January 13, 2020

Learning what childhood and youth experiences formed you seems a relentless revelation. I was brought up in the Methodist church (which became the United Methodist church and is now the dis-United Methodist church) where I was taught that the church was open to all. Teaching and learning inclusiveness in the late 1950s.

I “stole” this photo from outside of a church from a friend on Facebook. It says all I need to know about the situation:

“Jesus didn’t make exceptions [as to who our neighbor is]. We don’t either.”

  • Love thy homeless neighbor
  • Gay neighbor
  • Muslim neighbor
  • Black neighbor
  • Immigrant neighbor
  • Jewish neighbor
  • Addicted neighbor
  • Christian neighbor
  • Atheist neighbor
  • Disabled neighbor

I would bet that 10 am Sunday morning remains the most segregated time in America.

Lose The Attitude of Control

January 10, 2020

Don’t try to steer the river.

I found that thought nugget searching for a final quote for my Yoga class.

It sort of goes along with a Yoga attitude of going with the flow. Calmness.

I don’t think it means not to try to make changes in yourself, your organization, your business.

The picture is one of great futility. You have taken on an attitude of control. But wisdom lies in understanding that you cannot control everything. Some things just happen. And you are left determining your best response.

Don’t let the attitude of control consume you. Begin with just trying to control yourself. That in itself is a huge task–and one most worthwhile.

Humility-We Could Use Some

January 9, 2020

“I have turned over the new leaf. I will become humble. In fact, I will be the most humble person in the world.” –Agatha Christie’s dapper little detective, Hercule Poirot.

The actor played this sentence with a bit of a smile indicating some degree of self-awareness. That it is a little joke on himself. After all, earlier in the story when someone said, “Oh, you’re a detective,” he replied, “Not a, the detective.”

Scan your news sources. Observe people in your organizations or businesses.

There is no shortage of pride in the world. If pride were to be harnessed as energy, we would not need the entire petroleum infrastructure.

And not just today. Read ancient literature about as far back in history as we have recorded. Pride is everywhere.

And humans recorded at least 4,000 years ago and maybe longer the results of pride.

Pride without any self-awareness.

Humility simply means thinking about how we impact other people. And how maybe we should consider the needs of other people before even our own. The antidote to pride.

Here’s to a shot of humility around the globe–and a double for our leaders.

Santé. Prost. Sláinte. Cheers. Drink up!

Eat It, It’s Good For You

January 8, 2020

How many of us have had a mother (or maybe wife) who has set something before us, say for example broccoli, and said, “Eat it, it’s good for you”?

We know that broccoli is just about the perfect vegetable loaded with Vitamin C, other nutrients, fiber. We also know that unless it is smothered in cheese, it is barely palatable.

The rich young man must have felt something like that when he came to Jesus. He had the perfect (in terms of Hebrew understanding of getting right with God) well-ordered life. Wealth implies comfortable living. He also had followed all the laws and rules.

Yet, he knew something was missing from his life.

Jesus offered him the version of broccoli–“Follow me.”

What, give up my quiet, well-ordered life for the uncertain future of becoming a disciple?!

We learn to like broccoli over time and persistence. Same with following Jesus. Some days are harder than others. But, over time and with practice, we learn to do what’s good for us.

Achieving Balance

January 7, 2020

I recently listened to a conversation between two medical researcher geeks discussing some of the latest research into mitochondria, glucose conversion, muscle activity (both high performance athletes and we “casual” workout people), imbalances that lead to illness such as Type II diabetes and so on.

When our bodies and minds are healthy, we are in such a delicate balance of systems, nutrients, activity.

Ancient people in India figured out the need for balance–balancing mind/body, balancing the six tastes, balance meditation and action.

Our Western heritage emphasizes brain and rationality often placing it out of balance with our physical and spiritual sides.

This year, perhaps we could learn balance.

  • Our needs and the needs of others
  • Our brains and bodies and spirit
  • Our abundance and the deprivations of others
  • Our time spent on family, work, service, meditation
  • Our “rights” and the “rights” of others
  • Peace as a balance

The Third Path

January 6, 2020

A rich man approaches Jesus. “What must I do for salvation?”

Jesus asked him about following all the Jewish law. “I have since I was a child.”

In that time, and probably as much in our time, two ways seem assured to get right with God. This man had them both. First, wealth. Second, he followed the rules.

Yet, something told him that it wasn’t enough.

Jesus told him to give it all up and become a follower, a disciple.

The man couldn’t. He went away sad.

Jesus followers were astounded. If a rich man can’t make it, who can?

