How Long Will You Be Limited by Your Past?

How long do we have to be limited by our past?

Are we ever safe from our failures?   Is there a shelf-life on our mistakes?  Can we overcome painful memories?

Far too often, we suffer internally because of things we remember that we did wrong or past embarrassments.

Memories shape our lives. If they are negative or painful, they become a prison of self-limitation.  The most interesting thing about memories is that they are unreliable.   The longer we have a memory, the more we embellish and color it with nostalgia.

I occasionally visit a home I lived in over 50 years ago.  I love to go by and see where I played as a boy with brothers and friends.  I am always amused by how small everything is compared to my memory.   A small shed still stands that we used to jump off of as boys.   In my memory it was 20 or more feet high.  In reality, it is only about 5 feet and most people would have to stoop down to walk under its low hanging roof.  The discrepancy in my memory is because I was only about four-feet-tall, when I made my daring leaps off its tin roof.   Everything looks different to me now from my current six-feet height.

We also tend to add details to our memories that were not really there.  The more you tell a story, including the more you tell it to yourself, the easier it is to incrementally add to the tale.   This is why your father’s memory of walking to school when he was a child morphs from a couple of city blocks to a couple of country miles. It’s also why his exploits on the baseball and football field become tales of legendary skill and success, when in reality, they were just stories of an average kid making an average team.

The truth is our memories are flawed.  What you remember so vividly probably did not happen exactly as your picture it.

It is time to take the sting out of your painful memories.  When they show up to limit you or shame you, remember they are being blown out of proportion.  When they give you that familiar unpleasantness, remember that you are remembering from who you were, not who you are today.  You wouldn’t make that mistake today.  You wouldn’t choose that bad decision as the person you are today. Don’t let a flawed and exaggerated remembrance trouble your peace of mind.

Good coaches teach us that though the past is always with us, its ability to hurt is a personal choice. Decide today that your memories from years ago are out of date and toss them into the trash.  Move forward, focused on who you are becoming, not limited by who you were.

Make your personal mantra: I’m not who I ought to be, I’m not who I’m going to be, but thank God, I’m not who I was, and quit allowing yourself to be shamed by an out of date past.

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Adapting for Success – 5 Keys to Making it Happen

I recently read an article in Fast Company magazine about Todd Yellin, the CEO of Netflix.  He made a bold decision to push his company to create more access on mobile applications, because he saw two boys in Bangkok watching Netflix on a mobile phone.   He saw the opportunity for his company to expand in new markets and he was quick to adapt.  In 2017 subscriptions grew more than 25% to 117 million, and more people subscribed via mobile than either TV or laptop. Yellin’s ability to be flexible and quick secured their success.

I recently saw a Christian missionary group shifting its priorities from the patriarchal approach of a pioneer to the partnership approach of long established native.  They chose to go in a new direction in their work with the indigenous people of their nation.  They did this because they could see that the people, who they had once evangelized, were now fully developed Christians capable of leading themselves.  They are having phenomenal success, seeing new churches planted in an exponential rate because they were quick to adapt.

If you are alive emotionally, financially, and spiritually, you must adapt in order to thrive in your life.   The only true constant in life is change.  What you counted as a “given” in your career last year, may be obsolete today.  Tried and true practices of success that worked a decade ago may not work today.  You must adapt.

5 keys to successful adaptation:

  • Keep your eyes and mind open.

You must become a life-long learner.  The world is full of exciting new ideas and people pushing the boundaries of what is possible in business and life.  Read all you can.  Force yourself to read magazines and books about technology.

  • Hold your convictions of what works loosely.

The most dangerous concept you can hold in your mind is: “I know.”  You only know what was.  Most of what you know was it taught to you years ago, and most of it is obsolete today.

It doesn’t mean it wasn’t true, it just means that innovation has  changed the way that knowledge must be applied.

  • Expose yourself to innovation whenever and wherever you find it.

Don’t run from new technology.  Set yourself to learn how these new toys and systems can be used to improve what you do.  Go to “maker’s fairs.”  Buy tickets to business and tech expos.  Dabble at the edges of change.

  • Refuse to be lulled into the lie of “that’s just the way things work.”

Five years ago who would have thought that a huge amount of the social interaction between people would take place through hand-held devices?  Five years ago, everyone used the telephone as the first choice for communication and now it is texting.  “That’s just the way things work” is lazy thinking.

  • Try something new every week.

Drive a new route to work.  Eat at a new restaurant.  Watch a foreign film on Netflix.  Cook a new dish.  Doing something new keeps our minds limber and helps us to adapt to the larger things in life more easily.

Adapting to change is a powerful tool for success. Take advantage of your flexibility and you’ll move ahead of your competition.

Leave a comment about an area where you successfully adapted in your career this past year and I’ll share one of mine.

 

The Quicker You Do This, The Better Your Chances Of Success

If you want to do more than just survive, you must learn to adapt to the changes of life.

I am a man of faith.  When I use the world evolution I do so cautiously, but there is a principle in evolution that is true regardless of your belief system. Louisiana State business professor Leon C. Megginson in a speech summed up the idea:

Yes, change is the basic law of nature. But the changes wrought by the passage of time affects individuals and institutions in different ways. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself.

The one who can adapt is best able to survive and prosper.

If you put a rock on top of a weed growing in your garden and it gets water, it will grow around the sides of the stone.  It adapts and survives.

Adaptability is listed various lectures as one of the 5 signs of life.  Alongside of growth, reproduction, assimilation, adaptability demonstrates life.

If you are alive emotionally, financially, and spiritually, you must adapt in order to thrive in your life.   The only true constant in life is change.  What you counted a “given” in your career last year, may be obsolete today.  Tried and true practices of success that worked a decade ago may not work today.  You must adapt.

The computer age has made adaptability exponentially more important for success. Computer’s rapid evolution creates constant change in every area of our lives.   Take a moment to think of how different life is today because of the ever-present computer universally present in the hands of people, their smartphone.  We have been forced to give up the idea of “time off,” unless we can head somewhere distant and unplug.   What the long terms effect of these changes will have on us remains to be seen, but the people who thrive in life will adapt to these technological realities.

Grade your adaptability by checking how many of these technologies you use:

  • Electronic deposit and other evolving banking technologies
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest
  • Navigation apps on your phone or in your car for directions
  • E-mail and texting
  • Streaming for television viewing

I am not promoting any of these technologies.  I am simply acknowledging that in an incredibly short amount of time they have become a standard part of most people’s lives.

Change is coming.  If you are going thrive you must learn to adapt.

In my next blog, I will share principles for helping you develop this needed survival skill.

Take a minute to post the most challenging area where you have had to adapt in your career and life in the comment section.  I’d love to hear your story.