living well or living comfortably

Good morning to you!
sunrise SEP 2014

Have you ever heard that life is short? Sure, we know it is – for everybody else. Somehow we think we are the exception, that somehow we have all the time in the world.

But we don’t.

So that begs the question – how are you living your life? Are you focusing on what is important, what is significant? So many things that we get concerned about are not really that important, that significant.

Are you focused on living comfortably or living well? Is your focus inward or outward? Are the lives of others being made better because of you? Is your community better because of you?

I am not talking about doing grand things, but simply living our lives with awareness and intentionality. Living with purpose so that those you touch in everyday life are better because of you.

Life really is short – make it count. One day at a time – one person at a time.

BG

a life well lived

Jack and Janis Robertson
Jack and Janis Robertson

Last week was quite a week. My last day in the office for Ambassador Enterprises (a great company filled with exceptional people!) to working with some good friends whose company is growing, to packing up my truck for me to drive South. So, not too many posts this past week.

Today (Monday, September 15, 2014) a man of God, a great husband and father, a friend, and a mentor, is being buried in east Texas. Jack Robertson has touched countless lives and many, many people (including me) are better because of his investment into their lives.

Jack’s deep faith in God and his love for his family were immediately evident to those he touched. He was a great businessman and entrepreneur, but business seemed more of a way to meet and serve others than just making a profit. Jack cared deeply about others and served others. His wisdom blessed me in so may ways. With his dry humor and east Texas drawl he would often share simple but profound observations that cut to the heart of the matter and cause you to see things in a totally different light.

I could go on and on, but my feeble words do not do justice to the life of Jack Robertson. Jack Robertson is a man who lived well and he died well. His faith and confidence in Jesus Christ enabled him to face death with calmness and dignity. Jack is now whole again and we rejoice that he is with his Lord, but we mourn the loss of a friend. Bittersweet indeed.

Today, if you would, pause for a minute and pray for his family. Then pause and reflect on your life. Is it a life well lived?

Jack – thank you and I miss you.

BG 

be present

waterfall at LAMGood Friday morning to you!

One of the challenges that I have is that I am often thinking about the future or evaluating the past. Too seldom am I present in the moment. As a result, I have missed too many important moments, I have too often not fully engaged in good conversations with people who are dear to me. I have passed by the small and beautiful things of God’s creation without noticing them.

Realizing this about myself, my two words for 2014 are “Be Present”. I am finding that to be difficult as I am dealing with my personality type as well as many years of habit. However, when I find myself actually being present with others and in the moment, I am seeing a richness of life that I have often missed. I see a decline in anxiety.

Most of all, those that matter most to me feel more loved and cared for, which is hugely important.

Do you struggle with “being present”? Think about it – all we have is this very moment. The past is past and we don’t know what the future holds, but we do have now, we do have those precious moments with our family and friends. Let’s don’t waste those moments with people by not being present with them.

A thought for you – practice being present with people today and see what you think. You might just enjoy it and maybe even relax a bit more today.

Have a great weekend!

BG

5 regrets of the dying that could make you a better leader

purple flower - Keely 2013Good morning! Awesome morning here in NE Indiana!

Recently I came across a post online talking about Bonnie Ware’s book The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing. I can’t speak to the quality of the book as I have not yet read it, but the blog post on the five regrets was gripping.

She had worked for many years in palliative care where she was with people in their last three to twelve weeks of their lives. She spent much of her time talking with them and one subject that came up often was their regrets. Over time she noticed there were five regrets that were the most common:

1.  I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I didn’t work so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

So as a leader, how do these apply to you and those you lead? Let’s look at that question by question:

1. Are you living a life that is authentic? Do you know your calling in life and are you living accordingly? Or are you living a life full of the “fear of man” only trying to curry the favor or approval of others? Are you helping those you lead to discover their calling and helping them to live accordingly? What kind of environment are you building – one that encourages people to grow or one that demands that they please you?

2. Do you derive your sense of value from your work? Does your work take priority over your relationship with God, your spouse, your children, and your friends? How about those you lead? Have you created a “family friendly” environment or do you try to wring every last minute you can from those you lead?

3. Are you more concerned with keeping the peace or image management so that you don’t express yourself fully? Are you too busy being nice (maintaining harmony at the expense of truth) or are you more concerned with kindness (telling people what they need to know – with the right motivation)? How about your team? Do you make it safe for them to be fully honest? Can people really talk to you or are they taking a risk expressing themselves to you?

