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What’s your Personal Legend?
Plan Your Next #100
👋 Good morning from Los Angeles, California! I'm Nate Kadlac, and this is #100 of Plan Your Next. A Sunday newsletter that connects design, creativity, and how you prepare for your next thing.
💡 What’s new?
💻 I updated my site with a proper newsletter landing page. If you’re a regular here, I’d love to get a shout out from you. Even if you don’t have anything nice to say, I’ll probably use it because I’m a sucker for hearing my own name. Just hit reply and give me your best—or worst—shot.
📕 I finished reading The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho. It’s one of those books that sat in my Kindle forever, and I had no idea how quick of a read it was. On the spectrum of self-help books, it’s a bit over the top, but I definitely needed it right now.
✏️ I started testing out Obsidian for note-taking. I’ll write more about this, but I know my writing buddy Matt is laughing and shaking his head while scribbling down a note at how absurd this is, using Apple Notes.
My father-in-law passed away yesterday.
It hurts to see these words appear on the screen. It doesn’t feel real, because less than three weeks ago, we were planning to see him back in LA. Everything was great until it wasn’t.
I've known Robert for 10 years, and during that period, I’ve spent more time with him than my own parents.
When I first met Robert, we were sitting in Minneapolis at the kitchen counter in Alie’s house. Almost immediately I realized this was a close-knit family, and definitely not in the same way my family is. Dirty jokes were made, wine was always bountiful, dinners were served, and they talked almost daily.
While I love my family, we're scattered out across the country like stray popcorn on the floor. I’d never swear or drink in front of them. My parents don't make the effort to travel out here, and I don't find myself heading back to Minnesota all that often. We talk, but our conversations should happen a lot more often.
What I first noticed about Robert is his love of storytelling. He has about ten stories he could draw at any given time, like a reliable stack of credit cards pulled from his hamburger wallet. He has a knack for telling these ten stories whether you heard them or not. I still can’t tell if he knew he was repeating himself, or if he was just excited to repeat them given the chance. But, if you got to know him for more than a couple of years, these credit card stories became biblical, because they could be recalled on-demand like scripture.
“Feet? That reminds me of the time I ended up in the ER missing a pinky toe after the hot tub…”
Robert and I couldn't be more different, but our similarities were also surprising. He ran a successful dental practice for most of his career. He loved working for himself and so did his employees. His ridiculously low churn rate would make most SaaS companies drool.
Like my own interest in design, he found something early on that just grabbed hold. Through and through, Robert could talk endlessly about how much he loved being a dentist like I do about design.
We both found something we're good at and truly loved. We also loved working for ourselves. We had skills we could depend on, and people could depend on us.
Finding your Personal Legend
In the novel, The Alchemist, a young shepherd meets an old man while he's on one of his trips to sell wool. This old man happens to be a King who knows everything about the shepherd's life.
The King describes to the shepherd there is a hidden treasure waiting for the boy, but in order to find it, he must follow his Personal Legend to the end.
The book describes that we are all born with a Personal Legend. When we're younger, It's much easier to see because we're more open to listening to what our heart wants. As we become adults, we often lose sight of it, and the world stops working in our favor.
But the world wants us to find it. And when we listen to our hearts, we're shown omens to help guide us down the right path. Our hearts are connected to The Soul of the World, which is connected to all things.
According to the King, he might have to interfere every now and then if we're trying, but struggling. Seems like a cop-out.
To me, Robert was lucky and found his Personal Legend early on, and worked at it for his entire career. Whenever I asked him why he chose the path of running his own dental practice, it was like he never had another option. It just existed, and he claimed it.
”People need not fear the unknown if they are capable of achieving what they need and want.”—The Alchemist
The shepherd eventually found his hidden treasure. To me, Robert was lucky enough to find his bounty along the way to realizing his Personal Legend.
He married Marleen—his high-school sweetheart—who proudly supported Robert's dream even after telling him, ”I’ll think about it” when he asked her to marry him. This also happens to be one of Robert's ten stories.
Robert helped raise Alie and her brother Kyle. Alie's such a great mom because of how she was raised.
Bringing Rowan into this world wasn't easy—we had to resort to the expensive IVF route—but we had full emotional and financial support from Robert and Marleen through all the difficult times. We got to see Robert in full grandpa mode the past 10 months, and now it’s going to be cut short.
I don't know if I fully buy into the Personal Legend, but I've seen how frustrating it can be for people who bounce around from job to job, interest to interest, not having the full backing of your heart behind some of your decisions.
I feel lucky to have been able to share this trait with Robert because it helped me appreciate him so much more. Sometimes having a specialized skill can feel limiting, but it's opened up many doors because our hearts have told us to keep chasing it.
Robert, I'll miss you more than you know. Rest well.
An epilogue: My journey to 100 letters
In the beginning, I had a goal at the outset of my newsletter journey: Get to 100 issues. At that point, maybe I'll be able to look back and figure out what the hell I enjoy writing about.
Someone told me the best-selling author James Clear did this. It seemed smart.
I didn't expect to be writing about my father-in-law on issue 100, but here we are.
This issue is bittersweet, because it defines my journey as a writer, chasing whatever creative feeling I'm having in the moment. It's not a path I would wish on anyone, but it does give me the latitude to talk about personal stories that are important to me, even if the theme changes week to week.
Design, creativity, and the long play.
To be honest, I think I figured out what I wanted to write about early on. Stories told through experience, even if I feel I lack it at times.
I take pride in getting to #100, but now I realize I want to get to 1,000.
If this small triumph is part of my own Personal Legend, then I feel extremely fortunate.
👋 See you next Sunday
Have a great week,
p.s. If you enjoyed this letter, would you please let me know by tapping on the heart below?