Walking Civil War

3 08 2017

Cognitive dissonance.  “Your walk doesn’t match your talk.” Integrity vs. hypocrisy.

Part of the daily journey on this planet is learning to be one person.  Not two.  Or three.  Or six.  Integrity is related to “integer.”  A mathematical concept.  A whole number.

To live in integrity means “wholeness.”  It means our actions match our words, our values, our creeds, our codes of conduct.  You have enough to do to simply be one person.  There’s not enough energy, time or sense to construct false selves and alternate lives.

Choosing a path of duplicity and hypocrisy puts you at odds…with yourself.  You become, in effect, a walking civil war.  Fragmented.  Battling with your own heart.  Here are the takeaways of such a lousy choice:

  • Sleepless nights
  • A default tendency to look over your shoulder. “Who’s after me?  Who knows what I’ve done?”
  • The need to invent more lies to cover up your lies.
  • You medicate.  Simple—you can’t live with all these selves.  So you numb pain.  Take your pick: Drugs, booze, sex, shopping, endless busyness.  And a thousand other bypaths.

Live what you believe.  Keep your word.  Be one, not six persons.  Then sleep in peace.

 

Suggested Resources:

Who You Are When No One’s Looking: Choosing Consistency, Resisting Compromise (Bill Hybels)

Integrity: The Courage to Meet the Demands of Reality (Henry Cloud)

 

Image Credit

Switchfoot “Twenty-Four”





Measurable Goals and Growth

23 07 2014

Measurable GoalsGoals.  How do you hit them?  How do you place them within sane and profitable range?  How do you avoid the extremes of setting the bar too low—being unchallenged and bored—and shooting unrealistically high (and being discouraged and defeated)?

I once had a helpful conversation at work. One of my colleagues and I were discussing the importance of setting goals that were challenging yet attainable.  My friend told me that when he was an insurance salesman, he and his fellow agents would huddle in the mornings and lay out their sales goals for that particular day.  His buddies would generally shoot for the moon:  “I’m gonna sell ten policies today.”  He would set more modest but sufficiently difficult targets: “I’m going to sell two of this policy and one of that package.”  And he would usually hit the mark, while his co-workers failed to meet theirs and were thus discouraged.

There’s an old adage that says “slow and steady wins the race.”  This, of course, is a nod to Aesop’s famous story of The Tortoise and the Hare.  Through patient plodding, the much slower and ungainly tortoise won the race over the flashy and fleet-of-foot hare.  If you persevere, you win.

This is not to discourage the practice of giving yourself a worthy but difficult task.  But it is important to keep a healthy balance between mediocrity and insanity.  Those who avoid the shoals on either side generally sail on to success.

What are your goals for 1) continuing education—whether at a learning institution or through self-education via reading, listening and viewing, 2) physical fitness and weight loss, 3) strengthening your relationships, 4) improving your vocational skills?  Have you written them down, which is critical to their fulfillment, having engaged your conscious and subconscious mind by doing so?  Have you a process, broken down into manageable bites—“baby steps”—whereby you can meet these destinations?

Here are some of the benefits one derives from setting goals and then meeting them:

  • You get the benefit of meeting the goal itself.  If you lose that portly thirty pounds, you feel better about yourself and have become healthier.  If you learn a new skill, you can use that to help others, elevate your station and earn more.
  • You receive a boost in self-confidence and self-respect rooted in genuine accomplishment, rather than in aspiration and fantasy.
  • You strengthen your goal-attainment muscles because you are encouraged that, yes, you can do this!

Set goals.  Set them high enough to stretch you.  Write them down, with concrete dates and metrics indicating you’ve met them.  Then hit them!

Image Credit





Doing Your Homework

25 10 2013

Do Your Homework

“Got a good reason, for taking the easy way out.  Got a good reason for taking the easy way out.” (John Lennon & Paul McCartney)

One of the most challenging tasks one can engage in is focused and thorough thinking.  “The easy way out” is often found in 1) trying to find cut-and-dry, black-and-white solutions to every problem or 2) denying the complexities of modern life offering superficial and simplistic solutions to sizeable challenges.

M. Scott Peck once discussed the problem of simplism in his book The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, which tends to reduce the complex challenges of modern life into neat and tidy solutions.  Too often, we gravitate towards simplistic solutions to these difficulties and mysteries.  Why?

