In the moment

On Monday’s my friend Gary Barkalow sends out a quote from his book It’s Your Call. Yesterday’s post was so good. It is well worth expanding, sharing, dissecting.

“We can work so hard for understanding in our circumstances that we lose the purpose and experience of it, not to mention God’s presence within it. Understanding comes to us more fully after the event, upon reflection; so what we must do during the event is stay fully engaged.” – From, It’s Your Call, by Gary Barkalow

Our world is so fast paced. A friend recently lost a job over night. Basically it was a “wait, I can’t log into my laptop” kind of quick. A whole division was shut down.

It is in moments like these where we quickly sprint to “what is next”, How will I pay…”, “why did this happen”.

Before we jump to questions, these times are great opportunities to check in on our life pace, state of mind, relationships.

Take other shakeups, ones that involve greater grief. A loss of life will change everything. Do we really give ourselves time to process?

Really any sudden change requires much of us. We can choose to stop. Stop trying to understand. We can let it hit us fully. Roll over us with each wave of emotion. We don’t let it wreck us or fall apart, useless to those who need us, but we do allow ourselves to be engaged to the hurt, relief, betrayal and everything else we are experiencing.

Even though circumstances like these are difficult they are also grow us. They expose what we are made of.


Instead of all caps and red maybe gentle and instructive works better.

A newcomer in the community broke an unwritten rule or an employee committed a company culture taboo? Did someone use a favorite cup in the break room cupboard.

Maybe the opposite of what we feel like doing in the moment would work better. Did they ever get the right instruction? Was it included in the manual?

How often do others respond this way? Is this a venting because something else happened?

Look back at the times all caps were issued. Did they get the results the writer hoped? Likely an email, whiteboard message or voicemail resulted in the target being shamed, catching the anger or worse yet gave up trying. If they did comply it was probably out of fear.

Do you have someone?

Do you have someone who:

-tells you the truth?
-loves your art?
helps you back up?
shows up?
-forgives you?
-challenges you?
-knows when you are not yourself?
sticks with you even in failure?
is there through it all?
is there for the long haul?
-celebrate with you?
-you can grieve with?

What did we learn?

Yesterday we learned something.

Was it how something worked.

Maybe what didn’t.

Today we begin a little smarter, wiser, braver.

Will we:


-break something?

-fix something?

-create something?

-hesitate less?

-love better?


And tomorrow we get to learn from today.

Offended no more than he pleased

“He offended no more than he pleased” from Madame Bovary via Hugh MacLeod in his book Evil Plans.

This is a great description of mr. nice guy. So where do you fall? A friend admits she tends to water down her rants because she is known to over state things in either anger or opinion. Others fight the tendency to water themselves down or hold back in fear of offending those who disagree. Both keep us from connecting with others and influencing them for good. We impact when we are honest and truthful but also respectful. Where do you fall?

Pulling over and letting them by

Having a 15 year old means you get to brush up on your driving laws. It also means they are watching your every habit behind the wheel. I learned again in the drivers manual that the the best choice when being tailgated by an impatient driver is to pull over and let them by. I tried this the other day. It worked. My stress went down, they drove on and the situation disappeared.

Really it is a good choice for any one coming at you with angst be it a troll on the internet or someone criticizing your work or picking a fight. Letting them go by defuses escalation. Not everything is your battle. Not everyone is worth engaging. Not every critic is worth listening to.

Here is a test. For one day choose to not read negative comments on FB or your blog. Let the angry person by. Choose your battles carefully. See if it makes a difference.

Endnote: A good resource for learning to be a good ignorer is Hugh MacLeod’s book Ignore Everybody. Check it out.

Unzombies at work

I love having an employee that is all there during the scrum, brainstorm, and grind of a big project. I think the most valuable employee (and engaged) though is the one who does not see her job as the most important part of life. I would rather have someone who is passionate about what they bring to life in general. And that of course would include work. Out of that I find an engaged employee who comes to the table with a full tank AND knows when to turn off the work and recharge. They are also the most helpful to the organization as a whole, encouraging, resourceful, rested….

Interesting article and survey on the subject:
The thing about employee engagement is there’s very little engagement happening

Cleaning Stalls and Pulling Weeds

We all hits walls once in a while. One thing that keeps us from connecting with others and being engaged members of our clans is isolation during trials or disruptions. These can come from conflict, changes to our routine, not having things go the way we hoped or planned. Really anything that causes stress. We all deal with stress differently but I have noticed that activity always helps. Running and walking helps activate both sides of the brain. We get outside our problems. I like to go for a hike or pull weeds when I hit a wall. My wife recently has discovered how therapeutic cleaning out horse stalls at the stable can be.

Back to isolation. Sometimes we need to isolate in our activity to get our bearings back. Then we can re-connect and engage with others.

Here is an assignment. Make a list of all the activities you can do in short spurts of time near your office, school or home. Here is my list:

-Go for a quick hike. (look for any green spot on Google maps or use a cool app like Oh, Ranger! ParkFinder™
-Pet horses for 20 minutes. (or a dog, cat, llama)
-Walk to the mailbox
-Take 5,000 steps around the neighborhood
-Ride my bike for 20 min
-Pick weeds in the yard (there always seems to be a good supply. If you don’t have any offer to volunteer to pick some at your church, school or community center)
-Clean the house (Kristine loves me doing this one)

Until your love is alive

This past summer I was driving up the west side of the Cascades on one of those great mt. pass hi-ways that just needed a good tune to match the spectacular landscape. Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds was next up on my personalized radio.

As I listened to the song I have loved for over 2 decades the lines began to sink in.

This song was about enduring love.

Today when everything is instantly gratifying or easily discarded, these words “until your love is alive” is so refreshing.

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the Love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?
Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Who’s gonna save you?
Alive and Kicking
Stay until your love is, Alive and Kicking

For our kids, parents, spouse, friends, it is a commitment to stick it out, see it through, resist the pull to leave.

Here is to those brave enough to stay until the love is alive.

Donkeys and Decisions

Recently our family has been faced with some big decisions. These in the quiet hours of the night can seem paralyzing.

These choices involve where we will live, our kids futures, the direction of both our careers.

Tim Ferriss on his podcasts has been asking his guests what advice they would give their 30 year old self. Derek Sivers told the story about Buridan’s donkey who could not make up his mind between eating the hay near him or the water. His indecision eventually caused his death. Derek’s advice to his 30 year old self was to make decisions. Pick something and go with it. At 30 you have plenty of time to try even 7 paths before you are 95.

I have discovered that it frees me up to focus and enjoy the journey more when I make a decision. Even if it is where to eat out or to move my family across the world. What decision will you make today? It doesn’t mean you won’t choose something else down the road. It just means for now you choose one path.

For some reason I have been writing about horses and donkeys or thinking of the two lately. Maybe it is all the cleaning of stalls for my daughters horse. Here are some of those posts.

-Fire Your Boss Book Review

-Pay Attention to the Horse

-My own personal Eeyore

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