Archive for January, 2010

What I Should Have Learned in First Grade!

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

My first grade teacher told us on the first day of school: You’re all beautiful and unique. You can do anything you set your mind to. You will change the world!

This speech did me a great disservice because it created unrealistic expectations about what life was really about. I just figured that the world would be awed by my brilliance, roll over, assume the position, and devote itself to making me happy. And when it didn’t I wasn’t prepared for how to handle it. I blamed everyone and everything else because it couldn’t be my fault! After all, I was “beautiful, unique, could do anything and would change the world.”

I would have benefited far more had my first grade teacher addressed the class with something like this:

Listen up first-graders, I have an announcement to make: The chances are excellent that you’ve been duped by well-meaning adults who filled your head with Pollyanna nonsense and this morning I’m going to set the record straight. Now put on your thick skin because this might hurt a bit, but it’s for your own good: You are not special or unique. In fact, you are one of many. And, as I survey the room, I can say that none of you is particularly beautiful. I can also promise that most of you will have a hard enough time changing anything about yourself, so you can forget about changing the world. I know that your parents and other teachers have told you otherwise, and that brings up my next point: people will lie to you from time to time. In fact, let me clear up here and now that there is no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. Life is not about magical characters that shower you with gifts and favor and serve your every whim. Nope, life is tough so you better get ready for it. Here’s proof, so get out your pencils and jot this down: Statistically, 10% of you will be in therapy, 25% of you will be arrested, 7% of you will go to prison, 10% of you will never earn above the poverty level; 50% of your marriages will end in divorce, 60% of you will be overweight, someone in this room will file bankruptcy before they’re thirty and one of you here today will try to kill yourself before you’re out of high school. In other words, life is not supposed to be easy. It’s darned difficult, which explains why so many people end up on their death bed as average, broke and embarrassed. Frankly, the sooner you begin to get your life together, the better. You need to develop discipline, character, competence and an unstoppable work ethic because life isn’t a playground, it’s a battleground.

Please get those lost looks off your face and listen up: You’re going to have to work for anything in life that is worthwhile. In fact these sissified sports teams you play on after school where they do not keep score and everyone gets a trophy is not how the real world works. The sooner you understand this, the better: there is winning and there is losing; there is right and there is wrong; there is success and there is failure. Life rewards those who step up, not just those that show up. The good news is that there will be plenty of room at the top because so darned few of you are likely to do anything special to rise above mediocrity. Where you’ll find crowds are at the bottom. And those at the bottom would rather bring you down to their level than stretch to reach yours. Consequently, throughout your life, there will be certain people you will have to give up so that you can go up.

Now stop crying, because I’m not finished. Before we break for play time, there’s one more thing you should know. In fact, I’m going to let you in on a secret and you’ve got to promise not to tell your parents I shared this with you. Here it is: every time you blame someone else for your lack of results; each time you make an excuse to explain away your unsuccessful state; whenever you complain, whine, lie, act disrespectfully or fail to accept responsibility for your actions….another puppy dies.

Any questions? OK then, as soon as you stop hyperventilating, you’re dismissed for recess. Have fun kids, and remember that this afternoon our topic for discussion will be: “You can’t be a winner if you’re a whiner, wimp.”

How to Balance Your Life in 2010!

Sunday, January 3rd, 2010

In How to Run Your Business by THE BOOK, I included a chapter on work/life balance that highlighted four key areas of balance to pursue in your life. I suggested that while you may never find yourself in “perfect” life balance, you should continually take strides to improve each of the four sectors, because a let up in any one area will adversely affect the others. The beginning of a New Year offers a logical time, psychologically, to recommit to improving balance in mental, emotional, physical and spiritual areas of your life. That being said, what will you in 2010 to improve…

1. Your mental balance. Mental balance concerns learning new things. This can be addressed by attending more seminars, reading more books, taking an online course and the like. You’re far less likely to become complacent or to plateau when you’re staying fresh and relevant “between the ears”.

Mental balance thought: Life gets easier when you get better. You get better when you work on yourself!

2. Your emotional balance. Emotional balance concerns the strength of relationships with family and friends. What will you do to become a better spouse, parent and friend? This requires more than a physical presence. It demands a change of heart.

Emotional balance thought: You can’t afford to allow your family become a casualty of your pursuit of more stuff!

3. Your physical balance. Physical balance is about staying healthy and taking care of your body. Do you work so hard on your job that you’ve got no time or energy left over to work on your health? If the answer is “yes”, you’ve got horribly misplaced priorities that can eventually drain you of the energy and passion necessary to get the most from all areas in your life.

Physical balance thought: While most people are repulsed by the idea of committing suicide with a gun, they unthinkingly do so with a fork every time they sit down to eat! Is this the year you’ll finally become serious about getting your physical condition under control?

4. Your spiritual balance. This involves your connection with a higher power in your life. Leaders devoid of spiritual vitality often fall prey to temptations and character compromises that destroy everything they’ve built in their lives. They also miss the inner peace, joy and perspective that they can only know when they replace the ambition to “get more” with the goal of becoming more. Which spiritual discipline do you need to develop to help you in this most vital of the four balance arenas: prayer, Bible reading, scripture memorization, fasting, journaling, serving, giving, others? Schedule these activities and work the rest of your day around them, rather than trying to squeeze spiritual disciplines into what’s left of your day.

Spiritual balance thought: Could a lack of spiritual balance be the culprit behind your feelings of emptiness, insignificance, hopelessness or passionless approach to life?