August, 2010


30
Aug 10

Looking Ahead

Hi, it’s a great day for a journey.

I was listening to a very interesting interview on the radio this morning.  The person interviewed was talking about his life now compared to where he thought he would be while in high school.

He believes that we tend to see our life as a story that unfolds as we go.  Because we see it as such we routinely project the next chapters and even the ending of the story of our lives.

This came to vivid realization when a teacher in his freshman year had his class write a letter to themselves about their future.  His letter to himself outlined the events of his life.  He was going to fall in love, have kids, get a good job at one of the regional paper mills and live a good life… a life much like his father’s.

Four years later, upon graduation, the teacher sent the letters to the students.  He had noticed that his view of life had broadened and the projected events of four years earlier were forced to the edges of reality.  He had changed and had rewritten his future.

He indicated that we can rewrite what we perceive that will happen if we are willing to allow new learnings and current events to become part of the formula for our future.

Side Note: Yep, the blog entry is a bit philosophical today.  As you know, philosophical stuff can be a bit boring and tedious, but stick with me.

I can assure you that you will either read something that stretches and stirs your thinking or you will be sufficiently prepared for a quick afternoon nap by getting you all bored and relaxed.  Either way you can’t lose.

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The interview went on to explore on a deeper level this amazing ability to rewrite our future.  Humans have the unique ability to grasp the context of their life.  What I mean is that we understand that we were born and some day we die… that there is a start and a finish to our lives.  No other animal has that ability.

This knowledge makes all the difference.  Animals just live from day to day as instinct and circumstances dictate.  But because we possess this understanding, our view of life has fuller dimension and we are pulled beyond a haphazard nature of existence.

We are naturally led to the notion and question of purpose.  It forces us to ask, what am I to do with this fixed period of time that I call my life?  The grasp of this finite reality ignites the flame of infinite possibilities.

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.

- Yogi Berra

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As all of us know, we can’t predict the future.  But there are things that increase the odds of what we want out of life.  Unfortunately far too many of us allow the unpredictability of the future to dictate our present.  If not careful, we live in our safe little world letting life just happen.

Sure, we are not guaranteed of the outcome of any positive efforts we make to impact the future.  But I can assure you of this, the future is impacted by what we don’t do.

The absence of positive action eliminates the risk of failure but assures the absence of reward.

- Me

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The future is far too important to coast.  So I think I will camp out on this topic for a while and poke at it from several angles to see what we might learn.

See you Thursday.


26
Aug 10

The Carrier

Howdy.  Welcome back.

Have you had anything lately just make you smile?  Not laugh or grin… smile.  Actually there’s a big difference.

I ran across this video and it just made me smile.  Take a look.

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YouTube Preview Image

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I may be a softy but I thought this video was flat out cute.  I just found myself smiling, bobbing my head with the music and enjoying the story.  It left me with a good feeling.

It struck me in such a way as to cause me to do a little internal digging to understand why I responded as I did.

As I sorted through the clutter I was struck by its innocence and simplicity.   I have no question that the innocence screamed loudly to me because we live in such a negative, cynical, angry world.  Everything we hear seems to be fear based and mean spirited.

Side Note: Some of you are probably scrunching your forehead and yelling at the computer… “It’s just a Huggies commercial.  It’s not a big of a deal.”

Maybe… maybe not!

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All I know is that a person has to guard themselves from the onslaught of things that jade.  I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but I never want to lose the joy of innocence.  If we lose touch with the beauty of innocence we become hard and suspicious.

We soon trust nothing.  Everything is suspect.  Sad isn’t it?

Some may say that I may be a bit naive.  Nope, I am very aware of the perils of our world.

But I also know that hardness and distrust begats hardness and distrust.  Cynicism breeds cynicism.  So I have made a decision.  I have decided not become a carrier.

There are far too many Typhoid Mary’s of negativity.  The problem is most carriers don’t know they are sick.  They are oblivious to the problem and they unknowingly spew their disease.

Some may be wondering how a person knows if they are a carrier or not.  I can’t say what it is for anyone else but I believe for me that becoming hard to the joy and beauty of innocence is a key symptom.

So I like it when I run across something that makes me smile.

What kinds of things make you smile?

See you Monday.


23
Aug 10

Hard Headed and Hard Work

I’ve come to the conclusion that it is easy to write if you have something to say.

Now that the reunion topic has run its course I have to come up with something worthwhile to talk about… assuming what I talked about before was worthwhile. 

