July, 2012


31
Jul 12

The cards we are dealt.

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I was talking to some friends this morning and we got into a pretty heady discussion about life.

One of the guys mentioned that since becoming a father (< two years) he thinks more about what he wants his life to be and the legacy to leave.

We tossed around several thoughts but the idea that stood out was that whatever we want in life we need to be intentional.

I don’t know about you but most people tend to approach life with the default thinking that it just happens.

And if someone is really lucky they could hit the Life Lottery – good stuff happens.

Frankly, there is some truth to this.  We will never be able to control life.  Much of life happens regardless of our plans or intentions.

But to leave life up to chance only is both naïve and foolish.

We must be intentional with life.   But living an intentional life requires work and risk.  Like I said, there are no guarantees.

I kind of see it like making sure your kids get a good education.  Having a good education is no guarantee of success.

There are plenty of stories of high school drop-outs who end up doing well and vise versa there are plenty of college graduates who amount to nothing.

But there is enough evidence to prove that a good education stack the odds in your favor.

The same is true with life… we must be intentional.

Some people bemoan the fact that life has dealt them a crappy hand.  And the reality is, it happens, and pretty often.

But regardless of where you are in life or the cards you have been given to play, you are both naïve and foolish if you don’t become intentional about where you want to go from this point on.

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You can’t get to where you want to go and stay where you are.

- Me

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One has to have the willingness to step out.  Some of you may be saying that you have tried and that it’s no use.

There are two phrases that scream at me when I feel this way.  The first has to do with being willing to try.

Action may not guarantee success, but not acting guarantees remaining where you are.

If you don’t want to be where you are… move.  I am not trying to be funny, cute or insensitive.  It’s like a child sitting in a red ant bed crying but not moving… start moving.

Look at it a different way.  It’s hard to turn an object that’s not moving.  Get going.

The second statement is for those of us who may be open to move but don’t know what to try or do.

You may not know what will work, but you know what doesn’t work.

As I said, do something, even it’s little.  Little things are powerful things.

There is something that happens in us when we take a step in faith… just move… move now.  Don’t look back.

See you Thursday.


27
Jul 12

I see a reflection!

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You want to know what really bugs me?  Probably not but I will tell you anyway.

Pushy People.

Have you ever been driving along pretty fast and then have someone ride your butt with the intention of pushing you along?

I don’t know about you but it doesn’t motivate me to move along faster.  In fact I want to slow down to show them they can’t control me.

Yes, call me weird or sick.  I probably have some psychological malady about being controlled that surfaces during these events.

But pushy people bug me… and not just in driving.

I dislike it when I am in a line and people get all pushy and try to slip around me trying to get ahead.

If you have ever been trapped at an early bird buffet in Fort Lauderdale you catch my drift.  There is enough pushing, shoving and cane poking to last a lifetime.

In the spirit of full disclosure my wife would say that I would tend to be pushy at times… humpf… not me.

Well, maybe a little – but not much (seriously).

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Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.
– Confucius
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One of the things that I’ve learned over time is that the things that quickly irritate us most are things that we tend to do ourselves.

I’ve mentioned this example in an earlier blog but it applies perfectly to the topic today.

When I meet someone new I do the usual chitchat that everyone does to establish relationship.  As you know, at some point the conversation with someone you just met eventually circles around to children.  How many? Ages? Etc.

After I have established a good rapport (and if the circumstances are appropriate) I generally ask which of their lovely children tends to be the greatest challenge for them personally.

Nine times out of ten it’s the child that is most like them.  The parent gets irritated at the child for very things they do.

Yep… we are all guilty of this to some degree.

Allow me to throw a few examples at you and see if any irritate you.  As the old country axiom goes… the dog that yelps was the one hit by the rock.

-        Pushy people dislike things that push them

-        People who have edgy tones in their voices bristle at edgy tones in others

-        Aloof people hate being discounted

-        People with cutting sarcasm detest insensitive cutting people

-        Controlling people hate to be controlled

-        Intolerant people abhor intolerant people

-        Add your own to the list

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I can hear some of you scowling in your head… this guy is making blanket statements and exaggerating the examples.

Oh… did I forget to mention a couple of more things that should be on the above list?

