6 Words from a Dying Man that Changed My Perspective on Love

holding hands

Death was slowly reaching out his shaky fingers toward my Great Uncle Paul.

This dear man, a silent example of charity, was nearing the end of his year-long, bed-ridden battle with a degenerative nerve disease in his home—a home he built with his own hands for his barely budding family ages earlier. His body was feeble, and his words were scarce. In fact, he would say maybe three or four sentences a day.

I tried to visit him and his sweet wife, Della Mae, as often as I could—always finding myself a better person when I left for just being around their fairytale-like love (some people just have that effect on others, I guess).

When I stopped by one day, almost a week before he passed away, I had a life-changing experience (completely unexpected, as most are).

Della Mae was busily tiding up the living room around Paul’s bed. Unassumingly, quietly, and deliberately, Paul raised his gentle hand a few inches from the sheets where it lay.

“Della Mae . . .” It was too quiet; she didn’t hear. He rattled out a raspy cough. “Della Mae . . .”

She turned and rushed to his side, eager to accomplish any need of her beloved spouse.

“Yes, Paul?” she cheerfully asked.

I assumed he wanted something to eat, or some medicine, or just have his pillow rearranged.

But what he said surprised me. And his words forever changed me.



Your Faith vs. Your Crappy Life

Elevate your faith

Every birthday, I will write what the previous 365 days have taught me. I posted my first 28 lessons yesterday and now…#29.


Elevate your faith above your circumstances.


This past year has taught me about the correlation (or lack thereof) between faith and circumstances.


Basically, coming to terms with your sure faith of a bright future and your seemingly crappy life.


I went from Hawaii to Ukraine.

I went from elated when I found out my brother’s wife was pregnant to depressed when my little cousin passed away.

I went from collapsing on the floor with chest pains to almost the healthiest I’ve been in my life.


But life is like that, I guess.


Good things happen.

Bad things happen.

Life happens.


Life is circumstantial…

But truth is not.


Truth is found somewhere floating right above the circumstances of life.


And there is where we can find faith. Constant. Strong. Eternal.


What is faith? It is a belief in something that is not seen, which is true.


That is the key to remaining true even when the circumstances of life are less or more than desirable.


Our faith must remain independent of our life circumstances.


Whether or not things work out in this life according to our wills, we must have faith that, if we are doing all we can, everything will work out according to God’s will—a will that is so much better than ours could ever be.


We will dream and struggle and fight and pray and believe that we will get somewhere…we may get there—or we may not. Now, don’t take this as permission to accept failure before you’ve exhausted your resources or as justification to give up on faith, but our faith must rise above the worldly ‘stuff’ of life.


Viktor FranklBut hey, don’t take my word for it. I mean, I really haven’t been through much, comparatively. Maybe you can read a word from Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor, “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way” (Man’s Search for Meaning—best non-religious book in the world)


Because sometimes, life will turn out like Viktor Frankl, survived the Holocaust; and sometimes we will end up like one of the other 6 million Jews who tragically did not.


Sometimes life will be like Daniel, saved from the den of lions; and other times like Abinadi, martyred.

Sometimes life will be like the Children of Israel, saved by a parted Red Sea; and other times like the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, slaughtered.

Sometimes life will be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, saved from flames; and other times like the believers in Alma 14, burned.

Sometimes life will be like my father, married with kids by 29; and other times like…well, like other people.


Sometimes life will work out; and other times not.


And that doesn’t mean that you are a good person if it works according to your plans or a bad person if it doesn’t.


Faith is truth and eternal.

Life is circumstance and temporary.

Faith saves.

Life happens.


So work as if you’ll get everywhere you’ll ever dream—then be grateful for where you end up, knowing it is where you need to be and only by taking the path to where you thought you were going, would you have ended up where you needed to be.


We choose our dreams, we choose how smart we work, we choose how hard we work and then…we choose to be happy with the destination…and that takes lofty faith, true faith.



28 Life Lessons by a Single Dude

old man wisdom

Every year, on my birthday I contemplate on the life lessons from the previous 365 days. I have learned some amazing lessons this last and I am going to share my 29th one tomorrow. But now, I’ll give you my previous 28.



While this might not be amazingly insightful or new to you or old man on a park bench wise, these lessons have shaped everything that I am and everything I try to be.



….and I can’t wait to learn more!



Please share your big life lessons in the comments.

