The Church is Not Just True…It’s More

These last couple of years I have learned something very important—something that was so fundamental to everything I am that it took reaching into the deepest, most honest chambers of my heart to finally learn: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints isn’t true.

…at least not in the way I always thought it was supposed to be.

Take, for example:

– The headlines swirling around about Church members who have misused positions of leadership.

– Or the botched PR with the way some new policies have been handled.

– Or the [insert any of the controversies currently facing the Church].

– Combine that with my employment at the Church working with many amazing people—but also people who make thoughtless comments, misdirected decisions, and faulty analysis.

If the Church is indeed true, I started to wonder, shouldn’t all the leaders be holy, the PR be flawless, and the employees be constantly inspired?

Every time I felt the tinges of concern, I would quickly repeat the first thing I learned to call my testimony—the 4-word memorized phrase that finds itself into every fast Sunday: ‘The Church is true.’

But little by little, one thing after another, I finally submitted to the fact that the Church just didn’t feel true to me anymore.

In fact, it even felt somewhat…flawed.

I tried to turn to my family and friends—but how could I even begin to explain that these four Primary words were starting to feel so, well, wrong? And what effect would that have on their testimonies?

I started digging for answers, but my prayers fell flat, my attempts to verbalize my feelings felt incomplete, and my confusion simply increased.

Even this post, which was rejected from being published by LDS Living (understandably) and will doubtless be met with some criticism, took me over 6 months to write. It is hard to put into words such a sensitive subject.

Finally, I figured the beginning of the Church organization would be as good of a place as any to start, so off I went to Doctrine and Covenants Section 1.

There I found this phrase that I’d never really noticed before in verse 30: “And also those to whom these commandments were given, might have power to lay the foundation of this church, and to bring it forth out of obscurity and out of darkness, the only true…church upon the face of the whole earth.”

See, I thought. Here is the Lord saying the Church is true. So what’s my problem?!

But wait—I skipped something. I re-read the verse.

“…out of darkness, the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.”

Then it clicked.

This isn’t simply the true Church. This is the true and living Church.

It is a living, breathing, imperfect, and yes, even sometimes flawed, organization, and that’s how it is supposed to be!

As I pondered this revelation more, I began to understand that the truth isn’t the Church itself, the truth is in the Church.

The “work is true” (Testimony of Three Witnesses).

The “words…are true” (D&C 6:17).

The gospel is true.

The Priesthood is true.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ is true.

The Church, on the other hand, is a beautiful living vessel of learning and administration of truth.

And what of the Church leaders and workers that seem to regularly make so many mistakes?

Why is the Church not perfect? Because the people running it aren’t either. Neither are the people that are in it.

In fact, President M. Russell Ballard said in this most recent general conference, “We should not be surprised to know that those individuals called to do the Lord’s work are not humanly perfect” (“Precious Gifts from God,” general conference, April 2018).

And while the leaders can say that and we can parrot it back, it is still shocking and people leave the church in droves when a leader makes a mistake. It has been said that the Catholics believe the Pope is perfect–but don’t believe it; the Mormons believe the Church leaders are NOT perfect–but don’t believe it.

Yes, my dear friends, the gospel is true, the Church is true enough, and the people—well, we are doing the best we can.

I think of it as different circles with the gospel being in the middle, then going out to the Church, then going out further to the people. The farther from the center you focus, the less grounded you will be in what matters the most.

Now I understand what people mean when they say, “The Church is true.” And in the essence of it, I guess I agree with them. It is the truest church on the earth and the true Church of Christ, whether or not its people (or even leaders) perfectly adhere to all of its teachings.

So I urge you to not have your testimony rooted in the people who belong to or have stewardship over this organization. Don’t ground yourself in an organization that is merely meant to be the vessel—find your center of what is real, what is eternal, and what is really true and utilize the tools the Church provides to maintain that center.

Let’s all try a little harder not to let flawed programs and people interfere with our testimony of our perfect Savior.

Let’s stop touting culture as doctrine.

Let’s stop focusing on the messenger of the Church as a whole as opposed to the perfect message of Christ taught to us by those flawed leaders.

