March Madness

I have been watching different teams during this the most exciting time of college basketball. I have seen young men cry from losing and cry from winning. Many of the young men have been playing for months trying to achieve the ultimate prize, the championship.

First though they must make it to what is called “The Dance”. This is where teams are automatically pushed forward to the tournament by winning their respective division. When they do that, they receive an automatic bid. Then the rest of the 64 teams are selected by their season record and I am sure a bunch of other statistics. Whatever the science, this is what the kids hope for at the end of the season.

I have watched different strategies from different coaches that really made a difference in the result of the game. What does it take to make a great leader? Good leaders are essential to having a good basketball team. They are often times the difference between a winning team and a losing one. The question is what are some of the things that you can do to be a better teammate and leader? There are multiple things that leaders can do in order to help their team win.

I am reminded of a statement from a great coach: “Coaches that outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen, but the that can succeed are the ones that can get inside of their players and motivate them” ~ Vince Lombardi

A good leader or teammate gives words of encouragement and keeps the team positive. The great thing about encouragement is that it helps the players to play even better. Even the weakest member on the team might surprise you from a few words of encouragement. Learning from a good friend of mine, really all this is is influence. Without having a leader that you can trust, you will not be a winning team. “Trust is the foundation of Influence” Mack Story

It is important to understand this early on and not get too down on yourself when mistakes are made. Instead of criticizing yourself or a teammate when someone makes a mistake, simply make sure that the lesson from that mistake was learned. Looking at what everyone did right and what everyone did wrong at the end of a game helps to make it less personal. Failure is a process. It is also a learning tool. A good leader will use the process to help build the team. Coach K of Duke University puts it this way, “It’s not a problem to make mistakes, everyone does, but it is a problem if you don’t learn from them”.

I love watching the NCAA tournament because you see both team leaders rise from the crop, and you also see excellence in coaching/leaders of the team. Many times, teams go through what is called a slump. A period of time to which they are not winning and not winning for several games. When times get tough, it is important to have a team leader who can lead you through it. Good teammates who are giving it their all will also help. Leaders also know what to say when times are tough during competition.

Basketball is a team sport. It can be a highly satisfying sport that helps to build up your confidence. Especially if you are doing everything you can to be a great player, basketball will come with healthy benefits and lifetime friends.

So is life. If you are a good leader, your life will reflect it. No matter who you are, you are a leader whether you want to be or not. You have influence over people in your family, your friends, your coworkers. How are you going to lead the people that are closest to you?

Another Journey

Life is not a long trail that you travel. Life is a Journey filled with lessons, hardships, heartaches, joys, celebrations and special moments that will ultimately lead us to our destination. The road will not always be smooth; in fact, throughout our travels, we will encounter many challenges.

Some challenges will test our courage, strengths, weaknesses, and faith. Sometimes the obstacles will present themselves as blessings in disguise, only we don’t realize it at the time. Others present themselves as obstacles that will come between the paths that we are destined to take.

I am at that crossroad now. I have been graciously selected as the Fitness and Sports Center Director. A long and fancy title just to say, Gym Rat. I believe that my career has come full circle now as I have always wanted this job. It is the reason that I got into the federal service. I was not to go down that path, at least not right away.

When things do not go our way, we have two choices in dealing with the situations. We can focus on the fact that things didn’t go how we had hoped they would and let life pass us by, or two, we can make the best out of the situation and know that these are only temporary setbacks and find the lessons that are to be learned.

Time stops for no one, I always try to look for the positive in every situation, and if we allow ourselves to focus on the negative we might miss out on some really amazing things that life has to offer. I would have missed out on going to Prague, CZ; touring Italy, touring Austria, canoeing down the Bartahatchie river. Although we cannot bring back the past, we can take the lessons that we have learned from the past and use those experiences to move forward and upward.

In the military setting, you can find yourself moving quite frequently. Even if it is only job to job. The people that you meet in each setting end up making a lasting impression not only in our lives, but in our hearts as well.

People come and go so quickly, but once in awhile, that one special person will stay in our hearts forever not matter what. Memories of things and the certain people that we have met are priceless treasures that we can cherish forever in our hearts. These memories allow us to continue on our journey as we continue the story of our lives. I do not have any regrets from the path that I took. At one time I was a very negative and sour person. Even as a married person, I found myself thinking not highly of people. It took a very special situation to turn that around.

