Reality Reflection: Everything to Everyone

I’m a fan of saying no to people, you know why? Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Not only is is about being honest to who you are and not putting yourself in positions that you’re completely unqualified for or incapable of doing, but because every time you take on something that you’re only slightly capable of (or not at all), you take away an opportunity from someone else who is qualified. If we really want this world to be all it can be, I think we have to be willing to share a little of the control with others, have to be willing to let them do their thing, and not get in the way when they take charge.

Yes, there are time when you’ll go a little outside your preferred box to help a friend or to try something new, and that’s a good thing. We should be trying new things to keep our minds engaged and learning. But we have our safe zones for a reason. The good news is that my safe zone isn’t the same zone as yours. You’ve got talents I don’t have and don’t have any inclination for developing. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for us within the things that interest and drive us that we should never have to take work, resources or life away from someone else.

But that does mean that we all have to step up in that which we are gifted in, and a whole lot less slacking, hiding or letting someone else’s sub-par job suffice. You need to take responsibility for what you can do in this world with your unique talents. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business or blog, it may just mean finding a company to work with and bring your unique talents to (one that fits better than your current one), or donating your time on weekends or vacations.

This week I encourage you to give others the chance to do what they do best, and choose to do what you do best. Who knows, you may not cure cancer today, but you certainly may bring a smile to someone’s face or relief to their life in some other way.

Rivers of Life

I was reading a very interesting article about how rivers can be a representation of our lives.  The other option is to be a stagnant pool of water.  I don’t know about you but I’d rather be a moving river than a mosquito home.  Throughout the Bible the topic of rivers are returned to again and again, including a very painting-worthy passage in Ezekiel 47.  Rivers were often used because the people knew them to be a source of life, and in using them as a teaching example the listeners could more easily understood the concept of the living word and life of God, especially before the birth and death of Jesus (although there are lots of examples in the New Testament, too).

Where are you at in your life right now?  Are you in a stagnant place?  Or are you being swept away by life?  Or are you moving along with life, taking it as it comes?  The funny thing about rivers is that they can do a real good job of hiding the truth. What can look like a peaceful spot can be deadly to dive into or a bottomless pit or have an incredible current that will sweep you under before you know what’s happening.  People too can hide the truth, there are countless people all around the globe that are hiding their real feelings, hurts, frustrations, fears and maybe even their joys.  They hide because they’re afraid that if people knew the real them, they would be judged.  And the unfortunate thing is many would be judged, humiliated, laughed at or not taken seriously, that’s how too much of our world works.

As people of faith we’ve got a responsibility to step up and be better people.  It’s unfortunate that we too have at times fallen into the judgment zone, trying to look all perfect to the world while struggling privately.  No, we’re not supposed to live as sinfully as others in the world do, but Christian or not we’re still human and have our not so great moments.  We have many of the same challenges to face as others do around the world, we just know that we can go into the rushing river with an excellent rescue team on hand for us (the people at our church or Bible Study or other faith-based group, not to mention God).

Is this your week to conquer the river in your life?  I encourage you to be brave and say that enough is enough, and choose to move as your life (and God) directs.

Reality Reflection: The Luck of the Irish

Friday in the US, Ireland and other countries around the world St. Patrick’s Day was celebrated.  So of course in addition to thinking about drinks and pots of gold and Celtic crosses I’m thinking about the topic of luck. Honestly, I think there is something to it.  I think that sometimes fortune shines on us.  If you’re not comfortable with the topic of luck or believing it could be real, you could call it karma and see it as a return of a good thing you did in your past or a gift that you can make good on later.

Why am I convinced it exists? Because things happen that had no reason to happen.  People don’t intentionally lose pennies for other people to find, parking spots don’t just wait for you, perfect jobs don’t come with labels on them “held for you”, deals aren’t waiting for you to take advantage of them, people don’t hang around doors just to open them for you (unless they’re doormen/women :)), perfect quotes don’t show up because they knew you needed some encouragement, the list goes on.

If we do think of luck as a karma thing, there are definitely things you can do to make luck show up more in your life.  Karma runs on the principle that what you do is returned to you, so if you’re acting in ways that help others and the world, you’ll see the same returned to you.  If you want more luck in your life, show up in ways for others and the world that give them blessings, are considerate and open the door for something good to happen to them.

The other thing about luck is that you have to be open to receiving it.  I think it’s much harder to be lucky if you’ve totally ruled it out as a reality and don’t think that it’s something that can happen to/for you.  Like many other things in life, if you’re closed off to the possibilities you’ll only receive what you’re open to.  So this weekend with a lucky clover in your yard or a bit of Irish soda bread on your plate I encourage you to let a little luck into your life, whether you’re Irish or not.

Love Your Life

Every year we cover a ton of topics, from the tough stuff to enjoying life more.  There are lots of changes happening around the world, some faster than others and some seemingly slow and we feel like they’ll never happen.  Whether you’re talking about finances, the economy, politics, jobs/business/careers, the environment, energy, health or just plain relationships and families, things are changing whether people want them to or not, and we typically identify with one group’s perspective on a topic more than we do with another’s.  We read or hear the news about tragedies that happen around our world, and sometimes we get an up close and personal look at them when they happen in our part of the world.  I hurt when I see or hear about other people around the world getting hurt, even if they’re not people I know.  There are tons of reasons to be scared or worried or concerned or frustrated or anxious about life.  But is that really the way you want to live your life?

Personally I want to love my life.  I want life to be filled with things I love, things that make me happy, things that challenge me in a good way, things that I feel good about and people I care about.  I may not have control over everything, but in this day and age we do have a whole lot of options and the ability to control quite a bit and certainly the ability to make decisions about what and who we want in our lives.  I want to be able to look back and feel good about what I’ve done and the relationships I’ve had.