For one, it’s easier.  Thinking–serious thinking involving focus, research and reflection–is hard work.  Again, we have a bent towards laziness…following the path of least resistance and exerting minimal effort.

The problem with simplistic thinking is that easy answers in neat, tidy packaging eventually get found out for what they are.  The result?  Cynicism.  Disillusionment.  Loss of values.  Even loss of faith.  Having come from a background that has included not a few years as a minister, simplistic solutions to serious problems ultimately destroy in the end.  Fundamentalists, note this please.

The solution?  Do your homework.  Whatever your challenge, put your time and paces in to get to the bottom of a matter.  The greater the stakes, the more effort you must exert.  At times, life is simple, even black and white.  Most of the time it is not.  If you know this going in, you’ll fare well and your ship will probably moor safely.

Do your homework.  And don’t leave it to anybody else, even the experts.  There’s far too much at stake.

Image Credit





The Fine Print? Pay Attention

13 09 2013

Fine PrintIf you’ve ever purchased a new home or vehicle through an automotive dealership, you’ve been through the experience of signing, initialing and dating voluminous documents related to the transaction.  Disclosures, releases, obligations, waivers.  It can be daunting.  The easiest thing in the world is simply to sign, initial and date with only a cursory glance.

I know.  I’ve done it numerous times.  So have you.  And that is the problem.

We call such encounters “signing our lives away.”  Given the careful, legal language in which these documents are composed, it’s not far from the truth.  And in the normal course of events, one normally doesn’t think much of it.  Just sign the thing and be done with it.

Until you get surprised when one of the terms, contingencies or disclaimers affect you—your plans and your pocketbook.  You feel as if you’ve been sucker punched.  It feels that way.

But you haven’t been blindsided.  One of the documents you signed said, in effect, that you had a full understanding of the terms of the agreement.  And you’re now legally liable to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

Liable to pay double-digit interest on that credit card when the economy flags and banks are low on cash.   Liable to have to negotiate the use of your own art if you’ve surrendered copyright to a publisher.  (I know one recording artist who, when younger and untutored, gave up ownership of his music and now has to lease master tapes from the record companies just to press CD’s for his fans.)

No, it’s not unfair.  It’s called fine print.  And most don’t read it.  Those who do are often the ones who are better off financially than the rest of us.  They’ve done due diligence in their financial affairs.  Part of their reward is an often proportionate lack of unpleasant “surprises.”

What to do?

  • Take your time when signing documents.  Read the small print.  Ask questions.  And don’t be intimidated if the agent with whom you are doing business seems impatient.  You have everything to gain or lose by taking the time you need to know what you’re getting into.
  • Do your homework.  If you’re buying a car, go in knowing the worth of the vehicle better than the salesperson.  The blue book information is available on the Web.  Same for house and land purchases.
  • Learn about compound interest, something Einstein purportedly called “the Eighth Wonder of the World.”  You’ll buy far less and shop around more before parting with your hard earned money.

This is a step that those who would own their future must take.  Be diligent and ahead of the pack.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Image Credit





Outliers and Factors of Success

21 01 2013

OutliersLast year I read a remarkable book, Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell.  I am stunned by the results of Gladwell’s investigation into the hidden causes of success.  It is one of the most fascinating and upsetting books I’ve read in a long time.  Upsetting in a good sense, that is.  It upsets commonly cherished ideas about how people attain success in life.

In his book The Road Less Traveled and Beyond, M. Scott Peck argues that one of the characteristics and problems of our age is what he calls simplism.  Simplistic thinking fails to take into account that life is complex.  There are many variables that make up the people we live with and the challenges of our time.  The rub is that the variables are not always apparent.  It takes probing, time, patience and labor, for thinking is work.  Really.

The strength of Gladwell’s work is the way he demonstrates that, for example, 1) Bill Gates was not just a computer genius who came on the scene in the 1970’s and through sheer brilliance became the richest living American, 2) Asians aren’t necessarily “better” at math than Westerners but are more patient and their numbers nomenclature more user-friendly, and 3) that some recent airline disasters have more to do with overarching cultural distinctions vis-à-vis authority and power distance rather than simple “pilot error.”

I’m not writing today’s post as a spoiler for Gladwell’s book.  You owe it to yourself to get your hands on it and read carefully.  When I finished the book, I was struck with the reality that I am far too quick to pass judgment on the issues of the day, on why some fail and some succeed, even on theological issues—the area that I’ve given the most attention to since the early 1980’s.  Rarely are all the facts and evidence on the surface.

