Monday, January 30, 2017


You may or may not have noticed how often there are guardrails on the roads you travel. They appear in areas of increased risk where running off the road would bring potentially fatal damage. These structures should give us something to bounce off of to prevent us from doing too much damage to ourselves.

An author I recently read wrote about the guiding principles for her life and how they served that same function. These are the values that shape the decisions she makes and help to keep her on the best path as she pursues her life vision. It’s vital to know our own guiding principles or we run the risk of causing damage to ourselves and the people we care about.

What principles do you hold tightly to? How do these shape the way you think, speak, and act? How are they protecting you and keeping you focused in the best possible direction?

Creating the mental, emotional, and spiritual space to clearly define these principles is helpful for us to stay on the path we want to live on.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Another Step

Imagine you decided to take a trip southward and eventually ended up in Antarctica. This would take some serious maneuvering of travel modes, but it is distinctly possible that the frozen tundra of the South Pole would be your stopping place if you kept going south.

Once you arrived, you might complain about the cold temperatures and how it wasn't what you expected, but this is still the journey you chose to undertake. With a desire for warmer temperatures and a lack of enthusiasm for your surroundings, you can begin a northward trek. The truth, however, is that you won't be on a sunny beach in a short period of time. Your journey to the South Pole took a while and the warm beaches of Miami, Florida aren't quite within reach yet. You've got to keep traveling in the right direction to get where you want to be.

I see this being similar to the picture of recovery. We usually end up in predicaments (relationship, financial, mental health, habits, addictions) because of a series of choices. While we can see positive gains from a change of direction, there are still steps of healing that will take time. Committing to the process of growth and healing is a lifelong journey.

You can't change in a day what took a lifetime to create, but you can take another step in the right direction. Where do you need to take a step today?

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Trying to Ignore Them

On Thursday night, an assistant coach in an NBA game stood on the court next to an opposing player in the final seconds and distracted him from taking a potential game-tying shot. (Obviously this isn't a legal move, but none of the officials caught it at the time.) The player with the ball thought it was a defender and passed up the shot before realizing it was a coach trying to confuse him. The coach ended up being fined by the NBA, but the damage was (unfairly) done and his team was victorious.

Can you identify the things that divert your attention the most? What pulls your focus away and leaves you feeling unsuccessful? Distractions pop up in very unexpected ways and won't always be fair. It takes a strong level of concentration to not be pulled away from what is most important and to complete the task in front of us. We've got to discipline ourselves to be zoned in so we can do the things that matter most.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Over and Over Again

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." 
Will Durant (paraphrasing Aristotle)

What do we find ourselves repeatedly doing? Are they good habits leading us to future growth and maturity?  Are they negative thoughts and actions that keep us caught in cyclical patterns of frustration and apathy?

The start of a new year gives each of us an opportunity to set new goals and think about new desires for the next season. Establishing the right habits to reinforce those desires will give us the foundation to be successful. To be excellent we should look carefully at the habits we've established and start to create new ones to lead us in the right direction.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Off Schedule

Planning out each part of your day is supposed to help with productivity and staying on task. While that might be an effective planning tool, it may not accurately represent the way each day will flow. Even with careful forethought there will be unplanned interactions and events which throw us off our intended path. In fact, I would argue that interruptions are almost guaranteed. The question we each have to answer is, "How will I react when this happens?"

We can choose to get upset about these inconveniences or we can view them through a different lens. While constantly being off schedule won't be helpful, we might find that occasional interruptions lead us to experience life in new ways. It might cause us to engage in a deep conversation, meet someone new, or live out a unique moment. Perhaps it's the moments in the margin of our calendars that show us a refreshing and unexpected side of life.

When you feel off schedule, take a deep breath and look for the new experience you might have missed otherwise.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Freedom to Speak

Yesterday my wife called to let me know we had a water leak at our house. After calling a plumbing friend, we discovered our hot water heater was leaking which was causing a number of different issues underneath the house. We didn't figure this out on our own, but were helped by a friendly meter reader from the water department. When he was checking the meter for our monthly bill he noticed our usage was much higher than normal and came to the door to let us know. Without this assistance there would have been more damage and greater potential problems.

We don't always notice when things are going wrong in our lives. Sometimes we are too close to the problem to notice and fail to look in places where there are issues. Giving someone the freedom to speak truth into our lives can help us identify these troubles and hopefully bring about correction before they get too big.

Who do you trust to gently approach you when there's trouble you may not see? Giving someone this freedom can help head off potential pitfalls before they derail us completely.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Pick One

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it." Yogi Berra

Yogi was famous for saying things that didn't always seem to connect. At first glance, this saying appears to be another slightly confusing bit of wisdom that doesn't add up. If you look at it a little more closely, however, it is better advice than it might appear at first.

On our life's journey we will inevitably come to a point where we are presented with different options. It may be related to our health, career, relationships, spirituality, or even our finances. When confronted with those new directions, we will need to decide which one we think is best and then move down that path. If we don't take action, we'll stop moving forward and become paralyzed by our indecision.

It's okay to pause and figure out our next best step, but at some point we've got to take a step if we want to keep going.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Past Your Lips

The expression "talk is cheap" is fairly simple to figure out and the meaning behind it has been a common message for centuries. Even Scripture shares the truth in Proverbs 14:23, "In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.”

There's a time for talking and a time to get to work. If we only talk about action we won't ever get anything accomplished. Figure out what you need and want to do. Develop a plan to make it happen and then go do something about it.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hang On To It

Do you ever wonder why negative things tend to stick in our memories easier than positive events? It might have been a harsh comment from someone we can't let go of, a relationship that fell apart, or a distant, tragic event that still seems fresh. Regardless of the source of this discomfort, it becomes a memory we struggle to move away from.

Recent brain research has actually revealed that negative occurrences function like Velcro in our brains while positive ones are like Teflon. It only very few seconds and no effort on our part for negative experiences to become imprinted into our memories. For something positive and encouraging to become part of our lasting memory however, we have to focus on it for about 15 seconds to make it last.

What positive thing will you intentionally focus on today? What moment of simple beauty will you capture by hanging on to it for a few seconds? Are we able to see a positive comment, a loving look, or a small step towards a goal and recognize it's worth keeping?

Look for something positive today and spend 15 seconds making sure it stays.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Brand New Day

Today marks the start of 2017 and it comes bursting with the promise of something fresh and new. It's an accepted tradition to reflect on all the previous year held and to look forward to a clean canvas on which we can begin a unique work of art.

What really is the difference between yesterday and today? Except for changing the last number in the calendar year, there isn't a major shift except for our individual perspective. This turning of the last calendar page from the previous year brings heightened anticipation for the possibility of change and belief in growth. The shift forward in years allows us to imagine how things could be better and how this year will be different. Focusing on the new is motivating and reminds us that while we may not be satisfied with our current status, there is always time for improvement. Sometimes the excitement of potential is enough to move us forward.

We can be better, my friends. Let today be the start of something new.