30 Days of Thanksgiving: shared knowledge

Yesterday I was talking about all the emails I got for Giving Tuesday (which raised over $125 million for non profits). For the rest of the holiday season we’ll be getting a steady stream of emails about deals or donation opportunities. As I was thinking about this I was reminded how lucky we really are. Technology has advanced in so many ways over the past two decades, and along with that technology information has spread as well.

Now doctors in China can tap into the knowledge of doctors in Canada. Archaeologists in South Africa can reach out to cultural experts at various universities and museums around the world. Students can get a first hand look at something they’re studying live through cameras posted half way around the world. Parents can get more answers to the medical conditions their children have. Almost anyone can get an education on whatever passion, interest, hobby or skill they have. Not to mention all the information that’s just fun or cool to learn, including those cute animal videos.

I know there’s been a lot of talk this past year about the misinformation and fake news, and it’s definitely an issue. But I think the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to being able to share information. It’s also easier than ever to connect (privately) with people who have similar experiences and interests as you, and can help you heal from or navigate through challenges you’re facing.

I’m thankful for all the information we have at the touch of a few keys, as well as the ability for that information to be sent to us as we desire. Having newsletters, blog and podcast subscriptions, devotionals, inspirational messages and educational bits that get sent our way via email and social media, means that not only is that information out there, it’s coming directly to us without us having to search. This not only helps with keeping us inspired and encouraged but also with making sure we learn something new every day.

So what are you thankful you’ve learned recently?

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Reminders from God

Sometimes we get so caught up in life that we forget to stop and take a moment, or we’re so focused on one direction that we can’t see the way God is trying to lead us.  Let’s take a look at some of the reminders in the Bible:

There’s a lot we can’t see, and a lot to hope for:
“Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.”  Hebrews 11:1

Use your words wisely:
“A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”  Proverbs 15:1

Live with joy:
“I will be filled with joy because of you.  I will sing praises to your name, O Most High.”  Psalm 9:2

If God can forgive and be merciful, can’t we?:
“But you are a God of forgiveness, gracious and merciful, slow to become angry, and rich in unfailing love.”  Nehemiah 9:7b

God saves us, leads us and teaches us:
“Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you.”  Psalm 25:5

God is generous, gracious, and loving:
“Oh, how generous and gracious our Lord was! He filled me with the faith and love that come from Christ Jesus.”  1 Timothy 1:14

We belong to God, and are to worship Him:
“For this very night there stood before me an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I worship…”  Acts 27:23 ESV

Choose patience:
“Finishing is better than starting. Patience is better than pride.”  Ecclesiastes 7:8

Don’t give up:
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”  Philippians 3:14

Each of our days include thousands of interactions, experiences and relationships, each with the potential to teach us something, help us heal in some way, make us a better person, put us in a position to help someone else, or reveal another aspect of who God is to us and who we are to Him.  It’s up to us to be open to where life takes us and where God sends us, and to pay attention to what’s going on around us.  What has God shared with you recently?

Reality Reflection: Know It All

When was the last time you asked someone a question? What were you asking them about? Maybe it was directions or the location of something, or their experience or insights on a situation. Asking questions is something important that we do in our lives, and is an integral part of learning, growing and creating a life that we enjoy. Sometimes there are even the times that someone gives you an answer without you having asked a question! Sometimes it’s interesting, sometimes it’s helpful, and other times we’re frustrated by someone giving entirely too much information or showing off with the information they’ve got.

One of the most frustrating experiences is when someone asks you a question they already knew the answer to because they want to confirm they’re the smartest person in the room, or asks you a question without really being open to hearing what you have to say. There’s a difference between wanting confirmation on something and being a know-it-all about something, and a lot of it has to do with attitude. Some people who give advice for a living feel the need to know everything or be right all the time, but I try to make it really clear with potential clients that I don’t know everything and that I’m committed to growing and learning constantly both personally and professionally.

Being a know-it-all means that you can’t possibly fully experience life. I don’t think you can be exposed to or appreciate the variety and the details that others who are open to life and learning experience. You also run the risk of not being liked by people because of how you treat them or communicate with them. If you’ve ever been called a know-it-all and aren’t totally thrilled with that title, one step you could take would be to slow down and learn to really take things in before passing a judgement that you know it or outright dismissing the other person. This isn’t a step that really threatens your knowledge or IQ, it just gives you an opportunity to create better relationships with those you interact with, and gives you a chance to respect the time and effort they put in to giving you the answer you’ve asked for.

What about you? How do you deal with know-it-all people?

Reality Reflection: The world is flat

For many years people believed something because that was what the “experts” said, and quite frankly they didn’t think it could be anything else. What was that belief? That the world was flat. I can understand why they would believe that, it’s hard to really understand living on a sphere. Wouldn’t that mean that someone is upside down or sideways? Who would live that way? Besides, it certainly seems like the world is flat. But we know now, especially with the ability to go into space and take pictures, that the world is not flat, it’s round, and we’re not the only round planet out there.