-   People who exaggerate deplore exaggeration

-   People who make blanket statements are bothered by people who make blanket statements

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Frankly, I am sure most of you can punch holes in my logic.  Probably.

But for some of you I hit a nerve.  That’s a good thing.

A hit nerve forces us to take a look at what’s causing the pain.

Ciao… See you Monday.


24
Jul 12

Get up and go!

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Hi… I’m glad you’re visiting.

I have started and stopped this blog several times.  It was my goal to have it posted yesterday morning but here it is mid-morning the day after.

For whatever reason this blog entry has been hard work.

I believe in the importance of work but today I am not in the mood for hard work.  I read a quote like the one below and I feel pretty good about my view of hard work.

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If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.

- Joseph Kirkland (1830 – 1894)

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But as we all know there are two sides of any coin.  I ran across another quote that made me feel pretty crappy.

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Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all.
- Sam Ewing

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Oh thanks… way to poke me in my soft spot – Character.  Issues regarding my Character always get my attention.

Well, actually I guess I’m doing sort of ok because I’m not blowing off the blog.  I have rolled up my sleeves (my nose is turned up a little) and I’m actually writing it, albeit late.

As you can see I am in a pooty mood today.  I don’t know why… just am.  I’m pushing through it.

I find that if I give in to the mood it gets worse and drags my whole day down.  There are times when the phrase “push through it” is exactly what we need to do.

I work hard at not being the type of person who needs someone to carry them.  Yes, we all need encouragement but some will suck the life out of you if you let them.

I ran across this poem which I found to be hilarious.  We have all read the poem Footprint in the Sand.  This is a little different take on the topic.

“Butt-Prints in the Sand”

One night I had a wondrous dream.

One set of footprints there was seen.

The footprints of my precious Lord,

but mine were not along the shore.

But then some stranger prints appeared.

I asked the Lord, “What have we here

Those prints are large and round and neat.

But lord they’re too big to be my feet.”

“My child,” He said in somber tones,

“for miles I carried you alone.

I challenged you to walk in faith.

But you refused and you made me wait.

You disobeyed and you would not grow.

The walk of faith you would not know.

So I got tired, I got fed up.

And I dropped you on your butt.

Because in life there come a time,

when one must fight and one must climb,

when one must rise and take a stand,

or leave their butt-prints in the sand.”

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No butt prints for me.  I may need to be dragged for a while but eventually I get going.

Hopefully this speaks to you today to not leave butt-prints.

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Have a productive day.

Ciao.


20
Jul 12

The Tough Fights

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Yep, I’m back.  I bet some of you were worried that I had been taken out by some of the people I may have pissed off in the last blog.

For those of you who didn’t read the last blog I talked about people who struggled with negative thinking.

This was not a shot at people who tended to have a different tint on life than me.  I was just opining about how I didn’t understand.

The reality is, it is very easy for anyone (especially me) to blather about and have opinions on things that they don’t struggle with.
But we all struggle with something.  It can be anything… negativity, insensitivity, arrogance, denial, low self-esteem, doubt, passivity, aggressiveness… choose your own poison.

The point is that it’s very easy for someone for whom a particular thing isn’t a struggle to be very casual and flippant about the other person’s struggles.

Just so you know, I wasn’t being flippant about negativity.  I just don’t understand it.

There are things about me and things that I struggle with that other people can’t understand and be tempted to say… get over it.
Most of you who have read my blog for any length of time know that I have struggled with worrying too much about what people think.

It is one of many reasons why I started this blog.  I put myself out to the world, say my piece and not worry about what people think.

This whole “worrying what people think” has hindered me and has been a pain in the ass.

I do pretty well now but it still rears its ugly head.  I don’t choose to feel this way any more than a person chooses to be negative.
It’s very easy for the person who could care less what other people think say… just stop feeling being that way, don’t worry what people think.

Oh sure, easy for you to say.  Because it’s easy for them doesn’t mean it’s easy for me.

I ran across this video a few years ago that is terrific.  A favorite.

First, there is a lot of truth to it but it also shows how easy it is to just tell someone to just stop doing the thing that hinders them.
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YouTube Preview Image

STOP it!

That’s easy for me to say about people who tend to think negatively.

Whatever the issue is that hinders us we must face it, work on it and eventually wrestle that gorilla to the ground.

