26 02, 2023

Anger Consumed Me


A warm breeze kisses my skin as I am at last able to return to the old porch without the need for a blanket or a jacket. Brightly colored purple blossoms ignite the spring trees, and tiny buds indicate soon-to-return Texas bluebonnets that will carpet the ground in blue. Spring is here, finally. 

I’m blessed that we have a short and usually mild winter here in the center of the Lone Star State, only a couple of freezes and one massive ice storm to deal with so far. And though winter is my least favorite, I love living in a place where seasonal change occurs. Being able to open the windows and sleep with fresh air, no heat or AC, is among my favorite things.


Of course, summertime is the ultimate. So many summer memories occupy space in my gray matter. Each summer my grandparents would hop in their new Chevrolet (my grandfather traded his in every year) and we would make the full-day drive to Tennessee. They always packed a picnic, and we often stopped to visit other family members along the way.

Get in the Car Now!

At first, I was resistant when they would ask me along, because summer was a time to hang out with my best friends, to ride to the shopping center on our bikes, and to see what kind of trouble we could get into. But I had no choice in the matter. And once we got to Tennessee, I had some of the best summers of my life. 

Country Breakfast

My second cousin Larry was a year or two older, and we got to share a bed. We would stay up late talking and telling stories. I got up with him at 5 a.m. to help him work the farm. We would feed the chickens, milk the cows, clean out chicken coops (the worst job ever), and once the chores were done, we would come in for breakfast about 7. My Aunt Ruth would make fresh cornbread, fried potatoes, and fried chicken for breakfast. Her preparation included going to the yard, grabbing a chicken, and dressing it, which is a polite way of saying she cut its head off and plucked its feathers. We didn’t get to eat like that at home.

Skinny Dipping

Larry knew all the great spots, and we would hike to a giant waterfall and skinny dip in the cold rushing water, standing up with the water gushing over our heads. We would walk to neighboring farms, visit friends, make forts in the woods, and whittle. The big competition every night was to grab an apple from the tree, pull out our pocket knives, and see who could peel an apple with one continuous peel. The men would sit around on the porch telling stories while the women were making a dinner of more fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh green beans and tomatoes. 

Glowing with Joy

I could not be happier. I was with my cousins, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. Grandpa Garrett was a preacher who founded several churches, and he raised songbirds on the side to make a little extra money. My Great-Grandma was about the sweetest person I ever knew, and she was truly interested in me.

A Litter of Puppies

One summer I had the added bonus of a litter of little black puppies. I’d lay on the grass and all nine of them would lick my face. I couldn’t stop laughing. But the hardest part about going home was leaving those puppies behind. On the day we were leaving, I begged my grandparents to let me take my favorite one back with us, and somehow they must have secured permission from my parents. The dog was probably not properly weaned, and he whined and was sick most of the way home. I named him Whiny, but later we renamed him Pepper.

Boy’s Best Friend

All young kids should have a childhood companion like Pepper. He was at my side constantly except for school. He was an outside dog because my dad didn’t want a dog in the house. Yet Dad was the one to let him in on his first cold night. Pepper lived in the house from that point forward.


One day my brothers and I were out playing basketball in the driveway (required lifestyle in Indiana) when Pepper took off chasing a loud car. He had a bad habit of chasing cars that we were not able to break him of. As this car raced down the road, Pepper was on its tail and barking. Suddenly the brake lights went on, the driver swerved over, and he intentionally ran over our dog. Pepper hobbled back to the driveway and died in front of our eyes. I cried for weeks. I can remember being in 7th grade, holding back the tears. I had lost my best friend.

My oldest brother knew the driver, who was a bit of a “hood” (the negative term we used at that time), and he went to his house and confronted him. He just laughed and said it was time to teach that dog a lesson for chasing cars.

This may have been my first real dose of reality, a moment when I realized that not everybody was loving and friendly. It’s the first time I can remember being disappointed in humanity.

