Nothing is lacking…

“Even if I lack the talent, I will not abandon the effort on that account. In short, we do not abandon any discipline for despair of ever being the best in it.”

Epictetus

Can you imagine how little would get done in this world if being “the best” were the requirement for doing something at all? I imagine that most of us don’t know what we are truly capable of until we try. And it is the trying that truly brings the joy.

I would far rather be less than the best at any one thing in this world yet pursue those things that bring me great joy and passion in life.

It is the intersection of passion and talent that creates joy and that joy, when aligned with the opportunity to make a real and lasting difference, is how you know you have landed on God’s calling for your life…

Body, mind or both?

“Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”

John F. Kennedy

Are the best days those days where you exercise your mind, your body, or both? I know when one is lacking I am not as good at the other. Starting the day with fitness always makes everything else in the day a little better.

In 10 years?

“If, in 10 years, you were to look back at your actions of today, what would you change? Always be asking yourself in terms of your goals and how you want to live.”

Craig Ballantyne

What advice would you have given yourself 10 years ago based on where you are today? Are the certain actions or decisions you did, or didn’t make you know you should have made?

Do you have your 10 year goals written down and are you taking actions today that will move you down the right path?

The life we want is built each and every day. One must have a clear picture of their goals in their minds just waiting to be freed each and every day through the choices we make and the actions we take.

Where are you going to be in 10 years?

Relax and wait…

“Your mind will answer most questions if you learn to relax and wait for the answer.”

William S. Burroughs

Sometimes putting down a problem or challenge is the hardest thing in the world to do. Have you ever experienced those days when you can almost see the answer right there in front of you, but it is just beyond your grasp and all you want to do is grab it almost by sheer force of will?

For someone like me, with a strong and determined personality, it feels very counter-intuitive to let go and turn away from something that is right there in front of me demanding to be solved.

Invariably however, when I have the discipline to simply breathe and step away, the next step, or perhaps even the actual answer, will magically appear in my mind.

Cultivating the discipline required to step away and let the mind work is a practice that is still evolving for me. But I know that it works, and I know that it is important. So today I resolve to put down those big things that are actively burdening my mind at the cognitive level and just breathe and let my subconscious do the heavy lifting.

Relax and wait. Two things that are very hard for me to do…

Relentlessly focused…

“One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.”

Tony Robbins

What are the goals you have set for your life? Do you have them written down? Have you created an action plan with specific steps you are taking to make sure achievement isn’t accidental but is purposeful and intentional?

Or are your goals more like your dreams, somewhat half-remembered when you wake up in the morning and completely forgotten when you go to bed each night? Perhaps then your goals are more like the nightmares waking you in the middle of the night in a panic because you suddenly realize the year is half gone and you haven’t made any progress…

Life isn’t accidental. We were all put here for a purpose, and then given the opportunity to choose how we spend our time. If we choose to live in a dream like state, merely existing our way through our days, then we can have no regrets and blame no one else if we fail to become all that we are possible of being. It is a choice that we make each and every day when we decide if we are going to use our time purposefully or merely let it slip through our fingers.

As I reflect on the quote above I am reminded of the wisdom of Solomon which was recorded in the book of Proverbs. Specifically these words: ‘Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you. Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways. ‘ Proverbs 4:25-26

Where is your gaze fixed today? Do you have a plan and are you focused on achieving it? Are you striving to master some skill or talent in order to reach or goals? Are you relentlessly focused?

Invest wisely…

“If you want something new, you have to stop doing something old.”

Peter F. Drucker

There are only so many hours in the day. How are you spending them?

I find it useful to think of time as a bank account. You spend your minutes and hours each day as you would your money. What kind of return are you getting for your spend? Do you look back at your days and weeks and wonder where the time went? Are you achieving the goals that you sent for the month the quarter or the year? Do you even have goals?

The bottom line is this. You only have a finite amount of time in each day and week, and none of us know when that time is going to run out. Spend it wisely and intentionally. Make sure that you are getting maximum return for your investment. If you aren’t, stop spending the time on the things that don’t matter and invest in the things that do…

Who are you?

“I have found that the greatest help in meeting any problem with decency and self-respect and whatever courage is demanded, is to know where you yourself stand. That is, to have in words what you believe and are acting from.”

William Faulkner

Do you have a written list of the things that you hold most dear? A list of principles or values that you use to guide your thoughts and actions? How long is your list? Is it a list of things that describe the person you want to be or the one that you actually are? I would suggest that if you list is longer than three things it is too long. You can’t be everything to everyone. Your values can’t be aspirational or only apply some of the time. It must be the deep bedrock of who you are as a person so that no matter what storm is going on around you, you have a very clear picture of what is really important.

If you don’t have this written down then carve out some time to think about it. Brainstorm a long list of all the principles that matter to you and then narrow it down so that you can have, in writing, that which truly matters. Look at it every day and ask yourself this question.

Am I living my life in a manner that reflects what I believe?

