Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Looking Fine in '09!

Let's say you've done what I asked the past two days. You've rolled the simple questions about life improvement around in your brain and you are getting some ideas about what you'd like to accomplish in '09.

The next step is to be S.M.A.R.T. Creating SMART Resolutions gives you a better chance of succeeding. They are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Time-focused.

I promised yesterday that I'd reveal my three Resolutions and how I would accomplish them, so here goes:

1. Lose 30 pounds in '09. I'll focus on taking 3 10-minute walks each day, drink a glass of water upon rising and a glass of water 30-minutes before going to bed, in addition to what I drink during the day, cut portions in half when I dine out. That's my plan.

2. Figure out what is really important to me in relationships. As a stereotypical male in some ways, I don't think in specifics much in terms of relationships, and I'm not 18 or 28 or 38 anymore. It's time for me to understand what is important in relationships and friendshps and focus on the people who bring those things into my life. Specifically, I am going to read more about relationships and be able to articulate the 3 things that are truly important to me.

3. Start laying the foundation for my retirement. I'll create 3 new information products that can be sold online and will funnel any profits into a retirement account.

So, those are my three resolutions. What are yours? If you could see my plans for each of them you'd see that they are SMART.

Thanks for reading the blog on '08, it's been an interesting year on a wide variety of fronts. We've all had some losses and some victories. Learn from the losses AND the victories. Forget the former and celebrate that latter.

One final thought about '08: Confucious said, "They must often change who would find happiness and wisdom." You may not have ended '08 in the way you hoped or planned, I know that there are some things I had hoped to have done by now and am falling short, but tomorrow is a new day and you get to keep trying. It's good to believe that the world won't end, that you won't turn into a pumpkin, one minute after midnight on January 1.

Be careful if you go out tonight. See you on Monday. Have a wonderful New Year's Eve.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolution Realities

Yesterday I asked you to come up with 3 simple questions in anticipation of creating Resolutions for 2009. Check yesterday's blog to see the questions.

I promised that I'd tell you a secret about the questions, so here it is: Your brain's most important function is to answer questions. If you form a question your brain automatically starts trying to find an answer. It goes through all your current internal knowledge and pulls out information that may help answer the question. Your brain then sends the info to you in the form of intuition, hints, clues, pain, happiness, lightbulbs going off...whatever you want to call it. Then, your brain uses your senses to reach out into the external world and look, listen, touch, smell, and taste for information that can help answer the question.

Here's an example. One of my resolutions for 2009 is to lose weight. Specifically, I want to lose 30 pounds in 2009. That's about 2.5 pounds a month. So, the question I'm posing for my brain is, "How do I lose 30 pounds in a year; 2.5 pounds a month; a little over a half-pound a week?"

In today's paper there is an article,"25 Ways You Can Shed 10 Pounds This Year." My eyes and brain were immediately attracted to the article because it seemed to have information I could use to answer my questions. I ignored the article, "Cholesterol Drugs May Turn Your Roots Black," (even though I take cholesterol drugs) because I don't have an interest in that topic, and didn't have question in my brain about the color of my roots.

Ask yourself yesterday's simple questions and relax. Your brain will do it's work and you'll come up with some solid ideas about how to form your Resolution. You may get a surprising and powerful message that some of the topics you ASSUME you should make Resolutions about really aren't that important to you. They are topics you think you OUGHT to be working on...but not really. You want to discover what is truly important to you; what might help you make a big, positive change in your life.

I've been using this exercise for the last couple of days and my Resolutions are slowing forming. Try the exercise for 24 hours and see what answers you get by this time on New Year's Eve.

Tomorrow I'll tell you my 3 Resolutions for 2009. Maybe some of my Resolutions, and my steps for making them real, will work for you.

Monday, December 29, 2008

RRRRRRRRResolutions Are Comin'!

Welcome back!

Whether you are working or not today, it's time to start thinking about that dreaded "R" word...Resolutions.

Lots of folks don't like making Resolutions because they consistently break the attempts at change. I LOVE Resolutions because...break them or not...they signify the thought of a new beginning. So, even if you break them, Resolutions at least get you thinking about making a fresh start in an area of life.

From today until Wednesday, roll the thought of Resolutions around in your mind. Here are three suggestions for creating Resolutions:
1. In what area of life would you like to see improvement?
2. What change in that area of life, if you COULD make a change, would have a dramatic effect on your life?
3. What SMALL goal, if you reached it, could be the first step in making the change a reality?

