“Try to look at your weakness and convert it into your strength. That’s success.”

Zig Ziglar

Saturday night, Leanne and I went to the Walnut Street Theater for a performance of Saturday Night Fever.  We had a great evening in the city.  We started with sushi at Fat Salmon on Walnut Street.  Then we strolled through the historic district taking in Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell on a beautiful night.  We wandered back over to Walnut Street for some ice cream at Scoop DeVille before heading over to our show.

The show itself was excellent – filled with lots of music and dancing.  The audience was full of people who were excited to be there.  During the customary intermission, Leanne and I walked down stairs to Barrymore’s to stretch our legs and use the rest rooms prior to the second half of the show.  As we climbed the steps back up to our normal mezzanine seats, Leanne moved on ahead of me.  My legs were moving a little slow, and Leanne noticed.  My knees haven’t been nearly as flexible as they were, and it’s probably time I do something about it.

I am fairly active.  I go to the gym 4-5 times a week, and I want to remain active for a long time.  Unfortunately, my running and jumping over the years has taken it’s toll on my knees, and I haven’t taken all the measures I should have to keep my knees strong and flexible.  It’s time to take action!

As I was thinking about my knees, I realized my path forward might help others to overcome some of their pains and weaknesses.  Today, I’ll help you identify a clear-cut plan for tackling your area of weakness.

5 Actions to Help You Overcome Your Weakness

  1. Recognize my areas of weakness.  Obviously, I need to do something to improve the flexibility and strength of my knees.  What is your area of weakness?  If you need help finding it, ask your wife (or a good, honest friend).
    “Growth begins when we begin to accept our own weakness.”
    Jean Vanier
  2. Decide to do something about it.  I have a choice.  I can put up with my knees as they are knowing they may only get worse, or I can do something about it.  This is my choice, and I have to make the choice for myself.  What are you going to do about your weakness?  You can do nothing, or today could be the day you decide to change something in your life to positively move you forward.
    “Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.”

  3. Seek out help.  I’m an engineer, not a doctor.  In the case of my knees, it’s time for me to seek out professional help – a physical therapist should be able to help me.  Who can help you overcome your weakness?  Schedule an appointment with them today.

    “Nothing makes one feel so strong as a call for help.”
    Pope Paul VI
  4. Follow the instructions.  See a physical therapist for me knees doesn’t do me a lot of good if I don’t follow his instructions.  I must be willing to take the time to stretch and strength train if I want to see real improvement with my knees.  What instructions do you need to follow in order to overcome your weakness?  Are you following the instructions?
    “It’s about discipline. It’s about following instructions. It’s about the execution of the plan. That’s what sport is.”
    Ian Millar
  5. Take preventative measures.  I’m confident my knees will get better if I take the first steps; however, they will quickly return to their current state if I don’t continue with preventative measures.  It’s easy to step with the instructions provided by experts once we feel we’ve arrived.  We must remember the actions we took to overcome our weaknesses, and we must be diligent in staying with these actions so we don’t slip into our old pains and patterns.
    “Treatment without prevention is simply unsustainable.”
    Bill Gates

What steps have you found helpful when it comes to overcoming an area of weakness or pain in your life?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

“Switching from one career to another can be scary, but it also can be a thrilling experience. Look at it as an opportunity to really go after what you want to accomplish in life and make a difference in the world. The key is to take small, conscious steps and prepare yourself for a successful transition.”

Jack Canfield

Today is a significant day in my career.  I officially start a new position as the head of a department responsible for providing building automation solutions throughout Eastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey, and Northern Delaware.  I’m excited about this step and opportunity to serve and lead at a greater level.  As I head into this new adventure, I’m working through a number of things I want to mark my leadership in this position.  Today, I’ve give you a glimpse into my head.

