The heroic athlete boldly declares that things are not as they seem. In fact, he vehemently denies what he’s been accused of. The media ambushes him with microphones, flashing cameras and in the “strongest possible language” he claims that he’s been wronged.
The tragic story sounds so familiar in the last few months. It sounds like Lance Armstrong. It sounds like Manti Te’0. It sounds like OJ Simpson. This time, it’s Oscar Pistorius.
Can you really believe that he thought his beautiful model girlfriend was an intruder as he insists? Really? Why not pre-judge Pistorius?
Because sometimes things aren’t as they first seem. None of us were in that upscale home in South Africa on Valentines Day. Even if it’s mentally strenuous to stay in the zone of mystery, we just don’t know.
I confess that I have a hard time living in the zone of the oh too often “not sure.” I like things more straightforward. But, weren’t we so “sure” that Lance Armstrong never doped? Weren’t we so”sure” that Manti Te’o fabricated the whole girlfriend saga to gain media attention?. Even if “innocent until proven guilty” is the way it’s supposed to work, judging with a bit of evidence feels so much easier on the brain. Either this..or that.
Truth be told, most human beings have a hard time living in the foggy zone of not knowing. Instead of being OK with “withhold judgement until the evidence is in” and “innocent until proven guilty,” I find myself judging and aiming for all black and white. Is he a monster or role model? A charlatan or champion? From heaven or the pit of hell?
I discover this pre-judge propensity inside and feel so uncomfortable ancient theologians called the “cloud of unknowing.” It’s where we abandon all preconceived notions of the way things work and even how God works and courageously accept that we just may not have all the answers at this time…. even if they exist. We would rather have a “Disneyesque” version of life. (I do!) We wish upon a star and dreams come true. Heroes are always heroes. The plot comes together into a neat story at the end and the good guys win.
Can we be OK in not knowing, at least not knowing some things, and still moving forward with what we do know in the dark? Dreams too?
Or would we rather convict the innocent and free the guilty? Would we rather be a success or a failure. A world changer or a wishful thinker? A leader or a loser? Sometimes, we need to just suspend judgement and be OK.
I confess that traditional diets just didn’t work for me. “Diet is die with a T!” was my mantra. Who wants to die? Or who wants to live with echoing voices repeating, “Cut back!” “Put that down!” Don’t eat sweets!” “Control your portions!” And the real killer: “Don’t eat so much bread!” (And if that means, bagels, forget it!) “Thou shalt not” is a harsh master!
Yes, once upon a time I could get away with eating whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to and as much as I wanted. But that all changed after 30 and the rest has been painful to my scale. And, 30 was while ago!
However, I am learning a new way. I believe that old dogs can…….. change! And this way of life applies to diets, dreams and actually even to the spiritual life. The simple insights in Tim Ferris’s new book called the “Four Hour Diet” has rearranged my thinking. Basically; (warning: gross oversimplification here! But, simple is what I need!) Stop focusing on what you don’t eat, can’t eat and how much you must forgo! Instead: focus on what you can eat 6 days a week. (Proteins, vegetables, nuts, beans, eggs, spices, fats, oils…) Then one day a week, totally eat like a horse! Take an out of control Sabbath! Yes!
On the stairmaster this morning, I was thinking how Jesus taught this same way: The way of life that works is the path of positive refocus. Though few would argue with the Ten Commandments and how much keeping the law works, most don’t and can’t. Jesus taught He did not come to abolish the law, but to fulfill it. When asked by the religious establishment just which commandment is most important, (Between the lines, “What do we need to suck it up and ‘say no to’ most?) Jesus responded with positive replacement: “Love the Lord your God… and Love Your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 28-31)
Resistance rarely works: Replacement often does! Positive replacement brings life… and results. Simplify instead of sentencing yourself to endless failure. Replace your can’ts with cans.
So here’s how this applies to dreams: Replace what you can’t do (at least yet) with what you can do. Focusing on what you haven’t done, can’t do, will likely lead to discouragement, depression and even despair. Time to let that go, at least for now. So, you can’t quit your day job, move to Tahiti and become a full time author: But you can write for an hour today and create a chapter this week. So you can’t create new jobs for thousands: you can hire one person with great skills. You can’t travel the world this year: you can plan a trip to a National Park this summer. Positive baby steps in the right direction work… and encourage us!
What do Diets, Dreams and Jesus have in common? They all seem to understand that that Focusing on what you can do… instead of what you can’t leads to life and progress.
What small step in the right direction might bring life to your dream – and to you – today?
