Spend your energy on what matters most…

“Observe and learn instead of react and respond. Everything doesn’t need your reaction. Conserve your energy for what matters.”

Author Unknown

If you choose to live in a reactive state, you will be allocating your energy based on responding to the things that happen in your world versus intentionally planning the things you want and need to happen. Sometimes choosing to ignore the unimportant things is the wisest possible choice. If you aren’t careful, you can spend your best energy on things that matter the least.

Welcome some contradiction into life…

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of dreaming that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

It always amazes me how much personal worth people stake on “being right” instead of “doing right.” No one has 100% perfect information, and by gaining insight from different perspectives, you have a much better chance of arriving at a more accurate answer.  

If you aren’t worried about being right, then those who offer a contrary opinion won’t be seen as attacking you.  

There is nothing wrong with being wrong, as long as you learn from your change in perspective. Welcome some contradiction into your life; you just might learn something…

The only easy day was yesterday…

“There will always be some sort of challenge you must face every day and some may be harder than others. Don’t let any tough day make you feel any weaker because your strength is what brought you to where you are today. You’ve come a long way. Be proud.”

Roger Lee

The Navy Seals have a saying, “the only easy day was yesterday.” It’s amazing how clarifying this simple statement can be when you are facing a challenge. Pause, gather your thoughts, soldier on. Today’s great challenge will be the “easy day” tomorrow…

Are you maturing?

“When you become mature, one of the things that shows your maturity is the ability to see things from another person’s point of view. You don’t just see the world through what’s best for you, you think about what’s best for others.”

John Maxwell

It would be interesting to score your thinking at the end of each day on a maturity scale. How much time today did I spend thinking about what is best for others before myself?  

Like all things, if you focus on something, you can achieve it. I might have to adjust my daily wrap-up routine with this question for a while and see what happens.

Who is your life about?

“If you’re not humble, life will visit humbleness upon you.”

Mike Tyson

A humble life is one lived with a deep understanding that it isn’t about you. Those who live in this way seem to have deep happiness and satisfaction, no matter what life throws their way.  

People who choose to live focused on themselves will eventually find that life will remind them that the world doesn’t revolve around them.

Gratitude is the key to riches…

“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Life isn’t so ordinary when you take the time to pause and consider all the things you have to be grateful for. The beauty is that the more you reflect, the richer you get…

Can you find and enjoy the quiet?

“All of humanity’s problems stem from our inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

Blaise Pacal

In today’s world, it’s harder than ever to find a quiet room in this deafening life. The busier our lives get, the more we need a quiet space to rest and recharge. But when we get there, what will do we do with the time? Can we indeed just turn it all off and let the world go quiet?  

What are you supposed to be learning?

“Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.”

Jon Kabat-Ziin

Being patient doesn’t mean passive acceptance. It is the wisdom of seeing what you are supposed to learn during the time of unfolding…

What are you going to learn today?

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.

B. B. King

A great friend and mentor once shared with me that “if you aren’t learning, you are by definition dying.” These simple words carry so much wisdom. Learning new things, regardless of how you apply them, and if you get to use them in the manner you expect, means that you are slightly better than before you started the training process. No one can take away or diminish this better self. If you attack every day intending to learn, you will forever be on a path of becoming a better version of yourself.  

No one other than you gets to define your approach to learning. Try asking yourself this question before bed every night. “What did I learn today.” You’ll be amazed at how this reframes your mind towards learning.  

Get up and look…

“The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, make them.”

George Bernard Shaw

The four most important words in this quote are “get up and look.”  

How many people are content to wish, dream, and then they just wait? They will complain that life isn’t fair and that they don’t have the opportunities others have received. But if you want to make something happen, you have to get up and look. Nothing great ever happens to those who are content to wait for dumb luck to occur. Get up and look… 

Are you smiling?

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

What does it take for you to smile? Does something good need to happen to you before you can smile?

Every single day we have a multitude of things for which we can be grateful. There is always a plenitude of things that can bring a smile to our lips. Sometimes we might have to dig a little deeper, search a little harder, but they are always there.  

Stop what you are doing right now. Think back on something that occurred yesterday that brought a smile to your face. Reminisce and smile again. Your day from this point forward can be changed because of this moment of reflected joy. Find a reason to smile; it’s life-changing.