  1. Follow the Spirit.
  2. Go to bed every night knowing God a little better than the night before.
  3. Never finish a prayer until you feel God’s love.
  4. Study the scriptures to teach something daily.
  5. Confidence is based on who you really are–nothing else.
  6. Leadership is an organized opportunity to help the world and you grow.
  7. Distill every institution, activity and program down to love.
  8. One soul is a good enough reason.
  9. If you don’t think you can change the world, then change someone’s world. Don’t underestimate the power of one–namely, you.
  10. Keep your priorities focused on the eternal.
  11. Serve until you love.
  12. If you have to wonder if they can feel your love, express it.
  13. Godly sorrow is knowing that Christ suffered because of you and not just for you.
  14. There is ALWAYS a reason to rejoice.
  15. Do what you say you will do, when you say you will do it…and try to do a little more.
  16. If you feel stressed, stop. Think. What can you do to fix the problem? If there is nothing you can do, then pray. If there is something you can do, then do it. If you ever forget this rule, just go under the stars for 5 minutes.
  17. Expectations for other should be to try; expectations for yourself should be perfect love.
  18. Women bear children, men open doors.
  19. Do what the best version of you would do.
  20. There is a way to do things, and there is the way to get things done.
  21. The proverbial “self” is not found or discovered–it is created.
  22. Dream big and live smart, but don’t let others’ invented limitations dictate what constitutes “smart.”
  23. Live life sincerely.
  24. Keep your heart open to real love, for love liberates hope.
  25. Seek business partners who display three attributes consistently: innovation, communication and dependability-ation.
  26. Work smart, work hard and know that, in the end, success is given to you.
  27. You are what’s worth it. And while you have a ways to go, you are doing better than you think. In a life filled with dreams broken by ‘just about’s and ‘almost’s and ‘sort of’s and ‘would have been’s…know that you, yes…even you–especially you, are worth being loved.
  28. If you want to see the hand of God, Look. If you want to hear the voice of God, listen. If you want to feel the love of God, serve.
  29. ….coming tomorrow!

Part 2 of Diminishing Deal Breakers: The Doubt of the Benefit

deal breakers dating


As you may recall, this chart depicts how you should act when dating: keep things below the line and don’t be yourself too quickly—that is, if you are kinda…”unique.”


BUT, this chart isn’t just about you giving a slow reveal of your oddness, it also can help you in understanding your feelings for someone you are dating.


See a few years ago, before I understood this chart, I asked this girl out. She was beautiful, fun and seemed to be pretty cool.


Then she revealed that she hates hot tubs.


…on a first date.




I told her, “It goes 1.Religion, 2.Families 3.Hot tubs.” She disagreed.


I never asked her out again.


To me, that fell above the line and entered the “Drop Zone” during “Stage 1-Feeling it Out.”


But in retrospect, I was ridiculous! To stop going out someone because they hate hot tubs? #facepalm

give the benefit of the doubt

It is one thing to dislike something that I like, but the big question is WHY! See, not liking hot tubs falls into the “Seriously?!” category (for me) which, if I would have invested a little more time or discovered a little more emotional connection, would not have been a deal breaker at all, for I would have progressed to “Stage 2-Feeling Good” and it would then be below the deal breaker line.


The process of falling in love with someone is simply understanding them.


That understanding doesn’t come though knowing WHAT they do/don’t do or like/don’t like, but though a deeper appreciation of WHY they do/don’t do or like/don’t like.


Take the hot tub hater, for example. People understand and love her deeply. She has best friends, siblings, parents, (now her husband who is “Stage 3-Feeling Sure”) and yeah, especially God, who thinks that she is the best most incredible person. And I didn’t get a chance to see why they think that because of a ‘heated’ debate. I was too immature to look beyond the curve into “Stage 2” where I could have seen her for the amazing person she is.


Shame on me!


We often get so caught up in the deal breakers that we forget one important fact: once the relationship strength increases, our concern often won’t even be a deal breaker—hence, the Law of DIMINISHING Deal Breakers. The further you progress, the less things will throw you off.


Have a few nonnegotiables, and then it all comes down to this: give a person the benefit of the doubt—until they give you reason enough to doubt the benefit.


And this goes well beyond dating, keep in mind. This is about humanity.


Next time you look at an old person, realize that one time they were held as a baby.

When you see the quiet person, remember that they have made people laugh until they cried.

As you meet everyone, assume they are trying to be good.


For in the end…don’t we hope that they can look at us the same?

“The Power of Starting Something Stupid”

making family memoires

I saw a performance of Our Town, by Thornton Wilder recently. It is a 1938 Pulitzer Prize winner, which is about an ordinary town and ordinary people living a quite ordinary life. Near the end of the play, one of the main characters dies and goes back just to see one day from her past. She finds herself distraught with what she learns after observing breakfast on her 12th birthday. She says,


“Let’s really look at one another!…It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed…

“Wait! One more look. Good-bye , Good-bye world. Good-bye, Grover’s Corners….Mama and Papa. Good-bye to clocks ticking….and Mama’s sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths….and sleeping and waking up.

