Your Why is Your Cure

“I wonder what it will take for you to stop tolerating just existing and really start living.” -Pastor Erwin McManus

I heard that quote, from one of my favorite writers and speakers, on his podcast. McManus pastors Mosaic church in Los Angeles. The quote was from the second week of lock down. It gave me chills when I heard it.

So, what will it take?

I’m guilty of settling for just existing. In that case, the symptoms match the sickness. Settle for your surroundings and that is what you will get. Name a part of life and, most likely, you’ve allowed it to happen.

We tolerate for the sake of comfort and convenience.

We tolerate for the sake of others.

We tolerate for the sake of a pandemic.

It is time to get excited again, to look forward and step forward, to imagine and grasp what could be. It is time to find your Why.

Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Pexels.com

Two Qualities of a Genuine Why

1-Your Why will be Painful.

I have a hard time letting myself get excited. Cynicism can be found in so many of us as we go through life and get burned. Wounds take the form of doubt. We chastise ourselves for getting excited, for looking forward to something. We beat back our happiness for the trade to realism when, if we were being honest, it is just as much of a front to be miserable all the time.

Authenticity is finding meaning in your waking moments and finding the courage to chase it down.

2-Your Why will Carry You

Momentum is a daily thing. Every step counts no matter how small. Your cause must be greater than your current situation and deeper than your current discontent.

In the quiet moments, you’ll find your thoughts drifting back to your Why. Your dreams will make their way into your waking.

Your Why will make daily life tolerable on the journey towards it.

Take a moment in the hours left today and think about the future, think about purpose, push away the doubts and see what emerges. Silence the critics, clear your head, and get in touch with the child that started your dreams. It may be the first time you’ve done this in decades, but I promise you the voice is still there and waiting to respond.

Reach deep to that essence inside and you’ll find your cure waiting to be unleashed.

The Gift of Changing Your Mindset

We started basketball last week.  In the gym of the local YMCA, Carter and eight other boys run around, dribble, pass and shoot. A good number of the kids on the team were in the spring’s baseball league, so we aren’t too far outside our comfort zone.  Carter loves the game.  Anything that allows a constant flow of movement is paradise.

Tonight, near the end of practice, Carter slipped and lost the ball to another player.  He fell and, as he stood up, started crying and saying he hurt his arm.  I walked him over to the side where he got a drink and rested for a minute.  The coach (a friend of mine) came over to try to get him back into things.

It took some convincing.

I sent the coach a text message afterwards to get his opinion on practice in general.  He said that Carter is great, if he could only figure out a way to change his mindset.

My son, blessed with coordination and athletic ability at age seven, can’t take conflict and failure.

As I typed that sentence, I realize he sounds a lot like his old man.

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As writers, failure and rejection is a part of life. Google famous authors and you’ll find their rejection stories, grand novels passing through a hundred publishers before finding the right one. Writers in second and third careers before their break and release onto the market.

Failure and rejection has meaning.

The story of Peter is one in the Bible that always fascinated me.  He was told, by Jesus, that he’d deny him three times.  Imagine the one you would die for telling you that you’ll turn your back in a time of trouble. The accusations fly and Peter, as predicted, makes his denials.

In the midst of pressure, he walks away. He takes the route of believed safety.  When he life goes sideways, he chooses to walk away rather than stand firm. We know it doesn’t end there, though, as he is reinstated by Jesus and lives out his life to face a martyr’s death like each of the other apostles.

The tipping point is the choice to get back in the game. When Carter cries, he’s reacting to failure, to the fear of not meeting expectations or making someone happy.  When he wants to walk away from the game, the shame (and shame must be strong at seven) wins.

I know that feeling, every time I put off editing another chapter, writing another post, or crafting another email.

There is nothing as exhilarating as living in your flow, playing the game, moving towards the end goal. This week, consider your mindset and make a change.  List out those things you are putting off, whether in business or personal life. Start getting them done one task at a time.

It is a gift that can change your 2016 for the better.