Coming up with something twice a week to write about requires me to exert some mental and emotional effort.   But I knew this was all part of making the commitment to write this blog.

Side Note:  I hate to be redundant, but for those who are new to my blog journey you need to know that I am not and must not write these entries for anyone but myself. 

The commitment to write is my journey of stepping beyond the comfortable world I was living and explore.  Take a look at my first blog in January (archives on the right side of your screen toward the bottom).

 

As most of you know (those who have been traveling along with me in this blog) I am pretty lazy.  I hate to admit it – but I am. 

Now for argument sake, lazy is relative.  By some people’s standards I may be considered fairly industrious.  I’m not a compete slug. 

I guess the real issue regarding laziness is how much one does or doesn’t do in regards to their capability.  I think of the kid that has natural intellect and gets straight “A’s” without really trying in comparison to the youngster that has average intellect and works hard for a “B”.  For me my admiration goes to the average kid.

I would contend that the “B” student is learning more about getting the most out of life than the kid getting “A’s”.  Life requires effort… constant effort.   I tend to believe more and more that effort is learned.  I heard someone say recently that many kids today are not taught how to work hard.  This may seem odd, but it’s true.

This is why I started my journey.  I knew that there was so much more to experience in life and that to experience it I needed to step out.  Sadly, like most things that are good, you wonder why you didn’t make the decision sooner.  I don’t know for sure why I didn’t start sooner but that is not the place to spend any energy.

“You must not let the past corrupt the future.”

                                                – Oswald Chambers

 

Although my journey isn’t perfect… it’s good.  Remember, progress not perfection.

So here I sit typing away at 6:00 a.m. Monday morning.  (As you can see, what I lack in hard work I make up for in procrastination.) 

See you Thursday.


19
Aug 10

Reunion Tale – Retold (continued)

Yep, me again, with my Monday Thursday musings on life.

I have good news (drum roll please).  This should be the last blog that revolves around the topic of my wife’s class reunion (and the crowd goes wild).

So here goes.  As those of you who read the last blog entry know, I began putting a serious capstone on this reunion topic with three learnings that I believe are important to share.  I titled them an Insight, Reflection and a Question.

On Monday I talked about a personal insight.  Today is a reflection and a question.

Reflection

On the second day of the reunion during the main evening gathering I found myself drifting to the edge of the crowd away from the energy vortex of memories, stories and laughter at the center.  I just enjoyed sitting and watching the people.

Pretty soon two refugees from the crowd gravitated to the edge for a needed break.  We sat and talked for a good bit of the evening and these two became central to the learning that I am about to share.

They were members of the class and had remained active friends since high school although one lived in the south and the other in Texas.  Both were delightful and obviously successful.  The fellow from Texas had a particularly interesting and varied life and career.

As we talked they casually reminisced about their high school days.  I told them about my fantasy to break the class up into the three groups of the “IN” crowd, the “EDGE” crowd, and the “OUT” crowd and ask the questions that I listed in Monday’s blog.

They indicated that they would be considered in the “EDGE” crowd.  As the conversation flowed and they reflected on the past they tended to talk about themselves in high school as if it were another life or person… almost in 3rd person.   I asked them, knowing what you know now, how do feel about that kid in high school and what would you want to tell them?

I could see their minds flashback the years (as did mine) and process the implications of the question.  Their responses were fascinating.  (I will share just the essence of their statements because I don’t want to violate an unspoken trust.)  Basically one felt kind of sorry for that kid back then and they both said things like – don’t worry as much, have more confidence, trust yourself, etc.

I answered the question too.  (Ugh, full disclosure again) I said I felt sorry for that kid.  I would tell that kid that he is better than he thinks he is and that he has a lot of talent.  I would tell him that he has extreme value and lots potential.

Side Note: It is amazing how a moment of trust and vulnerability instantly unites strangers into a kindred spirit.

Then this conversation then led me to the Question.

Question

After our individual disclosure my mind for some reason flashed forward twenty years.  And asked them if twenty years from now we looked back on who we are today, what would today’s person need to hear to take them successfully forward to a fuller life?

This question spurred a level of responsibility.  There is nothing we could do about the kid in high school but we have total control over the person today.  Their responses were just as fascinating as before.

Here’s what I say to the Jerry Rushing of today.  Keep on opening yourself to new things;  Don’t worry about what others think;  You have more talent and potential to discover;  Your best days are ahead of you.

