“Don’t worry about being worried. You’re heading out on an adventure and you can always change your mind along the way and try something else.”
It is amazing how much freedom comes from viewing the world with a “life is an adventure“ perspective. When you think about exploration and innovation or starting something new, there has to be a degree of fear and excitement. Frankly, you can’t have an adventure without a little bit of uncertainty and a strong underlying element of mystery and excitement.
But in order to keep from letting fear shut you down, you must understand the role fear plays in an adventure. It is supposed to be something that motivates you to go a little harder, push a little further, dig a little deeper. Fear is necessary and needed in order to grow. Fear can be a is a great motivator, especially when you keep these words from Proverbs in your mind…
“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25 NIV
Don’t spend your time endlessly worrying about what might happen on your great adventure. Channel the fear in a positive way and know that when you put your faith in the right place, you will be safe. The path will appear, and if it doesn’t, you can always find another path…
“Nature has been for me, for as long as I remember, a source of solace, inspiration, adventure, and delight; a home, a teacher, a companion.”
There are those days where the only thing that feels like it can nourish and restore the soul is the simple act of being outside. Personally I want to find the space where God feels the largest and I feel the smallest. Truly this can happen anywhere in nature but for me, it is in the grandeur of the mountains or the vastness of the ocean. I love to take in a beautiful vista and wonder how many eyes have seen these same things and marveled over them as well.
I wonder how many ideas throughout all of time have been sparked in nature? How many of our great gifts and blessings have been inspired by someone out on a walk or a hike? I can only imagine that if you took all things in the world that could serve as inspiration, none of them would come close to the seeds of creativity that have been sown by the magnificence of our beautiful earth.
There is no way to measure this of course. But if you find yourself stuck in a creative rut, or caught in a place that lacks inspiration, just head outside. It doesn’t have to be in the mountains or along the shore. There is beauty and adventure to be found just about everywhere if you simply go searching for it…
‘“But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind. ‘ Job 12:7-10
“I am thankful the most important key in history was invented. It’s not the key to your house, your car, your boat, your safety deposit box, your bike lock or your private community. It’s the key to order, sanity, and peace of mind. The key is ‘Delete.'”
It is a sign of our age that the first image I thought of when I read this quote was the “delete” key on a computer keyboard. Though upon further reflection perhaps that is equally fitting since everything comes through some sort of digital filter nowadays!
What really strikes me when I meditate on this quote for a few minutes is while this might be the most important key in history, it is equally likely to be the least efficiently wielded. Well, I can only speak for myself of course!
Saying “no” can be a very hard thing to do at times. But without a doubt, it is the most powerful word in the English language when it comes to getting things done. Let me rephrase this, it is the most powerful word in the English language when it comes to getting the RIGHT things done…
Once a quarter I sit down and take stock of my weekly calendar and routine tasks to see what changes I need to make to ensure I am spending my time in the most productive and effective manner. Invariably I find myself looking at things I WANT to do but in reality, are preventing me from getting the things I NEED to get done done. While I struggle with saying no, the best discipline I have EVER created was the regular and recurring use of the “delete key” on all things that don’t make me more effective in the pursuit of my goals.
In all likelihood, I should wield this discipline more often than once a quarter…
“Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.”
How much time and energy do you spend lighting the candles of others? If you are honest with yourself do you spend more time sharing happiness, or expecting to have it shared with you? Do you see yourself as a burning candle looking to ignite others or an extinguished candle waiting to be lit?
How you view the energy you have to share will be incredibly impactful across the course of your lifetime and even more meaningful for those who cross your path. You could literally be the person that lights thousands of candles or you could be the person that breaks the ignition chain.
Do me a favor for just a moment. (I promise this won’t get too weird…).
Read the next four sentences and then close your eyes and think of someone who has impacted your life in some meaningful and amazing way. Go with the very first person that comes to your mind. How did they make this impact? What did they do? What has it meant for you over the span of time since that moment occurred?
Do you have your answers in mind? Good. Now for the tough questions. What would your life be like if this person hadn’t leaned in and offered their candle to light yours? Would you be the person you are today without their influence?
What did it cost them to offer up their flame?
