Why is it that we have to have a fresh start on New Year’s day? I get that it’s a new year, so it makes sense to most to start fresh with new goals and their new ideas and plans, but why do we always wait and load up on new ideas just once a year? Aren’t their 365 days we can start fresh with each year?
Fresh starts are very important, and we need them, and it’s extremely important to have goals in life and to follow through with the goals and new starts we have, but I’m afraid that if we do this just once a year, we will likely miss opportunities to start something fresh in July or September or February. The new ideas in those months can be huge for us, just like the ones on January first. They can also set us off on a new path mid-year that will motivate us to something bigger than us...I started this blog in the middle of October 2011, after thinking about it several times before. It’s changing me and it may be impacting others too.
I’m not downing New Year’s resolutions, but don’t just focus on them on January 1st each year. Focus on starting something new regularly. It doesn’t have to be huge and time consuming, but set some goals as the year goes along, as well as on New Year’s day. Take time this year to do more, minister more, impact a life in a way you never have before, adding something to your family that will help you grow closer, help in your church in a new way, starting a new business, change a bad habit, thank someone who changed you in the past, take a teen out to eat and change their life, etc...
Any of these can be done in January, November, April, September...you pick.
Lessons Learned: Don’t miss an opportunity to impact someone or start something new at any time.
“This is the Lord's doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.” Psalm 118:23
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been through lots of tough times in life. They certainly aren’t as tough as a lot of others, but they were tough for me, at the time. I’ve been through a firing, two down sizes resulting in unemployment, two companies that had bankruptcies, three corporate mergers/buyouts, a couple of minor surgeries, lots of travel away from home and my family, some other not-so-fun-stuff and once I broke my toe while pulling my sock off (another blog...one day...maybe).
There are other things that have not been fun and other things that I haven’t enjoyed, but I found out something during all those times. God is GOOD...ALWAYS!!! The verse above makes it pretty clear that it’s the “Lord’ doing” and I know that He is good, so I have had to look at the good in each of the items listed above and the others that were not mentioned.
I learned lots of lessons during those tough times and I wanted to share a few today:
I’m glad - really I am glad that I went through each of them. Now, if you had asked me at the time, I wouldn't have been so quick to say this, but I know that many things happened during those tough times that I needed. I only grow closer to Christ in the harder times and I only truly realize His provisions, His direction, His comfort and His peace during those times. By the way, I’m not saying that I want more of those tough times, either, but the lessons are still good.
It’s the best preparation time. Turning the soil (soul, in this case, maybe) is when the planting begins and the planting causes growth for the future. I don’t know what the future holds, but God does, so when He allows the the tough issues or times in my life, I need to get ready for what He has for me in the near future and long-term too.
It’s when I focus best on Jesus. I pray more. I pray harder. I minister better. I’m impacted more and I impact others more completely because I become more tender, and I’m more aware of other’s needs during these times.
Not my normal blog, but this has been on my heart, so there it is.
Lessons Learned: Be grateful for the failure of tough times, because those times aren’t really failures.
Thoughts: What tough time are you going through right now? Are you learning? Are you growing? Are you trusting in the Lord?
Everybody has some sort of Christmas tradition or traditions that they do every year and they create that constant memory and exciting thing to look forward to. Some have a certain day that they setup or take down their decorations. Some open special gifts to one another on Christmas Eve. Some eat a certain meal on Christmas morning or they enjoy some eggnog (acquired taste) and cookies. Others have a specific order that they open their gifts in their family. Some have a fun game they play each year. Some have strange traditions like dressing in German garb and dancing around the Christmas tree, or eating figgy pudding (sounds like one of the grossest eats possible), or going to the neighbors and throwing toilet paper in their trees (really happened in my neighborhood this year). The list goes on and on.
Like others, we have some of those traditions (not the pudding or the toilet paper) and we look forward to them each year. One of them is a game that my Wife’s Sisters and us Brother-in-laws play every family Christmas get together. We play a game called Conquest, with the men beating the ladies. I use beating on purpose because recent memory shows that the ladies have not won, but once, in many years. It's a simple game that places pieces on a board based on cards that you pick from your hand. It has strategy, and you win by placing five pieces in a row, twice on the board, per round. Usually we play first to five wins and we enjoy each win as the ladies cry, and suffer through the pain of another lose. It’s a traditions that’s a true joy to my heart.
