Get found or get busy finding yourself

Wizard: What do you want to be in the world? I mean the whole world. What do you want to be? Close your eyes and think about that.
August Rush: Found.
From the movie “August Rush”

Calling out Marco Polo to our inner self may be a start so long as we answer ourselves honestly but we need to be about the process of finding ourselves. Finding out who we are, being who we truly want to be. There will always be excuses, ways to avoid our potential and slip to something more comfortable perhaps but far below what we are truly capable of becoming.

That failure, falling short of what we can become is really painful the next day, month, year or decade when we look back at an opportunity lost.

Get found and in the finding enjoy the journey recognizing that along the way not everything will go quite as planned, in fact there may be a few days here and there that go quite poorly. There is a plan for each of us and in that plan we are meant to succeed of that I’m quite certain. This does not suggest it will be easy, we actually didn’t want easy when we signed up…but it will be worth it.

By the way – take a few minutes to watch August Rush. Here’s a short clip



Learn from Experience

‘Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.’ And like the old soldier of the ballad, I now close my military career and just fade away an old soldier who tried to do his duty.” General Douglas MacArthur

Arlington National Cemetery from my visit in 2008

MacArthur, Churchill, and others performed valuable services for their countries and mankind really when one stops to consider the alternatives during World War II but following those conflicts there came a time, for MacArthur during the Korea Conflict, for Churchill almost immediately following World War II where they were retired, put to the side.

Sometimes in the modern world we tend to discredit those who bring a wealth of experience to the table. Certainly there are situations where those with great experience could be accused of being stuck in the past or holding on to “the way it was done before” but far more often those younger with less experience push past valuable experience in a headlong rush up fool’s hill. We would be wise to sit down and listen, really listen to those who have gone before, find what can be applied to our current situation and build upon the thoughts and efforts of those who have gone before. We do not need to reinvent the wheel – in fact by learning from the past we can probably save a lot of wear and tear on our own journey. Don’t forget to thank those upon whose shoulders we now stand, without their efforts and sacrifice we would not have the many benefits we enjoy today. Look out for someone who’s fading and empower them today…you’ll benefit from those well timed efforts.

Find someone today and share an expression of gratitude, it won’t cost you much but the rewards for everyone are well worth the effort.

In Supertramp’s “Fool’s Overture” the lyrics speak to the subject.

Find Your Giants

Cathedral Trail along the highway to Port Alberni on Vancouver Island is home to this giant Douglas Fir identified as being approximately 800 years old. My oldest and youngest sons and my grandson illustrate just how huge the base of this giant of nature is, as the giant used to say…”look up….look way up”.

A wise man (Sterling W. Sill) once suggested that we look around us and build our own hall of fame. Find the giants in our own lives, people who inspire us to look up and reach beyond what we might have previously thought we were capable of achieving. In that hall of fame we’ll have imperfect people, that’s pretty much a guarantee, but the trick is to find the best things about those individuals and focus on those attributes drawing what we can into our own lives as we reflect upon how we might personally improve.

It’s pretty easy to focus on the flaws, and there is something to learn from others mistakes for certain, but the idea is to look around and find what it is that inspires you – perhaps the courage of an individual facing a critical illness, my friend Doug who passed away with ALS inspires me every time I think of him, or the coach who saw more in you than you saw in yourself (thank you Coach Anderson), your parents, a couple of students who want to make a difference in the world, a mom who time and time again shows outstanding patience and love with her children, a brother who works out like a demon (Randy) it doesn’t have to be complicated but write it down.

Yes you can start with some pretty famous people – I have Lincoln, John and Bobby Kennedy, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., and Jesus Christ, on my list but I also have young people like my former students like Brendan Hubbard and Kase de Vries and former players like Jeff Halvorson and Brian Ridgeway (come to think of it Kase and Brendan are former players too but you get the idea) . Find your giants, draw what you can from them and in the process there is a kind of synergy that allows for growth of everyone in the process. Something tells me if we spent a little more time finding the giant in each other there would be just a little less tearing down in society.

You can listen to the Sterling W. Sill devotional on developing your own personal hall of fame by following this link to BYU’s online library of devotionals.

Time passes….will I? will you?

Chauna and I in Hawaii

On the 22nd of December 1958 the fine couple of Bob and Marilyn Gilson brought a 10 lb baby boy into the world. My mom recently told me that I was a happy boy growing up, and suggested that for the most part that happy attitude has sustained me through the first 50 years. I know the odds are long on me seeing a second 50 years but my oh my the first 50 have been busy. In no particular order:

The Beatles – Lennon killed while I was on my honeymoon part II

Kennedy (John and Bobby), Ghandi, Martin L King Jr,

The Cuban missile crisis, the FLQ crisis, Munich Olympics, Cold War end, Vietnam, Afghanistan I, II and III, Iraq I and II, Twin Towers I and II,  Nixon, Mandela, Obama, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, Gorbachev, Thatcher and Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II…there probably should have been a Gore in there somewhere.

