Bridging Gaps

When my wife and I both started working from home a couple of years ago, we thought it would be fun once in a while, to take a quick break during the workday and run down to the local coffee shop to pick up a drink together.   We finally did that last Thursday.  It was a quick fun trip, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it took us so long to finally make it happen.

The gap between intention and reality is interesting to me, because the easiest way I’ve found to bridge a gap like that is to just take action and cause something to happen.  This can range from simply saying to your spouse, “Hey, do you want to run down to the coffee shop and get a drink”.  For larger intentions, it may be taking the first step of many, to put yourself on course to bridge whatever gap you face.  The important thing seems to be to just take action.

Be on the lookout for areas in your life, whether big or small, where you’re facing a gap between what you’d like and what’s actually happening.  When you notice a gap, consider what action you could take to help you bridge that gap. 

Then, take that step.

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Where Else Can This Be Applied

Several years ago, I read a book titled, “Don’t Make Me Think” by Steve Krug.  It’s about website usability, and specifically about developing websites that are so intuitive for people to use, that they don’t have to give it much thought at all.  After reading this book, I realized that this concept of not making people think is equally applicable in other areas beyond technology. 

For instance, if you’re in charge of a building or venue that the public uses, like a church or an event center, you can apply this concept of not making people think, by ensuring the facility has signage that clearly directs patrons to the restrooms (Have you ever seen a sign that says “Restrooms”, but doesn’t direct you to where the restroom actually is?  I have!)

I love when I realize that a concept has application beyond the context in which I discovered it.  It reminds me to not only be on the lookout for new ideas, but also to be on the lookout for how I can apply existing ideas in new arenas.

Be on the lookout for how you can apply new and existing ideas beyond their original context.  It will give you more options in your problem solving toolbelt, as well as helping you improve your own personal performance.

Effort Is Required

One thing I’ve noticed playing the bass guitar for the last 5 years is that improvement takes effort.  I don’t get better because I’ve been playing for a certain amount of time.  I get better when I focus my efforts, and actually put in the time practicing.  There is no short cut or hack to bypass this step, unless my destination is mediocrity. 

That last sentence sounded a little harsh, but it’s true, and not just with bass guitar, but with anything we want to improve at.  Whether it’s communicating better with others, or improving our performance in a specific area, focused effort and time is the path to success.

Is there an area of your life where you’d like to see improvement?  If so, focused effort and time (along with the proper knowledge) is likely the path to seeing the improvement you desire.

Getting Our Facts Straight

Have you ever learned of a situation and reacted to it without exploring it further, only to find out that you would have been better served had you taken a moment to get your facts straight first?  Yeah, me too!  In fact, that happened to me just last weekend.

It’s so easy to get a partial story and immediately complete the rest of the story in our heads.  And it happens surprisingly fast too!  However, it usually doesn’t take that long to validate whether the story we’re telling ourselves is actually true. 

What I learned from last weekend was that I need to slow down and realize when I’m filling in my own details to a partial story I’ve been given.  Once I realize that I’m making assumptions, I need to do the work to determine whether they are true or not.

It’s a waste of time to react to a something that may not even be accurate.  Let’s commit to not wasting any more time reacting to our own assumptions, but instead make sure our facts are straight before we chart a course of action.  We’ll be better positioned to respond appropriately when we have a clear understanding of the scenario we’re dealing with.

Small Things Each Day

I had a COVID booster this week that has left me feeling rather crummy. I’m coughing and just feeling generally worn out. Although I’m starting to feel better, I must admit that I had thoughts of skipping my blog post this week. I must say that I presented myself with some very compelling arguments in favor of skipping this week.  Excuses like:

·     I’d really just like to be done right now.

·        It won’t matter if I skip one week.

·        No one is going to mind, or probably even notice.  J

I just about sold myself on the decision to skip think week, when I had the following 2 thoughts:

·        You are a person who takes time to think of a topic every week and commit it to writing.

·        Extraordinary people do those things the other people would rather not do.  Like writing a blog post when they don’t feel well.

All my arguments against writing would have been valid, but I’m more concerned in becoming the person I want to be rather than gaining a few extra moments of comfort. So here’s this week’s post.  I hope you enjoyed it.  J

Different Lives

As part of my kick off to the shorter days and darker nights of the fall season, I’ve begun reading a couple hours in the evening before bed most weeknights. The last 2 books I’ve read have been autobiographies, and from them, I’ve been reminded (of the obvious) that people have different backgrounds and experiences than I have.

