Willing to be wrong…

“My opinion is a view I hold…well, until I find something that changes it.”

Luigi Pirandello

Someone once imparted some great wisdom to me with this phrase. “I am always willing to be wrong, I just need someone to help prove it to me.” I grabbed on to that as a core operating tenet and have found it incredibly powerful over the years.

Willing to be wrong means that you are willing to change your mind, it doesn’t meant that you will. Willing to be wrong means that you will seek to find opinions and perspectives that challenge your opinion, not seek out those that only reinforce what you believe. Willing to be wrong means that you will focus on the issue, not the person. Willing to be wrong implies debate, not argument. Willing to be wrong means that you are willing to listen.

Are you willing?

Manage your debits and credits to make it count…

“We pass through this world but once.”

Stephen Jay Gould

How do you live life well? I find it useful to think of life as an exercise in debits and credits where Debits are the things you need to do less of and Credits are the things you do more of. Here’s a list of things to think about (this is my list, some of these certainly won’t apply to you, though they certainly could.)

Credits: Spend more time with those that you love and who love you. Spend more time doing things that excite and impassion you. Spend more time in the service of others. Make mistakes and learn from them. Give yourself grace. Write down your goals and dreams. Journal daily, reread what you wrote later. Spend time alone in meditation and reflection, write down what you learn. Read more books. Read scripture and pray. Find and spend time with friends that challenge you. Take care of your mind and body, you don’t get another. Practice mindfulness and be present in the moments that matter (they all do!)

Debits: Spend less time with those that drain you emotionally or burden you unfairly. Spend less time doing things that don’t add joy to your life in some way. Spend less money on things that don’t last. Spend less time in the pursuit of ego driven initiatives. Stop burdening yourself with negative emotions or self-perceptions. Those become self-fulfilling prophecies. Spend less time numbing your powerful mind with junk like social media, television, etc. Stop being a slave to what contemporary culture says is important.

Once through life is enough, if you live it well. 100 times isn’t enough if you don’t…

Would you do it for free?

“Far and away the best prize life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.”

Theodore Roosevelt

I was having a conversation with someone last week and they asked what I thought was a very powerful and insightful question. That question was “What do you do in your job or profession that you love so much that you would do it for free?”

The reason that I love this question is that it helps you identify the tasks or things that you do that you truly love and enjoy. Hopefully this is a long list for you and your work is filled with activities that you enjoy pouring yourself into. I am blessed that my list is both long and meaningful. It might be hard work, but it is work I love to do.

Become more…

“To have more than you’ve got, become more than you are.”

Jim Rohn

What is it that you really want to have? I don’t read this quote through the lens of “stuff” or possessions. That is an earthly and short-term view. What is that you want to have that truly matters? How do you solve for this? Here’s one way to approach the challenge.

Get out pad of paper and write down one-word answers to the following question: “What are the adjectives that best describe the behaviors or values that I want to define my life in 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, and beyond?” If at all possible do not use multiple word phrases. Use one word answers that make you think through the meaning and drill down to the essence of what truly matters.

Next, circle the five that are MOST important to you. Then narrow it down to the three that really and truly matter. This is going to be a lot harder than it sounds! If it helps use this question as a way to help you through the process of elimination. “If I don’t achieve this I will seriously regret it for the rest of my life.”

Some of the words that come to mind for me and that I am currently thinking through (not in any order) are; Faith, Purpose, Family, Impact, Humility, Service, Gratitude, Focus, Growth, Change. It’s a work in progress, but such an impactful exercise.

Once you have your top 3 identified the hard work starts. The good news is that the question is simple. “What do I need to start, stop or continue in my life in order to make this an absolute reality?” This will not be an easy exercise or process of addition, elimination or escalation. But understanding what is truly important, and then planning the work necessary to complete it is how you not only become more than who you are but you become the person that you were meant to be.

Focus on the sowing…

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant.”

Robert Louis Stevenson

In today’s world it is so easy to think that we must see the results immediately or the action is wasted. We are a world that is addicted to immediacy. But that is simply not how the world works. Just look at nature to see this brought to life most simply and powerfully.

