Changing The Plan

On a recent trip to Maine, my wife and I made a stop at Fort Knox and the Penobscot Narrows Bridge.  We hadn’t known about either of these attractions when we started, but rather came upon them while driving from Acadia to Camden.  Since they looked intriguing, we changed our plans and stopped to check them out.

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The Penobscot Narrows Bridge was unique because you could take an elevator to an observation deck at the top of the structure and see all across Maine.  It was especially scenic with all the fall colors no display.  Both of these attractions were quite remarkable and well worth the stop.

Fort Knox was a Revolution era fort that thwarted efforts of the British navy vessels that attempted to sail up the Penobscot River.  It was interesting to learn about this fort and explore the building and grounds.  I never knew something like this existed.

I’m glad we were not solely focused on getting from point A to point B, but were willing to change out plans when something interesting presented itself.   The Journey was made more memorable by our willingness to change up the plan.

Several Little Things

We’ve all seen stories about people who achieve a remarkable feat like living to 100 years of age, being married over 50 years, building a successful business, or a number of other worthy accomplishments. Invariably, these people are asked, “So what’s the secret of your success? What did you do to achieve what you have?” Usually people respond with one or two things that they attribute to their success.

I don’t think that’s quite accurate. Very rarely is success achieved by doing just 1 thing. Success in any venture is often the result of consistently doing several little things.

Here’s what got me thinking about this…

Earlier this week I went to see the doctor for my annual physical (Good times!!). Everything looked good and my doctor told me I was doing a good job with regard to my health. At one point he asked me what I do to maintain good health. I responded with something like exercise and drink water. After I left the doctor’s office I realized that good health is achieved by more than just exercise. In addition, it’s important to also:

  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Get the proper amount of sleep every night
  • Avoid excess sugar consumption
  • Fill your mind with positive content
  • Reduce wasting significant time with your face buried in a computer/phone screen
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Spend time with people who charge you up
  • Spend time reading instead of watching TV
  • Continually learn new skills
  • Regularly get out of your comfort zone
  • Do some physical activity every day

And that’s just the start!

It’s not just one thing that causes people to be successful. It’s the discipline to consistently do the little things that move you toward success.

Is there something you’d like to achieve in your life? If so, the best way to make progress is to consistently do the little things that seem to have no immediate impact. Begin doing those little things as part of your daily routine and you’ll be amazed at the progress you can make in a month, year, decade, or lifetime.

The Ability of Music

As I’m sitting down to write this week’s blog I’m listening to the “Les Miserables Live! The 2010 Cast Album”.  The music in this soundtrack has a wide gamut of emotional connections, from big powerful numbers that get your heart rate up to those that are soft and tender that will bring tears to your eyes.

Such is the power of music.

What a blessing to live in a world with music!  Music has the uncanny ability to:

  • Encourage
  • Soothe and calm us
  • Get us fired up
  • Focus our thinking (or make us think)
  • Distract us
  • Make us laugh
  • Make us cry
  • Create connections
  • Tell stories
  • Heal us
  • Set a mood
  • Trigger memories
  • Create memories…

… and that’s just the beginning of a very long list!

If you’re not already doing so, look for way to integrate music into your daily routine.  In addition, explore new types of music you may not normally listen to.  You may discover a whole new genre that you really resonate with.

And what a blessing that would be.

Moving Past Fear

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”     ~ Theodore Roosevelt

It’s easy to read Roosevelt’s words and think “to dare mighty things” is referring only to monumental undertakings.  I think this quote also speaks of living a life with willingness to step out of our comfort zones and try new things, even with the possibility of failure.

Here’s a nugget of truth that is applicable for all of us:  we are going to fail.  At some point, we’re going to fall short, do the wrong thing, say the wrong thing, or lack the skills, experience, or wisdom needed to succeed.  There’s no escaping it.  It’s part of the human condition.  But failing does not mean we are failures.

I find that liberating!

President Roosevelt’s words remind us that successes, victories, and triumphs often come through our failures.  Being willing to move ahead, even after failure, is how great things are achieved, and how a fulfilling life is lived.  On the contrary, playing it safe, in order to avoid failure, does not lead to success. Rather, it leads to regret and a life that knows neither victory nor defeat.

Where are you holding back because of a fear of failure?  What step can you take today to break through the fear that is holding you back?  Take that step, without being concerned about failing but rather be focused on giving your best effort.

Who knows, you might be wildly successful.

The Unknown

What are the first thoughts that go through your mind when you hear the phrase, “The Unknown”?  Is it:

  • Fear
  • Anxiety
  • Scary
  • Confusing
  • A mystery
  • Something to be avoided

If we think of The Unknown as a destination, it represents somewhere we have never been, and therefore have never had any experience with.  I’d like to introduce the following thought regarding The Unknown:

“Just because you’ve never been somewhere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there.”

