The Mindset Mentor shares some great nuggets in this 16 minute podcast. He speaks to the secret wisdom each of us have. I encourage you to take the time to read this and be inspired by his words.
Secret or not, I’m a closet musical lover. The first musical I saw? Les Miserables – two times in New York City, on Broadway, in 1995. Just a few months before I got married. I figured I should visit Time Square and see a show on Broadway. It was blown away by the characters, the broken Fantine, the abandoned and enslaved Cosette, the misunderstood but honourable 24601 – oops, I mean Jean Valjean.
A few years ago The Greatest Showman was released. My kids talked about it for months. My daughter and her girlfriends would be with us in the car, and soon enough they’d be belting the songs one after another. They’d been so impacted by the musical, and all I’d ever heard was the music. And I was so moved by the songs – the power and the passion.
Finally I got a chance to watch it with the family. The power and passion found meaning within the storyline. The voices of PT and Charity Barnum, Lettie Lutz and Jenny Lind appeared before my eyes. The songs that I’d heard so many times found their context. The aspirations, the dreams, the injustice, the discrimination, the heartbreak – all of them poured over us as we watched the musical. My kids felt vindicated with my pleasure. “See, dad, we knew you’d like it.”
I did – I love shows that impact me – that move my emotions. That’s where Ali and I differ. She hates movies that could cause her to mourn, or be sad. Her motto – “I don’t care if people are going to die, I just don’t want to cry about it.” Give her a solid action-adventure or espionage movie and she’s good. She’d choose that 10/10 times, hands down. She said it’s because she experiences enough emotions each day in her life, she doesn’t need to be provoked. Me – I rarely cry, I rarely emote when life might expect me to. I push through, set the course to walk through my emotions and, I guess, stuff them.
But movies are a place for me to process all of those pent up emotions. I let the loss, the ecstasy, the pain, the separation to wash over me. That’s basically the only place I actually cry – in a movie. Nowhere else. I cry the most at the plots surrounding broken relationships being restored. Father/son, brothers, spouses…you name it. I am just a mess watching people who lived in misunderstanding find each other again.
God made us, He chose to populate the universe with his children on planet Earth. He desired to be in relationship – He longed to walk with us in life. And yet we stepped away and chose our own path. He knew that was going to happen even as he formed us from the dust. He knew we’d turn away. And yet he did it anyway. It’s because he had a better plan. Jesus, before the world was formed, made the decision when God said he wanted a family that he’d make the way of reconciliations when we decided to turn away. He saw the Father and His children separated and he knew he could be the reconciling factor.
When I learned about God, and His profound unconditional love for me and my separation from Him because of my sin, I wept for what Jesus did for me. I wept. I cried out – I accept your sacrifice of love for me so I can know my heavenly Father. This, friends, was the greatest reconciliation I could have ever known.
Maybe that’s why I love these stories of reconciliation that catch me in my throat – I remember the sacrifice Jesus made to reconcile and I just want these fictional characters to know that same reconciliation between them. Ali has said she’s caught me praying during movies in our early years of marriage. It’s true. But it’s in those moments I’m even more aware of how beautiful my reconciliation with God was, and I think I love Jesus just a little bit more in that moment.
Now, you’ll have to forgive me, my favourite song from The Greatest Showman is just starting:
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are
But I won’t let them break me down to dust
I know that there’s a place for us
For we are glorious.
Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun (we are warriors)
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become (yeah, that’s what we’ve become)
And I know that I deserve your love
(Oh-oh-oh-oh) There’s nothing I’m not worthy of
(Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, oh, oh)
When the sharpest words wanna cut me down
I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown ’em out
This is brave, this is bruised
This is who I’m meant to be, this is me”
How to take down the giants in life is not common sense. It really isn’t. If it were, we would all be living our best life. There would be noNo condemnation there – just a fact.
Most days I give up before I start. I have already told myself that today is not the day. Tackle that mountain? Nope, not today.
How many of us have that as our attitude towards the goals we set in life? In his interview with Hailie Deegan, Jeff Haden talks about this very issue.
one of the most common reasons people give up on their goals is the distance between here, where they are today, and there, where they someday hope to be…That’s why so many people give up on huge goals: They don’t feel they can bridge the gap between here and there.