I recommend for you to do two things after you complete this exercise. First, send that person an email, a letter, a text, whatever, just let them know that you appreciate the light that they offered to you. Do it now. Don’t wait for the perfect time because that will never happen.
Second, find someone tomorrow to offer your flame to and then do it again the next day and then again every day after that. It costs nothing but could change the lives of thousands… That’s a pretty good ROI if you ask me.
“The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.”
How do you keep growing and learning? How can you take steps to ensure that you are always working on honing and perfecting your craft? What do you have to do nurture a growth mindset? I believe there are three key things one must do to make growing a continual process.
First, be very intentional about cultivating a feedback-seeking mindset with the key people around you. Ask them to help you grow and learn by sharing their perspectives and insights. You must enlist those you trust to help you see your blind spots.
Secondly, never allow yourself to accept the status quo or simply “good enough.” Good enough can very quickly become mediocrity and mediocrity slides into irrelevance. Complacency is death.
Third, constantly remind yourself that your skills and talents are God-given and not something you earned or deserved. Honor these gifts by nourishing them the same way you would care for a garden of flowers.
The beauty of life is that we can never do or be everything, but we can always improve ourselves and the lives of those around us. You just have to keep growing.
“The best feeling in the world is finally knowing you took a step in the right direction. A step towards the future where everything that you never thought possible, is possible.”
One of my favorite speeches from all of Shakespeare is the one King Henry delivers to his troops during the storming of Harfleur. These words convey such passion, such emotion, and summon energy that is palpable every single time I read them. (I might be guilty of having the entire speech memorized…)
Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more; Or close the wall up with our English dead. In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man As modest stillness and humility: But when the blast of war blows in our ears, Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
I can only imagine the impact this speech would have had on the soldiers upon hearing this delivered by their King.
Fortunately, we aren’t charging castles much anymore but the passion and fire demonstrated in these words captures the essence of how I feel when I’ve made the decision and it is time to charge forward and turn dreams into reality. There is nothing quite like knowing you have made the call, and you know it is the right call because there is a lightness in your step and an energy that is felt in every fiber of your being.
What are you waiting on? What decisions are you wrestling with? What is holding you back? Find the actions of the tiger, stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood and spring forward. That next step might be the one that changes your world forever.
“Stop being afraid of what could go wrong, and start being excited about what could go right.”
Do you want to spend your precious life afraid or excited? Do you want to live fearfully or with enthusiasm?
It’s your choice. You can do one of two things. You can change your circumstances or you can change your attitude.
Fear is a choice.
Excitement is a choice.
Find something that excites you. Focus on the opportunities, not the failures. Get knocked down and then get back up. If you lean forward and choose excitement, things have a way of working out for the best…
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”
If you aren’t living life in this way what exactly do you have? An existence. Simply a series of events moving you towards a point in the future which may or may not be meaningful. For most of us, present times set aside, our lives are no longer about mere survival. We have more to give, more to see, more to do, more to live.
When we become timid and choose to wait to see what the world throws at us, we lose the ability to seek out the new adventures that might be just beyond the turn in the road in front of us.
The best way to live life in the moment, and not miss out on what is truly important, is to focus on being present TODAY and thereby reducing future regrets. When the end comes, and it will come for all of us, what will you regret having NOT done?What adventures will you wish you HAD taken?Who will you wish you had spent MORE time with?
“I’m always tweaking, always trying to make it better, constantly moving the levers and dials.”
Life is a lot like sailing. You can be headed towards a destination and the winds might shift or die down. If you aren’t paying close attention and making constant adjustments you will lose the wind and might not make it to where you are going.
Another way sailing imitates life is only rarely do you get to where you want to go via a straight line. Instead, you have to make a series of maneuvers (tacks) leveraging the winds you have in order to get to where you want to be. Additionally, the wind and sea will be different every day so rarely is the journey exactly the same. You have to be prepared to make adjustments and changes to adapt to whatever a given day on the ocean brings.
That’s just like life isn’t it? You have to plan, adjust, readjust, and change your plans constantly if you want to make it to your destination. If you don’t, you get lost when the winds shift and you don’t adjust…
“If you want to find the real competition, just look in the mirror. After a while you’ll see your rivals scrambling for second place.”