During the next 24 hours, roll those three questions around in your mind. Don't try to come up with an answer (tomorrow morning I'll tell you a secret about the questions) and just relax.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the Road to the North Pole

I've always loved Christmas and I loved it even more when I discovered that, after early Christians created the holiday in the early 4th Century (Christmas was originally known as the Feast of the Nativity), they did some heavy marketing.

The end of the fall, around the winter solistice, had long been a time of celebration of the end of the harvest and beginning of winter. The Romans had Saturnalia, there was the Mythraic's sun's birthday, Teutonic Yule, Druid festivals and others. We're talking about bigtime parties; major throw-downs.

So the early Christians incorporated many of the "heathen" traditions into Christmas. Rituals such as the Christmas tree, yule log, giving gifts, lights, mistletoe, holly and ivy, and wassailing (drinking to the health and well-being of others) all came from other cultures.

Let's think this through; if you are going to ask folks to follow your beliefs, make it as easy as possible for them to do so without changing their habits and the rituals they love.

Take a moment this holiday season to realize that almost all of who we are, where we are, and what we have has come from other people, other times, and other beliefs. Be grateful.

We live in the greatest time of opportunity in the history of mankind in a nation based on exploration, adventure, and achievement. Be grateful.

As humans with free will we have the ability to create and shape our futures, unlike any creatures on earth. Be grateful.

If you are under an avalanche of preparations for a Christmas feast, gift-giving, holiday visitors, and seeing loved ones....be grateful.

See you next Monday.

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 22, 2008

I Busted My A** Last Night!

"It is often said that before you die your life passes before your eyes. It is in fact true. It's called living." - Terry Pratchett
*

I fell down the stairs last night. Actually, I didn't fall DOWN the stairs; I missed the last one. Did the same thing the night before, but was able to catch myself and not take a tumble, so you'd think I would have been a little more careful. Sock feet, slick wood, and a large body in a hurry to get downstairs to see the Panthers/NY Giants game was a recipe for a loud BUMP!

As I lay on the floor I thought, "Man! This hurts like a _________!" After running through a quick checklist: ankle, foot, arm, side, I realized that, while nothing was broken, I had taken a pretty bad lick to my left side.

After a fitful night I'm moving slowly this morning and thinking about the quote at the top of the blog.

What happened last night was just part of living...we all experience all kinds of falls; physical, financial, emotional, professional. Many of the young guys who played in NFL games yesterday are waking up feeling worse, physically, than I do, and they do it every week for 16-20 weeks. The fact that they are younger and in a lot better shape (hey, is that a fat joke?) is relative.

The pain in my side is not going away today. In fact, I've been hurt before so I know that it won't be completely healed for awhile. But, if I take care of myself, slow down a bit, and learn from my experience, my side will get better....I will get better.

Have You taken any falls lately?

Friday, December 19, 2008

w'eekend Christmas Parties

This is the weekend for Christmas parties...I love'em. Below are some tips for partying that I wanted to pass along to you.

Enjoy the spirit of the festivities!!!

1. Avoid carrot sticks. Anyone who puts carrots on a holiday buffet table knows nothing of the Christmas spirit. In fact, if you see carrots, leave immediately. Go next door, where they're serving rum balls.

2. Drink as much eggnog as you can. And quickly. It's rare. You cannot find it any other time of year but now. So drink up! Who cares that it has 10,000 calories in every sip? It's not as if you're going to turn into an eggnog-alcoholic or something. It's a treat. Enjoy it. Have one for me. Have two. It's later than you think. It's Christmas!

3. If something comes with gravy, use it. That's the whole point of gravy. Gravy does not stand alone. Pour it on. Make a volcano out of your mashed potatoes. Fill it with gravy. Eat the volcano. Repeat.

4. As for mashed potatoes, always ask if they're made with skim milk or whole milk. If it's skim, pass. Why bother? It's like buying a sports car with an automatic transmission.

5. Do not have a snack before going to a party in an effort to control your eating. The whole point of going to a Christmas party is to eat other people's food for free. Lots of it. Hello?

6. Under no circumstances should you exercise between now and New Year's. You can do that in January when you have nothing else to do. This is the time for long naps, which you'll need after circling the buffet table while carrying a 10-pound plate of food and that vat of eggnog.

