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Unfortunately, busyness has become the badge the many people chose to wear. We think people will think we are important when they hear we are busy. Perhaps, we are too afraid to face the things we really need to face, so we get busy doing things that don’t really matter in the end.
Tonight, I had a fantastic conversation with a group of men who are serious about becoming better husbands, better fathers, better leaders, and better men. We talked a lot about busyness.
I shared with them the experience I had last week when I realized I was overwhelmed. (If you read my blog posts over the past two weeks, you’ll get a feel for what I shared.)
I thrive on being busy. That’s what I keep telling myself.
In reality, I need a break from time to time, and I must learn to slow things down.
I was perusing an article on Lifehack in preparation for my conversation with these men tonight, and the article said “When you’re busy, your aren’t present.”
And one of the men said, “Busyness is the enemy of intimacy.”
Last week along with tonight’s conversation confirmed that I’m not alone.
I don’t want to be known as the guy who was always busy.
I want to be known as the man who was there – for my wife, for my family, for my friends.
If you’re interested in jumping into conversations like this one with other men, consider signing up for the Stretched Men Group. You can learn more at www.stretchedmengroup.com. Once you’re on the website, signup to schedule a free (no obligation) phone call with me. I’d love to talk with you!
Are you too busy? What do you do to slow down? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Being busy has become a status symbol in our culture. If you’re not busy, you’re not accomplishing anything. That’s what society is telling us.
I want to work on my book. I want to schedule several blog posts and emails to the people on my email list. I would like to talk to my daughter (who is away at college) on Facetime. I’d like to take at least 10,000 steps.
I want to write and give my next Toastmasters speech. I want to schedule an appointment with my tax accountant. I would like to clean up the house to make sure we are ready for any showings that might happen this week. I’d like to meet one-on-one with my team members.
I want to publish my next book (Rooftop Reflections). I plan to go to Guatemala and build more houses. I’d like to complete my Advanced Communicator Silver and my Advanced Leader Silver for Toastmasters. I would like to move up at my company. I plan to complete Dynamic Marriage Facilitator Training with my wife. I hope to sell my house and downsize.
It’s not a bad idea to have plans for our days weeks, months, and years. After all, “if we fail to plan, we should plan to fail.” But what if our short-term goals and accomplishments don’t match up with our long-term objectives?
I think these are two very important questions to ponder. And we need to have the answers to these questions in mind as we plan out our short-term goals and our plans for the next days, weeks, and months.
You will not succeed in meeting your long-term (life-time) goals by accident. You must be intentional. You must begin with the end in mind.
Here are a few of my long-term goals:
These are just some of my goals. Knowing these, I’m in a much better position to answer the initial questions asked at the beginning of this post.
Over the next few days, I’ll be sending out additional information to those on my email list about living intentionally today. If you want to get these emails, make sure you are on the list. Sign up below!
Is it just me, or does life seem to be a blur for you at times?
Life goes by so quickly. And technology isn’t helping things. Within a fraction of a second, I can be virtually anywhere via the internet. News spreads quickly across the screens of our cell phones, tablets, laptops, and televisions. Within seconds of a major world catastrophe, terrorist event, or celebrity death, the whole world knows about it.
And people expect instant replies to their emails, text messages, and social media attempts to reach out.
We are growing up in a world where people are developing additions to their cell phones. They can’t go more than a few minutes or even a few seconds without looking at their “smart” phones.
As a parent, it seems like life has passed me by in the matter of a few moments. Yesterday, my daughter was born, and today she’s a freshman in college. My son was born yesterday, and now he is driving his own car.
And the day before yesterday, I married the woman of my dreams, and now we’ve been married for over twenty years. (She looks the same, but I’m sure I’ve added some gray hairs, some wrinkles, and some pounds around my waistline.
It all can become depressing is we let these thoughts consume us.
For that reason, we must fight against the blur.
Are you going to let life be a blur? Or are you going to do something about it?
Make the most of every opportunity.
Let your words be seasoned with salt.
Embrace the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens of life.
In fact, suck the very marrow out of life with each breath you breathe, each step you take, and each move you make.
The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:8 ESV
“Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
Life has been full of twists, turns, and surprises lately.
I’m grateful for what I’ve been experiencing (for the most part), but I’m also a bit overwhelmed. I think life has a way of doing this to us sometimes. We have all kinds of brilliant ideas. We somehow think we can do it all. We make plans, and God laughs.