Everything that happens to us in our lifetime happens for a reason and is not under your control. God has plans for you. Sometimes to do the things you want, and other times to do things he wants you to do. Sometimes that means we must experience heartaches in order to experience joy.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” -Phil 4:13, Bible

 “You cannot negotiate the price of success, you can only pay it. For success only comes from doing whatever you have to do, for as long as you have to do it, until you succeed.” -Stanley Armstrong

 

What is this attitude of “positivity?”

Nothing is more important than your attitude. Did I say “nothing?” I’m sorry, I meant to say, “Absolutely nothing is more important than your attitude!” Attitude supersedes every other aspect of your life in determining your contentment and success. Nothing is more important. Not your talent, your education, or your upbringing. Not your attire, or social network, or position. Not your work ethic, or looks, or I.Q. Not your personality or motivation. Not wealth or fame. Not even your genes can compensate sufficiently to overcome a negative attitude.

Successful and happy people are almost always characterized by their upbeat, positive outlook on life. For some of us, this happy and optimistic disposition comes naturally; but for most of us it must be deliberately cultivated, nurtured, and rigorously maintained. A sour attitude will cast a cloud over all you do, magnifying the pain of life’s challenges and dampening the joys of its blessings. In the same way, a joyful outlook will make every good thing you experience even better, and diminish your suffering in even the darkest of times.

“You have control over three things: What you think, what you say, and how you behave. To make a change if you life, you must recognize these gifts are the most powerful tools you possess in shaping the form of your life.” Sonya Friedman

While it is true that you have the privilege of choosing how the circumstances around you affect your attitude, it is equally true that you have no power whatsoever to determine the effect your attitude has on your circumstances. Your attitude is always at work, continually affecting the world around you for good or ill, with or without your conscious awareness or participation. Around the clock, every day of your life, a good attitude is slowly making your life better. Similarly, a negative disposition and outlook are constantly at work exerting a downward pull on everything you do and experience. There is nothing mystical or paranormal about this process; quite the contrary, you should expect nothing other than this very natural demonstration of the law of cause and effect.

My wife and I eat out a lot as it is only the two of us. Tipping usually becomes a topic of conversation when we go. I always start out at 15%. It is the job of the wait staff to either keep the 15%, or go up or down from there. Depending on how they treat us and their attitude for the evening. There was one evening I could remember. We were waiting for the staff to arrive after being seated. We were asked for our drink order and it seems most of the time, they never ask about an appetizer. They head off to fetch the drinks and upon return ask for the order. I didn’t have time to place the appetizer order as she took off too quickly. We then placed our appetizer order and our meal order which I don’t really like to do and I will explain why. A few minutes later, our appetizer comes, and then about 3 minutes later than that, our meal order comes. Pretty fast service from the kitchen. The problem is we hadn’t finished our appetizer and now our meal is on the table as well. All of the food was delivered by someone other than our waitress. We didn’t see her again until almost the end of our meal. I was out of drink and could have used more a long time ago. Once she finally came to the table, she asked if everything was ok, I said No, I have been waiting for a glass refill for quite some time. She took my glass to the back and came back with a nice full glass. The problem was that it was filled with Sweet Tea. Yes, I know I live in the south, the home of Sweet Tea, but being diabetic slows down the ability to choose. So I raised her attention and asked for un-sweet tea. In a huff and a puff, she moaned and groaned all the way to the back and returned to the table. Once we were done, I contemplated the tip. It surely wasn’t going up. I ended about 9% taking into account all the errors and attitude. She still provided a service lousy as it may have been and she still needed to get paid. I figure she would now go home and discuss with someone how she has a bad attitude because her customers are lousy tippers. She obviously had it completely backwards. Her customers are lousy tippers because she has a terrible attitude.

