There are several different ingredients to success. Talent, persistence, and timing all contribute. But there’s one factor we might sometimes overlook—character.
Character reminds me of a tree’s root system. It doesn’t matter how beautiful or majestic a tree might look above ground; it’s only as strong and durable as the roots below.
Since we can’t see the roots, we might miss what it takes to keep that tree fed and standing strong. But the roots are essential to the success of the tree.
Welcome to Season 2, Episode 1 of the This Is Your Life podcast. In this first episode, Michele Cushatt and I discuss my recent sabbatical. We explore how you can plan to take your own sabbatical—even if it seems impossible right now.
For each of the past three years, my wife, Gail, and I have taken a thirty-day sabbatical. This year, we went to Europe. We toured Austria, Germany, and Switzerland.
Listen to the Audio
Podcast: Subscribe in iTunes | Play in new window
Do you ever get uneasy—or even afraid—when you’re close to achieving something big in your life? I do. In our recent relaunch of Platform University, for instance, we started with fewer responses than I anticipated.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/jacomstephens
I began estimating the results for the entire campaign based on those early results and didn’t like where things were going. I started messaging members of the team, asking questions, reworking our strategy, and adjusting our tactics. Almost immediately, the results began to improve.
Later that same morning, my daughter and Dean of Platform University, Megan, said something that made me laugh.
The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story on the trend in slow reading. The idea is that intentional time in a book can improve our minds and reduce our stress.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/caracterdesign
If you’re a book person like me, this is no surprise. It doesn’t matter if it’s paper or digital, just taking thirty minutes out of a busy day brings me a sense of calm. A good book gives me a moment to myself in a world of racing and rushing and lets me collect my thoughts—or even escape them for a while.
We all have favorite things we do to deal with the stress in our lives. These are things that take our minds off our difficulties, help us reframe them, or reenergize us to face them. Here are my top-seven stress reducers.
If you want to find more creativity, satisfaction, and happiness, the single best solution I know is adding more art to your life.
Photo courtesy of Eleri Ever, eleriever.com, and the Estonian Ministry of Culture
Music has been a big part of my life since I was a young boy, though my tastes have broadened a lot since I was first learning chords on my guitar. I love choral music, for instance. Morten Lauridsen’s “Agnus Dei” can bring me to tears.
Several months ago I was invited to attend a concert at Carnegie Hall, featuring not just the music of the composer Arvo Pärt, but Arvo Pärt himself. It was a one-of-a-kind night. The orchestra and choir played some of his most popular and enduring compositions. There were several moments when the music lifted me right out of myself.
There aren’t many phrases in English more recognizable than “the pursuit of happiness.” But what could happen if we turned it around? That’s exactly what Chris Guillebeau does in his new book, The Happiness of Pursuit: Finding the Quest That Will Bring Purpose to Your Life.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/DNY59
At just 36, Chris has already led an amazing life. A self-starting entrepreneur since age 19, he felt depressed after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and decided to dedicate himself to something truly significant.
He began working on a medical ship off the coast of West Africa. That’s where he caught the travel bug. Since then he has visited not a dozen, not two dozen, but all 193 countries in the world. Now Chris works to share that spirit of adventure with others.
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.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/zeremski
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?
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/eelnosiva
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.
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.com/murengstockphoto
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.
Photo courtesy of Istockphoto.com/benoitb
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.