Like a BOSS!

Eye rolls and underbreath comments, a quick glance to a co-worker as I walk away, I am certain that I have created little moments like this at our restaurant quite often. I am the ‘manager’ of a small family-owned bar and grill, we have a fantastic staff and awesome customers. There are lots of times however, that I am asking a person to put in more effort, or take on an unfun project, or to quit a habitual way of doing things.  This usually isn’t a people pleasing moment, and they may not like me right then.

I guess that I am the ‘boss’ of some people, but I really don’t look at it that way. I never take any pleasure in ordering someone around. I am however more committed to creating a great experience for customers at the restaurant, than I am with always being liked by my staff. Of course, I always prefer that our crew knows what needs done and executes it to our high standards without my reminding or persuading.

At least now that is how I view things.

I used to be on the other side of this coin. I have been the employee who felt victimized by the desires of my boss. I have certainly been one of those people who can pick apart and complain about the decisions, actions or lack of actions in my work environment. I have been there done that, for sure. Sometimes I find myself doing it these days at one of my jobs, where I’m not in charge.

Funny thing though, working both as employee and employer, something has become crystal clear. The times that I have a problem with things around me as an employee, have to do with my commitment level. Also, conversely, as a boss, all the things that I ask done by my staff, have to do with my personal commitment level to our business.

At the Brand’N Iron, on any given rush shift, I am the most committed person in the room to the success of that place. There are a few caveats to this statement. For one, our staff is VERY committed to doing a great job. I think we have the best staff of any restaurant around. Also, the commitments that I feel strongest about, are the things I act upon. This intangible bullet-point list may not house the same activities, or principals, values or offerings that all of our customers and team would agree with. I have my perfect mental vision of our place, and it surely doesn’t match everyone else’s.

When I am in employee mode, working as a graphic designer at Front Row Sports, I cannot possibly embody the same commitment, held by the owner himself, Dave Cox. When I have inner complaints bubbling up, they all come from a place of straddling and unsure commitment. As a team member there, I may have many of my own inner commitments competing with the needs of the business. I am not the most committed person there, it’s true and its inherent to the position.

I am not laying down judgements about the clarity I’m receiving with these two opposite ‘jobs’ of mine. I am however pointing out to myself the obvious. I will always be pushing for my commitments, wherever they may lead. I can’t expect anything less from everybody else. Sometimes the personal commitments between people or organizations can be stretched too far. When the deep held principals of two parties span a large gap from one end of the spectrum to the other, there is no way to keep them together. It just can’t continue to work anymore.

However, just the awareness that our ‘boss’ is the most committed guy or gal in the room can make a difference. I certainly can look back at my own working life of over twenty years and notice that I have worked for some fantastic, highly committed individuals. Some of them got waay more of my negative attitude and complainy reactions, than deserved. I have more respect now than ever, of those trying to manage a business, which is really managing people. Truly, people (especially like me) are the biggest challenge we face above all others.

I will somehow always see where my compass needle is pointing me in life. My deepest commitments will show up in my navigation log record, as the places where I stood with my two feet and the projects I gave my energy to, with my own two hands. The dreamworld out there of somedays and somehows won’t ever materialize without deep and almost undivided commitment.

Speaking of which, I’d better commit myself to heading to work right now!

Until next week…


Aaron Nichols

One fine day at a time…

The little infant baby girl in some pictures around our house is gone. That tiny face, with miniature features of a newborn only exists in memories now. Our daughter changes and grows every day. She hardly resembles the helpless little bundle we carefully brought home from the hospital. She does big kid stuff now.

I was looking at her pictures and longing for that irreplaceable moment of fresh newness that came with her arrival. I am no grizzled veteran of parenting by any means, but it was such a wonder and thrill to see her back then, when I hadn’t ever seen her before at all.

My JoJo is the light of my life. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. Even though I make jokes about her growing up too fast, I enjoy every second of our time together, just as she is.

