When You Get The Worst News

Other families have cancer, not us.”

That’s what my daughter said when my wife, her mother, was recently diagnosed with cancer.  It is a body blow to hear that someone you love has the disease that is the second leading cause of death in America.  You would think that I’d handle the news better.  As a Pastor of many decades,  I have made countless hospital calls and prayed with hundreds of people diagnosed with cancer.  I still struggled to get my mind around it.  Maybe, all my exposure to other people’s battle with the disease made my own acceptance of it more difficult.  Ignorance sometimes really is bliss.  But, cancer is now part of my family’s journey whether we like it or not.

I have to say that our family is as prepared for this challenge as any can be.  We have all the factors for a successful treatment in our favor.  We are blessed with insurance to help with the enormous costs. We are blessed with outstanding physicians and hospitals and are receiving excellent treatment.  We are surrounded by loving family and friends to encourage us.  We are strengthened by an amazing church family that is so supportive.  Most of all, we are people of faith that live in confidence of our God’s active role and plan for our lives, including this cancer.  With all these supporting factors, we are confident of success and moving ahead as bravely as we can manage. Our struggle, compared to those faced by many others, is small.

However, this blog is not about our battle with cancer.  It’s about how to deal with the day when the worst thing you can imagine happens in your life.   All of us will face such a day.  How do you manage it when the prognosis is negative, the balance sheet is shockingly red, and the divorce papers show up in your mailbox?   How do you cope with middle of the night phone call that begins with the words, “I sorry to have to inform you?”

Here are some suggestions I give my coaching clients:

  • Start to prepare now for what you don’t know is coming.
  • Strengthen your bonds now with those who truly care for you.
  • Exercise your problem-solving muscles now with easier issues.
  • Do your best to get your finances ready now for any crisis that may come.
  • Develop your spiritual life now before the crisis appears.
  • MOST OF ALL DON’T PANIC

My family is doing well with our cancer journey.  It’s early on in the struggle.  We’ve had a couple of minor surgeries, and we are reviewing our options as our wonderful doctors lead through this journey.   We are believing for a complete recovery and learning to love each other more every day. But, whatever comes, we know our God will get us through.  May God bless you if you are facing a daunting challenge in your life.   I know you can find the strength to not just, “survive, but thrive,” if you’ll keep your attitude positive and your faith strong.

P.S.  I have been writing a daily devotion, for another cancer sufferer that will hopefully become a book. If you are interested in signing up to receive these devotions contact me on this website.

 

ARE YOU AS LOVEABLE AS DANNY?

TO CLAIM THE REAL YOU – ELIMINATE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

 

To allow yourself to step forward and claim your worth in the world, you need to overcome lingering beliefs about your self-worth.  How can you boldly put yourself in the public eye if you are being slammed by critical statements within your mind?   Do you have doubts about being worthy of God’s blessings?  Do you fear that you are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough to achieve your goals?  Even worse, do you constantly tell yourself these things?

This negative self-talk has to stop because:

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • You are the only person exactly like you in the entire universe.
  • You were put here with unique gifts and talents with which to bless the world.
  • You are just as worthy of success as anyone else.

For a primer in self-esteem study, let’s look at the career of actor, Danny DeVito. DeVito’s short stature is the result of a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth in those afflicted.  This diminutive actor has won the hearts and minds of millions in spite of his unorthodox appearance.  If Danny can refuse limiting beliefs about his success, so can you.

Realize that how you feel about yourself could be putting a “lid” on your success.   Search your mind for any trace of poor self-esteem and commit to purging it from your life.

Things to remember to overcome poor self-esteem:Remember everyone is a jerk sometimes.

  • Remember that your past does not have to predict your future.
  • Remember that you are a work in process and cut yourself some slack.
  • Remember that if you disqualify yourself, someone who needs your gifts will miss out.
  • Remember that mistakes and failures are part of life.

Past mistakes and failures are not disqualifiers for success.  In fact, they are usually a prerequisite for real impact in the world.  Do a quick study of some of the game changing leaders from history and you will see that all of them overcame something on their path to success.