Every morning ask yourself these two questions. Am I better today than I was yesterday? Will I be better tomorrow for what I going to do today?
If the answer to the first question is “no” then you have established your competition for the day. You have to do whatever it takes to drive yourself forward in a manner that allows you to answer the question differently tomorrow!
If the answer to the second question is “no” then that is a full-on indictment of what you have planned for the day. How are you investing your time? How are you approaching your tasks and challenges? Where do you need to reset the bar so you can push yourself to do more, learn more?
There are so many dimensions of our lives that these questions can, and should be applied to on a daily basis. They touch all of the building blocks that go into creating a successful life. Physical wellness, mental health, career/vocation, hobbies/advocation, family/friends, spiritual alignment, etc.
Each of us has a unique and special set of these dimensions based on our God-given gifts and talents, unique experiences, skills and education, etc. What good does it do to spend your energy trying to compare yourself to someone else? You don’t have their building blocks, and they don’t have yours.
It is great to use the competition as a measuring stick to establish a baseline comparison set for your performance and growth. But the real magic happens when you adopt a mental state of beating and exceeding your own limitations. Raise your bar. Don’t let someone else set that bar for you. Don’t be limited by the competition!
Am I better today than I was yesterday? Will I be better tomorrow for what I going to do today?
Don’t waste the precious gift that you have been given today. Choose to live life in a way where the competitors that truly matter, the pale shadows of an unfulfilled and incomplete self, are left far behind you.
“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.”
Is it more important for you to live up to your own expectations or someone else’s? Or, said another way, would you intentionally choose to miss meeting your own expectations, but achieve someone else’s?
I don’t know about you, but I have higher expectations of and for myself than anyone else could set for me. Of course, the flip side of this is that I can’t hold anyone else accountable for the standards that I set for myself. That would be unfair as we all have unique and special gifts. Hopefully, your expectations are set based on maximizing every single ounce of your potential and not a drop less.
As I reflect on this I am reminded of this verse from Matthew. ‘For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? ‘ Matthew 16:26
Basing your measures of success on the expectations of others is a false victory. What good is it if you meet the expectations of others yet fail to be the person that you were truly created to become? Instead, turn inward and seek to maximize every possible bit of the gifts and talents you have been given. Constantly seek to exceed your expectations and you will find that there is no one else that can push you harder than you can push yourself.
“Today if anything is trying to hold you back, give no attention to it. Get your hopes up, get your faith up, look up, and get ready to rise up.”
Can you tell when something is trying to hold you back? When something is standing in your way? How do you ignore a giant obstacle that appears in your path? How do you move past what seems insurmountable?
Like so much of the country, my family has been obsessed with “Hamilton” over the past month. Well, it’s been a lot longer than that. I’ll be we have watched it half a dozen times and I have lost count of how many times we have listened to the music over the past few years. It is simply incredible. As a musical theater buff, there is a long list of shows that I have seen over the years that I have loved, but there has been nothing like Hamilton. Every bit of this show is pure genius.
When I picked the quote for today I kept hearing the refrain from the song “My Shot,” which specifically is the latter part of the song “Rise Up.” I simply love this music and the story that is being conveyed. If you haven’t heard it, here is the refrain I am referencing. Hamilton – Rise up!
There is no reason that Alexander Hamilton should have been successful. In fact, there are a million reasons that he should have failed before he ever came to the mainland. But he prevailed. He succeeded in the face of the greatest odds. He got the job done…
There is a lesson in this simple refrain. No matter what stands in our way we have a choice. We can let it beat us. Or we can rise up. We can overcome. We can prevail. Who knows, if we do it often enough, and with enough fervor, perhaps someone will write songs about us one day…
“The most fulfilled and effective people I know – world-famous creatives, billionaires, thought leaders, and more – look at their life’s journey as perhaps 25 percent finding themselves and 75 percent creating themselves.”
Are you the person today that you thought you would be ten years ago? I am not talking about your job, role, place in life, money, or status. Are you a better person?
