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.

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.

 

Lesson From a Party With Friends

Do this before it's too late

This past weekend Kathy and I were able to get away and spend some time with friends; old friends we don’t see nearly enough anymore.

birthday-celebration-1322480

The occasion was a surprise birthday party for our friend Mack. About 40 of us gathered at his favorite restaurant to celebrate him.

During the night a number of people stepped up to the microphone to share some thoughts about our friend. It was suppose to be a “Roast”, but as many acknowledged, it was hard to roast a guy who simply means so much to us. There were so many wonderful things to say about our friend, that roasting just had to take a back seat.

It was such a great time, reconnecting with people who we have been blessed to know for many years now. The night was a celebration of friendship and I loved that we were able to to give attention to a friend who has meant so much to so many. I was thrilled just to be a part of it.

As I sat and listened to one after another recount the numerous ways in which Mack has blessed them, a strange thought came over me; here it is; “I’m glad we’re doing this now and not at his funeral.”

I told you it was a strange thought, but let me explain.

I’ve been involved in a quite a few funerals over the years. Funerals in my personal life and as a pastor. In fact, the circle of friends that we were hanging out with on Saturday night has experienced more than our share of deaths over the past few years.

So this night was different. We weren’t gathering to memorialize a life that had ended far too early, but celebrating a friend who was still going strong…and it was awesome.

I wonder if we could be doing more of that? I need to do more of that.

Don’t wait until someone is gone to tell them what they mean to you.

Perhaps, a take away from the weekend is that we shouldn’t wait until someone has died to talk about how much they meant to us.

Instead, why don’t we take the time to tell them now, while they are still with us?

I’m not suggesting we don’t already do that, but this weekend reminded me that maybe I need to be more intentional about letting the people that mean the most to me, know that they do…and why.

  • Maybe we don’t express our love and appreciation for those closest to us because we simply aren’t intentional about doing so. Life is busy and it can just get in the way sometimes.
  • Or maybe we assume they know how we feel and we don’t need to repeat it.
  • Or maybe, it’s too awkward to share our feelings with a friend or family member.

Whatever the reason, maybe we can gain a valuable lesson from the birthday party I attended on Saturday. Here are some of my takeaways…

Be intentional: actually take the time to express our feelings to those who mean the most to us. Maybe it’s a phone call or a handwritten card (remember those?) or a few words of appreciation over a coffee. You don’t have to wait for a milestone birthday to do it.  A simple “Thank you” for something they have done or said etc could mean so much.

Push past the awkwardness: it isn’t easy to express feelings for most of us; maybe guys even more. So what. That isn’t an excuse for not doing it, in fact, it’s actually more reason to do it. If it’s awkward and unnatural to tell someone what you appreciate about them or how much you love them, maybe that suggests how meaningful a simple exchange could be…for you and them.

Don’t wait until it’s too late: if attending a lot of funerals does anything, it reminds us that our days are numbered and we don’t know how long we have with those around us. So why not take every opportunity to let them know how we feel about them.

Practice makes it better and easier: If you typically keep things to yourself, sure it may be uncomfortable at first to share your feelings with someone else…start small and get better at it.

Look for opportunities to encourage someone: We can encourage people all around us whether they are close friends & family or not…

  • A simple compliment on how someone looks, or their strength at work….while you’re at it, tell their boss as well.
  • When you introduce them to someone, share something special about them.
  • Tell someone how they have encouraged you or inspired you.

Q. As you read this, who comes to mind? How have they impacted your life and how can you express your gratitude? 

Encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today…” Hebrews 3:13

What’s stopping 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.

 

 

Don’t Be This Person

A couple of weeks ago Kathy and I got away to celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary. Our first night in Toronto included a dinner boat cruise around the harbour.

img_1928

It was a beautiful night, the water was calm and the food was good. We enjoyed a relaxing meal and took in the smells, sights and sounds of the city skyline.

This particular cruise was limited to 40 guests and I imagine the hosts prepared what they thought would be enough food for everyone on board.

After the main course, we eventually made our way to the dessert table only to discover that there seemed to be more people than sweets.  Then I overheard some of the staff expressing their dismay that some guests helped themselves to enough desserts to leave them short.

