Category: Passion

16 Aug 2016

There’s No Tragedy in Focus

I love the Olympics.  Every four years I’m thrilled to watch the world’s best athletes converge and compete at the highest level for the ultimate prize of being crowned Olympic champion and the right to be called “the best in the world.”

What fascinates me; however, is when an athlete falls short of winning a medal and misses the podium.  The announcers and fans sound disappointed and lament that a particular athlete spent his/her entire life preparing for that Olympic moment and will return home empty handed.  Their words and tone make it sound as if anything short of Olympic gold is utter failure, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I hear the word, “sacrifice”, a lot during the Olympics.  I heard one commentary about a particular gymnast and a laundry list of all the activities she missed while she trained to be the best in the world.  She missed school dances, ball games, and time with her friends.  I laughed at that statement, because I would say she didn’t miss anything, because she was pursuing something great and in that pursuit she discovered herself.  Life is about discovery and the path you take towards that discovery is less relevant than the discovery itself.

“Focus”, is a word we often hear connected with people of success and rightfully so, as focus is what it takes to be a success.  I recently discovered a fascinating statistic about people and their lives.  I learned that 90% of us will never do what we were born to do in life.  That is the true tragedy in life, not losing out on an Olympic medal after a lifetime of training and focus.  I would ask, who truly lost more?  Does the man that never takes a chance and settles on a life of mediocrity, and fails to discover his limitations or possibilities of his life lose more than the Olympian that places 4th in her event, giving it everything’s she got and learning what it takes to reach the pinnacle of her chosen discipline?  You chose.

Losing hurts, but failing to live within your purpose hurts a lot more.  I’ve seen the blank stares in people as they drone on with their lives, never fully living, and just experiencing life on the fringes.  Being focused on something you were meant to do, while turning away other opportunities is part of living and should never be viewed as tragic.

I’ve learned that being focused brings opportunity.  At this point in my life, I’m being forced to choose between “good” things and “great” things.  It feels good and also daunting.  I force myself to remain focused and remind myself what I was created to do.  I’m giving up things in my life so that I can remain aligned with what God created me to be in this world.  I’m not an Olympian, but I’m living my life on purpose and choose “focus” as my weapon of choice.  I choose to live on purpose.  How about you?

05 Jul 2016

Why Healthy Relationships Must Evolve to Last

I was frustrated with my daughter, Ashley, recently during a weekend softball tournament.  I’ve been on a fun journey with her over the past few years as she’s grown and developed into a fine softball player.  I’ve enjoyed being on this journey with her and guiding her along the way.

I’ve helped her find the right coaches to elevate her game.  I’ve made sure she’s had the right equipment to allow her to be successful and I’ve coached her on how to approach competition and how to manage winning and to endure defeat.

When Ashley started to play softball, she was 10.  I managed every facet of the game for her and she pretty much followed my lead.  Now she’s 13, and things have changed.

We had a long wait before our next game at our most recent softball tournament.  It was hot and I knew we might have a long afternoon ahead of us.  I urged Ashley to rest in the cool comforts of our hotel room, but she resisted and wanted to hang out with her friends and rest with them.  That made me uncomfortable, because I’m used to having her with me so I can manage what she eats and how much she drinks.  I wanted to ensure she rested, hydrated and was mentally ready to play softball later in the afternoon.

Ashley resisted and we ultimately fought over it.  I won the arguement and forced her to rest in our room.  She was visibly upset and angry with me.  Eventually we talked about it as we drove back to the ball fields to get ready for the next game.

“I’m sorry I snapped at you.” I looked over at Ashley.

“I was really mad at you, Dad.”  Ashley responded without making eye contact.

“I know; I just want what’s best for you.”

“It’s my sport and my life, Dad.  I need to make my own decisions and live with the consequences.  Sometimes you just need to learn to back off.” Ashley looked over at me and we made eye contact.  This was a big moment for her.  She was laying down a new set of rules.

“I understand.”  I smiled, “I’m sorry.”

“I forgive you.” Ashley grinned and patted me on my shoulder.

We had a great day of softball and created wonderful memories, but most of all I learned that my relationship with my daughter is evolving and I must evolve with it.

It’s hard to let go and to allow Ashley to make her own decisions, especially when I feel she is making the wrong decisions.  There will be times I’ll assist her to make sure she doesn’t harm herself, but she’s right, it’s her life and she must live it.

Relationships evolve and change is constant.  Circumstances change and attitudes change.  People grow and learn and our relationships with each other must evolve through every season.  I’ve discovered that some relationships only last a season and that’s okay, because it served a purpose; however, some relationships are meant to last a lifetime, like the relationship I have with my daughter.  In order for it to last a lifetime, I must learn to evolve as Ashley grows and explores the world.

I’m learning to step back and allow my daughter to take the lead in her own life.  I’m learning to evolve, because my desire is to maintain a strong and healthy relationship with her.  Do you struggle with any relationships in your life?  Are you willing to evolve?

09 Jun 2016

How Do You Measure Time?

I spoke with a friend several months ago about trying to balance my time with my family, my work, my running, and all the other areas tugging at my life.  When we were talking about my kids, I remember a comment he made regarding my oldest, Ashley.

“Look at it this way, you have six summers left with your daughter.” He stated matter-of-factly.

His words penetrated my conscious and it remained there like a lingering head cold that I could not escape.  I began to ponder my concept of time and meditated on it ever since my conversation with my friend.

How do I measure time?  Do I measure it by the weeks, the months, or the years?  Do I measure it by the weekends or holidays?  As I began to think about my thoughts on time, I realized that I measured time based on projects.  I’m in sales and I’m a public speaker.  I have a big calendar in my office that covers the entire year.  I track my “speaking gigs” and conferences I plan to attend to meet with prospects and clients.  I work my life around those events.  June, for example, is measured by three speaking gigs and a major sales pitch I’m giving out near Dallas in a week.  I expend my energy and brain power planning those events.  I gear up for them and then crash when they’re done.

I also measure my time through softball tournaments.  I’ve bonded with my daughter through softball.  The sport has given us the opportunity to build a relationship and learn a lot about each other.  I’ve attempted to learn the nuances of the sport so I can be competent enough to help coach a few of her teams.  When I look up at my calendar I can see softball events riddled throughout the summer.

I’m very conscious of how precious time is for me and my family.  We’re in a special time in our lives.  My kids are growing up healthy and happy.  My wife, Alia, and I are young and healthy.  Life is good, but it’s changing.  My kids are growing, evolving, and thriving.  Soon they will need Alia and me less and will pull away as they embark on their own journeys and then how I measure time will change.  Softball games won’t occupy my calendar, but the memories I’m creating now will occupy my mind forever.

As I sit in my office, pondering how my time is spent as my family sleeps safely upstairs, I realize that time is truly measured by the memories we make in those precious moments we have with each other.  The awesome memory of holding both my twin boys for the first time is frozen in time.  The moment I first saw the world hurt my daughter and she ran into my arms, nursing a bloody lip after a little boy accidentally kicked her while on the slide at McDonald’s.  The first time I held my soon-to-be wife in my arms.  These and thousands of other memories are tucked away in my heart and replay in my head like a favorite movie.

Time moves fast, but the precious memories we make with each other are lasting.  Now, as I wake up and slowly roll out of bed and begin to plan my day I don’t ask myself, “what projects await?”  I ask, “What memories will I create today?”

Our lives are a fleeting moment in the big picture, like a puff of smoke that is here and then is gone, but the memories we create and share, and we leave behind are our legacy.  Go out and create memories and time will honor you.  What memories will you create today?

15 Mar 2016

Rock What You Got!

At age 31, newlywed Jill Conley, was diagnosed with stage IIIB Breast Cancer.  Jill lost her battle to cancer at the young age of 38.  Seven years is all God gave her once she discovered her body was being ravaged by a disease that would ultimately steal her last breath.

In seven years Jill endured painful treatments, lost her breast, and lived in constant pain.  It would not be shameful if she cried out and wallowed in misery as her life slowly and painfully slipped away, but that was not her spirit.

Instead, Jill did just the opposite, she inspired the world.  She and her new husband, Bart, struggled to make ends meet as the medical bills piled up and Jill struggled to fight the disease and the loss of her womanhood, her identity.  Jill chose to accept her situation and to live out her story in a way that would help and inspire others that are dealing with cancer and body issues.  Jill and Bart vowed to do their part to make life easier for those that are embattled with the realities that cancer brings into their lives.

Together, Jill and Bart created Jill’s Wish, a foundation that would support other cancer patients and survivors to fight and endure the disease financially, spiritually, and emotionally.  Jill would be the beacon of hope for so many as she appeared on popular TV shows, books, periodicals, and radio.  When cancer took her breast, she ultimately refused to have plastic surgery, but instead she embraced the scars on her chest and lived by the mantra, “Rock What You Got!”

Life is both joyous and cruel.  It’s a tragic love story filled with moments of happiness, clarity, and pain that all of us experience with differing levels of intensity.  We all have scars, reminders of life gone wrong.  These scars can be physical and they can be emotional, but we all have them, with no exceptions.  We simply cannot avoid the pain of life, it’s part of the human condition.  It’s how we respond to those scars that separates us.

Jill had a choice to make once she was diagnosed with cancer.  She said, “People always ask me if I am angry at God for giving me cancer.  At first, I always answered honestly; I said ‘Yes.’  Then I realized that God didn’t give me cancer.  Instead, He has given me the strength to get through this horrible disease.”

Jill chose to fight her disease and to leverage her story to make a difference and leave a legacy.  She indeed “Rocked What She Got” and although she physically left us too early, her spirit will live on through Jill’s Wish, a constant reminder that when life hits you and your family hard with something tragic, you always have a choice.

So, what’s your choice?  How do YOU choose to live today, tomorrow, and the rest of the days you have left on Earth?  What are your scars and are you hiding them?  Are you ashamed of them?  Why?

Cancer took Jill’s health, it took her breast, and it ultimately took her life, but it didn’t take her spirit, because that was hers to give and she refused to give it away.  Jill made her choice and we are all better for it.  How about you?  What choice will you make today?

For more information on Jill’s Wish, please CLICK HERE.

01 Mar 2016

Pursue Your Calling

My hair stands on the back of my neck and a chill runs down my spine.  My heart beat quickens and I can sense the excitement well up in my gut as I walk up on stage and face my audience.  I take a deep breath of satisfaction as I began my presentation, because I know I am doing what I was born to do.  I am pursuing my calling and my spirit becomes peaceful as I connect with my audience and touch the world.

 

The “sweet spot” is what some call it.  Others may call it something different, but it boils down to one singular idea, “calling”.  Mark Twain once said, “The two greatest days of your life is the day you were born and the day you discovered why.”

“Why?” is a fundamental and critical question that every human being desires to answer in their life.  There is nothing more frustrating than not knowing your path.  Trust me, I’ve been there and stayed there for several years as I read hundreds of books, attended countless conferences, and listened to hours of self-help audio courses.  In the end, my calling began to reveal itself when I clarified three major areas within my life.  Once YOU discover your calling, everything in your life will begin to make sense and you will gain tremendous momentum and your path will become crystal clear and peace will become you.

I once heard New York Times bestselling author, Michael Hyatt, speak on this topic.  Here are the three areas that will help you discover your calling, based on my own experiences and excerpts from Michael Hyatt’s advice.

  1. Passion – What excites you, I mean really gets you jazzed about life.  What dominates your thoughts throughout the day?  You often fall asleep with this thought and you find your mind drifting to this area of your life on a continual basis.  For me, I used to visualize what it would feel like to get up in front of a live audience and deliver a powerful message.  I would imagine the individual faces of my audience as they would laugh at my jokes, tear up because of an emotional story I would tell.  I would study other speakers and think of how I could deliver their message in a more powerful way.  I could not deny it, I had a deep passion for public speaking and over a period time, it made sense for me to pursue this passion.  How about you?  What keeps you up at night?  What makes you smile?  What ignites a fire deep in your gut that is undeniable and cannot be ignored?
  1. Purpose – Purpose is nothing more than validation.  Your passion becomes a purpose when a few things occur:
  • What others are saying.  Honestly the first time I truly considered pursuing a career in public speaking came after I presented on a topic for a small breakout session at a municipal utility conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.  One of the attendees came up to me after the session, “So when are you going to start doing this full time?”  It was the first time anyone ever said that to me and planted a seed of possibility in my soul that grew for a few years until I began to believe that I could pursue public speaking.
  • When do you feel God’s pleasure?  This is that “voice” deep within your soul that whispers to you when you are on the right path.  You’ve felt it in the past, when was it?  What were you doing?  It’s a clue to your calling.
  • You get paid to do it and it becomes profitable.  One morning I received a call.  There was a gentleman on the other end that identified himself and the reason for his call.  A mutual friend recommended me to him.  The gentleman needed a speaker for his event, and so he asked me how much I charged.  It was the first time anyone ever asked me that question, so I quoted him a a random price, plus expenses.  “Sounds good!” He responded without hesitation and in that moment I became a “professional speaker”!  It was a huge thrill and a moment that altered my path forever.  You may have a passion for something and you may even be good at it, but if it is not profitable and cannot sustain you, then I consider it a hobby and maybe not a true calling.
  1. Action – Your desires will remain a distance dream unless you are willing to act on them.  If you are not willing to act and if fear dominates your world and remains an obstacle in your path, then I believe it is a strong indicator that you may be onto something and should be something for you to explore.  Fear is a powerful form of resistance and usually appears when you are onto something.  However, you will need to take action, in spite of fear.  Sadly, many never discover their calling because fear holds them back.  If you have a passion, and believe you discovered your purpose, but are going nowhere due to inaction, then ask “why?”  If you simply cannot take a step of faith then it may be time to reassess your desires and search your heart for your true passion and purpose or simply take a step of faith and allow the rest to take care of itself.

If fear is an issue for you then I highly recommend Stephen Prescott’s powerful book, The War of ArtHis book directly addresses how to overcome the resistance and fear.

What is your calling?  Start with your passions, explore your purpose, then take a step of faith and you will be on your way to pursuing what you were created to be in life.