How To Deal With An Inescapible Role That You Don’t Really Want To Fill

Photo by Chuck Olsen

Photo by Chuck Olsen

Funeral Minister For A Day

He’s dead?

There’s no way that could have happened. He’s still relatively young!

These are the thoughts I had a few weeks ago when I learned that one of my former church orchestra members had past away in his sleep.

My friend had moved out-of-state a few years ago for a new job position, so I hadn’t seen him in quite some time. As the news sunk in and became reality for me, I thought about my friend and our relationship. I reflected back on my memories with him.

I was under the assumption that his funeral would be out-of-state where he currently lived, but then, the phone call came. His wife asked me to officiate his funeral here in town. They were shipping his body back in order to do a local funeral for all the family members. She told me that he would want me to officiate his service.

Deep down, I knew she was right.

[Gulp]

What do you say to a request such as that? A request way outside of your comfort zone.

Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of attending funerals, let alone officiating one for someone I know.

I’m Not Qualified

I have officiated several weddings, but only one funeral. That one funeral was relatively “easy” to officiate because I didn’t personally know the person who had passed away. I had no emotional connection.

But, with my friend, I did have an emotional connection. I knew this was going to be difficult for me to do.

So, how do you deal with a challenging, uncomfortable role such as this that you really don’t feel capable of fulfilling?

6 Thoughts On Filling A Role You Really Don’t Want To Fill

Here was my approach to filling this role that I was asked to do:

  1. Acknowledge the need. The family needed an officiant for the funeral. It would need to be me or another minister. Deep down, I knew my friend’s wife was right. I couldn’t argue with her. I knew that my friend would want me to officiate his service. I had to accept this role, even though it was going to be extremely uncomfortable and emotional for me.
  2. Be confident in whatever experience you do have to help you. The biggest argument I had against doing this service was lack of experience. I had only preached one other funeral several years ago. But how do you gain experience preaching funerals? There’s only one way, by preaching funerals. Yes, I do have public speaking experience. Yes, I have script writing experience. Putting together a funeral script and preaching that script may be challenging for me, but I know that I have enough experience to do this. Be confident in the abilities God has given you.
  3. Seek advice. As soon as I knew I was going to need to prepare this funeral service, I started emailing a couple of other pastors I know for advice. They gave me some great ideas, and I was off and running in getting the funeral script and service put together.
  4. Prepare heavily. I spent quite a bit of time writing and re-writing the funeral script. Then, I spent additional time reading through and practicing the script. I visualized myself standing before the family and his friends as I delivered the various elements of the service.
  5. Pray for strength. When I was in the car driving to the funeral that morning, I spent quite a bit of time praying to the Lord for supernatural strength. He provided exactly what I needed, when I needed it!
  6. Be Authentic. I’m an emotional guy. I’ve been this way since I was a small boy. I probably could have done a better job fighting back the tears as I preached my friend’s funeral, but I allowed myself to feel the emotions of losing him. I was really in tune with the words that were coming out of my mouth. I wept occasionally as I spoke. I was overcome with emotions. In many ways, I felt like a failure as a funeral minister, but I had several friends and family members approach me after the funeral saying what a wonderful job I did. People appreciate authenticity over “having your act together.” Isn’t it strange how that works?

Questions: Have you ever had to assume a role that you really didn’t want to do? Do you agree or disagree with my approach? What was your approach?

5 Ways to Achieve Critical Mass Momentum Like The Kansas City Royals

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Momentum.

It’s one of those aspects of life that is very difficult to quantify.

When an individual or an organization achieves momentum, how in the world are they able to accomplish that?

At the time of my writing this article, my hometown baseball team the 2014 Kansas City Royals have been able to achieve somewhat of a miracle for their franchise. For the first time in 29 years, the Royals have finally been able to make postseason play. The last time they made the playoffs was the year they won the championship in 1985.