Having witnessed this insidious cycle of comings and goings in myself and others, I have have no doubt that hope makes ALL the difference. As we share our deep desire to see Hope arise and become the norm and not the passing guest, we realize we’re not alone. The desire is that hope would be more a permanent inner fixture and not the seasonal passer-by. However, the “no,” the slight, the unexpected expense and even the mundane sneak in and we find ourselves saying: “Thanks for showing up hope, but it seems like I just can’t count on you.” Dreams be damned!
I have no doubt that some may read this and think, “I don’t get this!” (Actually, they probably won’t bother reading this. Who am I kidding?) I have friends who tell me that they tend to live on “even keel” and don’t experience much in the way of ups or downs. One friend shared that he has a hard time empathizing. His wife has at times shared that she doesn’t feel “understood” by him. He rolls his eyes.
On the other hand, I know others who must intentionally work on fanning the flames of hope as a life-discipline. One extremely creative leader shared that he continually needs to do whatever it takes to restore hope in his life Over breakfast we came up with a name for those of us who require regular hope infusions: “High maintenance souls.” “Like Jaguar’s old 12 cylinder X-J12″ I told him, “we can be high performance. We just need more regular tune-ups or we’re no good to anyone!”
So, how come we see the promise land on the horizon at one moment only to allow the arrows pierce our armor and experience hope bleeding out and running down our legs? Is there hope for the high maintenance soul? Can we be free to dream, lead, create and be productive again today? Tomorrow? Next year?
Yes. And No. Here’s the no: If we think that we can just hum along without attending to the state of our hope, there’s not much hope. Ignoring the state of the “us in us” never seems to work…. at least long term. Also, medicating with pills just masks the deeper issues. (though, there may be seasons where this is important) Just trying harder with nose to the grindstone doesn’t restore hope. Reading the typical “just be positive” books listening to hyped motivational talks doesn’t work…at least for long. A couple of pep talks won’t keep hope alive (though I do love Kid President.) And even more money, more recognition, more…. stuff doesn’t do it.
We can’t address a spiritual issue with non-spiritual solutions. Hope to keep dreaming and persevering under pressure springs from God Himself. As has been said: No God: No Hope. Know God: Know Hope. The more intentionally and regularly we access the God of Hope… the more we will access the Hope of God. On the other side of this complex and costly problem is a simple solution.
The most creative breakthroughs in our lifetime will come from those who hoped in God. Just watch! And you may be one of those people. But will you do what it takes to keep your hope alive?
More to come on this topic: But for today, what would it look like for you to access hope, by accessing the Hope source?
Are You a BAMpreneur? Becoming part of a new worldwide movement to change the world through business!
Sure, it’s a risk coining a new term! My own son warns me about this. “Dad, that sounds pretty lame!” And I’m not listening this time because it’s become exceedingly clear that a new movement of business leaders blending entrepreneurship, social concern, spiritual transformation and environmental citizen is about to explode. These people, though entrepreneurial and business-minded, cannot simply be defined as entrepreneurs in the traditional usage: ”owner or manager of a business enterprise who, by risk and initiative, attempts to make profits.” (especially if defined as just financial) Primarily this is because the BAMpreneur’s greatest desire is not financial gain (thought they realize they need these to continue their work). BAMpreneurs really, truly, deeply care about what has historically been the preserve of the Church, the NGO and the charitable foundation. It’s this: changing people’s lives for good and leaving a meaningful and impactful legacy through their work.
So here’s a stab at a definition: BAMpreneur: One who cares so deeply about helping people and creating effective ways to address poverty, hurts, unfulfilled dreams, spiritual emptiness and human injustice that they take risks to create sustainable business enterprise as a means to address the needs. Their measurable results will include a fourfold bottom line: 1. Financial (Profiting the business) 2. Social (Developing the community) 3. Spiritual (Furthering God’s Work and His Gospel in the world) and 4. Environmental (Protecting and even benefiting the environment).
The BAM movement (BAM stands for “Business as Mission” or “Business as Ministry”) removes the gap that claims that “business is business” and must be relegated to a financial support roles for those doing philanthropic good or even God’s work on this planet. In fact, James Clifton, author or The Coming Jobs War reports that when people around the world were asked what they saw as their greatest need they answered: “a good job.” In other words, they wanted a “hand up, not a hand out.” In her blog Jo Plummer wrote that the time has come to think bigger about business. “Business exists to enable humankind to provide for itself and to steward creation. It enables us to develop our standard of living, care for the destitute and live in peace within communities.”
I tell people who seek to understand the BAM Movement: “Give a person a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish, feed him for a lifetime. Create fisheries; feed the village for a lifetime.”
