This Small Change Can Have a Huge Impact

Have you ever experienced a time in your life when you just feel bad? You can’t even put your finger on it, but for some reason, you’re just not as happy as you typically are. There’s nothing really wrong, but somehow life just doesn’t feel right. Have you ever been there? I have and I suppose most of us can have those moments.

Recently I was having a conversation with someone who was experiencing something similar. As we were chatting about nothing in particular, he eventually admitted to me, “I just feel out of sorts.” He couldn’t explain it, he just knew something wasn’t right.

We drilled down a little bit more trying to pinpoint what the reason could be for his disposition. As we continued to talk one thing became clear…the news around him was discouraging him. And the more we talked, the more I learned that this individual watched the news…a lot of news.

Stop Watching The News

I have fond memories of staying up with my parents, with a pot of coffee to watch the 11pm news. It was something we did almost nightly. (Back then I could still go right to sleep even after coffee).

But you want to know something? I think it’s a bad habit to get into. And here’s why…IT’S DEPRESSING!

Do you ever felt better after watching the news? Do you ever feel inspired or motivated after watching the news? I doubt it. In fact a Huffington Post study shows that just 3 minutes of negative news (is there any other kind?) in the morning increases our chances of having a bad day by 27%. (Another reason to protect your morning routine for things that will set you up for success.)

5 Reasons To Stop Watching The News

1) It makes you feel worse not better

I just mentioned this above but it’s worth mentioning again. Consistent exposure to news can have a negative impact on our emotional, physical and spiritual well-being. If you don’t believe me, take a few minutes after your next news show to evaluate how you actually feel.

2) News is a money-making business

Money, (ie advertising) is what keeps news on the air. The focus will always be on what’s in their best interests, not yours. Sure businesses want customers but who do you think these news sources are really answering to?

3) We don’t get news we get a version of the news

It seems to me that there has been a huge shift from sharing news to crafting the news. Many news outlets have a political bent so we will hear things that typically support that political camp but will not hear things that might potentially oppose that view. We rarely will be getting the whole story…only their version of the story. So people will will gravitate to a particular station based on their own worldview and political opinions.

I just read a new phrase relating to news… it’s called ‘media-splain’. Which basically means that news sources work extra hard to spin stories toward their political, philosophical position.

Media-splain.

Thats’ what we get now. Not the story but their take on it and what they want us to hear/ and not hear about it.

News agencies simply are not objective. They don’t tell stories, they (re)write them.

4) The news could be fake

Maybe fake news has always been a problem, but it seems to be a real problem today. It’s hard for me to imagine the effort and motivation it takes to actually intentionally report false statements and outright lies but this takes news reporting to a whole new level. Perhaps our social media channels are most guilty of this but much of what we read or see today needs to be back-checked now.

5) Negative news leaves us feeling helpless and hopeless

Have you ever asked yourself why you watch the news? Most of what we see is negative…negative stories…and to what end? Is there a call to action? Maybe. But most often, it’s just information. Information that doesn’t do anything productive…it may entertain, it may even inform…but once the TV is off, what good will it produce?

I just took a 5-minute break to check out the latest news in my area. Here’s what I saw…

  1.  Truck fire started by homemade bomb
  2. Mother charged with felony-murder after of leaving baby in car while getting hair done
  3. Two people stabbed during assault
  4. Motorcyclist suffers broken arm making a u-turn
  5. Puppy found in garbage can; rescued and receiving treatment
  6. Woman found dead. Son charged with murder.

In 5 minutes!!!

Lets see…fires, bombs, death, accidents, murder…oh yeah and a rescued puppy. What do you think the long-lasting impact is of taking this stuff in, day after day after day? What toll is this taking on our mental and emotional health?

These situations are very sad and tragic, but does it help for me to hear about them?

This emphasis on negative news is only punctuated by the common strategy of ending a news segment with a feel-good story. It’s almost like, the station knows that the viewer have probably had all they can take of sad, disturbing images and stories, so they insert a piece about a lost dog being found or a stolen purse being returned to it’s owner or police officers playing ball with neighbourhood kids.

We all love a good story like these, sure; but weighed against the litany of negative stories we have to wade through first, I’d say they hardly balance out.

What Can You Do Instead

If you think that your viewing habits are having a negative impact, here are two suggestions that may help.

Clear Your Mind

Take News Detox

Detoxing our bodies can be a great way to improve our physical health; detoxing our minds can be just as helpful to our emotional health. Take a day or better a week off from watching news. Monitor how you’re feeling. I just know that you will eventually feel better emotionally, you’re demeanour will improve and you might just minimize those moments where you “just don’t feel right.”

Feed Your Mind 

Instead of news, real or fake, why not read a book or blog (sorry if that seems self-serving) that not only informs you but inspires and encourages you. The Bible says, “Be transformed by the renewing of our minds.” For me that begins with reading the Bible each morning.

Maybe that’s not your style. But if you want to change your life, change what you feed your mind.

Just one small change can have a huge impact on your well-being.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

Last week I attended another funeral. Between attending and officiating I’ve been to my share, and then some, maybe you have too. This one was a close friend’s dad. I knew him too and I’m grateful that I was able to spend time with him earlier this year. Sometimes the most precious memories are the simplest ones.

