The magnitude of each moment is miraculous, indeed. It is not so much what plays out for us that can be designed to a great degree (which can be grand and glorious), but I'm speaking of how it plays out; its long term impact.
Thirty years ago (and more), I taught Junior Highers part-time in addition to what I was already doing. Wow and Whoa! I found out fast that JH's show you nothing, tell you nothing, they don't miss a thing, and they don't forget anything. There wasn't a day that I didn't humorously say on my way to the car (in Groucho Marks fashion) as a means to resolve and release to keep on keeping on, "Yep... that made a lot of difference!" Then, I would sit in my car and start working through what I did know as compared to what I didn't know, because I wasn't seeing it, hearing it, or feeling it. Yet, deep down inside, I knew I was having an influence.
Just in case you didn't just catch it right there, right there is the key to sanity and success: You need to operate from what you know rather than how you feel. Emotions are fickle at face value. The truth is trustworthy.
So, I kept at it with everything I had, and lo and behold... 29ish years later, I started hearing from the JH's via email. They found me on the internet; didn't see that one coming! Most of the emails had the same format: started with 'hope you remember me', followed by an extensive update on their life, and then, closed with a final statement of their assessment of me and what I did for them.
The first young man who contacted me ended his email with the following assessment: "Outside of the Principle, who was my Dad, you were the most influential teacher to get me to where I am today." Whoa! Not a clue. I knew that I was having an influence, but no clue to the degree of impact and influence that I was having in that young man's life.
I got this last one from a young lady in that class. She ended her email with this personal statement: "You were the only man growing up that I didn’t fear." Can you get a sense and a feel of her historical experience way back there in her environment?! I knew nothing about it. So glad I stayed the course.
Principle Five: Things you do are larger than you can really see... and more long lasting!
People will come into our lives and for the most part, we will not know much of all that is going on in their life. We need to understand that they are there right on time and for a real purpose, and make sure that we fulfill our role in their lives regardless of what we see, hear, and feel. We know that we are having a long-term impact in their lives... either positively or negatively. And in all of that, don't ever forget the Ripple Effect; your work keeps on going in them and in others as they touch others with how you touched them.
Believe the truth and don't become weary in well-doing; it will come to fruition. Stay on course!
Protecting Vision Part 2
Even though it was decades ago, I still feel the sting of it; a sharp and precise surgical stroke that sliced deep. Days were running into each other and the tension of multiple plates (projects) being spun while balanced was mounting to an all time high. That which seemed to make so much sense all along the way, began to fray in the face of growing demands that I did not envision when it all started. Blinded by my mounting emotional fervency, my expectations of others via my demands became unbearable for those around me. From my view, they had some real problems! From theirs (which was not being considered nor read on my instrument panel), I was flying upside down and no longer on the originally mapped course.
At a crucial juncture, in the heat of the moment, in the middle of an intense conversation, one entangled individual pointedly and purposefully said to me, “You think you’re God!” That is when I began to lose altitude… big time!
Principle Two: You may appear larger than you actually are! It doesn’t arrive instantaneously in most cases; it is a gradual eroding or chipping away of a right perception, which finds itself in redefining yourself and everyone around you.
Others began to appear inept compared to my competence.
Others seemed indolent compared to my commitment.
Others were irrelevant compared to my significance.
[ still stings as it is shared once again ]
All the signs were there, but I was not paying attention to the things that mattered most. What mattered most to me was me… and how I felt in each moment. People became a MEANS to an END, and the end was ME.
And… that pretty much was the end of me... at least in that way of seeing things! Things, indeed, changed. We need to define each other rightly at all times; a right and proper respect for who they are. And, we need to stay clear of taking on things that are not ours to take on; a right and proper respect for what they do.
Forgiveness was the key to getting back on course way back then, and it still remains the answer for when we “get too big for our britches” in today's culture. Fly in the right direction… right side up!
No Choice is a Choice
Your car stalls on the railroad tracks. Everything you try doesn’t work; the car will not start. You hear the sound of a freight train just rounding the bend and it is bearing down on you rapidly at 55 mph and it cannot stop in time.
