livewideawake

You may have noticed in recent weeks I’ve often tagged my tweets and Facebook posts with the hashtag #LiveWideAwake.

That’s because after all these years of working with coaching clients, I’ve concluded the thing people (including me) have struggled with most is waking up.

Of course I don’t mean literally “waking up” ~ as in don’t even think about talking to me before I get my coffee! (That’s important too, though. Seriously: Don’t talk to me before I get my coffee.) I mean waking up to the wonder and possibility of your life. I mean shaking yourself awake from the hazy, half-alive dream in which most people live their entire lives. In the years we live, we take on a series of roles and tasks that are handed to us as though they are the only possibilities that exist for our lives. School, graduation, job, marriage, kids, mortgage, retirement, death. You know the path as well as I do. We walk it out without the slightest question of why it matters, whether it’s God’s best for us or the world, or whether it’s really the life we want to create, and then wonder why when we reach middle age we so often discover the life we’ve built on autopilot isn’t really the life we wanted to live. Saint Augustine nailed it when he said:

“People travel to wonder at the height of the mountains, at the huge waves of the seas, at the long course of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars, and yet they pass by themselves without wondering.”

Many people I coach come to me suddenly asking, Why isn’t my life working out like I hoped? They followed the script they were given; wasn’t that supposed to be enough? But regardless of whatever specific challenge they’re facing ~ career, family, faith, etc. ~ their struggle always seems to come back to the same fundamental question:

What does it look like to be fully alive?

The answer is different for everybody, of course ~ what makes me come fully alive might scare the crap out of you, or worse yet, bore you to tears. But underneath the specifics of each soul’s unique expression of life, there’s a common thread of desire we all share, a common experience we all want to have, and that all of us regularly struggle to find. Continue Reading…

My Story (Part 2)

February 9, 2015

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(Hey, friend. This is the second part of My Story. You can read the first part here.)

As I write this, I’m in the latter half of my 50th year on Earth. As anyone my age or older will tell you, by the time you get here you’ve already been many different people and lived many different lives. There isn’t time here to recount them all. So let me tell you instead a little about the man I’ve become now, and why I’m so passionate about the work I do.

Continue Reading…

My Story (Part 1)

January 31, 2015

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I don’t think I fit into any particular box very well.

I know because I’ve tried.

Man, have I tried.

I’m a native Texan, with all the big-hearted fun and ethnocentric pride that brings with it, but none of the southern drawl or cowhide boots or country music. I was always more spaceman than ranch hand, even as a boy. My dad loved cowboy heroes, but the Wild West could never capture my imagination like the Final Frontier could. I’m a devoted son of Star Trek, Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and every brilliant or ridiculous film or TV show they’ve inspired. I have loved them all (and still do). As a boy growing up, when I wasn’t building model rockets, I was converting my bedroom into the bridge of the Enterprise and going on wild adventures where no young man had gone before.

Part of this was just the natural expression of my adventurous imagination. And part of it was because I really was trying desperately to get away, and this was the only way I knew how.

Continue Reading…

oldtypewriter

We call it Inspiration. Or a Creative Burst. Or the Voice of the Muse. Those enchanted blocks of time when we feel super-charged with creativity, clarity, and motivation to work. Our vision becomes clear. We know what we want to do, and we feel compelled to do it.

It’s like somebody plugged us in, and we feel compelled to burn bright as long as the inspiration lasts.

But it never does.

Why is that?

Like so many other things in our human experience (eating, breathing, sleeping, a woman’s sexual cycle, and so on) I believe creativity is a cyclical process in our lives. I believe that’s why we experience it as “coming” and “going”; why some days we can connect with our creativity, and other days we can’t no matter what we try. As we are constantly called on to “be creative” in our workplace, at home, in our social circles, as well as within the inner life of the soul, it can be immensely helpful to understand a bit about this “Creativity Cycle,” so we can begin to notice its natural rhythms in our lives, and come to work in alignment with it as much as possible, rather than constantly feeling as if we’re fighting against ourselves to try to constantly be creating.

