When we stop to think about it, life is lived between mountain tops and valleys. Sometimes we spend an inordinate amount of time in one or the other places. All of us are still emerging from a valley none of us ever expected or knew existed before the beginning of last year. While many of us may still be physically living in that valley, I hope this week’s post helps you mentally rise to the top of the mountain anyway.
The mountain top can represent many things and is likely somewhat different for each one of us. For many, it may be an annual family vacation. For others, it may be as simple as enjoying a sunrise or sunset. Personally, I experienced a mountain top experience yesterday on multiple fronts. For the first time in over a year, I attended a church service with a full congregation. I celebrated Easter with 4-5,000 other folks. That in itself was a delight after months of quarantine. To put your mind at ease, we were fortunate enough to celebrate outside, socially distanced at SMU’s Ford Field.
I’ll begin this post with a warning. What I am about to tell you, you are very likely to discard or ignore. Stick with me though, because there is a promise at the end that I believe is worth investing a few minutes of your time. Please know why I can say that you are likely to ignore my words because I encounter so many people in the same situation.
If you feel stuck, frustrated, unable to get off the hamster wheel of life, and unfulfilled, you are not alone. In fact, I could make a case based on my experience talking to people every day that you are in the majority. Whether the situation you find yourself in is related to work, family, physical, or any other area of your life, I understand your feelings of disappointment or despair. And I offer you a simple solution that you can begin today.
Unless this is the first time you have read one of my blog posts or consumed any of my content, chances are you know I am a positive, glass half–full kind of guy. If that has somehow eluded you, let me say that my mission is to inspire you to develop your God-given abilities to become the best version of yourself that you can be.
Last week, I had an interesting conversation with one of the people I am privileged to coach. I am not quoting him verbatim, but essentially what he said was, “We can’t be motivated all the time, so when we don’t feel motivated, we have to have a plan.” When he first said it, I almost dismissed it because it seemed so simple. However, the more I think around it, the more I recognize great wisdom in his message.
This is an unplanned second installment of a personal memoir that I began in last week’s post. I am writing to you, my friend, but at the same time, I am writing to myself. I know you will benefit from it for the same reasons that I am benefitting from it. As I learn to live more authentically as the person I believe God created me to be; I hope to help you do the same.
This week, I want to talk metaphorically about driving slower through life. This sounds easy, but I can tell you for me, and for just about everyone that I have the pleasure of interacting with, it is not. In fact, I spent most, if not all, of my adult life speeding through one thing after another. Granted, I checked a lot of things off of my “To-Do List,” but I stunk at taking time to check out my surroundings.
This is a personal memoir as well as an encouragement for you this week, dear reader. Whether you are like me, or not, I believe the ensuing thoughts will help you to live more fully filled and fulfilled, beginning with wherever you are and using whatever you have. For, I know, and now I feel, that getting out of my (your) head and into my (your) heart is the best and only way to live.
For far too long, read decades, I have lived inside my head. While I am an emotional guy, many feelings, desires, and sensitivities I kept locked up inside of me for far too long. Both positive and negative. I’ll dive much more deeply into this shortly, but suffice to say, that in my head I felt safe and in my heart, I felt vulnerable. I was right, but I was so wrong.
The more people I talk to and interact with, the more I hear it. Oh, it isn’t necessarily the same words, the same circumstances, or the same reasons but at the core, so many of us are overwrought with fear. There are plenty of sources that we blame for it, and certainly, almost a year into a global pandemic and all of the socioeconomic repercussions and fallout take it to the top of the list.
The truth is, if we didn’t have a pandemic we would create other excuses. Although most everyone knows what they need to do to overcome it, few people actually do it. Why is the pullback to comfortable so, well, comfortable? I don’t have all of the answers but the prevalence of this phenomenon cannot be ignored, and I hope to not only expose it with this post but to give you suggestions for how to overcome it beginning today.
