Saying Yes

As I was sitting down to write my weekly blog post, I got a text asking if I’d like to come over to someone’s house for dinner.  Initially, I thought about all the stuff that I wanted to get done that night, and that I should say, “No”. However, I then pondered just how important, really, were the things I’d be doing if I said, “No” to the invitation.  I replied to the text with, “I’ll be there!”

Sometimes when we get opportunities to do things, we think about reasons that would keep us from saying, “Yes”.  I’m going to challenge that line of thinking and start looking for reasons to accept.  This is just another reminder for me to be intentional with my choices versus defaulting to getting stuff done.

Sorry for the short post this week, but I’ve got a dinner engagement to get to!

Don’t Let Fear Rule

“Fear rules us only if we let it.”  ~Brendon Burchard

I read this quote in Brendon’s book, “The Motivation Manifesto”.  It’s one of those statements that we would all say we know, but one that we also can be susceptible to if we aren’t paying attention.

The kind of fear Brendon is talking about is the type that keeps us from contributing at a higher level or being the person (or more of the person) we want to be.  Usually, this fear comes from the thought of failing, being rejected, looking foolish, or a host of other possibilities.  Nobody is interested in those things.  I certainly don’t wake up every day looking for experiences like that. 

However, if we allow those fears to rule our lives, we pay an unexpected, and very high price.  That price comes in the form of unrealized potential, impact, contribution, and happiness.  That seems like a steep price to pay all for the alleged security of not looking foolish or failing.  It seems like there’s a higher price to be paid for letting fear rule.

To be clear, we should be listening to fear when our personal safety is at risk.  But the fear we should be on the look out for is the fear that keeps us from our goals and potential. 

There is an abundant life waiting.  Don’t let needless fear stand in the way. 

Introductions From Others

I’m currently listening to the audio book “Music is History” by Questlove.  One thing I’m really enjoying about this book so far is the introductions Questlove has indirectly given me to artists and songs I might not have encountered on my own.  I’m just a few chapters in, and already, I’ve been listening to a handful of new songs and “favorited” a couple of artists in Spotify.  I’m grateful he took the time to write this book and share some of his favorites with the rest of us.

Be on the lookout for these indirect introductions throughout your day.  They could be recommendations from friends, suggestions of things to do this weekend from the evening news, or suggestion on a website.  It’s a great way to experience something new, and maybe even discover a new favorite.

Let A List Remember For You

Last week was the first week since January 2013 that I haven’t made a blog post.  I’d like to say it was because we were busy traveling last weekend, but I’ve traveled many times since 2013 and have still created a weekly blog post.  The simple excuse is, I just forgot.

Beyond just forgetting, the real reason it didn’t get posted was because I didn’t write, “Post blog” on my list of To-Do items.

I find that when I have a lot of things going on, I need a list to help me keep track of the tasks I need to complete.  Much like a grocery list, a task list helps me ensure that I don’t forget anything important I’m supposed to do.  More importantly, a task list frees up my mental capacity from having to remember to do something.  Once it’s on my list, I don’t have to spend any energy remembering to do it, because the list will remember for me.

I heard a quote once that said, “Our mind are great places for having ideas, but they’re a horrible place for storing them.”  I totally agree!  Whether paper or digital, lists are great places for remembering things like:

  • Groceries to buy at the store
  • Chores you need to complete
  • Things you need to pack for a trip
  • Books you want to read
  • Destinations you like to visit
  • People you need to contact
  • Appointments and meetings you have during the day

The next time you have a number of things to remember, instead of keeping them in your head, consider making a list.  Not only will a list help you remember what you need to do, it’s fun to cross completed items off the list!

Think On These Things

It’s been a wild couple of weeks on the geo-political scene.  There have been so many horrific and heart-breaking images coming out of Ukraine and so much coverage of the events that it can feel overwhelming.  And while it’s good to be informed of what’s going on in the world, I don’t think it’s good for us to be over-saturated with information.   There needs to be some boundaries on how much information we’re consuming on a devastating topic.

It’s natural to want to know the latest with regard to a major world event, but I think it’s also important to make sure we’re allowing some positive content into our minds as well.  I like specifically like the encouragement we get from Philippians 4:8 where we’re told to think about things that are:

  • True
  • Noble
  • Right
  • Pure
  • Lovely
  • Admirable
  • Excellent
  • Praiseworthy

This is such a good and timely reminder to make sure that, in addition to news, we’re also filling our mind with content that will encourage and lift us up.  If all we’re consuming is the daily news, we’re going to be left feeling anxious, afraid, depressed, and exhausted, and who wants to go around feeling like that all day?

Be mindful in the days ahead (every day, actually) to fill your mind with encouraging and uplifting content that evokes inspiration, gratitude, and joy.  It’s out there, we just have to make sure we’re noticing.

Incorrect Assumptions

A couple of weeks ago in the adult Sunday school class I lead, I made a comment about a section of Scripture.  To preface my comment I stated, “We all know this […]”.  After some discussion, one of the newer people in the class spoke up and said, “You mentioned that ‘we all know this’, but I DON’T know this.”  The comment got my attention.

