My New Book Living More Than OK

My New Book Living More Than OK
purchase it at B & N, Amazon or (click on image of cover)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Resilience: Keeping Your Eyes On Your Goals

In one of my doctoral psychology classes I have been researching the topic of resilience. Resilience is that character trait that helps individuals survive and even thrive through the difficulties and hardships in life. It is something someone is -- not what someone does. In the research people are studied who thrive even though they have difficult backgrounds and challenges in life to see how they become successful. The question becomes why do some people thrive through hardships and others give up and quit becoming victims instead of victors?

As I was reading through journal articles on the topic a song from one of my daughter’s favorite musicians came to my mind. It is the song “Eye On It” by Toby Mac. The song speaks to some of the techniques that can help people be victors instead of victims in life. Take a few minutes to look over the lyrics and if you click on the title you can listen to the song and watch the lyrics in the video.

"Eye On It" by Toby Mac (Click on the title to activate the video)

Eye on it, eye on it Eye on it, eye on it Eye on it Eye on it Eye on it, eye on it
I set my eyes to the west, walkin' away from it all Reachin' for what lies ahead, I got my eye on it
I see my sweat hit the ground I put my foot in the block
This is the race of my life And I can’t wait for this shot

‘Cause I can feel the wind at my back Chest is pumpin' like a heart attack
Feet are moving and my mind is locked Pressin' on with everything I got
I got my eye on it I got my eye on it I got my eye on it Eye on it
I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it
I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it I got my eye on it, and I will not quit
I got a new passenger to help me navigate the way So when my heart hits the floor I can recalibrate
I feel the deeper callin' me, all else is fadin' in the past So let me run in the race that I know is built to last

‘Cause I can feel the wind at my back Chest is pumpin' like a heart attack
Feet are moving and my mind is locked Pressing on I gotta take my shot
I got my eye on it I got my eye on it I got my eye on it Eye on it
I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it
I got my eye on the prize, I got my eye on it I got my eye on the prize and I will not quit
(I will not quit, eye on it Eye on it, eye on it Eye on it, I will not quit)

The analogy seen in the song is clearly that of a race. Runners are often very resilient as they understand the need for discipline. They put hours of work and sweat into daily practice of running whether they are sprinters or marathon runners. A runner is not going to win the race or a medal if they spend most of their time lying around surfing the internet and Face booking while constantly snacking on chips and Cola. A runner who lives like that will be lost in a trail of dust. A runner who is serious is disciplined. So to be resilient in life there needs to be an emphasis on living a disciplined life and know what you want out of this life takes work not slacking and snacking.

Then there is the repetition of the phrase “Eye on it” and “Eye on the prize”. Resilient people have a focus on their goals. Keeping their eyes set on what they are aiming for. Like a runner they keep pressing forward to their finish line of their goal. Even though they feel the pressure around them and inside of them they do not quit or give up until they cross the finish line. To be a victor you do not give up and quit but keep running the race.

On a grander scale Toby Mac is a Christian musician so I know since I come from the same worldview, the race he is speaking of is that of sunning the spiritual race of becoming more Christ like. I see in his lyrics a close semblance to the Apostle Paul’s writing in:

I Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”

Philippians 3:14 “I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”

The Apostle Paul used the race analogy to remind early Christians that this life is about a race of grace in spreading the Good News of Christ while we pass through this quick journey on Earth. So that is the main point Toby Mac is speaking to. Yet from my research over the weeks on increasing resilience in individuals the thoughts from the song of -- discipline, focus, keeping eyes on the goals relate well to ways to help all people move from being victims of life’s problems and hardships to becoming victors.

Reflection: How is the race you are on this year going? What are you focused on in your life? If you feel like quitting what can you refocus on to keep pressing on?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Butterfly Wing Effects In Your Life

As you look back at your life can you remember any small rather insignificant events, at least from your perspective at the time, that later in your life in hindsight created a significant impact. That would be a butterfly effect. Andy Andrews discusses this in a short motivational book, The Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters. Simple Truths has a short video about Andy’s thoughts on the topic. First take a few moments to click on the title and consider some key thoughts from his book:

Butterfly Effect: How Your Life Matters (Click to watch video)

The Butterfly Effect is based on the work of mathematician Edward Lorenz, who hypothesized in the 1960’s, if a butterfly would flap its wings and set the molecules of air in motion would it set off a tornado somewhere else in the world? It may seem like a silly concept but the principle idea that flows out of the idea is that small events in life can have a larger impact in our life and/or the world further down the road of our life journey.
Andy Andrews uses that principle to look at several examples of people who would be considered insignificant if it were not for butterfly effects in their lives. One example is Norman Borlaug, known as the man who fed billions. He was an agricultural scientist who did work in a research center in Mexico in developing a sturdier strain of wheat. This wheat was used in India and Pakistan and later used to help millions in Africa and Asia. Andy points out that this great success came to him through a small effect of a Vice President under FD Roosevelt, who helped form the research center in Mexico and hired Norman to work there. One could question whether Norman would ever have achieved this if that Vice President had not hired him.

