All Posts by Papa Ben Dambman

The Power Is Out In The Entire Country – What Do You Do?

Imagine this:

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon and you are relaxing at home.

It's cloudy outside, but no rain.

Without warning, the power goes out.

A few minutes later, you get a text that the power is out in the entire country.

What do you do?

What goes through your mind?

Do you call your family? Check on neighbors? Do you stay calm, or do you panic? ​Do you figure it's no big deal - or when you get that text do you start imagining that it's the end of the world?

This happened last week in Central America. A power failure in Panama took out power in parts of that country, the entire country of Costa Rica, and parts of Nicaragua, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico.

It ​was a cloudy Saturday afternoon. My wife was at work and I was home with our 3-year-old daughter.

The power went out. But since this happens every few days, it wasn't any cause for concern.

But then I got this text from my wife:

power out in Costa Rica 2017

Here were my thoughts:

1:30 pm “Uh oh… I’ve never heard of that before… 'The power is out in the entire country'?!"

1:35 pm "OK no problem - We just need to keep the fridge closed so the food doesn’t go bad."

1:45 pm “Hmmm this could be a problem. We have food but what if the water stops working? I’ll fill up a big container of water.” (I fill up a giant water cooler bottle)

2:00 pm “If the power is out in the entire country, it will probably be out for more than a few hours. Maybe a day or two? A few weeks? Oh boy…”

2:01 pm (I text a friend in the U.S. who asked what the weather was like. When I try to look up the temperature, my phone said “no service”)

2:02 pm “No cell service. Oh no. This is a big problem. What if I can’t get in touch with Shannon? What’s happening in the rest of the country? Chaos?”

2:03 pm “Is this the end of the world?”

2:04 pm “What if the ice cream in the freezer melts before I get to eat it? I’d better eat that now before it melts.”

2:05 pm (I eat the ice cream sandwich from our freezer)

2:08 pm “That was a pretty selfish move… I probably should have been more concerned about our neighbors than the ice cream melting. I wonder if any neighbors are in trouble? Can’t think of any that are older, or that live alone…”

2:37 pm “Maybe I should call our pastor to see if the church is rallying people to go help anyone who’s in trouble?”

2:38 pm Power comes back on

2:39 pm (Sigh of relief) "Oh good, it’s not the end of the world.”

I text Shannon to let her know the power is back on.

power out in Costa Rica 2017

I learned a few lessons that Saturday. Next time there is any kind of emergency, I need to:

  • Think about others first - instead of eating the ice cream, I should think about and take immediate action to ensure that my family and neighbors are safe
  • Have a plan - and a backup plan. My wife, daughter and I need to all have a plan written down and rehearsed so that we know exactly what to do if we have an emergency
  • I need to pray. When I heard the power was out in the entire country, I should have fallen to my knees in prayer

We are grateful that this power outage was quickly resolved and we don't know of anyone that was hurt by it.

But it could be different next time - and we will be prepared.

Are you prepared for an emergency? What's your plan - what will you to prepare and to respond when it happens? Comment below and let me know.

Go chasing waterfalls

Recently we took a bike ride to a waterfall we’ll call “Waterfall #1” near our home.

It hasn’t rained for about 3 months so it was just a trickle of water, and most of the landscape around it was brown.

Compare that to what we’ll call “Waterfall #2” which we visited a year ago.

When we visited Waterfall #2, it also hadn’t rained for about the same amount of time, but #2 was full of life.

As I thought about these two waterfalls, I began to wonder if my family is like Waterfall #1 or #2.

Waterfall #1 dried up when there was no rain.

Waterfall #2 was still strong and fruitful – everything around it was green – even with no rain.

There may not always be rain providing for and sustaining our families.

But if we have been intentionally building into our family, and storing up for the dry season, we will still flourish when there is no rain.

We can begin preparing today for the next dry season that is bound to hit our families.

If you have stories about how you do this already or struggles you’ve had with this, I’d love to hear them in the comments below.

There is one thing we can all do together, today – we can check out the Thrive Community.


So what’s it all about?

First, and most importantly, the Thrive community provides some foundational resources to get your family started right away on the path from launch to legacy.

  • You’ll start with a foundational guided learning experience called Families that Win.
  • You’ll position your family to win and define what winning means for your family.
  • You’ll get clarity on your family direction with the Ziglar Family Purpose Creator™.
  • You’ll learn practical ways to guide your family to consistently be, do and have more using the Ziglar Family GPS™.

This experience will be unlocked one week at a time and delivered in manageable, bite-size sessions you can process at your own pace.

