Enlarging Your Capacity

Sisyphus

(A Conversation)

You know I didn’t make that up.

Yeah, but you sure nailed me with it.

Only because I know what it feels like.

Yeah, I know you do.

So… back to the metaphor… you feel like you’re pushing a 2,000-pound rock up a hill by yourself.

That about sums it up.

Well give me back my rock!

Dude, you can have it.

Just kidding. You can keep it. It looks really nice rolling over you.

Wow, with friends like you…

Yeah, yeah.  I do have one question about this picture, though.

Okay.

You have the hill, the boulder, and you.

Uh huh. [click to continue…]

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Broken KeyboardOne of the keys on my laptop no longer works properly.  The key gets stuck some and mostly doesn’t work at all.  The computer warranty covers the problem, but creates another one – namely the need to use other tools for about two weeks.

Ugh.

You should know, too, that the key does not belong to some random, rarely-used category of keyboardery.  No, as the alphabet goes, that key’s a major player.

The Bluetooth keyboard from my desktop helps for now, but eventually my most trusted work ally must be surrendered to the tech people somewhere far away.  But for now, you may note that the post you read comes from the faulty keyboard – mostly to see whether a whole post can be created apart from the help of that major letter.

Have you detected what letter’s AWOL yet?  No, not the Q, X or Z. That would be too easy. No doubt you’ll trace the absent letter eventually.  As you do, here are some lessons we can apply to our work and our personal selves. [click to continue…]

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Senior

Hello, this is Carl.

Hi Carl. A mutual friend gave me your card. Is this a good time to talk?

Sure. How can I help?

Well, I’m not sure if you can. The card says “Criticism Coach.”

Yep. That’s me.

I gotta be honest. I’ve never heard of a criticism coach.

Neither had I until the day I decided the world needed one.

So you just sort of made this up?

Well, I formalized the idea a couple of years ago. But I’ve been criticoaching for years.

Criticoaching?

Yeah, that’s my shorthand term for it. I did make that up.

What is a Criticism Coach?

So at the risk of asking a dumb question, what’s a criticism coach? [click to continue…]

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Broken Bread

Imagine with me.

You’re an actor, and your dream is to land a role on the Ultimate Stage – a place where your talent can be on display for the entire world to sit up and take notice. A role that can lead to even bigger and better things. You don’t have to be the star. You just want to be able to show your star power.

The script: Interesting. It’s a modern retelling of a famous scene from the Bible – the time when Jesus fed about 4,000 people with seven loaves of bread and a few fish.

You’ve been summoned to a callback audition and informed you have a spot in the play. That’s all you know.

Can you imagine the excitement? The anticipation you’re feeling? This is what you have dreamed for, wished for, prayed for, and endured a lot of questions and unhelpful go-be-a-teacher suggestions for.

You. Are. Going. To. Broadway. [click to continue…]

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Pavarotti-Brooks

The late Luciano Pavarotti holds the Guiness World Record for the most curtain calls by a singer or actor – a staggering 165. Together with Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras, he sang in the biggest-selling classical record of all time.

When Pavarotti sang, no one sang along.  They would sit breathlessly, passively, allowing themselves to be carried away by the extraordinary power of the tenor’s voice.

“Excellent” hardly conveys the talent the world lost on September 6, 2007.

Garth Brooks is the greatest-selling albums artist in the U.S. since 1991 and the second-best-selling solo artist of all time in the U.S. His concerts literally sell out in 15 minutes. And when he takes the stage he takes his audience with him.

When Garth Brooks sings, if you don’t sing along you look a little strange. Take it from experience, if you don’t know all the words you’ll act like you do.

Excellent? Oh my yes, in a completely different way. [click to continue…]

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delete-ruthlessly

I’m not a hoarder. Really. But I do accumulate. A lot. And that applies to just about every zone of my world.

Quick check:

  • There are currently 15,993 email messages in my inbox. But that’s OK – only 7,108 of them are unread.
  • When my next-door neighbor moved out a couple of months ago, she had a whole bunch of pretty good stuff she was literally giving away – said take anything I wanted. So I did. Now it’s all in my garage, and one day I’ll get around to figuring out what all I got.
  • Right now I’m wearing a t-shirt I got in 2003. It’s still hole-less and relatively stainless, so it stays in the rotation, which now occupies two big drawers because one wouldn’t hold them.
  • Oh, and books. Way back in the day I kept up with exactly how many I had. Suffice it to say, I lost count. Now, counting ebooks, I have three libraries in three locations. And one of my New Year’s resolutions, if I had any (which I don’t) is to actually try to read some of them.
  • I have a to-do list that’s as long as your arm, but if you asked me to do something, I would most likely say yes if it were in my capacity to do it.

