Archive for the ‘Perspective’ Tag

A Pause   Leave a comment

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This week I will be making my annual trek to the Iowa State Fair.  It is always a wonderful ten days of enjoying the hard work of many individuals.  Staying in the campground has also given me the opportunity to form relationships with individuals who I camp near and see every day.  My volunteer time at the Fair has also created some great relationships with those whom I work with sometimes every day and in other times a few days each year.  So this week is a kind of homecoming for me.

I have come to understand the importance of taking pauses in life.  These pauses allow me to experience things outside my normal routine and normal environment.  My schedule is different.  My focus is different.  My sleeping arrangements are different.  During these pauses I am able to refocus.  I am able to get a different perspective.

So, my blog posts will probably be a bit more erratic and briefer.  I will try to share significant aspects and experiences which I have during the Fair.  Keep checking in, you will not know what I may discover and share.  Afterall, it is the Iowa State Fair, the greatest state fair in the world!

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Reflections   1 comment

sea-and-sky-reflectionDuring my devotional time today, I was given the opportunity to think about the need to take time to reflect.  This is not something many of us do very often.  In a world that is always on the go and in our sense that we need to always be on the move, we do not create times that allow us to reflect on life and on our blessings.  We just celebrated Thanksgiving a few weeks ago and I would venture a guess that even on a day when we are to recall our blessings, many of us were so busy either preparing food, traveling, or engaged in family activities that we had no reflection time or limited at best.

There is great value in taking time to reflect on life.  As mentioned above, reflecting allows us to take inventory of all the great gifts and opportunities we have been given.  As a believer, I attribute these gifts and opportunities to the Lord.  However, in a world which has a growing sense of entitlement, we often take these gifts and opportunities for granted.  We seldom even take notice of what we have received.  We just keep hoping for more.

Reflection time can also help us to gain perspective in our lives.  If we have the opportunity to contemplate and review, we are able to realize where we have come from, where we are, and help shape where we may wish to go.  This can help us to prioritize.

Periods of reflection can also give us opportunity to hear voices that may be overpowered by the noise of a busy life.  I place a lot of importance on listening for the Lord and then following what the Lord shares with me.  However, I cannot listen and hear if I do not spend time in reflection.

I am not one to sit idle.  Some would tell you that I am not one that is silent very often.  However, today I am reminded of the importance of times of reflection.  I hope that you also receive that reminder.  Let us commit to making times for reflection in our lives.  Who knows what we may hear and/or discover.

Growth Challenges   Leave a comment

By looking at the title of today’s post, one might assume that I am going to write about either a growth hormone issue or the issues related to increasing the size of an organization.  However, my intent is neither of those sets of issues.  Instead I decided to title today’s post as I did because I want to put forth the idea that challenges in our lives present us with a great opportunity to grow personally.

Many people find the negative aspects of challenges in life.  They allow the challenges to discourage them, some even to the point of depression.  Challenges become something to avoid or minimize.  This can lead to not being willing to take risks or take on increase responsibility or involvement.  Honestly, everyone dreams of a challenge-free life (and as a believer, I know the reality of that is coming).  However, we all know that life as we experience now cannot be challenge-free.  We all will face challenges in our personal and professional lives.  This is the current nature of humanity and human interactions.

Today, I want to propose to you the idea of looking at life challenges as the doorway to growing as a person.  I began thinking about this after a recent conversation with my mentor and very close friend.  We were discussing a challenge in my life.  I was leaning toward a negative perspective of this challenge.

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I was looking at the challenge as a win-lose scenario.  However, he presented the perspective of viewing this challenge as a gift; a gift that would allow growth in the situation.  After the discussion, I had a more positive view of the challenge.  For me, the key difference was seeing what potential growth could take place in my life and my relationships because of the challenge.

If we are able to look at challenges as an opportunity for us to grow, then I believe that challenges will not be something to avoid but something to embrace.

Little Versus Big   Leave a comment

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One of the most difficult things for most of us is making sure that we focus our time and energy on the big items of life and not let the little items distract us.  What I am referring to requires perspective.  When we look at the life span of a human in comparison to the whole time line of creation, we realize that our length of time is pretty small.  This reality, helps to put perspective upon the various crises, tasks, and challenges of life.  The question that each of us should ask when confronted with these items is… How will this impact the forward movement of life?

I am not advocating that we ignore the “little” items.  If you ignore them, eventually they will pile up into a “big” item.  However, do not let these littles overwhelm you or consume your energy.  This will require some prioritization.  It also helps if you have a trusted friend or coworker which you can share information with and receive feedback to help you keep littles as littles and identify the bigs.

One of the measurements that I try to use on a regular basis is to view the situations and tasks in regards to the human quotient.  By this, I mean that I consider how the item which I am dealing with impacts my well-being and/or the well-being of others.  I view the impact on relationships.  I view the impact on livelihood.  I view the impact on the health and mental status.  When I remember to use this measurement, it is very beneficially in identifying littles and bigs.

The other measurement I try to use was handed down to me by my grandfather.  He was often quoted as saying, “A hundred years from now, who will give a (care)?”  He actually used a different word at the end but I edited for the purpose of this post.  Again, I think that this question helps me to keep perspective.

