How to Walk Through Darkness

I don’t like to be scared. I’ve never cared for scary movies or spook houses.  I never understood the appeal of having someone jump out of the dark at you while wearing a frightening mask.  Some people love this kind of thing.  I don’t.  Some spook houses have a room or hallway that is designed to put you in absolute darkness.  It is terrifying because you can’t see what’s coming.  The only way to conquer the darkness is to wait it out or to keep walking till you get to the light.  What keeps you from going crazy with fear is knowing that eventually you’ll get out of the darkness and the night will return to normal.

Life can be like a dark room in a spook house.  You can find yourself in a place of darkness.  Suddenly, you can’t understand what’s happening and even worse you can’t see what’s  going to happen next.  An emotional “dark room” can be terrifying.  To handle it you attempt to shore up your courage with the hope that light will return, things will get better, and hopefully, life will return to normal.

Struggling with the dark has been one of the more difficult parts of my wife’s and my experience with cancer.  Our lives were changed dramatically without warning and we struggled to make sense of it all, kind of like having the lights go off.  The darkness increased as we  faced the complication of medical treatments, the resultant body pain, the loss of control of time, and the steady stream of medical bills kept coming at us.  We fought to keep a positive attitude.

One of the worst aspects of “the dark” is the waiting.  As a friend of mine, whose wife is also struggling with cancer shared with me;           

The whole process is taxing on my wife.  It is all the waiting.  Every time we see one doctor, we have to wait another week or two until   we see the next one.  This weighs on us knowing that she has cancer inside her. The surgery is still probably at least 3-4 weeks out. 

I feel his pain.  Been there, done that, and we have that cancer t-shirt.

Maybe you’re in the dark right now.  Maybe you are facing:

  • The terror of a job loss.
  • The fear of ballooning debt.
  • The fright of a health crisis.
  • The panic of a child that is on drugs.
  • The apprehension of a spouse who is threatening to leave.

What can you do?  You don’t have a lot of choices.

One, you can curl up in a fetal position and cry in the dark.  You can whine incessantly about how unfair life is, and how God has failed you.  Of course, that will change nothing except to shorten the list of friends who will take your phone calls.

Two, you can choose to shore up your courage and keep on walking.   You can choose to believe that God is good, life is worth living even in times of struggle, and that eventually the darkness will end.  You can put a smile on your face as you make the inner determination that you will get through this with your integrity intact, and that the darkness will make you a better person when it is gone.

You can choose not to visit a spook house.  You can’t always choose not to walk through emotional darkness, but you can choose how you get through it.  Keep on walking. Keep on believing.  Next year will be better.  The darkness will eventually lift.

Leave me a comment about how you have dealt with the “dark rooms” of your life.

 

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.

 

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.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Get Refocused and Reach Your Goals

Get Refocused and Reach
Your Goals

Sometimes we are surprised at how quickly some things get past us. It’s amazing how quickly thirty days can go by when you have to make another car payment. It’s catches us off guard how quickly a semester can go by when you have a term paper due. And it’s absolutely terrifying how quickly your sweet little infant becomes a college bound teenager. Things move fast in life and it can take our breath away how quickly the months of a year go by. This year is no different.

January is gone. One month out the twelve we had in front of us when we started the year is now past. That means that if you are a goal setter you only have eleven months left to get them done. This is why you have to review your goals at least once a week.

How do we make sure we realize our ambitions and complete our goal list?

” Review your list to test if you really want to accomplish all the things you put down
” Review your list to see if any of the goals are not possible due to events out of your control
” Review your list to test your commitment to the goals you set one month ago

One of the most powerful techniques to keep your goal list heading toward success is to review your “why.” When your “why” is strong enough the “how” takes care of itself.

Supposed you were asked to run a half mile while carrying a 50-pound sack of sand in 100 degree heat. Could you do it? Would your attitude stink? Would you do anything you could to get out of it? But, what if that 50-pound weight was your six-year-old daughter who was seriously injured, and you were running to get her to a doctor in time to save her life? Most people realize that having that kind of “why” would allow them to access strength and resolve that would make a task that seemed out of reach possible.

Review your “why” for your goals and get back on track. You still have 11 months left. Get after those goals and end the year strong.

P.S.  Do me a favor and put your most powerful “why” in the comments list and I will answer with mine.

To Those Who Want To Grow in 2018

Some of My Favorite Resources for Growth from 2017

Like me, a lot of you love learning and expanding your skillset.  Here are some of my favorite things that helped me grow in 2017.   I hope you find something helpful, and please send me some of your favorites too.

