A Night To Remember Two months ago my father nearly died of congestive heart failure. Thankfully, he made a swift recovery and has a new lease on life. This new perspective has brought back an aspect of our friendship that was lost for the past 5 years. This was best expressed last week as we shared […]
For the past 3 months my wife has suggested I read the book Girl Stop Apologizing, by Rachel Hollis. After much resistance (for obvious reasons) I finally decided to listen to the first chapter. I’m glad I did.
Hollis writes about creating a ‘shame-free’ plan to focus on your dreams and desires without worrying about what other people think. She encourages you to stop apologizing for what you are trying to accomplish and just go do it!
I’ve learned in life that this requires us to cut through the mounting resistance that blocks our mind from taking action on things we know we need to do. Although seemingly straightforward, this is no small feat.
The Power of Resistance
Resistance often tries to take up residence in my mind. But it’s not always my dreams that I’m resisting. It’s the work I need to do on myself that often slows me down the most. Here are a few examples:
- It took me 10 years of struggling with seasonal depression to finally reach out to a therapist. And it took me 3 therapists to find the right one. Which added to the already compounding resistance!
- Even though these monthly newsletters are often on my heart, it can be a struggle to get them down on paper. And then doubt creeps in (resistances best friend) and makes me wonder if people really even care about what I have to say?
- Getting up early in the morning when I’m overtired and don’t want to deal with the kids can trigger a tap of the snooze button on my alarm clock. This tendency eliminates my extra time to work towards my dreams.
I could share a dozen more ways resistance has delayed my aspirations and goals. Instead, I’ll share two simple words that can kick resistance out of your life: Start Today.
A dear friend of ours gifted my wife and I each a journal that Rachel Hollis created to help promote gratitude and making your dreams happen. The journal is appropriately called, Start Today. It begins with a writing exercise to help you see your future self. Once this foundation is established, you write daily based on the simple but powerful template below.
I’ve been writing in it daily. It helps me realize that the only way I’m going to fight through the resistance that comes with each day is to just start! Start by taking action. Start by writing things down. Start today.
If Not Now, Then When?
I know what your thinking, “ Sounds like a good idea, Mark. I’m just gonna wait and get started on this once my <insert reason here> happens.”
The problem with this answer is that it fosters resistance. By starting today, you will strengthen the muscle in your mind that builds character and self-confidence. So I ask you, If Not Now, Then When?
My wife has this exact saying framed in our kitchen helping to remind us daily to take action.
Fight Through The Resistance
What is preventing you from taking action? What lie has resistance been speaking to you? Take a moment this morning to reflect on this. Then pick up a piece of paper and write down what you are feeling along with 5 things you are grateful for. It’s that simple. Don’t over complicate it. Start Today!
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.” — Peter Senge
I’m excited to share that I have completed my keynote speaker demo reel. This was a goal that resistance tried to rob for the past 2 years. Thankfully, my ‘StartToday’ mindset helped me accomplish this along with an amazing videographer named Anthony Marzilli. Feel free to share this with anyone you know planning events or conferences! 🙂
In The News
I had the chance to take part in a Digital Wellness collaboration wth 17 experts sharing tips on how to manage your digital life. I’m excited to share that this work was featured on Thrive Global last week!
My friend Shawn is extraordinarily creative. His imagination allows him to create just about anything you can think of. Recently, we built a chalkboard sign to hang on my kids wooden playhouse.
Proud To Share
I came home from Shawn’s excited to show my wife the sign we built and my vision for it. I eagerly took it outside to find the best place to mount it on the playhouse. However, I quickly learned that no matter where I placed the sign, it was going to disrupt the way our kids run around the house. I feared my daughter would hit her face on it as she often was being chased by her older brother. I needed a new plan on how to use the sign.
I had another idea on where to mount it. This idea was more for my wife and I then it was for the kids. Let me explain…
We have this incredible 60 year old tree that anchors our backyard. Every morning I go in the yard with our two dogs and walk barefoot over to this giant tree and greet it with a morning stretch. I often wonder what this wise old tree is saying back to me. As I thought about the idea of a talking tree, I realized that this tree would be a great place to mount the sign! Especially since we look directly at it when standing in our kitchen.
My thought was to write verses on it to memorize & inspire us. I explained this idea to my wife, which she loved, but I could tell she was eager to evolve my thinking.
“ONE WORD!” She said out loud.
“One word a week to ignite a fire in our bellies & inspire our day.”
