6 Ways to Keep the Savior in Our Everyday Lives

One unique thing about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that there is no paid clergy and the members are often invited to speak to the congregation. My wife and I spoke to our congregation yesterday for about 15 minutes each. Here’s the text from my talk.

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Today I’ll be focusing on today is How to Keep the Savior In Our Everyday Lives. While there are countless ways to draw nearer to the Savior, I’ll be focusing on 6 practices that will help us keep Him in our everyday lives: 

  1. Pray to Heavenly Father
  2. Study the scriptures
  3. Serve others
  4. Express gratitude 
  5. Make and keep covenants, and
  6. Wait on the Lord

As I share these practices, I invite you to reflect on your life and ask yourself what you can do–or stop doing–to draw nearer to the Savior. 

 

1) Pray to Heavenly Father 

I quote from True to the Faith:

“Your Heavenly Father loves you and knows your needs, and He wants you to communicate with Him through prayer. As you make a habit of approaching God in prayer, you will come to know Him and draw ever nearer to Him. Your desires will become more like His. You will be able to secure for yourself, and for others, blessings that He is ready to give if you will but ask in faith.”

Doctrine and Covenants 8:2 teaches us how we receive answers to prayers. “Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.” 

When I was in grad school I was debating between two job offers, one in the Bay Area, where we’d lived before grad school, and one in the Midwest. We prayed and prayed to know what we should do. They were both great opportunities but I agonized over the decision, wanting to do what was right. Being the overanalytical person that I am, I made countless pros and cons lists. As the decision deadline drew near, we were no closer to making the decision. 

Finally, a few days before the deadline, the answer came. I had a powerful feeling, deep in my heart that we should take the job in the Bay Area. The undeniable answer trumped any list of pros and cons, and the answer to that prayer gave me the confidence to push forward. I’m grateful for the power of prayer. 

 

2) Study the scriptures

I’ll touch lighter on this one because my wife Whitney did a great job explaining how the scriptures–particularly the Book of Mormon–can bring us closer to the Savior. 

A few months back I felt a desire to become more charitable. I went to Moroni 7 where there are several scriptures on this topic. Verse 45 stood out. It gives a list of what charity is: “And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.” 

I then dedicated my scripture study to each definition of charity: one day I studied how charity suffereth long, or is patient. Another day I studied how charity is kind. Diving deep into the topic of charity — which is the pure love of Christ — filled me with the Spirit and gave me an increased desire to be more like the Savior. 

Daily, meaningful scripture study will help us be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It builds our faith, fortifies us against temptation, and helps us draw near to our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.

 

3) Serve others

While studying the scriptures is a critical step to drawing nearer to the Savior, it’s equally important to serve others. Knowing isn’t enough, we must take action. We must do. 

I mentioned earlier that in my scripture study I was seeking to learn how to be more charitable. In the middle of this period, our family moved to Walnut Creek. Anyone who’s moved recently knows how much effort goes into a move. For weeks we organized, cleaned, made numerous trips to the DI trailer and packed and taped boxes. Finally, the day of the move came. I pulled up to our new house at around 3:30pm and started unloading the moving van. 

I hoped to make some progress before the Elders Quorum from this ward was scheduled to arrive at 6. At 4pm, two hours early, a man arrived. He was not the youngest of men, but he strapped on a weight belt and started unloading boxes. His pace was relentless. Several times I told him he could take off as he’d done more than his fair share, but he insisted on staying. By the time 6pm rolled around we had unloaded almost 2/3rds of the truck. Not only was he the first one to arrive, but he was also the last one to leave, staying late to help assemble one of the beds. The acts of kindness from the ward, particularly the kindness of this man, was so appreciated in our time of need. 

That day I learned more about charity than I did the entire month I had studied the topic. For several days I couldn’t think about his act of kindness, his act of charity, without getting teary-eyed. 

There are countless opportunities to serve others, many of them in our ward and stake. These planned acts of service are essential and needed. In addition to these scheduled opportunities, I encourage us to look for ways we can serve in our day to day life. Acts of service don’t have to be large. They can include: smiling at someone who looks sad, giving someone your seat on BART, letting a fellow driver merge into your lane, or putting away a neighbor’s trash can. Simply giving someone your full attention and genuinely listening is an act of service. These little things have a big impact. 