It can’t be the here and there that stops people. It’s the fear that is attached to getting there when all they can see is the here. The layers of the fear. The fear of making a mistake. The fear of looking foolish. The fear of not being able to do it. The fear of others’ opinion.
Which is why so many people fail because they allow the fear to overcome them before they even start.
How can we overcome this fear? Here are seven tips I have learned in this past year:
- Take captive every thought. When fear or doubt about the here and there creeps in, as it will do every day (sometimes many times a day), don’t entertain it. As one friend says “Don’t let it land.” Every person who has found success in the big and the small has had to stop the barrage of negative thoughts ready to take them out.
- Acknowledge that you are not the only one who struggles with this tendency. That can be a powerful tool if we see that if others go through it and overcome, then I can too.
- Find your tribe. Find those people in your life that naturally elevate your thinking. Whether they cause you to think big, live big, reach far or keep your head above the weeds, find your tribe. Their influence in your life can be stronger than any negative thought that tries to land. They will be there to check in periodically, encourage you, ask you great questions, and speak to the giants in your life.
- Read, research, surround yourself in the thought culture that aligns with your goals. If you want to become an excellent cook, you have to follow the learnings of those who went before you. I’d suggest you follow people on various stages of the journey. Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube can all be helpful in research and spectrum thinking. Following beginners, intermediates and SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), can help you with keys to success along your journey. The beginners are particularly helpful because they are your comrades, your brothers-in-arms, as you step out. Buy books, watch Ted talks – anything that helps you align your thinking.
- Meditate, pray, journal. Have you ever found yourself feeling overwhelmed in the middle of the night or having a mini-panic attack during the day where you have made a mountain out of a molehill? It’s when you rehearse again and again all that needs to be accomplished, all the reasons why you can’t or won’t be able to reach your goal. In those times, worry has become the meditation of your heart. To journal, pray or intentionally settling your thoughts can have a profound quieting effect on those mountains. By naming the mountain, naming the panic, we can minimize its power, and it shrinks back to being a molehill. That’s why some experts recommend you keep a notepad on your side table at night, so you can write down those “to dos” or things your prone to struggle with. They say that by writing them down, you effectively lay them to rest, so you can rest your mind.
- Simplify your life to make room for the things you want. A friend of mine once used the analogy of Lego blocks when discussing relationship. If you picture your available time as those raised circles on a Lego piece, you only have a finite number of connections you can make to those in your life. This can be said too of your time to complete tasks. If you are spending most of your time on tasks that detract from your goals, then simplify your tasks. For some, it might be reducing your meetings out, or reducing your activities (or your children’s activities). For others, it might be reducing your possessions (less possessions have been proven to increase free time and creativity). Whatever it is, evaluate your life and begin to simplify. Learn to say no to the things that keep you from saying yes to the things you want to accomplish. It will be hard at first – deconditioning is reprogramming your mind – but with regular baby steps of simplifying, the tide will turn.
- Similar to finding your tribe, find a select few who you invite into your accountability. They will be more closely aligned to you than your tribe. They will have access to you, and will likely have strengths that you don’t have. I would recommend you read Who’s in Your Personal Boardroom by King and Scott. A very helpful resource, challenging us to be intentional with our relationships.
This is not an exhaustive list of tips. There are so many articles that speak of productivity and goal setting. This will probably not be my last article about it either.
What tips do you have for me?
It is not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.
“Ears to hear and eyes to see – both are gifts from the Lord”
Whenever we ask our kids about circumstances and situations that we know they are wrestling with, we’ve found the most effective way to deal with it is through the eyes and ears of the Spirit. What’s the backstory? What’s their body language displaying that we need to observe? What they aren’t saying is often just as important as what they are saying.
The Holy Spirit prays through us in the Spirit because we often get in the way with our words. They are often inadequate or only tell part of the story. So, the same is true when we listen to our kids. Sometimes their words get in the way, wittingly or unwittingly. It’s our job to let their guarded speech to run its course – that’s when the words that really carry meaning follow.
