Friday, March 26, 2010

What are you building with your life? The common denominator for breakthrough.

There are many large, extravagant homes in the world, but the Winchester Mansion stands out from the crowd because of the strange features you will find inside. For example, there are a number of staircases that literally go nowhere, stopping at the ceiling. You might think that somebody decided to close off a staircase, but actually, they were designed that way.
Some of the more functional staircases are also strange. One of them is nicknamed the "switchback staircase" because it turns seven times and has 44 steps, even though it only goes up about nine feet. Why would somebody design a staircase like that?
For that matter, why would somebody design any of the oddities in the Winchester house?

The Winchester house was under construction 24-hours a day, seven days a week, for 38 years. Eventually it spread to 160 rooms from a mere 8, but when Sarah Winchester suddenly died, the entire project came to a grinding halt.

How this correlates to our lives?

Most of us haven’t built a senseless mansion with secret rooms or staircases that don't go anywhere, but maybe your life is a terrible mess, or you live in constant fear, with a broken heart, resentment, regret or uncertainty of what your future holds.

This causes you to feel addicted and trapped like Sarah, yet for different reasons. Sarah was the wife of William Winchester, the son of the man who made the famous Winchester repeating rifle. Sarah and William had one child, a little girl named Annie, who died of a protein deficiency six weeks after birth. Fifteen years later, her husband William died of pulmonary tuberculosis, leaving her feeling lost & searching for answers.

Sarah sought answers from a psychic who indicated she and her family were under a curse due to selling Winchester riffles and the only method of escape was to move to the West Coast and build a property the way the spirits led.
Sarah was so desperate for a solution that she didn’t pay attention to the obvious-there was another way of probable escape from her loneliness. Ultimately Sarah found herself knee deep in renovation madness which ensued 24-hours per week, 365 days per year. Who in their right mind would sign up to live through constant remodeling?
I think of the many times I’ve repeatedly wrestled with frustrating esteem debilitating issues, only to believe my options were limited (or non-existent) because of failing to open myself to the possibility that things could be different.

So how do we get past our past?

You have to reduce everything down to the least common denominator.
The common denominator is the same all the time. You can work the common denominator and ultimately arrive at an answer. There is a feasible answer to each troubling question, no matter the situation, which WORKS.
Discovering the common denominator is the ONLY way to get past our past. It reveals the quality decision needing to be made, including the measurable, actionable steps.

1st: Face the truth about the situation we are dealing with. Honestly describe what you’re dealing with and TEMPORARILY grieve the circumstance. You’re human; hurt, anguish and defeat are normal emotions.

2nd: Identify solutions and those resources (people, books, cd’s, etc), which helps to conquer the circumstance, repeatedly undermining you.

3rd: Get moving by actively applying what’s been learned. This is the place many fail. This occurs namely due to a couple reasons: a) complacency, b) hopelessness, and/or c) pride.

I recall a painful experience where a stepchild inappropriately rejected me. Initially I was shocked! My feelings progressed to frustration, anxiety and resentment. This began to take a toll on my relationship and my self-esteem.
I felt deeply wronged, criticized and was told to just get over it, without the opportunity to address the issue which had progressed to “issues.”

So what to do?

Ultimately I recognized the pain and blatant disrespect had more to do with the stepchild, their ‘relational way of accepted being;’ this wasn’t personal, just simply RUDENESS allowed by their parent and other relatives, preoccupied with looking good, rather than providing clear boundaries and NECESSARY correction.
This understanding was my catalyst for change. It’s far too easy to personalize the attack and perceive it from an improper perspective and actually remain stuck there.

I still am applying steps 2 and 3 to my life circumstance. Some days are easier than others, namely because I don’t always feel supported. The thing which, helps, is to remind myself of the truth, to trump the horrific facts.
Life boils down to a quality decision. Decide optimally and you’ll renovate the mess of a life previously made in no time. Soon, your new life will be second nature.
If you will commit to this life changing way of thinking, you’ll understand, like me that “CIRCUMSTANCES DON’T MAKE ME, THEY REVEAL ME.”
Thank God we all are provided the opportunity to CHANGE.

