Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Why do we love faces so much?

She left for Haiti yesterday and I found something out very quickly.  She's tough to be away from.  A long, emotional day ended right here, at my desk, with a lot on my mind and more on my heart.  And then it happened...

The moment her face popped onto my screen in the Skype window my day changed.  I had heard her voice several times throughout the day, but seeing her face changed things.  Why is that?  What made it so much deeper?

There's truth in a smile... or not.  But either way you can see it.  This is one of the main reasons that it's so important for us to actually spend time with each other.  To look each other in the eye.  Sure, social media is convenient and it's a great way to meet new people.  But there's a big difference between meeting people and knowing people.

If you really want to know someone, you have to look them in the eye.  It's true for our business partners, our colleagues, our spouses and our children.

Call your kids.  Post on your spouses Facebook page.  Text your best friend.  But at the end of the day, you don't really know what's in their heart until you look them in the eye.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The joy of missing someone

Have you ever missed anyone?  I'm sure you have.  We all have.

It's a wonderful thing.  It's wonderful to have someone in your life that you care so much about that your life is not the same without them.  And likewise, it's wonderful to have someone in your life that you bring so much joy to that when you're gone, they miss you.

It's good for us.  It's good to miss and be missed.

Who would miss you if you didn't show up today?

Who would you miss if they didn't show up today?  Instead of waiting until they're gone, tell them today.  In fact, tell them now.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The danger of making them smile

We give in to our kids to "make them happy."  We work to give them everything they want because they "deserve it."

The truth, if we're honest with ourselves, is that we aren't always giving them what they want to make them happy.  We're actually doing it because it's easier for us.

It's easier to buy the new video game than listen to them cry that the 15 they have at home aren't good enough.  It's easier to send them off to a friends house for dinner for the third time this week than it is to listen to them tell you that your house is no fun.  It's easier to step in for them at every fleeting altercation than it is to let them figure out how to do handle some situations on their own.

The danger is not in giving in to them.  The danger is convincing ourselves that we're giving in because it's what is best for them.

Stand up for your kids.  Do things to make them smile.  Buy them a new video game.  But don't lose site of why you're doing it.  And don't forget your responsibility as a parent: to give our children every opportunity to be God-loving, productive adults.

Help them succeed.  Don't give them success.  If you can do that while making them smile, even better.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Just hang on

Maybe it's been a long week.  Maybe it's been a long month.

When times like this roll around there's nothing wrong with just holding on, but make sure you're holding on to the right thing.

Holding on to guilt, remorse, bitterness, anger, sadness and pride are not going to make things better.

If you're looking for something real to hold on to, try this.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The benefits of having pink eye

I know it's nasty, but anyone that's ever had pink eye will be able to relate.  What do you do when you wake up in the morning and one (or both) of your eyes won't open?

I'll bet I know.  You lay there for a few seconds until you're awake enough to make sense of what's going on and then you do something amazing.

You adapt.

Our kids have this awe-inspiring way of adapting to nearly any situation.  They are presented with a new challenge, they try something, they evaluate the results, they try something else, and the process continues.  They continue this way until they eventually succeed (or ask for help, which also may lead to success).  They are learning to adapt.

There's one main key to the adaptation process.  We must be willing to try something.  If we don't, we simply lie in bed all day hoping that our eyes will open.  We, as adults, like to play it safe.  We don't want to take a risk because we're afraid of what might happen.  We lose our confidence in our ability to adapt.

Don't settle.  Don't outgrow your ability to adapt.  Don't assume that there is an age limit on adaptation.  Take a chance today and make changes that will make you a better mother, a more devoted father, a more sincere brother and a more trustworthy friend.  Sure, it's a risk.  You may try something that doesn't work.  Or... you may try something that changes lives forever.  But, pass or fail, you can always adapt and try again tomorrow.

As for our house, only one of us has had to adapt to this pink eye situation.  Let's hope it stays that way!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Why I love to play with Lego's

I was playing with Lego's last night.  I was supposed to be playing with the kids, but in reality I was playing with Lego's and they just happened to join me.

Lego's are in the running for the 8th Wonder of the Ancient World, in my opinion.  They are unique in their ability to allow a child to imagine anything in the world and then create a 3-D model of it.  The only limitation is in their mind.  As long as you have the pieces (which are fairly easy to come by) you can build anything.

We often lose sight of the fact that this is true in adult life too.  We limit ourselves by not imagining anything that we would want to build.  Or, we have a wonderful idea, but decide it's not worth trying to find all of the pieces to put it together.  Or, we don't want to run the risk of building something that may eventually just fall apart.  But one thing remains true.  The only thing holding us back from fulfilling our vision, our dream, is the limitation in our mind.

