2021 looks promising, although it did start off a little bumpy. Since we’ll soon be getting back to life that includes more events and interactions with others, it’s important to remember that we are the ones who decide what events we allow on our calendars.
When you’re considering scheduling an event, make sure you’re not doing it out of a false sense of obligation, or because you feel you can’t say, “No” to something you really have no interest in doing.
I would argue that our time is more valuable than money, because we can always get more money. That’s is something we can’t do with time. The limit on a day is 24 hours, we can’t get more. The only choice we have is how we’ll spend the finite amount of time we’ve been given. Therefore, we need to make sure that it is our priorities that fill our calendars in 2021, not someone elses.
I’ve been teaching an adult Sunday school class at our church for about 12 years. Actually, I’m more of a discussion facilitator than an actual teacher or instructor. I prefer this role as facilitator, because I’ve noticed that the best learning in class occurs when the participants share their knowledge and we seek answers and explore the Bible together. As a facilitator, I simply bring interesting information about the topic we’re studying and encourage others to ask question and share any insight they might have.
If I approach a Sunday school class as the teacher, it feels like I need to have all the answers and have a lesson plan figured out that details everything we’ll discuss during the class. I don’t like that approach because it doesn’t leave room for questions an exploration. If I’m seen as the teacher, the class feels more like a lecture, where I’m imparting knowledge to the rest of the class while they sit quietly and listen. This approach would be boring to me! While I’ve got some knowledge on the topic, I also have lots of questions that I’d like to ask. If I’m the teacher, there’s a lid on the class that only goes as far as my knowledge and understanding.
I much prefer to leverage the collective intelligence of the class. The people who attend regularly spend time in the Bible, so they are very familiar with it. They’re also eager to learn more, which causes them to read it with the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of what it says.
Having a forum where we can learn together, ask questions and share our knowledge has sparked numerous conversations (as well as opportunities to learn) that would not have occurred if I were the teacher, simply giving a one-way lecture. Our class works much better when we all have the opportunity to share the role as teacher.
I think it’s exciting to approach life as a facilitator as well. It’s fun to encourage others to share what they know about a topic and to hear, and learn from, experiences they’ve have had. Most people are willing to share what they know; they often just need someone to invite them to do so.
With COIVD-related restrictions and choices an omnipresent reality of the 2020 holiday season, it’s easy to become frustrated by how abnormal everything is this year. While it’s true that things look different this year, I want to encourage you that this is not how Christmas, or any other holiday, will look forever more. Remember that this current state is indeed temporary. Before we know it, we will be celebrating holidays with family and friends again.
My pastor signs all his emails with a phrase that I think is especially fitting for this year, “Believing the best is yet to come”. I think that true. We only have to be willing to cast our gaze beyond what’s happening today.
I’m currently reading a book about the SR-71 reconnaissance aircraft. It was developed in the 60s and was way ahead of its time, with regards to engineering and performance. This plane could travel at altitudes of 80,000 feet with a speed greater than Mach 3 (3X the speed of sound). Were it in service today, it would still be ahead of it’s time and considered futuristic.
As I was reading a chapter last night about the people involved in the design stage of the SR-71, I was impressed how all these people came together and gave the best of their abilities to bring this aircraft from an idea to a reality. The technology to build an SR-71 didn’t exist, so they had to figure it out as they went. When you consider all the obstacles, it’s an amazing feat that the SR-71 became a reality.
Imagine if the members of this group didn’t give the best they were capable of. Suppose people on the team just gave minimal effort that was far below their intellectual capacity. If that were the case, the SR-71 would have fallen far short of the requirements presented to the team. Even more likely, this project would have been canceled and considered an impossible feat, if not an outright failure. The difference was the people on the team collectively gave their best.
While we my not be part of a team designing supersonic reconnaissance aircraft, we are all a part of some team where we have an opportunity to give our best effort. That team may consist of a family, a group of co-workers, a band, a sports team, or any other group of people brought together to achieve a common goal. Regardless of the type of team we’re on, the members of the team counting on us to give our best. In my opinion, if we’re willing to be on a team, we should also be willing to bring the best effort we’re capable of.
So why should we bother to bring our best effort? There a several good answers to this question, but for me, there is one reason that stands above all others. During the Christmas season, I’m again reminded that God gave His best for me in his son Jesus. Out of gratitude, how could I offer anything less than my best back to Him?
“But look at you, with the gift of memory. You can time travel to the good stuff just by closing your eyes & breathing.” Lin-Manuel Miranda – “Gmorning, Gnight!: Little Pep Talks for Me & You”
I’m amazed at the number of memories each of us can carry between our ears. What’s more amazing, is how quickly we can recall our favorite memories. Within nanoseconds, we can be transported to an event, a person, or a place in time. Lin-Manuel is right, our memories are indeed a form of time travel.