Decide today that you are going to boldly go after your dreams.  Refuse to allow any false beliefs to limit your success.  Danny DeVito has legions of fans.  Why don’t you put yourself out there and see how many people will love you, too?

Claiming The Real You

HOW TO FIND THE COURAGE TO BE THE REAL YOU

The advertising campaign “Be All You Can Be,” promoting recruitment for the US Army, was one of the most successful in advertising history. It ran for 20 years.  It motivated enlistment with the idea of joining the armed forces in order to become a better you.

Here’s another good idea; simply allow yourself to be.

I wrote my last blog about not being afraid to be yourself.  Now, I want to give you four ideas in finding the courage to be yourself. The first is to value your uniqueness.

Self-improvement is important, but it can become an addiction.  While we are busy getting better, we should also enjoy being who we are.

How can we allow ourselves to just be?

Remember that today’s you, may be one of the best versions of yourself you ever produce.

This is true in the fitness arena.  I used to whine and groan about being fat.  All through my thirties and forties I was constantly disappointed in my body. But, I sure do miss that body today. If I could just turn back the clock, I’d never criticize myself again.  The body I had then was in some ways the best one I’ll ever have. The reality is that age brings deterioration, so today’s you may be one the best versions ever.

Remember you are a work in progress and cut yourself some slack.

Memorize this code: PBPWMGINFWMY   It will reduce the stress in your life.It means: “Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.”Everyone has flaws. Most would like to be a better version of ourselves, but masterpieces      are not created overnight.  Don’t miss the glory of this day, because you are disappointed in how your diet is going or some other frustration on your goal list. Be gentle with yourself. You will get better.

Step one on claiming the real you is to accept yourself with all your “warts and weaknesses,” as being part of a human race that is flawed and broken.   Keep working at your goals, but enjoy today.

Other people love you. Love yourself and you’ll be better able to love other people.

Claim the real you, because the real you is pretty fantastic right now.

QUIT BEING AFRAID TO BE YOU

Quit being afraid to be you. If you want to create something that has power and lasts, then you have to be the authentic you, no matter who that annoys or makes angry.

A copy has no power to inspire.  A cheap knockoff has limited appeal.  People want to see and hear something that is real, and they get pumped when they encounter leaders who are irrepressibly themselves.

Why do we fear being ourselves?

  • We fear we are not good enough.
  • We buy into the lie that other leaders have it all together, all the time.
  • We have the tendency to overemphasize our failures and downplay our successes.
  • We feel arrogant to assert our ideas and opinions.
  • We wonder why people would want to hear what we have to say.

But, you are the only you in the universe.  You have life experiences that no one else has.  You see things in your own unique viewpoint and that viewpoint might just set someone free.

In the biographical movie “Walk The Line,”the young singer, Johnny Cash tries to get a record deal by singing a gospel song that has been recorded by Jimmy Davis.  The producer Sam Phillips stops his performance and says “this is awful.” Then he asks this question.

If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in a gutter and you had time to sing one song—one song that people would remember before you’re dirt, one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth, one song that would sum you up—are you telling me that’s the one song you’d sing?  That same Jimmy Davis tune that we hear on the radio all day about your peace within and how it’s all real and how you’re gonna shout it.  

Or would you sing something different, something real, something you felt?  ‘Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear.  That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.  It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash, it has everything to do with believing in yourself!”

I don’t agree with Sam’s theology, but I agree with his plea for authenticity, and so did Johnny Cash. He put away his props and sang for the producer a song he had written called “Folsom Prison Blues.”  The rest as they say “is history” and a new star was born.

I ask you, what are you meant to say, sing, do, or produce?  Will you continue to spin out weak copies of other people’s work and ideas? Or will you start singing the song you were put on this earth to sing?

Quit being afraid to be you. If you want to create something that has power and lasts, then you have to be the authentic you, no matter who that annoys or makes angry.

 

 

Surviving Your Vacation with Your Goals Intact

I am republishing this popular blog to celebrate the special time of the year where we get to take a needed vacation.  I hope you enjoy it and I hope you survive your time away with your goals intact.

