Cast a Little Kindness

One kind act can have a huge impact on the life of one who desperately needs it.

Imagine doing one kind act every day. What would the impact be?

Instead of one a day, what if you performed one kind act every time the opportunity presented itself throughout the day? How bright would these good deeds shine?

It takes very little effort to be kind. All we have to do is move the focus off of ourselves and shift it to others.

Righteous, Totally

For you. For your family. For your employer. For your community.

You have an obligation to do the right thing. It is the minimum expectation you probably have for others. And if you hold yourself to the highest standard possible, there should never be any wavering in our quests to do that which is right.

If you are always doing the right things, then it should not bother you if others don’t like it. At the end of the day, you alone bear the responsibility of your actions. So keep doing the right things, and realize this is the path to being totally righteous.

Losing Before Beginning

If you don’t have confidence, you’ll always find a way not to win. –Carl Lewis

Feel like you are going to lose even before you begin? It doesn’t matter whether it is in business, sports, or any venture you undertake. If you think you can’t win, chances are you won’t. But you can choose to:

  • Figure out what it takes to win.
  • Exhaust every option available to you.
  • Learn as you go.
  • Practice, practice, practice (builds confidence).

America’s greatest inventor, Thomas Edison, put it brilliantly, “I haven’t failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If you are doing things the conventional way, the established norm of everybody else in the field, you may have to change it up. Break away from the pack and set a new trend. If it fails, try another way. Keep experimenting until you find a working model.

To win right this moment may not be possible. But if you are patient, you can victorious. All you have to do is understand the game. Know your competition. Don’t quit.

We are all capable of doing more than we think we are can, but a self-defeating attitude and a lack of preparation is a recipe for failure. Prepare, practice, and persist. Do this and you can win.

If at first you don’t succeed, before you try again, stop to figure out what you did wrong. –Leo Rosten

Strength to Carry the Load

I remember the early days of road marching. My rucksack, loaded with all my gear, was heavy. The rifle I carried got heavier with every step I took. My muscles ached. My feet hurt. As the strain in my back and neck crept toward what I thought was the “unbearable” threshold, my thoughts turned to wishing I had a lighter load, wishing I had a shorter distance to travel. “If only…” was always in my mind.

“If you are going through hell, keep going.” –Winston Churchill

What should I have been thinking? What should I have been praying for? Not that I had less to carry, but for the strength to continue on. I should have been praying for the courage to keep going. If I could have got all the negative wishes out of my head, I may have actually enjoyed those forced marches.

An amazing thing happened as I continued to march over the weeks. The more I carried that weight, the stronger I became. In time, with much repetition, that burden was no longer unbearable. The load wasn’t lighter, my ability to carry it was stronger.

Be patient and tough; one day this pain will be useful to you. -Ovid

Last week, I had a conversation with a friend concerning a professional trial he was enduring. One of his department heads, bitter for not getting the same promotion, was continually trying to undermine his authority. Upset with the previous command, this department head is determined to continue adding a layer of toxicity to the new regime. As frustrating as it is for my friend, this complex relationship has a few benefits that can make him stronger for the future. It is a constant test with many eyes watching his every move. He has to be impeccable in his behavior and conduct.

As I listened to my friend discuss his trials, I thought of the ones I am closest to that are going through their own set of trials. I considered loved ones who are going through some of their roughest times physically, financially, and emotionally. And then I thought of Job. Do you remember the story of Job.

Job had a good life. He had a good wife, healthy children and close friends. He was doing well financially and really wasn’t lacking in any area of life. On what seems like a whim, God allowed Satan to test Job. So Satan took it everything from Job. Gone were the children and gone was the wealth. This would have been enough to destroy most people, but not Job. His response, “The Lord gives and He takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). Satan thought it was too easy, so he went after Job’s health. Even after this, Job remained faithful.

Not many of us have ever endured the level of suffering that Job went through. But the trials we go through are real enough. They are hard and often unfair. Nobody deserves an unwarranted enemy or a physical ailment that takes away the joy of living. But we have it, even if it is unfair. The temptation would be to pray that it all just goes away, that we could live a life free of stress and hardship. But our lives would be of little strength and substance if we lived it under those terms. Instead we should pray for the strength to endure. We should pray for the courage to withstand the trial knowing that we could come out on the other side victorious. Maybe a little scarred but still victorious.

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better. Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills. Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom. –Jim Rohn

Your Highest Standard

What have I noticed on the assembly line in the last month that I have been back on it? Too many associates and lower-level managers are content with exerting the minimal amount of effort to achieve the company goals. We want our compensation levels to increase, but we are not willing to do more in order to get more.

