Let me tell you why

In the busyness of life there is always one question that catches my attention and centers me back. It’s a simple question I learned to recognize meaning years ago and it has shaped much of my life. Now, more than ever, I feel like I need to come back to it.

Why am I doing all of this?

Much of the meaning in this question has found a root in my faith. But that internal motive quickly found its meaning with my work. I was first introduced to this question as I read Simon Sinek’s wonderful book “Start with Why”, which focuses on the force of significance behind some of the most successful endeavours in human history. This book and this question were a big catalyst in my corporate work and shaped my leadership as it helped me connect organizations with results. But life is much more than just work and so this question infiltrated my heart and challenged me to think through the meaning of my actions as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, and even as a friend.

I’ve always welcomed challenging questions as a way to engage with others and grow, but this one really changed me. I think we often live our lives with points of interest that, while different, flow in the same direction. But when we question the why we question the source of that thought and the direction it may lead us to. That is when real change happens. My why has given me freedom and direction to make some difficult decisions. These might seem trivial but they have changed the course of my life. Decisions such as saying no to job offers, or yes to relocating with work; no to certain foods, or yes to early morning workouts; no to certain purchases, or yes to a trip across the ocean.

I can honestly say this question has brought greater focus into my life. And I am recognizing I need that focus to be clear again. I need to answer that same question again in the context of new corporate roles, older kids, and more years of marriage.

Why do I blog?

I blog because it gives me pleasure to use my gift of writing with the hope to encourage others. Truly, this is why I write! I’m not an expert in the topics of home and work because I never make mistakes, I’m an expert because I fall down, learn from it, and hopefully get back up stronger than before.

I post messages online because I hope to reach even if one person and make them realize that life can be fun when we are vulnerable enough to be true to ourselves and the people around us. That is why I share about my lessons at work. This is why I tell my kids about how big my shortcomings are. This is why I humbly share the ways I am growing as a human being and Christ-follower.

My hope is that one day these writings will serve as an artifact for my family and friends to know that I cared enough about them that I would share openly about my life, my leadership, and my faith.

This is why I blog. Why do you do what you do? I would love to hear from you.

Peace in relationships – my 3 personal lessons

I spent the last month digging deeper into the meaning of peace and how it can impact my life. I don’t want my word of the year to be a cliche or part of a social media trend. I want it to mean something; to transform me daily. It is evident with everything going on in the world that peace is needed all around us. During a time of war and increasing discourse peace is the key to unlocking us out from a destructive cycle. And nowhere is it more evident than in our personal relationships. This is true for the relationships we hold with family, at work, or where we live.

I’ve heard it said that while we all have immeasurable value the quality of our lives is directly correlated by our relationships. If we consider this truth in light of our desire for community we must recognize the need for peace just as we recognize the reality of conflict. Relationships are messy and the way we handle them can either make us or break us. I recently mended a personal relationship that created pain for multiple years. These are my 3 personal lessons when seeking peace.

Peace acknowledges pain

It’s easy to correlate pain with conflict, but more than anything we need to acknowledge it. In my recent experience I could not remember what I did wrong but I knew exactly what it had been done to me. Acknowledging pain for both sides was a key to peace.

I’ve learned that it is possible for pain to originate from unintentional acts or claims. Still, accepting the existence of pain shows empathy and gives peace a chance.

Peace always empathizes

It would be easy for me to claim my hurt feelings and scarred memories as more important, but for peace to flourish it needs to recognize pain on both sides. I saw this in my own experience as instead of choosing to be right in my argument I choose to understand.

Seeking understanding doesn’t take away the pain but it opens the door for empathy to be reflected on the other person. That is when healing begins.

Peace allows for redeeming

Relationships can be messy and one important aspect I’ve learned from conflict management is that healing doesn’t necessarily mean reconciliation. This is especially true with toxic relationships. What we should be looking for is redemption.

In my recent experience redemption has been rich in opportunities to reconnect and further understand the other side. Whether that leads to a stronger connection or not that is okay as ultimately kindness allows peace to be sustainable moving forward.

I share these lessons not because I have it all figured out. I share it because they have truly made me a better man and I’m still learning and growing. Since conflict can happen all around us in what ways do you seek peace? I would love to hear about it.

Peace in the workplace – 5 ways it can help you in 2022

My word of the year for 2022 is peace. I selected this word based on my recent journey to understand the motives behind my thoughts and actions. You can read more about it here. I don’t know if this is true for you but my overall reaction to peace has always been detached from some serious application from every day life, and definitely not a work related quality. But somehow that has changed as I’ve sought an active meaning of the word in my life. As someone passionate about work, I want peace to reveal itself in my leadership.