The Royals were off to a great start at the beginning of this season but lost their way in June and July when they fell 8 games behind the Detroit Tigers. But since July 22, the Royals have been on a 41-23 tear that landed them a spot in the American League Wildcard game with the Oakland A’s. And now, the rest is history, at least up to the point of my writing this on October 8. The Royals have won their last four postseason games in a row.

So how has a wildcard team, a come from behind team such as the Royals, been able to accomplish great things over the last few months? Simply put, they are riding a tremendous wave of momentum.

But how did this momentum happen? How have the Royals been able to manufacture momentum while other perhaps “better” teams have not been equally successful?

Here are my thoughts on how some teams are able to achieve momentum while others are not.

5 Ways The Royals Have Achieved Momentum

  1. They posses team unity. A few days ago, I was watching the ALDS series with the Royals and Angels, and one of the commentators mentioned that what made the Royals unique was the fact that this ball club is not a collection of superstar players like other teams. The Royals seem to be able to check their egos at the door and do whatever they need to do for their team to win. Sometimes superstar players have a way of making decisions that benefit themselves and not necessarily the team. If you want momentum, focus on the team and less on yourself.
  2. They are focused on their strengths: speed, defense, pitching, and bullpen. These are the core strengths of the KC Royals. They are not big home run hitters. Most of their games have low scores because they are not the best offensive players. But, they also understand if they excel in their strengths, they don’t necessarily need a lot of runs to win ball games.
  3. They are working hard. Left fielder Alex Gordon is somewhat of a legend for his passion, desire, and work ethic. It is well-known that Gordon often arrives to the ballpark before even the coaching staff gets there. He has “heart and hustle” and helps the team every way he possibly can.
  4. They benefited from excellent timing. Many times, momentum builds completely on the “luck” of good timing as has happened with the Royals. But who knows. Perhaps the timing has been right because the team has put in the hard work and focused on their strengths? Maybe it’s more than just “luck.”
  5. They are having fun! You can tell the Royals are really enjoying this season. Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain recently said, “We’re going to enjoy it, going to have a blast, and hopefully we can just celebrate like this. This is awesome.”

Questions: Have you ever been part of a team that experienced a tremendous surge of momentum? What would you attribute that surge to? Are you a Royals fan? Am I missing any other big reasons why the Royals have done well this season?

Feel free to leave a blog comment for me and join the conversation.

Do You Have A Messed Up Life? How To Influence People’s Lives By Sharing Yours

Photo by Alan Levine

Photo by Alan Levine

I Was One Messed Up Trumpet Player

In the late 1980s, I was an undergraduate trumpet student at a prestigious music conservatory. My trumpet teacher at this school is a well-known principal trumpet of a major symphony orchestra. He is a very natural, incredible musician. In his trumpet career, he has never really encountered any personal playing problems.

I, however, have always struggled with a couple of different playing technique-related issues. My teacher at the music conservatory had no idea how to help me. At the time, he just didn’t have enough teaching experience to help me correct my trumpet playing problems. We struggled through two semesters in my sophomore year and nothing was helping. As a matter of fact, I was actually getting worse with each passing lesson.

After two difficult years in music school, I ended up dropping out defeated and discouraged. I ended up moving back home with my parents, applied at a local university, and changed my major to electrical engineering. I was done with music, altogether.

But then, I connected with a couple of different trumpet teachers who understood my playing problems and were able to help me tremendously. Because of their own personal playing problems, they brought a wealth of experience and knowledge into my trumpet lessons. As a result, I was able to move forward and be successful in my music career. To this day, I owe them a debt of gratitude and appreciation for their help in getting me back on track as a musician. I seriously doubt I would have enjoyed the life of an electrical engineer!

The more problems you have experienced and the more mistakes you have learned from actually makes you WAY MORE qualified to help others.

Experience Is Pure Gold

Interestingly enough, those of us in our 40s who have experienced some pretty horrific failures have the tendency to think we may have disqualified ourselves from being able to help others. We have this messed up view that we have to be “perfect” in order to dispense advice to others.

Believe it or not, the opposite is true.