When we do this, through open ended questions, allowing for uncomfortable pauses and silences, we get to the heart of the matter much faster.
Perhaps your child has a real desire to please you; the last thing they will want to admit to something they think will displease you. For example, my daughter might say “I got my test back – a bunch of people failed.” I know she didn’t do well and she’s attempting to cough it with a “it could have been worse.” The test mark isn’t what’s important here – it’s her self-worth and how I want to value her willingness to tell me anything, no matter how she thinks I will feel. Because in 10 years, it won’t be a poor test mark she might be coming to me with. It might be something much more important. So, I’m setting the ground rules now.
allowing for uncomfortable pauses and silences, we get to the heart of the matter much faster.
My response is not one of anger. I may be disappointed and may even tell her so, but I need to take her to a place where she has hope and expectation that next time will be better. Here I would share an experience in my own childhood when I knew I had failed or done poorly, and how disappointed I was in myself. How I knew I could have done better and how I was afraid to let my parents down. I’d speak of learning to be honest. Taking the consequences are second to knowing the better way, the love of my parents that will help me move on.
As I share my experiences and my own feelings, I’m teaching my daughter how to evaluate the circumstance herself – recognize triggers and disappointments. I share experiences with her that her dad – her hero still – survived bad tests, and remind her that parents are people who understand.
That means when she goes through her first break up or her first tough problem, she’ll be more likely to tell me, evaluate it herself in a mature fashion, and get through it that much faster.
There’s always a backstory – our children’s and ours – that the Holy Spirit will lead us to as we open our eyes and ears.
Father, teach me by your Spirit to have ears to hear and eyes to see – help me to embrace those gifts as a parent and allow my children to learn from my example.
Plans succeed through good counsel; don’t go to war without the advice of others.
Why reinvent the wheel? Every time Ali and I encounter a new phase of life – marriage, first car, first home, first child, debt, toddlers, school and teachers, teens, the first one leaves home, we would inevitably look to those who’ve gone before us and ask them what they did. We listen, we talk, we ask questions, and then…
…we synthesized. We listened to each other – what had we taken from all the counsel, what does the Bible say, what do our leaders recommend, and then we act.
It saved us from a lot of unnecessary battles and failures. Sure, we still made mistakes – loads of them – but I can only imagine how many more we would have made if we hadn’t taken counsel.
Counsel doesn’t mean just in times of difficulty. We constantly amass good strategies for tackling life in our home. At one point I thought we’d eventually have our lives running on all cylinders, but each season seems to upset some aspect of our groove. There’s always need for adjusting, and realigning, so good counsel never goes out of style.
There’s an old adage that says “It takes a village to raise a child.” I think we have lost some of this over the decades with the prominence of individualism, political correctness and pluralism. We are largely for “what is good for me” marriages and families. As a result, we’ve seen people foray into ubiquitous partner swapping and infidelity. We’ve seen the rise of the child as the centre of the family – where the child’s needs and wants outweigh what’s best for the family. Heaven forbid if social standards for manners and socially acceptable boundaries are thrown aside – tried and true standard of respect and honour are abandoned. This leads to unbridled and undisciplined children who are free to speak unruly to their parents and other adults, have temper tantrums that are left unchecked, because we as parents have encouraged our children to think we’re equals and they are not in need of discipline.
We have such a wealth of knowledge in those whom have gone before us. People who have walked the walk and learned which way to go and which way to avoid.
As a result, Ali and I – since our children were babies – have fostered extensive interaction between our children and those in our church. We are grateful for the families who said they wanted to take our children for an evening or afternoon, or even overnight. We knew that our children were being parented by other adults we trusted and we knew that they would grow with a healthy respect and honour of those in our community. And, they would recognize their part of a bigger community than our nuclear family. It has helped shape them to be very comfortable seeking counsel from many advisors now. They reach out to people in their 20s to 80s for insight, advice and to listen to their stories. But that would not have happened, I don’t believe, if we hadn’t started with them when they were young, exposing them to our wider community and trusting those individuals with our most precious possession – our children’s well-being.
It is true that it takes a village to raise a child. And I, for one, am grateful.