Forget all of that Biggest Looser emotional stuff about being fat. “I don’t want my kids to know their dad is fat. I want to live longer. I need a new strart.” Yada. Yada. Yada. That’s all just TV psychobabble to me. If it works for you, awesome. But that show just makes me hungry. I love that there is a commercial during the weigh-ins so I have time to refill my ice cream bowl.
One thing I hate about being out of shape is where all of those extra candy bars, slices of pizza, and cheeseburgers end up. The belly, the butt, and for me… my upper chest. Blech.
And since I have the kind of friends who aren’t shy about pointing out my moobs I figure it’s probably time to do something about them.
So the last couple of weeks my running mantra has been: Run your moobs off.
Sure. It’s a bit crass. And surely it’s not Oprah approved. But it’s silly and makes me giggle and work hard at the same time. Right now, I’m about halfway to my initial goal of running a 5K without stopping and with just 5 weeks to go… I have many more hours of running my moobs off to go.
No easy way out
Whether I’m around professional golfers or big-time Christian leaders– one thing has been clear: It’s not merely that they are talented. It’s that they took a little bit of talent, a golden opportunity, and out-worked all of their peers to become the best.
The same thing is available to all of us.
Some people look at successful people with jealous eyes. They think, “Surely, they just got lucky.” Probably a little bit. But they also took the good fortune of an opportunity and made something out of it. Whatever their specialty is they have worked harder and smarter than you have.
Whatever your goal is… there’s no easy option coming.
For me, right now, it’s to run this 5K. For you? I don’t know what your goal is. But I do know this one fact:
In quiet moments do you have positive or negative thoughts about yourself?
When you are at work, how do you feel about your work environment? Does being there energize you or steal your joy?
When you are at home, how do you feel about your home environment? Does being there energize you or steal your joy?
For some people, their whole identity is wrapped up in playing Eeyore in the real life drama they star in. Each day is a disappointment and they exude a “why bother?” attitude.
Others play the role of Charlie Brown. Life could smack them in the face daily, their best friend could humiliate them, and their dreams could shatter– but they wake up with a generally positive life outlook on the next day.
Three things I’ve learned about this stuff that is worth noting:
Anyone can choose to be an Eeyore or Charlie Brown. We all have equal potential to be either character.
How people feel when they are at your home or office dramatically impacts the bottom line. However you measure success at your home or at your office will be greatly impacted by the positive or negative feelings people who are there feel about being there.
A single person flavors the pot one way or the other. I’ve been in negative work environments where one person comes in and is the catalyst for the whole group to feel more positive about themselves. And we’ve experienced the opposite at home when one person has a negative outlook and it ruins it for everyone.
Sadly, many Christians perpetrate the lie that in order to really “get it” as a believer that you need to put on your Eeyore costume. I’ve visited churches where the whole staff has a loser complex. (Their success or failure comes from the same place of dissatisfaction and self-loathing.) And I’ve visited homes so positive they don’t even notice (or care) that they have roaches.
This makes no sense. Jesus didn’t die for us so that we’d wallow in our sin. Quite the opposite. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
What’s the point?
You might not have the ability/power/opportunity to change anything about where you live or work today. But you always have the power to change the flavor of the pot with your attitude.
Want to avoid confusion with your team?Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
I define a leader as someone who takes people somewhere they would otherwise not go on their own.
All-too-often, as I look back on my life in leadership, my tendency is always to get a mile ahead of my team because I have under-communicated the basics with them.
Why are we doing this? What’s our intent? What do we want to get out of this experience? Who are we targeting with our ministry? Why are you serving? How can we accomplish our goals? When is the best time to do this? On and on.
Every once in a while I’d get this feedback:“I know you have a reason for everything we do, and you’ve given us all the information about what we are doing, but I am not understanding why/how this is going to happen.” When I was young in leadership I somehow too this as a compliment. But now I see it for what it is… a weakness I need to address.
When my team lacks focus and drive to execute the vision– That’s my fault not theirs. I tend to communicate the vision too little and the share details too much. In the moment, the logistical details seem more important than the over-arching vision. But in the end, you need both.
You will have leaders who are OK knowing stuff as they go. But to really take a ministry somewhere you need to execute along the way to accomplish the vision.
3 Ways I combat my tendency to under-communicate
Give people the big picture often. Before each ministry cycles starts, (school year, calendar year, however your church does it) schedule a meeting with key leaders to go over the plan. When I do this I present a white paper for the year as well as the teaching calendar, event calendar, and a description of a discipled person. In other words, I start with the end in mind and show my team how we’re going to get there together. In youth ministry, at about the same time, I host a parents meeting and go over the same information… plus some other stuff like cost of events, permission slips, etc.