Life has many seasons. Some are seasons of planting. Some are seasons of harvest. Some are seasons of rest and rejuvenation so that seeds planted later can take root and grow. But most importantly, not every day is harvest day.

Not every conversation is supposed to produce results, at least not immediate results. Not every action will deliver an immediate and measured return.

But every conversation matters. Every action matters. Every interaction is important. Because these are the seeds that you are planting in yourself, in others and in the world. Plant the right seeds with an eye to growth, not harvest. Plant the seeds in a way that they will fall on good soil and grow to produce grain in the future…

What is your life’s OS Version?

“You make decisions, take actions, affect the world, receive feedback from the world, incorporate it into yourself, then the updated ‘you’ makes more decisions, and so forth, ’round and ’round.”

Douglas Hofstadter

Rather than think of yourself as a finished product it is easier and better to think of oneself as a “continually updating” application. Everything you see, do learn, experience becomes the next “X” in the 1.X version of yourself.

When you acquire a new degree, take on a new role or have a significant life change that is when you have a major system upgrade, the first number changes, and you go from “2.X to 3.0.” But in the meantime all that really matters is the next minor “.X” upgrade. These are the ones that build and create a new and better self so that when the time comes and you are “1.9” you are ready for the new 2.0 version.

Thinking of life in this way can change the way you perceive things. Instead of failures or setbacks you simply have opportunities to upgrade your operating system and build a better and stronger self.

As for myself I am at least on major Operating System (OS) # 25 and heck I probably moved up to 25.5 or 25.6 just from today’s experiences and feedback. The good news is that there are unlimited future versions available, you just have to choose to download the upgrade…

Right + Sacrifice = Victory

“For when people get caught up with that which is right and they are willing to sacrifice for it, there is no stopping point short of victory.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

This quote really raises a number of questions that I want to think through. What exactly is “right?” What is it that you are willing to sacrifice for? Is it your principles? Perhaps your values? Maybe its family? Just how far are you willing to go achieve victory?

It seems clear to me that once you know the answers to these questions and have a well defined definition of what victory is, you have by design said that there is no stopping point. Do you have that clear vision of what is right in your mind? Without that how will you ever keep going when the challenges inevitably raise up? How can you ever muscle through if you don’t have a clearly defined “right?”

It doesn’t have to be something that changes the world the way that Dr. King’s did, it can be enough to simply change your world, and the world of those that love you…

Chasing versus doing…

“Greatness is not found in possessions, power, position, or prestige. It is discovered in goodness, humility, service, and character.”

William Arthur Ward

The first list is of things that many people spend their entire lives pursuing. These things, while nice, don’t fill the heart and soul with happiness. In fact, if that is all a person has, I can’t imagine a much emptier life.

The second list is how a person chooses to live. This list might never lead to any of the things in the first list but to me this represents a life worth living. This is a life worth pursuing. This is a life that when you reach the end, one can look back and say, “I lived well.”

You can spend your entire life chasing things. Or you can spend your life doing things. Things that truly matter. It’s your choice, choose wisely…

Learning to fly…

“A certain amount of opposition is a great help to a man.  Kites rise against, not with, the wind.”

Lewis Mumford

Without the opposition of the wind the kite doesn’t rise and the eagle doesn’t soar. That is when true beauty is both exposed and captured. When the opportunity to grow is revealed through opposition and resistance.

The first thing that I thought of when reading this quote today was the verse from Proverbs; “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.” Proverbs 27:17. Then I went to my Bible and a couple of the preceding verses gave it even more clarity and meaning. “Better is open rebuke than hidden love.” “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses.” Proverbs 27: 5-6

We desperately need those people in our lives who love us enough to tell it like it is. They are the ones that won’t tell us what we want to hear. They love us enough to tell us what we really need to hear. They give us the wind to soar against and truly open up our ability to fly. I will be forever grateful to those who provide me with the opposition needed to get out of my own way and truly learn to fly.

Reflection = Learning

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”

Peter Drucker

I might amend this quote to say “follow action with quiet reflection.” There is just so much value that comes from taking the time to simply think about what happened and what one can learn from any action, whether it was successful or not.

