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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.  

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

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?

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.

Never Going Back to Okay

"How’s it going?" 

For those of you who know me, my life is never really just okay.  It’s usually on a high, a low, inside, outside, or upside down.  If it were just okay, I’d probably be bored and then we’re back to the high or the lows. 

The problem I see isn’t in the question.  It’s in the answer I usually give.  “Fine.”  “Okay.”  “Good.”  Perhaps the truthful answer is, “I really don’t have time to talk right now” or “you don’t have time to listen, so I’m doing…. <insert default answer here>.”

Here’s the deal.  I usually know the answer to that question.  Maybe it’s time to start answering the question… really.