Top 10-#9 People Are Irreplaceable...

When you enter or leave a room, the room is different. That’s because you bring things no one else can bring. You bring the totality of who you are to every situation: your history, personality, gifts, passions, spirit–everything! You communicate you, and you do it all the time. In our business world of hiring and firing, one can get the impression that just any body will do. But’s it’s just not true. When you fill a position, you fill it like no other. And when you leave, your position really goes with you. Nobody will ever do the job like you do it. There may be close to 7 billion people in the world. But each one is incredibly valuable and unique. No one will ever take your place. You bring something to the world that no one else brings. That’s why figuring out who you are and what you bring are so important. If you don’t bring who you are and give the gifts only you can give, the world will miss out. That’s because you are irreplaceable.   The photo is of my dad, Marv Buenting, known to his grandchildren as,...

Top 10-#3 Try New Things...

We have an English expression that one can be “stuck in a rut”. A rut in the ground is created when repeated activity takes place in the same location. If you walk or drive in the same place every day, you will create ruts or crevices in the ground. Over time, these can become huge. Our brains are no different. When you do things over and over and only occasionally deviate from sameness, your brain actually creates ruts. So the expression, “I’m in a rut,” is very literal. Scientists used to believe that the brain has little ability to change past childhood. But research since the 1960s shows the brain is like plastic; it has the ability to change as a result of new experiences. It can even rewire itself after suffering damage. I saw a documentary about a 95-year-old Japanese man who was still directing a preschool for special needs children. He had learned the Korean language in his 80s and was learning Chinese in his 90s so he could travel to China to share his expertise on children. This man refused to retire into a rocking chair; he continued to live by pushing himself and learning new things. I think he might have a key to staying young. I once took a creative communication class. We were encouraged to alter our daily routines in order to spark creativity: take a different route home or brush your teeth with your other hand. If you’re a follower of this blog, you know I often quote the famous American basketball coach John Wooden. He said, “Five years from now, you’re the same person except for the people you’ve met and the books you’ve read.” So do something different today. Expose yourself to new ideas and experiences....

Top 10-#2 Ask Questions!...

If you’ve ever been around toddlers, you know they have a favorite word. “Why?” Little kids are naturally inquisitive. But something happens when we grow up. We are compelled to conform; it’s one of the strongest pressures in the world. We live in a world driven by social norms, and sometimes those norms are less than helpful. We are told what to think. We start to accept the way things are. We stop exploring. As I travel the world, I see that some cultures resist change, critical thinking and question-asking. In fact, asking questions is sometimes seen as rebellious or obnoxious; sometimes it’s even punished. Perhaps you grew up in a family that was always pushing your mental boundaries. Or perhaps you didn’t. I think some of us need to be given permission to ask questions. Has it been awhile since you had an original or creative thought? Is your mind full of cobwebs? I am privileged to have a life-long friend who taught me critical thinking skills. He’s an engineer, so he questions everything. He gave me permission, and it altered my life. Asking questions is good, healthy and reasonable. And contrary to popular belief, God likes it. Jesus asked a lot of questions! I used to think that life was all about the end, about finding truth and holding on to it. But then I realized life is about the journey, always learning and growing.  Life isn’t easy. We have to struggle and wrestle to find solutions for life’s challenges. I think it’s how we were designed. So here is permission. ASK QUESTIONS! Think creative thoughts. Escape whatever boxes you have built in your mind or have been imposed on you. Allow yourself the freedom to resist the status quo and rediscover inquisitiveness....