Traditions are important, especially with family. They help make the special times more memorable and special, because people like routine and look forward to the times they had in the past. Sounds strange to look forward to the past, but we all like repeatable happy events, since they provide that positive emotional boost we need. Habits are way to create consistency and allow for fun for friends and family.
Lessons Learned: I should have written this blog after we won the game...pride cometh before a fall...after a hard fought battle, the men lost...twice. Start new traditions to bring your family and friends together, even if you lose.
Thoughts: What are some of your favorite traditions? What new tradition did you start this year?
I have heard that many people are depressed, or at least, a little down after Christmas and they struggle with discouragement during the days that follow Christmas day. I know that Christmas day has a huge build up, then the gifts are opened and the presents are viewed within a very short time - this leaves some with the let down of knowing it’s over. They then think that all the fun and joy of Christmas is over. This is a ginormous (that is a real word) fail!
We can’t look at Christmas for the presents, the lights, the music, that warm and fuzzy feeling you get, the excitement of watching children open gifts, the get-togethers, the church cantata’s, the children’s programs or even the time with family. The true JOY of Christmas is in the hope that we have in Christ - the real meaning of Christmas.
It’s tremendous fun to do all the things that are offered at Christmas and it is an exciting time of year, but the Joy should never end and the excitement should be year round. We should carry the season all year long (except for the cold) and keep the true Joy of Christ in our hearts - don’t let yourself get moody or down, just because one day is over.
Lessons Learned: Joy is in Christ, and Christ is the reason for Christmas, so be joyful!
Thoughts: Do you have the Christmas day-after blues?
If at all possible, take today and spend it with your family.
Most businesses give you this day off for Christmas (even though it was yesterday), so take advantage of your time and your family and be with them.
Play a game, eat some goodies (or go get some - order a pizza), create a memory, if you have snow, go build a fort, take time away from all the other worries and stresses of life and just be with them. Cut as much as you can off (unless you are watching a movie together that you all enjoy) and focus on each individual in your family, so they know they are loved and important to you.
This is the simplest blog I have posted so far...because I'm with my family (BTW - I set this as a scheduled blog, so I can be with my family today too!).
Lessons Learned: Family is the focus...not really just today, but everyday!
What a glorious day it is, that we get to celebrate the birth of Jesus on a Sunday and combine the best day of the week with a reminder of the birth of our Savior!
Christmas is a day to celebrate with friends, family, our church family and most importantly, realize the true reason for this season and focus on the fact that God sent His Son as a baby to grow and then die to save us from an eternity in Hell and be able to accept His payment and spend our life, after death, in Heaven.
You can have this free gift of salvation by simply repenting of your sin and accepting Christ as your savior. Feel free to contact me if this is something that you would like to do or click this link to read more and understand even more effectively.
I hope you have a Merry Christmas and thanks for reading!
Recently, I read several articles and a couple of blogs about failure. I didn't realize is was such a popular subject - you know how encouraging failure is and all. It's very interesting that many people have differing opinions of failure and many people look down on those that fail, as if to say they never fail themselves, which is obviously not accurate. I am still of the opinion that failure can be the backdoor to success and that failure is important in our growth as a person. It's not always fun, but we can always learn from it.
I read two blogs this week that I wanted to link you to, because they had good thoughts on failure and they are noted bloggers nationally. Their blogs are relevant and helpful to me and many others. I would recommend that you join their blog as a regular reader (no pitch for pay involved here, just good thoughts from them).
The first is Jon Acuff (click his name to see his blog) and make sure you read his thought on failure from at this link. He talked about expecting failure and gave a great quote from Michael J Fox - “If you fixate on the worst-case scenario and it actually happens, you’ve lived it twice.” We shouldn't focus on failure, but when we fail, we should just grow from it.
The other blog was from Seth Godin and it talked about the importance of learning from failure so that we don't keep repeating ourselves and falling more.
Both of these are good reads and short - enjoy!
Lessons Learned: Fail sensibly and learn from the fails you do.
Thoughts: Have you ever failed in the same way twice? (I know I have, but three times would be horrible)
So, most men have a great ability to pretend they are listening while they are watching television or doing something else. Most ladies have a great ability to share what's on their mind right in the middle of that important television event, game or hobby that the man is involved in. The mix here is a great example of missed communication and the need to pay attention to one another and we all fail in that, and we all get upset with one another as we miss the important comment or question that was stated/asked.