4. Are you making friends, especially old friends, a priority? Are you allowing a crowded calendar (which is your choice) to crowd out important friendships? We need friends – people that are speaking into our lives and that really know us deeply.

5. Are you making the choice to be happy? It is a choice you know. As has often been said, we most often don’t control our circumstances, but we can choose how we react to hose circumstances. Are you choosing to be joyful;? Are you teaching those you lead how to choose joyfulness? Remember, your mindset is your choice.

Hopefully this has been of some help to you and maybe started you thinking about what is really important in life. I hope that you, and me, start living our lives in a way that reflect day-o-day what is really important.

Would it not be a shame to get to the end of our lives and our nurse hear is saying these same things?

Have a blessed Spring day!

BG

what is important?

Bill and Carolyn Allen wedding day 2What a week it has been. We traveled South to attend my nephew’s wedding, then to visit my parents, and now to attend Life Action Ministries board of directors’ meeting today and tomorrow.

I am sitting here enjoying balmy weather while NE Indiana is struggling through some more winter weather – that I don’t mind!

It seems I am a bit of a slow learner, but I have learned more this week. It started with a long drive (14 hours) with all my family to Mississippi to just make the rehearsal dinner for my nephew and his soon to be bride. It was a great time of connecting with my wife and two daughters. The next morning we then had breakfast with two friends and had a great time of reconnecting with them. Then that afternoon we celebrated a simple, fun, Christ-centered wedding. We witnessed the beginning of a new family.

We then traveled to Louisiana where my parents now live next to my sister and her husband. There we were preparing my parents to move into an assisted living facility. There we were witnessing the twilight of a marriage – of two lives that have blessed their children and grandchildren. We spent time looking at pictures of them in their youth that now seems so far away. My father, who once was a Class A Repairman on huge motors that stand taller than a house, now has to be helped doing even the basic things. My mother whom I admired for her sharp mind is now in the beginnings of Alzheimer’s and is frustrated because she can’t remember certain things or repeats herself and knows she is doing so. Quite a contrast to what we had witnessed the day before.

What struck me is how their eyes lit up when they saw their children and (especially!) grandchildren. The things that they talked about and treasured were not memories of their vocation, but of their families and friends. Despite the pain they were dealing with and their challenges, the memories of and delight in family shone through all of it.

Then, I had to leave to come to the board meeting while the rest of my family drives back to Indiana. I flew through the Atlanta airport which was swarming with people in so much of a hurry. So many on their technology oblivious to others and their surroundings. They were moving at “warp speed”.

I wondered how much they are missing. I thought about how much I have missed because I treasured the wrong things, because I lived my life to wrong priorities. Seeing my parents only one or two times a year over the last decade. When my children were young and I was working hard, I would often leave before they were up and not be home until after they were asleep in bed. Then when I was home, my mind often wasn’t – it was still working on problems, so I wasn’t really “home”.

Fortunately I have a forgiving family that loves me and lets me know it. I just grieve at the things I missed and cannot go back and retrieve. In some things in life you don’t get a do-over. You do receive forgiveness and grace, but some things – once you miss them – they are gone.

The question I have is are you living your life according to what is really important? Or are you missing out on things because of what someone else told you was important? Is your work, your boss, actually an idol in your life? Are you sacrificing time with those who love you most for people and institutions who will barely remember you when you are gone? Are you doing that in your relationship with Christ?

Determine what is important in your life and live accordingly. Be courageous and change.

BG

Are You a Workaholic or an Outlier?

Are You a Workaholic or an Outlier?

Good article

when life happens – are you accountable or unaccountable?

field - KeelyGood Monday morning to you! Another beautiful weekend, plus we had some visitors from down South who had visited at Life Action Ministries this past week, so it was a very nice time.

I mentioned a book last week that I have been reading – The One Thing. One of the arresting statements in there on page 184 is “When life happens, you can either be the author of your life or the victim of it. Those are your only two choices – accountable or unaccountable. . . Every day we choose one approach or the other, and the consequences follow us forever.

While I may not entirely agree with that expression from a theological viewpoint, I do believe that how we react to the circumstances of our life is hugely important. We can choose to live with the hope we have in Jesus and face our circumstances proactively with cause for great hope and an excitement about the future, or we can become fatalistic and give in to our own weaknesses and miss the joy of growing through our challenging circumstances.