As I was reminded about this part of history while I was reading it got me thinking about if we’ve got a “world is flat” belief that hundreds of years from now people are going to laugh at us and try to consider what we could have been thinking. I think it’s entirely possible because just like the people back then, even with all our technology we still don’t have the full understanding of everything and everyone in the world. It’s a great reminder of exactly how small we really are, and how little we really know. We really only know the portion of the world that we call “ours” well, and we don’t always know that portion well. I bet you could ask adults who have lived in NYC for their whole lives if they know all of the city and they’ll tell you that they’re still learning and discovering new things.

I don’t think the answer is to be worried about having a world-is-flat belief for generations from now to laugh about, I think when we come upon a question we’re not sure about we should keep on making educated guesses based on all the facts that are available to us. There’s no shame in discovering that you didn’t have all the facts or that all the facts weren’t available when you had to make a decision. The only shame is in not being willing to keep learning and gathering more education that can be used to help us make more educated guesses in the future.

What will you learn today?

Reality Reflection: When Practice Becomes Reality

Over the past week and a half the US has been dealing with another school shooting and with the aftermath of the shooting.  One of the things that has been discussed is the actions (or lack thereof) of the resource officer and police first on the scene.  While there are no official results or reports yet, the story is that they didn’t take the actions that most would think they should.  I don’t have all the answers and I don’t know the full story or history of these individuals but hearing these possible stories of people who were supposed to be saving lives not following through got me thinking about reality.

Law enforcement officers are given training in a multitude of situations and take an oath to protect and serve, much like a medical professional takes regarding not harming anyone.  One of the arguments that has always circled regarding the education we give our kids these days is that book skills don’t really translate to the real world.  While those in law enforcement have more hands-on training than the average student does, there’s no way to truly duplicate what happens in life during practice.

I’m not discussing this to dismiss or in any way make it OK if trained professionals didn’t take action, I’m suggesting that you reflect on your life and the reality that while you say one thing and really believe one thing this minute, if reality shows up you may react very different.  No, you shouldn’t doubt yourself that you’re not going to follow through on your training or beliefs, but understand that sometimes reality is so much more overwhelming, scary, hard and different than you could ever expect.

Everyone has a responsibility to treat others with respect and to treat others as you would want to be treated, but not everyone chooses to follow through on that responsibility.  With every failure we’re given the opportunity to revisit and revise our understandings, plans and even our skills. In those moments of failure and pain we’re also given the choice of whether it will strengthen our community and our relationships or break them further apart.  People’s lives will never be the same because reality came calling a week and a half ago.  The choice is where we go from here and how we approach and practice for reality.

Intentional Growth

In August and September every year countless young people and adults go back to school around the US. The kids are in school because that’s how we do it as a society and the adults are there because they feel more specific education will benefit them in their present and future. To be honest I have plenty of less than pleasant memories from my school years. While they may not be the bad memories that too many students have of struggling with learning, bullying, racism or other types of discrimination, it would have to be something pretty serious to get me back inside a traditional classroom. I’m slightly more open to the online schooling concept, but it’s still not something that excites me by any means.

However, I am a huge supporter of being a life-long learner. Any chance I get to pick up a book, I do it. I enjoy watching some of the more educational shows on TV to learn about history and different parts of the world today. I subscribe to tons of newsletters on a variety of topics (and I’m not talking daily deal emails). I enjoy listening to friends, family and others talk about things they’re interested in, hear about or are concerned about. I even check out the news once a day so that I have some idea of what the popular media is talking about.

Why? Because one of the best ways to get ahead in life, to become better, to improve yourself, to help others, to overcome the challenges and obstacles in your life, and even to make a difference in the world is by learning. By learning about what you don’t know and learning more about what you do know you’re gaining power. No, I’m not talking about superhero power, but that may be possible some day. I’m talking about having the knowledge to know what to do when someone’s not breathing, to know how to fix a technology issue on a website, to know how to increase customer retention, to know how to help couples work through issues in their relationship, to overcome your fears, and to bring endangered species back from the brink, just to name a few. It’s not knowledge that everyone has, but if we all were more proactive about learning we would be able to fix our issues and the issues in the world faster, and have more knowledge to actually understand what the issue is as well as present several options for moving forward.

So what about you? Did your early school days ruin learning for you, or are you actively pursuing knowledge in your life today?

Reality Reflections: A Lifetime of Learning

Today I’m thinking about the countless families around the US, and maybe even the world, who are preparing to enter another year or who have already begun. I’m a huge believer in the value of education. I think it’s so important for us to learn through our lives and never stop learning. With all the technology we have today we can learn in so many different ways, it doesn’t have to be the traditional classroom/book education, although that still has value.

You can download an app that will share with you a fact of the day or you can sign-up for an email that will do the same thing. You can watch any of the many TV programs that are history/science/education based. You can read a book. You can watch a DVD. You can watch an educational website like Explore. You can get involved with chat sites, or even social sites and talk with others on particular topics. You can even just take your lunch outside or to a popular location every day and watch and listen to what goes on around you.

The only way you can truly fail at learning is if you stop learning. If it’s something life or death you’re learning about like cancer or raising dogs, it’s important to do proper research and check out several sources before just believing what one source tells you unless that source has impeccable credentials, and even then checking out multiple sources isn’t a bad idea.

I invite you to share your favorite apps, sites, shows and learning resources in the comments!