Endurance…

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

I recently read “The Shackleton Way” and was absolutely fascinated by the leadership skills and expertise that Sir Earnest Shackleton displayed during the epic “Endurance” expedition attempt to cross the Antarctic continent. It intrigued me so greatly that I then read “South” which is Shackleton’s book on the topic and am in the process of reading “Endurance” which is considered to be the seminal work on the subject.

I am continually amazed by the fact that in the face of the greatest of unknowns, and with no outside influence or support, that men could rise above the uncertainly of the next moment and survive for months at a time in the most grueling of conditions. The name of their ship, the “Endurance” was incredibly apt for what was to come.

Knowing that others have survived conditions that are far beyond contemporary understanding helps put everything in perspective. Having a positive attitude and focusing on what is truly important is how one perseveres. On the other side you will be far stronger than how you went in…

Feeling excited…

“I’m looking forward to the future, and feeling grateful for the past.”

Mike Rowe

The joy in the future is based on building on everything that has happened in the past and everything that is happening in the present.

Without an eye on the past and the lessons to be learned there is no future.

Never forget your past, just don’t live in it.

Never compromise your future by trying to be someone you are not.

All of these things, these principles, are what excites me about the future. it hasn’t been written yet. That is up to me.

#1 on the list…

“I decided in my life that I would do nothing that did not reflect positively on my father’s life.”

Sidney Poitier

My father is the hardest working and highest integrity person I have ever known. There are a lot of people I would not want to let down or fail in any way but #1 on that list would be my Dad. He’s an amazing man and an incredible Father. I just hope that I can pass on what he taught me to my children. That would be a life well lived.

Speak your truth…

“What I know for sure is that speaking your truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Oprah Winfrey

How much time do you spend really and deeply reflecting on your truth? Not the truth that others are waiting to hear or a perception of how facts should be but really truly understanding what you know and believe.

If you don’t know your truth how can you speak it?

Free from blame…

“When you blame others, you give up your power for growth and change.”

Dr. Robert Anthony

Taking full and complete ownership of your thoughts, your actions, and your circumstances is the first step to being able to truly grow. When you realize that you have the power to change your attitude and therefore the outlook you have on life you are full and truly free.

On the flip side, if you are constantly seek to make what you are or where you are in life someone else’s fault you are surrendering your ability to growth into the person you are capable of becoming.

Freedom is realizing that no one else can define you, you alone are embodied with that responsibility. Seize that opportunity own it!

Plan to disconnect…

“We need time to defuse, to contemplate. Just as in sleep our brains relax and give us dreams, so at some time in the day we need to disconnect, reconnect, and look around us.”

Laurie Colwin

There is nothing better than a quiet morning, a good cup of coffee, a great book, and a day ahead with no demands on your time. Unfortunately I can’t remember the last time I took the time to really embrace these very simple, but incredibly powerful things.

When was the last time you truly disconnected from the world and connected with the people that are really important to you? It is hard to do in today’s hyper-connected world and for me personally, it’s even harder in a Covid-19 flavored world.

The problem is that we can’t disconnect every once in a while and consider that to be enough. Just like sleep it has to be a regular part of your rejuvenation cycle. Unfortunately it is much easier said than done.

Like everything else in life, if it is important you have to plan for it and make the time. Do you feel this need? If so, how are you making changes to make it happen?

Love to give…

“Do something for those who have need of a man’s help – Something for which you get no pay but the privilege of doing it.”

Albert Schweitzer

What are the things you enjoy doing so much that you would do them for free? How many of these things add value and joy to others in addition to providing you with satisfaction?

How can you do more of these in your life? The intersection of giving to others and creating joy in yourself is our ultimate calling. It isn’t about making more money or having a nicer house. The true privilege in life is giving yourself away.

Change much?

“People in any organization are always attached to the obsolete … the things that once were productive and no longer are.”

Peter Drucker

Change can be really hard. In some ways it is so much better when it is forced upon you and there isn’t an option to remain the same.

The best part about forced change is that it frees you to truly grow and when you aren’t encumbered by the past you can embrace an entirely new future.

How can you develop an attitude of becoming intentionally obsolete?

A fugitive life…

“He is a true fugitive who flies from reason.”

Marcus Aurelius

What are those things that you know to be true, but that you don’t want, or can’t, admit to yourself? Why is that? Do you have a fear of something in particular? Is there a certain area where you have an unwillingness to face the truth?

When the facts and data are there, but you aren’t willing to face them, you are a creating a false world, a life that is less than it could or should be. You are a fugitive from the truth. That is no way to live…

Bring the future home…

“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”

Alan Lakein

The key here is that you must have put in the time, effort, and energy into thinking about the future you want to create. So often people seem to simply exist through life or react to the world around them and then they get frustrated that their “plans“ haven’t come true.

You don’t really have a plan if you haven’t defined what you want the future to look like. You just have activities. You have energy expended with no defined return…

Define the future you want to create. Plan your work. Work your plan.

Why we are here…

“Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it.”

Wilferd Peterson

As I read this list of attributes and behaviors I am struck by the fact that this EXACTLY the type of person/people that I most enjoy being around. They are the ones that inspire me to do more and be more. I just hope that I can be the same for others.