On page 185 of the book, there is a great graph showing the differences between someone with a VICTIM’s mindset and someone with an ACCOUNTABLE mindset.

First the VICTIM‘s approach:

LIFE HAPPENS

1. Avoids Reality // “Asks no questions.”

2. Fights Reality // “That’s not how I see it.”

3. Blames // “If everyone would just do their job!”

4. Personal Excuses // “It’s not my job.”

5. Waits & Hopes // “If it was meant to be, it’ll happen.”

Now the ACCOUNTABLE person’s approach:

LIFE HAPPENS

1. Seeks Reality // “What’s happening?”

2. Acknowledges Reality // “This is the way it is.”

3. Owns It // “If it’s to be, it’s up to me.”

4. Finds Solutions // “What can I do?”

5. Gets On With It // “O. K., let’s do it!”

What is your approach? If it was meant to be, it’ll happen.” or “O. K., let’s do it!“?

I choose – let’s do it!

Have a great week, 
Peace & grace to you,
BG

Four Weekly Rhythms for a More Effective Life

Good morning – it was a beautiful weekend here in northeast Indiana.purple flower - Keely 2013

Have you ever noticed how easy it is to slip into unhealthy habits or rhythms in your life and how hard it is to develop good ones? Well, in today’s post I am “preaching” to myself. We had some very healthy rhythms going, but then we moved which disrupted things for a while and it is a challenge to get back where we were, but we are making progress.

Over time, I have found four major themes of rhythms important to my overall health. (In my next post I will talk about the rhythms you need in your work for an effective and productive week). The four rhythms that work for me are:

– Spiritual: Over time I have found that it is important for me that I read some Scripture each day and meditate on what I have read during the day. Additionally, it is important for me pray daily and to stay in a prayerful mindset throughout the day. It is amazing how that changes your perspective.

 – Relational: It is important that you nurture the key relationships in your life. One way we do that is that Angela (my wife) and I take each Saturday morning as a breakfast date. We make it a leisurely morning that is focused on our relationship. It does come at a cost as Saturday morning is usually the big project time for most people, but this has been important in our relationship. Additionally, for years we have had a family date where one night each week we go as a family to the local Barnes and Noble bookstore, read books, talk about the books and drink coffee. It has been a blessing to our family.

 – Health: Your physical health is important. We all know this, but it seems to be an area where so many of us struggle. Before our move we were working out five days a week and were feeling so much better. We had much more energy. Since the move, once or twice a week has been the best we have done and we can literally feel the difference. So, we have purposed together to get back into a healthier workout routine. I have read many times that if you will at least do three 30-minute workouts a week, you will dramatically improve your health.

 – Learning & Growth: We all need to be nurturing our minds and we need to be strategic in how we do so. We actually need a plan. One way is a reading list with a goal of so many books a month. Read in areas that help you grow spiritually, grow in your vocation, that stretches your boundaries, and finally just for fun. Also, start taking out interesting people for a cup of coffee and let them stretch your boundaries. Watch videos and listen to podcast. The main thing is to be intentional about your growth.

Of course there are many more things you could be doing and different variations. The point is that you identify what rhythms, or habits, work for you to help you to grow in all of these areas. The next thing, and the hardest thing, is to actually integrate them into your life. When you actually do, you will be amazed at the difference.

So, be intentional and begin to really flourish in life.

BG

 

Are You Saying “Yes” When You Should Say “NO”?

It has been hot here in Michigan! Up to 100 yesterday – makes me feel like I am back in the South.

Have you ever said yes to something when you should have said no? I know I have and it was almost always because of my “Fear of Man“. In other words I made decisions that were not in accordance with my worldview, beliefs or my priorities simply because I did not want to disappoint someone. The sad thing is that I often was saying yes to my job and no to my family when it should have been the other way around.

Read this article by Greg McKeown in the Harvard Business Review blog. Mr. McKeown makes three suggestions to help you learn to say no:

1. First, separate the decision from the relationship.

2. Second, watch your language

3. Third, avoid working for or with people who don’t respect your priorities.

Some decent suggestions. The main thing is to truly understand your priorities and to actually live your life in accordance with those priorities. So, learn to say No so you can yes to what is truly important.

Have fun this weekend!
BG

How Do You Live Your Life?

Following is one of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt that is a challenge to me when I seek a life of ease:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 
― Theodore Roosevelt