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.

 

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.

It’s Wrong to Want to Be Happy? Right?

I purchased my first smart phone about 10 years ago and I quickly learned how to upload music, one of the features I was most excited about. One of the first songs on my playlist was the song, “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” by Bobby McFerrin.

I’m not sure why…maybe because I had just heard it recently and thought it was a fun song with great background harmonies. You probably know it…

Here’s a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy
Don’t worry, be happy now

(Ooh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh) don’t worry

Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry, be happy

(Look at me, I’m happy, don’t worry, be happy)
Oh, ooh ooh ooh oo-ooh ooh oo-ooh don’t worry, be happy
Here I give you my phone number, when you worry, call me, I make you happy, don’t worry, be happy)
Don’t worry, be happy
Ain’t got no cash, ain’t got no style
Ain’t got no gal to make you smile
Don’t worry, be happy
‘Cause when you worry your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don’t worry, be happy

I bet you couldn’t help but sing along. I know, right?

Who doesn’t want to be happy?

I want to be happy. You want to be happy. Most people do, don’t they? It seems like a reasonable expectation.

But is happiness a worthwhile pursuit?

I grew up in a faith tradition that downplayed happiness and instead argued for joy.

A dichotomy was taught that went something like this…

Happiness is based on feelings while joy is rooted in truth.

Happiness is fleeting while joy is eternal.

Happiness depends on circumstances or other people while joy is a gift from God.

Happiness is worldly while joy is godly.

But I was confused because while I was hearing happiness and joy expressed in these opposing views, I was also singing songs in Sunday School like,

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap clap)
If you’re happy and you know it, and you really want to show it
If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.” (clap clap)

The song continued with “stomping your feet” and “shouting amen” as appropriate expressions of happiness as well. If nothing else we got a good cardio workout in Sunday School.

How about this one?

“Happiness is a new creation,
Jesus and me in close relation,
Having a part in His salvation,
Happiness is the Lord.

Real joy is mine, no matter if teardrops start;
I’ve found the secret, it’s Jesus in my heart!

Happiness is to be forgiven,
Living a life that’s worth the living,
Taking a trip that leads to Heaven,
Happiness is the Lord. “

You can see where a kid could get confused can’t you?

Joy is often presented as “true” contentment based on faith. Happiness, is often thought of as “false” or “superficial” emotion based on circumstances. But this is a false dichotomy. There is nothing in the Bible that suggests we have to choose between joy happiness.

In fact I suggest that the Scriptures use multiple words interchangeably. Words like blessed, gladness, delight as well as joy and happiness.

For example,

“I will turn their mourning into joy . . . and bring happiness out of grief.” Jeremiah 31:13

“You, O Lord, have made me happy by your work. I will sing for joy because of what you have done” Psalm 92:4

So maybe it’s okay to be happy and even pursue it. How you do that, will determine whether or not you succeed.

Where to Start

Here are some suggestions:

Love God

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.” Luke 10:27

Obey God

“If you obey my commands you remain in my love.” John 15:10

Be Kind

“Be kind and compassionate, forgive others as you have been forgiven.” Ephesians 4:32

Put Others First

“Submit to one another.” Ephesians 5:21

Be Generous

“The generous will themselves be blessed, for they share their food with the poor.” Proverbs 22:9

The common theme here is that happiness comes from good relationships; with God and other people.

You’ll notice that things like a lot of money, a palatial home or a Ferrari didn’t make the list. Okay, I wouldn’t mind at least test driving the Ferrari, but deep down I know at the end of the day, it’s just a car…an awesome car…but just a car.

If you think having a lot of money or a nice car or huge home brings happiness…you’ll be disappointed.

My wife Kathy and I own a cafe in the town of Coldwater ON. In fact we just celebrated our second birthday this week. Every day, our business gives us hundreds of opportunities to love people…our team, our customers, our neighbors and other business owners in the community…hopefully making them happy. In fact we want their experience at the cafe to be the best part of their day.

If you want to be happy, make someone else happy

In a recent post, Darren Hardy suggests that the way to be happy, is to make other people happy. Sounds easy enough. He suggests we can make other people happy by engaging in simple acts like

  • smiling
  • expressing gratitude
  • giving a compliment
  • sharing a joke
  • listening
  • offering encouragement

Maybe being happy is okay after all? And maybe our happiness increases when we make others happy?

