Sometimes You Got to

There are plenty of great words to be used to describe my mom. One word I can definitely use is wise. She is a wise woman.

Growing up she had several sayings that she repeated to us all the time. It seems like she said them every day. But they stuck. They stuck because she was consistent and she repeated it enough times that we got sick of hearing it! At the time, it may have frustrated us to hear the same phrase over and over but years later we are repeating those phrases ourselves.

She did something else too. This may be the reason the sayings had the most impact. She modeled them. Her actions were consistent with the sayings. That made it really go deep with us.

“Sometimes you got to do things you don’t want to do.”

That is one of them. Seems pretty basic. It is easy to hear that and think “Duh, of course.” But I reflect on it and say it to myself so often. We all want to just do the things we want to do in life. It seems like just doing the things we want to do would lead to a fun life. It is a lie. That is the wisdom in the statement.

It is a sign of maturity. A wise person understands that the path to a great life is paved with having to do things we don’t want to do or feel like doing at first. They are the right things that we are glad we did afterwards.

The other path is always doing everything we want. It is a dangerous path. Just take a look at others who seem to have tried that path. Early on it seems like maybe they are on the right one. They seem to be living the great life full of endless pleasure but give it a little time. The path leads to misery. This is what the wise person knows.

So it is a phrase worth repeating. Maybe it can keep us from trying to take the easy road that leads to nowhere.

“Sometimes you got to do things you don’t want to do.”

Clear the Fog

Anxiety is a real issue for so many people. I am no exception. I don’t remember the exact age, but I was young the first time I experienced it. There are people who have experienced it much worse, but I have dealt with it enough in my past to understand it.

Full disclaimer: I am not a doctor and have zero qualifications to offer any medical advise to anyone! Anxiety has a strong grip on so many and there is a lot to be said on the subject. I have read and studied a lot on it over the years.

One thing I have learned for me is that anxiety is almost like a fog. It is this feeling that something is out there but you just can’t pin point it or see it clearly. It leaves you with this uneasy feeling.

Again, there are many ways to address anxiety, but one thing I like to do is clear the fog. That is how I think of it. In other words, try to identify the things that are bothering me. I’m not offering advice on how to deal with the dragons, but just clearing the fog and looking straight at them sometimes makes them run away. Other times, we realize they are tiny and we can slay them instantly.

It may require more. We may need a lot of prayer and support to get through. But it never hurts to clear the fog. Often times this enough. Clearing the fog and shining a bright light in the direction of the dragon is often all it takes.

Next time you are feeling a little anxious, try to clear the fog. It might help.

The Comfort Zone

We have all heard of the comfort zone. We all have a comfort zone, but it looks completely different for each of us. What is comfortable for one person is very uncomfortable for another. Each of us has a unique comfort zone.

What is common between us all is that the comfort zone boundaries are not set in stone. We don’t have a zone that we are born with that simply remains the same throughout our life. Some may argue that certain people were born with a larger zone, but that doesn’t really matter. The important thing to know is that the boundaries are always moving.

Maybe it helps to picture a battle. Countries for centuries have protected their boundaries and fought to expand them outwards. What would happen to countries if they just retreated everyone to the center and left their boundaries unoccupied? Eventually, their boundaries would shrink inward.

This is how I think of the comfort zones in our life. We have areas that we are very comfortable. We have to pay attention that we don’t retreat all the way the way to the center. We can go for a visit. We can retreat to the very center of our comfort zone on the couch with a bag of chips, but we best not stay their too long. We need to return to our boundaries. The areas that border the comfortable and the uncomfortable. Beyond it is the world of the unknown. The world we can only discover with our future potential. It may seem too scary because we don’t know what monsters are out there, but that is why we need to stay on the boundaries, but then take one extra step.

Once we have defeated those monsters (or discovered there are none) and secured our boundaries, we can take another step. Expanding our comfort zones is always a little uncomfortable, but it beats retreating and giving up our boundaries to the invisible enemies.

Are you protecting and expanding your boundaries or have you retreated to the center?

3 Hobbies

I heard one time that we should all have 3 hobbies. I’d like to say where I heard it or read it, but I don’t recall. Nonetheless, the idea stuck with me.