Where do you want to be ten years from now? Do you have a long-range vision and are you activating a plan to make it happen? If you are simply existing and waiting for the life you dream of to magically occur you are guaranteed to be disappointed.
I am a huge fan of the “life planning” process outlined in the book “Living Forward” by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. If you want to build a life of influence, you have to have a plan and you have to put in the hard work necessary to make it happen. If you don’t have a plan, this is a great place to start.
How do you want to answer the question about yourself ten years from now? Will you be better or worse than you are today?
“We cannot lead anyone farther than we have been ourselves.”
John C. Maxwell
The essence of leadership is influence. The ability to influence the lives of others and create a commonality of vision and purpose. The results of effective leadership are alignment, engagement, commitment, execution, etc.
What does this have to do with today’s quote? Good question. To create influence, which enables the ability to create the desired results, one must show an ability to demonstrate self-leadership and self-influence. All the vision casting and talk about the future is worthless if you can’t demonstrate through your actions and behaviors a commitment to hold yourself to a higher standard.
I love how the picture above illustrates the importance of self-reflection as a leader. If you want to have influence you must be willing to look in the mirror and see and understand your own opportunities for growth. If you want to influence others, you have to prove that you can lead yourself first. You can’t lead anyone if you don’t walk the talk and lead by example.
This is the wisdom that I take from today’s quote. You must have self-reflection as an intentional practice in order to create true influence with others. You can’t lead anyone if you won’t lead yourself first…
“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.”
Do you choose to see the world through a lens of positive or negative opportunities? Is your first inclination to look for the reasons why something won’t work? Or do you have a tendency to see the silver lining in every cloud? How you choose to answer these questions will have a profound impact on your life.
Everything that happens creates an opportunity for growth and development. One technique that I have found helpful is to reframe the current situation and think as if I were recalling it a year from now. Ask yourself this question. One year from today what is the biggest opportunity that was presented I am so glad I didn’t let slip through my fingers?
In many ways, the bigger the difficulty, the larger the opportunities that exist to change your world, and the world of those around you. Reframe your mind to think about the world from a “future back” perspective and suddenly all those challenges will present themselves as opportunities…
“The key that unlocks energy is desire. It’s also the key to a long and interesting life. If we expect to create any drive, any real force within ourselves, we have to get excited.”
What is it that gives you passion in your soul and awakes a desire to do more, go more, be more? Have you clearly identified or articulated those things which excite and energize you?
Now for the tough question. How much of your time do you choose to spend doing those things?
If you are simply existing and surviving through life then I would challenge you to break free and spend time thinking deeply about how you can better invest your time into those things that energize you.
This isn’t a “quit your job and go plant sunflowers” edict (if sunflowers are your thing…) It is a charge to be intentional on how you spend your time whether it is time spent pursuing your vocation or your advocation. Do more of those things that you have a deeply rooted internal drive to accomplish.
But how do you accomplish this in a highly fragmented world where there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day?
You have to relentlessly and with laser precision cull out everything that reduces the positive energy in your life. If you want to live an exciting life you have to say to learn to say no to the things that hold you back and yes to the things that bring you true joy and excitement. Make the choice to invest your time into those things that you desire. The energy you derive from this will impact every aspect of your being.
Or you could settle for a boring and listless life. It is your life after all, you can live it however you like…
“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”
Harriet Beecher Stowe
What motivates you to carry on despite the struggles you are facing? How do you know when it is time to quit? How do you choose to persevere when everything seems to be stacked against you?
In 2013 I participated in the inaugural Ironman Lake Tahoe (IMLT) endurance race. I had completed my first Ironman race in 2011 and found I really enjoyed the training that goes into preparing your body to be tested by a 2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bike, and a 26.2-mile run. I chose to sign up for Lake Tahoe simply because of the sheer beauty of the location and as an opportunity to see a place I had never been before. I trained my heart out all summer and when race day arrived on September 23, 2013, I was ready.