I had a rare and wonderful privilege today to take time and sit and think about leader ship, growth, and ways to become a more effective leader. It was time that was wonderfully well spent and very enlightening.

I would highly encourage anyone to be very intentional with the practice of active reflection and intentional learning. It will not happen by accident or simply through desire it must be intentional. This means that it must be scheduled and followed through on with the same discipline that one would treat any other meeting.

If you don’t practice reflection then growth and learning is left to chance and circumstance. That doesn’t seem like a very good deal to me.

Just ask…

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.”

John Crosby

Yesterday morning I had a most unique mentoring experience. I was hiking a trail with a new colleague and we were discussing a variety of topics. I bounced an idea off of him that I have been working through in my mind and received the most valuable and insightful input. It completely changed my thinking on a particular subject. It was some of the best mentoring I could have asked for and at just the right time. The quote above describes my experience yesterday in a perfect and beautiful way.

Throughout my life I have been blessed to have several powerful mentors who have been powerful influences and sounding boards as I navigate life and leadership. Unfortunately I have long thought of mentors as a “formal” relationships that I defined as “wise and sage counsel imparting knowledge.” This isn’t the case at all. Mentoring can happen between anyone, at any time, if you are simply willing to ask and listen. You just have to ask the questions…

Criticize me; please!

“Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

Winston Churchill

The most growth I have ever had in my life has come from criticism, not praise. I have learned to not only welcome criticism and feedback but to truly desire and appreciate it. It is the only way that one can get outside of your own mind and perceptions and see and understand the impact that you have on others.

Certainly not all criticism is good, constructive, or even relevant. However, if you start to ignore any of the feedback given to you you do so at your own peril. Some of the criticism I have received in life I disagreed with vehemently, and on further reflection might be something that wasn’t helpful or positive in any way. But it made me stop and think. It made me ask the question, “how am I behaving that could create that perception and how might I need to change if changing that perception is both important and relevant to me?”

Create a mindset where you both welcome and appreciate criticism in all areas. It doesn’t mean you have to accept it at face value, but it does mean you have to listen, reflect and learn. Who knows, it might be just what you need to hear…

Keep it simple…

“I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity; but I would give my life for the simplicity the other side of complexity.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes

We humans are great at creating complexity. We assign worth and value to most complicated things, instead of seeking to find ways to simplify and distill into what is truly most important.

There is such beauty in simplicity. When you can break past the tendency to complicated and seek to understand the essence of what truly matters. I greatly admire those that can drill down and identify what is important and dispense with all the superfluous B.S. that we create in an attempt to justify our efforts.

How does one create this clarity in your life? In the moments within the day where the lure of complexity can be an irresistible draw? I am no expert in this arena for sure, I find myself caught in the vortex of complication far too often. However, I am intensely focused on growing and improving in this area of life.

There are a million questions or tactics one might employ in an effort to simplify (see, making it complicated is easy!) and there is probably no one solution for every situation or every person. For me, I am focused on seeking to answer one question. “What is the most important thing to focus on RIGHT NOW?” I have found that this provides great clarity, and with clarity comes simplicity. It is almost as though the lens of complexity is removed and all the non-value added things fall away.

Because complexity can be so pervasive this is a question I find myself focusing on moment to moment throughout the day. It is the question I ask myself during the pause in a conversation before I respond (when I remember to do it…) Is it working? Yes. When I remember to keep it simple that is…

Seek counsel intentionally…

“I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better.”

Elon Musk

What is it that you do so well that you know that you don’t need to improve? How do you know this? Is it based on what people tell you or have you arrived at this answer by yourself? Be careful of any thinking that deludes you into believing that you have achieved a level of mastery that negates the need for further growth. That is the beginning of the end.

One of my favorite stories on this, and I don’t remember where I heard about it, was an observation that someone made about Ken Blanchard the leadership author and guru. Ken was attending a talk on leadership and was observed to be sitting in the front row taking notes feverishly, as though everything he was hearing was for the first time. Now here is a person that has achieved “Master Level” proficiency in a topic, yet he is seeking growth and wisdom as though he were just beginning. There is such power in this example for me.

