Monday, January 27 2020
“Focus is the art of knowing what to ignore.”
Good morning, friends! Did your weekend rise to your expectations? Or did your expectations lower to your weekend? Food for thought. Anyway, let’s get to it!
One of the truly great challenges of our time, our very current time, is the problem of distraction. The culprit is technology, particularly mobile technology. Statistics on mobile phone usage are staggering. Otherwise well-adjusted people spend hours per day staring at apps on a phone. And I’m not talking about teenagers; I’m talking about professionals. Amazingly, the modern mobile phone system has become a part of our brain system, reaching the point of addiction equal to drugs and sugar, but in this case something not physically ingested. So, it is a simplistic thing to suggest that modern people have a challenge with focus. We most certainly do, even when our distraction is not a mobile phone, but nothing compares to it, either.
But let’s say that you do have the ability to focus, or at least an awareness that you need an ability to focus. Immediately you are thinking, “On what should I focus?” and that is completely the wrong approach. In a world full of distractions finding the needle in the haystack that deserves our attention is nearly impossible. A far more helpful approach is to consider the plethora of distractions not worthy of your attention.
Consider the question that is the bane of my marriage, perhaps yours, too: “What’s for supper?” I hate even hearing that question. Typically, in my relationship we can waste many minutes eliminating “not wants” in negative fashions before frustratingly landing on something agreeable. Neither of us easily sees the common denominator, but in any conversation I know easily what I don’t want. Were we to each offer our “don’t wants” with grace whatever options remain are in play. In other words, knowing what to ignore helps us focus. Sadly, it doesn’t happen all that often…
Yet, consider your life. Whether retired/working, single/married, young/old, or any other situation, you likely know in any moment what is not worth your focus. You are certainly aware of the distractions not worthy of your time. You can likely name the reasonable options that are not among the best. We can easily eliminate a lot of things to reveal the few possibilities worthy of our attention. Is it worth debating between numbers one, two and three? Likely not; what matters is not surrendering numbers one, two and three to numbers ten, eleven and twelve.
One last consideration. Imagine you owned a clown outfit and kept it in your everyday closet. Most days you would go to your closet, look at the clown outfit and say, “Not today. No way. I have better things to wear.” There may be a day and time for the clown outfit, but not most days. Compare that to your time and attention. How much of your time, attention and focus do you give to the clown outfits of distraction and low priorities? How much greater would be your success if your time allocation looked it’s best every day? Mine could stand an upgrade. How about yours? Ignore the things that should be ignored, focus on the best of things, and enjoy the upgrade in your results. And have a great week!
Wednesday, January 22 2020
“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 13 2020
“A year from now you will wish you had started today.”
Good morning, wonderful friends! I hope the storms of the weekend did not damage you in serious ways. Pray for the people and places who were damaged, and if that includes you then you have my prayers. Now, let’s get to it.
Most of my collegiate education has been in finance. I have two degrees in the area and have forgotten more about finance than most people will ever know to begin with. And one of the very basic lessons of finance, like the ABC’s of language, is “the time value of money.” The longer money is saved/invested the more it will grow. It seems simple, doesn’t it? But not many people do it. To wit: assuming a constant interest rate for 45 years, if a young person saved/invested $500 per month for 8 years and then never a penny saved again, he/she would have more after 45 years than the person who saved/invested nothing for the first 8 years and then $500 per month for the remaining 37 years. It seems impossible that the person who saved for the first 8 years only could out-earn the person who saved only for the second 37 years, but that’s the time value of money for you. Time is your ally if you let it be.
But you don’t need math or money to make an ally of time. Time can be your ally for anything if you let it be, if you help it and if you are committed. Let me take you back to a time 15 years ago. I had a memory of my childhood and all the delicious bbq I used to eat. People all around my hometown could make great Q and now I wanted to, too. So I had a smoker built for me. I tried and tried to make Q; it was abysmal. I sold that smoker and bought a new one. I tried and tried some more. It was all abysmal. I threw plenty of Q (most didn’t deserve the name) away. It was horrible. But I persisted. It took years to become respectable. Today I make what is recognized as excellent Q. Why? Because I’m special? No way. Because I let time and interest be my ally. I started, worked at it, was patient, got better and now have results. I dare you to name anything worthwhile that doesn’t have a time value.
* Better health just needs a little time and interest.
* Improved musical ability just needs some time and interest.
* Better relationships need time and interest.
* Any skill can be improved with time and interest.
* Any dream can be approached with time and interest.
* Anything can benefit from time and interest.
Every person or organization looks back from time to time to measure results. Sometimes you can look back and not see the results you wanted in your life. That’s life. But most of our regrets are because we failed the basic test of “time value”; we didn’t give our goals the time and interest they needed to succeed. As a very clear aside, we must be very careful to identify our goals; we only have so much time to begin with, so how we spend it is critical. But if “it” matters to you, start now, stick with it, hang on through discouragement, wrestle with mastery, and then enjoy the results. It may seem impossible now, but in time, with interest, it will be an achievement. Have a wonderful week!
Monday, January 06 2020
Good morning, and belated Happy New Year to you all! I hope with a bit of practice in the new year and new decade the first Monday is something on the positive side. All in all, let’s get to it!
"If I could give you just one thing, I’d want it to be a simple truth that took me many years to learn. If you learn it now, it may enrich your life in hundreds of ways. And it may prevent you from facing many problems that have hurt people who have never learned it. The truth is simply this: No one owes you anything.”
As you begin 2020 in earnest, and a new decade if you count things that way, your attitude will have a lot to do with your success this year, or lack thereof. Think for a moment about all the positive attitudes that can propel your new year to a spectacular experience: courage, commitment, a spirit of adventure, dependability, forgiveness, and more. We all know, in pretty common ways, how we can make a year better. And in hushed tones we also know how to make a year, or any time, pretty bad.
And in that list of downers, one of the lowest is a sense of entitlement. Just to be clear, I’m speaking of a sense of being owed by anyone and/or everyone. Have you ever known anyone with this extraordinarily poor sense? I find it really hard to take, but sadly I’ve known my share of them. There have been times in my own life I have gotten too close to it, entitlement, and I regretted it. And I can say, as the author says, that I’ve seen it devastate every person who embraced entitlement.
I’ve never been able to succinctly summarize the antidote to entitlement as the author does, but isn’t he right? No one owes you, or me, anything beyond the return of loans. Entitlement comes in handy when we don’t want to work, but life doesn’t work that way.
* No one owes you a job; you have to earn it.
* No one owes you a promotion; you have to earn it.
* No one owes you affection; you have to earn it.
* No one owes you resources; you have to earn them.
* No one owes you their property; you have to earn it.
* No one owes you their feelings; you have to earn them.
* No one owes you anything; you have to earn everything.
Now, as a caveat, many times in life we earn things, maybe even deserve things, and those things do not come our way. That’s life, too. But it’s a better life to be responsible enough to earn what comes our way than to expect things we have not earned. So what do you want this year that you are willing to work to earn? Did you make resolutions? Earn them. Do you have expectations? Earn them. Whatever is out there for you in 2020, earn it. And make it the best year, and decade, yet for you. Have a wonderful week.
Proverbs 10:4; 12:11; 14:23; 31:31