Thursday, March 20, 2014

Well worth the effort.

“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
- Thomas Edison

Our great-grandfathers knew what it meant to work hard. They hauled hay all day long, making sure that the cows got fed.  The meaning of hard work in a manual economy is clear. Without the leverage of machines and organizations, working hard meant producing more. Producing more, of course, was the best way to feed your family.

Today for a lot of the "technologically advanced world" the word “work” has come to mean something to be avoided and granted it is measured differently because most of us don't have to get up every morning and work in the way previous generations have done.  But there’s value in work and work matters. Not just for the money you can earn, but from the people we get to become through it. Hard work draws out talents and increases capacities and helps us discover who we are.

“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”- Calvin Coolidge

I don’t know what challenges you face right now. But I will bet that in order to meet them successfully it will require you to do some hard work.  Work of course is not always fun and it can be a grind but that does not diminish its intrinsic value nor should it deter us from having dreams, visions, and goals.

So let's examine our motivation:  In what areas of our life are we being called to work harder at work worth doing?

Whether it’s the inner work of transforming the way we live our life becoming more of who God wants us to be, or the outer “roll up our sleeves and setting our alarm early” work it will be well worth it to put in the has been proven by many before us.

Remember, you are needed. There is important work to be done that will not be done unless you do it. Catherine Pulsifer

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Builder

An experienced carpenter decided it was time to retire. He told his employer of 20 years of his plans to leave the house building business and live a less rigorous life and enjoy a more time with his wife.  Although he needed the paycheck, he also needed a different lifestyle. It would be somewhat of a struggle for him and his wife, but they could get by.

His boss was sorry to see his long time worker and great employee go, and asked if he could build just one more house, as a personal favor. The carpenter said yes, as he could really use the money, but in time, it was easy to see that his heart was not in his work.

He did not do his usual great work but resorted to shoddy workmanship and used inferior materials, he hurriedly finished the job to collect his final paycheck.

When he completed his work and his employer came to inspect the house, the owner of the business handed the front-door key to the carpenter. "This is your house," he said, "my gift to you for your many years of service, you deserve it"

What a shock! What should have been a moment of joy and gratefulness was now a moment of shame. If he had only known he was building his own house, he would have done it all so differently, he thought.

Now he had to live in the home he had not built to the best of his ability.

We are all building something each and everyday....our life.  We should build wisely, for in the end we will live in what we built.

1 Corinthians 9: 26-27 (The Message) I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Every tomorrow has two handles....

Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.
Henry Ward Beecher

What relationship with the future will you choose?

Some people believe that tomorrow is likely to be better. Better opportunities, better technology, a brave new day to make a new kind of  difference.

Others think that yesterday was a lot better than today. Tomorrow represents diminished resources, fewer opportunities, one step closer to the end.

Yes the future is unpredictable and represents that dreaded word "change".

But the future isn't so much about absorbing or tolerating change, it's about making change.

The thing is, the future happens. Every single day, like it or not. Sure, tomorrow is risky, frightening and in some way represents one step closer to the end. But it also brings with it the possibility of better and the chance to do something that matters.

So here is what I know, we can live with confidence because God wants to give us hope and holds our future (Jeremiah 29:11). So let's step into the future, trust God and grab the handle of faith because "It’s what we trust in but don’t yet see that keeps us going." 2 Corinthians 5:7 (The Message)

a large portion of this post I credit to the ever inspiring agent of change Seth Godin.  Thanks Seth for reminding us to do things that matter in this world!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Illusion

Am I seeing what I think I am seeing?

In Potsdam, Germany,  two artists decided to make a tree levitate, or at least give the appearance of such. After many hours using tin foil and some meticulously detailed spray-painting, Daniel Siering and Mario Shu made a tree look as though it had been bisected while remaining upright--with a chunk of empty air.

I think culture is continually trying to condition us to believe there is a real "levitating tree", an "easy button", or we actually can buy those "magic beans".  

Is it impossible to get that job we have always wanted, to get our big break, to be discovered, or to win the big game with 1 second left on the clock? 
No it is not impossible, but it is usually not magical either. When it does happen it usually doesn't just magically really is more of an illusion.  We see the tree levitating (or the overnight success) but we did not see all of the hard work and hours (months or years or decades) that it took to make the "illusion" happen.

"If the people knew how hard I had to work to gain my mastery, it wouldn't seem wonderful at all." — Michelangelo

As much as we would like an easy road or a short cut or a "break" (and they can happen) it usually is not norm.  This is not a new concept, the first century Roman philosopher Seneca is credited with saying, "Luck is the crossroads where opportunity and preparation meet".  Basically, there is only the illusion of luck and success doesn't just happen it comes from preparation to be ready for the opportunities.  

Abraham Lincoln said it this way:

"If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I'd spend six sharpening my axe."

The illusion of overnight success is just illusion.  So be encouraged, the hard work you are doing, the education you are achieving, the training you are sweating through is preparing you for those moments when opportunities and your preparation meet.  Keep at it and you will be ready and at that moment you will have created your own levitating tree. :-)

"It's not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." — Paul "Bear" Bryant (Legendary University of Alabama football coach)

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

SING ANYWAY....some thoughts on resilience.

Journalist Hara Estroff Marano wrote: 

"Resilience may be an art, the ultimate art of living, at the heart of resilience is a belief in oneself--yet also a belief in something larger than oneself. Resilient people do not let adversity define them. They find resilience by moving towards a goal beyond themselves, transcending pain and grief by perceiving bad times as a temporary state of affairs.”

For most of us sooner or later life throws us a major curve ball or two. And most likely we will have to survive personal and professional adversity repeatedly.

Marano’s remarks about being resilient and surviving adversity really resonate with me. I think that no matter what we do, pursuing anything worthwhile takes a large dose of resiliency.

Regardless of how sharp, clever, or happy-go-lucky we are we will encounter struggle, challenges, difficulties and at times, heart wrenching moments.

This is the moment we decide who we are, who we will be, and how we will survive.  

The Bible has something great to say about this in James 1:2-4 (NIRV)

Your faith will be put to the test. You know that when that happens it will produce in you the strength to continue. The strength to keep going must be allowed to finish its work. Then you will be all you should be.

In a culture that would rather escape or have instant gratification it is hard to cultivate courage, endurance, and faith but history continually points to those that persevered and believed as the ones who achieved greatly and showed us we can too.

"Some days there won't be a song in your heart. Sing anyway.” ― Emory Austin