Michael OBrien and Pause Breathe Reflect Coffee Mug

We Are 10 Years Old!

A moment to celebrate

If you’re not paying attention, change might seem to happen suddenly. It’s a dramatic moment—a big aha! It grabs your attention.

Those big moments are just awareness—they are not change. Change takes effort. It is quiet and meandering and requires consistency. Showing up day after day, week after week, year after year isn’t sexy and probably won’t sell many books in our microwave culture, but it’s how change happens.

In July 2001, while in a drug-induced haze in the I.C.U., I said something, which I have no memory of, to my wife that helped me realize that within me, a seed had been planted.

For the next thirteen years of my executive career, I quietly watered that seed and nurtured its roots because that’s how things change—from the bottom up and the inside out. As it grew, like the Aspen tree’s interconnected root system, it connected with others and started to create a community.

Then, ten years ago this week, I left my old world for a new one. For most, it seemed sudden. They thought I was moving on to a new company, but this calling needed time to unfold – thirteen years, to be exact. 

Back then, I didn’t have a social media presence or a website, but I knew this: Work wasn’t working. I wanted to help change how we work together because it will help us change how we live together.

One of my boundaries was a commitment not to do “flavor of the quarter” edutainment workshops even when I needed the business. These look great on “Look what we did, Boss!” Powerpoint slides, but they don’t change anything.

Change requires those who care to continue to focus on what matters most, especially when shiny objects or the latest hack tries to grab your attention. 

It’s about having one more conversation, taking another small step, and putting another ripple into the world, even when you doubt whether anything is making a difference.

I love the work I get to do. I have amazing clients and an awesome sauce Pause Breathe Reflect community. Together, we have gone through a ton of shi(f)t over the last decade (especially in the last five years) and made it through. We can do hard things, people! And yes, it wasn’t perfect, but come on, what’s perfect?

To paraphrase Anne-Marie Bonneau, “We don’t need a few unpacking their backpacks, practicing mindfulness, and leading perfectly; we need millions doing it imperfectly.”

My accident was my aha awareness moment. I could have chosen to get all negative about the world, but I decided to take a different path and haven’t traveled alone. There are so many people to thank who have made this happen, and three people are at the top of the list: my wife and two daughters. They have made me a better human.

Whether we just started riding together or you’ve been here for the last ten years. I know the next ten are not guaranteed, so with health and good fortune, I hope we can continue to put a beautiful ripple into the world together.

Together, we go far!

Everything in my Pause Breathe Reflect Store is 90% off (applied at checkout) through the end of May as I celebrate our tenth anniversary. I know I’m biased, but our merch is freakin’ fantastic and helps you create the change you wish for the world and yourself. 

Until next week, have fun storming the castle! 


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