Monday, August 31 2020
“Don’t spend major time on minor things.”
Good morning, friends. I hope you are well, and I really hope today is Monday. I’ve reached the point in this pandemic where I don’t wake up confident of what day it is. If it isn’t Monday, someone please let me know. Otherwise, let’s get to it!
One thing is certain: the principles of success are generally simple. The challenge is sticking to them. We are reminded of professional sports. Effective practice produces champions, and anyone can do that, but most don’t. We could examine any of our professions, or hobbies, or efforts, and see that success has relatively simple principles if only we would stick to them.
And it doesn’t get more simple than today’s quote. I’ll bet you’ve heard or read that basic idea somewhere else. I’ve heard it many times. But does proliferation make it any less true? Or powerful? Or in fact, might it reinforce the truth? For me, it reinforces.
If we begin with the truth that time is precious, perhaps the most precious, valuable thing we have, then how we spend it is important. And frittering it away seems a poor way to expend it. But, boy, are we a frittering people! How do I know? Because few of us are as successful as we ourselves want to be, and again, success is pretty simple if we would just do the important, simple things consistently.
So how do we begin moving in the direction of success? Pretty simple. Spend more of your time on major things and less on minor ones. Why don’t we do this already? One source I respect calls the problem “Avoidance” (capitalized to suggest a living presence, as an enemy). We spend our precious time on many minor things, avoiding the major things. In the end, our battle is against Avoidance, the Master of Minor Things, who wants nothing more than to keep us from success.
How will you battle Avoidance today? What minors will you sacrifice for the good of majors? And what habit can you create to prioritize major things going forward in your life? Whatever it is, keep up the battle! And have a wonderful week!
Monday, August 24 2020
“Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.”
Good morning, friends, and welcome to Monday! I hope your weekend was as special as you could make it, in spite of the trying times. We’re all in the same boat. So let’s get to it!
Hypocrisy seems to be one of the prime human conditions. We seem to have these notions of right and wrong in our minds, or acceptable and unacceptable, or worthwhile and unworthwhile, or healthy and unhealthy, and we live not so much on the real side of things but our desired side. A great example of this seeming fact (and I call it “seeming” because I have no study or statistics, only my observations) is the business of excuses. I don’t care for excuses, and I haven’t met anyone who does, but when we find ourselves in less desirable lights (wrong, unacceptable, unworthwhile, unhealth, etc.) we tend of offer excuses.
Excuses tend to contain a certain set of words: because, fault, negatives (didn’t, don’t, can’t, etc.) And somewhere in the mix is the business of expectations on all sides, met and unmet. Excuses are a messy business if considered honestly.
And then there’s the matter of success. Did an excuse ever make things better or more successful? Never, in my experience. What was missed was the effort, courage, commitment, planning, support, etc. And once the time is gone… well, it’s gone.
Sitting in the doctor’s office, ten pounds heavier than last year, we have nothing but excuses.
Facing the evaluation with unmet expectations, we have nothing but excuses.
Reaching retirement without sufficient funds, we have nothing but excuses.
Anytime time reaches a pause and reflect moment, if we’ve come up short, we make excuses.
Instead of excuses, why not take responsibility? Instead of reliving yesterday’s failures, why not see them honestly (and ourselves, too) and do better next time? Instead of explaining yesterday, why not prepare better for tomorrow?
Rohn’s point seems true in my life, for sure. When I build a house on excuses it’s always a pretty ugly house. When I build a house on responsibility it looks pretty good. Few exceptions. And I’ll bet the same is true for you. It isn’t easy to give up a life of excuses. In fact, it isn’t even easy to think about it. But next time you fail, or come close to it, watch what you do, say and think. If it smells of not taking personal responsibility, it’s probably rotten. Toss it out. And try responsibility. Sorry for the tough talk, but I’m in the same boat. Let’s all try to have a great week.
Monday, August 17 2020
“If you don’t sow, you don’t reap. You don’t even have a chance.”
Good morning, friends. I hope you are all well today. If you are a teacher, or a parent of a student, I’m praying for you today. We will get through this, one way or another, and things will not be as bad as our minds are telling us. Now, let’s get to it.
Jim Rohn, our continued source of quotes for a while, is a follower of Jesus. Frequently in his teaching he uses stories and quotes from the bible. And his favorite story, based on usage, is the parable of the sower. In case you’re not familiar with the story, a farmer from Jesus’ day hand casts seeds around his farm one day, tossing seeds here and yonder. Some seeds fall in unproductive places, and a few seeds fall on good ground. And the good seeds produce a bumper crop, sufficient for the year. But think about all the “what if’s” in the farmer’s life.
What if he got frustrated by the wasted seeds that produced nothing? Most of his seed fits this category. Jeff Bezos, the founder of the web site Amazon, is recognized as a phenomenal success. What is less recognized is the amount of failure he has endured. The billions of dollars he has invested in companies, with grand dreams, only to see them fail and be discounted to zero. He has many more failures than successes. But his successes have produced a bumper crop that outweighs any failures. But what if he became discouraged?
Back to the farmer, what if he tried to be more analytic about his sowing? What if his computer (go with me here) told him to avoid certain places and only plant in others? Sooner or later he would be down to nothing; weeds would take over all the fallow places.
