The conversation around race and racism is not an easy conversation. I remember while a Graduate Student at the University of South Carolina, I had the privilege of serving as a Diversity Trainer with S.E.E.D. (Students Empowering and Educating about Diversity). Among all of the training sessions, conversations, one thing that absolutely stands out in my mind were the raw emotions involved in every single conversation. Without fail, the presentation would start, the statistics would be quoted, the breakout groups would commence, the questions would get debriefed…and almost without fail, a question would be asked, a follow-up question to that question, and then a turning point. Working hard to follow the “dialogue rules”, you could feel the temperature of the room change. The tension would thicken and the emotions would intensify. Before we’d end, there would be folks who would shut down, others who would cry, and even at some point some who would leave the room. No matter how you cut it, these were raw emotions.
I thought about these experiences when I read that USA Today and Starbucks had teamed together to create a nationwide discussion around race.
Some debate whether this is effective or not. I won’t get into that, but I will at least commend them for having the discussion. Make no mistake about it this was a risky business decision on behalf of both companies. Very risky! In light of all that’s taking place over the past twenty four months in our country, it is absolutely a relevant topic and a highly emotional topic. Simply, I commend them for having it.
I hope you’ll join the conversation. I hope you’ll think about your own biases and thoughts. I hope you’ll discover your own raw emotions. I hope you’ll challenge yourselves and invite others to the table. Most importantly, I hope you will have the conversation. It’s worth it.
Happy New Year! It is already 2015 and we’re only a few days away from saying Happy New Year 2016 – or at least it already feels that way.
The New Year is a great time! In the U.S., it gives some a few more days to breathe without having to run into the office. It’s a sport fans dream as NCAA College Football is in overdrive with bowl games, NFL teams are vying to play for last few playoff spots, NBA teams are now trying to prepare for the home stretch, NCAA basketball is kicking it up for March Madness, the talk is picking back up for hockey, NASCAR, and so on. Shoppers are excited about the New Year retail discounts and foodies are excited about the launch of the new menu items.
Lest we forget there are thousands (maybe millions!) of new themes, declarations, and resolutions. Oh, the gym memberships have increased, the request for list of books to read, music to purchase, places to visit – It’s Endless! Dare I say – it’s OVERLOAD!
On the last week of the year, I was literally overwhelmed as I read the social media postings, the text messages and emails that I received of people sharing new phrases, new ideas, and thoughts about what the year would bring and be about. The fancy videos done to capture peoples take on what 2015 would reveal. It was – to me – Overload! I am not the anti-resolutions police. I support it! Whatever it takes for people to be inspired in their lives, change for the better, and pursue the best – do it! Vision boards, cue cards, spreadsheets, accountability partners, meet-ups, and technical reminders – do all of that! Whatever it takes! BUT – I also believe that we pile it on, jump on the bandwagons, and leave the ideas of intentional reflection and strategic consideration aside. I honestly think – we have too many options! Sometimes simple is better. Sometimes eliminating the options is the best option. Sometimes having too many options and too many decisions is paralyzing.
So, what did I do? What should you do? I pushed back. I literally pressed pause and starting asking myself the reverse.
Instead of adding things to my incomplete 2014 list, what should I evaluate from that list that needed eliminating? What do I need to hit the delete button on? What should I stop doing?
Then the questions starting flowing:
How much clutter have I accumulated?
What can I throw out in each room and in each closet?
How many contacts need to be deleted from my phone?
What apps on my phone should I delete?
What music should I get rid of?
How do I eliminate the time wasters?
What files on my computer need to be deleted or archived?
What goals shouldn’t I attempt for next year?
What conversations should I avoid for next year?
What issues should I resolve not to tackle for next year?
Essentially, here’s the summary of my questions –
1. Have I cleared out the clutter?
In a culture of consumers, we have a lot of stuff! There is now an entire industry that makes billions on storing our stuff. And I’m just talking about the tangible stuff. There are companies now helping us collect our electronic stuff. And then I started wondering, where do we store all of the mental stuff? Often times we don’t write it down – so it’s consuming our minds. Less room for any new or greater thoughts or ideas to come through. Where can you clear out the clutter? Here’s a plan to help get you started – click here.
2. Have I said No as many times as I’ve said Yes?
Every time we say Yes to one thing, we inevitably have to say No to something else. Really simple. Look at what you’ve said Yes to – with your time or your resources or your effort and then evaluate your priorities. What don’t I need to spend money on? Have you said No to something that you should be saying Yes to? Here’s a great video to get you started on the right thought process.