This example addresses the second part of today’s quote, but what about the first portion? Who are the people that you listen to and seek feedback from? Do you you have a list of folks from whom you regularly seek out perspective, wisdom and insight? If you don’t then I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you do these three things RIGHT NOW.

First, pull out a pad of paper and create a list of people whom you respect and would welcome their insight and feedback about your performance and behavior. Write as many names as you can think of then circle the top five that you can engage with this week for step two.

Second, reach out to and have a conversation with those selected individuals and do two things. 1) Let them know that you are working to improve your skills and talents in some area and would welcome their perspective and insight. 2) Give them permission to provide any feedback that they might have, even if they think you might not want to hear it.

Third, when you receive feedback do the following with great focus. Sit back and LISTEN. Receive the gift you are being given without defense or the need to respond. Ask questions to help yourself understand their perspective. Do this without judging or responding immediately. Then do this most important thing. THANK THEM for this greatest of gifts, feedback and perspective and invite them to do it again.

When do you do these things consistently and well you will create a feedback loop that will sustain and grow your leadership for years to come…

Enlist perspective…

“The most important thing about getting somewhere is starting right where we are.”

Bruce Barton

Once you have made the decision to “go” what is next? How do you start? Where do you start? The best practice I have ever found to help accomplish this is the classic “Gap Analysis.” I have written about this before here.

The real key to getting somewhere is being able to conduct an honest assessment of where you really are right now. It is so easy to buy into a false sense of self or have perceptions that aren’t reality. Enlist of the help of trusted friends and colleagues to bounce your ideas off of and ask this one question.

“Based on your understanding of my goals and desires, what is the one action you would recommend I take today to move forward?”

You don’t have to agree with the answers, you don’t even have to like the answers. But you do have to listen. If these are truly people that you trust and respect, then they have an interest in your success. Gaining outside-in perspective is incredibly valuable and can help you identify things you might have otherwise overlooked.

Starting where you are doesn’t have to be a lonely endeavor. Enlist the help of others. Enlist their perspective to ensure that you are truly starting from the right place.

Decide to start…

“The distance doesn’t matter, only the first step is difficult.”

Madame Marquise du Deffand

How do you know how far is far enough? Does it really matter?

Does the distance or degree of difficulty determine what is the right thing to do?

Does how far you have to go define whether or not you should make the journey?

I would strongly argue that if you let distance or difficulty define your decisions then you are choosing to let those things define your life.

It isn’t how far you go that truly matters, it is the decision to make the journey that counts. When you decide not to be limited by outside variables you are freeing yourself to act. Having made the decision to embark you are empowered and enabled to do what really counts. Take action…

Face change…

“Not everything that is faced can be changed.  But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

James Baldwin

The key to living with a “relentless discontent with the status quo” is to know what needs to be changed, and what doesn’t. It means knowing when things need to be changed and when they don’t. It means being able to see the world for what could be, not simply for what it currently is. And therein lies the secret, one must face change directly and clearly. The best exercise I can think of for facing change is to simply go look in the mirror. That will show you what needs to change…

The secret…

“Take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly, and try another. But by all means, try something.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I had a conversation yesterday with a person whom I greatly admire and respect. During our time together we talked about the importance of understanding the opportunities we have to to serve customers and the incredible value and importance of constantly and continually trying new things, always in an effort to improve and add value to the relationship that a customer has with our respective organizations.

It is incredibly refreshing, and motivating, to share similar beliefs and perspectives with another person and to learn from those who practice those beliefs in their daily lives. That conversation was the reason that I selected this quote today.

It is easy in life to let the pace of the world, or our own internal sense of timing, dictate our ability and willingness to try new things. It is so easy to get caught up in a “pursuit of perfect” and forget that intelligent failure is where real learning occurs. It is so easy to fall in love with your own ideas and measures of success and forget that the customer (or anyone in your life with whom you have a relationship) might have a very different measure of success and value. Is is easy to be lulled into a spirit of contentment, which is only one step removed from complacency and irrelevance.