Steve Saint, son of missionary Nate Saint wrote, “Business is a high calling, we need to celebrate it so that our children and their children know that if they are called to business then that’s what they should be doing to God’s glory”
So how about you? Are you called to BAM?
Here’s a test you may want to take (or pass on to a friend or son or daughter) to see if you might be a “BAMpreneur” or work as a part of a “BAMpreneurial” company. (Answer “yes” or “no” to each)
- You have something that bugs you in the world that isn’t being currently addressed adequately… and business may be the most effective way to address that need.
- You dream of being part of the solution for a better world with less injustice, poverty, disease and with more opportunity and efficiency.
- You care about living a meaningful life and fulfilling your destiny more than you do being comfortable.
- You are willingly to risk time, money and other resources to do something to create positive change.
- You would not be deeply satisfied with collecting a paycheck in a for-profit only company and would even accept less if necessary to work with a business with a meaningful mission.
- You sense that you are called to some kind of higher calling or destiny.
- You would feel sad if you were to ignore the problems and plight of the oppressed, the impoverished or others who do not have the same opportunities to fulfill their dreams as you do.
- You possess business skills that could be utilized to create profits.
Add them up. What number did you come out with?
0 – 3. Most likely, you’re NOT really a BAMpreneur… at least at this time.
4 – 6 You may want to consider BAMpreneurship. (At least explore it)
7 – 8. What are you doing reading a blog post?? It’s time to create some business on purpose!
What do you think? If you resonate with this, share this post with others. Also be sure to join the group of others on Facebook at “The BAM Network.”
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead
I’ve been having a tough time sitting still lately. Not being creative. Not planning. Not getting outside the box. Maybe December brings that out with its looming deadlines, Christmas and New Years. Possibly, it’s the latest dismal and gray days. WHY? Well… Now, please don’t ask why; no one quite knows the reason. It could be, perhaps, that my shoes are too tight. Or it could be that my head isn’t t screwed on just right. But I think that the most likely reason of all… most likely my heart is two sizes too small. But, whatever the reason, my heart or my shoes, its easy to just go through the motions and wind up singing the blues.
Being uncreative and just going through the motions is one of the things that shrinks my heart and kills my belief. If I want a visionary and fruitful future, sitting there and hoping it happens…. even praying it happens… rarely, well really, never does it. If I want to move forward, I will need to stop first – and use my imagination. Consider. Create.
What gets in the way? Well, me. Stuff. Laziness. And most importantly, failing to stop doing and spend Imagine Time.
Really, that’s what most of us want. We want a compelling vision for the future. We want a new path. We want plans to turn the dream into reality. And to do so, we will need to not just do something. We will need to sit there. Sit there and revisit what we really want. Sit there with the problem. Sit there and imagine the better future. Sit there to just sit there. And of course, this doesn’t feel like what December tends to be about. To create Imagine Time, we will need to stop worrying and ask: “How can this be different?” “What might a better scenario look like?” “What would happen if I went for it?”
Its clear that an Albert Einstein would practice just visualizing things in novel ways. He would open his mind to think of running alongside a wave of light. He imagined himself accelerating through space in an enclosed elevator. And he was quoted as saying, “ It’s not that I’m so smart , it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”
Even before I can motivate others to a vision, I will need to imagine the vision. What if we go in this direction?
It doesn’t take a genius to realize that when we create ”Imagine Time” good things happen. WHAT IF often leads to WHY NOT. Those four powerful words have undoubtedly changed the world. But, will they change my world? Your world? Will we take the time to ask WHAT IF today. Will we sit with a white piece of paper? Will we imagine a great marriage? A great family? A great relationship with God? A great Christmas? A great company? A great solution for what we’re so passionate about? WHY NOT?
No, we were not born with fully developed imaginations. And most of us weren’t taught how to utilize what we weren’t even sure we had. But, WHAT IF a few of us were to simply increase our own Imagine Time today? And tomorrow? WHAT IF we were to become disciplined in blocking out Imagine Time? WHAT IF we were then to start teaching others how to build Imagine Time into their days? WHAT IF we were to encourage our kids to take Imagine Time? WHAT IF?…. WHY NOT?
Could change the world, huh? Just imagine!
Ever heard, or said, this statement?“I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up?” I’ve heard it from guys many, many, many times. So, why is that an acceptable way for us guys to answer “What do you do?” Is it just a politer form of: “I haven’t a clue!” And it doesn’t tend to come from 18 year olds… more likely 45 year olds, 55 year olds…
Really, what’s being said is: “I don’t know what I’m great at.” Or “I don’t know what I am supposed to do with my life…. and time is running out.” “I don’t have a higher purpose” “I never took that class on finding my calling in life.”