I have the privilege of working with over 150 children and teens, in my church, from age 9 through 18 and I love it, but I've learned that most every child this age is a “man” when it comes to listening, and they don't listen or hear anything, and I mean anything. They forget every announcement, every time for each event that's coming up, and they will ask multiple times for the details again, and again and again. They have learned to act like they listen, but they are truly just focused on their own interests at that moment.
Both of these are sad, because we miss some of the best times in life, when we don't listen and we don't communicate. My children remind me of this as they try to fight for my attention and get me to talk to them or listen to them as they share with me (that sounded really bad, but sometimes we have to realize how bad it is). What a horrible fail it is when I miss the opportunity to spend time with my children and listen and talk to them. I started by blaming men and then children and teens for not listening, but really, every lesson like this should be directed at me and not at blaming others.
Lessons Learned: I only have a limited number of relationships in life and they will diminish if I don't treat them as important to life.
Thoughts: What did you say? How often do you say that?
As I said yesterday, I like to learn form those I see, so this is another piece (likely the final one) from an observation at my surgery center.
We had to arrive for my surgery at 6:00 AM - way too early, but “it is what it is” (I said that for my friend Matt). There were several people waiting, at the door, as we arrived, but the first person we saw, was a boy in his late teens in hand and feet shackles with an armed guard walking beside him. The boy was limping and the officer seemed intense on his role. I looked at my wife and we both said “only us.” We seem to always have strange things occur in situations in life, so we just smiled and hoped the boy wasn’t too dangerous - the shackles, guard, sagging jeans and limp would likely hold him back.
Several failure questions, about his life, came to mind immediately. What did he do wrong? How did he get hurt? Where are his parents (only his grandmother was with him)? What’s his next step in life? How will this failure hold him back? Will he be shackled when he has surgery and when it’s over? What kind of surgery was he about to have? I usually have lots of questions, as you can see.
I had thoughts from both sides of the fence on his boy. Part of me felt badly for him, because often when you see a young man in this situation, they keep running down this path for quite some time and build up more failures and hurts. I wondered if he was caught and repentant and was on the road to recovery in his life - I hope so. I also thought about his failures. Some failures, in life, can bring tough consequences and they last a lifetime and really don’t ever fully let go, like his shackles. These are hard to overcome and he will probably hurt the rest of his life, because of the failure he made. It’s sad, but he can still make something of himself, if he chooses.
Lessons Learned: Be careful to chose wisely, so you aren’t bound with shackles for your whole life. Even small shackles can hurt for a long time.
Thoughts: What shackles have you had to overcome in your life?
I love to learn from every situation in life and I often watch people to learn some great lessons, just from watching.
Last week, as I arrived for surgery and sat in the lobby area, there were several families also waiting. One family sat near us and there was a Grandmother, Mom, Dad and their daughter. The daughter was having the surgery and looked to be in her early twenties. She was very sweet, but was mentally handicapped and seemed to be reacting at about an 8-10 year old level. She would sit and smile and wave at people and would say “Don’t slam door” when people exited the counseling/payment room. The door was automatic and slammed no matter what, so she said this quite a few times. It made us smile.
As they called her name to head back to her operation, she became nervous and paced and turned in circles. Her grandmother went to kiss her and she was just too nervous to do any of that right then. She and her mom and dad headed back to the prep room. I was next and when I got in prep room, she was across from me with the anesthesiologist and was very upset. They asked her some questions and her parents had to answer for her. She obviously knew what surgery was all about and didn't want to move forward. Her dad firmly told her to calm down and they finally got her all set with the drip flowing and her more calm. They dismissed her parents and rolled her to surgery.
Her mom and dad walked past me and were both weeping very visibly, and were upset about this whole thing. It seems to me that it was the kind of hurt you feel when someone you love deeply goes through a trial, tough time or pain and you can’t help them. It’s hard to see a loved one hurt and struggle and not be able to do anything about it.
It reminded me that we all have loved ones that will hurt in life or even fail in life and we will not be able to stop all of their hard times. We will sometimes have to weep with them or for them and pray that the Lord will help them. Pain is not fun and when you love someone, but it goes right along with that love, and it’s worth it when you have the opportunity to love a child like those parents did.
Lesson Learned: Expect the pain when you have love.
