Be Intentional

Coach Brian Johnson poses these two questions in his recent newsletter:
1) What’s the #1 thing you could start doing today that, if you did it consistently, would have the most positive impact in your life? Then do it.
2) What’s the #1 thing you could stop doing right now, that, if you stopped doing it, would have the greatest positive impact in your life? Then quit doing it.

Then, be intentional. All of those classes, and studies, and book readings are great – but if you aren’t willing to be intentional – to do the work –  then you’re wasting your time.

Dr. Wayne Dyer says, “Our intention creates our reality.” What reality are you after? Whatever it is, you are going to have to be consistent about doing the “thing” that will make the most impact, and intentional about stopping the “thing” that’s creating the most resistance in your life. Start there. Planning for bigger goals and greater success will only extend the frustration if you aren’t willing to make the foundational changes necessary.

Keep On The Sunny Side

Optimism … without it, all the other stuff doesn’t do a whole lot of good. Oscar Wilde wrote, “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”
Where’s your focus? Glass half empty, or glass half full? Winston Churchill said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” Journalist Larry Miller wrote recently, “A study in the Netherlands that covered a nine year period and included nine hundred men and women, found that pessimists not only died sooner of all types of diseases, they also suffered higher rates of dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
He goes on to write; “When we’re so preoccupied and ruminating on the things we perceive as bad in our lives and not feeling good, we don’t have time to see the good side of things and how they can help us feel better. Like Eeyore, in Winnie The Pooh, everything can look bleak if we focus on the downside.”
Life is going to deal you a bad hand from time to time – it’s just a fact. But how you choose to react; how you choose to hold those events is crucial. The old song “Keep On The Sunny Side,” makes a lot of sense. It takes practice to stay positive – but it takes practice to stay negative too. And that just might kill you.

Personal Evolution

As I continue on my journey of constantly refining and redefining my life mission and purpose – all of which I’m still not completely clear on – I am learning that Jesus is teaching me that life is not so much about what you do, but what you become in the process. Someone once asked me, “Do you ever have clarity?” I do get clarity, occasionally. But it never seems to be more than just enough to keep me going. The question reminded me of this story from author Brennan Manning.

“When John Kavanaugh, the noted and famous ethicist, went to Calcutta, he was seeking Mother Teresa … and more. He went for three months to work at “the house of the dying” to find out how best he could spend the rest of his life.

When he met Mother Teresa, he asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she replied. He then uttered the request he had carried thousands of miles: “Clarity. Pray that I have clarity.”

“No,” Mother Teresa answered, “I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh said that she always seemed to have clarity, the very kind of clarity he was looking for, Mother Teresa laughed and said: “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”

I have decided that more than anything, life is more about personal evolution rather than clarity. We get an urging or prompting from God – and we filter it – and decide whether we believe we are capable of doing that or not. If we resist, for whatever reason, we’re stuck there. And then that is where God goes to work beginning to teach us – if we will allow him – and training us to be able to move into what he originally called us to.

God invited me into ministry nearly 15 years ago. And it’s taken me until fairly recently to even begin to believe that I might actually be capable of what he asked me to do, back then. Life really is a journey – a series of lessons – where God invites us and we decide if we are going to jump in or not. I’m learning that when I actually do jump in, He invites me to do it again, and again; each time I do it’s with a little more confidence than the time before.

This life with God is about taking risks and experimenting. It’s about the maturity of our heart into the heart of God. It actually starts to become fun when you re-frame your experience that way.

Do you have a burning desire to offer something to the world? Don’t worry about if it’s crazy or not. What’s the one thing you wouldn’t want to leave this earth without doing? In your heart of hearts, what do you really want to contribute to humanity? Remember what Howard Thurman wrote? “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” What makes you come alive? Figure out how to do that – and just go do it.

21 Day Challenge, Day 21

Change is inevitable in life. We grow up, grow old, and grow out. Most people understand that, and learn to adapt to the subtle changes in life that come upon us. And just as a river’s water is altered by the rocks, and branches, and outcroppings it encounters along the way, we too are affected by those symbolic occurrences in our lives.

Have you ever noticed a twig or leaf get caught behind a rock in a river? It’s stuck there possibly forever. The only way it will move out from behind that rock is if something changes. We often find ourselves metaphorically caught behind a rock in life – and there we sit, waiting on something to change. The problem, just like the stick, is that all the while change is still occurring. The stick will eventually rot and break apart. Can you get the picture?