I smiled at her and thought, one word it is 🙂
Our First Word
I still needed to paint the sign and get some long screws to mount it to the tree. My building adventure continued as I ran to the hardware store to finish the job. When I returned, I began to sense that I was spending a little too much time on this project. I hurried up and painted the sign to complete the task at hand.
As I walked inside the house, I could see the kids were losing steam for the day, dinner wasn’t ready, and the excitement of the sign project was fading fast into the sunset.
My wife and I began to bicker about something petty and it led to one of those arguments when you can’t even recall what you are arguing over. I think we were both just feeling tired & ‘hangry’!
As we found our way into bed, we said our prayers and drifted off to sleep as I knew tomorrow would bring about an apology and a fresh start.
The next morning, I woke up to let the dogs out and walked over to the tree. With an extra pep in my step, I proudly stretched up and saw the sign.
And there it was!
The first word.
Choice I thought?
What the heck does this mean? This doesn’t feel overly inspiring. Heck, it kinda upsets me!
I smiled thinking about our argument and reflected on the first word my wife had chose to write. I’m pretty sure she was reminding me that I have a ‘choice’ on how I speak to her 🙂
I spent a lot of time that week reflecting on this simple, yet powerful word.
We All Have Choices
Choices on the words we use.
Choices on how we spend our time.
Choices on who we choose to pour our energy into.
It’s amazing how a single word can have such an impact on how we feel & act. It can lift us, inspire us, deflate us, and even change our world.
As you begin your day, take some time to reflect on the words you speak and the signs all around you. They are often lessons to be used for guidance and growth. And if you are feeling stuck or down on your luck, then you can always just build one!
Here are a few more of the words that have spoken to us this month. May they speak power into you!
“Life is one big road with lots of signs. So when your riding through the ruts, don’t complicate your mind. Flee from hate, mischief and jealousy. Don’t bury your thoughts, put your vision to reality. Wake Up and Live!” — Bob Marley
Recent Speaking Events
Fifth Third Bank — Leadership Offsite
Best & Brightest in Wellness — Wellness Awards Conference
Leadership Detroit — Camp Tamarack Kickoff
MISD — Back to School Symposium
BASF — Leadership Offsite
I’d love to speak at your next event. Connect with me here.
A man of many interests and a wellspring of energy, Skidmore Studio’s Mark Ostach is on a mission to motivate people to become the best possible version of themselves. Mark holds degrees in economics, psychology, technology, and even had a short stint at massage therapy school. He is determined to remind the world that human connection is the most powerful connection we have.
A Living Legacy
Exactly one year ago, a dear friend & mentor of mine passed away suddenly. As I shared in a post last year, Tim Smith was nothing shy of an extraordinary man. And yesterday I had the privilege of sharing a meal with his youngest son, Harrison.
As I walked into the restaurant, I immediately had chills down my spine as I saw Harrison sitting at the same table his dad and I used to sit at.
As we sipped coffee, we talked about life, relationships, faith, philosophy and of course, his dad. Somewhere along the line, the topic of nationality came up.
I asked Harrison what nationality he was and without skipping a beat he said proudly, “I’m a Detroiter.” I smiled ear-to-ear thinking, ‘this is exactly what his dad would of said!’
As we ordered our food, I prompted him to go first.
He looked over the menu and with an eager voice said to the waitress, “I’ll have the caboose.”
I thought to myself, ‘what the heck is the caboose?’
A quick glance down the menu and boom. There it was. The perfect blend of corn beef, hash browns, eggs and toast (as shown below).
As I ordered my two eggs scrambled with a side of avocado, I noticed Harrison looking at me the same way his dad would have in the past when we had shared a meal.
It was the look of “what a lame choice for a greasy spoon diner.” Prompted by his body language, I threw in a side of cinnamon raisin bread to toughen up my order. 🙂
My Plate & Heart Were Full
During our meal I felt an array of feelings flowing through my heart, with the primary one being Joy.
In a strange way, part of me felt like I was sharing one more meal with his dad. Between his mannerisms, smile and big round glasses, it was obvious why I felt this way. However, the other part of me felt thankful to begin a new friendship with Harrison.
As much as Harrison reminded me of Tim, he is also clearly his own person — one who is coming off a really tough year and ready to make small shifts towards a New Year filled with new adventures. It was inspiring to be with him.
There was no doubt in my mind that the legacy Tim left was alive through Harrison. And it was also shining back at Skidmore Studio, the creative company that Tim previously owned.
