B is for Builder

I'm going to share a secret with you. Something that has been in the works for over 5 years, and still has a few years before it comes to fruition. As of the time of publishing this, there are only 1.5 people on the planet who know this secret. It's something that I think about almost every day and that drives me to be better.

But before I can divulge this secret, I need to set the stage for why it's so important to me.

Five Generations

I am the fifth John Petersen in my family. I am John B. Petersen III named after my father and grandfather, but there were two John Petersens before them. They had different middle names though which is why I get the 3. My great, great grandfather's middle name was Henry. I know this because I have a wooden end table that he carved by hand many, many years ago with his initials inscribed it in.

Not only am I the fifth John Petersen, but I am the fifth generation of builders in my family. The first two JPs were talented builders and woodworkers. My grandfather was a painter and then opened a bowling alley in 1959 that is still in the family today. My father built homes for his entire life, and I've written before about how I grew up spending time on the job sites with him. (The header image for this post is advertisement sign from my grandfather's painting business. You know it's old because apparently phone numbers only had 5 digits back in the day?!?!)

In continuing the family tradition, I have become a builder as well. The things I build are much different than what the original JP was working on. Instead of beautifully designed, hand carved home furniture, I build beautifully designed apps and websites and I build businesses. A bit different from my predecessors, but we can thank darwinism for that.

What Does the B Stand For

Growing up, I would always get asked about my middle initial, and I would be too embarrassed to tell people. I don't know why it bothered me so much, but people would ask and I would try to awkwardly change the subject. I used to be able to count on my fingers the number of friends who knew what my middle name was. Looking back, this was so completely dumb.

My middle name is Bernard. John Bernard Petersen III. Or Bernie as became one of the many nicknames acquired through my college years. Bernard. It's a name of German origin which makes since as my father's parents were both 100% German. I just discovered this morning that Bernard is derived from the word Bern- which is an old form of the word bear meaning "hardy/brave/strong as a bear." That's incredible. I never knew that. Something that I was embarrassed about as a kid is something that should have given me great pride.

As amazing as it is to be strong as a bear, the B stands for builder. But that's not why we're here today. We're here to talk about my secret.

The Worst Best Kept Secret

By reading this, I do hereby accept your oath of silience to keep this secret now and forever.

A few weeks ago, I attended this seminar with this amazing individual named Bob Samara. You can look him up, but you're not going to find anything relevant on him. He's a Vietnam veteran and one completely badass dude. This seminar was so incredible that I still write, think or talk about it every day even though the seminar was over a month ago.

One of the major things that Bob implants in us is that we need a "B." If you want to go from A to B, you need to have a very clearly defined B that will drive you. I'm not going to try to explain any more than that because Bob would yell at me for not knowing what I'm talking about, and I'm not even sure I explained that well enough. I'm still learning.

The point is that we need a B to drive us. I've had my B for 5 years now, but I never recognized it as my B. It was always one of those "that would be nice" type of things.

Five years ago, I attended my first Tony Robbins event in person. I learned so many magical things that weekend, but I want to focus on one thing in particular. A story. Tony grew up in a very poor household, and one of the things that drove him from the earliest age was that he wanted to be in a position to give more. One day, he asked his mom to come with him to look at a new home he was thinking about purchasing. He wanted to get her opinion on what she thought about it. It was a beautiful home that was orders of magnitude nicer than what they had grown up in. She told Tony it was absolutely amazing, but she didn't think he could afford it (this was many, many years ago before Tony became the success that he is today). He told her not to worry about the money but again asked what she thought. She said she absolutely loved it. Tony then threw her the keys and told her that the house was hers. He had already purchased it and gave it to his mother as a gift. What a story!

So what does that have to do with my B? What's my secret that drives me?

I am going to do the same for my mother one day. For the woman who sacrificed so much for me to be where I am today.

For as long as I can remember, she always talked about how she wanted a house by the ocean so she could walk to the beach. Well, that's what she's going to get. But there's one little twist. Buying a house just isn't that interesting to me. I want to build the house with my father. Growing up, I heard the stories of how my father was building my grandparent's house as I was being born. The fireplace was being put in on the day I became a real human. I know these things because I've heard them over and over again. Well, it's time for a new story. My father and I are going to build a new home for my mother by the ocean that will hopefully have just as many wonderfully stories as the house that my father built for his parents.

Don't You Ruin This for Me

My mother has no idea about any of this. I have only recently told my father as it's time to start creating the blueprints for this home. It's still a few years away, but it's happening. I know there is zero chance that my mother will read this post, because she thinks her tablet is for solitaire. And that's the way I want to keep it. So I'm asking you now, if you are fortunate enough to know my mother, you will never mention this in her presence.

In the meantime, I'm going to keep hustling to put myself in a position where I can spend a few months with my father building a home.