The Butterfly concept is part of what is called chaos theory. Basically it looks at how we live in an unpredictable world of chaos. Of course from my worldview as a Christian I see the chaos as a result of a fallen world that is not how the Creator God designed it to be due to humankind’s choice to reject His authority. Through the chaos I see every day that God is creating a tapestry. Just like if you have ever seen a rug being made it looks like a mess until finished. Or also I liken it to viewing a beautiful pattern of a rug then turning it over only to see a chaotic mess of knots.

The book and the video by Simple Truths make us look at the big questions – Do I really make a difference in life? Do I really matter? The video reminds me of what Andy Andrews is saying, “Everything you do matters. Every move you make, every action you take…matters.” With God in the picture we do matter. We are each unique and are created to be difference makers in the world. We may not create a food product that saves billions of lives from famine. But each one of us can make an impact on those around us. That impact only time and history will reveal in the future.

This further reminds me of the importance of our choices and how we live. To be difference makers we need to consciously be aware that our actions can make effects for the positive or the negative in our future and the future of others around us. With each action we make, we then create a reaction in the world. With each decision we make there are consequences that affect our lives which then create new decisions. In this process we can either spiral down in negativity or spiral upwards in a positive direction. I choose to spiral upwards.

Reflection: Can you think back in your life history to an event that at the time seemed insignificant but now in your life you can see it played a major impact? Quiet your mind and visualize that moment in time. What was going on in your life then? What elements of the event created the later effect in your life?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Self-Discipline Our Attitude Behind A Resilient Life

To be able to progress through the difficulties of life and live the best life possible we need not look to politicians for solutions. In living the continual spiraling upwards journey of living a more than ok life we need to grow in self-discipline. Speaker and author Brian Tracy says this of self-discipline, “With self-discipline, the average person can rise as far and as fast as his talents and intelligence can take him. But without self-discipline, a person with every blessing of background, education and opportunity will seldom rise above mediocrity.”

Merriam Webster defines self-discipline as “correction or regulation of oneself for the sake of improvement”. It is not playing the victim instead it is understanding that life is difficult but also has many possibilities for good. With self-discipline we each learn that with personal effort we can learn and grow to reach the best life for ourselves. Before going further I would like you to watch this short video from Simple Truths about some ideas by Brian Tracy:

The Power of Discipline (click on the title to view the article and think over what he is stating about self-discipline).

I just want to touch on a couple of the areas he mentions in the video. I want to mention the last area he mentions first. That is self-discipline helps with our sense of responsibility in life. To be resilient in the hard times of life we need to understand we are responsible for what ultimately happens to us in our life journey. Otherwise we see ourselves as victims waiting for someone to blame or bail us out. Sad to say too many today are hoping for the government to bail them out. There is a lack of personal responsibility in the populace in these times. It does not help that in the highest levels of government no one takes responsibility for the problems we face as a nation. For example the Benghazi attack that killed four honorable men with one being an Ambassador was just covered up with a lie about a silly, poorly produced video. Any thinking person knowing that the killings took place on 9-11 and with the Libyan leadership openly saying it was terrorists knew the rightful blame should have pointed to the current administration. But with an election going on responsibility went out the window and cover-up lies worked better for their re-election purpose. Months later the out-going Secretary’s response to the video lie was “What does it matter!”. How can we promote responsibility for a better life when national leadership is not responsible instead blames and makes excuses!
Do we then just give up and let the culture and people facing difficulties crash and burn? No, we need to hold forth the power of self-discipline and encourage people to be responsible to change their course in life with wise choices. I have always liked how Scott Peck’s famous book, The Road Less Traveled, starts out with “Life is difficult”. That is the truth but life is also filled with joy and beauty and great opportunities if we work hard and make wise choices.

The other area Tracy brings up that I feel is of utmost importance is item number one in the video which is the importance of goals. Without clear concrete goals of what we want to accomplish in life and a thought out strategy to reach them we just meander through life aimlessly. This often leads to a victim blame first mentality. Writing down our goals gives us direction for the success we want to reach. Self-discipline comes in and energizes us to take the effort to think through what we want to accomplish. We need to write down the future goals we visualize in our minds. I mention writing out a strategy or plan to reach the goal because if we do not have a plan of practical steps in reaching our goals they are nothing more than a wish. Goal plan steps will help in staying focused on reaching the goals we truly want to accomplish.

The choice is up to each of us as to how our life will be played out. Granted uncontrolled circumstances do intervene that is one way life is difficult. Even in those times we are then responsible to adjust and adapt our goal strategies to the circumstances. We can’t just play victim and point fingers of blame as our national leaders often do. Keep going back to your vision of what you want for your life. Keep pushing resiliently forward with self-discipline holding firmly to your personal faith and values to have your best life possible.

Reflection: What was the most important point to you in the Brian Tracy video – The Power of Discipline? Where are you at on the spectrum line between that of self-discipline or being a victim? Write down 3 goals you want to accomplish this year and write 3 commitment steps for each goal, you plan to follow to help reach the goals. If you want more information on the Brian Tracy video you can order his book, The Power Of Discipline at www.