I could go on, but I fear that some of you who are really organized or efficient are starting to get hives, and I don’t want to cause you to stumble.

The point to all this is that I have a huge “front door” when it comes to gathering up things to do, be, and have and a naturally disorganized, balls-in-the-air approach to managing all of it.

Until I have to. Last week I had to. [click to continue…]

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Shut-Down“Today I spent Christmas completely alone…”
(from my journal, December 25, 1995)

Quick quiz: What do Bluebell Ice Cream, Tylenol, Rolaids, SMU Football, and ancient Judah (Israel) all have in common?

Answer: They all experienced a drastic, though temporary shutdown.

Shutdown. The word was hardly used prior to 1950. Now it’s a common part of our lexicon. It’s typically used of the government when Congress can’t seem to get together on a budget or debt ceiling limit (which in government terms is about the same as “budget”). A government shutdown, of course, is commonly believed to be a horrible thing.

Other than that, you often hear the term used to describe some sort of drastic action taken by a company. The whole state of Texas declared a state of emergency on April 4 when Blue Bell started closing its creameries – all of them – because of an incident of listeria contamination.

(If you aren’t from Texas or have never observed that state’s love affair with Blue Bell, picture shutting down football in Tuscaloosa, guns in Wyoming, or lobster rolls in Maine.)

I’ve been thinking about shutdowns lately for a couple of reasons, not the least of which was the heartburn I felt last night and the Rolaids I was gratefully chewing on (sorry Tums, you’ll have to go back to being Plan B). I have also been remembering a personal shutdown period I went through myself exactly 20 years ago. I don’t talk about it much anymore, but it still shapes a large part of who I am today. [click to continue…]

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Carrying Weight 2

Chances are, you have no idea.

A couple of weeks ago we were packing for a week at Disney.

No, professional movers or U-Haul were not involved.

Anyway, when Robin got everything loaded into three suitcases that a near-grown human could fit into, she asked me to weigh the luggage to make sure she had thought of everything.

Um, I mean, to make sure it fit within airline regulations.

We have this handy little scale that picks up the suitcase by the handle and lets you know what you’re asking those baggage handlers to tote ‘n’ hurl. I picked up the first.

“Forty pounds,” says I.

“See what that feels like?” says my ever-wise wife. “That’s what you’re no longer carrying around.”

I should point out here that in the last five months I’ve lost about that much weight. And that little luggage exercise was enlightening.

I picked it up again, holding the scale and entire weight of the suitcase in one hand. That was what I had been carrying around, day-in, day-out, but had now shed. Needless to say, it made an impression.

I was impressed how ordinary and normal my extra “baggage” was. How easy it was to justify myself, despite the fact that 20 years ago I weighed about 60 pounds less. And how much I was presuming upon my created-by-God body to do in overtime.

I just didn’t realize how much weight I was carrying. [click to continue…]

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Disappointment Prayer

“If only I could see them again.”

Night and day he thought about that.

Obsessed about it.

Prayed and prayed and prayed for it – night and day and night and day.

“Please, God, let me see them again.”

God had other plans.

Again, he asked – night and day and night and day, he asked.

Please God, let me see them again.”

God had other plans.

I should point out that as well as anybody can know the motives of the heart, his intentions were honorable. He didn’t want any of their money. He wasn’t fishing for a stroke to his ego. He wasn’t needy or, best I can tell, all that lonely. But he was anxious, if not desperate, for more face time with these people.

Why?

Because on their last encounter, there were some missing pieces that were left hanging. And these people were in a vulnerable spot. They just needed more time together, and he knew if only he could get back there, his concerns could be resolved. It would be a win-win for everybody. Couldn’t the Lord see that?

Apparently not. He had… well, you know. [click to continue…]

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Teamwork

(In 100 words, every New Testament reference, in order, from John to 1 John, describing God’s vision for how Christ followers act toward each other. Read this slowly. Thoughtfully. Out loud if possible. Learn some things… watch the flow, note the repetitions… and remember, this means both giving and receiving, so go back and re-read it as a potential receiver. Leave a comment and tell me what you find. )

+++++++ [click to continue…]

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