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January 2008

In the Cracks



Image result for the cracks wikipedia


When people ask me how I get certain things done, the response is often, "I work them into the cracks of my life between major commitments. Ironically, the things we do in those squeeze times are not always the least important, but sometimes the most.

Earthquake spasms create cracks in the surface of the earth and life spasms do the same in our schedules. That is why we can never be complacent and must always be aware of the landscape of our existence.

Because you have so much to accomplish and must make the best of every crack in your calendar as I am doing at this very minute), I am going to offer some suggestions in my next few posts. The first is about lists: ALWAYS HAVE AN UNFINISHED!

If it gets finished without you adding to it, you are already behind and wasting time. Never let your list get empty. Always have something on it that you can be working on when an unexpected crack opens in your daily schedule. Categorize your list; let it flow into multi-layers; give it thought; give it prayer; keep it with you.

That's all for now because the crack is closing around me and I have an appointment across town.



And Make Our Gardens Grow

I felt that there was some scriptural basis here for this marvelous composition of Leonard Bernstein in "Candida," and then I came across Jeremiah 40:10 again: " are to harvest the wine, summer fruit and oil, and put them in your storage jars, and live in the towns you have taken over."

God is instructing His people to reject two extremes:

On one hand, they are not to be paralyzed by their regrets with regards to the past.

On the other, they are not to be lulled into lethargy awaiting eschatological hope which, while very real, is not meant to cripple our lives in the present. Rather, it is to enhance those lives.

So, we are called to do the best we can in the present. There is honor in this simple determination to live with dignity and joy. When it becomes a celebration of the life God gives and the Giver who gives it, it is also worship:

"We're neither pure, nor wise, nor good
We'll do the best we know.
We'll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.
And make our garden grow!"

Enjoy the video - that's Bernstein himself. Thanks, YOUTUBE!

Kindle the Reading Fire

I used to have a favorite line that I would use to explain why computers would never replace books. It went like this, "You can't take your computer to bed to read the way you cuddle up with a good book."

Amazon has robbed me of that truism with the introduction of Kindle, "a revolutionary portable reader that wirelessly downloads books, newspapers, magazines and blogs to a crisp, high-resolution electronic paper display that looks and reads like real paper, even in bright sunlight."

Now you can cuddle up with a computer-like device and read yourself to sleep.

With a selection of 90,000 books and growing, a long battery life, clear resolution, light-weight, and reasonably priced books and magazines (average book: less than $10), I'll have to think of something else to say ...

Like ...

"You won't be able to show off all your books on the shelf."

Kindle will store about 200 books, can download them without any outside Internet connection (just built in cell phone technology - no account needed), and can access many newspapers and reference materials.

At $399 it is cheaper than a lap-top and far less than I have spent on my library in any years since 1976.

I am looking for stories and experiences from those who have tried it, but I am thoroughly intrigued.

I am not peddling Kindle, but if you do order one, please use my link.

I am still pouting somewhat over the loss of a good cliche.

The Squeeze

You are a business, social, or spiritual entrepreneur. No doubt, you are also someone's employee while you build your dreams. Most likely, you have a family, a home, and "chores."

You are busy.

You are doing whatever you do in the cracks of your life between other major responsibilities. You frequently complain that you just don't have "enough time." You feel guilty when you relax. you feel frustrated about all the things you didn't get done.

You are in a self-imposed squeeze and, when it comes to building your dreams, you have to "squeeze things in."

Top that off with the troubling reality that you are not all that fond of tight spaces ... which is one reason why you ARE and entrepreneur -- so that you can get out of them.

Unfortunately, in order to accomplish that, you need to get into some ... for a while.

Let's consider some, quite impromptu ideas for coping with the squeeze and letting it even squeeze a little more greatness out of you and efficiency out of your schedule ... In fact, the first letter is S and the ...

S is for SCHEDULE. Make it; break it; bend it; keep it as best as possible. Make it reasonable. Break it gently. Bend it whenever necessary (So keep it flexible). Keep it as a form of disciple and as a planning tool.

Q is for QUIET. Quiet your soul. Live by grace. Receive it and give it. Relax often. Leave space in your life for God, family, self, and reflection. Whatever your spiritual, emotional, or intellectual disciplines, include a quiet time in every day. Make it the un-squeezed portion of your life.

U is for UNDERSTAND. Do what you do with a rationale and purpose. Understand yourself:  your pace, your purpose, your passion-driven energy, and your productivity index. By knowing what makes you most effective and how to apportion your energy and time, you will be able to squeeze more out of every hour. Then, also understand the task as part of the whole project and mission and what it takes to get done what you are determined to do. Live with understanding.

E is for ENERGY. Know that your productivity index is more about how you budget your energy than your time. Time is a necessary commodity, but if you have from midnight to 6 AM every day, it doesn't mean that such time is going to be productive because you will most likely be out of energy and much in need of rest.

E is also for EQUIPPING. It is said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is just as true that an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of effort. Squeezing an empty tube of toothpaste is a useless activity. Don't become encumbered with useless expenditures of valuable time and effort. Learn what you need to learn. Read what you need to read. Plan ahead. Prepare yourself and others. Equip yourself for maximum productivity in the squeeze. It may SEEM like a waste of time to read this article when you could be making a call.  Ignore that voice that discourages you from equipping yourself and keep preparing.

Z is for ZOO and it is a zoo out there -- without the cages --- more like a zoological reserve with all sorts of wild things roaming around and creating an illusion of unpredictability. The bottom line of this proposition is that  no matter how hard you try to bring order to  your life, there will be unforeseen events and circumstances. It is predictable that these will arise and with all the information, one might be able to see these crises coming, but no one  has nor can they assimilate all the data necessary. Therefore, what may be a well ordered universe manifests itself as utter chaos from time to time. Count on it and make the appropriate arrangements to cope.

E and the last E is for EITHER/OR and that is the most important letter of all because it is about our choices which are always ours alone to make. When we are in a squeeze we must decide what we are going to do, say, think, or believe. In 15 seconds one can bend over and pick up a penny on the ground, stand back up and prepare to bend down and pick up another. One person might quip that it would be a waste of time. Another might do the math and realize that at that rate, one would be making $24 per hour. At that point you'd need to ask yourself if you could be making more in that 15 second period by jotting down a great idea, making a mental note of an insight, or even speaking to the person next to you. Any of those would be more productive than complaining, blaming, or feeling sorry for oneself.

There are always choices.

You have the same number of hours in a day as everyone else, but it seems less because your dreams are bigger, your expectations higher, and your goals lofter. You will frequently find yourself squeezed, but even in the squeezes you can make choices that will make those tight spaces wide opportunities for great things to happen.

You are a winner.

- Tom Sims, The Dream Factory

SPASMS - When Life and Business Flutter


Spasms are normal in nature and in the physical body.  From earthquakes to growth spurts, the temporal world intrinsically knows that change is not 100% ooze, but at least 10%-20% jerking motion.

The same is true of life, business, culture, faith, and the economy.

That is why economic downturns may also be opportunistic upturns.

That is why the long view of life and business must allow for interruptions of the unexpected and invasions of the unanticipated. The best bet in life is to anticipate what cannot be predicted and to learn to wait it out, flow with it, and celebrate it.

We need a plan that connects to our purpose that transcends passing details of our lives. We need a vision that is independent of our circumstances and durable enough to endure crises and complications.

What, then, happens in a spasm? It can be a life crisis, a tragedy, a hardship, and economic upset, a setback, a change in the landscape of our culture, a demographic shift or any sudden change which presents a critical moment in which we must respond or just give up.

Spasms have some characteristics.

S = Stability Shaken - Something that we are leaning on gives way. Something we rely upon for balance is no longer steady enough to steady us, our methods, or our strategies. The opportunity here is for reeVALUation - which means taking a new look at what is of greatest VALUE. Realignment is necessitated and that can be a very good thing because of the drift that inevitably makes us comfortable and complacent in our assumptions. Times change and so do strategies. It often takes a crisis or spasm to shake our stability and get us back on track. Principles never change, but life and methodology do.

