Baseball is Perfectly Imperfect, and so are YOU!

 Baseball, is a game of intellect, talent, and timing.  Baseball, unlike many other sports, plays out each and everyday to the bitter end.  There is no rush to the finish, no ticking time clock, simply 9 innings (or more for extra inning games).  Widely noted as a national sport in the United States by the late 19th Century, baseball is a game of tradition and history.  Terms such as “the integrity of the game”, or “purity of the sport” are often thrown into the mix. Baseball is a great reminder of how life “should work” and how it “actually works”. The infamous asterisk of Roger Maris’ 61 home run in one season record stood for many years as a reminder of changes and the effects of those changes moving forward.  The baseball season had been 154 games before 1961.  Purity, perfection, equal opportunity? Not really.
[Eddie Cicotte, Chicago AL, at Polo Grounds, N...

[Eddie Cicotte, Chicago AL, at Polo Grounds, NY (baseball)] (LOC) (Photo credit: The Library of Congress)

There is a  human attempt at perfection, yet the beautifully perfect imperfection of the umpires captures the essence baseball more than anything.

On any given day, an umpire can call the same exact pitches balls or strikes.  Of course, only technology can tell us that they are “exactly” the same pitch location.  The human eye isn’t that good.  Instant replay is making a small impact on limited plays in the game, but looks to remain at the behest of the umpires; the very human umpires who blew calls such as the obvious out that would have ended a perfect game in 2010 for Tigers pitcher Armando Galaraga.  The human umpires who didn’t see the fan who clearly reached over the fence in the 2006 ALCS to “assist” Derick Jeter’s home run effort.  I am not advocating any changes though. Even my beloved Angels were affected in 2005 by a terrible call that had the entire west coast scratching it’s head while the Chicago White Sox got an extra out and went on to win…and win…and win.  While the Angels went home to fish. It’s Baseball’s utter humanness that connects us to the game.  Every team and every player is so ridiculously close to greatness, yet so far.  A batter getting a hit 25% of the time is mediocre.  A batter getting a hit 30% of the time is great.  That’s roughly 25 hits difference or 1 per week.  How about a championship team winning 95 games being touted as great?  The team at home watching the playoffs won less than 6% less games, and is forgotten.
     Life, like baseball, is a game of inches.  So often, it’s the little things that separate the great from the mediocre.  The only way to separate the truly great teams from the mediocre is to play for a long time.  Somehow, 162 games seems reasonable.  Life is the same.  My beloved Angels won the World Series in 2002.  They won 99 regular games.  They lost 14 of the first 20 games.  Instead of giving up, they showed up. Every day.  Baseball teaches us that our humanness; our imperfections are what make us perfect.  We work through them and keep humanity humanly pure.  So the point of all this is to show up everyday.  We live in an imperfect world that sometimes throws us a “stinker”.  We just ride that out and show up again. If you’re batting .250 in life, find a way to get 1 more hit per week.  This might be seminars, books, sales calls, or whatever else you can do to make incremental progress.
What are you going to do today to get that “extra hit”?
Rocco De Leo
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No Man is An Island: A Guide to Intentional Christianity

One of the most uplifting and motivating minds of the last 30 plus years is Zig Ziglar. His methods, grounded in a deep faith and a spirit of charity have greatly impacted me as well as millions of others in sales and leadership alike. His stories draw you in, pull on your heart and push you toward the excitement of victory.  He is best known for his doctrine of success.

No Man is an Island - John Donne

No Man is an Island – John Donne (Photo credit: mark(s)elliott)

He says ” You can have everything in life you want if you will just help other people get what they want”. Achieving awesomeness in life is not simply about productivity and execution.  There are a thousand different “takes” on balancing the key areas of life: work, faith, family, etc.  For the Christian, this must be more of a “centering”.

If God is not the center of our life, all the worldly success is useless.