As a definition peace is a state of calm joined by a lack of disturbance. But that is just an explanation. What does it mean to be an active participant in peace? Thinking through the application of peace in the workplace I’ve uncovered 5 ways it can help me and you this year.

Peace builds confidence

Confidence is all about mental strength, so this one hits home for me. Being confident in your work and your capabilities frees you from overthinking things. Still, being confident can often times be misunderstood by a lack of humility. In these cases peace builds confidence beyond what others might think of you. That consistency of thought turns confident leadership into action.

Peace fuels trust

I’ve heard it said that trust is a human currency. An exchange between people. But what happens when you don’t trust yourself, your own thought process or capabilities? That is where confidence built by peace can be powerful beyond it’s leader and spread to a team. A true leader who is comfortable in his/her strengths and weaknesses doesn’t feel threatened by the team but trusts in each member to the point of empowerment.

Peace makes you bold

Fear in the workplace is often associated with failure. We deny these emotions because we very seldom read about great leaders being this vulnerable. When you experience peace you end up seeing failure not as a fear but as a result of inaction. Great leaders who experience peace take more risks because they believe in their abilities and trust their teams efforts to be bold enough to lead without the fear of failure.

Peace generates positivity

Like a domino effect, a leader who is confident and builds a trusting environment sees the work of the team through positive lenses. Peace helps generate an atmosphere of positivity that is genuine and real. Leaders who experience peace are positive in the way they speak about the challenges at hand and in the sensitive interactions we all have with difficult people. They even remain positive when things don’t go according to plan.

Peace fuels persistence

A true sense of peace transforms a leader to go after his/her team’s goals with a real belief that they can be achieved. While good planning and clean execution are hallmarks of great leadership, being persistent in the continued pursuit of an objective is just as important. Peace allows leaders to set aside any selfish motives and helps them realize what is truly important to push through. Persistence is an energy that when fueled by positive motives rooted in peace it can be unstoppable.

In what other ways do you see peace being important to you? How can it influence your leadership? Comment below and let me know your thoughts.

The 3 reasons for having a word of the year

Like most people I see the new year as an opportunity to recharge and set new goals and milestones. But sometimes the pressure to achieve something new can be overwhelming. This is why I try to focus on a word of the year. Just one word but with a much broader meaning. It can be a simple thought, feeling, skill, or trait. One word that will help me grow personally, professionally, and spirituality. These are the three most important aspects of having a word of the year.

Personal growth – not a new year’s resolution

Let me be objective: choosing a word of the year is not about setting a new year’s resolution. It’s so much more than that. Take losing weight as an example. As I look at the world of social media the month of January is primetime for meme creators. We’ve all seen the pictures of crowded gyms on January 1st, poking fun at people who want to make a change. A word of the year would allow you to take a holistic approach that goes beyond your physical appearance.

I’ve done this exercise for many years now and the way your word changes year after year reveals much about who you are and who you are becoming. Last year my word was trust and it carried me to a place where I discovered how I can be a better husband, father, son, brother, and leader when I trust the people closest to me. My recent blog posts reflect that. This year my word of the year is peace. And in the example of potentially wanting to lose weight, the word peace gives me the ability to pursue that goal with the freedom to make decisions that go beyond my physical health.

Professional growth – not focused on money and promotions

If you know me you know I like work. I think this desire to work and be successful grew on me from an early age and for various reasons. I recall my parents modest lifestyle that allowed us to live comfortably but with some reservations, and early on that reality planted a desire for me to make more money for my family. Or when I graduated from college with top grades and landed a job ahead of many of my peers. This made me want recognition by moving up the corporate ladder quickly. Choosing a word of the year doesn’t mean I disregard these desires or declare defeat to these goals if I don’t achieve them, instead it allows me to see growth even if that is not the end result.

If I can be honest, seeing growth beyond the promotion and financial raise was difficult for me. Much of my career journey has been made of ups and downs. And in light of this reality the word peace provides me the comfort to navigate these experiences with controlled emotions, without loosing sense of the learning opportunities that are present in the here and now. This approach has actually allowed me to grow from each position I’ve held with the different teams I’ve worked with. Even when the promotions didn’t happen when I wanted them to happen, overall I am a better professional because of all these experiences.