But his big “what if” is… what if the farmer decided to sleep in one year. Maybe he has leftovers from last year he thinks he can stretch to next season. Maybe he has a deal with a neighbor for a partnership. Maybe a lot of things could make him think about taking a break this year. And then later in the year he realizes that the only thing he could count on is himself, and when he needed himself the most, back in sowing season, he let himself down. He didn’t sow, and there will be no reaping.
If something matters to you, then sow it. Don’t count on someone else. Don’t be deterred by challenges. Don’t be dissuaded by nay-sayers and slackers. If you want it or need it then sow it.
Sow love. Sow friendship. Sow success. Sow forgiveness. Sow determination. Sow anything that matters to you.
Because Rohn is correct: if you don’t sow, you won’t reap. You don’t even have a chance. Don’t leave what you want to chance. Sow it. And reap it. And have a wonderful week.
Monday, August 10 2020
"Discipline is the bridge between goals and accomplishment."
Good morning, friends. Did you feel the tremble yesterday (Sunday)? I missed it, but thankfully it wasn't terrible. I may not have an earthquake for you, but still, let's get to it.
Yes, yes, yes, once again I'm dipping into the vast richness of the Jim Rohn well of quotes. The man was incredible and I have no shame sharing him for a while, particularly if you've never encountered him. He's worth it.
I cook. I cook a lot. I don't cook because I necessarily enjoy cooking. What I enjoy is eating good and healthy food. Early on I realized that I had to cook my own food if I wanted good and healthy food. So I cook. And now that I've been cooking for 20+ years I've learned a few skills of the trade.
The first step of effective cooking is to read the recipe twice, carefully. Secondly, gather ALL the ingredients. It was this second step that was hard to master. Crazy right? One might think that one of the talents of cooking (sautéing, yeast breads, etc.) would have been the challenge, but for me it was gathering all the ingredients before starting. Typically, for a long time, I would jump off into the recipe with the first step, gathering the ingredients as I went. It might work well for the first step, maybe, but by the second step something would be needed that is hard to find, or needs time, or needs preparing, and all of a sudden the plan comes to a screeching halt. I did this method many, many times before I learned my lessons. Gather ALL ingredients before beginning.
What does that have to do with Rohn's quote? How many times have you dreams of a goal, or had some idea that was compelling and desirable, only to watch it wither and/or crumble in the execution? To be successful you have to have the dream, idea, vision or whatever it is that is "out there" you call success. It comes in many disguises. And having the idea of success is the first step.
The second step is the ingredient that too often we are missing. It's called "discipline". We get that first step down pat cold. We can name it, claim it, and frame it. We can tell everyone about it. But after all the shouting is over, we realize the distance to reach it (if it's a goal worth having.) and the recipe calls for discipline. Showing up every day; eliminating distractions; making hard choices; getting better every day; etc. And too often we find ourselves lacking.
The next time you find yourself in goal setting mode, pause and consider all the ingredients of success. And if you are still committed to whatever the goal is, get your discipline, all of it, ready. That way the success will be delicious! Believe me, I know you can do it! Have a wonderful week.
Monday, August 03 2020
“Everyone must choose one of two pains: The pain of discipline or the pain of regret.”
Good morning, friends! I hope you are well today and not in the path of the hurricane. If so, be safe. As it is, let’s get to it.
I guess by now you’ve realized that I’m on a “Jim Rohn” streak. Just a word about Mr. Rohn. He was a young Idaho farm boy who became a very successful businessman in the mid-1900s and then turned to speaking and writing for a living. He became likely the most successful self-development speaker of his time, and no modern speaker has not been influenced by Mr. Rohn. He was a jewel of a man who had an easy way of saying powerful things. That’s why I’m focusing on him for a while and introducing you to his mind. Now…
I’ve learned as a pastor that pain is no friend to anyone. I’ve witnessed many, many kinds of pains and experienced more than a few myself. And by nature, the mind experiences pain and seeks relief. Medicines, therapies, adjustments, meditations, anything at all to relieve the pain. And I suppose that’s a reasonable effort for physical pains (sometimes), but is a pain-free life really our best aim? Is it possible to be comfortably (naturally) numb?
If success of any kind is your goal then pain is unavoidable. Not everyone agrees with that idea, but it’s true. When you and I were young we had dreams. We wanted to be “this” or “that”, we wanted to do great things, achieve great heights, see marvelous places, experience the best of things. We experienced the best of the childhood mind. And then at some early point life began whittling away our dreams. In time, if we chose the numb path, we settled into an essential existence. And whether we acknowledge it or not, we accepted the pain of regret. The life we could have had, had we tried harder, but instead chose an easier path.
Alternatively, the “could have” live would require the pain of discipline. At every turn, “could have” requires the more difficult path. “Could have” demands sacrifices. “Could have” expects attention. “Could have” is a tough task master, but that is what success is. It takes the pain of discipline. Many times, in the numb “regret” state we say to ourselves, “I really couldn’t have, even if I had tried.” But that’s being dishonest to ourselves. Had we tried, had we sacrificed, had we shown discipline, who knows what we could have done? Trying to avoid regret is like trying to avoid pain; it doesn’t work.
The good news, actually great news, is that if you have breath then you have time to make progress. Success isn’t always about reaching the moon. Sometimes it’s about making it around the block. Or taking the next step. Or doing the next thing. Or making the next call. Or doing whatever the next disciplined thing is. And once again you have the choice: discipline or regret? Every day, every time, the choice. What will it be for you today? Whatever it is, I have faith in you! Have a wonderful week!