What happens when the standard is to achieve the minimum? Morale goes down. Safety is sacrificed. Production goals are not met. The potential of an excellent product is diminished by defects. Customers become less satisfied and ultimately choose another product.

“Don’t wait for extraordinary opportunities. Seize common occasions and make them great.” –Orison Swett Marden

“Circumstances does not make the man; they only reveal him to himself.” –Epictetus

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” –Leo Tolstoy

“We must be the change we wish to see in the world.” –Mahatma Gandhi

It is easy to fall into the trap. We look at the goal for the day and strive to achieve just that, no more. We complain about the environment in which we work and blame the management rather than take the steps to fix it ourselves. We justify safety concerns instead of addressing them. It is easier to put the blame on the circumstances, not on ourselves.

Last week, I said no more. I have always tried to do a good job. My goals have always been simple: no defects and no downtime. But I looked at it and thought even that was the bare minimum. Shouldn’t I be doing more? So I told myself to set a new standard. Set a higher standard.

It may seem over-the-top, but I am all-in. When I get to my station, I set it in order. I look for ways to improve it. I leave it in better shape than the way I entered it. I clean, always clean. In between units, I pick up. Even if it is not my mess, if it enters into my area or is around my area, I clean it up. I don’t say anything to the other associates about the mess, I just do it. Maybe they see me doing it, maybe they don’t. It is not my concern. My concern is that the mess doesn’t travel down the line to the next person.

I’ve become 100%, a hundred percent of the time. The line may go down, but not me. I keep going, preparing for the next unit to come down the line, setting myself up for success.

“Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out.” –Robert Collier

“If I am anything, which I highly doubt, I have made myself so by hard work.” –Sir Isaac Newton

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” –Marcus Aurelius

Have I become the ultimate factory worker? Not at all. Of course, I want to see the company do well. It pays my bills. It provides a certain amount of security in what can sometimes be a chaotic world. But I don’t plan on working there forever, and this company really is just another employer. My reasons, though beneficial to the organization, are really personal ones.

Working on the assembly line has created an imprint on my personal operating system. In order to maintain optimal quality, there should be no deviation to the processes. If you do the same things over and over again, you should get the same results every time. When something abnormal is added to the equation, it has the potential the change the results. When a continuous stream of abnormalties occur, things can get chaotic.

I have become mechanical, almost automatic. I don’t do well with chaos in either my personal life or my professional. It changes the rhythms and affects the results. The idea of a chaos-free world isn’t reasonable. Neither is a chaos-free workplace. Things happen, and I will have no choice but to deal with it. But if I can minimize it, there is a chance I can overcome it and not let it ruin me. If I continuously strive to create an ideal work environment, a work area free of clutter, then a defective unit coming into my area doesn’t become a disaster. I can deal with it on my own terms with less stress.

“If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat.” –Herschel Walker

“People create the reality they need in order to discover themselves.” –Ernest Becker

“Become what you are by learning who you are.” –Pindar

“Character, not circumstances, makes the man.” –Booker T. Washington

Jim Rohn said, “You should work harder on yourself than on your job.” Over the last year, those are the words I have tried to live by. But if I was’t working very hard at work and only doing the minimal requirements to get a paycheck, then I wasn’t really setting the bar very high for the “myself” that I was supposed to be working harder on. I had to ask myself a few questions. What if I changed? What if I raised my personal bar at work as high as if would go? Would this raise the level of work on myself? Could I exceed my own personal development goals?

This factory may not be where I want to be the rest of my life, but it is where I need to be right now. It is my personal training ground. It is where I test the methods I want to instill into my own life. It is a place where I can introduce my philosophical beliefs and see what ideas stick and which ones need to be refined. This is a place where I am learning just exactly who I am, while getting paid at the same time.

When I create the ideal environment to work in, magic happens. When I go on autopilot, my body by rote can operate on very little mental capacity. It knows what to do and so it just does. My mind is free to roam. So I think. I think about the job. Can I make it better? Is there any correlation between what I am doing and life. I envision where I want to be and how I can get there. Calvin Coolidge said, “All growth depends on activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” It is here, at this factory job, where to my amazement I am growing the most.

Bedros Keuilian says, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”  This has become my gold standard. I can’t be half-way anymore. I have to be all-in. If I want the results I am looking for in life, then it comes down to this type of consistency.

