What is a true measure of success

I remember when I was helping someone work through feelings of inadequacy. He had a few successful semesters of community college. Then he moved to another town to transfer to a 4 year college. The first semester away, he failed most of his classes. He ultimately transferred back to his hometown community college, but was now convinced that he was an absolute failure. He didn’t think he could succeed at the community college, let alone transfer again to a 4 year college. Despite my exhortations, he was discouraged.

This is what i had him do. I had him right the name of each college class on a post-it along with the grade he earned. Then we discussed what he considered success when it comes to a college course. His definition was a grade of B. Then I had him separate the post-its into 2 stacks. One stack was for courses where he earned a B or higher. The other stack was for the courses where he earned a C or lower. We counted the stacks. We determined the total number of courses he had taken at that point and figured out the percentage of courses he succeeded.

I then steered the conversation to athletes. We decided that Joe Montana was a successful quarterback. (As a matter of fact one of the best EVER). We looked up what percentage of passes he completed in the pros. 63.2%.  We also decided that Michael Jordan was a successful basketball player. We looked up his career field goal percentage. That was 48.7%. I then said, it seems to me that your percentage is higher than Michael Jordan and Joe Montana. I would say you are in good company and should not quit believe\ing. Here is another target to keep in mind. Michael Jordan successfully completed 82.8% of his free throws. So keep working. Even if you don’t reach that, you are already doing well. You had a lousy game. Don’t quit. Remember the successes.

He said, you know, I am going to remember my completions. I realize that even though I failed at some classes, that cannot define me. I have talents and I have determination. I have heart. I care about people. I have my faith and I love my family. The rest is just steering my ship around the rocks the best I can. If I run aground, I already know what to do. I won’t panic. I will stop the comparison game. I am competing against myself, not them.

I said, then, in the course of life you are on the right track. It is like mountain climbing. If you doubt, during your climb, that you can reach the top, remember how far you have climbed, remember the difficulties you have overcome, the fears you have crushed.You will do fine.

He did succeed by the way. He received his Bachelor’s with honors. Even more importantly, he did it with his compassionate, empathetic heart intact.

We, too, must remember in this competitive world that there are many ways to be successful. I would not want to compromise my own personal priorities and trade them for anyone else’s. You see, I cannot be someone else. I would fail miserably and the world doesn’t need me to be anyone’s copycat! Success? Success is firmly planting myself on the path God put me on. Success is running my path all the way to the finish line. I think we need to continually make time to examine and evaluate our priorities, goals, strategies. For me, every path I take must include mentoring and encouraging people. My path must also include prayer, writing, exercise,various duties,  and some networking! For some people, success includes money, and building a huge team of employees. For others, it includes hours of overtime, lengthy vacations, and fancy cars.  My point is, first you need to decide the path. Then you need to decide the strategy to keep yourself running your path. You also must decide how you will keep your other priorities, because that will help your stamina. That will feed your heart and soul.

The young man assumed everyone else had perfect grades, always surrounded by adoring friends, and never had a lousy day. I think we tend to focus on the negative in us and forget the positives. Let’s treat ourselves the way we want others to treat us.















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ramblin rose: music makes you remember

A few years ago, I posted a memory I have of my parents and their pink and black Rambler they had when I was a kid. My brother was asking about that today, so I am telling the story again. here is the song https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rB2hhgjlgFE

When i was a kid, my parents had a pink and black Rambler. My parents were also big fans of Nat King Cole. Every time we went on a long drive or road trip, we sang songs. One of the first songs they always sang after we got in the car was Ramblin Rose by Nat King Cole. If the song came on the radio, we all sang along. If it was on the radio, or the record player, when we were home, my parents would sing along to it and dance. I played this today, closed my eyes, and i rushed back through time.
There i was in the middle of the back seat between my brothers. The wind was rushing through the windows. I was young. My parents were there (young and gorgeous), my brothers too (healthy, happy, silly).
Made me cry. Couldn’t believe the power of that song today.
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When you choose to live based on God’s direction

via When you choose to live based on God’s direction

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When you choose to live based on God’s direction

When you choose to live based on what God says, and not on what others say, you can live with confidence and security built on the rock. He loves you. He has a plan and a path for you. He will speak to your heart. Hush and listen. Yes, He speaks to each of us. He speaks to you, individually. 1 Thessalonians 1:4 even tells us that we are chosen by God. Yes, even you!

Why? Galatians 3:26 tells me that I am His child. I belong to Him much more than the fact that I belong to the world.  You may at times think “I am nothing special”. This is false. You see, you are God’s masterpiece. Yes, a masterpiece. Look at Ephesians 2:10.”For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.”  Have you ever studied art history or art appreciation?  From the cave drawings, through the Renaissance, the Dutch masters, the Spanish artists, the Impressionists, Andrew Wyeth, and all the amazing painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, and composers in between, there are many works considered to be masterpieces. There is no denying that. But you, too, are definitely a masterpiece. 