You have two options, basically, in this amount of time: 1) Get out of the car, and 2) Stay in the car. There are consequences to those choices. If you get out of the car, you live. If you stay in the car, you die. You have the power to get out of the car and the power to stay in the car.
There is a challenge here. While you are making up your mind, you are in one of the choices. You are in the car and you are going to die! For far too long, most people have believed a big, fat lie in the realm of making decisions; making a choice in what to do. It is, basically, wrapped up in this response most often heard: “Well, I just haven’t made up my mind yet?” The never-verbalized rationale in this statement is simple. It deludes one into thinking that there is some safe, neutral zone while thinking about it. The reality is otherwise.
No choice is a choice!
So many applications and so little time! The entire concept of change is noteworthy; people resist it and use this lie under the guise of intellectual and reasonable process. While it is wise to process (calculate and estimate), the wise person processes, knowing that all the time he/she spends in the processing, the same consequences are playing out during it, and will continue until something changes.
The concept of stress is equally noteworthy; people so easily and so quickly blame outside influences, using this lie to stay right where they are, because it is easier to deflect and defer rather than to… change. Hmmm. Back to that.
Over the last two decades, “the convenience of inconvenience” has carried the greatest load (share) of most used excuses, yet cleverly disguised (not now) as being extremely diligent and careful. There is no safe, neutral ground. Either way… you choose.
Out... on the road... peddling hard... into the wind! We were about 12 miles out and felt a change of direction might be good... nice. The next paved road would be it. The very next one was.
Left, in lickety-split fashion, we made the change and once tracked in straight line, I looked up and my mouth dropped open with full gaping gasp! Stretched out in front of us, starting at about 300 yards from where we currently rolled, was a hill that appeared to go straight up, almost like a monolith that had been dropped in by an alien space craft! My heart nearly fell out of my chest and my brain was running end-game scenarios faster than Speedy Gonzales could grab Fritos ahead of the Bandito!
We looked at each other (momentarily disassembling the paceline) bearing the same face, and more than one person said, “And we turned left why!?!” Laughter ensued and we immediately took on the task at hand.
Like never before, the most amazing thing took place. With each crank of the pedal and roll of the wheel, the wall started to lean away from us; the closer we got, the flatter it got. In a very short period of time, the whole vision of the encounter changed from virtually impossible to extremely doable!
I realized that some of life encounters are the same; the first look is a bit frightening, but further looks and the last look is more in line with reality.
Principle One: Things that threaten appear larger than they really are!
It is essential that we keep our vision of things in line with the truth, and one of those is that we will be surprised and things will be distorted at first glance. Knowing that will enable us to positively press forward and accomplish the task without waiting and/or wasting time. The closer we get... the flatter it gets. The more time with it... the more familiar it becomes with our connected past experiences.
At the top of the rise, we all laughed long and hard, embracing the joy in the moment of learning yet another aspect to our own thinking and how to protect our perception for living excellence in each moment.
Over the course of time (with many an ouch along the way), I have learned (after many...) to ask myself Five (5) Questions with each encounter. They are sensible and strategic steps to navigate appropriateness.
1) Who am I ? Without hesitation, "every choice we make can be traced directly bacerk to who we believe we are". It is the driving point-of-reference in our decision-making. Starting here each time, it protects you from acting out of true character; you live IN context and not OUT-of-context.
2) Where am I ? Everywhere we go, we are living who we are, and with each "where", there is a distinct responsibility of "how" we live who we are. Standards are linked to each place you go and by remembering where you are, you are properly linked in how to live your role in it.
3) Who am I with ? One of the greatest blessings in life is that we are all different, and that means we have different needs, styles, and preferences. A person's position is also a true consideration. This remembered awareness gives you a great advantange; it connects you knowledgeably.
4) What is the best outcome ? An outcome takes place all by itself, but if you would like to get somewhere specific, then, you need to determine it quickly, especially when you want the best. By asking up front, the mind starts to open up options to pursue. That mutual purpose is the key at this point.
5) What have I learned that can help me know ? Bring your Historical Experience into the moment! You have experienced so much (think about how old you are) and you already have a great degree of connection with whatever it is that is facing you. Use this expertise and exprerience by drawing from your past. This simple yet sure process helps me chart the right course and stay on course toward the best goal with the right motive.