Monday, March 25 2019
“It is indecision that is the thief of opportunity.”
Good morning, friends! I hope you had a wonderful weekend and your bracket remains sturdy, or at the very least your life remains so. Let’s get to it!
Have you ever been stolen from? I suppose we all have to one degree or another. It’s a terrible feeling of invasion of privacy. The home my mother lives in, the very one my parents built 48 years ago, has been robbed four or five times. It’s horrible. But even little thefts hurt. My brother-in-law gave me a personally engraved pocket knife as a groomsman gift when I was a high school senior. I proudly took it to school, showed it off, left it in my car and it was promptly stolen. Theft hurts in many ways. But what about the ways we steal from ourselves? Whew!
Robert Frost’s wonderful poem “The Road Not Taken” reveals a wonderful reality we all face more often than we realize. But what set’s this poem apart is the care and awareness the poet gives each road. When we face our divergent roads every day, some days more important than others, do we give adequate attention to alternative choices we face? Perhaps, but when we find ourselves continuing down the same path day after day more likely is that we had plenteous opportunities along the way yet for reasons unknown we flew headlong past them.
* The career changes we never considered.
* The relationship opportunities we never pursued.
* The financial choices avoided.
* The health signals ignored.
I don’t like to think of robbing myself but that’s what I’ve done many, many times. What about you? A simple definition of robbing is to have dishonestly something taken away that leave one lesser or poorer. I don’t need anyone to help me with that; I’m pretty good at it by now. What I need help with, and perhaps you too, is gaining awareness of daily opportunities and courage to consider them adequately. That way, whichever road is taken it’s the one we choose and more often than not the better one in the end. And we are none the poorer for it. What paths will you take this week? Consider them carefully, make your decision, and GO! I’ll see you at the end of the line. Have a wonderful week.
Monday, March 18 2019
“No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other.”
Jesus of Nazareth
Good morning, friends, and happy belated Saint Patrick’s Day! I hope you remembered to wear your green yesterday to avoid the dreaded pinch. My family is well-versed so no pinches at home this year. That’s enough, let’s get to it!
Depending on how you define the issue, multi-tasking is impossible. If you define the issue as akin to simply the art of juggling, perhaps. But that’s not the definition. Multi-tasking is multi-focusing and that is humanly impossible. You may have multiple activities going at once, or multiple events in the queue, or multiple ideas floating around at one time but that is not multi-tasking. Human attention is a mono-focused ability that can be sliced as thin as we want to attempt but at any one moment only one “thing” is getting any attention. That’s the ball in the hand. The others are up in the air with no attention at all.
Why does this matter? Because how you manage your attention or focus is key to success. I was in my local Domino’s (a very good one) this Friday past at suppertime. The place was hopping. The manager was at the dough station, patting out and shaping pizza doughs, saucing them and passing them along. She hollered out instructions and encouragement once in a while but her focus was on that dough. Other persons were doing their jobs and the ovens were packed with pizzas in process but she was focused and flying. And the two or three times she diverted that focus to attend to anything else the system slowed. I could feel the chaos. Then she would return to the doughs and encouragement and the chaos would diminish while the system would return to simplicity and effectiveness.
* Is your dream dying because you give too much focus to other ideas?
* Is your system floundering because you have sliced your attention too thin?
* Are you goals struggling because you struggle to focus?
I believe that success comes not from attending to many things at one time but rather by respecting the gift of focus. Surely someone will come back at me with a multi-tasking story but I won’t buy it. Take any one of those tasks and tell me you wouldn’t have been much more successful focusing on that one. The problem is committing to focus. Can we set aside those other things, ideas, hopes, plans, etc. that are not critical to our success? Whatever your priority, if you don’t give it the priority of your time and focus it won’t last for long. My pizza was excellent but late. I’m glad she got back to her focus. What do you need to focus on today? this week? this year? Get to it, and have a great week!
Monday, March 11 2019
“We must all wage an intense, lifelong battle against the constant downward pull. If we relax, the bugs and weeds of negativity will move into the garden and take away everything of value.”
Good morning, friends! I hope the time change hangover didn’t catch you today. It’s never the Sunday of time change that hurts; it’s always the Monday. We’re in it now, so let’s get to it!