To your greatness

Monday, March 15, 2010

FEAR…its time to Spring Forward

“Many of us crucify ourselves between two thieves-regret from the past and fear of the future. Which face of fear has its hands clinched around your neck?”
-Dr. Kasmin Boswell

This past Saturday we had to spring forward by moving our clocks one hour ahead. This is poetic because it happens to coincide with our need to spring past fear.
Few things in life create more worry, stress & fear than your future. If you take the right steps today, tomorrow is guaranteed to take care of itself. Allow me to explain…

Fear is one of those things we often experience through ‘feelings,’ yet don’t exactly know how to pinpoint. If you’re like me, you sometimes find yourself frustrated, depressed or melancholy without knowing fully why.

To better understand the many faces of fear, you and I are wise to name them. I’ve listed the most common “fear friends” thereby enabling you to gain a better grasp of what you and I are up against.

The Insecure One- This fear causes your self-esteem to diminish or “appear to have” completely disappear. You fixate on people as objects, rather than persons. You fixate so much on your “issues” that you have no time left to forge toward a viable solution or meaningful connection with anyone else. This fear sees everyone as your means to an end.

The Distorted One- This fear causes you go to extremes i.e. “I’m all alone.” “Nobody loves me.” “I’ll never love again.” You rarely deal with truth because you’re knee deep in battle with shadows, rather than the real issue.

The Victimized One- This fear causes you to feel there’s no way of escaping your pain.

The Stressed One- This fear causes you to feel immobilized; it cripples and criticizes you. You’re emotionally and physically affected.

The Mistaken One- This fear causes radical theft of your identity. This fear takes more than it gives. You might swear you’re too empty to possibly make any deposits into anyone else’s life. You tell yourself if you help someone else, they’ll be little or no time left to think about your problems. Left unhandled, it’ll steal the truth you already know about yourself and situations you find yourself addressing.

The Paralyzed One- This fear causes fear of taking another step and steals your joy. It alienates you from access to the truth you already know.

The Complacent One-This fear leaves us fine with being the victim & telling our story to whoever will listen. We become emotional vampires. Sucking life out of once treasured relationships. This fear tears at the core of intimacy in our relationships because we are too busy protecting ourselves, to do whatever ultimately needs to be done to preserve and/or strengthen relationships.

The Regretful One – This fear causes you to feel as though you can’t be transparent because of believing there’s too much ‘regret’ to overcome. This fear whispers, ‘why bother.’

The Isolated One- This fear causes us to be afraid to share our fear(s) with anyone else; or at least the one’s who can actually help. This fear convinces you that TRANSPARENCY is for weak people & if you’re SMART you’ll tough it out or do what you already have been doing.

I recently discovered Neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson’s book “Take The Risk.” In it, he teaches an excellent Best Case/Worst Case Scenario exercise. The bare bones of this approach, is to ask 4 key questions. They are:

-What's the best that can happen if I do this?

-What's the worst that can happen if I do this?

-What's the best that can happen if I don't do this?

-What's the worst that can happen if I don't do this?

Though these questions can be insightful when answered, yet don’t FULLY help you with application to your real life circumstance or help to determine how you will navigate past the grips of FEAR staring you in the face. I’d like to share six points, which inspire me to keep moving and to never let fear overtake me! Keep in mind, fear will come; just don’t allow it to stay.

How you and I may respond to fear

1) Surrender. Recognize you don’t know ALL the answers. Remove pride and ego from your life. Hint: pride and ego are present in the places you immediately think to hide, misrepresent issues or engage in negative self-talk to keep you from proceeding ahead.

2) Resist the tendency to blame yourself or anyone else.

3) Draw near to resources that will sustain you and create a foundation for you to flourish. This shifts your focus from the problem to the solution and/or possibility.

4) Deal with what you’re doing incorrectly. Clean up your stuff. Ex. If you have issues with someone or notice a circumstance, keeps resurfacing, get past it. Getting past "it" includes writing a letter to confess or face the issue; create a strategy to forgive or accept (them or it) and bring closure.

5) Shift your motives. Do everything from a place of humility. Recognize that everything in life isn’t about you. The best life is spent in contribution and commitment to continual learning.

6) Recognize wimpy theology, makes for a wimpy life. You have to choose to be strong and courageous even in the midst of horrific setbacks. Each time you refuse to crumble under pressure, growth occurs. As you grow, you better adapt in the handling of difficult circumstances.

