Posts Tagged ‘attitude’

When You Find Yourself In Complacency

January 26, 2017

So you wake up. Who knows what wakes you up. There you were happily asleep and Pow, there you are, wide awake.

It happens in the middle of the night.

It happens when you’re in an organization.

You were lulled into complacency. The pot has not yet boiled (see yesterday’s post). You have time. Just like the “good guy” in those 1930s short movies. You pull the girl off the railroad track just before the train comes.

But there is no girl. No train. Except metaphorically.

You can rescue yourself. Can you rescue the organization?

That is the question.

What do you do?

1. You can bail out. You wake up. Look around. See the signs.  Think you’ll be better off elsewhere. There you go, searching for a new adventure.

2. You can close your eyes. Ignore the signs. Slip back into the comfort of the known. And slowly…die. If not physically, then spiritually.

3. You can decide to try to change things. Become an idea monster. Every morning you awake. Brew that cup of coffee. Grab your notebook (you do have a notebook, right?). Write 10 ideas. Every morning. You talk to people about doing things differently. Find some people who are awake. Build a coalition. Go for it.

Me? I went off for other adventures. Sometimes you just can’t find that coalition. Sometimes the “supreme leader” just doesn’t have the skill or stomach for change. Or, they have a different agenda. Then it’s time to forge your own trail.

That light in the tunnel. It could be a train coming at you. Or…it could be the light out. The light to a better you.

What If We Lived Everyone Had A Soul

January 10, 2017

Yesterday I was a little philosophical. But not really if you digest the thought that we are all souls that have a physical body.

What if we took care of our souls like we took care of our bodies? For some of us, that’s not so good. On the other hand, checking out most of the advertisements on TV, magazines, interspersed in your social media “news” streams, and so on, you’d think that we devote hours of thinking about how to get our physical bodies beautiful.

What about our soul?

While I was meditating this morning, I was hit by this vision–what if we treated everyone we meet as a soul loved by a God who dearly wants to draw it (him/her) close?

What if a politician, instead of making an object of an opponent and says things like “it’s just politics”, actually considers that even opponents are human souls loved by God? Maybe despite differing opinions they could work together to solve problems that a government can solve.

Once again while meditating, The Autobiography of Malcolm X came to me. Have you not read that? As a Christian reading it 50 years ago, I was grieved that a black man in the 50s and 60s could not find acceptance within Christian circles but the followers of Islam welcomed him as a brother. Even when he traveled to Mecca.

What if, instead of sitting in our seats in church judging others who come into the room by their clothes or appearance or race, welcomed them as brothers and sisters. Fellow human souls loved by a God who wants to draw them close?

Would that change the way we live each day?

Certainly we must evaluate people and not be led astray by manipulators and people consumed by evil. But how many of those do you meet in a day?

Maybe today I will look at everyone I meet and think about just a little differently.

Talk Less and Listen More

December 9, 2016

For those of you who get up to read these essays by 7 am EST, I’m late. Plane was delayed and I got home at 1 am. 

Here I am. Five hours of sleep. Nothing prepared. Nothing on my mind.

But I try to write leadership thoughts on Fridays.

So, here is the thought of the day. Works for leaders. Works for parents. For spouses. Even for public speakers 😉

Talk less; Listen more.

I could give examples. But…you get the point. What are you going to do today?

Give It All Away

December 7, 2016

“You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” Mark 10

Giving. ‘Tis the season.

The Magi were what passed in that day as combination scientist, astronomer, spiritual seeker. They spotted conditions that told them there was a disturbance in the Force. A baby, but more than a baby. 

They traveled maybe 500 miles, maybe 1,500 miles. But they didn’t just pop in an airplane or even a car. It would have been a sizable caravan most likely. Three gifts (we don’t know how many Magi).

How far would you travel under what hardships to give precious and costly gifts?

Well, for the rich young man, not very far. Actually, not at all.

There are people who give when they hear about a specific need. The church building needs a new roof. You just heard an emotional presentation about the plight of children or women somewhere.

Then there are the people whose very life is organized around being generous. 

I think maybe Jesus was touching on that idea with the young man. Sure you can follow the commandments. And, yes, that’s not easy. And it is devotional.

Something is lacking. Something called the orientation of your entire life. The status of your heart. Am I focused on me? Am I focused on loving my neighbor? (Remember, that’s Jesus’ second commandment.)

Most of us will give gifts at Christmas. That is no moral wrong. But what drives us? Tradition? Obligation? Generosity?

