Projects, Motivation Monday

I always get the most done when I have the most to do

I have a crazy busy week coming up.

My husband is going out of town to do some professional training and compete for World Champion at the ATA World Expo in Little Rock, Arkansas. If you’re not a fan of Martial Arts, and specifically my style of Martial Arts, it probably totally meaningless to you, but it’s a big deal for him and for us.

Because of the timing of this year’s event, I’m staying home to run our business and take care of our two little girls.

On the one hand, I’m completely overwhelmed by the prospect of this week (in fact, I have delayed doing some important preparation because I just didn’t want to think about it), but on the other hand, I know from experience, that I will probably get it all done. Our classes will happen, our family will be fed, my husband will get where he needs to go, and I’ll probably manage to keep our house in an above average state of order.

Why?

Because I have to.

And if there’s something that I’m not able to do, finish or accomplish…I’ll still have to figure something out.

I think this is crazy, but it’s true. The more I have to do, the more I get done. There have been times in my life where I had no commitments or obligations, and I got nothing done. I could have done literally anything – meditated on the beach, re-read all seven Harry Potter books, written The Great American Novel, learned to knit, crusaded for World Peace – yet I filled that time with nothing of lasting consequence.

I’ll be honest, this week, I’m sure I’ll wish I had a little bit of that down time in a bottle for a quick recharge, and I know that I couldn’t be productive like this for an extended period of time. Part of what makes a sprint like this possible is knowing exactly where the finish line is and being able to see it for the whole race. But I still find it motivating because it’s an opportunity to stretch myself and prove to myself that I have energy, time and resources on a regular basis that I’m not tapping into.

What do you think?

Do you get more done when you have more to do? Or do you prefer a more even pace to work?

I hope you have a great week!

Motivation Monday, Projects

Sometimes the best thing to do is nothing

Fun Fact: When you get to Florida, about halfway down the peninsula, you move from the temperate climate with the four seasons “spring, summer, fall and winter” and instead have a more tropical climate that follows the “wet season, rainy season” pattern. I live right at the edge between the tropical and temperate zones, so we have “seasons” but it’s mostly a wet and dry season.

That’s all to say, we’ve officially entered the wet season, and it has been wet for the last two weeks.

This is a blessing for thirsty yards and has slowed the spread of wildfires we’ve been experiencing frequently this Spring. But, it also means that the air is full of allergens and we’ve experienced a huge increase in our local mosquito population.

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Mercifully, the Zika fear has largely passed, and we in Florida don’t usually have to worry about mosquitoes passing along diseases, but the bites are nevertheless unpleasant, and the urge to scratch a bite is almost impossible to resist. But…the fastest way for a mosquito bite to heal is to leave it alone. This is difficult to explain to my four-year-old, and we have an on-hand supply of benedryl cream, children’s benedryl, witch hazel, and other home remedies to ease the discomfort of the mosquito bite.

I was thinking about that today because I think there are many mosquito bites in our life; annoyances that are tempting to scratch, but the more we scratch, the worse it gets. In fact, the relatively harmless bite can become infected and dangerous is you scratch it too much.

In these situations, the best thing we can do is leave it alone. Many situations will resolve themselves without our action and the more we do to “help” the longer we make it last.

I hope this is a helpful tip for you! Let me know if it works for you and how you decide if something is a “mosquito bite” or not.

Motivation Monday

Take Chances, Make Mistakes, Get Messy!

Lately, we’ve started a tradition in my house of watching the 90s PBS Hit, The Magic School Bus with my daughters while we eat lunch.

It is a compromise. I don’t like letting my daughters watch a lot of television, but if I say, “No you can’t watch television ever.” The older one asks to watch tv ALL the time. So, we schedule it. At lunch time, 2 episodes.

Also, I love The Magic School Bus. In every episode, you know it’s time for a field trip when Ms. Frizzle (voiced by the amazing Lily Tomlin), says, “I think it’s time to take chances, make mistakes, and GET MESSY!”

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Isn’t that a great mantra?

How often do we avoid doing something because we’re afraid of taking chances…because it might not turn out well. How often do we stick to what’s safe because we’re afraid to make mistakes. And how often do you avoid getting messy?

One of the things I love about the show is that the kids in Ms. Frizzle’s class do make mistakes, they make bad assumptions, they get messy. But, they always figure it out and learn a valuable lesson along the way.

