Three Wishes

A game that is too hard. An assignment that is too difficult. A task that seems impossible. I watch as my son gets frustrated. Like water, he wants to take the easy path.

The hard game. There is a value to games if they challenge you. The others are only timewasters. Too often, Alec plays the easy game. Why? It is easy and they do not challenge the brain. The hard games develop critical thinking, strategy, and cunning. The hard games are frustrating. We have all been there. We have all struggled endlessly repeating the same feedback loop that is destined to fail. But this is where practice comes in. To develop a new skill, you need repetition. To be a master:

Don’t wish it were easier, wish you were better.

The difficult assignment. Some of the math problems, especially the word problems, were too difficult for Alec to figure out on his own. Reading those questions and putting them into mathematical equations went beyond the young third grader’s current ability. But does he have a system for breaking down the problem? Not yet. He could wish that the homework would go away, but even he knows that is not going to happen. If he wants a passing grade, then his only solution is to figure it out. Once again, we have all been there before. All those tedious problems that never seem to go away. They will never magically disappear, but they can get easier. To make it happen:

Don’t wish for less problems, wish for more skills.

The impossible task. [A step back into mythology] For the mighty Hercules to clean the stables of King Augeas, he had to get creative. There was no way he could complete the task in one day by getting down on his hands and knees and scrubbing. Of course, he used his strength to help him get it done, but he also used his brain. With wisdom, he created the plan. With his body, he executed the plan. We will all face seemingly insurmountable challenges in the future, but…

Don’t wish for less challenge, wish for more wisdom.

Jim Rohn

Feature photo by Amelie & Niklas Ohlrogge on Unsplash

Develop Yourself for the Opportunities

Little League Football. It was easy. I was good. I started on both sides of the ball and played every down. The competition wasn’t that great. I didn’t have to try very hard to be successful.

Junior High School Football. I sat on the bench and watched the older kids played. I played a little on the Junior Varsity squad. I was not good and did not know why. Maybe it was an age thing.

High School Football. I saw more playing time as I got older. Well, at least if I could stay healthy. My first three seasons ended with mid-season-ending injuries. But my senior year, I finally stayed healthy and finished with all-conference honors. Despite that, I know I could have done better. I gave it everything I had from August to November. Outside of those four months, I concentrated on other things. I wasn’t dedicated to improving my fitness or my diet. Instead of exponential growth, I had normal growth on par with the average teenage boy.

Football turns out to be an excellent analogy for the first forty years of my life. There were hints of the spectacular sprinkled in with the mostly average. I did what I had to do to scrape by but never took the time and effort to develop beyond that. But after forty or so years on intermittent sleeping, I finally woke up and realized I had to do a better job. I had to slow down on the reading of fiction, had to watch less television, and most importantly had to waste less time. I had to start living like every day could be my last, because we do not know what the future will bring, and every day could really be our last. I had to get busy with life’s purpose and that meant, I had to start working on my own development.

Your level of success will seldom exceed your level of personal development, because success is something you attract by the person you become.

Jim Rohn

I cannot count how many opportunities have passed me by. Why did they go by? I wasn’t ready for them. I didn’t have the qualifications. Things I could have easily taken the time to do but never did. And for all the opportunities that I saw, how many did I never see because they were too far out of my realm of possibility?

But then when I woke up out of this mundane stupor of going through the motions of life, when I got busy with life’s purpose, I noticed a change. Opportunities started presenting themselves that I never even considered. Possibilities began to sprout that were never even a consideration before. All because I raised my level of self-development.

How can you raise your level of self-development? Do a little more each day to improve your body, mind, and soul. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was any of us. It might not be possible to turn the tide of our life in one day. But in one day, you could move the needle towards a little more progress. Start small. Steady, incremental change performed every day will become monumental over the years. The possibilities will be endless. Opportunities will come to you that you never imagined.


Feature photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Designing Happiness

When I get to this point in my life, then I’ll be happy. How many times have you told yourself that? And when you made it to that point, did it work out for you? Did you finally find happiness? Or, did you move your time for happiness to the next point in your life? You said you would be happy when you graduated, when you got a job, when married, had kids, on and on and on. It is as if happiness is some form of payment for completing a life step. But happiness is not currency, it is a state of being.

Is it well with my soul? This is the question you should ask yourself. If you can answer yes, then you might find yourself at peace. You might be happy. And if you answer no, then you must find a way to get there. Maybe you are not being loyal to your purpose in life. Or maybe, it is a skeleton still hanging around in the closet. Is what you envision matching up to reality?

There could be many reasons why you are not happy. If this is something you want, then you must be the chief architect of your happiness. This means designing the plans, making sure it is up to code (i.e. ethical), and then building it.

Give it a try. Along the way, you might realize that it is not about the end result but something that was there the whole time, that it was a state of being achieved by the process of doing.

Hope 2/16/2019

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

What are you wishing for?

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The Virtue of Hope

There is a belief by some that tomorrow will be better, that our future will be a little brighter. This hope is what spurns them to keep going even when the day is at its darkest. Without hope, we are lost.

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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