A hobby is something we enjoy doing. We strive to get better at it. We find satisfaction and even relaxation from doing it. So here are 3 hobbies we can all benefit from having.

  1. A hobby to make money – the idea here is to find something that we enjoy doing that also earns a living. I don’t think it simply means start a side business or job. It could, but can also mean finding a career that you enjoy or learning how to enjoy what you are doing. View it as a hobby. View it as a game that you can get better at over time and hopefully find satisfaction from doing it.
  2. A hobby for creativity – find a hobby that challenges you to be creative. Creativity helps keep our mind sharp, but sometimes as we get older we stop being as creative. So finding a hobby that encourages this can be very beneficial to us.
  3. A hobby to stay in shape – we all know the importance of exercise to stay healthy long term, but it can be challenging. What if we found a hobby that we enjoyed but also kept us in better shape. Of course, we may still need to do other exercises, but a fun hobbie can be a foundation piece for our health.

When I heard this, I identified these different hobbies in my life. Some I hadn’t been as intentional about but after considering the long term value, I realized I should make them more of a priority. It also challenged me to view my work as a hobby. I didn’t change what I was doing, but maybe viewed it from a different angle.

What are your hobbies?

Sand Crabs in a Bucket

When we went to the beach as a kid, I loved going out on the sand just after the sun went down to catch the sand crabs. They start coming out at night so it is a fun challenge to see how many you can find, catch and throw in your bucket. It is a tradition I kept with my boys as we took summer vacations to the beach.

Any time we had a rookie hunter with us, they would usually ask the same question, “How come the crabs don’t escape?” Our bucket was never very big and it didn’t have a lid on it so the crabs could escape. There is an easy solution to this problem. Simply put another crab in the bucket and then another and you don’t need a lid to keep them in. Why? Because they keep each other in the bucket. As soon as one is climbing and about to escape, another will grab it and pull it down. Problem solved.

We aren’t so different. We are created with unlimited potential. We live in a free country with out a lid to keep us down, yet we still must be careful. Too often people do life or have the wrong people in their bucket. If our bucket is full of people who want to pull us down and don’t want us to succeed, it can keep us from climbing out!

There is one important difference between us and the crabs. We get to choose the people in our bucket. So choose wisely. It is hard to rise up when everyone is pulling you down. Find the people who want to lift you up and who you can help lift up. Put those people in your bucket and you can climb your way to freedom together.

Who is in your bucket?

We Are All Story Tellers

Story telling is a gift. To be able to capture the attention of an audience when telling a great story is an art. People have become wealthy simply for their ability to tell stories. Some based on facts and some totally fictional. It doesn’t matter. We all love a great story. We pay multiple monthly subscriptions just to be able watch and listen to new stories.

Some learn how to properly tell their stories to the world and they make millions for it because we love to be entertained. But we all have the gift of story telling. Most of us rarely share our stories with the rest of the world. Maybe with certain individuals, but mostly we keep them to ourselves.

They are incredible stories nonetheless. They are based partly on facts but mostly fiction. Fiction we have made up about our own lives and a story we have created about ourselves that we rehearse and replay for an audience of one over and over. We have told the story so much that even though it is mostly fiction, we have forgotten that. To us, it has now become real.

We are the actors and the audience of our stories, but the good news is that we are also the writers. Maybe it is time we step back and listen to our stories. Pay better attention to them. Give ourselves some credit for being such great story tellers! And then maybe we should use our God given abilities to write a new story for ourselves. Let’s rehearse this new story enough that the rest of the world eventually gets to hear it even if you never actually tell them.

You are a gifted story teller. What stories are you telling yourself?

This Will Always Be Needed

The speed at which change happens with technology today is mind blowing. If we just go back 5 years, our world looked so drastically different.

The covid 19 pandemic seems to have propelled change in the market place even faster. People are connecting and working virtually using all the new technology that continues to get better each day. Established businesses and brands are dying while new ones are being born so fast.

The change is so rapid that it can be difficult to know what skill sets will be needed in the future. Technology will replace many jobs. It already has and it will only continue. There are 2 skills that will never be replaced by technology. These skills are valuable today and they will be in the future no matter how the world changes. What are they?