I love the parable of the Good Samaritan and it’s worth a refresher on how it starts and ends. “A certain lawyer stood up, and tempted Jesus, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? The Savior replies that he should love God and love his neighbor. To which, the lawyer asks, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus proceeds to tell him the story of the Good Samaritan. How a man traveling to Jericho was severely beaten and left for dead. After a Levite and Priest passed by him, it was a Samaritan who stopped to help. The Samaritan had compassion on him, bound up his wounds, brought him to an inn, and took care of him.

Following his telling of the Good Samaritan, the Savior turned to the lawyer and asked: Which now of these three was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.

The Samaritan didn’t set out that day to be a hero. He saw someone in need and he took action. We would do well to follow the Savior’s counsel: Go, and do thou likewise.

 

4) Express gratitude 

Alma 34:38 teaches us that we should “live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.” The Lord has promised, “He who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious” (Doctrine and Covenants 78:19). 

Several years ago I had a particularly bad day. I’m still not sure why. Things at work were good, and everyone in my family was doing well. There was nothing tangibly wrong, but something was nagging at me.

The next day, I continued reading a book called The Happiness Equation. The author discussed how expressing gratitude consistently leads to greater happiness. Later that day I listened to several general conference talks centered on finding greater peace and happiness, and the practice of giving thanks was referenced in each. The message hit me loud and clear—I need to be more grateful for all I have.

A few days later I kicked off what I dubbed the 30-Day Gratitude Challenge. Every single day, for 30 days, I would write a blog post sharing something I was grateful for. Here are four lessons I learned while completing the challenge.

A) Consistently giving thanks leads to increased happiness. Yes, the experiment worked. The simple act of writing down something I was grateful for made me happier and giving thanks on a daily basis left me constantly reflecting on the good in my life, even when I’d already written my blog post for the day.

B) Writing about gratitude made me more likely to thank others. Halfway through the experiment, I did something I probably don’t do enough. I sent an email to a colleague, outlining why I thought she was great at her job and how I appreciated her work. My email couldn’t have been more than five sentences in total. She followed up with a much longer message, explaining some challenges she was facing and how my note was the highlight of her week. Writing down what I was grateful for helped me be happier, which made me more likely to express gratitude to others.

C). There’s a silver lining in almost everything. When I did the 30-day challenge, I had a longer commute than anyone in my circle of friends. It came up a lot in conversation as people wanted to know how I was handling it. While reflecting one night, I thought about the positive aspects of the long commute. Commuting by train had given me time to read, reflect, and get a head start on the day’s work. By the time I walked into the office, I was in a better mindset and prepared to face challenges head-on.

D) Expressing gratitude can help, even when you feel you have nothing to be grateful for. A few weeks into the experiment I had a pretty bad day. I didn’t want to write about anything. It took a little time to find something I was genuinely grateful for, but I did it anyway. My day didn’t instantly turn around, but I did notice a difference.

The benefits of this gratitude challenge were so powerful that after the 30 days ended I made a commitment to continue the habit of writing down one thing each day that I’m grateful for. It’s now been almost three years since I kicked off the experiment (I’m on day 1,012) and this habit continues to enrich my life. As we take time to remember our blessings, we will recognize how much our Heavenly Father has done for us.

 

5) Make and keep covenants. 

The topic of making and keeping covenants has been front and center for the leaders of our church. In fact, during the October 2019 general conference, three apostles–Elders Renlund, Gong and Rasband–focused their talks on covenants. 

In his talk, Elder Rasband taught what a covenant is: 

“A covenant is a two-way promise between us and the Lord. As members of the Church, we covenant at baptism to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, to live as He lived. Like those baptized at the Waters of Mormon, we covenant to become His people, “to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; … to mourn with those that mourn; … comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” 

When we partake of the sacrament, we renew our baptismal covenants. We not only make covenants at baptism but also in the temple. Temple worship allows us to regularly renew these covenants. 

Societal trends may not jibe with living a life of commitment and covenant-keeping, but such a life is central to keeping the Savior with us always. President Nelson has taught: “We increase the Savior’s power in our lives when we make sacred covenants and keep those covenants with precision. Our covenants bind us to Him and give us godly power.”

