Bred in Captivity, Can Generation Y Survive in the Wild?

Zookeepers breed endangered species in captivity to save them from extinction.  However, something bad usually happens.

When they release them into the wild, the animals that were bred in captivity often do not avoid predators and are not able to find ample food or shelter for themselves. They die as a result.

We are breeding humans in captivity.


In an effort to protect children from the dangers of failure or setback, some have made them unfit for the wild world they’ll be living in. For years, I’ve watched parents and teachers lie to their children.

In the name of self esteem, they comfortably praise children for everything they do, even when they fail to do anything special, smart, or strong.

You tried?  Here’s a trophy or ribbon!

Unfortunately, this isn’t real life. Now that Generation Y is out in “The Wild”, they are surprised when the company they applied to doesn’t think they’re special, the words they write aren’t smart, or their strongest performance isn’t enough.  They learn that anything but first place may not be good enough.

Confused, these young people move in with their parents, go back for more school, or join the Occupy Wall Street protests.

They were bred in captivity.


If we want our children or team members to know how to hunt or protect themselves, then we must teach them how at an early age.  No longer should people be praised because they participated.  It is lazy and easy to praise everyone for everything.  Far more difficult and important, is to find the specific gifts that each person has, encourage them to use the gifts, and then support them as they fail, learn, and grow.

We must teach them to fish, not give them fish.  We must show them the real world, not hide them from it.

We must let them fail.

The school of hard knocks teaches real life lessons.  Losers will become learners. Failing may be the best thing that can happen to a young person.

Let them grow up in the wild.

Have a wild night,


Like my blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email.

Daily Bread Just Tastes Better When You Slice it Yourself

I’ve always believed that what’s earned is sweeter than what’s given. Do you agree?

I’m obsessed with earning things, even to the point of avoiding help sometimes (I’m trying to change that).  I just never wanted to be the guy who “made it” because someone gave it to me.

I want to earn my dreams.



Just watch the average Christmas or birthday gift opening session and you’ll see what I’m talking about. While there will always be some exciting gifts, most gifts I’ve seen (or given) have been set aside with a brief “thanks” and fail to make an impact.

That’s how life works too.  Earning something matters:

  • Students who pay for their own college usually don’t get drunk every night.
  • Business owners who build their companies typically lead them better than those who inherit them.
  • Employees that earn promotions usually care more about their work than those who get promoted due to nepotism, intra-office relationships, blackmail, etc.
  • Nearly 100% of people who win the lottery blow it all and end up poor.

In nearly every case that I’ve seen, the people who earn something always cherish it more than those who are given it.

I want to cherish my life.

Reality Meets Ideology


In reality, rarely does anyone accomplish anything 100% on their own.  Believe me.  I learned this the hard way trying to do too much alone.

In almost every case we are in our current situation because of others.

However, this fact doesn’t mean a collaborative life has to be meaningless and empty because we didn’t “earn it” every inch of the way.  The above principle still applies. The way we feel a sense of accomplishment is when we effectively use what we’ve been given to accomplish more, push further, and find a way to slice the daily bread that’s been given to us.

In this metaphor, we may not earn “the bread”, but we do earn what happens when we slice it, cook with it, and use it to do something amazing.  In other words, just because someone gave us the bread doesn’t mean we didn’t earn the french toast, bread pudding, or club sandwich we just made.

Earning is a mindset.

If you care about your employees, family members, or friends…help them earn something.  Don’t just give it to them.  That’s the best gift you can give.


I want my children to live a fulfilling life of meaningful achievements and I think it starts when they’re young.  Today, my wife and I gave our 4 year old daughter her first bike.

However, she had to “earn it.”

She did extra chores, weeded the garden, hauled hedge clippings, and helped dad with a commercial (below).  When she saw the bike that she earned, it may have been the sweetest moment in her entire life!

Success!  Accomplishment!  Earning!

Her hard work paid off.  Now she’s got a taste for hard work, winning, and her shiny new bike.

Tonight my friends, I urge you to keep slicing your own bread, make those around you earn it, and cherish your life.

Have a great night!


PS. Here is that commercial I produced for a social media campaign that Sydney was in. Let me know if you have feedback:

Like this blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

Fatherhood in an 8pm Warrior World

Unlike my Mother’s Day post, I can talk about Fatherhood with some level of authority.   I understand that there are many different models of parenthood, but these are thoughts from my perspective as an 8pm Warrior with a wife who works from home.

Fatherhood is tough for me.

I think Fathers in my situation have an impossible mission to be role models in a modern world and have their young children understand or love them equally. Maybe that will change with time (my kids are 2 and 4), but it’s something I think about often and I wanted to see what other 8pm Warriors thought about it.

Here are my options:

  1. Do my best, push my limits, and make a difference in the world (8pm Warrior option)
  2. Get a typical 9 to 5 job and have more time to focus on my family

Either way I feel like I lose.

If I choose the second option, there isn’t much to take my attention away from family on weekends or evenings.  Sounds good, but my problem is that I don’t think I’d be doing my best.  I’ve got a ton of energy and ideas, so doing less than my best doesn’t seem like a way to set an example for my children.  Furthermore, in this era I’m not sure a 9 to 5 job would be a secure position. If you want to be secure, you’ve got to be irreplaceable.

That’s hard to do if you ignore your work on evenings and weekends.

That’s why I chose the first option.   Consequently, I see my children for 15 minutes in the morning and 90 minutes in the evenings before they go to bed at 8pm.  I’m with them on most weekends, but I’m distracted many times.  Yes, I do take vacations, but in the past they were often combined with light work such as the Clear Medical Solutions annual company cruise and other events where I was speaking.