Spiritual growth – not a set of rules

Every time I write or speak of spiritual growth I know I am getting into personal space. But I don’t want to shy away from it either (there is peace in this too). Whether you believe in a deity or not the truth is that wholesome living and real growth happens when you see mind, body, and spirit as one. The way I think and the way I act are connected through my soul. I believe this is why Jesus wanted a relationship with us. It has nothing to do with my appearance or my level of knowledge. It’s all about a relationship.

Wherever you are in your relationship with God my hope is that you seek a word that allows you to find your purpose beyond the things of this world. I believe this is the part of your life that unlocks the most growth in the personal and the professional. The spiritual side of your word helps you answer the question why. Why do I want to lose weight? Why do I want to be promoted at work? The way you think and act come from your beliefs which are shaped by this relationship. Your word can help you in this conversation. There is no set rules as to how you do this. That is the beautiful part of it. For me it is starting every day reading scripture and writing my thoughts and prayers in a journal. For you it may be different.

Have you chosen a word of the year before? How has that word shaped your life? Comment and share below.

The gift of peace

In my current journey to understand intentionality one thing has become clear: things are not always as they seem. Maybe that sounds cliche but I have become much more aware of this reality as my recent counseling sessions dig deep into my motives. Finding meaning in past experiences has helped me recognize this throughline that runs in me. If intentionality was attached to a need for control, the fear of losing control is rooted in my corrupt sense of value for myself. The way to overcome this is peace.

Recognizing fear

It’s hard to talk about fear. The feeling of ‘fear’ is a symptom deep in someone’s gut. It paralyzes us. It makes us doubt ourselves. It keeps us from being who we truly are and who we were meant to be. In many ways fear has the power to stop you in your tracks without ever doing anything. It just makes you think of all that could go wrong.

Fear revealed itself to me in my early years. Whether it was the bully who gained control of my actions in middle school or the lack of support from bosses who lead through intimidation, fear took root in much of my life; making me not even notice it. And almost like a chess game, that fear made me calculate my every move in the hopes of avoiding disappointment and pain.

Finding peace

If fear makes you unsure of yourself, peace makes you comfortable with the outcome. While it’s popular to think that courage is the opposite of fear, I believe it’s peace that truly negates it. Courage then becomes a reflection of that peace which gives you freedom to take action.

Peace became real to me during my teenage years as I entered high school. It was peace that helped me overcome the bullies and see beyond the shortcomings of bad bosses. It was peace that made me understand the richness in each experience. Not that I wanted to experience hurt or frustration, but peace helped me see these occurrences not as defining moments but as learning opportunities. And in that sense, peace brings a freedom that is hard to describe.

Describing peace through Jesus

Peace become real to me when I was introduced to Jesus. Yes, that same Jesus who Christmas is all about. The people of his time also battled fear and their courage to speak truth and live in truth was only unlocked because they saw peace. Living and breathing peace. Jesus’ promise of a full life didn’t mean a life with no problems; it meant a life where we grow in those problems; a life that we appreciate because regardless of what happens we are safe in Him. I am rediscovering this truth and there is no better season to do it then Christmas. I hope you enjoy the gift of peace He brings to you and me.

Rediscovering my value

Living with intentionality can be powerful. But sometimes that power can break your spirit as you lose track of why you gained so much focus in the first place. My recent journey in understanding the impacts of a life lived with intentionality led me to an uncomfortable place. A place where I didn’t have all the answers and where I was not fully in control. But sometimes it’s okay to sit in the uncomfortable; to lack the words that express fully how one feels. It’s in those moments that we identify what is truly valuable.

As I look back on my life I’ve always made an effort to see value in others; an appreciation that makes me give the best version of myself. In many ways that is how intentionality has become such a central point in my life. But somewhere in this process I forgot the value that I carried for myself. The recognition that I was worth it. Thankfully my wife noticed this acknowledgment that was lacking in me and she gifted me with a trip back home. A trip 14 years in the making. A trip that set me on a path to rediscover my own value.

Value in word

My trip to Portugal became real when I realized that the excitement in my heart was echoing in my brothers heart as well. To experience the sights and sounds that I grew up with was exhilarating; to do it with him was emotional. I didn’t know what to expect. Over the years we’ve had our disagreements. Our misunderstandings. Even our extended period of time when silence was the only sound between us. This unknown was a question on my value as a brother; as an uncle; even as a friend.

