One Of A Kind

snowflakes against bl piled“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Years ago I read a book by John Eldredge that said, in effect, that the most important battle we will ever fight is the battle for our hearts.

He was on to something.

Human beings are like snowflakes.  While we all have certain commonalities like the marvelous geometry of snowflakes, we are, nevertheless, individuals.  Sui generis.  One of a kind.

We have unique talents, fascinations, propensities, drives, goals and potentialities.  The war for the heart, at least in the realm of sense and society, takes place as we are confronted with the “safe” choice of conformity to expectations of peers and loved ones versus that road less traveled by which we fulfill our unique design and destiny given by God.

You have your own voice and perspective.  There are enough parrots in the world.  There are lots of people you touch daily who want to hear the events of the day through your perspective.  What happens, then, if we play it safe and give the expected response, perspective or party line?  Or put another way, what happens if we are not authentically ourselves by letting self-preservation rather than our values dictate our contribution to those around us?

Step to the music you hear.  Don’t play safe.  Play honest instead.  Integrity is your watchword.  It is what lets you sleep well at night.  Be courageous and be who you were created to be.

And let the snowflakes fall where they will….

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The Larry Bird Effect

In 1979, Hall of Fame standout Larry Bird first broke into the NBA, the beginning of a long and spectacular career with the Boston Celtics.  Larry had a practice regimen that he faithfully observed throughout his career.  He would arrive at the venue at least two hours before game time and, with the help of a ball boy, shoot baskets.  Over and over.  Before every single game.  Larry said that through hard work and self-discipline, he was able to go farther in his career than other guys who had better natural gifts but didn’t work hard developing their talents.  Though Bird was tall (6’9”), he couldn’t run or jump well.  But he could outshoot and outthink his opponents.  This he did time and time again.

We all come into life with certain aptitudes, advantages and challenges.  What we do with what we’ve been given determine the kinds of lives we make for ourselves.  Quality and success in life do not come automatically.  You may have superior intelligence, even brilliance.  But if you neglect the hard work of study, learning, practice and productivity, your potential will remain unfulfilled.  That doctor, attorney, financial analyst, software engineer, or Grammy Award winning musician inside you does not emerge automatically.

Some years ago a friend of mine was working on his Ph.D (in education).  When asked what types of students earn their doctorates (versus those who don’t), he remarked, “The Einsteins wash out.” Why? “Because you can’t outsmart the work.”  That was the secret of Thomas Edison’s genius.  “It’s plain hard work that does it.”

Similarly, you may have come into life with health problems in your family tree.  Those challenges do not have to define or limit your life.  You may have obesity, heart disease or high blood pressure in your family line but their effects are not necessarily inevitable.  Again, it takes work—the hard but fruitful work of exercising, eating carefully, avoiding unhealthy behaviors and stuff.

Life is what we make it.  It’s a canvas to paint on.  Like Larry Bird, with hard work and self-discipline, we can take modest giftings, even disadvantages and turn them into a Hall of Fame life.