With guests inquiring as to why they didn’t have something to go with their coffee and tea, the staff continued to scramble. I felt bad for them as they tried to resolve the problem.

Just then I walked by a table where a couple were sitting and they had at least 6 desserts in front of them (I don’t know if they had already eaten some). They appeared to be oblivious to what was going on, but sitting only a few feet from the commotion, I wondered how that was possible.

Hey, in the scheme of things, a few people going without dessert is not a big deal. Most of us could do without anyway, right?

Don’t Be This Person

I was embarrassed for the couple. I guess they were still hungry, but I don’t understand how someone can take so much at the expense of others.

Maybe it has something to do with what marriage counsellor Willard Harley describes as a basic concept he calls the giver and taker:

“All of us want to make a difference in the lives of other. We want others to be happy, and we want to contribute to their happiness. When we feel that way, our Giver is influencing us. The Giver’s rule is do whatever you can to make others happy and avoid anything that makes others unhappy, even if it makes you unhappy. It encourages us to use that rule in our relationships with other people.

But we also want the best for ourselves. We want to be happy, too. When we feel that way, our Taker is influencing us. The Taker’s rule is do whatever you can to make yourself happy, and avoid anything that makes yourself unhappy, even if it makes others unhappy. If that rule ever makes sense to you, it’s because your Taker is in control.

These two primitive aspects of our personality are usually balanced in our dealings with others.”

I want to be a giver not a taker, don’t you?

I guess the couple hoarding the desserts were acting from their “taker” instincts. But what a lousy way to live, don’t you think?

  • Put others first
  • Do unto others
  • Be kind
  • Love your neighbour

These are values that most of us have been taught to live out. To be a giver and not a taker.

Being a giver rather than a taker doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Some things we can give:

  • A smile
  • A compliment
  • A gift
  • Your anticipated parking spot
  • Room to merge
  • A kiss/ hug
  • Effort
  • A donation
  • Your time
  • Wise counsel
  • Forgiveness
  • Your seat on the bus
  • Encouragement

Being a giver rather than a taker is a matter of choice; a daily choice that becomes a habit; a habit that then can become a way of life. So don’t be that person. Be a giver not a taker.

I recently launched my first book and in the spirit of giving I’d love to give you a free copy. The book is called, “Parenting From Prison: 5 Lessons From Kids Behind bars.” 

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00069]

In it, I share my experience of speaking to about 50 teenagers at a juvenile detention centre in Ohio. It was a privilege to spend time there, not only sharing my story but hearing some of theirs as well. We spent about an hour in Q&A and some of their questions are highlighted in the book, as they point to specific parenting principles.

I you would like a copy or know of someone who might benefit form it, please for to the link below to get your free copy now.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0G4K6T#nav-subnav

https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B01M0G4K6T

The book is free for about 48 hours so please get it ASAP. And hey, if you would, leave a review on Amazon, that would be awesome. Thanks so much.

A Perfect Day For An Imperfect Father

For me it was a perfect day. My family was together, we enjoyed a beautiful day and swimming in the pool, (something we didn’t do all last summer) we BBQ’d and played games to cap off the night.

A Perfect Day For An Imperfect Father

13450800_10154727120770663_9220148126274885836_n

Kathy and I are often asked about how we parented our kids who are now 21 & 19.  To be honest, I think they have often made us look better than we were. I am very proud of who they are for sure; but maybe in spite of our parenting as much as because of it.

Regardless, from the very beginning we were intentional about who we wanted to be as parents and what kind of family we envisioned. Before Megan was born we participated in parenting courses, read books and talked to parents who were ahead of us.

Eventually though, you just have to get in the game. Apparently even when you don’t want to. Let’s go back in time.

Kathy and I got married with the understanding that we would not have children. Not that we couldn’t, but that we wouldn’t. I won’t go into the details here, but that was a very clear expectation for me.

We didn’t talk about children much, as it was understood that we just weren’t having them. In fact, 5 years into our marriage, we affirmed our commitment to that end while on a vacation…it was the summer of ’94. I brought it up just to be sure that we were still on the same page…we weren’t having children.