I stood in our parents living room when the door bell rang. He ran to me when we locked eyes and in that same place that saw us grow old we hugged for the first time in a decade. I will never forget that hug. Nor the kisses on my cheek. Nor the words that he spoke. “I missed you my little brother. I’ve missed you so much. And I am so thankful you are here.

My brother and I

Value in touch

This trip to Portugal also allowed me to lock eyes with other members of my family. There are many who have played an important part in my life but none made me feel as nostalgic as my cousin Fatinha. I didn’t know it until we were reunited but she was the one who made kindness a real truth in my life. You see Fatinha can’t talk. Injured with cerebral palsy due to a complicated birth she would be permanently constrained to communicate with gestures and unique sounds that would provide her meaning.

I got a chance to visit her at the facility she lives in and to see her smile of pure joy was so worth it. I remember the summers we would spend at the pool. I remember the times I would pull her on her tube across the water as she just relaxed. I remember her smile as we would lay on our beach towels and I would talk to her about my day. She didn’t say anything and she didn’t need to. Her presence was enough to remind me of her value in my life and my value in hers.

Fatinha and I

Value in time

On my last day before returning to the States my Mom reminded me of someone she had recently seen and who had asked for me: my elementary school teacher. The last time I saw her I was heading to college and it was over 20 years ago. But still, she remembered me. And I remembered her.

On our way to a restaurant we decided to stop by and say hi. She still lived in the same house and as I rang the doorbell she recognized me and immediately told me how much taller I was. She welcomed me in her home and we spent a good time talking about our lives. What stood out was her interest in hearing about my life and the decisions I made after graduating high school. I will remember her smile and affirmation that “you’ve turned out to be a fine young man with a beautiful family.” To hear that from my first teacher was so powerful. Almost as if I was still that young boy standing in her classroom all those years ago.

My elementary school teacher

Unconditional value

While this journey of rediscovering my value has not been easy it has been extremely enriching. And I know that my story isn’t necessarily the same for others who have questioned their self worth. But this is where faith bridges any doubt. When we seek truth about ourselves God meets us with a level of grace that only He can. This trip to Portugal was life giving, and that was because God met me there. In the laughter of my family, the smiles of strangers, or just the moments in silence as I marvelled at the blessings in my life.

The last few months

Maybe you are like me. Sensitive to hard truths that hit you like a gut punch. I want to be strong but my desire to learn and grow has wired me to seek feedback in all circumstances. And while feedback on who I am tends to be mostly positive, one slight reminder of something I thought I was over and the truth hits hard. When that happens I go through an intense review of my actions and up the intentionality meter to be more aware and more focused. In the process I shrug off the feelings that make me uncomfortable. Those are the feelings that have boiled over the last few months.

Quarantine feelings

Over a year ago I left my office unaware that I would be working from home indefinitely. At the time it seemed surreal. Almost like a scene from a movie that unfolded with a dark uncertainty that kept everyone unsure of what would happen next. Once sickness and death took over it was hard to see the future through clear lenses. How would we react to all that was happening? How could we live freely when asked to be in complete isolation? What psychological impacts would this reality have on children and their families? The ability to answer these questions got even harder when the topic of public health became a political argument, as if public health should be a partisan debate. This was our reality too; with friends and family.

These challenging times became real when the irony of a positive test meant bad news. This test reminded that not everything that is meant for good is indeed… good. As I dig deeper into my personality traits I have recognized that maybe my intentionality has grown from two types of roots.

The positive root

How could I be the best husband, father, son, brother, friend, co-worker, neighbor, leader, and (insert role here) if not by intentionally looking at the ways I act and react, think and process, discern and decide? I am not perfect – none of us are – but the opportunity to improve and be everything I was meant to be; the best version of myself is worth the effort. If anything, my family deserves it. My work benefits from it. It is all well intended and I’ve grown as a man thanks to this “always on” approach. But inside… it still hurts when the opportunity to grow is so obvious. Mainly because it is in these moments that I recognize I have very little control over the current reality and the future.

The negative root

What’s not to like about improving oneself? In many ways when I explain my intentional approach to life it is received with honorable mentions and recognized by the people around me. But this is what I learned from this pandemic, for as much as I tried to control the outcome I still ended up needing to quarantine. Could this focus on intentionality actually be a camouflage for my need to control the outcome? If so what was I controlling the outcome from? This recent revelation led me to seek help.

The value of mental health

The thoughts that eco through our minds reverberate through one’s soul and sink deep into the heart. My inability to recognize the fears that have haunted me have led me to a place of deep sorrow. A place where thankfully God has met me daily, and with mercy and grace. I am blessed to have a wife and family that have been supportive through this journey. And while it is hard to be in this place, I know I will be better for it. A type of intentionality that is worth pursuing.

