“No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.”
Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
It’s never the decision to eat a single cookie that makes a person gain weight. Likewise, it’s not the one day you decide to sleep in and skip the morning run that makes fitness slip away. The late project, missed dance recital or baseball game, a lost connection with a friend across the country, none of these things are singular events that create an avalanche of lost opportunity and regret. Instead, they are the snowflakes that amass until all the conditions are right and it is too late to stop the momentum.
Conversely, every decision, choice, and opportunity to make a conscious and intentional practice of recognizing and acting on what is truly important can and will change your life and the lives of those you love.
What is the impact of the snow you are adding to your avalanche today?
“Nothing in life is as important as you think it is, while you are thinking about it”
What was the most important thing you were thinking about on 12/17/2010? How about 12/17/2015? 12/17/2019?
Chances are you don’t even remember the things which were keeping you up at night or stealing joy from your life on those specific days. So why are you losing sleep today? Will it even matter a year from now?
I think the real question is this. What are those things that ARE important enough to remember in the years to come? How much time, effort, and energy are you devoting to those areas of life?
Invest your precious moments there; they are the things that truly matter…
How do you live life well? I find it useful to think of life as an exercise in debits and credits where Debits are the things you need to do less of and Credits are the things you do more of. Here’s a list of things to think about (this is my list, some of these certainly won’t apply to you, though they certainly could.)
Credits: Spend more time with those that you love and who love you. Spend more time doing things that excite and impassion you. Spend more time in the service of others. Make mistakes and learn from them. Give yourself grace. Write down your goals and dreams. Journal daily, reread what you wrote later. Spend time alone in meditation and reflection, write down what you learn. Read more books. Read scripture and pray. Find and spend time with friends that challenge you. Take care of your mind and body, you don’t get another. Practice mindfulness and be present in the moments that matter (they all do!)
Debits: Spend less time with those that drain you emotionally or burden you unfairly. Spend less time doing things that don’t add joy to your life in some way. Spend less money on things that don’t last. Spend less time in the pursuit of ego driven initiatives. Stop burdening yourself with negative emotions or self-perceptions. Those become self-fulfilling prophecies. Spend less time numbing your powerful mind with junk like social media, television, etc. Stop being a slave to what contemporary culture says is important.
Once through life is enough, if you live it well. 100 times isn’t enough if you don’t…
“Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
The key to living with a “relentless discontent with the status quo” is to know what needs to be changed, and what doesn’t. It means knowing when things need to be changed and when they don’t. It means being able to see the world for what could be, not simply for what it currently is. And therein lies the secret, one must face change directly and clearly. The best exercise I can think of for facing change is to simply go look in the mirror. That will show you what needs to change…
Here is a simple recipe for change. Take out a piece of paper. Ask yourself these questions.
“WHAT is the one thing I NEED to change in my life?” Write that down at the top of the page and circle it.
Now answer this question. “WHY is this change important and necessary?” Write this down in as few words as possible and underline it. Heck, grab a highlighter and and really make this line stand out. This is the most important line on the page.
Now answer this question. “HOW will I do next to make that change a reality?” Write down those answers, no more than 3 things. Rank them based on what you can do FIRST.
Now for the hard part. DO the things you wrote down. Start every day looking at your desired and needed change, remind yourself why it is important and then DO the action. When you have completed your next task mark it off and add one more. Never more than three things on your list and you only focus on the next one. As you get better and better and build momentum then you will look forward to checking off the list and seeing how much you have accomplished.
For example if your “need” is to lose 10 pounds then that is what you write at the top
WHAT = Lose 10 pounds by 12/1/19
WHY = To have a healthy body and more energy for my family
HOW = (1) Exercise 45 minutes today before lunch. (2) Track my foods/meals in an App like MyFitnesspal (3) Do not take in any calories after 7:00 PM.
DO = Check these off through the day and then build a new list tomorrow.
Change doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen simply because you want it to. Change happens when you clearly articulate what it is that you want to change. Why that change is important. How you are going to make that change happen by focusing on what to do next. Then you have to do the hard part. EXECUTE! No excuses, no complaints, no justifications. Just do it.