 

I am probably guilty here of making up a word, but I think every goal oriented person has suffered from this ailment.  Vacationitus- is the depression and grief we feel when we return from a vacation five or ten pounds over our normal body weight and suffering the pain of having to try to reconnect with the pre-vacation disciplines of eating and exercise.  Vacationitus is a setback, a reversal, a loss of ground toward our significant goals, and even worse a feeling of being unable to re-establish the good routines we once were on.  Having just recently gone through this crisis myself, I wanted to share five techniques that helped me over come Vacationitus and shed the excessive weight and get back to work.  Here they are.

1. Remind yourself of how successfully you have been in the past

For instance in the area of weight loss your thinking would go like this:

You lost 35 pounds in the last two years! People were walking up to you and  saying “Boy you’ve lost weight.”   Remind yourself how good those comments felt and remind yourself you have the power to deal with this issue.  The fact is       that since you have already done it once, you can do it again.  Your pep talk  should be,  “You know you can do this… you already have, just get your mind around it and start today.

2.  What are you about?   What are you up to?

It’s time to review your goals. A reversal is a great time to remind yourself of what you really want out of life and why you want it.  Again if the concern is vacation pounds, here are some good questions to ask yourself:

“Why is it necessary to lose the weight? “

“What are the benefits of staying in shape?”

My answers revolve around Self esteem.  I just feel so much better about myself when I am at my goal weight.  It is boost to my sense of personal worth    to control my weight rather than to be controlled by my eating.

I remind myself of that confidence is necessary to reach my goals, and that I am so much more confident when I am working out and my weight is under control.

3.  Start today

Every vacation ends, yours is over, you had a great time, and you ate what you wanted, now’s the time to get back to the real world.  Vacations are not the real world. They are meant to give us a break from reality and to free us from our disciplines long enough to relax, and that’s why we love them.  But vacations are meant to be temporary so grow up, get tough, and get back to the routines that have been bringing you success.

4.  Dealing with a setback.

There are other kinds of reversals than simple weight gain on vacation, but many of the same principles still apply. Maybe you have had an injury that is hindering your physical workouts. This can be very frustrating when you are pursuing physical training goals, but we have to be careful not to let it cause us to simply give up our pursuit of fitness.

I recently have been dealing with a knee injury that has slowed by workouts and led to much frustration on my part.  Here a couple questions I asked myself to get me going again in physical activity.

All right my leg is hindering exercise, but is it eliminating it?

Be honest, Kim, are there some things you can do physically?

Where can I get some good advice?  An injury is the time to invest in the cost of  getting good advice from qualified professionals.  Don’t quibble over spending  a few hundred dollars now, which might save you thousands in medical costs in  years to come.

5.  Others have done this, look to them.

This is the final technique and it’s an “oldie but goody.”  Success leave clues, and if others have overcome vactionitus and reversals in their lives they no doubt  have written or blogged about it.  Find them, read them, and copy them when they make sense.

Vacationitus happens to us all.  Reversals are part of life.  You can get back on track and reach goals.  So put down that doughnut and get out your workout gear and get started again on your dreams.

What’s Intimidating You?

What’s Intimidating You?

Subtitle:  Adventures in Car Hauling

My son-in-law bought my dad’s old truck from my mother.  The truck no longer ran and there was a lot of confusion about what might be wrong with it. But, Charley figured it would make a good starter vehicle for my grandson, who was fast approaching driving age.   He learned that other family members possessed a long bed trailer suitable for car hauling and he decided to drive down and haul the truck back home to Tyler. I decided to go along with him on the 3-hour trip, so I could see my mom, sister, and the rest of the family, and because I had brokered the deal.   We made a boy’s trip.  My son-in-law Charley, myself, and two of my above average grandsons set off on a distinctly, masculine adventure.  How hard could it be?

We thought we could do this. I mean it wasn’t rocket science. But, the more we talked with an experienced person, the more our insecurities mounted.  Neither one of us had ever pulled an 18-foot-long trailer, and we had never hauled anything as large as a truck.   As we learned about the things we needed (tie down straps, come-alongs, and weight-centering strategies, our fears began to mount), we realized this was serious stuff.  If we messed up, at the very least, it could be expensive, and at the worst, someone could get hurt.   But, we did it. We faced our fears, we loaded that truck and safely hauled it back to Tyler. We were feeling pretty proud as we rolled into the Rose City, thinking we had once again earned our “man cards.”