The ability to lead people

The ability to solve interesting problems

Technology won’t replace those things and they will always be needed. Seth Godin says that those are the skills that would be valuable to teach to our youth. So much of our educational system is designed to teach people how to do things that technology can replace. We need to make sure we teach these skills because they are timeless and will always be necessary.

The great thing about these skills is they can be learned by all of us. We all have the ability to lead within us. We may not be great at first, but we can learn to lead better. Each of us are unique and can solve different problems in our unique way. This involves creativity and thinking outside the box.

There will always be new skills we need to learn as we adjust with the changing times, but these 2 timeless skills will always be in high demand.

One Starfish

I heard a story one time about a beach full of starfish that had been washed ashore. There were so many that it was evident they would die. There were too many and not enough time to save them all.

One man picked up a starfish and took it back out in the ocean. He saved it. His friend asked him, “What are you doing? You will never save them all!” The man replied, “No. But I saved that one.”

That story has always stuck with me. I can’t help but think of so many of today’s major challenges that we face. Most seem too overwhelming. It causes great debates about how to best solve the problem and save all the starfish.

It is a worthy endeavor to think about saving them all. For some it may be a passion and a life’s mission to rescue all the starfish. There probably is a way to save them all. There may be a way for someone to tackle some of the biggest challenges that we face today. As good as we have it, there is no shortage of beaches full of starfish that need to be saved.

For most of us who don’t have a grand plan that we are acting on to save them all, perhaps we should just reach down and save the one next to us. That single starfish’s life matters too.

I may have my ideas and opinions about how to save them all like most of us do about the world’s major problems. But maybe the most meaningful thing I can do is save the one within my reach.

Can you save one starfish?

If You Could Go Back in Time…

Wouldn’t it be cool to have a time machine? Going back in time to experience the world or be a part of famous historical events would be fascinating, but I’m not even talking about that. What if we could just back to when we were younger? What things would we love to tell ourselves? What mistakes would we tell ourselves to avoid? What opportunities would we tell ourselves to take advantage of?

Wouldn’t we all want a do-over or at least have some sound advice to give ourselves? Unfortunately, we can’t go back to the 20 years younger version of us. That doesn’t mean we can’t still think about it. If you could go back, what advice would you give yourself? It is a worthy question that requires reflection and self-awareness.

Then I think there is another question that we can ask that is a bit more difficult. What about the 20 year older version of yourself? If your 20 year older version had a time machine and could back and give you advice about your life right now, what do you think it would be?

This is a more challenging question, but worth consideration. It has the potential to give us more clarity today.

What advice do you think the future you would give you today?

How Much Longer?

We can’t go on a road trip with kids without hearing the classic question, “how much longer?” If the trip is any where near an hour or more we will hear it and probably over and over.

We asked the question as kids too because all kids want to get to the destination faster. Waiting is hard. The interesting thing is we grow up, but we still have these same feelings and emotions of wanting to “arrive” sooner. We may not outload in our whiny voice ask the question like we did as kids, but it doesn’t mean we aren’t thinking it.

Only now it isn’t about asking how much longer until we get to the hotel. As adults the questions we ask are more like:

“How much longer until I lose this weight?”

“How much longer until I’m out of debt?”

“How much longer until I can get my new car?”

“How much longer until my business is profitable?”

We all ask these types of questions of ourselves. We can even start asking them in the annoying, whiny voice like when we were kids. That is not a good sign.

All worthwhile things take time. Patience is so important in life. It may be boring. It may not sound like the million dollar solution, but it just might be. Patience is a sign of maturity. Unfortunately, many of us never seem to grow up. We are stuck asking those whiny questions like a 5 year old. We may dress it up to sound more sophisticated but it is the same basic question.

Why does it matter? Because impatience ultimately leads us to make a stupid decision. It leads us to get the car payment we shouldn’t get. It leads us to make the investment gamble we should have never made. It leads us to try the craziest fad diet ultimately causing our weight to yo-yo even more.

The irony in it all is that our impatience ultimately adds times or sometimes keeps us from ever getting there!

With a little more patience, we tend to make wiser decisions that are better for us in the long run.

How patient are you?