The first book I read was from a man whose father was Nigerian and whose mother was from Kansas.  The focus of the book was on the influences of the 7 “fathers” this man had in his life that shaped and mentored him into the person he is today. 

The second book (that I’m actually still reading) is about the bass player for the band Guns N Roses, and his journey through music, drugs, addition, and recovery.  Let’s just say that this guy had a wild ride!

What I appreciate about both of these books is that they gave me a glimpse into another person’s life.  From that, I see how their experiences, fears, and desires influenced their thought process, and, ultimately, the choices they made, both when they were younger, and now that they’re older.

When I learn about the experiences, challenges, and struggles other people have faced, whether directly from them, or reading about it in a book, I find that it causes me to be less judgmental, especially when I don’t know their story.  It’s easy to cast judgement through the filter of my own experiences.  Occasionally, those judgements are correct.  More often though, I realize that things aren’t usually as black and white as my experience would say that they are.  I find that my initial snap judgements are often unwarranted, due to my lack of understanding and consideration of their experiences.

I’m grateful for opportunities to learn more about peoples’ lives, either through books or in person.     

Switching Gears

With the days getting shorter, and it getting darker earlier in the Pacific Northwest, I’m getting back to one of my favorite fall and winter pastimes: reading at night.  It’s one of the events I look forward to as summer wanes and fall approaches. 

Somewhere around 60-90 minutes before bedtime, I like to grab a pillow, a blanket, a book, and head for the sofa and spend my remaining moments of the day with a good book.  Our cats have become aware of these queues and are eager to join me on the sofa.  They don’t seem to mind what I read, as long as I stay put long enough for them got get a good pre-bedtime nap in.

During the spring and summer, when its light out right up until bedtime, I like to be outside or doing something more active.  However, dark, cooler, and often rainy nights are more conducive to a passive activity like reading.  It’s like nature giving me permission to slow down and relax.  Plus, by the time spring rolls around, I’m eager to start getting after it again.

Are there any activities that you look forward to as the seasons change?  If so, be sure to take part in them, and enjoy the time spent in said activities. 

Slowing Down

I’ve been noticing the past couple of weeks that I have a habit of reading through email and texts rather quickly.  As a result, I’ve also noticed that I often miss keep points or specific words within the messages.  Sometimes, this causes me to have a different interpretation of the message than what the sender intended. 

We all get a lot of email, texts, notifications, and other forms of media vying for our attention, and we need a way to get through them quickly.  However, what I’m starting to work on is slowing down a little when I get messages from those closest to me.  I want to make sure that I’m understanding what they’re communicating to me, versus getting it wrong because I was in a hurry. 

If someone is important to me, and they took the time to send me a text or email, I need to honor them by making sure I understand what they’re telling me.    

You Learn It Now Apply It

This week’s post is primarily a reminder for me to put into action what I learn.

During my electric bass lesson this week, I learned a new concept that appears to have some very practical application when I play on our worship team at church.  Now that I’ve gained this new knowledge, I have a choice:  I can either apply it, or forget it.

It seems like such a silly choice, doesn’t it?  “Of course, I’ll apply it!” is the response I tell myself.  However, I am surprised how often a good intention to apply newly acquired knowledge can be tossed aside when we get busy, or in some cases, just plain lazy. 

It takes effort to apply a new skill, yet it also takes effort to learn a new skill as well.  If I’m going to put forth the effort to learn something new, I need to follow through with the effort to apply that knowledge as well.  Otherwise, I’m just wasting my time.

So, let’s get out there (still talking to myself here, but feel free to follow along, if this is applicable to you) and start putting our knowledge into action.  New levels await!

A Quick Thought On Getting Along

Lately, I’ve been reminded of the obvious truth that the success and happiness we experience in life is largely due to do with how well we are able to get along with other people.

This truth reminds me that how I treat people and interact with them matters.  If I want assistance, kindness, or grace from others, then I need to offer these things to those around me. 

It seems to me, from my experience on both the giving and receiving end, that life is much better when I’m getting along with fellow-Earthly-travelers, than when I lead with demanding my own way, or thinking that the world revolves around me.  It has been proven multiple times, that the world, indeed, does NOT revolve around me, or any other single person.

Getting along with others doesn’t mean that I default to capitulating what I want or need, simply for the sake of getting along.  Rather, I see it as being considerate of the needs of others, in addition to my own needs.

Isn’t that what we all want: for others to be considerate of us?  If that’s the case, let’s make sure we’re doing likewise for others.