Can we say, “I give because of what I am”?

What Have The Years Wrought With You

November 29, 2016

I knew a woman who was kind and funny. She got a job as a police dispatcher. Within a couple of years she became negative, cynical, joyless.

She dealt daily with criminals, people with stories about how they wound up  on the wrong side of the law, drug dealers, drug users. She seldom saw beauty and truth. There were no random acts of kindness.

I felt so sad.

When I reflect on the last year, one thing stands out–how many people have lost their kindness, their grace toward others, their joy.


I came across this thought while reading through my eclectic information gathering.

How have circumstances affected us?

Have we become more hardened, resentful, afraid?

These actually go together. Fear is at the root of many negative emotions. Fear of loss. Fear of the future. Fear of someone taking my job. Fear of others whom I do not know. Fear of the future.

However, we all know people (I hope) who have grown wise and understanding as they age. They no longer have anything to prove. They see that others have struggles, too. They see evil or foolishness and avoid it. They walk with God.

The Dalai Lama points to a wisdom that we also find throughout the Proverbs. It is our choice.

Every day we arise and we begin making choices. We can fill our minds with words of wisdom. We can fill our minds with the news headlines. Our choice.

We can choose how we react to the news. Do we allow our emotions to go crazy and get all worked up? Do we take a breath and allow the perspective of God to let us see beyond the news.

It’s not that I wish to ignore bad news and act as if it didn’t exist. That is a sign of mental illness. It’s just that I choose what I focus on.

We become what we think about.

Gratitude is Attitude

November 23, 2016

Tomorrow is a US national holiday–Thanksgiving. It is national “go home to be with family” day. Or in my case, go to the Chicago ‘burbs to be with family.

We have a somewhat romanticized recollection of the first English settlers in Massachusetts who came over here totally unprepared. They were helped by the natives who already lived here (and whom they would subsequently kill off) to survive that first winter. They had a banquet in gratitude for the help.

So, I’ve been turning to a collection of gratitude quotes to end my Yoga class.

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” William Arthur Ward

I was quite a shy kid and often was afraid to speak up. Yes, that was a long time ago. I’ve made up for it. But I think back on those times when someone did something for me and I didn’t speak up to thank them. So now, I try to thank everyone for everything.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G. K. Chesterton

That is a lot to say from one of the leading thinkers of his time–or any time. Many people are lost in search for happiness. That is the wrong way around. Happiness finds us when we are most focused on gratitude for what others have done.

“‘Enough’ is a feast.” Buddhist proverb

We traditionally have a Thanksgiving meal that is way too much to eat. We feel so miserable that we sleep through the football game. We call it a feast. I had a bad experience with poultry early in life, so I don’t stuff myself with turkey and stuffing. Even so, the temptation to over indulge is great. This saying implies much more than just Thanksgiving dinner. Are we on a quest for ‘more’, or are we content with ‘enough’?

“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words but to live by them.” John F. Kennedy

And President Kennedy dove right to the core. Gratitude is not a one time expression of “thank you.” Rather, gratitude is the attitude with which we orient our daily lives.

Energy Is a Foundation for Leadership

October 28, 2016

A second-rate night club lounge singer from Las Vegas witnesses a mob crime, runs away, and hides in a convent disguised as a nun. She is persuaded to become the choir director, rocks the church, and performs for the Pope.

Who in the world would ever believe a story line like that? Well, it became a move starring Whoopi Goldberg called Sister Act.

I stared at our small collection of DVDs last night for some reason and the red title caught my eye. What was the essential element the Goldberg character brought to that convent?

It was energy. Her energy was contagious. It had been a lethargic and unmotivated group of women. She not only rocked the choir, she also got them involved in a number of neighborhood projects.

Don’t the best leaders you’ve known exude energy?

It shows in different ways.

  • They truly enjoy the work they are doing
  • They encourage everyone around
  • They see things that could be accomplished
  • They are prepared
  • Wherever they go, they promote the cause
  • They may be intense but never negative
  • They are not afraid to try new things, break new ground

Feel the need for some caffeine right now? This energy doesn’t come from chemicals in that manner. But energetic leaders do things such as:

  • Care for their bodies through good nutrition and exercise
  • Care for their souls through reflection, prayer, meditation
  • Care for their minds by constantly reading and learning
  • Listen to other people
  • Develop intense curiosity both about work issues and a variety of outside interests

Energy–the foundation of the universe. Capture some and pass it on.