It’s worth a shot isn’t it?

How about you? Do you want to be happy? What is one thing you can do today to make someone else happy?

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 is A Series of Goodbyes: 2 Ways I Managed the Last One

I figured out a long time ago that in life, we say goodbye a lot. Not just the end of day, “See you tomorrow” kind but the “I’m not sure we’ll ever see each other kind.” And every kind of goodbye in between.

Saying goodbye is hard.

And it seems that no matter how many times you do it, it doesn’t get easier.

You’ve probably said your share of goodbyes too and most of the time, you wish you didn’t have to.

As a teenager I visited my mentor who had moved from Ontario to BC. When our two-week visit was over he drove me back to the airport, pulled up to the departure doors, stopped long enough for me to grab my bags, gave me a quick hug and drove off. Apparently he hated goodbyes. We laugh about it now.

Yup, life is a series of goodbyes alright.

  • when we move
  • when we change jobs
  • when we graduate
  • when a friend moves away
  • when children leave home
  • when a colleague gets fired
  • when we get downsized
  • when we break an old habit to start a new one
  • when we break up with someone
  • when a new chapter begins

2 Ways I Managed to Say Goodbye to My Son

This past Saturday we dropped off my son at the Toronto airport; something we’ve done a few times over the past year. But this time was especially difficult. Mostly because he may be gone for 2 years. There’s a chance he could come home for a brief visit, but that’s not guaranteed.

Everything from check-in to customs went as smooth as possible and within minutes he was gone. I strained to look over the barriers for as long as I could (security kept pushing me back) before he disappeared.

That all too familiar lump in my throat and pain in my chest was back. And I didn’t like it…not at all.

He had only been home for a couple of months but I enjoyed every moment we had. Which is one of the reasons it was so hard to say goodbye.

So my heart is a little raw today as my mind routinely flashes to Los Angeles to picture what he is doing and how he is settling in. I’m actually sitting in the dark listening to sad music as I write this.

(1) Children are a gift from God, but not one I get to keep for myself

It’s true that when we first married, I didn’t want children at all. But children certainly are a blessing and we are privileged to have a daughter and son now both in their 20’s.

From the time our children were very young we tried to have a vision for their lives moving forward. We’d talk about the future, their strengths, their interests and dreams and together we would paint verbal portraits of possibilities. Those pictures never included them staying at home into their 40’s and living in the basement as a tenant, so I guess I should be encouraged that Alex is spreading his wings.

In fact, we want our kids to be healthy functioning adults prepared to set a course for themselves.

I’ve loved every stage of our kids growing up; but they’re at the stage where saying goodbye is hard. They’re not just going to a friend’s for a sleepover or summer camp for a week. It’s tougher now…and yet at the same time a good thing. I have to remember that he was never mine to keep for myself.

(2) God has a better plan for his life than I do.

This may sound weird, but I guess we’ve kind of seen our kids as being on loan to us as we had the privilege of parenting them. But our parenting is basically done now. We still have a relationship with them, in some ways, better than ever. But it’s different now.

Maybe I’ll need to trust God more than ever too?

Faith has been central to our family which means we’ve tried to recognize that our lives are meant for something bigger than our family. They are meant to bring glory to God by how we live out his plans for us. We haven’t always been great at focusing on that, but it’s true nonetheless.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Eph 2:10

I love this verse. Imagine…God has things for us to do and He’s determined them long before we were even born. How awesome is that? When it comes to our children we have simply encouraged our kids to get to know God and determine how He has created them to do the things He wants them to do.

To me this is the secret to a fulfilling, meaningful life.

Out of a relationship with God, discover who you are, how He’s gifted you, and what He has for you to do. Then do it for His glory and for the sake of others.

I think this is a good plan for anyone’s life too. Have a relationship with God; discover how He has uniquely made you and gifted you, and discover the things He wants you to do with the opportunities He gives you.

How about you?

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 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

One Question You Need to Answer To Have a Successful 2017

The new year has arrived which means most of us have at least considered the changes we’d like to see happen this year. If your inbox is like mine, you’ve had more than your share of blogs, webinars and course on how to achieve more and succeed this year.

There is one question that I think needs to be answered before going any farther however. Answering this one question is crucial to future success but one that many don’t have an answer for…here it is.

What do you really want?

Simple, right?

Maybe.