This adventure of car-hauling and the mental gymnastics we went through made me think about how people get intimidated out of attempting things that will take their careers to new levels of success. 

  • They turn down a promotion, because they’re not sure they can handle the stress of leadership.
  • They change their minds about relocating to a dream company, because it’s out of state and they have never moved before.
  • They own a company that is offered the chance to bid on a contract that will pay them the kind of money they have been dreaming of, but turn it down, out of fear they can’t hire enough quality employees to fulfill the contract.
  • They perhaps are encouraged to write a book about a life changing experience, but refuse to take action, because they have never written anything before.

All of these opportunities have the same key factors.  One, they offer tremendous potential for improvement in life. Two, they require the learning of new skills or the need to enter into levels of leadership, not yet experienced. Three, they are fear inducing.

These tips from my car-hauling experience might keep you from missing your opportunity.

  • Refuse to be intimidated. Everything is new the first time you do it.
  • Remind yourself that it can be done. Others have hauled cars, so can you.
  • Seek out good instruction. My brother-in-law provided needed expertise that greatly increased our chance for success.
  • Have confidence in yourself. You have made it to your current level of success through hard work and discipline and you can make it further using the same tools.

I don’t want to encourage you to do anything foolish or dangerous in life.  But, I also don’t want you to get intimidated out of what may be one of your greatest chances for success, because you’ve never done it before.

Take on the task.  Take up the challenge.  Haul a truck if you need to.  You might even earn your “man card.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stupid Human Tricks

Every so often, I attend youth events like summer camp.  One of the staples of these high energy gatherings is a game called “stupid human tricks,” that the camp director will use to warm up the crowd before a service. The idea is to offer a reward to anyone who is willing to demonstrate an unusual trait or behavior before the crowd. There is never a shortage of participants.  The “tricks” run the gamut from joints that can be bent backwards, to the ability to turn your tongue upside down in your mouth, or some such oddity.  My youngest daughter was a regular winner of these games, but I am sworn to secrecy not to tell her “giftedness.”

This silly game reminded me of the even sillier games that some people, who really should know better, play in their interactions with each other.   I call them “stupid human avoidance tricks.”

They include:

  • Jumping relational canyons to escape intimacy; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “Bob sees his wife even less than I do and she never complains.”
  • Pulling unrelated complaints out of a hat to distract from intimacy; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “I might come home more often if you didn’t park your car on my side of garage.”
  • Using verbal sleight of hand to hide uncomfortable truths; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “Oh, you always look so cute when you are so serious.”  This is said with a wink and nod.
  • Hiding painful truths in hidden pockets; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “I know, we’ll talk about that this weekend. Now let’s eat.”
  • Piling unimportant words so high that crucial words are never spoken; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, and saying, and saying, and saying… you get the point.

Which of these is your favorite?  Is one of these “tricks” limiting communication in one of your relationships?   One of the most frustrating relationships to be in is when someone you care about is emotionally distant.  If someone is distant, they are probably using one of the stupid human avoidance tricks.

All of these techniques serve the purpose of avoiding confrontation.  But, the problem with avoidance is that the problem is still there.  Avoidance is just relationship procrastination.

If you want anything to improve, you have to start with honesty.   No suffering relationship ever improved while people were utilizing avoidance tricks.  

Suppose your friend is “hiding painful truths in hidden pockets.”   Every time you bring up a troubling behavior of theirs, they tuck it away temporarily in a fake show of connection.  It doesn’t take long for the behavior to show back up and you know you haven’t really dealt with the issue.  How do you get past this trick?     