Time for Revenge

I had never been so angry. I just wanted to get revenge. But my grandmother sat me down and said, “You need to forgive that boy.” She said, “We don’t know why he is the way he is. We don’t know why he has so much darkness in his soul. Instead of getting revenge, you need to pray for him.” I refused. I did not want to. And I stayed angry for a long time.

But once I did forgive him, something changed inside of me. It was when I first realized that forgiveness is for our own good. And it made me want to reach out and help him.

Like you, I could fill up pages where people disappointed me, hurt me, hurt my family, and made me angry. But no matter how hard it is, I forgive them. Then I try to understand what they might be going through. What made them do what they did.

What about you? Did someone hurt you badly?

Have you forgiven them?

Anger eats away at us. I have friends who have carried grudges and anger for decades. I know families who don’t speak to one another because someone hurt someone’s feelings. Yet why would we distance ourselves from those we love most just because they said something wrong? We all have bad days. We all have a slip of the tongue. 

Jailbird Joy

For decades I hated this one kid who used to bully and beat up on me in school. He was flat-out mean, and he ended up in jail. When I first heard that, I celebrated. Yet years later, I was at an all-male event called Promise Keepers, and they asked us to think about people we held anger toward. I realized I was holding anger toward this kid for probably 30 years. I did not even realize it, but he was the first person to come to mind when they asked who we thought of.

I forgave him that day, and all that internal anger was erased. Who knows what the negative impact was on my own state of mind and health because I was holding anger?

If there was someone who wronged you, who would it be?
Who else?

Make a list.

It’s one thing to just tell yourself you’ve forgiven them, it’s another thing to bow before God and ask Him to help you forgive that person. It’s so powerful, it’s life-changing. 

Now, reverse it.

Ask yourself, “If there was someone I may have hurt, who would it be?” It’s even more powerful to realize you’ve wronged someone and need to ask for forgiveness. If you can ask them, write them, tell them, it’s healing. If you can’t, at least deal with it within yourself.

Life is a grand experiment. Maturity comes from a series of stupid mistakes that don’t get repeated.

I made some horrible and selfish decisions when I was young, when I was a young business owner who was a little too impressed with himself, and I still on occasion say or do things I regret. We have all done it. Move on. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. And ask for forgiveness.

Holding a grudge is like being chained to a prison wall. Forgiveness breaks the chain.

Now, get on with it. You may have some work to do.

Eric Rhoads

PS: It completely blows me away knowing that someone who is broken, flawed, and who has hurt others and done bad things can be completely forgiven, and once forgiven, it’s gone forever and never brought up again. This is what faith in Christ has done for me. Whenever I say something about that, people complain, some will cut me out of their lives, others will unsubscribe or unfriend me. Yet if I offered a cure for a horrible disease, people would welcome it, not reject it. The cure is in a simple prayer, which I’m happy to share privately when you reach out.

When I was a kid, I’d stay at my grandparents’ house, in the front bedroom with the fan in the window. Between the windows hung a painting that my grandmother’s sister had painted. When I learned that Aunt Ruth was an artist, it made me want to be one too. Decades later, that painting became mine. I drove to Tennessee one last time, taking my mom for a visit to see her aunt and uncle. I took that painting with me to show Aunt Ruth and to tell her how much I loved it, and I got my picture taken with her holding it. That painting is one of the most cherished paintings in my collection. I only wish I knew where all her other paintings ended up.

Whether they knew it or not, the influence of my artist aunt, and my artist mother, opened a door for me that has made me the most grateful I’ve been in my life. No one knew all the art things God would place in my lap because of the small seeds planted at a young age.

In just two weeks I’ll be hosting our fourth PleinAir Live conference online for anyone wanting to learn or get better at painting. Today, I want to dedicate it to Aunt Ruth. I think if she knew what happened as a result of that one painting hanging in the front room, and all the lives that have been touched and people taught to paint, I think she would be a little embarrassed, but pleased. Who knows, maybe this is the seed you need to explore what you can become. 

