Plant, Water, Grow

Category: Personal Growth

That Feeling in my Gut

Sometimes I think about things I’m not doing but could be doing. Some of those thoughts don’t stir up any emotion in me at all.
But others stir up a very strong emotion in the pit of my stomach. Strangely, two kinds of thoughts stir up almost exactly the same emotion. It seems to me that the only way to distinguish between the two are the things I know about me, about my strengths and weaknesses.

For example, I sometimes see people talking about how they are building their sales or how they just love doing door-to-door cold-calling. I get a very strong emotion to that. And it’s not a good one. I am not good at door-to-door. I am horrible at cold-calling. I can’t even pitch someone on something unless it’s coming from my heart.
I get the same thing when I see someone making advances in an area of technology that I know is way out of my wheelhouse and that I will almost certainly never need to know. They’re rocking it, changing the world. I feel a tinge of “you could be doing that” followed closely by “there is no way.”

Then I see a video of someone speaking on stage with passion, talking about their “thing.” Dave Ramsey. Jon Acuff. Andy Stanley. Men who are so into what they are speaking about, speaking from their heart. They exude passion. And I get a very similar feeling in my gut. But this one is accompanied by thoughts like “I need to be doing that!” and “I love speaking like that” (even though my audience is rarely more than 15 people – makes me no difference). That often leads to questions like, “how do I get there?” and “what would I even speak about?”

The same thing happens when I think of writing. I read some books, like material from Andy Andrews, and I feel that same churning inside me. Not the bad kind, no. The good kind, that says, “I would love to know people read something I wrote and grew because of it.” Then, once again, I hear the questions, “how can I get there?” and “what would I even write about?”

I don’t know the answer to those two questions. And that’s where I feel like I am in the mire of uncertainty. I could do it. I even feel strongly that I should do it. My eyes sometimes well with tears watching these people in action.

But notice the difference. I feel very strongly when I think of some things I should do and just as strongly about some things I should not do. And, as I said at the start, some things I just feel ambivalent about. I’ve thought about that a lot, especially the strong “should” and “should not” feelings. What’s the tie in there, aside from the strong emotion? Actually, what is causing this strong emotion?

I believe it is this: for some things, I feel strongly because “that is me!” For others, I feel just as strongly because “that is not me!” The draw for one is as strong as the repulsion for another.

Fueling to the Finish – Three Practical Keys to Motivation

At one time or another we have all dreamed of doing some big thing.  Perhaps starting a business, writing a book, or traveling to some exotic place.  Maybe we wanted to learn a musical instrument or a new language or some great skill.  And the reason we have often failed to do that big thing is that we lacked the motivation.  Perhaps we had the motivation to start, but we certainly did not have the motivation to see things through.

When I was seven years old I decided I wanted to start my own newspaper.  I could just feel the excitement of riding my bicycle around the neighborhood, throwing out copies of the Collins Gazette (or whatever I called it) on people’s front lawns.  I imagined having a satchel of rolled up newspapers and how awesome I would look as I set out daily to deliver them.

So I sat down at the kitchen table in our house, took a blank sheet of lined paper and got to work.  I drew a picture of the paper’s editor (that would be me) and wrote a few words about this great venture and its proprietor.  After I finished that first copy, my hand was kind of cramped.  As proud as I was of my work, I didn’t really feel like making more copies.  “Whew,” I thought, “that’s a lot of work!  We have one neighbor really close by, so for today one copy will do.”   So off I went.

My Huffy bike had a satchel zip-tied to the handlebars, so I rolled up my one newspaper, stuck it in the satchel, and rode around my yard.  When I was between my house and theirs, I flung the single-page newspaper, just like I imagined.  Only it didn’t fly beautifully into their yard the way I had imagined.  Actually it landed only a few inches from my bike.  Hmm.  Disappointed, I picked up the “newspaper” and that was the end of my journalism.

I had lost motivation.  I think it’s safe to say that we all stopped short of some dreams because we lost or never had the motivation.  You see, that day I experienced a subtle truth about motivation: emotion can get you going but it is utterly unable to keep you going.  Continue reading

You Be You

Personal growth expert Michael Hyatt often says he is a recovering people-pleaser.  I can identify with that.  Though some people might disagree, the fact is that internally I desire to make people happy.  Early in life, and less frequently as I’ve gotten older, I found myself caving, going against my own conscience and judgment, just to avoid a conflict or to make someone else happy.  In an odd balance of sorts, I was also very confrontational, but not always, and certainly not during some crucial times.

At some point a few years ago I looked back at my life and began recounting all the opportunities I had lost because I gave up meContinue reading

Why You Should Grow Like a Weed

A road I travel weekly has one of its three lanes closed for a construction project.  That single lane has been closed for well over a year, no traffic at all.  It’s easy to notice the debris that has collected in that lane over time, but there’s something else worth noticing in that lonely lane – weeds and grass poking up through the cracks in the pavement.

Over the months, having no traffic to keep them pushed down, they took advantage of their situation.  They soaked up the little bit of light that slips through the cracks, drank up the water that trickles down to them, and in hopeful defiance sprang up.  That was all they needed, because weeds and grass are opportunistic.

They did not wait for someone to scrape all the pavement from around them.  Nor did they hold out for fertilizer to accelerate their growth.  They did not need any more than the smallest of opportunities and a little bit of time.

And up they came.  And there they will sit until the construction crew either paves them over or opens the road to traffic again.  Then they’ll be dormant once again.  But they will not despair; no, they will be waiting for that sliver of hope and seizing on it when it comes.

In light of that, what excuse do we have?  We complain internally that our situation is too overwhelming, that we cannot overcome it.  We think we must wait until conditions are ideal, talking ourselves into holding back our efforts.  And while we do, someone else may spring up in our stead.  Careful – we may risk that opening being crowded if we tarry too long.  Soak in the light, the water, and use the energy they provide to defy the hopelessness that you thought had smothered you!  For when you sprout, you may drop a seed that gets carried and dropped elsewhere, to start a new field.

And what would happen if you believed the lie that it is useless, that the pavement far outweighs and outnumbers you?  No!  Be opportunistic, be hopeful.  For all it takes is a little light.

The Stairs Are Never Crowded

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
Robert Frost in The Road Not Taken


I work on the seventh floor of an eight-story office building that houses several hundred team members, maybe over a thousand.  Around the start and end of the work day, the area in front of our four elevators is, as you might imagine, fairly crowded.  Occasionally out of impatience (and honestly my internal aversion to crowds) I’ll take the stairs.  And especially lately, in a move toward being more fit, I’ve begun using the stairs several times a day.

There’s something noteworthy I have observed in those trips: the stairs are never crowded.

And self-improvement in general is very much the same way.  The path to growing ourselves and being intentional with priorities and choices is never crowded. Continue reading

Nobody Bowls 300 by Accident

On a recent bowling adventure with my family, I had a thought that reminded me of life in general.  A fellow was putting forth plenty of effort but was doing poorly.  As a matter of fact, in spite of his valiant attempts, he scored rather low – around 120.  It was obvious from his reaction that he wanted to do better.  But it just wasn’t happening.  He was doing essentially the same thing every time and coming up short.  And his failure prompted him to try harder, to bowl with more force.  Yet his results barely changed.

Have you noticed that life is often the same way?  We try hard, give lots of effort, but the results are disappointing.  Granted, when we are bowling just for fun, the score doesn’t matter as much as fellowship.  But inside, I believe most of us want to see a high score when we’re done.  To get that, however, requires that we do more than randomly roll the ball with little forethought and a ton of hope.  Even pro bowlers, who train and practice for years, don’t hit 300 every game.  But they do produce high scores consistently.  How?  Well, there are a lot of factors that go into it, of course, but based on my own experiences and lessons learned from those who were much better bowlers than I am, I want to share three areas where being very intentional goes a long way in determining your score.  These same principles apply to life as well. Continue reading

The Search for Contentment

Many people try to find contentment, they search for it, which is why they fail to have it.  Contentment, like patience, must be chosen, exercised, practiced.  It is not something we bump into or something we find like a hidden treasure.  It is a path, and it is attainable by everyone, not just those lucky few who land on the right square in life.

I would add that moderation is a key to happiness and contentment.  People who live by extremes are very happy, at times.  But then life is bad the rest of the time.  It follows, then, that they get addicted to the high of happiness, and in so doing they forsake so many other things in life, even good things, to pursue the highs.  And thus they ensure a life of chasing, rather than possessing, happiness.

Bitterness in Leadership

Hebrews 12:15, Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled

Disappointment is inevitable in life.  This is certainly true in leadership, where managing relationships with people we lead has an increased potential for constantly missed expectations and for hurt.  Because of the increased interaction with others, leadership is a setup for pain.  Sure, being a leader can also be greatly fulfilling, but it would be foolish to think there are no frustrations on the way to that satisfaction.

Continue reading

Are You Feeling Overrun?

Proverbs 25:28, “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”

We often cite the above verse when talking about anger. And rightfully so – more often than not, that is exactly what comes to mind when we think of ruling our spirit. But the verse, and the principle it expresses, cover a much wider range of topics than simply our temper. Continue reading

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