So I challenge each of you to expend your energy on the bigs of life and deal with the littles when you have time and energy left over.

Posted December 3, 2014 by thoughtfulbeliever in Experiences, Leadership, Life

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Back At It   Leave a comment

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Well, my annual trip to the Fair for 11 days has ended and it is time to refocus on my work.  It is always wonderful to have a time to focus on something completely different and my time at the Fair allows me to do just that.  As a volunteer, I can give of myself and benefit the Fair for others.  Since I work in a merchandise trailer, it takes me back to the days of my retail work and is a completely different set of circumstances than the work I do throughout the rest of the year.  The time away also provides for me to have a new outlook on the work that I do in my employed position.  So I see that three areas of my life experience value when I am at the Fair; the State Fair and its patrons, the job which I do on a daily basis when the Fair is not taking place, and my own spirit.

Now, it is time to get back to my duties as a leader and the daily responsibilities.  I find that I have new energy.  I know that I have a new perspective.  I think I also have some adjusted priorities.  Getting back into routines also provides a sense of normalcy which can be comforting in a strange way.  I have already begun to do some catch up which always is necessary after being gone for a period of time.  By the end of the day, I will have a much clearer perspective of the tasks which I need to accomplish in the days ahead.  But even those tasks will occur in a little different manner because of my ability to take a fresher look at each of them.

So my blog is back and I hope that you read it regularly and share it with others.  Let me know if you have any topics you would like me to explore here.

No Failure   1 comment

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Thomas Edison is quoted as having said:

Results? Why, man, I have gotten lots of results! If I find 10,000 ways something won’t work, I haven’t failed. I am not discouraged, because every wrong attempt discarded is often a step forward….”  (Source:

I have been thinking about failure lately.  At least I have been thinking about how most of us define failure.  Whenever situations do not come to the conclusions that we anticipate, we often jump to the conclusion that we have failed.  However, Edison and others remind us that we have another option available to us in our thoughts.

As I read stories of prophets and religious leaders, I am clearly aware of the fact that they must have stopped at times and determined that the had been failures.  In the Bible I see many instances of such feelings expressed:

Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done
and what I had toiled to achieve,
everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind;
nothing was gained under the sun.  (Ecclesiastes 2:11, NIV)

Moses reported this to the Israelites, but they did not listen to him because of their discouragement and harsh labor.   (Exodus 6:9, NIV)

When you tell them all this, they will not listen to you; when you call to them, they will not answer.                                         (Jeremiah 7:27, NIV)

I am sure that the writer of Ecclesiastes, Moses, and Jeremiah felt like they were failures.  Yet their work did have an impact.

It is important to remember that we are only failures if we view ourselves that way.  Like Edison, I must realize that all the attempts teach me something and with persistence there is possibility of break through.

Outside Myself   Leave a comment

individual -v- group

individual -v- group (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

One of the pitfalls that many leaders (and individuals in general) face is trying to deal with things on their own.  When faced with a challenge, the person tries to create a solution or plan alone.  When trying to communicate in a challenging situation, the person composes a response alone.  I am becoming more and more convinced that alone is seldom, if ever, a good approach.  I know that I am frequently in great need of at least one other person to talk things over with as I try to develop a course of action.

Recently I can recall a couple different examples of this truth.  I have had situations in my leadership roles where I was faced with a challenge.  While I wanted to do what was best for the organization and the individuals involved, I was struggling with identifying the correct response.  Each scenario that I foresaw in my mind did not seem to lead to a win-win situation.  While, I know that you are not always going to be able to achieve a win-win, I always put that forth as a goal for myself.  The main reason that I do that is because I realize that in all situations, people and relationships are going to be impacted.  When you are impacting a person or group of people with your decisions and actions, you must include that in your thought process.  In both specific challenges that I am thinking about, I was not experiencing much success in determine a plan that would lead to a win-win.  This is when I decided to reach outside myself.

I was able to identify a person who I could contact that had some knowledge of the situation and the individuals involved.  By taking the time to sit down and talk through the situation, the individuals, and the thoughts I had in regards to a course of action, I was able to formulate a much different plan that would provide a greater opportunity for win-win to occur.  The partners that I asked to journey through the challenge with me, gave great insight and wisdom.  They helped me to see where my emotions were being triggered.  They helped me see how my words and actions could be interpreted.  They helped me to come to a much healthier and wiser course of action than I could ever achieve on my own.

For some reason, many of us struggle to remember to get outside of ourselves.  We forget to take the time to seek input from others.  We forget to take the time to step back before charging into action.  We have the perception that we must do it all ourselves.

Moses‘ father-in-law, Jethro, gave Moses some great advice as Moses was trying to lead the people of Israel.  Moses was becoming exhausted trying to mediate disagreements between the people.  He was having to create a plan of action for the nation as a whole and at the same time try to end the fights among the people.  So Jethro told Moses this:

“Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave. But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”  (Exodus 18:19-23)

Jethro was telling Moses to get outside himself.  He was instructed Moses to allow others to become involved in the situation.  Moses was trying to do it alone and Jethro said no.

My hope is that I will always remember to get outside myself when dealing with challenges.  My hope is that I will remember to seek the wisdom and perspective from others as I strive to faithfully lead.