The Challenge

Now if you have been hanging out with me you know that I feel obliged to bring you into the learning.  I would like to challenge you.  If  twenty years from now you were looking back to present day, what do you need to say to the person you are today to take you further than where you are?

I just want you to know… there is more for you to do and be than you think.  You are smarter and more talented than you believe.

Thanks for hanging out with me.

See you Monday.


16
Aug 10

Reunion Tale – Retold

Howdy, good to see you again.

I was reluctant to refer to the reunion again because I didn’t want to ride a good horse into the ground.  But as I reflected on the last two blogs and the reunion I needed to put a serious capstone on the event.

As you know I have had some fun with my wife’s reunion and of course embellished it to my amusement and liking.  But there were several important life insights and learnings that I don’t want to get lost in all the fun.  I believe they are worth sharing and hopefully you find them challenging to you as they were to me.

Typically I am pretty much a free spirit when it comes to the written page.  I just write what pops in my head and sometimes it flows nicely and other times it is a shotgun of ideas fired in hopes that some of the mental buckshot hits a target.

This blog is going to be actually somewhat organized.  There were three things that impacted me during the reunion – thus three points.  (Wow, three points, I know… scary).

I have an insight, a reflection and a question.

An Insight

At the reunion I wanted to get the class in the front of the room and cluster them into three groups based on their high school experience.  I wanted to group them into the “IN” crowd, the “EDGE” crowd, and the “OUT” crowd.

Then I wanted to compare the groups by finding out things like:

  • Who ended up the most successful in business? Marriage? Etc?
  • Who’s most fulfilled?
  • Has your life turned out like you imagined at this point?  Is it better or worse?
  • What would you have done differently, if anything?

True Confessions: Here we go again.  I hate true confessions because it may make me look bad.

The insight was not about my wife’s class but about me.  My mental scenario of grouping the people was not from the standpoint of an academic sociological study of a group of people (which would be interesting) but probably a morbid curiosity to see where people ended up.

In high school I was definitely one who would be grouped in the “OUT” crowd.  In my mind, if my high school classmates were asked where they thought Jerry Rushing would end up in life they would say, “Who?”  The few who did know me would probably say that I would have an ok vanilla life but nothing remarkable.

I think it would surprise most of my classmates that I have had a great life thus far.  It has been anything but vanilla and by the standards of some people… somewhat successful.

Before I get to the insight that impacts us all I feel compelled to make an important clarification.  I am not sharing this grouping scenario and my life as it is today out of arrogance or a “in your face” chide at anyone.  I share it out of thankfulness.

The insight for us all is this.  It doesn’t matter which group you were in at your high school.  It’s irrelevant.  The point I want to make is that at every point in our life we have expectations of the future.  Rarely does reality match our expectations – good or bad.

And the important thing is that…

Where we are doesn’t dictate where we will be.

If things are not going well for you now it doesn’t mean that you are doomed to be there in the future.  You do not have to be trapped by the present.

Conversely, if things are going well it means that we cannot casually expect the good things to be entitled forward.  Good things must be continually cultivated and earned. And even with that… there are no guarantees.

My, my, I had more to write on this topic than expected.  I will need to hit the other two points in the next blog.   No, this was not a ploy to get you to visit again on Thursday.  I don’t play those games.

Just so you know, the reflection and question points are powerful insights to how we best navigate the future.

See you Thursday.


12
Aug 10

Reunion Remix

In the last blog I was so busy describing the reunion that I may have given the impression that I didn’t enjoy myself.   Actually, I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Fair Warning: Some of you may find this blog to be a bit pointed.  If you find it offensive then you probably needed to hear what I have to say.

I don’t intend to be intentionally offensive but I think there’s a learning here for all of us… including me.

Why did I enjoy the reunion?  I hope this doesn’t sound hokey but I had a good time because I decided to have a good time.

I have several friends who vow not go to their spouse’s reunions (class or family).  I am not trying to over simplify a complicated dynamic.  I realize there are some reunions for legitimate reasons you have no business attending.

But… there are many things we just don’t want to do because we’re selfish.

Yep…  S  – E  – L  –  F  –  I  –  S  –  H

Now this part will sound like I’m patting myself on the back.  Nope, believe me when I say that I have enough flat spots in my life that make being married to me challenging enough.  But I do believe that I handled the class reunion this past weekend correctly.