This is a call to mature in faith, courage and integrity. This only occurs through being alert, aware, growing in maturity, being reliable, responsible and inter-dependent.

“Until you see fear for what it is, you’ll remain unable to get your priorities in life straight. Everything else will suffer.”
-Dr. Kasmin Boswell

Monday, March 1, 2010

Love…A New End In Mind

“Love is like a river. And it flows between the banks of truth and discernment. However when it floods and leaves those banks it becomes a dangerous thing.” - Charles Ryrie

What do you love about yourself? If you’re like most, you keep, preserve and protect aspects about yourself, which no longer serve you. You protect these aspects as trusted friends you cannot see yourself without.

Ryrie’s quote is key to each of our lives because we pursue what we love. We must become better at making decisions. Decisions navigate us to destruction or triumph. It’s time that we position ourselves like a thermostat, rather than a thermometer.

Of all of the people alive in the ENTIRE WORLD only .01% of these individuals know why they believe what they believe. This means that the majority of us live our days doing whatever we feel like doing without knowing why. For far too many of us our moral compass is no longer calibrated for strategic success. How many times have you fallen prey to “if it feels good do it” and “there’s no right or wrong” even if it means horrific consequences to countless lives.

Put your thinking cap on…

How did this love affair with self-indulgence begin and what may each of us do so that we can begin anew?

A) Determine what you value? Identify what no longer serves you and practice the theory of replacement. Replace counterproductive values with those, which serve you personally, professionally, emotionally and physically.
B) Establish realistic expectations. Don’t expect the temptations of reverting to former behavior to automatically disappear. If you valued being a workaholic, taking shortcuts, were prone to jealousy, depression, being the victim, a chronic procrastinator, et al opportunities will consistently re-emerge. You merely have to know the battles you’re in for and proactively re-align your emotions, finances, and stick to your newly formed value system until it becomes an ingrained habit.
C) Don’t expect instant change, forgiveness or reconciliation with yourself and others. Whatever you’ve done/haven’t done has REAL impact and has to be faced. So if you are obese, you won’t instantly become skinny just because of deciding you’ll no longer binge on food when you’re stressed. If you’ve treated several people in your life incorrectly, just because you apologize doesn’t mean that these individuals will instantly trust you. It is truly a process you’ll have to actively pursue and repeatedly demonstrate to others.
D) Practice The LAW of First Mention. In the legal system, it’s commonplace for attorneys to reference former cases to establish/set the standard for the case they’re bringing before the court. Essentially, gather mentors to pattern yourself after. It’s a MUST to select individuals you admire. Remain clear of anyone you resent or who’s missed their moment-a HAS BEEN. Remember you won’t learn from anyone you’re jealous of or RESENT. You’ll never give your all when harboring hidden agenda’s or if engaged in a secret competition with someone who can enrich your life (or vice versa).
E) Make it a habit to reflect upon your behavior to assure proper perspective is maintained. When you’re cognizant of the horror and pain you’ve caused within your life and in the lives of others, it enables you to remain the course with strategic OBEDIENCE! Imagine every aspect of your life being synchronized to such a degree you never find yourself living a life of defeat. Even in the midst of setbacks, you’ll quickly rebound because your discernment is synchronized enabling you to always know what to do &/or what resource to tap into. CS Lewis states this premise succinctly “when 1st things are first, 1st things aren’t suppressed and actually increase.”
F) Communicate strategically. I used to rehearse setbacks to whomever I could get to listen numerous times without getting much closer to a feasible solution. Now I practice ‘3xsharing.’ This principle allows me to share a circumstance I’m facing no more than three times. So I usually share the first time with someone who’ll empathize, the second time with a couple people simultaneously who can provide some ideas for favorable resolution and the third time with someone who can help me put my plan in working order. This ultimately enables me to resolve several challenges, which previously eluded aspects of my life.

These suggestions create and anchor-personally, professionally, emotionally and physically before engaging life’s setbacks and growth opportunities. You are officially ready to win the war within! Protect your right to WIN this peculiar thing called LIFE!

You will either be forced to live in the potential of your faith or with the consequences of your doubt.

"You are the only being in the universe that can cause defeat in your life."
- Larry Tomczak