Romance is Central

Romantic LoveI confess.

I am a soulful dreamer (masculine way of saying I’m a romantic). That’s my disclaimer.

Today, I am in awe of how much our spirits and very beings long for romance. With it there’s a little more bounce in our steps, a softening in our demeanor, a spark in our spirits, and a glistening in our eyes.  Life is a beautiful adventure when we are vibrantly alive with romance.

Without it, our soul’s parch, our spirit’s wane, our creativity fades, and our playfulness dwindles.  We easily slip into a more listless and dull state when the light of romance fades.  We go through the motions until we find ourselves re-invigorated by some form of romance.

Have you ever considered how much of your life is driven by this quest for romance, even just a taste of it?  We’ll sacrifice greatly, risk boldly, or build a fortress of fear because unconsciously we respect how central romance is to being human.  We’ll make bad choices dating people we shouldn’t date, we’ll have a few too many drinks for a hopeful encounter, we’ll pray countless prayers for God to bring that special person our way, and we’ll travel far and wide for a taste of romance.  We’ll have painfully awkward moments in the pursuit of romance (trust me I’ve had enough for three guys) such as leaving excessively long voicemails professing our affections to someone who’s not interested.  And then calling back because it got truncated to continue the unwanted love ballad.

Occasionally, as a single guy, my awareness meter rises and my eyes are opened to how much the clothes I wear, the car I drive, the home I buy, the friends I seek, and the successes I pursue are driven by this daunting quest for romance.  Most often though, I am oblivious to how deep the motivation goes, for it is woven into my pattern of living, so deep that it’s just normal life.

You see romance represents a deep source of significance.  Our Creator endowed us with such an innate longing for significance and romance that we desire it in all the facets of our lives.

Romance is not limited to just what we consider romantic love, for it is much more expansive than that.  Beneath the surface, romance is the longing for significance.  It represents many layers of the core of who we are.  The story of our lives, our calling/vocation, the purpose we identify our very lives with is really the story of romance.

We either find ourselves running towards it in our broken and fragmented states, struggling for it in the midst of ordinary life, or running away from it because of fear, hurt, or betrayal.  We’re driven by it all the same: Atheist, Jew, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Spiritualist, Human.

To experience romance is to be fully human.  To desire it is to be honest. To pursue it, is to be courageous.  To hide from it, is to live in denial.  To embrace it, is to drink deeply tasting the finest of what it means to be fully human.

Words of wisdom: Honor and respect the longing for romance both in your own heart and the hearts of others.  Respect the profound sacredness of romance.  Let your encounters with others, whether brief or enduring, be positive and enriching for you and others.  Elevate your awareness of the centrality of romance in your life and enrich the quality of your life.

Musings in a plane over the Russian mountains after watching the Great Gatsby & L’amour Dure Trois Ans (Love lasts 3 years).

Serving=Greatness P2

Picture of the Genius Bar in the Apple Store R...

Apple Genius Bar in London

Titanic

Have you ever noticed how our greatest love stories typically involve someone sacrificing their life for the good of another?  Stirring stories like the love story of Titanic, William Wallace in Braveheart, and Mother Theresa’s life awaken something deep within us.  We know love to its core is placing others above ourselves.  It’s about caring more about someone than our own selfish wants and desires.  It’s about the joy of sacrifice.

We know truly loving others means sacrifice right?  And in our mind we think we’d jump in front of a bus for our loved ones, but yet we often have such trouble doing the small things daily that communicate love and kindness.  Taking out the trash, communicating more kindly and thoughtfully to our loved ones, creatively serving our customers and co-workers instead of just doing the bare minimum.

Everyday presents opportunities to serve others in our work and in our personal life.  Let’s be mindful and seize those opportunities touch the lives of others.

