The Man in the Arena

 

Words matter. Words can either breath life, or tear us down. One of the more powerful words ever spoken was an excerpt from a Teddy Roosevelt speech titled Citizenship in a Republic that he gave in Paris, France in April 1910.

Perhaps you are familiar with it. Even if it is, I encourage you to read it again as if it’s the first time.

"It is not the critic who counts;
it’s not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles
or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,
whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly;
who errs, who comes short again and again,
because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds;
who knows great enthusiasms,
the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause;
who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring...

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Face Direction of Travel

A few years before the pandemic, I took a trip to London.  When I arrived at Heathrow Airport, I noticed a peculiar warning sign over the moving walk way that caught my attention.  It simply said, "Face direction of travel."

Immediately I considered the wisdom in its message.  Like a moving walking way, life is always progressing forward. For you and me, to get to where we are want to go, we have to face the direction of travel.  If we don't, we might not see what's coming.  We might bump into something unexpected, or we might miss something critical and life changing.  We might get derailed.

Derailed Alignment

To put this into context, let me share a story.  Years ago I was skiing in West Virginia as a chaperone on a youth group trip.  In the middle of the day I was on a green slope, traveling as fast as I could.  Now, I've skied most of my life.  Green runs to me are not a challenge, and this had been no...

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"Attitude Reflects Leadership, Captain" -- Greatest Quotes of All Time

attitude courage Feb 28, 2021

There is a great scene early in the movie Remember the Titans where two teammates are in a huge disagreement. Gerry Bertier, the captain and star linebacker, who is white, is arguing one point with his teammate Julius Campbell, another talented linebacker, who happens to be black. Bertier is pressuring Julius to step up his game. 

Julius counters with a different perspective reflecting on the clear lack of hustle between whites and blacks on their team.  Because of the dysfunction, Julius openly wonders why he should care for anybody other than himself.  In response, Bertier tells Julius, "That's the worst attitude I have ever heard."  It's in that moment, you wonder if Julius is going to clock Bertier, but Julius responds candidly and calmly putting the pressure back on Bertier.  "Attitude Reflects Leadership, Captain."  Bertier is left standing there with no words. It's as if he got hit by a...

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Practice "Emotional Retelligence"

Let's face it.  Life comes at has hard.  How we handle those challenges reflects our character.  None of us are perfect though.  They are times in our life where we feel the  pressure.  We struggle. It's inevitable.

The good news is that there's a way around it.  There are some tricks of the trade that we can leverage to overcome the emotional hit -- at least minimize it.  I call it Emotional Retelligence.  It's about retelling - essentially reprogramming -- your emotional state realtime.  It's powerful! Here it is in a nutshell. 

#1 - Acknowledge the Emotion.   Admit what you're feeling to yourself.  Don't deny it.  Let's say you are planning a big event, and that sense of overwhelm just hits you hard.  In that moment, admit to yourself (no one else) what you are feeling. It might be something like, "man I'm feeling little anxious about this, worried about this situation, concerned that this isn't going...

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The Reluctant Leader

I need to make a confession. I am a recovering reluctant leader, and I'm doing everything I can to avoid a relapse. 

The problem started way back when. Probably when I was just old enough to notice classmates (maybe even my older brother and sister) discrediting my unique ideas or thoughts. You know, an idea that disrupted the norm. Like,  "What if we built a maze fort out of these cardboard boxes?” Or, “Want to help me build a wall of Legos to blockade mom and dad's room while they're sleeping?”

"No!"  My brother and sister didn’t like either one of those ideas from their little brother. Sometimes I struggled with my voice being heard. Being the youngest, you often feel overlooked and ignored. It's frustrating. I remember when I was six knowing exactly what to do to put the family door knocker on the door, but no one wanted to hear my suggestion.  I felt unheard and insignificant.

Eventually many of my imaginative...

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Hope Actually is a Strategy

God is a Promise Keeper

He is the God of Hope. He wants us to hold on to Hope.