Best books I read:

Spiritual:

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming  Henri Nowen

https://www.amazon.com/Return-Prodigal-Henri-J-M-Nouwen/dp/0385418671/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1514314966&sr=8-4&keywords=the+prodigal+son+by+henri+nouwen

Personal growth books:

Designing your life    How to build a well lived joyful life   Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Your-Life-Well-Lived-Joyful/dp/1101875321/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514314699&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=Designiing

Happy Money- The Science of Smarter Spending Elizabeth Done

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Blackout- Remembering the things I drank to forget   Sarah Hupola https://www.amazon.com/Blackout-Remembering-Things-Drank-Forget/dp/B00XO0NZNC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313105&sr=1-1&keywords=blackout+remembering+the+things+i+drank+to+forget

The Lost Art of Listening  Michael Nichols PhD

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think

https://www.amazon.com/Abundance-Future-Better-Than-Think/dp/B00KEVW8DM/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313878&sr=1-4&keywords=abundance+the+future+is+better+than+you+think

History

Alexander Hamilton  Ron Chernov

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Biography:

The Glass Castle Jeanette Walls

https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Castle-Memoir-Jeannette-Walls/dp/1439156964/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514314228&sr=1-2&keywords=the+glass+castle+by+jeannette+walls&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2656020011

Best business books:

Platform: Get noticed in a Busy World  Michael Hyatt

https://www.amazon.com/Platform-Get-Noticed-Noisy-World/dp/159555503X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514314030&sr=1-1&keywords=platform+michael+hyatt

Favorite podcasts:

  • The Art of Charm Jordan Harbinger – Not about charm, about fascinating topics and leadership
  • Freakonomics Radio – insights from bright minds that take fresh looks at economic principles
  • The Gospel in Life – Pastor Tim Keller- great sermons from one of the best Christian preachers today

Favorite technology:

  • Began using a Macbook Air with plug in desktop desktop display, this has changed my life!
  • Mobile check deposit- goodbye waiting in line at the bank
  • Increased use of video on our church website and church Facebook
  • Finally getting the Twitter thing down
  • Calm- a wonderful meditation app to help me with focus

Favorite Blogs:

For those of you are not into spirituality you might want to stop here, but faith is the key to my life, so a few wins from that area are in order:

  • Spending weeks studying the concept of Christian grace- new freedom flowed into my life
  • Learning to write out my prayers when the mind is locked down
  • Walking with a dear friend through her courageous battle with cancer
  • Using the power of spiritual consensus to find the next step in our church’s growth

I hope you find these useful and I look forward to seeing your suggestions.  Be sure to watch for my next blog which will be the fifth in the series listing the 5 Attributes of Mental Toughness.

If you haven’t already done so,  please take a moment to subscribe to my blog.  All you have to do is enter your e-mail address and you’ll be notified every time I post a new one.  My  goal is to supply you with helpful insights on leadership and personal growth.

Make 2018 a great year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

HOW BEING TERRIFIED CAN HELP YOU

 

 

I went zip lining in Costa Rica last week. I thought I was going to have to “wimp out” as I flew out into space on the first of 7 consecutive zip lines.  I am not afraid of heights and I’ve zip lined before, but never at such heights and speeds.  I didn’t want to go on, but I was with my church group and I refused to let them see me “chicken out.”

Flying hundreds of feet over the jungle canopy while supported only by a skimpy seat harness and a well-worn cable, I began to doubt my rationality.  What kind of crazy man risks his life like this I wondered? No, that’s not quite right.  What I really thought was, “Dear God what have I just done, please don’t let me die.” I was three zip lines into the experience before I began to relax and enjoy the amazing view and the thrill of speeding down the line. Once I got over my initial terror my senses were almost overwhelmed with the beauty below me and the fun of getting as close to personal flight as I have ever been.

Are you going through a terrifying time? Remember you are not alone. Starting a new business, career, or relationship can be scary. But often you’ll find that what waits on the other side of your fear will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

What did I learn while terrified?
• Once you relax it gets good
• Beauty is available even when you are terrified
• Trust in those who have gone before you
• Use your peer group to propel you past fear
• Don’t miss the experience of a lifetime out of fear

When was the last time you were afraid? What lessons did you learn? Please leave a comment. I’d love to read your insights.

