A young man I knew was having an argument with his Dad and he stormed out of the house declaring, “Nobody is going to tell ME what to do! I’m joining the ARMY!”
Johnny’s dad had rather salty language. When he let a bad word slip, he would say, “Pardon my French.” You can imagine the look on the face of the foreign language teacher when he asked the class if anyone spoke French and Johnny raised his hand.
Bruce Jenner was named Woman of the Year?
When I was teaching a class of 4th graders and told them I was Superman, one of the boys in the back of the class yelled out, “Superman does NOT have a double chin!” I shouted back, “That is not a double chin…that is a TRIPLE chin!!!” (And I am on a diet…OK?)
Hillary??? (Did I say that already?)
In public schools you can talk about Buddhism, Hinduism, and the Day of the Dead celebration, but you can’t talk about Jesus??? Isn’t that what Christmas is really about?
Televangelists that have jets. Jesus rode a donkey….just sayin.
The Dallas Cowboys can’t seem to have a consistent winning season. There is always next year, right?
A Powerball winner that won over $300 million and was $1.5 million in debt in 4 years!!! Whether we win $500 million or $1 million, about 70 percent of us lose or spend all our money in five years or less.
Excelling at something is going to cost you; the higher the goal, the greater the cost. Whether you want to excel at a sport, in business, or in relationships…there is a price to be paid for excellence.
I have been fortunate in my career to have excelled in business and been awarded top salesman / manager on more than one occasion with several companies. Looking back, I did not have that goal in mind when I was working. I just wanted to do well, make a lot of money, and enjoy my work. Being the top dog was not my goal…it was a by-product of pursuing the desire to excel.
I can recall working alone in cath labs all night long so that the client would have great images when they took pictures the next day. There were many times I had that self-talk and asked, “What am I doing here???” The rewards were not instantaneous. Many times I wondered if what I was doing really mattered.
Here is what I learned about excellence:
It requires that you do more than others are typically willing to do. That is what sets you apart when you do more than what was expected and more than you projected.
It is part of your character. What you do when nobody is looking matters. You don’t cut corners when striving for excellence.
It is noticed by others. You don’t have to toot your own horn when you excel at what you do. Others will be your cheerleaders, so resist the temptation to stoop to bragging about what you have done. Bragging cheapens your reward.
It is the result of more than just your own efforts. It might be your CEO, your manger, your coach, your spouse, your friends, your co-workers, but someone has contributed to your achievements. It may just be the prayers of your Mom…but somebody has been there in your corner to help you on your journey. Always give credit where credit is due. Thank those that have helped you get to the top.
Excellence is what every company and team talks about, but few have truly pursued it with a whole heart. It is more than a slogan on the wall. It is a way of life. It is never settling for how things are today and the successes of the past. It is realizing that there is always another mountain to climb, another victory to pursue, another dream to fulfill.
Life is short; live every day with purpose and passion. What would your life look like if everything you did was done with excellence? How would it affect our world if everyone did that?
Compassion is a beautiful thing…both to observe and to be a part of. I was teaching in an elementary school last week and saw compassion in action. A little girl was sobbing as she came up to me on the playground. When I asked her what was wrong, she said, “Juan said that I was responsible for everything that was wrong in the world!” I wanted to laugh at the absurdity of the statement, but to her, it was a cut to the bone.
As I put my hand on her shoulder I said, “Don’t pay attention to Juan. He does not know what he is talking about.” Three of the little girl’s friends immediately surrounded her. They were consoling her, hugging her, and stroking her hair. They felt her pain.
I asked one of the girls to go get Juan and bring him over to us. A minute later I could see Juan walking towards me with that “Uh-oh I am BUSTED look” on his face. I could see the defiance in him when he walked up to us. I asked him if he told her that she was responsible for all the problems in the world, and he immediately started the blame game. “She did this and she did that.” I think every adult that has been around this scenario can appreciate the predicament. I said, “Stop! I don’t want to hear it. Was what you said to her kind?” He started to argue again…and I said, “No, was it KIND?” He finally hung his head and said, “No.” Then I said, “Well, what do you have to say to her?” He looked at her and said, “I’m sorry.” I looked at her and asked her, “What do you say to him?” She said, “I forgive you.”
I looked at both of them and asked, “Are we OK then?” He smiled back at me. She smiled back at me, and all was well with the world again. They both ran off playing and laughing. What struck me about this episode is that it is very common. It is played out a thousand times every day on playgrounds all over the world. But what really touched me was the compassion she received from her friends. They felt her pain (whether it was real or not). They wanted her to know it would be OK. They were there for her.
But what if a child does not have anyone in their corner? What if nobody cares that they are hurting emotionally or physically? That happens every day too, unfortunately. That is where we as adults have a responsibility to be kind, be compassionate, and be the one who cares. Everyone needs to know that somebody cares. Next time you see someone hurting, be compassionate. Show them the love that we all need. There may not be anyone else to help them through their crisis.
