Start Today (Yesterday you said tomorrow)

The New Year is typically a notable milestone in time. It causes us to stop… and take inventory. We inventory our personal growth. We inventory our goals and aspirations, in contrast to what we have actually achieved.

“Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin

This quote is all about the present. Too many people, myself included, focus on the past or on the future. We can lament the past, and plan for the future, but we can only get things done in the present, today. This quote urges us to actually do something today, instead of waiting until tomorrow to get started.

Why is it important to not put things off? Besides the obvious answer of it won’t get done, it also creates a kind of momentum. Newton’s First Law says that “An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.” So there is momentum in sloth, delaying, procrastinating and all the other euphemisms for the act of not doing.

The opposite is just as important. Avalanches start when just the tiniest of pebbles or snowflakes bumps into just the right spot. All that pent up potential energy is released, and gathers speed, strength, and momentum. By putting off until tomorrow, you are robbing yourself of the “mighty momentum”.

Tony Robbins has a saying, “never leave the site of a decision without taking action.” Does that sound kind of like Benjamin Franklins’ quote? What Tony is trying to do is to get you to help yourself by taking a step, no matter how small, to start that momentum, to start your own avalanche.

What have you been putting off in your life? A project to do, something to start doing, something to stop doing, some habits that need to be modified?

Can you find a way to break it into a couple different steps? Can you break one of the easier steps into a few chunks? Find the tiniest chunk, and do it! Put that object in motion, and feel the thrill, the expectation and, at times, the terror of having started something. Then follow it up.

What I mean to say when I say follow it up is that one push alone won’t get it done. As an avalanche needs gravity to constantly pull on it, so your task will require your attention. Perhaps not as consistently as gravity, but you will need to continue to take steps toward finishing the task.

Friction exists in the real world, and it tries to slow the avalanche. Your task will face a similar counter-force. It may be apathy, being too busy with other “high priority” tasks, and distractions. By keeping after it, even in the smallest steps, you will eventually get there.

The New Year is here. You made your resolutions, now go.  Build that momentum, and see just what you are capable of.

Kurt Van Meter

“Straight up, I should be dead,” Kurt Van Meter once cheerfully told a reporter. At 1:30 pm Friday, November 21, 2009, then police officer Van Meter responded to a call from his sergeant saying that shots had been fired in downtown Hillsboro. When the high-speed car chase through the busiest stretch of Portland’s sprawling suburb ended, Van Meter stood only a few paces from the deranged gunman.

“He jumped out of the Honda with the silver .50 caliber Desert Eagle in one hand and a black .45 caliber Desert Eagle in the other,” Van Meter told a reporter from Police One shortly after the incident. Van Meter remembers the man leveling one of the pistols directly at him before two officers from neighboring Cornelius opened fire and killed the gunman.

Van Meter’s brush with death gave way to a moment of clarity in which he decided to pursue his life-long dream and follow in the footsteps of his country music hero, Garth Brooks.

Van Meter can remember the moment he knew he wanted to be a singer.

“My brother was giving me a ride to school – I think I was a freshman or sophomore – and he put in this CD and told me that I had to hear this song,” Van Meter said. “It was ‘Friends in Low Places’ by Garth Brooks. I was instantly hooked. I was like, I don’t know what this is, but whatever it is, I want to be a part of it.”

But life seemed to take him in every direction but the music. Van Meter played football and became a bull rider at Oregon State University before entering the police force. There, he would sing in the office – but his coworkers didn’t seem to share in the joy.

“My first gig was marine patrol and they give you a partner. He told me one day, ‘Kurt have I ever told you how much I love your singing?’ I said no and he goes, ‘then shut up.’” Van Meter figured maybe he wasn’t that good of a singer, after all. The first person who told him he had a good voice was an ex-girlfriend. But music seemed to be an out-of-reach dream.

The shooting changed all of that and about a year later Van Meter decided to chase his dream. He hoped on Youtube and started to learn how to play the guitar. He also began attending local jam sessions in Hillsboro. The next challenge was finding a way to get his music heard. Van Meter was put in contact with Scott Mahalick and told him, “If you believe in me, I can be the next Garth Brooks.” Van Meter had no songs, no band, and nothing to offer but his voice. Despite that, Garth Brooks and Scott attempted to contact Van Meter. A missed phone call that he still cringes about.

Van Meter’s career took off relatively quickly and he opened for country stars like Montgomery Gentry. In 2013, he committed to music full-time and played the Bi-Mart Country Music Festival in 2014, alongside artists Eric Church and Blake Shelton. When he started, Van Meter said his songs had a couple hundred streams and downloads per month. By 2015, those numbers were up to more than 100,000.

As Van Meter has seen his popularity rise, he’s quick to point to his bandmates as reasons for his success. “When you have a team as strong as this one, it’s in your best interest to get the hell out of the way,” he said. “My role is to not forget the lyrics and not suck.”

Van Meter hopes his kids and others can see his journey and decide to follow their passion and to not be afraid of failure. “Two things are important, one is don’t wait until you’re ready to do something. If you want to do it, just go for it. I didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes, you just gotta go for it. The second thing is you’re never too old. I was 33 when I learned how to play the guitar.”

Van Meter will be performing tomorrow night at Sounds of Summer kicking off the summer series. Come join us, and enjoy good music, food, and drinks. Vendors will start serving at 6 pm and the fun will begin at 6:30 pm. His CDs will be on sale both at the info booth, as well as after the concert at the Chamber of Commerce.

“Kurt, you are obviously doing something right. Stay with what works.” – Garth Brooks

Winston Churchill Day April 9th

Let’s be honest, life is hard. Sometimes it feels like the odds are stacked against us and we are not sure where to go or what to do next.

Winston Churchill, Britain’s great hero and Prime Minister during World War II, was once asked to give a commencement address at Oxford University. Churchill was a leader admired and loved by the people. He had led Great Britain through a time of defeat, despair, and great loss, but had continued to provide inspiration exactly when it was needed. You can imagine the anticipation of the students, faculty, and family members as Winston Churchill made his way to the platform. Dressed in coattails, he carefully removed his gloves and top hat to deliver these words, “Never give up. Never, never give up” He then turned and went back to his seat. It was perhaps the shortest speech on record but also the most remembered at Oxford University and around the world. It was a message of hope and encouragement.

Without going into a lot of drama and details I will tell you that I recently went through one of those life-changing events. This event should have left me a mess, feeling alone and no idea how to pick myself back up. Instead, I found a community standing behind me, willing to give me a shoulder to cry on or an encouraging hug.

Yes, life is hard. There are always going to be challenges, some greater than others. The nice thing is that we don’t have to surmount them alone. We have people in our lives that want to help us; whether it’s personal or professional. The trick is to reach out and ask for it. We at the Chamber of Commerce would love to help in any way we can. If we can’t help you then we darn will help you find someone who can. Today, in honor of Winston Churchill, we at the Chamber say, “Never give up.”

~Sarah Javins