What limitations are you putting on yourself that aren't really there?  And more importantly, what are you going to do to change it?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Did you sleep in?

When's the last time you had one of those mornings?  Not the kind where the coffee pot overflows, the basement is soaking wet, you forgot you had a morning appointment and the kids are sick.  Not that kind at all.

When's the last time you slept in without a care in the world?  One of those mornings where you get up and say, "Wow!  I must have been tired!."

We all need those.  Not just with catching up on sleep, but with regrouping in general.  Allow yourself the flexibility to rest and get caught up.  It's okay to sit down and relax for a few minutes.  The mess of toys on the floor will surely be there when you stand back up.

Give yourself permission to rest.  It's not only encouraged, but essential to keep you moving forward efficiently.

Monday, January 23, 2012

What if only one person believed?

Did you dream last night?  I may have, though I never seem to remember mine.  But when I do, there's something really cool about it.  I can tell you and you don't have to believe it.  It can be crazy.  It can be weird.  It can be obnoxious.  You can think anything you want about it.

But here's the coolest thing.  When I have a dream, I'm the only one that has to believe it.

Our real-life dreams are the same way.  You can tell me I'm crazy.  You can tell me that it's never going to happen.  You can laugh.  You can try to dissuade me.  But the thing is, I'm the only one that has to believe in it to make it come true.

Believe in your dreams.  Write them down and hang them on your refrigerator.  Scribble them on the bathroom mirror.  Do whatever you have to do to remember your dreams and remind yourself that you do believe in them.  And remember, it only takes you believing in them to make them come true!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

That is ridiculous. It's never going to work.

That's what they'll say anyway.

There will always be naysayers.  There will always be people that don't want you to succeed.  They may even be people that you expected to believe in you.

You see, there is no "bandwagon" when you're just getting started.  People won't want to hop on board because you're not the "next big thing"... yet.

I would suggest two things:

  1. Do great things even in the face of naysayers.  They aren't going away.
  2. When you succeed, remember those select few that supported you.  They are the ones that truly believe in you.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Just stop already

If the great minds of past generations would have asked permission to make drastic changes in the culture of their time, they would have most certainly been told, "No!"

Make a new product, design a new website, re-think the way your family works, take a new leap at work... and by all means, stop asking permission before you do great work!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Read the label

I had something eye-opening happen a few months ago.

My oldest is in that "he's a 9-year-old boy" stage.  You know, the one where he knows everything and he's totally amazed by snakes, lizards, little boy noises, video games and mean little girls.  He also tends to tell crazy stories, which led to me saying to him on several occasions, "You're goofy."  Well, I didn't realize that I should have just gotten out the Sharpie and written it on his forehead.  He took that label and ran with it.  He became "goofy" and on several occasions his response to, "Why would you do that?" was "Because I'm goofy."

Now "goofy" isn't the worst label you can have, but we tend to run with the label whatever they are (kids and adults alike).  We use labels like:

  • "He's a nerd."
  • "I have a bad temper."
  • "I'm not creative."
  • "She's not a morning person."
  • "He's so stupid."
These labels range anywhere from funny to life-limiting to scarring.  I simply challenge you to do two things:
  1. Stop labeling people (including yourself) unless you really mean it.  We all hang on to those labels more than we realize.
  2. Figure out what labels you've already given to yourself and tear them off.  Start fresh and decide what you really are.  Stop letting your labels hold you back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You can learn from them

By them I mean anyone that you're willing to allow yourself to listen.  I believe it was Ralph Waldo Emerson that said, "Every man I meet is in some way my superior."

Our ego doesn't want us to believe that statement, but it's true.  We're not perfect and when we realize that, we see that we can learn so much from everyone around us.

Put your ego aside and learn from someone today.  Preferably someone that you thought yesterday had nothing at all to teach you.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

To multitask or not to multitask. That is the question.

We all multitask.  It's become a way of life.  But, should we?

I think we'd all agree that the ability to focus is a key component in being productive regardless of the situation. By multitasking, we are deliberately unfocused.

Instead of wasting energy changing back and forth between tasks, focus 100% of your attention on one single thing.  Then move on to the next.  You'll be amazed at how much more productive you are.  This rule goes for conversations, work, making dinner, reading, exercising and everything in between.  Try it and let me know how it goes!

Monday, January 16, 2012

There was one thing that Dr. King didn't do

Martin Luther King Jr. was a great example of what a leader should be.  We all know of his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, but that was just one piece of the elaborate puzzle that Dr. King put together in his time. From being the youngest person up to that point to win the Nobel Peace Prize (age 35) to leading his "Poor People's Campaign" to start a multicultural movement to provide aid to the less fortunate, Dr. King inarguably made a difference.