7. If you come across something really good at a buffet table, like frosted Christmas cookies or pralines in the shape and size of Santa, position yourself near them and don't budge. Have as many as you can before becoming the center of attention. They're like a beautiful pair of shoes. If you leave them behind, you're never going to see them again.

8. Same for pies. Apple, Pumpkin, Mincemeat. Have a slice of each. Or if you don't like mincemeat, have two apples and one pumpkin. Always have three. When else do you get to have more than one dessert? Labor Day?

9. Did someone mention fruitcake? Granted, it's loaded with the mandatory celebratory calories, but avoid it at all cost. I mean, have some standards.

10. One final tip: If you don't feel terrible when you leave the party or get up from the table, you haven't been paying attention. Re-read tips; start over, but hurry, January is just around the corner. Remember this motto to live by:

"Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!"

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Managing Your Boss

Was in Wilmington today talking about “How to Manage Your Boss.”

A fun group, smart, and asked good questions.

There are two key issues as I see it when it comes to managing a boss: First, are you doing your job? If you are doing your job and your boss isn’t doing his/hers, then you have a reason to gripe…and to try and correct them.

If you aren’t doing your job, and it’s for any reason other than you don’t know how, and your idea of managing your boss is to try and get them to ease off on you…then I hope you get whatever’s coming to you.

But, back to managing the boss. The second key is communication. Whether you think they will listen or not, you have to communicate with the boss to get a feel for their priorities, problems, hopes, management style, goals, and personality.

Your boss has lots of challenges, just like you do. If you are 1% of their challenges, don’t turn it into 100%. If you do, they might choose to get rid of their problem…you.

Very few bosses really are dopes. Most are overworked and undertrained, like you.

Here’s a thought; if you want to have more Perfect Workdays, try to help your boss have more Perfect Workdays.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Trying To Do Too Much?

Are you trying to do too much? Do you stare at your To-Do List at the end of each day, looking at all the things that didn’t get done?

If this sounds like you then a couple of things are going on. First, you are probably over-scheduling. In our society there is a seductive quality to believing that you can get it all done. Unfortunately, we schedule so many things that there is no way it can happen.

Second, you are not anticipating what you have to do you are just reacting to each thing that pops up in life or on your list. That is why I’m trying to get you to look over your list first thing a few times during the day. Your mind will subconsciously work on some of the challenges for but you have to give your brain a heads up.

The third issue is that you’re not saying No enough.

Allow me to make a politically incorrect comment. My experience has been that women are worse about this than men because a lot of women believe that if they say No to something, “I’m a bad mother, bad friend, bad daughter, bad grandmother—bad whatever.” My wife says that is the Superwoman Complex, and to give up the cape.

I have a little different theory about the issue. I believe that a lot of women essentially train the people around them to keep asking for time and effort. Family, friends, and co-workers become emotionally dependent on those women because they don’t say No every now and then. The truth is probably a combination of the two theories.

NO! How One Simple Word Can Transform Your Life, by Jana Kemp, is a great resource to teach you how to say NO! in the right way.

I would suggest that you look for tactful ways to say to people, “I would love to be able to take that on, but right now here is my plate is pretty full.” Can you say that in your personal life? In your work life you may want to try to find a way to say “Great. That sounds good. Now I’ve got all these other things due. Help me figure out which of these things I can take off my plate so I can bring this other thing on.” Get them to help you prioritize. If you can do that you can help them become a better manager.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Barney and Barbie Backlash Day

Today is Barney and Barbie Backlash Day...no kidding.

For all those parents who cringe at the unimaginably perfect Barbie life or the maddening Barney tune, today is the day they can tell their children, "This is why that stuff isn't real."

What, you think I'm makin' this stuff up?

No.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Is Every Day Monday?

It seems that every Monday I start thinking about how we see...Monday.

Everything we experience, including Monday, is conditioned by the thoughts and patterns we create and allow ourselves to have. Many of the thoughts and patterns come from childhood; others gradually develop along the way or are seared into our conciousness by emotional experiences.

An extraordinarily smart woman I know from Los Angeles, Felice Richter, says, "Most people never get out of high school. The attitudes they developed from thirteen to eighteen are the same ones they have as adults."

That's scary. To think that we might never grow beyond the fears, prejudices, hopes, dreams and silliness of a time when we are ruled by our hormones is scary, sad, and depressing.

