How Spilling Ice Tea Taught Me To Live My Values

The other day I was bringing lunch to a customer of mine.  Usually I have it delivered, but on this day, they requested a local burger place that wasn’t set up for delivery.  As I loaded the lunch in my car, I realized the 6 fountain drinks were going to cause me trouble.  Top heavy and flimsy, the drinks looked almost “eager” to tip.  Corner after corner, I drove timidly and very deliberate.  I was already running late, but didn’t care.  My objective wasn’t customer focus, make the sale, or go above and beyond. My objective was to NOT spill the drinks.  As I was nearing their office, the driver of the car in front of me was spooked by a yellow light and slammed on his brakes.  Normally, it’s not a big deal to come to a quick stop, but today was different.  I was out of sorts and balancing something new.  The drinks went sliding

English: An artist's depiction of the rat race...

English: An artist’s depiction of the rat race in reference to the work and life balance. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rat_race Made with following images: http://www.openclipart.org/detail/75385 http://www.openclipart.org/detail/74137 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

across the floor of my car soaking my floor with Ice Tea.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what living a  balanced life looks like.  Not the “business book” balanced life of “work-life balance” where you somehow are happy because you don’t work too much, but the appropriate balancing of the stuff that matters.

I discovered, for me, that living intentionally also means living for purpose and doing the things that matter.

This means having a clear vision on what my values mean to me.  My values are clear and aligned to my living, rather than my living aligned to my values.  As part of “faith” we go to church, but we would have done that anyway.  Every week on our way to church, I have had  a gnawing sense that we could be doing more to incorporate faith into our lives.  Until recently, most of the time my values were “touched” in the way I lived my week, but that was mostly by chance.  Mediocrity, however, is the only result we can expect from living by chance.  Awesomeness comes from intentional living. Without clear direction, I was unbalanced in living my values, taking the “bumps” of life timidly and defensively trying not to stray too far.  While I’ve been busy living the ins and outs of life, checking a lot of boxes, I was not clear on how to LIVE my values.   I have discovered that to do this, I need clear specifics defining what those values look like in action.  Faith goes beyond “living a Catholic life”, and drills down to “praying nightly, prayer before meals, mass every Sunday” and much more.  With this I am able to intentionally pull specifics and plug into my weekly planning and measure my accomplishments against.  Instead of the careful balancing act of chance, I am able to aggressively incorporate the stuff that makes my values real and a part of the life i’m living intentionally.

How do you stay balanced and live an awesome value centered life?

 

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