There was one thing that Dr. King didn't do.  He didn't wait for someone else to make the changes that were needed.  He didn't make excuses.  He didn't complain that he didn't have enough money or time or resources.  He MADE it happen.

Leaders don't wait around on things to happen.  They make things happen.  Make things happen today in your relationships, your job, your passion.  No one else is going to do the hard work.  Be the one to do it.  Make Dr. King proud.

The toughest part about being a mom

Like I've said in the past, I'm obviously not a mom, but I have the privilege of seeing a great one work every day.

So what's the toughest part about being a mom?  Never ending laundry?  Dirty dishes that seem to multiply?  Being the master scheduler?  Dealing with the emotional tornado that comes with a family?  Keeping your loved ones fed?

Actually, it's none of the above.  The hardest part is showing up every day.

I could be a great mom... for a day.  I could keep the house clean, do the dishes, have the laundry folded and put away, be patient with the kids, have meals prepared, etc.  But can I keep up the hard work tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that?

For so many of us, we give up on our dreams by simply not showing up.  What you do when you get there is not as important as being there every day.

Whether your goals are relational, business-related or spiritual, make sure you show up today.  And tomorrow.  And the day after that...

Saturday, January 14, 2012

They are watching

Someone is always watching you.  Whether you like it or not.  They are looking for you to do great things, perform your daily routine or fail miserably.  Regardless of the reason, they are watching.  So I have just one question...

Who are you going to inspire today?

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Tim Tebow Paradox

There's a paradox surrounding Tebow and professional sports right now.  I think it's the same paradox that many of us face in our daily lives.

You see, sports journalists have been complaining for some time now that we need some "good guys" in sports.  They are tired of the sport getting a bad name because of a few trouble-makers.  They complain that the media gives all of the attention to the bad guys and ignores the good guys.

Enter Tim Tebow.  He's not perfect.  None of us are.  But he's humble.  He works hard.  He gives credit where credit is due.  He's a sportsman when he wins and when he loses.  He casts positivity when he speaks.  He doesn't make excuses.  Sounds like the perfect guy for the media to focus on.  And they are.  So the sports journalists are all happy.  Have a nice day!

Unfortunately, Tebow is living the paradox that many of us create in our own lives.  We want something.  We get it.  Then we decide that we want more.  When the first iPhone came out, it was wonderful.  Better than expected.  Now, after the latest iPhone was released, no one wants the original because it's just not good enough.

I'll be blunt (because I'm again guilty).  That constant desire to need more and better things (toys, relationships, etc.) is a reflection of where we are internally.  Those journalists that criticize the same man that they wished for a year ago are missing something.

What I find ironic is that the very thing they are missing is the exact thing that they criticize Tim Tebow for having.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

3 reasons to tell the truth

  1. It builds character.  Candor takes courage, but each of us is better in the long run when we speak and hear the truth.
  2. It simplifies life.  It may be hard in the moment, but it ultimately makes life more simple for everyone.
  3. Honesty is contagious.  It sets a good example, not just for your kids (which is important enough), but for everyone around you.  While the truth will cause some people to distance themselves from you, generally people are relieved by truth and transparency.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

When you assume...

I think you probably know how the rest of the saying goes.

We all make assumptions throughout our day.  We assume that our brakes are going to work when we press the pedal.  We assume that the red light is eventually going to change to green.  We assume that our favorite restaurant didn't close over night.

The problem with assumptions is that when we assume, we do more than make a fool out of ourselves; we end up hurting other people.  Often we do this by making an assumption about how our family and friends feel about a given situation, decision or just life in general.  This is a tough one because no one can ever really know what another person is feeling.  We can only know what they show us or tell us.

One thing that seems to work for my family is the idea of an emotional gas tank (or emotional bank account if you prefer).  The basic idea is that each of us knows where we stand in terms of our current emotional, physical and spiritual state, but we often keep that inside and leave our family and friends wondering.  Using the idea of the emotional gas tank, we can use a number to describe how we feel to it makes it easier to share.

There are a few critical rules to follow to make this work:
  1. Be honest about your number.  If you aren't going to be honest, you don't care much about making your relationship better and you might as well stop reading now.
  2. It's fair to ask your spouse for their number at any time.
  3. It's fair game to tell your spouse your number at any time.
  4. Never question the other person's number.  They are the only one that knows the truth.
  5. Don't be defensive if your spouse's number is low. Instead, see it as an opportunity to grow and do something about it (if you're ever read this book, you'll know exactly what to do!)
I'm sure this method isn't for everyone, but it definitely works for us... or at least I assume it does.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

When to use your dinner-party bests

I'm sure most of you held or attended a few get-together's over the holidays.  I did too and there was something that I noticed about myself.  I often save my best attitude, my best clothes and my best manners for special occasions with people that I barely know.  That's a very self-serving approach and I have to admit guilt on this one.

