Change

Our church is currently in the middle of a couple of significant changes.  We’re looking for a lead pastor and a youth pastor as well.  Fortunately, it’s a good thing.  Both of them left on excellent terms to pursue the next step in their careers.  Even so, the congregation is sad to see them go and interested in seeing what this change will bring.

I’m again reminded how constant change is in our lives.  As a result, I want to make sure I’m not defaulting to being afraid of change, but instead deciding how I want to view change as I live my life.  For me, there are 3 thoughts about change that I try to keep in mind:

  1. If there’s something I’m currently enjoying in my life, don’t take it for granted. Be thankful for it and enjoy it while you have it, because you never know when things may change.
  2. All the things I currently enjoy usually entered my life as the result of a change of some sort. Therefore, with regard to change, I’m always asking, “What does this make possible?”
  3. As a Christian, I know that God never changes, and He is with me no matter what changes I experience.

These thoughts give me the mindset to see change not as tragic event or something to be avoided, but as fertile ground for new opportunities.  If you’re looking for something different or new in your life, the only way it will happen is through some sort of change.

The next time you’re facing a change, whether you chose it or not, consider one or all of the thoughts mentioned above.  You just might be on the cusp of something exciting… and you won’t want to miss it.

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Pieces of a Puzzle

I’ve been learning to play the bass guitar for just under a year, and although I’m not very good right now, I’m really enjoying the process.  It’s like putting a puzzle together.

Each new concept I learn about the bass guitar is like an individual piece of a puzzle.  There are so many “pieces” of knowledge needed to successfully make music with a bass guitar.  For several months, I felt like I’ve just been collecting pieces of this bass guitar puzzle.

Lately, the learning process has become much more exciting, because I’m now seeing how some of the pieces of the puzzle I’ve been learning are starting to fit together.   Scales make more sense now because I understand how they are used regarding keys and triads.  Those pieces fit together with the concepts I’ve learned regarding improvising and composing.  It’s fun to see my understanding grow as the picture gets clearer with each piece I acquire.

I think it’s like that with any new experience we undertake.  The process seems to be:

  1. Collect pieces of the puzzle in the form of knowledge and understanding
  2. See how these pieces fit together
  3. The picture becomes more clear
  4. We go back to step 1 and repeat the process

If you’re trying to learn something new and are getting frustrated with the progress, perhaps you should change what you’re looking at.  Instead of looking at the completed picture of what you’re trying to accomplish, why not look at how the pieces of what you have learned fit together to give you a glimpse of where you’re going.  And keep in mind, with every new piece, the picture becomes a little clearer.

Seek Someone Who Has Been There

Have you ever started a new undertaking and quickly realized, “I’m really not sure what to do first… next… at all”?

I’m glad I’m not the only one!

Whenever we feel like this, I think the best thing we can do is to seek out someone who has already been where we currently want to go, and ask them questions about their experience.

The unknown can be a scary place that keeps us from new experiences or reaching new heights.  However, when we hear someone tell us about how they navigated a path that is currently before us, somehow it seems less mysterious.  We begin to see our own journey take shape.  We’re able to see the steps required, as well as potential pitfalls to be avoided.

If you’re starting down a new and uncertain path, and you’re not sure what the journey looks like, find someone who has already traveled down that road and task them to tell you about their journey.  Not only will you gain valuable insight from their experience; they’ll very likely be eager to share with you what they’ve learned.

Remembering What We Forget

2017 was a good year, filled with learning, new experiences, and good times with family and friends.  But with all the good memories and experiences I can recall from the past 12 months, I wonder how much of what I did in 2017 I have completely forgotten.

I did some quick math.  Did you know there are 525,600 minutes in a 365 day year?  (I think there’s a song from the musical Rent that mentions this.)  That’s a lot of minutes!  No wonder we forget so much.

While I’m not interested in remembering every one of those 525,600 minutes, I do want to make sure I preserve more of the significant and meaningful memories I’ll make in 2018 and the years beyond.  Doing so not only bring joy, it also improves the quality of our lives.