Anger Consumed Me2023-02-25T15:25:45-05:00
19 02, 2023

Accidental Dreams


A beautiful brown buck, with a giant rack atop his head, gracefully feasts on the downed tree branches left over from the big ice storm a couple of weeks back. The remaining trees sway to and fro, and dim light with a slight touch of pink fills the sky over the distant hills, which I can see even better since the storm cleared some branches out of the view. 

I sit here in this soon-to-be-warm moment reflecting on my past, deeply grateful for each experience, including those that did not work out as I had hoped. 

Reinventing Radio

In 1998 I wrote an article in Radio Ink, my radio industry trade magazine, predicting that one day consumers would get their radio and TV online. The feedback on the article was negative; in fact, I just about got laughed out of the radio industry. Yet for some reason, I had the ability to see down the road. I was so consumed by this concept that I started a radio industry conference about the future of the Internet and its impact on the industry. Though it was successful because people wanted to know more about these new things called websites, they could not buy my vision that people would listen to radio online. 

Lunch With a Soon-to-Be Billionaire

Later that year I had lunch with Mark Cuban at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. Mark had started a company called AudioNet, and it was putting ball games online. I told him my vision that music radio would one day be online as well, and he encouraged me to “go for it.” 

A Boys Scout Is Always Prepared 

After a few weeks of refining my idea, I picked up the phone and called Tom Toy, an old Boy Scout buddy I’d heard was a venture capital guy. I knew nothing about raising money because I’d built my publishing business one sale at a time, with no borrowed money other than a small loan from my dad. 

Hold, Please

When I told Tom my idea, he said, “Hold for a second. I want to get someone else on the call.” Soon I was pitching my idea to another guy on his team. And then they said, “Can you be here Monday to do a presentation?” So I pulled out my best PowerPoint skills and built my vision for a company I called RadioCentral. My concept was to do thousands of niche radio stations for interest groups, and to do every radio format of music. 

Quickly Intimidated

I flew to San Francisco and found myself entering a big conference room with about 10 people sitting around the table. I told them that the future of radio and TV was the Internet, and that RadioCentral would be like a newsstand in audio form, with radio stations operated by people for specific interest groups. 

To my surprise, they said they had interest but wanted me to define my presentation more. “Come back next week after flushing out the financials,” they said. “Show us how you’re going to make money and create value.”

A Trip a Week for Seven Weeks

I returned the following week, and each Monday for seven weeks. Keep in mind, I was running my business while flying weekly to San Francisco from West Palm Beach.

On the seventh week they announced that they were giving me a million dollars to start, and more would come based on progress. 

Our Money, Our Town

When I said I’d get started right away, they insisted I move to the San Francisco area. “Our money, our town,” they said. I argued that I could build it in Florida and have much lower costs, but they knew I needed to be where they could coach me, have me meet with other people who could fund us further, etc.

Defying Physics

Without going into exhaustive detail, I launched the company, managed to hire a team of 50 people, and we invented something that was not physically possible. In fact, when I interviewed engineers provided by a search firm, every one of them told me that what I wanted to do couldn’t be done. One guy I interviewed, Rich Sadowsky, said, “It’s not possible to do this — but I’ll find a way.” 

I hired him, and months later we had invented a way to do the impossible. In fact, he filed a couple of patents, and we ended up with a system that everyone uses today. The impossible was possible.

Launch Finally Comes

We ended up launching dozens of radio formats, and we were doing radio for some of the biggest brands online at the time; we did branded radio for EarthLink, About.com, and several others. But I was swayed away from my idea of radio broadcasters in niche categories. Of course, years later, Apple launched podcasting, exactly what I had pitched five years earlier, though they had a better way of doing it than I had. 

Long story short, we launched, had clients, and even sold some advertising. We raised more money. And then two towers in New York were downed by aircraft, investment dried up, and the company was shut down. 