Take it from me, just because you wrestled that gorilla to the ground doesn’t mean it won’t fight back to get free.  You have to keep your foot on its neck.

So, to all those reading this today I hope you aren’t feeling negative about my blog.  And if you are I will try not to worry about what you think.

See you Monday.


16
Jul 12

Which are you?

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Howdy, I’m glad you decided to hang out with me.

I’m not sure why this topic popped into my head but it did and so I’m going with it.  I will probably be sorry I did by the time finish the blog.

The topic is about people who tend to think negatively.

Now if you start gripping about the topic in your head and find yourself slightly irritated then guess what, this blog entry may be for you.  Yes… YOU!!!

Frankly, I don’t understand negative people.  Seriously.

Some people in the world have the disease I call optic recitus.  Or in layman’s terms it means a crappy outlook on life.

Have you ever known anyone like that?

There are some people who can find something negative about anything regardless of how good it is.

  • The watermelon has too many seeds
  • The roses have thorns
  • It’s too crowded at a great show
  • Insert your own

Like I said… I just don’t understand.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to tarnish the good thing with something negative.  Why lower the good by focusing on the bad?

Here’s the really weird part.  It seems like negative people have to make sure those around them are aware of the negative too.

It seems that they are bothered that we don’t seem to see the severity of the problem.   That if we were truly aware that we too would be appropriately troubled.

Just so you know, I’m not the type of person who flits around in life floating in the happy clouds with We Are The World dancing in my head.

I’m pretty good at seeing life and the issues of life realistically.

I see negative things like anyone else.  I see the dirty spots people have missed, I have to spit out the seeds of the watermelon, I have to wait in line to get out of the crowded parking lot after the show and I can see how stupid some people act.  I’m not blind.

Not me!  I choose to not let the negative be my focus.  I don’t want to let the negative to corrupt the good.

This is the sad reality.  Whatever you focus on becomes dominant while the area not focused on is lessened.

I don’t know about you but I want good to be dominant… not the negative.

Yes, there are negative things that need to be addressed in life.  And yes there are some people who live at the other end of the continuum who have rose glasses and live on pixie dust who are not willing to look at and address the hard issues.

Let’s be real world for a minute.  I tend to believe that human’s natural default trends toward the negative.

But the negative is not the default I choose.

I want good to dominate, not the negative.

Ciao… see you Thursday.

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Life may not be the party we hoped for, but while we’re here we might as well dance.

- Unknown


13
Jul 12

The Big Lie

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Hi… Welcome back.

I know that I have talked about this topic several times over the past two and a half years but it is something that is both important and frankly, it keeps resurfacing.

So I am compelled to write what I feel I am to write.  Who knows, maybe it is specifically for you.  Or it could be for me.  I don’t know yet because I don’t know what I am about to write.

Basically the topic is about the way we think… what we believe.

I cannot overstate the power our beliefs have in our lives.  Our lives and the actions in our lives reflect what we believe.

That’s why it’s always important to be willing to test our beliefs and assumptions.  The problem is we tend to only test the beliefs we have some question about.

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This is how humans are: we question all our beliefs, except for the ones we really believe, and those we never think to question.

– Orson Scott Card
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To be able to test and eventually change our beliefs we have to be open.  Open to information, facts and ideas.

I’m not talking about a frenzied and morbid introspection where you are questioning every detail of your life… not at all.

I am talking about just being willing to be open to facts and situations that cause us to ask questions about what we believe.

If you look at what you believe now compared to when you were young you can probably list quite a few things that you know to be different than what you were taught or once believed.

As you think about the beliefs you had when you were younger you can clearly see how behaviors reflected those beliefs.

You will also find that there are some beliefs that have remained the same… they stood the test of scrutiny.

Here’s something else to think about as you explore your beliefs and determine what you think needs testing.

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If you don’t change your beliefs, your life will be like this forever. Is that good news?

– Dr. Robert Anthony
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Is your life where you want it to be?  Most of us would answer this by saying that there are lots of things I love about my life and there are some things I want or need to change.

The things you know you need changing are a result of some type of faulty belief.  Yep… faulty belief.

There are two important truths about beliefs that we need to keep in mind.

First, actions follow beliefs.

We act out what we believe.  If you believe you are a failure… you will act it out.

