Friday, October 29, 2021

You're Not Special

You are not special. Sorry.

Well… okay… everyone is special. But the harsh reality is that, once beyond the compulsory school age, no one cares about all your specialness. 

Okay… so your friends and family will care.

But, if you run your own business, your customer does not care how hard it was for you to do whatever it was they hired you to do. They only care whether or not you did what you were supposed to do in the time you were supposed to do it in, and whether you did it well or not.

Your employer doesn't care if you are bad at math. They care whether or not you gave back the right change or if you balanced the spreadsheet numbers. They don't care if you are not a good speller. They care if your presentation is RIGHT. 

So, conceding that everyone is special, the harsh truth is that…

What matters is whether or not you do what you are supposed to do when you are supposed to do using the right tools and materials in the right way and that the outcome meets or exceeds expectations. 

Monday, October 04, 2021

You Won't Do It Later!

One way to greatly increase the chance that you will fail is to, when facing a task that needs to be done, tell yourself you'll do it later. You won't do it later. Probably.

If you have something to do, and you have the time, and you have the resources, but you tell yourself you'll do it later… chances are you won't.

Granted, timing is an issue. Sometimes, it's just not the right time to do certain things.

But, if the timing is good, and you have the necessary resources to do it, but you decide to put it off… You are in danger of just not doing it.

I have seen this happen literally over a thousand times. Given the opportunity to do something, far too many people say "I'll do it later" but never do.

Thursday, September 30, 2021

The Agile Life: Final Thoughts

At last, we come to the end of this collection of thoughts regarding using the agile project management system to organize and optimize your life. Truthfully, we diluted the full power of agile in this series and bent some of its principles a bit. But, it is an approach—a vocabulary in the least that, if utilized indeed can lead to better living.

Beginning with coming to understand our purpose… our why-behind-all-other-whys… we can divide our life up into some number of major projects. Some of them are on-going, such as managing our household and our relationships with family. Others, like career development, have discrete steps that can be completed as new ones come along.

With our life organized into some number of projects, we then devise the sprints that need to be completed so as to make progress on those projects. Some are routine and repeated, like paying the bills on time or checking emails. Others are once-and-done, such as finish the class in XYZ that is part of our career project.

All of the sprints for all of the projects are then organized into the burn-down list(s). Those needing attention first are prioritized over others. Some sprints lead to the discovery of other sprints along the way. And routine, repeating sprints show up on the list daily, weekly, monthly… regularly.

Each day begins with a scrum meeting with yourself. (And maybe others?) Decide what sprints must be completed that day and what steps must be taken to see that they are done. As a sprint is finished, check it off the burn-down list (or move it to its place in the list when it next needs to be done).

The daily scrum meeting puts a plan to your tasks. They are not just things on a list. They are things that have to be done that day and are arranged in order by clock and priority. 

Wrapping up each day reflecting on what was done sets up the next day's scrum meeting.

Using ideas from the agile project management system can help you organize your life and lead you to more fulfillment, peace, and satisfaction.

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

The Agile Life: A Real Example

So, does using agile project management to organize your life really work? It can!

A student approached early last week and showed me a list of all of his assignments for all of his classes. 

"Do you think this is a good idea?" he asked.

I replied, "Absolutely! You have made a list of all the things you need to do. Now, just organize them from most urgent to least. Put things due today at the top and then order them in the order they need to be done."

Later in the week, I asked how it was going. He reported that it was great. He said he had less stress knowing what all he had to do and could attend to things in an orderly way.

This is a perfect example of using the agile approach (whether or not you use the agile words for it). Education was a project that was part of his life. The assignments were the sprints he needed to complete in order to have success within the project. Taking time to make and organize the list was his scrum meetings.

The words you use to describe the process are not nearly as important as the process. But however you describe it, this guy in my class had the right idea.

Organizing your tasks and knowing what needs to be done in what order is a great start reaching a satisfying, peace-filled life. 

Friday, September 24, 2021

The Agile Life: Lay Out Your Sprints For The Day

To manage our lives using an agile approach, we need to extend the concept of the sprint to include both once-and-done items related to the aspects of our lives we have defined as projects and also to routine task we do daily or weekly. 

Things like answering emails are tasks—sprints, if you will—that need to be done on a regular basis. To keep our progress on everything going, we need to fit the routine sprints into the day with and around the project-based sprints.

For instance, you may need to finish a PowerPoint or Keynote for… next week, and to do that you need to find some data… That's a once-and-done sprint. Answering emails and checking in with the family to see if you need to pick up anything on the way home are routine sprints.