The race was epic in every sense of the word. It was indescribably beautiful, the Sierra Nevada mountains with their snow-tipped peaks visible in every direction, and it was also incredibly challenging. It was so cold the morning of the race that the 64-degree water in Lake Tahoe felt warm and swimming at 6,200 of elevation was just a unique and special challenge. The best way to describe it is to imagine trying to swim while breathing through a single drinking straw. The bike was extraordinarily difficult due to the mountains you had to cross and the grade of the climbs involved (I looked down at my speedometer at one point and I was moving 3 miles per hour). The run was relatively flat but it was so cold down by the river that staying warm was an impossible challenge.
The DNF rate (did not finish) at IMLT in 2013 was north of 23% and I very easily could have been one of those who did not finish. The run was very tough and there were several points where quitting was probably the smartest option. I developed blisters on the bottom of my left foot at mile 8 that were so bad that I had to stop twice at the medical tents to get treatment. Every step was painful and I thought my foot was on fire. But quitting, walking away and actually ending my race early, never crossed my mind for more than a fleeting moment.
Why didn’t I quit? What kept me going when I knew I had 18 miles still to go and my foot was in severe pain? I certainly wasn’t racing for money or a spot on the podium. I am a very atypical triathlete at 6′ 4″ tall and 225 pounds. I wasn’t going to “win” anything. What kept me going was a relentless focus on what I wanted to accomplish by completing this race. My goal was to prove to myself that the mind is stronger than the body. I wanted to challenge myself to take on more than I could handle, and then plow through the wall. I knew I could finish if I stopped thinking about the seemingly insurmountable distance that was remaining and just focused on what was right in front of me at that moment.
I vividly remember the aid station at mile eight where I first stopped to have my foot checked out. I got up and ran/hobbled a few steps and my mind immediately went to a “there’s no way I can do this for 18 more miles” headspace. I remember taking a moment to gather my thoughts and remember what I was attempting to prove to myself, and thinking, “I can make it to mile nine.” So I did. And then mile ten, eleven, twelve, and on and on. I still remember mile 23 like it was yesterday. At that point I knew all was left was a 5k and in my mind, anybody can run a 5k. Running through that finish line chute was one of the most exhilarating and rewarding moments of my life. Should I have quit? Maybe. But I didn’t, and because of this, I learned more about myself than I could ever glean from a lifetime of reading or study.
Sometimes quitting will seem to be the easiest and perhaps the only option available. Before you allow yourself to go down the mental path of quitting I highly recommend that you take the time to think through the following questions.
Why did you start?
Why is this important?
What will matter more a year from now, that you persevered, or that you quit?
Who will you be letting down?
What is God teaching you through this challenge?
If you don’t take the time to answer these, I can almost guarantee that you will regret your decision. If you do answer them, and quitting is still the smartest and best option, you can do so with full faith and confidence that you thought through your decision fully and completely.
Even after you have answered the questions remind yourself of these things when you are tempted to throw in the towel and walk away.
This is all temporary – Tomorrow will come, and so will next week, next month, and next year.
The goal is bigger than the pain – If you had the courage to start something you had to have a reason why. Don’t lose sight of your goal.
When in doubt, break your goal down into the smallest possible step that can be achieved. And then do it again and again and again.
Some things are bigger than yourself – Some challenges, goals, and opportunities rise above your individual feelings and perceptions. Don’t let the voice in your head convince you to lose sight of this.
Who you will become as a person is defined by your decisions and actions in the most difficult times.
Quitting and failing are two different things. Don’t confuse them.
I share this story not because I did anything particularly amazing (I didn’t!), but because it was the best and most vivid personal example I could think of from my life. What I learned is that sometimes the reward is just on the other side of the breaking point…
“Whenever you see a successful business, someone once made a courageous decision.”
I have always deeply admired those who have the courage to start something new. Those who possess the ability to see the worldnot for what it is, but for what it could be. These are the people who dare to spread their wings and fly, knowing they might fall. They do so understanding success isn’t guaranteed, but by leaping, they might be able to impact the world in a bigger and better way.
Courage is needed whether a person is starting a new role or project in their current organization, starting their own company, or simply doing something outside of their comfort zone. This courage, this ability to take on risk and move, despite any fears and doubts, that is what intrigues me so greatly. How does a person come by this? How does one learn courage? Is it genetic? Is it formed during childhood perhaps? Or maybe it comes through the experiences we have as we grow through life? What separates those who have courage from those who don’t?
