After a tough project, I recently took some time off to get re-centered and relax. I've been itching to get back to Portland for some time. LA is cool, but I missed the natural serenity, the ample green and the clean environment that comes with living in the Pacific Northwest. I missed my friends even more, and my 5 years in Portland introduced to some truly incredible people doing great things with their God given talents. So I made the trip and Portland did not disappoint.
The universe conspired with me as many of my folks were in town and available. The man who gave me a shot to design my first pair of Nike footwear (D'Wayne Edwards), happened to be hosting the 4th annual PENSOLE Footwear Academy final presentation with the Art Center College of Design student cohort. It was nice to see D'Wayne, Matt Rhoades, Suzette Henry, Karen Hofmann and all my SOLE-brothers and SOLE-sisters. Having been a part of the first PENSOLE/ACCD class four years ago, the lack of sleep in the students' eyes was all too familiar.
The next day, I visited with my friend and mentor Kevin Carroll, author of the acclaimed Rules of the Red Rubber Ball, What's Your Red Rubber Ball?! and The Red Rubber Ball at Work. As an author, speaker and prolific change agent, it was really nice to hear of the new projects he's involved in to advance "ball, betterment and play" as he puts it. His experiences are testimony on what it means to really go after achieving your true potential. Upon hearing what I've been up to, he encouraged me to keep solidifying my unique value prop and leaving the right legacy for my team to follow.
Over the course of the trip, I managed to see a number of friends over great Portland cuisine. Seeing that most of my PDX friends came from my time at Nike, it was nice to hear what everyone was up to in their journeys navigating career, family and natural transitions that come with life. The conversations were a strong reminder of the need to surround yourself with people who aspire to make a difference, share your values and work tirelessly at their craft. My friends are reinventing approaches within Nike, improving communities and organizations outside of Nike, and addressing the needs of underserved groups. Together, we shared perspectives that offered fresh insight to advance our individual causes.
At the close of my vacation, my mind is refreshed and my perspective re-centered on what truly matters. I left Portland with a heightened sense of purpose ... to not live a life on an endless treadmill, but to continue living a life of courage ... that allows me to close the gap between my current path and my true potential ... and to lead by example for others I'm mentoring and managing ... to ensure they see the same bright runway for themselves.