So often we give other people permission to take chances, make mistakes and get messy – but we don’t give it to ourselves (I know I don’t!). So…even if it’s just a little step…I hope you look for opportunities to follow Ms. Frizzle’s advice this week and step outside your comfort zone to see what happens!

Have a great week!

Motivation Monday, Projects

You shouldn’t always do the opposite of a bad thing

There are some people in my life, and I’m sure you have them too, that I refer to as “reverse barometers.” These are people – whether it’s a manager at work, government official, distant relative, etc. – with whom you want to share nothing in common.

It’s tempting to think to yourself, “if so-and-so does this, then the best course of action is to do the exact opposite.”

Unfortunately, that is usually not the case.

What I have found over and over again is that the “reverse barometers” in my life are not doing everything wrong. Sometimes they have a tone, an attitude, an approach that is ineffective, but doing the opposite does not guarantee a good result.

I took a driving class once, and we had the opportunity to practice driving on a course that simulated hydroplaning, obstacles on the road, and other dangers you might see on the road. And one of the big things I took away from that class was that you shouldn’t overcorrect in your car. It’s dangerous and jarring.

In your life and leadership style – whether you’re a parent, a friend, a manager, or some other sort of leader – I believe that you’ll find that gentle course corrections are smoother, easier to maintain and more effective. This can be hard to do because we often have strong feelings about the “reverse barometers” in our life. But, I think it’s helpful – for our souls and for our actions – to give them a little grace, and not assume that EVERYTHING they do is wrong.

So, this week, I invite you to look at a frustrating leader in your life or experience, and see if you can decide what about their approach you think you could tweak or modify to make it more effective. A small tweak can lead to a big change!

Have a great week!

Motivation Monday, Projects

Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness

In my Martial Arts academy, we teach sparring. It’s usually considered an advantage in our style to be tall – taller people have long legs, so they have more reach and can often kick their opponent before their opponent reaches them. But, if you can get around their legs, their height becomes a weakness. Taller people tend to be easy to get off balance and if you get “inside” you can hit them with a punch or hand technique, and their legs are too long to kick you away.

In business, large companies have a lot of power – they have large advertising budgets, nationwide distribution networks, bargaining power, research teams and analysts at their disposal. But their strength is also their weakness. By necessity they have bureaucracies to manage day-to-day operations. If they want to make a change, they have to spend a lot of time and money re-training everyone in the company. They can get rooted in an “old” way of doing things and be blindsided by changes in culture or technology. And in the age of cell phone video, as United Airlines has recently experienced, if you have one series of unfortunate PR events, the whole company is damaged.

I think it’s helpful to remember this because it’s useful to consider the downsides of your strengths, not so you go through life second guessing yourself, but so you can avoid being your own worst enemy. Maybe you’re someone who is energized by new projects or ideas, but you have a hard time following through to the end. You can acknowledge and address this potential liability by teaming up with people who will help you follow through, or you can structure your career or activities to be focused on starting new things. Maybe you’re someone who’s really good at seeing the potential risks of a new venture, but you tend to get analysis paralysis and delay taking actions. Your strength can hold you back if you don’t recognize it and find a way to move forward.

I hope this idea helps you think about your strengths and not be held back by the weaknesses that accompany them!

Also – I feel like it wouldn’t count as a Motivation Monday without a clip from an animated movie, so here’s a fun illustration of this idea from Kung Fu Panda

Motivation Monday, Projects

Motivation Monday

SALVADORAN ARCHBISHOP OSCAR ROMERO

This week, I ran across this quote from in Common Prayer, a liturgy for ordinary radicals.

Oscar Romero wrote,

“It helps, now and then, to step back and take the long view. The Kingdom is not only beyond our efforts: it is beyond our vision. We accomplish in our lifetime only a tiny fraction of the magnificent enterprise that is the Lord’s work. Nothing we do is complete, which is another way of saying that the Kingdom always lies beyond us. No sermon says all that should be said. No prayer fully expresses our faith. No confession brings perfection. No pastoral visit brings wholeness. No program accomplishes the Church’s mission. No set of goals and objectives includes everything. That is what we are about. We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted knowing they hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that affects far beyond our capabilities. We cannot do everything and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us to do something, and to do it very, very well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for the Lord’s grace to enter and do the rest. We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the Master Builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future that is not our own.”