Thoughts: How have you comforted someone that you saw in pain recently?
There are many reasons we do things in life and each person has a plan behind the plan for why they do what they choose to do each day. That's a good thing. We shouldn't just do what we do for no reason. We should have a purpose behind our actions and behind, even the thoughts, we have each day. We can't run haphazardly through life without good reason. Life should be purpose driven, full of principles and character driven knowing our course and our direction.
On the other hand, there are many that have an excuse driven life that lacks true direction or character and that often is a big fail. Now, don't get me wrong, there are times in life that each of us is a little misguided and we may lack direction a moments, but we should never excuse all of that away and live our overall lives without proper character, principles and direction.
When I first started in sales, I had almost zero actual sales training and had to feel my way through the correct and best ways to sell to my customers and the best and right way to explain to my boss, when a sale didn't come in or why I wasn't able to close a deal. I started with excuses. I didn't realize they were excuses, until after I looked at them and thought through what I was actually saying. I was wrong, and I began working through the process of changing how I sold and how I reported to my bosses.
I just started giving the details of what was actually happening and not the excuses. The true reasons and not the things that made me look good and others look bad. I had to give the explanations but not the excuses. If I failed in the sales process, I would just say it and if I communicated wrong, then I explained it and corrected it. I saw great things because of these changes. I began to be able to teach and train my customers, instead of trying to figure out the best tactic to sell. I became trustworthy to both my customers and my bosses, because they knew I was living by character and a purpose and not by excuses. God blessed me with success, because I now had principled purpose and reason and not excuses.
Lessons Learned: Living by principles creates our purpose and the right purposes are found in God's Word, the Bible.
Thoughts: What have you excused away lately? Personally? In business? In your family? With your friends?
Failure is sometimes like pain. When we get hurt in life, whether it’s emotional or physical, it hurts for the time we are going through it, but as time goes on, we don't fully remember how badly it hurt or how deep the pain was. It fades over time and we recover from whatever it was that occurred in the past.
When I was a about 13, I worked on the tech crew in my high school helping with stage set up, lighting and sound. I thought it was cool, but later was told it was actually dorky - side story there. One night we had to move a folding ping-pong table and as we began to move it, we lost our balance and the table unfolded. The problem with that is that my right hand was where the fold unfolds and I cut two fingers pretty deeply. It hurt a lot and I remember the facts of the incident well, but I can’t really recreate the pain and hurt unless I cut my fingers again (not going to try that).
Just like the ping-pong table issue, we fail in life, but don’t remember all the details later. That’s likely good, because we would just dwell on the past pains and failures and be hurt all over again. God made us so that we can move on and the pain goes away and He gives us grace for those times. The thing to be careful with, is that we don’t completely forget, so that we improve from the last time. Whenever I carry a ping-pong table now, I make sure it’s tied together or locked in the upright position, so my fingers are safe. We should all learn and grow from how we fail.
Lessons Learned: Learn from your failures and hurts in life. Don’t dwell on them, but grow from them.
Thoughts: Have you ever failed the same way twice?
I have no real idea who reads my blog, except for a few, but I wanted to say thanks for reading and I hope it's an encouragement to those who read it. Feel free to leave comments, if you like, and again, thanks for reading! Hope you have a wonderful Christmas season too!
The fail today is just plain silly. It's about me waking up after my surgery this week. I have only been put under one other time in my life and it was a very long time ago, so my experience with surgery and anesthesia is slim. I was given the drugs through inter-venous and they made me begin to feel sleepy in very short time.
When the sleepiness started to happen, I began to feel the urge to giggle and it took great lengths to stop that feeling. I had to bite my lip, purse my lips, shake my head or think a serious thought to get rid of this desire to laugh - that was a little embarrassing and I didn’t let the nurse know. I was also a little cold, so they gave me a preheated blanket (now that's a marvel of modern science) and it felt very good. They told my wife to go to the waiting room and began to move me to operating room 5. The nurse, Pat, told me it would be colder and in the O.R. and she would get me another blanket. They rolled me in backwards and the next thing I remember is starting to wake up in recovery.
This is where I fail and act like a 12 year old - I'm not sure I've ever really grown up, so this is no big surprise. I began to wiggle around and try to curl up into a ball, but I realized my foot hurt too bad to do that, so I just kept wiggling around, while my wife laughed. I also started to get chilled and my teeth started to chatter - they got me another warm blanket - WooHoo!!! I was shaking and quivering like when you get a surprise chill. Again, my wife laughed. I then came up with every question I possible could think of to ask - I don't know why I did that, but I kept asking questions, even while I would dose in and out of consciousness - I'm so weird!