Points to Consider for Spouses

  • If the reunion is important to the person you love then make it important to you.  I knew that this reunion was important to my wife.  And I knew that she would prefer to have me go with her.

Side Note: Yes, what can I say, she only wanted me as an arm piece to show me off.  It gets tiring being eye candy for the babes.

  • If you’re going, decide to have a good attitude about it.  The crappier your attitude the more miserable you make it for yourself and your spouse.  In other words, stop whining about going.   Waaah!  Grow up.
  • Your role is to make your spouse look good
  • Look nice (wear what they want you to wear… unless it’s pink or a bit too shiny)
  • Be social, force yourself to interact
  • Stay out of the way unless you need to rescue them from a conversation
  • Go at their pace… not yours (remember, it’s not about you)

Now of course I need to find learning in all this that will help me on this journey that I have embarked upon.  The big “ah ha” for me is this, I call it a B.G.O. (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious).

How many times have I made situations a hundred times more difficult because I didn’t make a decision about my attitude?

Attitude is a Choice

I believe that statement more and more.  We choose our attitude and of course the emotions and behaviors follow.  We create the destiny of a situation before it occurs.  Scary huh?

I can’t say that I will always choose the right attitude but I am so much more aware of the benefits of doing it right.

See you Monday.


9
Aug 10

A Reunion Tale

Hi.  In case you are wondering I am doing much better today than last Thursday.  As you can tell from my last blog entry it was a pretty weird day.

This past weekend I accompanied my wife to her high school reunion.  Have you been to a class reunion with your spouse lately?  Fun huh?

Now that I have been to a couple of reunions with my wife I of course consider myself an expert in such matters and therefore must share my considerable insights.  I must have some fun with the topic of class reunions before I get to the more serious matters.  Knowing me, I am sure that I will embellish it quite a bit just for effect.  But you will notice that the embellishment will not cover the core truths.

It’s amazing what you see at reunions.  People are nipped, tucked, lifted, padded, pulled in, pushed up, pooched out, colored, covered, or disguised – that’s just the organizing committee greeting you at the door.

After you enter the main room you are quickly swept up in a social mosh pit.  People are smiling, talking, laughing and greet you like you’re an old friend while they try to discretely glance at your name tag to figure out who you are.

Once it is determined that you are not a former classmate you are quickly passed over like a wilted piece of lettuce that has been on the salad bar a bit too long while their eyes dart eagerly to something more appetizing.

Eventually the other spouses like me find themselves forced to the fringes not because of rudeness but because we are unable to compete with the energy and activity the center of the room demands.

So we stand and observe.  After a bit the patterns emerge and shortly you are able to mouth the conversation from across the room.  “Hi, where are you now?  What have you been doing?  Do you have children?”   Once these questions are answered you see the mouths stop moving and the vacant stare of wondering what to talk about now.  This usually occurs with those in the class that you kinda knew but had no real history to connect.  I called this the Level One conversation.

If there is a history between the two classmates then a Level Two conversation ensued.   This conversation starts with, “Remember when…?”  If the situation being remembered is significant enough, other classmates quickly gather and join in.  It sort of looked like the pigeons you see at the park swarming and jostling over the discovery of a few morsels of bread.

Before you know it a chorus of laughter breaks the air.  It is almost like fireworks of emotion shooting off and exploding all over the room.

It was always interesting to observe the classmates who had a history together.  But there is history and then… there is history (if you know what I mean).  For example, at the first class reunion I attended with my wife all eyes were waiting to see how the Captain and quarterback of the football team and the Homecoming Queen would greet each other.  They were “THE” couple in school.  Would there be a spark?  Would there be that “affectionate glance”?

I was interested too because I’m married to the Homecoming Queen.

Side Note: Me being married to a Homecoming Queen is a miracle in and of itself.  Let me just say that if I went to my high school reunion no one would know me.  Seriously, I bet there would be no more than one or two people who would remember me.  No offense to the people who would remember me but they weren’t too popular themselves.

Anyway, back to the quarterback and Homecoming Queen saga.  Bottom-line, it was no big deal (whew!).  My point being is that you could usually tell if there was personal history either by observing the conversation between the two people or by the side conversations of others.

Now I know a lot of people who would say that they hate to go or would never go to there spouses school or family reunion.

If you are a spouse you need to read the next blog.  It is for you.

See you Thursday.


5
Aug 10

Hard Work, Heavy Shovel and a Kick in the Ass

Have you ever had one of those days where you just didn’t feel like working?   Good.  Now I don’t feel as bad.