I learned so much from Tim as did countless people that knew him. As we celebrated his life we toasted over whisky and a few tears back at the studio.
We reflected on many memories and talked about things like:
- His ability to make you feel like part of his family
- His unshakeable devotion & love for his wife, Colleen
- His love & pride for his boys, Harrison & Hayden
- His big heart full of big ideas
- His struggle to follow through on his big ideas 🙂
- His love for baseball
- The incredible book he wrote the year before he passed (Dare Mighty Things)
- The core values he knitted into the fabric of the studio
- His love and passion for the City of Detroit
- The Dr. Seuss book that guided his career (Oh, The Places You Will Go)
- And so much more…
In between stories, there was a common feeling people expressed of how they felt his spirit through various signs and serendipitous happenings.
Drew Patrick, our new owner and longtime friend & business partner of Tim’s, put it perfectly. With confidence in his voice and tears in his eyes he said, “I know Tim’s looking down on us smiling. I can feel that he’s happy. I can feel that he’s proud of us.”
You don’t have to own a company. You don’t need to have children. And you don’t have to write a book or be from Detroit either.
You just need to be you.
Make memories with those you love most and embrace all of the ways that make you, you.
Try each day to enjoy your life and the gifts you’ve been given. And try your best to do good, for that’s ultimately the only thing you can control.
If you approach each day with this mindset, chances are you will create a living legacy like Tim’s that gives back for generations to come.
“Expect Nothing. Experience All”
Ksenija Savic Ostach — my wife 🙂
Past Speaking Events.
ZF — Quarterly Planning Meeting
Mort Crim Communications — Lunch & Learn
TEDx Salon — Oakland University
mParks — 2019 Annual Conference
AllState — Thrive Talks
ICLE — Health Law Institute Conference — 25th Anniversary
Loren Siffring, my spiritual advisor, mentor and dear friend has written a discussion guide for men called, The Spiral of Life. It’s a great resource to grow through mentorship & encourage one another. More on Loren can be found here.
Every time I need to cry I call my mom.
I’m not sure exactly why, but it works like a charm.
Tears of Joy and Sorrow
Yesterday my parents and brother joined my family at Christmas service at Kensington Church. As I sat between my mom and my wife I could feel the tears begin to swell.
While holding my mom’s hand I could feel her healing touch and the bond that exits between a mother and son. Our bond is particularly special. In an instant I felt a download of emotions from every Christmas service we’ve attended together for nearly four decades.
As I held my wife’s hand, I could feel the love that exists between us as we try our best to hold down the fort with two toddlers at home. My hand laid upon hers as I felt the rings on her finger, reminding me of our wedding day and the birth of our children.
The hands of these two women created a connection that words cannot describe. Only through tears could I express how I felt.
There was so much to be thankful for in this moment, yet so much emotion in a room full of people just like you and I.
Reflecting In The Light
I turned to my mom as she wiped away tears from her check.
I just got done doing the same to mine.
My tears were those of appreciation for the life that God has provided me with.
Yet as of late, I’ve let the frustrations of life damper the light that shines within.
I’ve been insensitive to my wife (a lot).
Short-tempered with my children.
And been feeling rather downcast.
Maybe it’s seasonal depression?
Maybe it’s because I’m tired?
Or maybe it’s because those closest to me are going through difficult times of divorce, disease, and discouragement.
As an EMPATH (a personality type that over empathizes for others), I have the tendency to take on the weight of the world. Sometimes it fills me up and allows me to give to others and not just focus on myself. Other times, I get overwhelmed with emotions making it hard to sort through the feelings on my heart.
I was reminded today that it’s not on me to fix or heal other people’s situations. I can only shine the light that exists within me and hope this brings peace and healing.
Let There Be Light!
These four words hold so much.
They were the first words God spoke into the world.
Light was the first thing each of us experienced when entering into the world.
And light was even present at the exact moment each of us was conceived!
Seeing Life In A New Light
Scientist recently discovered that at the exact moment a sperm penetrates an egg, the egg release billions of zinc atoms that emit light.
This means that sparks literally fly at the moment of conception! How amazing is this?!? As you sit with this thought, it points to the significance that light has on our existence. It’s the source of so many things.
The Source of Vision
Without light, we can’t see a thing.
This holds true physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
As we sang together at the end of church I could literally see hundreds of candles lighting up the room.
It was giving light to the darkness in our hearts and allowing us to see the power that comes from a single light that spreads to others.
My Hope For You
Take time to be with the light that shines within you.
Reflect on the things that may be covering it up.
