Archives For Discipline

Dripping-faucet-creative-commons

Image credit: Creative Commons

Have you ever had a faucet start dripping, even when turned off? I’ve heard that some people even wait months before finally getting such faucets repaired! (ouch)  In the mean time, countless gallons of water slipped past their intended use.

Life can be a lot like a dripping faucet. We have such potential, such a capacity for success, but we let life’s little drips siphon away our effectiveness.

Every person can become more effective by addressing three common ‘drips’ in their life.

What we see

Taking a minute to check our messages on our phone, or Facebook, or twitter, is not, in and of itself, bad. But often minutes grow into hours, and this casual activity becomes all-consuming.

Even checking email, presumably to stay on top of work, can become a habitual interruption of otherwise effective times of work, or necessary times of rest.

What we eat

Snacking is a “drip” that keeps popping up in my life. A nibble here, a nibble there. A fist of snacks, just one more cookie, and a second portion at meals all add up to some substantial “waist”.

What we do

I’m always more productive when I exercise. It’s one of those things that seems to be a no-brainer. Just do it, right?

But many of us have to fight the magnetic pull of a sedentary life. Every day we don’t get moving physically is like a drip, a drip that will eventually limit our options and dampen our effectiveness.

Stop the drip

Most of the challenges in our lives are the daily ones. The choices we make as we check our phones, stand in front of the refrigerator, and plan our days.

Here’s a tip on how to start making better choices.   Envision the choices you make today being replicated each and every day for an entire year. The importance of each choice becomes clearer when we multiply that choice by 365 days in a year.

One drop of water is not our problem, it’s the cumulative effect of our daily choices that needs our attention.

What drips need your attention today?

PikesPeakSummit 1

Have you ever become aware of history in the making? Have you pulled up from the activity at hand and realized that something special was happening beneath the surface? Such was last weekend for me.

It all started earlier in the year when our 19-year-old daughter, Emma, mentioned the idea of scaling a 14,000 ft.+ peak (or 14er) this summer. The idea intrigued me and I soon began to realize the impact of such a challenge. What a great way to step out of our comfort zones and stretch into an area of growth. Plus, the idea of bonding with Emma over a shared, conquered goal had the makings of a life-long memory.

Time went on and occasionally one of us would mention the topic. Finally, about three weeks ago, we were in Colorado and visited Emma at Eagle Lake Camp, where she is working this summer. We compared calendars, and picked July 27, 2013 as the date to climb Pikes Peak, our first 14er!

If you’ve driven through Colorado Springs, Colorado, you have noticed the massive peak standing guard over the city and surrounding mountains, imposing its massive height of 14,110 feet on the landscape.

On the Friday before our hike, our 18-year-old son, Zach, and I pulled into town. Pikes Peak and the surrounding mountains formed various shades of gray-green. The overlaid shadows created a beautiful pallet of tones, almost eerie in the mist of afternoon thunderstorms. Pikes Peak seemed to stand in defiance, almost taunting me for even thinking about conquering it.

Saturday morning started with a 4:00 Marimba alarm tone on my iPhone announcing it was showtime. By 5:50 we were starting our hike up the Barr Trail of Pikes Peak. The trail is 13 miles and represents an increase in elevation of 7,500 feet – the largest gain of any mountain trail in Colorado.

Emma, Zach, my nephew Peter, and I began our hike to the top, where we planned to eat a famous Pikes Peak donut, rest, and then ride the Cog Train back down the mountain.

We plodded up the trail, occasionally stopping to still our beating hearts and catch our breaths. We’d take a quick drink and then return to our steady pace – onward and upward!

Pikes Peak is known for dangerous lightening storms that pop up in the afternoon. The threat of early afternoon lightning kept us moving. We needed to summit by mid-day to avoid the more probable lightning strikes that occur in the afternoon. Close to tree-line, we saw multiple trees that had been struck by lightning – somber sentinels warning us of this real threat as we climbed higher.

The first six miles were challenging but unfolded with comparable ease. The last half of the hike proved to be more difficult. The final three miles could be best described as grueling. At one point, Emma turned to me and, between panting breaths said, “I’m going to die”. I replied “Yes, you will, but not today!”

PikesPeakSummit 2

It became all we could do to walk several yards and then stop to recover, before continuing up the trail and repeating the cycle. The farther we hiked, the less oxygen the atmosphere offered up to our burning lungs.

I love challenges like this because they reward the persistence of those who dare to conquer them. Victory does not require the fleet-of-foot, it simply demands that you persist – that you don’t give up.

Finally, after eight hours of hiking, we reached the summit. Zach and Peter arrived first, then a few minutes later, Emma waited for me to catch up with her so that we could summit together. What a moment! The “Why did we do this?” comments that I heard earlier in the hike turned to grateful exuberance upon reaching the top.

Perhaps most gratifying to this father is hearing two of my children say, “Dad, this was the hardest thing that I have ever done.” WOW, a statement like that makes a dad’s heart leap. You see, we live in a world that so often tries to limit our options and dismiss our true potential. Even worse, we tend to play negative, self-limiting recordings in our minds daily. “You can’t do this”, “You don’t know how to do that”. You know what I am talking about.

I have no doubt that the our experience of hiking up Pikes Peak will echo in our hearts and minds for years to come. Children, grandchildren and great grandchildren will hear the story, and be inspired to write their own. I am already thinking about which 14er to climb next.

The experience was a poignant life lesson, and provided a glimpse of our potential. True growth and discovery always lie just outside our comfort zone. We stepped out of the status quo and reached heights (physically and mentally) that we have never enjoyed before.

What’s your Pikes Peak? What challenge in business or life will you decide to conquer? I know this, that the struggle will create a memorable journey, and the results will take you to a new level of achievement. It all begins with the first step at the trailhead.

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PikesPeakSummit Emma Dad

Bigstock marathon running athletes coup 44182684

I’ve been getting back into my exercise routine. After my cycling accident several weeks ago, I took a break from strenuous exercise.

It feels good to use a concussion-causing accident as an excuse for inactivity. Every other time that I have fallen out of the exercise routine, the reasons were far more mundane and less logical.

You see, usually when I “fall off the exercise wagon”, I literally have no good reason to support the change. Over the years, I have realized that I must be intentional about exercise or it just won’t happen!

The longer I live, the more I can testify that if I don’t train and push my body physically, it begins to regress, soften and bloat. We all know this, muscles that remain inactive will eventually atrophy.

Have you ever thought about your intellectual muscles? The same universal truth applies here. If we don’t stretch our minds and increase our skills through intentional training and challenges, we begin to loose our edge. It takes intentional planning and action on our part to continue growing into who we were meant to be.

Learning and the action that follows it are key to you and me reaching our full potential. Have you fallen off the personal growth wagon? Did you earn a degree or certification and then basically hang your mental work-out clothes in the locker? What have you done this month to combat the natural regression in the important area of personal growth?

You may be saying to yourself, “Ouch – I get your point, Brady”. My response: Today is a new day! Purpose to plan your own personal growth. Think about who you want to become, what you want to do, and who you want to impact – then choose to learn, stretch and grow in areas that will support your desired future. If you get serious about personal growth, I have no doubt that you’ll increase your effectiveness and fulfillment.