The lessons learned from your own personal experience make you uniquely qualified to share and help others going through similar circumstances.

Sharing Is Caring

When you care, you share.

And, if you’re over 40, then chances are you have built up a wealth of valuable knowledge and experience.

By this stage in life, you have probably had several failures and a few successes. You generally have a firmer grasp on life than those who are younger than you. For the most part, you have entered life’s “sweet spot.” You have learned from your mistakes and are typically making better choices in your mid-life journey.

There are many younger people in the generations directly behind you who could learn a lot from your experience.

Why not grab some of the younger people in your sphere of influence, especially the ones who are really struggling right now, and take them out to lunch. Listen to their stories and share yours.

Maybe, just maybe, you can help someone in a generation behind you that nobody else can reach.

Question: What life experiences do you carry around inside of you that could possibly benefit others?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Who Else Wants To Raise Children, Successfully?

Photo by Jose Roco

Photo by Jose Roco

My Daughter’s Essay Was An Important Reminder

“Well, Daddy, I wrote about you.”

My oldest daughter and I were having a quick phone conversation right after school about how her day went. I asked her my usual questions, “How was your day? Anything special happen at school?”

She probably told me that not much exciting happened. Then, I probably asked her a few more questions about some specific subjects. These questions led us into a conversation about an essay she had to write in one of her classes. The assignment was to write about a person you know who has set goals and accomplished them.

She chose to write about me!

Actually, I was somewhat taken back when she said this. A tear showed up in the corner of one eye. We’ve never had any kind of “official” conversation about goals or goal-setting that I can recall. I’ve never shared with her any of my life goals.

I have been a goal-setter pretty much my entire life, though. Somehow, my daughter picked this up from me without words. Over the last 13 years, she’s been observing my actions.

She then went on to tell me my list of goals that I had accomplished from her viewpoint as my daughter. I was totally blown away.

At the same time, I was also reminded that what we do in front of our children has a bigger impact than we truly realize.

Actions Speak Louder

We’ve probably heard this statement a million times, “actions speak louder than words” or “more is caught than taught.” I am still amazed, though, at the number of parents who don’t seem to understand that what they do in front of their kids each day makes a HUGE impression on them, way more than words do.

Your words either support your actions, or they contradict them. Unfortunately, I suspect that many parents have words and actions that are complete polar opposites.

Children are a lot smarter than we give them credit. They listen to what we say, but more importantly, they watch everything we do.

Get Into Alignment

If you struggle in this area of right words but wrong actions in front of your children, then there is no better time to change this aspect of your parenting than today.

The best time to make any kind of parenting change is now; not tomorrow, or when the sun, moon, and stars line up.

Start with a change in just one area. Begin by making just one single positive action in front of your children. Then when that takes hold as a habit over a few weeks, then add another positive action and follow the pattern.

Small changes over time have a greater success rate than trying to change everything about your parenting all at once.

Be sure your actions support the words you speak to your kids. Actions really do speak louder than words.

Questions: Do you struggle in this area of alignment between your words and actions with your children? If so, what small change could you begin with today that would make a huge impact on their development over time?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Featured Guest Post At XPastor.org: 7 Suggestions For Better Meetings

XPastor.orgI’m pleased to announce that I had a new guest post go live this week over at XPastor.org.

Post Title: Meetings Are Lame: 7 Suggestions On Making Them Better

Summary: In this post, I discuss the impact of poorly organized and executed meetings on any organization. I give 7 suggestions for making them better, such as:

  • Consider holding only afternoon meetings.
  • Create an agenda for each meeting.
  • Appoint a leader in charge of the meeting.
  • Announce a distraction free zone.
  • Start and end on time.
  • Create an action items list.
  • Delegate tasks within the meeting.

Read this and more over on my guest post at XPastor.org.

Thank you to Dr. David Fletcher and his team for utilizing my post!






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Book Review | The Art of Possibility by Ben and Rosamund Zander

The Art of Possibility BookDiscovering A Book Through A TED Talk

The information within books has the potential power to completely and radically transform your life.