So, why do so many men NOT grow up in this way? I’d like to suggest three things..
1. No one ever helped us discover (or engage) a bigger dream: We skipped right through that part of life… too busy taking classes, playing sports, working to make some extra dough, or dating Mary Lou. Even our religious and spiritual training didn’t do much(probably nothing) to help us in this area. As time moved on we just became busy working, making “a living,” trying to stay “in shape,” making some extra dough and trying to keep Mary Lou happy. Besides, we figured that a dream was just an egotistical and selfish thing and not much related to real practicality. So, when we lost our job, instead of seeing it as an opportunity really focus our efforts on honing in on our God-given dream, we called a “head hunter” learned how to write a resume.. and moved on. Instead of dreaming “dangerous dreams” (as T.E. Lawrence called them) or of addressing the world’s largest needs, we settled for a reasonable vacation once in a while.
2. We never declared our values: If values involve deciding what matters most to us, never declaring them relates to the saying, ”If you shoot for nothing you’ll hit it every time!” And when we never decide what’s MOST important to us, we get to float along seeing what makes us feel happy now…. If we don’t draw a line in the sand and say, “Here’s what I stand for,” we’ll stand for this… then for that… depending on how we feel.
- If my family isn’t a high value, I’ll let them wait when they demand too much.
- If faith isn’t a value, I won’t do what it takes to nurture a relationship with God.
- If serving others isn’t a value, I won’t reach out to others I can help.
3. We don’t see the benefits of being grown up. Frankly, if ”grown ups” are those frowning, responsible types, why would we seek to grow up? “Pass me a beer and the chips please!” BUT, if we were to redefine grown-ups as purposeful, passionate and joy-filled people, who do what they love and love what they do… then that might be kind of attractive. Are there a few good real models of dreaming, value-driven and adventurous men who will lead the rest? I’d want to find what I could ”be when I grow up” if real grown-ups didn’t just walk away, but walked with others ready and willing to take that journey.
And if that happened, some day, those 18 years olds will 1. Believe in the beauty of their own dreams (Eleanor Roosevelt), 2. Choose their values and decide what matters most in their life before they get to mid-age crisis, have an affair, or become addicted to something much smaller… and 3. Redefine growing up to include living life with purpose and passion.
But, then again, I seriously wonder if it’s too late for my generation….
Well, those are three reasons I see. Do you see some others?
I stumble into Panera Bread with my overstuffed briefcase, balancing an Iced Tea in one hand and trying to secure a table with an electric plug with the other. Suddenly, an older woman at the next table breaks my focused zone, “Are you rich?” she asks me. Thinking, she must be speaking to someone else, I try to ignore her. Louder she asks, “Excuse me sir, Sir! Are you rich?” I look at her, huh? …. “Well, it depends,” I tell her, “How would you define rich?” She looks at me cross-eyed, squinting as if puzzled by me. Then she bursts out laughing. “I’m here to meet a guy named Rich and I thought you might be him!! I guess it does matter how you define rich, doesn’t it??”
We both laughed, and to tell the truth, I was pretty sure that’s what she meant, but it was a pretty direct question, wouldn’t you say. “Are you rich?” Or was that “Are you Rich?”
Last night in the Butera (supermarket) parking lot I was approached by two guys who quickly exited their black SUV and headed towards me….. “Hey you! Excuse me.. yeah you? ” I had nowhere to go. “Did I see you on ESPN?” “Excuse me?” I asked. “Yeah, you’re that announcer on ESPN! We watched the fight you announced the other night! You’re awesome!!” “No, sorry, that’s not me.” “Come on that’s you!” one of them insisted. “No, it’s really not…” It took me a practical argument to convince these two I was me and not someone else!
So within 12 hours, people challenge my identity. “Who am I really?” “Am I rich?” “Am I a known celebrity?”
I loved fellow blogger Mike Wilson’s comment on my recent blog post on Facing My Facebook Status Envy when he responded, “A key to contentment for me then is hope and advancement down my own path.Probably, that is why it is so important for us to “run our race . . . fixing our eyes on the prize”–our prize.”
Really, any dream-step forward DOES start with an acceptance of who we are and our ”running our race.” And “being rich” as us. No need to prove anything to anyone else.
I am rich! (even if I’m not Rich!) I have so much more than most people on this planet and am amazingly rich in relationships and in meaningful work. And I’m OK with it! I’m Jeff. Yes I may not be as known as the ESPN announcer who must look like me… but I do have some folks who know me and even love me.
Being rich and being fully me doesn’t start “someday.” It’s who I am today.