Then, you’ll experience four key components each month:

  1. Thrive Family Focus, an in-depth interview with a guest expert, focused on a specific topic or area of family life and go deep to learn from the best!
  2. You’ll get Thrive Family Essentials content each month. This will be a valuable downloadable, teaching resource that will equip you to overcome specific family challenges.
  3. You’ll enjoy the Thrive Family Spotlight. In these fun, family-friendly interviews, we’ll highlight a family that has experienced success in a specific area of life so we can all learn from their experience.
  4. Mark Timm, Ziglar Family CEO, will conduct Thrive Live Coaching calls each month to answer specific questions from the community. He’ll often be joined by the Thrive Family Focus expert and questions can be submitted beforehand. These coaching sessions are a lot of fun and will be recorded for easy, 24/7 access, so if you can’t make the live call, you can always listen in later.

In addition to all of this, what really makes the community THRIVE is the connection with other families in the community. Initially, you can engage with other families in our private Facebook group available only to other THRIVE members. You can ask questions, get encouragement, and find inspiration.

So, be like Waterfall #2. You can start today by checking out the Thrive Community.

Thrive Family community from Ziglar Families

Get out of my head

Have you ever been overwhelmed or stressed?

This past year I’ve spent too much time being unfocused and overwhelmed for no good reason.

Maybe too much time to think? Maybe it’s the heat of Central America? Maybe it was the time we spent isolated with the monkeys and iguanas?
I think the real reason I felt this way is that I spent too much time focused on our own family, and keeping our ship afloat, that I lost sight of the bigger picture and those around us.
Granada Islets Lake Nicaragua boat

The Granada Islets on Lake Nicaragua

But a few months ago I did something small that got me out of my own head (which was consumed with self-centered thoughts and overwhelmed).

I spent a morning helping fix up a house with other men volunteering with our church’s home improvement project.

For a local family, a volunteer team replaced most of her roof, replaced her floor, and some walls.

That one morning, only 3 or 4 hours, gave me an entirely new perspective on things.
On average the home improvement project repairs one home each month.
But in the past year, I only spent one morning helping.

Here is a project our church completed this month – Conchita’s home.

Click here to check out the video.

Conchita's House Hope Fellowship Costa Rica home improvement

click to watch the video

And yet… I did not help in any way.

Pretty pathetic, right?
I need to make it a habit of getting out there, out of my head, out of my comfort zone, to love our neighbors. That is one of our family’s values after all.
The home improvement project has already started work repairing another home.
So I will be getting out there and getting dirty in order to get out of my own head and love my neighbors.
Do you need to get out of your own head? Want to join me?
Comment below and let me know what you can do this week.

How we chose the wrong home

When we moved to Costa Rica, we needed to find a home to rent.
It was high season in a part of the country that has tons of tourism, so almost everything available was for short-term vacation rentals.

We finally found a long-term rental in our budget.

The good:

  • it had the # of bedrooms we wanted and my mother-in-law would have her own space
  • it gave Shannon the shortest possible commute to work (still 40 minutes!)
  • there was a beautiful community pool
  • it was fun seeing (most of) the wildlife – monkeys, iguanas, snakes, scorpions, bats, tarantulas, geckos, etc
But over the next few months, we realized we had made the wrong choice.
The bad:
  • we were too isolated from others – which would have been great for vacation, but not for long term living
  • there was only one other family with kids nearby, and we only saw them twice the whole time we lived there
  • we had a burglary and every few nights, there were burglary attempts nearby
wild horse playa panama costa rica

On a bike ride near our old home where the horses roamed free

Where did we go wrong?

We forgot what was actually important.

We focused on the technical stuff like a short commute, square footage, # of bedrooms, etc. and lost focus of how actually living in this home would fit in with our family’s values and mission.

Instead of looking for a home with x square feet, we should have focused more on whether or not we’d have opportunities to build relationships with neighbors, because we value community.

Instead of looking for a home with a nice kitchen, we should have focused more on the opportunity for 2-year-old Grace to have kids nearby that she could play with, because we want to teach Grace how to be a good friend.

Instead of looking for a home with outdoor space, we should have focused more on whether or not there was a church nearby, because we want to be able to worship God with others.
After the isolation grew to be too much, we moved to a new community where:
  • where we’ve been building friendships with neighbors that we hope will continue for many years
  • where we can walk or bike anywhere
  • where Grace has friends to play with
  • where we can ride bikes to a thriving church that is focused on serving the community

At some point, we’ll move again.