A Lost Decade

I spent years licking my wounds, looking back at what should have been and telling myself, “If only…” “If only I had been one year earlier, we would have gone public and I would have been a billionaire.” “If only” was stuck in my head, and I became risk-averse, depressed, and defeated. Sadly, it took me close to a decade to recover.

Lessons Learned

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Once I had enough time and perspective, I realized I had learned so much, and that I went for it. The mistake I made is that I did not get back on the horse when I got knocked off. I wasted lots of good years whining about what could have been instead of moving on to the next big thing.

When have you been knocked off your horse? Have you picked yourself up or stayed stuck?

Where have you wanted to “go for it” but not taken action? When you went for it and failed, did you try, try again?

Crawling Into a Hole

Bruised egos and painful experiences sometimes make us want to just curl up into a fetal position because things that were supposed to work out did not. I’ve lived it. Thankfully, I eventually went for it again and came up with something that has given me the deepest, most rich life I could imagine.

People With Zero Vision

When I first told my industry and my friends about my plan, they told me all the reasons it was a bad idea. Had I listened, I would not have lived some of the most important lessons of my life, met some of the best people of my life, and developed technology that became a standard being used today. 

Visionary People

I did not listen because I believed in my idea. And, though my business failed, I lost a lot of other people’s money (which I felt awful about), and ultimately I did not hit it big financially, decades later I have the satisfaction of knowing I was right, that my vision has come true with things like podcasting, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, Apple Music, and others. I’m not suggesting for a moment I invented those things, but I went to San Francisco to do similar things that no one had yet done. 

I was not alone in this vision — others started about the same time, and while some of us did not succeed, others did. I met a young man at a party who had just started this thing called YouTube. Another had started Pandora. Another had started Napster, which revolutionized the world of music. I met dozens of others, including the two founders of a startup called PayPal. I even met two 19-year-old guys who had started a company called Google. They all had  revolutionary ideas. They all went for it. Some succeeded, some became the most influential people in the world, while others failed. But everyone learned important lessons. 

Beyond Bitter

I was bitter for years, but I’m no longer bitter. Maybe I was just too early, maybe I did not work hard enough or fast enough, maybe nothing I could have done would have changed the outcome. And, in hindsight, I needed to learn some important lessons. Sometimes it’s necessary to get your teeth kicked in. There is no reason to be bitter when lessons are learned. It took me too long to realize that. And because I had failed, I stopped taking big risks and following up on other ideas. That was my biggest mistake.

When are you going to go for it? Live your dream? Follow your vision? Take a chance?

Failure is an important part of the process of going for it. The odds are stacked against you. Go for it anyway. Again and again.

Billionaire John Kluge once told me at lunch that he never made big money until after age 70. Most of his friends had retired to play golf. He kept trying. HIs best advice to me: “Keep pitching.” So if you’re thinking it’s too late, stop thinking that. And if you’re thinking you’re too young, stop thinking that. 

There is no time clock. If you’re breathing and can communicate, no matter what age, if there is an unfulfilled dream, you need to go for it. No matter how impractical, no matter how impossible. 

It’s better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. And your odds of success increase substantially when you try.

Go for it.

Eric Rhoads

And now, the rest of the story…

The morning of the 9/11 tragedy, my pregnant wife and I sat watching in disbelief, knowing that I was supposed to be in that building that morning. Had I been there, I would have missed watching triplets be born, with 11 people in the OR assisting us. I would have missed so much. 

This week Grace, Brady, and Berkeley turned 21. It’s been a tornado of activity, years of band practices and ball games and school meetings, and stress over tests, graduations, COVID, boyfriends and girlfriends, happy times and sad ones. Fears, bullying, tears, laughter, vacations, Christmases, and 21 birthday celebrations. 

I was fired from my own company, and my last day of work was the day our first child came home from the hospital. That was God’s perfect timing. I was needed at home, and I’ve worked from home every day since then so I could be there. 

