The discipline of focus

Disciple No Comments

I just got back from a conference last night.  I’ve been gone for a week.  This is the first time my wife and I have been able to get away, just the two of us, for years – yes, years.  Maybe I’ll talk more about that another time.

Right now I want to say a few things about what I’m facing now.  I have e-mails, voice mails, things on my calendar that I put off until “after the conference,” and all the projects that I need to pick back up.  Where do I start?  This morning I read a chapter in a book about this very idea of focus.

The basic tenant is to be where you are when you’re there.  If you are playing with your children, don’t be thinking about your appointments or what you are going to do regarding projects you have going.  Don’t plan your work day at home, plan it at work.  When you sit down to work deal with it then.  This was a big one for me: don’t plan your day while commuting.  While you are commuting, you should be concentrating on commuting!  It’s a concrete jungle out there, and that intentional focus will actually increase your chances for arriving at work or at home.  Be intentional and train your brain to focus on the task or the person at hand.

The biggest focus killer for many is worry.  I’m not much of a worrier.  I have my moments, but usually I’m to ignorant of the future to let it get to me.  But I know for many people this is a constant boat anchor on their ability to focus.  You can’t think about two things at once.  If this were true we would not say, “My mind was wandering” when we are trying to focus on a task and our thoughts are elsewhere.  Worry is a form of mind wandering.  You cannot worry and practice mental focus at the same time.  So try to increase your ability to focus.  I’ve heard people say, “I don’t have time to worry.”
  You can make this true for you as well.  Learn the discipline of focus.

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If only… …then I’d be happy.

Coaching, Disciple, Learning, Observations No Comments

I was in the first grade at Brier Crest Elementary school.  Our school had three stories and the stair wells were in the center of the building with sky lights letting the bright sunshine to diffuse down and reflect off the white tiles.  I was headed back to my class after lunch and from the top floor one of the 6th graders looked down the stairs and saw me.

“Hey kid!” he shouted, “you wanna learn something to make you real smart?”

“Sure!” I yelled.

“Pie times diameter equals circumference!  Remember that and you’ll be real smart!”

I repeated it back to myself a couple of times until I knew I wouldn’t forget it.  What a great day!  Just out of nowhere this gem of wisdom comes floating down from those great elementary school titans – the 6th graders.  I just couldn’t wait until I could achieve the 6th grade.  And with my new found key to the storehouse of knowledge I would be unstoppable!  If only I could get to the 6th grade, I’d be happy then!

Then when I got to 6th grade I learned about the Jr. high kids and how they got to go to different classes.  When I could take more of my favorite classes and have more than one teacher, then I’d be happy.

And then in Jr. High I went over to my friend Jamie’s house.  His older brothers were in high school.  They had these cool jackets with our school colors on them.  Wow, when I got to high school, I’d be happy then.

In high school I was one of the first to get my drivers’ license, due to the fact that my birthday is in the fall.  As soon as I got my license and could drive, I’d surely be happy then.

I got my car, and in a few years I was a senior in high school.  But there were so many rules.  I would really be happy when I got to college and on my own.

After college and my friends were all getting married – I’d be happy when I got married.

And after I got married everyone asked, when I’d have kids.  I’d be happy when I had a family.

Now my kids are growing up so fast, I’ll finally be happy when they are older and we can do more things as a family.  If only that would happen, then I’d be happy.

Where does this end?  I keep waiting for that day I’ll be happy!

Maybe I better stop looking for happiness then, and see about happiness now…

What about you?  Are you saying “If only… then I’d be happy?”

Happiness is a choice, not unlike contentment.  We can be happy in some pretty miserable circumstances.  I remember being very happy one summer afternoon while dancing and goofing off with friends during a terrible summer storm.  We could be grouchy that we were soaked, or we could have some fun.  We were a little too old for that, but other people were crouched in business doorways and under trees.  We were out in the streets having fun!  Same circumstances, different choices.

You have to decide what your happiness is.  You can have it today, you won’t have to wait.  You just need to decide what it is!

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Good Copy Evokes Emotion

Learning, Observations No Comments

Here is some good copy – nothing to sell, but it draws you in.  I used Mike Mindel’s flickr tricks to do this article.  The copy came in junk mail from family – (if it’s from family, can you really call it junk?).  But I pulled the images into flickr and used them for linking…  That and ScribeFire made it pretty easy to pull together.

So does this copy effect you?  For what purpose?  Does it bring with it a call to action?  To have a better day?  To forward it to all your friends and family?  What do you think?  Comment and let me know your thoughts.

Puppy Size

This is one of the neatest stories you will ever hear. You will know precisely what this little girl is talking about at the end (you’ll want to share this one with your loved ones and special friends)!

“Danielle keeps repeating it over and over again. We’ve been back to this animal shelter at least five times. It has been weeks now since we started all of this,” the mother told the volunteer.

“What is it she keeps asking for?” the volunteer asked.

“Puppy size!” replied the mother.

“Well, we have plenty of puppies, if that’s what she’s looking for.”