3. Have I created enough margin (room) in my life to grow?
Our calendars and timeslots of jammed packed. Our lives are crammed and our work moves at break-neck speeds. Have we created a system in our lives to slow down at points? Have we made a considerable effort to build in time to breath, reflect, soak in life around us, and build relationships, and so on? All of the stuff that really matters in life cannot always happen when you are on roller skates. Much of it is built as you walk. Are you walking or roller skating? Here’s a great book to get you started. Here’s a great video to watch.
On that note, enjoy 2015! It’s the year for Excellence, Rest, Rejuvenation, Restoration, it’s your year, it’s your hour, your decade. Doggone it – it’s your world! Take the world by storm! Hustle, grind, stay focused! Have fun with your faith! Take it up a notch! Take all of that and then decide – what matters most – what’s your destination – and then – go forward with strategic wisdom on your life’s assignment. Driving in your lane will cause fewer accidents. Happy New Year!
I’m going to be writing more stuff to keep you inspired! I’d love to have you join me on the journey. You can subscribe right here.
More Normal Than You Think
Can you believe it? It’s 100 days left in 2014. Although there are still 24 hours in a day and 168 hours in a week, it feels like time is moving at lightning fast speed. Pastor Andy Stanley said something a few days ago that was very powerful. In the context of speaking about parenting, he said, “Years move fast and days move slow.” This could not be further from the truth also about life.
Pause at some point over the next 24-48 hours and simply express gratitude for what has been accomplished, learned, and experienced this year. Whether you realize it or not, you are well on your way. When you pause to express gratitude you also get a moment to really consider the things that really matter in life. While the tangible things that exist in our lives have some value, the most valuable things are the intangible – life, health, people, relationships, potential, wisdom. Neal A. Maxwell said, “We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.”
I’m not sure what boat you fit in. There’s some research that suggests that your life won’t amount to much without goals. And yet there’s an entire body of different research that suggests that setting goals limits agility and recognition of reality. Either way, no one argues against focus and commitment. As you have already matriculated through a majority of 2014, what’s been accomplished? If you are the type that set’s goals, where are you with those goals? You can really end this year with a bang as you consider where you want to be by the time Wednesday, December 31, 2014 shows up. The late Robert Kennedy offered this insight. He quipped, “Progress is a nice word. But change is its motivator. And change has its enemies.” If this is true, which I believe it is, then the real questions are: A) Where do we need to change?; B) What those “enemies” that we finally need to defeat that’s holding us back?; C) Where have you been stuck?; D) What dream have you sort of forgotten about?
Get A Plan
Now that you’ve considered the destination (or at least pit stop) for this year’s journey, what is your road map to get there? Who do you need at the table of your life to offer insight and wisdom to get there? Where do you need a coach? What sacrifices are necessary? Nothing worthwhile will be accomplished without someone paying the price. Where do you need to pay the price? What books do you need to read? What fear do you need to overcome? Who do you need to spend more / less time with? Who do you need to reconnect with? How’s your health? How’s your mind? How’s your financial foundation? How’s your spiritual life? How’s your professional life? Do you need to do something part-time? Do you need to go back to school? Who do you need to encourage? Who do you need to encourage you? If you’re a parent, what do you need to be doing with your kids? What should they be doing? What opportunities do you need to expose them to? What should they stop doing? What conversations and lessons should you be offering them?
I know this post has a lot more questions than notes, but I believe these questions will help you arrive at a considerable place that will allow you to push towards the end of 2014 with a laser focus. It is my hope that you end this year with a lot more gratitude, progress, and innovative plans than you would otherwise have regrets. It IS possible to end better than you started.
Finally, here’s a Word of Wisdom to also guide you in the process.
Proverbs 3: 5-9 (Message) – 5 Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own. 6 Listen for God’s voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; he’s the one who will keep you on track. 7 Don’t assume that you know it all. Run to God! Run from evil! 8 Your body will glow with health, your very bones will vibrate with life! 9 Honor God with everything you own; give him the first and the best.
Consider this your locker room pep talk. Your shot of expresso. Your kick in the rear. Your personal counseling session. Your private pep rally! Whatever you need to get it in gear and get to moving! There’s a purpose for your life and nothing or no one has the power to allow you to not get there, except you. Let’s go! Be Inspired!
(Side Note: If you’re really stuck and need some insight or wisdom, I’d be glad to either help or point you to a few Life Coaches and professionals who might be able to help. Connect with me here.)