While you cannot always choose what happens to you and around you, you can always choose the way you interpret those circumstances. You can carefully select the vantage point from which you view them. Every problem is multifaceted, but it is human nature to focus on the facet that is the darkest and most troublesome. This is natural, because it is the darkest facet that poses the most urgent need, the most immediate threat. But a quick rotation of the problem to view it from another angle suddenly turns it into something that is not altogether bad, and perhaps even beneficial. A gem that is dirty on one surface may be sparkling and brilliant on another. When a challenge is weighing heavily on your mind and spirit, a good exercise is to consciously choose to view the problem in a new light or from a new angle. You might even list the ways in which the current challenge might be of benefit to you. Other people can often be a great help in this regard.

Others can often offer a fresh perspective of your problems because they are already “sitting” in a different location. Your problem is not a direct threat to them (after all, it’s your problem they’re looking at), so their judgment is not clouded by the same intense emotions or the sense of urgency you may have. In a football game, it is quite common to see a quarterback walk off the field and immediately pick up a telephone. Why? To whom is he speaking? He is usually talking with an assistant coach who is up in the press box, watching the game from above. It is this assistant coach, seeing the game from a completely different vantage point, who can offer insight that the player on the field cannot possibly see. Where the quarterback on the field—who is under intense pressure from a furious pass rush—sees an insurmountable problem, the coach in the press box might see a golden opportunity waiting to be seized. The only difference is perspective. The great challenge for all of us is to take a few minutes to walk to the “press box of life,” become our own coach, and take a long look at our situation from a fresh vantage point.

Add a note herePerhaps the most important question of life is this: “Is the glass half empty or half full?” The answer is a simple one: it’s up to you. The way you answer this question will determine how happy or unhappy you will become. Attitude IS life’s great equalizer.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

Life sometimes is not easy. There are times that you will come into some kind of hardship or struggle. It is enivitable. In fact, sometime there are things that will happen in life that will shock you to your core.

Life and that of being human is to accept the wins and losses, celebrations, and challenges, and the good with the bad.

Some of the experiences we will face will not be favorable. We might be in pain, physically or emotionally—We just plain hurt. So is the case of how I felt yesterday and today. I made the mistake of riding my bike 10 miles without any prep riding or stretching. Yea, today I hurt. But let’s talk about deeper hurts.

What we don’t realize is that these struggles and pains are a gift from life itself. When we come face to face with a struggle, a low point in life, be it an illness, a relationship breakdown or financial ruin, at the time we are lost in darkness.

Everything you are going through, every struggle, pain or hardship, is actually a gift. It is a gift because it is in the struggle that you are brought to your knees, where you question the purpose of your life. It is a gift because it asks you to go deeper into yourself and find the gold of who you are.

The common saying “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” has a very profound truth to it. What you overcome in life makes you richer in every way. When you are in that dark place looking for a way out of your hardship, you are faced with two choices: give up or tap into the inner resources that you didn’t even know you had, and come through it stronger and more humble than you were before.

We were given the opportunity to have Suicide Prevention Training yesterday. Suicide is a tough subject to talk about but is a subject that surely arises during the darkest moments of your life.

You also have to remember, God never hands out things that you can’t handle. How you approach it will determine how you come through the other side. You can assume the victim role and feel sorry for yourself, or you can reach into the essence of who you are and find your inner strength. Then demand the self worth and ability to rise up and meet your challenges heart on. You need to believe you can do this — you are powerful, you are amazing and you are inspirational!

Through darkness comes light, through fear comes love and through pain comes triumph.
This is the triumph of the human spirit; it is not in a select few, it is in every one of us.

Your struggles and hardships are your gifts so that you can reach deep down inside of yourself and discover your inner power and the glory of who you are. Use them to share your message of hope and love with the world.

The world needs your voice, your message and your experiences so that they can resonate in the hearts of others and give hope and courage to show that it is possible to overcome anything.

Let us share our gifts with each other as we will be far richer for the experience.

Everyone has a desire to win, but do you have the will to prepare to win?

My list of hollow platitudes includes the idea that You Can Do Anything You Really Want to Do. The truth is you can’t. Chalk it up to God’s grand plan for making the whole world work because of interdependence, but the fact is each of us has more things that we cannot do well than we can. That’s why society has doctors and plumbers and electricians and mechanics and every other Craigslist specialist. Leadership also falls into that category because not everyone is a leader. Leader’s need followers. Those that are leaders usually lead rather well. Those that don’t know how to lead but lead anyway, usually get into trouble.

