Monday, January 29 2018
“The only man I know who behaves sensibly is my tailor; he takes my measurements anew each time he sees me. The rest go on with their old measurements and expect me to fit them.”
George Bernard Shaw
Good morning, friends! I hope your weekend was something special, or at least something good and new. Regardless, we have new ground to plow so let’s get to it!
A good friend once taught me that expectations are the thief of joy. Consider: two people experience a party. One expected more and so was disappointed. The other expected less and so was pleasantly pleased. Same party, different expectations, different outcomes. Our quote for today suggests that the only sensible expectation is the reality of the moment. I’m in love with that thought!
Why? Consider your own life. Was there a time in your life when you had an ability, or a gift, that is not quite the same now? I had a front row seat to my grandmother’s cooking skills when I was young. My earliest memory of her finds her at 56 or 57 years old and boy could she cook! It was a joy to eat at her home. In time the feasts became meals, and then snacks, and finally occasional treats. Was grandmother of any less value because she couldn’t meet the expectations of my youth? Not hardly, but what happens when you apply that reasoning to your own life? What are your expectations of yourself doing to you?
I’ll bet you still have some old measurements of yourself (not to speak of for other persons, too) that you’re still carrying around. Occasionally, like an old pair of pants you still have, you may try to struggle with an old expectation and realize that’s not you anymore. We’re back at the party, aren’t we? My goals for tomorrow and the rest of the year aren’t suitable for the old me; they only fit the current me. Perhaps your expectations need current-sizing, too.
·What’s an expectation of yourself that has lately been frustrating you?
·What would a current-sizing of that expectation look like?
·What can you do with a right-sized expectation?
We tend to recognize unsuitable expectations only when we bump against them and when they cause frustrations. Whenever you recognize yours ask yourself if it’s a right-sized expectation or not. It may be to ease the pain all you need is a re-measurement. Try it on! It will look great on you. Have a wonderful week.
Sunday, January 21 2018
Who do you know who could use a year of encouragement? You have two options: connect them with me so I can e-mail them directly each Monday or share the weekly e-mails yourself. Either way, make this an encouraging year for your friends. firstname.lastname@example.org
“You learn more from the process of pursuing excellence than from the products of achieving it.”
Good morning, friends. Were you blown away by last week’s snow where you were? Were you somewhere wishing you got some snow? Or glad you didn’t get snow? Snow big deal! Let’s get to it!
As I have for the past eight years I began this year with a renewed commitment to my health. I regret I had no commitment to health for my first 44 years but I’m playing a good game of catch up. Now you might think that working on my health for eight years would produce some incredible results, and perhaps for some people it might. But for me it is hard to pinpoint products of my efforts. I’m not buff, ripped, noticeably faster, and I certainly don’t look like the models in exercise infomercials or advertisements. I look like an ordinary, average man of my age, but perhaps with a bit less baggage.
Eight years ago I would have been very disappointed to say that. Eight years ago I was fully invested in the image of the infomercial (although thank God I never purchased any gadgets!) and advertisement. I naïvely believed there was a “look” inside of me waiting to emerge with effort. I am very ashamed to admit that today. But what I joyfully know today is that the experience of dedication to and practice of healthiness have positively changed me in ways I could never have imagined. I’m an athlete!
· A writer isn’t someone who produces a best seller; it’s someone who writes, even if it isn’t for a living.
· A cook isn’t someone who has a television show on Food Network; it’s someone who regularly cooks.
· A tennis player isn’t just the person who wins Wimbledon; it’s anyone who regularly plays tennis.
Are you getting the point? You aren’t what you achieve. You are what you do. So what is it you want to be? Start doing it. You may be terrible at first; I sure was. But in time you’ll learn, develop, and eventually become. And in all cases becoming follows an awful lot of doing. The ultimate dream is to do; becoming takes care of itself.
· Can you clearly state what you want to be?
· What would a first repeatable action in that direction be?
· What building block of “do” can you start doing?
You “are” something right now based on what you regularly do. If you want to change or add to who you “are” then the path is clear: start doing it and don’t quit! I have faith in you, that’s for sure. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, January 15 2018
Good morning, friends! The new year is in full swing now and I hope you are fully invested in it. No time to start over, so let’s get to it!
“He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love.”
Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King
My daughter is a senior in high school and facing the realities of life in college next year. Conversations have begun about that life. Just this weekend she mused on the challenges of dormitory life and living with a roommate. Camps and colleges provide young people with intense opportunities to learn first hand the skills of community. The shock of difference is often jarring. We learn pretty quickly in community that WE are different! Successful actors in community tend to share certain abilities, ripe among them is forgiveness.