 

6) Wait on the Lord 

The final practice for keeping the Savior in our everyday lives is to wait on the Lord. 

But what does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word “wait” means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.

For me, waiting on the Lord may be the hardest of the 6 practices discussed. I like things to happen in my time. When I pray, I want an answer right now. When there’s a challenge in my life, I want it to be fixed immediately. But we’ve been taught that “tribulation worketh patience” (Romans 5:3) and we must learn to “continue in patience until [we] are perfected” (D&C 67:13). Waiting on the Lord requires an attitude of “Thy will be done, O Lord, and not ours.”

I’d like to share a personal story of a time I learned to wait on the Lord. 

Shortly after graduating college, I took a job with Lehman Brothers, a Wall Street investment bank. I had worked like crazy to get the job and was crushed when the firm went bankrupt just a few weeks after I joined. Lehman’s bankruptcy was the largest in US history and fueled the 2008 financial crisis. Companies worldwide were cutting costs by laying off employees, and the job market was awful. Now, just a few months after completing my undergrad, I was out of work. Despite the odds, I was optimistic, but soon reality kicked in. Weeks went by. Months went by. And despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find a job. 

I was doing everything I had been taught to do when you need the Lord’s help. I was praying. I was reading my scriptures. I was going to the temple. I was striving to serve others. But it didn’t seem to be working. I felt forgotten. I felt alone. 

My wife and I went to church one Sunday like we did every week. I was particularly depressed that day and couldn’t be around others. I went home after Sacrament. I sat alone in our apartment before getting on my knees and praying. I felt prompted to turn on a movie, Finding Faith in Christ. As I watched the Savior heal, as I watched him serve, as I watched Him suffer for my sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and overcome death through His resurrection, I felt deeply of the love he had for me.  

I knew that everything would work out. There wasn’t an immediate solve, but in time I found a job and bounced back. In hindsight, those setbacks were not only valuable but essential to my career growth and spiritual growth. I am grateful I had to wait on the Lord. 

There are times in our lives where we are all tested. Times where we may feel a lessening of the Spirit for a season. We may feel like we’re doing everything we should be doing but don’t feel like our prayers are being answered. It’s critical that we trust in the Lord and keep pressing forward. 

In the words of Elder Holland, “Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, they come.” The Lord is bound when we do what he says but we must wait on Him.

 

Conclusion

To recap, we can keep the Savior in our everyday lives by:

  1. Praying to Heavenly Father
  2. Studying the scriptures
  3. Serving others
  4. Expressing gratitude 
  5. Making and keeping covenants, and
  6. Waiting on the Lord

As you reflect on these six practices, I invite you to set a goal, one goal, for how you can keep the Savior in your everyday life. Maybe it’s being more diligent in your prayers, making more time for scripture study or striving to express gratitude for all you’ve been blessed us with. 

I want to close with my testimony. I know that we have a loving Heavenly Father. I know that his son, Jesus Christ, lived a perfect life and atoned for our sins. I promise that as we seek the Lord, we will find him. He stands at the door knocking. All we need to do is let him in. We can have His power with us every single day. 

The Powerful Lesson I Finally Learned from the Tenth Leper

At church a few weeks back, one of the speakers gave a talk on the subject of gratitude. She included the story of Jesus and the 10 lepers as found in Luke 17:

11 And it came to pass, as he went to Jerusalem, that he passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee.

12 And as he entered into a certain village, there met him ten men that were lepers, which stood afar off:

13 And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.

14 And when he saw them, he said unto them, Go shew yourselves unto the priests. And it came to pass, that, as they went, they were cleansed.

15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God,

16 And fell down on his face at his feet, giving him thanks: and he was a Samaritan.

17 And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?

18 There are not found that returned to give glory to God, save this stranger.

19 And he said unto him, Arise, go thy way: thy faith hath made thee whole.

Throughout my life, I’ve probably heard this story dozens of times. The lesson I took each time was either, “It’s really important to show gratitude” or “You don’t want to be like the other nine lepers.”

For whatever reason, this time around I was solely focused on the tenth leper and what his life was like thereafter. I couldn’t help but think that his expression of gratitude wasn’t just a nice thing to do for Jesus, it was something that transformed the leper. He had already been cleansed. Expressing gratitude made him whole.