Let’s look for a moment at the sport of College Basketball. If you play with passion, you are also more likely to play with precision, because the more your players have invested in effort and energy in trying to win a game, the more effort and energy come out in a game. But I wince every time I hear an announcer say in the last seconds of a close game, “Now we’ll see which team wants it the most.”

Somebody will win, somebody will lose, but don’t ever tell me the difference every time is that the winner wanted to win more than the loser did. I remember a game Duke versus Butler in the 2010 NCAA men’s basketball championship. I can remember that there was a lot of hype behind Butler to beat the big name school Duke. For some reason, it seems that everyone hates Duke. I don’t know why, Duke wins a lot of games, I love Duke just for that reason. Oh and there is the coach. If you are a leader, do you lead with passion? In the last minutes of the game there was an opportunity for Butler to win. They missed both of the last 2 shots. Now you cannot tell me that the reason Duke won was because the kids on Duke wanted it more. I bet the kids on Butler actually wanted it more, but Duke won anyway.

A great Basketball Coach once said that he would rather look for the mistakes and attack the mistakes than to look at the highlight reels.

This same coach said “Wanting alone doesn’t get anything done. Doing does.” The difference between knowing what you should do and repeatedly trying to do it is the same as is point out in another phrase from this coach who said, “Having the will to win is not enough. Everyone has that. What matters is having the will to prepare to win.”

Using this in our life situations is and could be a little difficult if you don’t have a plan for your life. Planning for a catastrophe is as important as planning for your death. Do you realize that everyone is going to die. It is in God’s plan so that means you have to plan. Although you don’t know when or where, it will inevitably happen. What happens if you get in a serious car accident and haven’t prepared to win? What happens if you or a family member gets cancer and you have to spend a lot of time in the hospital or travelling back and forth from one. What have you done to prepare to win?

I will tell you how my wife and I prepared to win. Many years ago, I retired from the Army and got into the civilian federal service. Working as a civilian in the Department of Defense (DOD). In this service, you get 4 hours of vacation every pay period, so about 12 days a year. After a couple years, you could get to the max rollover of 360 hours. I have done that and have kept my balance at 360 for several years and only used the ‘use or lose’ portion. I knew at some point I would get sick beyond having the ability to work. When I was in Germany, I had trouble with my knee after a mountain biking accident. I had to stay off of my leg for 4 weeks. I had saved the vacation time and carried enough to cover that time to continue getting paid as normal.

Most recently, my wife contracted Cancer. Along with not knowing the future, we were stunned. The biggest thing though was that we didn’t have to worry about was vacation time and the ability for me to be with her during her toughest moments. I had enough vacation time to cover everything.

The other “having the will to prepare to win” moment that we had was that of have the right health insurance. Now you know there has been a lot of controversy over health insurance lately. Do you have enough or the right insurance? I will tell you that I took the advice of my Father In Law who told me that when I get into the Federal Service and they offer you insurance, take it and go with Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I did that and you know I am so thankful for that bit of advice because along with BCBS I had my military retirement medical through Tricare and through more than half a million dollars of requested money from the doctors and over $11,000 in co-pays, I have not paid one red cent to anyone. Having the will to prepare to win gave me the ability to take care of my wife during this critical time.

I didn’t fully prepare though. I listen to a lot of Dave Ramsey and he says that you have to have an Emergency fund of $1000 for those “just in case” times. We didn’t have this emergency fund set up so we were not quite prepared win. Carol had to spend a lot of time in the hospital creating opportunities for me to stay in a hotel while she was there. We didn’t have the emergency fund and didn’t look for that in our preparing phase. We didn’t have the money to live in that environment. We did have an emergency fund drive though. We started a t-shirt campaign that gave us some monies. That helped cover the hotel bills.

I ask you this question, What happens if you get in a serious car accident and haven’t prepared to win? Will you be at a loss of money because you can’t work? Will you be at a loss of money because you didn’t prepare? Will you still receive a paycheck because you have enough vacation time? Having the will to win is not enough. Everyone has that.

In sporting events, it is inevitable that you will lose. No one in the sporting industry wants to lose but they do. When they lose, it is the coach’s responsibility to prepare the team to lose just as he has prepared the team for winning. In life, you don’t want to lose either, but you better prepare to lose and have a plan to battle back to the winning side. When you do lose, you lose a bit of your confidence. You lose your edge.