The willingness and execution of going above and beyond increases my value. It increases my credibility when I am asked about my beliefs. Maybe nobody is watching and noticing what I am doing. That’s fine. I am not doing this for others but for myself as my own personal standard. But maybe there are others watching. Maybe everybody is watching. A positive change by one or by a few has the potential to change a cultural norm.

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how thing have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.” –Rumi

“The choices you make today will be your biography tomorrow.” –James Altucher

Navigating Land, Navigating Life

What lessons can be learned from land navigation? Looking back on my first experiences in the Army and browsing through Army Field Manual 3-25.26 Map Reading and Land Navigation, I found some simple truths that can help get a person from point A to point B.

The critical skills of shoot, move, and communicate must be trained, practiced, and sustained at every level in the schools as well as in the unit.(1.1 Building Block Approach)

People have been gleaning wisdom from military practices for centuries. Whether it is Sun Tzu’s The Art of War or a leadership seminar outlining the Battle of Gettysburg, corporate executives are continuously on the hunt for ways to separate themselves from the competition and lead their organizations into the future. I remember reading field manuals in the Army, but I never looked at the deeper philosophy they could provide. I only read and learned on a superficial level for the next test. Twenty years later, I may be going back to my roots.

Navigating the land or life, here’s what you need:

A Map

Basic? Yes, but here is what a map can do:

  1. It shows you what is where.
  2. It shows you where you are and where you want to go.
  3. It will show you all the obstacles between you and your destination.
  4. It will inform you of the distance and give you an idea of what it takes to get there.

A map is a great tool as long as you know how to read it. Like life, the two critical things you need to know is where you are and where you want to go. If you don’t know where you are, you are going to have to do some searching to find yourself. If you don’t know where you want to go, you are going to have to decide on that too, so you don’t find yourself wandering about.

Failing to use the vast amounts of information presented by the map and available to the eye on the ground reduces the chances for success in land navigation. The soldier who has repeatedly practiced the skills of identifying and discriminating the many types of terrain and other features knows how these features are mapped…By studying the map, he can begin to visualize the shape of the land…This soldier is the one who will be at the right place to help defeat the enemy on the battlefield. (Terrain Association Ch 11)

If you want to get where you are going, then study your map. Recognize the features on the map and compare it to your surroundings. Use all of the information available to you so that you may reach your objective.

Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When you don’t know what harbor you’re aiming for, no wind is the right wind. –Seneca

Direction

Being in the right place at the right time is necessary to successfully accomplish military missions. Direction plays an important role in the soldier’s everyday life. (Ch 6 Direction)

Where are you headed? What is your mission in life? You have to be able to identify the target before you can aim for it. I didn’t always know where I was going. Through my early adult years, I was just meandering about with no specific direction. I was a dabbler. I felt I could do anything, be anything, and I failed to aim for just one thing. Once I got an inkling of what my “calling” in life was, I started travelling in that direction. My progress was slow. At times, I think it is still slow. But I am not worried. We all travel at different paces. I may not be where I want to be, but I will get to the right place at the right time.

An aim in life is the only fortune worth having. –Robert Louis Stevenson

A Compass

Once you have your map and a little direction, you need a compass. It will point you where you need to go. A good compass will not lie to you. It will always point you where you need to go. But a compass, like a map, is just a tool. You have to know how to use it. You have to know that the magnetic north on a compass is not the same as true north and not the same as the north on your map. You have to realize its limitations and make the necessary adjustments.

Recently, I watched a Jim Rohn video on YouTube. He made a few statements that had a profound effect on me. First he said, “Five years from now you will arrive, the question is where.” Visualize all the places you could go. Are any of them the actual objective, or closer to the objective? There are many places I could be five years from now but only one place I really want to be. The other thing he mentions is, “You will go the direction you are facing.” Become an expert with your compass, and you will find that you are always going in the right direction.

Go confidently in the direction of your dreams and live the life you have imagined. –Henry David Thoreau

Tactical Consideration

However, the unnecessary use of a difficult route makes navigation too complicated, creates more noise when proceeding over it, causes wear and tear on equipment and personnel, increases the need for and needlessly complicates recovery operations, and wastes scarce time. (11.4)

Simplicity is key to your navigation. Executing an overly complex plan has a greater chance of failure which could result in the loss of valuable resources (time, energy, etc.). The simpler you can keep your plan, the greater chances you have of success. Identify your obstacles and find a way to overcome them. Identify your milestones and find a way to meet them. Regardless of the length of your route, your primary goal is to get there as efficiently as possible with as many resources as you can keep.