I often get asked if they are the same, since they were born triplets. But they’ve revealed their own unique personalities and interests since the day they were born. The past 21 years have been the most special journey any man could ever hope for. I’ve seen more joy in my life than I ever expected, along with more pain than I ever expected. I consider myself deeply and richly blessed to have been here for this 21 years. 

These Sunday Coffees were designed to be a diary of thoughts to share with my kids when they are old enough to appreciate it. I hope they someday find it. And my advice to them … go for it. Follow your dreams. Ignore roadblocks.

On another note…

When Laurie got pregnant, she could not stand the smell of paint in the back bedroom where I painted, so I took it outdoors. Had I never been in the Bay Area for that company, I would never have discovered plein air painting, which led me to publishing PleinAir Magazine, which led me to creating conferences, videos, retreats, and so much more for artists. One of those events, PleinAir Live, an online conference about landscape painting outdoors and indoors, is a result of those early days. I’m grateful I can live the dream of helping others discover how to live their dreams. I hope to see you there this coming March. 

Never wonder what would have happened if you had taken a left turn instead of a right turn. You are where you are supposed to be, and there are lessons you are supposed to learn. Had I never gone for my dream, the dream I’m living today would never have happened. 

Accidental Dreams2023-02-17T20:23:50-05:00
12 02, 2023

Which Side of the Battery Are You?


Glowing pink is radiating up to the gray and purple morning sky, against the silhouette of distant rolling hills. The morning sun signals hope for the day. Gray-green broken branches fill the ground, in piles the size of houses, left over from last week’s ice storm. A brisk breeze shakes the trees as if to test the strength of the remaining branches.The sound of a flight to who-knows-where tumbles in the sky above for a brief moment. 

Each day when I awaken, I start with hope. I hope it’s a good day. I hope I do good work. I hope I’m productive. I hope I am a good example to others. When I open my eyes, usually at the request of the whining dog in the crate on the other side of the room, I place my bare feet on the ground and I rub them back and forth. It’s a routine I’ve done for decades, and to me it’s like revving my engine. It builds my energy and sets the tone for the day. It launches me!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Last week a friend commented to me, “You’re always happy. What’s your secret? Life can’t be that perfect.” It took me by surprise, because I’d never really stopped to think about it. 

What is my secret?

Bad Days Bounce off Like Bullets off Armor

The reality is that life has its challenges. And they never really stop; there is always some drama somewhere. Yet rarely, if ever, does it faze me. Though I was severely rattled when my teenage son had a heart attack and nearly died, I remained fairly composed and calm.

If I had to come up with an answer, I’d say that I’ve spent far too many days in my life worked up, worrying, stressing, and it never seemed to make a bit of difference, other than making me feel unhappy. Now my answer is, “Trust God. Everything is beyond my control.” If I can control the outcome (rarely), I take the necessary action. Otherwise, I roll with it.

A Man-to-Man Talk

Years ago, I fell in love with a girl at a different high school. She was my first love, and we were inseparable for a few years. I grew close to her family and her dad. One day, he asked me for some of my time. We sat and he challenged me. He said, “Eric, you have everything going for you. You’re likable, you’re smart, you’re creative, but I don’t think you’re very happy. In fact, I think you’re very negative.” I was shocked because I’d considered myself a positive thinker. He went on to say, “I can’t support my daughter being with you if you continue down this path. And if you continue being a negative thinker, you won’t live as long as you should, and you won’t live a happy life.”

I was stunned. 

He coached me about what he had observed and how I should consider overcoming it. He recommended that I read “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “Think and Grow Rich,” and he encouraged me to set out each day to think positively. 

Keep in mind that I grew up with a positive-thinking dad, who had taught me most of these lessons. But it took an outsider to get my attention. And, that one “little talk” changed my life forever.