Lastly Tony La Russa, a great Baseball Coach once told his team after winning game six prior to going to 7th game of the World Series, “The first job that we have today is putting yesterday aside to be remembered later.” Great advice. Everyone has the desire to win, but not everyone wins every game. St. Louis went on to lose that 7th game. Do you have the will to prepare to win or do you just let life roll?

 

The Story Of Two Wood Choppers

A long time ago, two men were hired to chop wood all day long.

They each had a huge pile to chop with an axe, and had to work until they finished.

Ever chopped wood?

It’s tough…all the muscles in your body will burn even if you just do it for just a few minutes.

So, early in the morning, they both began.

The first man chopped for about an hour, then took a break.

The second man kept chopping, without any break at all. As the day went on, the second man noticed the first taking more regular breaks. “Aha!” he figured, “I’m easily going to finish before he does!”

Soon evening came. Both men were tired, and their piles of wood were diminished, but not gone. However, something strange happened:

The first man (who took all those breaks) quickly worked through his entire pile, chopped the final piece, and prepared to go home. The sun was setting, and he was done for the day. The second man still had a couple hours of work ahead of him, and he couldn’t contain his astonishment: “Wait a minute! How did you finish before me? I saw you taking breaks but I didn’t take any!”

The first man replied, “I took the time to sharpen my axe.”

You may have heard that story before but the reality never fades. If you want to do more of anything, you have to sharpen your tools. If you want to have a good business, you have to have a good business plan. If you want to know more about your faith, you read more about the Bible and what it teaches. If you want to be a good leader, you must mentally prepare your mind.

You cannot work hard the “old school” way. You cannot blindly follow the business plan your organization has laid out for you. That just leads to being part of the 97% of people who fail. Now through other posts you learned that failure is also a teaching tool but only if you learn from your failure can you then move forward. Don’t be like the one person that did not stop to sharpen his tool. It gets dull and doesn’t work very well. Hmm, that sounds like some employees I know, dull and don’t work very well. Do not let this happen to you. Sharpen your axe!!

Lessons Learned

October 2013  – My wife Carol had just broken her leg. November- She breaks her leg again. While she was getting her leg repaired, they drew blood to find out why she was falling. She was anemic, which means she was losing blood but we didn’t know where. They scheduled an Upper GI and a Lower GI. It was during the lower GI that they found the cancer. The doctor came up and told me once he was free from the procedure.

My heart dropped, my mind raced, and instantly I thought of many reasons why there was no way this could be true. From there proceeded many tests, emergency room visits, and the aid of a wonderful Oncology Advocate (her background is pathology) and then the diagnosis of Colorectal Cancer. We were told this would be almost routine and there was nothing to worry about.

February 2014 – Carol catches an infection on her leg. She requires a third surgery on her leg. This time they put an external fixator on her leg. That goes good for a bit.

April 2014 – Carol and I are faced with the biggest decision of our married lives outside of us getting married. We opt to have her leg taken off. She recovers fine from this procedure. Now it is finally time to look for a surgeon. We don’t take any chances and go with the best at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB). During one of our normal routine visits to get blood work done, basically prep work for the surgery, we are told to go to the Emergency room in the UAB facility. Her potassium level is way too high and she gets admitted. 3 days later, we go home.

She finally gets to surgery but not the surgery we are looking for. She is told that she will have a colonoscopy. She has that done laperscopically. We also find out that she is and has been constipated. 4 days out of surgery, she still has not gone. She is called into another surgery, this to fix the first and get the stool moving. This surgery finally works. We get home and find out that Carol is in much less pain than before the surgery. For that, she is grateful.

So what becomes of all this if it is not a teaching lesson. Here is what I found out about the whole situation.

Challenges – dealing with shock, while trying to lift the spirits of my 49 year old wife, while trying to stay positive myself, while trying to deal with insurances, hospitals, specialists, family, friends, and above all, making the right decisions. I guess I would call this information overload, but every bit of it was necessary–and all in a very compressed time frame.