Grab a candle, put on some music, and light up the room that you are in. Even if you are by yourself.
And know that the greatest source of light is looking for a crack in the door of your heart to shine through!
“I am the light of the world.
Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
I’m currently reading the book Whisper: How To Hear The Voice of God, By Mark Batterson. Like all of Mark’s books, he has the ability to make the pages come to life and inspire you to dig into your spiritual health.
Taking care of children may be the hardest job on earth.
I’ve had the chance to spend some solo dad time with our kids as my wife headed out for various photoshoots (she’s a gifted photographer). The day would start off with smiles and laughs (as shown above).
But as the morning went on, I found my sanity melting away as each hour that passed felt like an entire day!
Between nap schedules, making bottles, temper tantrums, soiled bed sheets, and amazon prime deliveries (which always come at nap time #doorbell #dogs-barking) I felt like I was going insane.
During any moments of downtime, I found myself turning to my phone to catch a glimpse into the outside world. It went beyond checking social media and email. I found myself checking Slack, Skidmore’s internal messaging system for project updates, lunchtime banter, and random gifs that made there way into the rhythm of the work day. Anything that gave me a sense of connection!
Facebook, Instagram, & The Obituaries?
Although a quick glance at Facebook or Instagram appears to fill the social void of adult interaction, it often leads to feelings of envy and increased loneliness.
I recently asked my mom for perspective on what she would do when feeling exhausted and overdue for some social connection while raising 4 kids in the 1980’s. Her response was telling.
She would reach for the newspaper and read the obituaries.
Yes. The obituaries!
She went on to say that it made her feel better because she knew that she was alive — even if she was juggling the needs of 3 toddlers and a baby!
At first I found this strange.
But then I quickly realized it’s really no different than what motivates us to check our phone.
We crave connection.
We seek attention.
We need human interaction.
We were designed for real relationships.
But it’s not just stay-at-home parents that can feel lonely.
The corporate workplace is also showing signs of loneliness.
So Why Are We So Lonely?
Sherry Turkle, Professor at MIT and author of Alone Together says it best:
“Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere.”
Another great example of Turkel’s work can be seen in this video “The Innovation of Loneliness”
Ways to Combat Loneliness
Although checking the obituaries seems like an odd way to combat loneliness, the act of picking up the paper and reading the the death notices probably takes a sum total of 5 minutes.
In today’s scrollable world, it’s easy to spend countless hours hoping to find meaningful connection in our day. And the more we scroll, the less likely we are to find time to be in relationship with those around us.
Deep down inside I know there is a way for us to truly find connection beyond our screens.
Here are a few suggestions to combat loneliness:
- Seek involvement in community (join a small group, engage in mentorship, start volunteering)
- Take a mental health day off work
- Skip the email or text — Call a friend!
- Find someone to talk too (a therapist, friend/family, co-worker, etc.)
Whichever ways you choose to combat loneliness, there’s a good chance it will have a positive impact on you and on someone else — which is a great way to start making a shift in the loneliness epidemic.
And for those parents out there, be present with your children and put down the phone — especially while changing diapers!
There was nothing ordinary about Tim Smith.
He was often seen in a Mickey Mouse t-shirt, wearing a flannel paired with nice dress shoes. He idolized Bill Murray (before anyone else did). He owned every Prince album ever produced and rode around town on a pink bicycle encouraging people to Dare Mighty Things!
One may find these things unusual for a 54 year old man. Personally, I find them remarkable. Tim’s most remarkable qualities were best reflected in Skidmore Studio’s core values (Be Creative, Challenge, Team, Communication, Integrity, Details and Enjoy).
Pictured below, you’ll find him standing proudly behind a pet project he crafted just a couple short months ago. Like a young man eager to show his parents something he’d built, Tim stood tall as he walked our team through the importance of each value and it’s meaning to him. At the end of his remarks, our core values came to life via a wooden block figure shown below.
An Emotional Leader
Tim wore his emotions on his sleeve and would often tear up at our team meetings. He cared so deeply about the people he worked with and the values we all shared.
Each time he got emotional, the same sequence of events would happen:
- His forehead would begin to sweat.
- His hands would have a subtle shake.
- And his glasses would come off (as demonstrated above).
Like a catcher behind home base, you knew when the fastball of tears was bound to come across the plate of Tim’s heartfelt message. This quality drew you to him. He was real. Vulnerable. And always sincere.
A Life Size Spirit
Earlier this month, Tim passed away suddenly from heart complications.