Movement and Route Selection

There are four steps to land navigation. Being given an objective and the requirement to move there, you must

  1. know where you are,
  2. plan the route,
  3. stay on the route,
  4. and recognize the objective. (11.5)

It is the basics whether in land navigation or in life navigation. You must know where you are, make a plan, stick to the plan, and recognize your objective once you get there. There are so many tools available to us. As we advance technologically, those tools make our ability to get to our objective much easier than any other time in history. The only question is how far are you willing to go. The farther the journey, the more time, effort, and energy will be required of you. But with persistence and a continual eye on your map and compass, you can reach your destination.

If you enjoyed the post, I would love to hear from you. Want to see more, sign up to have all my posts delivered to your inbox. Thank you for reading, and I will leave you with a few more quotes to consider:

Those who aim at great deeds must also suffer greatly. -Plutarch

Aim for the moon. If you miss, you may hit a star. –W. Clement Stone

A goal is not always meant to be reached, it often serves simply as something to aim at. –Bruce Lee

The wisest men follow their own direction. -Euripedes

Supporting Role

Last week, I moved back to the assembly line due to a delay on my current project. This has been a challenge as I have not worked on the line in about a year. The greatest challenge is adapting physically to the demands of the job. The transition from an eight hour day mostly behind a computer to ten-plus hours building cars has left me eagerly anticipating my next foam rolling session.

One of the jobs I have been assigned is a subassembly task. For two and a half hours, it is my responsibility to prepare parts and deliver them to the main assembly line. It is viewed by some as one of the easier jobs on the line. There are no risks of getting a defect for poor quality, but there is a risk of not having enough parts to the line at the right time. I have done this job twice, and both times I have been amazed by how much pressure there is to move as fast and efficiently as possible. I take every job I do seriously, and the same applies to this one. Not getting the parts to the line can stop production, which is costly. Associates have to work harder to get the line moving again. The longer the line is down, the greater the chances of all of us not being able to meet the target production number. When we don’t hit our goal, we have to stay later to make it up. Even this “easy” job is important.

I didn’t imagine going back to the line. For the last four years, I have been on projects preparing for the future. I always imagine how I can move up in a company, but now I am back where I began seven years ago. It is a humbling experience but also a reminder. I work at the pleasure of this company. I go where the management tells me to go. They are the ones that pay me, and so I do what is required.

I remember completing Infantry Basic Training at Fort Benning, Georgia. After eight weeks, my platoon was informed of our future. Even though we scored high on our entrance tests to the military, we were not the smart ones. We all went in with open infantry contracts, and now we were all going to be mortarmen.

When I found out I was going to be a mortarman, I was devastated. It is not what I imagined I would be doing as an infantry soldier. I wanted to be in the front, a light fighter. Instead, I would be in the back supporting them instead. I still had a chance. I could go to light unit. After four weeks of mortar training, I received my job assignment. I would be going to Fort Stewart, home to the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized). I would not be a light fighter, I was going to support a heavy Armor unit.

I wanted the glory and the action. I wanted to jump out of airplanes and helicopters. I wanted to ruck through the jungles and sleep on the ground. Instead I was sent to the back and given an armored vehicle that offered no protection. Even my platoon sergeant told me it would be safer to jump out and run if we ever saw the enemy.

It was not what I imagined when I joined the Army. I became disillusioned and did not appreciate the responsibility I had been given. I was to provide fire support for scouts and tankers that got into a jam and needed help. It was my duty to make sure the ones on the front lines got out okay. Of course I did my job, but I never really embraced it.

How you do anything is how you do everything. –Bedros Keuilian

As I work supplying parts to the line this Bedros Keuilian quote keep playing in my mind.  I have a clear picture of what my future looks like and the person I am working on becoming. Everything I do is significant. If I do something half-way in my personal life, I will not reap the full rewards that I desire. I don’t want to leave any stones unturned in my private life. Publicly and professionally, my dedication should be the same way. I have to be able to grind it out, work smart and efficiently, and all with a good attitude.

What the Army taught me, and what I am appreciating now, is that there is much honor in serving others. I don’t have to be in the front. I don’t even have to be doing the things I imagined. Being in a supporting role is important. Others are depending on you. Others are also watching you. They will notice when you have a poor attitude and are despondent. It will show in the quality of your work. They will also notice when you are positive and committed to doing a good job. They will see your hustle and maybe even admire your example, inspiring them to perform with equal intensity. As a servant to the mission and your team, you will be leading.