So she is here, right? New and fresh every day it seems. She develops and matures by the nanosecond. The old her is hardly a flash of a memory and she moves on to new discoveries, new challenges too. She’s just doing what everybaby does, it’s natural.

I talked with a dear friend once, who wanted to help me learn about myself and transform as a person. She said that a helpful concept was to think of the end of each day as a death. She considered every morning a birth. She wanted to live in a way that opened with energy and possibility at daybreak, and rested with complete release at nightfall.

This isn’t so different than watching my Joella at play. She wakes into instantaneous movement and vigor for adventures within the crib. At night, she’s completely out, cached from a day where she gave it all she had.

At some point in my life, I began to use the morning to mull over regrets of the night before. The day might be spent in half-hearted gear-jamming. I can be stuck between wanting to pursue twenty directions at once and get nowhere. The nighttime can again blanket the mind with worry about the week to come or stuff I shoulda’ done.

Instead of a single day taking me from precious possibility through passionate production and on to relaxed completely forgiving rest, I hang on. I attempt to grasp together and hold all my past mistakes and grip the ghostly gossamer of the untold future. This exercise tires and torments. It’s self-mutilation and leaves me exhausted and vulnerable to rising tides of emotion.

Birth and Death, a completed life cycle, all in one day, somehow is manageable. If we really followed through and committed to this simple craziness, we might live full-out, one quickly passing day at a time.

Death isn’t a concept I take lightly. Death has touched us all in painful ways, including a dear family I love, that was rocked this week… It’s a foreboding word to even type out on the screen, capital D and all. In this context though, I loved how my friend conveyed the idea, that we could literally relieve ourselves of all anguish at the moment of nightly sleep. We could pardon ourselves from all the unchangeable steps we took or failed to take. I loved how she showed me that it’s okay, to just be okay, with what was, just  as it was and is, there is a new day a new birth coming in the morning.

Our 10 and half month young daughter hasn’t yet learned the ways we adults judge ourselves and others. She is still in pure wonder and action and basic need. Jesus refers to the fact that we ‘mature’ and loose that childlike faith and release into the arms of our heavenly Father.  In Matthew 18:3 the Word shows us this; ‘And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”

Until next week my friends, I hope that your mornings bring fresh possibility and youthful energy. I hope your head hits the pillow at night, without a care, leaving behind all but the quick prayer of thanksgiving for a day well lived, by the grace of God.


Aaron Nichols


Why dowedo the things wedo? I have a ton of actions and behaviors that I cyclically repeat over and over in my waking and sleeping life. Some happen several times a minute, some only once every five years.  It seems to be true that we chose our steps in life, and they aren’t thrust upon us by some wicked outside force. We either consciously, or maybe subconsciously act out our inner commitments and strong-held beliefs all throughout our day.

I sometimes ask myself, (which is a strange statement right? Who am I really? Two people, who can converse with each other?) “why is it, that I do the things I do?” One easy example is this blog itself. I can ask myself at 1:32 am after a long day of work, ‘Why self, would I stay up this late to agonize over writing an article that may not have any point to it all?” This is not part of my career. I don’t make income from it. I sometimes don’t enjoy the tension of deciding on a topic either. I could answer myself, that ‘I don’t know why I do what I do…”

All week long, at our restaurant, I have been examining the details of a building and equipment upgrade project. The original kernel of this idea was quite simple, and it has now exploded into a full blown intensive and expensive possible proposition. After cussing and discussing at hours on end I have picked apart the importance and the options available for this expansion. Before the quotes have even arrived, I know that I have far exceeded our initial small mental budget. So then, Why would I go ahead and attempt to do this thing at all? What takes us from thought to action, on an endeavor like this?

Why dowedo the things wedo?

After long conversations with my beautiful wife, I mentioned that really, we need a long term gameplan to measure the worthiness of this large scale upgrade to the business. We need some context, an generalized equation, or a bullet-pointed screenplay manuscript to try to fit this current decision into. We need to know where it is that we really want to arrive at, out in the liquid vast future of space, in order to make plans now, to navigate toward it.