We are all composites of the influences and environments in which we were raised and in which we now spend our lives.  We are not simply our genetic makeup, products of our DNA.  More often than not, there are hidden factors that figure into the success of some, the failure of others.  Timing often figures in as much as raw ability.  We can thank Malcolm Gladwell and those like him (Scott Peck, Geoff Colvin, etc.) for digging deeper and giving us the full picture.

Here are a few brainteasers with which to bait yourself:

  • What cultural and economic tides are coming in right now that I can make the most of?  In other words, can I discern the signs  and trends of the times?  My friend Christopher Hopper has written extensively on the emerging wave of self-publishing.  You can read about that here.  It most certainly will be a force in the literary world in the days to come.  But it needed a level playing field, courtesy of the World Wide Web, to function and in which to be established.
  • What current politically hot issue engages me the most and do I have solid, consistent thinking and evidence to support my position?  Democrats routinely chide pro-life evangelicals for being oxymoronic—at once militantly anti-abortion and also vehemently pro-war (or pro-death penalty).  Are the criticisms valid?
  • Am I patient enough to thoroughly research problems and find meaningful solutions? Peck again.  You must be patient and resist the urge for simplistic, easy answers.  Thinking is work.  Are you up to it?

Digest Gladwell’s book.  It is a very important contribution!

Image Credit





A Do-It-Yourself Education On Finance

29 08 2012

“You must walk to the beat of a different drummer. The same beat that the wealthy hear. If the beat sounds normal, evacuate the dance floor immediately! The goal is to not be normal, because as my radio listeners know, normal is broke.” (Dave Ramsey)

Lately, I’ve been listening to and watching a lot of videos, documentaries and such on finance—personal and national.  I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading as well.  Among them, Dave Ramsey (quoted above).  Scores of people have liquidated their debt and got on their feet by taking his Financial Peace University class. Many others have been helped by the direct and passionate style of Suze Orman.  Here are some things I am reading and learning:

Do yourself a favor and get yourself an education—if you haven’t already done so—on the way money, debt, deficits, markets, lending, borrowing and the like functions.  In this time, more than ever, ignorance is not bliss—it is dangerous.  Be awake.

Image Credit





Fine Print

27 08 2012

If you’ve ever purchased a new home or vehicle through an automotive dealership, you’ve been through the experience of signing, initialing and dating voluminous documents related to the transaction.  Disclosures, releases, obligations, waivers.  It can be daunting.  The easiest thing in the world is simply to sign, initial and date with only a cursory glance.

I know.  I’ve done it numerous times.  So have you.  And that is the problem.

We call such encounters “signing our lives away.”  Given the careful, legal language in which these documents are composed, it’s not far from the truth.  And in the normal course of events, one normally doesn’t think much of it.  Just sign the thing and be done with it.

Until you get surprised when one of the terms, contingencies or disclaimers affect you—your plans and your pocketbook.  You feel as if you’ve been sucker punched.  It feels that way.

But you haven’t been blindsided.  One of the documents you signed said, in effect, that you had a full understanding of the terms of the agreement.  And you’re now legally liable to fulfill the terms of the agreement.

Liable to pay double-digit interest on that credit card when the economy flags and banks are low on cash.   Liable to have to negotiate the use of your own art if you’ve surrendered copyright to a publisher.  (I know one recording artist who, when younger and untutored, gave up ownership of his music and now has to lease master tapes from the record companies just to press CD’s for his fans.)

No, it’s not unfair.  It’s called fine print.  And most don’t read it.  Those who do are often the ones who are better off financially than the rest of us.  They’ve done due diligence in their financial affairs.  Part of their reward is an often proportionate lack of unpleasant “surprises.”

What to do?

  • Take your time when signing documents.  Read the small print.  Ask questions.  And don’t be intimidated if the agent with whom you are doing business seems impatient.  You have everything to gain or lose by taking the time you need to know what you’re getting into.
  • Do your homework.  If you’re buying a car, go in knowing the worth of the vehicle better than the salesperson.  The blue book information is available on the Web.  Same for house and land purchases.
  • Learn about compound interest, something Einstein purportedly called “the Eighth Wonder of the World.”  You’ll buy far less and shop around more before parting with your hard earned money.

This is a step that those who would own their future must take.  Be diligent and ahead of the pack.

You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Image Credit