While I may give a good impression in a crowd when I take that approach, I should be saving those "bests" for the people that I truly care about.  The family and friends that put up with my crankiness when I've stayed up too late.  And what about my kids that have to deal with my bad mood because I had a long day at work?

It's not that looking nice and using my manners is a bad thing, but I need to save most of that for my family and friends.  I'm going to try to be more aware of the impression that I'm leaving on those closest to me on a daily basis.  I'll still save the fine china for the dinner parties, but I can use my other dinner-party bests every day.

Monday, January 9, 2012

I'm a wide receiver in the NFL

Actually, I'm not.  But nothing stops me from proclaiming it.  Of course, anyone that knows me will say that I'm off my rocker, but still, I can make any statement that I want about myself.

I think Christians get a bad rap because of this exact scenario.  I can call myself a Christian, but that doesn't really mean that I'm playing for that team.  There are a lot of people out there wearing the Christian jersey and giving the Christian team a bad name.

So, before you go judging the NFL based on my time in the 40 and my ability to catch a pass against a professional DB, make sure I'm really on the team.  I just ask that you do the same when you're judging Christians.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Do you shutdown or reboot?

I'm not talking about your computer.  It's been a long week.  The weekend is coming quickly.  Which one are you going to choose?

Rebooting is nice.  It's listening to some soft rock on the way home and regrouping before you start your weekend.

Shutting down is even better.  Shut everything off this weekend... TV, phones, computers, etc.  Take some time to reconnect to your family, friends and God.

Believe me, turning that iPhone off for a few days is worth ten times more than the hefty price you paid for it.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

You may not believe this, but...

You are an artist.

Maybe stick figures are your style of pen-and-ink drawing.  Maybe the only balloon animal that you can make is a snake.  And maybe your idea of finger painting is wiping your greasy fingers on the restaurant place mat.

Okay, so you probably don't have a big career ahead of you in the fine arts, but you are an artist.

Artists create new things.   Artists make things better.   Artists find what they are good at and they do it.   Artists try stuff they like... and ignore the nay-sayers.

So, if you read this and you still think that you're not an artist, what's stopping you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Who let the pirates out?

I love kids.  They can get up any day of the year and decide they are going to be a pirate.  They'll invent an eye patch, a pirate hat and the most ridiculous pirate accent that you've ever heard.  As parents, we'll say things like, "You can't wear that to school" or "We are not going to the mall until you change."

Those words have nothing to do with the pirate outfit, but they have everything to do with our desire to fit the status quo.  To be like everyone else.  To blend into the crowd.  So much so that we want everyone that is associated with us to blend in also.

At what point did the pirate sneak its way out of us?  When did we start believing that we had to be like everyone else?  At what point did we become so concerned with fitting in that we forgot to be us?  And at what point are you going to pick up that pirate accent again, grab a pirate hat, forget about fitting in and let the pirate back out?  I hope it's today.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Being judgmental is a good thing... isn't it?

The term "judgmental" has gotten a bad rap.  Judging something (or someone) is defined as this:

"to form an opinion about through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises"

Being judgmental is a good thing.  We should carefully weigh evidence to determine if something is morally and legally acceptable.  I'm allowed to judge you and decide that what you are doing is wrong.  If I know what is right or wrong based on my moral foundation, I can learn from others' mistakes before I make them myself.

However, I need to stop the process before I get to the sentencing stage.  That's really where the danger lies.

Monday, January 2, 2012

There's something you should know about snow

Well, I'm back after a weeklong break and I awoke this morning to a three inch blanket of much appreciated snow.  There's something interesting about snow.  Even just a little of it changes everything.

Three inches of snow changes the entire look of your neighborhood.  Houses have a softer edge to them.  Streets and sidewalks are no longer brash grays and blacks, but a beautifully textured mix of white and charcoal.

Three inches of snow changes your schedule.  You have to get up a little earlier to brush the powder from your car.  You have to allow a little more time for your commute.  You may have to make entirely new plans if school gets cancelled.

Three inches of snow changes your mood.  Snow seems to be one of those polarizing things in life.  People generally love it or hate it.  Regardless of the side of the coin on which you fall, it's very difficult to ignore it altogether.

So, what is it in your life that changes everything when you get just a little of it?   It may be relationships, special time with loved ones, prayer time with God, quiet time, etc.

The events in your life that change the way you see the world are not always obvious, but it's worth taking the time to figure them out.   Knowing your day-changing events will help you determine why your mood changes suddenly or why you're "in a bad mood" before your day even begins.  And more importantly, it will help you figure out how to get out of those ruts that we all get stuck in from time to time.

Think about it today.  Figure out what your day-changing events are.  And if you're in the northeast, enjoy the snow!