Over the last few years, I can count a handful of books that made a deep impression that has changed my thinking and ultimately my life in amazing, powerful ways.

The Art of Possibility by Benjamin and Rosamund Zander (note: this is a husband and wife duo) is my latest addition to this list of life-changing books.

I actually discovered Benjamin Zander through his amazing TED video (you have to watch this), visited his personal website, and then ordered his book through the Kindle store on Amazon. Money wisely spent!

Benjamin Zander’s biography reads:

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of The Boston Philharmonic Orchestra and a guest conductor around the world. With London’s famed Philharmonia Orchestra, he is recording the complete cycle of Mahler symphonies for Telarc, recordings which have been received with extraordinary critical acclaim and several awards. Their latest recording of Bruckner’s 5th Symphony was nominated for a 2010 Grammy, and has received critical acclaim both for the performance and Zander’s now famous full-length disc explaining the music for the lay listener. They recorded their next release, Mahler’s 2nd Symphony, in January 2012 and it is scheduled for release later this year.

In 1967, Mr. Zander joined the faculty at New England Conservatory, where he taught an interpretation class, conducted the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, and conducted the conservatory orchestras. For the past 28 years, he was the Artistic Director of the joint program between New England Conservatory’s Preparatory School and The Walnut Hill School for the Performing Arts in Natick, Massachusetts.

Mr. Zander is one of the most sought after speakers in the world. He gave the opening Keynote address at the World Economic Forum in Davos, where on another occasion he was awarded the Crystal award for “outstanding contributions in the Arts and international relations. In 2002 he was awarded the “Caring Citizen of the Humanities” Award by the International Council for Caring Communities at the United Nations. In honor of his 70th birthday, and 44 years of teaching, he was recently awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the New England Conservatory.

His partner Rosamund Zander and he have collaborated on a best-selling book, “The Art of Possibility” which has been translated into fifteen languages.

Yes, this book has a lot to do with music, orchestras, and conducting.

But, it goes way beyond that. I view this book more as a roadmap to be a successful leader and to live out a life of transformation. Whether you’re a musician or not, you need to read this book. It will turn your life upside down, inside out. The ideas that Ben and Rosamund present here will cause you to rethink your approach to life and relationships.

[PLEASE NOTE: this is not a “Christian,” sanitized book. There is some adult language and themes here and there (especially under Chapter 6: Rule Number 6 and Chapter 7: The Way Things Are). I don’t support or condone the language or subject matter, but I do agree with the primary principles presented here. If you choose to read this book, you will need to keep this mind. You have been warned.]

My 6 Takeaways From The Book The Art Of Possibility

After reading The Art of Possibility, I came away with six actionable concepts that I have already started applying to my life. I’m seeing amazing things happen in my life as a result.

