How Life and Career Cannot Go Together: Part 2

I ended up at college Fall 2012, and pursued my degree while working an average of 25-30 hours a week. My senior semester I was only taking one class and working full time in security. I started working out consistently second semester sophomore year and put on 25lbs. Apart from some of the more normal things in life, everything I did was oriented towards my goal of going into operations.

At 20 I was finishing college early, had my foot in the door with private security, and was working armed security for a second company.

At the beginning of 2016, however, I began to question if a life dedicated to operations was something for which I was willing to sacrifice all my other interests and desires.

I knew it meant pushing off a family, some of my sports activity, and pursuing my intellectual interests. I began applying to other jobs to see where they might lead and at one point ended up at an unrelated event hosted by the Daniel Morgan Graduate School where I was eventually offered a job and a Master’s in National Security.


I accepted.

 This brings us to when my idea of fighting the good fight and affecting change in the world began to wither. The more I worked in and around D.C. and interacted with the shakers and movers of the world, the more I realized that – the world is a messed up place run by, comparatively, messed up people.

I thought that maybe I could circumvent this by starting my own security/contracting company and actually began exploring this very seriously. However, I again ran into the problem of still needing to eventually partner and deal with people who did not share my same values.

Which meant I was back to square one – what did I want to do with my life? No matter how hard I tried, worked, or fought, there would always be war with people dying and suffering somewhere.

My motivation dropped significantly early December 2016 and for the last several months I’ve had about a million ideas of what I could do, all of which went nowhere.

 It was even difficult to remain consistent with my fitness regime – something I had maintained throughout most of college, even when I was working 45-65hrs a week at times. I talked with my dad, my mom, my friends, and others. I prayed, I thought, I read, I watched motivational YouTube vids – nothing filled this new void in my mentality.

And then on Sunday May 21 the thought came to me – maybe it is okay to have my work life be separate from my pursuit of this mission and rather have that pursuit of goodness and nobility manifested in my daily and personal action and interaction.


The world is a more complicated place than it was during the time of the Greeks, the Romans, the medieval time period, the American revolution, and to some extent even WWII and the Cold War.

Today, we don’t live in isolated parts of the world where the actions of one man can dramatically alter an entire country or region. 

Goodness, righteousness, and nobility are still worth pursuing, but we should not measure our effectiveness by the position we hold or the career we choose.

Focus on your personal action and interactions as those are the areas where you  can affect true and lasting change in people’s lives.

And yes, your choices will subsequently affect your business and career decisions, but this is different from having your entire career defined by that pursuit. You will not find lasting satisfaction in what amounts to a temporary pursuit, because the world will continue to spin on.

 Obviously some are gifted with their career being oriented towards such grandiose goals, but are they changing the world or just affecting the lives of the comparatively few that are reached?

No matter what your job or career, the same holds true for you. It’s okay to have a career that isn’t about changing the world, just remember to continue to pursue higher things in your personal life.

Your life cannot be defined by your career, but should be defined by who you are as an individual.

Be focused on walking in goodness, righteousness, and nobility and you will meaningfully impact the lives of those around you.

How Life and Career Cannot Go Together: Part 1

Hopefully Part 1 will give you a little more background into my thinking and journey in pursuit of my career and help set up the dichotomy between work and life I wish to draw.

 Back in 1999 when I was five years old, my parents tell me, I went around talking about the “campaign”. The concept was as clear as can be in my little mind and I scribbled with pen and paper, before I could actually write, making plans for the campaign. Needless to say I’ve always been someone with a mission in life – or at least saw themselves as having one.

A decade later I was progressing through high school unsure about what I wanted to do with my life. I loved a ton of different things from various sports to math to airsoft to reading. It was quite a struggle trying to figure it out.

todd-quackenbush-997At one point I sat down with a family friend who told me that he thought I had a strong desire to help others, but also a desire for family and community and needed to try and find something where I could combine those passions.

A few weeks later I was in a class on Western Civilization reading Andrew McCarthy’s book The Grand Jihad as we reached about 630 A.D. In that book were a few stories of terrorism and this caught my attention and throughout the next year or so I read dozens of books on terrorism and the Middle East.

Growing up my heroes had been Lord Brocktree, Martin the Warrior, Luke the Warrior, and others from the Redwall Series. G. A. Henty captured me with Winning His Spurs, In The Heart of the Rockies, Beric the Briton, In Freedom’s Cause and many many others (I read the majority of his 70+ books).

Eventually I found my way into the Greek stories of love and war, heroes and villains and the awesome Spartans. As I grew older I read about America’s wars: civil, continental, global, and the heroes and villains of world record.


Essentially, growing up my mind was filled with thoughts of the fight between good and evil, nobility versus dishonor, righteous causes, courageous exploits, and honorable sacrifices. As I  read about terrorism and atrocities committed against innocent and helpless men, women, and children those same old stories resonated in my heart and mind. I decided that I wanted to be in a position where I could say no to what I viewed as one of the most physical manifestations of evil.