Lessons – An oncology advocate is worth more than gold. We started at a local oncologist who gave the first round of treatment. When it came down to surgery, the recommendation given to us was not the best. We then tried to go to the “Cancer Treatment Center of America”. One sitting in Atlanta denied Carol’s ability to use their facilities. I am sure they are wonderful facilities but they are not in the business of helping people as they say they are. They help who they want to help. One phone call to the oncology advocate and University of Alabama at Birmingham was suggested. We had our local oncologist make the referral. It has been the best decision of all. LL- Not all doctors or facilities are the same, even though they might have “Cancer Treatment” in their name.

Her guidance was incredibly invaluable. Without her, I don’t know that a proper facility would have been chosen. I was on the same wave length, however I had no power to make changes.

Unanswered questions – Would more testing done earlier have made a material difference? If testing were done earlier, would my wife have been more prone to be tested more often?

Did this cancer “explode overnight” (per se) or did it develop slowly and therefore might have been caught in earlier more treatable stages? (And yes, I beat myself every…single…day over this regardless of all the kind words people have said to me.)

How can we make testing earlier and more simple and so thorough that it becomes as commonly administered as the old CHEM-7 panel?

I had just completed my testing and wasn’t totally out of the woods as I had 4 polyps that were removed. I don’t think they were any thing to worry about since I am still here and not testing. I do have to go back in a year or so to do it again. The thing is just kind of weird in that women are not even expected to start testing until 50 as well. With Carol being adopted, there is no way to tell if there was a history. What do you do and how do we know?

We’re Going Into Overtime People!

Today is the perfect day to launch another edition of my Blog.  Why, you ask?

Because God has officially let me live one day more! {Cue Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’, close your eyes and imagine me doing a fabulously fierce touchdown dance (think Cam Newton meets Tebow’s prayer pose).} When two teams go into overtime, there is a bit of drama that ensues. Both teams are now fighting for one chance to win. It takes time that originally wasn’t scheduled. The rules of overtime or extra time vary between sports and even different competitions. Some may employ “sudden death”, where the first player or team who scores immediately wins the game. In others, play continues until a specified time has elapsed, and only then is the winner declared. If the contest remains tied after the extra session, depending on the rules, the match may immediately end as a draw, additional periods may be played, or a different tiebreaking procedure such as a penalty shootout may be used instead.

 Why, Why, Why? 

God, where were you when this happened?  WHERE ARE YOU now? Why would you do this to my wife? 

Signed,

A lost soul

When Carol was diagnosed with Colon cancer at 48 years old, a new life ahead of us was guaranteed. It has now been a year since she first broke her leg that led to the eventual diagnosis of cancer.  Carol has been through a lot in the last year.

Just a short recap,

Oct-Broken Leg surgically repaired with screws and plate.

Nov-Second Broken Leg, same leg same repair. Also diagnosed with colo-rectal cancer.

Dec-Jan goes through chemo and radiation

Feb-Leg contracts infection. Surgery to remove infection leaves 3”x 8” wound requiring wound vac.

Apr-Infection does not go away, amputation of leg.

Jun-Switch doctors and head to University of Alabama in Birmingham

Sep-Has colostomy surgery. Also has second colostomy surgery. Released is the information that the cancer has spread to her lungs.

Carol had been given a time limit but I don’t think  I could have lived with that kind of information. Shake that awful thought.

During all this, the chemo, surgeries, and such, there was no time for me to shed a tear or to feel bad about the situation. I was so focused on taking care of Carol that I wasn’t living.

 {Strength}

God can handle all our anger, all our fear.  All of it. It took me a while to figure it out but once I did, it was so freeing.  During the previous said months, I drifted closer and closer to a God I already knew but somehow drifted away from. I have always known that he was there but for whatever reason, he had become a “God of convenience.” I’m stubborn, y’all.  I mean, He put me in this situation to draw me closer to Him. For that I am certain.

On a couple of occasions, Carol and I were at each other’s throat. We were and still are so stressed. My core was shaken and my soul was stirred. What a gunky, heavy, empty, miserable pit. I remember falling to my knees and crying out in desperation…this is it? This is our new life? How could you do this us? If you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about and if you haven’t, I hope and pray you never have to go there.

The good news is God was there waiting all along and His plan was in motion.  To this day, I often visualize God’s giant yet gentle arms cradling my lifeless body and scooping me up as I laid in the downward dog position bawling crying, in shackles and gasping for air.