P = Priorities Challenged - A challenge does not equate with a defeat. It is a test. Again, we are subject to drift and there is a disturbing tendency for praxis to assert itself in first place above agreed upon priorities. Spasms challenge us to examine our practices and reconnect with our priorities. Ultimately, real priorities are reflected in budgets and calendars whether or not these are our stated or desired priorities. Spasms are a correction in this way.  One priority-related spasm question might be: Is this REALLY something I MUST do?

A = Activities Change - Sometimes this is the result of a spasm, sometimes, when the change is beyond our control, it is the cause. An unexpected sickness, a new responsibility, or a decision by someone or some entity, perhaps even a change in the bus schedule can cause an activity generated spasm in our lives. What we do every day and when we do it is important, but it is not  definitive in our lives and businesses.  Activity is supportive, not directive. It make take some reflection, reorientation, and equilibrium restoration, but you CAN survive a change of activity.

S = Two things: (A) Stuff Happens and  (B) Success is redefined. You can't help stuff happening. It does. It is neutral. Any event or circumstance can cause any number of reactions or, more pro-actively on our part, prompt any number of responses. You choose. In the process, you redefine the measuring  instruments for evaluating your success. this happens predictably as you pass through the stages of life, business, and ministry. We underestimate the affects of aging on our sense of self, purpose, and achievement. We  negate the power of contingencies to make us stop and think. Suddenly we see things from a different perspective and part of that rethinking is the way we view and measure success.

M = Management Restored - One given in any sort of spasmodic crisis is the need to return to some sort of stability and to restore personal and corporate management of our day to day activities. Neither revival nor recession can be sustained indefinitely. They have their purposes, but no purpose to leave us in a perpetual state of chaos. Let them do their work and as they do, let us dream new dreams, renew old dreams, and build new strategies. As we do, let us put our lives and businesses in order again and re-initiate the discipline of sound management.

Some things never change. Put change at the top of that list. Life is a dynamic force, centered in enduring principles and flexible enough to change colors and contexts regularly without altering it essential nature in the least. God is truth and through truth, God governs the universe. Everything else is subject to flux and spasm.

Enjoy the ride.




Topics on the Table

I grabbed some time this morning to think about reordering my life, reigniting my flames, and retooling my writing online.  I realized that I had some time and ideas that I was not aware of and I am pleased to announce the following topics are in the works and at work in my life:

The Coin Toss - How to make up your mind when you are not sure you have one.

SEEDS - It is not just about planting them. You have to pick them and plant them at the right time and in the right soils.

Spasms - They are everywhere - social, political, emotional, cultural, economic, and spiritual. Good things can come of spasms. As an example: Hawaii is the result of the earth spasming.

In the Cracks - How do you do the things that need to be done requiring time and thought when all you have are short time periods between the demands of life. Many people are building dreams in the cracks of their lives. We will offer some tips.

Patience - What do I need to do right now for survival so that I can take the time necessary to build my dreams slowly, deliberately, and with the adequate thought and care? What will free me up to be patient with myself?

Maybe just reading the topics will be enough to propel you, but the articles are coming.

My New Year

My New Year's celebration is almost in sync with the calendar, but off by 2 days. The rest of the world was marking a new year two days ago and I do so today. I was actually three days late for my father to get a tax exemption for 1954 and he never let me forget that. In retrospect, from my vantage, I can see that might have been a great hardship.

Sorry Dad if you even remember that in Heaven.

My New Year marks the completion of 53 years of whatever I have done or become. If I live to 106 like Rose Kennedy, I am half done. If I live as long as my father, I only have 14 more years. Compared to many, I was done long ago.

Or - I could use Abraham as a role model.

It is my New Year because it is the beginning of my next rotation around the sun and frankly, I am a few days behind in getting started with my New Year's resolutions - so this is a bit of grace I am extended to myself to get back into the groove of my blogging and other disciplines - which I am doing right now.