And we don’t want to make the same mistake we made when looking for our first home in Costa Rica.
So I’ve put together a home search criteria checklist that will help us make a better decision based on factors that are more important than the physical features of the house or apartment we are looking at.
If you haven’t downloaded it already, there should be a link to it here:

CLICK HEREto download the Home Search Essential Criteria checklist

We used this when we moved to our second home in Costa Rica, and it was a huge help in keeping the bigger picture in mind rather than getting distracted by unimportant details.
If you’ll be moving anytime soon, you might find it helpful in your home search.
Do you have a story about choosing the right or wrong home? Or have any feedback on the home search document? Comment below and tell your story.

Don’t go that way!

My mother-in-law Bonnie was digging her nails into the dashboard and showing signs of a panic attack.

My wife Shannon was screaming from the back seat "Don't you dare drive through that! Turn around!"

My daughter Grace, well, I don't know what she was thinking but probably something like "Wow this is fun!"

As swimming frolickers in the creek moved aside, I ignored everyone in the car and plowed through it, praying that we didn't get swept downstream and right over the small waterfall to our left.

Llanos de Cortez Guanacaste Costa Rica

This was our destination: Llanos de Cortez waterfall near Liberia, Guanacaste, Costa Rica

We had never been there and I was relying on Waze to get us there.

When we were close and Waze told us we only had about 1 kilometer left to go, we came across this giant rock with the word "waterfall" and a giant arrow telling us to turn right:

Llanos de Cortez waterfall sign directions location

I probably should have followed that arrow

To the right was an entry gate and women that were collecting money.

But Waze was telling me to continue straight and make a right a little further on.

Convinced that Waze was right and everyone else was wrong - including the giant rock sign, the women collecting money (which turned out to be donations for a local school), and my wife and mother-in-law; I defiantly drove straight past the entry and found ourselves facing a creek.

I continued to defy everyone else's advice and drove straight through the creek.

Eventually we came to a dead end, and I had no other choice but to admit that I (and Waze) was wrong.

We backtracked over a bridge that crossed back over the creek (which I had ignored when we drove straight through the water), followed the giant rock sign, made a donation to the school, and found the waterfall.

Llanos de Cortez waterfall school donation entrance location

Here is the waterfall entrance that I ignored the first time we passed it

Sometimes you just have to trust the advice of others.

Were you ever so convinced that you were right that you completely ignored wise advice and directions that others who loved you were giving you?

I've done that too many times to count.

Sometimes we are right, but if someone we love and trust is telling us that we're doing the wrong thing or going the wrong direction, we should probably at least pause to think "Hey, maybe I'm wrong about this thing".

4-minute step-by-step guide to reconnecting with someone you love [#9]

How is 2017 so far? Have you had any worries, struggles or frustrations?

I hope that exploring this “disconnect to reconnect” topic will help us get closer to those we love.

I also hope it gives us time to think about other things that we could remove from our lives in order to reduce these worries, struggles or frustrations and have more freedom to live out our values and mission.

Here it is:

A 4-minute step-by-step guide to planning time this week to reconnect with someone you love

  1. Set a timer or look at the clock - following these steps should take 4 minutes or less!
  2. Name one person right now that you will see in person this week, and that you want to reconnect with
    1. The term “reconnect” can mean whatever you want it to
    2. The person could be a good friend that you’ve been meaning to meet up with, your spouse who you've only had logistical conversations with this month, your child, your mom, a neighbor, etc
  3. Choose one action to reconnect with them. Here are some ideas:
    1. Have a device-free date
    2. Put the phones away during dinner at home
    3. Ask that person to take a winter walk with you
    4. Schedule a family board game night
    5. Plan and cook a meal together (using a cookbook or family recipe instead of your phone to follow the recipe)
    6. Make some art together - do a painting, sketch each other’s faces, etc
    7. Make a bucket list together - get out a pen and paper, write down 10 things each - then share your lists and discuss
    8. Those are just some ideas - don’t overthink it, just choose one now!
  4. Invite the person you named to do this thing (text, call, ask in person, etc)
  5. When the person says “yes” to your invitation, follow up with “I would love to give you my full attention while we’re doing this, can we make this time ‘device-free’ - we’ll both turn off and put away our phones/tablets/computers etc?”
  6. Hopefully they will say “yes”, and now you’ve planned a fun way to disconnect from devices and reconnect with this person you love
  7. Follow through - whatever plans you made, stick to them, but if the other person falls through, give them some grace and reschedule for as soon as possible

Note: If you plan a family event at home or meal out, have a designated place to keep your phones after you turn them off - in the glove compartment, in a drawer or closet at home, etc so it’s easy to follow the plan to disconnect and everyone is on the same page.