It’s so easy to assume that just because we know something, everyone else must obviously know it as well.  I was reminded that this is usually not the case.  For me, it’s important to be aware of this reality, so that I don’t inadvertently exclude people from classroom discussions, dialog in a meeting, or even a simple conversation by assuming they know what is being discussed.

I like to include people versus excluding them.  What I learned from the Sunday school class exchange is to stop assuming that folks know something and actually give space to check that assumption.  If my assumption is correct, great!  We can move forward.  If, however, my assumption is incorrect, then that presents a great opportunity for discussion to help bring others along, and event to learn something new myself.

There’s enough division and exclusion going on in the world, that I don’t need to add to it in my conversations and interactions.  How much better it is to test and assumption and gain clarification, than to move forward with the assumption, only to find out that it was incorrect.

Play The Long Game

Disciplined behavior in the moment can be challenging when we’re trying to achieve a goal.  Whether it’s fitness, good health, financial, relational, or any other long-term goal, it’s easy to get knocked off track in the moment.  What I’ve found helpful for staying disciplined toward the pursuit of a goal is to play the long game.

By that, I mean to look way into the future to what achieving this goal looks like.  For example, I want to live a healthy life.  That goal is way too vague to withstand the temptations (like ice cream!) that that present themselves on a daily basis that are perpendicular to my goal.  Instead, I frame my goal with a bent toward that future.  Rather than having a goal to “live a healthy lifestyle”, I have a goal to be an active, engaged, curious, ninety-year-old who is in excellent physical condition. 

I’m playing the long game by focusing on the person I want to become when I turn 90.  This focus helps me consider my choice on a daily, monthly, weekly, and yearly basis.  The question I present myself with is, “are the choices I’m making (in relation to diet, finances, relationships, intellectual development, and spiritual growth) or have been making, leading me closer to or further from the person I want to be in my 90s”?  If the answer is, “Yes”, I move keep making those choices.  If my answer is “No”, then I consider modifying my behavior.

Playing the long game helps give my life daily direction.  I know where I want to go, so all I need to do now is make sure my choices are taking there.

Anticipation

It’s been a gray rainy winter in the Pacific Northwest where I live.  Long nights and gray days are pretty normal this time of year.  While I actually like the end of fall and beginning of winter, after the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, I’m ready for some sunnier days.  Fortunately, sunny days are also something that is not uncommon in the PNW either.

About every winter, we get these beautiful days where, while the weather is still cold, the sun is out and the sky is this clear brilliant blue.  Couple that with some frost in the morning, and you have a wonderful start to your day!  There’s something about a sunny break in the winter, no matter what the temperature is, that gets me excited for the day ahead, as well as the Spring season that is not too far away. 

I anticipate these sunny days every winter.  Days like that cause me to thank God and make me grateful to be alive.

So, what are you anticipating?  A change in the weather, an upcoming event?  I think it’s important to have something we’re looking forward to, no matter how big or small.   It gives us an excitement about the days ahead.  And personally, like my pastor says, I believe the best is yet to come!

Reminder That We Need Each Other

I had a good laugh with the pastor of my church a couple weeks ago when a few of us were working on something in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.  As he was navigating the spreadsheet on his laptop, a couple of us were telling him what buttons to press to make something happen.  As we were all laughing at the process, he stated, “They didn’t teach us how to do this stuff in seminary.” 

His comment reminded me how we need the skills and talents of others.  There’s no way any one of us can know everything.  I don’t know anyone who can do all of the following:

  • Use a spreadsheet
  • Perform dentistry
  • Make gasoline
  • Build a cell phone tower
  • Build a cell phone
  • Fly a passenger aircraft
  • Perform surgery
  • Build a car
  • Make steel
  • Grow vegetable on a commercial scale
  • Operate a railroad
  • Build or operate a hydro-electric power plant
  • Professionally counsel someone through personal difficulties
  • Run a city sewer system
  • Build a skyscraper
  • Compose music
  • Play a musical instrument
  • And on and on and on…

I’m fortunate that we can rely on others to help where our knowledge falls short.  Often times, we don’t even think about all the people that we’ll never meet that are behind some of the technology, infrastructure, and entertainment we use every day.  However, we daily benefit from their contributions.

What I’m also grateful for is that we can contribute our skills and talents to improve the lives of others too!  To me it seems like the best way that we can say, “Thank you” to those whose efforts benefit us, is to give our effort to improve the lives of others. 

Now’s A Good Time

“Look around, at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”  ~Hamilton

If I could choose to live during any time in history, I’d choose now.  Yes, there are a lot of things that are crazy and concerning right now, but I’m amazed at the technology that’s currently available to us.  

Just this week my wife and I were discussing a topic we needed to make a decsion on that neither one of is knew much about.  After about 30 minutes of online research, we were able to gather accurate information that helped us focus our thinking and make a decision.  How great is it that we can be completely clueless one minute, and after a few mintes of due dilligenc, we can be informed to the point of being able to make an informed decision? 

And it’s not just internet research I’m grateful for.  In addtion, my list includes things from music platforms like Spotify (gone are the days of creating a mix tape on cassettes!), to being able to work from home, or any other location with a broadband connection, to opportunites to connect with people all over the world. 

I am amazed and grateful.  We are indeed lucky to be alive right now.