A Quick Thought On Gifts And Talents

Have you ever witnessed someone leading a class, giving a presentation, creating a piece of art, or using a talent of theirs and thought to yourself, “I can do better than that.”?  If you have, my question is, “So why don’t you?”

Whatever our gifts and talents happen to be, the best way we can show gratitude for them is to put them into practice in service to others.

The next time you find yourself thinking, “I can do a better than that”, I encourage you to do so.  Because no one benefits when we sit on our gifts.

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Unnoticeable Progress Adds Up

So I’ve been playing the electric bass for about 16 months now, and I have noticed some real improvement from where I was when I first started.  (I should hope so, as I didn’t know anything when I started!)  I am most amazed at how progress has come through almost unnoticeable improvements made day after day.

Big undertakings can seem overwhelming when we first start.  Heck, they can still seem overwhelming even after we’ve been at it for a while!  But the cool part is that our compounded progress can yield significant results.  We simply need to faithful put in the effort required to move us in the direction we want to go.  It is a matter of cause and effect.  We put in the required effort and the desired outcome will follow.

Are you frustrated with what feels like a lack of progress in a current endeavor?  Look back at where you started and where you are now and take note of the progress you’ve made.  Then commit to doing the work required to get the outcome you want, and know that the results will follow.

Differing Thoughts

Of all the truths I’ve learned in my lifetime, I think this nugget is toward the top of the list with regard to importance… not everyone thinks about things the same way I do.

This is most evident whenever I have a differing opinion with someone about how a task should be handled, the interpretation of an event, assigning priorities, or just about any other scenario two or more people can disagree.  And while differing opinions can cause frustration, exposure to them is a great way to stretch and grow our own thinking.

If we’re willing to listen to and consider thoughts that are different from our own, we have the potential for our own thoughts to be shaped and improved.  While we don’t have to agree with every differing thought we encounter, we should be willing to allow our thinking to be influenced by good and differing thoughts from others.

Pay attention the next time you’re frustrated by someone else’s differing thoughts.  Instead of just allowing yourself to be frustrated, consider if there’s anything to be learned by this different opinion.  If the answer is “No”, then nothing lost!  But, you may find that these differing thoughts can impact your own thinking for the better.

Discipline

“It’s easy to run 8 to 10 miles.  The hard part is getting out of bed.”   ~Ken Davis

Most goals we have are less difficult to achieve than we think.  Given time, we can all:

  • Get in shape
  • Train for an event
  • Learn a foreign language
  • Master a skill
  • Learn to play a musical instrument
  • achieve a zillion other worth pursuits

The difficult part is being disciplined to make daily progress toward the goals we’ve set.  I would argue that lifting the covers to get out of bed in the morning to go to the gym is more difficult than lifting the actual weights at the gym.

Any worth goal you’ve set for yourself not only requires a commitment of your time, but the discipline to actually progress toward the goal.  Without discipline, your goal is dead.

The battle of discipline is won or lost between our ears in what we tell ourselves when we’re at the decision point of whether we spend time moving toward our goal or putting it off.

Consider adopting the following thinking tweaks to help become more disciplined in achieving our goals:

  • Look for reasons to pursue your goal versus excuses not to
  • Think of the benefits of achieving your goal
  • Realize that goals take time to achieve, and the best way to make progress is to do what you know you need to do every day, or at least a majority of the days

Discipline is the secret ingredient for achieving goals. It’s not flashy or exciting, but exercising it in one area of our lives makes it easier to apply in other areas.  Discipline, like a muscle, can be grown and strengthened with continuous use.

Let’s work at building the muscle of discipline in our lives.  I think we’ll be pleased with the results.

Unexpected Benefits

My wife and I recently began eating a plant-based diet after watching the documentary “Eating You Alive”.  Our primary motivation for the change was the amazing health benefits.  However, this change in eating habits brought another unexpected benefit… delicious tasting new food!

Channing our diet required us to find new recipes and experiment with new spices and seasonings.  We’ve since had some wonderfully satisfying curry dishes, desserts, and stew.  When we decided to change our diet, I had no idea about all the culinary discovers we’d encounter along the way.

I’ll admit, deciding to try a plant–based diet was somewhat out of my comfort zone.  Yet, had we not made the decision to try it, we would have missed out on some new favorited dishes we’ve since discovered.  I’m glad we decided to give it a try.

The next time you have an opportunity to get out of your comfort zone to pursue something positive, go for it!  As you make the change, keep your eyes open for, and be expecting to see, some unexpected benefits.

Jump On

When I was in early grade school my mom took several of us to the local fire department for a tour of the station.  Toward the end of the tour we were on the second for standing at the top of the fire pole.  (You know, the pole the fire fighters slide down when the alarm goes off.)  The person leading the tour was telling us about the pole when he turned to me and said, “You want to give it a try?”  In my young mind, the first floor seemed like a long way down, so I responded with, “Maybe next time.”

As I think back on that memory, some 40 years later, I wish I would have done it.  I wish I would have said, “You bet!” then jumped on the pole and slid down.  All those years ago, it was fear that kept me from a unique experience.  Now, I realize how fun that would have been and how much it would have enhanced the experience.

While I regret not sliding down the pole all those years ago, that experience continues to motivate the adult me not to pass up unique opportunities or to be needlessly fearful of new experiences.
When we’re presented with exciting new opportunities that are just outside our comfort zone, let’s begin the habit of saying, “You bet!” and jumping in.

Go Beyond Complaining

Complaining is easy and anyone can do it, but it really doesn’t accomplish much unless it’s coupled with constructive action.

Think about it, have you ever been frustrated by something and complained about it, only to find yourself frustrated by the same thing at a later date?  I have!  I’ve also noticed that the things I complain about only change for the better when I use my complaint to fuel action.  What an empowering realization that is!

Complaining, by itself does nothing to change a situation.  All it really does is cause one to feel like a helpless victim.  Complaining without action is really just us making the statement, “This sucks, and there’s nothing I can do about it.  Woe is me!”

I don’t know about you, but that’s not the mindset I want to go through life with.

Instead, our complaints should be the trigger that jump-starts our brains to begin thinking of what we can do to change the situation for the better.  Just think of how much control this gives us for the quality of life we live, as well as the impact we can have in our areas of influence.  Through our complaint-inspired actions, we can begin to change the world around us.

So what have you been complaining about… and what are you going to do about it?