Starting over… again. It’s tricky business.
Why? Because you’ve done it before? Yes. Because you’re sick of having to do it again and again? Yes. Because you want this to be the last time? Yes again.
So what are the odds this will be the very last time you’ll ever have to start over? Are you laying any money down to bet on yourself? Odds are that bad, are they? Maybe we can improve those numbers a little bit. There are no guarantees that you’ll never come back to a place where you’ll need a fresh start or a new beginning, even over the same old issues. However, you can do something that could whittle the chances of that happening down to a tiny little piece of what it is now. How? Clean house.
If you think I’m encouraging you to pull out the vacuum cleaner and break out the maid outfit (please no… there are some things that can’t be unseen), then you are so off base. I’m not talking about cleaning the house you live in. I’m talking about your Life House, the “House” that lives in you.
The reason you keep coming back to this place of needing to start over, again, is because of things that exist within you that keep causing you to self-destruct or undermine your success. There’s a story of a family who came home to find their house flooded. They began bailing water with everything they could find- buckets, trash cans, tea pots- but the water kept coming. Finally, grandma slowly walked into the bathroom, and turned off the water to the stopped up bathtub… and the rising water stopped. Some of you need to turn off the water before you start bailing water. Before you grit your teeth and dig in to try harder at whatever it is you are working on, you need to deal with the core issue(s).
So how will you clean your Life House? I don’t know.
What? I told you I don’t have all of the answers. I can make a few suggestions if you’d like? You might consider these options:
- Talk to someone you trust to be honest; ask their opinion on what they think your challenges might be; beyond that, if they are a person of character and wisdom, seek their counsel on how you might clean those issues out of your Life House;
- Brainstorm a list yourself; hey, you may have more of a handle on this than you know; the giant problem you’ve been dealing with may be staring you in the eye; then take one “giant” at a time, and compile a list of “weapons” you could use to drive the giant out of your Life House. If one of the giants is “fear of rejection”, then maybe a “weapon” would be to compile a list you can go to of all of the people who don’t reject you, who love you and respect you; use that list of weapons to clean out your Life House;
- Do an evaluation of several situations, problems or instances related to your “problem/issue”; see if you can chart a time line of step by step decisions that led to each negative circumstance, and when you see a pattern, discover what you might do to correct that next time. You’re the only person who is going to be able to break those patterns and clean those same bad habits out of your Life House.
- Eliminate the negativity from your Life House, whether it is fighting to invade your work, relationships or your mind. Negativity will stay as long as you allow it, and it must go when you continue to tell it to leave. Negative thoughts and attitudes will undermine and damage your best efforts… but only if you allow it. Clean your Life House from top to bottom of critical self-thinking, destructive comparisons, condemnations from the past and other hurtful attacks on your present.
Starting over, again… I know. It really does stink. But you CAN do this. Beyond that, you can do this BETTER. Life can and will be better.
You know what makes life better? Pizza. Let’s talk about that tomorrow.
We’ve all heard it said that patience is a virtue. Virtue, from the Latin “virtus”, meaning “worth”. It’s hard to wait. But the best things in the life, the most important and valuable things in this life… they are worth the wait.
Many businesses or organizations are all about making a quick buck or doing whatever it takes to make a sale, regardless of whether or not it’s fair, legal or appropriate. Just get the worm, and beat everyone else to it. Don’t be that guy. Don’t be that bird.
Clients deserve our best. They deserve to be treated with respect and honor. Go for the long win by putting out the extra effort to invest and serve well. It’s harder, yes. It takes more time, more effort and even more money. Do it anyway.
In the mean time… scope out the birds so caught up in their early morning, quick fix grabs for success in business and in life. Be patient and watch. When the time is right, you’ll be the one sitting down to an awesome dinner. For the record, birds are much tastier than worms.
The iconic coach John Wooden used to tell his players, “The true test of a man’s character is what he does when no one is watching.” You may have opponents in sports that play fair, and face others who cheat at every turn. Players in LIFE are no different, and there’s not much you or I can do about it. What we DO have control over is whether or not we cheat ourselves. We control our actions, and when we choose to cheat ourselves, we are the biggest loser. We have no one to blame but ourselves. So how do we cheat ourselves?
- CHEAT #1- We take the safest route or course of action. “If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship, he would keep it in port forever.” Thomas Aquinas Taking the risky or dangerous opportunities are not always the best option either, simply because they do have risk. But we rob ourselves of what might have been when we allow risk, danger or fear of the unknown overrule what our hearts are telling us is the best choice.
- CHEAT #2- We choose shortcuts over quality. Getting better at whatever it is we do is an admirable quality. We learn the ropes, the tricks of the trade. We are able to produce or perform better than we were a novice, whether through formal education or the “school of hard knocks”. Those types of leaps in efficiency are necessary. What isn’t necessary is to make or choose shortcuts that compromise quality and/or our values. Quicker doesn’t always mean better. We want a diamond cutter or a surgeon who places quality over speed, right? We should expect the same from ourselves.
- CHEAT #3- We fail to focus on the value of the process. Greg Anderson says, “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity but in doing it.” Admiring roses in a vase is pleasant. But how much more enjoyable is that moment if one has prepared the soil, watered and weeded the bush, and stopped to smell the roses along the way! Remember, soon the cut roses will fade, but the bush will remain, and in our process we’ve created something amazing! Treat your life with the same care!
- CHEAT #4- We refuse to take responsibility for failure. Trust me, when you screw up, people know it. You may sneak by with your mess undiscovered from time to time, but for the most part our foibles and failures are on display. We cheat ourselves of the learning opportunity and of other’s respect for us when we pass the buck or deny our own shortcomings. Embrace your mistakes so you can celebrate your victories. WD40 is a popular lubricant with hundreds of uses. Do you know why it is called WD40? Because the first 39 formulations didn’t work! Rovio, the company that create “Angry Birds” had 51 previous products that were failures. Both companies had multiple failures before their ultimate success. They learned, reworked, rebooted and tried again after each failure. So can you!
- CHEAT #5- We flippantly dismiss criticism. There will always be detractors and downers in the peanut gallery. Some people just won’t like you, others just hate to see someone else succeed. But why let their criticism go to waste, regardless of their reason for it? Maybe they were just mean enough or brave enough to point out what we couldn’t see and what others were too kind or unable to see! Accept criticism as a gift, and then you decide whether it’s worthwhile or not.
- CHEAT #6- We ignore the inherent value of people. Everyone has some kind of value. “Four be the things I am wiser to know: Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.” (Dorothy Parker). You see, it doesn’t matter if those we cross paths with value us or our mission. As a “being”, they have value to the universe, to the Creator and they should to us also. You cheat yourself out of valuable learning experiences, passionate relationships and maybe the some of the best times of your life by failing to realize everyone counts!
- CHEAT #7- We leave something on the table. Life is way to short to not give it all you’ve got. Your family deserves your best. Your clients demand your best. Your co-workers need to see your best. Your enemies should be afraid of always seeing your best. YOU owe it to YOU to give this brief moment in time and eternity all of the excellence and mastery you can muster! Don’t cheat yourself by coasting or winging it! Let your best YOU be the real YOU!
Are their other ways we cheat ourselves? Name those I’ve missed below, and how you think we overcome those cheats!