“Have to” vs. “Get to”

“A problem is a chance for you to do your best.”

Duke Ellington

It is amazing how a simple perception shift can change your entire perspective about something. Do you view life’s challenges as problems you HAVE to deal with? Perhaps a better way to frame it is just as this quote is written. You GET the opportunity to do your best and improve your capabilities. This is a subtle yet powerful difference and can change your entire outlook on whatever lies before you.

Play your game…

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

Mike Singletary

What does “the game” mean to you? What is it that excites you about whatever you define your game to be? Do you have something that you do, that you enjoy to the point where you are incredibly grateful to simply have the opportunity to do it?

This doesn’t have to be your vocational output. It could be a hobby, time with family, serving others, etc. When you have a clear vision of whatever it is that brings you this degree of joy and thankfulness by simply having the opportunity to play, then everything else in life will fall in place.

Without knowing what this means for you, and having it clearly defined, then life can feel frantic and purposeless. Without being intentional in our understanding of “the game,” we can rush headlong into whatever the next thing is that attracts our attention and lose sight of why we are here and what stirs our souls in an almost indescribable way.

What we are really talking about here is the understanding of our purpose. What it is that we are called to do. One way to know and understand this is to think through the thing(s) that engender incredible feelings of gratitude simply because you have the opportunity to do them.”

As I pause and reflect on this a bit more it brings to mind this verse from Romans. ‘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

For me it is the opportunity to make a difference. The chance to help and serve others. The opportunity to enable and empower others to find success in their lives. I absolutely love having the opportunity to do this, whether at work or in my personal life. I am incredibly grateful that I have that chance every single day.

Define your game. Play your game. Be grateful for the opportunity to play…

Pick the one that matters…

“Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come, you have to get up and make them.”

Madame C.J. Walker

Read a book, or two, or scroll through social media? Binge watch a new (or old) show, or make a list of things that you’d like to do with all this time “created” by working from home and no longer commuting? Learn to play the guitar or spend time lamenting a loss of “freedom?”

Which one is going to have any meaning a year from now?

Do that one…

The trees are blooming…

“Over the years, I’ve learned that if you can just hang in there and, regardless of what’s presented to you, take it as a challenge and try to bring in something fresh, then it works.”

Adam West

The thing that stands out the most to me from this quote are the first three words. “Over the years.” What a great reminder to us all that the time will pass by. Just yesterday morning I was watching a news report on the coronavirus and the reporter commented that the cherry blossom trees were starting to bloom in Washington DC.

Guess what? They are going to bloom again next year, and the year after that, and so on. All too often we have a perspective that can only see what is right in front of us. And yes, it might be tough, it might be challenging, it might be really painful and hard. But the years are going to pass. And if you focus on finding the silver lining, they will be far better than you have expected on the darkest day.

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 throw away your shot…

“Opportunities are often things you haven’t noticed the first time around.”

Catherine Deneuve

How many times in life do we have something happen and only later realize that we missed an opportunity that was right there before us but we were too busy or distracted to take notice? Sometimes we get a second shot at those chances, other times we don’t.

My daughter is obsessed with the musical “Hamilton.” She can sing the lines of most of the songs and lights up in a special way when she gets to talking about it. As I pause and reflect on today’s quote I am reminded of one of the most famous songs and lyrics from the show. In the play Hamilton sings about his incredible desire to make a difference and contribute, specifically he says “I’m not throwing away my shot.”

Every day we countless opportunities to help others, to make a difference, to notice ways to help and serve others. If we aren’t careful we can be so busy that we miss these the first time around. Don’t throw away your shot, be present and aware today. Who knows what opportunities are there for you as first chance, a second chance or even more. Don’t throw away your shot…

A bird in the hand…

“You don’t need more opportunity.  You need to learn to execute on the opportunities you already have.”

Michael Hyatt

What is the opportunity just sitting there waiting to be embraced? What is preventing you from doing so? Sometimes it is easier to get excited about the “new” opportunity than it is to do embrace the one’s that are already on your plate.

Perhaps the old adage of “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” applies here…

Don’t waste a second…

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

Napoleon Hill

Sometimes it can be so easy to become consumed by future goals and objectives. We can easily miss the opportunity to simply be present and impact the world positively right here and now. I know that I fight this battle daily but I am not going to surrender. Because time spent living for the future, or in the past, is a waste of the present moment. Life is too precious to waste a single second…

Find joy in the game…

“Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play.”

Mike Singletary

Surely we all play to win, but do we play for the win or for the sheer joy of the game itself? I think this applies to all aspects of life. How much of our lives are spent trying to get to the end result without truly appreciating the game we are playing at the moment? Instead life can be focused on skipping over the work, the fun, the real moments, just to achieve some goal that might not matter 10 years from now.

Today take a deep breath, pause, and ask yourself “Am I embracing the opportunities I have today to find the joy in whatever game I am in?”

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