My Morning Miracle

I’m trying something new. Well, not really new, people have been doing it since, well, probably since the beginning of human civilization. It’s not even entirely new to me. The thing is, I am now doing it with new motivation, expectation, and purpose.
This “new” thing is called The Miracle Morning(TM) based on the book by Hal Elrod also titled, The Miracle Morning. The not so new part is waking up early, the new part is why.

See, before, I believed that getting up early was merely a good idea, but I didn’t understand that it was essential to living up to my full potential.

So a couple weeks ago, after reading Hal’s book, I decided to give The Miracle Morning(TM) a try and I committed to getting up at 5a.m. to work on my personal development. Hal’s program is still new to me and I don’t do everything exactly as he prescribes, but this morning I learned there’s more than one way to have a Miracle Morning. 

My alarm was beeping. I got out of bed, walked to my dresser and turned it off. My alarm is across the room so I have to get out of bed to turn it off. Then I grabbed my clothes and went to the bathroom where I can turn on the light without disturbing my wife who was out late last night. Once dressed, went to the kitchen for a glass of water, drinking water helps me wake up. Well, that and the coffee. 

I set my now empty glass on the table and turned around and then I saw it – the pile of dishes in the sink. 

Now, last night I had a choice, stay up to unload and reload the dishwasher or save it for the morning. Either way, I had already set my alarm for 4:50 AM and it was after 10 PM at that point. If I stayed up I knew my wife would be happy when she came home and heard the dishwasher running, but I felt like I was going to pass out, so I went to bed. 

So there I was, staring at the dirty dishes and I realized I had a choice, I could leave the whole mess for my wife and just get my coffee and get on with my Miracle Morning, or I could put off the reading I wanted to do and give my wife a Miracle Morning by doing the dishes. I did the dishes. 

Once the dishwasher was running, I picked up my mug of coffee and stepped outside to enjoy the first light of day. I love being outside early in the morning! The sun wasn’t up yet but there was enough light to see what I was doing. I stood on the deck and just listened to the birds for a moment.

Looking around I noticed that everything was dry, no rain, no dew. I could sit in my favorite deck chair without getting a towel to dry it off. But I didn’t sit down because since it didn’t rained in the night the garden needed watering.

It takes a little time to water everything because I use the water from the rain barrel, and that means filling the watering can multiple times. But that also gave me time to enjoy the peaceful morning. Even our relatively quiet neighborhood gets noisy with activity during the day, so I was grateful to be outside and hear only birds. 

After filling and emptying the watering can a few times, I noticed the world changing from grey tone to full color as the sun peeked over the horizon. I turned to face northeast, smiling to welcome the coming day. The clouds were aglow with pink light. THIS is worth getting up early for!

I still had not exercised or done affirmations or the reading I was hoping to do, but though I did not plan to, I had practiced kindness, silence, and gratitude. I made positive choices and that turned into a positive attitude. I was feeling great. It was going to be a good day!

I may not have done things quite like Hal Elrod but I ended up having a good morning anyway. I was up early and got things done before sunrise and that put me ahead of the game! And that’s what The Miracle Morning(TM) means for me. 

What I had discovered was that you don’t have to follow someone’s program exactly as they lay it out. I took the concepts and adapted them to what I needed this morning, and I got a positive result, because doing something, anything, is better than doing nothing at all.


Why Not Make New Year’s Resolutions?

I have a confession to make: I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. That probably makes me a heretic. I mean, it’s what you’re supposed to do. it’s like an unwritten rule or something. Everywhere you go right now someone is saying, “New Year, New You!” Everybody’s doing it, and nobody questions it.

Maybe I have rebellious streak. I mean just because everyone else does it, doesn’t mean I have to. Or maybe I’m afraid to fail. After all, if I don’t make any major commitments, I won’t get frustrated later when my plans get derailed. And sometimes I wonder why all the resolutions I’m expected to make are all about me and my little life. I mean, if I really want to make a difference in the world, shouldn’t I resolve to donate more to charity, or volunteer at a homeless shelter, rather than focusing on my own self development? Besides, what if I don’t know what I want to do yet? What if I don’t figure it out until June?

  • No Magic

There’s nothing wrong with pausing to evaluate yourself and resolving to do better, but I don’t think there is anything magical about doing it at the beginning of the year. January first is really just a date.

A new year does have an element of excitement, I’ll grant you. It’s like clicking “New Document” in the File menu: it’s fresh and full of possibility. I just think we should open new documents often all through the year, not just in January. Everyday we should be asking, “what can I do today to make a difference?”

