“We’re all terminal, man!” When I was a 25-year old graduate student and had just told a classmate, Dave, that my father was dying from terminal brain cancer, this was his response. Having delivered the message he felt important to share, he turned and walked away. We never spoke again. Apparently my unpleasant news and accompanying vulnerability was unwelcome. Unsettling, even. A day ruiner. He was not happy about dealing with difficult things.
To this day, what is most striking to me about his response is not its abject callousness. Not its utter dearth of compassion. Not even its basic rudeness, as if we had just disagreed about the intrinsic value of a lecture we’d just listened to instead of the imminent demise of my dad. (more…)
It’s a well-known truism that if something isn’t “broke”–like a car or something you depend on–you don’t mess with it. “Mess with it” meaning attempting to fix it. Which really means “making it better.” Because what’s the point? The argument is that if something is working properly, even if it’s not especially cool or “new,” it still works…so monkeying around with it could go badly.
It’s not a bad principle. Until it breaks.
In our society, even post- “Great Recession” (assuming you believe the premise that we are, in fact, “post”), we’ve become accustomed to just throwing things away when they are broken. Which is odd, since people post-Depression rarely threw anything away, even when it was broken. They’d fix it.
The Banker’s Light Fiasco
Many years ago I worked in a small, 3rd generation office supply store. The prices were a bit higher than the big box stores we’re used to now, but they had great service and many products you simply couldn’t get elsewhere. Like the banker’s light you see above. It’s mine. I’ve owned it almost 20 years. So, when the irresistible force of something that had been hanging in my office decided to let go, the lamp became the immovable object that stopped it. Until it couldn’t.
Looking at the collected remains, and tentatively putting a few together–like a nightmare jigsaw puzzle, I decided it was worth fixing. What you see is the result. Super-glue to the rescue! Where the bits of glass were too far gone to redeem, I filled in the void with clear caulking.
Viola! Good as new…and it looks cooler, too.
Come on! You know it looks gnarly and you want one now. Word of advice: make stuff “broke” carefully…
Go For “Broke”
OK, so I fixed a busted lamp. Is there a metaphor here? Indeed, there is.
When a relationship looks like the lamp, what does our culture advocate? Dump it. Dump the loser. It’s broke. Get a new one. Move on and let go. That viewpoint is everywhere in social media. This comes from a Facebook post of a friend:
Keep people in your life that truly love you, motivate you, encourage you, inspire you, enhance you and make you happy. If you have people who do none of the above, let them go.
Am I so naive as to think that all relationships must be continued, even when toxic? Of course not. But here’s the rub. Where do you see toxic in the maxim above? Doesn’t the manifesto strike you as, at least, a little too egocentric? More to the point, who really just discovers one day that they have relationships with people who aren’t like this? Wouldn’t that say more about their own motivations?
5 Steps to More Satisfaction in Life
Lose the sense of royal disdain. Just because someone in your life doesn’t fulfill Your Highness’s needs all the time, show some royal grace. You might be the grump someday. It could happen.
Get your vision checked. Rather than going through your day like Mr. Magoo, see whose life you can bring love, motivation, encouragement and inspiration to. Let them be in charge of their own happiness.
Own your own. Look after your own happiness. Really. We need others, yes. But not to the extent we dump them when they fail to meet our lengthy list of expectations.
Seek out discomfort. Have you ever learned something, been enhanced or motivated…by someone that just rubbed you wrong? Thought so.
Seize the day. When relationships are less than satisfying, try fixing them first. Work at it. Consume and discard people at your own risk. One day, you might be the one “let go.”
Engage here. What are your thoughts? Agree? Strongly disagree? For more steps to living a satisfied life, click here.
Yesterday we looked at 5 crucial steps for evolving our resolution making, so that by a year from now you’ll just have to smile at what you have achieved. Today we look at the other 5 steps.
10 Tips for Resolution Evolution, cont.
The following 5 tips act as a companion to each of the first 5. Resolve yourself to using them.
STAY GROUNDED: At first glance, this seems to contradict the first step of making big, BIG goals, but not really. If your primary goal next year is to win the lottery, you’ll only meet that goal by buying a winning ticket. The odds of that outcome are astronomically against you. Thus, it isn’t grounded. On the other hand, if your goal is to lose 50 lbs even while it might feel absolutely insurmountable–just because…or because you just haven’t been able to do this before–other people have done it. Lots of other people. So that goal is a BHAG for you…and grounded.
TALK ABOUT THEM: Part of the “stretch” many people avoid when making resolutions is to make them known to someone else. Face it. In most areas of life, we all need a little accountability. Note that accountability isn’t a bad word or a bad thing. It just means you’ve drafted another onto your “Team for Success,” who can give you encouragement, or a kick in the backside, once in awhile.