So what is this “Creativity Cycle”?

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“To understand reality is not the same as to know about outward events. It is to perceive the essential nature of things.” ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

How strange the world is. I’m currently reading Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison, and it’s such a peculiar miracle to me that through these writings, which I know he penned while sitting in a cell in Nazi Germany in 1943 (over 70 years ago), I can so easily join him there and become a voyeur to his experience. Writing, I’ve always maintained, is one of the greatest forms of magic there is in the world. And there is magic everywhere.

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New Year’s Resolutions never used to work for me.

But…I was in love with the idea of them. Who wouldn’t want a fresh start in the new year? Who wouldn’t want to leave old baggage behind? Who wouldn’t want a real chance to start over? Build a new habit? Break an old pattern once and for all? So for years…no, decades, I’d get suckered in. I’d dream a fresh dream. I’d summon my courage. And I’d write out my plan:

Here’s how it’s going to be different this year.
Here’s how I’m going to change.
Here’s how I’m going to do it.

And then I would do it. (But you know what happens next.)

Sometime around March, I’d wake up to realize I’d lost track of things completely. I’d feel ashamed, and defeated, and I’d blame myself for not being strong enough, though I always suspected it wasn’t only that.

Truth is I never really knew why I couldn’t make resolutions work.

But now I do. Thanks to the principles I’ve learned in my years of coaching, I now know how to make any New Year’s Resolution succeed.

Now you can too. Ready? Here are the top 5 keys to making your New Years Resolutions actually succeed:

Continue Reading…

Top 5 Posts of 2014

December 30, 2014 — Leave A Comment

As I looked back over my most-read posts of 2014, I was surprised to find that three of the five were actually written in 2012 or 2013. I guess that either means my posts have gone downhill of late, or sometimes I hit on something that resonates year over year. I choose to believe it’s the latter. :)

Here are my top 5 posts in 2014:

1. 5 Leadership Conflict Styles (and Why You Should Know Yours!)

Back in the ’70’s, researchers Kenneth Thomas and Ralph Kilmann identified five main styles of dealing with conflict. Their research showed that people typically have a preferred conflict style. But not every style works effectively in every situation. As a leader ~ and most especially if you are a senior leader ~ you need to know which conflict style you tend toward most, and what the weaknesses of that style can be…
 

2. The 3 Levels of Listening

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Have you ever talked with someone who was so present with you that it unnerved you? Someone whose full attention was locked on you, their focus so completely yours it made you feel as if you were the only person in the world? Someone who made you feel really seen, and really heard, in a way that was both wonderful and a little unsettling? If you have, then you’ve been in the presence of a skilled listener…
 

3. Building Trust: What IS Trust, Anyway?

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In Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team, the first and most foundational team dysfunction the author cites is “absence of trust.” When it comes to team failure (or the failure of any relationship for that matter), the loss of trust is the “first domino”; all the rest of the dysfunctions ~ fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention to results ~ flow out of that fractured foundation. I say all that to emphasize what we all intuitively know: Trust Matters…
 

4. 4 Steps to Stop Being a Crazy Person

crazy-people-dont-know-they-are-crazyWe’ve probably all heard the saying: Insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over again expecting a different result. Brilliant. Love it. Sooo true. Unfortunately, simply hearing that saying hasn’t stopped me from continuing to live that way sometimes…
 

5. Why I Stopped Doing a Quiet Time

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I’ve been doing a quiet time pretty much every day since I was 16. I’ve got stacks as tall as I am of journals and Bible study notebooks I have filled. The Bibles I’ve used over the years each look like a graffiti war zone of ink colors and highlighters and notes in the margins. I’ve got a bookcase full of study tools (now made irrelevant by the internet), and files full of study methods, prayer methods, journal methods. I’m all about the methods. I’ve even published books on methods for studying specific parts of the Bible. For the most part, this daily practice has been good for me. As far as it goes. But it doesn’t go far enough. In fact, it never really has…
 

So grateful for a terrific 2014! Looking forward to an even better year to come.

What are you most looking forward to in 2015?