I particularly love the last line the most, “leave this world better than you when you found it.” Why else would we be here?

The ultimate win/win…

“The word ‘listen’ contains the same letters as the word ‘silent’.”

Alfred Brendel

Listening might be the ultimate “win/win” strategy. You’ll learn something and the person that you are hearing is validated as important.

So ask good questions and then shut up and listen…

Less is always more…

“Don’t make the process harder than it is.“

Jack Welch

Is the value you provide based on the quantity of the words that you use? In everything you do are you adding value or adding complexity?

Define what needs to be done. Clearly establish the goal. Then do everything within your power to eliminate anything that gets in the way. True leadership is demonstrated through clarification and simplification.

Success isn’t about adding more, it is about taking away what doesn’t matter…

Debits vs. Credits…

“Those who are lifting the world upward and onward are those who encourage more than criticize.”

Elizabeth Harrison

The energy you expend can either be a debit or a credit to those around you. You get to make that choice. You get to decide if you are going to be a person that encourages and intentionally seeks out the positive in others and in life.

Those who choose to be additive to others and focus on lifting the world up are those who create the world that should be. They aren’t content with the world that is and they realize that success is determined not by how much gets done, but by how many people they take with them along the way…

Who people…

“There is no better test of a man’s integrity than his behavior when he is wrong.”

Marvin Williams

We all make mistakes, and hopefully we can learn from most of them. Over the years I am sure that I have made more than my fair share.

One of the things I have learned over the years is that when you focus on what is right instead of who is right then being wrong isn’t nearly as painful, in fact it is hardly painful at all. The problems really rise up when you reverse that order.

When the who is more important than the what, be prepared for frustration and aggravation. It’s hard for “who people” to let their egos go and admit when they are wrong…

Listen up!

“Listening is an art that requires attention over talent, spirit over ego, others over self. ”

Dean Jackson

The ability to listen is a gift that every person is capable of giving, yet it is among the rarest of all gifts that we give to one another. To truly listen, you must make a conscious choice that says “for the next XYZ minutes the person that I am conversing with is more important than me and what I think.”

Easy to say, hard to do. Can you make the commitment to be fully engaged in one conversation today where you are putting someone else and what they have to say, ahead of your own needs?

Saddle up…

“Courage is being scared to death… and saddling up anyway.”

John Wayne

How many things in life do we not do, or not do well, simply because we are afraid of committing ourselves fully and completely? We only go so far, but then quit because we are afraid of putting forth the effort it will take to get the job truly done.

Do you have the courage to hold yourself accountable and commit 100% effort towards the hard work?

It’s in the eyes…

“You can’t change all that is wrong in this great big world, but you can have an impact, even if it is just a tiny, positive impact on a stranger that receives a smile from you on the street today. There’s so much we can do for others, and in the end, what we do for others ends up benefiting us tenfold. So, let’s do this. Let’s make our little worlds amazing today.”

Craig Ballantyne

If you look back at your day today how many people did you offer a smile to? Perhaps it is easy to make the excuse “but I had on a mask, they couldn’t see me smile.” Yet that is merely an excuse. I have noticed that even with a mask on two people can smile at each other simply by making eye contact and offering a smile. The eyes are the true connection.

Try it tomorrow. If you are wearing a mask, don’t let that stop you. Make eye contact, smile away, and give something positive to another person…

Help make way…

“The world makes way for the man who knows where he is going.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I’ve always been impressed by people who have a clear purpose, a clear vision about where they are going and what they want to achieve in life. Those individuals are the ones that change their worlds, and the worlds of others around them.

I would argue that “making way” is only one of the options that you might have available when one of these people crosses your path.

Another option might be to understand their vision, and if aligned, help make it a reality. The world makes way for people who know where they are going….

The list…

“Today is a brand-new day. A fresh start. Replace any negativity with positivity. Think happy thoughts. Exercise. Drink lots of water. Fill your body with fuel. Healthy is happy. Inspire yourself. Create. Laugh. Play. Love. Learn. Give someone a compliment. Make a new friend. Do a random act of kindness. It creates good karma. Take chances and finally start living life to its fullest. But no matter what’s thrown at you today, smile and remember, tomorrow’s always a fresh new start.”

Author Unknown

Start by looking at this list not as an exhaustive checklist of things to do, but as guidance on how life should be lived. Think of how different life would be if you just did these things every day. How different would it be one year from now? Why wait? Start today…

Just imagine…

“Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us and the world will be as one.”

John Lennon

Just imagine the power if EVERY person were to say “no matter what anyone else says or does, I will be a disciple of peace and forgiveness.”

Just imagine the IMPACT if every person lived outwardly with these actions as a demonstration of their beliefs.

Just imagine… This truly sounds like heaven…

What do you see?

“The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.”

J. Krishnamurti

Imagine how much more one could learn if everything you observed could be assessed without bias or emotional reaction?

Think of how many times you have observed something and been wrong because of your own biases or false realities?

Sometimes it would be really nice to learn for the sake of learning, without introducing bias or false realities.

Fortunately we all have that opportunity, we just have to suspend our need to be right…

%d bloggers like this: