When You Can’t

When you can’t do it for yourself

Do it for those who never had a chance

Who died before their time

For those who had to push through the pain

Every day

Or trudge through battle fields, cold, and rain

For those who kept going when there was no light

Who kept fighting

After they had lost the fight

 

Do it for them, if you can’t do it for you

Be the ball, take the shot, cop the attitude

You’ve always had enough to master today

Now go and give it away

Whatever it is

You got this.

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Angry, Miserable, and Unremembered

Upon seeing the anger in the eyes of a menial laborer working in atrocious conditions, author Gregory David Roberts says to the fry cook with his eyes, “I’m sorry that you have to do this work, I’m sorry that your world, your life, is so hot and dark and unremembered, I’m sorry that I’m intruding…”

With those lines, the author not only captured my interest in the book, but, most importantly, the kinship of my agony for the “incarceration” of countless souls who live unremembered and hopeless in darkness and drudgery.

Even though my personal agony was small by comparison, for years I felt imprisoned in mediocrity and anonymity, doing a job I didn’t like. Now, I cannot stand to see anything in a cage. I feel the silent rage of so many: refugees, strangers I encounter, and others I know well.

My prayer is that those of us who remember the pain will bring…

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However and whenever we can.

Distilled Power

My romantic relationships and my work relationships improved when I quit worrying about how I was being perceived, or how I was being treated, what had just happened, or what was going to happen next. So did my tennis game. And my relationship with my kids and in-laws. And my health. And my joy. And my ability to have a good night’s sleep.

It took me over thirty years to figure that out with relationships. Over ten with something as inconsequential as tennis. Still working on it with new clients, new challenges, and strangers.

Most of us spend our waking hours splintered out in so many directions that we don’t even know what true focus is. People who bring their complete attention and focus with them wherever they go are so rare that when we are lucky enough to meet one, we cannot forget them. They are distilled and refreshing power: the power we have always longed for.

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Shantaram, Shaken, and Surprised

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This is one of the major themes of Gregory David Robert’s experience as portrayed in the book (soon to be movie), Shantaram. Also in Tim Tebow’s book, Shaken. Although, one book deals with the dark realities of life and the other, mostly with those of a fallen football player, the lesson is the same; losing is often the win we need for the long-haul. Accept the pain of losing as it comes, and our character development and re-direction will have countless beneficiaries.

I was pleasantly surprised with that reality recently when my challenged nephew was invited to an event sponsored by Tim Tebow’s ministries; ministries that would not exist if Tim Tebow had not been kicked off of three NFL teams.

When Days Feel Like Ghosts

This insightful Emerson quote feels especially true when there is nothing on the agenda, when the phone is not ringing (and the mail is not dinging), when we are ill, not sure of our next step, or broke.

How do we use the “gift” of the day when the days feel like empty ghosts passing by? The key seems to be asking versus saying, “My life sucks” or “I’m completely useless.”

Is there anything I can do today to make a difference for someone?” prompts ideas, seemingly from out of nowhere, like sending kind texts or emails to those with whom I haven’t spoken in a while.

Then, there will be more energy to catch the ghosts and unwrap the gifts.

No Reason to Get Up?

I woke up aware that my schedule was bare of anything exciting. Without the spark, not feeling the inspiration, bogged down in doubt, I labored through the routine, until I remembered an alternate path.

I sat down to learn first.

After a few minutes of immersion in someone else’s inspiration, my own generator kicked it. My world lit up from the inside. Ways I could make better use of the day flashed on the formerly blank screen.

Good to know my teachers are waiting for me…every morning.

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Going from Pressure to Pleasure

Feeling the Monday morning pressure? It’s no coincidence that in some countries, more heart attacks happen at 9 AM on Monday morning than any other time of the week. Many of us start dreading Monday as soon as we wake up on Sunday.

An easy way to open this pressure valve is to find your pressure-to-pleasure question. The following have worked well for me: 

  • How can I have fun while I work?
  • How can I make this task a challenge to myself?
  • How can I utilize my gifts more fully as I work?
  • How can I bring my entire, unique self to this task?
  • How can I appreciate the difference I am making today?

Patrick Lencioni, in the book Three Signs of a Miserable Job, attests that these are the signs:

  1. Performance is unnoticed
  2. Performance is unrewarded
  3. Performance is irrelevant

If we must stay on a job where we feel unnoticed, unrewarded, or irrelevant, we will have to find a way to do those things for ourselves.

Dear God, Please Help Them to Change.

A manager I know has a very inspiring poster on his door about leadership and accountability. It is obvious that he knows the value of these qualities.

It is also obvious that he avoids conflict.

Outside his door, the employees fester with discontent, confusion, drama, and unhealthy competition. Turnover is high. Energy is low.

He hopes that someday things will improve.

He doesn’t know that it is his move.

He also doesn’t know that once he sets clear boundaries, has the courage to quit making excuses, and to follow up tenaciously with coaching and development plans, his fear of conflict will go away.

Those things that we complain about, that keep us awake at night, that drain our energy during the day are actually in our hands to fix. Here is the formula:

  1. An apology
  2. Honest ownership of the dysfunction
  3. Agreement to start over
  4. Setting a when-things-fall-apart contingency

For the manager to his employees, it might sound like this:

“I owe you an apology. I have failed you by not communicating my expectations clearly and by failing to deal with things as they came up. Can we start over? Here is my specific wish-list. What is yours? Let’s talk again in a few days, see how we are doing, and recalibrate if necessary.”

Sometimes, the relationship will not work despite our best efforts, but we will never know if it could have been fixed if we don’t take responsibility for our part first.

Check-up:

  1. Are you assuming people know what you are unhappy about?
  2. Are you expecting those around you to read your mind or to interpret the world through your eyes?
  3. Have you been honest enough to state your desires with emotional detachment (minus the drama)?
  4. Have you remembered that your happiness is not dependent upon what others do but upon your own courage to move forward?
  5. Do you set contingencies in order to avoid indigestion and regression when things go sideways?

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Things Always Get Crazy When…

 

Things always get crazy

When I don’t know what to do next

And feel empty or useless

Unless 

I remember the answer may be love

Or removing obstacles to love

Not about accomplishing something.

Otherwise

Things can get so crazy

That I will forget about those who,

So similar to me,

Might not have a clue about what to do 

Or how to do it either

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Shhhh. Wait a Minute.

I’m deciding

I’m committing to a path of power

I’m seeing the world as a canvas, sunlight’s prism as my medium

I’m watching the story unfold as a masterpiece

I’m hearing the cheers of those who have overcome

I’m laughing with the joy of triumph

I’m wrapped in the arms of the Universe who whispers, “Well done.”

I’m remembering who I am

Now, I’m ready

For anything.

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Time well spent.