Never underestimate the power of compassion. It is like being God with skin on to them because that is who God is; He is love. When you are compassionate to someone, you are showing them the love of God.
I know that not everyone will agree with this, and that is OK….but I don’t think everyone should get a ribbon just for showing up. Whatever happened to the winners getting a trophy because they won? Now we seem to have taken the stance that everyone gets a ribbon just for showing up. Really? Is that a realistic look at how life really is?
Do we get awards for just showing up at work? I know that is a bit of a trick question because some companies do award perfect attendance…but that is not the point here. You still have to produce. You don’t get rewarded for just showing up…at least not for long. Eventually you have to contribute to the company or they will let you go. Ask any professional athlete if they can keep a job without contributing to the team.
Having taught adults and kids, I know that egos can be fragile and nobody likes to lose. I have seen “adults” throwing tantrums on the sidelines of professional sports when they lose a game, so age is apparently not the issue. Getting older is mandatory, maturity is optional.
Whether you are an adult or a child, you have to learn to win and lose graciously. Losing is part of the game of life, just like winning is. The trick is to be gracious despite the outcome. I detest seeing people taunt their competition when they have won a game. Lombardi gave some advice to his players that drives home my point. He was correcting some players that were showboating in the end zone. He simply said, “Act like you’ve been there before.
Losing is one of the greatest teachers we have in life. You never fully appreciate winning until you know the pain of losing. Losing gives you the incentive to get better, to achieve new records, to conquer new territory…and losing gives you checkpoints. Losing gives you the motivation to change. If you won at everything you did, where would the challenge be? What fun would it be if you won every game and every battle you encountered? Napoleon was said to have sat down and cried at one point because there was nothing (that he knew of) left to conquer. It is the possibility of losing that makes winning sweet.
I do believe in helping shape a child’s mind and heart with tender loving care, but giving everyone a ribbon sends the wrong message. When losing, they need to be encouraged through it not rewarded for it. I have nothing against giving a team due recognition for first, second, and third place…but isn’t that enough? Do we need to have trophies and ribbons for every team that played regardless of their performance? Maybe I am looking at this from an old school perspective, or maybe I am the sane one. LOL
We seem to live in a day and age where we are so afraid of offending people that we compromise ourselves at the slightest push. How about we stop that and just agree to teach kids and adults to endure, to have hope, to excel, and not quit? Isn’t that more powerful than a ribbon for participating? Losing does not make someone a loser. If they learn that one thing it can change them and affect all those they encounter in a positive manner for the rest of their lives.
Are you trying to move forward looking in the rearview mirror? It is impossible to do. There is a reason a windshield is so big in comparison to the rearview mirror. It was never intended for you to drive or to live looking backwards.
Letting go of past mistakes can be very hard to do when relationships have been sacrificed, careers ruined, and finances tanked. What makes it next to impossible to let go of the past is when you are continually reminded of the mistakes you have made. So, is it even possible to live in the now and let go of the past?
The answer is, “That depends on you.” It is up to you whether you want to live a life that is full, rewarding, and filled with blessings, or if you want to dwell in the past and miss all of that. Who in their right mind would choose to dwell in the past and miss the blessings of the present, right? Well, unfortunately, millions of people fall into that trap.
Here are a few things that might help you move forward in the new year:
You can’t move forward if you are still anchored in the past. Pull up the anchor that is holding you back. Whatever it is that the anchor represents (bitterness, resentments, anger, un-forgiveness, hanging out with the wrong crowd, etc.), pull it up and move forward. It may require that you get new friends, a new job, new hobbies, or forgive someone that has done something unforgivable towards you; but, whatever it is that is holding you back, take responsibility for yourself and do what is right vs. what feels good at the moment.
You can’t move forward if you are stuck in neutral. You have to do something positive to move yourself forward. Replace bitterness, resentments, anger, and un-forgiveness with love, grace, kindness, and mercy.
Get friends that are grounded emotionally and spiritually. If you are getting advice from friends that is contrary to common sense or Biblical principles, that should be a clue to you that you need new friends. There is a proverb that says, “Evil company corrupts.” Take heed to who you hang with. They WILL influence you for good or for evil.
Be willing to admit your mistakes. Take responsibility for things you have done wrong and rectify them if possible.
Forgive yourself and don’t allow others to “shame you” when you have moved forward.
Life is complicated for most of us. There are so many moving parts and there are always the surprises that life throws at us on a regular basis. My prayer for you and for myself is that we let the past be past. Let’s learn from our mistakes, let go of the anchor(s) that have been keeping us from moving forward, and let’s make the new year the best year of our lives.