees so I tend to sit away from them and put on my headphones with loud music.

I started a daily blog which can be found at: DavidAOlson.Blogspot.com or DavidAOlson.Wordpress.com. I started on Blogspot based on the recommendation of a friend. I have since learned that WordPress is more widely read and have been also posting my blogs there. I have found that I get more outside readership (outside my facebook friends) and comments on WordPress. Three of my favorite blogs so far have been about my kids: StephanieSammy, and Brian. Two of them are amongst my most read blogs. The top three most read is rounded out by Fat Bottom Girls (pun intended).

I was hugely satisfied by my progress at work. I brought in a couple of programs that were embraced by the company and will help the employees feel more satisfied in their jobs. I have recently been granted permission to begin a pilot program designed to help develop leadership skills in the up and coming leaders. The program will stretch me which is the best way to grow.

I was frustrated by my inability to pass the 1000 mile mark on my bicycles. The year started out very strong with my average miles per ride much higher than the previous year. I let myself get too busy doing other things always thinking that there would be enough time. I was the rabbit this year and did not achieve the target. Last year I was the turtle and eclipsed the 1000 mile goal. Next year, I hope to find a nice balance between the two…perhaps I will be a Hartule or a Turtare

Once again, I did not did not get a delegation to another country. I came close to going on delegation to India this year but it did not pan out. This is something I have been trying to get for a few years. The lack of progress has seen me answer the calls of a few headhunters and put them on the alert that I am open to changing companies if it includes an overseas delegation.

The biggest physical difference between me last December and this December is the gaining back of some of the weight I lost the previous  years. It’ frustrating letting the achievements of hard work over two years fade away in the matter of six months. Getting too busy for the gym and cycling has it’s consequences. I am back at the gym again so should be in decent shape for the spring referee and cycling seasons.

I loved spending time traveling. In the past year, I mountain biked in Arizona, fished in Canada, mouintain biked in Central Wisconsin, hiked in Tennessee (123456) and traveled to Switzerland twice for business (12345). I look forward to more travel time in the upcoming year. Turkey is planned for the Spring and will be the first time I have taken an overseas trip purely for pleasure. All my previous overseas trips have been for business during which I make sure I get some time to explore on my own. I hope I will also get the chance to visit India again because the 5 year absence from my friends in that country has been way too long.

Why did I spend even two minutes watching television other than Soccer and the Big Bang Theory? This took time away from the gym and from riding my bicycles and from reading and from blogging and….and….and…a myriad of other activities.

I should have spent more time riding my bicycles. I missed my goal of 1000 miles by more than a hundred miles. I enjoy riding and began riding in the Chicago quite a bit which resulted in seeing a few of the sites, miles of shoreline, and the blog Chicago Remembers.

I will never regret buying my new road bike even though with that money I could have bought just about anything else. I almost purchased a new motorcycle, a vintage 1985 Honda Interceptor for the same price as the road bike. However, I could not justify a new motorcycle, no matter how awesome, that gets just 17 mpg.

I didn’t exercise enough this year. After being religious about going to the gym or bike riding a minimum of 3 days a week for two solid years, I went off track this year resulting in gaining back most of the weight I had lost. I also did not attend church services enough of this year. I guess, too often, I let circumstances veer me off the path. I notice when I don’t attend service on a regular basis, my penchant is to move toward self-centeredness and arrogance instead of being other centered. I find when I am other centered, I am much happier and, when I attend church regularly, I tend to be much more other centered.

The most relaxing place I went was mountain biking in Phoenix Arizona in February. It was only my second trip to a warm location in the winter. I rode about 100 mountain bike miles during my stay and only wiped out once. Crashing in Arizona is particularly painful since everything is either hard, sharp, or spiny. I let an Arizona friend know where I was riding every day so I wouldn’t go 127 Hours, I am adventurous but now foolish, well, not always foolish. The beauty of traveling alone is that you are on your own time schedule and can see whatever you want whenever you want. The downside is that there is no one to share the joy of newfound wonders..

The best thing I did for myself this year was under take Seth Godin’s challenge and start writing a daily blog. I wrote when I was younger and enjoyed it immensely. I find it helps focus me and, in a way, is therapeutic for my soul.

I am most thankful for family. I have an incredible family from my immediate family through my relatives. It’s amazing that there is not a black sheep in the bunch and that anyone of them, in a heartbeat, would be there to offer support when it is needed. I will be seeing many of them at the upcoming Cousin’s Christmas party on 02 Jan 2012 and am looking forward to the time to give thanks for the joy that is our family.

Happy New Year to all my readers! May you prosper in 2012!


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