Pleasantville

It seemed everything was perfect. Kids were happy, fathers got a fully cooked dinner after a long day at work, the streets were clean, and there was no crime anywhere to be found. It was the idealized American 1950s. It’s all the residents of the small town knew. But life turned messy when two teenagers from the next century invaded their perfect space. You see, the place was a fictionalized town inside a fictionalized movie called Pleasantville released 1998. The film starred Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Don Knotts. The film began in the 1990s. Tobey’s character David longed for the simplicity of the 1950s. The victim of his parents’ failed marriage, a stressed-out mother, and an absent father, David escaped his painful reality by watching old re-runs of a 1950s TV show, Pleasantville. And Reece’s character, Jennifer, was obsessed with being popular at school and sleeping with every high school boy she could seduce. Her value was based on being liked by others. One day, while fighting over the television remote, David and Jennifer were magically transported into the 1950s world of Pleasantville, only to find the town residents living in black-and-white, just like the TV show. What they found were isolated, ignorant and shallow residents. While everything seemed wonderful on the surface, the reality was that the townsfolk knew of nothing outside their tiny world, and were ignorant to the beauty of art, the mind-expanding knowledge of books and the intimacy of deep relationships. David and Jennifer could not help being who they were (themselves from the 1990s). As they interacted with Pleasantville’s residents, things began to change. As folks experienced beauty, choice, knowledge and passion, they began to change from 2-dimensional characters in black and white to 3-dimensional characters...

Avoiding Transformation...

This article is part of a series on scapegoating by Franciscian, Richard Rohr. It seems we always find some way to avoid the transformation of our pain. There’s the common way of fight. Fighters are looking for the evildoer, the sinner, the unjust one, the oppressor, the bad person “over there.” He or she “righteously” attacks, hates, or even kills the wrong-doer, while feeling heroic for doing so (see John 16:2). We are all tempted to project our problem on someone or something else rather than dealing with it in ourselves. The zealot—and we’ve all been one at different times—is actually relieved by having someone to hate, because it takes away our inner shame and anxiety and provides a false sense of innocence. As long as the evil is “over there” and we can keep our focus on changing or expelling someone else (as the contaminating element), then we feel at peace. But this is not the peace of Christ, which “the world cannot give” (see John 14:27). Playing the victim is another way to deal with pain indirectly. You blame someone else, and your pain becomes your personal ticket to power because it gives you a false sense of moral superiority and outrage. You don’t have to grow up, let go, forgive, or surrender—you just have to accuse someone else of being worse than you are. And sadly, that becomes your very fragile identity, which always needs more reinforcement. The other common way to avoid the path of transformation is the way of flight or denial. It can take many forms. Those with the instinct to flee will often deny or ignore pain by naively dividing the world up through purity codes and worthiness systems. They keep the problem on the level of...

How are you doing?

We are about to complete the first month of 2017. That’s right, we’re almost 1/12 through the new year already! It’s a great time to measure our initial progress. I set a few large goals for this year. Did you? How are you doing on them? Are you winning at some and have room to improve others? Well beating yourself up won’t do any good. Do y need to adjust some actual goals or do you need to alter your approach? I challenge to you ask yourself: Which goals have you achieved? Tell somebody of your accomplishments! Pat yourself on the back. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Is it possible you’re not focusing on the right areas for now? (Click on Rate Your Life to see if you’re putting energy into the parts of your life that need the most attention now.) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust, setting new goals, or tweaking your approach.  Don’t beat yourself up for your failures. Rather focus on your accomplishments and make adjustments to continue moving forward. It’s not too late. After all, you still have 11/12 of the year...

Toothpaste

I like to think I’m a fairly responsible person. I’m a firstborn, and we are the responsible folks of the world. (OK, so much for the stereotype.) When I see something that needs to be done, I do it. Or I procrastinate! Do you identify? I recently did a deep clean of my bathroom and found not one, but FOUR tubes of toothpaste with a little product left in each one. I think I’ve maybe had two before, but FOUR! When I’m getting ready to go somewhere or to bed at night, I just want to brush my teeth. I don’t want to mess with little bits of toothpaste (that I perceive to take too much of my energy.) There is little counter space in my bathroom, so getting that last little bit out adds a few annoying seconds to my busy lifestyle. This all sounds rather terrible; surely there are bigger fish in life to fry! And certainly, there are MUCH bigger problems in the world to solve! But we all have little things in our lives that bug us until we take care of them. Maybe it’s the flowers that need to be deadheaded so they can bloom again, or that phone call you’ve been meaning to make, or that closet that desperately needs cleaning out. Research shows that simply writing something down—getting it out of your head—can reduce mental and emotional fatigue. Not only do TO-DO lists help you prioritize and plan, but they also help reduce what you are burdened to carry around in your head. Many self-development gurus, like Seth Godin and Rob Bell talk about the importance of saying “yes” to the things we really want and then committing to STEP 1. Saying yes means you commit to...