DON’T QUIT ON THE NEW YOU

 

't quit image

 

It’s always a challenge not to quit on the new you.  It’s so easy to start, and so hard to finish.  Ideas come into our heads and we dream new dreams.  We get excited and immediately begin transforming our lives to meet our new lifestyle goals.  Maybe we join a gym, sign up for classes at a college, or start a business from our home.  We are pumped, we are fired up, and we charge into the new work with energy and passion.  We have seen the person we can become and it is almost intoxicating.  And then, we run into a problem.  There is always a problem.  We take a financial loss.  Someone criticizes us.  We fail the first exam in school.  We become discouraged.  We thought we had turned a new corner. We thought we had finally found the path for our life that would work for us.  But once again we run again into problems and we are tempted to quit on our dream.  How do you keep going when you have quit so many times in the past?  Don’t quit, there’s someone out there waiting for you to become the new you.  They need you.

Four powerful strategies can help you embrace the new you:

  • Embrace the game changing attitude of refusing to quit on the new you.

Determine that no matter what you’re facing you’re going to stay in your new mindset.  Resolve that you are not going back to the person you used to be.

  • See your world through the eyes of faith.

You will see that the challenging visions God birthed in your heart while you were praying, or while you were traveling on a mission trip were not a passing dream.  Instead, they are a natural response to the reality of who you now are.  As you have become a new person God has put new dreams in your heart. Don’t go back.  Don’t give up.

  • Commit to continue thinking, dreaming, and planning for success.

Don’t let anyone steer you away from your goals and dreams. God has started you on a path, and He has the power to enable you to complete it.

  • Decide that you are never going back.

I have had detours in my life.  I’ve had times when criticism or weariness led me to take some weaker paths.  However, I could never stay in those defeated states for long.  I picked myself up and dusted myself off and I got back to my dreams as quickly as I could. You have to look at the world through what God is doing in your life right now and you have to determine that you will never go back and live the old life.

Adopt this mantra and repeat it over and over till you get moving again.

I am not the same. I don’t see things the same. I am not seen the same way. 

If you try to live where you once were, you will be miserable.  To live a powerful life, you must move forward. No turning back.  Don’t quit on the new you.

(This is an excerpt from my soon to published new book,  Game Changers, the people, places, and ideas, that change your life)

 

Rats

Combatting the Power of a Negative Comment

I recently watched Morgan Spurlock’s disturbing new documentary, “Rats.” The most unsettling part of the film was not the videos of hundreds of rats scurrying around or even the view of a man drinking out a pan of milk that rats had been drinking from and crawling around in, but the worst part was Spurlock’s evidence of the almost indestructible nature of the species.   He made a strong case for how rats as a species might still be flourishing when man has long vanished from the earth. The resiliency of the furry and almost universally disgusting creatures reminded me of the potency of negative comments in our lives.

Most us have had the weird experience of having one negative comment outweigh dozens of positive ones in our lives. It could be a comment about a new article of clothing you purchased, some creative piece of work you put out in the world, or some new direction where you led your organization.   You have dozens of affirming statements about your work and then you receive a single negative e-mail or phone call. In an amazing quirk of human nature, most people will begin to focus on the single negative comment and almost ignore the larger number of positive statements.

The behavior makes no sense:

  • Why don’t we embrace the sheer weight of numbers and focus on the positive?
  • Why would we let one statement carry more weight than dozens of others?
  • Why do we care so much about complaints that often come from strangers?
  • How in the world did rats and negative comments become so resilient?

I’m not saying people who disagree with our art or work are rats. I am lamenting the fact that negative comments have an amazing ability to survive the counterattacks of our rational minds and our most balanced analysis.

I have a few guesses as to why and one observation for moving forward.

Guesses:

  • We are wired to be sensitive to the negative, hence the famous news media policy, “if it bleeds it leads.”
  • We are usually so in love with our ideas, “after all we birthed them,” that we naively assume everyone else will love them too, hence the “every baby is beautiful” fallacy.
  • We are spoiled to people’s polite silence about our ideas and taste. Hence the shock when someone tells us our amazingly cute new shoes are ugly.
  • We are not wired to consider the negative. Differing opinions are a natural part of the environment and hence they should not surprise us like a rat bounding out of an alley.

Observation:

If you want to live a bold and creative life you will be noticed and draw comments. Not all of them are going to be positive. Treat them like the rats of the comment world. Don’t be shocked by them. Don’t think that they are out of the ordinary, because they are not. They just usually remain hidden. Work to put their limited appearance in perspective against the overriding positive support you receive. Most of all, keep working and creating.

Mr. Spurlock, I disagree, rats will never rule the world.