Everything I do today feels like a chore.  And to top it off, it seems as though even the simplest of tasks require much more energy.  Believe it or not I have stopped and paused several times and I’m only on my fourth sentence.  Pretty sad huh?

Don’t you feel sorry for me… uh… NO!

I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer but I am certain of one thing.  The people that I know personally who read this blog are shouting at their computers,

“STOP YOUR WHINING AND COMPLAINING AND GET OFF YOUR ASS AND DO SOMETHING!”

They have a good point and have articulated a very important truth – Action has power.

“Life’s rewards go to those who let their actions rise above their excuses.”

- Lee J. Colan, Orchestrating Attitude

Have you ever been in the situation where you had something to do and the more you thought about it the bigger and more difficult the task became?   Stop thinking and step out.

Honesty Alert: Uuuggh, I hate it when I have to be honest.  Especially when it is something that makes me look bad.  But once again… this is the journey I started in January and at times it may mean me sharing stuff that makes me look bad.

 

The statement above is very very true.  The sad fact is that all too often I don’t even take my own advice.  At least I’m admitting it.  It is very easy for me to put off the chore at hand and instead put on some classical music, grab a best-selling non-fiction and curl up in a chair and read.

My wife while reading this will burst into laugher.  The only thing I got right in the last paragraph is the chair part.  It’s more like chips, chair, TV.  Oh well, so much for image.  But all’s not lost.  I do get a bit of intellectual stimulus because I frequently visit the History Channel.

Side Note: The History Channel is the only place that has the TV shows Pawn Stars and American Pickers.  Don’t judge… they’re really educational… kind of.

Now you understand why I mentioned a heavy shovel in the title of today’s blog – I have dug myself a pretty deep hole and I’m not sure how to get out.

Question:  How’s the best way to get out of a hole you dug for yourself?

  • Stop digging and climb out?
  • Change my ways and do better?
  • Ask for help?

I’m not sure of the best way to get out but the easiest is to pull you in the hole with me and take the focus off of myself.

Okay, fess up.  What do you do when you’re having a rough day?   What is your tendency?  Who do you take it out on?

Just kidding (unless I struck a cord ).  All I know is this… there are day’s when you do great things and then there are just days.  I don’t think this blog will make it to the great list.

Hopefully I will see you Monday.

Adios


2
Aug 10

Dirty Hands, Sore Back, Great Reward

Have your work gloves on?  You’re gonna need em’.  As I mentioned in my last blog… time to dig.  We are deepening the well.  (If you have no idea what I am talking about you will need to read the last two blog entries.)

My definition for digging Wells (or mines)

Focused effort to pierce the natural to discover something of value.

Important points of consideration if digging a well:

  • People don’t exert effort without a reason (this could be a blog topic all in itself)
  • There has to be a belief that there is something worth digging for below the surface
  • The greater the value the deeper you’re willing to dig
  • There is no guarantee that you will find anything
  • You never know the difficulty of the dig prior to the start
  • Unlike walls that are intentionally built by humans, with wells you are digging through layers of natural formations

Side Note: There is some pretty good information about walls in my third blog entry “The Wall” which I posted on January 11, 2010.  It’s easy to get to in the monthly archives of blogs in the column on the right.

In actuality I am already digging by writing this blog.  The natural question for me is, why dig?  Basically I’m a pretty lazy fellow.   Why should I exert time and energy on digging deeper?  I don’t have to dig if I don’t want to.

But then the issue of what’s important to me, what I value, begins to wiggle its way into consciousness.  The quiet, gentle yet persistent tap on my heart begins to override my natural laziness and objections.

I mentioned earlier in one of the bullet-points that value drives deeper digging.  There are two things that are important enough to me that drive my willingness to pick up the shovel and dig a little deeper.

First, I don’t want to stay where I am.  It’s good where I am but knowing that there is so much more to life to experience and enjoy if I am willing to take a few risks has become a blinding reality.

Secondly, I don’t want to do “just enough”.  I want what I write to be meaningful, not something that is shallow and impotent.

Now a question for you.  What has been tapping at your heart that you have tried to ignore but the persistence is forcing attention?

Be daring for a moment.  Lean your ear toward the tap, accept the reality of its significance and take the next natural step.  The next simple step will be obvious if you do not over complicate or over think the matter.

It will be fun digging with you.  By the way, I dig diggers.  Groan… pretty sad huh?

Adios until Thursday