Meet Mister Negative

Earlier this week I met a guy who’d wanted to talk with me. I resisted because he had been negatively badgering me online. I don’t like to be around negative people. But, I told myself that I needed to talk with him, though I did not know why. The conversation started out negative. He told me all the reasons why things were bad, why his business was bad, what things were not going well. It was hard to hear, and I wanted to jump through the phone, grab him by the shirt, shake him and say “can’t you see that your life isn’t going well because you’re not expecting it to go well.?” But I was polite, I encouraged him, gave him some ideas, and ended the call.

That’s Easy for You to Say

I used to lecture my dear old friend Chris. I liked him, but I’m not sure why, because he was like that kid in the Charlie Brown comics that always had a cloud over his head. One of the most negative people in the world. I had countless discussions with him about his negativity, and things would change if he would just think positive. But he told me “its easy for you, you’ve had a great upbringing.” His pain from his past seemed too big for him to overcome. He was stuck in negative mud.

Are you stuck in negative mud?

Pay close attention to your conversations this week. Are you talking about all the things going wrong or all the things going right? Are you whining about things you have to do or celebrating all the things you get to do.

Focus on Strength

Author John Maxwell is the guest pastor at my old Florida church sometimes. He says that having a positive outlook on life is crucial for happiness and success. He encourages people to focus on their strengths and to see the good in every situation, instead of dwelling on negativity and failures.

Thinking Calisthenics

As a recovering negative person, I know you have to retrain your brain, and it does not happen fast, and it feels uncomfortable because negativity makes negative people comfortable. They feel better about themselves when they can find problems with others. But to train your brain you have to resist negativity at all costs.

Don’t default to the grey cloud of problems. Seek the side of hope and encouragement.

Mister Spin

My friend Bob is the ultimate spin master. No matter what anyone says to him, if it’s negative and even if the negative thing you’re saying is true, he finds a way to spin it in a positive way. He’s better at this than me. And it has served him well. Everyone loves being around him.

Accepting Blame

We almost never want to accept ourselves as being our own problem. We want to blame others, blame outside influences. I get it. But it does not serve you well to do this. So listen carefully to the tone and messages of your words. Listen to your thoughts. Are you sewing with golden threads of positive or black threads of negative? The choice is yours.

Don’t Beat On Yourself

I’m a pretty positive person but even I have wallowed in self-pity and negativity when things have not gone my way in the past. But doing so only prolongs the pain. I finally learned to move on, don’t look back, don’t beat myself up, and focus on the future and the good things. 

What’s your spin?

I don’t mean to be flippant, or dismissive of your pain, your circumstances. Life is hard.

Survival Strategies

I once met an oncology doctor at a party, and I asked him the best way someone can survive cancer. I was surprised by his answer, which seems very unscientific. “The moment I reveal cancer to a patient I can tell if they will survive or not. If they have a positive attitude and say, I’ll beat this, they survive longer, and often beat it entirely. If they are negative, and immediately say they are not ready to die, they never last long.”

There are not a lot of choices in life. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react and respond to them.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Eric Rhoads

PS: How did we get this far into the new year already? Time has accelerated it seems. 

I’m really jazzed that I have the opportunity to introduce people to the plein air painting (outdoor painting) lifestyle and teach them how to do it. More people painting outside is a great thing. My next live online event is called Plein Air Live, and its happening next month. Hundreds have already signed up to learn from the great masters of our time. I’m positive you won’t be negative when you attend. 🙂 www.pleinairlive.com

Which Side of the Battery Are You?2023-02-10T19:24:17-05:00
4 02, 2023

Are You a Groundhog?


Branches dipped in ice decorate this heavily treed rural property like a winter wonderland Christmas card. Tall, crystalized weeds shine like thousands of sequins on a New Year’s Eve dress. Like dancing lace, crystals reflect the dim gray light.