You need to do both the routine sprints and the once-and-done sprints!

By creating a prioritized list of once-and-done sprints and then injecting the routine sprints into that list appropriately keeps you moving, keeps you on track to finish all the projects.

Aligning our routine sprints with project-specific sprints and creating a prioritized order allows us to effectively make progress toward our life goals.

Wednesday, September 22, 2021

The Agile Life: Scrum Meetings With Yourself

If we view life as a collection of projects, and if we decide to organize them within the agile project management system, then we end up with a list of sprints all connected to the various projects.

To keep everything moving, you can begin each day with a "scrum" meeting… with yourself. You can look into the mirror and think about all you need to do each morning as you start your day.

What is necessary for getting ready for work? You'll need to think about what's coming up at work, then as you get ready, tic off whatever needs to be done to get you ready.

What family sprints do you need accomplish? Where do they fit into your schedule?

As you go through the day knocking off sprints, you might think of other things that need to be done. Emergencies might come up.

But starting the day with a plan is your best bet. Organize your sprints according to the priority of your projects, putting the most important tasks before those that are less important.

If you are trying to manage your life using an agile approach, you need to start off "scrumming" with yourself to put each sprint in its proper place.

Monday, September 20, 2021

The Agile Life: You're Gonna Need Some Sprints, Part 2

With your life viewed as a collection of projects, and as you begin developing the sprints—the specific todos necessary to complete the project, you will sometimes start a sprint and realize there is some other sprint that needs to be added to the list.

Beginning one sprint will sometimes show you other sprints that need to be done. Suppose you are planning a camping trip (a project), and one of your sprints is to get food. Starting that process will reveal that you need coolers and containers for the food. Obtaining those, then, becomes a sprint in and of itself.

Working through a sprint often reveals the sprints you need to complete.

In sum, the sprints of "the agile life" approach are the todo lists that allow you to manage your life in a harmonious way.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

The Agile Life: You're Gonna Need Some Sprints, Part 1

If we view life as a collection of projects, and if we decide to organize them within the agile project management system, then we need sprints!

A sprint is a specific task that is part of a project. It is a must-do that, when done, can be "checked off" and which leads to the next sprint on the list.

In our life, every project can be split up into a sprint list. For instance, the on-going project of managing a household might include grocery shopping. In a more long-term project, a sprint might be competing an assignment that is part of a course (where the course is a project that is part of the bigger project to get a credential or training certificate. Or degree).

To keep our whole life in harmony when we view life as a collection of projects, the sprint lists become the daily tasks that must be done to move us forward.

Friday, September 17, 2021

The Agile Life: Life Is A Bunch Of Projects

Applying the agile project management approach to organizing our lives assumes that life is a collection of projects all taking place at the same time. For instance, at any given time, you might be attending to family, career, education, and… say reception, too… all at once.

And, at any give moment, an emergency might pop up, and that would become an urgent project, all in on its own.

With so many things all happening, some strategy needs to be in place so that we can move through life from where you are to where you want to be.

Applying the agile project management approach, is one way to do that. Each project can be viewed as  some number of steps, each necessary for reaching the goal. Within the agile framework, we'll call these todo items sprints.

Viewing life through the lens of agile project management give us an approach that can help make the most out of our resources and move us ever closer to our goals.

Thursday, September 16, 2021

The Agile Life: What Fits The Approach?

When considering what aspects of your life might fit into an agile approach, the conclusion will be… a lot.

Anything with a specific, defined outcome fits. 

A family trip. A new course of study. Remodeling your house or even just a room. Day-to-day aspects of work…

All that the "thing" needs is to be a multi-step process leading to some definable outcome.

The agile approach to life fits many, many situations.

Thursday, August 05, 2021

The Agile Life: Defining You Vision

If we think of our lives as a continuous series of projects, one leading to the next and that one to the next, and if we apply the ideas of agile project management, we begin by establishing a vision and scope for each project. Given that the project we are attempting fits in with our life mission, then we are ready to set a scope for that project.

The scope of a project needs to establish a clear definition of what is to be done. What, specifically, would it look like to finish the project?

Scoping out exactly what "done" looks like is very important. Otherwise, it is difficult, if not impossible, to gauge progress or recognize when we have succeeded.

Thus, each project that is part of our life mission needs to be seen in light of clear, measurable outcomes. Without a clear and well-defined project scope, it is easy to get off track.

Here's another way to look at it: If you don't know what you are trying to do, you'll never know when you are done!

Friday, July 30, 2021

The Agile Life: Setting Your Vision

According to the agile project management system, it is necessary to begin by setting the vision and scope of the project. Applying this to living a happy and fulfilled life is easy.

What is the vision of your life? What is your purpose? What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish? What is your life mission?

Pastor Craig Strickland, in Memphis, Tennessee occasionally would caution people regarding climbing the ladder of success too hastily. "Sometimes," he would say, "people spend their whole lives climbing the ladder of success only to, once at the top, realize their ladder was leaning against the wrong wall!"

So, what is the vision for your life? What is the mission you hope your life will accomplish? Over they years I have discussed life vision and mission frequently. Your visions must grow out of your fundamental understanding of your purpose as a person in the universe.

What is your "why behind all other whys"? 

What do you believe gives meaning and direction to life? From that… and if you are to be ultimately content with life, from only that must come your life mission and vision.

It's hard work, but it is essential to figure all this out on the front end.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

The Agile Life Preview

Whereas "agile" was an approach originally applied to developing software, it is, from time to time, being adapted to other uses. The "Agile Life" series that will follow this preview will look at the processes used in agile and apply them to living life better.

So, this is not going to be a series teaching you how to use agile. 

What it is going to be is a look at the steps in the agile process as they could apply to living better. For instance, in agile, you begin with a project definition—a scope of what will be included in the total, final, end product. This, I will argue, is like your life mission; your purpose for being.

Join me in this little exploration! Could your life be better, and if so, could applying some of it to how you live your life improve your situation?

Stick around, and let's find out!

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

An Agile Approach to Life

Suppose we looked at life as a project. And what if we decided to manage our life using the "agile" approach?

An agile approach—to follow the industry usage, I should just say—agile is a technique of managing a process where the focus is on specific, incremental steps where each step plays a specific and necessary part in reaching the larger goal. (I probably just infuriated the agile experts with this gross generalization!)

What if we looked at life that way? What if we managed our life using an agile approach?

Instead of setting out to become rich, we set out to pay off one credit card? We know that a diploma is our long term gaol, so applying to a program that offers that diploma is the first step. Instead of looking at the end-goal, we pay attention to the first step, with our eyes on the next step to follow.

In the near future, I'll be talking about this idea, so stick around. Maybe an agile approach to life will work for you!

Tuesday, July 27, 2021

One Day At A Time

Change happens for many reasons. Sometimes, it is the result of a decision. Sometimes it is forced upon you by circumstances you cannot control.

Often, the upheaval caused by change is very challenging. Sometimes, change leaves you feeling overwhelmed, confused, and unclear about what to do first.

Chances are you have some big-picture idea of what normal will eventually become. But getting from where you are to where you see things going can be difficult.

But you can persevere. Just take things as they come, and keep going, making sure everything lines up with where you're trying to end up.

In the face of change, sometimes getting to the new normal takes a lot of effort. Just push on and take things one day at a time.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Eulogy of William Albert Snodgrass

My father, William Albert Snodgrass, raised in Wise County, Virginia died at the age of 88 while in hospice in Memphis, Tennessee. Dad was the son of Charles Fredrick Snodgrass and Pearl Frazier Snodgrass. He was born in Pardee in 1933.

The circumstances of time and place in which Dad grew up were hard, but he persevered through them. Over the years of my life, he shared many stories that gave glimpses into his past. Challenges, to Dad, were just opportunities to find a solution. One story he told me comes to mind which illustrates that.

Dad told me that he and his friends would sometimes go out—in his words—“running the woods” and there was a particular place they wanted to go that was at the bottom of a twenty-foot cliff. One way to get to it was to go a long distance one way down the hill, then turn and double back. However… At the bottom of the cliff not too far from the edge grew a forty-foot hickory tree. Dad and his friends found out that they could overcome the challenge of the cliff by… running and jumping off the cliff into the top of the hickory tree and riding its bend down to the ground.

The passing of time, in my opinion, did little to erode the spirit, courage, or creativity of that boy running the woods. But in later years his solutions grew to be more… refined.

Dad graduated from Wise High School in 1951. Following four years of service in the U.S. Air Force, he entered Clinch Valley College and, after marrying Betty L. Baker in 1957, he earned an associate degree in 1958. At that point, starting at the age of 25, things were settled for Dad and he began setting out on the path that, now, we look back and call the rest of his life.

Reprising the entirety of someone’s existence within a reasonable amount of words undoubtedly omits many important moments and events. So, asked to do that, I decided to call attention to three prevailing themes that I believe everyone who knew Dad will recognize.