Thanksgiving is a beautiful time to reflect on what we’re grateful for. But the blessings of gratitude don’t need to be confined to the end of November. We can enjoy them year-round.

I challenge all of us to make a regular commitment to expressing thanks. As we do so we’ll have a greater appreciation for all we’ve been given. Our life will be more joyful and bounteous. Like the 10th leper, we will be whole.

The Five Lessons I Learned from Not Doing a Triathlon

A few weeks back my brothers and I descended on beautiful Malibu, California to participate in the Nautica Malibu Triathlon.

My younger brother and I are pretty competitive, and we’d competed together in five triathlons prior to this. I had three wins to his two, and I was hoping to extend my lead. More importantly, we’d been able to persuade our older brother to join us. For the first time, all three Tanner boys would be in the same triathlon. I was so pumped. 

We typically do sprints but opted for the Olympic distance. I knew the one-mile swim, 25-mile bike ride and 6.2-mile run would be a stretch so I started training immediately after signing up back in March. 

With four kids, a busy job, and everything else going on, finding time to work out was tough. I woke up early to get in runs. I snuck in swims during lunchtime or on Saturdays when we were at the pool. I bought a spin bike so I could ride at night after the kids fell asleep. (I think I watched the entire season of Stranger Things 3 from the bike saddle. So good! I still miss Smirnoff… but I digress.)   

The training was going well. Really well, in fact. As we got into July and August, I started seeing legit improvements in my swimming, cycling, and running times. The consistent training was paying off. My brothers and I were texting and calling almost daily, sharing workouts and comparing times. I felt confident that I’d be triumphant this year. More importantly, I was confident I’d be able to beat my time from 2014, the last time I did an Olympic-distance. I was feeling good. 

Then things went sideways. With roughly two weeks left until race day, I jumped on my spin bike to log a 90-minute spin session while watching the BYU vs Utah football game. 25 minutes in, I started feeling a dull pain just below my knee cap. The pain grew steadily until I decided not to push it anymore. The combo of knee pain and losing to Utah for the ninth straight time made for a brutal night. 

Many years before (but still during the losing streak to Utah), I’d felt similar pain. The recovery had been about two weeks, so while I was disappointed, I was optimistic I’d be fine on race day. I kept swimming but didn’t run or bike the next week. With one week until the tri, I tested my knee with several short runs on the treadmill. The pain came right back so I completely shut things down. I decided I’d give my knee one final test just before Saturday’s race.  

It all came down to Thursday night. My plan was to cycle for 15 minutes, then run one mile. If I could get through that workout with limited pain then maybe, just maybe, I’d be good to run 6.2 miles and bike 25 miles a day and a half later. 

Thursday night came and I put the kids to bed before heading to the gym. I felt minor pain during the last five minutes of the bike portion. Nothing I couldn’t push through. But when I jumped on the treadmill, the pain was immediate. I continued running at a slow, steady pace but the pain got worse with each step. I couldn’t even get through a half-mile.

The answer I’d been searching for the last 2+ weeks had finally arrived. It was a somber drive home. 

When I write, I typically share lessons learned from doing something. From taking action and from executing. This time around I’ll share lessons I learned from NOT doing something. Here are five. 

1) The joy is in the journey, not the destination

When it hit me that I couldn’t do the triathlon I was crushed. I told myself that all that time spent running, biking, and swimming was for nothing. It was all a waste. But that was totally false. I loved the training process. I felt pure exhilaration when I’d hit a new PR or enjoy a beautiful morning run. A training session would sometimes be the highlight of my day, a reprieve from the stresses of life. With this injury, I wouldn’t reach my initially targeted destination, but I had found fulfillment throughout the journey.  

2) Less is often more

While I’m fairly certain the knee pain stemmed from a misaligned seat on my spin bike, it was exacerbated by overtraining. Until that point, I’d seen a direct correlation between inputs and outputs. The more I trained, the faster I got. So I kicked my training up a notch, exercising six days a week instead of five. And that’s when I got in trouble.  

I’ve found that sometimes in life, the harder you push to for something, the less likely you are to achieve it. This can be especially true in our careers. Many years ago, there was a job I wanted more than anything. I prepared, and prepared, and prepared for the interview. The night before the final round I couldn’t sleep. I was so fixated on crushing the interview that I couldn’t think of anything else. I showed up to the interview frazzled. I wasn’t my best self. I didn’t get the job. Well-intended action, when taken to the extreme, can be our undoing. More is not always more.