Think about that for a moment.  What if you never:

  • Traveled to a place you’ve never been before
  • Attempted to learn something new
  • Met people you didn’t already know
  • Undertook something you’ve never done before
  • Exposed yourself to different cultures and surroundings

What kind of impact do you think this would have on us?  What is the price we would pay in terms of the richness and quality of our lives if we always sought to avoid The Unknown?  Although I’m not exactly sure how you’d quantify that, I am certain the price would be quite high.

While The Unknown can be a scary place, and sometimes a place we didn’t choose to go, we shouldn’t be afraid of it simply because it is unknown to us.  For it can also be:

  • Exciting
  • Life changing in a positive way
  • Filled with opportunity
  • Full of adventure
  • Eagerly awaiting your arrival to bestow unimaginable joy and blessings
  • Where you’ll learn more about yourself than you every thought possible
  • An experience you’ll be able to encourage others with

The next time you’re feeling nervous or scared about venturing into The Unknown, seek out someone who has been where you haven’t been or has done what you haven’t done yet.  For them, our destination is not unknown.  Their experience can give us the courage we need as we step into our Unknown.

Here’s a final thought:  Someone else’s scary Unknown is familiar territory for you.  When you come across these people, put an arm around them and encourage them as they step in.

Start and Stop

“I’d like to …

  • Live a healthy and active lifestyle
  • Have control of my finances
  • Improve my attitude
  • Become a better leader
  • Be a better spouse/partner
  • Parent my children well
  • Be well read
  • Improve the quality of my relationships
  • Learn to play a musical instrument well
  • Make a bigger contribution with my life”

 

Have you ever heard someone make a statement like this?  Perhaps you’ve even made a similar statement yourself.  I have.

Whenever I hear statements like these, either from others or from myself, the first thought that pops into my head is, “Then start doing what that type of person does”.

If you’d like to: Then START doing what:
Live a healthy and active lifestyle Healthy people do
Become a better leader Good leaders do
Improve your attitude People with good attitudes do
Be a better spouse/partner People in solid committed relationships do
Have control of your finances Financially stable people do
Parent your children well Good parents do
Improve the quality of your relationships People with deep friendships do
Make a bigger contribution with your life People who are making a difference with their lives do

 

The second thought that comes to mind when I think about something I’d like to be doing, is to stop doing things that would take me in the opposite direction.

If you’d like to: Then STOP doing what:
Live a healthy and active lifestyle Couch potatoes do
Become a better leader Bad leaders do
Improve your attitude People with bad attitudes do
Be a better spouse/partner People who devalue committed relationships do
Have control of your finances Broke people do
Parent your children well Bad parents do
Improve the quality of your relationships People with poor relationships do
Make a bigger contribution with your life Apathetic or indifferent people do

 

No matter what it is we want to achieve, there are healthy patterns of behavior that will get us there.  Likewise, there are other behavior patterns that will lead us in the opposite direction from where we want to be.  We are fortunate to be able to observe both types of patters in others, so that we can adjust our own behaviors to help us get the results we want.

Is there a goal or positive trait you’d like to develop in your life?  If so, look at others who exemplify that trait, find out what behaviors they routinely follow that brings that trait about in their life, and then put those behaviors into practice in your own life.  Also be on the lookout for examples of the behaviors that are contrary to where you want to go.  Avoid those.

Examples abound.  We only have to look for them; and learn from them as well.

See What’s Inside

A Few years ago, my wife and I started looking more closely at nutrition labels on packaged food.  Specifically, we started paying attention to the ingredients to see what’s actually inside some of the food we were consuming.  We were shocked!

It was, and continues to be amazing to us how foods that are packaged as “healthy” or “good for you” can contain so many ingredients to the contrary.  Simple foods you’d expect would only contain a couple of ingredients often contain so many ingredients, many of which we can’t even pronounce.  We stopped eating foods with longs lists of ingredients we couldn’t pronounce.

The lesson we learned is that if we want to know if something is good for us, we need to make the effort to read the ingredients in order to “see” what’s inside, because a quick glance at the packaging can be deceiving.

I think it’s like that with people too.  We often can’t tell what someone’s like just from appearances, because appearances, much like food packaging, don’t always give an accurate picture of what’s inside.  A quick glance at appearances will tell you very little about:

  • Character
  • Integrity
  • Attitude
  • Mindset
  • Compassion
  • Beliefs
  • Ambitions

To get a glimpse of what’s on the inside of a person we need to pay attention to their:

  • Speech
  • Habits
  • Interactions with others
  • Actions
  • Responses to different scenarios

Just like knowing what’s inside the food we eat, so we can make good choices, we should know what’s inside the people we’re surrounding ourselves with.  And while we’re at it, wouldn’t hurt to take a look at ourselves to know what’s inside of us as well.