Take a close look at the post photo. What do you see? If you were asked to write a description of what you see, what would you write?
Every year a teacher took a white sheet of paper with a black circle on it and passed it out to his students. Then he would ask them to think about what they were looking at and write down their answer to a singular question— “What do you see?”
Our days are filled with a variety of experiences. A quick review of your experiences would find they fall into three simple categories—positive, neutral and negative.
Let’s say you created a scorecard of your day’s experiences. You concluded that the day contained five positives, seven neutrals and one negative experience or encounters.
Do you want the good news or the bad news first? Bet you pick to hear the bad news first—most of us do, but why?
We are wired to sense danger. Our brains are equipped with an early warning detector—the amygdala. The amygdala is part of the limbic system within the brain, which is responsible for emotions, survival instincts, and memory. The amygdala is always on high alert.
The context of a great question can sometimes elicit a simple response. I asked my friend, “What time is it?” My friend quickly looked at his watch and responded with the time of day. I smiled and replied, “Not what is the time of day, but what is your time in life?” Leo Tolstoy said, “There is only one time that is important–now! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over.”
My question was really curiosity about the direction of his hope and ambition. Kyle Idleman in his book Not a Fan tells a story about a young girl who was killed in a car accident. Brittany was only 17 years old when she died. Shortly before the accident, Brittany had opened a checking account. When her father went to the bank to close the account he noticed she had only written one check—Compassion International to sponsor a child.
A good friend sent me a text. “Jim, can we schedule a bi-weekly call for you to coach me? I have a lot on my plate and at times it can be overwhelming.” I am rarely surprised by such a request because I know exactly what they are feeling and experiencing—don’t you?
Most people I meet are like my friend—ambitious, loving of family and friends, passionate about the things that stir their soul, desiring to live with purpose and wanting to know that what they are doing is going to produce meaningful impact.
Do you think life is filled with complexity and chaos? Maybe overwhelming with more demands on your time and attention than ever before? If you are like the vast majority of people the answer is yes.
The problem—our individual capacity or bandwidth to process and manage growing complexity is limited. We are overwhelmed with more information and commitments than ever before but don’t know how to manage them to deliver the impact we desire most.
High school graduation—you are pretty sure you know everything. But to remove all doubt you head off to college. College graduation—now you have added four years of profound life experience and a degree thus eliminating nearly any doubt that you know everything.
Graduates will send out dozens if not a hundred graduation announcements to friends, family and a few potential donors. Yes donors—people who just might wrap a card around some welcomed cash.
Everybody wants more time but it is finite. It doesn’t discriminate—it can’t. You’ll cry out with anguish that you don’t have enough time, but it is one thing that no one has more of or less of than anyone else.
How you spend your time fully exposes where your heart is and what you’re passionate about. It is simply the nature of time—it marches on regardless of circumstance. You can’t put a price on it, but to the people you love and lead it is the most valuable gift you give them.
It’s a strange love—something that takes hold of you when you spend time on “The Palouse.” My license plate holder reads, “I Bleed Crimson.” It reflects a passion that is hard to describe.
You have to be resilient to be a Cougar. To be a Cougar is to know what it means to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. You know how to celebrate and cherish victories because you are not overwhelmed with too many to count.
Oh, I have wanted to quit – haven’t you? Hey, I have quit and failed more times than I would like to admit. And it prompts me to ask, what is it that leads us to push aside great dreams, and set aside success?
I would like to think the gap was something so great that it would make for a good movie or book, but the reality is it was me falling prey to life’s temporary inconveniences.