Today I interviewed a guy I admire a lot. Brian Tuten lives in Pheonix, AZ and is a husband and father to five kids. He's got a 'good job and pretty much everything that people in today's culture aspire to.
Trouble is, he has bigger aspirations.
Some 'cliff notes' highlights here are thus:
- Brian wants more from his life, and more for his family.
- He and his family have lived on much less than he makes for quite a while, sacrificing 'status' for margin to invest in more meaningful things than late model cars, a big house and all the meaningless consumer items that society normally devotes itself to affording.
- Brian pursued knowing himself better, to therefore understand what he believed he was to devote himself to.
- Now he and his family are embarking on a great adventure.
Down below are some notes Brian shared with me, and I promise you...there are some quotes that will dramatically inspire you, convict you and make you stop and think about your own life. If you've never fully paid attention to my blogs before, please...read what Brian has to say. If you're more of an audio person, here is the replay of the live show:
Free Agent Underground Show - "Not letting life happen"
Kevin: What was your college focus, what you thought your interest was?
Brian: My older brother, by five years, loved computers. I grew up watching him take computers apart and put them back together. He also liked to write a lot of simple computer programs. I did not have the same passion for computers that he did, but I wanted to be like him. We both graduated from college with majors in computer science. My parents were happy because with a computer science degree I could get a good job and computer programming was something I could do well.
So, that is the profession I choose, but while in college I discovered what I was truly passionate about. I have always loved adventure from an early age, but in college I had the privilege of being the outdoor eduction director's assistant. In this position I learned how to teach and lead numerous adventure sports. I fell in love with outdoor adventure and it is still a big part of my life today.
Kevin: What is your quick job history leading to now?
15-17yrs – Assistant Manager Little Caesars Pizza
17-18yrs – Assistant Manager Entertainment Tonight Video
18-20yrs – Berry College Outdoor Education Department Director's Assistant
21-27yrs – AG Communication Systems/Lucent Technology (telecommunication software)
28-35yrs – Performance Software (avionics software)
Kevin: How/when did your family came into focus...marriage, kids?
Brian: A couple of months before I graduated from college, it was my job to train my replacement. Jodi was eager to learn and we spent a lot of time together getting her familiar her new responsibilities. Our first date was teaching her how to kayak on a rain swollen river. I had never met a girl who loved adventure as much as me. So, we started dating (long distance) after I graduated and moved from Georgia to Arizona. Jodi baby sat for a couple who were marriage counselors in our college town and we went through premarital counseling with them (Battlefield Ministries). Our dear friends, Nathan and Jane are the most amazing example and counselors we know. Jodi and I have avoided the majority of the typical marriage issues because we sought and still seek good counsel. We are passionate about growing together and making sure others have the same tools we've had to strengthen our marriage.
After five years of marriage, we were blessed with our first child. A week before Kendall was born, I was laid off as part of a corporate takeover by Lucent Technologies. It was such an amazing experience. I got the opportunity to spend the next six months bonding with my wife and our new daughter. During that time I worked part time as an office manager in our friend's chiropractic office to cover our expenses. When the baby was six months, as a family we started adventuring together. By the time she was eleven months we were able to do canyoneering trips to Zion. One of my favorite memories/pictures is our eleven month old daughter, in her pool floaty ring, swimming through a four foot wide slot canyon with the walls towering high above her. Kids are such a gift and we are only given a moment to enjoy them, so we better make it count.
Kevin: Where/how did your unrest/desire start to manifest for...more and better
Brian: Over the last five years I have taken on more responsibility at work and our family has grown from two to five kids. As a family, we have gotten outdoors less and less as my energy has been divided between my job and family. I have felt torn because my heart is to spend more time investing in my family, but my kids are not able to see that, when I spend the majority of my time working. I have been searching for a way to incorporate family, work, and play. I've found that when I do not get enough family time and outdoor adventure in my life, I become restless, irritable, and in general am not much fun to be around. Hope deferred makes the heart sick. If there is an adventure on the horizon or even the possibility of it and hope returns. That is one of the things I love about Free Agent Academy, it creates hope.
Kevin: How did you came to your current idea?
Brian: I got the opportunity to attend the Free Agent Academy intensive event in March 2011 to focus on my Idea. As Jonathan Pool walked us through the life of 'hypothetical guy', I learned how the whole picture of our life (the good, the bad, our strengths, our personalities, and our heart) have shaped us into who we are. Then we got to create our wall of perspective and it was such a powerful and revealing journey for me. I found freedom in the transparency, as I got so much out of having others walk through my life with me to point out the common threads that I was not able to see.
Since reading 'A Million Miles In A Thousand Years' by Donald Miller, I have been searching for a story larger than myself to invite my family to join me in. Well, I really didn't know enough about myself to create that story. The Free Agen Academy Idea intensive event gave me the idea filter and through it I found our story.
Kevin: So, what is your idea?
Brian: The Funhog Family 50 State Challenge:
- As a family, visit each of the 50 states
- Experience an adventure per state
- Interview ministries (as a family) that have impacted our family
- Raise money for marriage and family
- Make family the adventure and relationship the journey, showing that a family of seven on the road is not only possible, but only a stepping stone to the adventures to come.
- Through our simple yet adventurous life, we desire to inspire the world to seek Christ and to invest in what matters most.
Kevin: What is the hope doing in your soul and spirit?
Brian: C.S. Lewis said, “We are made for something greater, but it takes a journey to discover what that is.“
As we have started taking steps towards making this journey a reality, I have started to come alive. The excitement is contagious too as the whole family is coming together to make things happen. I have a thankful heart as this story is just beginning.
Kevin: What are your next action steps?
Brian: I have asked for a three month sabbatical from work in order to complete the first stage of our journey (states east of Arizona), starting July 2nd. I am getting tons of ideas for blog content, but I need to create a blog site and get it online. I need to complete the branding->online courses in Free Agent Academy. Then, I need to finish the adventure prep.
- See a map of Brian's first leg of adventure: The Funhog Family 50 State Challenge
- You can contact Brian through his current website (not the ultimate site for this adventure): www.adventureonpurpose.com