9 Essentials As I Transition Into A New Leadership Role At Work

  1. Stay humble.  It’s important to understand the legacy left by my predecessors.  It’s also important to recognize the experience and knowledge of those around me.  I must lean on my team.  I can’t do everything, because I don’t have time and I probably don’t have all the skills that my team members bring to the team.  I must set up a pattern for delegation and empowerment, so my team feels like they are part of the solution and like they are prepared to take on a greater leadership role in the organization when the time is right.  How can I lift others up today?
  2. Stay positive.  It’s easy to let the stresses and challenges of our work bring us down.  As a leader in the organization, it is critical that I remain positive.  I can be realistic in the face of adversity and still be positive.  What was great about today?
  3. Stay grateful.  Obviously, I’m thankful for my new job.  I need to make sure I express my appreciation to those around me.  I want to continue my practice of writing handwritten thank you notes as I move into this position.  I want those around me to know how much I appreciate them.  Who do I need to thank today?
  4. Lead with integrity.  Be truthful.  Expect integrity from my team.  “Always hand out the credit and keep the blame.”  Dave Ramsey  Recognize, admit, and take action to correct my mistakes.  Get others to hold me accountable to leading with integrity.  Have a led with complete integrity today?
  5. Have fun.  “They don’t call it [work] fun for a reason.”  Have you ever heard that statement?  There is some truth to that.  Work will not always be fun.  There will be challenges and serious conversations along the way.  As a leader, I have the opportunity to make sure my team knows it’s okay to have fun while getting the work done.  How can I have fun at my job today?
  6. Keep serving.  Moving into a bigger leadership role does not remove me from the responsibility (and privilege) I have to serve my co-workers and my customers.  In fact, an attitude of service is important to having a correct perspective when it comes to your team.  I am not just advancing my career and providing income for my family; I am responsible for my entire team and their families.  I want to lead from a servant’s perspective.  How can I help my team today?
  7. Keep listening.  A successful leader listens and gathers facts before giving their input.  In the midst of a demanding schedule, I must make sure I take time to listen to my team.  Keeping my door open as much as possible and having regular one-on-one meetings with my team members will be two of the ways I practice listening as I move into this new role.  What is my team trying to tell me today?
  8. Keep learning.  Leaders are readers, and leaders are learners.  I’ll continue to plug into leadership resources to help me become a better leader.  Thanks to a recommendation from a friend, I recently picked up two books which will help me as I transition into my new position:  The First 90 Days (Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels) by Michael Watkins and The New Leader’s 100 Day Action Plan (How to Take Charge, Build or Merge Your Team, and Get Immediate Results) by George B. Bradt, Jayme A. Check, and John A. Lawler.  What did I learn today?
  9. Keep stretching.  If you aren’t stretching and growing, you aren’t really living.  I look at this new career transition as an opportunity to stretch.  I don’t know what will happen in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead, but I know that embracing the stretch will be critical to the success of my team and me.  Part of this stretching experience requires me to take action.  My leadership cannot be based on lip service; it must be based on action.  Actions speak way louder than words.  What do I need to do to stretch today?

“Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions.”

Harold S. Geneen

 

What am I missing?  What steps have you taken to become a better leader in your organization?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

Several years ago, I had the brilliant idea that our family should become chicken farmers.  We ordered baby chicks from a good friend, and I set out to build a chicken coop – actually a deluxe chicken palace.  Our chicken coup had two floors, a four-seater nesting box, and spectacular picture window.

When our baby chicks arrived via the U.S. Postal Service, our adventure began.  For the first several weeks, we kept the chickens in the shed under a heat lamp.  Over time, the small baby chicks grew feathers and became big enough to move to the chicken palace I had constructed earlier.

Our chicken raising experience brought us many amazing stories and delicious farm-fresh eggs.

When we were getting ready for the baby chicks to arrive,I had a couple of challenging conversations with my son, Isaac. Here’s how it went:

On my way to my saxophone lesson with both kids in the car on Saturday morning…
Isaac: “Dad, what happens if we crack an egg and there’s a chicken inside?”
Hannah: Snicker…
Pause
Me: “Well, we won’t have to worry about that, because we aren’t getting any roosters.”
Another pause.
Isaac: “What do roosters have to do with it?”
Hannah: Snicker, snicker…
A longer pause.
Me: “Well, you can’t have baby chickens without roosters.”
Isaac: “Oh…”
Me: “Maybe, we should talk about this later.”
That evening while I was washing the dishes, Isaac is hanging around me…
Me: “You remember that conversation we had this morning about the chickens and the roosters?”
Isaac: “Yes.”
Me: “Well, maybe we should talk about that some more.”
Brief pause.
Isaac: “I think that will be an uncomfortable conversation.”
Me: “No kidding.”
A few weeks later, Isaac and I were alone in the car on the way to the mall, and we had a chance to discuss the 30,000 foot view of the fact that roosters and chickens were needed to have baby chickens just like dads and moms were necessary to have babies. We didn’t get into all the details, but this laid the foundation for more conversations.
As I think about this topic, I’m extremely grateful for the model my own dad gave me for talking openly and frankly about an “Uncomfortable” topic.
As fathers, we have a tremendous opportunity and responsibility to talk with our kids about things that really matter in life.
If you are struggling when it comes to having the “uncomfortable” conversations with your children, remember these three things:
  1. Your kids will find out one way or the other.  Our kids are actually pretty smart.  They will find things out from friends, from the internet, or from other resources.
  2. Your kids deserve to hear the truth from someone they can trust – namely you.  You have a responsibility to talk with your kids and to teach them about life.  Too many parents shirk this responsibility.  They let their kids learn from others instead of from you.  You are both missing out when you rely on other sources.
  3. You don’t want your kids to get the wrong messages.  Let’s face it.  A lot of the sources outside of your house are simply unreliable.  Culture sends the wrong messages about sex, identity, and other things that really matter.

Have you been putting off an important conversation with your child?  Take time today to initiate that conversation.  If you are struggling with how to start, take time for yourself to plug into reliable resources and mentors to help you prepare for the conversations you should have with your kids.

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Frederick Douglass

How have you handled the “uncomfortable” conversations with your children?  How did your father handle these conversations with you?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”

Thomas Aquinas

There is a deep longing inside all of us for true friendship.  We long for someone who will really know who we are.  We want someone in our lives who will accept us for who we are.  We need someone who will walk along side us when we are traveling the rougher roads of life.  And we desire someone in our life who will celebrate with us when something amazing happens in our life.

The need for friendship doesn’t go away as you get older.  In fact, I’d argue that the need for true friendship only increases as life moves forward.

Jane E. Brody wrote an excellent article for the New York Times on the challenges of male friendships.  In the article she shares, “Among various studies linking friendships to well-being in one’s later years, the 2005 Australian Longitudinal Study of Aging found that family relationships had little if any impact on longevity, but friendships increased life expectancy by as much as 22 percent.”

If you want to live a long, productive life,  you better make friendship a priority.

My friendships have changed over the years.

I remember when Mark Winteroth moved in next door to my first house in Carol Stream, Illinois.  Mark and I became fast friends.  I saw Star Wars for the first time with Mark.  Mark would always greet me with a hug when he saw me in my front yard.  I remember the time when I was over at Mark’s house for a play date.  Mark was in trouble for some reason right about the time we were eating lunch.  At one point, Mark let out a huge belch as he was heading to his room for a “time out”.  I was eating alphabet soup at the time, and Mark’s burp naturally made me laugh so hard the soup came pouring out of my nose.  I don’t know what the letters spelled as they came out of my nose, but it was an experience I will never forget.

We need friends who make us laugh.

When my family moved to Wheaton, Illinois, I was wondering if I would have any friends like Mark.  That wondering was quickly resolved when I met my next door neighbor, David Shutters.  David’s friendship meant the world to me.  I remember getting in trouble with David on more than one occasion.  For example, we thought it would be a great idea to nail bike tire tubes to the railing of Curt Brees’ tree fort.  Naturally, we then went to the ground and filled our pockets with rocks before heading back up the ladder to the tree fort.  You can guess what happened next.  We started shooting rocks from the tire tubes to the ground below.  It didn’t take long for one of us to break a window in the Brees’ garage.  This wasn’t the only time we got in a little trouble all for the sake of testing our boundaries.  My friendship with David pushed me outside my comfort zone on many occasions.

We need friends who get us to try new things.

When I was 8 years old, my family moved to Lumberton, New Jersey, and I was convinced I’d never find any friends like David Shutters.  Eventually, I started hanging out with several boys in the neighborhood – Billy McBride, Brad Zerbe, Stephen Coar, Shawn James, and Brad Kaufman were a few of the guys who made up the Lumberton Hollybrook “gang”.  We rode our bikes all over the neighborhood.  We played “war” in the woods behind Billy’s house.  We played street hockey in the bus-stop cul-de-sac.  We played Atari and Commodore 64 games.  There was something nice about knowing you had friends to hang out with when you got off the bus at the end of the school day.

We need friends who will simply hang out with us.

I had several friendships that blossomed through my time at First Presbyterian Church in Mt. Holly, New Jersey.  Paul Braun’s friendship is one of the best examples of these friendships.  Paul was a year ahead of me in school (and he’s probably one of the smartest people I know).  We met at church, and I eventually started going over to Paul’s house to play after church.  We spent hours and hours together playing basketball, volleyball, and other backyard sports.  The Braun house always had some interesting things to play with in the basement.  We played for hours with the strobe light waiting for one of the kids to run into someone or something.  Paul was known for shocking his sister’s friends whenever they came over to the house.  Now, Paul has his doctorate degree in Materials Science Engineering, and he is a full-time professor at the University of Illinois helping the world become a better place through his discoveries and inventions.  Paul and I spend many hours talking about the future.  In fact, Paul was one of the big reasons I went into engineering.

We need friends who will listen to us and give us good advice.

When I was a freshman in high school, a family moved in across the street.  Little did I know how much this family’s move into Lumberton would transform my life.  The oldest son in this family was my age, and we first met in freshman AP English in Mrs. Roszek’s classroom.  Brian Willem was the nerdy ROTC guy who also wore JAMS coordinates, and I was the “Bible Geek” guy who new all the answers to the questions when we studied the Bible during this class.  Soon we realized we lived across the street from one another, and it didn’t take very long before we were having catches in the court, swimming in his pool, and running around the neighborhood.  Eventually, I invited Brian to SYNC (our church’s high school youth group).  Brian eventually came along, and he soon became a regular participating “member” of the group.  I realized how much our friendship meant when Brian sent me a note before we headed off to college.  The note read something about how much our friendship meant to him because I had introduced him to Christ.  Brian and I are still friends despite the miles and situations that separate us.

We need friends who we can encourage.

After high school, I journeyed west to Grove City College where I studied Mechanical Engineering.  Besides meeting my future wife, the biggest part of my Grove City experience was a group called AEX (Adelphoi en Christo – Brothers in Christ).  This was a housing group on campus made up of Christian men who have similar interests in extending their faith during their college experience.  The best man in my wedding, John Hackworth, was also my roommate for two of my years in this group.  The men in this group helped me process my faith for the first time as an independent men outside the umbrella of my family.  They challenged my thinking and helped spur me on.  This group was also the foundation for my leadership.  I was stretched through the leadership successes and failures I experienced as the President of this group.

We need friends who will spur us on.

Since graduating college, I have noticed that friendship is not as easy as it once was.  I have friends and friendships, but it takes so much more effort and intentional action to make friendships work as I balance life with a full-time job and a family.  Don’t get me wrong, I still have great relationships at work with people I could call friends.  I also have a long-standing tradition with a small group of camping buddies who make our annual pilgrimage to the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania every Memorial Day weekend for the past ~25 years.  (I’m looking forward to hanging out with Brian, Andy, and Jeff this weekend!)  I’m also working on building friendships with a group of men who meet together every Friday morning in someone’s basement.  We have committed to meeting together for the next 20 years.  I believe these friendships will be important for the rest of my life, but I also recognize it will take time to develop these relationships.

I’m challenged by this quote I recently read in an on-line article, “Men can be funny about friendship.  They have friends, buddies from high school or college or later.  But by middle age, if you really look at those friendships, a lot of them are sort of on the shelf.  Work and family take a lot of time and guys can drift into a wider social isolation.  That can have health consequences down the line.  The U.S. surgeon general says isolation is a bigger American health problem than cancer or heart disease.”

And this is why friendship is such an important topic.  This week, I’ll be sending out a few email messages about friendship that will STRETCH your perspective on your friendships, your marriage, and your parenting.  If you want to make sure you get these messages, simply fill out the blocks below to get on the Stretched Newsletter list.