It only gets crazier, because I felt like my head was incredibly itchy, so I would ask questions, quiver and itch my head vigorously all at the same time. I wish it was on video, because this had to be hilarious to watch me dose off and then wake up shaking, scratching and asking unnecessary questions. Right near the end of all of this, I stated a comment, rather than a question. I said "For some reason, I keep thinking about Bugs Bunny." Where did that come from? What did Bugs Bunny have to do with my toe? Even I started to smile at that one - I have no idea why I said that. The good thing is, I now have improved my reputation - LOL.
Lessons Learned: I need not to have surgery anymore. Bugs Bunny is a good cartoon.
When I fly, I usually try to sit up front (first row if possible) and I try to get a window seat, because I'm still enamored by the view, even though I've flown quite a bit. After I sit down and everyone else has entered the plane, I sit and figure out what I want to do while I fly. I usually have some items that I absolutely will do, but I also have others things that I could do. For example, I wanted to write this blog while in flight, but I then have a debate as to what the next "to do" should be.
If I've flown a lot that month, the SouthWest magazine will be the same, but I could peruse it, or read the flight information card or the goofy Sky Mall magazine that has all the crazy gizmos and gadgets in it, or I could read on my iPad, etc. The other options are to sleep, play Angry Birds (or another game - Boggle, Sudoku, Angry Birds Rio, Angry Birds Seasons, etc.), talk to the person beside me, or I could just look out the window. All of these options have some value and can be beneficial to me for rest, relaxation, entertainment, or interest. I have a choice, and I like to have some choices.
Failing here is likely to be small, but it's important still to choose wisely and not just focus on me. If the person beside me doesn't want to talk (which surprisingly is often the case) or is asleep, then I go to the next option, but this talking option is the one that is most powerful, because I can influence or encourage someone. I can read and learn something new, which I enjoy very much (I'm a Discovery channel kind of guy and like to learn more info). I can play a game and just enjoy a few minutes (I really like Angry Birds and am in the top 250 in the world - little bit on the bragging side - sorry, but I really like all the Angry Bird games - this could be a fail too) and try to improve my scores. I can rest a bit and catch up on some sleep, which is fine or I can look at God's creation out the window and be in awe.
So what did I choose? I did them all...it was a three hour leg on this flight, but I didn't improve my scores any.
Lessons Learned: We need a balance and it's good to have a mix of all the things above, but don't forget that influence and encouragement are still the best. You never really sleep well anyways.
Thoughts: Have you influenced someone today? Do you like Angry Birds?
About thirty years ago (I'm not really as old as that sounds - yikes), I worked at a camp in Canada, for a summer. I was on the maintenance crew and did some events with the kids that were at the camp. I had a great summer and enjoyed the work. It gave me a chance to mature as an early teen and to learn better how to work hard and have diligence. It shaped my character as an important experience in life would.
At one point in the summer, I had to help unload a trailer and then unhitch it from a truck. Once the trailer was unloaded, I was left to unhook it and move it a little ways away from the truck. I got it unhooked and began to move it and lost my grip - it was a pretty large trailer. The trailer hitch fell directly on the top knuckle of my big right toe. It hurt. I was in a bunch of pain and tried to be tough. Someone called the camp nurse to come over and look at it she bent down and checked it out and, of course, it was bruised and swollen, but fortunately, not broken. By the way, the camp nurse was gorgeous and she gave me a big hug (I immediately forgot about the toe pain and I was the envy of all the other teen boy workers).
My failure here was that I should have had someone else to help me, knowing the size of the trailer, and I should have made sure my foot was out of the way, if the trailer fell (common sense to me now).
The reason for this story today, is that because of that injury, my toe slowly developed arthritis and the the top of my toe began to have bone growth that has stiffened my toe to a point of having it surgically repaired today. Not a big surgery, but this toe has been a pain for years and it will likely still cause me some problems the rest of my life, even though I'm having it corrected. You see, fails sometimes have consequences that last a long time and raise up to bug you later in life.
