About Me

First, I’d like to welcome you to The Power Principle (www.thepowerprinciple.com) and to The 364-day Challenge (www.364daychallenge.com).

The 364-day Challenge is a reflection of my efforts to change my life by putting myself through a brutally-tough fitness regimen over the course of a year, leading to competing in an Ironman Triathlon in December 2015. On the way I’ll be competing in various other races including triathlons, duathlons, and a full marathon, not to mention completely changing my diet, how I manage my time, energy and focus, and how I engage with the people around me, both at work and at home.

The Power Principle is a mirror reflection of what I’m writing in The 364-day Challenge. In The Power Principle I am writing down all the insights, inspirations, frustrations, and principles (there’s not just one) that I’m taking away from the 364-day process. I’m writing these posts in the form of letters to my son, Nathan. He’s 4 years old now, but when he’s old enough to understand, I am going to ask him to read this material. It’s my gift to him, for what it’s worth. I hope you get something out of it too.

I’m curious, though. How did you get here? Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email. Ok so in addition to what I wrote above, let me tell you a bit more about why I’m writing these blogs. It’s not an easy thing to explain, and what I tell you here might not make that much sense. Regardless here goes.

There are three types of people who write blogs on the process or experience of finding success:

1. The type who, experiencing great success at least partially as a result of their personal philosophy, decides to share that philosophy with the world, fully formed. They are the elder statesmen whose teaching relies less on theory and more on experience.

2. The type who, seeking recognition and fame of some sort, concocts a marketable message based on a safe, digestible philosophy (often copied from the type 1 person above), and manages to bullshit enough people to make a name for him or herself.

3. The type who searches for the path and creates it at the same time, and for whom the writing process is both revelation and discovery. This person documents the journey as it happens, and in so doing can only hope that it leads to the intended destination.

I’m of the third type. And the third type walks a dangerous line because in taking that path the intention is to recreate the experience of type 1, but it’s possible to fall into the trap of becoming type 2 for lack of a clear mission and an honest perspective.

In truth, I’m writing these sites for me, and The Power Principle specifically to my son’s future self. I’m writing because I needed to write it in order to get my head straight and put myself on the right path. I needed to do it to explain to myself, in detail, what it would take to be the kind of person I want to be. Because for most of my life, I haven’t been who I wanted to be. I was full of crap.

Here’s my story. It’s painful to write but I owe it to you and to me to be honest and it might help clarify the motivation behind what I’m doing with The 364-day Challenge and The Power Principle.

I learned at a young age that quitting the hard stuff was ok, that being average was a good thing, and that self-deception was healthy if everyone around you was doing it too. I learned this through both observation and action: observing this behavior in others, and acting it out because, basically the short-term upside outweighed the long-term damage.

To keep a long story short, I grew up in a pretty tumultuous family environment, including seeing my parents go through a very bad divorce at a young age. As a result of growing up in this environment, I grew up confused. What’s the right thing to do here? What’s the right thing to say? What kind of person should I be considering the examples available? My brothers and I lacked a “true north” in terms of what kind of behavior to emulate in our own lives.

While my brothers chose their own somewhat extreme ways of dealing with the situation, I chose the middle path of doing nothing. I committed to nothing either excellent or destructive. I just “blended in”. I quit on myself, running away from commitment to anything other than eliminating stress and pressure and the need to prove anything to anyone.

I became utterly regular and unexceptional. And it shattered me from head to toe. I was capable of doing so much – at least this is what everyone in my life told me – but instead lapsed into mediocrity.

After graduating from high school I just barely managed to get into a state university in California. My first year, however, was a disaster. I hadn’t built up the confidence, discipline, and fortitude necessary to excel in a university environment so filled with distractions, and so after my first year I took drastic action. Action that surprised everyone around me, especially myself.

I joined the US Marines as a combat infantryman, serving my country during Gulf War 1. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

My time in the Marines helped me turn a corner. In the Marines I found the stability and sense of purpose that until that point I completely lacked in my life. To keep a long story short, before ending my service I reapplied to university, got accepted, and started down a new path.

When I got back to school, I was a different man. I found the confidence to believe I was indeed intelligent enough to do well academically, and I did. I had a girlfriend, friends, a job, and a life markedly different than the one I’d known before the Marines. All the evidence pointed to a better-than-average life.

But I still wasn’t the person I wanted to be. The real me was still lurking under the surface, and I felt like a fake. I was still unsure of myself, unconfident around people who came from more stable backgrounds than my own, and totally clueless about the kind of life I wanted and the kind of person I wanted to be.

As I got older I slowly began trying to take control of my life. I left the United States one year after graduating from university and one year into grad school in order to live abroad. In Taiwan I found a good job, learned some Chinese, started a business, met my wife, and had experiences that most people could only dream of, eventually finding myself living in places such as Spain, Taiwan again, South Korea, India, Dubai, Taiwan yet again, and now Singapore.

But for all this time, one thing kept nagging at me like a tick burrowed deep into my mind that I couldn’t extract: Was I nothing but wasted potential? I’d lost too much as a kid and never figured out a way to claw it back. I felt like I was racing against a ghost of myself, an alternative Dan who, as the result of making key decisions different from those the real me had made, was living the life I was meant to lead.

Over the past fifteen years or so I’ve made some marginal progress taking my life apart and putting it back together. I’ve learned many of the lessons I should have learned long ago, made the tough calls, bandaged the cuts, reset the breaks, and found the seat of my power. But I still feel like I’m at the beginning of a journey rather than at its end.

I now have a wonderful, loving wife and a son that I love more than my own life. I have a good life. I have self-respect. In short, by trying to take control of my life, I’ve managed for the most part to get on the right track. But I still feel life I’ve wasted so much time. I can’t help wondering where I’dbe now if the starting point had been different, I’d learned the right lessons, made different decisions, and taken ownership of my life earlier on.

But wishing your life were different is bullshit. My life has been what it has been, good, bad and ugly. There’s only the here and now, and how my actions in the here and now will impact my future. The past is the past. The best I can do is learn from it and the lessons it’s taught me.

I’ve come far, but I have far to go. The 364-day Challenge and The Power Principle are both reflections of an effort to acknowledge what I’ve learned, continue learning, and pass the distinctions I’ve made along the way to others, especially my son Nathan.

With that, I would again thank you finding me and joining me on this journey.

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