Thursday, May 29 2014
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free.
Good morning, friends, and happy Memorial Day to you. I hope you will pause today for 1 minute at 3:00 pm, your local time, to join the national moment of respect. A minute seems reasonable enough to respect the freedom we've been given by sacrifice, yes?
Today's quote is also about freedom, but from a very different, insidious tyrant: yourself. Various experiences in my life have enlightened me to the power and prevalence of fear. In particular, this past year as I have practiced the art of coaching I have seen from the inside how fear holds us all back from success, however we define "success". Perhaps the fear is looking stupid, or of failing, or of appearing weak, or of any other undesirable trait. Perhaps the fear is of the known unknown, or the unknown unknown, or of the unknown known. Believe me, all these possibilities exist. Regardless, fear is a real killer in all our lives. How is fear holding you back? The quote suggests, and I agree, that if we face our greatest fear we will see it for the bully it is, the scarecrow bully (no pun intended). Maybe your fear has some validity, but even with validity, why give it power? You have the power. Keep it, or take it back from fear if you must, but never give up your power. Survivalist instincts make us imagine greater fear than reality suggests. How different would your life be if you evaluated reality and possibilities honestly, and put fear in it's proper, minimalistic place? Pretty great, I think, or pretty greater, for sure. Freedom from fear is at best something we all experience in moments, not periods. How great would it be to extend those moments to periods, and then longer? Only you can do that, by facing your fears and growing beyond them. Will new fears arise? Perhaps, but with the knowledge and experience of facing fears, you will be the master of your own life, so to speak. I know you can do this. I have great faith in you! Have a wonderful week.
Monday, May 19 2014
Fall seven times, stand up eight.
— JAPANESE PROVERB
Happy Monday morning, friends! Whatever today brings you, I pray it is filled with great joy.
I don't know if our quote this week is real or not; so many "proverbs" turn out to be urban myths, kind of the way real Irish people don't celebrate St. Patrick's Day, and Cinco de Mayo is a non-event in Mexico. Regardless, we find value where we look for it, and I find it in this quote. Fear, I believe, is the most dominant driving force in our lives; by that I mean most of us are driven more by fear than anything else. And a great fear we all experience is the fear of failure. For some bad reason we have been taught to associate experiential failings with character failings, and nothing could be further from the truth. Last Monday on my weekly extended power walk I listened to a podcast interview of James Dyson, the inventor of Dyson products. His creative products didn't drop out of the sky or magically come to his brain. He affirmed that he failed hundreds of times in his efforts to make a better vacuum cleaner, yet each failure propelled him to new efforts leading to success. He fell many times, but got up one more. Another example? Bill McArthur was a student in my mother's kindergarten class many years ago in Red Springs, NC. He was a high achiever, entered the military, became a pilot, and rose to high ranks. He applied to be an astronaut; it is a very arduous application process. He was denied. He tried again. Denied again. Six times he applied, each time advancing, draining him emotionally and physically, each time failing. Just as his spirit was nearly empty, as he was prepared to retire unfulfilled, he was encouraged to try one more time. Wouldn't you know it? This time he prevailed! He rode on the Space Shuttle three times, and once spent six months on the International Space Station. His only failure would have been to stop trying. How many experiences in your life have you missed because your spirit drained and you stopped trying? What joy awaited your one more effort? What joy is still in front of you waiting on your next effort? How much greater will be your life when you overcome the fear of failure? You are no failure, I guarantee that! Get up and get after it, one more time than you fell down, and know the joys of determination and action. And have a great week!
Monday, May 12 2014
A thousand words will not leave so deep an impression as one deed.
— HENRIK IBSEN
Happy Monday, friends! I hope the day is as sunny in your life as it is right outside my window. If not, make it that way.
I wonder how many of us have fallen prey to the quote of the day. We are led to believe, rightly, that there is power in words. Churchill saved a nation with words. Shakespeare continues to inspire with words. Jesus changes lives with words. If only all of our words were so healing, blessing, wonderful. Yet, consider your life and all the times, thousands of times, well-meaning persons have offered you advice, insight, solace, comfort, all with words. Surely some percentage of those words were meaningful and effective. But how many of them could stand up to the power of one faithful action? None.
