My Failure to Act: A tale of doing nothing while asking for it all!

Digital Mission

Digital Mission (Photo credit: Benjamin Ellis)

Coincidences only happen by coincidence.  They have an unusual way of opening up windows in our hearts. I keep a growing list of books in my que to read.  I hear podcasts or interviews about books and I put them on paper.  Recently I was listening to Michael Hyatt talk about a book that made an impact on him.  A book called Chasing Daylight. A few weeks later, I went to order it and discovered that there were several books with the same title.  I could not remember for the life of me which book or why I had been drawn into it.  I noticed Erwin Macmanus’ version was published by Thomas Nelson.  Michael Hyatt was mentioned in the acknowledgements (as he was the CEO of Thomas Nelson). Voila, problem solved. I ordered the book and started reading it immediately after it showed up. The subtitle of the book is “Seize the Power of Every Moment”.  His purpose is to teach us all that we are given opportune moments by God to actively live our faith.  Some moments are larger than others.

The Sunday after I started reading the book, I was confronted by my hypocrisy (a recurring theme lately). Praying in the front pew after communion, I could see a little old lady struggle to walk back to her seat.  It was awkward as I was praying for humility and holiness, she was trying to lean against the front portion of the partition I was praying on.  Very distracted and unable to focus on my vast holiness, I got a little frustrated.  Someone from across the way walked over and helped her back to her seat.  This is where I should insert a sound file of a loud SLAP in the face, my face.  I missed a moment to let God answer my prayer that would also have provided a great example to my children and the poor woman who was struggling just to walk.

As Christians, prayer is a part of who we are.  I have written recently about intentions and the role they play.  If we intend on changing the world, we must act.  Christian or not, this speaks to you.

Whatever your change you must actively seek and seize opportunities.

This is a habit that we must work develop.  The more we “do” the easier it will be to “do” more.  If I had a habit of helping little old ladies, I would have jumped at that opportunity.  Today, I will go out, be intentional, and look for opportunities to hold more doors, say hello, and be helpful.  Tomorow, I will do it again. Perhaps next Sunday, I will help a little old lady to her seat.

Ironically, the version of Chasing Daylight Michael Hyatt was referring to was by Eugene O’kelly, not by Erwin Mcmanus.  Both books are well worth the read.
What will you do today to be intentional about becoming the person you want to be?
Rocco De Leo
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Be Intentional or be Nothing

Running through the beautiful hills of Murrieta, California, I felt like I was running  underwater.  I couldn’t maintain a respectful speed and my legs were screaming.  I have been a runner for 4 years, and for 3 of those years, I progressively grew faster and gained endurance. This last year, however, I took a step backward. Running was never anything I thought much about.  I put on shoes and ran a specific set of miles and that was is. I had “big picture goals” such as completion of my first half and my first full marathons.  There were certain trials I wished to conquer. Once completed, I didn’t create new goals other than continual running.  Singular achievement goals are great goals to have, but they are achieved and forgotten.. For me, achieving these goals marked the end of key component to my training: intentionality.

Whether running, writing, parenting, or anything important to you in your life, don’t take for granted that you will always move toward your goal “automatically”.  Yes,  it does happen. Sometimes.  Why take the chance?  The tyranny of beginners luck or the honeymoon phase of new endeavors can fool you into thinking things will always be easy. Here’s a list to guide you toward maintaining intentionality and relentless forward movement.
A Marine undergoes water survival training

A Marine undergoes water survival training (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Differentiate the daily from the long term goals. Steven Covey pointed out the difference between tasks that are important and urgent (doing laundry, answering the phone, cooking dinner) and those that are important and not urgent (getting your Master’s Degree, exercise, writing a book).
2.  Align high energy (physical and mental) tasks appropriately.  For me, this is typically in the morning before the kids are up.  If you have a spouse, this time should be agreed upon as your time to focus on your high level tasks (writing, research, excersise, etc. ).
3.  Align the mundane tasks (important and urgent) that don’t involve high levels of thinking or creativity to times when you are less creative for you. For me, that’s in the evening after working and i’m distracted by kids’ homework and tired from work.  This is a great time to hang a picture, do dishes, or clean the patio.  Not a great time to research for my book.
4. Write it all down.  It seems as though the one thing all productivity speaker/writers agree on is the absolute necessity of writing things down.  Goals, tasks, ideas.
5. Create an internal sense of urgency.  Guard your quality time from internal distractions such as getting off task (Facebook, twitters, checking the weather) and outside distractions (phone calls, emails, unimportant tasks). You have to REALY want this!
6.  Keep perspective.  Baby cries, 9 year old is sick, wife had a particular bad night not sleeping.  These things happen.  Understand the difference between pause and procrastinate (click here to read my article on this topic). Sometimes the urgent and important trumps the not urgent and important.  It is up to you to maintain contingencies but also keep perspective on when to allow “intrusions’ upon your times. if you are in a positive and intentional workflow, you purpose can handle occasional interruptions.
What are you doing TODAY to be intentional?
Rocco De Leo