I’ve been going 100 mph (miles per hour), and it feels as thought I need to find time to take a breath.
Not just a quick breath, but a deep breath. One of those breaths you take when you walk outside on a crisp, sunny morning and you just want to take it all into your lungs and into your very being. That’s the kind of breath I need.
We’re eleven days into the new year. I refuse to give up on my goals for 2017, but I must remember to pace myself. I must remember to stop and smell the roses – to stop and enjoy the moment – to pause and breathe.
I don’t know what you are experiencing right now, but I want to encourage you to take a few moments in your day to join me.
My word for 2017 is PRESENT.
In order for me to be truly present, I must learn to be still – to listen – to breathe.
“Be still and know that I am God…”
By the way, I can’t eat chocolate. Oh well.
How is life treating you these days? Share your thoughts in the comments.
I read an article by Ben Read today – Running on empty?
Take a look at the article. The title alone resonated with me. Honestly, I’m exhausted, and I’m feeling depleted.
I’ve been working hard at my job. We’re in the middle of the annual performance management process. I have ten direct reports requiring my evaluation, but I’m also involved in lending input on others in my department and in my office. I care deeply about my team members, and I want this process to be meaningful for them and for their careers. This is happening while I’m still handling the normal activities and interruptions of my job.
I’ve five weeks into a twelve week strength training program, and I’ve worked out nearly every day for the past 33 days. The workouts have been beneficial. I can see the results. I’ve been working on my legs and abs, my back and biceps, and my chest, shoulders, and triceps. And I’ve been taking a different approach to my cardio. Most mornings I’m up at 4AM and out the door by 4:30AM on the way to the gym. Sometimes I work out at lunch if I have a shorter workout scheduled.
My son, Isaac, started a job a few weeks ago at Chick-Fil-A. He works until closing three days a week, and he doesn’t have his driver’s license yet. This means I’m out three nights a week to pick him up. I’m so thankful for my son and his job. And I’m thankful for the quiet moments in the car on the way home as we quietly talk about a few things as we travel the dark, windy roads back to our house.
I’m in the middle of another challenge I can’t mention here. But I can tell you that it sucks a fair amount of emotional and mental energy out of me.
I’m half-way through my three month Stretch Man Mastermind group, and I’m happy to say that it has been going amazingly well. The interactions with the members of the group have been thought-provoking and truly stretching. Every two weeks, we get together, and I teach on a relevant topic for 10-15 minutes before we dive into an issue one of us is facing. Last night, I prepared the teaching time for our next call.
I’m involved in Toastmasters. I’m the Area Director for five clubs, and I’m trying to keep pace with my club. I signed up to give my next speech at our next club meeting which takes place next Wednesday. For those of you familiar with Toastmasters, I’m two speeches away from earning my ACB (Advanced Communicator Bronze) milestone. I had to say “No” last weekend when one of the District Officers asked me to help out with an upcoming conference. I stink at saying “No.”
I’ve been on the go every weekend for the past few months. There is always something on my calendar on Saturday. I haven’t been home for more than a few hours on the weekend for a while.
I could go on.
I’m over-involved. I’m worn out. And it’s easy to see why just looking at my thoughts above.
Maybe it’s time for a break.
Ben Reed’s article was a reminder that I need to make time to fill my tank. I need to take time to rest, relax, and recharge. And I need to learn to say “No.” I can’t do everything. And I want to do it well. But I can’t do anything well when my tank is empty, and I can’t do many things well when I try to do everything.
My wife, Leanne, is a wise woman. She asked me tonight, “What recharges you?”
I’m still thinking about the response to her question.
I know my annual Memorial Day Weekend Camping trip with a few of my buddies recharges me, but this is 8 months away. I think it’s time for me to ponder this question and to take time to follow through on my response.
This is where I’m at right now. Just thought I’d share.
What’s the condition of your “gas tank”? What recharges you? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Are you content with mediocre? Or do you want to live a life that matters?
I chose the second option.
Living a life that matters requires intentional striving for excellence.
Yesterday, we talked about the nine things holding you back from excellence. Today, let’s look at the keys to making excellence a reality in our lives.
If you want to live a life of excellence, it’s time to get going – NOW!
One of my favorite movies as a teenager was Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. It’s a teenage boy movie full of teenage boy humor. I think that’s why I liked it so much. I remember seeing the movie with a few of my friends, and the rest of the year we repeated lines from the movie to each other as we went about our activities.