Giving In Order To Receive

October 13, 2016

I have been on Twitter almost since it began. More than 3,600 people follow me. Many of those 3.600 follow me so that I will follow them back. Some “game” the system and have maybe 100,000 followers.

They give in order that they may receive.

Pay attention to what you hear; the measure you give will be the measure you get, and still more will be given you. For to those who have, more will be give; and from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. –Jesus

There are preachers out there happily proclaiming the “prosperity gospel” using verses such as this in a financial context.

Jesus taught us much about how to handle our finances.

This teaching sounds very like excerpts of longer stories told in other gospels. But let’s just look at context.

He just told the parable of the sower, and explained it to his close followers as a metaphor for the spiritual condition of hearers of the word.

Therefore, we must consider the spiritual meaning of this terse phrase.

This is important. He commands, “Pay attention.” Remember he said, “And these are the ones sown on the good soil: they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit.”

In like manner, those who give will also receive.

We know many cynics who game the system. Or they are always out for what they can get.

Those who give of their time to help others, seem to always have someone around when they need help. Or those who give generously of their money or resources seem to have enough to live on and more to give away.

Those of us  who just give because of the condition of our heart will be blessed. No matter what the social darwinists–survival of the fittest–believe, it’s not all about me. It’s about the condition of my soil which bears fruit in others a hundred times over.

Inheriting Eternal Life

September 19, 2016

Just walking along the road. Minding his own business. And a young man walks up to him. “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

Something must have been bothering him. What was it? An uneasiness in the gut? A whisper? Some uncertainty?

Something compelled him to approach the famous teacher and ask the pivotal question.

The teacher asked if he knew the commandments from his Scriptures. “Yes, I’ve followed them all my life.”

Well, that should have done it. According to the orthodox teaching of his faith, one earned his way into eternal life through following all the commandments. The young man should have felt assured.

He didn’t.

What about us? There is a current teaching reaching back a couple of hundred years or more that Donald Miller, back when he was writing stories, called “propositional Christianity.” Just say that you agree with their propositions, and you are saved–that is, you inherit eternal life.

But many, like the young man still have an uneasy feeling. Is this really the way? Why do I feel this little nagging in the gut?

The teacher says something to the effect of, well, you know the commandments, there must be one more thing in your way. Sell all you have and give the money to the poor.

At this the young man went away sad. For he was quite wealthy.

The teacher had disciples. His name was Jesus. He was always baffling his disciples–those who were trying hard to learn from him.

They looked at Jesus, puzzled. He said that it was almost impossible for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God. This was shocking. Everyone was raised to believe that the rich had it all. They could buy their way into anything. They were especially blessed.

“Who can enter the Kingdom of God if not a rich man?”

“With man, it is impossible. But for God, nothing is impossible.”

(Mark 10:17-23)

When we let go and trust God, then we find the Kingdom.

Lose Your Love When You Say Mine

September 15, 2016

Love is a rose
but you better not pick it
It only grows when it’s on the vine.
A handful of thorns and
you’ll know you’ve missed it
You lose your love
when you say the word “mine”.
–Neil Young, recorded by Linda Ronstadt

This verse contains enough good thoughts for a short novel. But they are meaningful.

Trying to possess something or someone ruins the entire experience. They say that money is the most frequent cause of marital problems. But I’d bet that money quarrels are merely a symptom of deeper problems. Let’s use the song–“say the word mine.”

It’s when we put ourselves first that problems begin. When we don’t outgrow our inner 2-year-old, whose favorite word is “mine.” A 2-year-old really doesn’t differentiate a distance between herself and the other. Everything revolves around him. But, that is natural child development.

When we’re 40 and still acting that way, well, that’s a problem. Time to see a shrink.

I sing this (or read it) and I cannot get everything that John wrote in the New Testament.

Jesus as the true vine. We obtain our life nourishment from him. Separated from the vine, we just wither and die. Sort of like this love that someone wanted to possess and in so doing crushed it.

I think of all the times John talks about love. God is love. We should all love. The world will know Jesus’ followers by their love (oh, if only this were true).

Then I think of Jesus when he checked up on people and pointed out pride and self-absorption. His instruction was to be humble–not weak as the word is often misunderstood but simply placing others ahead of us. It actually takes strength–strength of character, strength of faith–to be humble. The easy route is to boast, to put ourselves first (people tell me, “but of course I put myself first, duh”), to exaggerate our successes, to talk about ourselves.

Love is a rose. I love that picture.