Regardless of how courage is formed, I believe the formula for demonstrating it consistently comes down to one’s ability to answer these five questions:
What is it that MUST happen? This is the question that frames out the opportunity in your mind and allows you to paint a vivid depiction of a better future. This is where one defines the opportunities and articulates exactly what you want to see happen. Creating a deeply detailed “envisioned future” is the first step in summoning courage.
What am I afraid of? This is where you wrestle with your own demon that will try to hold you back and prevent your successes. Whether it is fear of failure, fear of being seen as a fraud, fear of being wrong, etc. You can’t beat your fears if you haven’t identified them and faced them directly. Fear is a demon, and if you want to beat it, you have to look it squarely in the face.
Am I willing to fail? This is the keystone question. Answering the first two questions enables one to arrive here and wrestle with the knowledge that not every initiative and opportunity seized will be successful. There are no guarantees in life. All the courage in the world could still result in failure. Is this acceptable to you?
What is the worst that can happen? This is where you nail down the absolute worst possible outcomes that could arise from the opportunity you are contemplating taking on. If you can’t think through and anticipate the problems that will invariably rise up, then you can’t make an informed decision about whether or not the risk you are taking on is worth it.
How do I mitigate the worst risks outlined above? When you have defined and understand the worst possible outcomes then you can begin to build solutions to offset those risks. For example, if you are taking on a new project at work outside your area of expertise and the associated risk is that you might lose your job, seeking out expert training, books, or mentors might be a good way to mitigate the risk. Not all risks can, and should, be mitigated. But when you can you have to do so if you want to create success.
This is what separates those who have courage from those who don’t. Those who create success through courageous decisions have an ability to see a better future, define their fears, understand failure, identify worst-case scenarios, and build in success enabling strategies in case the worst happens.
Then comes the moment of truth. Can you make the decision? This is the magic moment where you have to leap and have faith in yourself, those whom you have surrounded yourself with, and trust in a higher purpose and calling.
So go forth and do. Take on that new project. Embrace your new role. Start that new job. Build the company you have been dreaming of. Embark on a journey to create a better world for others. When you show up courageously you will truly feel alive and the world will be better because of it…
“Class is an aura of confidence that is being sure without being cocky. Class has nothing to do with money. Class never runs scared. It is self-discipline and self-knowledge. It’s the sure-footedness that comes with having proved you can meet life.”
What words come to mind for you when you think of those you believe to live in a classy manner? How do the people who exhibit a high degree of class treat others?
The words that jump to my mind are: Dignity, honor, respect, appreciation, confidence, affirmed, responsible, accountable, engaged, thankful, energized, consistent, reliable, secure, self-confident, and I am sure the list could go on and on.
Class is a label applied to people based on how we observe them interacting with ourselves and others. But class is a result. It is an exterior manifestation of something much deeper. People with class know who they are. People with class know how they want to treat, and be treated by, others. People of class demonstrate these behaviors we like because they have built them on a foundation of self-knowledge and self-awareness.
So if you want to be a person with class, get to know and appreciate yourself first. You can’t be something else to someone else if it isn’t a true depiction of what you believe. Make your own list of words capturing the essence of clas and hold yourself accountable to those things. WRITE THEM DOWN… You have to apply all the words to how you think about yourself. Do this consistently and then your exterior will be considered “classy.”
“We have enough people who tell it like it is—now we could use a few who tell it like it can be. ”
Do you have people in your life who tell you what is wrong with you? What is wrong with your life? What you are missing? Why you aren’t enough? Ignore them! Ignore the shallow souls who will limit what you are and who you can become because of the limits and boundaries they have created around their own lives.
You probably have more than enough people in your life telling you how you should be and how you need to live. Seek out and surround yourself with people who are positively driven and inspire you to be more, do more, become more. Most people aren’t like this. Most people don’t invest the time effort and energy into these thoughts. If you want to become more than most people you have to surround yourself with those who aren’t like most. Find people that are relentlessly focused on being more, helping more, serving more, becoming more, doing more, just more more more.
