Knowing and Doing

One of my favorite books in the Bible is James.  What I love most about it is that it is filled with hard-hitting, non-sugar-coated truth.  My favorite verse in this book is   1:22 where the author states, “Don’t merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says”.  This is a verse I often read as if James was speaking these words directly to me.

It’s easy to gain knowledge about how we SHOULD be behaving.  It’s quite another thing to take the knowledge we gain, and parlay it into action.  What good does it do to gain a bunch of knowledge that is beneficial to us, yet fail to put that knowledge into action?  If we spend a significant period of time (months, years, decades, a lifetime) we’ll wind up being nothing more than a bunch of over-educated under-achievers. 

Here’s a good question for all of us:  Is there some knowledge that I have that I need to put into action in order to see positive results?  If the answer is, “Yes” (which I’m sure it is for most of us), then take a small step today to begin putting that knowledge into action.  Because there’s a big difference between knowing and doing.  Knowing = knowledge.  Doing = results.

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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. 

Small Steps Forward

One reason I think life is so interesting is that there is so much to learn and improve at.  From our skills in the workplace, to hobbies and interests, to character improvements, to relational skills and even spiritual growth, we have a neve-ending source of areas where we can improve.  And while I am energized by this thought, at times, I also find it rather frustrating. 

The source of this frustration, for me, comes when the improvement happens slower than I would like.  Yes, I know improvement takes time, but still, I often wish it came a little (or a lot!) quicker.

That’s why the following comment I read last week resonated so much with me.  It said,

“We change not in giant leaps, but one small step at a time.  Your have the rest of your life, so be patient with yourself.”

I love this statement because it reminds me that my real goal in life is continuous improvement versus being an unachievable form of perfect right now.  It also reminds me that progress adds up over time.  Therefore, if I’m a life-long learner, which I am, I’ve got a lifetime to get better.

That thought is a good antidote for alleviating my frustration at a perceived slow rate of progress.  All I really need to do is continue making small steps forward.

Choose How You Age

Most of the weakness and frailty we blame on aging is not due to getting older but to inactivity.”

~Dottie Billington

When I read the quote above earlier this week in Dottie’s book titled, “Life is an Attitude: How to Grow Forever Better”, it leapt off the page at me, because I’ve also heard complaints from people recently about the negative impacts of aging.  These complaints have come in the form of a frustrated resignation that this deterioration is an inevitable part of aging.  I disagree.

Every day we get to choose to either be sedentary or to carve out time in the day to move our bodies.  If we choose one day not to move about or exercise, that single day really won’t have an impact on us.  However, if we decide day after day not to move or exercise, the compounding of those days over month, years, and decades, will certainly have negative impacts on our physical ability as we age. 

Likewise, if we choose to exercise and move every day, the compounding effects of those decisions over months, years, and decades, will have a positive impact on our physical ability in the years to come.

By exercising our bodies (and our minds!) we’re telling ourselves that we need our bodies and minds to be in peak shape, because we plan on using them.  Here’s the cool think, when we train our minds and bodies to be ready for use… they respond!

What encourages me most to reject the assumption that we deteriorate as we get older, is that I’ve seen too much evidence to the contrary in the lives of folks that have been around a lot longer than I have.

I encourage you to reject the false assumption that aging is a downward spiral and that after a certain age, you’re washed.  That statement is only true if you choose to believe it.

So how have you decided that you’re going to age?

I’ll Do It Later…Whenever That Is

I have a lot of positive intentions pop into my head throughout the day.  One that I often get is that I should send a hand-written card to someone I happen to be thinking of.  (In the middle of all the technology around us, I still like sending hand-written cards.  Who’d have thought that going “old school” would make you stand out in the Internet age!)  My problem is that I often tell myself I’ll do that later.  All too often, however, “later” never comes.

This week I had the same thought pop into my head regrading someone I though could use an encouraging note.  Only this time, instead of saying I’ll do it later, I took a different approach.

I went to the closet and got out a card and envelop and put it on my desk where I work every day.  Then, I determined that I would get the card written during lunch and placed in the mail that same day.  And you know what?   IT WORKED!  I got the card written and sent!  Who’d have thought!

Sometimes our biggest barrier to following through on our intentions, is that we lack a plan, no matter how simple, to make it happen.  For me, the simple act of getting the card out and naming a time to write in it was all I needed to ensure I followed through on my intention.

The next time your mind offers up a good intention that will bless someone else, don’t just assume you’ll do it later.  Put together a quick, simple plan that will ensure you turn that intention into completed action.

The person you’re blessing will be grateful you had a plan.

What’s Forming You

Consider all the things that influence the way you think.  The number of inputs is more than we might think, and includes everything from social media, to the books we read, the people we hang out with, the TV shows and movies we watch and books we read.  Now consider that each one of these things has influence on how our thinking is formed.

How does that make you feel?  Do you like the forming effect these inputs are having on you?  If you answered, “Yes”, great!  Keep availing yourself to the same kinds of inputs you’ve been receiving.

If you answered, “No”, there’s good news!  You can change your inputs, and thereby change how you’re thinking is being formed.  What a blessing, and a responsibility.  A blessing, because we can decide how were being formed, and a responsibility, because we should take action to ensure that we’re being formed in a way that leads to a positive, abundant life.

The question isn’t whether our thinking be formed, but rather how it will be formed.  Let’s decide how we want our thinking to be formed and ensure that we’re consuming the right inputs to get us there.

You’re Right

My wife recently told me about a Facebook post someone we know made where they talked about how they lost 70lbs since January of this year.  That’s amazing to me!  I’m always impressed by people who decide how they want their life to look, and then take the steps to cause it to happen.  Their behavior says a lot about what they think they’re capable of, and their results confirm that their thinking is accurate.    

What we think about ourselves is important, because it drives our behavior.  If you think you are unable to do something, and continually tell yourself that you can’t, it’s unlikely that you’ll behave in a way that will cause you to be successful.  And why would you be successful?  You’re thinking has determined that success is not in the cards for you.  And you know what?  You’re right!

Consider these common thoughts:

  • “I’m too old”     
  • “I could never achieve that goal”
  • “I’m not smart enough”
  • “People like me don’t have that kind of success”
  • “I’m not technical enough”
  • “I don’t deserve…”
  • “I’ll never be…”

If these thoughts represent the way you think about yourself, then the response to each of these statements about yourself would be, “You’re right!”

Now consider of the implications that kind of thinking will have on your life over months, years, and decades.  Think of all the opportunities, growth, potential, and joy that you’ll sideline yourself from, simply because you’re thinking is keeping you from them.

It’s time to examine our thinking, and make adjustments when we find that it is keeping us from where we are and where we want to be.  An abundant life awaits!  The first step is thinking that we can achieve it.

Staying Sharp

I saw a job posting for a similar position to what I currently hold.  No, I’m not looking for a change!  I love what I do and where I do it, so I’m staying put.  However, the required skills section of the posting did capture my attention. 

As I looked at the requirements, I noticed there were a couple of topics that I would benefit from learning more about.  In addition, I got a glimpse into what skills other organizations deem valuable in my chosen career field.  It also caused me to add a couple more items to add to my “skills to learn” list.

I think it’s good to sharpen our knowledge of the techniques and technologies in our chosen careers…

so that our skills don’t become stale or dated …

so that we can skillfully apply our skills to the work that we do…

so that we can help our organizations fulfill their missions.

Staying sharp in our careers isn’t just good for us, it’s also good for those we serve.  Plus, it’s more rewarding when we’ve got an intellectual toolbox full of well-sharpened skills that we can draw from in order to solve the problems we encounter.

Different Backgrounds Different Outlook

Here’s something we all know, but that I often forget… we don’t all have the same background and experiences shaping how we view ourselves and the world.

I can too easily assume that others have similar backgrounds and experiences as me.  That assumption is an easy connection to another equally false assumption; that what I would do or how I would think in a situation is how others should think.  That’s simply not true. 

Our experiences and backgrounds shape how we interpret what we see in the world, so it’s obvious that those with differing experiences would see things different that I would, and vice versa.

I like to frequently remind myself about this so that I don’t look up one day and realize that I’ve turned into a cranky old man, simply because I assume that the problem with everyone is that they don’t see the world the same way I do.

Thoroughbreds

I’m blown away of the power of our brains and all the good use we can put them to.  What’s even more impressive (aside from the fact that each one of us owns one of these wonderful things free and clear!) is how our brains are constantly running.  I liken our brains to a race horse that wants to run.  Similarly, our brains need to be trained to run where we want them to run, versus just letting them run wild in any they’d like.

Can you imagine the owner of a highly valued thoroughbred race horse allowing the magnificent creature to run through any rocky pasture, hillside, or street it wanted?  That would be a horrific use of such a valuable investment.  Instead, such a horse’s diet, training, facilities, and environment are all conducive top performance, because that is how you treat a thoroughbred.

I think our brains should also be treated as the thoroughbreds that they are, or that they can become.  We should give them the proper care and training that they are worthy of, in order for them to perform for us at the high level they are capable of. 

So, how do we train our minds so they perform like thoroughbreds?  The following items are good places to start: 

  • Monitor the content we’re allowing into our minds to ensure its productive and positive. 
  • Take our negative thoughts (toward ourselves or others) and quickly redirect them toward a more productive line of thinking.
  • Expose our brains to new ideas through books, classes, podcasts, computer-based training, or conversations with others.
  • Continue to apply our brains toward learning new skills we’d like to acquire.
  • Use them to solve problems and come up with solutions and idea.
  • Engage your brain daily.

What a blessing to be in possession of such a creation!  May we treat them (and train them) like the valuable thoroughbreds that they are.