3) Everyone needs a cheerleader

I’ve participated in many triathlons, but this was my first as a spectator. I opted to participate in the swim portion then sit out the rest. This gave me a front-row seat in the transition area where I could see every athlete as they transitioned from swim to bike and bike to run. I cheered for my brothers throughout, taking dozens of pictures and videos. I was there for them at the end, screaming their names as they crossed the finish line. Making the day special for them made it special for me. 

4) The most important thing in life is family

I hate to go all Vin Diesel from Fast and the Furious on you, but it’s true. Once I realized I wouldn’t compete, I thought about canceling my flight but my wife encouraged me to go anyway. I’m so grateful I did as I had an incredible weekend with my brothers. By not stressing about my tri performance, I was able to be more present. We were together just 36 hours but I spent more quality time with them during that stretch than I had all year. Nothing beats spending meaningful time with the people you love. 

5) Come what may and love it

The day after my injury, I thought of this talk from Joseph B. Wirthlin. In it, he shares that when something bad happened to him or when he faced a challenge, his mother would remind him to “come what may and love it.” In his words: 

“I don’t think my mother was suggesting that we suppress discouragement or deny the reality of pain. I don’t think she was suggesting that we smother unpleasant truths beneath a cloak of pretended happiness. But I do believe that the way we react to adversity can be a major factor in how happy and successful we can be in life. If we approach adversities wisely, our hardest times can be times of greatest growth, which in turn can lead toward times of greatest happiness.”

While I’m disappointed I couldn’t do the triathlon, I’m grateful for what this experience has taught me. I’m mindful that this “adversity” pales in comparison to the true adversity many of us face on a daily basis. But I do believe that if we’re willing to look for it, if we’re willing to be taught, we can find a lesson in everything.  

My knee will heal. Another triathlon awaits. Life goes on. Come what may and love it.

Five Lessons I’ve Learned from Church Service

A little context before I jump in.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many unique things about it, but a notable one is that there is no paid clergy. The local congregations, which we call wards, are run entirely on a volunteer basis. The leader of the ward is called “bishop” and members of the ward are asked to serve in callings, which are assignments to serve in a specific area. These callings range from teaching Sunday School to counting attendance at worship services.

Last Sunday I was released from my calling to serve as a counselor to our bishop, a calling I held for almost three and a half years. The leader who made the release invited me to share a few words with the congregation. I decided to share five lessons that I learned from serving in the church.

1) Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about

While serving, I spent a lot of time with people I had previously admired from a distance. They had good jobs, good marriages, a beautiful family, etc. I looked at these individuals and their families and assumed everything in their life was perfect.

As I spent time with these individuals, sometimes serving alongside them, sometimes serving them directly, I learned that no one is invincible. Everyone has challenges. Those challenges may not be apparent on the surface, but they are there, they are real, and quite often they are severe.

It’s been said that everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. I’ve found through experience that this is spot on.

2) Assume good intentions

It’s easy to look at imperfect people and fixate on what they’re doing wrong and how they can do better. While correction has a place, so does kindness and support. In our church, service is 100% voluntary. No one gets paid to serve. Everyone is trying their best. Replacing criticism with a helping hand can go a long way. Assuming good intentions should apply to all, not just those serving.

3) Talents are magnified when serving others

Somehow, someway, when we use our talents to help others, those talents are enlarged.

4) Service is not always convenient

The first Sunday of May 2016 will always be a memorable one. I took our two older kids to church while my wife stayed home with our newborn daughter, who was three weeks old at the time. After the first hour of church (we met for three hours then but have since moved to two), one of the leaders pulled me into a room. He asked me if I would serve as a counselor to our bishop, a calling that would require a substantial commitment of time and energy.

With three young children and a busy job, I thought of several reasons why the timing wasn’t right. However, I felt strongly that accepting the invitation to serve was the right thing to do and my wife was fully supportive. Sundays were no longer a day to sleep in. I had 6:30 AM meetings and didn’t get home until after lunch. Every Sunday my wife got the kids ready and took them to church on her own.