{Hope}

God is present everywhere.  No matter how big or small the situation or how far apart from Him you have grown, He’s there and can handle anything you dish out. Just close your eyes and imagine a massive pummeling bag dangling from the heavens and go for it…punch it. Boom! Let ‘er rip. I get goose bumps thinking about how mighty He is.

Over the coming months, Carol will be going through another round of chemo. I’ll share how both Carol and I deal with that. Each round is different and this one will be the heaviest. In hopes to kill the cancer at her lungs and her groin, she will have that heavy dose. I share our story mostly for therapy for me but I hope that you learn a little through our plight and maybe, just maybe you’ll laugh a little while we’re at it.

Today IS the first day of the rest of our lives. I’m gonna live mine OT style – sometimes frolicking, sometimes trudging. Carol is not shooting for a tie, she is going all out for the win in this, “Her Overtime” And the best part about it is we not alone. We never was and we never will be.

Leadership is like being Born , and Born Again, Always in Transition!

Being associated with the military for so many years, first in the Army and now as a Army and Air Force Civilian, I have had the chance to move around a lot. Moving from State to State and/or Country gives life and the job a new perspective each and every time you move. Not only do you have a new place to call home, you have a new job, new peers, new supervisors. It is a very unique situation. It is like being in transition every few years or so. Sometimes you can move for a promotion. Sometimes just for a different opportunity. Looking at the promotion aspect we look at the old home now as something we have outgrown. A place that we can no longer fit into. It is now our time to move into a more challenging position.

Let’s take a look at birth. At some point, usually around the nine month mark, sometimes sooner but usually not much later,  you start to out grow the parameters of your surroundings. The womb that you live in is now too small as you grow from a fetus to an unborn child. It is the perfect environment for you while you are growing and changing. But then, You cannot feed in one realm and stay in that realm. If you continue to feed and get enough on the inside of you, you cannot stay within that same realm you start to have a discomfort staying in the dimension that you once lived in. You have now outgrown your environment.

Now when a child is born, he has quite the travel. He has to go through a narrow passage, go through some very not so nice smells, be mixed with some dirty stuff, and this isn’t the choice that the child has made. It is a choice however, that has to be made because the child has now outgrown the home he has become used to. Liken this to leadership, that if you continue to feed the inside of your knowledge and soul, and if you continue to feed the inside, it will open up your mind, open up your thinking, and open up ideas and open up your concepts until all of a sudden, you are uncomfortable in what you were once comfortable in. In reality, God says you should cry when a child is born and rejoice when a child dies, because God understands that birth and death are labors together with him to push you from one world to the other.

When you start thinking on another level, you start to become separated from where you once were. What you used to think was funny, isn’t funny anymore. What you used to enjoy, you don’t enjoy anymore. Perhaps you used to love to sit in front of the television and watch those popular singing shows. Now that you have started filling your soul from the inside, you don’t like those shows anymore, you like to read!. You are not satisfied with the same things you were satisfied with before. Perhaps you don’t even fit in the same places that you once fit in before. Maybe even your friends will change. This is the time you would probably here the phrase, “you forgot where you came from.” My new response to that is, I didn’t forget it, I just can’t stay in it. I’ve got to get out of here. I can’t stay in this rut.

This reminds me of my wife’s latest round of surgical procedures. She was in the hospital for two weeks. She received a colonoscopy. That in itself isn’t really strange, but the way that they chose for her to heal was. The surgical doctor decided that since there was such a chance of her getting an infection because they were working with so much fecal matter, they decided that they would use what is called a wound vac and leave the surgical opening, open. The wound vac assists the healing of the wound from the inside out.

So looking at the leadership example above, you are leaving one job to move to another, you are going through another birthing process to get to another dimension. So really you are being born again, and again, and again. The way the process works in any industry is that you get a job, or as an entrepreneur, you have your business, the business gets going and soon you get comfortable. You get all settled in. You say,”Now I have my life all nice and neat, I finally got it just the way I want it.” But then you look around, and the “water breaks” in the situation and soon enough You have to re-create yourself, re-define yourself and start all over again. You were sure of yourself before but now you are a student again of the new process. you knew how to do everything before the water broke, but now you are learning again and you are, “born again.”

this story isn’t about birth or even the birth process, but the trauma of Transition is what was described above. The trauma of the traveller. The trauma of the child being delivered from one world to another. Are you ready for your transition?