If you have ever been in an art museum, or anywhere that art is on display, you will note that there are security guards, security cameras, boundaries and rules as to how close you can be to the artwork. How analogous is this? Do you see the parallels? We, too are that precious. God guards our heart, as a Good Shepherd. When it comes to wolves or wolves in sheeps clothing, boundaries and the like need to be in place. They need to protect God’s treasure ~ you. That way, your beauty and your mission can inspire others, just the way that God intends. 

Take heart everyone. Truly appreciate the masterpiece that you and others are. Remember: in these troubled times, Believe Anyway.

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The best ideal of beauty

Our media and society are full of what beautiful is.  But do you know what? Most of them are false, aren’t they? If our eyes saw souls, hearts, devotion, and constancy ~ instead of the outer shell, we would see true beauty. I have often said, if we could see ourselves through God’s eyes and through the eyes of those who love us the most, we would have the ability to see how we really are.

It is easy to make ourselves a magnet to draw in and hold onto the negatives and the critics. But that really buries hope and truth. Alex Elle says, “ignore people who threaten your joy. Literally, ignore them. Say nothing. Don’t invite any part of them into your space.’

In contrast, hold on to those who feed your soul. Discern whether their input affirms your authentic self. Seek God’s counsel in it all. Discover where God’s path for you is leading. Welcome changes and challenges. Why? Remember, the path is leading to the next mountaintop. The view at the top of that mountain will be spectacular. The view will also help you see your next path. On your way, be sure that you are helping other travelers to climb the path, too. For it is in noticing them that we learn to serve with humility. They, too, teach us.  Remember: although we have things in common with each other, it is not helpful to bury our unique sparkle.

The world grows darker if you only express your sparkle in someone else’s style and way. Here is a musical example of that. When Barbra Streisand was early in her career, she performed some songs that had been done in a far different way, and made it her own. A specific example is when she recorded “Happy Days Are Here Again”. Her musical phrasing was completely different than had ever been done before. What if her advisors had warned her not to do it that way because others weren’t doing it that way. Yes, she has a spectacular voice, and it would have been lovely. However, the world would have been musically shortchanged. Her unique way spoke to hearts in a unique way.

The best ideal of beauty is when we encourage ourselves to be truly ourselves with God’s guidance. Not only that, but when we encourage others to do likewise? They also are devoted to become what God envisions. God doesn’t envision us being mere Cliff Notes of His hopes for us. He wants it all. The world needs our whole authentic selves.

Once again, this helps us light a candle in a dark world. It helps share our light with others who might be out of matches. It helps us believe anyway. I hope you have a beautiful day and evening.




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Grit: it is one of the big topics

What are the keys to success? Oh there are so many. There are even many different definitions of success, aren’t there?

Grit, though, is the topic of of Amanda Duckworth’s book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.

Grit includes self-control; purpose; perseverance: passion; deliberate practices; purpose; character; and the power of consistency. Talent itself is a tiny fraction of success. A cornerstone of success is passion, dedication, and effort.  She points out the necessity of marching toward long-term goals. It is very important to love what you do. Talent helps, but really, Duckworth defines the 4 paragons of grit.

The 4 paragons include: resilience; a willingness to engage in deliberate practice; passion; and a sense of purpose toward achieving a top–level goal.

It is really important to be able to CLEARLY and SPECIFICALLY state/articulate in 10 words or less what everything they are doing is all about. Without that, they can easily be discouraged or quit  when they have setbacks.

It is important to, through experience, learn to stiffen your spine and have a “chin first attitude”. That “don’t tell me I cannot achieve it. I will show you” attitude is an excellent example of grit.  Helping others develop grit helps you develop it in yourself.

That reminds me of something my dad taught me. He told me if I was struggling with a concept or a skill, to teach it to someone else. I have definitely found it to be true.

Here is a caveat, though. Grit, consistent effort, perseverance, and the like play a huge role. However, other characteristics are important, too. These characteristics include: commonsense; ethics; kindness and compassion; optimism; empathy; and so many more virtues.

So as you consider grit, realize that each of us develop virtues at different rates and different points in our lives. The key, as always, is to keep climbing our mountains and help others to do the same.

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At work and at rest: Harmony

It isn’t just work life balance. We do hear that all the time, don’t we? As if we can do one then the other sequentially and within our control. I will tell you this: it is the harmony and timing that are the key.

Active and contemplative. At work and at rest. These are dynamics we all face in our lives, and if we are honest, we might not always balance perfectly. How easy it is to get very busy doing good things. We need to provide for our families and plan for retirement. We need to make sure children are clothed, fed, and educate. Our committees, groups, sports, exercise activity schedules and more need to stay on track. However, without a balance of work with rest, without contemplation in the midst of our action, we will miss the point. While many parts are required for our life in the world to function, the better part is our relationship with God. This week, make time in your busy schedule to sit at Jesus’ feet. Maybe this is 20 minutes with Scripture or just being quiet and listening for God’s voice. Receive what God wants to speak to you.

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