 

Whether you share his faith or not, I find it comforting and motivating to keep in mind that we cannot do everything ourselves. Our lives are connected to the larger whole of humanity and creation, we have a role to play and hopefully we will play it very well. But, our lives are ultimately going to be incomplete. There will always be more we wish we could have done, but that should not prevent us from doing all that we can.

Have a great week!

 

Motivation Monday, Projects

Being where you are

This week, I’ve felt a little discouraged because I haven’t made more progress on my goals: I’m not caught up on everything I need to be caught up on; I’m not managing my time as well as I’d like; I have a mountain of work that I want to do that I’m not doing up to my standard.

When I look around, I see people who are doing the kinds of things I want to be doing. And from my perspective, they are doing them way better than I will ever be able to do them, and I just feel like giving up.

Why bother trying to write a Motivation Monday blog when there are 10,000,000 other resources that are way more motivating than anything I can offer? Why bother trying to put your voice out there when other voices are more eloquent and articulate than anything I can write? Why bother trying to run a business when 90% of small businesses fail anyway?

So, today, I’m going to try to remember that these people I look up to didn’t start out as the eloquent, together, polished, inspiring people I see today. They started wherever they were with whatever resources they had.

“Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow.”
― Mary Anne Radmacher

My resolution for the new year was to be and do a little better. I know the only way to reach a destination, whether it’s a physical destination, an accomplishment, or a mental state is to take one step in the right direction and adjust as you go.

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So, wherever you’re going. I hope you take a moment today to give yourself credit for all the distance you’ve already covered and have the courage to try again today and tomorrow to take one more step.

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday

A couple of years ago, I was in a Martial Arts training seminar, and the instructor said something to me that has stuck with me ever since:

“What makes you comfortable today
will make you uncomfortable tomorrow,
BUT what makes you uncomfortable today
will make you very comfortable tomorrow.”

this_dog_is_22comfy22-_2013-12-27_10-51By that he meant, today it might feel good to watch tv instead of going to the gym, but over time, you will gain weight and eventually have health problems resulting from a sedentary lifestyle.

Today, it might be uncomfortable to put a little money into a retirement or savings account, but in the future, you’ll be grateful that you did it.

Today, it might make you uncomfortable to say “no” to an extra job or project at work, but later when you have more time and a better work life balance, you’ll be glad you did it.

I think that each of us has our own behaviors or habits that make us too comfortable or a little uncomfortable today. But I think it’s useful to imagine how taking actions now that shake up our habits or comfort level, may ultimately bring us closer to the things we want in our life. I know for me, I tend to avoid making myself or anyone uncomfortable whenever I can, but it can be useful to push yourself out of your comfort zone – your future self will thank you for it!

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday

There’s a Chinese proverb that says:

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.

The second best time is now.

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I often beat myself up for things I meant to do, want to do, forgot to do, etc., and I’m usually right: It would have been easier if I had done something differently in the past. But the fact is, I can’t change what happened then, but I can change what happens now.

Now I can plant seeds – whether they’re the seeds of work I want to see done in the future, seeds of fun, love and laughter with my daughters, seeds of health and wellness and all the other things I want to be cultivating in my life. I can plant those seeds every day.

This week I’m already feeling the change of season from my Florida “winter” to Spring. It’s the end of the month. The beginning of the season of lent. It’s a time of new beginning. A perfect time to put some water on the seeds of the things you want for your life.

Happy Monday and have a great week!

Motivation Monday

Motivation Monday

This weekend, I watched the movie Trolls for the first time. I’ll be honest, this was a movie based on a toy and 80s music, so my expectations were low.

But wow, I was impressed.

I not-so-secretly love children’s movies because in children’s movies we highlight our best ideals. We want our children to know that stories have happy endings, and we want them to learn to be loving, accepting, kind and (as we see in Trolls) happy.

(Spoiler alert)

This is a clip from one of the most beautiful moments in the movie, the Trolls have no reason to be hopeful and all the good that Princess Poppy (the pink troll) set out to do has turned around and gotten way worse instead. At this moment, her curmudgeonly companion, Branch, sings to her to encourage her to cling to her hope and happiness, even in the face of despair.

I think of myself as an incurable optimist, but sometimes, I do feel like I’m trapped in a pot with everyone I care for and am about to be eaten by the Bergens. I would like to think that even in that moment, there is still a reason to be hopeful, to cling to love and cherish happiness. Because, as the movie says, happiness is something you can give yourself not something you take from others.

 

Have a great week!