PS - Please comment below and let me know if you have any other ideas I missed, or success or challenges you’ve had with disconnecting to reconnect.

Your neighbor,

Papa Ben

Let’s get real [#5]

Last week a friend asked me “Why are you doing this?” and gave me some good advice.

He basically said I should just get real. I should tell more real stories and talk about why I’m writing this blog.

I think that’s great advice. But it would take much more than one post to tell the whole story of why I am writing this, so I’ll share just a glimpse for now.

If you don’t have time to read this now, keep an eye out for other emails coming this week with some free gifts that will help you clarify your values and mission, and live a thriving life.

Back to the getting real.

Getting real is terrifying for me, by the way – a former boss once told me “Ben, you are really hard to read. I don’t even know if you like working here or hate working here.”

At the time, I was actually proud of the fact that I had such a good poker face, and he had no idea if I was fulfilled or frustrated at work. I definitely did not want to get real. I just wanted to put my head down and do my work.

But over time, I’ve learned that’s a foolish way of thinking. What kind of life would that lead to, totally hiding my emotions or thoughts or feelings to those closest to me?

A pretty lonely one. And a life that is definitely not thriving.

So despite my fear of vulnerability, I want to tell you just part of the reason why I started this blog. Here it goes…

I’ve been an at-home dad since October 2014. But for a long time I didn’t fully embrace it.

I enjoyed most of the times with our daughter, but trudged through some of it wishing I was working or feeling like there was something “more important” I could be doing.

I failed at starting a little custom furniture making service, was inconsistent with jobs at home that I could have excelled at (like making good healthy dinners and budgeting our finances better), and felt overwhelmed and unfocused.

What I was really failing at was leading our family based on our values and mission.

But what if I had a clear vision of my purpose and mission, and the mission of our family?

With a clear mission I believe that I would have been a better husband, father, friend and neighbor because I would have been able to follow this sound advice “Wherever you are, be there”.

With a clear mission, I would have focused more on enjoying moments with my daughter and teaching her – but without one, I wasted some of our time together wishing that I were somewhere else.

With a clear mission I would have pursued friendships and relationships with family with greater purpose, rather than spending time with whom I enjoyed spending it, and avoiding spending time with those I didn’t.

How sad that I wasted that time.

But now, my wife and I have been clarifying our mission and values – and it has been life-changing.

So that is part of the reason for this blog – I want to invite you to join our journey.

Clarifying your mission is a process and it will take work.

But if you haven’t begun, don’t wait another day.

If you need some help, soon I’ll be sharing some tools to use.

For now, comment below and share Why do you want to clarify your values mission?

For me, it’s because I don’t want to waste any more time.

What’s your reason?

Tell the story about that time when you lived out your mission or values [#4]

This a short story about the first time I remember living out any sort of “mission”.

After the story I’ll ask you to recall a time that you lived out your own mission or values.

We spent countless hours that year preparing for this trip, earning money that would pay for the building supplies necessary to repair hundreds of homes in a rural community that we were going to serve.

Finally, departure day arrived, and we were full of anticipation for the week to come.

About 15 of us loaded up into a few cars and drove south from Philadelphia to a high school in Bertie County, North Carolina, We were ready to work hard and sweat during the days, enjoy times together in the evenings, and sleep on the school floors at night.

I was about 17, and our church youth group was participating in its first of many future annual Group Workcamps.

When we got out of our cars at the high school, a local news reporter was there and asked to interview someone from our group. Being the soft-spoken, awkward person that I still am, I have no idea how I got picked. But the girl in our group who wanted to actually study broadcast journalism in college was in the bathroom, so I guess I was up.

I remember that moment like it just happened a few minutes ago.

“Why are you here?” asked the reporter.

I replied “We are here to show God’s love by working with local residents to repair their homes, because we want to serve others as Jesus did.”

It was a pretty short interview! And our mission was very simple. But I was so clear on it that the words just flowed out of my mouth and I had complete confidence in them, which was not typical for me.

That was the beginning of one of the best weeks of my life. How I wish every week was like that year – spent preparing and acting on that preparation by living out a mission.

What is your story – a time that you acted and lived out your mission?

Your story is probably very different from mine.

Maybe you found yourself suddenly or unexpectedly in a situation where you had to make a decision to act (or to not react) based on your values or beliefs. Maybe you chose to say no to something that was seemingly good, because it would have been a distraction from your true mission or something of greater importance.