The service was a celebration of his life and having spoken at my own dad’s funeral, I empathized with my friend who was given the responsibility of representing the siblings, capturing who his dad was and why he meant so much to so many. He did a great job and I laughed and cried.

Perhaps like no other situation, a funeral gives us reason to pause and think about our own lives. Not just our mortality but to me something that is equally important…that is, how we want to be remembered.

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Like I said, at a funeral it’s easy to think about these things because we are naturally confronted with big, life questions.

  • Why am I here?
  • Does my life have meaning?
  • Am I making the most of my life?

The problem is, it’s just as easy to dismiss these topics as soon as we hit the refreshment table (and those sandwiches with the crust cut off). Also, these types of questions can seem more philosophical in nature than practical, but I think they are significant.

How we are remembered is really the legacy we leave behind.

Webster’s Dictionary defines legacy as, “a gift by will especially of money or other personal property: bequest…She left us a legacy of a million dollars.”

But a legacy is so much more than money…

  • It’s what people believe about us
  • It’s how we made them feel
  • It’s what we taught them
  • It’s the impact we had on their lives
  • It’s the values we lived by

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Legacy is what we talk about at funerals but it’s worth considering long before the end of our lives. And legacy is more than putting in time, it’s about making the most of the time we have for the sake of others.

How Do You Want To Be Remembered?

Here are 3 easy steps you can take to get clarity about who you are, who you want to be and the legacy you want to leave.

Step 1

Consider the various roles you live out now

  • Parent
  • Spouse
  • Child
  • Co-worker
  • Boss
  • Friend
  • Teammate
  • Other

Step 2

Start with the end in mind. 

Write a brief paragraph detailing what you hope others will say about you for each of your roles. (Imagine you are sitting and listening in at your own funeral…it’s not as morbid as it may sound…honest.) What are people saying about you?

Step 3

Create a plan to get you there. 

Q. What kind of person do you have to be, to leave the legacy you want to leave?

Q. What things will you need to stop doing?

Q. What things will you need to begin to do, that you’re not doing now?

Q. What difference will these changes make for you and others in your life?

Q. What is hindering you from making the changes you want to make?

 

It’s been said, that our future is determined by our daily choices. Deciding ahead of time how you want to be remembered will determine the choices you make today.

Q. How do you want to be remembered and what are you doing to ensure you will be?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

 

Halftime…So Much More Than Orange Slices

Growing up I played a lot of soccer and I really enjoyed the game. I had some great coaches too, some who went above and beyond to ensure I grew as a player and a person. But one thing I didn’t really like at all was halftime.

To me halftime was simply an interruption from doing what I loved to do…run…pass…and score goals. I dreaded when the referee blew his whistle after 45 minutes…it was such a let down.

To make matters worse (life was so hard being 10) invariably, one of the parents was scheduled for the snack. The infamous orange slices. I didn’t like orange slices…but there they were, every game, ruining my beloved activity.

The reason?

They made my fingers sticky. Yup, that’s it. I didn’t like playing the second half with sticky fingers. (I was also the kid who would come inside from playing, to wash my hands, only to go out again to play). Apparently I didn’t mind getting dirty but I liked being clean even more.

Because of that, I usually passed on the orange slices…they just weren’t worth it.

The Benefits of Halftime

While I didn’t appreciate the value of halftime as a kid, today I do.

Here in Canada we just celebrated our 150th birthday as a country, July 1. (And Happy 4th of July to my American friends) So basically, we are half way through the year. A great time to pause, not only to celebrate this wonderful country we have the privilege of living in, but to to take advantage of a halftime break.

In sports, halftime is about so much more than just eating orange slices…it’s about

  • Resting
  • Reviewing the game plan
  • Revelling in what is working
  • Recognizing what isn’t working
  • Revising a game plan for the second half

So as we begin the second half of the year, we can do the same, on a personal level.

5 Keys To Make the Most of the Second Half

REST

How did you celebrate the long weekend? Maybe BBQ is your thing or a boat cruise on the lake. Whatever it is, I hope you had time to rest from your typical routine. But beyond that, are you taking care of yourself in a way that sets you up for success moving forward. Half way through the year are you exhausted or energized?

How are you managing your time and your energy?

What do you need to do to get back in the game?

REVIEW

What did you set out to do when the year began? Are you closer to your goals or farther away? What progress have you made this year? How is your life different than it was back in January or a year ago? What have you accomplished in this year? Consider your career, your personal development, your marriage, your family.

Are your relationships stronger… than they were 6 months ago?

Are your finances in better shape than they were 6 months ago?

Are you in better shape than you were 6 months ago?

Are you making progress in your career from 6 months ago?

REVEL

Celebrate the progress you have made…in your marriage, your family, your career and your personal growth. Take the time to express your gratitude to God and to those closest to you. And hey, it’s halftime…have some orange slices (if you’re into that kind of thing).

What are you grateful for?

Who are you grateful for?

Who are you grateful to?

