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.
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 precious 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.
This is the third in our three-part series, discussing your success, your significance, and your legacy. After learning how to individually define your success, then transitioning to a higher level of significance, this week we explore the ultimate goal of leaving a legacy.
First, a challenging question. Are you leaving a legacy? The answer to the question is, yes, you are. Whether you create your legacy intentionally or whether you allow it to occur by happenstance, indeed you cannot escape the legacy you will leave. So the next, and more important question is; are you proud of the legacy you’re leaving? Therein lies our opportunity ro create a meaningful heritage that will have immediate as well as long-lasting impact.