Regardless of the role in which you find yourself remember, “How you do anything is how you do everything.”

Hard Life or Easy Life

It’s a new year of school (Alec is starting the 1st grade) and with it comes a new set of challenges. Last year in Kindergarten, Alec’s performance issues were talking, playing, and doing cartwheels at the wrong time. Coming into the second week of school, talking when he should not, has turned into his first challenge. Yesterday, he had four warnings for talking which led to not completing one of his tasks.

Growing up, I don’t remember being much of a talker. As I got older, not talking turned out to be a social negative. When others were building valuable social skills, I was locked away in my own thoughts. Now I am constantly waging a battle to become more approachable, with a positive demeanor, as opposed to my normal serious countenance. Often, I have to remind myself to be more engaging, to talk more.

I asked Alec why he was talking so much. He said, “I am trying to make friends.” Now that puts me in a conundrum. Not doing what you are supposed to in school should warrant some form of punishment. Building strong social skills that can enhance your personal and professional life as an adult, however, may be a more valuable lesson than any traditional education can provide. What Alec needs is balance. He needs to be able to do both and to do each at the appropriate time.

Sometimes it is not enough to do our best, we must do what is required. –Winston Churchill

The Punishment.

In Army Basic Training, a young soldier quickly learns the consequences of not doing what he is supposed to do. Usually this is in the form of physical exertion. My platoon in Basic underwent a lot of physical exertion. In the beginning, we did our best. It was never good enough, and we paid for it in our sweat and tears. Towards the end, we learned that doing what was required far outweighed our best intentions. In doing what was required, our extracurricular physical exertion was considerably reduced.

50 Push-ups, 50 Sit-ups, 5 total minutes Wall Sit

We broke Alec’s punishment down into a simple circuit of the three above exercises. 5 repetitions each of push-ups and sit-ups followed by a wall sit for as long as he could hold it. Except the last 10 seconds of the wall sit, this workout was not too difficult for Alec. The goal of this punishment was not to break him down. It wasn’t to psychologically scare him out of talking again. The purpose was to remind him that there are consequences for our actions. As long as he doesn’t get into trouble, I encourage him to talk. More importantly, we must do what is required. In this case, completing all tasks.

Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life. –Jerzy Gregorek, author of The Happy Body and legendary Olympic weightlifter.

The Lesson.

We are always making choices. The fruits of our present choices are always borne out in the future. Looking back again on my younger years, I made many easy choices. Every time I chose credit instead of cash, cheap and easy foods instead of high quality “fuel,” or laziness over action, I paid a very expensive price at later date. All the easy choices made my life much harder. Some of these choices I am still paying for today.

When Alec chose to talk instead of completing his tasks, he was making the easy choices. A hard choice would have been wait for the right time to talk. As a result of his easy choice, he paid for it through exercise. This may sound harsh to some, but it is a relatively small price for the value of the lesson. If he can learn to do the hard things now, he can possibly have a much easier life in the future. Many parents want the best for their children. In many cases, this results in the parents enabling their children in a futile attempt at making their lives easier. But gifts are often under-appreciated and easily squandered compared to possessions earned. I want Alec to have an easy life, but I can’t give it to him. He has to earn it by making the hard choices now.

Dig Deep, Stand Tall, and Give Back

Photo by Richard Upchurch Photography
Photo by Richard Upchurch Photography

Carl Jung said, “No tree can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell. When I first read this quote, I believe I understood it. You have to go to hell and survive. Do this, and you will have what it takes to make it to heaven. This was an interpretation I could relate to. So many times I have gone through a version of hell, and yet I am still alive. I am still here, sometimes just barely escaping. But every time, I have survived. This way of thinking made me tougher, more resilient, and yet, I never felt I was getting ahead. I was only surviving, waiting for my next plunge into the depths. Is this really my existence, to be a lone tree in a water-forsaken desert?

Yesterday, I had a conversation with a co-worker about this quote. He said that the pastor at his church discussed it in a recent sermon. According to his pastor, a tree has to dig down to prevent the elements, such as wind, from pushing it over. The stronger the winds, the deeper the tree has to dig. As the tree grows bigger, more strength is needed to hold onto the earth. If this tree is going to reach the heights of heaven, its roots will have to reach the depths of hell. My co-worker’s words made me reconsider my viewpoint on Jung’s quote.