Sheets of ice transform my deck into a skating rink, and there are thunderous cracks as overloaded branches fall to the ground, wreaking havoc, destroying dozens of trees, and turning my yard into a war zone of fallen wooden soldiers. This freak winter ice storm will soon pass, but weeks will be needed to remove the splintered wood and thousands of downed branches.

Frozen in Time

Sometimes we, like the branches, become frozen in time, the crystals of stability and success holding us back. Then suddenly, the crack, as the weight breaks off our branches, leaving us exposed and broken.

Nature is a beautiful thing.

Stability and predictability are cozy, comfortable, and easy, but there is deep value in being broken, though we fear the unknown.

Never in our prayers for needs to be met, for life to be stable and easy, do we think about what comes next.

Rarely do we pray for discomfort, conflict, pain, or change. Yet these are the jewels of a rich life.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2)

The unbearable pain of a breakup, though it may feel unending, often leads to the true love of your life.

The failure of a job or a business forces a sudden left turn, taking us down a better road.

Change is usually forced upon us. Rarely do we initiate it, break what isn’t broken, or give up on something that’s producing income.

But boredom is the mother of reinvention.

Disappearing Act

A friend, a successful surgeon, tells me he once loved his job, but after decades of repeating the same routine daily, he wants to drop out and become a full-time artist. But he believes it’s irresponsible to give up his healthy income for something less secure and still unproven.

Then one of three things happens … his time runs out, and his dreams are never realized.

His job suddenly ends, and he is forced to make a decision.

Or he breaks what’s broken and reinvents, and possibly ends up happier.

Bold Moves

Another friend, also a surgeon, said, “Enough. I’m going for it.” Not clinging to his degrees, his time invested, and his massive income, he said, “I’m not guaranteed to make it to retirement. I’m doing it now.”

It took guts, but I’ve never seen anyone happier or more fulfilled. My other friend whines about being trapped, but it’s self-imprisonment.

Breaking What’s Not Broken

My friend John, a radio station owner in my hometown, had the number one-rated station in town. But his gut said changes were needed, so he changed format and became bigger than before with the change. Had he been wrong, he would have destroyed his income.

Another friend hasn’t changed a thing in two decades but wonders why things are not as good as they used to be.

The bumpy road, where you cannot see over the next hill, versus the well-paved highway. Which is for you?

Stability and security has its perks, as does venturing into the unknown. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad. Safety is a good choice, but those who skydive say they never felt so alive.

Jumping out of a plane or diving off the sides of buildings isn’t in my DNA. There is risk of life, or there is risk of discomfort. Risk of death versus risk to steady income.

A Visit from Phil

Earlier last week we speculated about whether some all-knowing animal would stick his head out of a hole, declaring whether winter would continue. I’m not big on superstitions. Why stay in your hole when you could enjoy the winter? And what if, thinking he had plenty of time left, he never came out of the hole again?

If I were to ask you… “If there was one thing you’ve always wanted to do in your life but never got done, what would it be?” The first thing that comes to mind might be worth revealing to yourself and exploring.

Time for Your Closeup, Mr. Rhoads

For me, I had a childhood dream of being a film actor. I told myself I’d start a business so I’d not have to wait tables between gigs. And I never pursued it, other than beating out 150 people for one of three roles in a student film in San Francisco.

Acting is on my list, but I’ve done nothing about it. Why?

I tell myself if it was really still important to me, I’d be working toward it. But if I ask my subconscious, “If there was a reason I’ve never pursued film acting, what would it be?” the answer I get is that I fear I won’t succeed and that I’ll embarrass myself. How silly is that? So I make excuses about not having the time, or that my odds of making it happen are impossible. Yet I don’t even need to quit my job or wait tables. The risk is actually low. So why not go for it? And what if the risk were higher?

What About the 5%?

I find myself living Groundhog Day. I love 95% of the things I do, but there are Sundays when I don’t feel like writing. There are days when I tell my wife I don’t feel like getting on an airplane and that I don’t care if I ever see another hotel room in my life after hundreds of hotel nights. I battle with “I don’t want to do this again, but if I don’t, I won’t have the income.”