 The anxiety of a wandering Christian is paralyzing, terrifying, and absolutely destructive toward the journey toward awesomeness.  Perhaps Ziglar was familiar with the 1955 Merton Classic No Man is an Island.  Tomas Merton, a Trapist Monk, known best for his autobiography The 7 Storey Mountain, writes on the virtues of contemplative prayer and the intentionality of the will.  Interesting and purely coincidental juxtaposition, I re-read this book a week after finishing Don Miller’s Blue Like Jazz.  Miller, much less formal than Merton, shares a very real experience Merton wrote about over half a century earlier.  We can all relate to wanting to want to love God, but not always feeling it.  Merton articulates this challenge and posits a road to healing that we walk when we truly begin to face our relationship with God:

It is not enough to do the will of his because his will is unavoidable. Nor is it enough to will what he wills because we have to. We have to will his will because we love it.

Perhaps Merton’s theological version of fake it ’till you make it is best summed up in this thesis:

…since no man is an island, since we all depend on one another, I cannot work out God’s will in my own life unless I consciously help other men to work out His will in theirs.

Merton is laying out the opportunity for us to intentionally center ourselves on God.  First, he says we cannot simply run into God’s will. It doesn’t “count” if we accidentally do it.  The Feed America campaign at Target is nice, but doesn’t constitute an intentional act of God’s will on our part.  Also, going to Mass on Sunday because as Catholic’s we have to, is not enough.  To attain that desired relationship with God, we have to love the will of God.  Our intentions ultimately dictate our actions and our awesomeness. His second statement tells us how.  We must love others so much, that we consciously and intentionally help them find and achieve God’s will in there lives.  This is what Mother Teresa survived on for years in Calcutta. This is what drove Pope John Paul II out of bed for so many years through the pain of Parkinson’s. This is the new starting line on our spiritual journeys.  Helping others through our prayer and our physical actions.  Start here and God will lead the way.
Who are you going to help today?

Rocco

 

Self Honesty in the Intentional Life

One of my favorite things to do to unwind is walk through the local Barnes and Noble.  The combination of the smell of new books and starbucks brewing bring a creative calm to my heart.  I usually browse through history, current affairs, business and christian living.  I love to read books.  If I could read 10 hours a day, I would.  Perhaps I may even have an addiction to books. My typical “poison” is Non Fiction. I’ve learned from reading well over a thousand books, that every Non Fiction book sells you a perfect life, with steps to this, and steps to that.  All the success, effectiveness, and happiness you could ever dream of in 10 easy steps. Anxiety filled office overhaul day after anxiety filled office overhaul day, I have learned to manage expectations and be real.  There are circumstances in life that are not excuses, and certainly not roadblocks to success.  Managing our specific lives rather than comparing ourselves to others will vastly increase our happiness and drive further effort rather than stifle them in anxious self pity.  I’ve done them all.  Here are some key learnings from my anxiety filled attempt to become everyone but myself.

[ D ] Salvador Dali - Metamorphosis of Narciss...

[ D ] Salvador Dali – Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937) (Photo credit: Cea.)

1. Don’t compare your work to people in different stages of life or career.  Comparing my blog to Michael Hyatt’s blog is ridiculous. He is the retired CEO of a major publisher, vastly more experienced (by 20 + years I’d guess), and has way more resources than I do.  Compare, instead to novices if that’s where you are.  How do you compare to people just starting out?
2. How much time do you have available? Trying to squeeze in another “thing” is difficult.  Some people can tightly schedule their time, some can’t.  Too rigid a schedule leads to anxiety and no room for life’s inevitable interruptions, especially if you have kids.  Rigidity leads to rushing, which kills creativity. Be realistic about how long things take.  Too many times I see people simply overplaying their hand when it comes to their ability to get things done. If, on average, it takes 30 minutes to mow the lawn, don’t think you can do it in 10.
3.  Live in reality.  You have obligations on your time and energy. Life has seasons.  What season are you in?   Prioritize not just your time, but your energy.  Being honest with your commitment to give effort to a project is perhaps the most important thing you can do for your happiness and success. You can over commit and fake it for a while with other people, but you know if you are out of your comfort zone and will be unhappy. One blog post per week and happiness is better than 5 posts and misery.  It’s not sustainable and is counterproductive.
4. Define your goals.  What are you trying to accomplish.  My goal with this blog is to write for the sake of writing and to get better.  I periodically check in with my motives and compare them with my goals.  If I’m unhappy with my follower count, or engagement, I remind myself that was never my purpose.  Your goals may be different.  Defining them gives you firm ground to stand on.  Self honesty is a must.  Changing goals with the weather doesn’t usually lead to success.
Understanding where you are in the development process and how much time and energy you have and are honestly willing to give toward a defined goal is key to intentional living.
What one thing have you lied to yourself about in the last week?