6 more tips for Embracing the Greatness of Serving:

  1. Recognize and Applaud it. When you see others serving well, whether it be your waiter, a customer service rep, or a friend, genuinely compliment them. Encouragement is a form of serving.
  2. Model it. Read stories about those who have a servant disposition in their character.    Spend more time with those who have a humble serving attitude towards others rather than those who tend to only live for themselves.  Unconsciously the way our mind works, we tend to adopt the patterns and behaviors of the stories we read and of the people we’re around.
  3. Visualize it. Imagine your typical day playing out with a servant attitude.  Imagine waking up and going through your morning routine more aware of how you can serve people.  Imagine being thoughtful and considerate throughout your workday and how it feels as you interact with people differently.  See and feel their response.  See yourself really enjoying serving your customers and co-workers in practical ways.  And when you return home, imagine having a servanthood attitude towards your roommates or loved ones instead of being consumed with your own world.
  4. Practice Thoughtful & Spontaneous Generosity. The girl I’m dating was leaving the airport with her mom and sister in Buenos Aires recently and an Irish guy asked her for help.  He didn’t have any cash for a cab, so she invited him to ride with them to the area of town he needed to go and proceeded to help ensure that he got on the right bus from there.  Generosity at 1:30 a.m., when she was really tired. Good stuff.
  5. Challenge Cultural Norms. Have you ever been to Apple’s Genius Bar? Instead of following the norm in the computer industry for customer service of shipping things to central location or outsourcing customer support to Asia, Apple designed their retail stores with the customer in mind first.  First priority for Apple: how do we enrich the live’s of our customers, not how do we most inexpensively provide customer service.  Your computer or ipod has issues? Bring it in and you’ll talk to a real person speaking your language competently who often will fix the computer on the spot. In 15 minutes.
  6. Secretly serve. 5 guys in a house. Lots of trash and not a clean house & no one liked to take out the trash.  After college, that’s where I found myself.  We had a huge trash can, but it filled up nearly everyday.  First few months we often took turns, but the other guys would usually forget.  I’d get angry and frustrated.  Then I realized I needed to grow in the character trait of servanthood and here’s the perfect opportunity.  I took the trash out for 10 months every time without telling the roommates what I was doing. No one commented.  I came to really enjoy it and grew a lot in embracing the value of servanthood. (Obviously not so secret anymore).

Challenge:

Who do you want to serve to today?  How?

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant and whoever wants to be first must become your slave. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many.”

-Jesus of Nazareth.

Serving=Greatness. Pt.1

“Everybody can be great… because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

Another christmas has just come and gone, so it’s only appropriate that I write about serving.  Christmas is often a time where we consider serving others, whether it be a time where we volunteer to feed the homeless, give to charities, or buy gifts for family and friends.  And the core essence of Christmas is the celebration of serving, namely God sending his son Jesus as a loving sacrifice for each of us. God to his core is a servant.

 

Serving=putting others needs, wants, before your own in your actions and demeanor.

 

First 6 tips for embracing the greatness of serving:

  1. See servanthood as noble instead of demeaning. Flip your perspective upside down. Somehow, we’ve often come to see serving as demeaning, when it’s actually incredibly noble and beautiful. Our most heroic leaders realized this: Gandhi, MLK Jr., Jesus, Mother Theresa and many, many more.
  2. Let your ego die. Serve those above you, below you, and alongside you in social status.  Make it a habit to do all three.  Even if it’s uncomfortable at times.  The only way to expand your comfort zone is to get outside of it and the best way to do that is by serving.
  3. Be thoughtful. One time, I unknowingly blended into my morning smoothie one of those “Do Not Eat,” freshness packets you find in freeze dried foods. My smoothie was a little grainer but I didn’t think anything of it until I started seeing plastic bits (silly me).  Later that morning I told the girl I was dating at the time about drinking half of a smoothie with that stuff and that I was feeling sick.  On her own volition, she called poison control to check on it.  I apparently had ingested fertilized dirt, but I would be ok.  She made me feel really cared for because she took the extra initiative of thoughtfulness.
  4. Delight in serving. Find the joy in serving, have fun with it.  You have the capacity to enrich the lives of others. It’s not drudgery.  It’s a pleasure, it’s an honor.  Shift your attitude to reflect this perspective.  The more you embrace it, the more fun you’ll have serving.
  5. Invite others to serve with you. Serving is more fun in community. Many years ago, a few buddies and I walk outside after seeing a movie in the theater and it had just snowed three inches.  One of the guys playfully but seriously said, “Let’s clear off the snow on everyone’s cars!” We proceeded to have a blast clearing off the snow on everyone’s windshield’s that night.  And it felt really good to practically and creatively serve people while having fun.
  6. Communicate from a disposition of serving. Be aware of others expectations, wants, and needs in terms of communication. Be considerate.  Ask yourself, how will this person feel if I wait to respond for this time period, or if I respond in this way?  So much misunderstanding and disappointment comes from us not being aware of what other people expectations are in communication, and us not caring enough to find out.  Further, we need to realize that we each have our own expectations of communication and we attach meaning that may or may not be appropriate to certain communication patterns.  For example, if your boyfriend doesn’t text you back within 2.5 minutes, it may not mean that he doesn’t care about you. It may just mean that he values being fully present to the people he’s with at the moment. But both of you can work together to figure out how you can best communicate love and respect.