In the movie, “excellent” was a word thrown around by Bill and Ted to describe anything they thought was cool, interesting, or fun. If the movie had been made a few years ago, it might be called Bill & Ted’s Phat Adventure or Bill & Ted’s YOLO Adventure or something similar.
I like the word excellent or excellence. Here’s how Wikipedia defines excellence:
Excellence is a talent or quality which is unusually good and so surpasses ordinary standards. It is also used as a standard of performance as measured e.g. through economic indicators.
Excellence is a continuously moving target that can be pursued through actions of integrity, being front-runner in terms of products / services provided that are reliable and safe for the intended users, meeting all obligations and continually learning and improving in all spheres to pursue the moving target.
Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. It takes planning. It requires repeated action. And excellence means constant analysis and adjustment along the way.
I want to be known for going about life with excellence. Despite this desire, there are several things preventing me from achieving excellence.
Come back tomorrow for thoughts on how you and I can make excellence a reality in our lives.
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Philippians 4:8
When I was in first grade, my parents took me to the eye doctor where the optometrist determined I needed to wear corrective lenses (the fancy name for glasses) to correct a problem with my eyes.
For four or five years, I wore brown, plastic-framed glasses. I looked like Ralphie from A Christmas Story (if you need an image).
Like Ralphie, I often broke my glasses horsing around with my friends. The eye doctor was used to fixing my glasses on a monthly basis.
Eventually, the glasses did their job, and I was able to stop wearing them. In fact, my vision was better than 20/20 for the longest time.
I stopped visiting the eye doctor for several years, because my vision was excellent.
Then I turned 40.
A long overdue visit to the eye doctor indicated my need for reading glasses.
I picked up my first pair of reading glasses, and I’ve been able to get a new pair each year as my reading vision has changed slightly along the way. I use the new pair as my primary reading glasses, and I use the older pairs as backup glasses. I have two pairs on my nightstand, and I put one pair in the car. It’s nice to have the coverage in case I need to read something with small print.
This brings me to my story – my parable.
According to Wikipedia,
A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of analogy.
This week, events transpired in my life that caused me to take pause. I broke one of my pairs of backup glasses.
Tuesday night, I was responsible for facilitating a Toastmasters Table Topics and Humorous Speech Contest for my Area. I arrived early at the location of the contest, so I could set up and greet contestants and attendees. As I was getting out of my car, I grabbed my spare set of glasses, and I must have put them on the roof of my car as I was getting other contest material out of my car. Once I was in the contest location, I forgot about the glasses.
The contest went well. The speakers did a fantastic job presenting to the contest audience. The judging team selected winners wisely. And the audience enjoyed the experience (from what I could tell). After the contest, I cleaned up the room and packed up my contest materials. I said goodbye to the last few lingering attendees, and I climbed in my car to begin the journey home.
100 yards after pulling out of the parking lot, I heard a loud thumping noise on the roof of my car, and I immediately realized the source of the sound. My glasses had flown off the top of my car. It was dark, but I decided to make several passes on the busy road to see if I might find my glasses. Disappointingly, I could find the glasses, so I drove home with the thought of trying to find them in the morning on my way to work.
The next morning, I made a few more passes in the busy morning traffic, but I could see the glasses from my car. Bummer!
At lunch time, I decided to make one last effort to find the glasses thinking they may have landed in the longer grass along the road. I parked my car in a parking lot, and walked down the side of the road looking back and forth as I went. Just when I was about to give up and head back to my car, I caught a glimpse of a familiar sight – the inside cover of my glasses case. Half of it was laying on the side of the road blending into the grey of the road surface. I walked a few more feet and found the other half of the case. But where were my glasses?
As I began the journey back to my parked car, I found my glasses on the side of the road! My excitement was soon replaced by sadness as I quickly discovered the lenses were missing, and the frames were smashed to smithereens. It looked like my glasses took a ride in my garbage disposal.
I picked up the pieces and headed back to my car. (A blog post was surely on the way.)
I’ve had a lot of thoughts since the incident with my glasses.
First, I’m a little frustrated with my carelessness. I wish I had gone back out to my car when I realized I needed them for the contest.