I am very thankful for the people that God puts in my life to reinforce the value of embracing change and to always push forward with an attitude of “relentless discontent with the status quo.”

Doing something, and learning from what comes from the effort, is critical for growth. There is no growth without first taking action. Try something. Be willing to fail. Learn. Try something else. Do it over and over and over again. That is the secret to growth and change…


Relentless growth…

“Goals live on the other side of obstacles and challenges. Be relentless in pursuit of those goals, especially in the face of obstacles. Along the way, make no excuses and place no blame.”

Ray Bourque

I see relentless growth as having to keys for success. First, if one can set the right goals, then those goals will inspire the effort required to bring them to fruition. Second, living life in an authentic manner without judgement, excuses or blame enables you to learn from failure and achieve those more difficult and inspiring goals. Becoming the person we were meant to be requires both.

A goal that is chosen because it is likely to be free of obstacles or challenges isn’t truly a goal. It is a choice for the easy path, to go along through life simply existing. Goals need to be hard enough, to be inspiring enough, to be powerful enough to stir your soul and make any obstacle or challenge that happens to come up worth the effort to persevere. If you have goals like that, then being relentless is simply a result of the power of a well-crafted goal.

And when you fail, and we all will inevitably fail, be candid and honest with yourself about that failure. Don’t condemn yourself, or others, and don’t justify the failure. Simply look at it through the lens of learning and growth so that the next goal has an even higher likelihood of success.

Success over the long-term requires both of these traits, and they are synergistic. Do your goals measure up? Are you learning from failure? If not, dig deeper…

The call of the wild..

“You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Jack London

Jack London was one of the favorite authors from my childhood. “The Call of The Wild,” “White Fang,” “The Sea Wolf” were all my companions and inspirations for life. I read each, and other of London’s works, many many times in my youth. I haven’t read any of them since that time but recently came across the copies of my books and have put them on my reading list to reread and explore again. I am very curious to see what inspiration and motivations rise after I read these book some thirty plus years after the first time I read them.

What I love about this quote is that it imbues action. There is no reason to wait for some “perfect time” in the future to do what needs to be done. If you are waiting for something to happen in order to “be inspired” or start something then you are choosing to delay. You are choosing to wait. Sometimes waiting is exactly the right thing, but that waiting should be a conscious choice, not a delay or a passive waiting for some “ideal” time or moment of cosmic alignment. Be intentional with your waiting. Go after life, it is waiting for the taking. Listen for the call of the wild, and take action.

Accept and learn…

“If you let your past control your present, then you will never have a future.”

Suzie Davis

“Learn from the past, but don’t live from it” is some advice that a very wise person once gave to me. Easy to say, harder to do day in and day out.

It is easier to let the past define you if you look at the future through the lens of what has been instead of what could be. How do you change this? Learn to accept that what has happened is well and solidly behind you, there is NOTHING that you can do to change it. However that doesn’t mean that you are allowed to forget it or ignore that it happened.

The key to the future you WANT to create is to ask yourself one question every day. “What did I do today, or learn from today, that I can use to build my tomorrow?”

Your past doesn’t define you, unless you let it…

Start throwing pebbles today…

“We must not…ignore the small daily differences we can make which, over time, add up to the big differences that we often cannot foresee.”

Marian Write Edelman

It isn’t the moving of mountains that we should strive for, it is the constant and consistent throwing of pebbles at the mountain that will create the avalanche that is needed to create the change that is needed and necessary.

It can be so easy to get lost dreaming of the big and the grand and forget to do the small things that are the building blocks of a real and authentic life.

What is the one thing that you can do today, that will really and truly matter a year from today when you stick with it and make it a habit? What’s stopping you?

Leadership is influence…

“Leadership is not about titles, positions, or flow charts; it is about one life influencing another.”

John C. Maxwell

The most important thing is how you treat people. It is all about you treat others. Leadership is about influence. Period.

The minute you depend on title, position, or flow chart, you have lost real leadership influence. At the end of the day it is more than just the output of the effort that matters. It is about helping others find success…

The opportunity is now…

“Your big opportunity may be right where you are now.”