 

More tips and thoughts on servanthood to come next week.

Embrace one of these more deeply in your life today and experience the joy and satisfaction of serving others.

 

Complaints Without Action – Featuring Guest Writer Sam Davidson

One Thing Your Life Doesn’t Need:

Complaints Without Action

Sometimes, there’s no better stress or tension reliever than letting off some steam by complaining. Yell, stomp your feet, or throw something (as long as it’s not at someone’s head). Just don’t let complaining become a lifestyle, in which you idly vent about what bothers you. Your life doesn’t need complaints without action.

If you see a problem, it’s okay to be upset. Getting upset and proclaiming your disapproval is a good thing. But complaining should never be the end; it should be the beginning. Complaining should lead to acting, whether that means protesting, writing, volunteering, or leading the effort to make it right. Take action when you complain. It’s the only way you’ll ever stop.

“There outta be a law!” you say? Then make one (or call or write or email the people who make them). “That ain’t right!” you protest. What is right? What should be done? It’s time you get to doing it. There should be a new rule stating that if you complain and don’t act, then you’re not allowed to complain any more. Maybe I’ll get to work on that.

People who complain and never act should soon lose their right to be heard. Whether you simply ignore them when they start moaning and groaning, or whether you challenge them to start doing something to address the object of their dislike, the complainer will soon see the folly of griping about something and not acting.

Things only change because people act to bring about that change. Leaders of movements and revolutions weren’t merely complainers. They took action. Many were willing to be ridiculed at best and at worst, executed. Had any of them stopped at the complaint stage, our world would not have seen any progress in centuries.

Thankfully, they decided it was time to get to work, and the world was made better for it. What will you improve? You’ll need to move beyond simple complaining to get it done.

The time to act is now.

—-

A little bit about our guest writer:

Sam Davidson is a writer, entrepreneur, and dreamer who believes that the world needs more passionate people. To help people find and live their passion, he has written 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need. He is the co-founder of Cool People Care and Proof Branding, and lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter. Check out a short clip of his book, 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need, here. For more information contact Sam at 615.260.3082 or check out his blog.

To order a copy of 50 Things Your Life Doesn’t Need, click here.


The Ache of Loneliness

The Ache of Loneliness and its Effects on Motivation


Tonight, I felt the pang of loneliness deeply for perhaps the first time in Buenos Aires (3 weeks in).  I’m sitting in a cafe in Palermo eating a salad at about 8:30 Sunday night and I found out that the friend I was supposed to be meeting up for ice cream with wasn’t getting back in time to go.  A deep weight of loneliness overcame me for a moment and I lost motivation to pursue my work and passion, though I’d been intentionally alone for the last seven hours, shopping, thinking, reading and hadn’t felt lonely yet.

I pondered this pang of loneliness and how to get myself out of it on the twenty minute walk back to my house.  I noticed a young, pretty girl rummaging through garbage for plastics to recycle by herself and felt empathy for her and momentarily considered helping her, but reconsidered as a I don’t really speak Spanish well and I might not communicate my intentions clearly.  But I sense that she was feeling lonely at that moment too and she could have used the help.

While walking the twenty blocks back home, I remembered an encounter with some businessmen from D.C. I had in a relatively high end location, Bar Millione, on Friday night.  They were there with their wives and had just had a nice dinner and tango show.  Apparently, one of the wives had just complained about her drink, and the husband exclaims to me, “Don’t ever get married! It’s the worst!” His buddy exuberantly concurred. Moments later, I narrowly escaped the clutches of more oppressive negativity to meet my friends from Switzerland and proceeded to have great conversations with quality people the rest of the night.

