Monday, June 27 2016
“Our mission in life is to make a positive difference, not to prove how smart we are.”
Marshall Goldsmith, via Peter Drucker
Greetings, friends! I hope you had a great week last week or at least made the best of a challenging week. Whatever it was today begins a new opportunity for greatness.
Disclaimer: much of what I’m sharing today is from the words and work of Marshall Goldsmith but the expansion of the thoughts are mine. He freely shares his material so I have no worries sharing with you.
Let’s not get caught up today in a debate about what our life mission is. Your mission can be anything you want it to be and likely you’ve not thought about it at all and have an accidental mission. Whatever your mission in life may be being a positive difference in the world is a pretty good flavor for any mission. Unfortunately, being a positive difference is not the dominant flavor of many life missions. Proving superiority is.
Goldsmith has surveyed tens of thousands of people and concluded that approximately 65% of all communication is one of two types: either A) talking about how smart, special or wonderful we are – or listening to others do this, or B) talking about how stupid, bad or inept other people are – or listening to others do this. A simple survey of your own communications will reveal some similar percentage. What’s the point? Apparently our mission in life is to prove our own superiority by self evidence or destruction of others. To ask Dr. Phil’s famous question, “How’s that working for you?”
Why not accept that you are wonderful, you are smart, you are dedicated, you are blessed, you are a lot of impressive things. You don’t have to prove it to me or other people, nor do you need to lower yourself in the practice of hurting other persons. You are better than that. Why not use the greatness of you to do good in the world? Why not embrace your gifts and let them shine through encouragement, inspiration, sharing, supporting and many other acts of goodness? Why not embrace a mission of positive difference making and leave the self-evaluation to others?
Listen to yourself this week and notice any tendencies to promote self or degrade other persons. Commit to replacing that language with acts of positive difference making. Like flowers planted in a garden the work you do today will yield beauty for you and other persons tomorrow. This isn’t easy work but it is essential to a better life. Can you do it? I’m certain you can! Let me know if I can help you in any way and have a great week!
Monday, June 20 2016
We humans have lost the wisdom of genuinely resting and relaxing. We worry too much. We don't allow our bodies to heal, and we don't allow our minds and hearts to heal.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
I love to make things last, a long time if possible. I once had an umbrella that lasted 20 years with regular use and great care. I loved that umbrella. I used to have a pair of sunglasses I kept for 15 years, until I had small kids anyway. I just like to make things last and I’ll do just about anything to achieve long life for my stuff. But do I value my own healthy life that much? Do you value yours as much as you value your stuff?
Most of us are wearing ourselves out as quickly as we can through the two big W’s: work and worry. Worry is a matter for another day, but work is the matter for today. Work is the reality of life for most of us; we have to work to live. I get that and so do you. Work is what we do to afford life. But if we allow our work and schedule and busyness to wear us out, to degrade our faculties, and to consume us what then was the purpose of our lives? Were we born to be cogs in a machine? Is our purpose to be mass produced widgets? I don’t think so.
Taking care of yourself is a much deeper issue but committing to rest and learning how to rest is the first step to long term health. Are you affording yourself enough rest to last a full lifetime in good health? Do you intentionally disengage yourself regularly to counter the constant engagement of the rest of your life? How long does it take you when you are truly off to genuinely relax? What can you do to value you as much as you value your stuff? I encourage you to cast a healthy eye at yourself. Take some time to extend your time. Your loved ones will thank you for it, and you’ll thank yourself, too! Have a great week!
Monday, June 13 2016
“What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.”
Good morning, friends. I hope in your weekend you found a safe and cool place. Be prepared for more proactive safety this week; it’s going to be hot again.
I must admit my mind is in an uncomfortable place this morning: death. The past few days have been a barrage of emotional connections to death. A church member lost a dearly loved sister. A friend from my youth lost her wonderful mother. And my own eleventh grade English teacher, who was also the mother of a friend from my youth, passed away this weekend. I grieve for them all and as with most deeply emotional experiences I was drawn to deeper thoughts.
As a pastor I describe myself as an acquaintance of death. We are not friends, mind you, but I know it very well. I have learned from my encounters with death that the flavor of the life is the only influencer of the death. It is too easy to tell at a funeral who the person has touched and influenced, what flavor they added to life; I’ve led and attended many sad and somber funerals. And then there is the opposite extreme, when the funeral is a powerful revelation of life that flavored everyone with joy, love, peace and more. I have been blessed to be a part of these celebrations, too.
I’m not suggesting that a funeral is a voting experience; too many factors influence attendance. What I am saying is that the flavor of the experience is unmistakable. The minister doesn’t have to convince anybody of the flavor of the life; everybody knows. The question becomes: what flavor are you adding to life? Are you actively blessing other persons? What flavor are you adding to your world? If other persons had to tell your story what story would they tell? All faking and pretense ends at death. Everything true becomes revealed. What will be revealed about you?
I’m glad to say that the two lives I personally knew will be celebrated in immortal ways this week. I hope someday mine and yours will be, too. Let’s live our lives to flavor other persons, not to savor ourselves. I encourage you to begin a life today that connects in positive ways with other persons. Love, help, encourage, support, bless, forgive, show grace, be at peace. Ironically, as you begin to flavor other persons your own life will never have tasted better. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, June 06 2016
“We are whiplashed between an arrogant overestimation of ourselves and a servile underestimation of ourselves.”
Parker J. Palmer
Good morning, friends, and happy Monday to you! I sure hope you had a weekend to your liking. We all need rest and recuperation and perhaps you got that, too.
Parker Palmer is incredible. There, I said it. The man is incredible. From the first time I read him I was enamored with his depth, insight, courage and wisdom. It has been a blessing to read him for 10 years now. I encourage you to read him if you like to grow. Today’s quote is a great example.
Very little of any of our lives reaches any extreme, with one notable exception: our opinion of self. It seems we are very quick to think, like the recently passed Muhammad Ali, that we are “the greatest” or like the long underappreciated Eeyore (of Winnie the Pooh fame) that we are the worst.
Humility generally prevents any of us saying “I’m the greatest.” but enough of us feel it, and express it, in sufficient ways that there is no doubt about it. Far more common is the thought that we have no value, or are hopeless, or are meaningless. This is bread and butter work for ministers and I assure you it is not true of you. But neither is the former. We may be whipsawed between these extreme opinions of self but neither is true. We exist in the middle, with worth, meaning, purpose and yet with room to grow and improve.
As you evaluate yourself this week, for anything, take honest stock of yourself. Is your health what you want it to be? Probably not, but it’s not horrible, either. How are things at work? If you think you are irreplaceable think again, and if you think things are terrible, think again, too. Take honest stock of yourself in all ways, and with an honest assessment make plans and take steps to improve. Leave the greatest to Ali and the worst to Eeyore. You revel in the middle! And have a great week!