  1. Pick a time for the confrontation, where conversations will not be interrupted.
  2. Pick your words to demonstrate that your goal is improvement, not blame.
  3. Pick apart surface attempts to hide the offense by refusing to accept meaningless praise.
  4. Pick a powerful memory to share of a time when the relationship was thriving and growing.
  5. Pick a demand that will demonstrate real improvement from your partner on which you will not compromise.
  6. Pick a time to put the relationship on hold if the promised improvement does not come.

Much of our joy and most of our misery flows from our relationships.  Refuse to indulge in “stupid human tricks,” and don’t let those you value, get away with it either.

 

 

Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law

Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law, And Other Relationships Challenges

My son-in-law Charley, has been telling me that my wife and I need to write a book about how to create healthy in-law relationships.  He thinks we have done a good job in this area, at least, so far.  I think that’s because he really likes my wife, Barbara’s kindness, but I’ll take the compliment.   He went so far as to send me some starter ideas.  As I looked them over, I realized some of them were good for creating healthy friendships as well.   Let me share them with you.

  • How to be close without smothering
  • The money dilemma, giving gifts versus making loans
  • The different techniques for giving solicited and unsolicited advice
  • Establishing healthy boundaries
  • How to watch someone you care about make a mistake

My son in law is pretty smart, isn’t he?

Let’s take the first one.

How can you maintain a close relationship without smothering?

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law, you must be concerned about how you can bless them, not how you can control them.  If you want to have healthy friendships, you must be as concerned with how much you contribute to your friend’s life, as you are with how many resources he brings to your life.

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law and build strong friendships, then don’t work out your inner demons on them.  If you find yourself engaging in irrational responses toward minor annoyances, you’re probably fighting some wound from the past rather that actually dealing with the current problem.

When you are struggling in your relationships, take the time to examine your feelings about the relationship to see if they are healthy.

  • Are you focused on what makes you feel good or blessing the other person?
  • Are you allowing subconscious wounds from your past to color the relationship?
  • Are your emotions growing in maturity as you deepen the relationship?

I’ve been blessed with two fine sons-in-law.  They love my daughters and have provided my wife and I four, above average grandchildren that vastly enrich our lives.   I want to keep our relationships healthy, so I need to give them space to build their own families.  This is true even if they are making a decision that seems foolish to you.

I owe my father-in-law Gene Davis for teaching me this truth through efficient role modeling.  The first car I bought after Barbara and I were married was a banana yellow, Ford Fiesta.  Now, there is nothing wrong with that model of Ford, and for many people it would be a good choice, but not for me.  We lived in hot and humid Texas and this tiny little four-cylinder car didn’t  have air conditioning.  It had a manual transmission that Barbara did not know how to drive, and it was way too small for my 6’3’’ body.  I bought this car on monthly payments because I did not know how to tell a salesman no.   When I took this car to Gene’s house he displayed tremendous discipline and kindness. This knowledgeable mechanic, who knew cars like few other men, simply walked quietly round it several times listening to me explain its features.  Finally, with a slight grin, he said, “Well, that’s a car.”   Then he turned and walked into the house.  It was many years later that I realized how many words of ridicule he must have held back at my foolish purchase.   But, he was raising a healthy son-in-law, so he simply let me find out on my own about the hazardous of buying a car without careful thought.  We lost Gene to heaven nearly twenty years ago and I still miss that good and wise man.

If you want to build healthy friendships, then learn to cherish your friends, but allow them room to grow as human beings.  If you do have good sons-in-law or ever hope to have some, be slow to speak words of criticism and quick to support their decisions.  Even if they buy a banana yellow Ford Fiesta.

 

 

The Power of Quiet

Too many voices, too much noise, too crowded schedules, too many demands…. work that can’t get done, because it demands creativity and the noise drowns out your original thoughts.

You must get away.  You must unplug.  You must create a quiet space, or you’ll never produce anything original and deep. You’ll never be able to create quality material if you don’t get away from the “maddening crowd.”  Your mind has the ability to create new information for the world and problems you are facing.  Your brain has the capability to make new connections between the many streams of information coming at you and your team.  But, you’ll never make those connections if you don’t take time to listen to your own thoughts.

You must get quiet if you want to produce material that will make real noise in this world.