But many people I run into don’t seem to have a clear answer. They just don’t know what they want for their life. There are probably many reasons for this, but let me suggest just a few.

We don’t take the time

Hey, I get it. Life is busy and there are seasons where we can hardly stop long enough to take a breath, let alone set aside the time needed to reflect and consider what we really want in the future.

We want too many things

One of the reasons resolutions fizzle out and our goals fade is because we try to do too many things…make too many changes. We end up trying to make so many changes we end up making none. We get discouraged after effort doesn’t translate into real change. If you have 20 goals for this year, you’ve already set yourself up to fail.

We don’t want anything

The statistics don’t lie. The majority of resolutions made on Jan 1 are abandoned within the first couple of months. It stands to reasons, that the more goals you’ve failed at reaching the less motivated you may become. Maybe you just don’t think it’s possible anymore. If you have no goals for this year, you’re set yourself up for boredom.

We think it’s wrong to ask the question

I think for some, they feel this question is too selfish. If you’re a person of faith, you might believe that it’s wrong to think about what you want. I address this in detail here, but here I would simply suggest that our wants and desires are not necessarily selfish but necessary. They reflect who we are and how we are uniquely created by God. Plus, if you think about it, most of our lives are made up of choices we make which must in some way reflect what we want…where we live, the job we choose, the activities we engage in on the weekend, the people we hang out with, what we eat, how we spend our time and money…from paint colours to life partners…all reflect our wants to some degree, don’t they?

Another reason so many resolutions fail is because they are often things we don’t really want to do. Do you want to lose 30lbs really? If not, you’ll likely quit sooner than later. Do you really want to read through the Bible? There’s nothing wrong with reading the Bible, even the entire thing in a year.  But if you set out to do it because someone else did it or it sounds like the spiritual thing to do, you’ll likely get to Leviticus then check out. Do you really want to read 75 books this year? Do you really want to run a marathon? You get what I’m saying, right?

So what do you want? What do you really want? Not sure yet? Here are some suggestions.

  1. Give yourself permission. Allow yourself the freedom to think freely.
  2. Give yourself time. Start with 15 minutes. Turn off your phone, the TV and your computer and sit quietly and ask yourself; “What do I want?” Give yourself 15 minutes a day until you can clearly start to get clarity about what you want.
  3. Give yourself specific answers that reflect your season of life, not someone elses. Consider your health, wealth (building, saving and giving) personal growth and relationships…where are you strong and where can you grow?

Q. What will you regret not doing, looking back 12 months from now?

Q. What do you want to do but are afraid to do? (Fear is often a clue that it’s something to pursue)

Q. What have others encouraged you to do?

Q. If you knew you couldn’t fail, what would you try?

 

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 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

Is it “Unspiritual” to Pursue Your Dreams?

I recently watched one of my favorite movies, “The Rookie.” It’s a good family movie and even if you don’t like baseball, it’s a great story. As with most “based on real life” movies, there are a number of inconsistencies from the real life story, but it’s still good.

The film tells the story of  Jim Morris, who as a boy dreamed of being big league baseball pitcher. He moved around a lot being the son of a Navy man, and eventually landed in Big Lake; a small Texas town. Jim eventually was drafted but injured his throwing shoulder which ended his lifelong dream.

Years later Mr. Morris, now married with three children, is a high school science teacher, as well as the baseball coach. To make a long story short, his high school team was not very good, at least they weren’t playing up to their potential and to motivate his players, he agreed to attend a minor league tryout…if the team made it to the district championship. Of course the team goes on a winning streak and makes state. So Jim reluctantly travels to the nearest tryout to show his stuff. It turns out that he is throwing faster than he thought he could, in fact faster than he did in college, 15 years earlier.

Jim gets a call from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays to join their minor league team. It was a rough ride but eventually he is called up to the big leagues…around age 35.

Before he commits to playing baseball again, Jim stops by his dad’s home and awkwardly asks for his opinion. His dad who never encouraged him to ever play baseball or follow his dreams, responds with one of the most important lines in the movie…

“It’s OK to think about what you want to do until it’s time to start doing what you were meant to do.”

It’s OK to think about what you want to do, until it’s time to start doing what you are meant to do. In the movie, the implication was that these would be very different things. Sure we may have dreams and aspirations but eventually the reality of life would set in and we would need to forgo our dreams for the something practical. 

But is that true? What if what we want to do is what we were meant to do?