It’s been a shock to his family, the studio, and the entire Detroit community.
Tim was one of those people that made you feel better just by being around him. Beyond the fact he was my boss, he was a mentor, friend, and in a strange way somewhat of a father figure. I know many people that knew him had a similar connection.
Now more than ever, our team continues to live out these values as we move Tim’s vision to “Create the Extraordinary” into the future.
At Your Core
It’s hard to uncover the core of who you are and dig into what you stand for. After all, it’s already in you. Spending time inward to reflect on the values that are authentic to you is an important aspect to a meaningful life. Unfortunately, this isn’t a regular event on your already busy calendar.
My challenge to you is to find the time to reflect on your core values. Tap into what makes you tick. Let the real you bubble up. Spend time embracing what makes you, you. Only then, can you define and determine your core values.
If you find you need a little help and inspiration along the way, seek out the Tims in your life. They may or may not be riding a pink bike, but their glowing passion for life should be easy to spot.
But most of all, find time to be vulnerable and take off your glasses once in awhile.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
Mark has been compulsively checking his phone for over a decade. He finally mustered up the courage to do something about it. A man of many interests and a wellspring of energy, Mark is on a mission to teach people healthy digital habits. A sought after speaker on the Psychology of Technology, Mark teaches you how to defeat distractions so you can connect with purpose. Visit markostach.com to learn more.
Director of Accounts at Skidmore Studio, Speaker at MarkOstach.com
When was the last time you went to the bathroom without your phone?
Either can I.
I have a love-hate relationship with my phone. It loves me because I touch it and give it attention all the time. And I hate it because I touch it and give it attention all the time.
I’ve been advocating for healthy digital habits for over 5 years. During this time, I’ve watched my own habits go up and down like cell phone reception in Northern Michigan.
I’ve heard some fascinating (and funny) behaviors expressed from audience members during my talks. Let’s see which of the habits you can relate to most.
10 SIGNS YOU NEED A BREAK
#1 — You hide in the bathroom to check your phone. Not sure if this one is just for parents of young children, but I find myself extending my own potty breaks in hopes to escape the temper tantrum and poopy diaper that awaits me. If you don’t have kids, consider this — when was the last time you went to the bathroom without your phone?
#2 — You’re too tired to be intimate but can lay in bed for hours on Instagram. Thankfully, I can’t relate to this one, but I have heard this from multiple audience members. A woman in her mid 20’s stated, “I just want to be left alone so I can go to bed and enjoy Instagraming by myself.”
#3 — You get honked at every time the light turns green. Looking down at your phone during a red light isn’t texting and driving, right? Wrong. Even though it doesn’t seem as bad, there is a good chance that if you’re scrolling at a red light, you’re scrolling going 80 mph down the highway.
#4 — You have aches and pains in places you didn’t know could hurt. You wonder why your neck always hurts. You’re convinced you have a bum thumb. Your eyes burn and your migraine is back. Rx = Take 3 days off your device and call me in the morning. xoxo, Dr. Obvious.
#5 — You can’t put down your phone. Just-one-more-text.You started the day with your phone, you’ve brought it to the bathroom, you’ve driven it to work, you’ve placed it next to your fork at dinnertime. Heck you’ve even set it on your butt for the better part of the day. You’re fighting exhaustion yet your phone is always with you.
#6 — Your doctor has the same last name as a search engine. Who needs a doctor when you have google? Aside from the fact that you’ve misdiagnosed yourself with the measles, bird flu, and other fatal illnesses all within the last 6 months.
#7 — Your 30-minute workout isn’t ‘working out’ so well. You spent the first 15 minutes trying to find that perfect Pandora channel to pump-you-up. The remaining time was spent doing reps of texting, checking email, and the occasional phone call.
#8 — You realize group texts aren’t the same as hanging with friends. It’s 11:00 pm at night and you’re climbing into bed. One of your friends sends a group text to a dozen people. You try your hardest to ignore it and even think about using the Do Not Disturb feature. You opt to head to bed instead and enjoy a broken nights sleep with annoying notifications drifting in your dreams.
#9 — You wish you had more time for hobbies. If only there were more time in the day. Oh wait, what about the 160 times that you checked your phone today? Add that time up over the course of the week and you may find a couple extra hours to dabble in that craft you’ve been longing to take up.
#10 — You’ve written a song about your phone. Okay, this one may just be for me. But while I’m on the topic, take a minute and check out this love ballad I wrote for my phone titled, “Disconnect Me”. #SpokenWord