  1. It’s all invented (p. 12). The interpretations of the world vary from person to person, depending on our culture, environment, and upbringing. We all tend to become rigidly attached to certain ways of thinking and specific ways of viewing the world. The Zanders have concluded that “It’s all invented anyway, so we might as well invent a story or a framework that enhances our quality of life and the life of those around us.”
  2. Orient your life toward abundance (p. 21). It is very easy for any of us to slip into a poverty or scarcity mindset, thinking that we don’t have enough money or resources to accomplish what we would like. The Zanders encourage us with these words, “you are more likely to extend your business and have a fulfilled life if you have the attitude that there are always new customers out there waiting to be enrolled rather than that money, customers, and ideas are in short supply … resources are more likely to come to you in greater abundance when you are generous and inclusive and engage people in your passion for life. There aren’t any guarantees, of course. When you are oriented to abundance, you care less about being in control, and take more risks.”
  3. Radiate possibility to everyone around you (p. 65). When the people you lead are not everything you envision them to be, who do you blame? Do you blame them, or do you blame yourself? Ben Zander puts forth the question for all of us who are leading others, “Who am I being that they are not shining?” (p. 74). The only person we can truly blame is ourself. We are the leader who is radiating possibility to others. So how do we effectively radiate this universe of possibility? The Zanders believe that “Purpose, commitment, and vision are distinctions that radiate possibility” (p. 179).
  4. Give people an “A” (p. 26, 39). Too many times, we judge people with very little information. If we feel like they have done us wrong one too many times, we put these people on our “naughty” list. The Zanders challenge us to give the grade of an “A” to “anyone in any walk of life – to a waitress, to your employer, to your mother-in-law, to the members of the opposite team … When you give an A, you find yourself speaking to people not from a place of measuring how they stack up against your standards, but from a place of respect that gives them room to realize themselves … This A is not an expectation to live up to, but a possibility to live into.”
  5. Lead from the second chair (p. 41). There is a disease that infects many music ensembles. This problem is sometimes called “second fiddle-itis.” The problem occurs when people perceive their role in a group to be of little significance (second violins for example), mostly due to the fact that many people are duplicating the same part. This is not true of other key positions within an orchestra, such as the primary brass and woodwind roles. They act more as soloists. But, this in no way diminishes the role and importance of the “second part.” Ben Zander tells us the story of Robert Koff, the founding second violinst of the Julliard String Quartet: “I came away convinced that the real leader of the string quartet is the second violin. Not because Koff dominated the rest of us, but because in his part he had all the inner rhythms and harmonies, and he gave them such clarity and authority that we were all tremendously influenced by his playing. He was leading us from the ‘seconds.’”
  6. Rule Number 6: don’t take yourself so seriously! (p. 79-80). The practice of Rule Number 6 is to lighten up, which may lighten up those around us. We can utilize the power of humor to defuse tense and awkward situations. All of us take ourselves way too seriously at certain times and under specific circumstances. When you find yourself getting way too serious and stressed out, just remember Rule Number 6 and observe what happens!

Questions: Have you ever read The Art of Possibility? If so, what were your own takeaways from this amazing book?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

7 Ways To Solve Problems At Work, In Ministry, And In Life

Photo by Donna Grayson

Photo by Donna Grayson

Quit Your Whining And Moaning

I used to whine and moan too much about problems at work.

I can look back over my last several years at work with a sense of guilt or shame about my complaining.

And, I’m not talking about problems that were outside of my sphere of influence or control. I’m talking about my day-to-day problems that any good leader encounters.

I would think to myself, “why can’t all these issues just resolve themselves or not even materialize in the first place. I’ve got better things to do with my time than deal with these petty problems.”

The reality is, though, that if you were hired into any kind of leadership role, you were hired to handle problems. You were hired to find creative solutions to your problems. You were hired to push through your problems and take your organization to the next level in spite of these problems.

Can you be proactive in mitigating these problems? Most definitely.

Wise leaders put systems in place to help prevent or at least soften the impact of certain levels of problems. Many problems, though, just come with the territory in your area of expertise.

3 Types of Problems

In my quest to deal with problems, I have found it helpful to mentally categorize these into three distinct types:

  1. Problems within your control. These are the types of problems where you feel like you have enough time, people, and resources to handle them.
  2. Problems that seem outside your control. These are the next level of problems that seem just beyond your comfort zone. Perhaps, you don’t feel like you have enough time, people, or resources to handle these challenges adequately. This is where you need to get creative in your problem-solving abilities. In my own personal leadership, this is where I believe I have grown the most in the last few years.
  3. Problems that are definitely out of your control. There will always be a few problems that will occur that are beyond your ability to fix. You just need to move forward and go on. If you feel like you have adequately planned, prepared, and done your best, then that’s all you can do.

How I Deal With Problems, Today

When I finally made that connection in my mind a few years ago that a big chunk of my leadership role is dealing with regular, ongoing problems, I could actually sort of calm down and relax about it all.

Do I enjoy having the problems? No, not really, but at least I now have a better understanding that when you’re dealing with volunteers and limited resources, you will have problems.

Stuff happens. You’ve gotta deal with it. So, this is how I have learned to deal with it.