Tell me a story of when you were young – #1 – elections

Most storytellers get their passion from a book. For me it was “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank. My love for both historical events and personal references made me imagine what my life would’ve looked like had I lived in similar circumstances. That is what books and stories do. They carry us to a different time and help us experience imaginary worlds or a time different than the one we are in right now. I think that is why all of our children are interested in stories from when I was young. I remember asking the same of my parents and now they do it to me.

It starts with our evening routine. As bedtime approaches, we check if their teeth are brushed, clothes are ready for the following day and tuck them in for the night. With each child a common question often gets asked. One that has led me to share about the serious and funny events that have shaped me. Written in story form I will post these timely memories in the hopes our children will cherish it for years to come. Again, it starts with that one question… and a follow-up conversation.

It was 7:30 PM and bed time was fast approaching. Every Mom and Dad anxiously await for this time of the day. A few more minutes and quietness will fill the house. But before that can happen the sacred ritual of goodnight prayers and forehead kisses takes place. The order changes every night. The youngest one is first tonight. Ava is the only girl and often the first to be tucked in. Blake is second and like any middle child he complains of neither being first nor last. Normally the last one gets a chance to really spend time with Dad and ask a question that will delay bedtime. Tonight Caden is last and his question is timely.

Can you tell me a story of when you were young? I bet elections were different when you were young.

Dad smiled and started sharing about his first memory of an election. It was 1990 and he was 8 years old. The Portuguese president was fighting for a second term. “I remember being as young as your sister and our family was spending time in my Dad’s hometown. Where Vovo was born.” “In Medelim, right?” Caden quickly replied as he was proud to know this key detail. “Yes. We found out the current Portuguese president was coming through the town campaigning for his second term in office. His name was Mario Soares and he was one of my Dad’s favorite politicians. I remember being a little kid and my Dad holding me up high and passing me to him.” Dad was quickly interrupted with the obvious question. “So he just passed you to him like a hot potato?” While Caden was covering his mouth under his sheets it was obvious there was grin hiding. “Very funny! Believe it or not, it’s actually normal for people to pass their children to politicians for pictures.” Dad said. “But I’m really not sure there is a picture to show. This was before there were cell phones.” Dad continued “Vovo just liked him because he had fought against the dictatorship.”

Caden’s eyes opened wide. “Oh wow!” The thought of dictatorship in his Dad’s home country made him think of current events and the recent elections in the U.S. “Were candidates nicer back then or did they also complain with each other?” Caden asked. “I think politicians have always been passionate and when we’re young we just don’t notice it as much. Now we get more information through the constant news and social media so you hear everyone’s different opinions.” Dad said in a reassuring voice.

Caden remained intrigued. You could see he was thinking about how to frame his next question. “Do you think there could ever be a dictatorship in America?” Dad was tempted to provide a quick response based on the merits of how the political system was built in the United States. Instead he returned to the original question. “I think that is why elections have always been important. They were important when I was young just like they are today.” Dad continued, “When voting for someone you look at their character first and foremost. Their political ideology will always follow close to their character. If they show themselves to be honest and kind then it is easier to trust their leadership.” Caden quickly replied, “you trust they won’t hold on to power.” Dad confirmed Caden’s thoughts with a nodding of his head and a closing statement “That’s right son. These are great questions to have and think through. They will prepare you for when you get to vote.”

A final kiss was stamped on Caden’s forehead with the ceremonial last words for the day. “Good night son. Amo-te muito!” Caden replied, “Amo-te muito Dad.”

2020 lessons for 2021

A new year is here and like most I have set goals and planed for the journey ahead. I normally think of this time in the year – last 2 weeks of December and the first 2 weeks of January – as a door that closes and another that opens. This introspective process normally unfolds ahead of the holidays as I take some time off to think through the life experiences I went through and set my hopes for what’s to come. The time off with family re-energizes me in preparation for the new year. But 2020 was not a normal year and even the sense of certainty in this routine was somehow different this time. Maybe it was because it all felt a bit more isolated. Or maybe it’s because plans have become more trivial. One thing 2020 blessed me with was more intimate time with family. Talking, thinking out loud, sharing of what we see and the emotions we feel from what is happening all around us has helped me prepare for the new year. This post was built on the experiences of 2020 but based on the conversations of the last 4 weeks. These are the lessons we learned as a family as we prepare for a new year.