I think the recalling of memories is best done in the in the company of others with the same shared experience. To time travel with others via fond memories is a great blessing. The only thing more pleasing than recalling fond memories, is creating what will become fond memories with others.
Let’s make sure that as we’re traveling through life, were constantly doing both: recalling our fondest memories in the company of others, and creating some new ones as well.
Last week my wife and I spent some time at the beach in Bandon Oregon. The weather was unseasonably sunny warm for the Oregon coast in late November. It was beautiful!
While in Bandon, we spent a lot of time walking on the beach. One thing to be mindful of at the beach is the tide. When the tide is out, there is so much to see and so much more beach available to walk on. However, when the tide comes in, what’s available to explore and the volume of beach to walk on is significantly diminished. We experienced that during high tide, when parts of the shoreline we walked during low tide were no longer accessible once the tide came in. Not to worry. We simply looked at our options, adjusted our high-tide walk and had a great time.
Our experience with the tides in Bandon made me think how we often have high tides in our lives; when things change and what was once a normal part of our life is no longer available. Sometimes these high tides are expected. Other times they’re not. Regardless, we get to choose how we respond to them. We can be angry and complain about what’s not available, or we can look with gratitude at what we still have available to us, make adjustments, and move forward.
That’s great news, because even when the tide comes in (as my recent walk on the beach reminded me) there are still plenty of options available to us. We just need to see them.
I like Thanksgiving. It’s a fun time of year, the sights and smells of the holiday are great, plus it’s a fun time to get together with people we’re thankful for. This year’s holidays will likely be very different than holidays past for many people.
While that may be frustrating, I think it’s important not to spend too much time lamenting what we don’t have this year, but rather focus on what we still do have. In addition, it would help us to begin to eager look ahead to the holidays yet to come that won’t be impacted by a global pandemic.
Those days are coming. We just need to look past today to see them.
“Chains of habit are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken.” Warren Buffett
Habits are fascinating, because despite the fact that they are small, they can be extremely powerful. Their power comes from the compounding effect they have when done over long periods of time.
Some habits taken conscious effort to do, like deciding to get up every morning and go to the gym. Yet other habits are so easy to fall into, that they almost become an automatic part of our daily life. Things like drinking several sodas or going out for fast food on a daily basis. (There are a zillion others, but those are the first 2 that came to mind.) These habits are rewarding in the moment, and thus easy to form. And while an occasional soda or trip to McDonald’s isn’t terrible, the impact of these habits done continuously over years, if not decades, can have severe negative consequences.
For this reason, I think it’s important to regularly determine whether we’ve developed any habits that have the potential to plant land mines for our future selves. We should ask ourselves:
Are the habits we’re engaged in healthy or destructive?
Are they leading to a good outcome or a potentially dangerous one?
Are there habits we should stop doing?
Are there habits we need to cultivate?
We all want good outcomes in our lives, but as we know, they don’t just happen. They require action from us, as well as reflection, to determine if our habits will take us where we want to go.
With 2021 approaching, now would be a good time to take an inventory of the habits we’ve acquired. It might be time to say, “Good-bye” to some potentially destructive ones we’ve been heretofore traveling with. It may also be time to say, “Hello” to some new productive habits and invite them to join us on our journey forward.
Before work Monday morning, I took a sunny yet cool Autumn walk through the neighborhood. At one point I heard what sounded like rain. However, a clear sky quickly ruled rain out as a source of the sound. As I kept walking, the noise grew louder until I realized the sound was being created by a flood of leaves continuously falling from several reddish-orange trees lining the street.
I stood under one of the trees for several minutes and just watched and listened. It was such a unique experience. Sure, I’ve often heard wind blowing through Autumn leaves that were still in the trees, but I’ve never seen falling leaves that sound so much like steady rain. It was a beautiful scene. I’m glad I noticed it.
I like to be on the lookout for things like that. To be curious about and eager to notice something so unexpectedly beautiful. When I do encounter such a scene, I like to say out loud, “I see that!” It’s my way of letting God know that I see His creativity and how much I appreciate it.
Last Thursday was such a good day! There wasn’t one specific thing that made it good, but rather there were a number of smaller things that all added up to a great day.
Some of the small things during that day were:
A sunny Autumn sky
Red, orange, and yellow leaves in the trees
A couple productive collaboration sessions with colleagues
A nice walk through the neighborhood with my wife
Getting several tasks completed at work
Each one of these things represented a small thread that were all stitched together to create one great day.
I was reminded that something doesn’t have to be big or extravagant to be great. Great things are often the result of many smaller things taken together or even by themselves. Any one of the experiences listed above would have made for a good day. They effect they had together made for a day that was indeed great.