ASSESS & REDEPLOY: As you look at your goals throughout the year, monitor how you’re doing. What’s working? What’s getting in the way? Is it time to move your workouts to a gym, for access to a coach? Or is it time to leave the gym and go solo, for better focus and less distraction? Be honest with your assessment. Redeploy as needed.
GET INSPIRED & SHARE: Moving towards intentional, written BHAGs is work. It can be difficult and require discipline; many people avoid both while complaining about their life. Frankly, it’s easier, right? You’ll want to slip sometimes. So, grab something inspirational–read a motivational book, listen to a great podcast series, attend an inspirational workshop, etc.–then tell someone else about what you’ve learned and how its helped you.
BOW & GIVE THANKS: American culture is steeped in the notion that you “must pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.” Besides presenting a laughably improbable image, this pithy quote is built on smoke and mirrors. Does anyone really want to be so independent that no one else matters? Is that something to aspire to? No. Nearly every goal we reach is attained through the support of others. Even if that support isn’t directly given from those nearest you–such as family and friends not supporting your efforts–we can still be grateful for incredible support systems beyond them (see the previous bullet). Nurture an attitude of gratitude. We’re fortunate to be able to even think about making positive changes in our lives.
Again, remember that virtually everyone that has succeeded in some area that you wish to grow into used the same steps that you will. Their resolve isn’t any more special than your own resolve.
The 11th (bonus!) tip is this: make one of your goals for 2013 to make a lasting, meaningful, welcome improvement to someone else. That will keep your motivation high while you make a positive contribution to the world around you.
So, what’s your highest aspiration for the new year? Will you share one of your BHAGs?
As 2012 nears its end, assuming it isn’t later today or the 20th (depending on which Mayan calendar you’re working from), expect a flood of magazines, op-eds, posts and tweets to call you to make resolutions for a better 2013 than your 2012. Your best year ever. To be the person you always have wanted to be. But it requires resolve. Clearly, you don’t want to be found slacking on such an important and critical task. Or do you?
Perhaps the very best magazine for providing high-level resources for delving into your new you is Success. I first learned about it from Dan Miller, of 48Days.com. Dan highly recommended it (thanks, Dan!), so I started up my subscription and haven’t stopped. What I most enjoy and appreciate about it is the enclosed bonus CD, because it contains lengthy interviews with some of the key contributors for that issue, or the primary people featured. It is an awesome value-add. So, if you need some additional insight for establishing your 2013 resolutions, you’d be hard-pressed to find anything better.
10 Tips for Resolution Evolution
However, before you resolve to go sailing off into the rarefied air of high-minded resolution making, here are a few bits of guidance.
MAKE BIG GOALS: Perhaps you’ve heard of “BHAGs”–big, hairy audacious goals. Many goals aren’t reached because they weren’t compelling enough. A BHAG should make your heart flutter.
WRITE THEM DOWN: Just write them down, will you? Until you write it down, it’s just an idea floating around. The simple of act of placing that idea on paper establishes it as serious to you.
KEEP LOOKING AT THEM: So, when you write your BHAGs down, keep them in a journal, your day planner, on the notepad on your smart phone or a post-it note on your fridge. Refer to them at least once a week; daily is best.
BELIEVE & COMMIT: If you are intentional about your written BHAGs–you really want to see them come into reality, knowing full-well that reaching them will mean you must stretch beyond anything you’ve done before–then your prospects are good! If your approach is more like, “Well, this would be cool if it happened but, you know, what are the odds of that…?,” you might as well close this window and go back to whatever you were doing earlier. Believe in yourself. Commit to setting a bunch of small personal bests throughout the year. They add up.
EXPECT & ACCEPT: Here’s the trickiest challenge. You need to expect and accept some disappointments along the course of the year. Setbacks will come. And…you’ll also make progress! You’ll need to expect that outcome, and accept those moments, too. If you don’t, who will?
Just remember that virtually everyone that has succeeded in some area that you wish to grow into used the same steps that you will.
Recently, I spoke to more than a hundred business people about my inspirational book, Watson’s Way. At first glance, it isn’t self-evident how a story written primarily for middle and high school kids is actually a business book, in disguise.