Napoleon Hill

Every day we have a choice to make. Do we focus on what is right in front of us or do we spend our time thinking about and chasing things that may or may not really matter? In our hyper-distracted world it is so easy to get lost in the myriad of opportunities for distraction that exist outside of where we are in a given moment or place in time.

Seizing the opportunities that are in front of you doesn’t mean to settle or limit yourself. It means fully exploring the path ahead and making informed and intelligent decisions about where to go next. Quitting is easy, chasing the shiny objects is easy, shifting focus is easy. Buckling down to do the hard work RIGHT NOW is tough, but when you do it, it creates opportunities and growth that perhaps you can’t even see.

There is a big difference between running towards opportunities and running from circumstances or challenges. Sometimes the biggest and best things in life are right in front of you but they are clouded due to either familiarity or perhaps a lack of newness. What if today was the day that you decided to focus all your energy on what is right there for the taking?

The big opportunity exists each and every day for every one of us. There is nothing worse than to live a life that is simply an existence instead of a life lived out with intention and purpose. The big opportunity is to use the day ahead as fully and completely as possible. Run towards the opportunity to use today in the most powerful and positive way. If you don’t, the time is going to pass anyway. Wouldn’t you prefer to have seized the day?

Don’t miss out on the best days…

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lives haven’t even happened yet.”

Anne Frank

I can’t imagine thinking of life differently than it is expressed in this quote. Even during challenges and hard times the best is yet to come. It isn’t always the big or the grand things, it is the ability to appreciate the smallest elements of life that perhaps one never had time for before because you were too busy being busy…

It is the taste of a perfectly brewed cup of coffee during a few moments of silence and prayer on a cold winter morning. The laughter of the family around the dinner table at the end of a long day. A good nights of sleep and a morning without demands on your time. It is doing work that matters and helps people alongside people you trust and respect. It is a million little moments that happen every single day.

Perhaps the best days occur when you take the time to appreciate life, instead of simply existing. Every day can be one of those days, if you choose appreciation, gratitude and joyfulness. What a loss it would be if you had one of the best days, and missed it completely…

Hard Work = Joy!

“Winners embrace hard work. They love the discipline of it, the trade-off they’re making to win. Losers, on the other hand, see it as punishment. And that’s the difference.”

Lou Holtz

I love the holidays, it is a magical time of year when everyone is a little nicer and there is extra time with friends and family. But I love when the holidays are over and it is time to get back to work. I welcome back the structure and discipline that makes success possible. It is hard to be “off” and have the same discipline that creates success. So, it is time to get back to work. Time to embrace the hard work and enjoy the effort.

Yes, there is joy that comes from hard work! The pursuit of some great goal or dream is awesome but the joy comes from the work itself. The pride that comes from having put in the effort, knowing that you are putting forth your very best and seeing results because of that work. Hard work is joyful. Hard work is fun. Hard work is a reward in and of itself. Embrace the work, because that is where joy truly lives.


Harness the energy to create the plan…

“The beginning is the most important part of the work.”

Plato

Yesterday I wrote how much I love the start of a new year. It is a great “line in the sand” that serves as both a mental reset and a starting point for new goals. I don’t believe in setting “resolutions” as all too often those are just loosely formed ideas that don’t have a plan to turn into reality.

For me the power of a new beginning isn’t the setting of a new goal, it is the energy that you use to create the plan that will make that goal become a reality. It is the energy that you need to create a new habit. It is the energy you use to springboard into the next stop along your journey.

Don’t make resolutions, make plans. Don’t let the opportunity to harness this new energy slip past unused. Take the time today to write down your goals and plan your next actions. The new year dawns brightly, how are you going to use it?

The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.”

Josiyah Martin

Let the new year begin…

“If you’re brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.”

Paulo Coehlo

This year, more than most, I am excited to see the year end and the new year begin. There is something both cathartic and exciting about the simple change of the calendar and the moving of the date from 12/31/2019 to 1/1/2020. This is a new year, a new decade, a new opportunity to live a life of purpose and clarity.