The Shiny Object Guy

I think boredom and repetition are the reason I’ve started so many businesses and products. Success magazine called me the “king of shiny objects,” and I don’t think it was a compliment. Yet it’s served me well. It would probably be better for my business to focus deeply on one thing rather than doing dozens of things. But how fun would that be?

Keeping Balance

There are four groups of people in my world, plus one God. There is me, my family, customers, and my employees. If I serve just one of the five, I’m out of balance. Yet if I’m not happy, my family, customers, and employees will never be properly served. If I’m in a job I do not treasure most days, who am I serving well? Probably no one.

Risk produces fear, and fear tells you to be cautious. Caution isn’t a formula for a life of adventure and satisfaction. It’s great for some, but not great for most.

What is your Groundhog Day?
Where are you rolling your eyes and repeating something you’d rather not repeat?
What do you need to break that isn’t broken?

The ultimate clarifying question … what if you die today?
What did you miss doing?
What did you want to stop doing?
What are you wasting your days doing?
What do you really want to do?
What’s holding you back?

Chances are you’re being held back by uncertainty, by fear, by strings, by fear of loss, by fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, or fear of the unknown.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Happy belated Groundhog Day.

Eric Rhoads

PS: There was a guy who held events I always wanted to attend. They were expensive and took a big time commitment, so I always told myself, “I’ll do it someday.”

Then the unexpected happened. Rumors of his death circulated, and it turned out he had gone into hospice to die. He was there for more than a year, but instead of dying, he rebounded and came out. And after another year of recovery, he decided to start working again. But he also decided to never do the event again. All he did was consulting, which was even more expensive. `

So I waited and waited and kept telling myself, “One day I’ll do it, but I don’t have the time or money.” I realized I was doing what I’d done before. So finally I did it, and I’m glad I did. Then I asked myself, “Why did I wait? This was so worth it.”

Groundhog Day not only impacts your day-to-day, the attitude permeates everything. What are you not getting around to doing that you’ve always wanted to do?

A woman came up to me at my early-summer retreat in the Adirondacks. She said, “I’ve been wanting to come for 10 years, and I finally made it.” When I asked why she did not come sooner, she said, “There was no good reason. I just told myself I did not have time or money.” Then she said, “Then my husband died. That got my attention, and I decided I could be next and I’d better get this done.”

My team has created a tremendous number of events. They won’t last forever, or I won’t last forever, or you won’t last forever. Others also create cool things. Whatever it is you’ve been putting off, do it now. Today.

My next online event teaches about the plein air (outdoor painting) lifestyle, teaches the techniques of the great living landscape masters, and does not require travel. You can do it from home. It’s coming up in March. www.pleinairlive.com

My in-person convention in Denver does require leaving home, and it’s worth it when you find yourself outside painting with 1,000 other painters and learning from 80 top masters on five stages, and a huge Expo Hall. Don’t put it off. www.pleinairconvention.com

And my next retreat is coming up in June in the amazing Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. I can only take 100 people and I usually sell out early. We paint for a week, we provide all your meals and lodging for one price, and it’s so much fun. www.paintadirondacks.com

This summer, in August, my online conference for pastel will be loads of fun and it’s a chance to learn about something new — or if you are into pastel, it’s a chance to get stronger and learn from top pastel masters. www.pastellive.com

Fall Color Week is about painting brilliant fall color in an incredible landscape. This year it’s returning to the Adirondacks, and we’re staying in a great classic old camp for the last time. It’s another artist retreat I do. www.fallcolorweek.com

In November, it’s Realism Live, where you learn online all about painting portraits and figures, still life and landscape, in different styles from top masters. www.realismlive.com

Yes, it’s Groundhog Day. I love doing these, but at some point, even I will move on to do something else. Take advantage of them while they are available.

Are You a Groundhog?2023-02-04T17:49:47-05:00