RECOGNIZE

Not every game plan works or goes according to plan. Where have things come up short? What didn’t work out like you hoped it would? Why do you think that is?

What hasn’t worked?

What can you learn?

REVISE

When you look ahead to December 31, what do you hope to accomplish between now and then? What problem do you hope to resolve? What project do you want to complete?

What are the steps you will need to take to get there? Who do you need in your corner to help you finish the year strong?

See, halftime is so much more than orange slices and sticky fingers. It’s about resting, reviewing, revelling, recognizing and revising.

Take advantage of this year’s halftime…then get back in the game and play hard.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

When Fear Takes Over and What To Do About It

When my son was 7 he decided he wanted to play football. I truly didn’t prompt him in any way (that I can remember) but since football is my favorite sport, I was excited for his desire to play.

His mother on the other hand wasn’t quite so enthusiastic. Her maternal instincts kicked in and she began to ask all the questions you would expect from a loving parent…

  • What if he gets hurt?
  • Will he know anyone on the team?
  • How big are the boys he’ll play with?
  • Will his coach be mean?
  • Will the boys be mean?

You know, the typical questions.

To be honest, they were good questions. After all, we didn’t want to throw our son into a smash-mouth, eat glass, take no prisoners, win at all cost kind of environment. Our son was barely 70 pounds and as we soon found out, he would play against some boys weighing more than twice what he did. But this was peewee football…had bad could it be?

We registered for the team, went to our first fitting where he was outfitted with new, top of the line equipment (I’m pretty sure it was better than what I wore for high school football). The team practiced twice a week, all summer before the season started in September and we had a blast.

The head coach was great and he allowed me to volunteer alongside him. The practices were well-run and the kids learned a lot about teamwork and the great game of football.

We were having  blast.

Then came opening day! The first game of the season and my son’s first official football game.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.” Nelson Mandela

As the players took to the field, I walked to our sideline and suddenly, out of nowhere my mind was flooded with questions…

  • What if he gets hurt?
  • How big are the boys he’ll play with?
  • Will his coach be mean?
  • Will the boys be mean?

Even after practicing all summer, out of nowhere, I was suddenly struck with fear…what if Alex gets hurt today? He’s one of the smallest on the team and it’s one thing to practice with your own team…it’s another to play against a real opponent.

For a brief moment, I was truly stricken with fear for my son’s safety. Not to mention my own, if his mother saw him get hurt.

Have you ever been there?

Have you suddenly been overtaken by fear?

What did you do?

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear.” Jack Canfield

Don’t Miss Out 

How many times have you decided not to do something because you were afraid? You saw an opportunity but you got nervous and backed away from it. I get it; fear has a way of warning us against doing something…like it’s looking out for us. But I think that’s a big mistake.

We could have allowed the fear that Alex could have gotten hurt, keep him from playing football…but at what cost?  Because he played…

  • he learned new skills
  • he learned to work as part of a team
  • he learned to apply instruction
  • he enjoyed competition
  • he got stronger physically and mentally
  • he learned the value of trying new things
  • and he won the “Rookie of the Year” award. (I might have been more excited than he was about that)

If Alex had stayed on the sidelines he would have missed out on so much.

When we sit on the sidelines we miss out on so much too.

Q. Is fear holding you back from doing what you ant to do? Maybe we can learn somethings form a 7 year old

  • listen to what your heart is telling you
  • get input from others
  • get all the information you need to make an informed decision
  • strap on some gear and go hit something…in other words…TAKE ACTION!

The very thing you are afraid of may be the very thing you ought to do. In fact I suggest the fear you feel is often confirmation you should do it. 

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

How Netflix Can Help You Discover Your Calling and Purpose

Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m a Jason Bourne fan. I love the series of movies, now at five, but I especially appreciate the first three. Sorry Jeremy Renner; part four was okay, and I enjoyed the last instalment, but the first three stand out.

I could probably recite most of the lines. I’ve watched them more than I could count (I’m not suggesting that’s a good thing but it’s true). A number of years ago I spent a day in Paris on a layover, sitting at an outdoor cafe, listening to the sounds of the city and watching for Bourne…he didn’t show up. Yes, I was disappointed.

In case you don’t know, Jason Bourne is a CIA black-op who goes missing after a botched assignment. He’s rescued from the Mediterranean Sea but as he heals from two gun shot wounds in the back, he realizes he has no memory…he has no idea who he is and how he got to where he was.

The Bourne trilogy focuses on the story of how this CIA agent, suffering from amnesia begins to learn who he is, and discover that he doesn’t like what learns about himself…essentially that he’s a trained assassin. Bourne then goes on his own mission to rediscover who he is and take back his life from the agency that has been controlling it; all while the CIA does all it can to take out the rogue agent before he can do more damage to the covert organization.

From the storyline, to the car chases to the martial arts and cinematography…(that’s how I justify watching them again and again…for the cinematography) I love these movies.

What Do Your Favorite Movies Say About You?

I believe that God has created each one of us for a specific purpose and given us all we need to carry out the things He has for us to do. But understanding our mission and our purpose is not always so simple or straightforward.