And yes, let’s all do our part to help this living Church become even truer.

How My Mission Taught Me It’s Possible to Be too Obedient

I grew up the son of a professional football player father and a mother who was a model. And while I, unfortunately, inherited my dad’s looks and mother’s athletic ability—I did learn that I can accomplish a lot by working hard and doing the right thing.


Because of this, when I went on my mission, it was going to be easy.


All I needed to do was be obedient. There was the white handbook, the mission president’s guidelines, and everything I needed to do to be perfect 100 percent of the time.




Plus, “obedience is the first law of heaven” (Preach My Gospel p.122). It was all about obedience first, before anything else. But for some reason, once I actually got out into the mission field, my plan of obedience didn’t seem to be working and I wasn’t getting along with my companions.


I didn’t understand why they got frustrated when I was kneeling at the door one minute before we were supposed to leave as they were still rushing around getting ready. After all, we were supposed to be obedient and leave on time.


I didn’t understand why they got frustrated when I would cut a lesson short because we had been there for an hour exactly. After all, we were supposed to be obedient and leave on time.


I didn’t understand why they got frustrated when I wouldn’t respond to them in English when they asked about my life and family while we were walking on the streets. After all, we were supposed to be obedient and only speak Russian on the street.


Read the rest at



A Fistful of Golf Tees, Falling Down the Stairs, and Our Life



I was just a kid when I heard that my good friend was in the hospital.


My parents simply said, “He tripped down the stairs…with a handful of golf tees.”


My young friend had been rushing out the door to play, yelling to his mother, and looking over his shoulder at his brother chasing him when he miscalculated the stairs’ location and took a dive down to the landing where he stopped his fall…with his hand holding a fistful of golf tees.


Imagine what could have happened…make it a little worse…and that is probably about how it went down. 


It hurt.


He ended up being fine, but I have thought of this moment in my friend’s life and how it can relate to so many things.


The basic lesson I have learned is this: if you fill your life with too many things, none of them will get done well and when you fall (for you eventually will), it will hurt.


In Dating:

I can remember when I was pursuing up to 8 girls at a single time (emphasis on “single”). I remember once needing to repeat the girl’s name on the way to pick her up because I was going out with two Malorie’s and two Melanie’s and I mixed up their names all the time. 


This is not to brag at all, no in fact, it is a humble admission of stupidity. I was so distracted and had my head full of so many options, that they all felt short-handed.


They almost all wisely walked away when they saw that there was no way for me to focus on what they were doing.


In Business:

I have met so many entrepreneurs who have so many great ideas.


The issue is when their ideas cascade from their mouth onto the ground and form the mud in which they spin their wheels until they are 15 years into a job they hate blaming their short-falls on everything but what it really was: a lack of focus on the right things.


If you have a great idea–go for it. If you have 10 great ideas–go for one.


With Self-Improvement:

Guess what sport, we’re not perfect. And we won’t be for quite some time.


So let’s just chill out and set goals, but not so many that we don’t do any of them.


In Summary

If you want to stay single, poor, and unimproved–give yourself so much to do that you can’t do anything.
Otherwise, give yourself a break by giving yourself some focus–you will tee yourself up for a life filled with something way more than potential: fulfillment.



Don’t forget to subscribe on the sidebar and check out the book below!

Zack Oates Book Dating

How I Overcame My Fear of a Boring Marriage

Happy couple


I wasn’t afraid of marriage when I was single; I was thrilled for it.


I was, however, absolutely petrified of getting bored in my marriage and watching it fall off of one of the four “cliffs” on the path of matrimony:


1. The Cliff of Regret (6 months)


I was afraid of six months into marriage, after the novelty of being a newlywed wears off, the bills start mounting, and the realization that you are “stuck” forever sets in like quicksand.


2. The Cliff of Boredom (1 year)


I was afraid to hit a year, when I begin to be totally bored with the monotony of seeing and living with the same person every day.


3. The Cliff of Exhaustion (kids)


I was afraid of having kids, when my spouse gets so stressed with kids that she stops being fun, and I start to look for ways and reasons to get out of the house.