Who was your best friend when you were a kid?  What do you value or remember about that friendship?  What does friendship look like in your world today?  How do your friendships make life better?  Share your thoughts in the comments below.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

I remember watching my daughter in her toddler years as she learned new things every day.  She often said, “I can do it all by myself!”  She wanted her independence at an early age, and she has continued to pursue this independence into her collegiate career.

She is not alone in this pursuit of independence.  I’m a person who wants to figure things out for myself.  I don’t like the feeling of having to rely on others.  Frankly, I want to be in control.

This pursuit of independence is a blessing and a curse. It’s great to be able to do things by oneself; however, we miss out on the opportunity to rub shoulders with others when we become too independent.

Society tells us to be self-reliant.  Individual accomplishment is recognized and rewarded.

Here’s the problem:  Our pursuit of independence can push us away from the community for which we were made.  As we shy away from community, we miss the opportunity to collaborate with others, to build life-giving relationships, and to explore areas of life that we simply would miss on our own.

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

Jim Rohn

With whom are you spending the most time these days?  Are they lifting you up?  Are they STRETCHING you?  Are they encouraging you?

Are you spending time with anyone who is causing you to grow?

 

If you are a man looking for this kind of community, check out my Stretched Men Group by clicking HERE.

 

If you are a woman looking for this kind of community, check out one of these links:

 

If you are an entrepreneur looking for this kind of community, reach out to my friend, Ellory Wells, by clicking HERE.

 

If you need help finding a group, let me know.  I’d love to help you connect with others who can STRETCH you!

 

This week I’ll be sending out a series of emails about the importance of being in this type of community.  If you want to make sure you get these emails, sign up here:

Don’t go at life alone.  Decide TODAY to do life TOGETHER with others.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.  A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.  Ecclesiastes 4:12

“You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.”

Mary Pickford

Have you ever wanted a “Do Over?”

I remember playing games as a kid, and asking for a “Do Over” when things didn’t go the way I wanted the to go.  One of my friends or I would yell, “Do Over!”  And if our friends were feeling generous they would let us start over again.

Sometimes in life, it feels like we could use a “Do Over.”  Maybe you a fresh start in a relationship.  Maybe you need a new beginning along your career path.  Maybe you to hit the restart button on fitness or nutrition.

You are not alone!

We are officially 1/3rd of the way through 2017.

How did you start the year?  Are you on track to meet the goals you set for yourself at the beginning of the year?

Or have you given up?

Life keeps us busy.  And too often, we find ourselves simply busy being busy.  We aren’t making the progress in life we’d really like to make, and we don’t even know it.  We give up being intentional, so we can keep up with the mundane every day tasks that distract us from reaching our real potential.  We feel stuck.  We feel stalled.  And we even feel lost.

It doesn’t have to be this way!

Now is the time for a fresh start!

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.  Psalm 118:24 ESV

This week I’ll be sending out emails to those on my email list on the topic of RESTART.  The emails will help you get the fresh start you need to make the rest of 2017 all that it can be.  To make sure you get these emails, simply fill out the form below.

“I know people who grow old and bitter. I want to keep making a fresh start. I don’t want them to defeat me. That would be suicidal.”

Robert Wyatt

 

In what area of your life do you need a “Do Over”?  Share your thoughts in the comments.

When our kids were little, they were terrified of dogs.  I remember visiting my parents in Dallas, TX one time, and my parents’ golden mix, Amber, had to be quarantined to her crate most of the time we were there, because our daughter, Hannah, was absolutely sure Amber was going to bite her head off.  Amber might give her a good lick, but she wouldn’t hurt a fly.

Whenever we visited someone who had a dog, our kids would crawl up our legs into our protective arms to make sure they were safe from the crazy four-legged creatures who were wagging their tails at them.

My wife and I were determined to do something about this phobia.  After all, our kids couldn’t live in our protective arms forever.  They were growing quickly, and my arms wouldn’t hold them forever.  Also, dogs can smell fear.  Many times a dog will go after people who are afraid of them.  Our kids had to learn how to stand up to the furry four-legged beasts that would cross their paths in the future.

So my wife and I signed up to foster a Seeing Eye puppy.  A few weeks after signing up, we received a phone call indicating there was a 8 week old black Labrador puppy waiting just for us.  We said yes, and we soon opened our home and our hearts to a square-headed black fur-ball named Iso.

When Iso joined our family, it didn’t take long for our kids to get over their fear of dogs.  Soon they were playing with Iso and commanding him not to chew on the furniture, the walls, and their toys.

Iso grew and grew, and our hearts grew fond of the dog despite his early destructive forces.  He chewed the paint right off our metal hot water baseboard radiators.  He chewed a hole or two in our kitchen cabinets.  And he kept us up many nights unhappy that he was chained to our bed.  (Seeing Eye puppies are taught to stay close to their “person” at all times, and the training begins with the puppy raisers.)

Iso went with us everywhere.  He visited the mall with us.  He went camping, and he even went fishing.  Actually, we caught him once.  This was a terrifying experience for all of us.  Somehow his tongue collided with a fishing hook.  The squeal he let out was unforgettable.  Thankfully, a real fisherman came along with his fishing tools, and we were able to pull the hook out of his tongue.

My wife and I often questioned whether or not he would make it as a Seeing Eye guide dog.

When he was a year and a half, we received a call from the Seeing Eye (in Morristown, NJ).  They were ready for Iso, and they were confident that Iso was ready for his official training to become a guide dog.  With many tears, we released Iso back to the Seeing Eye where he was matched with a trainer who worked with him for 9 months to prepare his for his purpose – to guide a blind person.

Our family visited the Seeing Eye for Iso’s Town Walk – his final exam.  His performance was amazing as he guided his blindfolded trainer through the streets of Morristown.  We were sure we would receive word that Iso was matched with a blind person.  We waited, and we waited.

While we waited, we moved into a brand new house.  Gone were the chew marks that reminded us of our puppy friend.

Shortly after our move, we received a phone call from the Seeing Eye.  Due to a large crop of puppies, the Seeing Eye was being more selective, and Iso was being dropped out of the program due to his extreme friendliness.  As a puppy raiser, we had the first opportunity to take him back to become our Forever Friend.

I was not so sure this was a good idea.  After all, we had just moved into a brand new house, and I was not thrilled about the possibility of having him back in the house where I was sure he would cause havoc.  I was not the only one in the family, and I was outvoted three to one.

I made the journey up to Morristown to pick him up.  On the way home, we established some ground rules.

When I walked him through the door at our new house, he was quickly embraced and welcomed back into the family.

And honestly despite my initial apprehension, I soon let him into my heart as well.

Iso quickly adjusted to his new digs.

He chased the neighbors cat up a tree one time.  I remember chuckling inside as we leaned a ladder up against the tree to rescue the cat.  “This dog is crazy!”

One time, I woke up early one morning to find that he had eaten the braided rug that welcomed guests into our front door.  This was not a happy moment.  It took a few days, but Iso eventually passed the carpet.  It’s a little gross but the carpet came out his rear just the same way it went into his mouth.  Like I said before, “This dog is crazy!”

We liked having Iso around the house.  He always provided the initial rinse of our dishes while I was putting them in the dishwasher.  He greeted us with his tail wagging whenever we returned home after trip to church, the grocery store, work, or anywhere else.  He was always glad to see us.  And he was especially always happy when it was time to eat.  One cup of food in the morning, and one cup of food at dinner time.  We really didn’t have to have a clock.  Iso knew when it was time to eat.

When he was 9 years old, I thought we were going to lose him.  I came home from work one night to find out that he had eaten one of my dress shirts I wore to the office.  What in the world would make a dress shirt appetizing?  I’ll never know.  We waited a few days to see if he would pass it, but we soon discovered that Iso was not feeling well.  In fact, he seemed to be quite ill.  When Leanne took him to the vet, the vet quickly ran an X-ray and discovered a football-sized lump of fabric and other material lodged in his stomach.  The vet explained that she had to perform emergency surgery before Iso died.  We weren’t given the option of putting him to sleep, and before we knew it, Iso was wearing the cone of shame and our bank account was $3,000 smaller.