Consequently, my kids prefer my wife in nearly every situation.

If they’re hurting, hungry, sad, tired, or just want a hug they always choose my wife over me when given the choice.   In some situations, I’m not even an option.

Luckily, my wife is an amazing mother and I’m confident that my children are growing up to be warriors in whatever field they choose.  So maybe I just need to stop whining and be thankful.

What’s your take?

Have a great night!


Like this blog? Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

The Next Generation

Why have kids or a protégé?

Since my youngest child just turned two (he’s a St. Patrick’s Day baby), it got me thinking about him, my daughter, and the whole next generation.

Why do we need them anyway?

  • They cry.
  • They cost money.
  • They cause heartache.

It’s a lot of work and they don’t always care back or provide any sort of monetary benefit.  (Sounds like some protégés too…)

However, there must be some reason millions of kids are brought into the world every year.  People ask me why I wanted kids, and here’s my answer:

The battles we fight will continue. I am getting older.

It gives me comfort knowing someone I watched grow up will help me finish my battle.  I want to believe that what I’m working for every night is special enough to last, and that it will need a caretaker when I am old.  Someone I can trust.  Someone who understands.

If you’re up many nights working late, pushing, pulling, dreaming and learning, you know what I’m talking about.

Even though they may cry, cost money, and hurt our feelings sometimes, they are the future protectors of what we’re working on now.  They are an investment.  They are the future 8pm Warriors of the world.

Here’s to the next generation.




Subscribe to “Thoughts from an 8pm Warrior” via email

Time for Little Warriors

My daughter turned four yesterday.

I estimate that I spend about one hour a day of quality time with her on weekdays and maybe four hours each day on the weekends.  That means I’ve spent roughly 2700 hours with her during her entire life.  That’s about how many hours I work in 40 weeks.

I wonder if I’m alone.

Probably not.  I ran across the song below the other day.  When I heard it, a sort of embarrassed laugh came out.  Here’s an excerpt:

The Dollar

Mama tells her little man
“your daddy’s got a job
and when he goes to work they pay him for his time”

Well the young boy gets to thinking
and he heads up to his bedroom
and comes running back with a quarter and four dimes
and says “Mama how much time will this buy me?”

“Is it enough to take me fishing or throw a football in the street?”
“If I’m a little short then how much more does daddy need
to spend some time with me?”

Here’s the music video if you’re curious.

Something to think about.

It’s one reason I’m an 8pm Warrior and not a 5pm Warrior…it’s my kid’s bedtime.  Still probably not enough time.

Have a family night,


A Reminder to Take Time

Recently, I was on Bradford Beach building a sandcastle with my two small children.  While the end result was a small, but successful castle, it was the process that was so enjoyable and memorable. 

But, as I looked around, I also saw parents that were leading their sandcastle building project so strongly (and efficiently) that they ruined the experience for their now crying kids.  Even though they eventually finished their castle, it was a bad memory for everyone involved. 

Unfortunately, I see the same thing sometimes with vacations, family reunions, weddings, and other events in our lives.

It got me thinking about the building projects, technology implementations, and other big projects that I’ve seen around the healthcare world. 

In many cases, project managers have done such an amazing job of including everyone in the process and making it a positive, bonding experience.  However, in other cases, the project leader was so focused on project goals, budgets, and timelines that the people involved were forgotten.  Consequently people became disenfranchised, began withdrawing, and sometimes even sabotaged parts of the project.  By the end, the project was completed, but people were hurt, angry, or had new jobs at other places.

So, what made the difference?

Taking time.


Hopefully you can remember the joy of a project that is accomplished as a true team.  Take time for individuals (not just groups).  Take time to explain yourself and your motivations.  Take time to truly listen.

You will probably learn some great information or new perspectives, and in the worst case you will at least have a happy staff.

I know that budgets are tight in this economy.  However, asking people to do more than they can do, with less than they need, and without a voice, is asking for a bigger crisis than your budget concerns. 

I know it sounds easier said than done, but as the economy improves (and healthcare reform continues), you will find it harder and harder to find experienced staff in our industry.  The shortages are returning, and if you forget about people, they will migrate to the leaders that listen while they lead.

Take some extra time.  You won’t regret it.


About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.

A Mother's Gift

In addition to my mother and my wife, I’m celebrating all mothers around the world today. 

It’s amazing to think about what this world would look like without mothers.  I’m not just talking about act of childbirth or pregnancy, but what would it look like if each of our mother’s were not around while we grew up?

Where would we be today without mothers?

My mother supported my dreams, no matter how crazy they were.  My wife carried me (and our two children), through tough times and stressful career situations.  I’ve seen our nurses, therapists, consultants, and leaders working overtime to make ends meet or having to take time off to care for a sick child or family member. 

Everywhere I look…mothers are giving.

Yes, sometimes it hurts to be a mother and sacrifices are made, but I know that not one of my wonderful colleagues would be here supporting our “Culture of Caring” without their mother.  On behalf of the entire Clear Medical Solutions family, I want to say “Thank You” for making our world a better place, and for incubating our dreams, our careers, and our mission to make the world a better place…one person, one facility at a time.



About the Author:  Aaron lives in Milwaukee, WI with his wife and two children and is the President & CEO of Clear Medical Solutions.  When he’s not leading new initiatives, he periodically takes on interim leadership or consulting projects.  He also enjoys teaching, speaking, writing, and sharing his passion for people and their healthcare.