Six months later I accepted an offer to join DoorDash. It would prove to be an even more demanding job than my prior one and required a commute to San Francisco. Once again, I questioned whether we’d be able to make it all work. And life certainly didn’t get any simpler when we welcomed our fourth child earlier this year.

Over the last 3+ years there were a lot of balls to juggle and I thought church service may need to be the one I let drop. My wife, on more than one occasion, helped me see things from a long-term perspective and we were able to keep moving forward.

5) Serving others may bless your life more than those you’re serving

I won’t detail them here, but I’m in awe of how many blessings our family has had over the last 3+ years. While I hope that I’ve been able to help others, my life has likely been blessed even moreso.

In Matthew 16:25 Jesus said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

This has to be the most counterintuitive advice out there, but it’s true. Are you overwhelmed by all that’s going on in your life? Pause what you’re doing and go help someone. Doing so will both bless your life and put things into perspective.

I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to serve. While these lessons have come from serving in a formal capacity, I’ve learned that you don’t need to wait for someone to tap you on the shoulder. The opportunities are endless and the blessings of service come to all who are willing to extend a helping hand.

LinkedIn, Microsoft, and the Never-Ending Need to Adapt

Two months ago I was invited to speak at a career conference in Provo, Utah. I was excited to return to my alma mater and teach career advisors how to help college students thrive in today’s workplace. I concluded my remarks with a quote that one of my undergraduate professors kept posted outside his door:

It is not the strongest that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

I remember walking by his office, reading the quote, and wondering why he put it there. But a few months after graduation, when the company I joined declared bankruptcy and I was struggling to find work, I realized why my professor felt so strongly about the need to adapt.

Like many people in their career, I planned on one thing, but events outside of my control forced me to pivot. I think Mike Tyson said it best: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

On Monday I woke up to the announcement that LinkedIn had been acquired by Microsoft. Like many of my west coast colleagues, I heard the news through a flurry of text messages and emails. Experiencing a range of emotions, I couldn’t help but think back to the presentation I had recently given on the need to continually adapt. Now I had to practice what I preached.

Having had a few days to process what this all means for LinkedIn and our future, I am genuinely excited for the acquisition. Of course, having worked in M&A, I know that acquisitions are never easy—the devil is always in the details. But I’m optimistic about how this new partnership can help LinkedIn realize its vision of creating economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce.

Shortly after the deal announcement, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner addressed the company. After discussing the opportunities that lie ahead, he shared a story about Mike Krzyzewski (Coach K) of the Duke Blue Devils. In Jeff’s words:

“Every time (Duke) goes up and down the court and they complete a sequence, offense or defense, Coach K yells out the exact same thing, every time. He yells out “next play,” because he doesn’t want the team lingering too long on what just took place. He doesn’t want them celebrating that incredible alley-oop dunk, and he doesn’t want them lamenting the fact that the opposing team just stole the ball and had a fast break that led to an easy layup. You can take a moment to reflect on what just happened, and you probably should, but you shouldn’t linger too long on it…”

When change happens, we must be willing to adapt. We can’t dwell obsessively on what once was or what might have been. We must look forward.

The past is to be learned from, but not lived in.

Next play.

This post was originally published on LinkedIn.

 

My two most frightening moments as a father

Just a few days ago, my wife and I welcomed a beautiful baby girl into our family. Everything went well. Both the doctor and nurses were great, and our two older kids are thrilled to have a baby sister. We feel very blessed.

During a quiet moment at the hospital, while my wife and newborn were resting, I reflected on many of the experiences I’ve had as a father. Some memories were of joyous occasions, while others were alarming. Two of the more frightening experiences came to mind.

Locked in the car

The first moment happened almost five years ago. One Saturday morning I was babysitting watching my daughter while my wife attended a women’s event. After making breakfast and getting dressed, we headed to a children’s park near our house. I found an open spot and parked the car. Still in our seats, I leaned back and handed the keys to my daughter. She loved playing with car keys, and I wanted her to have a moment of fun as I got her out. I opened my door, and walked to the other side of the car. As I reached for the door handle, I heard a sharp clicking sound. I shuddered, knowing exactly what had happened.