Victory is secured…

“Today we celebrate the gift of victory over every fall we have ever experienced.”

Jeffrey R. Holland

Today we have a clear voice calling us forward out of the darkness. We have to be willing to listen…

‘He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.’ Matthew 28:6 NIV

Hope comes from a gift of love…

“Good Friday and Easter free us to think about other things far beyond our own personal fate, about the ultimate meaning of all life, suffering, and events; and we lay hold of a great hope.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Hope is such a powerful word. Hope is what allows you to do extraordinary things and extend meaning beyond your current circumstances. Hope is what enables you to see beyond today and do the hard and necessary work for tomorrow.  

Our ability to have hope is due to an incredible gift of love. Because of love, we have hope. I can’t imagine life without either one. Especially on Good Friday…

Did you exercise free will today?

“Each life is made up of mistakes and learning, waiting and growing, practicing patience, and being persistent.”

Billy Graham

As I read and meditate on this quote, it strikes me that all of the “part 2’s” of these statements are choices you have to make in life very intentionally. They won’t happen by accident.  

Did you have an opportunity to learn, grow, and be persistent today? If the answer is no, look harder. The options were there; did you seize them?

Are you ready for spring?

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.”

George Lucas

There is something so powerful about the spring season’s coming, maybe this year more than any in recent memory. New growth, fresh opportunities, new people to serve, and distinct experiences to create are just some of the promises brought to life in the season of growth.  

Our ability to embrace the hope of the new season is dependent on our ability to discern and focus on what is truly valuable. Are you focused on the things that matter this spring? 

Who are your “best” friends?

“I don’t need a friend who changes when I change and who nods when I nod; my shadow does that much better.”

Plutarch

The best friends are those who will tell you the truth, even when you don’t want to hear it. Do you have friends like this? Are you this type of friend for others?  

Who is your “customer?”

“Don’t ever quit. You’ll succeed if you have delighted customers. Don’t settle for satisfied.”

Warren Buffet

Perhaps customers aren’t just those who are paying you for goods and services. Maybe, just maybe, a “customer” is anyone that you serve.  How would your world look if you didn’t seek to satisfy but instead delighted all of your customers? How would their world be changed?

Avoid becoming “overcopied…”

“Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others.”

Pablo Picasso

The minute you begin to “believe your own press” you are choosing to surrender the edge that helped you build any advantage you might have previously created. Suddenly every problem begins to look like something you have tackled before, and previous solutions or thought processes are applied based on historical efficacy, not on current understanding.  

Some questions to consider:

  1. Is the answer I am choosing “right” or easy?
  2. Have I done the hard work to understand the situation entirely?
  3. Is the challenge worthy of genuine effort and not just a pale facsimile?

The old saying, “when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail,” seems particularly appropriate here. Never settle for a copy of previous success. Much like a paper that has been copied far too many times, you begin to lose your clarity.

Surrender to your purpose…

“Surrender to what is, let go of what was, have faith in what will be.”

Sonia Ricotti

Which of these three hurdles are the most challenging for you? Accepting what is? Letting go of what was? Having faith in what will be? Sometimes all three of these at the same time?

Whenever I find myself wrapped up in any one of these mental and emotional barriers, I find it clarifying to meditate on this verse:

‘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 

It is amazing how simply stepping back and recognizing that there is a bigger and broader purpose can help recenter everything in life. That’s when surrender is truly possible…

Redefine “winning…”

“Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent, and always assist him to save face. Put yourself in his shoes – so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil – nothing is so blinding.”

B. H. Liddell Hart

How many of the statements above meet your current definition of “winning?”

So often we view winning as “making someone else lose.” What if, instead, we were able to apply the statements above as rules for wining? How would it look and feel if we did all of these things every time we “won?”

Challenge = Growth = Opportunities to Serve…

“Challenges are what make life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.”

Joshua J. Marine

If everything was easy, why would you ever need to grow?   

If you don’t grow, how can you serve more?

If you can’t find more ways to serve, how can you create meaning?

What is your most important next step?

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I am continually amazed at how things work out for good when you step forward, serve others, and put your energy towards positive things. Taking the step of embracing a servant’s heart and putting your actions ahead of your words are two of the most important thing one can ever do in life.  

Living in this manner is what helps build the staircase…  

Is this useful?

“Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience… It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.”