4. The Cliff of Growing Apart (empty nesters)


I was afraid that after the kids all started going to school I would be left with a total stranger to call my spouse.



While I was single (check out Dating Never Works . . . Until It Does: 100 Lessons from 1,000 Dates for more on that topic), married people would often encourage me to get married the same way they might have tried to persuade me to eat caviar: they would tell me it was an expensive, acquired taste and hint that they didn’t want to be the only suckers who had tried it.


There was always a smack of, “Oh man, I miss the chocolate cake of being single. Live it up while you can…”


Conversations like these always left me unsure what to expect of marriage.


Should I choose to stay single and avoid the regret and bitterness or should I choose to get married and join the band of married men stealing from their rich past to give memories to their poor present?


Then I met my soon-to-be wife and the choice seemed obvious—neither.


After I met Annie, I started noticing a different perspective on marriage that I had missed before. You see, aside from the many who freely offered up dating advice emphasizing the nightmares of marriage, there are those who quietly lived out happy lives.


They have adventures with each other, they plan fun activities with their kids, they still laugh at each other’s jokes, they truly enjoy spending time together, they disagree with respect…they have what I realized is real love.


So I decided to move forward and ask my wife to marry me.


When I hit my 13-month mark in my own marriage, I rolled over in bed one morning and it hit me: I was still happy.


I looked at my wife and I suddenly realized that just as we had a choice to avoid the first two cliffs, we could avoid the last two cliffs by continuing to make the choice to stay in love.


Just as we have the choice to be positive about dating, we also have the choice to be positive about marriage and starting a family.


It is a choice to be boring.

It is a choice to think kids ruin adventure.

It is a choice to pray together every day and pray for each other out loud.

It is a choice to have family night.

It is a choice to read the scriptures together.

It is a choice to do the dishes when you’re tired from work.

It is a choice to not say that critical comment.

It is a choice to find the positive in marriage and not let the fears leave our relationship on the cliffhanger of a bright future.


And while we don’t always make the right choices–the key is always knowing that it is our choice.


Our adopted grandma and dear friend gave us marriage advice when we got engaged, “You make a choice to marry someone and then choose every day to make it the right choice.”


I’m grateful for the choice we have to avoid the “cliffs” of marriage and I hope and pray that we can each make those choices daily to stay positive about finding a spouse and/or stay grateful for having one.


This article was originally published with some minor edits on


3 Simple Rules for Chasing Your Dreams – Byron Van Pelt Guest Post

Byron Van Pelt Bowl of oates


Byron Van Pelt and I met at a Tony Robbins seminar where we happened to be sitting next to each other. He is a life coach, energetic, and an amazing guy to talk to! I was so impressed with him that I had him write a guest post and this is one of my favorite articles on inspiration I have ever read.


It has made me a better person and I’m grateful to be able to share this post.





Zack’s latest post “You Don’t Have to Do Anything” inspired me to write about going after our dreams.


Most people tend to ask me how I ended up becoming a life coach – and what it took for me to “live my dream” full time.


So I wanted to address that here. And more importantly, I wanted to empower you with some ideas on truly creating life on your terms.


If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to pursue your goals until they become your reality, this is for you.


These are my three simple rules for chasing your dreams.



Rule 1: Get Specific or Forget About it


For the LONGEST time I just wanted to quit my job.


It wasn’t because I had to wakeup at six in the morning every day.

It wasn’t because I had to sell car warranties over the phone on a “one call close.”

And it wasn’t because the commute was a pain in the neck.


I wanted to quit my job because my dreams were bigger than that position.


(I have zero ill will toward that company by the way – I worked with some truly awesome people).


I knew I wanted to make more money, to help more people, to use my talents to give value on a larger scale. But I hadn’t FULLY contemplated the exact future I wanted to create.


I later realized directing all of my thoughts to “leaving the job” was the very thing keeping me there.


Think about it like this:


Imagine boarding a 747 in New York traveling to Los Angeles. Picture yourself sitting in first class close enough to overhear the pilots before taking off.