Somehow she had pressed the door lock button. She was inside the car, holding the keys, and the doors were locked. I was standing outside the car, with no keys, looking inside. Not knowing what just happened, she was smiling at me, jangling the keys in her hand. I smiled back at her, but I was filled with terror. I immediately called my wife but she didn’t pick up. I looked back in the car and saw my daughter drop the keys. Any chance of her magically unlocking the doors was gone.

I quickly ran through a few options in my head. I could wait patiently for my wife to call me back and hope she was carrying an extra car key. Or I could call roadside assistance and have them open the door. Both options would take time.

I started running. Our apartment was only a quarter-mile from the park. I thought I knew where we kept a spare key, and I was pretty sure I left the door unlocked. I ran as fast as I could, leaving my one-year-old by herself. I couldn’t get inside the car, and I prayed that no one else would either.

I reached my apartment, threw the door open, quickly found the spare key, and ran back to the park. On my return, I opened the car door just as my daughter started crying. Completely out of breath, I took her in my arms and repeatedly apologized. We were both crying. We walked over to the swings and as I pushed her, the tears quickly turned to smiles. Gratitude and relief overcame me.

Wake up, it’s time to go

The second moment came a few years later. My wife woke me around 4:00 AM and told me we needed to go to the hospital. Nine months pregnant, she had started having steady contractions after I had gone to bed. After laboring most of the night, she was ready to have the baby.

I quickly got dressed, pulled our sleeping daughter from her bedroom, and jumped in the car. Our friends lived around the corner, and they had agreed to watch our girl while we went to the hospital. In less than a minute I was on their doorstep, pounding for them to open up. No response. “This is not going well,” I muttered under my breath. “This is not going well,” my daughter repeated in her cute two-year-old voice, almost parrot-like.

Filled with panic, I knew if I didn’t hurry, my wife would be having the baby in our apartment. We got back in the car and drove to another friend’s house. When he opened the door, I gave him a quick update and asked if he could watch our daughter. He agreed, so I gently nudged her inside, handed him the car seat, and bolted back to the car.

I found my wife kneeling on the floor, moaning in pain. “My water broke,” she said. “We better hurry.” Moments later I was back in the car, this time headed to the hospital. It was still dark outside and there were few cars on the road. I treated the stop lights like stop signs, only pausing to look both ways before proceeding. It felt like a movie scene, and I was running on pure adrenaline.

We headed to Stanford Hospital, just a few minutes from our place, but in my panic, I made a wrong turn. After flipping a u-turn, I was back on track, or so I thought. We pulled up to the front of a hospital building. My wife cried, “No! This isn’t it! This isn’t it!”

At this point, I really was lost. Needing directions, I ran inside and yelled, “My wife is about to have a baby, where is labor and delivery!? But the building was completely empty. Back in the car, with my wife in even more pain, I saw another building in the distance. I prayed it was the right one.

As I pulled up, I read the words, Labor & Delivery. Hallelujah. I grabbed a wheelchair, helped my wife into it, and wheeled her inside. “She’s having the baby right now, where should we go!?” I screamed. A nurse directed us to a delivery room where my wife was quickly surrounded by medical staff. I collapsed into the bedside chair. We had made it.

There was no time for any pain medication, and less than 30 minutes after arriving at the hospital, we were holding our second child. The feeling of panic had been replaced by an overwhelming rush of pure joy.

These experiences pale in comparison to what many parents endure, but I’m thankful for these moments and the perspective they provide. They’ve given me an added sense of gratitude for all the times things went right. I’m grateful for my family. I’m grateful I’m a father. And I’m grateful for the softening filter of experience that allows me to look back on these moments and laugh.

Nine years, three states, and one Ben and Jerry’s gift card

In Spring 2007 I coached a youth baseball team in Provo, Utah. My wife Whitney and I had just started dating and she helped me out. When the season came to a close, the City of Provo expressed gratitude by giving me a $10 gift card to Ben and Jerry’s.   

The following year Whitney and I, now married, found the gift card and decided to go out for ice cream. We jumped in the car and headed to Ben and Jerry’s, only to learn that it was no longer in business. Unfortunately, there were no other shops open in Utah.

Time passed and we forgot about our gift card. We moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, got jobs, had kids, and continued on with our lives.

