Since this is my inaugural post, a quick bit about me. My name is Nate Gardner. I am 37 years old, husband to the woman of my dreams and father to 5 wonderful kids. Experiencing the rigor of building a close-knit family, with all of its crazy dynamics, imperfections and celebrations is my most cherished experience. I love life and the people I meet in it. I have built and deeply love the relationships forged with siblings, friends, companions and work mates. These bonds are more dear to me than any possession and have brought me countless happy memories. I believe in God and His son Jesus Christ - I love them. Like everyone else, I am a work in progress, and a true believer that Jesus' life makes that progress possible. Finally, I love building awesome companies. Over the years, It's been my great fortune to help build some very cool companies from their early beginnings. At Costa Vida I was CEO, while we grew to over 30 locations and am currently a shareholder as the company scales to over 70. Now, as an executive at MX (previously MoneyDesktop), I oversee the full life cycle of our rapidly growing client/partner relationships - the adventures at MX are exhilarating! As I look back on the road traveled and then forward on the path ahead, I feel like I am just getting started, and I am looking forward to many more extraordinary things to come. There you have it - a pretty good snapshot of me. Oh... and one more thing. I have a big gap in my teeth :)
About this blog
When I was a kid, there was always pressure from my peers to “get my teeth fixed.” The massive gap that allowed me to squirt water a distance of 20 ft. (which I thought this was pretty cool) was apparently not cool and I felt the pressure to change. Junior High was a brutal time for me and even though I tried hard to "fit in" with the crowd, it felt like I was always very much on the outside looking in. I was especially self conscious in 7th and 8th grade and I pled with my parents several times to get braces to fix my gap. To this day, I wonder if my parents planned a way to squash my hopes, by convincing the Dentist to persuade me from doing so (orthodontia is expensive after all). The Dentist would tell me that the procedure would require the fracturing of my jaw, with subsequent wiring, cutting and then braces for a looooong time. Visions of a torture table, a lot of pain and an endless duration with a robotic looking mouth-gear-head-set created sufficient anxiety that I ditched the idea and decided to “live with my blemish”. It turns out that it wasn't my gap that needed fixing...
The summer before my 9th grade turned out to be a pivotal time for me, where I made decisions that have forever changed the way a look at myself, the world and others. I was incredibly lucky to have my oldest brother, Tom, living at home. He had just finished a 2 year service mission and would live at home until he headed off to college for fall semester. We became very close, spent a lot of time hanging out, talking and laughing. My personal insecurities must have been obvious, so he coached me on some key lessons he had learned while serving as a missionary in Mexico. These principles have been some of the most brilliant diamonds of knowledge I have ever received.
1. Get comfortable laughing at yourself... Genuinely laughing! - I have this saying "everyone poops and everyone's poop stinks". We all have quirks, oddities, weaknesses - the things that make us imperfect. It is good to be okay with those quirks and even better to find real, genuine humor in them. This also makes it nearly impossible for others to make you feel bad about them. What's more, they may just love you for those quirks.
2. Everyone else is worried about what others think of them, so they are likely not thinking about you - This means that you can immediately stop worrying about what everyone else thinks about you (cause it isn't happening anyway) and get focused on the real meaningful work of improving yourself while helping others become better versions of themselves and building value in the world.
3. The characteristics (physical & non-physical) that make you unique are exactly what the world needs - Each person is beautifully unique and capable of extraordinary things. Identify your unique skills, talents and passions and let them shine. Don’t mask or hide them, use them do differentiate, innovate and make the world a better place.
These were very difficult principles to apply, especially at 14, but heading into 9th grade I consciously applied them. This required diligent work, but over time I began to embrace the gap in my teeth, shrug off the desire to “fit in”, and got busy living comfortably in my skin. This is the way I live today and there isn’t anyone I would rather be than me - and yes my gap is larger than ever.
Over the years, "the gap" in my teeth has become a personal metaphor and a reminder to let my unique light beam brightly in the world and to create a happyspace that is my very own. I share that symbol with you, the reader, and invite you to join me - find and create your happyspace_.
Subscribe or check back often. My hope is that I will inspire ideas that:
1) Generate a spark in readers to identify those characteristics that make them unique and share it with the world.
2) Inspire readers to choose happiness.
Get busy creating your happyspace_!