  • Go Big?

The problem with making yearly resolutions is most people want theirs to be big and impressive. “Go big or go home,” they say. “This year I’m going to crush it!” they say. I genuinely hope they do, but for me, sometimes it would just be nice to have an good day, never mind a whole year. Don’t get me wrong, doing big things like publishing a book or running a marathon would be awesome, but it’s the little things sometimes that make a biggest difference.

  • One Day at a Time.

Maybe you enjoy making New Year’s Resolutions, and that’s fine. If I were to change my ways and join you in this practice I would start by asking, and then answering the question, “how can I serve others?”

I hope you and I can crush it this year. You do it your way and I’ll do it one day at time. Who knows, maybe this year will be my year to do something big, and if I’m lucky I might even have it figured out by June.

Don’t Criticize What You Don’t Understand

You might have heard the Native American proverb, “Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his moccasins.” I was wondering where it came from so I looked it up found out it came from a poem written by Mary T. Lathrap in 1895. The original title was “Judge Softly.” Mrs. Lathrap’s poem reminds us that everyone has struggles that we are not aware of and if you or I were in his situation, carrying his load we would likely also stumble and fall along Life’s journey just as he did. I encourage you to read the full poem here.

It would be good for us to remember that we don’t have enough facts to judge people objectively. We are distracted by outward appearances most of the time and fail to see who they are as a person, and so we misjudge them. 

Isn’t it funny that we judge people on shallow things like their skin color or how they dress, but then we get offended when they want to judge us by the same standard? We should remember the Golden Rule and not judge people, since we don’t want them to judge us.

What is it about human nature? It’s like we have an urge to divide people into arbitrary groups and label them. Who is this helping? Politicians? Social anthropologists? Not the bright young man you called an idiot hipster. Not out loud of course. You would never call anyone an idiot out loud. But in our minds we do and then we form opinions of individuals based on the group label we think they wear. As if every member of any given group is alike in every way. How is that fair?

I get it, it’s so natural we don’t even realize that we are doing it. I remember working with a guy one afternoon when I was at the Missionary Training Center. I don’t remember what I said, but he responded, “don’t make me wear that label.” Then it hit me what I had just done. I had decided he belonged to a certain group and I had failed to get to know him as an individual.

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if we could slow down and try to understand what people are going trough. Could we help people instead of criticizing them? In addition to the Golden Rule, perhaps we should practice another simple rule: Don’t criticize what you don’t understand. (Thanks Bob Dylan!) Let’s try to resist judging people, and putting labels on them, and just let them be who they are.

And the next time you feel the urge to criticize or label someone, first try to see life from his or her perspective and walk a mile in his or her moccasins.

Photo Credit: Seattle Department of Transportation Flickr via Compfight cc

We Have To Stop Living In Fear

I don’t remember who said it, Tony Robins probably, but what was said was, “Some things are scary but not dangerous, and other things are dangerous but not scary.” He used repelling as an example of something not dangerous but scary. Who turns their back and steps off a cliff without feeling scared? Yet when you are secured with a rope and harness, it’s not dangerous.
The trick, of course, is to know when something is truly dangerous and when it is just scary. Fear has its place when you face real danger. Fear motivates you to hide or run away. That’s good when you are facing real danger, but sometimes you will be trapped in fear because you are believing a false narrative. This is what happened to me when I wanted to start my blog. I knew there wasn’t anything dangerous about writing for a blog, but it was scary. I was afraid no one would read it. I wondered if I had anything to tell the world that they haven’t already heard. I was, and still am, afraid I would run out of ideas.

• Face your fear

Fear won’t go away as long as you are running from it. You have to face it. You can’t crush fear unless you walk right up to it. So, as you go through your week take note of what scares you. You have to start by recognizing fear for what it is. Then ask, “is it dangerous?” It might be hard, or unpleasant, but if it isn’t dangerous pluck up your courage and crush that fear!

Putting my thoughts out on the World Wide Web isn’t inherently dangerous, but going public is scary! With each post, I face that fear and publish it anyway, because I know I need to help people be better versions of themselves. 

• Just do it!

As we go through life we will face many obstacles, but probably the hardest to overcome is our own fear. Don’t let fear be your trap. Is there something you are scared to start? Is it dangerous, or just scary? A lot of worth while things are hard and scary. We can’t let that stop us. Don’t think about being scared, think about the people you can help. Push past your fear and just do it!