To make a long story short, I think our commitment and celebration of said commitment actually lead to Megan.

That Fall I was in my final year of Seminary and one day I returned home from classes in Toronto to be greeted by Kathy who was crying uncontrollably. I had no idea what was going on when she said, “I have something I have to tell you.”

My mind started racing and I didn’t like where it was going. Did someone die? Did she have an affair? I had no idea. Until she calmed down long enough to say, “I’m pregnant.”

“Honey, I’m Pregnant”

Oh man, I was relieved. Of all the things I thought she might say, being pregnant wasn’t one of them, but I’m glad it was. Maybe at first because it was better than all the other options I had come up with.

So Megan was born 3 weeks after I graduated from Seminary. Life would never be the same and 5 minutes later she is 21 and Alex is 19.

And this Fathers Day I am grateful.

My life is richer because they are a part of it

I didn’t want children for selfish reasons. I didn’t want to parent a child who potentially could be like me. All I was thinking about was me. But I didn’t realize at the time, that my life would be richer because of them.

I remember watching the kids play in the local park…they were about 7 & 5. I was with my mentor when I asked him, “How to help them avoid the kind of life I lived as a teenager?”

He was very gracious in his response by suggesting that I already had by the way I parented them and loved them. While I appreciated his kind words I wasn’t confident that the next 10 years would not be extremely difficult.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart. It requires so much of you…and that’s the best part. Children need you in different ways at different stages of their lives. You learn more about them and you learn more about yourself too. 

I have loved every stage…and each one is better than the last. I wouldn’t want to go back. I look forward to what’s next. I love watching them grow and change.

Parenting is hard work that doesn’t always seem to pay off in the moment. And we’ve had our challenges as a family for sure. But I am grateful for the privilege of raising two children. I’m a better person and my life has been richer because they are in it.

 The world is better because they are in it

 Megan & Alex not only make our family better, they make the world better. For me, the most important part of their school report cards were the evaluations at the end. Not their grades but how they interacted with others, with teachers etc. Their character was more important than their grades.

Don’t get me wrong, my kids aren’t perfect. Their dad isn’t perfect and neither are they. But I am grateful for the way they choose to live their lives. I still learn from them. In some ways I need to become more like them. And I’m okay with that.

While the list of things I would like a “do over” for is long, on this Fathers Day, I am grateful. Grateful that my plans to not have a family were thwarted by a greater plan. And grateful for children that have made my life richer and the world better.

 

Dan

A Relationship That Changed My Life…And Can Change Yours Too

I can look back over my life and identify numerous people who have had an impact in my life. My parents, colleagues, close friends and mentors.

Keith is one person who stands out for me.

We met 36 years ago…I was 14 and he was the guest speaker at summer camp. He was also the leader of my cabin (I suspect, because no one else wanted me). It was an uneventful week really, but I thought he was alright…as old people go. He was 8 years younger than I am now.

Someone’s Knocking At The Door

The following year, Keith came on staff as youth pastor at my church. A church I had grown up in with my family.

I remember the first time we were reunited, just over a year after meeting at camp…it was 4pm on a Thursday afternoon and Keith was at my front door.

I was not impressed.

I was not hospitable or engaging…Keith came inside but I don’t remember saying anything other than, “What do you want?”

By all accounts it would have appeared to be a non-starter as far as a potential relationship was concerned.

You see, by this time, I had essentially turned my back on my faith, my family and started down a self-destructive path.

When I finally got Keith out the door, I figured that was the end of that. But the next Thursday at 4pm Keith showed again…and the week after that, and the week after that. I wasn’t sure what motivated him to do it since I certainly wasn’t inviting him.

But slowly, after many awkward visits, things slowly began to change…I actually looked forward to his visits and a friendship of sorts began.

Within a couple of years Keith moved on to another ministry position in British Columbia, but not before we forged a bond that has stood the test of time. About 36 years now.

Over that time, our relationship as morphed from pastor/ troubled kid, to father/son, to colleagues in ministry.