Lesson #1 – Stay Flexible

Most of our time off during the holidays is normally spent outside. As a family we love a good hike in the woods. It definitely brings out the best in us as Courtney and I can spend time in conversation without sibling rivalries taking over. In the woods our kids can adventure together without feeling like it’s a competition. But this time, as we planned most of our time being out in the Greenway, the weather didn’t always collaborate. It was during a change of plans that our daughter shared her 2020 lesson.

What I learned from 2020 is that you need to be flexible!

Ava Marques

This need to be flexible was definitely on display during our time off. For a child who loves school, being away from teachers and friends required an adjustment. This simple yet brutally honest assessment of our 10 year old was something we all needed to hear. Our kids have had to adjust to school being different and as parents we’ve had to adjust our work and home realities, as both became one. Flexibility with a plan can seem counterintuitive but it is possible when your purpose is clearly defined. Your destination is still the same but your map on how to get there changes.

Lesson #2 – When you get knocked down.. you get up again

When the weather finally cooperated we challenged ourselves for our longest family hike so far: 8 miles! Everyone was up for it and the time spent together really made for some great memories. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. Especially for our kids. And while I won’t say which of our children had the hardest time through the hike, one in particular had to stop halfway through due to hunger. It was at that moment that both of our boys shared their 2020 lesson.

In 2020 we learned that when you get knocked down you need to fight and get back up!

Caden and Blake Marques

This desire to fight back and to persevere is helpful in a hike, and a fitting response to what 2020 threw at us. In a year packed with ups and downs it can be overwhelming to look back. In those tough moments many of us don’t know how to react. But sometimes all we need is to take one step at a time. Getting up from the challenges, learning from it, and pushing through.

Lesson #3 – Everything is better when we do it together

When we finished our 8 mile family hike we knew we had done something special. But the most important part was that we did it together. As a family. And in many ways this too reflected the biggest lesson Courtney and I had for 2020.

We can learn more, grow more and achieve more when we do it together!

Courtney and David Marques

It is easy to describe 2020 as the year the majority of us were stuck at home. But I believe the most encouraging part of 2020 was that it reminded us that being together as a family is enough. And whether that is taking a family hike, riding our bikes, watching a movie, or having a family game night, the simplicity of these moments created memories that make me yearn for more. More conversations with my wife and kids. More time understanding and learning about their views of the world. More opportunities to be together!

The Marques family finishing our 8 mile hike!

So what were your lessons from 2020 and how are you applying them to 2021? I would love to hear from you!

Back to school mottos during a pandemic

It’s that time of year again when all kids return to school. This year is a bit different as the pandemic continues to place our every day activities in a new light. If you have kids you know this as school looks a bit different with alternative schedules in place, additional safety measures and an increase need for extra patience. This new reality can create anxiety and stress for everyone involved. But change is inevitable and in many ways the adjustment of this year is a good opportunity to learn to adapt when faced with a challenge. This is an approach we take every school year.

Beyond just learning

More than learning about math and science, school is about growing through the different experiences kids will face when they are away from home. That is why every year we ask each of our children to write their goals on a piece of paper. In it we ask that they write not only what they want to achieve academically but also how they will grow in character.

In the Marques household we have a motto regarding school that has been the foundation for every decision we’ve made since they were in kindergarten. It is the lens through which we see every school success, disappointment or challenge. It is simply this:

Character over academics

This statement is a constant reminder for Courtney and I to focus on what is important. And while our kids may face challenges in their learning experience; while they may get a ‘C’ or even a “D’ on a paper or test; while they may not be recognized as an honor role student; the real win is in how they will respond to adversity, in how they will display kindness when faced with a bully, and how they will overcome life when the unexpected is thrown at you.


This simple statement is a reminder that character allows purpose to flourish even when plans are broken. Yes, we still want our kids to be ambitious, give their best in learning and achieve good grades. But this approach helps them frame success in a healthy way.

So here are the 2020/2021 School “Mottos” for the Marques kids…

Real champions never give up!

Caden Marques
Caden Tiago Marques

Different is cool!

Blake Marques
Blake Ezra Marques

Be kind, social distance, and never give up!

Ava Marques
Ava Madeline Marques

I hope one day Caden, Blake and Ava can read up on this post but not be surprised by their mottos. That will mean they will be living life with purpose. It will also mean the pandemic didn’t stop them.

What mottos do you have in your family? Share this post and the mottos you have for this year.