Have you ever stopped to consider what your favorite movies say about you? And do you think it’s possible to gain insights into your own calling and purpose through the movies you watch? I think it is.

I’m talking about calling and purpose as the things we do in our lives related to our work…the things we do to be productive…the things we do that we hope will make a difference to those around us.

I’m not suggesting that getting clarity about our calling is simply analyzing our entertainment viewing habits, but they can give us clues.

One of the most powerful ways to understand our calling is to consider the themes of our lives. It is linked to our experiences, both positive and negative, and the meaning we give them

Looking back over our lives and identifying themes give us clues.

Our favorite movies can give us clues too. Some of my favorite movies include “The Bourne Trilogy” and “A Few Good Men”. And while these are completely different movies, their common themes are why I like them.

Let me explain.

  • Jason Bourne didn’t like who he was and determined to change. He overcomes incredible odds…near fatal wounds, a covert CIA who wants to eliminate him, not to mention he isn’t sure who he is, to change the direction his life was going.
  • Lt. Daniel Kaffee, an inexperienced US Navy lawyer who appears to like baseball more than law, who seems to be more of a class clown than a litigator for the armed forces, was thrown into a court marshal case, expected to be a screw-up and fail, with the hopes of preserving the reputation of the Armed Forces Marine Corp. But Kaffee leads a brilliant defense, even with the deck stacked against him and gets his clients off of the most serious of charges.

The themes that I easily recognize in my favorite movies include things like:

  • overcoming obstacles due to circumstances and poor choices
  • exceeding others expectations
  • overcoming self-doubt
  • succeeding in spite of others judgment
  • moving from selfish ambition to empowering and inspiring others to face their fears and reach their potential

Those are the kind of themes that draw me in because they reflect much of my own experience. But even more than just mirroring my life, past and present, they reflect what my life is about now…I hope.

  • I’ve been the class clown
  • I’ve been the screw up.
  • I’ve been selfish
  • I’ve lacked empathy for others
  • I’ve struggled to know what my potential is
  • I’ve had to overcome poor choices to change the trajectory of my life
  • I want to inspire others to make the most of their lives.
  • I want to encourage, equip and motivate people to be all that they can be..all God has created them to be.

Those last two, reflect my purpose as I understand it. For the bulk of my adult life I have tried to inspire, encourage, motivate, challenge, support and guide people so they can experience more, live more and be more…reaching their God-given potential.

I believe that is my mission and my purpose and what gives meaning to my life. The work I’ve done reflects that…counselling, pastoring, coaching. But it’s also part of being a husband, father, friend and business owner. My purpose permeates all of those things.

You might be saying, “You get all that from Jason Bourne or Daniel Kaffee?” Well, yes, I guess I am saying that. The themes of my favorite movies connect with the themes of my life and they point me towards why I am here and what I am to do.

Does It Matter?

We want our lives to matter. We want our lives to have an impact. We want to make a difference. At least the majority of individuals I come in contact want those things.

But is that the reality of most people? Is that your experience? If you’re stuck, perhaps taking time to reflect on your favorite movies will give you the clues you need to understand your purpose.

You are uniquely equipped to carry out your God-given purpose. Don’t give up discovering what it is.

Watch your favorite movie, maybe it will help.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

 

What Can You Learn From a 12-Year-Old? Quite a Lot Actually.

6 Life-Lessons From A Ventriloquist

I’m not a big fan of TV shows like “The Voice” or “The World of Dance” (I’m sorry to all of you who are) but I have become a fan of one in particular.

Actually, I’ve never seen the show, at least not on TV but I have seen enough clips to become interested. I’ve seen excerpts from “America’s Got Talent” and some of the performers are quite incredible. Most recently I came across a 12-year-old named Darci Lynne. If you haven’t seen her yet, you can check out her audition here…

Darci Lynne on America’s Got Talent

I’ve watched this audition a few times now and I’m impressed with so many things about Darci and I think we can all learn some valuable lessons from her too. Here are some of my takeaways…

Our Struggles Can Be a Point of Contribution

Darci admitted to being extremely shy and struggled to make eye contact with others. But instead of resigning herself to being “that way” she took action. She asked for a puppet and got to work. Her struggle became motivation for change but also for impact. If Darci gave in to her shyness the world would never know her and she would have missed out on the impact she is now having.

Is your deepest pain a current struggle or a past experience you just can’t shake? Is it something that defines you (according to you). What difference would it make if you saw your pain or deepest wound as an opportunity? What have you learned from it and how can it help someone else?

“The place of our deepest pain, can be the point of our greatest contribution”

Success Takes Time & Commitment

The judges were impressed with how far Darci had come in two years of practice. It does seem like a short time to hone her skills, but it still was significant. She actually had spent almost 20% of her life to ventriloquism. That’s a huge chunk of her 12 years. I wonder how many of us have committed 20% of our lives to something important to us?

What do you think would happen if have if you gave 20% of your life to something important to you? Or even 10 or 5? What kind of positive changes could you make…to your health, your closest relationships, your career, your hidden talent or your secret dream? Do you think it might make a difference in someone’s else’s life?