There are tons of books, apps, systems and methods you can use to track and manage change. I use several of them in combination but the MOST IMPORTANT factor is to clearly articulate WHAT you want to change and WHY that change is important to you. That is why it is important to revisit this daily. Never lose sight of your goal and why it is important. That will be the motivation you need to EXECUTE. W/W/H/D = CHANGE
“Great leaders last because they lead themselves first.”
Self-leadership is the most important component of becoming a successful leader. How can you expect anyone else to follow you if you don’t set the example and demonstrate that you can lead yourself?
So what does this mean? It carries much more meaning than simply leading by example. It requires tremendous self-awareness and the ability to get outside of your own head to see yourself, and your behavior, and then determine what changes need to be made to become the leader you know you are capable of becoming.
The real self-leadership question is whether you are holding yourself accountable to following these same principles? If the answer is no, then you have work to do because you aren’t leading yourself first…
“The wisdom of life consists in the elimination of non-essentials.”
I have been on a journey to simplify in life and focus only on the most essential and important things. It is incredibly challenging for me to do, but has been very enlightening and clarifying. Definitely not saying that I am wise, but that I can see and have great appreciation for this wisdom.
It is interesting to see how much time we spend doing things that truly aren’t essential. There are so many things in life that are competing for our attention that saying “no” can be truly liberating. I will say that doing so takes more discipline and intentional focus than I would have ever thought possible. But it is worth every tough decision.
What is the one thing you should say “no” to today?
“Perhaps the very best question that you can memorize and repeat, over and over, is, ‘what is the most valuable use of my time right now?'”
How often do you ask yourself this question? How often do you answer it honestly…? What would you need to change to make the answers to the question easier to actually do? How many times does it happen where you get to the end of the day and wonder if you actually accomplished anything?
The answers to these questions might not be easy or answers that you like. But changing them to ones that you do like could change your world…
“In ten years’ time will you look back at your past week and be glad how you chose to spend it?”
Ten years is a long time! Think about that in regards to your choices for this coming week? Will they be impactful and matter ten years from now? If you wanted the week to matter what would have to be different? What about one year from now?
“You will never find time for anything. If you want the time, you must make it.”
What do you wish you had time for? How long have you been wishing for it? What is it going to take for you to be able to do it? What are you willing to quit doing in order to make the thing you want to do happen?
I often wish that there were 36 hours in a day. But there still wouldn’t be enough time do do all the things I want to do. Since I can’t conjure up more hours in the day I guess I’ll focus on answering the questions written above. I think the last one is the most important…
What sets our day, our clock or our compass? It’s funny when you think about it, the world was discovered not with a clock, but a compass. But nowadays time is everything that we care about. We wear a watch, we schedule our days to the down to the last minute. How often do we check to make sure that we are going in the right direction?
What if instead of a watch we wore a compass on our wrist to check and see if we were moving in the right direction? I don’t know about you but staying on time seems to take priority in life over direction at times. We focus on the importance of time instead of focusing on where we are going.
The bottom line is this. You need both a compass and a watch. But it needs to be in that order. If you put a clock ahead of of the compass you’ll make great time, but you won’t know where you are going….
“I know for sure that what we dwell on is who we become.”
Is the glass half full, or half empty? Are others out to help you, or persecute you? Are you helpful, or helpless? Are you a conqueror or a victim? We all know people who choose to fit into the “negative” side of these questions. They are focused on dwelling on what happens to them instead of focusing their energy on how they can change, grow, learn and evolve. If one is determined to be taken advantage of, they will be. How we frame the way we see the world becomes our world. I also know people who focus on the “positive” aspects and they are the ones that truly inspire and motivate me. They too have become what they dwell on, and have incredible impact on the lives of others because of it.
The same trap applies in leadership as it does in life. Do we dwell on the things we can’t control and look right past the things that we can influence and impact? Does our leadership focus on serving others or being served? Focusing on the wrong side of the equation can create a self-fulfilling prophecy, for better or for worse. The good news is that we have a choice. Who do you want to become? What is it that you need to dwell on to make that happen?