I was considering Felice's wisdom on Saturday afternoon at the NC High School Football Championships. I love high school football; the bands, the smell of cut grass, the youthful yelling, the live-or-die importance of the moment. But, I also thought of the young men for whom Saturday afternoon would be the high point of their lives. And, it will be the focal point of what they will talk about for the rest of their lives. Life has to be bigger and better than one Saturday afternoon when you're 17.

That brings me back to Monday and a flip of the attitudes. In at least one area I think the kids may have it right. I believe dreading Monday is an adult attitude. When you talk to young people--at least the smart ones, from first grade to seniors--they look forward to Mondays. Going back to school means seeing friends, learning something new, and being alive. They are developing a pattern and thought of expectation.

What do you expect...not just of Monday, but of yourself...of your life? Do you look at the rest of your life like everyday is Monday? I think that's a good thing...if you do it like a kid.

If you hate every Monday the rest of your time ain't lookin' so hot, now is it?

Have a great week!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Bored to Death

I spent yesterday in Chapel Hill teaching in the Executive Masters Program at the UNC School of Public Health. The program is ranked #1 in the nation and the students are always smart, quick, and fun professionals.

One of the discussions involved the effects of stress on time management and we made a distinction between good stress and bad stress:
- Distress...the bad stuff
- Eustress...the good stuff like Christmas, buying a new car, having a baby

But, in fact, there is another type of stress in addition to the good and bad; it's Hypostress, the stress people feel when they are bored.

I truly believe that the vast majority of American workers are afflicted by hypostress. They know what they are supposed to do and how to do it. But, they are bored to death by doing the same things over and over.

Most people are not challenged in their work. And, unfortunately, they do not know how to challenge themselves and their managers don't know how to effectively challenge them.

I'm definitely one of the fortunate ones. While driving over to Chapel Hill yesterday morning I was thinking about how much I enjoy what I do; it's challenging, but on the whole, it's a lot of fun. When it starts to get boring I try to change it.

Are you bored with what you do? In tough times you may realize that you need to stay where you are for the foreseeable future. So, how can you change what you do where you are right now? Can you make it a game? Can you take on new resposibilities; connect with new coworkers?

How can you re-invigorate what you do?

How can you create a new you?

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

14 Days

Two....weeks....until....Christmas!

As a little boy, I would get so excited about Christmas that I would break out in hives. I'm pretty close to that now as an adult.

Today is wake-up day if you have not started thinking about getting ready for Christmas. I know, I know...you have things to do, there's too little time....I've heard it all.

Try this: If you haven't really started getting ready for Christmas, do one thing today. Not a big thing; something small and easy to do. The activity gets you started. In fact, you will have taken advantage of Newton's First Law, "A body in motion tends to stay in motion." If you don't get started, you will actually prove the rest of the First Law, "A body at rest tends to stay at rest."

Now, do you know the rest of the Law? It's this, "Unless acted on by an outside force." Did you get that? Bodies in motion or at rest tend to stay that way unless acted on by an outside force.

OK, I'm your outside force. Do one thing today that gets you closer to being ready for the big day!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Finding a Need and Filling It

Whether you agree with his business or not, you have to admire Hugh Hefner. On December 10, 1953, Hefner published the first Playboy magazine. He invested $7,600 and edited the magazine on the kitchen table in the apartment he shared with his wife and infant daughter.

The first issue didn't have a publishing date on it. Hefner didn't think he'd be able to publish another issue. Two years later he had a staff of 30 and published out of his office/apartment in downtown Chicago.

Simply taken as an entrepreneurial venture, Playboy Enterprises was wildly successful.

Recently, Christie Hefner, the infant daughter now grown up, announced that she was stepping down as CEO of Playboy.

Hefner made a fortune and achieved icon status by filling a need in a creative way. In tough economic times there are still needs to be filled and fortunes to be made.

What need do you see that needs to be filled?

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Stop! For the Sake of a Perfect Workday

Let’s face it, there are some things you should stop doing. You know what they are. They might relate to time management, communications, organization any of a range of workplace issues.
Maybe you should stop:
- Interrupting people
- Leaving a messy desk
- Driving home the same way
- Wasting time in the morning
- Being late
- Not eating breakfast
- Procrastinating
- Trying to do it all yourself
- Making snap decisions
- Neglecting your To-Do List
- Buying a $5 latte every morning
- Letting people take advantage of you
- Walking into a meeting without an agenda
- Going to work where you are
- Not having fun
- Backing away from conflict
- Being afraid
- Saying “Yes” to everyone

Believe it or not, the people who have the most Perfect Workdays are not the people who know the most tricks. They are the people who are willing to stop doing the things that slow them down.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Secrets of Success?