“Successful people and unsuccessful people do not vary greatly in their abilities, but in their desire to reach their potential.” John Maxwell

When Something “Clicks” Respond

Darci saw a ventriloquist at her church and “something clicked”. Have you ever experienced a moment like that? That “aha moment” when your interest and focus went in a particular direction. Maybe a spiritual awakening of sorts? Has God lead you, spoke to you or encouraged you (maybe by using others to do so) to do something specifically?

I think for many, the tendency is to think about all the reasons we can’t do something or why it won’t work rather than to embrace the challenge and take the next steps to making it happen.

The Bible tells us God has things  for us to do…do you know what they are? What’s stopping you from doing them?

Our Greatest Accomplishments Are On the Other Side of Fear

Fear is without a doubt one of the most debilitating emotions we experience. It can keep us from so many things. But in my experience, fear is not an indicator to avoid something but the motivation to do it.

If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you do that you’re not doing now?

Humility Is Attractive

For me, the most enjoyable auditions on America’s Got Talent (or Britain’s Got Talent) are the people who don’t even know how good they are. They may perform with the hopes of being accepted and affirmed but they do so with humility.

No one really likes a cocky, arrogant person do they? I think this type of attitude can sabotage so many areas of our lives.

But Darci seems like such a sweet girl who had no idea the response she would garner that night. It made her performance all the more inspiring and compelling and you just couldn’t help but celebrate what she did.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourself.” Phil 2:3

We All Need a Support System

Darci didn’t get to the stage and eventually the “live show” alone…she had a lot of support. Her parents purchased the puppet, the family encouraged her and they were there back stage and in the crowd rooting for her. Who do you think was more nervous?

We are not designed to do life alone. Whether single, married, a student or grandparent, we were made for relationships that provide love, encouragement, direction, accountability and strength and they give us opportunity to do the same in return.

Who in your life could use some encouragement? What are the opportunities right around you?

I’ll keep watching clips from America’s Got Talent but I won’t soon forget Darci…and all she has taught us.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

 

What Do You Do When Your Life is Out of Control?

For years our family would purchase a season pass at Canada’s Wonderland, a major theme park about an hour from where we lived. Four or five times a year we would make a day of it, enjoying the drive, a picnic lunch, the shows and the rides.

Well, mostly it was Alex and me who enjoyed the rides while Kathy and Megan people-watched. There wasn’t a ride us guys wouldn’t go on, but for the ladies, it was often a challenge to go on anything beyond the spinning tea cups.

But I have to say, Kathy was a good sport, often going on rides she’d rather not.

One afternoon we were standing in line for the Drop Zone (a 230 ft tower that you gradually are lifted to, only to be dropped, free-falling to the ground, and breaking just feet before the earth).

When the kids were younger they wore coloured bracelets the park handed out to indicate the rides they could go on, based on their height. If they were too small for a particular ride, like the Drop Zone, they would stand in line with us, then move through and watch us.

As we were approaching the front of the line I noticed the operators weren’t paying much attention to individual riders. I looked at Alex and he looked back at me and I whispered, “do you want to go on?”

Without saying a word and with eyes wide open I knew his answer and ripped off his bracelet and told him to “just act natural”.

Megan moved beyond the barrier to get a better view and Alex moved toward the ride with Kathy and myself.

Suddenly I saw terror on Kathy’s face as she put 2 & 2 together.

Have you ever screamed at someone while at the same time whispering so not to be heard by those around you? It’s quite a skill and that’s what Kathy was doing. She was freaking out because our barely 4-foot-tall son was buckling up for the ride of his life.

I quickly hushed her so not to give us away and Alex sat between us. Kathy could look over him to me and with her eyes expressed great fear, dismay and a few other things I won’t go into.

The oblivious operator ensured we were secure in our seats (which meant you could barely move because the shoulder harness was so tight and restrictive).

Once moving towards the sky, Kathy let into me like no one’s business while Alex and I would have high-fived each other if we could get our arms free to do so.

After reaching the height of the ride, and taking in the view, we dropped back down to the ground at over 16 feet per second. The whole thing was over in about 30 seconds.

And it was awesome.

Once we were free from the ride, Alex and I did high-five each other and we couldn’t stop laughing. It’s a great memory for us…Kathy maybe not so much.

But I didn’t share this story to suggest a reckless parenting strategy or to encourage breaking the rules.

What Do You Do When Your Life is Out of (Your) Control?

I love that story of us riding the drop zone ride at Wonderland. I smile every time I think of it. But during the ride itself, you just can’t move much at all. Once we were harnessed in, everything was out of our control.

Ever felt like that?

A couple of weeks ago I shared a personal story about a situation that took Kathy and me by complete surprise and turned our world upside down. You can read it here.

In a blink, our life went from an exciting new adventure to everything is out of control and uncertain where nothing made sense.

Have you ever been there? I think most of us have. Because as I suggested last week, life is rarely “up and to the right”. It’s never a straight line. Whether your job or career, your family or marriage…it doesn’t matter. The most important things in our lives rarely go from point A to point B in a straight line. Up and to the right just doesn’t happen.