It pains me to say this, as one of many persons who depends on words for much of my work, but we all too often over-rely on words to do what can most effectively be done by action. Why does this distinction matter? Because relationships hang in the balance. Yesterday was Mother's Day. Tell her you love her 1000 times if you like, but show her you love her one time and she'll never forget it. Say whatever you want as much as you want to your spouse, children, co-workers, employees, friends, neighbors, anybody, and you'll garner continued tolerance. But show something positive, do something helpful, be something wonderful to them and you'll be appreciated, yes, beyond words. You don't have to look for opportunities to swap many words for single actions; they are constantly all around you. And you don't have to worry about over-work or over-commitment; just do what you can when you can. You will see the greatest positive difference in your life you can imagine. Can you do it? Easier than you think! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, May 05 2014
All you can change is yourself, but sometimes that changes everything!
—GARY W. GOLDSTEIN
Happy Monday to you, friends! I can never assume that the weather draping me is what anyone else is experiencing, so I must hope you have the beautiful, warm sunshine with which I am blessed this morning.
My wife has been to Disney World many times, most of them as a chaperone for band trips. Me? Only four times, and those quite brief. One ride I have yet to ride but heard much about is Tower of Terror. I hope to ride it next time I go. Sadly many persons ride a tower of terror every day and that ride is called "change". Change is all around us, even within us, and it scares many of us. Employment, family, health, relationships, just to name a few, are some of the changes we confront every day. It is a miserable feeling to feel helpless in the face of change. Miserable, but are we in fact helpless? While in fact we typically can do nothing to influence the change happening "to" us, or "around" us, we can completely affect the change happening "within" us. Specifically today I'd like to remind you of your focus. Fear of change is often related to a misplaced focus; when we allow our joy, happiness, peace, etc, to be located outside ourselves we surrender ourselves to fear in the whims of change. Yet when we reclaim our focus, drawing our perspectives back to ourselves, we find ourselves changing for the better, and becoming masters, so to speak, of the change happening all around us. And when we change ourselves by reclaiming ourselves, we find that our experience with everything beyond ourselves does, in fact, change for the better, too!
Another Disney story. When we took one of our sons to Disney when he was 6 for a couple of days we tried to get him on a simple roller coaster. He was petrified. The park was incredibly empty, so we were alone on the ramp to the ride. He clung to the rail, screamed, cried, flopped. I asked him, "Do you honestly think your mother and I would so something that would hurt you this badly? Don't you trust us?" It was the loudest, "NO!" I've ever heard. We prevailed, he survived, and we couldn't keep him off of roller coasters the rest of the trip. Seems like a parable for change to me. How about you? Are you willing to reclaim yourself? Aren't you tired of the tower of terror? I'll bet you are, as I am too, so together let's rescue ourselves, our focus, and reclaim what has always been ours to begin with. I have faith you can do it! Have a great week.
Thursday, May 01 2014
Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.
- Elizabeth Gilbert
Good morning, friends! I hope you had a peaceful weekend, with more than a little joy. We all need that once in a while.
I saw a story on the news this weekend of a young lady from Durham who ran in the recent Boston Marathon. That is a great achievement for anyone. In modern races, bibs (the number sheet worn and attached to the shirt) have an electronic element that triggers photos along the route which can be sold to the runners. When the young lady checked her photos online days after the race she noticed that of the 100+ pictures only 20 were of her; the other 80+ were of four other people (two men even!) who had "stolen" her bib number to run without paying or qualifying. Such dishonesty raises negative feelings in most people; we want things to be honest, on the up and up, truthful. Whose bibs are we stealing, though? Oh, most of us will never come near any marathon, except the marathon of life. In that race, are you honestly running your own race, or are you wearing a gaggle of bibs representing the many false lives you are trying to borrow from other persons? What is it about your life you feel unworthy to be sincere and truthful? Those other bibs we wear aren't helpful or protective in any way; they are heavy and burdensome, preventing us from full and productive life. There is a you inside of you that is not defined by your past, your boss, your family, your friends, your heroes, or anybody else. It is you, just you, exactly you, uniquely you. That person deserves a voice, a life, a chance. The greener grass you see on the other side of the fence is fake; the field inside of you is fertile. Be yourself; it's your best chance for a happy, blessed, whole life. And I can't wait to meet you! Have a great week.