God has created us and uniquely designed us with our personalities, passions, skills & abilities, personal experiences, preferences, and aspirations. As we gain clarity around those things I think we have an obligation or better, the opportunity to pursue them. Pursuing your dreams is not “unspiritual” but rather being who God has made me to be.

Following your dreams may be the most spiritual thing you do…why?

Our desires come from God (at least they can)

Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When I was young I thought this verse meant that God would simply give me what I wanted. But it means so much more than that. If we want to discover our passions, our dreams and purpose in life, then we must begin with a relationship with God. As we experience Him, the things we begin to want to do, the things that excite us, the things that we feel drawn to and the things we want to accomplish are actually things God plants in our hearts. They come from Him. What do you dream about?

If you could do anything at all with your life, what would it be?

Where do you think the answers to those questions come from?

“The more we delight in a relationship with God, the clearer we will become on discovering our purpose.”

     God has stuff for us to do

In Ephesians 4:10, the writer says ,“We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us new in Christ Jesus so we can do good things He has planned for us long ago.” 

How cool is that? Imagine this for a moment. God decided way before you were ever born, specific things for you to do. Good things. Things that matter. If that is true, then wouldn’t be important for us to discover what they are?

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you discover why.” Mark Twain

     The world needs you

Our desires, passions and purpose are not things to be kept quiet. They are meant to be lived out; to impact others. Maybe not the entire world, but certainly in your world.

Love is the driving force. Love for God and love for others.

The Bible tells us that what matters most is to love God and love others. When we love God, we discover our desires. When we love others, we impact them with our personalities, talents and particular bent. After all, isn’t love, doing what’s in the best interest of another person? Well, what’s in the best interest of others is you being the person God has created, designed and planned for you to be.

Here’s the thing; it’s not about getting more or making more…it’s about being more. It’s about being the best version of who God created us to be. That may be a lifelong pursuit but for me it’s a most worthwhile one.

  • You are unique
  • Your life is meant to impact others
  • Clarity about who you are, will impact who you become
  • Others need you
  • Your life is not your own, but meant to be lived for the sake of others.
  • Striving to reach your potential is a never-ending journey that honours the One who made you.

No one else has the job of being you. 

What are your desires today? Where do they come from?

If there was 1 area in your life (relationship, career, health etc) you’d like to change, what would it be?

If you couldn’t fail, what new goals would you pursue?

How can your personality, talents, desires and passions impact others? Your family, your friends, your co-workers?

Maybe…just maybe, pursuing your dreams is the most spiritual thing you can choose 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 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

 

 

 

Our Hope Is Not in Presidents & Prime Ministers

If you’re like me, you’re probably grateful that the US presidential election is history. For Americans and even Canadians this seems to have been a more hotly debated process than any other that I can remember.

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It seems that through media, social and television, the election has been front and center for years not just months leading up to the events of last Tuesday.

I don’t typically spend a lot of time focused on politics but even I stayed up past 2am to watch the election unfold. I wasn’t rooting for either candidate but I was intrigued by the process itself.

I understand that many people are actively involved in politics and have very strong ideas and opinions. People from both sides of the aisle have been very vocal about “their” candidate and about their opponent. This election seemed to focus more on character than policies and from an outsider looking in, it appeared that neither party candidate was ideal. I do wonder what it means when only half of registered voters actually voted.

But what really stood out to me has been seeing how disagreement lead to hatred. The disdain that people expressed toward the other side was severe. And I just have to wonder, to what end.

From my vantage point the election process looked more like a civil war than a political process. And the result will be a lot of pain and carnage. The level of name calling, labelling groups of people, divisive positions, fear mongering and outright hate was unprecedented, at least in my life time.

Now we are hearing things like, “It’s time to unite and come together as a nation.” But how realistic is that given the level of the divisive, hatred expressed…not just toward the candidates but toward anyone who followed the candidate. It seems that the social, racial, economic and political lines have become walls.

It’s hard to go out for a coffee and have a civil conversation with someone you just punched in the face.

My fear is that the harmful effects of the election process will only serve to entrench political positions and make bridging social, economic, racial and political differences virtually impossible.

But what has concerned me even more than how the opposing sides have engaged in this election, is seeing how Christians have jumped on board.