If you believe you are not as talented as your co-workers your actions will reflect it by being too tentative, or too defensive, or being too hard headed.  But your actions (generally the destructive behaviors) are a result of your beliefs.

Once again, a good way to determine what you really believe is to look at what you do.

The second truth is that we look for evidence to validate our beliefs.  We constantly look for evidence to prove our beliefs.

We will look for anything to prove we are right in what we believe.  If you have a favorite celebrity that is caught in a scandal you will look for the things that disprove the evidence.

Conversely, if there is a celebrity that you loath you will read into anything you hear or read to validate what you believe about them.

Yes… we are all twisted that way.  But the important thing is to understand that we do it.

Another really important learning here is that these truths apply to the good things about us as well as the bad.

The good things we believe are also reflected in our behaviors.

So the question may be, why focus primarily on the negative.

The reason we tend to focus on the negative beliefs is that negative things create the greatest drag or obstacles on our moving forward.  So in reality we are focusing on the areas that if addressed will have the greatest impact.

Well, I’ve written enough.

See you Monday.

Ciao.


9
Jul 12

The Pressure is On!

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Don’t worry, no German greetings today.  How about Latvian?  Uh… I don’t think so.

I don’t know about you but I think the two guys wearing lederhosen in the picture atop the last blog were pretty stylish if I say so myself.

I’m sure you have guessed by now that I must be a GQ stylish guy… as I sit here in my plaid shorts and striped shirt with matching pocket protector eating cheese curls.  Just kidding, I’m eating potato chips because cheese curls make my fingers orange.

OK, enough chitchat, I guess I better get down to business and write something worthwhile.

The pressure is on.

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Pressure is something you feel when you don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
-  Peyton Manning
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Thanks Peyton… I appreciate the encouragement.

Oh great, that’s all I need is more pressure.  I have told people that I tend to do my best work under pressure.

Some of you may be the same way.  But if we are really honest there is a more truthful way to say the phrase I work best under pressure.

If we are really honest the phrase should be, I am more motivated under pressure.

I think for the most part I do my best work under pressure because it forces me to cut through the clutter in my mind and focus.  If I have too much time on my hands my A.D.D. kicks in and my mind bounces around like a golf ball hit in a bathroom.

Pressure is an interesting dynamic.  It tends to either paralyze or propel.

What’s really fascinating is that the paralysis of pressure and the being propelled by pressure can be either good or bad.

For the most part I think the paralysis of pressure is NOT a good thing.  It keeps us from taking action and thus eventually freezes us in place never to grow beyond where we are.

There are those rare occasions where pressure does something special.  It forces a deep work that only comes from time and pressure.

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No pressure, no diamonds.

- Thomas Carlyle

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Then there is the power of pressure that forces us to move.  This is when we can no longer stay where we are but MUST step out.

The greater the pressure the more willing we are to step into areas of greatest risk.

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Courage is grace under pressure.
-  Ernest Hemingway
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Ernest really said a lot in five little words.

I do believe there are a lot of people who have a lot of grace.  They are good people wanting to do the right thing.

A person of grace can easily take the quieter way… the less disruptive way.

But when pressure comes something has to give.  A good person of grace comes to a point where they can no longer stand on the fringe but act – and act BOLDLY.

This takes courage.

The courage to do something bold and risky is a result of the pressure created by the stark reality that doing nothing was not acceptable.

So pressure need not be a bad thing.

Whew, I think I’ve typed enough… the pressure has receded.

What is pressuring you now?  Humm.  This could be a very good thing.

See you on Thursday.

Ciao.


5
Jul 12

Truth or Consequences

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Guten tag… in case you are wondering it’s German for Good Day.

Don’t ask why I started the blog with a German greeting.  I’m not sure what hit me.

I just had this wild hair to say something in German.  Maybe my lederhosen are riding up a bit too tight or something.

Ewww… that’s not a pretty thought.  And no, I’m not German.

I think I had better stick to the task and type my blog.

If you have been reading my blog at all you know that I love a good quote.

You don’t have to necessarily agree with the quote but if it’s really good it should take your head to a different level of thinking and force you to consider the various meanings and applications for life.

I find the most intriguing quotes are those that tend to be short and simple.

