This morning I’m a couple of miles from home, and the clouds in the sky look like the bottom is about to drop out.
Which is kind of exciting.
See, I went on a morning walk today to clear my head and take care of my body. And I know that the rain is about to come, and I’m OK with that. Actually, I hope it rains on me the whole way back.
Self praise stinks. So please don’t take this as “ look how awesome I am..” Because… I’m not that awesome. I’m just me. But I’ve made a couple of decisions.
One of those is a conscious decision to do those silly-but-hard things that others won’t do. The idea is that by doing those things, it will train me to do the important-but-hard things that a lot of people don’t do, so I can have the kind of life that a lot of people don’t have.
Again, this isn’t about self praise.
The reason I’m sharing this is to remind myself and anyone else being attention that all progress, all momentum, all impact begins with baby steps. Those small changes that are common sense but not common practice. If you can do hard things that don’t really matter… You can accomplish hard things that do DO matter.
It’s like compounding interest. All those small changes build on top of each other. Before you know it, you’re sitting on a pile of something you never thought you would have.So do something hard today. Even if it is as small as drinking one extra glass of water. Walking one time around the block. Sending one encouraging voice message or text. Saying “I’m sorry “to that person that you still have a grudge against.
It’s not about self praise. It’s about experiencing your one and only life to the fullest.
This week I heard a woman say, “A sparrow wouldn’t trade anything for the way it feels to fly.”
And it rang true to me.
Progress, no matter how small, can feel a little like flying. The thrill of your feet leaving the ground, knowing that when you touch down you’ll do so as a different person. You’ll have learned something. Experienced something. You’ll know something others don’t unless they take the leap for themselves.
The key for me has been to keep leaping. Keep trying. Keep flying. No matter how short-lived or insignificant it may seem from the outside. Trying to become a better version of who God made me to be is a better use of my one-and-only life than trying to be better than someone I see on Instagram.
Talking with a friend early this morning, I was reminded how hard it can be to leave behind someone who’s not excited about your growth. When you’re learning to fly, people who are only interested in walking won’t understand you. They’ll misunderstand you. They may be jealous or angry or confused.
What are you doing?!?!? You’re changing. Is walking not good enough for you anymore? Who do you think you are?!?
It’s fine. Go ahead and fly. When you get there, reach back. Maybe you can show them how to learn for themselves.
Today is a new day. A fresh start. Last week (or last month) wasn’t the end. If you’re reading this, your story is still being written. Which is just ONE reason I love our Impactivist group on Facebook… we remind each other of this very thing.
Today is about PROGRESS not perfection. After a few weeks of ‘calendar overwhelm’, last week I got back on track with sending 3 voice messages to people every day (just a little thing I do to stay connected with people during this crazy season of our history)… which launched some really great conversations about life and friendship.
If you’re not already doing so, I’d encourage you to give it a shot today. Send 3 people VOICE messages (not texts) with no strings attached.
‘Hey, just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you. I saw ______ today and it made me think of you. Thanks for your friendship.’
‘Dude. I just passed that coffee shop where we met up last year. That was a good day. Just wanted you to know I love you, man. Let’s do it again soon.’
‘Hey, girl. Thinking about your mom today… she sure did love you. I know she’s proud of who you are. Just wanted you to know.’
Yeah. It may feel awkward at first. Especially if you’re a dude. But do it anyway. Vulnerability is strength. And the gratitude and connection you’ll create far outweighs what other people may think.
This pandemic may have changed us in some ways. But more than that, I think it exposed us.
See, we were covering up the things that weren’t working. We’d become masters of misdirection in such a way that no one could see the toxic and broken things in our lives. When relationships and habits can be covered up with busyness, nothing gets fixed. The roots only continue to grow deeper.
But when the busyness is stripped away and forced isolation becomes our routine, well… the things that are hiding in the dark begin to creep into the light (kind of like those super creepy zombies in Will Smith’s film, I Am Legend).
And in the last year I’ve had countless conversations with friends whose struggles and anxieties have floated to the top of their world an can no longer be ignored.
Wherever you are today, I hope you remember that your mess doesn’t invalidate you.
This isn’t the end of the story… it’s only the middle. And you’re not alone. Your gifts, your strengths, your insights, your passions, your creativity… everything you’ve been given is still valid. Your struggle is only one facet of who you are.
Like a diamond that has many, many sides, some may be perfect while others may be scratched and chipped. But when you’re standing in the Light, you’re beautiful.
Including the mess.
Everyone likes to hate on haters….
But maybe having haters means you’re on the right track. Maybe just thank them for their gift of attention and critique. If they’re right, you’ve learned something valuable.
Either way, just say thank you and keep building your life.
NINE years ago someone told me ‘just trust your gift’.
It took me a long time to figure out what that really meant… and how to actually do that. But he was right. And after taking lots and lots and LOTS of baby steps, facing fear in small ways, and learning to listen to the right voices… it turns out he was right.
Remember this: People aroundyou need what is inside you.
Read that again.
You’ve been given a gift. A talent. A perspective. A skill. An insight. A way of doing things that has been put into you by the Creator to do something no one else can do like you can do. It’s been put there in this time– not in the past, not in the future– but in the now. Why? Because we need it now.
That’s how this works. It’s there for such a time as this.
I’d just wrapped up the first in a string of back-to-back meetings when I realized all my coolant was sitting in a puddle in the parking lot. Grrrrr. Full transparency: I hate car trouble.
But rather than being angry and frustrated, I made two calls: one to my mechanic and one to a business friend. We shuffled some things around and made the rest of the day work beautifully. We moved my next meeting to a coffee shop where I was stranded and continued the next meeting at another local place on the same block while I waited for my mechanic.
Why is this important?
Because it was in the white space of waiting on my mechanic that helped me figure out some next steps for our business. In the random moment of having to slow down and wait, I had the opportunity to listen to my gut and spirit. I had the opportunity to think more clearly and define some of my vision a little better. And rather than spending the afternoon frustrated and feeling behind, I’ve gained a renewed sense of purpose.
Of clarity. Of vision.
It wasn’t the space I wanted, but it was the space I needed.
The more I talk with people, the more I realize how similar we are with each other. A lot of us merely accept the hand we’re dealt in life and spend our days trying to navigate what we’ve been given. But a few of us actively and intentionally keep pushing towards specific finish lines.
The past few times I’ve spoken to groups of business owners, I’ve shared my Not To Do list.
A To-Do list is a dangerous thing. If you’re not careful, it can become an out-of-control, never-ending, junk drawer monster that can overwhelm and paralyze you. Every time a boss or supervisor says, ‘put this on your to-do list’, things not only grow, but priorities become watered down and less powerful.
So, at the top of my To Do list, I’ve created a Not To Do list.
I don’t just want to do things right. I want to do the right things. I want to spend my energy and time doing what matters.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m sure it will continue to evolve this year…
Knowing where you want to go is easy. The hard part is knowing what to leave behind. Your NOT TO DO list might be more important than your resolutions and to-do lists.
Do you have a clear list of things to stop doing this year?