conch shell January 24, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of January 24, 2011
Walking a winter beach is different than walking a summer beach. In summer you are basically naked, wearing less than you would ever be caught dead in anywhere else. You are also striving to promote developing skin cancer through exposure to our sun’s gamma radiation. And, you are most likely laying under an umbrella stuffing in foods that will either lead you to obesity or kill you.
Not so on a winter beach. Walking a beach in winter will find you bundled up against the brutal cold, the stinging sand as it hits your face, and the sea foam freezing as it rolls ashore. Then there’s the wind— the tornado-coiling, hurricane-force wind. Your clothes are a skimpy barrier against its powerful penetration. But you keep moving, buffeting the elements, as if you must prevail against god of the seas and the sand! More than once you wonder, This is nuts! Why don’t I head back to the warmth of the fire and a hot cup of tea!?!
Then your eyes fall on a conch shell at your feet. The sea conch is still inside. The sea gull tracks surrounding it reveal that you have blundered into a life ‘n death battle. Their beaks are not long enough to rout-out the living creature nestled deep within the shell’s spiral; so they peck at the shells hard surface, hoping to extract their breakfast. Some shells are destroyed, sea gulls satiated. Others remain intact…, and alive.
Our daily lives are more like a winter beach than a summer beach. If we chose to lay under the sun we eventually burn to a crisp, get fat, and die. That is why life’s summers are so short. But in those more likely winters of our lives we need to adapt to the aloneness, the bitter cold, and the constant pecking of our critics. We must learn fortitude. We must force our reticent will-power to life once more, stinging sand be damned. I am not nuts! What I am committed to is worth the fight. I can do this. But you might need some help, and a change of perspective.
9 I say to God my Rock,
“Why have you forgotten me?
Why must I go about mourning, oppressed by the enemy?”
10 My bones suffer mortal agony as my foes taunt me, saying to me all day long,
“Where is your God?”
11 Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
-Psalm 42:9-11 (Christian Bible)
And please lose the hard shell exterior. It may offer protection against your assailants, but it also may dissuade your friends from coming alongside you, not to mention God.
Have a nice week,
stuck January 17, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of January 17, 2011
Have you ever been stuck? Why is it that some experiences tie us up in knots…, Gordian variety? No matter how we try to push through, the blockade persists. A paper to be written for school. A problem in a project on the job. A messy relationship that needs cleaning up. An inner wall that constantly stops us dead in our tracks. It’s like spinning your wheels in Tennessee mud or sliding down an icy road in a New England snow storm…, sideways. Stuck. It’s not so much that you’re stuck, as not going anywhere, or going somewhere you don’t want to go. Either way your road is blocked, blind, or treacherous.
Getting stuck is often simply a corollary of personality. Where one person will sail through the storm, barely noticing there was one, another will capsize and hang on for dear life. The lesson should be obvious. Bring those alongside you who don’t get stuck where you do. If you’re already stuck, find someone with a different personality than yours and grovel before them for help. OR, just stay stuck, stubborn, and obstreperous; and let the mud set up around your ankles.
Developing a different perspective is one way to dig out. We oft do things the same way for so long that we become blind to alternative courses of action. It’s called tunnel-vision—the unconscious, gradual narrowing of our scope of imagination. You may just need a kick in the pants by someone who drives you crazy; or, you may just need to buckle down, gather the right team around you, and have at it. You’re already stuck; what have you got to lose?! (OK, maybe your pride, your self-determination, and your ego-centric affinity to always do it ALL by yourself. So there. Slosh in the mire.)
It may also be that we need to actually ask for help. This can prove to be a positive thing. It honors the one asked, it is a great step toward resolving your situation, and, hopefully, you’ll get to share a great meal with the one who gave you a hand. Personally, I need a lot of help. Yes, a l-o-t of help. I’ve had to learn to depend on others to accomplish just about everything I have set my shoulder to in life. And more times than not I turn to prayer to seek guidance from above. It would be hard for me to summarize the myriad of times God surprised me with just the right people coming on board, just the right clarification to some aspect of an ambiguous impasse.
Don’t stay stuck. Don’t do the same things over and over expecting a different outcome. Talk through the predicament with a consultant, a friend, or even cuddling in bed with your wife/husband. Prayer wouldn’t hurt too much either. Just don’t leave it there. Get unstuck.