You may have offended a person years ago, with what you said and they still dislike you. You hurt someone as a teen by how you treated them and they never recovered. You may have done something to yourself as a young person and the issues arise from it still. Failures from the past come up and you have to restore the relationship with a person or get over that failure from the past. You still may have some lingering effects, but you have to move on, after you've tried to get it right. It reminds me, also, that if you were careful, at first, then that failure wouldn't be holding on now.
Lessons Learned: Just like my toe will be more flexible, when you correct a past failure, you become better too.
Thoughts: What long ago failure do you need to correct?
Quick update - I was told that I made an error in my blog "The Cube or the car..." when I stated that the Nissan Cube was the car with the hamsters in the commercial - it's actually the Kia Soul that has the hamsters. Whoops - sorry - glad my blog is about failing...
I like to win. I actually love to win. Really, I better win when I'm in a competitive situation. When I sell, I like to win. When I lead a youth activity, I like to win. When I play a board game, I like to win. When I play sports, I like to win. When I watch my favorite team, I like to win. I just like to win. It seems to me that we shouldn't compete if we're not at least trying to win. Winning is important.
I think people give up too easy, and often, don't give it their all. Obviously, not everyone can win, but shouldn't everyone try? It seems impossible to me that folks give up prior to even competing. What causes that attitude? Who gives up so easy? When do they give up? The questions, to me, go on and on.
Failure could be the reason. Some get used to it and then expect it. Others are embarrassed to win. There are those that have failed before and truly don't believe they can win at what they are involved with. Others enjoy the underdog syndrome, where they want the surprise of winning. A few like the attention they get as losers (ridiculous thinking in my mind). Others want to keep the expectations low, so they don't have to work hard to win. Whatever the reason, quitting in advance is not the best decision.
I know I will not win everything that I'm involved with and, as you have seen, I fail regularly, so I don't sit with unrealistic expectations, but I will always try. Losing happens and I don't get all emotional and angry with it, but I will continue to have a winning attitude from when I start until the final buzzer. Winning and losing are contagious - pick winning.
Lessons Learned: Losing is okay, only if you put your best effort into what you are doing.
Thoughts: Have you ever given up early? What are you contagious with?
Most of the time you hear this statement as "supply and demand" and not in the order that I have it today. I see a lot of people, as I travel and work, and I see many folks who "demand" everything they ask for with full expectation to receive what they've demanded. I see people that expect what can't truly be expected and then demand more, because they didn't get their original demand. Example - The person who goes to a coffee shop and asks for a drink that the coffee shop does not have and then demands a free drink because they didn't get what they want. People do this - it shocks me, but they demand it, and sometimes they get it.
I would rather be on the supply side. This is not where I'm giving everything away, but where I'm serving others, rather than demanding from them. This is not the easy side, because you tend to get stepped on in life and people will take advantage of you and your time and may hurt you. The cool thing, with being on the supply side, is that you get a satisfaction in life that the demander cannot get.
You get to be a blessing and encouragement to someone. You get to be the guy that gives the quarter to a person that ran short on change in the grocery line. You get to be the girl that helped a mom carry a diaper bag into a restaurant when her hands were full. You get to be the one that gives up their seat for the little old lady on the bus. Your the one that helps the handicapped person off the plane. Your the man that helps that teen boy through a hard spot of rebellion and sees them blossom to become a better person. You get to be the person that smiles when the demander sits around being grumpy.
This is not an economics lesson, but rather a life lesson. This is where you get to make a decision to be the one that helps someone else, rather than helps themselves. This is where selfishness ends and giving begins. It's not easy and sometimes you will be hurt, but it's so much more satisfying as life goes on.
Lessons Learned: Supplying a need is better that having a need supplied.
Thoughts: How have you supplied a need for someone this week?
I like to write in the moment, and at the time of this writing, I'm eating pizza and there's a cold rain just outside of Boston, where I am this week. It's kinda yucky, but the thin crust Ultimo pizza, at Angela's Coal Fired Pizza is incredible (if you are ever in the Boston area, search out one of their locations). I don't eat as much pizza as I used to - trying to eat better - but when I get an opportunity to eat at a specialty pizza place in an area that I've not been, I go for it. The cold rain, however, is dampening (pun completely intended) my spirits a little.