  1. Lead from a position of strength. I can deal with most problems a lot better when I’m exercising daily, eating well, and getting adequate rest. My physical body is able to handle the stress better. Also, when my personal life is in order, such as with my relationships and my finances, I am in a healthy mental and emotional state to deal with work issues on a whole better level.
  2. Set expectations upfront. You can probably avoid a lot of problems on the front end by clearly stating your expectations with your team on the front end. Attempt to take a pre-emptive strike approach before the problems even begin.
  3. Relax. Take a deep breath. It will all work out somehow, some way. Many leaders tend to blow problems way out of proportion, at least I know that I struggle with this from time to time.
  4. Formulate a few solutions to your problems. List these solutions from best to worst.
  5. Work your list from best choice to last choice.
  6. Throw money at the problem. This is my “ace in the hole.” If I can’t get any traction with my list of solutions, then spending money will be my last option if necessary.
  7. Be vulnerable and open to suggestions from others. Occasionally, I will discuss my larger challenges with others. When I do this, I am amazed when they see solutions that I hadn’t even thought of! Graciously thank them for the idea and go see if you can make it work!

Question: How do you deal with problems in the workplace, in ministry, and in life?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Who Else Wants More Out Of Life?

Photo by gfpeck

Photo by gfpeck

Put In. Get Out.

“You get out of it, what you put into it.”

Have you ever heard this little phrase before? A friend reminded me of this saying several weeks ago.

This quote is so true, AND, it’s a truth that applies to just about anything and everything in your life.

The problem I see is that most people want to coast through most things in their life. They want to put in as little as possible. They want everything handed to them on a gold platter because they deserve it, but they aren’t willing to work hard and go after it.

Now, I’m all for achieving maximum results with minimal effort. Working smarter not necessarily harder is my mantra. But there are going to be areas of our life that we’re just going to need to put the time and energy into in order to get anything meaningful in return.

The amazing thing that happens, though, is putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean that all your energy is zapped out of you. Putting yourself out there can actually be an energizing experience.

Instead of thinking yourself as a battery being drained of power, think of yourself more in terms of an alternator or generator. Energy is put in and energy is released. It’s a win/win all around.

Areas To Put In

Do you want to have a deep walk with the Lord? You’re going to need to spend a lot of time in Bible reading and prayer. You need to be actively involved in your local church. You need to have a missions mindset.

Do you want to have a great relationship with your spouse and children? You’re going to need to put a lot of time and energy into those relationships. You need to get home in time to have family dinner around the table. You need to schedule date nights with your spouse. You need to love and nurture your kids.

Do you want to be a superstar employee in your workplace? You’re going to have to put in a little extra time and energy into your position. You need to grow in your leadership skills. You need to take on some projects that will take you and your organization to the next level.

You get out of anything in life, what you put into it.

I’ve Decided To Put More In

I can confidently proclaim this truth, because I’m learning it through firsthand experience in another organization outside of the four walls of my current church position. You see, almost a year ago, I joined a volunteer group in my community to learn and grow in the areas of leadership and communication. Yes, I’m putting quite a bit of time and energy into this group, but I’m also getting a TON out of it, too. I was even voted on (probably more like drafted!) to become an officer in the group. Being a part of this organization has been a real blessing in my life. Has it been easy? No, not really. Has it been worth it? Most definitely!

So, what do you want out of life? Do you want to just coast along and go with the flow? Or, do you want to really dig in and grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and musically? For me, personally, I pick growth, every time.

You get out of life what you put into it.

Question: What are you willing to put into your life in 2014?






Exclusive Bonus! Subscribe today and you’ll receive a link to download my brand new e-book, Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan To Change Your Life, Today!, FREE of charge.

New Graphic

We respect your email privacy

Focus On The Line Of Your Life, Not The Dots

Photo by robinparmar

Photo by robinparmar

Inspired Musical Performance

As a musician, it’s easy for me and other music-types to get hung-up on technique. We try really hard to play the right notes at the right time at the right pitch. We think we have achieved success if we can nail that musical trifecta and then stick the landing!