Based on some of their other chauvinistic comments, I sensed these guys realized ‘success’ in the worldly business sense, but had failed to navigate success in cultivating healthy relationships with their spouses.

I considered their remarks at the time and while they emotionally felt those statements were true at the time, those statements weren’t true, even for them.  Why?  Because the pang of loneliness would rock their world.  Unconsciously, they’re not motivated enough to end what may be a bad relationship.  Probably because the fear of the pain of loneliness exceeds the pain of a bad marriage.

We all experience loneliness.  Married, single, young, or old.  I have an amazing community of friends, family, and colleagues in Nashville.  It’s hard for me not to have several good social activities nearly every night of the week and during the day.  Yet I still experience loneliness at times, no matter if I’m romantically involved with a girl or not.

What does that loneliness point me towards?

Connecting to others and to my Creator.  We were created with a deep innate need for relationships.  A desire to relate, a longing to love, a yearning to share our one and only life with others.

“It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a companion who will help him.” –Genesis 2:18.

So much of our energy and life is spent trying to connect, trying to fill the ache.  Think about it.  Why do you get excited when you get a Facebook message from a friend, a text from a romantic interest?  What about the joy and intensity you feel when you share a breathtaking moment with a loved one?  A stimulating and deep conversation with your best friend?  Or a passionate kiss and long, warm embrace with your lover?

Yet, it also points me to the reality that I’ll have loneliness throughout my life at times.  No matter if I have a thriving business, tremendous friendships, and a wonderful marriage and family.

If you have a passionate embrace with your romance, part of the joy and satisfaction you receive is from the feeling of being connected to another person.  Insatiably you and I long for connection with another person, all of our days.  This desire doesn’t fade or disappear, though it could be numbed because of painful experiences in being vulnerable or in trying to connect.

On the way home, I ponder what satisfies the feeling of loneliness in a healthy way?  How can I most effectively help others experience healthy and meaningful connections as a pattern of their lives?

The Taunting of Resistance

Resistance=that which holds me back from accomplishing and pursuing what I am uniquely positioned or gifted to do.

Primary Source of Resistance=enemy within.

The enemy from within foils me.  Foils me by providing a litany of rationalizations and excuses for why I can’t pursue what I’m called to pursue.

Resistance deftly utilizes three very effective strategies to thwart my life and my Genius (see previous blog).

1. Fear. Failure. Success.  Family/spouse/friend approval.  Change. Embarrassment.

  1. Distraction.  Good things.  Work, family, personal, Facebook, dating, social life, ‘responsibilities,’ volunteering.   You name it.  Endless variety of distractions.

3. Lacking.  I lack the time, money, talent, knowledge, age, experience, education, resume…on and on.  Fill in the _____.  I might have several or all of the above.

Chances are Resistance has been attacking you on several fronts as it has been me.

Resistance’s goal is not to wound or disable.  Resistance aims to kill.  Its target is the epicenter of our being: our genius, our soul, the unique and priceless gift we were put on earth to give and that no one else has but us.”

Steven Pressfield, The War of Art.

What do the conquerors of Resistance do differently that the rest of us? Have you seen the movie the Social Network? Resistance taunted Mark Zuckerberg with all three strategies.  Let’s make a list of many justifiable reasons (resistance strategies) Mark had for not starting Facebook and for canning it multiple times along the way:

  • Way too young.
  • No experience starting and running a company.
  • No money.
  • Not many friends and few social connections.
  • Girls could get really offended and it could hurt his dating life (and did initially).  Huge deal for 20 year old college guy.
  • School administration could discipline and punish him for violations.
  • Lots of school work.
  • Potential lawsuits from former ‘almost’ business partners.
  • Loads of other social opportunities.
  • Could lose the ‘security’ of having a college degree if expelled.

Wow.  Can you see yourself using some of the same excuses?

Bear in mind, Mark’s story is a compelling example you’ll be able to use to gain leverage on your own resistance.  A few questions to ask yourself:

  1. What ways am I encountering resistance?
  2. How am I encountering resistance from within for what I know I must do? What excuses am I really adept at utilizing?

So how did Mark overcome all of these seemingly insurmountable obstacles?  How did he conquer Resistance?

Mark had three major keys that vaulted him and Facebook to tremendous success.  Leverage. Neuro Associations. Massive Action. (Next Blog).