First of all, before anything else, Dad was dedicated to his family. During his service in the Air Force, he continually sent money back to Virginia to help his mother, father, and siblings: a washing machine for Grandma… money for a sibling’s dental work… these and other things that he was able to provide, even from halfway across the world.

His dedication to his family continued throughout his life. Growing up, he saw to it that we needed nothing and wanted for little. And if ever there were unfulfilled wants, they were withheld for practical reasons. There was just no place to legally ride a minibike or raise a horse! Thinking back, most of the wants not realized were fleeting, and he seemed to know that on the front end.

Far more important than providing us with things was his passion for instilling character. He was never hesitant to offer a suggestion as to how things might be done better. Nor did he withhold his wisdom when his experiences informed something one of us was facing.

Growing from his dedication to his family was his work ethic. Dad saw excellence in the work world as a way by which he could demonstrate his dedication to his family. And anyone who followed Dad’s career would, in it, see excellence at every turn.

Dad’s career with Bituminous Casualty Corporation began at the company’s Norton office in November of 1960. He went on to serve in various positions as a claims representative and claims manager in Lexington and Louisville Kentucky, Memphis Tennessee and Dallas Texas. In 1983, he was promoted to Senior Vice President of Claims and moved to the company home office in Rock Island, Illinois. He served in this position until his retirement in June 1998.

Paramount in Dad’s success were many fundamental work ethic principles. And they could easily be deemed life-ethic principles, as well. Time will allow me to briefly mention only a few. The wording I will use sums up many of his different anecdotes and his wise sayings that became consistent messages over his lifetime.

First off, he taught—and lived—this idea: Do what you are supposed to do. If something is your responsibility, do it. Do it well. Do it right. Do it the way it is supposed to be done… even if no one is looking. And, don’t expect to get a compliment for doing what you’re supposed to do.

Use what you have to get the work done. If there’s a better way… a tool… a technique… something that makes the task easier… and if you can adopt it, do so. But not having something that would make things easier does NOT relieve you of your responsibility, even if doing it is hard. Overcoming hard is expected.

He also insisted on using the right tool for the job. Hammers are for nails, not screws. This concept, he extended to staffing decisions within Bituminous, cooking, grilling, yard work, and… everything… except fishing. 

In fishing, he contended, you can only hold one rod at a time, so one rod should be enough. I think there is some truth in this idea, too. Sometimes, some things shouldn’t be over-complicated. Sometimes, simple is best. While it may or may not apply to fishing, I think there is, in that concept, truth to be found and learned.

Another one of Dad’s principles to success is really simple. Be on time. Be where you are supposed to be when you are supposed to be there. To that end, if you are ten minutes early to an appointment, you are five minutes late. I suppose this is something I passed on…

A few months ago, one of Dad’s grandsons, one of my sons, text-messaged me:

“Hey… I am in the doctor’s waiting room at 11:40. My appointment is at 12:05. Look what you did to me!”

Being on time, to Dad, was the first step in all of the other things. It was inherent in doing what you were supposed to do and necessary for doing it well.

While Dad’s ideas can be seen in many places and can come from many sources, I believe that Dad’s approach to both family and career grew directly from his faith. Dad had a quiet, personal faith in God out of which grew everything else. It was not showy or flashy. It was not a “Hey, look at me” kind of faith. But it was there; under, behind, and around everything he did.

At some point in my life, Dad mentioned that, when in the Air Force, he carried a copy of Psalms, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes with him. He told me that Ecclesiastes had been an important source of truth for his way of living.

Whereas that Bible book was cited by Dad to be so important, I want to use it briefly to make a closing point. I will not be, in any way, comprehensive. And also, I am not going to parse the translation of the Hebrew or try to use direct quotes. Rather I’m going to be brief and share the main ideas as they relate to how Dad lived his life.

The author of Ecclesiastes is usually thought to be King Solomon, who is deemed to be the wisest of all humanity. The text of Ecclesiastes recounts the author’s search for the meaning and purpose of life. 

In the beginning chapters, the author tries to find meaning through many, many different things. But, at every turn, he declares that whatever it was… knowledge, riches… every earthly pursuit, he decided, was just “a chasing after the wind.” And we all know that we can never catch the wind.

But along the way over the twelve chapters, the author—the “teacher” as he refers to himself—begins to see that his true purpose cannot be found from things of earth, but rather true meaning is found only in relationship to God.

At the end of it all, the teacher reaches a conclusion: humanity is to revere God and follow his commandments.

And what are those commandments?