I determined going into operations would probably be the most effective way of accomplishing this mission, but first I wanted to get my degree in an area that would give me an understanding of how the intelligence and communication channels worked so I could better understand how that translated into action in the field.

I considered enlisting, but was told that was a bad idea, considered West Point, but went to a regional promotional event and five minutes in, knew it wasn’t for me. I ended up applying to only one school – Patrick Henry College and their Government: Strategic Intelligence Program. 

Part 2 coming soon. I promise!!

College + Good Friends

If you follow me on Instagram @bournegreat you’ll know that last Saturday night as I was getting ready to go to bed I turned on some music, but when it was time to go to sleep I really just wanted to lay there and listen in the dark instead. Maybe the preworkout hadn’t worn off yet or maybe I just had a lot of different things on my mind.

That same Saturday I drove out to Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA to be there for the 2017 graduation. I said hi to a number of people I haven’t seen in awhile and got to visit with my sister before she flew back to Oregon for the summer. As I sat through the various ceremonial parts and pieces I was struck again with how defining and impactful my time in college had been.

In one of our first classes one of the professors asked us to write down what we would like to get out of our time in school, he collected the answers, and gave them back to us 4 years later. I have mine somewhere, but couldn’t find it this morning. On that sheet of paper I wrote that A) I wanted at least one or two friends that I could depend on and who would be like family to me. B) I wanted to get better at writing (at the time I figured they wanted me to put something scholastic down too).

In at least some respect in response to B, well here I am writing. I’ve gone on to write many papers and for finals last semester I wrote over 10,000 words in a week. Granted, writing is not all about the number of words on a page, however, I promise it wasn’t all plagiarism or incoherent.

But my close friends were what really impacted me during the three years I was on campus. I was actually blessed with five during that time and each one of them taught me how to be a better person. How to be kind, caring, thoughtful, smart, and what it means to be a better friend.

I shared my thoughts, my feelings, my good and bad poems. There was always someone I could talk to when something was on my mind. We lived so much of our daily lives together during those years.

Today, two of them are married to one another and I still get to see or talk to them nearly every day. Another is also married, in another state, and we haven’t spoken in a long time, but I know we can pick right back up.The fourth is traveling, following her heart, and we haven’t spoken in about two years. The fifth is in law school and we get to talk once every month or two, but it’s always as if we just parted yesterday.


I’m not sure there is a lesson or a point here, just something from my thoughts. I would just encourage you to be faithful to your friends, not to allow petty, and yes perhaps difficult, issues to get in the way.

The emotional and mental support is worth it.

Don’t let the bad times or difficult conversations define your relationships with good, honest, and loving people.

Social Media Was (is?) Wrecking My Life

I noticed a few weeks ago that I was on my phone all the time and it was eating away at my time.  I was constantly checking to see if a message of any sort had come through, often refreshing Instagram multiple times in a row to see if there was a new picture out there …as if that could possibly be worth the time it took swiping to refresh.

I noticed that my attention span beginning to shorten to where I could barely finish a book page before I checked my phone. Even 20 minute tv show episodes couldn’t hold my attention (granted, it wasn’t like I was watching 10/10 rated shows).

I was sitting, bored at my desk, putting off working towards my future, developing my business plan, hoping something interesting would pop up on Instagram, Snapchat, MAYBE even Facebook.

This trend eventually trickled down into a norm of getting less done in a day, when previously I was completing my undergrad, working up to 40hrs a week, and staying with a fairly active workout program.

My weekends were filled with wasted time on social media and lounging around watching tv shows.

Now, all this isn’t to say that such things are bad or a waste of time, but rather immersion eroded my use of the time I’ve been given. I believe firmly that we have a responsibility to use our time well and this is where I was failing in my life.


The Excuses:

I’m already successful, I can take this time to chill.

When I have a work or school assignment I can still get it done quickly and efficiently.

I don’t like to work on projects piecemeal, I’d rather just sit down and do it all at the same time.

But here is what those three excuses were keeping me from making progress on.


Developing my business plan

Developing my funding proposal

Going to conferences

Developing contacts


Writing in my journal

Reading my Bible

Reading books

My fitness regime (sometimes scrolling around kept me up too late).

My motivation during this time period began to tank and I found myself less and less capable of dealing effectively and promptly with issues because it felt like it didn’t matter and could be postponed.

My successful life was slowly destroying my life.


The fact of the matter is social media doesn’t really matter from the standpoint of liking the latest photo or scanning through Snapchat story. Even worse is the wasted time spent anticipating a new update which inevitably leads to further straying, whether it is the recommended Snapchat stories or the Instagram home search page. Pretty soon scanning across YouTube looks enticing and two hours later you’re left with wasted time, less motivation, and an urge to just continue.

Use your time to further your aims, achieve your dreams, and spend it on things that are worth doing.

Your time is precious – treat it as such!