Just because we refuse to change, doesn’t mean we are immune to changes. How many people do you know whose lives are rotting away because they refuse to take charge of the changes? Somehow we think avoiding change protects us from the fears or the uncomfortable experience we suppose accompanies it. Fans of the TV series Star Trek will remember this classic line; “Resistance is futile.” Really, all that resistance does is guarantee that we miss most of what life was designed to offer us. Daniel Craig wrote, “At some point life starts to pass you by and becomes about avoidance.”

Choosing change is really choosing life. While change can challenge you emotionally, it’s still better than the pain of regret looking back wishing you do it differently. But life is not a trial run. Today is today, and we’ll never get another chance to live this day again. When faced with an opportunity to change, take it. Chose change over regret. Live the kind of life that allows you to look back and say; “wow! what an adventure. I wouldn’t change a thing.”

21 Day Challenge, Day 20

I’ve discovered that throughout much of life most people operate from a position of submission. What that means for me is that a lot of my life I didn’t have much confidence in myself to take charge over the things I wanted to accomplish, or in my abilities in making things happen. So I spent much of my life defaulting to the power and authority of others – even if they didn’t deserve it. And when something went wrong, I let the details overwhelm me to the point that I began to believe nothing could be done to change them. I suspect in many occasions, I accepted circumstances that I didn’t need to.

In life, we have way more power than we give ourselves credit for – in part because we have a greater ability to produce better results than we think we do. When we give up our power, we’re left with defeat, powerlessness, and settling for less than we deserve. But when we approach situations, or goals, or life changes from a place of power, that attitude sets the tone and environment for change and progress. People believe you mean business when you approach circumstances as if you know you will get results.

When you operate from a position of authority you change things. Momentum is simply that. If your disposition is positive and authoritative, your results will reflect that. If it’s negative and pessimistic, then you will likely see those kinds of results. It’s a matter of perspective. And generally perspective is a choice. When we let ourselves believe that we can approach life from a position of authority, the fruit of that will be life changing. Tension levels will diminish, productivity will go up, and you will experience more peace than ever before.

21 Day Challenge, Day 19

Are you working alone? It’s not impossible of course, but generally it is understood that when we enlist the help and support of others our success rate improves dramatically. Consider building a support team around you with folks who know you, support you, and believe in you. You could call them your personal cheer leading squad to make it more fun.

Make a list of three to five people who you honestly believe have your best interests at heart. It could be a spouse, a brother or sister, a neighbor, a co-worker, a church friend, or even a pastor. (Engaging the services of a life coach at this point is also a good idea.) Share with them your goal/s and ask if they would be willing to be on your team.

Invite them to check with you periodically via email or phone calls with regards to your progress and share an encouraging word or two. This will also serve you as a form of accountability. Just knowing that there are others that are committed with you to help you see your changes take place will be positive motivation and encouragement.

From this list, select one individual that your really trust and ask if you can reach out to them specifically when you need more direct and personal input. (Again, a life coach serves this roll very well.) This could be your coach, a pastor, or a really close (best) friend. This person will be someone with whom you can share the deeper details; you frustrations, struggles, and road blocks. You will want this to be a person who is predominately positive minded. The last thing you need to hear is, “now, that was really stupid.” This person will allow you to vent, and then help you find a different perspective so you can continue on.

Don’t be a lone wolf. Two (or more) heads are better than one. Collaborative efforts always achieve better, faster results. Team work makes your dream work!

21 Day Challenge, Day 18

One of the more difficult emotions to work through while bring about change in your life is that of irrelevance; the idea that your success (or failure) doesn’t really matter. The trap is that if it doesn’t really matter, then why try? We live in a world where our influences, especially the media (news, Hollywood, reality TV) throw a wet blanket over anything that’s outside a dictated mind set. It’s predominately negative, doom and gloom material. But deep inside all of us there is this subconscious desire for good in spite of what we are consciously led think. That is what drives us to reach for change; a desire to make a difference. And the reality is that when we change, the world around us changes too.

Your efforts do matter, all of them. There are even those that suggest people around you are dependent on your efforts of change. You set examples by your actions, big or small. There are movements like Pay It Forward, and Be The Change that promote this idea that world change is initiated by individual change. When you take a risk and begin to alter your existence, you open the gates around you for others to try it too. In a way, you give others permission to mimic your efforts.

General Erick Shineki said, “If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less.” Accepting feelings irrelevance might seem easier in the short term, but in the end, is much more painful. And the payoff for change is so much better. You win, and others around you get the benefit. Believe in the power of your influence – even if you don’t directly see it. Your efforts are not irrelevant. They are vital.