In the New Testament, Jesus is asked what the greatest commandment is. He replies with two quotes from the Law of Moses. Love the Lord your God with all your might—and love your neighbor. And who is your neighbor? Jesus taught by example of “the Good Samaritan” that your neighbor is all of the people around you in life.

Dad’s quiet, private faith fully represented this. What he embraced from the words of the teacher in Ecclesiastes had a deep and enduring impact on how he lived. Throughout all he did over the course of his life, there was a clear reverence to God and an obvious love of those around him.

Coming to the end of his life—even as his family stood at his bedside over those last days—this was evident in his words. Even as his own strength faded, foremost was his wish to know that everyone was okay, safe, and satisfied.

On June 10th, 2021, my father, William Albert Snodgrass passed on into eternity leaving behind 88 years of his life as an example of faith lived out each day, faith that was demonstrated through dedication to his family and commitment to the highest standards in all things.

June, 2021


Friday, May 07, 2021

Wrong At Least Once

People want to do what they want to do. If prevailing practices differ from what they want, they reject them. "The government is stupid! It doesn't know what it's talking about!"

This was the position many—who didn't want to wear masks—held throughout most of 2020 and parts of 2021 when masks were mandated by the government. Yet, as soon as the mandates were lifted, the exact same people refused to wear them, even in private places where they were still required. "I don't have to wear a mask! The government says so!"

Illustrated here is the practice many people employee to get their way. Whatever "evidence" aligns with their way of thinking is accepted. If it disagrees with their way of thinking, then the "evidence" is wrong. 

But… citing a source as wrong when it disagrees, then citing it as authoritative when it agrees… Nah!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Check Out The Other Corner

At times, we find ourselves trying to improve a… situation (job, business, relationship, etc.). Something we do seems like it could be better. 

Typically, we start looking around among the immediate circumstances to see how we can make the most of them; how we can get more out of what we have.

However, there is the chance that, in the immediate context of our… situation, we are already doing the most we can with what's present.

Sometimes, if we want things to be better, we need to branch out. We need to get out of the corner where we sit and find out what the other corners have to offer. A business might need to expand one product line or drop another. In a job, maybe it's time to brush off the resume and see if more rewarding possibilities exist in a different department. Or company.

Sometimes, in order to improve things, we need to look past the immediate and examine other possibilities. Maybe… just maybe, we need to play in a different sandbox!

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Actions Reveal Priorities

A guy spends six hours every Saturday morning working in his yard. And a half hour or more each workday when he gets home. What seems obvious?

His yard is a priority. Hopefully, it's also something he likes…

You can tell what is important to people in various ways. One is that how they spend their time. The things that are highest priorities will be done first. Lessor priorities next. Lowest priorities will come last, if they ever get done at all.

Given more than one option, the chosen actions reveal the priorities!

Friday, April 23, 2021

Silence Is Not Agreement

People sometimes say things with which nobody around them agrees. But, the silence of those hearing the remark fails to convey their beliefs.

Just because no one protests or complains does not mean they agree with you. 

People who disagree might just be keeping quiet because they think a reply is pointless. They think the speaker is, frankly, not worth the trouble to engage in discussion. They think the speaker is hard-headed. Stubborn. Closed-minded.

Silence is NOT a measure of agreement!

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Bill Snodgrass - Actions Are Loud - (Original, Official Music Video)

Anyone can say anything. They can claim anything to be anyway they wish to claim it to be.

But words, alone, are weak representations of what is really going on.

Actions speak louder than words. It's an old expression but it is true.

You can say you are fine. You can say your are okay. You care. You're ready. You're satisfied. And you might even want those things to be true.

But, your actions—including your mood—tell the real story.

Behaving in a caring, concerned way tells more than saying you're not interested. Being unkind and hurtful carries more weight than saying you care.

It's worth mentioning that sometimes, saying something is an action. Things like "I hate you" or "You're worthless" are acts as much as they are words. They are attacks. Assaults.

The actions will line up on the side of truth. If all the words say "blue" but all the actions say "red," then the truth is… "red."

Hear the words. But believe the actions.

Friday, March 19, 2021

It's Still Cheating!

It's still cheating… bear me out.

Two students waiting for the bus were talking. About their boyfriends.

One said something like, "Well, at least he isn't cheating. They are just facetiming and texting."

It was clear, though, that she was being left out of a lot of a significant part of his day, a part wherein he was having his emotional and social needs met by someone who wasn't his girlfriend. And that…

If the definition of "cheating" is to fulfill wants by means of a person outside of the relationship, then it's still cheating. It might not involve anything physical, but it is still cheating—at an emotional, psychological level.