This is the 100th post for perfectworkday.blogspot.com.

Are there secrets of success?

Thousands of authors have written tens of thousands of books promising the secrets to finding whatever your definition of success might be. Most of the books are simply padded versions of all the stuff your parents told you: have a goal, work smart and hard, give something back.

However, there is an increasing body of knowledge that shows what really does lead to success. Below are three wonderful resources that actually can lead you to the promised land.

In Mastery, by George Leonard, the concept of plateaus is key. Leonard says that when we are attempting to master any pursuit we will reach plateaus; those frustrating times when we don’t seem to continue to lose weight, or improve in our pursuit, or step up to a new achievement. He emphasizes the importance of continuing to strive, to practice, in order to break the hold of the plateau and move to the next level.

There are two types of practice: First, you continue to do what you have done. Second, you use “determined practice” that focuses on your weaknesses increases your chances of jumping to the next level. In Talent Is Overrated, author Geoff Colvin, explains the importance of determined practice and why it is the secret (there’s that word again) of top achievers.

And who are the top achievers and do they really have secret (ok, I give up) strategies? In Outliers, Michael Gladwell’s new book, we find that if there really is a secret it definitely is practice and top achievers spend about 10,000 hours practicing their skill.

Try this exercise: Look into your life and find some activity, skill, talent that you enjoy or appreciate. Calculate how much of your life has been spent practicing. I did some quick math and discovered that I have spent about 5,000 hours presenting seminars and 6,500 hours in gyms lifting weights. Looks like I’ve got a distance to go.

If you are going to read the books in order of logic or importance, read Mastery, then Outliers, then Talent Is Overrated.

Finally, the word “secret” infers something others don’t have. In reality, there are no secrets. There is….having a goal, working hard and smart, and giving something back.

Have a great week!

Friday, December 5, 2008

What About Me?

Was in Columbia, SC, yesterday morning presenting for the SC Home Care Association, and in High Point, NC, last night presenting for the Human Resource Managers Association of Greensboro.

Both these groups have something in common. In both cases the professionals often do not do a good job of taking care of themselves because they are so focused on taking care of others.

I’m not advocating selfishness, but if you don’t take care of yourself it’s highly likely that no one else will.

It’s kinda like flying and having the attendants do the pre-flight spiel. They will say, “If there is a sudden drop in cabin pressure put the mask on yourself first; then put the mask on those who need help.”

Do your needs always seem to come last? If so, you may be patting yourself on the back for being so wonderfully selfless. But, is that good for you or them?

After awhile you start wondering, “When do I get to be happy?”

I am convinced that three of the most dangerous words in life are, “What about me?” When you start asking that question a lot something’s gonna give sooner or later.

We are bearing down on the holidays, and they are often so other-directed that it is easy to forget to ask, “Am I taking care of me?”

Have a wonderful weekend.

PS. Today is Krampus Day in Austria. Krampus is a mythic, devilish companion to St. Nicholas who punishes bad children, just as St. Nick rewards good children. Krampus is a dark, hairy, cloven-hooved beast with red horns and a leering mouth. He carries chains and a switch wherever he goes. At the Krampus Festivals in Austria children are encouraged to throw snowballs at the Krampus.

Use the Krampus info to scare your children into acting better until Christmas! The Austrians do.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Tell It Like It Is

Yesterday was the last class of a program I presented for Leadership Johnston, a series of presentations for potential leaders in Johnston County.

I've done this for about five years and the last program in the series is always the one about making presentations. During the program I present basic instructions about public speaking and then offer suggestions to make the experience easier and less stressful.

Most studies show that 68-72% of Americans are more afraid of speaking before a group of strangers than they are of dying. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld once said that those statistics mean that if you are at a funeral where a eulogy is being given 68-72% of the people in the audience had rather be the person in the casket than the one giving the eulogy. In past years in the Johnston program I've had people who were so nervous they threw up, almost fainted, begged to not have to speak...you name it.

However, a recent study including CEOs and other leaders asked, "What skill, in addition to function skills, is most important for a leader?" The overwhelming winner was....public speaking.

Being able to present effectively is an outstanding addition to your workplace skills. You stand out from all the others who fear public speaking and, honestly, make yourself more marketable in the workplace.