In an effort to better preserve future memories, my plan is to regularly do the following:

Journal:  While it has been an activity I have struggled to parlay into a daily habit, I really enjoy the act of journaling.  What I enjoy even more is reading, in my own words, about an experience I have forgotten.  It is a great tool for triggering forgotten memories

Take pictures:  Pictures can instantly take me back to a time, place, or experience and instantly fill my mind with great memories.  Therefore, it is also good to display the most meaningful ones so that you intersect with them often.

Recall memories with the people you made them with:  Beyond simply preserving memories, this is a great way to strengthen relationships.

What are some things you can do to preserve the memories you’ll make in 2018 and beyond?  Find a couple of methods for recalling memories and be diligent in employing them.  Then, go and live a life worth remembering.

Stop Trying

“Do or do not.  There is no try.”  ~ Yoda

I’m a firm believer in trying.  By trying, we explore and discover new things, create new experiences, and live an interesting life.  We often:

  • Try our hand at…
  • Try our best
  • Give it a try
  • Try something new

But sometimes we need to do more than just try.  Sometimes we need to actually “do”.

Trying sometimes feels like taking a chance, rolling the dice, or making an attempt without the expectation of a definitive outcome.  Doing on the other hand, has a more decisive feeling.  When we say we’re going to do something, it shows intention, purpose, forethought, and the expectation of a pre-determined outcome.

Here’s what I mean.  Check out how different “try” and “do” sound:

What “try” sounds like What “do” sounds like
I’ll try to get to the gym this week I’ll be at the gym at 5:30 every morning this week
I’ll try to make it I will be there
I’ll try to get that done today I’ll have that done by 3:30 this afternoon
I’m going to try to and save for retirement I’m going to put X% of every paycheck into a retirement account

 

There are certainly times when just need to try; like trying a new type of food or listening to a new type of music.  However, there are other times when the stakes are much higher or the outcome much more important.  This is when we need to do better than just try and actually do.

Is there anything you’ve been trying lately that you really should be doing instead?  If so, make the jump and begin doing.  Determine the outcome you desire and do what’s required to make it happen.  Because according to Yoda, we’ll either do it or we won’t.

Leaving Them Better Than You Found Them

When it comes to leadership, one of my favorite people to read about is legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden.  Aside from his prowess at building championship caliber basketball teams, he seemed to be even more skilled at building championship caliber people.

If you want a great read on Coach Wooden’s teaching, check out his book, “The Essential Wooden”.  My favorite parts in this book are the recollections from his players about what they learned from Coach or how he impacted their lives.  The common thread that runs through most recollections I hear of Coach Wooden is how he left people better than he found them.

Coach Wooden inspires me, because I think that most people would like to have a similar impact in the lives of others.  I know I would.  And although most of us may never coach a Division I basketball program to multiple championships, we all have the capacity to be a positive influence to those around us.

Begin the habit of looking for opportunities to leave the people around you better than you found them.  This could be as simple as offering a smile or kind word to someone, or more involved like mentoring, advising, or providing a listening ear.

Whatever you have to offer, the opportunities to do so are abundant.  We only have to be willing to engage.

Stop and Notice

The weather in the Pacific Northwest has been clear, sunny and cool for the last few days and, according to the long-range forecast, shows no signs of changing, at least within the next 7 days.  And that’s fine with me!

What I love about this type of weather in the late fall and early winter are the beautiful scenes it makes possible, like:

  • The brilliant orange, yellow, and blue colors of a sunrise
  • The clear view of mountains in the Cascade Range
  • The late afternoon sunlight shining off the bodies of low-flying Canadian geese

What’s interesting to me is that as beautiful as these scenes are, they can easily be missed, unless we stop and notice them.  There are so many things that occupy our minds and compete for our attention that, unless we make an effort to be aware of the beautiful things going on around us, we can easily miss them; and that would be a shame.

Let’s commit to actively looking for the beautiful things occurring around us.  Whether it’s a beautiful natural scene or an act of kindness, let’s be sure not to miss them.