True in dating and ESPECIALLY in marriage—when things are working as they should be—is the principle that the person with whom you have a relationship needs to be the person you go to have your psycho-social needs met. What does it mean the normal course of the relationship involves only those things outside the psychological—emotional-social domains? It means something is wrong!

If one member of the relationship turns outside of it to have his or her emotional needs meet… Who gets the call when the person is sad? Or angry? Or happy? Who is the first call? If one member of the relationship is looking outside the relationship to have psychological—emotional-social needs met, then the relationship is broken.

Now, there is a slight exception. If there is some context specific thing that is not shared by both members of the relationship, then, naturally, things related to that might be shared with someone outside the relationship. If one member of the relationship is into… origami, let's say… and the other is not, then it would be natural for there to be an origami buddy. BUT, if origami comprises the majority of the person's time and the origami buddy is there for it… Well… it's clear that something is still wrong!

Where does this leave us?

Back to "Well, at least he isn't cheating…"

Yes, he is!

When one member of a romantic relationship is looking beyond the relationship to have wants met, then it is cheating, even if they are only psychological, emotional, or social needs.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Life With A Joyful Approach

What is the joyful approach to life? It is being content in the knowledge that everything you did in a day was done in alignment with your mission, with your purpose—a purpose growing out of your deepest beliefs, out of your why behind all other whys.

Whereas happiness is a response to things that happen, to things outside you, peace and contentment comes from acknowledging that, on a given day, you did your best to live in accordance to your mission. Peace and contentment come from within.

And they don't rely on outcomes. Peace and contentment rely on intentions. Did you do things in alignment with what you believe you are supposed to be doing?

While we learn from the outcomes what to do better and what worked well, we don't depend on the outcomes for our joy. The outcomes inform what we might try to do next time. And, indeed, when things work out well, we feel happy.

But happy is not the goal.

The goal should be to live joyfully knowing that our actions, day in and day out, grew from our intentions to fulfill our life mission.

Given a meaningful why behind all other whys, we can develop a life mission that will guide our intentions in everything we do. Then, if at the end of the day, when we look back, we can be at peace and content knowing that our every intention was to fulfill that purpose.

Stop trying to be happy. Develop a joyful approach to life, and be at peace.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Me And My Mission — GAMER VERSION

In recent posts across social media, I've put forth the claim that trying to be happy is to chase a moving target; better to live contently in the assurance that each day has been spent pursuing your life purpose and mission. And further, I've claimed that your purpose and mission grow out of your why behind all other whys—your deepest beliefs as to the purpose and meaning of life.

Whereas I describe my own mission for life as creating the circumstances wherein people can become the best version of themselves, I was asked what this looks like for me in my daily life.

Naturally, I responded with an example from World of Warcraft, a video game.

There's this quest. Go to this place and kill a bunch of bad guys. I went there and started. I could take on one or two at a time easily, and was doing that. After I was about 1/3 done some stranger joined me. Together, we could take on six or seven at a time. 

Quickly after that, I finished. 

But… Just as I was about to turn and leave, the guy "pulled" another gang of six guys. I didn't know if he could handle them all alone, and it was clear that he expected me to stay. To help.

So, I did. I continued fighting until I could let him know I was done and moving on. He thanked me and we parted ways.


Perhaps. But it's an example. My putting in two or three minutes to help him didn't cost me anything but… two or three minutes. Had I ditched him… He could have "died" and that would have cost him some time and frustration.

Let your life mission percolate through ALL areas of your life, whatever it is. Live in ALL things so that at the end of the day you can say, "I did my best to be my best; to do what I am created to do."

Friday, February 19, 2021

The Why Behind All Other Whys, Part 2

So, what about that why behind all other whys? Where does that come from? If it is so important, it ought to be pretty readily understandable.

For many, many people, there would be some basic belief. The primal why, for many, would be how they understood their place in creation in relationship to the creator. So it is for me.

My personal life mission is this: create the circumstances wherein people can become the best versions of themselves. This comes from my why behind all other whys: It is the purpose of the created to show the love of the creator to all creation. My purpose for living grows directly out of my understanding of God and my relationship with God.

Frankly, while I suppose others have other sorts of sources for their why, I cannot think of any examples. But, I stand by the claim that every mission or purpose needs to grow out of some why behind all other whys.

If you are trying to live a content and joyful life, then the first step is to drill down through all the reasons you do things. If there is no single why behind all other whys, you probably will have a problem working out that joyful approach to living we've been talking about.