Rocco

I am a Rich Fool, Time to burn my Barn.

We love a good story.  These stories connect through emotion, humor, and related experiences.  Story telling is one of the common themes for the best blog articles on the internet.  Jesus Christ, was the greatest blogger of all time.  He currently has over infinity followers (although many are not engaged followers), and is still pushing great content. He tells a great story about a man seeking heaven.  In Mathew, chapter 19: 16-30, Jesus meets a young rich man who takes this opportunity to assure himself of eternal salvation.  Like many of us, this man feels like he is doing all the right things, but still lacks that assurance of salvation. “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  Jesus tells him to obey the commandments.  Here, he gives a quick run down of the ten commandments.  The young man, feeling a little better, yet still unsure replies, ” All of these I observed. What do I still lack?”  Jesus, not mincing words replies with the following words that are clear as day, yet so difficult to understand.  He says: if you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven”.  The man leaves, after hearing this.  He leaves in despair because he has many possessions.  Jesus, knowing human nature better than anyone, turns to his followers to clarify, ” Again, I say to you, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God”. Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells  another parable of a  rich fool. Luke 12: 16-21, Jesus tells his followers about a rich young man so with so many possessions, he cannot possibly need them all.  He tears down his barns and builds bigger and bigger barns to store his stuff. God calls him a fool…:”for tonight your life will be demanded of you…thus it will be the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich in what matters to God”.

barn collapsing (5)

barn collapsing (5) (Photo credit: Eric Willis (superic))

God is too smart to buy into simple box checking.  He is jealous and wants is all.  Trusting in him looks different for each one of us.  Living intentionally involves a lot of personal accountability.  Sometimes, the 5 am cup of coffee in front of the computer is real lonely.  This sense of “me against the world” or at least “me against my unaccomplished goals”, gives me a false sense of empowerment.  Am I the one doing the work?  I must remind myself that it is not I providing the inspirations, the drive, and tools.  God is providing, so that I can ultimately achieve the main goal, and that is living a charitable life of trust and love, where I share my God given talents and treasures with the world and ultimately get to heaven. What good post on intentionality would pose an opportunity such as eternal salvation without at least scratching the surface of instruction.  Here is a list of the first 3 things to rid myself of being a rich fool.  Take these and make them your own.
1.  Be intentional about prayer.  Yes, I am actually scheduling prayer time twice per day.  Hoping for inspiration to pray is not a good strategy for me.  This will come later, once prayer becomes a bigger part of my life.  Tailor this to your needs.  If you already pray a lot, schedule more time to pray.
2.  Read the Bible.  Start small and realistic.  I am starting with Mathew and reading about 10 minutes per night.  Find what works for you.  The Bible is God’s instruction manual for everything “awesome”.  If you are reading this at the expense of Bible time, your priorities are wrong.
3. Go do something charitable.  Don’t just read or write about it, do something.  Go to a soup kitchen, thrift shop, local church, etc.  Actions are way more impactful than thought.
Time for a barn burner.  What treasures are taking space in your heart? What one thing are you intentionally going to change TODAY to fix this?
Rocco