You may not be a Christian…but for those of us who are, I think we have been called to be different. Or as Darren Hardy says,

betheexception

Jesus’ own disciples were hoping he would introduce a new political system; one where the Jewish nation would thrive and not be under Roman rule. Instead, Jesus introduced a new movement; one that was open to anyone who wanted to be a part of it. One that was rooted in love; love for God and love one another.

In fact, the first-century Church was under the rule of Nero, a brutal dictator. But nowhere in scripture are we encouraged to level such a political system; instead we are commanded to share the good news, that Jesus loves them…everyone.

How can Christians hate anyone? I don’t know…but much of what I read and heard over the past months has been troubling. We are called to be different…to be the exception.

This past Sunday at my church, we were reminded of the story of Jesus calling Matthew to “follow him”; Matthew a tax collector and one who would have been despised by society was being invited into a relationship with the son of God.

What did Jesus do? He went to Matthew’s home for dinner. Imagine that. While the religious leaders looked down their noses and slammed Jesus for eating with “sinners and the scum of society” he got closer to them.

Of course Jesus routinely “broke the cultural rules of the day” by breaking down the barriers that prevented people from seeing the love and life that God was offering.

Isn’t that what we are called to do to as well?

I appreciate that people have passionate political positions but it has been disheartening to see Christians embrace the hurtful, harmful and hateful rhetoric of this election. We had an opportunity and still do, to stand and offer an alternative.

Whether you’re a republican or democrat, conservative, or liberal…maybe we can be defined by something even more profound, more powerful. 

We’re called to love our neighbors, not hate them. Even the ones we don’t agree with.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen…Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:29,31-32

We’re called to honour authority

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. Romans 13:1-2

We don’t need to fear authority
For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. Romans 13:3
Respect for authority is in our best interest
Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience. Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. Romans 13:5,7
 Jesus didn’t usher in a political kingdom, even though that is what people wanted. He ushered in a new way to live. A life rooted in a relationship with God through Jesus and one that we are to invite others into.

Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord. Psalm 31:24

After all, our hope will never be found in a president or prime minister.

Why Gratitude Should Go Beyond Thanksgiving Weekend

In Canada, we just celebrated our Thanksgiving holiday by gathering with family and friends, eating huge turkey dinners and taking in a baseball or football game.

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But even a national holiday designed to give us time to celebrate the harvest and all the blessings of the year, doesn’t guarantee that we do it, does it?

And what about the other days of the year? Is thankfulness and gratitude only mandatory on the second Monday in October?

When was the last time you paused, and took time to acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for?

Not surprisingly, there is plenty of research to suggest that gratitude has many benefits when it’s a regular part of our lives.

A Huffington Post article  highlights 10 benefits of gratitude that include better grades, better sleep and better relationships.

Gratitude has the ability to impact so many areas of our lives. It can improve our mental health by reducing stress or more accurately, reduce the effects of stress.

Gratitude also improves our physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in “Personality and Individual Differences”. It’s no surprise then, that grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.

Journalling has long been a well accepted practice for a variety of things but is now gratitude has become a focused benefit of journalling. Just do a Google search on “gratitude journals” and you’ll see just how popular the practice has become.

When we’re grateful, we’re not complaining.

When we’re grateful we’re not focused on ourselves.

When we’re grateful we’re not bitter.

When we’re grateful we have a better outlook on life in general.

The benefits of gratitude shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s just good for us.

Gratitude is a spiritual thing to do too.

“In everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

God wants us to learn to be thankful for all the gifts He has given us. It is in our best interest to be reminded that everything we have is a gift from Him. Without gratefulness, we become arrogant and self-centered; we begin to believe that we have achieved everything on our own. Thankfulness keeps our hearts in right relationship to the Giver of all good gifts.

Giving thanks also reminds us of how much we do have. I think it’s easy for many of us to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we already do have. By giving thanks we are reminded of that. When we focus on blessings rather than wants, we are happier.

When we start thanking God for the things we usually take for granted, our perspective changes. We realize that we could not even exist without the merciful blessings of God.

We can have thankful hearts toward God even when we do not feel thankful for the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can grieve and still be thankful. We can hurt and still be thankful. Giving thanks to God keeps our hearts in right relationship with Him and saves us from a variety of harmful emotions and attitudes that can rob us of the peace God wants us to experience.

Okay, let’s see. Gratitude can lead to better physical and mental health, it can improve our relationships, it can help us avoid greed, complaining and self-centeredness. Gratitude sounds like a good idea.

