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Addition and Subtraction

People seem to focus on two distinct formulas in life, addition and subtraction.  

We add to our lives the things we need and the toys we can play with.  We then subtract from our lives those very same things through garage sales, donations, or even the trash to make room to repeat the cycle.  

Business works the same way.  Add products, customers, and then employees.  Then subtract what or whom doesn’t work, and repeat.

In thinking about leadership, impact and influence on others, though, can I think in such simplistic terms?  Is it really about having the most facebook friends or having the most followers on Twitter?  Or does focusing on the addition formula here actually subtract from the depth of influence you have on others?  

Maybe it’s time to kick the formula of addition a bit and start exploring something more powerful.  

When Time Stands Still

The clouds were in a hurry this morning.  I don’t know if you saw them, but they were jetting across the otherwise clear sky as if they were in a mad rush to be somewhere fast.  Even more fascinating was the sun which was visible but totally white behind the clouds.

It was really pretty impressive.  

Even more impressive was that I was running late this morning.  Yet all morning long time seemed to be on pause.  

Today, it was as if God reversed the roles for me.  I got to see his creation race by overhead while I sat and watched.  How peaceful it really was. What a unique perspective God must have. 

How crazy messed up is my perspective most of the time as I rush through life.  I probably never realize what I miss and then it’s too late.

In the midst of “joy and pain, sun and rain, when waters rise and disaster comes, He never lets go.” (David Crower’s “Never Let It Go”)

How thankful I am that He isn’t too busy for me.  How amazed I am that He never let’s go, even when I race right by Him.

How grateful I am that there is no fear in His love. (1 John 4:18)

What’s missing in my life?

"If you really want something in this life, you have to work for it.  
Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers!”
- Homer Simpson

It seems that the American dream was to make life easy.  Computers and cell phones and cars make our lives easier.  52” flat screen 3d ambient light televisions and surround sound all from the comfort of our homes (no, I don’t have one).  Life seems to be a stop, shop, buy, bring home, consume, throw away experience.

Yet, when I have to work hard for something, I tend to value it more.  Spending the time to develop something creative and exciting is hard work.  Saving for a new car is hard work.  Valued friendships are hard work.  

Each of them take time and energy.  It can be tough at times.  However, I always find it worth the investment.  

I’ve discovered that my life really isn’t that hard.  Examining what it has and what it doesn’t have is.  Plowing a path and making changes is rough.  But I know it’s all worth it.  

"The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control."  Galatians 5:22-23

Do you go with the flow?

I get bored easily.  I despise traffic.  I procrastinate on a lot of things that I could
easily do now.  I work out daily at the gym but often look for the closest parking place.  I complain a lot.  I can zone out in front of a television.  I talk on my phone and have no idea how I got from point A to point B.  Why have 1 when I can have 2?

Do I conform?  ”Do not conform to the pattern of this world…”

I am an inquisitive person.  I like learning new things simply for the sake of learning.  I love learning new things so I can try them myself.  I have a line item in my monthly budget for books.  It’s bigger than my entertainment budget which includes cable tv and Internet.  I often catch the sunset on purpose.  I paint.  I love to play catch and do anything outdoors.  I talk to strangers.  I travel whenever I can.

Am I different?  "be transformed by the renewing of your mind."

I’m pretty sure that in life, going with the flow is missing the mark.  Realizing that today, like every day, I have a choice sure makes it more exciting.  

"Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - his good, pleasing and perfect will."  Romans 12:2

Life Without Walls

There has been some talk about my hometown of Topeka changing their name to Google, Kansas.  Their hope is to lure Google into bringing their gigabit wiring project to the residents and business’ of Topeka.

The idea got me thinking and asking, “What would like be like without the box?”  Google’s plan is to give people unbridled access to the Internet and “see” what they do.  Basically, remove people from the box they currently operate in and see where they go.

Some people embrace this idea.  It would be a blow to the current internet providers in Topeka and would definitely turn the tables on their business.  However, I know of people who said that they would pack up and move there if that happened.

What fascinates me is the box itself.  How many times in life do I put myself in a box?  It is more comfortable there a lot of the times.  Life is easier when you know where you can’t go.

I admit that I easily put my faith in a box.  I link it to things I like and agree with and call that box my religion.  But for a second, imagine what faith looks like outside the box.  What would I “see” if I stripped away the boundaries I put in place?

"To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:31-32

I wish I were…

Today I choose to get up and go to work.  I choose to feed my dog and choose to check her paws before she comes in, after all it was raining last night.

I choose to pay attention. I choose to pray.

I choose to be lazy.  I choose to be concerned.

I choose to choose.

My problems arrive when I stop choosing.  When I let life “just happen” to me is when I begin to see issues.

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!" -Revelations 3:15

It’s easy to get confused and think the important part is that I have a choice.  The reality is the important part is that I make one.

What Consumes Your Time?

Why is letting go so hard? 

As hard as it is, letting go is part of the process that allows you to move forward.  Bad habits are broken one step at a time, replacing the wrong choice with the right choice each and every time the option is presented.

True leaders have to learn to let go of the things that consume their time and attention so that they can focus on the things that need their time and attention. 

What consumes your time?  What needs your attention?

complacent and tasteless and bored

Coasting through life doesn’t really build character or enlighten me to the ways of God or of man.  I’m not so sure life is supposed to be easy and I’m pretty confident that I’m not here to seek a life of comfort and luxury.

Instead, feeling alive might actually hurt.  It might involve risk and failure.  It might downright suck sometimes.

But it’s better then being cool with wasting the days being “complacent and tasteless and bored.”

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Dirt Sandwiches?

On the wall in my office I have a picture that says: “Until you spread your wings, you’ll have no idea how far you can fly.”

I look at this picture every day.  It reminds me that spreading your wings does not always mean eating a dirt sandwich, even if my first thoughts are always prone to go there.  Instead, it reminds me that the mark of a leader is one who is willing to spread their wings.  Flying is second, right next to dirt sandwiches.

The Chicken or the Egg

The fact is, we all start owning technology because it’s cool and it adds convenience to our lives.  Then something strange happens.  It becomes necessary.

Do you own technology or does it own you?

You’re out to dinner with friends and your phone vibrates.  Do you:

  • a.)  Answer
  • b.) Look at the screen, and then return to your pocket
  • b.)  Ignore the ring
  • d.)  What phone?  I left it in the car

There are no wrong answers here.

Just understand that how you respond to this question says a lot about how you value your friendships.  It also reveals what priority you put on people and events in your life.