When I was little I used to run around the yard with my dog and pretend that I was saving her and protecting the world from monsters. It’s funny how not much has changed in my mind since then. She is long gone but I still think back to those times and smile. I found out at a very early age that a dog was indeed a mans best friend. But she left something in me that seems to have never gone away. I’m still running around, protecting, and fighting off the monsters – I just do it in a very different way now.

When I set out on this journey, I wanted to be a man of character. I wanted to develop traits that I didn’t have and to accomplish things I had always failed at. Of course, when you are in the thick of it, you really have no real gauge on how much you have accomplished since the beginning of something. So for the past couple of days, I have taken a step back and really thought about where I have come from and how much has been done. It’s really interesting to me to think about it all and to be able to whittle it down to one word that defines everything for me: kindness.

I have my moments of course, but what I have learned more than anything else is how to be kind in world that has continued to try to rough me up. I mean, even when I look back on 2013, there have been some pretty significant events that have gone on that truly tested my will and my heart. Some have even happened in the past few days. Yet, I sit here in this rocking chair in Tahoe with only my mind churning and thinking about the next sentence to write. There is no hate in this heart.

It’s easy to get consumed by the negatives that present themselves in this life. It’s easy to yell at someone when you are getting yelled at. It’s easy to push the erase button when people leave. It’s easy to lose yourself when the world piles it all on you at once and begins to apply heavy pressure. All of that is easy. But the hardest thing to do, and this is another lesson I have learned, is to stand strong in the flames. It gets hot – I promise you. You will want to get out of the heat as fast as possible, but the only way to extinguish those flames is to search within for answers. When life throws flames at you, be a cooling presence for not only yourself but for others as well. C.C.C. Calm – Cool – Collected.

Make your stand. It is true that taking the high road in life is beneficial and worth it, but at the same time you need to be able to make a stand for who you are and what you are about. There’s a very fine line and it’s very hard to tell exactly what you should do. Sometimes the only thing you have is your gut – and a lot of the time your gut reaction is right. Trust yourself – you will go places.

I look to 2014 with eager eyes. If anything, 2013 was a year of learning. I learned things about myself, my profession, and my path that are going to be invaluable to me in the future. I believe that 2014 will serve as a year of “getting it done.” Time to put it all to work and see what I can create. I love what I am doing and know that everything else is going to work itself out. The work is there. The will is there. The heart is there. Now bottle that lightning and turn it into something special

Evan Sanders
The Better Man Project