In 2014, after completing my first year of business school at BYU, we headed to Scottsdale, Arizona to visit my parents. Completely out of the blue, Whitney did a quick Google search and found a Ben and Jerry’s nearby. Almost by fate, there was a shop just a few miles from where we were staying.

We jumped in the car and started the short drive, joking that almost seven years later we were finally going to use the gift card.

But it wasn’t to be. We walked around the entire strip mall and found no sign of Ben and Jerry’s. After asking around, we learned that it had also gone out of business.

A few months later we were in Valencia, California, visiting Whitney’s parents. We tracked down a Ben and Jerry’s shop nearby and planned to stop by after a movie. Having been fooled twice already, we called in advance, just to make sure it was still operating.

Whitney and I ordered our ice cream and handed the gift card to the store owner. He inspected the card for a few seconds, then told us that our card wasn’t valid at his store. “You’re kidding me,” I said. “What do you mean it isn’t valid?”

We were told, in a rather rude voice, that this particular card could only be used at the store where it had been purchased. “You don’t understand,” I tried to explain. “That Ben and Jerry’s is in Utah. And it went out of business years ago.”

“Not my problem,” he said. “Now please, I have other customers to help. Do you want to pay with cash or card?”

As I pleaded our case, Whitney noticed a stack of gift cards, identical to the one we had tried to use, on a shelf behind the owner. She pointed this out to him, and he only grew more obstinate.  

Frustrated by how poorly he had treated us, we handed him back our ice creams and walked out. Once again, our goal of redeeming a simple gift card had been unsuccessful.

I figured it was time to throw in the towel, but Whitney wasn’t ready to give up. She decided to write a letter to Ben and Jerry’s Corporate office.


Ben & Jerry’s Homemade Inc.
30 Community Drive
South Burlington, VT 05403-6828

Whitney Tanner
Santa Clara, CA 95050

To whom it may concern:

I love ice cream.  So, having a gift card to Ben and Jerry’s was very exciting for me. After moving a couple of times, we finally found a shop that was in business. Unfortunately, the owner turned us away. He said that they ‘do not use those kinds of cards anymore’, and only the new cards were valid.  

We were very bothered at this treatment, as the gift card does not have an expiration date. and the owner confirmed that they once used these kinds, and there were still a stack of these on his shelf. In short, my husband and I were treated poorly.

We promised never to go back to Ben and Jerry’s because of this treatment and policy, as we had an honest gift card with no expiration date and were unable to use it.  

So, we are left with a genuine $10 gift card which was given to us and we were excited to use, but are now unable for no logical reason.  Enclosed is the gift card which I have carried in my wallet for years.  I would appreciate an updated gift card in the amount of $10 to replace this ‘outdated’ card.

Thank you.

Regards,
Whitney Tanner


To Ben and Jerry’s credit, within a few weeks we received a new gift card valued at $10. With that card was a letter apologizing for the hassle this may have caused.

Last Saturday, Whitney and I decided it was time to give it another try. We found a babysitter for our two kids and with great anticipation headed to the Ben and Jerry’s in downtown San Jose.

We walked into the shop and were immediately greeted by a friendly, energetic young man. There were no other customers in the store, so we had plenty of time to make a decision. Whitney got Chocolate Fudge Brownie and I ordered The Tonight Dough (starring Jimmy Fallon). Everything was going smoothly.

The moment of truth came. Whitney handed him our gift card, and after a few seconds he apologized. The card wasn’t processing and he would need to call his manager. He invited us to start eating while he figured out what was wrong.

We found a table and started enjoying the ice cream. After a few minutes I glanced up and saw the young man still on the phone. Several customers had since walked into the store and were waiting in line. 

After finishing our ice cream, we noticed he had ended the call and walked to the counter. He told us that he was unable to process the card, but his manager had told him not to worry about it. We thanked him for his kindness and walked out the door. 

So, what’s the purpose of this story? That if at first you don’t succeed, you should try, try again? That shortsighted store policies can drive frustrated customers to share their poor experiences with others? Or is the lesson that if you write an articulate, level-headed letter to a company, they’ll seek to right what’s been wronged?

I’m not quite sure. But after carrying that gift card around for years, I’m grateful we could finally enjoy a scoop of ice cream and a laugh. Almost a decade later, the journey was complete.

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