Mid-year Checkup

As we begin the second half of the year, it’s a good time to do a quick self-assessment. Perhaps you wrote down some desires or goals, or wrote thought thoughts and aspirations in a journal. I actually poked around my computer notes and realized it was exactly four years ago now that I started life coach training. Part of this included being coached myself. Kicking off the process was writing down some desires and expectations I was to work on, with 4 guiding questions: What are the one or two things that are on God’s agenda for my life right now? If I could change one thing in my life right now what would it be? What are the obstacles that are holding me back from reaching my potential in this season of life? When I think ahead to 3 years from now, how do I want my life to be different? I can’t tell you how encouraged I was to go back and see that I have either realized what  I expressed or have made significant progress on each item. The things that seemed quite fuzzy four years ago are no longer fuzzy, and I have made significant life changes to live a healthier life. How are you doing on the goals you set for yourself this year? If you’ve made progress on any, congratulate yourself and tell someone! If you still have work to do, remember that you still have half of the year left! Renew your commitment. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust,...

Lessons From A Pup

I got a puppy. I’ve had dogs before, but they were older rescue dogs, so this is my first adventure into being a puppy mom. Izzy, as she was to be called a few days after we met, was only 6-weeks old and 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilos). In only ten days, she has gained 1.8 pounds and learned so much! I also try to learn from life’s experiences, so learning from the new pup is no exception. Everything is new. Like human babies, puppies come into the world knowing not much. Therefore, everything is a learning opportunity! Izzy has been challenging me to look at life through new eyes. What do I notice that I’ve been blind to before or haven’t “seen” in awhile? How can I see things from a new perspective? What might I do in order to see with fresh eyes? What can I learn today? Life is an adventure. It’s amazing how much entertainment, exercise and learning can come out of the smallest thing like a toilet roll! A simple piece of round cardboard functions as a teething ring, exercise equipment, toy and something to be conquered! What new adventure might I try? Doing the same things put you in a rut. Literally, doing the same thing over and over creates ruts in the brain. Puppies lick up love (literally). They are not afraid of affection, praise or compliments. In fact, they thrive on them. Anyone who has successfully trained a puppy or raised a child knows that love and affirmation are key in teaching discipline. Nothing says, “Don’t pee in the house,” like a reward of affection outside in the grass. Are people loving and affirming me in ways I’m ignoring? What keeps me from accepting compliments? Puppies give...

Crap

Crap has really been on my mind this week. First of all, toilet water backed up into my bathtub. When I saw the brown water, I knew I had a problem and I suspected it was time to get my sewer line cleaned out. Because I have an old house with underground clay tiles for disposing of wastewater, tree roots grow into the pipe looking for moisture. Then every year or two, the roots become too much and I have to have the pipes rooted (cleaned) out. But this time was different. This time the rooter technician found a blockage and recommended I get a camera inspection. So the next day, a tiny camera on the end of a cable descended into the pipe and revealed the problems. Tiles had caved in and created blockages requiring a whole new sewer line. The problems became more evident when excavation began. Crews dug down to the pipes, even descending some 8 feet (more than 2 meters) below street level. They found that some pipes were not where they thought they were. They could only devise an appropriate solution after they dug down and uncovered the mess. Like buried pipes, we have a lot of stuff deep in our personalities that is not evident until we dig down. And when we do, we often find things are not as we thought they were. On the surface, we feel the results of buried problems, but don’t have the full perspective of the location or causes. It’s only when we dig do we get an accurate perspective. When my toilet backed up, all I knew is that I had a problem. I could see the murky water. I could smell that all was not well. I could have ignored...

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