While technique is vitally important to achieving a successful music performance, we’re definitely missing the boat as musicians if that’s our only concern. The purpose of performing any piece of music is to communicate the intended interpretation of the composer. We need to consider the overall line, shape, musical structure, and phrasing. We need to be more interested in communicating the message of the music rather than playing a technically perfect rendition of the song.

The greatest musicians of all time have been able to detach themselves from their performance technique and communicate the message of the music. They have inspired us with beautiful performances that have transcended the written notes on the page. These musicians passionately touch our lives in amazing ways.

Your Greatest Performance: Living Life

I believe several analogies can be drawn between musical performance and our own life performance.

As with too much focus on musical technique, so too can we get hung up on the proper technique of living our lives. We get focused on the individual points of our lives, instead of connecting these dots into an incredible life line that communicates an amazing message to those around us.

Let me give you some examples of what I’m talking about.

When I speak of the “individual points” of our lives, I’m mostly talking about those BIG life events that we think about being able to accomplish: graduating high school, graduating college, establishing your career, getting married, having 2.5 children, getting those children raised, socking enough money in IRA’s to retire, retiring, traveling the world, crawling into the casket, and passing away.

What happens, though, when we get focused on the technique, the main points of our lives?

A number of things can happen. We can lose sight of the big picture of our lives. We can get bogged down in one area (such as finishing college – I know I did!). We can desire the act of marriage so much that we lose sight of our life line and marry the wrong person. We can get so worked up about putting enough money away for retirement that we’re working too hard in a job in which we feel unhappy and unfulfilled.

So, what if we flipped this whole life process around? What if we started living out the line of our lives instead of getting hung up on these individual parts of our lives?

Focus On The Line

The best way to overcome this point-by-point, event-by-event living is to stay focused on the line – your unique path to your ultimate, desired destination.

Stephen Covey called this type of thinking, “Beginning with the end in mind.” This is visionary, possibility thinking.

Have you ever sat down and figured out your life destination, where you intentionally want to end up? In your mind, you may have a general idea, but have you purposely crafted a statement of life intention? Have you created an extraordinary vision that you are running toward each and every day?

Perhaps you desire to live to age 100 and be the reigning patriarch of an amazingly large, Christian family of 5 kids, 15 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren! How amazing would that be?

So, how are you going to get to there? How would you live if this was your desired destination?

I can just about guarantee you won’t get there if you’re out partying each weekend, you and your spouse fight constantly, and your family is an absolute train wreck. In this situation, your daily actions don’t line up with your intended life destination. So you’re going to need to stop and spend a little time on your life technique so your life can play out to its intended conclusion.

Fix Your Technique

Let’s go back to my example above and think through the technique on how to possibly accomplish the following life statement:

“I desire to live to age 100 and be the reigning patriarch of an amazingly large, Christian family of 5 kids, 15 grandchildren, and 30 great-grandchildren!”

  • Part 1: “I desire to live to age 100.” [Personal note: I recognize that our time here on earth is totally in the hands of Almighty God (James 4:14). This is still a vision that we can live toward]. So, does your lifestyle currently support your being able to live a mostly healthy life to age 100? If not, what needs to change today in order for you to live into the possibility of age 100? Do you need to change your diet, start exercising, and get yearly physicals?
  • Part 2: ” … and be the reigning patriarch …” Are you a strong leader in your family? How do treat your spouse and children? Are you a servant leader to your family? What do you need to do, who do you need to become in order to be the respected leader within your immediate and extended family?
  • Part 3: ” … of a an amazingly large, Christian family …” Are you strong in your own walk with Christ? Does your walk match your talk? Are you in the Word and in prayer on a consistent basis? Is weekly church attendance a priority? Can you look your family members in the eyes and say with the confidence of the Apostle Paul, “follow me as I follow the Lord?” (1 Corinthians 11:1).