There are three simple words to remember if you are asked to make a presentation: Tell'em, Tell'em, Tell'em.

First, Tell'em What You'll Tell'em. Give people a preview of your presentation.
Next, Tell'em. Present the body of your information.
Finally, Tell'em What You Told'em. Summarize your remarks and put a finishing touch on the presentation.

Few people in your audience will listen to every single word you say. But, they will catch most of the preview, body, or summary of your program.

Keep Tell'em, Tell'em, Tell'em in mind and you'll do a great job most of the time.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Stress Is Not Bad

In a stress management program this morning I made the statement, “Stress is not bad.” People looked at me like I was crazy.

Here’s the deal. There are three types of stress: Distress, Eustress, and Hypostress.

Distress is the bad stuff; the type of physical or emotional stress we don’t like. Eustress is the stress we feel with good experiences such as Christmas, buying a new car, or having a baby. Hypostress is the stress experienced by being bored.

Here’s the problem. We experience events in our lives—things that happen—and the events have no power other than the power we give them. That person at work who gets on your last nerve, they’re just doing what they do. Your perception is what creates stress for you.

The key, as researchers point out, is to have internal skills and external resources that allow you to handle the event in a positive way. Maybe the best thing to do is to ignore the person who annoys you; that’s an internal skill. Or, maybe you have the external resources to find job or go somewhere you won’t be bothered.

If you have internal skills or external resources the potential stressor is simply an annoyance; if not, it’s stress.

Here’s the wonderful key. You get to make the choice. In most cases, you decide what stress is and what it isn’t. Do you have the self-control to do that?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The T Theory of Life

The people who have more Perfect Workdays use what I call The T Theory of Life. Imagine a funny looking capital “T” with a long, horizontal cross bar at the top and a short, vertical stem.

Across the top of the “T” are all the ideas, skills, activities and sensations these people experience. The stem signifies the 3-5 priorities that that are really important to them.

These people know a little bit about a lot of things (signified by the top of the “T”), and they know a lot about those three to five things that make up their priorities.

The T Theory people distinguish themselves from others by looking for new ideas, skills and experiences every day. They are trying to constantly stretch the top of the “T.” They then decide which ideas can be pulled down into those three to five priorities.

The Japanese call this process kaizen, constant improvement. Looking for ways to improve each day leads you to a Perfect Workday.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Last, Wonderful Month

Welcome Back!!

One of the great things about the Monday after Thanksgiving is that it is the start of a month of positive anticipation. Parties, Christmas, family, New Year’s Eve are all ahead of us.

Did the two previous sentences send a shiver up your spine? Are you dreading what’s coming, and not looking forward to it?

The stresses that accompany the coming events are understandable. But there is another way to look at the coming month. And the story below makes a wonderful connection with “the reason for the season.”

I received the essay below this morning. It was written by Roy Williams, The Wizard of Ads. Google him and check his website. He does some good work.

Gather Up the Fragments

Chapter six in John’s story about the life of Jesus tells us how he fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves and 2 small fishes. I have no problem reconciling God and science, so the miracle bit doesn’t stumble me in the least.

The thing that fascinates me – the piece I woke up thinking about – is what Jesus said when the meal was over. “Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.”

Consider. This was a person of unlimited resources, a man who could create abundance from nothingness, yet he said to his followers, “Gather up the fragments.”

Have you ever stopped to “gather up the fragments” of your life?

We find ourselves at Thanksgiving and Christmas confronted with life-fragments we’ve been trying hard to forget. Encounters with uncomfortable relatives bring sharp fragments to the surface. Memories of past failures and embarrassments, hard times and weird relationships emerge from conversations with people who remember us differently than we are today. And then we have to visit places we’ve been trying to forget and recall events from which we’re still recovering.

Am I the only person who goes into the holiday season with mixed emotions?“

Gather up the fragments.”

Unresolved fragments are shrapnel, cutting us deeply.
Handled fragments are sandpaper, wearing off our rough edges.
Softened fragments are building blocks, giving us insights to get things done.
Celebrated fragments are nutrition, remembering past miracles in our lives.

Bright mosaics are made from gathered fragments. Broken. Colorful. Unique.Just like the pattern of your life.

Negotiate your broken places. They allow for new connections.

Appreciate the weirdness of your past. It adds color to your future.

Celebrate your personal heritage.

It beats the hell out of whining.

Roy Williams…The Wizard of Ads