Easy Practical Instructions From A 3-Year-Old

Is it safe to say that children approach life differently than adults? This week I experienced an illuminating event with my youngest son who is three. One of my other children asked about participating in a community-service event. As I mulled this opportunity, the possibility of the three-year-old joining us was floated in general conversation. His little ears perked up at the mention of his name, and he immediately latched on to the idea. I decided that we would participate since I wanted to give my children the chance to serve others in our community.

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Many young children will connect with an idea, and it will never venture very far from their thoughts. This was definitely the case with my son this week. He would ask me about the upcoming event since he kept forgetting the details he so desperately wanted to remember. The face of this little cherub innocently asking me questions is burned into my mind. It is a memory I will long cherish!

How to Start a Journey of Self-Improvement

Don’t Lie to Yourself

Years ago I read a story of a man named Jack who was taking an archery lesson from a state champion archer. The state champion, Tim, had Jack stand rather close to the target and shoot several arrows with his eyes closed. Tim wanted Jack to feel what it was like to shoot a good shot. Tim would tell Jack when he made a good shot so that Jack could remember what it felt like. After repeating this several times, Jack shot an arrow and looked at Tim for approval. Instead, Tim asked Jack if it was a good shot. Jack hesitated. He wanted to say that it was a good shot, but he immediately realized that Tim knew that it wasn’t a good shot. Before Jack could say anything Tim interjected, “Don’t ever lie to yourself. If you don’t tell yourself the truth first, you’ll never become a good shot.”

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This weekend I attended a conference that encouraged a significant amount of self-evaluation. The focus of the self-evaluation was to illuminate areas of life that presented obstacles to personal growth. As I contemplated several aspects of my life, I recalled the story above. It would be easy to minimize any issues I find in my own life, but would that serve me well in the long run? If I lie to myself I short circuit any hope of meaningful progress. I am inspired that there are two absolute necessities to begin a journey of self-improvement.

The Good News Found at the Cross

There is an old media adage that says, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Psychologists suggest that we have “negativity bias”, a hunger to hear bad news. In today’s hyper-connected age of 24-hour news cycles and social media firestorms, I know exactly what the top headline would be if the events of almost two-thousand years ago had occurred this week:

“Jesus of Nazareth Crucified Along with Two Others”.

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Imagine…newspaper columns and social media timelines filled with the details of the story. Reporters and opinion editors working overtime to get the scoop on what happened and why. Scores of people endeavoring to provide the most salacious and gory particulars of the event. For some, the death of Jesus is welcome news. At least now He no longer dominates the headlines. For others who embraced Jesus and His teaching, the crucifixion brings feelings of devastation. This is the end of a seemingly once-promising life.

But, three days later…

How To Eat The Elephant That Is Your Obstacle

This winter and spring have been quite enjoyable. My wife and I welcomed a new addition in January, and I have appreciated a reprieve from studying for a professional exam because of it. However, looming before me I see an immense problem – passing another actuarial exam. Oh, the studying that will be involved!

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The hundreds of hours of study required to pass professional actuarial exams are a large obstacle to overcome. As I was thinking about my dilemma, I was reminded of the Chinese proverb that says, “The only way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time”. It is time for me to start studying again if I want to be successful next time I take an exam.

What Happens In Your “One Shining Moment”?

Tonight Gonzaga and North Carolina will battle on the basketball court in Phoenix to crown the national champion for NCAA division one men’s basketball. This game closes out my favorite time of year. I hate for it to end! CBS will air a video showing many of the dramatic and exciting moments from the tournament at the conclusion of the evening. The music included with the video is a song called “One Shining Moment”. For a college basketball fan, it is an iconic moment. Here is the video from last year’s tournament.

Are You Waiting for the Journey to be Safe?

One of the books that has influenced me recently is The Art of Work by Jeff Goins. This book is a treatise on “how to abandon the status quo and live a life that matters with true passion and purpose”. If that is of interest, I highly recommend reading it!

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In one section of the book, Jeff tells the story of Bryan. After almost ten years at a Fortune 500 company, Bryan chose to leave his job and pursue a career as a writer. It seems that many of Bryan’s conversations with his colleagues had a recurring theme. After explaining his dream, Bryan would hear the lament, “I wish I could do that”. When Bryan would suggest to his colleagues that they could, a list of reasons why they couldn’t was always ready on the tip of their tongues.

How to Avoid a Failure to Plan

Benjamin Franklin is widely attributed to have said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” I thought of this quote as I languished one Saturday morning. I could not determine what it was that I needed or wanted to accomplish that day. Benjamin Franklin was such a prolific writer, scientist, inventor, statesman, etc.. I wonder what prompted him to originate this maxim.

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I do not have my hands in nearly as many areas of life as Benjamin Franklin, yet I have discovered his adage to be accurate. If I do not have a game plan for making a day successful, I will flounder with a lack of focus. Failure to organize my thoughts makes accomplishing anything of value difficult. Unless I intentionally set out with the goal of rest and relaxation, a day without accomplishment leaves me unfulfilled.

No One Can Make You Listen

As I was listening to a radio show recently, I heard an interesting scenario play out. Presumably, the caller wanted the host’s advice. As the host responded to the caller’s situation, the caller immediately started to disagree with the host’s suggestion. The host re-asserted himself, but the caller continued to argue. At that point, the call was over because the host decided to stop the nonsense and disconnected the call.

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The fascinating thing to me was how obvious it was that the caller was not listening. This was not a political show where the host often disagrees with callers. The format for this particular show is one where people call to ask for advice, but this caller refused to listen. I can only imagine how frustrating it was for the host.

The Benefits of Recognizing Time is Limited

Life is brief...don't waste the time you do have.

A couple weeks ago I shared the story of a friend of mine who was in an accident severing his spinal cord. Thankfully, his life was spared. However, I recently received word about three people within my life’s orbit passing away unexpectedly. All of these individuals were relatively young (under 50). My friend’s accident and these deaths caused me to consider the brevity of life. I then ran across this story online.

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In short, the author is a woman who is dying of ovarian cancer. She extols the virtues of her husband expressing all that she loves about him. She wants him to find love again after she is gone. But the line that really got me was in one of the paragraphs near the end of the story: “I want more time…” She repeats this phrase several times emphasizing her longing to experience more that this life has to offer.

Five Lessons for How to Crush Impatience

For several weeks now I have drooled over the possibility of upgrading my internet to the new fiber optic network available in my neighborhood. The promise of more speed when using the internet has been captivating. Our family could be cruising the information superhighway at incredibly fast speeds!

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Last week I took the plunge and ordered the new service. When installed this week, I immediately tested the speed. It didn’t measure up to what I thought I would experience. How frustrating, right? Yes, I am impatient. I want that site to load half a second faster. I want seconds shaved off of that file download. Never mind that the speed I now have is almost ten times faster than the speed provided by my previous internet carrier.