His Word says that with Hope we can have JOY and we can be BOLD.
Believe it or not,

Hope actually is a strategy.

Check this out...
  • "There is surely a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off." - Prov 23:18
  • "Know the hope to which He has called you..." - Ephesians 1:18
  • "Hope does not put us to shame." - Romans 5:5
  • "Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very BOLD." - 2 Cor 3:12
  • "Let us hold unswervingly to the HOPE we profess, for He who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23
  • "Be Joyful in Hope. Patient in Affliction. Faithful in Prayer" - Romans 12:12
  • "What matters in life? What will last? Faith, Hope, and Love." - 1 Cor 3:13

Is this not proof that HOPE is a strategy? At least one to build on. But we must also take action - step forward with Faith and Love.

The proof of our HOPE is in the actions we take!

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Conversation with "Future"

Uncategorized Jan 01, 2021

Hello there. I am Future.

I know we've only partially first met. But guess what -- I am here!

I usually don't share much about myself to folks.  What I offer. What I bring to the table.  Usually, I let people discover me for what I am -- over time. But on this occasion I thought I'd drop in and tell you just a little bit about me. 

You and I are going to be either fast friends -- or potential adversaries. I'd prefer the former. Know this, I am here for you.  That 's my mission.  I'm always around the corner.  Just in front. 

For this year, I want us to start off on the right foot. Here are some suggestions shared from my brother Past.  He gave me permission to share these.  Just so you know, he's a bloody mess.  Things didn't go well for him last year and right now he doesn't have very many friends.  He doesn't want to have the same experience this year, so he told me to jump in and talk candidly with you.

First off...

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The Impact of "Just One Word"

new year words Dec 31, 2020

I am super excited to re-share a guest blog from my best friend in the world -- my wife Barbara, who published her first book this past year.  I know you'll enjoy this piece as much as I did.  It's especially appropriate for this time of year as you set plans for 2021.


A few years ago I traded my mile-long list of resolutions for one word. And from that one word, I created goals aligned with it. The key was that "word" had to inspire me and make me come alive by just thinking about it.

I went from feeling guilty for not keeping my resolutions to following through my goals while encouraging myself, even when I occasionally got off track.

I found by sharing and putting it 'out there', it created intention and almost instant movement. I lived into the feeling of it. I put it on my vision board, phone, mirror and in my car. I also found a local artist/potter that put my word on a coffee cup. (see pic below =)

Personalized mugs made by Amy Kovats...

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Why Words Matter

encouragement words Dec 27, 2020

I will never forget the day.  My freshmen year of college, one of my required classes was English Literature.  Honestly, I was less than thrilled.  English Lit was not on my bucket list.

It was a cold afternoon in Ohio and I hustled from my dorm to beat the train going through the campus.  I arrived early enough to find a good seat at the "back" of the room.  (Yes, that's right, in those days I was a back seater student. The last thing I wanted was to get stuck in the front :-) 

The professor walked in a few minutes late, cooly strolling in wearing a tweed jacket  looking a lot like Jack Black would today. 

In a passionate voice he introduced himself glancing at his new students in the room.  "Welcome everyone! I am your Professor, Dr. Davis. But rather than thinking of me as yet another teacher, think of me as a GUIDE on your journey." 

I looked around the room to see...

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The End of Outhouses

It wasn't that long ago when outhouses where the norm. For thousands of years, some variant of the outhouse was the status quo. No one in their right mind dared to build their living space with indoor plumbing, even though the toilet was invented hundreds of years earlier in 1596. To use the latrine indoors would be crazy. Imagine the stink.

No, if you had to “go,” then you were required to exit the building, go down the path, watch out for snakes, spiders or alligators, and use the plank wooden shack in the backyard. This was the way it was for hundreds of years.

Finally, smart people like Thomas Jefferson -- yes, one of our founding fathers -- got tired of going outside and broke the mold by choosing to not settle for average. They didn’t care what other people thought about their disruptive indoor plumbing idea. They just figured out a way to make it work. Because of that, eventually indoor plumbing became the norm, despite the initial resistance and...

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