Dig Deep. Last night, I was watching Wild Australia on Animal Planet with my six year-old son. The segment covering Koala bears was introduced with a discussion about the very unique eucalyptus tree. In order for the eucalyptus to survive in such a harsh environment as Australia, its roots have to go really deep. Why? Water. Without water, the tree would not exist, and the only place it can find water is deep within the earth. Water is a basic element, a source of life for all us.

If we want to live, to prosper, we have to tap into the source of life. We have to dig deep to find our meaning for existence, so that we do not become victims of our own harsh climate. Without this foundation, we would find ourselves susceptible to the elements and run the risk of toppling over.

Stand Tall. Compared to a forest, a tree is small. Its chances of survival is small. The seed is fragile. It needs water, soil, and heat to sprout. Competition is fierce for a young sapling. It is contending with other saplings and adult trees for a few precious resources. Can it get enough nutrients to emerge beyond the weeds that would gladly choke it out? As it grows, it will have to carve out its own space among the other trees. In order for it to get the most sunlight, it is going to have to grow the tallest. It is going to have to prevent the competition from crowding it out. It is going to have to move from wanting to survive, to wanting to thrive.

Isn’t it in our nature to desire the same thing? We are all looking for our place in this world, a space we can call our own. The competition is fierce. To get the job we want, we have to be better than the others looking for that same position. We have to make ourselves desirable to have the friends we want and ultimately the spouse we hope for. We have to be our best or we run the risk of being overshadowed by the rest of the forest. The higher you want to go, the deeper you will have to reach within yourself.

Give Back. The biggest tree is the biggest provider for others. It provides food and shelter to a whole host of animals and insects. The more it grows, the greater its ability to give more. At no time does the tree hoard its bounty. The tree does what is in its nature and as a result there are a multitude of benefactors.

As we grow, as we take from the earth and the very source of life, is there any greater calling than to give back? As we mature and age, others begin to look to us for shelter and sustenance. Our families, our employees, and our friends count on us to be there, to be a bastion of security and hope. But a tree doesn’t only provide for its own, it gives freely to any that desires its shelter. In a similar fashion, we should learn from this example and come to a place in our lives where we can give to any in need, not from compulsion but from our own good will. Not only would we be reaching for heaven, we would provide an opportunity for others to find their own way.

We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. –Winston Churchill

Often I find myself in my own world left to my own thoughts. I don’t usually find myself in a conversation of this magnitude with a co-worker. This conversation challenged my beliefs and provided an opportunity to create new ones. My former belief –an acceptance of my inevitable return to hell hoping to find a way to escape –was one of overcoming a continuous cycle of failure. My new belief is a call to action, going beyond survival and into a new realm where it is possible to thrive. For this I am grateful.

Follow Your Calling

I am reminded of two lessons from the Bible:

  1. The children of Israel was a nation poised to be an enduring world super-power. They had everything going for them. They had all the chances in the world to maximize their full potential. But over and over again, they let those opportunities go. Instead of keeping their focus on the future and the great rewards that the future had to offer, they chose to indulge in the immediate gratification found in the present. They didn’t have the patience to wait. When the dust settled, their prophecies came true.
  2. Jonah was called by God to do a mission. He ran away. The result: he got swallowed by a big fish and vomited back up on the shore (Jonah 2:11).

From these two stories in the Bible, there is a lesson that can be learned. Whether or not our calling is divine, we should listen to it.

I can’t imagine God put us on this earth to be ordinary. –Lou Holtz

Do you ever wonder what exactly is your purpose on this earth? It is something I think about often. If there is such a thing as a calling, such a thing as destiny, I feel that I have one. I also feel that there has been many times I have run away from that calling. The things I am supposed to do in this life requires practice and time. But recently, I have noticed a disturbing trend in my life. When opportunities present themselves at work, I am quick to to put in for them. These are not promotions, but they are positions that will require more time from me. They will require more time away from the things I believe I should be doing. I can’t think of any legitimate reason why I would be doing this except that I am resisting my calling. This as Steven Pressfield writes over and over again in The War of Art is resistance. Resistance telling me to put it off and wait until later, until I am older. This is procrastination.

Procrastination is a dangerous thing. Ignoring your calling is even more dangerous. Eventually there will come a time when the things you are putting off lose their importance. Run away from your calling long enough, and you may find an inability to hear it again in the future. It would be better to be swallowed by a fish and vomited back up on the shore. But in this day and age, we may not be so fortunate to have God act in such a direct way. Therefore it is imperative that when we hear our calling we don’t ignore it. Our individual destinies are calls to action. If we can keep the end rewards in sight and forego the temptations found in the present, we can go from the ordinary to the extraordinary.