Being and Doing

Are you chronically busy? Or are you sometimes content to just sit, enjoy the moment, and be? The Western world has pretty much made an idol of busyness. Work is good; it makes the world go round, allows us to eat, and helps us implement new ideas. The Protestant work ethnic is a valuable asset. Indeed, it allows a society to prosper economically and materially. Once there were monastics who hid away from society and were content to live a contemplative life. There aren’t many of them left. But there are many cultures that still value being. They have less need to perform, impress, or even extend themselves. As I’ve lived, worked and traveled in more than 60 countries on six continents, I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of both systems: being and doing. Doing cultures get things done. They have relative prosperity, enjoy reliable services, and lead the world in solving problems like disease. People live in various degrees of ease, but often work too hard, sacrificing relationships to climb the corporate ladders; sometimes they don’t stop to smell the roses. They feel the constant need to go, go go and do, do, do. It seems never to be enough. Many being cultures exist in societies where few things work. Electricity is on sometimes; food is seasonable, and resources are tight. But being-oriented folks enjoy a freedom to enjoy family and friends, knowing how to nurture the most valuable asset in life—relationships. Being cultures are not driven to perform. They don’t see the need to work 60 or 70 hours a week. In fact, they don’t understand why people would ever be so darn task oriented. Oh how I wish we could learn from each other. Balance seems to elude many humans. Westerners,...

Not my Monkey

All of us have them…friends and acquaintances that seem to thrive on drama and poor choices. It seems like every time you talk with them, something crazy is happening in their life. I (Jeannette) had a friend whose’ doctor actually told him he was addicted to adrenalin! It’s easy to get sucked into the drama. One of my normally levelheaded friends called to tell me a recent acquaintance-romance had taken a business trip to Europe. While gone, he had apparently been robbed, needed her to send money to get home. She had already sent him quite a bit of money, but still asked how she could help. I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt this guy was a fake and ripping her off; but her heart was too involved and she could not see the (obvious) red flags. It was gut wrenching for me to see her being strung along I even lost sleep over it. What do you do in a situation like that? If you have an ounce of compassion you want to intervene. If the person is a good friend or a relative, I want to help them; I want to rescue them and get them out of their latest quandary. I tend to think that if I can just talk reasonably with them, they will be able to see their way out of their predicament. I want to make it right! Or maybe it’s not high drama; maybe it’s just a difficult decision that needs to be made, or a sticky situation that needs to be resolved. Part of getting control of your own life is recognizing what you CAN control and what you CAN’T! The reality is that everyone has their life to live; most of the time people...

Jelly Beans pt 2

Only read this if you’ve already read Jelly Beans pt 1.  The is pt 2 of an article by guest writer, Karissa Wenner. According to research done by Bonnie Ware, the most common regrets of dying people are: 5. I wish I had let myself be happier. 4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends 3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings. 2. I wish I didn’t work so hard. 1. I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Wow: I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. Let’s break this down. The first part is much easier said than done: “I wish I had the courage…” Courage is something that can’t be taught, but is found within. It’s scary to break your comfort zone, but if you find a big enough reason to do so, you will also find the courage to overcome your fears. The next part is also tricky: “…to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.” In order to accomplish this, you must truly know yourself and know the life you want for yourself. Too often I see students studying something they don’t care about and people working jobs they hate simply because they are following the norm and doing what society deems ‘acceptable’. I challenge you to think for yourself and figure out what truly makes you happy. It’s that warm fuzzy feeling that you should be chasing no matter how unrealistic it may seem or how your peers might react. Stop worrying about other people’s opinions! Everybody is guilty of it whether...