The Dangerous Space Between Pause and Procrastination

The international space station “sits” over 220 miles above the earth’s surface in what is essentially called “low earth orbit“.  Inside, the environment is pressurized for comfort as well as simple survival of its inhabitants.  Often, astronauts are called to exit the safety of the station and enter the vast vacuum of space for a “space walk”.  Before they are able to safely transfer from the pressurized environment inside the station, they must enter an “airlock“.  This is a small chamber with two doors, in which the pressure is regulated.  Without this chamber, exiting would be disastrous. While inside, the astronauts must wait out  the changes.  Imagine your  first trip into space as you prepare to make that first space walk; fear and doubt surface. As time goes by, you are caught between the relative safety of the space station and the vast unknown of space.
You  now find yourself in the space between the comfort of the status quo and the pressure of pursuing your ambitions. You have decided to pursue your dream of owning a boutique coffee shop (insert your dream here) and are researching next steps.  Hours upon hours of studying coffee beans, interning at local shops, learning the culture, and doing everything necessary to prepare yourself to fully commit to your dream.  While sitting in the “airlock” of life, you are reminded of the relative safety of your day job and the status quo.  The stable work hours, company car, health care, and the  weekly pay check. The quaint beauty  of the venetian Cafe’ from your honeymoon hits a spot on your heart and awakens your spirit to live beyond the 9-5. After several “false starts” in years past, you are equipped and focused to believe this is real and that you will flawlessly execute your plan of owning a boutique coffee shop.

How do you trust the voices in your head telling you to press the pause button?  You have family commitments, a day job, and a life beyond the coffee shop. You are forging ahead to prove to the voices of doubt, that you aren’t on another false start.  Pausing to evaluate where you are is like pulling to the side of the road read the map.  You must find where you are at a this moment on your journey to make necessary adjustments. Enable the “location services” on your journey. The voices of doubt tell you that you are failing again if you hit pause.  You are confusing the pause button with procrastination.  Here is a list of 5 things to consider as you navigate between pausing and procrastination.  Remember that pausing is necessary to stay on your course.  Procrastination is your internal fear stealing your dream of awesomeness.

Map of the World in 1922

Map of the World in 1922 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

1. Build adjustment time and flexibility into your plan:  Jon Acuff discusses, in Quitter , that we must practice our dream in a low stakes environment in order to become a master.  Planning too early leaves no room for flexibility and will focus us on the plan rather than the ultimate goal.
2. Milestones: Build manageable, accountable, and measurable milestones into your plan: Mike Vardy of Productivityist.com, recently wrote about doing the right things rather than just doing things (activity vs right activity).  Milestones should have rough timeliness, but don’t back yourself in a corner with your calendar.  Leave room for soccer practice and date night with your wife.  A looming “due date” rather than relative milestone will awaken the voices of doubt.
3. Stand on the shoulders of giants: Read, listen, and watch others who have come before you. Others most likely blazed a similar path to the one you are on.  They will likely embrace the idea of sharing their journey with a fellow traveler.  Seeing that “life happens” to others, and success can and usually follows deliberate pauses will be encouraging and provide valuable instruction to you on your travel to awesomeness.
4.  Seasons change:  Life has different seasons.  You must recognize your responsibilities are different with 3 school age children at home than with college age kids out of the house.  Its imperative that you are intentional and deliberate during your busy season.  Intentionality will provide you focus and direction to appropriately work  your dream as well as “permission” to “work” on other things, without loosing.   As with seasons of the year, things will change.  If you are not careful and intentional important moments will pass you by.
5.  Have fun:  It’s your dream!  If you are not enjoying the journey, maybe you are on the wrong flight!
Share with me the craziest season of your life, and how you got through it.
Rocco De Leo