Throughout, Keith has been a mentor to me. He has modelled so much and I have learned so much from him. He has influenced me as a parent, a pastor and husband. He has modelled a strong work ethic, integrity, faithfulness and perseverance. He has taught me things without saying a word.

For example, he never said, “Stop doing this or that.” Even though I was doing many things that I needed to stop doing. He taught me to believe in, who people can become, not just who they are. To love who they are becoming regardless of where they are at.

He modelled who God is…patient, loving and full of grace. Keith would tell tell you that I was the meanest kid he had ever met in his life…and as a youth pastor he had met thousands. But that didn’t stop him from pursuing me and loving me at my worst, believing there was something better ahead.

I’ve been visiting Keith at his home in Ohio over the past few days doing what we do best…talking and drinking coffee. I shared my story with the Jr/Sr high group on Sunday as well. Time with Keith is always refreshing, encouraging and life-giving.

Sometimes it’s still hard to believe how our relationship happened and how it not only survived but flourished all these years. Our relationship has survived hard times, long distances and various life changes.

The reality is, I may not be writing this blog, I might not be, period, if God hadn’t brought Keith into my life. I’m so grateful.

This past Sunday I spoke to a group of young people to talk about the difference between being familiar with who God is and having a personal relationship with Him. And that everyone needs a Keith in their life.

  • Someone who steps out of their comfort zone to engage you.
  • Someone who believes you are worth the effort to get to know.
  • Someone who believes you are more than your worst choices and current self.
  • Someone who sees your potential, even when it’s virtually invisible.
  • Someone who loves you, not for what you’ve done or not done.
  • Someone who is in it for the long haul.

“Most people can do absolutely awe-inspiring things. Sometimes they just need a little nudge.” ~ Timothy Ferriss

Q. Do you have someone like that in your life? If not, consider who that might be? Who is just ahead of you, someone you respect and would like to learn and grow with?

  • Pray about who that might be
  • Approach them to see if there is a potential mentor relationship there.
  • Set out clear expectations.
  • Commit to it.

Q. Can you be that person for someone else?

  • Who could you benefit from your life experience, wisdom and compassion?
  • Contact them and take them out for a coffee
  • Engage them and discover their story
  • See where it goes.

You might be the difference in someone’s life as Keith has been for me. What an awesome opportunity!

 

 

 

Another Objection to “Living Your Best Life Now”

Last week I addressed a question that I was asked in response to my current series of posts titled, “Live Your Best Life Now.” The question suggested that pursuing our best life now, was a selfish pursuit. You can read more about it here.

Today, I’d like to raise another (legitimate) concern. In another conversation I had recently, someone asked if “all this talk about pursuing our dreams and setting long -range goals…” was an indication of discontentment. “Shouldn’t we just be content with who we are?” They quoted from the Bible to support their assumption, “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (1 Timothy 6:6)

I think this is a great question and one to be considered carefully. Paul, wrote those words and also, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances…whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in want or in plenty.” (Phil 4:11)

Perhaps at first glance it does appear that pursuit of our best life now is at odds with the command to be content.

Contentment seems to be a mindset about our current circumstances, especially as it relates to what we have, or don’t have. Whether you and I have much or little, our contentment is not dictated by that.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Content or Comfortable

What if contentment is an excuse for comfort (dare I say laziness). In the Bible, contentment appears to be an attitude rather than an achievement. It also is closely connected with money or lack of it. Contentment cannot be achieved with more money. The love and pursuit of money, is a result of a lack of contentment.

“He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have.” – Socrates

But does contentment in our current circumstances preclude us from pursuing goals, following our dreams and passions, or wanting to grow and change?

Divine Discontent

Ralph Waldo Emerson talked about the concept— “divine discontent.”

“I see young men, my townsmen, whose misfortune it is to have inherited farms, houses, barns, cattle, and farming tools; for these are more easily acquired than got rid of. Better if they had been born in the open pasture and suckled by a wolf, that they might have seen with clearer eyes what field they were called to labor in.”

“It is my belief that authentic vocational success is tied to our spiritual well-being—the identification of those inner gifts and talents that need to be used for us to feel fulfilled. Now I don’t want this to be so “spiritual” that we can’t find real application, but work has to provide more than just an income.” – Dan Miller

It’s Not About Getting More, It’s About Being More

What are your dreams and passions? What do you want? “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. ” (Psalm 37:4)

What are the skills and abilities you have been blessed with. “You are fearfully and wonderfully made.” (Psalm 139:14)

Pat Flynn says we all have an “unfair advantage” based on our personal experiences, our story and our abilities. What comes naturally to you that doesn’t for others? We tend to minimize the things that come easy or natural to us. We see them as unimportant or simply things that anyone can do.

Do you know your calling? (not your career or job) “We are God’s masterpiece. He has created us in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10)

The Lazy Servant

Jesus tells a story about three servants who were entrusted with a certain amount of money unique to each of them. The first 2 put it to work, but the third did nothing with it and was chastised for it. (Matt 25:14-23) Why? Because he was given something with which he did nothing! Was he content to simply hide the money until his boss came back? Or was he too lazy to put it to work? 

What have you been given? Time, gifts, abilities, health, relationships, work and our resources. How are you using what you have?

Maybe contentment is being satisfied with what we have (verses comparing what we have to what others have) but not an excuse for not pursuing what we can become.

The issue isn’t what we have or how much we have, but what we do with what we have.  

So what do you think? Are you content? Can we experience contentment and discontent at the same time?

Does contentment mean we shouldn’t pursue our best life now? Why or why not?

I’d love to hear your thoughts…leave me a message below.

 

If you have questions or would like to explore life coaching but you’re not sure where to begin, contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Is Pursuing Your Dreams Selfish?

Last week we wrapped up a 5-part series called, “5 Keys To Living Your Best Life Now” and I have received a lot of feedback, comments and questions. And today I would like to address a great question I was asked recently.

In my conversation with this particular individual I could see she was struggling with the basic premise of the series of blog posts I had written. Eventually she was able to ask the question that was troubling her,

“Isn’t it selfish to focus our attention on pursuing a better life?”

She went on to say that there seems to be a lot of attention (through articles and books etc) given to pursuing our dreams, living our passions and striving for more. “Everywhere I turn I see the same questions. Are you following your passions, living your dreams.” And to her, this seems to be a selfish way to live. And apparently my blog posts were adding to her frustration.

I think this is a great question. Is it selfish to focus our attention on what we want, who we want to be, and what we want to accomplish in our lives? Is is selfish to want to live your best life now?

man-at-work-1237421

To me it comes down to motivation. The why? Let me illustrate. A few years ago, after coming in from cutting the lawn, my son asked me why I spend so much time on cutting the grass. (I didn’t think I was out there that long).

I explained by saying that besides the enjoyment of working outdoors and working up a sweat in the sun (a pre-requisite to jumping in the pool) taking care of the things we have is important. We have a lawn so we should care for it; cut it, fertilize it and water it. (I have to admit I rarely do the that last one).

Stewardship

I believe that each of us is called to steward what we have. To mange it and take care of it. As a Christian, I believe God has given us specific things to manage during our lifetime.

  • I have a home. So we must care for it…which is why we put a new roof on it last fall (I didn’t want to but our home needed one).
  • I have a car. So I got an oil change last week as part of it’s regular maintenance. Why? Because that’s what a car needs to keep it running.
  • I worked out this morning. Why? Because I enjoy a measure of health and I don’t want to squander it by being sedentary. Plus, taking care of myself will impact the other areas of my life.

Stewardship Beyond Your Possessions

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 steward them. So for me, pursuing my best life now is hopefully not a selfish endeavor but a matter of stewarding who God has made me to be.

In an earlier post I shared 3 reasons why we should pursue our dreams you can read about them here

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.

A Different Question

Earlier I shared the question, “Is it selfish to pursue your best life now?” A valid question for sure, but I’d like to suggest another.

Is it selfish NOT to pursue your best life now?

If each of us have been a measure of, health, financial resources, relationships, work, and also skills & abilities, a particular personality style, passions and dreams…would it not be selfish not to make the most of them? What is the alternative? To simply accept where we are with no thought to how we can grow, get stronger or get better seems selfish to me.

If you are a Pittsburgh Steeler fan than you know who Martavis Bryant is. Martavis is a wide receiver for the Steelers and has incredible talent. He made one of the most amazing catches you will ever see, this past season. Unfortunately, he failed a second drug test and is now suspended for the entire upcoming season. I feel terrible for Martavis and I hope he gets the help and guidance he needs to change the direction his life is going currently. He has incredible skills and opportunities to display them on the football field. But some poor choices and personal problems will keep him on the side line.

It’s not about getting more, it’s about being more

What would it mean to you and those around you, if you saw your health, your relationships, your finances, your family and your work, as gifts and opportunities that need attention, to be cared for and developed? That’s true stewardship. That’s a worthy pursuit. That’s living your best life now.

So how about it?

Are you living your best life now? Or are you delaying making the changes you know you want to make?

What changes would make the biggest difference for you and why? What is stopping you from making those changes and making them now?

 

If you have questions or would like to explore life coaching but you’re not sure where to begin, contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute Discovery Call. Let’s talk.

Simply fill out the form below and we can arrange a conversation. I look forward to it.

Five Keys To Living Your Best Life Now (Part 5)

As I write this, it’s International Women’s Day (March 8) so I’d like to recognize the three most incredible women I know. My awesome wife Kathy, who has put up with me for over 26 years. My daughter Megan who amazes me more and more every day, and my mom, who raised me and has been my biggest cheerleader, faithfully through the good, bad and the ugly.

Years ago, while I was still living at home, I was talking with my mom about my future. Things like marriage, careers and families. I remember being concerned about how much it would cost not only to get married but to be married. My mom looked at me and said, “If you wait until you can afford it, you’ll never do it.”

Today we wrap up “Five Keys To Living Your Best Life Now” and ask the question, “What are you waiting for?” What is stopping you from Living Your Best Life NOW?

calendar-1568148

Key #5 Live Your Best Life NOW

My mom was trying to tell me that as long as I come up with excuses for not doing something, even something as important as getting married, it’ll never happen.

I think most of us are good at coming up with “reasons” why we can’t or won’t do something. But when it comes to living our best life…why not now? What are you waiting for?

Over the course of this short series, we’ve broken down the phrase “Live Your Best Life Now” by looking at each word, one at a time.

  • Part 1 – choosing to live rather than to simply watch others live
  • Part 2 – choosing to live your life, not someone else’s plan for our life
  • Part 3 – deciding to live up to our potential, rather than squander it
  • Part 4 – recognizing that all the areas of our life (relationships, career, health, finances etc) matter and are interconnected

“Teach us to number our days” Ps 90:12

When I think about the first 20 years of my life, it seems like they went on and on and on. When I consider the last 20 years, they seem to have passed by so quickly. Maybe it’s because I’m 50 and life seems to be flying by but I think that is all the more reason to choose to live my best life now!

Or maybe it’s because…

  • my dad died at 54 and I’m not much younger
  • this morning I discovered a close friend is scheduled to have quadruple bypass surgery in 2 days
  • my children are “suddenly” adults
  • I’ve been married for 26 years now and the conversation with my mom seems like yesterday
  • I meet people regularly who are overwhelmed and unfulfilled

What does it mean to “number our days”? I think it means, to evaluate the use of our time in light of the brevity of life.

What’s The Alternative?

Whether we have 6 months or 60 years yet to live, why wouldn’t we want to live our best life NOW?

What’s stopping you from making the changes you want to make in your life? Do any of these resonate with you?

  • When this busy season is over
  • When I save enough
  • I’ll start next month
  • I don’t have time
  • After my next promotion
  • I don’t know where to start
  • I’m overwhelmed
  • What’s the point, nothing will ever change
  • What if I fail

Are you living your best life now? Or are you delaying making the changes you know you want to make?

What changes would make the biggest difference for you and why? What is stopping you from making those changes and making them now?

If you have questions or would like to explore life coaching but you’re not sure where to begin, contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute call. Let’s talk.

Simply fill out the form below and we can arrange a conversation. I look forward to it.

 

Five Keys To Living Your Best Life Now (Part 4)

I remember the day clearly. It was early 2006 and a severe winter storm was passing through so I bundled up to go out and shovel the driveway. I don’t mind shovelling snow most days, but this time was different. After I was done, I came inside and suddenly I could hardly breath, my head was pounding and my body hurt from head to toe. It hurt for days.

I finally just admitted that I was out of shape. I talked a with a good friend to devise a health plan including joining a gym, but I just couldn’t see how I could fit into my life. He said, “You have to make it happen.” Eventually Kathy and I both joined a local gym and committed to working out 3 times a week. We also began running trails and eventually even completing the 30km “Around The Bay Race” in Hamilton. (It wasn’t pretty but we crossed the finish line.)

A Clear Sign Your Life Is Out Of Balance

That day out in the storm clearing my driveway and the subsequent pain from it, was a clear indicator that something was wrong. My health was not what it should have been because I had neglected it. A reminder that my life was out of balance.

In Gary Collins book, “Christian Coaching”, Chris McCluskey, founder and president of the Professional Christian Coaching Institute describes a very interesting perspective on life balance.

In the diagram below you see a triangle with the words worship, work and play. Chris suggests that after accounting for utilitarian activities like eating and showering etc most of what we do each day can fall into one of these broadly defined activities.

Worship, is time spent at church, personal spiritual activities like prayer & solitude. It could also include volunteering or simply taking time to soak in a sunset or some other expression of nature that causes us to acknowledge God’s presence.

Work, is what takes up a large amount of our time. Work includes our jobs, paying bills, mowing the lawn or buying groceries. “Like worship, work should require something from us as well as something that we get back. It is satisfying to put in a good day’s work, to know the bills are paid, to see the freshly mowed lawn and to have the pantry stocked.”

Play, according to McCluskey is the final ingredient in a well-balanced life. What you consider play will be different from me but whatever it is, it will require focused time and effort and perhaps an investment of money. Whether playing on a hockey team, enjoying a hobby, reading or exercising, play, like worship and work requires something of us. “True play will always feed your soul.”

Where Do Things Go Wrong?

You’ll notice in the diagram that there is an arrow from one word to the other. This is to illustrate how things get off track. McCluskey says that “Particularly in Western culture, we tend to worship our work. That’s what we sacrifice to make the focus of our lives.  It’s where we derive our sense of security and our sense of worth.” We also turn play into work. We often turn play into competition. Winning becomes more important than playing. And when that happens, play stops being play and stops feeding us and fueling us.

I think that’s the main reason I don’t play fantasy sports leagues. There’s one for every major sport. But I never participate because if I did, I’d never be able enjoy another game, just for the sake of the game.

Chris goes on to suggest that we also then play at worship. It’s not a priority perhaps just an after thought. “Consequently our worship doesn’t allow God to fill us. We are starved spiritually.”

“When we worship work, work at our play and play at our worship, we are completely out of balance. Nothing is able to nourish us. Work reaches the point of diminishing returns and play and worship aren’t given the priority they need in order to feed us as only they can.” – Chris McCluskey

Key #4 Live Your Best LIFE Now

“Life balance is not about spending the same amount of time, money and energy on each life area equally. But rather giving each life area the attention it needs.” 

In part one of this series, we were encouraged to assess “every” area of our lives. To score them out of 10. To live your best life now, you need to consider your health, your finances, relationships, career, personal development and spiritual life. Success in one area while failing in another is not success, and not your best life. For example, if you are pouring all your energy into your work while ignoring your health, you are not living your best life.

A balanced life:

  • Allows us to be present; in the moment, free from distraction
  • Allows us to be fully engaged at work
  • Allows us to worship while not being preoccupied with work.
  • Allows us the freedom to play while not being distracted by things at the office
  • Places value on all areas of life
  • Is a result of clear values
  • Is intentional
  • Has a plan for every area of life

So are you living your best LIFE now? Why or why not? What changes would make the biggest difference for you and why? What is stopping you from making those changes?

If you have questions or would like to explore life coaching but you’re not sure where to begin, contact me to arrange an initial free 30 minute call. Let’s talk.

Simply fill out the form below and we can arrange a conversation. I look forward to it.