So what can you do?

Or maybe better, “What do you get to do?”

You get to decide.

You get to decide how you are going to respond to the situation that has caused you to feel like you’ve lost control. In other words, even when life is out of control, or you feel completely stuck and life is beyond your control, you still have options. You get to decide what you will do in response.

Sometimes life’s restraints are almost overwhelming. When you’re riding the Drop Zone, that’s okay…when your world is turned upside down, that’s another thing altogether.

But you still get to decide. You get to decide how you will respond.

Maybe you are in the middle of a “my life is upside down” situation.

What are you going to do?

Will you give up? Or will you regroup?

Will you seek input from trusted people in your life or will you grow more cynical and isolated?

Will you lean into God? Or will you become more self-sufficient?

Will you grow bitter? Or will you look for ways to learn, grow and improve?

Will you retreat and give up? Or will you discern what’s next?

Will you allow a setback to define you? Or will you allow it to propel you forward?

What will you decide to do?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

 

How To Move Forward When Life Goes Sideways (Part 2)

I was not a good student growing up, especially once I entered high school. I struggled to see the connection between what I was being taught and my life. I wasn’t even considering that this information could be valuable at a later date.

For example, I really didn’t do well in math. I couldn’t understand why I had to learn things like algebra and functions and equations. It was painful sitting in those classes which is why I did, as little as possible.

As I said, I struggled to make a connection between what I was suppose to learn and why it was so important to learn it.

Take geometry for example.

One of the few lessons I remember was that “the shortest distance between two points is a straight line.” That might be well and good in geometry but in real life it just isn’t true.

Let me explain.

As much as we my plan, learn, prepare and execute the things we want to do in our lives, life usually doesn’t work out the way we think it will…it just doesn’t.

In my last post I shared a situation that turned my world upside down…something I didn’t see coming…and something that took time to recover from. You can read it here.

But that’s life isn’t it?

Here’s the problem as I see it.

In life, we want things to be “up and to the right”, in other words, we want things to improve in a smooth trajectory…on a graph it would be a straight line from the bottom left to the upper right.

The problem is, life doesn’t work that way…not usually.

How do I know? Here’s what I’ve come to believe; almost nothing of significance happens without a struggle, without challenges and even failures or setbacks along the way.

Consider the following…

  • raising children
  • a loving marriage relationship
  • starting a business
  • finishing a school year
  • completing a degree
  • finishing a work project on time
  • moving up the corporate ladder
  • leading an organization
  • running a capital campaign
  • running a marathon
  • learning a new skill
  • saving for a home or retirement (remember 2008?)
  • developing a strong friendship

Success, however you define it, is never a straight line. Up and to the right doesn’t exist.

“Running a Company is Like Staring Into the Abyss and Eating Glass” Elon Musk

Before we opened our cafe two years ago, I tried to learn as much as possible. One of the first books I read was “The Entrepreneur Roller Coaster” by Darren Hardy. The title alone gives you a clue that running a business is anything but a smooth ride. I love roller coasters but…

The Shortest Distance Between Two Points Is Not a Straight Line But a Zig Zag

I love the Old Testament story of when the Israelites are finally released from slavery in Egypt and lead by Moses toward their Promised Land. (If you watched “The 10 Commandments” featuring Charlton Heston and Yul Brynner, then you get the gist of the story).

The promise of a land for the Jewish people was made hundreds of years before (see Genesis 12 & 15) and now after 400 years oppression by the Egyptians they were free to enjoy the promise fulfilled.

In this story then, Egypt is Point A and the promised land is Point B.

From Goshen in Egypt (Point A) to Canaan (Point B) was about a 10-day journey. In fact there was a clear road to get there, known as the “Way of the (Mediterranean) Sea” or the “Way of the Philistines” (remember David & Goliath) because it passed through Philistine territory.

10 days! The Jewish people were 10 days from settling into their new home. They were that close.

But for some reason God took them in the opposite direction.

“When Pharoah let the people go, God did not lead them on the road to the Philistines though that was shorter. For God said, “If they face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them around the desert, south toward the Red Sea.” Exodus 13:17-18

Whatever God’s reasons, the straight way, the shortest way, was not the best way. The straight line was more dangerous. God could see that, even if the people could not.

That’s what life is like isn’t it?

I don’t understand it, but from my own experience, I know that it’s during the zig zags of life that we tend to learn, grow, change get stronger, get more vulnerable, get smarter and trust more. At least those things can happen if we allow them to.

You see, I knew I was wasting time on geometry. The shortest distance between two points is not a straight line…at least not in life.

What do you think?

How have you experienced zig zags instead of up and to the right in your life? What did you learn?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Let’s talk.

How To Move Forward When Life Goes Sideways (Part 1)

Early in our marriage, Kathy and I moved to British Columbia where I completed an undergraduate degree. Leaving family and friends to live in a new province, go to a new school and start a new chapter was a huge decision.

But it didn’t take long for us to love the west coast and believe we’d likely stay there long term. Kathy started a new job, we attended a new church, made new friends and I looked for ministry opportunities while anticipating graduate studies after college.

