Throwing starfish

An old man was walking along the beach one morning after a storm. The beach is covered in starfish that had washed up on shore during the storm. The old man then notices a young boy picking up one starfish at a time and throwing it back into the water. Intrigued by the boy, the old man asked, “What are you doing young man?”

The boy replied, “The starfish will die if they don’t get back in the water. I’m saving them.”

The old man looked out across the beach and the thousands of starfish and told the boy that there was no way that they could all be saved in time, so why even bother…

Holding up a starfish in front of the old man, the boy replied, “I probably won’t be able to help them all, but I’m sure making a difference to this one.” And he tossed it into the water.

Look for your starfish. Start making a difference in the life of another. We may not be able to reach everyone but we can reach someone.

Everyone is at a different point in their lives and have achieved varying levels of maturity in a variety of things. Your perspective on life is both unique and valuable…maybe not to everyone, but to someone. Share you with the world. Start throwing starfish*.

*Note. Please don’t actually throw starfish. Unless you are saving them from dying on a beach. Thanks.

Accountability and Awareness

Last week I talked about how truth must be reckoned with. Today, I want to expand on that some more because there are some other implications that go with it. Each of us is accountable for the truth that we become aware of.

I find myself in a period of growth. If you have ever experienced a time in your life when something just clicked and things that you had struggled with for a long time suddenly became easier, then you know what I’m talking about. For me, the thing that “clicked” was in regard to my understanding of ownership. Specifically, approaching the things in my life with an ownership mindset. Holding myself to a standard of performance that would only be expected of an owner. I had spent years with the wrong view of this concept and it tainted my ability to show up in my full potential.

Fast forward to today. It hasn’t been a very long time since this revelation occurred in my life but I am noticing some behavior patterns leaning toward the way they used to be. It would be easy to settle back into the old, familiar patterns. The problem is that I have become aware of truth that directly relates to this area of my life. As such, I am accountable for how I act on it.

Before I experienced this growth, I was already behind where I should have been in this area of my life and, while not free from blame, I can understand why I was behaving the way I was. Now I know a great deal more about what I should and should not do in this area. If I let myself slip back into the old patterns, I am no longer guilty of being immature in that area, I am guilty of willfully rejecting the truth of which I have become aware.

This is where intentionality comes into the picture. The euphoria of growth will wear off and you are left a new awareness, new expectations of yourself, and many of the same challenges as before. Create a question for yourself that you can ask in situations when you are tempted to slip back into old habits. I have started asking myself, “Is this ownership behavior?” It’s a short, simple question that helps me maintain the desired mindset and create opportunities for me to intentionally push through the moment with my desired behavior.

Be sure to acknowledge and label the truth that you are adopting and clearly identify how you want to act on it. Then you can create your control question that helps to ensure that you are intentionally acting in alignment with the truth.

Are there any truths in your life that demand action? Or are you stuck with results that are undesirable? Come check out how I can help.

The reckoning

I’m going to share something that I have known for a long time but was only recently able to articulate in a good way.

Truth must be reckoned with.

Take a minute to think about that.

When you become aware of something that is true, you are instantly responsible for acting on that truth. Right now, you are testing this in your mind. You might be instantly drawn to circumstances that prove this right or you might be searching for situations where this is wrong…but you’re testing, because this is true.

There are two main options for how you can act upon a truth you just learned. You can adopt it or you can ignore it. There are two primary reason why people ignore a truth of which they have become aware. The first is denial. Sometimes truth is hard to bear and some people aren’t willing to bear it so they deny the truth and ignore it. The second is relevance. There are times when the truth is not currently relevant to us. For example, Lake Michigan has 13,000,000,000,000,000 (13 quadrillion) gallons of water. This truth is irrelevant to me right now. However, gravity is a truth that is very relevant to me. If I choose to ignore gravity, I do so at my own peril.

So, this is a little over-simplified. There are plenty of times where this dichotomy is much more complex. It is true that if you consume more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. Conversely, if you want to lose weight, you must burn more calories than you consume.

Adopting truth can be very difficult. I have spent years knowing full well that my eating habits and lack of exercise were keeping me at a weight that I was dissatisfied with. Yet I did not change. I ignored it and struggled. I was aware but not intentional.

The most important thing that partners with awareness is intentionality. It is important to intentionally consider your awareness. Look beyond the moment. If you find that you are consistently dissatisfied with the results that you’re getting, you are going to have to change your behaviors. In that moment when someone lets you down, and you are choosing between anger or kindness, it can be very difficult to see beyond the moment. Creating a habit of intentionality equips you to slow down in each moment and act instead of react. Maybe anger is your default and you feel guilty every time you react angrily. Slowing down and intentionally looking beyond the moment to the aftermath, allows you to consider how you feel each time you react in anger and gives you the chance to choose better.

So what truth are you struggling with? Is it something with your health, relationships, or work? Are there results that you keep getting that you don’t like? Perhaps there is truth there that needs to be discovered.

Mindful Monday

Mindfulness. This topic could go in several different directions from kooky to practical. For me, mindful is a word that encompasses to key things; awareness and intentionality.

Awareness is how much you have perceived and to what degree you have perceived it. Intentionality is how you act as a result of the accumulated awareness that you have achieved. As you become more aware of things, you have the opportunity to increase how intentionally you interact with that which you have become more aware. I know this is a bit abstract, so let’s put it in an over-simplified context that makes sense.

You’re standing in a field of grass. Someone else is standing a small distance away. They throw a ball to you. It’s heading your way and you do nothing. The ball hits you in the face, your nose bleeds, you curl up in the fetal position and cry like a tiny baby. You have just increase your awareness about what happens when a ball is thrown at your face. You now have the opportunity to interact with that more intentionally. The next time a ball is thrown in your direction, you can either get out of the way or catch it.

This week, I achieved a new degree of awareness regarding ownership in the context of applying life force to accomplish work. I have a great capacity to do work with an owner mindset. I have done so in many of my previous jobs. Unfortunately, I suffered from a shortage of awareness of some key factors. When I personally worked with an owner mindset, I would have the whole business in mind and act accordingly. I was able to anticipate needs and work proactively. All great things. The disconnect came when I had expectations of my own. I expected that since I behaved as an owner, I should have a high degree of authority and influence to go with it. When I didn’t get that, I would become discouraged or embittered.

My new awareness about ownership came when I was able to articulate what ownership is and what it is not. Here’s the summary, I can take ownership; hold or be held responsible; give or be given authority. When you approach work with an owner mindset, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to be held responsible at that level. It means that you are choosing to be aware of a larger context than the context in which your tasks exist. This allows you to anticipate needs and work proactively. It also doesn’t mean that you automatically have the level of authority to match the level at which you are taking ownership.

With this new awareness, I can intentionally approach all aspects of my life with an owner mindset (which allows me to add optimal value) and not become disillusioned with expectations that I am going to be wielding a bunch of authority or getting any extra recognition for the work that I’m expected to do. This has been very freeing and I’m experiencing a great deal more satisfaction in the work that I do and a great deal more confidence in deciding what I will and will not choose to commit to doing. I am also able to better manage everyone’s expectations.