In my life I’ve only encountered a few people who were adamantly opposed to love. As you can imagine such persons have great challenges of anger, bitterness, pain, etc. that have stunted their spirits. The supermajority of us long to daily be bathed in love. We want to drink love, swim in love, stumble over love, know nothing but love. And yet we don’t. For some odd reasons cheat ourselves out of love too often, frequently because of forgiveness issues.
I know there are people in my life who have not nor likely ever will forgive me for any slight against them I did or they perceive. Some I deserve, some I don’t. Same for you. But we know we are not responsible for the acts of other persons. What is more critical and confounding is the love we lose because WE do not forgive. Is love so cheap, so abundant, so common that we can fritter it away. Not in my life and I’ll bet not in yours either. The lessons of kindergarten, camp and college rule: forgiveness is key to community. And love.
· Are you using forgiveness as a weapon or a blessing?
· Are you losing community because of differences or growing it with forgiveness?
· Who could you bless with forgiveness today?
My work has taught me a lot about life, about the ends of the arcs we choose early in life. Develop the strength of forgiveness today, start a journey on that life arc, and swim in the love that abounds. You can do it! And have a wonderful week.
Monday, January 08 2018
Good morning, friends! I hope you are bearing up well in these frigid temps. It’s hard to remember a cold snap like this one but in a few years we’ll say the same thing again! Still, let’s get to it.
“In more than thirty years of research I’ve discovered a very important truth about human psychology: certainty is a cruel mindset. It hardens our minds against possibility and closes them to the world we actually live in. When all is certain there are no choices. If there is no doubt there is no choice.”
One of the strange ironies of life I’ve learned is that while we are desperate for certainties life in fact offers very few of them. So in the place of uncommon true certainties we substitute false ones. This irony is clear to me in health issues, age issues, work issues, relationship issues… pretty much everywhere. Perhaps a couple of examples might make it a bit clearer.
“Richard” is an early senior adult aged gentleman, with average health but facing the expected declines associated with age. Day after day as he learns that things once easy have become hard he formulates a growing list of “can’ts”. I can’t do this; I can’t do that. Pretty soon he can’t do much of anything. Sounds certain, but is it true?
“Sally” is a young woman with ambition and drive but also frustrations and unrealized goals. She hasn’t advanced as much as she wanted and her relationships don’t really exist. She begins to view her current realities as concrete facts. Sounds certain, but are they?
Examples are plentiful and greatly varied. You have some and so do I. We cling to our false certainties when in fact possibilities exist. Why? That’s a question for another day. What is clear is what Ms. Langer says; certainty kills everything: choices, possibilities, opportunities, etc. And who needs that?
· Consider a certainty of your own; is it really as certain as you’ve made it?
· Step back from it and ask yourself, “What are two options I have to change it?”
· Develop the habit of breaking down certainties and opening up options.
I “don’t” eat olives and that’s certain enough for me. Some certainties are OK, but not certainties that limit us. Become less certain about your limitations and more confident in your possibilities. I think you’ll see a brave new world open up for you. I have much faith in you! Have a wonderful week.
Monday, January 01 2018
“An optimist stays up until midnight to see the New Year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.”
Happy New Year, friends! If you are working today my prayers are with you. May the day be short! Time is, so let’s get to it.
Many people think of New Year’s Day as a springboard to a new start. This is the “resolutions” crowd. Are you a resolutions setter? I do most years but my understanding of resolutions has changed over time. Another way I see people experience New Year’s Day is as a pivot point. Sure, any day or moment can be a pivot point, or a good day for resolutions for that matter, but culturally recognized days are helpful. Have you ever seen New Year’s Day as a pivot point?
Whether one is an optimist or a pessimist the triggers seem to be the same. What triggers? Consider the list. Loss of loved ones, health challenges, love issues, financial struggles, damage of possessions, etc. etc. etc. “Negative” seems to be the theme of triggers. Experience has taught me that I cannot predict who will be the optimist or the pessimist; circumstance dictates those options. Will you take the triggers of this year and long for a fresh start in the new year, or will the triggers of this year make you pessimistic about the options in the new year? There is no judgement here, only a call for awareness.
To complicate the matter even a bit more, I have both springboard issues for the new year and pivot issues as well. I’ve experienced some “old man” health issues this year I’m ready to leave in the past and also I have some new health initiatives I’m ready to launch in the new year. I think my experience is reflective of most of us, a mix of old and new. Midnight came last night and it found in most of us both an optimist AND a pessimist. What matters is what we’re doing with the triggers.
• What are the experiences of 2017 that matter to your new year?
• Which are those experiences you want to end and which ones would you like to improve?
• What are you going to do about it, and when?
Whatever today is for you I hope you are resolved to make 2018 the best year you can. So much of what you experience this year is your choice; choose wisely! Again, happy new year!