Posts Tagged ‘ do the work ’

Living in the tension.

Probably my favorite poem right now is Rudyard Kipling’s “If.” It’s a few stanzas, has some clever rhymes, and has a pretty great rhythm. But more than that, it alludes to virtues that characterize great men – being honorable, taking risks, not complaining, being well-balanced, etc.

Every time I read that poem, my heartbeat picks up, and I feel that urge to embody each of the virtues mentioned. What’s more, I see the areas alluded to that I lack in my own life, and long to have more of that virtue in my life. What this poem, great preaching, and good friends do to me is remind me of the tension I think we all face: the tension between who we are and who we would like to be.

Whether your goals are financial, physical, spiritual, or in any other area, having them keeps that tension alive, and I think that’s a healthy tension to keep. Without it, I know I can easily become complacent, thinking I’ve done well enough and don’t need to keep pushing forward. I’ve been there, and it’s not a healthy way to be.

To progress, though, requires discipline, and that’s something not easily attained. It takes work, time, energy, commitment, dedication, sacrifice… and there are no shortcuts. You need to do the work, and you need to keep going when it gets difficult (perhaps especially when it gets difficult). And that’s something I think our generation needs to grasp (but that’ll get me started on a blog post for another day).

It’s a few months into 2014 now. Perhaps you’ve fallen on the wayside on some of the commitments you made at the beginning of the year. Perhaps you’ve gone back on some of your Lent commitments. What’s past is past.  Begin again today.

Decide today to get back in the fight with the Holy Spirit alongside.

Decide today to work hard and pray harder.

Decide today to stop making excuses. You can make excuses, or you can make progress.

Decide today to set and keep your priorities.

Decide today to take on the God-sized challenges you’ve been shying away from but that God has put in front of you.

Decide today to start becoming who God made you to be.

Things I wish I knew in college…

Over the last few months, I’ve had the opportunity to connect with a bunch of college students. Many of them attend my alma mater, where I volunteer with a campus ministry they’re involved with. Others I met through an Epic conference in January. Still others I’ve met through other means.

Students, this post is for you. It’s a list of things I wish I had known when I was in college. Hopefully it will be helpful for you.

  • Evernote is probably the best all-around software for taking notes and remembering things. Of course, Evernote may not have been around when I was in college, but go check it out! I’ve also written a Squidoo lens about why Evernote rocks.
  • Google Calendar is so key. Especially being able to share it with others.
  • Gmail is awesome, especially with the new Priority Inbox function, but to really hack your e-mail, play the E-mail Game.
  • Blogging is underrated. Maintaining a blog can be a great way to share insights with people, build community online and practice writing. Platform-wise, I think WordPress is great for customization, but Tumblr is great if you want to just get started with the basics. If you have some real value to share and are interested in making money from your writing, though, Squidoo is awesome for that.
  • Mac is great.
  • Reading the Bible consistently is challenging but very beneficial. Sign up for YouVersion to get on a plan and stay on it.
  • Consuming media is fun but often distracts you from what is much better.
  • Figuring out what you’re naturally good at is a challenging but worthy pursuit. In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to do but one of the most important. Sadly, many don’t care to investigate this, and many of them don’t want you to either.
  • You become like the people you hang out with most. This is not meant to condemn. It’s just something you need to realize.
  • Mediocrity can get you by, but it will never get you where you want to go. I used to take pride in my mediocrity. That was unbelievably stupid.
  • Stop complaining. Hustle instead. You’ll grow and learn far, far more.
  • One of the hardest questions to ask yourself is, “What do I want?” Many don’t want to answer that question because they know they’re not doing anything to get there. Ask it. Answer it. Go get it.
  • If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll end up with what everyone else has.
  • Choose a major that will enhance and utilize your natural strengths, not one that will “guarantee” you a job (it won’t).
  • Find ways to get both inspiration and wisdom, and keep going back for more. Proverbs says this more eloquently. I will post a resource list soon and link it here.
  • Read this and share it with everyone you know who’s in school or working at a school.

What branding isn’t.

If you’re promoting your own brand, here are some things you need to stop paying so much heed to:

  • Your brand name – people care much more about who the brand is than what it calls itself. It doesn’t matter how catchy or unique the name is. It does matter how authentic and human the people are.
  • Your online presence – same as above. If people love you, it’s not because you have an amazing website, Facebook page or Twitter account. And if they don’t, these won’t be enough to change that.
  • Your “uniqueness” – the idea of being unique in business is overrated. It can help, but only if your uniqueness is valuable. Being unique for the sake of being unique is useless. Being unique by being your best self is getting somewhere. If you’re significant enough, people will find you regardless of how unique you are.
  • Putting your name on everything – whether it’s product or service level names, e-mail signatures or anything/anyone you’re associated with, having your name present isn’t really that important. In fact, sometimes, having your name absent speaks louder.
  • The “right message” – as great as it is to have clear and compelling copy, beautiful design and interactive multimedia, your best customers prefer to work with a human being. You can hire people to create the most amazing message in the world, but none of that matters if the message that’s said doesn’t line up with the message that’s received.

Be yourself. Be awesome. That’s what will drive more business. When it comes down to it, no one really cares about how unique your company’s branding is, how nice the logo is or how descriptive your business card is.

You pick it up. I’ll carry it.

First of all, happy 2012! Hope it’s gotten to a great start for everyone!