“I know…we have seen most of them,” the mom said in frustration…

Just then Danielle came walking in to the office

“Well, did you find one?” asked her mom. “No, not this time,”
Danielle said with sadness in her voice. “Can we come back on the

The two women looked at each other, shook their heads and laughed

“You never know when we will get more dogs. Unfortunately, there’s
always a supply,” the volunteer said.

Danielle took her mother by the hand and headed to the door. “Don’t
worry, I’ll find one this weekend,” she said.

Over the next few days both mom and dad had long conversations with her.

They both felt she was being too particular. “It’s this weekend or
we’re not looking any more,” Dad finally said in frustration.

“We don’t want to hear anything more about puppy size either,” Mom added.

Sure enough, they were the first ones in the shelter on Saturday
morning. By now Danielle knew her way around, so she ran right for the
section that housed the smaller dogs.

Tired of the routine, mom sat in the small waiting room at the end of
the first row of cages. There was an observation window so you could
see the animals during times when visitors weren’t permitted.

Danielle walked slowly from cage to cage, kneeling periodically to
take a closer look.  One by one the dogs were brought out and she held
each one.

One by one she said, “Sorry, you’re not the one.”

It was the last cage on this last day in search of the perfect pup.

The volunteer opened the cage door and the child carefully picked up
the dog and held it closely. This time she took a little longer.

“Mom, that’s it! I found the right puppy! He’s the one! I know it!”
she screamed with joy. “It’s the puppy size!”

“But it’s the same size as all the other puppies you held over the
last few weeks,” Mom said.

“No, not size… the sighs. When I held him in my arms, he sighed,” she
said. “Don’t you remember?

When I asked you one day what love is, you told me love depends on the
sighs of your heart. The more you love, the bigger the sigh!”

The two women looked at each other for a moment. Mom didn’t know
whether to laugh or cry. As she stooped down to hug the child, she did
a little of both.

“Mom, every time you hold me, I sigh. When you and Daddy come home
from work and hug each other, you both sigh. I knew I would find the
right puppy if it sighed when I held it in my arms,” she said.

Then holding the puppy up close to her face she said, “Mom, he loves
me. I heard the sighs of his heart!”

Close your eyes for a moment and think about the love that makes you
sigh. I not only find it in the arms of my loved ones, but in the
caress of a sunset, the kiss of the moonlight and the gentle brush of
cool air on a hot day.

They are the sighs of God.  Take the time to stop and listen; you will
be surprised at what you hear. “Life is not measured by the breaths we
take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”

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The Power in a Book

Coaching, Disciple, Learning, Observations No Comments

I am convinced that books are the key to success. They have no power in themselves. Even the great holy books from antiquity are merely ink and paper of some sort. Their power lies in the fact that books are vessels. Vessels of knowledge. Through books we can talk with predecessors long after they’re gone. We can interact and learn from those who would be far too busy to take the time to teach us these same lessons.

I have developed a love of learning through the medium of books, and I would like to find a way to share that with anyone who is following my blog. I’m going to read through and comment on a book, and I’d invite you to participate by reading along and adding comments as we go.  By sharing our ideas that we receive from reading books, we can get more from it than simply reading and reflecting alone.

Stay tuned and I’ll let everyone know which book we’ll start with and how you can best follow along.

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The challenge of being a disciple

Disciple No Comments

What is a disciple?  No, it’s not some one dressed up in a saffron sarong trying to get you to buy a daisy at your local airport.  A disciple is simple a person who chooses to conform to a discipline.  Isn’t that a circular definition?  What’s a discipline then, something a disciple does?  Well yes, but there’s a bigger and better answer to that.

For some time I have been toying with a concept of how to live a life that mattered, hmm you could say a life of significance.  I even tried to set up a web site around the theme.  Something that I discovered was that there are small things you do that make your life very efficient and powerful. 

These are routine things, like getting ready for work.  You have a number of tasks to complete: getting out of bed, getting something to eat, taking care of morning things around the house – maybe some chores, some reading, some quiet meditation time, getting cleaned up, picking clothes, getting dressed, and getting out the door to probably got entangled in traffic.  Whatever your routine, you complete it with efficiency and in a short period of time.  Well, unless you are constantly having your pay docked, or you are getting fired for never making it into work until lunch time… in which case you have other problems we should discuss.  If you actually stopped and took time to really ponder and think through what you do in your morning routine – it very well could take you until lunch time to get out the door.

But you don’t.  You get all that done and get on to work.  What is it that makes you move through all that without even thinking about it.  Is it the fact that it’s become routine?  Often while all these events take place you have time to listen to the news, chat with family members, or let your mind wander.

If you stop and think about it, you have a ton of these little micro routines in your every day life.  I was calling them micro rituals for a time, but I think the term discipline is more appropriate.

It is these little disciplines that can make a huge difference in your life.  So become a disciple, be a person that submits to discipline.  Much more on this later.

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An Inaugural Address

Learning, Observations 1 Comment

Everything that does start has to start some time. And so this is the beginning of a journey. It is my intention that if you come along with me, you’ll learn, grow, and change. It may be together with me, or it may be in opposition to me – but that you aren’t the same for having spent time here with me, that’s my goal.

So let’s see what happens!