~Matt

I am Not Cut Out For This

I am not cut out for this.

Writing should be honest and this post will be as straightforward as I can get.

I am not cut out for this.

After a while, so many forces pull you in different directions and you look in the mirror and wonder how in the world you’ll do another twenty-four hours tomorrow. We cope with it in a variety of ways, some negative and some positive. Life can push you forward or pull you down, often both more than once in a single day.

When all the forces pile up, you reach an impasse and realize that something has to change.

The good news is, you are in good company.

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The Bible is full of people not cut out for their callings.  Adam and Eve had one job, to avoid a certain tree, and they failed. Moses debated God when he was told to march into Egypt and confront royalty.  Jonah ran the other direction from his divine appointment.

Paul was struck down on the road to kill more Christians.

Peter denied Jesus three times. Thomas demanded visual proof of the Resurrection.

Being human means we are not cut out for this.

I’d love to pull out some solid quote about motivation and calling here but, after taking three hours to put Aiden to sleep, I don’t know if I have it. I’m sitting in the kitchen typing next to the window listening to the bugs chirp in the night.

There is peace to the darkness.

Maybe that’s the point.

When you fall, when you find yourself questioning and running the other way,  there is peace.  There is silence in the deepest part of the struggle. There is hope in weakness because we can’t lean on ourselves.

We can only look to the sky and cry out for help.

So tonight isn’t a Paul moment.  It isn’t visual proof or divine intervention.

Tonight is a small voice deep inside saying, It will be okay.

It will be okay.

~Matt

When Life Gets Heavy

I am a huge Al Pacino fan. I’ll watch his movies whenever they are on and I hope to pass on my passion to my sons one day so they can appreciate great acting.  One of his movies, The Devil’s Advocate, is a modern twist on Paradise Lost. Keanu Reeves plays a Florida defense lawyer who starts the movie making a questionable moral choice to defend a client he knows who is guilty.

He wins the case. Pacino, playing John Milton (the screenwriter had to stretch for that one), is the head of a large New York City firm.  He recruits Reeves to his firm and destroys his life leading to a climax and a reveal of Milton’s true identity. There’s a scene where the two actors are talking about a legal contract and Pacino says:

“Pressure changes everything. Some people, you squeeze ‘em, they focus. Others fold.  Can you summon your talent at will?  Can you deliver on a deadline? Can you sleep at night?”

There are times when life gets heavy. When you start your own business, the mountain can seem too tall, the end result too far off on the horizon. When you chase your dream, your legs can get tired.  Let’s break down this quote and pull out the value for dreamers, creators, and thinkers like you and me.

Pressure changes everything: How did it feel when you told the first person that you were going to chase your dream? Putting your goals out there creates automatic accountability, whether in business, writing, or life. You will face pressure and it will change everything.   When you decide to live, forces will mount against you and that leads us forward.

Some people, you squeeze ‘em, they focus. Others fold: Here’s the key section.  How do you handle pressure?  Val and I have faced challenges over our past fifteen years together. We’ve stared down money, health, and parenting issues.  We had to take everything in stride and keep moving. Be like the shark; never stop swimming. The sun will always rise tomorrow and I’ve watched it after many late nights scared of what was to come.

Can you summon your talent at will?: In today’s world, this is the new currency.  We are past factory jobs that last a lifetime and retirement that will provide until death. The age of security is over.  Contract marketing is king.  It is not what have you done, but what can you do for me right now?

Credits and experience don’t mean anything if you are the new kid with a viable, valuable, and sustainable idea.

Can you deliver on a deadline?: If you can’t, there is a world of hard-working, creative people who can. Time management is key.  Make a goal and a promise and stick to it.

Can you sleep at night?: Do you have peace? Can you hit the pillow knowing you accomplished something? Do you end each day noting a small victory? It can be anything from a new sale, contract, lead, or project to working out and eating right. Give yourself credit and use it for motivation when the next sun rises.

If you like this post, please share it with friends and let me know!

Soundtrack Inspiration:

 

~Matt