The other day I ran across a quote from Gloria Steinem.  I don’t mean to insult any feminists out there but I have never really cared for Gloria.

The fact that I don’t care for her tells me that this is a good quote.

If a person is a genuine seeker of truth it doesn’t matter where truth comes from as long as it pierces the veil of status quo and moves us to a better place.

Gloria’s quote is short, saucy and holds a lot of truth… about truth.

I really believe both parts of her quote.  The truth will set you free and that it will also piss you off.

Wow… how true.  The truth really can be painful.

It’s my opinion that most people don’t really want the truth.  They want to hear things that match their thinking.  Sad, and so narrow.

But to grow and become better we need the truth.

Truth isn’t pleasant but it has the power to transform.  The person who is open is forever changed when they hear and take in truth, regardless of how painful.

I heard someone say that people are not growing because they never hear the truth presented in such a way as to invite discovery.
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“I never gave anyone hell.  I told the truth and they thought it was hell.”
– Harry Truman (33rd President of the United States)
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Truth is generally presented in one of two extremes.

Sometimes people are not straightforward enough.  It is lost amid a wash of verbal timidity.  The power of truth is diluted with hints and innuendoes.

Then you have the other extreme.  Truth is callously jammed down someones throat

What’s really sad is that the greatest Truth of all is lost because some people feel it is their call to beat another person to death verbally, all in the name of Jesus.

I don’t know about you but I want Truth.  I invite people to be direct and honest with their input… don’t hint… tell me what I need to hear.

But on the other hand, it’s hard to be open if I am getting beat over the head.

Writing this challenges me to examine how I present truth.

Humm… something to think about.

See you Monday.


3
Jul 12

The Bigger “YES”

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Thanks for hanging out with me for a while.

I have always said that I write this blog for me (which I do).  But it’s a whole lot more fun when people pop in and visit.  So thanks for visiting.

On a completely unrelated point I want you to know that I realize that I am not the brightest bulb in the pack.  I do ok but when you’re an 80-watt bulb in a 100-watt pack it can be disconcerting.

I am not trying to be hard on myself or beg for argument trying to puff my intellectual prowess.  I am just stating fact.

This reality especially comes to the surface when I need to simply articulate a thought or theory.  The ability to succinctly verbalize a concept is to me a true test of raw intellect.

So when I struggle with verbalizing a simple concept then I know that I am probably stretching the fact that I am an 80-watt bulb.

I am saying all this because a simple truth that I have known for years struck me again the other day.  I feel that I need to write about it but I am having a difficult time articulating this simple principle.

My concern is that as I poke around at this simple truth that I will make it much more cumbersome than necessary.

But none-the-less, here goes.

A SIMPLE TRUTH (that I make complex but I feel I am to talk about)

Have you ever noticed that everything in life tends to be made up of both a cost and a reward.

Each specific situation is made up of both and either the cost or reward can come first.

But whichever is first the other is second… neither can be first in the same specific situation.

Confused yet?  Yep… I warned you.  But hang in there because I’m sure I will make it muddier before you get to your big B.G.O.


Side Note: B.G.O. – Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious.

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While I am at it I will add more complexity to the simple.  Whichever is first in the situation (reward or cost) it’s always the smaller of the two.  And conversely whichever is second is larger.

OK… now for some examples to make my point (I can hear the collective sigh of relief with a demanding, “it’s about time”).

A person eats the extra dessert.  There is no question that in this situation they are rewarding their desire.  The reward is first.

But remember, there is always a second part of the equation, a cost.    And also remember that whatever is first, the reward of the dessert in this case, is less in comparison to the second larger cost in the future.

Here’s a wonderful video to help prove my point.

YouTube Preview Image

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I have another example from the other direction – Cost first and reward second.

A person decides not to buy something (a sacrifice) they want for themselves because they want to save their money.  The small sacrifice in the moment will allow them to have a larger payoff in the future.

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True happiness… is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.
-  Helen Keller
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Let’s face it; we all struggle with wanting things in the moment at the expense of greater things in the future.

We want gratification now.  Our society shouts, advertises, and expects us to fulfill our immediate wants at the expense of our needs.

There is power in delayed gratification, but it requires us to say NO!

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It’s easier to say no if there is a bigger “YES” inside.

- Anonymous

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See you Thursday.

Ciao.