I hope I don’t sound too pessimistic but I hear a constant melody at the end of person’s lives. “I wish I had…” I don’t hear it always with that language but the melody is there. There is the backward view with reasonable clarity that sees the underwhelming results. And never is it expressed with joy. Essentially, gravity got them, just as it does you and me. Gravity, not in the sense of the magnetic force that pulls all things to the center of the earth. Gravity, in the sense of the downward pull of emotions, health, relationships, energy, vision, etc. When we relax, take time off, or just plain quit, gravity begins to win.
In Greek mythology we learn of the deposed king, Sisyphus. His tyrannical reign created his banishment, condemned to push a giant boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down once near the top. Eternally, Sisyphus struggles with the boulder. None of us wants that life; we consider the very image as anathema to our dreams. But “up” is not the natural direction of things. “Down” has the benefit and support of gravity. The Wright brothers learned this lesson. Getting the first plane off the ground was hard; keeping it up was the real challenge and ultimately the real victory.
O The day you stop working to advance you begin going down.
O The day you stop attending to your health gravity begins to win.
O The day you withhold attention to friends gravity wins.
O The day you don’t climb the mountain downhill wins.
P As long as you must work do your best to grow and achieve.
P As long as you have reasonable health give it all you have.
P As long as you have good relationships nurture them completely.
P Whatever you want to live give it all the energy you have.
Because the natural direction of things is down, so our efforts must be up. Yes, I know the dangers of resting, relaxing, taking time off. When I took a week off from exercising it took months to get back in gear. When I didn’t call a friend for a long time it turned into an eternity. The examples are rife for all of us. Surrender to the sirens of “moderation” and “good enough” if you want, but gravity is gravity and it wins when we let it. Figure out what matters to you and give it all the energy it needs to live well. And you will, too! Have a wonderful week!
Monday, March 04 2019
“I ask myself: are defeats necessary? Well, necessary or not, they happen. When we first begin fighting for our dream, we have no experience and make many mistakes. The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.”
Good morning, friends! Just for the record, my wife and I are opening up a limited amount of spaces in our ark. Availability won’t last long so secure yours now. We expect it to begin floating any day now. While we have time, let’s get to it.
I know, I know, another quote from Coelho. I’m reading his seminal text, “The Alchemist” and it’s a powerful thought provoker. So I’m provoked. What provokes me here is the perspective of the mystery of challenges and struggles. Have you ever considered that? If you have I’ll bet it was a fleeting thought. More often than not defeats (to use Coelho’s language) create in us either questions or flight. Neither of these attitudes helps much in personal pursuits.
I can think of no effort in my life that was easy from start to finish. Not one. Every effort was a journey filled with starts, stops, wins, defeats, retreats, advances, etc. What mattered was the commitment to finish, but what conspired was often a focus on the setbacks. Why did they happen? What did I do wrong? How can I prevent them again? Should I have done something else? On and on. Coelho reminds us that sometimes things just happen. There is no rhyme or reason. There are no questions to answer. The little and large defeats are simply happenstance and our job is to assess and keep going.
* Maybe the first, second, or third job didn’t pan out. So what? Get the next one.
* Maybe the workout ended way too early because of pain or fatigue. So what? Show up tomorrow.
* Maybe the naysayers were loud today, yesterday and the day before. Really? See what they have to say tomorrow, and the next day, and the next.
* Maybe the project hit a snag just when it seemed viable. Great. Work it out.
Jim Rohn, a fantastic motivational speaker from the previous generation, has a wonderful take on the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. With excellent seeds and a strong spirit a man went out one spring to plant his crops. Some sown seeds fell on the path and birds ate them. Did he quit, asking, “Why?” No, he said in his spirit, “Isn’t that interesting?!” and kept on sowing. Another handful of seeds fell on hard ground. With little water and no root depth the seeds came to nothing. Again, “Isn’t that interesting!” Another handful of seeds fell among the thorns and lost the battle for room. Once again, “Isn’t that interesting!” Finally, a handful of his precious seeds of excellent quality fell on some fertile ground and produced a bumper crop of immense proportions. Did he ask, “Why?” Not at all! He simple surmised one last time, “Isn’t that interesting!” If you are defeated by your defeats in your pursuits quit asking, “Why?” Who knows? I don’t, that’s for sure. I didn’t sign up for or take that class. It just happened. Isn’t that interesting. Keep going, keep sowing, keep trying and sooner or later you’ll find your fertile ground. Call me if you need help harvesting your successes! And have a wonderful week.