“Oh, earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you.

“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it–every, every minute?”


These lines shot into my heart, forming a crater to be filled with sincere introspection.


I am so grateful for the small moments and thinking about how life is grand because we make it such.


The world is beautiful because we let flowers grow.

The sky is wondrous because we look up.

Relationships are sweet because we stop focusing on the bitter long enough to taste a hint of eternal.

Memories are made because we appreciated a moment.


For truly, the only thing we carry with us after this life are relationships and memories.


So let’s build some relationships.

Let’s make some memories.

Let’s live the good ol’ days when we’re still in them.

And yeah, let’s start something stupid.


Richie Norton, an inspiring and uplifting author and speaker wrote this book called, “The Power of Starting Something Stupid.” (Highly recommended to all.)


The book is, in essence, about living right now and the power that we have to live up to our potential every, every minute.


I hope you’ll join me in starting something stupid, something ‘just because,’ something quite…ordinary. For those are the things that make up life—and life is made up of relationships and memories.


Join me tomorrow as I begin to start something stupid and launch my next business. You can learn more at OOTFIT.com, but until tomorrow, just hold onto your shirts. This is going to be a Wilder ride than usual.


I am so grateful for the power of life and the chance we are afforded to use liberty and love to create something worth living.



Why NOT Now? Let’s Stop Waiting Before It’s too Late.

why wait

It was fall 2008. I was in my last year of college with big dreams of making a difference in the world…but just—later in life. After my business sold. After my first million. After I retired. After…


It was at this time that I randomly met a girl on a campus bench; I had never seen her before nor since. We talked about changing the world and I shared with her my plans to do so later in life.


Then she asked me a simple question: “Why not now?”


My mindset was forever changed.


As a result of that interaction, five students and I started Courage to Hope to help victims of domestic violence in Ukraine. Thousands of assisted individuals, hundreds of volunteers and 6 years later…we still aren’t waiting. Now, I don’t say that to hold myself up, but rather as an expression of thanks to that divine piece of advice given by an angelic stranger.


This last week was a tough one.


My precious little 14-year old cousin ran away. After a massive hunt, she was found lying in a dried up canal by her father…she didn’t make it through the cold night.


Losing someone so close to me has created a resurgence of responsibility—responsibility to live up to my potential this moment.


In different words and with a deeply Christian backdrop, I quote a leader of the LDS church, Dallin H Oaks, “If we knew we would meet the Lord tomorrow—through our premature death or through His unexpected coming—what would we do today? What confessions would we make? What practices would we discontinue? What accounts would we settle? What forgivenesses would we extend? What testimonies would we bear?


“If we would do those things then, why not now?” (read the whole talk here)


Why NOT now?


Recently, I asked a friend what he would do if he had a billion dollars. He said he would start a company. I was floored. “You do realize,” I asked, “that it takes like $25 bucks to do that?”


He had always just figured that he had to wait.


He doesn’t.


And neither do we.


Why not start that company now?

Why not ask forgiveness of a friend now?

Why not write that book now?

Why not ask that girl out now?


For me, usually, it is for one of two reasons:

  1. I am afraid.
  2. I am confined.


BREAK DOWN THAT FEAR! Realize that you can succeed and realize that you don’t have to do something just because other people before you did it a certain way.


So let’s stop pretending that the wise wait while the foolish fall. Poppycock!


No, let’s not wait any more.


Now is the time to do good in the world.

Now is the time to say thank you.

Now is the time to pick up that pen.

Now is the time to stop waiting.


Now is the time to reach out to that one person before they run away.


So what in the world are we waiting for? The world is already waiting for us.


No really though..like this very moment. Before your next click. Before you exit this page. Before you move on to your next task.


Remember… now is your potential.

A Big LIE: Vulnerability is NOT Being Open

vulnerable naked

We live in a world with such thick facades, that often vulnerability is relinquished to late night TED talk viewing of Brené Brown as opposed to a public explanation and exploration of emotions.


When we get dumped, we post a photo of us out on the town (by ourselves).

When we get fired, we tweet about not being tied down (while waiting in line at unemployment).

When we fail an exam, we pin a pic about new doors opening (while eating ice cream in our bathroom).


But when we post that we had a tough day, we get unfriended.


So today, I hope you will take a leap of vulnerability with me.


I recently realized that the real key to vulnerability is not telling someone you fell when life gives you an unexpected bend, but allowing them to help you get up.


