Monday, March 30 2015
There are no traffic jams along the extra mile.
Good morning, friends! I hope you have started this Monday with a great deal of energy earned from a weekend of rest. Here’s hoping!
Years ago when I was in divinity school I also worked for a company in Raleigh. I lived south of Raleigh, and on my drive into work 3 days each week I rushed to cover the 30 minute drive to the city. Quickly I learned that when I reached the intersection of US 64 and Hwy. 1 traffic would stop. Literally. The first 30 miles would take 30 minutes, and the last 5 miles would take 20. I learned to despise traffic. Have you ever had experiences with traffic that created negative feelings in you?
In what ways is your life similar to a day in traffic? Plenty for me. More expectations than I can satisfy. More demands than I can remember. More needs than I can meet. More to do than I can schedule. Some days it seems like I’m sitting in traffic on the highway again, getting nowhere fast. How about you?
The image of the extra mile is powerful. I see it most often in education. The student who excels is often the one who studied a bit more, prepared more frequently, participated more effectively, and so on. In other words, the student who goes the extra mile, not the extra marathon, just the extra mile, often excels.
What extra mile is possible in your life to help you excel to success? If your reply is that you are too busy in the traffic, the answer might be in your priorities. How can you prioritize effectively to afford yourself the extra effort to succeed? Success is often found not in a marathon, only a mile. Where can you find the mile of effort to help you succeed? Wherever it is, I know if you look you will find it, and success may well be at the end of that found mile. I have faith in your efforts. Have a wonderful week!
Monday, March 23 2015
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Good morning, friends! I hope you already experiencing wonderfulness today! If not, the day is young.
Kids are often asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It is a very curious question.
How does a child know what the future holds?
How can a child understand their gifts?
How can a child distinguish important choices?
And who in the world wants to grow up?
The question is more honestly asked for the entertainment and amusement of adults, who ourselves do not understand the simple harms the question does to children. Yet while the question may do simple harm to innocent children, it is a powerful question for persons youth to old age. Rephrased, what would you like to become? Curiously enough, even though you may never have been asked that question, or consciously asked it of yourself, you have surely answered it many, many times.
You see, all realities of your life are results of your choices. I know: someone will split hairs with me and speak of accidents, tragedies, gifts, etc. True enough, but these and other events are extreme outliers in any life and therefore not relevant to an intentional life. What are the intentional results of your life?
Emerson is so correct; the person you will become is the person you decide to be, and the person you are is the one you once decided to become. Looking at your life today I’ll bet you can trace a line back to a choice, choice by choice, action by action, commitment by commitment. What will happen if you make a choice today for a new direction, or a new outcome, or an improved situation? Follow that choice up with intentional actions and you’ll find yourself charting a new life for yourself!
What is the new outcome for you? What is the new direction? What do you want to be ten years from now? Don’t just sit there; get after it! And I have great faith you will do great! And let it begin today. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, March 16 2015
“I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”
Good morning, friends. I hope your day has begun well. Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, so get your green ready!
Steven Covey was a world famous thinker. He was the author of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, which has sold more than 25 million copies in 40 languages. He has credibility and today’s quote is typical of his work.
Today’s quote makes me think of a snail. In the best of times a snail isn’t a fast creature, yet what chance does it have to move far carrying around that shell? I know, I know, the shell provides security, so the metaphor isn’t perfect. Still, I wonder, what shells do we carry that hinder, not help, our forward moving lives?
As a minister I am privy to many life stories and a consistent theme is the shell of circumstances. I don’t need to list them for you; we all have our circumstances, past and present. We have physical circumstances, social ones, psychological ones, genetic ones, all kinds of ones. We are what we are because of the choices we have made to this point, and we are perfectly designed to continue on our current course unless we… change something.
That seems to be the point. Circumstances are descriptions of the past and current course. If you are happy with your current course in all ways, then by all means change nothing, at least as long as you can. But if you want something else for yourself, a new course, a nuanced course, a completely different course, etc, then new decisions must be made that alter your circumstances. There’s no guarantee that your outcomes will be achieved if you make new decisions, but there is every guarantee nothing will happen if you do… nothing.
Some people, I have found, take comfort in the shells they carry. Some people prefer the excuses their shells offer. And some people are living so deep in their shells they simply cannot see the beautiful outside world. If you want something different for yourself what are you willing to do to get it? Will you risk a bold decision, or a new direction? Will you risk anything to shed that shell that hinders you? I pray you can see a beautiful new direction for your life and I have faith you can make the decisions that take you there. Try one, then another, and then another, and see how it goes, living outside the shell! And have a great week!
Monday, March 09 2015
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
Good morning, friends! If you live in North Carolina did you enjoy all four seasons last week? I hope your weekend was a blessing, whatever season it was for you.
Wasting time is a habit of nearly everyone. Who is fully productive, or even half productive, with their time? Nobody I know, and not me for sure. We all have our ways to waste time, little bits and extended time, and we invent new ways all the time. Time is one thing, but wasting a life is something else entirely.
It may seem silly to suggest that any person can live another person’s life, but consider how much we do try. Perhaps your parents strongly encouraged you to become something (a career, a talent, a life choice, etc.) and being a good child you honored your parents and lived the life of their dreams. What about your dreams? Or perhaps you were indecisive at some point in your life and yielded your vision to that of a someone successful you knew. What about your vision? Or perhaps you were moving well in life but you found yourself being pulled in the gravity of someone near you also moving well. What about your gravity? The ways are many we live in someone else’s skin, and we all know that no one’s skin fits but our own.
Take a look at your dream, your vision, or your gravity today? Is it your own, or is it a pale reflection of someone else’s? We tend to think we have only one shot at life, the one when we make the grand choices of our youth. Truth is, we have a shot at life every day, so why not make your shot your own? It begins with an honest understanding of self, a fair evaluation of hopes and dreams, and concludes with action and movement towards a goal. What part of that process do you want to surrender to someone else? None! It's your process, your vision, your life! Take it. Do it. And live it. Now.
I'd love to hear how you are doing becoming you. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, March 02 2015
The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity.
Good morning, friends! I’m sorry this e-mail is a bit late; duty called this morning in a powerful way. I hope this thought reaches you at just the right time.
I know I think and write about first steps more than other issues, but such is my understanding of their power. The moment of the first step is so powerful, and so important, that it can truly change the direction of a life whether the step is taken or not. A first date, a new job opportunity, a new health initiative, a major purchase, on and on the list goes of life changing experiences that began with a moment, one taken or not. The power of the second step isn't even worth mentioning compared to that of the first step. How do you address first steps in your life?
If I can encourage you today it will be help you take the first steps you seek. It’s a different matter entirely to wonder how to manage opportunities and decisions, so I’m limiting myself today to choices made but action not yet taken. On this side of that step is mostly stuff you don’t want: fear, anxiety, stress, unknown, self-defeatism, etc. You literally stand in the presence and the power of those negatives until you take the first step to action. Who knows what’s on the other side of that first step of action? You don’t and I don’t, but can we agree that it’s certainly better than the negative ground of inaction? Look to the promised land of momentum and take the positive step you have planned. You can deal with what comes next but only when you have dealt with what comes before.
The time for questions is over. If you have decided to act, or move, or change, it’s time to do it, or at least begin to do it. The relief you feel from the release of all the negatives that hold you back today will be immense, and the joy from acting will be incomparably great. Take that one step forward in the direction of your goal, and thank me later. Or at least wave to me while you are headed forward! And have a great, great week!