Johnny Cash University

This morning, in my meditation, I listened to the soundtrack of Johnny Cash’s story, Walk the Line. Never a country music fan, I am surprised that the movie was so inspiring and that the lessons in his story still brought a big smile to my soul.

A few of the lessons I learned from Walk the Line (Johnny Cash University):

  • childhoods are filled with tragic loses that are sometimes very difficult to unearth and process
  • our untutored coping methods are usually destructive
  • messy lives still tell the truth
  • if we sing the song no one else is singing we will bring hope to others
  • hang on ’til the end

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When the Story We Are Telling…Is the Problem

This is funny…except when sticking to our story keeps us stuck in a punishing rut.

After speaking to a group of people about changing their lives for good, inevitably, someone always tells me how their situation is different and they cannot be held accountable for using the techniques I have offered. Although disappointed, I am not surprised. For decades, I was that person.

How easily I let myself off the hook! And how easily I told the story that stole the relief I desperately needed.

All the more reason for regularly examining my stories.

Too Much Inexplicable Evidence

There are days.

There are days when I come face to face with the ugly side of life; when my heart asks, “So where is your God now?”

In order to survive, I have to do a quick tour of the inexplicable things that have happened to me over the years: times when…

  • resources have come out of nowhere
  • people were extraordinarily generous
  • pain-relief came in the nick of time
  • I was miraculously rescued from threatening circumstances
  • life was overwhelmingly beautiful

Then, I can relax into what I don’t understand.

Thinking…for a Change

“If change doesn’t feel uncomfortable, it probably isn’t really change.”John Maxwell

I had the unfortunate habit of challenging and resisting anyone who even hinted that I might need to change something. It was so insulting and painful. Maxwell suggests that the best way to avoid this discomfort is to repeat the following mantra:

  • Change is personal: I need to change.
  • Change is positive: I’m able to change.
  • Change is profitable: I will be rewarded by change.

These words have changed the way I think about the pain associated with change.

And thinking differently is always the first step to relief.

When I Should Question My Logic

Check it out:

When I feel so nostalgic that I cannot be content with the present.

When I feel so negative that I shut down my own productivity.

When I am so pessimistic that I attempt to solve tomorrow’s challenges without tomorrow’s resources.

…and better logic.

Take the Word of an Overcomer

When life confuses or defeats me

I can listen to dark voices  

Of anger and despair

Or to the voices that call  

Out of the darkest places

From history

Or from the other side

Of tragedy

Voices that still sing 

A chorus of power

With shining eyes

Heads held high, defying

The worst that life can bring

A voice of triumph

Singing, yes! singing

In mysterious harmony

With my future 

our future selves

Listen carefully.

Thanks for Stepping Up

Years ago, in an attempt to nudge an introverted friend toward a management position, I mentioned that (A) there were not many bosses who were both smart and sensitive, (B) that she had both qualities, and (C) how tragic it would be if these gifts were not fully utilized for those who desperately needed leadership.

She reluctantly agreed to try. Fifteen years later, hundreds, maybe thousands, (who would have been forced to work for a jerk in her absence) have been the beneficiaries of her direction.

People with kindness, wisdom, and gravitas leave an indelible mark on lives and organizations. They pull us toward them, toward our higher selves, and toward the realization that noble living is more than something we see in movies.

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If We Want to Be Genuinely Hospitable

If we want to be genuinely hospitable, we will not only ask people how they are, we will be…

  • interested in the answer
  • smart enough to know that most people are not “fine”
  • sensitive enough to ask the right questions about how they “really are”
  • present enough to look into the eyes of a stranger and see their value (independent of social status)

One of my greatest joys in life is being with people who are genuinely hospitable, without an agenda, no strings attached. Ahhhh….

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Now, What Was I About Again?

In Stop Workplace Drama, Marlene Chism says that her personal “mission statement,”  ICARE (Improving Communication and Relationships Everywhere) has given her constant clarity to step away from drama in her own life.

Frequently, we fall into mediocrity and poor communication patterns (at home and work) because we have not clearly defined who we are and what is at stake.

She suggests that to get this clarity, we must start by asking the following questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What do I want?
  3. What am I committed to?

Marlene and I have this in common; after answering these questions, we decided it was no longer necessary to be a victim or to play the martyr. It was possible to set boundaries with ourselves and with others.

Get clarity.

It Won’t Help

When we decide to worry, we are not only surrendering our power, we are also…

  • ignoring wisdom from those who have lived before us
  • disregarding well-documented facts concerning the insanity of worry
  • dishonoring our health

We enter into the realm of the elite simply by saving ourselves the trouble that worry creates.