What is waiting for you?
July 14, 2015 will always be a date in the history of NASA and an important date for astronomers and all of us who are interested in the cosmos. New Horizons, the NASA space probe, planned since 1990 and launched in 2006, flew by Pluto, the small planet, one sixth the size of earth and smaller than our moon, and took a photo for us. As it turns out, Pluto has a heart-shape on the visible side (although some heartless people have said it looks like a cosmic giant sat down and left an imprint). I prefer the heart image, because it can seem that Pluto has been waiting four and half billion years to say, “Hi, Earth! I love you!” (Probably followed by a muttered, “Now, go away and don’t mess me up, too.”)
Here is what I like about all of it: We didn’t just now discover Pluto and it wasn’t recently formed, it has been there all this time. We didn’t expect to “get something” from it, we just wanted to say we have seen it and we know it better than before. The motivation to explore Pluto from above was primarily because most humans are gifted with a desire to keep searching for new horizons–in our solar system and in our lives and spirits.
What is waiting for you? The test of optimism and courage for many of us is to have faith that no matter what our age or our past experiences, something good is patiently waiting for us–and it may have been there all along. (However, you’ll notice that Pluto didn’t come to us, we went to Pluto. Life is like that.)
Hey, Pluto! I ♥ You Too!
In the book and the movie, The Shining, by Stephen King, author Jack Torrance types constantly on his novel and becomes more deranged as time passes. When his wife looks at his manuscript, she is horrified to see page after page after page filled with the same sentence: All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.
That is a sadly accurate metaphor for a lot of the wasted time, ineffective busy-work and wheel-spinning that keeps many people from moving forward, getting somewhere and achieving their dreams and goals.
Setting goals is no problem for most of us—we have set hundreds of them in our lifetime. Often we have set the same two or three goals hundreds of times. Here at the beginning of 2015 ask yourself some pertinent questions about your life, work, finances, health and fitness:
1.) If I could wave a magic wand and make one or more aspects of my life different, what would those things be?
2.) What are the things that I could achieve on my own, no magic needed and humanly possible, even though it might be difficult–perhaps very, very difficult?
3.) What do I need to do EVERY DAY, instead of, or in addition to, what I am now doing, if I want to accomplish each of those things?
4.) Based on my history, what is likely to keep me from sticking to it until my goals, hopes or wishes are accomplished? Is it humanly possible for me to overcome those obstacles?
5.) Considering each of my goals: If I do achieve them, is it probable that I’ll decide it wasn’t worth the effort of sticking to it? How will I feel?
6.) Do I have what it takes in courage, conviction and commitment to do what it takes, every day, to move forward and finally be able to move past this goal line?
You may have other ways of motivating yourself or keeping on track for achieving goals, but those six questions can add to your spirit of resolution for 2015. Stop typing the same old things and fill this year’s pages with your accomplishments!
Send me an email to let me know how you’re doing with your magical wishes AKA goals. Or, use the contact form. I don’t publish personal messages and will be happy to hear from you.
Dark waters and a winding trail. Photo by Casey McCorison
If you are suffering from anything–pain, health problems, emotional turmoil, addictions or disorders of any kind or personal or work problems that keep you awake and feeling out of control–you may have found that wishing for relief can become a constant background noise that is almost as distracting as the suffering. Today I read two brief articles written by the same person, Dr. Christine Lasich, which provided some new perspectives for me–and which I realized can be applied to other situations as well.
Dr. Lasich specializes in physical therapy and rehabilitation and has a spinal-pain practice in California. For the last couple of years I have read her Healing Journal (she posts infrequently, but I re-read the old posts). I believe she is sincerely committed to trying to help those who have painful conditions.
Today, I read an article she wrote for the Health Central Site, Five Principles for Treating Both Pain and Addiction. As I read it I was impressed with her concise, logical steps for dealing with a complex problem. They may be well-known from other literature on the topic, but I liked her way of expressing them.
What is the painful part of your life? As I read and thought about those five steps, I thought they could be applied to all of the things that can cause us pain, suffering, unhappiness and discomfort:
*Physical pain and health problems of any kind–both short term and those that are not ever going away.
*Food and drink addictions and disorders: sugar, diet and regular soda, caffeine, specific foods or just quantities of food in general, yo-yo dieting, food obsessions, etc.
*Dependencies and disorders: relationships, a “broken heart” and “heartache”, a specific person who is a negative element, family relationships, money and debt, excessive behaviors, destructive habits and chronic problems that you may have struggled with forever. All the things that you wish were better in your life.
The Five Principles For Treating Both Pain and Addiction are, in brief:
1. Provide Chemical Stability.
2. Motivate for Change.
3. Relieve Suffering
4. Infuse Resiliency
5. Improve Health
Read Dr. Lasich’s very short article to understand how those are applied. Then, do some sit-down thinking to adapt the Five Principles to your situation. I think you will find that the process of reading the article and adapting the principles can start to provide some relief from the pain–any kind of pain–you are feeling. (It’s part of infusing resiliency!) Contact me, if you wish, to let me know how you were able to apply the concepts. I don’t publish personal notes and am happy to hear from anyone who wants to share some thoughts.
That Fresh, New Uniform Feeling
In 1972 or so, women officers on the Denver Police Department were given navy blue shirts to replace the white Ship and Shore blouses we had worn with our skirts prior to that time. In a few months, the skirts changed to pants (men’s pants, which didn’t fit very well, but which worked until we got women’s style pants later.)
You can almost see me saying, “Take my picture!” I was thrilled to have that crisp, new shirt and could hardly wait to get to work. Most of us have had that feeling about work, at some point. Sadly, it goes away quickly for many people and occasionally is hard to dredge up, even for the most motivated. Here is a way to freshen your thinking:
Tomorrow, pretend it is your first day on your job. Wake up excited to start, just as you did on whatever date you started. Get to work and organize your desk or supplies or locker or whatever you work with. Look around at your work space as though you are new and getting things set up, just-so. Think about your salary and having steady employment and how much better that is than looking through the Employment Ads.
Whatever benefits there are about your workplace, notice them and appreciate them fully. Coffee machines, vending machines, kitchenettes, clean bathrooms, supplies, heating and air conditioning, are relatively new features in workplaces. Not all office workers have them and no one who labors outside has those niceties.
Of course, that won’t make the problematic coworker become pleasant and it doesn’t change some of the stressful situations, but it can help you think about the alternatives.
The bottom line is this: Now and then, metaphorically, put on your fresh, new, navy blue shirt and be happy to have a place to go to work.
Do you have a few times and dates permanently printed on your mind because, after that one moment or one event, nothing was ever the same again? You may have had no control over some of those fateful times–although you probably have retraced your steps to see which ones led you most directly to what you now think of as the moment that changed everything. However, many of your career-changing, life-changing, reputation-changing, habit-changing, future-changing, memory-changing moments were the result of your own decisions. It may have been a door you opened or a door you closed; you may have had a brief “aha” thought or an “uh oh” feeling; warning bells may have sounded or the situation may have seemed unimportant. The memory of those times can remind you that today may bring just such a decision-point into your life. Be alert for the moment and in a state of readiness–mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually–to respond in the best way.
*The concept of being in the moment can help you slow down a bit and think about what you’re saying, doing and being. If you have ever eaten a handful of candy you didn’t really even want, but you did it while talking or thinking of something else, you can relate to the idea. In your work and life, give yourself time, even if only a few minutes, to consider what you are doing and whether it is really what you want for your life, now and over time. Give equal thought to the impact you are having on the lives of others.
*Be as alert and ready for good things as you are for things that may turn out badly. You can greet most people and situations with a welcoming smile and cheerful anticipation. Add zest, energy and hope to your life with the belief that something special is about to happen. Even if later events dull the initial glow, you very often will gain new perspectives and personal and professional depth.
I chose the photo at the top of this article because I first saw only the foggy road and thought it was interestingly ethereal. Then, I saw someone approaching through the fog. Is it a stranger or a friend? Is there a threat or an opportunity? Will he or she pass by or stop–and what will be the result? Because it is a photo, the moment is suspended forever and the outcome will never be known. In your life and work it may be the moment that changes everything. Be alert and ready.
The suffix ship, is used with a large number of words, to designate the condition of being something, possessing skills and abilities related to something, or having the duties or status of something: Readership, horsemanship, fellowship, friendship, dealership, craftsmanship and others–including leadership. Nevertheless, there is something compelling about the concept of a ship, flags unfurled, leading the way for others. That is why it is such a shame when we see leaders and their followers run aground or capsize.
Old military and western movies often had the hero say, “Follow me, men!” Then, the hero left no doubt where they would be going–because he was already half way there.
In the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying to a group of men who were fishing, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” They knew he had a mission and was making them part of it, so they threw down their nets and followed him. Uncle Kracker, in his 2001 song, only said, “Follow me and it will be alright.” John Denver, in his 70’s era song could only promise, “Follow me….and I will follow you.” The Great Leader made disciples by telling people what to expect if they looked to him for leadership. He was even honest about the fact that following Him would result in scorn, ridicule and maybe death–but people followed anyway.
I mention those examples to remind you that your leadership is all about encouraging, directing and hoping that people will follow you. But why should they? What will it get them and where will they end up? Calling yourself a leader is one thing. Taking people some place is another thing. Taking people someplace worthwhile is the ultimate thing.
A good way to force yourself to think about this issue is to develop a short statement that says what those who are influenced by you can expect in their work and their lives. You may never say it directly to those you wish to influence–although I think you should. But, just saying it to yourself is a test of whether or not there is anything definite to your leadership or if it is all blah-blah-blah fluff talk.
Will those who follow you be recognized for producing consistently excellent work?
Will they have experiences they can use to develop their careers?
Will they have many finished products they can point to with pride?
Will they be in line for advancement, bonuses or at least some kind of recognition?
What will be the downside? Might they be viewed as over-achievers? Could they be resented for holding to high standards?
Or, is the best you can promise, “Follow me and I’ll appreciate it”?
If you think you are an informal leader or if you have an organizational leadership role, develop an answer to this question: If people follow you, what results will they get?
Another way to put it: Pretend you are in front of one or more of the people you hope will view you as a leader. Complete this sentence: “Follow me, and…………!!”
By the way, Go Broncos!
How to Think and Grow Rich (and also how to get things done).
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970), the author of the most well-known self-help book ever published–Think and Grow Rich–emphasized action rather than only thinking, wishing and dreaming.
“Don’t wait. The time will never
be just right.”
“Patience, Persistence and Perspiration makes an unbeatable
combination for success.”
“Create a definite plan for carrying out your desire
and begin at once, whether you are ready or not,
to put this plan into action.”
That last quote fits several people who have worked with me to produce a Worship Without Worry seminar in their area, in the last few months (and it also can fit you in your work and life):
*Tim Hawkins, U.S. Attorneys Office, Boise, Idaho (He’s the Law Enforcement Coordinator and Intelligence Specialist and a nice man!)
*Tony Snow, Reserve Deputy with the Etowah County, Alabama Sheriff’s Department (Tony and that Reserve Force are tremendous workers in many ways.)
*Lee Nathans, Security Director of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ohio (Also chair of the Bexley, Ohio Police-Community advisory board.)
*Steve Campbell, pastor of the Garden Church and Better Way Ministries, also in Columbus (He and Wanda are busy every day and night with a challenging urban ministry.)
*Mark Mitchell of Foothill Family Church near Irvine, California (A business person who gives of himself to his work, family and church, continuously.)
*Jim Caauwe, Crime Prevention Specialist for the Savage, Minnesota, Police Department (This man knows how to make things happen! He had an accomplished law enforcement career and now is involved with a zillion things in the Savage community.)
*Dorothy Strebe, Operations Director for Triumph Lutheran Church, Moorhead, Minnesota (Sheriff Bill Bergquist started the project but relied on Dorothy to arrange it and coordinate it–and she certainly did.)
*Chief of Police David Bentrud, Waite Park, MN, Police Department (We have a seminar set for February 27th, 2014–and he only made the first contact a few weeks ago That is some quick action!)
What they all have in common is that they started, worked hard, took care of details and finished a project successfully. They didn’t just talk about one day hosting a seminar, they went from asking about making it happen to bringing all the elements together–and they took care of details that make a difference.
By comparison, I know people who have been talking for years about wanting to do a lot of things–not just hosting a seminar, but also about finances, fitness, relationships, clearing clutter or dealing with a work problem. They will probably still be talking about all of those things in five years, because they’re waiting for conditions to be right, better weather, someone to help, a new boss, less other things going on, more support, etc., etc.
What Napoleon Hill would say: Think and Grow Rich, provides steps to success, based on visualizing the success you seek and aiming your life toward it. The essence of his advice on how to get what you want:
1.) Clearly picture what you want, in great detail. Make it the vision towards which you aim your energies.
2.) Decide what it will take in time, effort, cost, sacrifice, etc., to get what you want.
3.) Starting working toward your goal and never give up until you get what you want–then keep paying the price to maintain it.
There is more to the book and his concepts, of course–but those really are the main steps. They have helped millions of people find ways to accomplish their goals. They also point the way to how to get any project started and finished. Yes, the one you’ve been thinking about but haven’t worked on yet. Yes, the one you’ve procrastinated about for weeks, months or years. Yes, even the one you think seems close to impossible.
Napoleon Hill didn’t say this next thought, but he should have: “You’ll never be able to drive anywhere if you wait for all the lights to turn green at once.” None of the people I listed, above, made a list of why they couldn’t get a seminar produced in their communities–they simply said they wanted to produce one and the next thing I knew, it happened.
How you can apply it: Write down something you would like to accomplish or have talked about doing or have on a wish list for yourself. Do something toward that project or goal before you go to bed tonight–preferably something constructive that starts to overcome the inertia that has kept you essentially motionless. Over the next days, weeks and months, whatever time it takes, do something every day to keep going and keep going and keep going, until you can see the successful finished product.
There is a lot of work involved in that brief overview, I realize that. But, once you start and move forward just a bit, things will happen and it will become easier. Honest!
Napoleon Hill (1883-1970)
In the last few weeks several people, in different career fields and positions, have made comments to me about feeling phony, like a fake, and as though they are playing a part in a bad play.
“Sometimes I feel like the biggest fake in the world.”
“I feel like an actor playing a part. It wears me out so much I can hardly wait to get home and just be me.”
“If they had known what was going on inside my head they wouldn’t have been so impressed.”
“I feel like a hypocrite when I’m coaching employees, because it sounds like I have my act together, but I know I don’t. In fact, in some ways they’re doing a better job than I am.”
Each of those people were seemingly successful, well-adjusted, happy and confident–but their conversation certainly was not. They felt unequal to tasks they were being given, undeserving of praise and unimpressive. They didn’t seem to be afraid they would be found out–they just disliked feeling phony.
Walt Whitman’s poem, “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” has lines that fit all of us who sometimes wonder if everyone else is so full of self-doubt (sometimes self-loathing) as we are, and so full of unpleasant thoughts and impulses.
“It is not upon you alone the dark patches fall,
The dark threw its patches down upon me also.
The best I had done seem’d to me blank and suspicious,
My great thoughts as I supposed them, were they not in reality, meager?”
Nor is it you alone who know what it is to be evil,
I am he who knew what it was to be evil,
I too knitted the old knot of contrariety,
Blabbed, blushed, resented, lied, stole, grudged,
Had guile, anger, lust, hot wishes I dared not speak,
Was wayward, vain, greedy, shallow, sly, cowardly, malignant,
The wolf, the snake, the hog, not wanting in me,
The cheating look, the frivolous word, the adulterous wish, not wanting,
Refusals, hates, postponements, meanness, laziness, none of these wanting,
Lived the same life with the rest, the same old laughing, gnawing, sleeping,
Played the part that still looks back on the actor or actress,
The same old role, that role that is what we make it, as great as we like,
Or as small as we like, or both great and small.”
Or, as my friend, Jeff Adams, pastor of Graceway Church in Kansas City, Missouri, says: “We’re all pretty much big messes.” Walt Whitman would agree.
What about you? Do you sometimes feel like a phony or a fake, or as though the view that others have of you is much better than the view you have of yourself?
My father, Ernest Lewis, often would recite his favorite portion of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem, The Psalm of Life. I heard it many times as a youngster, a teenager and a young adult. Sadly, I didn’t fully understood its significance to him or to anyone who has seen both life and death and who is aware that there is much less time ahead than the time behind. I wish I had talked to him about it–one of those many regrets I have (and with which you may be familiar). One thing is certain: Now I understand.
I’ve especially thought about Dad’s favorite lines since the tragic events last week in Aurora, Colorado, where I live.
FROM THE PSALM OF LIFE
…Art is long and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
Lives of great men all remind us
We can make our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
Footprints, that perhaps another,
Sailing o’er life’s solemn main,
A forlorn and shipwrecked brother,
Seeing, shall take heart again
Let us, then, be up and doing,
With a heart for any fate;
Still achieving, still pursuing,
Learn to labor and to wait.
There are many things about life and death that we can’t choose. However, we can choose whether our march is purposeful and cheerful or indecisive and sluggish–and whether we are still achieving and pursuing right up to the end of our journey in this earthly life or still dragging our feet and complaining. What tempo is the beat of your muffled drum?