The Big Picture

Eisigenalp, Switzerland, December 25, 2018

When my family and I first moved to La Seu d’Urgell 16 months ago, I thought that photography would be a nice way to share moments of our lives from a new country.

Everyday situations such as meeting friends for coffee on an old street or coming upon an unexpected view of the city from one of its many surrounding mountain tops seemed photo-worthy.

Capturing simple moments with the camera on my worn out iPhone6 is now a favorite pursuit. My family, running partners, canoeing athletes, and close friends patiently indulge my habit of stepping away from a conversation or trail run — or pulling the car over on the side of a highway — to *grab a shot of something that grabs me.*

One of my favorite outcomes of this pursuit is that nearly every picture you see each week in Sunday Morning Joe is one of my photographs.

So… on this final Sunday of 2018, here are the short stories behind three of my favorite Sunday Morning Joe cover photos from the past year:

“How can you tell you that it is going to be good?” my wife, Lisa, asks as I quickly hand my coffee cup to her.

“The small orange lines around the clouds’ edges are a sign,” I say. I quickly go from closet and out the door pulling on some winter clothes. “Do you want a hat?” — her voice fades away as the door shuts behind me.

I walk along the cobbles of the still dark and narrow streets of old-town and down to the rocky edge of the Segre River. The sun, the clouds, and the river conspire to paint a pre-dawn moment. Effortlessly.

For about 30 minutes, I move around a small section of river bank making small adjustments to essentially the same view. Thirty minutes feels likes 30 seconds.

There is not a bad photo on this morning, especially not this one, which gently asks, “Can it be even more simple?”

In one Sunday Morning Joe post from this past year, I wrote about how *too* easy it is to say the words, state an opinion, or be heard. Honestly, it is often painful to witness how many life-changing experiences are missed as a person’s good energy is diverted into words, declarations, and arguments on Facebook.

I experience deep satisfaction when I encounter the opposite: solitary actions underway in challenging circumstances.

On this cold and snowy morning in February, I am in search of a “pretty snow photo” at the Parc del Segre. I gingerly make my way along the bridge that crosses over the whitewater competition channel. It is early. It is bitterly cold. I look downstream through the icy-fog to discover a Spanish Canoe Team coach and her athlete who are taking advantage of having the water to themselves. They patiently talk river strategy and skill refinement.

Who would have blamed them had they changed this on-river training session to an indoor workout in the gym? Or, what if they had saved this particular conversation for later after the athlete had taken a warm shower and changed into dry clothes? At least why not talk more quickly and get this work over with?

None of the above. What we see here is the essence of taking action. Doing the work in small steps. It is right here in black and white.

Postscript: A few months after this photo was taken, the athlete in the photo wins separate gold medals at the U-23 World Championships and the U-23 European Championships. In September, he is one of the 10 athletes who advance to the Finals in the Whitewater Canoe Slalom World Cup held on this very competition course.

“Sorry I’m late,” Laura’s text message reads. “Can we go right now?”

Normally at this early evening hour on a typical Friday night, I am heading out to have a glass of wine with Lisa before we join our friends for tapas at a favorite restaurant.

Laura, is an athlete on the Andorran National Team. She is one of a handful of elite canoeing athletes who I now coach. She commutes each weekend from her university studies in Toulouse, France to La Seu d’Urgell in Catalunya (Spain) for these training sessions. Sometimes she arrives to the course just as the late afternoon sun drops behind the mountains.

I enjoy these changes of plans.

“Of course!” I text back. “See you in a few minutes.”

I arrive at the Parc del Segre, just as Laura paddles across the flat-water channel before turning upstream and towards the darkness of the oncoming night.

This moment, and my favorite photo of 2018, encapsulates the change. Not only the kind of change that my athletes and clients with whom I work seek to make, but the unexpected change that my own life creates for me.

Simple. Actions. Change.

In 2018, my photography captured, for me, these simple situations where the decision to act created internal and external awareness that led to further actions.

Moments of simplicity like these may feel fleeting, but they are all around us. They yearn to be acted upon, honored, and then remembered for the next one that is soon to follow.

Simple actions change.

Choosing three words that shape my directional force for the year ahead is an annual practice I learned from my friend and fellow Sunday morning author, Chris Brogan. If it is a practice of yours too, please leave a comment and let me know your three words.

Happy 2019!

With gratitude,


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Where the Essence of Joe Jacobi’s Olympic Gold Medal Habits, Mindsets, & Cultures of Excellence Transform Your Performance in Business and in Life

Hi, I’m Joe, the owner of 5 With Joe Performance Coaching. My clients are leaders, organizations, and teams who utilize my Olympic Gold Medal performance strategies and 40 years of navigating whitewater river rapids to streamline decision making and actions when engaged in complicated river currents of business and life.

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