Before they close the cabin doors, you hear the captain say, “Here’s my strategy for getting us to Los Angeles: I’m just going to try to get as far away from New York City as I can. I figure the more I get away from New York, the closer we’ll get to LA. Hopefully everything else just works out.”


How confident would you be in getting to your destination?


The reason I wasn’t able to make traction toward my dreams was because I lacked specificity.


Just like how you can’t expect to get from New York to Los Angeles by simply “getting out of the city” you can’t expect to achieve your dreams by “getting out” of your current situation.


How often have you heard someone say:


“I just want to get out of debt.”

“I just need to get out of this relationship.”

Or “I just need to get out of this job.”


Sound familiar?


The mistake many people make (myself included) is that we try to fly to our dreams by moving away from our current situation.


And this means we’ll NEVER get to chase down the dream because we don’t even know what we want.


So the key is to get extremely clear, laser-focused, and specific when it comes to nailing down what we want. Anything less than absolute precision won’t generate the actions necessary to move us toward our desired future.


Here’s a quick exercise. Take out pen and paper for this one.


Start by asking, “What do I want? Where do I want to be in one year? Three years? Ten years?”


Once you’re done, you’re already more likely to achieve your dreams than 97% of America (According to Brian Tracy, only 3% of Americans have written goals). But it’s only a start.


Now we need to crank up the clarity and specificity. Because knowing that we’re just flying to Los Angeles isn’t good enough. We have to know the exact location of the airport and the runway we’ll be landing on too.


So back to the pen and paper. Answer these questions:


What specifically do I want?”

When specifically do I want it?”

Who specifically is involved with this dream?”

Where specifically does my dream take place?”

Why specifically do I want it?”

How specifically am I going to obtain it?”


The reason why these questions are so powerful is because “to specify” literally means to “decide definitely.”


As Goethe famously said,


“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth that ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”


Clarity is real power.


Having a detailed vision for the future you want to create is akin to having Google maps for the mind. You might make a few wrong turns, you may be off course for a bit, but your guidance system keeps you on track.


And with a focused guidance system, you EXPECT to get there. This expectation fuels your desire to keep moving forward.


I started making real, tangible progress toward my dreams once I created a detailed picture of what I wanted. And I began adding more details to it over time so that this picture grew from a 2D image into a fully fleshed out 3D reality.


And I would spend at least twenty to thirty minutes a day in this reality. I could SEE the view from my backyard looking out over the water. I could FEEL the warmth from the cup in my hands and TASTE the coffee in my mouth.


Once I knew exactly where I wanted to go and what that reality was going to be like, I began taking radically different actions.


These specific actions are what allowed me to gain enough momentum to eventually quit my job and live my dreams full time.


I did this by methodically building up my life and business coaching client base until I was able to fully replace my income.


You can (and will) do the exact same thing with your dreams if you get so clear as to what you want that you can taste, touch, hear, see, and smell it.



Rule 2: Speed of Implementation


Let me ask you a quick question just for fun:
What was the last self-help/personal growth book you read?


Got it?


Now answer this:


What was your biggest takeaway or key insight? What was the single most important idea you got from reading it?


A little more difficult – I’ll give you a second.


Now answer this:


How did you IMPLEMENT this insight into your life? How did you take that idea and use it to CHANGE what you do on a daily basis?


If you have an answer, you get the gold star. And if you don’t, no worries!


What you’re about to learn is essentially the single most important rule to get you closer to your dreams than just about anything else could.


If you’re like me, then you probably read lots of inspirational blogs, listen to empowering podcasts, read enriching books, and spend a good chunk of your free time “learning” new things.


I did this constantly (and still do). But I would rarely implement much of anything.


I would finish a great book and think, ‘Hmm. Great book. That was so helpful!’ And I would reflect on it for a while. But then I was onto the next book.


I would never DO anything differently in my life.


As I started to become more aware of this, I would go back and read these books again. And then I would start to SLOWLY make changes.


Yet my life wasn’t looking very different.
What was going on? I KNEW all of this incredible information. I had read so many dang books! And yet I wasn’t growing.


Why not?