Labs are crazy dogs, but they are also loyal and true.  Iso loved to be with us when we were home – especially when we were eating popcorn.  He hovered around us to make sure we threw several pieces of popcorn his way.

He had a few visits to the vet for various intestinal issues.  With a few pills, a bland diet, and some time, he always seemed to bounce back.

The last few years, he became more sedentary.  He slept way more than he was awake.  He also seemed to be growing some cysts and fatty non-cancerous growths and tumors.  The vet didn’t seem to worried about these.  As the days and years went on, he slowed down even more.  He took his time getting up and lying down.  And his hearing seemed to diminish too.  But Iso always responded to the word “Treat”.  He loved his Milkbones.

Friday afternoon while I was out in the garden and in the shed, Iso seemed to have some type of seizure or stroke, and he couldn’t move or stand without assistance.  Our family had some big decisions to make, and the main decision seemed obvious.  It wasn’t fair to let Iso suffer any more.  He couldn’t stand.  He wasn’t interested in eating.  His head even moved to his right as he tried to find his equilibrium.

After much thought and discussion, we decided it was Iso’s time.  Isaac retreated to his room to let out his emotions.  Hannah seemed to be rather understanding and non-emotional about this situation.  And Leanne and I struggled to say our goodbyes.

I loaded Iso in the family car, and we journeyed to the 24-hour animal hospital (HOPE) in Malvern, PA.  We knew what we had to do, but we know it was going to be hard.  The people at HOPE were amazing.  They gave us time to be with Iso, and they explained what would happen when they injected him with the chemicals that would end his life.

Iso wouldn’t let the doctor get to his arm where the catheter had been placed, so I had to hold his head while the vet injected the potions.  Tears rolled down my face.  Leanne and even Hannah were crying, too.  (Isaac stayed at home to avoid the trauma of the whole situation.)  Iso peacefully left us.  After a few minutes with him, we left the hospital in silence.

It’s so hard to say goodbye to those who attach themselves to your heart.

That was Friday.

Today is Tuesday.

We miss Iso.  We miss him when we arrive at home to a quiet house.  We miss him when we wake up in the morning.  And we miss him when we put the dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

Our pets become part of our lives.  They can provide some incredible challenges, and they can provide amazing companionship.

Someone on Sunday commented that Iso would be in doggy heaven.  I don’t really know if that’s true or not.  What I know is that our lives were greatly impacted by the black Labrador who invaded our house over 13 years ago.  We will remember him with a smile and perhaps some more tears.  We are thankful for the opportunity to have had this furry friend in our family.

And if you are wondering, our kids aren’t afraid of dogs anymore.

I don’t know about you, but I want to make the best use of my time.  Unfortunately, I sometimes struggle with procrastination.  Today, Brian Tracy is releasing the third edition of Eat That Frog.  The book is all about overcoming procrastination.  As part of the launch team for the release of the book, I have the privilege of sharing part of the book with you today.  I have absolutely enjoyed this book!

Don’t wait another minute, read Brian’s thoughts below:

The following post is an excerpt from chapter 4 of Eat That Frog.

A word about frogs… It has been said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment.

Make Better Decisions about Time

In your work, having a clear idea of what is really important to you in the long term makes it much easier for you to make better decisions about your priorities in the short term.

By definition, something that is important has long-term potential consequences. Something that is unimportant has few or no long-term potential consequences. Before starting on anything, you should always ask yourself, “What are the potential consequences of doing or not doing this task?”

Rule: Future intent influences and often determines present actions.

The clearer you are about your future intentions, the greater influence that clarity will have on what you do in the moment. With a clear long-term vision, you are much more capable of evaluating an activity in the present to ensure that it is consistent with where you truly want to end up.

Successful people are those who are willing to delay gratification and make sacrifices in the short term so that they can enjoy far greater rewards in the long term. Unsuccessful people, on the other hand, think more about short-term pleasure and immediate gratification while giving little thought to the long-term future.

Denis Waitley, a motivational speaker, says, “Losers try to escape from their fears and drudgery with activities that are tension-relieving. Winners are motivated by their desires toward activities that are goal-achieving.”

For example, coming into work earlier, reading regularly in your field, taking courses to improve your skills, and focusing on high-value tasks in your work will all combine to have an enormous positive impact on your future. On the other hand, coming into work at the last moment, reading the newspaper, drinking coffee, and socializing with your coworkers may seem fun and enjoyable in the short term but inevitably leads to lack of promotion, underachievement, and frustration in the long term.

If a task or activity has large potential positive consequences, make it a top priority and get started on it immediately. If something can have large potential negative consequences if it is not done quickly and well, that becomes a top priority as well. Whatever your frog is, resolve to gulp it down first thing.

Motivation requires motive. The greater the potential positive impact that an action or behavior of yours can have on your life, once you define it clearly, the more motivated you will be to overcome procrastination and get it done quickly.

Keep yourself focused and forward moving by continually starting and completing those tasks that can make a major difference to your company and to your future.

The time is going to pass anyway. The only question is how you use it and where you are going to end up at the end of the weeks and months that pass. And where you end up is largely a matter of the amount of consideration you give to the likely consequences of your actions in the short term.

Thinking continually about the potential consequences of your choices, decisions, and behaviors is one of the very best ways to determine your true priorities in your work and personal life.

Brian Tracy is one of the top business speakers in the world today. He has designed and presented seminars for more than 1,000 large companies and more than 10,000 small and medium sized enterprises in 75 countries on the subjects of Leadership, Management, Professional Selling, Business Model Reinvention, and Profit Improvement. He has addressed more than 5,000,000 people in more than 5,000 talks and presentations worldwide. He currently speaks to 250,000 people per year. His fast-moving, entertaining video-based training programs are taught in 38 countries.

 

Brian is a bestselling author. In addition to Eat That Frog, Brian has written more than 80 books that have been translated into 42 languages, including Kiss That Frog!, Find Your Balance Point, Goals!, Flight Plan, Maximum Achievement, No Excuses!, Advanced Selling Strategies, and How the Best Leaders Lead. He is happily married, with four children and five grandchildren. He is the president of Brian Tracy International and lives in Solana Beach, California. He can be reached at briantracy@briantracy.com.

I’ve experienced the highest of highs and lowest of lows. I think to really appreciate anything you have to be at both ends of the spectrum.
John Elway

Yesterday was full of highs and lows.

I got to spend the early morning with a group of men for our weekly get together.  This was a high.

I visited a friend in the hospital.

I made it to the gym for 4.5 miles on the treadmill.  For me, this was another high.

We received word that a friend was struggling and in need of healing.  This was a low.

Our family took a 5 mile hike and Evansburg State Park on a beautiful day.  Yes, this was a high.

We had to put our 13-year-old lab (Iso) down last night.  This was really tough.  We will greatly miss him.

Life is full of highs and lows.  The highs lift us up, and the lows force us to reflect.  There will be more highs and more lows in the days, weeks, and years ahead, and this is okay.

When it seems like life is all over the place, it’s important to remember that God is constant.  His love for us never changes.  And His mercies never come to an end.

As I reflect on an up and down day, I am thankful for the opportunity to experience life – even though it hurts sometimes.

Good Friday

April 14, 2017 — Leave a comment

“Christ has not only spoken to us by his life but has also spoken for us by his death.”

Soren Kierkegaard

Today Christians around the world will be taking time to remember the crucifiction of Jesus Christ.  Many people refer to this day as Good Friday.  Crucifiction doesn’t sound all that “Good” to me.  It involves being tied or nailed to a set of wooden timbers until you die.  Without going into a lot of detail here, it safe to say that crucifiction is horrific.

And yet, there is something amazingly “Good” about Jesus’ crucifiction over 2000 years ago.  His crucifiction paved the way for our atonement – our forgiveness of sins.  He sacrificed His life so we wouldn’t be subjects to the full penalty of our sin.

We sometimes forget that we are sin, and our sin separates us from God.  God is holy.  Our dirtiness (or sinfulness) must be cleansed in order for us to stand before our holy God.  Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross redeemed and restored us and allows us to stand before God.  That is truly “Good.”  And it’s the reason we should celebrate not just today but every day.

May you have a great Good Friday!

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace.  Ephesians 1:7