Get Up And Do What Needs To Be Done

October 9, 2018

Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.

I just love the language of the Proverbs. “You sluggard…” That is so blunt.

Yesterday I wrote about focus. Then I listened to an Eastside Christian Church podcast talk by Mike Breaux (pronounced bro for you non-Cajuns) on procrastination. Seems like a series brewing.

Sometimes we can’t focus because we just can’t get around to the work. We put things off. Dust the desk. Search on Google. Fix a cup of tea.

Go to the ant, you sluggard–it has no boss, yet it works constantly.

Get over the fear of starting.

Or maybe just plain laziness.

Sometimes you need a signal. Perhaps that cup of tea is the signal to sit down and write, or think, or draw, or make those phone calls.

I think of Garrison Keillor and the “sponsor” of Prairie Home CompanionPowdermilk Biscuits. Heavens they’re tasty, and expeditious. Give shy persons the strength they need to get up and do what needs to be done.

Consider the ways of the ant and be wise. Get up and do what needs to be done.

Focus

October 8, 2018

Focus is a marvelous thing.

Don’t you admire, or at least respect, people who have the ability to focus. Their thought are aligned. They work on one thing at a time.

This morning my thoughts are all over the place. Maybe reflects my Enneagram 5?

I had much pressure and many experiences last week. There is still much to process. There was an industrial automation conference, a couple of tours of information technology applications, and a soccer tournament (in a part of Ohio that I’ve never visited).

I’ll need focus.

First calming.

Deciding on a list of “next actions” (from Getting Things Done by David Allen).

Picking one action and focusing until finished.

Focus and we can accomplish much. Let our attention drift among many things and we lose our way.

Focus–my word of the week.

It’s All In Your Head

October 5, 2018

Marcus Aurelius was an Emperor of Rome. 1,900 years ago. An adopted son, he was the last of the “Five Good Emperors.” He was also a Stoic philosopher. Reading him is like a journey through a personalized Proverbs.

He said that happiness is available through how we think.

We expect other people to make us happy.

Or, maybe God. Do we sometimes pray, “God, please help. I’d like to be happy.”

And we’re not.

Maybe we orient our entire life around things and people who make us unhappy. We obsess on them. We are not happy, even though we say we want to be.

Maybe we’re in a project that is not going well (that is one of the stages of every project we’ll ever do). We think about the obstacles. We are not happy.

But…

Maybe we pause. Take a deep breath. Change our focus.

Put those toxic people behind us. Change our thinking to look for positive people. Forget the toxic. Become happier.

Focus on the outcome of the project. Tackle the obstacles a piece at a time. We change our thinking, we change our attention. We move the project forward and become happier.

This is not a new insight with Marcus Aurelius. He articulates it well. So did the Proverbs written 3,000 years ago. So did Víktor Frankl who survived the Holocost and wrote “Mans Search for Meaning” (read that book if you haven’t already).

A famous old proverb goes “We become what we think about.” Become aware of where our thoughts are residing. Change as necessary.

What Do You Do When Schedules Go Awry

October 4, 2018

Yesterday’s schedule was killed with an unexpectedly long Tuesday that returned me to my hotel room about midnight.

A project–really three projects–is going down. What should have been just cruising at this point is more like a sailboat in a hurricane.

Rather than my usual discipline of writing at 6:30 am, today it’s 12 CDT and I’m at the Chicago airport awaiting my delayed flight to Dayton. Only 40 minutes. Not bad.

So I look at my projects plus my regular research and writing plus answering a bunch of emails. What to do?

I look at the mass of problems, then take some deep breaths.

Then tackle one thing at a time.

Contact this person. Contact the next. Compile information, contact the next person.

Think through one problem; reach a conclusion; take action.

Then the next.

I’ve been up 7 hours and been able to accomplish a lot notwithstanding a short nap on the last flight and grabbing a quick lunch.

You can get overwhelmed and flustered.

Better is looking at the list and tackling one thing at a time.

Get A Clue

October 2, 2018

There is a story of a person who, when the Clue Train came through, didn’t accept delivery.

Some people know so much that they missed the Clue Train.

There are the people who can tell you what to do, how to do it, what to believe, how to believe it.

Yet, when you look at their lives, they don’t have a clue.

There are other people who must know a lot. But you don’t realize it at first.

These are people less interested in telling people what to do and exactly how to believe.

Their faith is not complex.

Their knowledge deep.

Their empathy strong.

I know many smart people, but talking to them is as easy as talking with a neighbor.

The ones who obviously strive for recognition, these are the people to beware.