But during the year I received a call from my home church back in Ontario and they asked if I would consider joining the staff.

Kathy and I took time to pray about it and talk with trusted advisors as we contemplated what to do. Though we loved BC and had plans to stay, we decided to go back to Ontario.

So a year after arriving in BC we packed up again and moved back to Ontario. We drove across Canada and actually arrived in town on a Sunday evening, just before the church service started (yes, that’s how long ago this was…the church had evening services).

We were warmly greeted but something didn’t seem quite right. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but it didn’t take long to discover something was wrong. After the service, it was made clear to me that the church had made the decision not to hire me after all.

Kathy was in tears, I was in shock and we really didn’t know what was happening. We went to my parents place while we soaked in the news. The car was still packed and Kathy suggested that we jump back in it and drive back to BC. My head was spinning as I tried to understand the immediate implications…we had no jobs, no home and most of our belongings were still on a truck somewhere north of the Great Lakes.

My parents offered to let us stay with them while we tried to sort things out.

A couple days later I met with the pastor who was to be my colleague to hopefully get some insight into why things had played out the way they did.

But truthfully I went away from that meeting with no better understanding. The best I can discern is that it was a financial decision but to this day I don’t know for sure…no one ever clarified it.

This was without a doubt one of the most difficult situations I had ever dealt with. We felt mislead, mistreated and it was a struggle to deal with it appropriately…whatever that meant.

It’s amazing what goes through your head when you feel like you have no where to turn and you feel completely lost with no sense of what to do. Maybe you’ve been there? Maybe you’re there right now?

In my darkest moments I had thoughts of revenge…I wanted answers…and I wanted someone to answer for turning my life upside down. I was also questioning God and wondering if I should walk away from ministry altogether.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do?

Perhaps you’ve been in that place where there seems to be absolutely no good choice…no obvious direction…just utter lostness. This is where we were…so this is what we did.

We slowed down

Instead of reacting to the situation we did our best  to slow down, press the pause button and regroup. We didn’t make any significant decisions other than to remain as calm as possible. This didn’t happen overnight though, trust me. It was a battle.

We prayed

This was not as easy as you might think. I was hurt and angry with church leaders and with God.  I asked questions like, “What is going on? Why is this happening? and What are you doing?” Answers didn’t come right away either. God and I were having some pretty awkward conversations.

We did the next right thing

There were so many things we didn’t know or understand. We weren’t sure what to do, so we did the next logical thing. We found jobs. I worked that summer moving office furniture and Kathy got back into retails sales. We did what we needed to do even when we didn’t know what was coming next.

We forgave

Before you start thinking  “Man, this guy is so holy and spiritual”, keep in mind I didn’t want to do this either. This was extremely difficult for me. Forgiveness is a decision and a process and it’s optional. But anger and resentment would have eaten me up and destroyed any chance of moving beyond this otherwise. I knew I had to forgive for my own sake, for the sake of our marriage and because it was the right thing to do. But who was I to forgive? The pastor? The leadership team? The guy at the end of the pew who couldn’t look me in the eye? You can’t offer forgiveness to someone who doesn’t ask for it, but you can still forgive. I had to choose to release any resentment I was holding onto in order to move forward.

We accepted a new normal

Whatever we thought life was going to be like after moving back to Ontario, well, that was gone. A new normal was emerging as we continued to try to make wise decisions one day at a time. The future we had pictured while driving across Canada was changing right before our eyes. We could either be discouraged and give up or embrace a new direction.

We looked at the big picture

When we first learned of the turn of events, I immediately began to think about the long-term implications. Had I been on the wrong path all along? Had I become self-delusional to think I was going into ministry? Was God trying to tell me something I wasn’t ready to hear? Had I missed my calling? Should I go back to plumbing?

We took time to consider what God wanted to do in our lives and through our lives. Counselling and pastoral ministry was where I had been headed and I came to the conclusion that those things hadn’t changed. God was still leading us even when it didn’t feel like it.

We stayed

This was our home church…we got married there just 3 years before. And while most people thought we would cut our losses and leave, we decided to stay.

  • we didn’t go back to BC, we stayed where we were.
  • we attended weekend services.
  • we taught Sunday School
  • we lead a small group of young married couples (before small groups were small groups)
  • we just got involved like we would have in any other church

But it was like a Charles Dickens novel…”it was the best of times, it was the worst of times”. The internal tension didn’t just disappear after a few weeks, but we did stay at that church for the next 8 years.

That Fall I began full-time studies at a Seminary in Toronto which turned out to be 3 years of the best educational experience I had ever had.

Like I said, it was one of the most difficult experiences of my life; Kathy’s too. But I’m grateful for how things played out. I wouldn’t want to go through that again, but I’m grateful for the result.

Next week I’m going to share another lesson learned through this difficult experience.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be?

Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

Life Lessons From Our First Two Years In Business

My wife Kathy and I jumped into to world of entrepreneurship two years ago. Seemingly overnight we went from pastor and retail sales to small-business owners. In a matter of weeks Em’s Cafe was born. 