I spent Christmas weekend with my cousin and her family in Pennsylvania. At one point, my mom mentioned something she witnessed between my cousin’s husband and daughter.

The three-year-old daughter had left something on the floor, and her dad wanted her to pick it up. She told him that she couldn’t carry it, so his reply was, “You pick it up. I’ll carry it.”

I love that line, not just because it was good parenting, but because it’s such a great picture of what God wants to tell us sometimes. And we need to hear both parts of it.

The part I’ve always tended to hear about in church is “I’ll carry it.” So important for many of us who are high achievers and keep wanting to make things happen. We can become so results-oriented that we leave God out of the picture. And in His love, He won’t let us continue to make results our god, so He will sometimes break down those results we were so intent on.

It’s in those spaces that we realize that results don’t come from our labors and toils but from His grace and kindness. I’ve seen that happen plenty in ministry, and my mind goes to Abraham as a Biblical example. God kept him from having children with Sarah until such a time that having Isaac could be attributed only to God.

But the first part is very important for those of us who have heard the second part and begun to rest too comfortably in it. Taken the wrong way, we can come to a place where we start to believe that God will take care of everything, and we just need to relax. I was there for a while, and although it always felt uneasy, I was quite content to stay there.

The problem with this view isn’t only that we can get lazy and stupid or something. The real problem is that we can miss out on the miracles God has for us. Whenever God performed miracles in the Bible, He required a step of faith. A step into the unknown, where I’m going to fall if no one catches me. Some of the commitments are bigger than others in our minds, but there’s always a commitment on our part. I think the lesson here is that God can do great things with even our smallest step of faith.

When Jesus turned water into wine, it was in response to his mother Mary calling for him when the wine ran dry at the wedding. She didn’t know what he would do, but she knew he could do something. The Bible says Jesus could not (note, it doesn’t say “would not” but “could not”) perform miracles in Galilee because of people’s unbelief. Peter could see Jesus walking on the water, but to experience it, he had to step out of the boat.

We have to understand that when God performs miracles, He wants to involve us. We get to be part of the story. But the first step can often be an uncomfortable one. It’s a lot easier to just stay where it’s comfortable, where it feels safe. But we’re in a spiritual war. Nowhere is safe. Eventually, if you insist on staying in your comfort zone, God in His mercy may draw you out. Or even scarier if you make a habit of it, eventually relent and let you stay.

Imagine being in a bunker on a battlefield. Thinking about stepping out of that safe bunker is an uncomfortable thought. But you can’t win by staying inside. You may not lose, but you can’t win. Your team might win that day, but you didn’t. On the other hand, if your team loses, you’ll be forced out of the bunker, without the opportunity to make a difference.

What’s your biggest challenge today? Where do you need to trust God? And where do you need to act on that trust by taking a step of faith, as uncomfortable as it feels?

Will you choose to move forward, or will you wait until God pushes you? And, what if He stops pushing?

What you don’t need

Considering a career change? Thinking of starting a business? Want to start a non-profit? Want to try something new at work? Great! What’s stopping you?

It’s so easy to convince ourselves that we need something to start working on our dreams and goals. There are a lot of things we can tell ourselves we need before we can start.

  • Funding
  • A chance
  • An opportunity
  • Permission
  • Approval
  • Buy-in
  • Support

What do all of these have in common? They depend on someone else (or many someones else).

But what if you had all the things you’re saying you need? What then? Would you really start, or would you find something else to wait on?

Pointing the finger at someone else may make you feel better (I know I did), but it doesn’t solve anything. So which do you prefer – feeling better about yourself or winning?

Stop waiting. No one’s going to just give you funding. Or a job. Or support. Asking for it is a step in the right direction, but more than that, you need to build a good case for it. You’re not owed anything.

The bad news – the only person stopping you is you. The good news – the only person stopping you is you.

Focus where it counts

We usually prefer to blame others for our shortcomings than take responsibility. Those “others” can be people close to us (I’m suffocated at work) or not (the government is holding me down). “Others” can also be circumstances – the economy sucks and nobody’s hiring; I don’t know the right people; I went to the wrong school…

There are basically two main arenas we can focus on in life – what we can’t control (the macro-economy; where we come from), and what we can (our skill set; where we choose to be).

When I focus on the stuff I can’t control, the result is a mix of depression, frustration and to an extent, entitlement. I get upset that I don’t have what I want and get in my head that I’m owed those things. Only problem, I’m the only one were of that debt, because I made it up.

But when I focus on what I can control, it can be scary, but it can be life-changing. It’s scary because it means I have to admit that I’ve been the cause of most of my problems. But once I admit that, I start getting myself out of the mess instead of complaining how dirty it is.

Where’s your focus? I can’t promise you life change if you focus on what you can control, but I can promise you no change if you focus on what you can’t.

Calling all web developers!

I’m working with a pretty awesome team of folks on an exciting project – a website/blog/manifesto for freelancers, artists, and other budding entrepreneurs – and we need a web developer to help us bring our vision the rest of the way!

We have the design and the domain name ready, and at this point we only need someone to build the website in WordPress.

We can’t pay you (yet), but we can offer the opportunity to work on something great. We have a pretty amazing set of contributors, so we’re anticipating some major traffic once we launch. If you’re looking to get your name out in the online community, here’s your shot!

Help us change the world! Who’s in?

Leave a comment if you’re interested!