Of course it is just a date on the calendar, nothing more. We should live every day as though it were New Year’s Eve. With both eyes ahead and focused on what is to come. But we don’t. We get wrapped up in what is happening in the world around us and what we perceive is happening “to us.” I don’t typically make “New Years resolutions.” Instead I use the changing of the dates to reset my mind and as a starting point for new goals.

I am still refining my goals for 2020 but one of my goals is crystal clear. I want to live my life purposefully and with extreme focus on being fully present each and every day. I know that I will fail at this (likely daily) but to truly live one must be present, not simply along for the ride.

I understand that there will be laughter, and sadness. I understand that there will be joy and disappointments. I understand that there will be success and failure. And I want to be present to experience every bit of it, so that I can become a better person and continue the journey towards becoming the person that God created me to be.

Happy New Year!

The key to discovery…

“The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance  – it is the illusion of knowledge.”

Daniel Boorstin

It is amazing how what you think you know can change over time as you realize and learn how narrow your own thinking and perspective actually can be. Learning something new not only allows one to create new opportunities but also to understand how what you thought you knew all along was incorrect.

I wish I could go back in time and teach myself all the lessons that I have learned over the years when I discovered that what I thought I knew wasn’t a complete picture of reality.

Take the time to invest in reflection and introspection, this is the key to learning from the past and growing into the future. An open mind is the key to discovery…

Pause, Reflect, Learn…

“As we learn we always change, and so our perception.  This changed perception then becomes a new teacher inside each of us.”

Hyemeyohsts Storm

The ending a calendar year is always a time of great reflection and perspective seeking for me. I really enjoy taking the time to think back over the events and happenings of the past year. I typically think through and reflect on the answers to these questions:

  • What has has happened this year? What are the joys and disappointments?
  • What are the things that I have learned, and where do I still need to do more learning?
  • What are the best books I have read and what books did I leave unread that I want to add to my list for the next year?
  • What relationships did I grow and improve and what relationships do I need to invest in?
  • Who are the people that entered and exited my life and what did I learn from these relationships?
  • How have I grown as a Christian, Father, Husband and Leader? Where do I need to further grow and develop?
  • What are the most important events from the past year and how have I grown and learned from these?
  • What habits have I grown and cultivated that I must continue? What habits are holding me back?
  • Based on my answers to the above questions what should I Start, Stop or Continue?

This is just a general approximation of the questions that I reflect on as the year draws to a close. There are others that will come to mind as I work through the answers. I have found that in order to plan the year ahead I must do the hard work of answering critical questions so that I can learn and grow. It is amazing what you can learn when you take the time to pause and reflect with honesty and candor with oneself.

This morning as I was reading and meditating on a devotional I was reflecting on this verse and found it to be a great one to use as a lens for my “year in review” exercise.

‘And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28

Everything that happens to us happens for us, if we choose to allow ourselves to learn and grow from it. Making that choice is what gives each of us the opportunity to change our perceptions and better our lives.

Take the time to pause, reflect and learn from the past year before madly dashing into the new year that is ahead. There are valuable lessons to be learned if you give yourself the time to do so.

No pearls here…

“All problems become smaller if you don’t dodge them, but confront them.”

William Halsey

How many times in life have we built up a problem in our minds and then when we finally deal with it find that it wasn’t such a big deal at all? It is amazing how we can create a story in our heads that is so much different than reality.

Sometimes it seems so much easier to just ignore the little things and justify doing so by saying “this isn’t worth the time” or “I’ll deal with it later.” But then the problem just grows as we ignore it. Unfortunately ignored problems we ignore aren’t like the grains of sand that become pearls in an oyster. They are more like a steady leak of water under a house that undermines the foundation over time.

What is a problem or challenge that you have been putting off for another day that could/should be addressed right now? What stops you from dealing with it? Lack of time? Fear of conflict? Worry about upsetting someone? Make a list of the things you know you should deal with, but haven’t. Rank them from easiest to handle to most challenging and then commit to tackle the first one NOW. You might be surprised at how much smaller it is when you deal with it instead of continuing to ignore it.

The biggest danger in ignoring problems isn’t that the problem get larger, it is that apathy can set in and you no longer care about resolving the problem.

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