     

I’m often asked if our Cafe is successful. It’s a good question to consider especially when the statistics tell us there is little chance we will be around in 5 years. A Globe & Mail piece said that, “30% of small businesses will fail within two years.” Well at least we have cleared that hurdle. But over 50% of small businesses don’t survive 5 years so I guess we still have more challenges to navigate. 

As a small-business owner, I am always trying to learn how to to be better. Of course I want our business to grow and be successful…but how would I know if it is?

Our original vision for the cafe was, “to have a positive impact in the community and the lives of our customers.” That continues to be our motivation today along with wanting to be the no 1 destination in our county.

But really those are outcomes or results of something. How do we get there? How do we accomplish what we believe God has called us to do?

Recently, I heard financial guru Dave Ramsey explain it this way.

“If you’re gonna win in business, you gotta love people.” Actually it was more like, “You gotta looooooooooove people.”

That’s it. You gotta love people.

Ramsey went on to say that if you are in business for money, then you will likely fail (and he hopes you do).

Every day, our business gives us hundreds of opportunities to love people…our team, our customers, our neighbours and other business owners in the community.

Sure, we continue to give attention to market trends, operating costs, margins, marketing strategies and opportunities for growth, but loving people is what we do. At least it’s what we try to do. 

 Keys to Surviving Two Years in Business

In addition to trying to love people, there are a number of lessons we’ve learned (more accurately still learning) that will not only serve us well in business but in our personal life as well.

Wise Counsel

Long before we signed our names to any business document we sought input from people who are way smarter than we are and that has only continued. We are deliberate in who we connect with. When it comes to our business, we looked for people who are not only successful in what they do, but in how they do it.

Two years in, there are new things to learn, different decisions to be made and complexities to be managed. We couldn’t do it on our own…and we don’t want to.

Em’s is the result of the involvement of so many people, the list is long. It would be naive to think that somehow Kathy and I pulled this off on our own.

Educated Ignorance

Have you ever done something without fully understanding what it was going to take to succeed? Yeah me too. I recently heard Malcom Gladwell use the term “useful delusion” when referring to entrepreneurs embarking on a new idea. I’m not sure who coined the phrase, but basically it means to be confident enough, even ignorantly so, to think you can do something even if it’s a long shot. It’s not arrogance, but optimism rooted in ignorance.

Don’t get me wrong, I think we should do our homework, do the research, collect the data and gain the insights necessary to make a decision, but no matter how much we prepared for the cafe, there was no way we could have anticipated exactly what it would be like or what it would take to launch it and run it.

Years ago, our son did some cliff jumping at a summer camp. He was about 7. We boated out to see him leap from 20 feet up into the lake. The only problem was, he didn’t know how to swim. He found a way to get back to the shore and then up he’d climb the heights and do it all over again. He had the time of his young life.

At some point, you just have to jump.

Tortoise Mindset

When you take on a new challenge like launching a small business you learn new things about yourself. I discovered that I was more entrepreneurial than I ever thought before. That may sound like a good thing in business…it is…but it can also get you into trouble.

The children’s story of the “tortoise and the hare” serves as a great metaphor. I’d go on Dragon’s Den next week if I thought it’d help. But we’ve just begun year 3 and we are not ready to pitch anything to anyone. Having a long-term approach, moving forward consistently and intentionally will serve us well, just as it did the tortoise.

Small businesses fail for many reasons…things like lower sales than anticipated, large debt load or unforeseen obstacles like competition opening up down the street. And all these can effect cash flow.

Of course we want the business to grow. But how to do that is an ongoing tension to be managed. We continue to learn how to manage the tension between growing the business and potentially sabotaging it by being reckless. It’s art more than science I think.

Tortoise Thinking

  • It’s okay to make mistakes, just not fatal mistakes. Not everything we’ve tried succeeded. Some decisions just don’t work. That’s okay…as long as we didn’t put everything on red 23 and let it ride.
  • Seek input from objective sources; have a trusted circle of people who will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. I can’t say this strongly enough. Always try to be the dumbest guy in the room…for me that’s not too hard.
  • Avoid debt. It’s not impossible. In fact people like Dave Ramsay would say it’s the only way. Maybe there is good debt and bad debt, but I watch Dragons Den and Shark Tank and it pains me to see people leverage everything they have for a dream…especially when the sharks tear their idea to shreds…that hurts. Whatever you choose, minimize debt as much as possible.
  • Don’t sacrifice the future for the present.  This relates to everything from day to day operations, marketing, money, hiring and other business relationships. We have 5 , 10 and 15 year views for our business. How it plays out may change but we hopefully will never put our future in jeopardy by what we do today or next week.
  • Never forget your “why”. The more complex business gets, the easier it becomes to move away from what got you there in the first place. Remembering why we opened the cafe keeps us grounded and gives us guardrails against making a decision that could cause us to wreck.

So there you have it. 3 keys to business that work in every other area of life as well.

wise counsel…educated ignorance…a tortoise mindset

Whether you’re considering your career, your marriage or personal goals, you will never go wrong by including them.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Your life not where you want it to be?

Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 45-minute discovery call. Lets talk.