Yes, vulnerability is…

…not opening up to someone, but leaning on them.

…not asking for an ear, but asking for support.

…not posting for likes, but pleading for love.


That is tough.


[Story time.]


This summer I cried.


Not like a Susan Boyle YouTube video watch for the 50th time type good cry…but like a this-is-hard-type cry.


Do you know where I went?


To my grandma’s grave.




My dead grandmother is the only one whom I trusted enough to hear me cry. (This, by the way, is not saying anything about my friends, but about myself.)


But don’t we all do that?


Don’t we shy away from the real emotions lest we are perceived as being a downer or an emotional leech or maybe worse…needy [gasp]?!


And guess what?


It is okay to lean on someone. It is okay to admit you aren’t perfect. It is okay to just be you—even if you feel you aren’t quite strong enough to admit you are weak. For when you are weak, then you are strong (2Cor. 12:10).


Now for those brave almost ADD’d out souls who are still reading, a message: You are loved. You are cared about. You are known. There are those who WANT to support you—let them.


When words are too scary to say and trust is too fragile to give and hearts are too soft to share—it is at that moment that you are understood most.


And when you feel alone and don’t want to lean on someone, let that become a springboard to make you better. Push on that wall of fear so hard, with the help of your friends, family and God, that it is pushed over into a ramp to launch you up to the better version of you.


“For by the sadness of the countenance, the heart is made better” (Eccl. 7:3)





What I Saw in the Mirror Shocked Me

uchtdorf pride

The other day I put my nose against a mirror.


I know…odd.


But I wanted to see what I could see from there.


You know what I saw?


One big blurry eye (I)—and everything very clearly behind me.


I couldn’t help but notice how much was around me, actually. I saw my roommate’s messy half of the closet, his unmade bed and someone’s trash BY, not in, the trashcan (pet peeve). I mean, things I had never seen before getting that close to the mirror.


I truly gained a new perspective once I took myself out of focus.


Then I took a step back…


I saw that my desk was cluttered, my bag thrown on the floor and MY trash sitting by the bin.


I saw the truth.


It was me.


I realized in a society where the selfie is kept so close to our faces, that gaining vision to see beyond our noses is like looking into a mirror. My faults become blurry and everyone else’s imperfections seem so clear.


And I do this a lot.


I can be ashamed of my frustrations with other’s shortcomings when the bar I set for myself is so often out of reach.

I may want to hide form the dating advice I so readily give but never take.

I at times feel embarrassed by my public preaching of perfection while endeavoring to conceal clandestine clashes with my conscience.


BUT I don’t think that harboring these negative emotions and thoughts is helpful or healthy.


No, I think there must be a better way.


A wise man and one of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Ladder-day saints said, “We must put aside our pride, see beyond our vanity, and in humility ask, ‘Lord, is it I?’” (read the whole talk here)


Someone told me that their friend was tired of their mother ragging on her for not being married and so she gave her my post about people not giving singles such a hard time. She had hoped her mother would get the hint.


Her mother called her the next day and said, “Honey, loved that post! You should go out with that nice Oates boy!”




#butflattered (…#andsingle)


Are we getting the right point?


I am grateful for a chance to take a step back from the mirrors of pride, from time to time, and realize that while I’m not perfect, I can get on my knees every night to the Lord in prayer. And when I ask Him, as the apostles of old, “Lord, is it I?”—


His response is usually, “Thought you’d never ask.”


It is in those moments that the bothersome background blurs to banal and the perennial present progresses to prosperous.


It is in these moments that I can see that the path to perfection is paved with personal correction.


It is in these moments that the Lord is smiling to know that, at least for a little bit, I can see clearly enough to listen.


Is it I that needs to change my dating habits?

Is it I that needs to be clean more?

Is it I that needs to study the scriptures more?


I hope that I will read this post from time to time to help remind me to ask the Lord this selfishly selfless question.


As for you…well, I couldn’t say.

Chances of Winning a Super Bowl – Shrinking Dreams

chances of winning a super bowl

Chances are, you will remember when you were a kid you had dreams of being an astronaut, president and, in my case, a QVC host.


But why do those dreams shrink?


Why do we settle for a life that is simply satisfactory and chalk up our childish dreams to naivety?


True, we can “grow up” and realize we don’t love risk and shift our dreams—but it isn’t just that, see?


Our dreams don’t just shift, they shrink.




Well, because life happens. Our dreams are like a giant balloon and life is a maze of pins. We learn that the bigger our dreams, the harder it is to navigate through life because of the twists and turns provide the sharp reality of disappointments to burst our bubble. From grades to crushes to tryouts…life’s disappointments teach us that is it easier to deflate than navigate.


