Christmas is about extravagance. But do we really know what extravagant Christmas gifts look like? I watched “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last night. It premiered 52 years ago which means I’ve watched it at least 52 times. When it premiered in 1965, I am sure I watched it in black and white. Today, in vivid color, it reminds me of my dad.
Lucy appoints Charlie Brown to be the Director of the Christmas play. In the midst of chaos, Charlie Brown raises his head (I’d say chin, but he doesn’t have one) and shouts, “Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
It is an age-old question. We use it when pondering some of conundrums of life—which came first, the chicken or the egg? Well of course you know the chicken came first. But what about success and happiness? Is there a happiness advantage?
Are you happy because you are successful, or are you successful because you are happy? Many people, maybe most people, think success leads to happiness, but it actually is the other way around.
We have a love hate relationship with feedback. It is not an equally balanced relationship. We love to hear positive feedback and push ourselves away from what we perceive as negative.
We don’t wake up in the morning thinking, “I sure hope I get some constructive criticism today. Oh yeah, I can’t think of anything I’d look forward to more than a heaping of unsolicited constructive criticism.”
You know by now that I like questions. I have not always had a warm relationship with questions. I am sure I am not alone. Goodness, learning to invite inquiry capable of exposing ignorance is uncomfortable.
Through years of being rewarded for having answers we learn to lead with confidence and rely on what we know. Slowly but surely we extinguish our innate teachable spirit and insistently rely on a base of knowledge that grows more fragile every day.
Knowledge is a commodity. Just ask “Siri” or “Alexa.” If you would have said, “Google It,” 10 years ago, few people would have known what that meant. But today “Google It” and “Ask Siri or Alexa” are part of our daily lexicon. Thus some of us are only as smart as our “smart phone” allows us to be.
Known answers are at our fingertips and we are bombarded (even overwhelmed) with data. High alert—“the value of explicit information is dropping.”
I lost something. You’ve likely lost it too. We had a lot of it as kids. But something happens on our journey to adulthood that allows it to slip away seemingly undetected. We lose our innate curiosity and stop asking questions.
It happens to all of us—some more than others. We’d rather stick to what we know. But what we know won’t be enough. In fact, what we know today won’t even be enough to sustain the present let alone allow us to make meaningful contributions in the future.
We are all capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right.
Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield.
We all carry a question around with us every day. It’s a persistent question that doesn’t have a singular answer. We may not verbalize this question, but it always presents itself anew each and every day. Am I making an impact?
Who do any of us know, including ourselves, that doesn’t want what we do to matter? We can’t suppress our desire to make a difference because it is embedded in our DNA.
It happens over half of the time. It may be happening right now. Sometimes we don’t even realize it is going on. Then we catch ourselves and wonder how our minds got sidetracked.
It is easy to get sidetracked and lose focus. We all lose focus. The question is not whether we are going to lose focus—we are! When we employ clarifying personal filters it enables us to focus on the people and outcomes that are most important to us.
It is easy to miss. We rub up against it from time to time but may never truly grasp the magnitude of the moment. Let alone embrace the depth of its impact. But in those brief “ah-ha” moments we can’t help but think, “I need to employ the power of compassion more often!”
I was speaking at a conference in Texas earlier this year. During the break before I was going to be introduced a gentleman urgently approached me. It was clear he had something he wanted me to hear.