Heartbreaks and breakthroughs.

Insane highs and lows.

Experiments and new rhythms.

Hell and/or high water.

Wherever you are in the turbulence, do not lose heart.

Be strong and very courageous.

I’m reminded that we need compassion not only for one another — but more than ever for ourselves as we navigate these uncharted waters

I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath, statesman, scientist, inventor circa 1750

A Simple Brain Hack. 3 Letters.

And if/when you feel discouraged, add the word YET.

As in, when you think: “I’m not good enough.”

What we really need to hear and say is, “I’m not good enough … YET.”

What do you feel discouraged about?

Add “YET.”

It’s not wishful thinking. Not a mind trick.

It’s speaking truth against the tyranny of stuckness.

It’s a declaration of independence from apathy, condemnation, and shame.

YET busts us out of despair.

YET opens us to finding new solutions.

YET roots our identities in learning.

YET calls for help.

YET means when you fail, recover and strengthen your brothers.

YET holds the “perfect plan” loosely.

YET looks forward, and doesn’t look backward.

YET invites you on an adventure not to a destination.

YET is the truth that can set you free from false limiting beliefs.


If you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.

Carol Dweck, PhD, developmental psychologist, Stanford University, circa 2015


One of our fellow crew members couldn’t have children … YET.

In the depths of the pandemic, it seemed impossible.

But they kept at the mission — one step at a time.

And a couple months back after some miraculous circumstances, they adopted a baby son and brought him home.

While you have breath go at it.

Failure is not a definition, a state of being, or an identity.

Mistakes/missteps are just waypoints about how to improve next time.

Always on the way to better.

Add Another Critical Three Letter Word

As I mentioned last time, I bought an empty Fuente Fuente OpusX Bellicoso cigar box.

The wood box held my dream of a musical instrument.

But the box sat for 8 years. Taking space.

It found a secondary use, holding some stuff. But that’s not fulfilling its destiny.

At first, when I picked up the box to make a ukulele, I felt silly so many years had passed.

And then I heard Neil Gaiman explain how he had an idea for a story but realized he wasn’t good enough to write it … yet.

So, he put the story idea on the shelf.

Gaiman waited — practiced — before he took the story idea back out and crafted it into an award-winning bestselling book called The Graveyard Book.

How long? Ten (10) years.

Now, I didn’t make an award-winning best-selling ukulele. But I recognized now I wasn’t ready years ago to make this ukulele… yet.

I needed to learn patience, planning, and various tools.

I also needed a stronger ‘why.

Sometimes we’re not ready because we don’t want it enough… yet.

Yes, I wanted to make an instrument. But that wasn’t enough of a ‘why.’

But now, I made the ukulele to bond with my son — who wanted to learn how to play.

And it was important to me as well that he see me doing the work. Especially when I made a mess and I sent him sprinting down the hallway multiple times to get paper towels to wipe up glue.

He needs to see that there’s mess in the practice but when you persevere maybe you make something special.

Maybe you go from a box to an instrument. From taking space to making meaning.


A Clarifying Potion

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No matter what, storms leaves wreckage and loss. What can be shaken must flex — or break.

And yet on the other side of a storm … all things are new.

We’re not through this storm yet, but we decide how we’ll navigate trauma.

We’ve all heard of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).

But there’s an opposite. Post-traumatic growth.

Transforming trauma to growth. Resilience.

I didn’t make that up. It’s when you emerge from trauma, shaken but unbroken.

Clarified. Focused. Lessons learned.


The little reed, bending to the force of the wind, soon stood upright again when the storm had passed over.

Aesop, author, circa 600BC

Sometimes (often) I get stuck in a project muddle. Especially during the year of massive delays.

A new watch design or project idea lights me up and I dig deep.

It’s almost like a fever. Consuming. Obsession.

But sometimes that fire loses some fuel as I wrangle watch design details or wrestle with manufacturers that say, “That’s impossible.”