Work on your life technique just like a musician would, but also don’t forget to play the song of your life with everything you’ve got! Have a vision and live toward that vision each day.

Questions: How is your “life song” playing out, today? Are you hung up on performing the right life techniques or are you focused on your life line and ultimate destination? Have you ever crafted a vision of intention for the ultimate destination of your life here on earth?

As we begin a new year, now is a great time to work on the line, the ultimate destination of what you desire to achieve in this life.

My Top 10 Blog Posts In 2013 According To Pageview Traffic

Photo by sam_churchill

Photo by sam_churchill

Preface

In a blog post earlier in the week, I took a look at My Top 10 Favorite Personal Blog Posts in 2013. In this post, I will list the top 10 blog posts in 2013 on my personal blog, larrywjones.com, according to pageview traffic analytics. Let me qualify this list by saying that some of these posts were written prior to 2013, but they still received a lot of pageviews in this year.

In order to read each post listed below in its entirety, just click on the embedded links. So, without further delay, here are the top ten posts in 2013 according to pageview traffic [drum roll, please]:

Top 10 Blog Posts in 2013 According to Pageview Traffic

10. Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry? In this post, I look at the differences between those church members who only volunteer their time and talents, versus those who sense a deep calling to use their time and talents to advance the Kingdom of God. There is a major attitude and investment difference that’s worth noting.

9. Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan. Several years ago, I went through a period of brokeness in my life. While many people would have probably just given up, thrown in the towel, and chucked the “Christian life” thing, I drew closer to the Lord and grew in my faith. I moved to a new, better place in my life. In this post, I share additional details on how the Lord truly took me from broken to superhuman.

8. 8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile. The truly, engaged professional has a killer LinkedIn profile. The best profiles are similar to online resumes, but on digital steroids! Over the last two years, I’ve become a huge fan of the various tools and features that LinkedIn has to offer professional business people. In this post, I outline the eight characteristics of the very best profiles out there, today.

7. What Should You Do When You’re Waiting On God For Your Next Move? I have received a favorable response from several people telling me how much the post personally spoke to them. I believe this post spoke to others because it reflects some of my one personal frustrations as I circle about in my own circumstantial holding patterns. I can speak from the knowledge of my own personal experience.

6. 7 Tips To Successfully Motivate Volunteers In Your Organization. Whether or not your volunteers feel a sense of calling or simply a spirit of volunteerism, there are practical techniques you as a leader can use to successfully motivate your followers. In this post, I give seven tips that have worked well for me over the last 16 years.

5. How To Organize Your LinkedIn Connections On A Free Account. A free account on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you have to go without practical tools to organize your professional connections. In this post, I use screenshots to walk you through a systematic approach to organize your hundreds of connections.

4. 5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive. This is another one of my posts in which I still receive a very positive response. Here, I list five books I have read in the last few years that continue to have a positive impact on my personal life. I highly recommend them for your library.

3. 5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life. The elegant life is not praised or promoted in our modern era. Why is this? I’m not entirely certain, but society in general continues to degrade into a more crude and rude state. How we dress, talk, eat, and walk does make an impact on those we come in contact with. “Suit up” and check out this post!

2. 14 Practical Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Being An Orchestra Director. I’ve been directing volunteer orchestras now for almost 20 years. During this time, through much trial and error, I’ve picked up several important leadership lessons. In this post, I share what I’ve discovered about leadership along the way. Interestingly enough, this post really “caught fire” in my digital circle of influence, and this post was also featured over on the XPastor.org website: A Recent Post Featured Today Over At XPastor.org | 14 Leadership Lessons.

1. 6 Characteristics Of A Renaissance Man. This post was one of my first, early entries on the blog when I had a slightly different emphasis on Renaissance living. Interestingly enough, due to numerous Google searches on renaissance men, this page receives a ton of traffic. It’s far and away (like 30x more pageviews than the next popular post) my most visited blog post. Even though I shifted my blog emphasis to whole life stewardship, this is still a great blog post, in my humble opinion.