It always amazes me when seemingly unrelated things come together in a profound and meaningful way. I had one of those moments this morning when I sat down to write this post after having done my morning devotional. The verse I was studying this morning, after I had already chosen my quote for the day, couldn’t be more appropriate or aligned.
‘You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. ‘ Ephesians 4:22-24
Put off your old self, and those who will contain and limit you to a former way of life. Embrace those who will help you define and create your new self and become the person God meant you to be.
“You are today where your thoughts have brought you, you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you.”
What is the tomorrow that you want to create? Do you have it beautifully, richly, and vividly defined in your mind? Are those thoughts like the strong current of a roaring river, carrying you towards your goal with every passing second?
Or are you bobbing along in life, just content to float wherever the current around you happens to carry you?
Life is too short and precious to waste a second of it. Choose your thoughts carefully and embrace them with all the passion you can muster. Those things you are focused on today will define your future, whether you want them to or not…
“My idea is to give hope, because where there is no hope, there is no vision, and where there is no vision, people will perish.”
I had to wrestle with this quote for a bit in my mind this morning. At first it felt like a “chicken or an egg” statement. How can you have hope without first having a vision? But on the other hand, how can you summon the energy to craft a vision for the future without first having a sense of hope about what could be? Is it hope that helps you craft the vision or the vision that allows you to have hope?
Then I thought about it from the perspective of who said this quote and the context of what it means through that particular lens. Oprah has done a lot of tremendous good in the world. She has actively lived a life that represents the power of making a positive impact and demonstrated what can happen when a person puts forth tremendous blood, sweat, and tears to pursue their dream (vision). If by living her dream outwardly and setting a positive example for others, she can inspire hope and spark others to pursue their vision, she is seeding hope into the world.
I particularly love how Oprah linked her idea of seeding hope with this verse from Proverbs. “When there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18
Find the hope you need to inspire yourself to discover and engage in a brighter vision of the future. You don’t have to create the vision yourself, but you do have to summon the hope needed to move you towards a brighter future. Without hope, vision dies. Without vision, hope dies. Without hope and vision, you will perish, even if your body lives on and you are just going through the motions of life. That is no way to live…
“Courage is contagious. Every time we choose courage, we make everyone around us a little better and the world a little braver.”
All behavior is contagious. So you need to do two things. First, have the courage to surround yourself with people whose behavior you want to catch. Second, have the courage to make sure your own behavior is worth catching….
“It is said that wisdom lies not in seeing things, but seeing through things.”
Manly P. Hall
What is wisdom? Is it knowledge? Is it understanding? Something more?
I went the dictionary to find a more precise definition of the word: “Wisdom = knowledge of what is true or right coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment, or insight.” From this definition what stands out to me the most is the connecting word “coupled.”
Knowledge without being coupled to action is simply information. Knowledge without understanding and insight is just data. Knowledge without application is merely a book on the shelf. Wisdom is the ability to apply data and information justly and rightly. In order to have wisdom, one must be willing to see all sides and have a willingness to be wrong. So what does one gain when you find wisdom? Let the words of the reputedly “wisest man to ever live” bring some perspective here…
‘Joyful is the person who finds wisdom, the one who gains understanding. For wisdom is more profitable than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you long life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left. She will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly.’ Proverbs 3:13-18
With all that King Solomon shares on wisdom it is something that I definitely need to have more of in my life!
“Every human being, of whatever origin, of whatever station, deserves respect. We must each respect others even as we respect ourselves.”
What does “respect others” mean for you? Have you defined this in an active and intentional manner so you can ensure your behaviors live up to your internal definition?
There is an old cliche which says “respect is earned, not given.” I would argue the exact opposite to be true. Instead of waiting for someone else to pay homage to you, because of role, title or station, embrace the opportunity to demonstrate genuine care and appreciation for others by giving and showing respect to and for who they are as a person. It might not be returned, but if it isn’t then how are you any worse for having chosen to embrace an attitude of care and consideration?
