We’re loyal fans of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper”. It’s incredible to see the transformation in these homes that have seemingly lost all their value. They deliver magazine-quality design, bringing new life to the house and the neighborhood. Some lucky people get all the talent, right? Maybe not…

After starting to watch the show, my wife and I were browsing homes on Zillow in Waco, Texas to see what was out there. Man, were we surprised when we found a house that was for sale that indicated it had actually been remodeled by Chip Gaines himself!

We opened the listing to see how it looked and didn’t get what we were expecting

It looked pretty nice, but…well, it wasn’t “Fixer Upper” nice. What’s the deal?

I couldn’t find the original one we had seen, but here’s a house that sold in 2015 that was remodeled by Chip. Based on the price and tax history, it looks like he must have bought the house in 2009, fixed it up, and sold it in 2010.

To put things into context, the first episode of “Fixer Upper” was in 2013. What changed in these three years?

Was it just that Joanna got more involved in the design side? Was it really remodeled by Chip? Does HGTV provide more support in the remodeling than we know about?

The answer is simple but often forgotten: Chip and Joanna worked hard and based on that hard work, they got better.

Three years is a long time and in those three years, the couple kept working hard and improving their skills

It may sound strange, but seeing that home listing had a really big impact on me. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how many hard things I was avoiding because I convinced myself I didn’t have the talent to do them.

We’re quick to ascribe success to ‘talent’ but true success comes from honest hard work (Tweet this )

I don’t know one great musician, artist, author, scientist, athlete, or blogger that’s great at what they do that doesn’t work hard at it.

A Successful Writer

Tsh Oxenreider, who started the incredibly popular blog, The Art of Simple, in 2008 didn’t kick off with some amazing, inspirational post about changing your life and changing the world.

She started off with a gumbo recipe.

On the flip side, go check out a recent post of hers and you’ll find practical tips and inspiration that might literally change your day.

Since her start, Tsh has grown a fiercely loyal audience and helped thousands (perhaps millions) of people through her blog, books, podcasts, and other channels.

And it all started with a gumbo recipe.

I’m a Work in Progress

I’ve got a lot I’m working on in my life. I’m trying daily to be a better husband, father, manager, software developer, blogger, and Christian.

None of these come easy - they all take hard work to improve at, but they all are worth it.

Software Developer

I’ve been dabbling in Ruby on Rails (the framework I use for the Thrifty tool) for about 6 years in small bits. It took me about 5 years of playing around before I built enough of a skill set to be effective in developing something useful and beautiful.

I launched Thrifty at the start of this year and am proud of what I’ve put together. The years leading up to this, though, felt like ages and there were numerous times I stepped out and came back in.

It was only after seeing that house listing that I got really serious and dedicated myself to making something real using what I had learned.


As my kids get older and a bit more self-sufficient, it’d be easy to ease up my focus on them. School will take care of their education and toys and TV can keep them busy, right?

I want my kids to grow up knowing how loved they are and with all the support they need. So every day I work on putting down my smartphone and being intentional about the time I spend with them. I’m not perfect at this, but I work on it every day and I keep getting better.


When I look back at my first blog post, I’m not exactly filled with pride and joy. It’s not a terrible post, but I also don’t feel that it is very inspiring or motivational.

That said, it’s true to who I was when I wrote it.

I’ve grown a lot in my writing in the last 9 months but recognize that I have a long way to go before I get to the level of the bloggers I really respect.

Because I know that I get better with every post I write, I’ll keep at it and I’ll get there.

Hard work trumps talent.

Who’s Your Hero?

Nobody is born an expert. Except maybe Mr. Money Mustache - I’m pretty sure he was born on a bike with a hammer in his hand.

When you have something you want to get better at but find yourself demotivated because you feel like you’re so far away from being “good”, pick someone you respect in the field and find out where they started.

Read their first blog post or listen to their very first song. Get a biography and see their humble beginnings.

We all come in to this world as helpless little creatures, 100% dependent on someone else.

Everyone starts at zero and builds up from there. If they can do it, so can you.

We talk about talent a lot, but the reality is that success comes from working - hard - at whatever it is you want to be successful at.

Run with it

If something isn’t easy, don’t give up - that’s a terrible reason not to do it. If you just do the things that come easy to you, you’re probably doing the wrong things. (Tweet this )

Pick something hard, work at it, persist, and eventually you’ll find yourself accomplishing things you never thought you could.

Ask yourself: “What’s really important to me and how hard am I willing to work to get there?”