Let’s say you’re a young optimistic football player who dreams of making the high school team. People might encourage you, but they know something you might not: life. They know that an NFL career isn’t much of a career at all. Injuries mean that if you make it into the NFL AND make opening day roster, your career is less than 6 years (and less than 3 years by other estimates) (NFL).

But let’s just say that you make the high school football team.

  • Only 3-6% of high school football players will see ever the NCAA field—on any level, (D1-JC)
  • Only .3% of college players will be drafted (BI)
  • And with 32 teams in the NFL, 1 super bowl champion per year, an average of 7 teams winning every 10 years, with a 23% player turnover—only 2.5% of NFL players win a super bowl. (NFL)
  • So BEST case scenario you have a .000005% chance of winning super bowl. That means that once you make the cuts for the varsity high school football team, you have less than 1/200,000 of winning a super bowl.
  • You are almost 70x MORE likely to be struck by lightening. (National Geographic)


And guess what, since people love you, they don’t want to see you disappointed and hurt, so they will encourage you to become an accountant. Basically what happens from a kid optimistic about being president to him being 25 years in a dead-end job that he doesn’t like is simple: the gap. We learn that there is a gap between what we desire and what happens, ideal and real, our dreams and waking up. Curiosity fades as we find out that magic isn’t real, Santa doesn’t exist and almost everything we thought we could be, doesn’t happen. And if it does, we are convinced that it most certainly won’t happen to us. After all, we’re just not someone special.


But I had the great “luck” and privilege to call my hero, “dad.” He defied the odds.


Living under the same roof as a guy who played professional football for 14 years and won 3 super bowls I learned something…that SOMEone in 200,000 will do it.


Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”


Why not you?


You know what fills that gap between dreams and reality? Hard work, persistence, dedication, consistency, optimism…and most of all belief.


My mother asked me one day why I didn’t just get a job instead of starting my own company and I told her, “Mother, if I don’t believe in myself, who else will?”


Thomas S Monson, “Don’t limit yourself and don’t let others convince you that you are limited in what you can do. Believe in yourself and then live so as to reach your possibilities. You can achieve what you believe you can. Trust and believe and have faith.” (“Living the Abundant Life,” Ensign, Jan 2012)


So does lightning strike? Ask my dad. And where does it strike? It strikes the place on the earth that is closest to the sky containing the most positive energy.


Put your head in the clouds and see what happens.


Don’t deflate your balloon of dreams to succumb to life’s hard and pointed facts, but rise above with belief! Because if you truly believe that you can defy the odds, chances are—you will.


Share this article with someone you think may need it.

A Classic Tale: Tinderella Meets Mr Right (Swipe)

Organic Love
In a 50 years from last Saturday, a bright eyed grandchild is going to sit at the feet of my cousin during a family gathering of her and her husband’s golden anniversary and ask, “How did you and grandpa meet?”

“Well once upon a time…” and she will proceed to tell a big flaming lie. (A story of a blind date will do just fine.)

After all, how is this young child in 2064 even going to understand a smartphone, an app, and especially TINDER???

This last weekend, I was able to attend the temple marriage of my cousin and, yes, her tinder match. It was a beautiful ceremony filled with family, love and two very “excited” over-dated LDS now-former singles.

In my reflection on each of our fairy tales, I realized that our glass slipper often slips between our fingers and our knight in shining armor gallops by as we are sitting and waiting for…for…well…for something else. 

What else, though?

Why not tinder? Why not a blind date? Why not long distance? Why not a leap of faith?

Because it is not what we thought it would be. It isn’t Godot enough. We ll we can wake up from that dreamland right now, because it hardly ever is Godot enough.

Look back at every good thing that has happened to you in life and tell me what percentage of those things were exactly what you thought they would be? For me, personally, it has been very very few. I have been so blessed by the most unexpected and have allowed some of the most amazing opportunities pass me by.

I haven’t found any magic beans, but the seeds of relationships that have grown organically have grown into something that I could have never fabricated through a calculated dating game. They happened in spite, or despite, of my efforts. (Granted, had I not put IN the efforts, nothing would have happened, but alas, this is another blog post.)

So if your heated relationships have fallen cold and now you have a burning urge to fuel the fire of love–find a potential match, strike up a conversation, and see if there are sparks to kindle a potential flame…even if it is on tinder (i’m just going to say, that sentence was a lot harder to write than it looks–11pts).

For in the end, waiting for what you are expecting can’t hold a candle to a 50-year start on a true happily forever and ever after.

To Ana and Christian, here’s to you and doing what no one ever expected (namely, getting Ana married before me). May this love propel you into true everlasting burnings.