So far, we still haven’t come up with those plans 🙂

Same thing as this blog I’m writing tonight. It sure would be more effective, to have an idea of some target or purpose that I am aiming to achieve, to know what to try and convey to you right now. If I had the context of a future book idea, or themed series, or YouTube channel that I wanted to create, based on these blogs, then I may be able to craft them with determined ambition. Right now, it’s basically about not breaking an almost six year weekly date with myself and a keyboard… that’s it.

The other day, I used a remote control to switch from Netflix to the antenna channels on my TV. I used a button indicated with INPUT. There were several options, only two or maybe three did anything at all. I changed the SOURCE, that was feeding images to the flat 55 or whatever inch screen. With the simple click of a button, I could access a whole new world of content, by switching the source.

Several years ago, the SOURCE input of my spiritual life was changed. It may have been by a remote control that my subconscious held, but I know that I spoke out loud a request for it too. Ever since then, a entirely new and different menu of mental items has shown up on the inner watching screen of my mind. That one significant change, certainly has had a TON to do, with why I do the things I do…

So, nowhere near perfect, I do choose different paths that are available to me now, Thank God. I choose different actions at 1:54 in the morning, than I used to. And maybe the answers of “why dowedo the things wedo”, is more about our inner relationship with the true source of God… or lack thereof, than anything else…

With Love, I might see you here next week 🙂


Aaron Nichols

Made in the Shade

Where did we get the idea that perfection is required in all things at all times? I don’t think that one iota of myself is perfect, but subconsciously it does seem to be the static benchmark I measure against. Accepting imperfection and opening up to the fluid ebb and flow of the charmingly chaotic world around us may be a step toward more inner peace and well being.

My garden is planted in probably the best spot in my back yard for vegetables. It’s almost perfect in fact. The ‘problems’ though are two hackberry trees that live right on it’s edge. They are getting quite big as of this year, and stretch out up top, creating lots of shade.0604160916b

Plants need sun, and heat units from it, to grow. The shade isan area that sun doesn’t reach… The trees are probably parasitic to the available water my veggies need. The trees are likely growing so well because of the extra fertilizer, water and special treatment that filters down to their roots.

Some may suggest that in order to have an even fantastiker garden, that I should cut down those trees. I could get full sun all day to my tommy-toes and peppers that way. They wouldn’t have to share their water with the trees. I may get higher yields of tender yellow squash or bright acidic Better Boys or spicy Japs to share with Harlan Proctor.

The ever striving reach for perfection may drive me to that someday, but not yet. Not now, those trees and my garden coexist just fine. I seem to really enjoy my gardening experience regardless of the morning shade onthe west side and the afternoon shade on the east. I am amazed every year that the tiny brown oval shaped seed is so packed with potential. It jumps out of the ground with green life and begins it’s work, whether or not a tree is casting shade its way. It just does what it can do, exactly where it is, right now, constantly and unceasingly.

Our little daughter is the same way, she just does and does and does at all times, she isn’t waiting for perfection first to begin her exploration. It’s just right now, all the time…

All of us have massive trees that cast a shadow over some area of our lives. We want sunshine and brightness to exist everywhere, but it rarely does. The shade may not always be a negative, it could be protecting us too. In the triple digit temps of late July and August, the hackberries screen out excessive heat. My plants may have an advantage that time of year, vs living wide open to every wave of the suns radiation…

I can’t answer for sure which is the better way. I know that perfection isn’t what it’s about. The lessons that perennially sprout up from the dirt are the real fruit of my garden. It’s about a cute moment with my daughter walking around looking at the plants and the dog and waving to the cars passing by.

The whole thing is in balancedperfection, from God’s eye view, even if we don’t see it from where we are standing.

Until next week, be well my friends.


Aaron Nichols0604160916d