Jesus told them it starts with God. We have named that grace.

There remained a gap in the man’s heart. Wealth didn’t fill it. Following rules didn’t fill it.

Changing your heart and following Jesus–that will fill it.

Practicing Virtues

January 3, 2020

What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture by Ben Horowitz introduces the reader to a variety of surprising examples of leaders who paid attention to building a sustainable culture.

He probes into the only successful slave revolt in history (in Haiti), a prison gang leader in Michigan who transferred his experience upon leaving prison, the Samurai in Japan (who ruled for several hundred years and whose influence remains), and Genghis Khan.

The Samurai had a set of practices or virtues. Sort of like what I try to teach about spiritual disciplines–life is not about sitting around telling people your opinions, rather it’s about the practices you exhibit in your daily life.

The Samurai oath sounds strangely familiar. It is worth bringing in one way or another into our lives.

  • I will never fall behind others in pursuing the way of the warrior.
  • I will always be ready to serve my lord.
  • I will honor my parents.
  • I will serve compassionately for the benefit of others

Horowitz’s book is one of the rare business books that is worth reading to the end. Too many in that genre say everything they have to say in two chapters and then fill 150 more pages just so a book can be published. Also, the ideas are transferable into any organization.

Curiosity and Imagination

January 2, 2020

Two traits to develop during your year–curiosity and imagination.

Read more this year–and try reading outside your usual genre. Then use the new insights to build seemingly outlandish analogies to your long-held beliefs. Cultivate new friends and travel to someplace new.

The old folk saying, “Curiosity killed the cat”, is misleading. Lack of curiosity will kill your enthusiasm for life and (as Agatha Christie’s little detective Hercule Poirot would put it) your “little grey cells” in your brain.

Albert Einstein rated imagination as the most important trait. His theories (and those of Henri Poincare and many others) came from “thought experiments” where imagination ran loose until settling into new insights.

Eat well. I have unbounded curiosity about the latest nutrition findings, even though they mostly support basic common sense of eating whole foods and not too much.

Maybe a new way of exercise to grow those “little grey cells”. Have you tried Yoga or Pilates? Our Y began offering “cardio drumming.” Beat your frustrations into submission. (I looked at that, but as a trained percussionist, I’m not so sure I could just let go and pound wildly.)

Meet some new people this year–from outside your normal circle. Be curious about different lifestyles and cultures. You probably will learn some useful and fascinating things.

I’m beginning the new year with a fitness and health course and a deep book on analogy as the fuel and fire of thinking. Looks like I’ll be diving into deep theology as NT Wright has a new book out. 550 pages on thinking followed by 990 pages on history and theology of the first Christians. Should be a way to get my “little grey cells” jump started for 2020.

What Kind of Year Will It Be

January 1, 2020

I’ve always liked the Carl Sandburg story about the Kansas farmer I heard from Earl Nightingale many years ago.

A Kansas farmer who, as he contemplated the great mysteries of life, was asked by a passing stranger in a covered wagon, “What kind of people live around here?” To which the farmer replied, “Well stranger, what kind of folks were there in the country you come from?”

“Well, there was a mostly low-down, lying, thieving, gossiping, backbiting lot of people,” said the stranger. And the farmer replied, “Well, stranger, I guess that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

The first wagon was hardly out of sight when another newcomer interrupted the farmer’s reverie with the same question: “What kind of folks was there in the country you came from?” the farmer asked again. “Well,” said the stranger, “there was mostly a decent, hardworking, law-abiding, friendly lot of people.” And again the farmer replied, “Well, I guess, stranger, that’s about the kind of folks you’ll find around here.”

What kind of year will this be for you and me?

I guess we’ll get what we look for. Our attitude determines what we see and how we experience.

Happy new year. I pray for your growth and success this year. May you be a light in someone’s life.

Nine Evidence Based Guidelines for a GOOD LIFE

December 31, 2019

As you search for ideas in order to compile your list of New Year’s Resolutions (do people still do that???), consider instead two things for the new year and for life–attitude and habit. I found this list compiled by a friend on social media. I can personally vouch for almost all of these. They can help you intentionally change your attitude and habits.

1. Exercise your body and your brain every day.

2. Count your blessings.

3. Try to see others’ point of view.

4. People, not things, make you happy.

5. Work to earn, to live. Don’t live for your work.

6. Keep reminding yourself: It’s not all about me.

7. Just teach your kids how to cope.

8. Use your conscious reasoning to slowly make the changes you want.

9. When stressed, process your worries consciously.