Think And Do

October 1, 2018

Many years ago, maybe more than 20, a company produced software to program industrial controllers. They called it Think and Do.

The idea was that you programmed it not in text but in graphics–graphics that looked like a flow chart that engineers would use to think through a process.

The company failed. The story is too long.

I was pondering people, often with some sort of doctorate degree but not always, who get the “think” part. But they never get to the “do” part.

On the other hand there are people who plunge ahead and “do” without thinking. They typically stir things up. But as Shakespeare once said, “Much ado about nothing.”

There is a key word that is often overlooked in sentences–and.

Think…and…Do.

That is a good way to build your life.

Lying or Truth Telling

September 28, 2018

I recently listened to a podcast where the guest was a former government interrogator who knows the telltale signs of whether her subject is lying. It was on the Dr. Oz podcast where he interviews people and his wife is also on the show.

As they are discussing, she asked, “Have you cheated on your wife?”

“No,” he answered.

She says if you just answer simply, you are probably telling the truth. Telltale signs of lying include using the word “never” (Bill Clinton, I never had sex with…) or not directly answering the question (where have you been, followed by why do you ask) or by responding ad hominem (you always grill me, why do you attack me, etc.).

[Disclaimer: I did not watch the “Senate hearings of the century”, nor have I seen news. Doesn’t matter, does it?]

I love to see ethics professionals try to mangle words justifying lying in certain circumstances, or advising never to lie, or splitting hairs on types of lying.

The early church in its first year or so witnessed the consequences of lying. There was a couple. They sold their property and donated to the church. That is a good thing. Except, they told God and the church that they donated all of their money to the church. Except that they didn’t. It would have been OK not to give it all. But they lied to God. They were struck dead. On the spot.

That should make you stop and think.

We can get all wrapped up in a multitude of analysis about whether people in Washington DC lie. Or whether other people lie.

God is not so concerned about your opinion of others. God is concerned with the status of our hearts. Do we feel the need to lie? Why are we duplicitous? What are we going to do about it?

Ideas Come and Ideas Go

September 27, 2018

This blog started about 10 years ago. A pastor suggested it. I teamed with another person at the beginning. She went to seminary as a late career change, graduated, was ordained, served a couple of churches and retired.

Me? I quit my day job but still do essentially the same thing only I don’t write much for print magazines any longer. And probably have more readers now. But less money some years.

Eight years ago I decided to make this a discipline. Since I was focused on spiritual disciplines. Tried leading some small group sessions on the disciplines.

So, it became my discipline.

We need those. Disciplines, that is.

Over the 10 years, I have seen several trends come and go. A few guys started “fat blogging” where they blogged about health, nutrition, fitness, and losing weight. Their writing discipline mirrored their fitness discipline, I think. It didn’t last long.

I used to intentionally write about leadership every Friday. There were many leadership blogs I read. They are gone. I write about leadership when I see something. I don’t think leadership is any better, now, but the fad seemed to pass.

Several people wrote about productivity and self-development. A couple of them turned the blogs into businesses. Now, you have to pay to see what they write. They make incomes in 6, 7, even 8 figures. I’m still free.

I don’t even get speaking gigs.

But that is discipline. I recommend it. Seek out and read stories and studies of disciplined people. They are stories of success, health, attitude.

Oh, and the guys who went off to make a lot of money? All of a sudden I’m hearing from them again. Business must be declining. Or egos need stroking.

Jesus just said follow. And keep going. And I hate 10-year retrospectives.

Breath of Life

September 26, 2018

“When you inhale, you are taking the strength from God. When you exhale, it represents the service you are giving to the world.”

Ancient people knew the relationship of breath and spirit. In New Testament Greek, the same word is translated either breath or spirit depending upon context.

Inhaling deeply fills you with life.

But the exhale is the important part.

Try it. Breathe in deeply. Exhale slowly and completely.

Feel your body relax. A sense of well being ensues.

When the kids or coworkers or boss or politics or your favorite sports team exasperate you, try the breath.

Spend 10 minutes every morning breathing with intention.

This very act changes the structure of the neurons in your brain–for the better.

This act is the basis of meditation where we seek the presence of God.

Breathe…and invite the spirit in.

Change The Story

September 25, 2018

The parable of the Good Samaritan is well known. A neighbor is someone in need that we help–as in the “second commandment” to love your neighbor as yourself.

But Martin Luther King Jr. looked at the story and commented that some day we need to fix that road so that people can walk in safety.

That is a changemaker. Someone looks at a story and turns it upside down.

Jesus often presented a saying, “You have heard it said…, but I say…”

What’s your story?

What do you see that, if turned on its head, would change your story?