The Frozen Ridge
It’s not just business people who recall, without any fondness, the 4th quarter of 2008 and the 1st quarter of 2009. That’s when everyone learned about big banks and insurers that had made idiotic investment gambles resulting in a new government phrase, “too big to fail.” The markets weren’t too big to fail, however, and subsequently tanked over those 6 months. My work life really felt like the picture above: frozen, hostile, inconceivably challenging. I was the Managing Principal for much of the state, with a national investment company, responsible for sales management, recruiting, training and compliance for more than 40 professionals, as well as nearly $500M. Most other firms utilized four field leaders to cover the four roles I held. Several of those under my watch went rogue, I suppose, partly from the pressure they felt. One even engaged in a well-hidden and devastating betrayal. Our family also went through two enormous personal crises during this period. Physically, I carried around a huge bloodclot in my leg. In a word, that time was awful.
Redemption on 4 Legs
Throughout this time and the years that followed, we were the “persons” to Watson, our shelter dog. When he passed suddenly in the summer of 2011 and I began the process of writing what ended up becoming this book, nearly all of the life lessons that came from Watson had an application within the business world. Even though the lessons were simple, it didn’t mean they were simplistic:
Live with intention
How to be patient when all you want to do is bark
Stand up for what you believe in, even when it costs you
Find reasons to laugh, especially when there isn’t much to laugh about
Try new things, even when it makes you uncomfortable
Give…and forgive, even when it hurts
Ageless Life Lessons
Certainly, publishing Watson’s Way represents a labor of love by those in our house, who were blessed to have been his persons. But that was never the intent, to just create a love legacy. The lessons nestled within this book have relevance to parents, as well as their children. And…these inspirational tales (tails) speak truth, warmth and perspective to those in business, just as much. We all need to hear stories of beauty, resilience, humor and humility. Our humanness is enhanced and centered, by simple lessons from a dog.
What was your experience during the “Crash of ’08-’09”? How were you impacted? Does that time impact you still? If so, in what ways?
I just discovered a great resource, Brave Reviews, for learning about many good books out there, reviewed by Jason Brueckner. It’s not that there aren’t a bunch of people reviewing books already; there are. Plenty. It’s just that I really like Jason’s reviewing approach, style and choices.
The short course on Jason: he studied at Malone University in Canton, Ohio where he double majored in Bible & Theology as well as Youth & Sports Ministry. After getting married, he moved his family to Chicago, Illinois and commuted out to Wheaton Graduate School. There he earned, “by God’s grace,” a Master’s in Biblical Exegesis. While his degree isn’t as cool as mine [Systematic Theology, which everyone knows is better], I asked Jason if it would be alright to share his story with you. Delightfully, he agreed! Here’s the full course:
I really appreciate the opportunity you’ve given me to share! I know the importance of the internet and how viral contagious ideas can be. In a great sense, that is why I started Brave Reviews. When you have found a good idea, it can transform your life and the lives of your neighbors and cities and so forth. Books are ideas that have been poured out onto pages so to be shared with others. We need to hear new ideas so to grow, so to transform (check out Colossians 1:10).
Why do I give of my time to Brave Reviews?
I got sick and tired of only seeing people who don’t like a book sit down and put together a review. Brave Reviews exists as a trustworthy corner of the web where people can find unbiased reviews of contemporary texts. I do not believe in a “bad book.” Whether it is a romance novel or a hotly-debated theological text, we as learners should be having conversations with a variety of genres. So now you should be asking what a person who would not give a book a poor evaluation is doing reviewing books for others. The calling of Brave Reviews is two simple tasks:
Let followers know what books are available. Our audience is just like anyone else; they are over-committed and over-compassionate. In other words, you love people so much that you have not given yourself adequate time to stay up on what is being published. Brave Reviews is like an alarm clock for followers that alerts them of new and noteworthy texts.
Let followers know what books are for them. How many times have you heard, “Yeah, you should really pick this book up. It’d be great for you in yourfield!” If we had a book for every time we heard that! Our second task is to be a filter for these new books. It is important to know what is being published in general, but it is vitally important for your own growth to know what is being published in your area of expertise. For example, Brave Reviews will be doing a review of a new NLT Study Bible that is not yet in stores and that is important for everyone to know about! But, you may be deeply immersed in the world of business so you’d want to probably pick up a copy of Doing Virtuous Business. As professionals in our own skill sets, we must know what books are available for us specifically and Brave Reviews will assist in providing that filter.
It’s a brave task, I know, but in this world of mass media it is a much worthy adventure.
If you would like to both help Brave Reviews spread the word and enter into a drawing (we are giving away books, Starbucks gift cards, and more!), head over to www.thebravereviews.com/About and enter into the giveaway.
Thanks for getting to know us a bit!
God bless him, Jason even agreed to look 0ver my books! Perhaps someday one or both will land on his awesome site, Brave Reviews! And I was just joking about my degree being better, Jason… 😉