Jelly Beans Pt.1

The following is an article written by Karissa Wenner. As a student of mine, she presented the following in a speech. I encouraged her to turn it into an post to share with you. The idea that ‘life is short’ has become somewhat of a cliché in today’s society; however, it is an important concept to internalize. Here’s a quick 3-minute video that uses jelly beans to show how you’re spenging your life.* I’m sure I’m not alone in re-evaluating my life after seeing this video! It’s amazing to see how much time we spend on simple daily activities and how little spare time we have left to do the things we actually enjoy. It’s impossible to know how many jelly beans we have left, and like he said in the video, “What if you just had one more day? What are you going to do today?” If you’re like me, you wouldn’t spend your last day sleeping or at work, you would spend it living your dreams! Unfortunately, it’s not so easy to know what to do with your time when you don’t know how much of it you have left. We’re all scrambling to try to find the balance between enjoying the present and building for the future, so that when all is said and done, we don’t regret the way we spent our jelly beans. I’m not afraid of many things, but I am afraid of regret. My biggest fear is to be laying on my deathbed regretting the things I did, and didn’t do, with my time. A woman named Bronnie Ware did a study of Hospice patients where she asked them what their top regrets in life were.** These were the results: 5. I wish I had let myself be happier....

Kindness

When I was a little girl, my family used to visit my grandparents in Iowa. Grandma was always so kind and generous; it was like she couldn’t give me enough. I must have been about 8 or 9 when, on one particular visit, she presented me with some gift. I remember being so moved that I went to my room and cried like a baby. I was so touched by her love. Something like that happened to me recently. I didn’t run to my room crying, but I was profoundly affected, and I think I’ll always remember it. I had screwed up. I got confused with times, and missed a very important appointment. In a panic, I made a phone call and someone covered for me. I deserved a tongue-lashing. I deserved to have my butt chewed out for being so irresponsible. Instead I experienced deep and genuine kindness that still has me thinking about it a week later. The person who covered for me jumped in and did it with an amazing attitude, one that I’m sure was better than anything I would have mustered in the same situation. I saw the Divine. And it changed me. I realized something profound: True character is revealed when it is inconvenienced. The next day I stopped by a department store to pick up something. Seeing the various checkout line options, I headed for the “10 items or less” line only to realize that the folks in front of me had two entire baskets full of purchases. (That’s WAY more than 10 items!) However, I was somehow filled with much grace for these dear people and all their stuff. I didn’t get upset. I didn’t give them dirty looks. I didn’t even think to myself how...

Spending Energy

Where Will Your Energy Go in 2015? As I get older, I am more aware of the limits of my energy. So when I think about having another year to, “laugh and love and live,” as my dad used to say, I’m starting to consider the coming months differently. The first difference is that I am looking at the “channels” where my energy can flow, rather than specific goals I want to accomplish. Hmmm. Energy vs. goals. Both are important. But it seems I first need to identify what is important in my life, and where of the many potential directions, I want to go this year. Where will I put my energy? As a coach, I usually ask my coachees (clients) to identify the ‘big rocks’ (priorities) in their lives. These are the major responsibilities that you need to balance in your life; they don’t change much from year to year unless you have a significant shift like a job change. Channels are a different. I see them as more specific aspects of those big rocks that you really want to see grow and expand in the next year. For example, one of my big rocks is the vacation rental business I want to grow this year. My major channels are pursuing new clients and creating sustainable and reproducible systems for each aspect of the business. There will be many other responsibilities that will take my time and energy as well, but these are the ones I would like to really give my energy to this year. And that brings me to another realization. I find I have different kinds of energy, and when one is exhausted, another may still have some fuel in the tank. When it comes to channeling my energy,...

Countdown to 2015…2...

What is your relationship plan for 2015? Do you long to spend more time with family or friends? Are there some relationships that need mending? How would you score this aspect of your life (from 1 to 10; see the Get Control “Rate Your Life” self-assessment tool to rate yourself on your career, health and fitness, money, personal development, relationships and spirituality. I’ve come to realize that relationships need care and feeding; you have to be intentional about them. It’s easy to become withdrawn and just stay home. But is this healthy all the time? Two years ago I became intentional about nurturing relationships with a handful of friends. I formed a group that continues to meet twice a month. We drink wine and eat snacks; but mostly we share life together. It has become very precious for all involved. Think about who you would like to spend time with this year and form a plan for doing so. Make a list of folks you might want to meet for coffee or a meal. Then schedule it! You need people in your life. You need their influence, input and energy. They have much to invest in you, but you must avail yourself. You also have much to give! There is no one like you and no one who brings that you bring. Your unique personality, experiences and giftings can make a huge difference to those around you. Consider these words as you begin the new year: “If you’re not happy in life then you need to change, calibrate, readjust…flush your negative energy and fill it with positive energy; How do we do that you might ask? Well I would start by making others happy; diseases are not the only things that spread easy. We...