Sylvia Boorstein

If I could go back in time and tell a much younger self any particular habit to pick up and foster, it would be the practice of mindfulness. It isn’t the technique, the app, the teacher, or anything else external. It is simply the intentional curation of an ability to pause and reflect on the beauty of every moment regardless of the external context or label that I seek to apply.

Life is precious and filled with unbelievable experiences, some pleasant, some not so much. Having the capacity to pause, see, enjoy, reflect and learn, at the moment, not after, is incredibly liberating. Understanding and applying the question “is this useful?” has been quite liberating. The good news is that mindfulness is a lifelong practice, and I am merely glad that I discovered it in time.

If you are interested in getting started check out these resources. These are a tiny sample of what is out there, but I found them to be a great place to start.

Do you have time for some R&D?

“Our soul desires to be understanding, our ego is only concerned with being understood. When you are being understanding you are connected to your soul.”

Michaiel Bovenes

Make a list of the people with whom you feel the most connected. Reflect on their actions and behaviors towards you. Are they interested in YOU or in something that you can provide for THEM?

Connection, real connection happens when another person leans into you, not for their benefit, but for yours. To be on the receiving end of these behaviors feels good. There is such warmth generated by those that surrender their ego and focus on understanding others.  

Look back at the list you made and pick out a name. Now write down three things that they do behaviorally that you can learn from, emulate, and make part of your own set of behaviors. Start doing them.  

My definition of R&D is “ripoff and duplicate.” There isn’t a better place to conduct some R&D than on the behaviors of those who excel at understanding.  

Sometimes disconnecting is the best way to really connect…

“I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”

Unknown

There is something special about being outside in nature. All the problems, challenges, and obstacles we face seem to take a different meaning when we get away and disconnect. Maybe that’s it—disconnection from the temporary things that cloud our judgment and reconnection to the eternal. Nature is a reminder of the enduring aspects of life. The mountains will be here in ten, twenty, fifty years. The ocean will still be rolling and surging and the creeks will still be flowing.

Find time to get away, disengage, unplug from all the distractions. Plug into nature and see what a wonderful world we are blessed to share. 

Can you take time to see the sunrise today?

“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.”

Anne Lamott

There is almost nothing better than watching a sunrise over the ocean or the mountains. Every time I have allowed myself to sit and observe the dawning of a new day without rushing or focusing on getting to the next task, it inspires such peace and satisfaction with life. The rising of the sun is a harbinger of hope.  

The natural beauty is we have this EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Nothing has yet marred the surface, and each day is ripe with potential. Why would you ever give up? No matter what happens today, the sun will rise tomorrow. It is a beautiful chance to simply begin again.  

Photo by Dusty Holcomb

Are you wiser today than yesterday?

“You should never be ashamed to admit you have been wrong. It only proves you are wiser today than yesterday.”

Jonathan Swift

A mentor of mine once gave me some very sage counsel. He said, “In all matters other than your principles and core values, think of everything you believe as a scientific hypothesis. You must constantly be seeking to have your assumptions either proven or disproven. Seek out the data that either validates or nullifies the hypothesis you have in your mind. When you live life with this framework, you will never worry about who is right, only on discovering what is right.”

I hypothesize that he was right…

Do you have foresight?

“Hindsight is the best insight to foresight.”

Irish Proverb

How much time do you devote to objectively reviewing your past actions and seeking to improve?  

Will tomorrow be better than today?

Can you learn and apply lessons from your past?  

If you don’t, are you even growing?

How do you measure your worth?

“Instead of comparing our lot with that of those who are more fortunate than we are, we should compare it with the lot of the great majority of our fellow men. It then appears that we are among the privileged.”

Helen Keller

Why do we insist on finding examples of what others have that we don’t, and thereby diminishing our estimation of worth? It has been said many times that “comparison is the thief of joy,” and this is most certainly true. Not only do we compare to others, but we fail to appreciate our blessings and gifts objectively. We, as humans, fail to appreciate the opportunities we have to empower the betterment of others.  

What if instead of focusing on our diminished “lot” we were to put effort and energy into improving others’ lot? How much impact could your life have if your energy was invested into building opportunities for others?  

How would you measure your life if, instead of focusing on what you don’t have, you concentrated on what you gave away? What would your worth be then?

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dusty

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