Second, I’m a little disappointed in my opulence. Where I serve in Guatemala, glasses like these are a treasured possession for those with failing eyes. I could have brought the glasses with me on a trip to Guatemala to give to someone who really needs them. Instead, I decided to have backups for my backups. I want to be a good steward of my resources, and this means saving and spending appropriately. And it means giving appropriately too. I don’t want to be a hoarder of the resources God gives me. I want to use the resources God gives me to help others and to honor Him.
My broken glasses remind me to hang on tightly to the things that matter, and they remind me to let go of the things that would be better served in the hands of others.
My post today initially started as an explanation for a recent reduction in my weekly blog posts, and it turned into an all-out focus on handling the stress we face in life. I’m not going to change the initial part of the post as I think it helps provide a window into the stress I’ve been experiencing recently. I don’t know what stress you are dealing with lately, but I’m hoping today’s post will help you as you face life’s challenges.
What is on your goal list?
Are you giving attention to the goals you really want to accomplish?
You may have noticed a recent drop off in the number of posts I am releasing each week. There’s a reason (actually, there are a few reasons):
Life is about choices.
If you are a “Go Getter” like me, you have to come to terms with this fact: You can’t do everything.
Sometimes you have to let go of the good, so you can focus on the great. And sometimes you have to sacrifice some of the things on your personal agenda, so you can focus on the things that come your way in the course of life.
As I’ve faced some of the recent challenges (and “distractions”), I’ve dealt with some anxiety, some sleepless nights, and some emotion. To put it simply, I’ve experienced stress. Stress is a normal part of life in today’s world. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know handle ourselves when the stress levels climb. As I work through my the stress in my life, I’ve developed a list to help me deal with the stress. I’m hoping this will help you when you deal with stress.
I feel better already.
How about you?
If you are looking for additional help in handling stress, I think the 7 Week Stretch Challenge could help. Sign up below:
What is the meaning of life? This is a question people have been asking themselves for ages.
Meaningless. Meaningless. Chasing after the wind.
“Meaningless! Meaningless!” says the Teacher. “Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.” Ecclesiastes 1:2
Too many of us go after things in life that really are meaningless. When we step back and look at it from a different perspective, we realize that we had our ladder leaned up against the wrong wall, and we’ve been climbing to the top only to realize that we were climbing against the wrong wall.
This week I received some tough news that reminded me that this life is fleeting – it’s short. And we will endure problems, trials, and illnesses, and we will eventually come to a realization that a lot of the things we are pursuing in life really don’t matter when it comes down to it.
I don’t know about you, but I want my life to mean something. I want to pursue things that matter. I don’t want to waste my time doing things that won’t add up to a hill of beans. I want to be intentional with how I live my life – on a day by day basis and on a moment by moment basis.
Our perspective changes as we go through life. We see things through different lenses along the way, and sometimes I think that we go through trials in life to re-calibrate us – to reset our vision. I think this might be happening through my experience this week – in the tough circumstances that I’m wrestling with in my own mind.
What are your priorities and what are you doing about them? Do you know them? Have you stopped long enough to pay attention – to really process the priorities that you have in your life?
Is it work? Is it achievement? Is it notoriety? Is it fame? Is it your family? Is it your faith? Is it financial freedom?
All these things are okay, but are they really your priorities? Have you stopped long enough to really analyze what matters most in life?
Once you know your priorities, it’s important to map out how you’re going to get there.
What are you going to do? How are you going to change your life to live in light of those priorities?
I cannot answer that question for you. This is a question you need to answer for yourself.
I just finished listening to a new book, Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy, and they challenge readers to consider writing their own eulogy.
What would you want people to stay at your funeral? If this is what you want people to say, how are you living your life to prepare for this?
I don’t know how everything is going to work out with the situation I’m facing, but I do know I have the opportunity to really analyze my priorities and shift some of my perspectives. And just maybe I will come down from the ladder that I was climbing on to make sure I have it positioned against the correct wall.
This is the challenge I leave you with today: Is your ladder leaning against the correct wall, or are you chasing things that are meaningless?
Pursue your priorities. Carefully consider your priorities. Gain new perspective, and live your life with intention.
More importantly, what I’m learning through this experience is the importance of relationships. You can pursue all kinds of achievement and accolades and everything, but the reality is the relationships that you have with others matters so much more than those career positions and promotions, those super-large portfolios, and those trophies. Take time today to connect with those who matter most in your life. And then repeat every day for the rest of your life.
If you want to find meaning in your life: