Early in my career I was testing some software updates we received from one of our vendors, when I noticed that there was some functionality that didn’t work exactly the way we needed it to. The vendor explained that the software was not designed to work the way we wanted it to, and provided a clunky workaround we could use instead. Me, being new to the information technology field, accepted this answer. My colleague Tracy, however, did not.
Tracy told the vendor specifically how we needed the software to work and let them know that anything less was unacceptable. I was shocked a couple of weeks later when the vendor released another updated that included Tracy’s fix… exactly as she described it!
That day I learned the importance of speaking up for what you want versus simply accepting the first “No” you encounter. Up until that moment, I thought you got software the way it came. I had no idea it could be changed to fit our unique needs instead of the other way around. That experience was a great life-lesson that taught me not to settle for the first “No” I receive, but to push for what I want, whether in my career or my personal life.
I am grateful for Tracy’s example.
“Those who are bound by the compass have the freedom of the sea.”
Being bound by, or to something, often has a negative connotation. It conjures up thoughts of loss of choice and freedom. Like being bound by an oppressive mortgage, for example. However, we can also have tremendous freedom and choice by what we decide to bind ourselves to.
Take our quote for example. Being bound by the compass means we operate within the principles of how a compass works. If we decide to reject these principles, and navigate based solely on our own intuition, we are almost certain to miss our destination. In the worst case, we are likely to lose our life in the process.
Yet when we are bound by the compass, when we embrace its principles, we are able to navigate anywhere we choose, knowing that the likelihood of reaching our destination is certain.
There are things in our life that are good to be bound to. For me, I’ve found freedom by choosing to be bound to the following:
- Healthy nutrition and exercise habits
- Timeless financial principles
- My marriage vows/covenant
- The teachings of Jesus
Spend some time this week to determine if there’s anything you should be bound to that would cause more freedom in your life. If there is, bind yourself to it. There’s freedom to be had!
This Saturday I’m teaching a beginning fly casting class at our church. A buddy approached me a few months ago to see if I’d be interested in doing this. After I said, “yes”, I briefly began to wonder if I was qualified to teach this class. It didn’t take long for me to come to the conclusion that, while I’m not a professional fly caster, after 24 years of fly-fishing I’ve probably picked up enough skills to help others get started on their fly-fishing journey.
Why is it that we so often doubt the value of the skills or experience we have to offer to others? We don’t need to be at a professional level or have more skills or talent than we currently possess in order to instruct or lead others. If we have knowledge and experience about a topic that another person does not, and that they are interested in learning what we know, to them we are an expert. We have the ability to share what we know with them, and potentially enrich their life. It really isn’t any more complicated than that.
We already have enough to offer in order to make a positive impact in other peoples’ lives. We don’t have to be perfect. We only have to be willing to share our knowledge with those interested in learning what we already know.
FACT: You are what you repeatedly do.
This statement is both sobering and encouraging to me.
It’s sobering because it reminds me that we can easily fool ourselves (and perhaps others, to a degree) into thinking we are something we’re not. We can think we’re health conscious, but in reality, we continually make poor health choices. Maybe we think we’re an attentive friend, spouse, or parent, yet when we’re with those around us, our faces are buried in our smartphones. Do you think you’re smart with money? Would your decisions with money confirm that?
We can easily fool ourselves with our words or thoughts regarding our self-perception, but our repeated behavior is the most vivid indication of who we really are.
The encouraging part of this fact is that if we don’t like who or what we are, we can change it by simply changing out behavior.
Would you like to be more health conscious? Simple! Just start making health conscious decisions. Do you desire to be a better friend, spouse, or parent? That’s easy! Start putting down the smartphone and engaging with those close to you. Ready to be someone who is smart with money? Ask some people who ARE smart with their money (based on what they repeatedly do, not what they say) how they got that way an begin doing those things… repeatedly.
Aren’t you grateful that if we’re not pleased with who or what we are, we can change simply by beginning and repeatedly doing those things that will cause us to become what we want to be? I am!!
So, what are you repeatedly doing?
My wife and I are taking a trip to New England this year. We love traveling and exploring new places, but we both realize that a nice trip doesn’t just happen. There are so many details that go into a successful trip such as determining a rough itinerary, scheduling transportation, finding places to stay (especially if you’ll be staying at multiple locations), and figuring out what attractions you’d like to see and activities you’d like to do. A successful trip requires planning, but it can be overwhelming to get all the details nailed down, especially if you’re life has a lot of other things going on as well. This is why it’s so important to break down the planning process into manageable bites.
For example, once we have decided where we want to go and a high-level idea of what we want to see, we begin setting aside blocks of focused time to plan the trip. Since the weather has been nicer lately, we like to go to the park for about an hour on Sunday afternoons for our planning sessions. On our way to the park we decide what we want to accomplish during this specific session.
For our first session we determined what in New England we wanted to see. During session number 2 we laid out a route we wanted to take in order to see everything we wanted to see. Our last session included figuring out where we wanted to stay each night. Once we’ve accomplished what we set out to do for that session, we’re done! It’s been amazing how much of the trip we’ve been able to plan within a few short yet focused sessions.
Without some clear objectives I feel like I’m “shotgun planning”; jumping from one aspect of the trip to another without ever making significant progress. I also find that shotgun sessions usually take longer and require more of them to achieve significant results than a few focused sessions would. Focused planning sessions seem to have the added benefit of building excitement and anticipation for the trip versus frustration. I can’t imagine that a trip planned in frustration wouldn’t also bring some of that frustration on the trip as well.
If you have something to plan, whether it’s a trip, an event, or anything else, start the planning process early and try breaking it down into small, focused sessions. This will keep you from waiting until the last minute and being forced into a situation where you have to get everything planned in one session. It will also give you time to adjust and hone your plan, which will likely help you create the successful experience you’re after.
In Bandon Oregon there is a guy named Denny Dyke. Several times throughout the year, he and his team hit the beach at low tide and draw these beautiful labyrinths in the sand. They are indeed pieces of art! After the labyrinth has been drawn, Denny will say a few words to the gathered spectators and then he opens the labyrinth up for everyone to walk through and enjoy.
My wife and I happened to be in Bandon a couple of weeks ago when Denny was creating one of his works of art early in morning. Not only was it fun to see it take shape, it was impressive to see how many people assembled to enjoy Denny’s work, simply because he was willing to share it with others.
So many people were watching the design come to life and eagerly waiting to walk through it when it was completed. It was fun to see! There were no shortage of smiles, laughter, and comments like, “This is so cool!” Denny was even gracious enough to involve others by having interested bystanders rake sand within the design. (I got to rake a section by the exit! So much fun!) It was a fantastic morning and a fun experience I will never forget.
As with all his labyrinths, the tide eventually comes back in and reclaims the beach, erasing the team’s work, but certainly not the joy and memoires it brought. The good news is that Denny will be back out during another low tide, ready to create joy and memories for others with another one of his pieces of art.
Be encouraged and motivated by Denny’s example. While we don’t all have Denny’s talent for making artistic sand trails, we all have the capacity to bring joy to the people around us.
Every week, a handful of folks from our church get together on Wednesday night to discuss the sermon the pastor preached on Sunday morning. It’s a fin time discussing what we got from the message and bringing up questions we have. At the beginning of our time together this last Wednesday, we realized that none of us had been to church on Sunday! It’s kind of hard to have a discussion about something none of us had heard. Regardless, we had some sermon notes, so we pressed on undaunted.
That turned out to be one of the best discussions time our group has had! We explored the section of scripture, discussed the questions it raised, which lead us to other sections in scripture. I was pleasantly surprised, because I wasn’t expecting it to go that well, since we were all seemingly inadequately prepared.
The thing that made our discussion go so well was that everyone “showed up” and contributed to the conversation with their questions, observations, and experience. What, at the beginning, looked like it could have been a flop, became an encouraging and engaging conversation; all because people contributed what they had to offer, regardless of how ill-prepared we might have felt.
Are there any areas you fill ill-prepared or inadequate? If so, I encourage you to acknowledge that, and offer up what you do have; to move forward regardless, instead of quitting canceling, or giving up.
Who knows, you might be surprised to realize a better outcome that you expect.