Archives For November 2010

“Whether you think that you can, or that you can’t, you are usually right.” ~ Henry Ford

This was one of my earliest drawings. I sketched it the year I started university. At the time I was obsessed with sailboats and sailing, as I thought they presented an elegant metaphor for what it really means to live by faith. (I still do!) The symbolism goes something like this:

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Nothing happens unless first we dream. ~ Carl Sandburg

On a recent trip to Colorado, I came across this massive chess board in a public garden in Pagosa Springs. I loved its clean lines, the crisp colors of its form set against a clouded sky, and the implicit invitation to play that it carried. The way it inspired me made me wonder about its creator. Who dreamed of this? Who walked the grounds, sketched the possibilities, drew up the plans? In whose imagination did this thing I see before me begin?

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Anger is one of the sinews of the soul. ~ Thomas Fuller

In his excellent STORY course, which I attended earlier this year, Robert McKee made an interesting observation about what compels us to trust or distrust a character in a novel or story. We won’t trust any character, said McKee, until we’ve seen them under pressure, to see what they’re really made of. And we certainly don’t trust any character who “seemingly” makes a sweeping change in his personality or behavior in the absence of any pressure to make him do so. He said people have an intrinsic understanding that we human beings don’t change without pressure. That’s why we don’t trust evil characters in stories who suddenly claim to be good, and we don’t believe good characters who suddenly claim to be evil, unless we see them experience the pressure that has forced them to make that change. Now pressure can come to us through love (2 Corinthians 5:14), or outrage, or heartbreak, or loss, or just about any form of suffering. But if that suffering, that passion, that compelling pressure is denied or suppressed or minimized within us, it serves only to keep us right where we are. We don’t change.

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“Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better.” ~ Richard Hooker

Everybody wants to make a change. Some kind of change. Whether it’s to lose 20 lbs (or 50, or 150), or to get out of debt, or to become more “successful” (however they define that), or to find true community, or to encounter God in an authentic, meaningful way, everybody wants something to be different about their lives. Desire–our capacity to want our lives to be something more than they are, something truer to who we are at the core–is one of the common ways we can all relate to one another. “What do you want?” is perhaps the most powerful of all the powerful questions out there. Certainly it is one of the first we should consider when getting to know another person. Or when getting to know ourselves. And especially when getting to know God.

What’s the change you want to make right now in your life? I bet you could list off several without even trying.

But as much and as deeply as we all desire change, we certainly have a helluva time trying to figure out how to do it. Change is really why people hire a coach (the smart ones do, anyway). 🙂 They either want to make a change and don’t know how to make it happen…or else something in their life is changing (whether they want it or not), and they don’t know how to navigate it to arrive safely on the shore of the new thing that awaits them beyond the horizon of all they’ve known up ’till now. Having coached many clients of both kinds by now, I’ve noticed that the common thing we all do when we want something to change is (you’ve already guessed it, haven’t you?)…we make a plan. We plot a course of action. We create a program. We design a system of next-steps that will get us from here to there.

And the plan works for a little while. But then the plan fails. So we try a different plan. And that fails. So we try a third. And that fails too.

Naturally, having a good solid plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be is essential. So the plan matters. But the problem in this scenario probably isn’t the plan…er, plans. The problem is that the plan is only one-fifth of the solution. If all you’re doing is creating a plan for change, and trying to follow it, you are (potentially) missing four other key elements essential to making change actually happen in your life. If you really want to make that change in your life, you need to seriously incorporate all five.

I’ll be expanding on each of these “essentials to change” in a fresh series of blogposts in the coming weeks, but here is a quick list of the five essential elements you need to make any significant change in your life (or in the world):

  • You need Anger
  • You need A Cystal Clear Dream
  • You need Faith
  • You need A Solid Plan
  • You need Love

I hope you’ll join me as I explore each of these elements in the coming weeks, and join in the conversation with me–either here in the comments, or on Facebook. If you find them interesting, forward the posts to your friends. And if you ever want to talk with a professional coach about a change you’re facing (or want to face) in your own life, contact me, and we’ll set up a time to talk. Next week: Anger!

“We must make the choices that enable us to fulfill the deepest capacities of our real selves.” ~ Thomas Merton

I share with you today two stories of heartbreak…not of bitterness and despair, but the beautiful kind of heartbreak, the kind that brings your soul painfully to life and, through the passion it awakens in you, inevitably changes the world. I encountered both of these stories in the same week, and was struck by the simple humanness of their unfolding–a single person, encountering a need in the world that breaks her heart on a level so deep that she cannot not take action to resolve it– and the extraordinary uniqueness of each young woman’s courageous response to the need they encounter.

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