The reason why quiet works is because it combats the productivity loss of interruptions.  When we are in our office, our work can be interrupted five or ten times a day.  According to a study by Fast Company magazine, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to reconnect to the level of thought we were functioning in before the phone rang or someone walked into our office.  Multiply that time lost times ten and you’ve lost 230 minutes or nearly 4 hours.  That’s half the day!

The religious have long known this truth.  If you want to do serious work on the soul or deep thinking you must flee the crowds and find a place of solitude.   Jesus Himself, withdrew from the crowds to get alone during His ministry.  For God followers, that pretty much settles any argument we have against getting quiet and alone.

Why don’t we spend more time alone?  Usually it’s because we don’t think we can afford the time away from our busy office and constantly beeping computers and cell phones.  We are wrong.  The creative and mental output you can generate when you are alone is staggering.   I recently took a day to unplug and write.  It took me an hour and a half to get settled in my silent hideaway.  In the next four hours, I had written a chapter to lengthen the book my agent is trying to sell, written a Sunday School lesson, written a blog post, and written a chapter for my next book. Altogether, about 6000 words hit the page, or in reality the computer screen that day. That’s a lot of creative output and the amazing thing is I didn’t even feel tired.

You must get quiet if you want to produce some real noise in this world.

Quiet places are all around us:

  • For those who have access
    • Lake houses
    • Beach houses
    • A tent or RV in a State park
  • For those with less access
  • A coffee shop with good WIFI
  • Your home when everyone else is at work
  • The public library
  • Under a tree in the local park

It’s time for you to get away.  Do it for your business, your family, and your sanity. Get quiet so you can produce the kind of original work that will make some real noise in this world.

 

 

 

 

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

I came close to refusing the offer to become the Pastor of the amazing church that I am privileged to lead.  I was afraid that I wasn’t up to the task.  I told myself, “I should tell them thank you, but you should get someone else.” I am extremely grateful that the Lord spoke to my heart in that moment and said, “Oh yes you can do this.  If I have called you to this task, I will empower you to accomplish it.”   Thirty-one years later, I am still enjoying the opportunity to lead this fantastic group of people, which has certainly been one of the greatest of my life.

Are you letting fear keep you from something that you would like to do?

Is there a position you’d like to apply for, but you’re afraid to submit your resume?  Is there a project you’d like to take on, but you are afraid you will fail in bringing it to pass?  Is there a relationship you’d like to pursue, but you fear that you’ll be rejected?  Do you wish you had the courage of people around you, who seem bold enough to chase any goal they get excited about?

Here’s a little secret: They are afraid too.

Everyone feels fear.  Everyone has doubts.  Everyone feels that they are not up to the task.  But, successful people push through their fear and do what they dream anyway.   It takes courage to put yourself out there in front of people.  It takes a brave heart to write a book on relationships, offer a class on success, or apply for a demanding job. The ugly thoughts of your inner critic begin to hammer at your doubts. They attack you with questions like:

  • Who are you to think someone would listen to you talk?
  • Who do you think you are to write a book?
  • Who made you an expert?
  • You know you are not perfect. You’ll be a hypocrite if you write or speak about success.

Michael Neill wrote about his strategy for facing fear in his book “Financially Fearless.”

 “As I have written elsewhere, there is a tremendous difference between feeling the fear and doing it anyway and the freedom which comes from finding that space in yourself which is beyond fear. And the more time you spend living beyond fear, the sooner the answer to ‘What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?’ will become ‘Exactly what I’m doing now.'”  

How to push through fear to success:

  • Make the decision to try, after all, the worst you can do is fail
  • Make the distinction that failure is nothing more than a learning experience
  • Make the connection with your God and tap into His power
  • Make the leap of faith

In the beautiful movie “We bought a Zoo.”The father, Benjamin encourages his teenage son, who wants to ask a girl out, but is afraid to, with the story about how he met, the boy’s mother. Benjamin told him he saw a lovely girl through a shop window and found the nerve to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce himself.  This led to the great romance of his life.

Then he told his son:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

What would you attempt if you found 20 seconds of insane courage?  I hope you find those 20 seconds, because I promise you, the world is waiting on your greatness.