This makes me think about our everyday lives and the positives and negatives of every day that we go through. There are always good and bad things that occur each day. The salesman gets the sale and then realizes the customer forgot to sign a particular line on the contract. The electrician finishes fixing a light switch and then finds out that wasn't the problem. The mom gets the baby to sleep and then someone calls the house. The teacher completes a lesson and then finds out they taught the lesson too quickly for the class. There are ups and downs everyday.
The fail here is that I focused on the rain and not the pizza. The pizza will be remembered longer than the rain, if I make it the focus. We have so many good things that happen each day, but we let the little things become big things and ruin our joy. We should always try to look at the good and realize that, life happens, and a part of that life is negative, so just deal with it and move on looking for the next positive item in the day, which will come.
Lessons Learned: Pay attention to the pizza and not the rain.
When I travel, I often rent cars. It's kind of cool driving a different car each time I land somewhere and then getting the surprise of the vehicle I am able to drive. I have driven a bunch of different vehicles over the past five years from trucks to SUV's, to compacts, to trendy little cars, to sporty vehicles, to a Volvo (look at my blog titled "Patience and the waiting curve"). In one job, I had a rental for eight straight months and I just swapped vehicles each week. It was very interesting to drive so many different cars, but I truly like to have my own car and be at home, when it comes down to it.
This week, I got got to the lot and had the choice of an HHR or the Nissan Cube. I chose the cube, because I thought it would be different and kinda cool, plus my youngest son would love the idea that I was driving the car that the hamsters drive in the Cube commercial (funny commercials to us). The cube has been fun to drive, but it's a little small for my tastes. Still cool and fun though.
There is no real fail in this story, but the name of the car "Cube" made me think about some things. A cube is a box and in my jobs, over the years, I've always been told to think "Out of the box." I'm supposed to focus on bigger and better ways that get sales, help customers, organize goals, help my team, impact the company, etc. The "boxes" in life are good for us sometimes. They are the rules we abide by, the guidelines that lead us, the directions that help us know what to do next and the help that we need to do the right thing in life. These types of boxes should be abided by and not bucked up against.
However, the times that we go out of the box are not times of disobedience, but times to improve on how we impact others and sometimes, even ourselves. The times where we change another’s life because of what we do. The times we move beyond the norm and fully focus on the needs of others above ourselves and what we do. Sometimes these out of the box experiences cause us help those around us, which is the best reason to get out of the "cube" in my opinion, whether it’s in the job, home or ministry. Change can be good.
Lessons Learned: Even the name of a car can influence us, if we think about it. There are way to many "quotes" in this blog today.
Thoughts: What "Boxes" have you gone out of to help another?
Most of us have heard the thought that, in a crowd, you influence at least seven people around you. We do have an influence on people and sometimes we don't even realize it. It can be a good influence or a bad influence, positive or negative, but like it or not, it's there. People watch us, no matter how little notoriety we have. The simple things, in life, that we do, are seen by those around us and by those we serve with, work with, are part of a crowd we are in, or are in our family.
I was reminded of this fact at church this past Sunday. We have a habit of shaking hands at the beginning of our services after we open in congregational singing. I try to shake as many people's hands as I can and I especially like to shake the hands of the children and teens (I'm a little goofy and I work with those age groups in some church ministries, so I know them).
I shook the hand of a young man about age three. I have probably done this over a hundred times with him in the past. This time, after I shook his hand, something was different. His dad came up to me, just moments after I walked away, and said that his son whispered to him, that I only shook his hand once (he thought it was funny, so he shared it with me). I didn't realize that this young boy paid so much attention to our handshakes. You see, normally, I shake his hand and either pretend that my hand is stuck to his or I vigorously shake it several times as he laughs. I shook his hand again, but did it the way he enjoyed and expected.
Now, I know, that this is a small item, but it's still an influence and, to this boy, I was messing up by not shaking hands “correctly.” He's my buddy and I enjoy his laughter, but I truly forgot that I was influencing him and that he was watching me. Simple, but not to him. I'm so glad that I was not remembered for a negative thing that I had done or an unkind word I had said. He remembered me for a “cool handshake.” Could have been an epic fail if I had made wrong choices in the past and he remembered me for something negative.
Lessons Learned: Realize that others pay attention to you and be careful of how you influence them.