One of the things we’ll be talking about this year is having that kind of life and how to get it.  We’ll talk a little about what holds us back from getting that life, but as I recently talked about with a client, you don’t really need me to point out all the bad stuff and talk more about it.  I’d much rather go from the established fact that the issues exist and start working on getting past/through/over and beyond them.  Let’s start off the weekend with a simple question: what do you love about your life?

Reality Reflection: Times are Changing

September is just around the corner, can you believe it?  Many states have already gone back to school and the rest will start soon.  School is something I alternately dreaded and looked forward to.  I believe there’s a lot we can improve on with regards to school, but that’s really a conversation for another day.  Today I want to talk about what a new school year is all about.  With a new school year comes chances to reinvent yourself, chances to change, changes whether we want them or not and opportunities for learning.  All of these things are opportunities we have as adults at any time, but times like the new school year, new year and changes of seasons are all times that we’re reminded of or feel a desire to make changes.  Yes, these can be scary or intimidating moments, but there are several things that have helped me through them.

First, the fact that we may not have an option.  The fact is there are always things that are new and different with a new school year.  It doesn’t stay the same, and even if you were to repeat a grade things would be taught different, the classroom may be different, there may be different teachers and homework may be different.  Very few things stay exactly the same all of the time.  So rather than fight to keep things perfectly same, maybe it’s time to learn to go with the flow of change.

Second, get creative.  You remember what it was like thinking about Halloween as a kid and contemplating who you wanted to dress up as.  As an adult you may dream about what it would like to be someone else or live life in a different way.  In this day and age there are very few things that say you can’t try new things or go new places or be someone different.  It’s easier than ever to start a business or learn a new skill or work in a career you never thought you could get into or place you could do the work in.  If you’re really serious about that dream, I believe you can get creative to make it happen.  There are more resources than ever and more ways you can make your dreams a reality if you’re willing to get a little creative at how you accomplish them.

Finally, reinventing yourself and change can be fun.  Whoever said change is bad and has to hurt was wrong.  Yes, there are usually some growing pains, but your attitude towards the changes can play a big role in how those changes ultimately go.  Many people have turned what could be painful changes into a game to make them more fun and easier to get through.  When you’re playing a game you’re thinking about winning big and crossing the finish line, not focusing on the fact that you might lose a turn, go back a few spots, lose some (play) money or lose a round.  You’re also celebrating the little wins that you hope and think will get you to the big win.

It may not seem like change is the best or easiest option, and sometimes it isn’t.  But all too often we put too much pressure on ourselves and as a result the change is a lot more difficult than it had to be.

Reality Reflection: Time for Healing

It’s been a busy week for me, I’ve been doing lots of thinking and discovering.  Of course with that typically comes up a lot of the feelings, thoughts, and memories that you wish could stay buried forever.  While some can be reburied immediately (or as soon as possible), others need to be considered and dealt with, typically because they haven’t been dealt with in the past.  It’s not bad to have these things come back up, and honestly, the sooner they do, the better.  Because it’s not until you’ve dealt with them truly that you can really move forward.  Even if you didn’t remember the pain, fear, anger, frustration, hurt or other painful emotions from the past and the memories that they’re connected to, they could be holding you back.  While I’m not a big believer in digging up as much dirt and the past as possible over and over, sometimes it’s necessary to work through what happened and how you felt in the past because it will help you navigate the current change you’re going through in a better way and free you to see the world in a new light.

Whether you’re reinventing yourself, bringing things back to life, looking at things from a new perspective, creating something new, or making changes, you will have to deal with some challenging emotions, including those of failure.  While I don’t expect that you will fail in your process (I hope you don’t!) many people do experience some failures when they’re working through the change process.  Why? Because when things change we typically run into things we haven’t experienced before, or we’ll hit our personal stumbling blocks (including those we haven’t dealt with from the past) and we’ll trip and fall or not get it right on the first try because it’s new to us.   And again, while it’s not fun to fail, no one is perfect and few of us get things right on the first try.

So if you’re going through a time of transition like me, don’t hide or run from the past or the emotions and challenges that you face as you transition, change, think, grow, create or discover.  Know that they are part of the journey and could teach you valuable lessons to apply to your future.  And even if they don’t apply to your future, finally working through them can free you from baggage you didn’t even know you had holding you down.

Reality Reflection: Shine Like a Star

The adventure in Rio has begun.  Whether you enjoy watching events like the Olympics or others like the World Series or Oscars (as well as local events of the same types), or not, there’s something awesome about people coming together and showing what they’ve got.  These special or culminating events include people from a specific group or from around the world who are the best of the best at the time.  It’s a way of showing what they can do as well as an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate what they can do.  I think these types of events are important because it’s important to celebrate the good, cool, and/or interesting things we can each do.  It’s a healthy way of pointing out and celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique.

I believe that God has given each of us special gifts and talents, and that it hurts Him when we don’t use what He has given us.  You don’t go to the store and buy stuff you don’t like or use, you only buy what you want and need.  The same is true with the gifts and talents we have: we should use them.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose and what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  It’s always good to take time to reflect on your life and what you’re doing because it means you can stop the derailments that may be happening and curb unhappiness before it becomes full blown depression or causes more problems than it needs to.

Take time to do a reality check on your life this week.  Are you unhappy?  If so, why?  Life is way too short to be stuck and unhappy.  Don’t be afraid of letting your gifts and talents shine.  Don’t worry too much about the criticisms you get for having and using your gifts and talents.  Don’t bury your gifts and talents because you don’t think you can make a living using them or that they’re not useful gifts.  Everyone has valuable gifts, it’s up to you to find out how best to use yours.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14, 16