Put your pedagogical statement out there. It feels cheesy to think about, and I totally stole it from Doug Field’s youth ministry classic, “Purpose-driven Youth Ministry,” but I think it’s useful to put the purpose for a ministry, in writing, on everything you do. Even better, when I am teaching a lesson and there is a handout for leaders, I also like to give them a quick sentence about what we are teaching. “The main idea of tonight’s lesson is that students will learn ______.” This puts your leaders on the inside, thinking of your teaching strategy right alongside of you, and values their intelligence/abilities.
Get stuff to people early. This is the one I wrestle with the most because you’ll always have some people who feel like they need every detail when you can only provide the big picture. Such as, I have volunteers who want small group questions 1-2 weeks in advance so they can think about it in advance. The problem is that I can’t give that because I rarely actually work on the talk until 24-48 hours before I teach it. But I can tell them the passage and the main idea of the lesson. And usually, that’s enough. The same is true for events and trips. I need to give them the information early enough where they can rearrange their schedule and jump on board to help. If I forget, or am lacking, in that then I should expect them to bail on me.
I have a lifelong obsession with golf. It started in 2nd grade when my parents scraped together enough money for a starter set and a series of playing lessons at a local par 3 course. Even though neither of them were serious players– I guess they thought I’d enjoy it. And I did. A lot.
Don’t read that the wrong way.I’m not a country club kid. I’ve never belonged to a course where I got my own locker or had an account on file with the restaurant.
Instead, I grew up playing city-owned munis and family-owned courses. In middle school, my first membership to the local golf course cost my family $50. That also included an annual pool membership, ice rink membership, and anything else the Mishawaka Parks Department charged money for. I didn’t grow up playing with kids named Chip or Trevor. We were more of an Adam, Mike, and Tim kind of crowd. But golf was my obsession. All summer long, every day, I play 27, 36, or 45 holes of golf.
Here’s what I learned about success in golf that translates to life: We don’t have equal access to success
One fact that I love about golf, especially professional golf, is that anyone can become a professional in 7 days. Unlike any other professional sport on the planet I can start on Monday as a nobody and win a million dollars on Sunday. Just about anyone can enter a qualifier. And if you manage to qualify you are in the same tournament as the card carrying professionals on Thursday. And if you make the cut on Saturday, then manage to win on Sunday– they will hand you a big check and a Tour Card for the rest of the season.
Fat chance trying that in baseball, football, or basketball.
But that almost never happens. While there are several PGA Tour members who rose from poor backgrounds to earn their card on Tour I can’t name a single person who is currently on Tour who started as a Monday qualifier and turned a good 7 days into a career.
It can happen, but it is nearly impossible.
Instead, if you look at those who made it, you’ll see that their success is a combination of 3 qualities.
Talent – Talent is the constant. Talent is the difference between learning skills well enough to be pretty good and being a winner. Over the years I’ve played with and coached hundreds of people. But when you walk the course with a person who has a natural talent for the game… it’s amazing. Most amazing is that these players can rarely describe to you the mechanics of what they are doing. They just try stuff and it works.
Ambition/hard work – Talent isn’t enough. I’ve met plenty of talented players. Each high school team of 12-15 young men had 3-4 players with enough talent to take them to the next level. But if they aren’t single-focused enough they won’t advance in the game. An ambitious person never stops practicing. They putt in their living room. Hit wedges in their backyard. Keep a 7-iron and a bag of balls in their trunk to practice between meetings. They play 9-holes before work and chose vacations with great practice facilities.
Environment/resources – This is the X factor. This is the difference between a good local golfer and a professional. They have access to amazing resources. In most cases, their family has invested in them from a very young age. They played in expensive junior tournaments. They have great equipment. They have great coaching. And it results in opportunities to get to even better tournaments, more finely tuned equipment, and the best coaching.
You can be pretty good, above average, with two out of the three. But you’ll never be excellent. There are millions of guys putting their clubs in their trunks right now who have endless talent and ambition but aren’t in the right environment with the right resources to make it to the next level. And this weekend will be full of guys who pull up their Mercedes at a country club, with access to the best environment and resources and absolutely no talent for the game.
I don’t care about golf. What does this have to do with you or me?
We each have something we were created to be amazing at. There is something in our lives that we have talent, ambition, and resources to be the best at.
Identify that thing… no matter how obscure the niche`… and you’ll find the success you know you deserve.