That's the starting point. What is at the core of why you do anything? If you don't know, then you need to find out.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

The Why Behind All Other Whys - Part 1

Why do you do what you do? Hopefully, it is because you have come to understand your purpose in life. Your personal life mission.

But, where did that come from?

Let's look at an example…

A young man at a gas station sees someone coming out the door he just opened to go in. He holds it open and waits.

Why? Because he believes it was a nice thing to do.

Why? Because he believes people are inherently valuable and worthy of respect.

Why? Because he believes…

We could keep drilling down, deeper and deeper. At some point, we would get to the why behind all other whys.

And sometimes, what we find is… pointless. If you go to work because the why is "whoever dies with the most toys wins" then you probably just need to stop and start over. If the who behind all other whys is vapid, you need a better why!

Hopefully, drilling down deep enough lands at something that has meaning. Hopefully, it results in finding something fundamental that has enduring value and worth.

Where would that put us?

That's the starting place. Understanding the why behind all other whys opens the door to having a unified, meaningful, and fulfilling purpose.

And knowing what that purpose is leads to the possibility of living by a joyful approach to life.

Friday, February 12, 2021

But The Cheese Was Missing

So, if the idea is to abide in contentment, what do you do when things happen that are… disappointing?

Recently, I went through the drive-thru of a fast-food restaurant. I ordered a cheeseburger. Leaving the window, purchase safely situated on the passenger seat, I negotiated my way through the snow and ice back into traffic.

At the first red light, I discovered… There was no cheese on my sandwich. A wave of disappointment flooded over me. My thoughts that there should be cheese that wasn't there left me feeling unhappy.

Yes. The events did not result in my being happy.


Of late, I have been discussing something I am calling a joyful approach to life. I have argued that, better than being happy is being at peace and having joy as a result of how what we do aligns with our purposes for life.

But, the cheese was missing! I wanted that cheese, and it wasn't there! I was unhappy.

However, that did NOT take away what peace I had; peace that resulted from my thinking I had, throughout the day, acted in ways that aligned with what I understand to be my life purpose.

A single… shall we say it was a sad moment? One incident in a day. Or ten. Or a whole avalanche of incidents that leave us disappointed should not take away from that peace. Our contentment should come, not in what happens to us, but rather in what happens by us, in knowing that we lived in accordance to our calling.

Stop for a minute and think about it. Is one or even two missing slices of cheese that important? If so, then, perhaps it is time to evaluate what you are living for.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Content In The Intent

A joyful approach to life means knowing who you are and what you are trying to do. It relies on understanding your purpose… on having come to understand your life mission.

Guided by your purpose, the joyful approach means to check everything you do against what you ought to be doing… not ought to in light of other people's expectations, but in view of your own purpose. Coming to have that purpose is not simple, and will be addressed later.

When, at the end of each day, you check all you did against that purpose, you can be content if you can say you let your purpose guide you. 

Was everything you did intended to advance your mission? If so, you can rest peacefully being content that you lived according to your calling.

But, intentions are not enough. What about outcomes? Did anything actually work out as designed?

Where you can say yes… Well, there's a nice, little happy spot! Yeah, I said happy.

Where the outcomes came up wanting… You can still be content and at peace that you followed your purpose. But… You can think about what you did and try to find changes that will make the outcomes better. And "better" means more aligned with whatever your purpose is.

But remember, the point is being content in the approach; not trying to find happiness in the outcomes.

Peace and contentment come when your reflections on what you did confirm that you lived according to your purpose.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Joyful Approach

Happiness is an emotional response. It is a pleasurable reaction when things meet or exceed our expectations. But… so often, we have no control over the external events to which we are reacting.

Reacting. Happiness is a reaction to…

If we are always chasing happiness, we are often chasing things we are powerless to control.

There is a better way.

Instead of basing how you feel on outcomes, base how you feel on intentions. Adopt a joyful approach to each and every day.

What does that mean?

Starting with who you are and what you believe, at some point you identify your purpose. Your calling. Your life mission.

A joyful approach is to set out each day with that in mind. What are you trying to do? Align all your actions to do that.

Then, at the end of the day, compare what you did with what you set out to do. And, yes! Outcomes of your efforts factor in, but more on that later.

If what you did aligns with what you intended… If… If so, therein is reason for real joy. When your day is guided by your intentions, then you can rest in contentment that you were on the path. You followed the course.

The joyful approach to life does not rely on what you cannot control; Peace… contentment comes from knowing you did everything in alignment with who you are and what you are trying to accomplish.

Tuesday, February 09, 2021

If Not Happiness, Then What?