Computers – the Apple, Apple IIe, IIc, Mac, Mac SE, IMac, Ibook, IPod, Itouch, IPhone (I’ve owned all of these except the IIc….)


Global warming and 50 below winter work days – a bit of a contrast really.

NASA – the moon, Apollo 13, Neil Armstrong,

Mission to Japan

Marriage to Chauna

Children – Steve, Brent, Shannon, Sara, Amy and Shayne, one grandson- Masen, two grand daughters Alaina and Nia, Two daughters in law – Janae, and Julie, two sons in law – Eric and Ryan.

Peace Bowl championships and defeats each teaching different lessons along the way, National championships, silver and bronze – again each teaching lessons along the way.

Provincial game wins and losses

Boise State and Utah winning BCS games –

UCLA and Wooden – lots of Wooden reading

12 years in the Stake Presidency – lots of talks – lots of great people

The Internet

ITunes…did I mention that? Supertramp live 3 times?

Ted Talks – Love the range of topics and inspiration

BYU Speeches – A great collection of devotionals

Bachelor of education – U of Alberta, Masters of education – U of Alberta, Doctorate of education – in progress through the U of Phoenix

A 2011 Warriors Football season that taught me so much that is both good and challenging (other posts will explore this)

27 years in education the last 15 in administration and a recent change in assignment that provides even more opportunity to learn.

All of my six children have graduated from high school – beat the odds on that, and as of this writing are healthy and enjoying their own challenges and I’m certainly grateful for that.

I wonder what it is that we are meant to take from the tests that come our way, the opportunities that come to be of service to others, and the frustrations we experience when unexpected events significantly alter our plans and our lives.  I suspect that while we may have some understanding of our purpose in life there will always be a bit more than we fully understand.

Time passes, the years march by and opportunities come and go, and through it all as I reflect back on the last 30 years I suspect I’ve let the balance swing too far toward work and too far away from family. It’s not a position I feel alone in; fact is I probably have too much company, but if I’m to pass I suspect it’s the family that will be doing the real grading that counts and it’s time to cram for that exam.



Courage comes in all shades and colours

Courage is manifest in so many different ways. If we are willing to look around we can see honorable examples which can lift us in the observation to a higher place. Over the past 18 months or so it was my honour to have Doug Luckwell as a friend – I’ve known Doug for over 24 years – but the past 18 months or so Doug became a teacher and example in a different way as he and his family lived through the diagnosis and experience of what is commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Doug and his family determined they would ride this out at home, no hospital stays, and with the help of friends and family they’d make the best of a tough situation. As a result several of us had the opportunity to help Doug with his exercises and visit once a week for about an hour – Mitch Albom wrote of a similar experience in “Tuesdays with Morrie” (I recommend the book). As we worked through the exercises Doug would do the counting and the talking, we watched the Obama/Clinton and Obama/McCain debates together, discussed politics and even though Doug had never played football he always asked about my teams, players and how the games and practices had gone.

As the illness took over his body his fingers would curl up, we discovered that using a bantam sized football he could comfortably keep his hands open and his fingers comfortably positioned on the laces – he wasn’t able to throw but he enjoyed being part of the team. I shared some of Doug’s story and thoughts with the Football Alberta team in Hawaii and with the Warriors and Bronco’s. We are all reminded that what every day we have in life is a gift and we should us it wisely.

President John F. Kennedy wrote, “The stories of past courage can offer hope, they can provide inspiration. But they cannot supply courage itself. For this each man must look into his own soul.” It was a blessing to me personally to witness the tremendous courage Doug displayed as he took on ALS, he knew the outcome was inevitable but laughed right up to the last day I saw him when once again – like always that shoulder of his would pop – and I’d wince – he thought that was so funny.

I know that for the rest of my life I can draw on his example, as Kennedy said it provides me with a source of inspiration – I can only hope in examining my own life and soul it will provide the seed of courage I can develop in turn as I move forward each day. Thank-you Doug, I know you are in a very good place as in the twinkling of an eye your family here bid goodbye, and your family there said hello.



On January 2, 2009 Doug passed away in his sleep having shared with a number of his friends and most certainly his family an example of courage as he took on ALS, more commonly known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.