Perhaps you have heard the old saying, “it’s always too soon to quit, and it’s never too late to start.” Which got me thinking this week about how resolute I and we have become in the face of calamities, uncertainties, and fears that none of us could have ever imagined one year ago.
Perhaps I am just getting old(er), as I celebrated another trip around the sun earlier this month, nevertheless, time seems to be passing very quickly and a year goes by in the blink of an eye. Yes, even 2020. Sure, we all have long days, but I’m telling you the years keep slipping away.
I have some very good news for you this week. I hope you can receive it not only from the purpose for which I intend it but also with an appreciation for the clarity I hope it begins to bring to your life. My friend, I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that you were created for a specific purpose that only you can accomplish.
I believe that you are uniquely gifted to do something that only you can do, using only what you have at this moment, and with whatever you have experienced in your life up to this point. Whether you believe it or not (yet), I hope in the next few hundred words to convince you of this fact.
While this message might be better suited for a few weeks back before we started the new year, I believe it is still relevant, and perhaps even more so for right now. At the beginning of the year many of us, myself included plan, project, and attempt to do many things. That never gets finished, assuming they ever got started in the first place.
So as we begin to settle into 2021 and find our stride, I want to encourage you today to take a 360-degree view of yourself. For some of us, even looking at ourselves in the mirror is a struggle. But I really want you to open yourself up to introspective thinking and evaluation. And I want you to focus on more than just your physical appearance, but to take a look at your life holistically and determine in each role you have what needs to change and what doesn’t.
One of the detriments of our distracted, byte-sized addictions to all of the opportunities for distractions that exist in our world today is that I believe we have lost the ability to sit still for even a few seconds. Especially to sit still and think, without being distracted. I confess I struggle greatly with this.
I am neither proud of this, nor am I content to allow it to continue at the ever-increasing rate that it has overtaken my life in the past several years. I am committed to creating more margin in my life to be able to sit quietly and think. Indian-born philosopher and writer Jiddu Krishnamurti said this: “The ability to observe without evaluating is the highest form of intelligence.” Whoa!
My handy dictionary app on my phone (my primary distraction) defines observe: To see, watch, perceive, or notice. To regard with attention, especially so as to see or learn something. Ok, let me see your hands, how many of you in the past week took time to perceive or notice something? How many in the last month regarded something with enough attention to learn something. Yeah, me either.
Let’s take it one step further. My dictionary app says this about evaluating: To determine or set the value or amount of. To judge or determine the significance, worth, or quality of. Now, this is convicting. Again, a show of hands for everyone who has not been conditioned by our world today to look at something quickly and not make a snap judgment. Yeah, I didn’t think so.
Here is the conundrum. Can we observe without evaluating? Of course, we can. But it takes patience, practice, and intentionality. Is there a place where you can go that makes this easier to do? Some room in your house, a coffee shop in town, or even just a favorite chair where you can sit and think with no distractions?
For me, there is no better place than outside in nature. I love being outdoors. Of course, a beautiful day doesn’t hurt, but even if the weather is less than perfect, I find that doing outside allows me to connect with myself and to connect with my Creator. It could be almost anywhere. I prefer the beach or a golf course but since I don’t get to do that every day, an early morning walk with my dog is a good substitute.
No matter where you do it, and how you do it, I believe we need to fight for our intelligence and create some margin to think, to ask ourselves questions, and to listen to the answers that come. I like to do this with God too. I have to admit, I don’t always get the answers I think I am looking for, but I rarely come away from such a session without feeling more relaxed, more clarity, and more purpose as I go through the rest of my day.
I’d love to hear from you. What practices work for you? What do you need to stop doing to create more margin to start thinking? What questions or comments do you have? I’d love you to share them below.
I also invite you to review my coaching page on my website here. I have only a couple of spots left in my Personal Development Coaching Practice. Each week I offer two free strategy sessions on a first-come, first-served basis to people interested in exploring how to become a person who pursues their goals and dreams. These highly valuable hour-long sessions prove again and again to be invaluable to those who participate. You can book these directly on my coaching page – I look forward to serving you.