Earlier, I made a claim that happiness is not the goal. That we should stop trying to be happy.

So, if not happiness, then what?

What  you strive for needs to be something from within you. Something that drives you forward rather than something that is a reaction to things around you.

Happiness is an emotion that results from the thoughts you have about things that happen. It results from events turning out in a way that exceeds our expectations. But often, when that happens, our expectations shift. The next time, our happiness depends on something surpassing the previous experience.

Thus, happiness is a shifting, fleeting feeling that comes from things outside us.

The better circumstances is, rather than waiting for things to happen, to orient ourselves to something else. Instead of waiting to react to things with happy feelings, develop an approach to living that yields peace and contentment. 

Develop a joyful approach to life.

Much more on that coming soon!

Monday, February 08, 2021

Stop Trying To Be Happy

Stop trying to be happy. Happiness is not the goal.

Happiness is an emotional response to how you think about things that happen outside you. Happiness is a reaction to external events.

When what happens exceeds your expectations, then you feel happy. For a moment. Then, you look at all that could be improved and move the bar of your expectations. Happiness is fleeting and shifting.

Furthermore, in many, if not most, cases, you have very little control of the external events you are watching, hoping they will exceed your expectations. If traffic is backed up, you are unhappy. If it is flowing smoothly, you are happy. But you are reacting to something you can't control—based on your thoughts and beliefs about that thing.

Happiness, then, should NOT be the goal. Something else should. Something that comes out of your purpose, your why-behind-the-why, the source from which you draw your life mission.

The goal should be an abiding, satisfying approach, not a pleasant reaction. The goal should be to develop something internal, not external. Not happiness.

Peace. Contentment. Joy.

They come from within you, and guide your actions. They drive you toward things; they are not a reaction coming from them.

I want to propose something I'm going to call a joyful approach. Stick around… There's a lot to say!

Friday, February 05, 2021

I Can't Change You

I wish I could think of a way to make people change into what they wanted to be. 

I can't.

I can't change people. No one can change someone else.

The best I can do is point people toward a system or a process… toward tips and techniques that are proven to be useful in helping people reach their goals.

But, it is up to others… up to you to make the change. No one can decide (in a way that actually leads to a satisfactory outcome) for someone else what the change should be. 

You need to decide what you want, then come up with a plan (with help from others), then execute that plan so that you can move from where you are to where you want to be.

Others can't change you. They can help you, but meaningful change is something you have to want and create.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Your Vote Is Your Instrument For Change!

The Declaration of Independence was signed August 2, 1776. But THAT was only the beginning of the revolution which has gone on for over two centuries. 

The founders of the United States built into the election system the means for a perpetual refreshing of government. Voters can unite to remove unwanted leaders from office. Voters can unite to place whomever they wish in the seats of government.

Every leader is bound by the constitutions, bylaws, and articles of government that grants them the very right to serve. Every voter is empowered by the same.

The American Revolution is an on-going process. Battles are won in the voting booths and on the ballets. Bombs and bullets are not needed; only resolute people willing to voice their ideas and offer their support to candidates who share their views.

When a majority of voters agree, then their will is done. The elected officials are, by design, there to see that their views are represented.

Revolution in the U.S. is built into the election system. Each election is the opportunity to affirm or disavow the work of the elected. Each election offers the chance to make changes.

Your VOTE is your instrument of governmental change.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

What About The Tank Commander?

On June 5, 1989, a student protestor stood, shopping bags in hand, in front of a column of army tanks, blocking their path. He became an icon for his cause and is known by some as Tank Man

But, what About The Tank Commander? 

Since he was moving his tank, leading the others in his group, he no doubt had orders of some kind to do that. Tank Man was barring him from his orders. Without knowing what actually took place inside the tank, what commands were radioed in to him, it is safe to assume there was some point in time where his carrying out his orders was hindered by Tank Man. It is safe to assume that, at some point, he decided to go against orders and stop the tank.

Perhaps he thought a delay of a few seconds to radio his commander would not be frowned upon. 

But, he could not have known. He might have had a good guess that it would be okay, but he had to, at some point say to himself, "I'm going to ignore what I've been told to do (at least for a few seconds) and not run Tank Man over."

The tank commander realized what was right. And he did it, despite whatever potential negative consequences might have come from it.

Whereas Tank Man became an icon for his cause, the tank commander is largely overlooked. Yet, he could have as easily been raised up as an icon of how to behave when the normal course of action does not fit the situation at hand. 

He did the right thing in the moment. He lived out an example from which many can learn.

Sometimes, you have to do the right thing regardless of the potential negative consequences.