In my reflection and research for this post I looked up the definition of respect in the dictionary and these two definitions really stood out to me:
First – Respect – “esteem for or a sense of the worth or excellence of a person, a personal quality or ability, or something considered as a manifestation of a personal quality or ability.” – Respect given…
Second – Respect – “deference to a right, privilege, privileged position, or someone or something considered to have certain rights or privileges; proper acceptance or courtesy; acknowledgment.” – Respect demanded…
Based on these two definitions my choice will always be to live in a manner that demonstrates, through behavior, the first definition. Focusing on the second definition is an exercise in ego and selfishness…
Interestingly enough, I have found, time and time again, by living a life focused on giving respect, you actually receive it back many times over. In so many ways the second definition becomes a result of how you choose to treat those around you.Quite simply, if one chooses to live a life that is focused on a “respect is earned” mentality then it is all about you.
If you expect respect, without first having given it, you will always be disappointed. But if you give respect first, without any strings attached, then you are living a life focused on how you treat others, not what you get in return…
“It is a fine thing to have ability, but the ability to discover ability in others is the true test.”
What is the maximal impact one person can have in their lifetime? If you measure this based only on what you can personally accomplish it is limited by the amount of time that you have on this earth. But if you measure impact based on whom you serve byhelping them unlock their gifts and talents the impact one person can have is truly unlimited.
To help put this in perspective; what is your greatest ability? What is it that makes you unique, special and adds value to others? How did you discover this trait? What was the key to unlocking this gift that you possess? Did you discover it on your own or did someone see something in you and then help you see it for yourself?
If you could write a thank you note to three of the people who helped you unlock your talents what would you share with them? How would you express your gratitude for what they have done for your life? What emotions are conjured up when you think of the impact they have had on you?
Having answered these questions, and connected with the impact someone else has had in your life, how can you go do this for others? Isn’t it time to create a life of unlimited impact?
“Judge your success by what you had to give up in order to get it.”
The Dalai Lama
At every stage in life we make choices to do, and to give up, certain things. When you look back over your life what are the choices you regret? Did you make those choices in the pursuit of some success that was important to you at the time but in retrospect the success wasn’t worth the cost? Given what you now know would you make different choices today?
How can you apply these lessons in your future? How can you ensure your next success pursuit is worth the cost? Perhaps even more importantly how should you define success to ensure the investment you are making is aligned with what you want to achieve and who you want to become?
I would strongly argue that if you choose to put more emphasis on the “Whats” of life, (i.e., what you get, what you have, what you do) than on the “Who” and the “How” you are building a life that will be filled with disappointment and regret at some point in the future. A life spent in pursuit of success measured in a “what” is one where you have a chosen something that won’t last. So, was it worth it?
“Every time you subtract negative from your life, you make room for more positive.”
There are 525,600 minutes in a year. How do you want to spend them?
How many of your minutes create a positive return on investment through service to others and therefore create joy for yourself?
It is an absolute fact that the number of minutes we have on this earth is finite. None of us know when and were we will cease to have an opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of others. Why would we waste a single minute of our precious lives on anything negative?
If you think about it, every time you remove something negative from your life you take an asset which is losing value and create an opportunity to replace it with something that will gain value. Seems like a pretty good deal to me…
“What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson
We are all familiar with the old saying “actions speak louder than words” and I am certain we all know people that are consistent in saying one thing, and then doing another. Without a doubt we have all been guilty in doing this ourselves at times because it can be challenging to live a life of 100% alignment and consistency with our stated words and values.
Why do we say anything at all? Why do we create a disconnect between our words and our actions? Is it because we are desperate to be heard? Is it because words are so very easy to say and we believe by simply saying them we might have done enough?
As I write this I keep hearing the line from “Hamilton” when Aaron Burr advises Alexander Hamilton to; “Talk less… Smile more… Don’t let them know what you’re against or what you’re for…” What if we flipped this and lived by a credo that said “Talk less… Do more… Let your actions show what you’re against and what you’re for…”
This isn’t new perspective by any means. James wrote about the need to let your works be the representation of your faith in one of my favorite books of the bible. ‘What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.’ James 2:14-17
If you choose to put the effort and energy into your actions instead of your words, then you won’t have to worry about your the things you do overpowering the things you say…