I’m writing this from my favorite coffee shop in Port Angeles. When I walked in the door, the barista declared, “I’m sorry! We’re out of chocolate chip cookies.” And that’s how I know I’m my brother’s little sister. Because for 26 years I’ve been following him, watching him, and learning from him – and one particular tidbit of advice I’ve picked up is to appreciate a really, really good chocolate chip cookie.
My big brother turns 29 tomorrow. Over the course of his lifetime, he’s been a stellar hockey player, skier, student, engineer, and business owner. He hikes and bikes and camps and climbs and builds and invents. He holds an entire presidential library worth of Phish songs and facts in his brain. He knows every nook and cranny of the solar industry. He’s skied in Alaska, reached the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, and traveled the globe – mostly to give back to those less fortunate than he. John’s one of those people who is good at everything he tries – the epitome of “anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” And me? Well, I’m the lucky lady that gets to call him my big brother. Here is just a sampling of things he’s taught me – directly and indirectly – over the years:
Empathize. Give back. Wherever you are in life, you always have the ability to better someone else’s. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have the opportunity to take it further and start a non-profit.
Specialize. Be a connoisseur. Of chocolate chip cookies, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Annie’s mac and cheese, and craft beer.
Dance. Especially if you’re dressed in tie-dye and surrounded by hippies at a Phish concert. Also, never forget the power of being really, really good at air guitar.
Compete. Find something you enjoy, be it as silly as city dodgeball or as serious as backcountry skiing, and challenge yourself. Competition pushes us to both literally and figuratively step up to the plate and give it our all. And the more often we compete, the more often we give it our all, the better the world will be. Carry the team if you have to, but always remain humble and grateful.
Investigate. Remain curious. Curiosity fuels innovation. It effects changes, moves society forward, and keeps you young.
Radiate. Be infectiously passionate about something. Make it your work so you never have to work a day in your life. Share your passion enthusiastically and abundantly with others.
Teach. Whether it’s the next generation of engineers or your little sister how to drive a manual car – share your knowledge. The more we all know, the better off we’ll all be.
Persevere. Life will inevitably hand you lemons. Seriously – one time, my brother dumped a jug of lemonade on my head because my best friend, Sam, and I had earned more money than he and Sam’s brother Will did at our dueling lemonade stand. That’s okay – lemons make us stronger, give us something to talk about, and provide a foundation of wisdom for future endeavors. Make lemonade, take a swig, and keep on keeping on.
Take it further. Push yourself physically. Be there for your friends. Dream big in business. Never stop learning. Take. It. Further.
And above all: have fun. Play games, rock the air guitar, laugh ‘til you cry, make jokes and funny faces, explore new places in new ways, and always, always, always remain young at heart.