What Are You Thankful For?...

Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving today. It’s a time to reflect on what is most meaningful in our lives. What matters most? What are you thankful for? If you ask most people, they don’t think about the new big screen TV or how much they made in the stock market. They think about relationships–which really are the most precious things in our lives. Here are what some responses from people I asked: GABE: Family & friends. Hanging out with family. My new nephew. That my big brother didn’t marry a psycho. My  brother (currently serving with the Army overseas) and my new sister-in-law.   MELINA: (The new sister-in-law): My 2nd family. A really good (1st) baby      NOEL: Freedom to worship the Lord, the gift of life, family and friends.     ISAAC: Family and friends and all the things that keep us alive.     XAYA: Food, water, shelte, gymnastics. Everybody around me. Being able to live with the Lord.     CHRIS: Freedom, rights and family. Glad I’m home and not somewhere protecting your freedom (Chris is a Marine).      ERICK: Family and everything they do for me.      CHRISTINA: A husband that provides (the Marine). Always family.      OLIVER: My first Thanksgiving.     DEBRA: Family and friends around the world, a loving God who is not a monster, hot showers, electricity, running water, heat, easy transportation, the Internet, digital technologies, fun and fulillment. What a great time to be alive!     This is Thanksgiving Day. Don’t cheapen it to “Turkey...

Just Get Along

“Can’t we all get along?” is a famous quote by Rodney King, a black man whose brutal beating by Los Angeles police during racial riots in 1992 was captured on video and spread around the world. Almost 2000 years earlier, the Apostle Paul wrote the same message to Christ-followers in the Greek city of Corinth: “You must get along with each other. You must learn to be considerate of one another, cultivating a life in common.”* Oh how easy it is to say. Oh how hard it is to practice. We get all worked up and fight to defend our position. Whether it’s Jews and Arabs, people in your workplace, or relationships in your family, people get so worked up and choose being right over being loving. It sucks. It stinks. It’s a terrible way to live. Here are some things that help give perspective: We all have limited perception. We perceive through our senses, but we can never get an accurate view of the whole story. We only see slices of reality—the ones we consciously pay attention to. We make judgment calls based on our limited experiences, culture and personality. These are always, by nature, tainted. We construct narratives in an effort to explain situations and the behavior of others. We engage in what academics call fantasy themes when we share those same narratives with others. Right or wrong, accurate or not, we collectively believe certain stories that cause us to pursue particular actions. We follow our fantasies. We commit to actions that end up rarely solving anything. All that’s left are broken relationships. It sucks. It stinks. It’s a terrible way to live. I have been involved in several of these “situations” in the past few years. We did not get along. We chose...

Finding Fault

“…the disciples were finding fault with each other because they had forgotten to bring bread.”* Jesus’ followers were crossing a large lake when they realized they had no lunch. So they started pointing fingers to assign blame. No matter they had just witnessed Jesus multiply a few fish and loaves to feed thousands. There is nothing noble about finding fault in others. In fact, it’s likely the most common thing we do as humans. Of course there are faults in others! Da! We all have areas we can’t see—thoughts and actions we are blind to. (See article Know Thyself) So there’s nothing special about our ability to see them in others. There are faults in us too, for which we either feel guilty, choose to ignore or simply justify. But finding fault is a barrier to experiencing successful relationships. We want connections with others. We need those connections. And yet, as Richard Rohr points out, “Humans make hard and impossible the very things we most want.”** We are driven by a need to criticize others. As Rohr wrote, we seem to have a need to fear and to hate. Oh, if we would just let things go more often. We all have stuff to be anxious about. But where do we focus that anxiousness? Do we get a twisted sense of happiness by finding fault in others? Do you return the hate, dysfunction and shit that is thrown your way (or that you perceive, even if it’s not actually there)? Rohr continued: “Conscious love is the totally enlightened, and often entirely nonsensical way out of this universal pattern. Love has to be worked toward, received, and enjoyed, first of all, by facing our preference for fear and hate. But remember, we gather around the...