Learning is NOT gathering new ideas and storing them in the mind.
Learning is NOT memorizing new concepts.

Learning is NOT studying new information.


I realized until I actually shifted what I was DOING in my day to day life, I hadn’t actually learned anything.


Once I made this discovery, I went about the process of “learning” in an entirely different way. Instead of simply taking notes, I started asking, “How can this new idea translate to an action step? When can I install this in my life?”


And I started LEARNING a whole lot more because I was DOING a whole lot more.


To take it up a notch, I then began asking myself, “How can I take this new insight and install it into my life as a HABIT?”


And that’s when my reality started changing dramatically.


My friends would ask me “What was your key takeaway from that book you just read?”


And I would answer, “On Monday morning I’m making twenty phone calls before lunch.”


They would invariably give me a confused glance and say something like, “OK great. But what did you learn from the book?”


I would smile and say, “Before reading that book, I wasn’t in the habit of making twenty calls before lunch. Now that I’m aware of it, I’m going to do it.”


As one of my personal heroes, Eben Pagan, boils it down: “LEARNING is CHANGING your BEHAVIOR.”




So if you want to really make tangible progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life.


If you want to REALLY REALLY REALLY make progress toward your dream, implement new ideas into your life IMMEDIATELY.


SPEED matters because the longer we wait to create a change in behavior, the less likely we are to do it.


One of the biggest obstacles I see stopping my clients from getting what they want is “Death by Planning.”


They mistakenly believe they have to research everything there is to know about a particular area before taking action toward it.


They say things like, “That way I’ll know what I’m doing.”


But they don’t end up taking enough action and their momentum dies very quickly.


I get it – I used to be the same way. I was hesitant to start anything until I at least had some kind of game plan. That totally makes sense.


But I suggest going about this in the completely OPPOSITE way.


Instead of creating a plan to KNOW what you’re DOING, start DOING NOW so you can start KNOWING FASTER.


In other words, start doing more so you can learn more. Learn BY executing instead of learning and THEN executing.


What you’ll notice is that you gather a ton of direct experiences from quickly implementing these new ideas. And these experiences are MASSIVELY valuable in helping you CHANGE and GROW.


As a result, you will outpace anyone just like you going for the same dream. While they’re still planning and “gathering research” you’ll be out there truly learning.


Who do you think chases down the dream first?



Rule 3: Accept Feedback and Adjust


The final rule of chasing your dreams requires flexibility.


We started by getting laser-focused on what we specifically wanted. Then we began taking action by implementing new ideas into our lives quickly.


Now we need to receive feedback and make adjustments.


I call this step in the process “Learning Squared.”


So learning = changing your behavior, right? In rule two, we’re taking new actions toward our dreams. When we get a great idea, we quickly go out and try it.


After this happens, we’re going to start getting feedback and we need to learn all over again.


Let’s pretend our dream is to write a book.


When we finish the first draft, we might send it out to a few people in our target demographic to get their thoughts on it.


They might like certain parts of it. They might strongly dislike certain parts of it.


Gathering feedback in this step means truly hearing where the world is coming from. Instead of saying, “Well they just didn’t understand my vision!” we embrace the criticism.


“Learning Squared” means we then adjust our behavior again to create something more in alignment with what the feedback we’re getting.


One of the biggest mistakes people make when starting a business is dedicating themselves to creating a product they don’t even know if people will appreciate.


Their passion blinds them to understanding the market. Then, when no one buys from them, they get discouraged and quit.


See, there’s a bit of a paradox when it comes to chasing our dreams:


On one hand we need to be extremely specific about what we want to accomplish. So much so that we definitely commit ourselves to ONE clear intention.


Yet we also have to have enough flexibility to adjust our vision based on what we’re experiencing.


We have to be BOTH single-mindedly focused AND openly flexible.


How do we do this? Think of it like ballroom dancing.


Before the dance begins, you’re going to take the lead. You need to know exactly where you’re going and the initial steps you’ll be taking.


Then as you begin dancing, you’ll lead your partner with confidence. You may try new moves and routines to make the dance engaging.


But as the dance continues, you’ll need to adjust to your partner. Your partner may want to take the lead. They might not feel like one of your moves is working for them. Or they might want to try something different with you.


Adjusting to feedback means shifting out of “this needs to happen exactly like this” mode and into “I wonder what would happen if we tried this instead…” mode.


In doing this, you’ll experience an awesome harmony between you and your dreams.


You’re clear and steadfast enough to know exactly what you want and yet you’re open enough to create what the world wants too.


You will discover that to truly chase down your dream means to find the sweet spot between your wildest passions and what the world is asking of you.


I was always super passionate about confidence and building strength from the inside out. But it wasn’t until I started really LISTENING to what my clients wanted that I began to really make much of an impact.


They began telling me they wanted to learn how to communicate with charisma. They wanted to learn how to master the art of conversation. They yearned for creating deeper connections with those around them.


If I would have blindly followed my passion in simply teaching confidence, I wouldn’t have been able to serve these people.


So I completely shifted my focus for these clients away from confidence and into teaching charisma and social skills. This made a world of difference.


What I discovered was that our initial dreams rarely end up exactly as we first see them. Either we need to adjust them or we need to adjust who we are to capture them.


Feedback is truly the greatest teacher. And just because things don’t work out the way we expect them to work out doesn’t mean we QUIT on the dream.


We just need to make shifts and go about the whole “learning by doing” process again. Over time, we get closer and closer to the dream until it becomes an unavoidable reality.



So now that you know my three simple rules for chasing your dreams, I have to ask you:


  • What do you want?
  • What is one thing you just learned you can implement TODAY?
  • How are you going to adjust to feedback?


Go chase down your dream. You are more powerful than you will ever know.


If you are like me and want some more Byron…check out his stuff here:



The 31st Life Lesson of Adventure

Life lessons adventure


Every year around my birthday I pause to think of what the most recent trip around the sun–the last 365 days–taught me.


Not because I think that every year will supply some vast life lesson, but just to be ready in case it does.


This last year has been an impactful one for me: it was my first full year married or having a “real” job (as my mother puts it), I went on 22 trips to 10 countries (including a Tony Robbins seminar, hiking the Himalayas, and camping in Havasupai), I even published a book!


The only reason I mention that is to note that this year, life provided ample opportunities to learn–and I hope that this lesson sticks with me and, perhaps, it might help you think through important aspects of your life as well.


This year my life taught me about adventure. More specifically:


Make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Make time for…


There will never be a “good” time to change up your routine.


It is always easier to stay put than not and especially as life gets increasingly complicated with additional responsibilities, it becomes harder to plan for adventure.


Life won’t break its plans for your adventures, but it can bend.


A deliberate life is a well-written one where you can go to the previous chapters of yesteryear and read the voice of the author–not a chronicle written by the the circumstances surrounding the author.


But that requires not idle sitting and hoping the time will come, but planning a trip, taking that vacation, putting in an extra few hours to figure out how to do it with kids, putting it on the calendar, buying the tickets–it requires us to make the time.


Give room to…


I have a dear friend, Scott Jarvie, who taught me this lesson.


He is a man who has an unquenchable desire for the unordinary. He is a professional photographer who travels the country in his Airstream when he isn’t traveling the world. He is the kind of guy who, when he eats out, doesn’t look at a menu, but rather asks the server to bring out a surprise for him. (As a foodie, I have to say, that is bravery beyond my palate.)


During one of our conversations he said to me, “I never plan my trips all the way so that I can give room to adventure.”


This year, as my wife and I have traveled around the world, we’ve tried to do this.


We showed up in Costa Rica with two full days of no plans and ended up on a catamaran sailing through a sunset.

Our flight landed in India with plans to go to the Taj Mahal and no way of getting there but found a way and had the time of our lives.

We hiked for 12 miles not knowing if they would let us camp at the end of the road (and they did).


Some of the most exciting and fun things happened not because we planned them, but because we planned to let life happen.


Put some time in your day to explore and wander through the possibilities and play a little travel roulette. Sure, sometimes you spend 4 hours driving with strangers helping them look for a sloth sanctuary in the Dominican Republic that doesn’t exist…but other times you see the sloth in the wild just after dropping off those same strangers.


Find purpose in…


As I said, life will at times bend, but rarely break it’s plan for yours. The adventures of life can often feel like the misadventures of strife–and quite frankly, they can be. But the unplanned and undesired need not be void of meaning.


When you are seeking the life you’ve imagined, give way to the better one that you couldn’t have.


I had so many plans for my life when I was 30.


In my 30tn year, I would have multiple kids.

In my 30th year, I would have traveled to all 7 continents.

In my 30th year, I would be a millionaire.


Well guess what, younger version of me? None of it happened.


I made time for and gave room to the adventures of life, but in the end…it didn’t turn out like I wanted.


…it turned out so much better.


I am so grateful for the wife I have and would have waiting another 10 years if it meant finding her.

I have had deeper and more meaningful experiences in countries around the world that I never could have afforded had I spend the money to visit my final content of Antarctica.

I have learned so much more than I ever would have had I gotten lucky with one of my first startups.


So yes, things aren’t as I planned, but in perspective, they are exactly as they should be.


One of my favorite quotes is by Henry David Thoreau,

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours…If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them” (Walden).


Never see yourself as falling short, but as finding purpose in the unexpected this great universe has to offer.


…the Adventures of Life


Life is a tender and beautiful and exciting adventure. An adventure that we create, seek, and at times simply accept.


I am grateful for these last 365 days–each one an opportunity to learn.


My sincere prayer is that this next year, and each year after that we will make time for, give room to, and find purpose in the adventures of life.


Thanks for sticking around until the end of this post. It means a lot you’d share your time with me.


If you like this post, please share. You can find more in my book, Dating Never Works…Until It Does.

Zack Oates Book Dating


30 Life Lessons–31st Coming Soon…

Every year, on my birthday I contemplate on the life lessons from the previous 365 days. I have learned some amazing lessons this last year and I am going to share my 31st this week–but for now, I’ll give you my previous 30.


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? Time, Money, or Effort? 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’s the way things have been done, and the way to get things done. Choose the latter.
  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. Elevate your faith above your circumstances.
  30. Love is a choice.

You Don’t HAVE to do Anything

I was at the barber one day in Utah when it came up that I had lived in New York City.


The young lady cutting my hair gasped, “Wow! I’ve always wanted to visit! It has seriously been a life-long dream of mine. I wish I could go…”


Then her face fell, “but I can’t.”


A bit confused, I asked why.


“Oh, I couldn’t go. I mean, I have to work,” she said.


“They don’t give you time off?”


“They do, but I have never been somewhere nice. I couldn’t afford it.”


“Do you have cable?” I asked.


“Yes…?” she responded, wondering where I was going.


“Cancel it, save the money and you can go in three months. You can even stay at my friend’s place to make it cheaper for you,” I offered.


“Oh, I can’t do that.”


“Then watching TV is a bigger dream than going to NYC?”


“No, but I mean, I can’t just leave and go to New York. I mean what if I get mugged there? I have to stay here and work. I have to.”


The conversation ended with me leaving her a tip to start her NYC fund.


I kept in touch with her.


She never went.



Finish this post at!

You’re Far From Perfect…Right Where God Needs You


So you’ve set some goals to be better and, like every other year, at least a few will be dragged through the winter months before becoming fertilizer to the spring flowers of forgetfulness. And yet, goals are one of the things in life that we need to stay spiritually alive, whether we accomplish all of them or just a few.


A very wise man—the director of the BYU MBA program, Professor Grant McQueen—gave a final lecture to the graduating class of 2015. He said something that changed the way I look at others and myself.


“When we feel that we are not enough, we must remember one thing: it’s true.


“And that’s okay. In fact, that’s perfect.”


By not being enough, and by realizing that we aren’t, we have the ability to move beyond where we are to where we can be. If we are always doing what we did yesterday, we will never have a chance to accomplish what we could have tomorrow.


As John A. Shedd said, “a ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”


God feels the same way.


We weren’t sent here to simply repeat our rudimentary, metaphorical multiplication tables of what we know, but to divide our effort between practicing the basics and striving to master the advanced calculations of what we have yet to find out.


Basically, if you are doing your part and still think that you are far away from where you should be, or if you feel you have too many goals to ever achieve them all, know that where you are is just fine for the Lord.


When God needed an ark, He didn’t go to a ship builder. He went to the man of faith who was willing to listen and learn.


When God needed a new land settled across a great ocean, He didn’t go to a great explorer. He went to Nephi and the brother of Jared, who were willing to work hard and ask for the Lord’s help.


When God needed His church restored, He certainly didn’t go to a famous pastor. He went to the boy who humbly prayed in the woods behind His home.


Finish this post at


Don’t forget to pick up a copy of the book!

Zack Oates Book Dating


A 3 Question Tool that Removed 99% of My Worry in Life



I have self-prescribed ADD (I haven’t been diagnosed because I can never finish the tests). Like many of you, I have a very hyper-active mind which leads me to take in a lot of data and try to draw instant conclusions about the world around me.


It can be exhausting.


The problem is that I’ve always had an issue sorting through what to be concerned about about and what will be fine.


Often in my snap judgements, I have found myself on the wrong side of the worry tracks, which just leads to a whole train of supplemental self-inflicted problems.


So I came up with a tool to help me quickly and accurately sift through the situations of life.


This is a tool that can help you in business, daily happenings and especially relationships.


A lot of people say ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff,’ and this tool will help you determine if it can indeed be categorized as “small stuff.”


It’s a quick three-question survey that I ask myself anytime I feel the need to worry so that I can easily determine if it is worth worrying about:


  1. Can it be solved with time?
  2. Can it be solved with money?
  3. Can it be solved with effort?


If the answer is yes to any of those then it isn’t that big of a deal.


If it can’t be solved with time, money or effort, then there isn’t anything I can do to make it better, so why worry about it anyway?


So far, I have found that about 99% of problems can be solved with time, money or effort.


If a problem is going to take time, seek for patience.

If a problem is going to take money, seek for perspective.

If a problem is going to take effort…just get it done.


Now, let me be the first to admit that I’m not perfect at this and some days just straight up I’m bad at this.


I get frustrated when I’m driving in traffic and someone cuts me off. Well that cost me an additional 2 seconds of my time. Not a big deal.


I was upset when United charged me an additional $174.79 for a flight I already purchased. Well that cost me 2 hours on the phone arguing and a little bit of a lighter bank account. Irritating? Yes. A big deal? No.


I had some ‘sticker shock’ when I got on the scale a month after my honeymoon to find it having gone in the wrong direction 10 pounds. Well…that just takes a little effort and time. (Still waiting to solve this issue with money by buying a magic pill that turns Captain Crunch into raw broccoli.)



So while I still need to work at my initial reaction, these questions have been invaluable in helping me move on from these perceived “problems” much faster and minimize the post-situation worry time.


One thing I learned from studying Buddhism is being present. So much of worry lies in the chosen fear leading up to a single moment, or dragging the pain of that single moment on well past the initial infliction as some kind of a badge of twisted honor. The problem and issue usually only lasts a moment, it is us who expands that moment to fill our lives with worry by focusing on things that have not yet happened or dwelling on that which is past.


Now don’t get me wrong…there are some really really hard problems that can’t just be justified away–the death of a loved one, an unfaithful spouse, a breakup–but even those, when given time, can lead to healing and even strength. I’m not saying you should ignore it and hope it goes away; but face those issues while giving yourself time.


After pondering on the formation of these questions for many hours and continuing my study on Buddhism, I found out I could have saved myself a lot of time if I had just read this quote by the Dalai Lama XIV (but hey, that’s not something worth worrying about),If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.


So I challenge you to take a step back and when you find that bubbling from somewhere deep when a problem arises, take a step back and ask yourself: Can it be solved with time, money or effort?


99% of worries will melt away like Texas snow and the rest…well, that’s the reason man invented working out.


Zack Oates Book Dating

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