BONUS: Winners Know When To Quit

“Winners quit all the time.” ~ Seth Godin

I heard Chris Guillebeau talk about quitting as a way of succeeding on The Portfolio Life podcast episode 101: How to Find Out if You Were Born for This. He was talking to host Jeff Goins about his book Born for This. In the course of their interview Chris said: 
“There’s a piece of time honored advice for entrepreneurs . . . and that is ‘never give up’. . . but that would be terrible advice. Giving up on something is not necessarily a failure. . . Entrepreneurs are all the time closing doors on things. . . They do persist toward the vision, the big picture, but they don’t necessarily persist in each project. If something isn’t working or you aren’t enjoying it anymore, life is short, why keep going?”

We tend to equate success with never failing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! Successful people fail often, but they learn from their failings and then try again.
There is one sure fire way to never fail: don’t do anything. If you want to succeed, you need to treat failure as an opportunity to learn.

Two Simple and Powerful Ways to Encourage Someone Today

I love podcasts. They help me pass the time at work. I’ve heard some amazing, true-life stories on podcasts. A couple of weeks ago I heard Suroosh Alvi tell how he started VICE Media on the “How I Built This” podcast. Check out the episode titled, “VICE: Suroosh Alvi” to hear the full story. When I got home that evening I told my wife a piece of the story that made a lasting impression on me. Suroosh was recently out of rehab, living in Montreal and about to publish the first issue of his first magazine, “The Voice of Montreal.” He was really worried it might be a flop. 
Then a friend said, “What’s the worst that could happen? You might make one magazine that you could show people, ‘I made this magazine,’ or this might be really big.”

Then he realized that his friend could be right; this might be the beginning of something big. And that humble little alternative magazine eventually became VICE Media. All because his friend believed in him. He finally had something to live up to and meaningful work to do.

After I told my wife this story I said, “when I heard that I realized the power of having someone who believes in you and your dreams. You can change someone’s life when you help them see what’s possible.”

this might be the beginning of something big.

Our words have power. We can literally energize a person’s spirit by saying something encouraging. Think of a time when someone said an encouraging word at the moment you needed it. How did it make you feel? Sometimes a simple compliment is all it takes to show someone that his or her effort is appreciated and it costs us nothing to say a few kind words. I only wish I would remember that more often!

  • Give people a chance. Most of us probably won’t be there at the launch of the next big breakthrough, but we don’t know what possibilities we’ll unlock when we say a few encouraging words. You never can tell what people might accomplish if we give them the confidence to follow their dreams. Like Suroosh’s friend did when he helped Suroosh believe he was about start something big. Most of the time all it takes is a few words and a mere moment of time to boost someone’s confidence.
  • Put it in perspective. Often someone’s failures aren’t as bad as he or she thinks they are. Suroosh’s friend showed him that the worst that could happen wouldn’t be so bad. Even if his first magazine had been a flop, he could still take it to job interviews to show prospective employers what he had done. Often the fear of failure holds people back from starting and they just need to see that failure is an opportunity to learn. Better to have tried and failed than to never have tried at all.

How have people encouraged you? Share your story in the comments.

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It’s Not What I Thought It Was

I am crucified with Christ . . . Galatians 2:20

Whenever I read the scripture where Jesus says, “take up your cross and follow me,” I want to ask, “isn’t there an easier way?” You know what I’m talking about. Death, even metaphorical death, is scary, painful, and very disruptive. Our natural bent is for survival. We avoid anything that sounds or looks like death whenever we can. So the idea of taking up my cross is scary. I imagine I will be living a less than fulfilling life. Like there will be something hanging over head and keeping me from fully enjoying life. 

But the other day I heard Stasi Eldredge of Ransomed Heart say something that made me reconsider what it means to take up my cross. She said, “After crucifixion comes resurrection.” (You can watch her talk here) When I heard Stasi say that I realized that I may have been focusing on the wrong thing. I cringed at the thought of taking up my cross and never considered that a resurrection awaited me on the other side, until a couple days ago. For the first time I wondered, could it be that when Jesus asks us to take up our crosses he is actually giving us the chance to experience more life? Maybe Jesus is telling us that sometimes we have to let something in us die before something better can come to life. Like if we let go of our love of self, God can bring to life love for people we thought were impossible to love. 

Of course this won’t be easy or fun, but we can trust the goodness and love of God. When God asks us to make a sacrifice we can face it with courage, knowing that better things are coming. And we know we don’t have to go through it alone. I will leave you with Paul’s words:

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life that I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. ~Galatians 2:20