Have a nice week.
keep rowing January 13, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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EmPulse for Week of January 10, 2011
One of the greatest men I ever knew was Steve Holbrook. We worked together as Princeton Management Associates—he, the founder and CEO, I the lowly peon and apprentice. He taught me many things but the one thing that stands above all was perseverance. Steve was tenacious; he simply would not accept no; he could always push through to a positive outcome.
He coined a little formula about making a difference in life that I have never forgotten— row the boat. Set your sights on the finish line and row as if your life depended on it. He flushed out the phrase through a pneumonic phrase— O-A-R. Row the Boat.
1. OBJECTIVE- What is it you want to accomplish? How do you want to make a difference?
2. ACTIONS- HOW are you going to accomplish your goal? HOW are you going to make a difference? What specifically will you do to fulfill your dreams, your goals?
3. RESULTS- So, how did it go? To what extent did you make everything work? On a 1-10 scale, to what degree did your Actions achieve your Objective? Where did you fall short? How can you make it work the next time? Any changes?
A very simple way of assessing things, isn’t it? Unless we set goals, we flounder… , let the stream take us where it will. If we do not ACT on what we dream, plan, or aspire to, then we merely daydream. If we do not measure what we have done we will, more likely than not, settle for the mediocre.
So when you are simply at the end of your rope, beaten down, or floating downstream— first, take a breath, r-e-s-t; get some solid input to build your spirit and inspire your soul. Then ask for some practical advice from a competent (older & wiser) friend. [NOT someone as stuck as you are.] Then, get back into the boat and keep on rowing. Odds are you are NEVER rowing against Niagara Falls. It just feels that way.
Since my time with my friend Steve I have often felt as if I were rowing against the current, constantly struggling to move upstream, only to be drowned at the foot of Niagara. To my surprise, I found that I overcame what challenges were set before me, whatever perceived obstacles melted into mere gullies. It was hard, discouraging, tedious, and exhausting. Had I to do it all over again, I would have chosen the same route. Well, maybe with a few less stupid moves on my part.
So, keep rowing, and rowing, and rowing. You can get there! Giving up will make you less of what God has designed you to be and to do. And yes, learn to be wisely stubborn, tenaciously so. J Remember, the people who tell you it can’t be done aren’t doing it—you are! Keep rowing. And don’t be surprised when your power motor kicks in!
Have a nice week,
Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus January 5, 2011Posted by needinc in emPulse.
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[ Isenheim Altarpiece , Matthias Grunewald (painted 1506-1515)]
SANCTUS, Sanctus, Sanctus, Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua. Hosanna in excelsis. Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini. Hosanna in excelsis.
HOLY, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts. Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Some of the most prophetic works of art given us by the Medieval Period were numerous alter pieces. Most of these elaborate STORIES were created for churches that were popping up all over Europe in the last days of the Great Plague and the Spanish Inquisition, preceding the co-emergence of the Renaissance, Reformation, and Enlightenment. Some were designed to be portable—so that the picture story of the Risen Lord could be transported to rural communities and hamlets across the coalescing city-states. They were deemed to be HOLY religious objects, as sacred as the ancient relics.
In great contrast is our culture today. Very little, in developed nations, is held as sacred or holy. Almost everything has been reduced to the lowest common denominator—from language to faith, beauty to vocabulary (dude), commitment to individual integrity. About the only commodity to rise above our daily banality are experiences that pump the adrenalin and give us a momentary spurt of ecstasy. We are not, in general, given over to the Holy in any natural way.
So I ask you, no matter your faith, non-faith, or business ethics— What do you hold as Holy? What do you consider to be precious, sacrosanct, or hallowed? What days or celebrations or individuals do you revere as most sacred? If your reply is nothing, then you have placed yourself on a very unstable pedestal. If your answer points to things, BMWs, Caribbean cruises, promotions, or notoriety, for example, then your enjoyment will be short lived; though, truly, it will of-a-truth be pleasurable.
What entity, in and of itself, deserves to be held in highest esteem in our lives? Integrity, honesty, bravery, truthfulness, innocence, purity? What of beauty, creation, sacrifice, devotion or unwavering commitment? Does your faith compel you to hold anything above all others as holy, set apart, or sacred?
However you answer, please, keep yourself in a proper place and embrace something outside your great, mediocre, or small life to be truly Holy. Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus.
Have a nice week,