Maybe Your Flaws Are Not Flaws After All

The other day at our cafe a customer came over to me and commented on how beautiful our tables are. Hardly a day goes by that someone doesn’t mention them so they come up in conversation a lot. Richard, a friend of ours graciously made them from black walnut before we opened in 2015. They look awesome and add so much to our space.

On this occasion, the man was referring to a particular 4-seat table that sits in the front window and so I proceeded to tell him the story of how this table almost never came to be.

As it was being sanded it split. And at first we weren’t sure how to fix it or even if it could be. But Richard came up with a plan that included adding epoxy to fill in the gaps which in the end, helped turn it into a beautiful, unique piece of furniture.

Of all the tables, it’s my favorite. Like a signature hole on a golf course, this table stands out among the rest of the beautiful tables.

The customer was taken by it as well. Then he said something to me I took notice of…he said, “This table is perfection.”

What a great perspective.

Instead of seeing the split wood and the epoxy-filled hole as flaws, he saw the beauty of the piece as it now was. In fact it stands out because of it’s flaws.

Why Do We See Flaws as Failures?

I think this is easy for us to do…why?

We focus on what we don’t have

When we look at others’ strengths, personalities, abilities etc we can easily be lured into thinking that we don’t measure up, simply because we are different. We inadvertently put a greater importance on what they have rather than what we bring.

Have you ever visited someone in their home you think is nicer than your own? What do you do? You begin to see what yours is missing. Right? We all do it.

We compare ourselves to others

The act of comparison itself sets us up to feel worse about ourselves. I’m not suggesting that we should think too highly of ourselves, but comparing at all can leave us frustrated. Theodore Rosevelt is quoted as saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.”    

We downplay our own uniqueness

Maybe it’s false modesty or true self-loathing but it can be our default to simply minimize even what others see in us. The problem with this mindset is that it’s only when we understand our uniqueness, that we can begin to understand the impact our lives can make.

What You Think Is a Flaw, Is What Makes You Unique

My wife and I are very different…no surprise, right? It’s been said that in relationships, the things that you are originally attracted to can become the very point of contention later on. But if I insisted that Kathy change those things that make her who she is, she’d stop being herself.

What I might see as a flaw is actually her unique character that makes her uniquely awesome.

As family therapy pioneer, Virginia Satir once said, “We come together in our sameness, but grow in our differences.”

Maybe it’s human nature to desire what others have; but what if your flaws are meant to highlight the unique way in which God has created you, to impact the world around you.

Maybe, what you consider to be a flaw is what makes you…you?

At my home church our current sermon series, “What’s The Point” takes a closer look at finding life’s meaning and purpose. Part of that discussion is about understanding how each of us has been designed; that we are all unique in our abilities, personalities, temperaments and passions.

Why on earth would we want to strive to be like someone else?

Your Flaws May Be Your Greatest Contribution

I did some checking and we estimate that over 10,000 people have sat at that 4-seat table since we opened the cafe in 2015. Think of it…

  • the shared family lunches
  • the double dates
  • the friends reunited
  • the birthdays celebrated
  • the numerous work projects completed (free wifi doesn’t hurt)
  • the countless conversations

Imagine if we had decided to scrap it…because of some perceived flaws…flaws that actually set it apart from every other table. In fact there is no other table like it on the planet.

What could have been deemed a flaw has actually become it’s best feature and has served so many.

Q. Are you prone to see your unique features as flaws? Why do you think that is?

Q. Are you using your unique strengths and abilities in ways that honour God and impact your world? Why or why not?

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.

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

What I Overheard At the Salon; But Wish I Didn’t

The other day I was getting my monthly haircut which by the way, considering it takes less than 5 minutes, is probably one of the most expensive things I do on a minute-by-minute basis. But I digress.

Next to me was a woman talking with her stylist about all things TV. She went into great detail about the various shows she loved and the different ways in which she accessed them, including the latest apps she uses to stream programs. Then she went on to tell how she falls asleep every night with her tablet in her lap.

As someone who has struggled to sleep well, I can’t imagine dozing off like that.

The stylist then chimed in with her nightly ritual which included late night TV and binging on Netflix. She too apparently had the same habit of falling asleep with the TV on in her room.

They were quite entertaining and funny, but their habits were not. The more I listened the more concerned I became. I wanted to jump into the conversation, but that’s not really my style. I was imagining the domino effect that just this one particular bedtime habit could have.

Outcomes to falling asleep in front of the TV include things like…

  • poor sleep patterns
  • increased insomnia
  • hindered ability to get up in the morning refreshed
  • vulnerability to depression
  • interference in romantic relationship which could lead to increased relational conflict
  • lack of productivity at work
  • high blood pressure

I could go on.

What concerned me most about the conversation I was privy to, was the resignation in which these women accepted their situation. In fact, they weren’t lamenting their habit at all. They were actually encouraging each other with how to access even more programing. They were essentially taking notes from each other on how to get the most from their respective screens.

The Compound Effect in Reverse

In his book, “The Compound Effect”, Darren Hardy explains the benefits of repeated smart, regular choices over time.

For example, investing small amounts of money on a monthly basis over time will lead to a substantial amount for retirement.

But harmful choices repeated over time can also have a profound impact on our lives.

It’s been said that our futures are determined by our daily habits. I think there’s a lot of truth to that. Think about it. The habits and routines we choose today will influence where we are down the road.

Common Sense?

If we regularly eat burgers and fries we’re going to add unwanted pounds that will deteriorate our health.

If we spend more than we earn, eventually we will be overrun by debt.

If we neglect our spouse, eventually they may look elsewhere for the attention they need.

If we work 80+ hours a week, month after month, year after year, our body may shut down so we can’t work at all.

If we short-change ourselves with sleep, our capacity to function well will disappear…eventually.

How we eat, exercise, work and relate to those around us today will have a direct impact our health, careers and closest relationships ten years from now or even six months from now.

Q. Where do your current habits and routines suggest you’ll be in 6 months? In 1 year? In 5 years?

Q. Is what you are doing today, setting you up for success in the future? Why or why not?

I continue to think about the women I overheard in the salon; and I can’t help but be concerned that their current habit of TV binging will take it’s toll…maybe next week…maybe next month or next year. Maybe next month when I go back for my costly 4 minutes, I’ll get an update.

 

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.