Have you ever noticed how the people in your life affect you? The impact can be so significant that one of the best things we can do to change our lives for the better is change our peer group.
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In the 1930s C.S. Lewis started a small literary circle called the Inklings. The group started with J.R.R. Tolkien, and eventually included others like Owen Barfield and Charles Williams. The influence on works in progress of the different members was huge.
Lewis actually scrapped the first draft of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe after his friends heard some chapters. They considered it “so bad that I destroyed it,” he said. It’s impossible to discount the influence of our friends.
We all know our words are powerful. We can slice someone to pieces with just a few syllables. That’s bad enough, but what happens when we turn that power on ourselves?
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As a young man, the writer Peter Leonard showed a short story to his famous father, novelist Elmore Leonard. Instead of encouraging his son, Elmore Leonard wrote a lengthy critique saying his characters were flat and lifeless.
“I didn’t write another word of fiction for 27 years,” Peter recalled. But as sad as that story is, we do the same thing to ourselves, don’t we?
Emotions are powerful, especially if we let them work in our lives without paying full attention. They can derail our goals if we let them.
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In my experience there are four emotions that usually come mixed in a powerful cocktail, sure to undermine our goals: fear, uncertainty, doubt, and shame. Most of us succumb to these from one time to another. I certainly do.
What do you do when you find yourself down on the track while the race goes on without you? We all trip and fall. The question is what comes next?
Heather Dorniden, now Kampf, is a highly decorated runner with an impressive string of accomplishments. But what’s most impressive was the time she won first place in the 600 meter dash—after falling flat on her face.
When I left Thomas Nelson a few years back, it seemed like every other person I met asked if I was retiring. I bristled every time I heard the question.
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In fact, the more I think about the purpose and meaning of work, the more I’m convinced that nothing destroys our sense of purpose and health more than the modern notion of retirement. It’s detrimental to us individually and collectively.
The truth is I’m more creative and engaged now than I’ve ever been. I’m not slowing down any time soon.
You might be familiar with The Shawshank Redemption. Remember the storyline? Andy Dufresne, innocent of any crime, is saddled with a life sentence in Shawshank Prison. The experience nearly kills him and his hope for freedom.
I filtered the movie through my own experience. Stuck in my day job, I felt imprisoned from my potential. Although I loved the people I served and worked with, I felt captive from my creativity. Slowly over the years, I accepted my own life sentence. I thought it was easier to let my dreams die than to keep hoping for freedom.
But that’s not what Andy did. He escaped. And eventually I did, too.
When we see what others have, is our basic reaction to notice what we’re missing or express gratitude for what we have?
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I’ve thought a lot about about this question over the years but came back to it recently when I found myself feeling a little jealous over all the vacation posts popping up on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
At some point the serene beaches, beautiful lakes, and mountaintop views started getting to me. I felt like I was missing out. Maybe you’ve felt this way too.
When it comes to work and life, most of us know what it feels like to be out of balance. But do we know what it feels like to be in balance? It’s not a trick question—even if it seems so at first.
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A few years ago I took my mentoring group on a ropes course. For one of the challenges, we walked a long stretch of rope that wound around several trees. We had to hold onto each other as we worked our way across the line.
Here’s what I remember most of all: When we were balanced, it never really felt like we were. Our legs constantly moved and wobbled, and we strained to grip each other and the nearest tree. But we stayed on that line a long time, making little corrections, adjusting our weight, and trying to stay upright. It didn’t feel like balance, but it was.
The weekend gives most of us the chance to downshift and recharge. But how often do we seize on it to catch up or get ahead on our work instead? Slow down and imagine what could happen if we resisted the temptation.
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If you’re driven like I am, you have more projects than time. It’s easy to think of downtime as simply another opportunity to get more things done. But downtime is crucial, and there’s more evidence every day that it’s essential to our productivity and wellbeing.
Have you ever found yourself in a hyper-productive period? You’re making progress on your goals, checking boxes on your list. It’s like music to your ears. But to everyone else in your life, it’s more like noise.
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When I first started in publishing I was determined to succeed. I would get to the office at 5:00 a.m. and stay till 6:00 p.m. I even came in on Saturdays. All told, I clocked about seventy hours a week.
I’ve since learned there’s a word for this kind of schedule: crazy.
Starting things is simple. It’s progress that’s hard. Nothing makes that truth come alive like looking back on your week and seeing what didn’t get finished.
When we begin a project there’s all kinds of enthusiasm. We’re energized by that surge of excitement that comes from novelty and our own creativity. But that surge is like starter fluid; it’s not the fuel that will see us through the journey.