From mountain highs of vision to valleys deep in drudgery.

Many hundreds of decisions that chip away at resolve.

For example, here’s tiny details on COURG/42. And this is just one round out of months of revisions.

COURG/42 Corrections

A Clarifying Potion

I think it’s similar to when I haven’t picked up my ukulele for weeks.

A big reason is because I’ve gotten bored with the songs I know.

I’m no longer playing. I’m just going through the motions.

We all need the new song spark.

Exploring. Stretching. Trying new things.

Because nestled amid the awkward, stiff, twisted fingers of learning a new song — there’s a special moment.

A click. The notes start to ring clear. Then the rhythm springs to life.

When the sounds become the shape of a song.

When I start to feel the music, or maybe it’s the music filling me.

It’s flow state in the stream of melody and it’s a taste of rapture.

Intoxicating — not in a drunken sort of blurry way. A kind of clarifying potion.

And then I return to what muddled me before with renewed vigor and fresh insight.

A heightened state of awareness — even appreciation for a project to pick up and work through.

On Your Mark, Get Set — Make Your …

Whatever way you make your music — designing watches, restoring cars, writing code, serving your community, loving your family, flying planes, teaching kids, healing people, building a business …

Don’t let boredom lull you to sleep so you forget to learn new songs.

Play when the first few notes sound discordant.

Play when your fingers feel like sticks.

Play when the melody sounds alien.

Play when it feels like it’s been too long — sometimes that’s exactly when you’re really ready to get back to work.

And remember these words of wisdom from someone who knew a little something about deep work:


Play is the highest form of research.

Albert Einstein, theoretical physicist, circa 1950

The flow will come. You’ll find new work, new solutions also bring new insight into previous muddles.

Often when you least expect it.

Keep on making your music.

Carry on.

Play on.

And people might laugh. They might hate it. They might fall asleep. They might run. They might misunderstand.

Those who matter will get it. They’re the ones who matter.

And they’ll thank you for showing up and playing your music.

Don’t give up. Give it away.

A project from my cabinet of curiosities.

Meet Fuente Fuente OpusX Belicoso.

A cigar box ukulele I made during lockdown.

For the brave: Full origin and build story.

When I first learned to play my new ukulele, my fingers hurt. They turned an angry red. They ached.

The notes sounded horrible.

In time the pain receded and music ascended.

Through a long year, suffering produces callouses in our lives.

We harden. The shell thickens to dull the onslaught.

But we have to be careful that we don’t allow that layer to get too thick.

Or we won’t feel a thing. And worse — we’ll lack compassion. 

It takes time to process and let your soul catch up with all that’s happened and changed.

Cigar Box Ukulele Finished

Distressed for Purpose

It’s the callouses that enable us to press into the pain.

Because we’ve been there. We’re willing to push in.

Because even if we can’t see it, we know deep down suffering can become glory, and glory is a beacon.

And that requires time and space to heal and recover.

When we press into the pain that has healed, we make musical notes that resonate with others who bear the same pain.


In the Dark

Sometimes, we think of callouses as a bad thing.

Ugly. Rough. Coarse.

The mechanic or carpenter with tough scaly hands. Yet what wonders they craft with their hands — which have been formed by the work they’ve practiced repeatedly.

They become so practiced they could do their craft with their eyes closed.

Sometimes before bed, I dim the lights and strum my ukulele to decompress.

At first I had to squint down at my fingers. But after a few weeks I realized I didn’t even need to look down at the strings anymore.

Our practice shapes our lives to the best form to serve others. Our work makes something, and at the same time the work shapes us. It builds muscle memory in our lives so we can build others up.

But it takes time. Reflection. Being willing to stay in the dark. Sit and learn from the pain.

To be unashamed of the scars.

And even when we can’t see, even when things are dark and uncertain, because of our practice, we will know which notes we need to play in the night — for ourselves and for others.

Cigar Box Ukulele and Guitar

Want to make your own? Here’s how I made mine.