This time of year, we are all stressed and have a lot going on. We still work our normal jobs and yet we have so much more to do. There are extra church functions for ladies, men, children, teens and each one requires our attendance. We have work Christmas parties, and business functions that we wouldn't normally be involved with. We have travel that we don’t normally do. We decorate and add some flare to our homes. We have to find time to shop and go over lists and make sure that Santa Clause was fair to each of our children. We also get together with different parts of our families and then we have Christmas day! We are busy - sorry if I stressed you out with this reminder...
I am a task oriented person and when I have a list, I become a targeted person with intense focus to get the list done. I have to check the box and make sure it is complete. I do this for me and not others (it’s the OCD coming back again). In doing the list of things that have to be done, I sometimes for get that there are people in my life, and not just family. There’s the cashier at Walmart, the bank teller, the barista at Starbucks (very important to be nice to them), the stock person at the clothing store I am shopping at, the drive thru window person at my favorite fast-food place...shall I go on? We are in contact with so many people and, I know, that sometimes I forget that they have the same stresses that I do (and some stresses are likely even worse).
This is where I have to focus on more than just the task, and flat out be nice to people. I have to realize that I have my list, but the person I’m talking to has theirs too. I have to say nice things and be polite and make sure to share an encouraging word, even if I’m having a bad day or I have a major issue in my life. People that you talk to can be very encouraged if you are just nice to them and take a moment to smile. I am too focused on me and my needs sometimes and I have to have my heart in the correct spot, so I can be nice to those I meet, and not just during this season.
Lessons Learned: Niceness is a choice and we need to make that choice.
Thoughts: Who was nice to you this week? Take it and pass it on...
I absolutely love to laugh (I don't like being tickled though - that just hurts). I mean, the kind of laugh that hurts your stomach to a point where you are begging for the story or the video to stop. This is the best of laughs - the guffaw from the depths of your being. You are likely thinking of a moment, right now, where you remember laughing at this hard. I even laugh when I see others laughing, unless it's one of those weird snort kind of laughs. I especially love to see toddlers and infants laugh. Their laughter is so real and out of control that you just join in. America's Funniest Home Videos has some great clips of children laughing like this - at bubbles, at a funny noise from their Dad, at a dog, at a funny face, etc...
This kind of laughter puts everything else out of your mind and you think of nothing but the humor of that situation. It's unbounded joy (even if it's temporary) that helps you get over whatever pain you are gong through. I think laughter belongs in most every situation in life. It's needed in church, in the workplace, in a speech, in a financial crisis, after a painful surgery, during a time of discouragement, and even during a funeral. We are way too solemn during the hard times and forget the importance and power of laughter and a smile. Even when I'm sad or hurt or disappointed, I want to laugh and I need to laugh. Personally, my funeral better be more like a clean stand up comedy routine, because I don't want folks to cry. Of course, there may be jubilation just because I'm gone, so laughter may be an automatic.
Lessons Learned: Don't go through any day, or even hour, without some laughter and a smile.
Thoughts: When was the last time you had a hard belly laugh?
I was reading an article by Tom Brokaw recently (by the way, he has the most distinctive voice of anyone broadcaster I've ever heard). He was commenting on his life and how he messed up during college going directions that he shouldn't have. He made this true statement his notes: "Failure can come quickly and it takes a long time to go away." This is a simple and powerful truth about failures in life. Sometimes our failures give us a reputation that never goes away and we have to deal with them our whole lives. Sometimes the failures fade over time and sometimes they do go away pretty fast (most times the fade takes a while).
This statement makes me think two important thoughts about life:
The first one: We should be careful of the big failures in life. We will fail in life, a lot, and once in awhile the failures will be big, but if we can avoid the largest failures in life, by learning from others and doing what's right (God gives us great wisdom form His word) then we won't have the reputations that follow those failures. We will still have some failure, because we are imperfect humans, but we can avoid the huge failures in life by just getting away from them in the first place.
The second one: We should keep going after the big failures in life. Again, we will fail big sometimes and those failures will hurt us, and others, and may harm our reputations. I failed miserably in junior high and high school and people I know from back then still aren't sure what to think of me because of the foolish choices I made and the hurt I caused. I can't ever gain those times back, but I have done my best to make amends and seek forgiveness where I could.
The best part of failure is the fact that we can move on and we don't have to just sit or hide. It may take time for reputations to be rebuilt, but they can be. It may take time for hurts to heal, but they do. It may take time to have the kind of influence that you should, but you will. Don't give up after you fail...you'll make it just fine if you make the wrongs right and keep moving forward.