Now that you have your story, here is the more important question:

Is your story the exception or the rule?

Was it easy to think of a story because you live every day fully in line with your beliefs, values, or mission?

Or if you are like me, was it actually hard to think of a story because you have not lived most of your life fully for your beliefs, values, or mission?

What is your mission? Do you know?

Of course I can’t answer that question for you. But I absolutely want to answer it for myself and my family, and to help you find your own answer, if you don’t know it yet.

That’s why very soon I’ll be sharing something that will help you find the answer, or at least start the process.

For now, comment below and tell your own story of when you lived out your mission!

After you comment, check out this fantastic free online Mission Statement Builder and get started on your mission statement now if you don’t already have one.

What’s stopping you? [#3]

I used to ride a pedicab. A pedicab is basically a giant tricycle that carries full grown people on the back.

The first pedicab I worked with was named “Big Daddy”, which had seating for 4 people but I carried up to 9 people on it. Other than the ability to carry all of those people, my favorite feature of this giant tricycle was a little “brake lock” button next to the brake lever.

When I parked Big Daddy to drop off or pick up a customer or refill my water bottle, I just pushed the little button which would keep the brake on, so that my pedicab stayed still and didn’t roll away and over some innocent bystander.

Now imagine this…

You are Big Daddy’s driver and sweating it out all day and night, hauling people all over town. And for some reason, this shift is the hardest one you can remember. You feel like you’re hauling a trailer over-loaded with bricks, and all your tires are flat.

Why is this shift so much harder than others? You struggle to haul passengersdownhill. Arrrrgggghhh!!!

You drop some people off and rest your head on your handlebars. Out of the corner of your eye you see that little button on the brake lever is pushed in!

Instead of flying around all night entertaining people and getting them where they want to go and thriving, you’ve been fighting just to survive because you had the brake locked.

Let’s pause to re-cap the questions we’ve answered so far on this journey:

  1. What does “home” mean to you, right now?
  2. What is one problem or challenge you face in finding what home means to you?
  3. What do you value?

Today let’s think about this:

What is your “brake lock”?

What is one thing that is holding you back from living out your values, and thriving?

I know I have “brake locks” that are stopping me from living out values that I would claim I have, or from seeking things that I claim are valuable to me. If I never even realize that I have those brake locks, I’ll never be able to go after what I value.

So today I will take time to list things that are brake locks for me, and I invite you to join me.

Don’t think too long about the question – just write down at least one thing that’s holding you back. Whatever it is will probably pop right into your head. We’ll have time to dig deeper later.

Comment below with one thing that’s holding you back.

Were you ready for the bombardment? [#2]

Did you play the game “bombardment” when you were a kid? It was a great game, wasn’t it? One of my favorites.

A group of kids would split into two teams, then begin the madness of throwing big bouncy balls as hard as they possibly could at each other. I don’t even know if this game is allowed in school anymore.


Did anyone else feel like they played bombardment all weekend?

I was exhausted by the non-stop assault of Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and offers, the “buy this because you need it and it’s the best deal you will ever get and you’re simply a fool if you don’t buy it” messages, and to be completely honest, even the many requests from Giving Tuesday. Even here in Costa Rica the hardware and other stores had Black Friday sales and I received about a thousand emails telling me all of the things I needed to buy before midnight.

Who wants to go through that again next year? Not me.

Do you even remember that Thanksgiving was 6 days ago?

If you’re like me, and don’t want to be unprepared for the bombardment that is guaranteed to come again next year, let’s do this instead

Let’s take time now to define what we value, so that when next year rolls around, we are prepared. By defining what you value, you will have a crystal clear easy-to-use filter through which to evaluate every offer, email, deal and pitch that fights for your attention and dollars.

For a better post-Thanksgiving weekend in 2017, make this promise to yourself, right now:

“I will take time now to define what I value, so that next year I don’t waste money on or time thinking about things that aren’t important”.

One of the things that my family values is loving our neighbors. We had opportunities to act on this value after Hurricane Otto that hit Costa Rica & Nicaragua on Thanksgiving night. But without a disaster like that, it would have been easy to get completely lost in the sales and deals of the weekend. By taking time now to clarify this and other values, we will be even better prepared for 2017 and beyond.

Let’s make Thanksgiving and the following Black Friday & Cyber Monday experience next year about acting on our values, instead of what others tell us should be important to us.

Start preparing now by doing this today: write down something you value. In future posts, you’ll get ideas for taking this further.