So how can we gratitude into practice and start to reap it’s benefits? Let me suggest 3.

  1. Pray with gratitude. Maybe, prayer isn’t a normal part of your day. Even if it isn’t, I encourage you to start. Simply tell God what you are thankful for. Don’t make prayer all about what you want from God…start with what you’re grateful you already have.
  2. Write with gratitude. A journal is a great practice. Why not start every day by writing “5 Things” you are grateful for.
  3. Express gratitude. Saying please and thank you are not simply basic manners but hallmarks of gratitude. When was the last time you thanked someone for something they did, or said. When was the last time you let someone know how special they are to you and why? When was the last time you thanked someone for making a significant difference in your life…a family member…a friend…a mentor…a co-worker, boss or employee. The opportunities never end.

So, when was the last time you paused, and took time to acknowledge the people and things you are thankful for? 

Trust me you’ll feel better…honest.

What are you grateful for? What is one thing you can do to express your gratitude this week.

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.

Arnie’s Legacy and Why It Should Matter To Us

The golfing world lost a world-class champion as Arnold Palmer died on the weekend. He will always be considered a legend around the world.

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Golf has had it’s share of great champions over the years but perhaps Arnold Palmer stands out above them all.

His golfing style was unique and his influence in the sport of golf is unmatched.

His professional career coincided with the the advent of television which helped propel him into the world as an ambassador of the game. The game of golf grew as he succeeded as a professional.

But what strikes me now is that his best golf as a professional was over 50 years ago.  And yet he’s as popular now as when he won his first major in 1958.

His Legacy

It seems that the only times we consider our own legacy is during a valedictorian’s graduation speech or someone’s funeral. So here we are again, now in light of Arnold Palmer’s death, faced with questions about life, meaning and purpose. These may seem to be simply philosophical in nature but they get to the core of who we are and why we’re here.

He made the most of what he had been given.

Unlike many golfers, Arnold Palmer, grew up “on the other side of the tracks” the son of a greens keeper in Pennsylvania. Considered a “blue-collar” golfer perhaps endeared him to his fans. He didn’t let his modest beginnings keep him from pursuing his passion. He played the course after hours often accompanied by his mother after the rest of the golfers had finished.

He followed his passion

“The most rewarding things you do in life are often the ones that look like they cannot be done.” Arnold Palmer

He recognized his ability to play the game of golf and worked hard to improve. He had a burning desire for the game and a style all his own. No one did it like he did. His signature swing would be recognized around the world but never duplicated. As his televised career continued to explode, he became a national celebrity.

He left a lasting impact on people

Perhaps, more than his total number of victories (62) or Majors won (7); the reason Arnold Palmer will be remembered with such fondness because of the way he treated people. He was always making eye contact with the fans, shaking hands, signing autographs, establishing a personal connection with everyone he came in contact with.

He inspired others with his focus, passion, ability and love of people. He not only excelled at what he did, but in how he did it. And people loved him for it.

What is your legacy going to be?

I think most people want to be able to someday look back on their lives confident that they made the most of them. I know that’s what I want.

How can we do that?

I believe God has created each one of us with a specific purpose in mind. I don’t know about you but I find that to be an incredible thing; and something to be discovered and lived.

The apostle Paul had no doubt about what his life’s purpose was.

“I no longer consider my life as dear unto myself; only that I fulfill the mission and calling given to me by God himself.” 

Acts 20:24

Passions + skills & abilities + personality = your mission

Your dreams and passions. What do you love to do? What do you do that makes time stand still or cause you to lose track of time altogether.

Your skills and abilities. What comes naturally to you? What do others find difficult that you don’t? What problems do you solve for others?

Your Personality. Are you creative? Do you like to work alone or in a group? Are you analytical? Verbal? Adventurous? Dominant? Solemn? Outgoing? Calm? Logical?

Your Mission Is Your Legacy…Live it Now

As you get clear on these three things, your mission and purpose will as well. When we live according to our passions, abilities and our personality we begin to live our legacy.

Arnold Palmer has left a legacy. You and I will leave a legacy too. So why don’t we live it now.

Q. What do you want your legacy to be and why?

Q. How are you living it now?

Q. What’s hindering you from living a meaningful legacy today?

Feeling stuck? Not sure what to do next? Life coaching can help. Contact me to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call. Lets talk.