Monday, April 27 2015
“Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you.”
Good afternoon, friends! Yes, I know it’s afternoon. The sun has been calling me all day, but work has prevailed. I end this workday thinking of you.
Perhaps you may remember Adm. James Stockdale, the Vice-Presidential running mate to Ross Perot in 1992. In a new famous moment during the VP televised debate of that year Adm. Stockdale opened his remarks asking, “Who am I? Why am I here?” It got a lot of laughs, and cost Perot a lot of votes, but it’s certainly the most intelligent thing said in that or any other political debate of my lifetime.
On the journey of our lives we are all trying to understand who we are. Ask any child and they likely have an answer to who they want to be. Many adults continue to harbor dreams of the self they wish they had or might yet become. And far too many people look deeply at their life and feel either confusion or disappointment. Do you know truly who you are?
What I or anyone else know about you is what we observe you doing. That is the person you are, the person who is the result of your choices and actions. That’s great if you are happy and satisfied with who you are, but what if you are not? What if you want something different? What if happiness is another life away from you?
The good news is that “you” are a malleable person. Not Gumby malleable, but image and being malleable. By changing your choices and actions you can genuinely become another person, perhaps even the person you want to be! The challenge is to say “No.” to the choices and actions of today to be able to say “Yes.” to the choices and actions that you want to define you. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it all at once. Life doesn’t turn on a dime; it curves when we make it.
What choice and action can you take today that will begin the curve to the person you want to be tomorrow? However simple it may be, one action taken today and repeated tomorrow and every tomorrow can start a curve that will change your life. What is that action for you? Make the time for it. Repeat it. Grow it. Do it! And become the person you want to be! You get my vote! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, April 20 2015
“Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood.”
Good morning friends! And happy Monday to you! My baby turned 10 yesterday and I’m trying to feed off his energy. Trust me, he has energy to spare!
Every weekday morning I spend time in three car lines, one for each of my children. I am the morning bus to school. First at middle, then at elementary, finally at high school, I drop off the kids and marvel at the day ahead of them. I wonder what the “new” will be each day. I envy the learning that comes nearly effortlessly to them while they are still young. And too frequently I think my own education is behind me. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Learning may not be effortless anymore, or painless, or frustration-less, or cost-less or any other –less, but learning is still very constant. We learn constantly because life is new every day. What matters, it seems, is how we approach the new in life and how we handle the lessons new life brings. What lessons are coming to you these new days, and how are you handling them?
We tend to think of water, breath and blood as key components of life, so what is connection of learning? Most of our concepts of life concern “being”; learning extends our understanding of life to doing and becoming. When we cease doing and becoming… well… we cease living. How are you embracing the new in your life to learn, to grow, to do and to become? In what ways are you living into the new these days?
Not all lessons are equal, but all lessons are valuable in their own ways. I hope you treasure the lessons you learn today and every day, and you learn effectively the lessons there-in. On the other side of those lessons is the new, the you yet to become, the life waiting to be lived. Get off the bus. Get into life. And have a great week!
Monday, April 13 2015
Given that your first choice is likely to be wrong, the best thing you can do is get started.
- James Clear
Good morning, friends, and welcome to the many new subscribers to this encouraging weekly e-mail! I hope you all find a good word each week to help you make every day a bit, or a lot, better.
I wish, I truly do, that all my first choices and decisions in life had been good and successful ones. Can you imagine just how much pain and heartache I would have been spared? How about you? I’ll bet you too have learned the hard lesson that first choices and decisions are rarely the best or right ones. It’s a life lesson, only one we fail to fully appreciate.
The strings of truth that bear out this lesson are everywhere. First dates are rarely life partners. First jobs are rarely long term careers. First health decisions rarely prove to be long living. Firsts just don’t last in life because firsts are rarely rights or bests. The truth is we are hardly any better at making decisions than professional baseball hitters are at hitting. The MLB league batting average in 2014 was .250, and that would be a very impressive good first decision rate.
So if we can ever come around to this life truth we ignore, how can we improve our lives? Simple (in this case anyway): we start trying to make good decisions and show ourselves a lot of grace. What stops us from getting started? Learned fears of failure, or perhaps heightened expectations of success. Either way, not starting because of a fear of failure is a downward spiral of defeat. Trust me, I know. We all do.
How then might I encourage you this week? Think of that “thing” you’ve been avoiding because you have a dreaded fear of failure. Be honest with yourself; it’s part of the unrealized you. Admit to yourself, and accept, that you’re almost guaranteed to fail when you start. But it is the education you will gain in the failure that will fuel your success to follow. Your first choice will be wrong, maybe your second, and maybe your third, but eventually you will hit that right choice, or decision, and then you will wonder why you waited so long to begin. Don’t wait! Get started! You truly have little to lose and lots to gain. So get to it! I envy all your efforts. I know you’ll do great, eventually! Have a great week!
Tuesday, April 07 2015
“Be miserable. Or motivate yourself. Whatever has to be done, it’s always your choice.”
Good morning, friends! I hope your Easter experience was wonderful. Mine was. I know it’s not Monday, but Easter Monday is the day I use every year to release the stress built up from weeks of planning, stressing, and producing for Easter. So what did I do yesterday? I worked outside all day and have the sun burned neck to prove it!
Now on to the matters at hand.
One of the certainties of my line of work is that I consistently engage with the breadth of humanity. Experience continues to teach me to be a keen observer of humanity, and in my growth I have seen that something happens when decisive moments happen to persons. I’ll bet you’ve noticed this truth about yourself.
Decisive moments can be opportunistic, tragic, or challenging, but they can never be effectively avoided. Decisive moments demand change and offer choice. Think graduating, or losing a job, or the death of a close loved one, or the confirmation of a disease. These are decisive moments when the immediate future is guaranteed to change and a plethora of choices confront you. I experience these moments, as we all do, and in my ministry I have seen these moments in other persons many, many times. What happens when you face these certain moments?
In others, and in myself, I see variations of two outcomes: misery and motivation. Or we might call these outcomes “defeat and determination”. Whatever the language, we choose to be defeated or motivated. Even in the decisive moment called death I've seen these outcomes made real. Sometimes the person takes control, making affirmative, positive decisions with actions, and other times the person feels and acts defeated, being whipsawed by the waves of un-confronted change. Which outcome has been more consistent in you?
Alas, every day can be a decisive day. If you choose to create change, instead of waiting for change to confront you, then you can make powerful, positive differences in your life and circumstances. If you choose to be constructively decisive then no moment can defeat you. Try being constructively decisive today and grow your muscles of change. Develop the daily habit of positive, affirmative choice with action that motivates you to become. And leave the moments and days of misery in the dust. You can do this. I can do this. We can do this! So let’s do it! I have faith in you; have faith in yourself. And have a wonderful week.