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No Rewind In Life

I have been on an interesting journey since Oct 2013. Somewhere around the middle of October, I stopped feeling sorry for myself about all the hard things I had been enduring. I realized that I was actually lucky and really needed to embrace all the wonderful things that I do have in my life.

 It has become a goal of mine to experience, enjoy, and try to change only the things that I can impact and do my best to let go of the things that are beyond my control. One particular thing I realized is that every moment in our lives is exactly that – a moment. It flashes by! We are given each one as a gift, and it is in our hands what we do with it. Good or bad we can never relive it. Once it is gone…it will always be gone, just a memory.
 
During the summer months, it seem that people are more careless than normal. Maybe it is just that there is more activity than normal. Either way, we see an increase in safety mishaps and a corresponding rise in lost lives and shattered dreams. Typically between the holidays of Memorial Day and Labor Day, usually called the 101 days of summer, we start off with strong campaigns from the City, State, and Federal government and are usually very safe. Statistics show that after July 15 is when most of the fatalities occurred. 58% actually happen then.

People work hard to build and live their dream. When it is shattered by a useless death, we wonder how that one life could have been saved. The military has opened a new campaign entitled “Life Doesn’t Rewind.”

Wouldn’t it be nice sometimes if we had a rewind button? With all of the things we say, things we do, it would be nice to rewind the life tape as if we had never said what we said or did what we did. Or any time a bad decision is made, I could just delete it like I do on the computer. Stop the tape, rewind as if it never happened. Or would it?

If we did have this luxury of rewinding our life, what learning consequences would arise?  Mary Whelchel of The Christian Working Woman, says You know, it’s very important that we all recognize our mistakes and learn from them. But when we live in regret, frequently wishing and dreaming of what might have been, we know we’re headed down the wrong road. 

How many times have you asked God to forgive you for the same sin? He knows our frame and remembers that we are dust, and so He gives us many second chances. That, of course, does not mean we will not have to suffer the consequences of our sin. Sin always brings its aftermath and God doesn’t deliver us from that. But He can deliver us from guilt and He makes it possible for us to start over again with a clean slate.
 
She goes on to say, “Although life doesn’t have a rewind button, we have a God of second chances, and therefore, whatever regrets we may have, we can, because of God’s astonishing grace, live free from regret.”
 
I want to give you some practical suggestions on how you can recover from failure, even though you can’t backspace and strike over! Even though life has no rewind button!”
 
What seems to happen also is that we are looking backward at the mishap. The most important thing when you do that however, is to learn. You see, you get to fix that problem and move on, learning from that one mistake, providing it isn’t fatal, and never do that again. It is more a forward button. Not fast forward, just forward. Sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that cause a mishap. Most times it is rare that only one significant misstep or bad decision leads to a catastrophic ending. In most cases, multiple factors, whether it is environmental, human or mechanical, combine to put someone into a position where a mishap is bout to happen. Keeping people close to you that know who you are and how you act can sometimes simplify things when there are multiple factors leading up to a mistake. It may be possible that your close knit network is able to head you off at the pass.
 
Was the failure one that you could see coming, or did it take you by surprise? If it is one that you could have seen coming, you then need to analyze back to the first point that you can realize was the start of the failure. What caused you to fail and what were the steps that got you there. The most important thing is to learn. Failure is not something to be afraid of but to embrace as a learning tool.
 
Once you’ve faced the failure, confessed it as your own, and tried to analyze the steps which led to that failure, then the next step is to understand that Jesus has the power and the desire to redeem you from that failure and from living in regret. It might be good to memorize Philippians 3:13-14: 
 
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
 
While each of us works hard during this year and years to come, take the time to learn about your previous failures. Try to figure if it was something you could have prevented or was it something that caught you by surprise? Either way, if you are able to figure out what put you in that situation, you will know not to do that again. Also remember that Life does not have a rewind button to give us the opportunity to look back and make changes to the mistake made. We can only make changes to the future and not make that mistake again.