step

Every weekday morning, I listen to the Joyce Meyer Radio Podcast.  This is part of my quiet morning routine, helping me get my mind around what’s important and not just what will cause me to be busy.  Apparently the majority of her audience is women, proving once again how much smarter they are than us men.

Today, she made the comment, “Each step [in our walk] is a decision.”  That resonated with me.  Whatever direction we are headed, it is our deliberate decision leading us.  We shouldn’t be surprised with most of the consequences of our actions, and we certainly shouldn’t be surprised when we arrive at our destination.  We’ve been heading there all along.

I get that along the way we will encounter people and situations we didn’t expect.  I also get that once we begin heading in one direction, we will need to make adjustments along the way on how to best proceed.

But let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.  We’re pretty smart.  The vast majority of the time, we know where we are headed, and we have a pretty good idea what’s in store for us once we get there.  So, let’s decide to be thoughtful, prayerful, and vigilant before we set out.

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plus

 

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My beloved, Christine, and I are both in our forties.  As she often reminds me, I am deeper into my forties than she is.  In fact, I am so deep into them it is much easier to see fifty than to look back at forty.  It’s good, though.

One of the things that happens as we age is that invitations to formal events change.  It has been a while since we have been invited to a wedding.  It’s been even longer since either one of us has been invited with a “plus one” on the invitation, since we are now in our twenty-second year of marriage.

One of the conversations I have been having with my team is developing a “plus-one” attitude.  Rather than doing to minimum requirements, they should go at least one step beyond.  During our more intense training sessions, we will give the athletes a timed requirement.  For example, they will be required to do 100 perfect side kicks, each leg, in two minutes.

Many of them are at the point where this is getting pretty easy.  So, they should keep adding a “plus one” until they run out of time.  Not only does this increase their athleticism, it bolsters their confidence and mental agility.  I want them to keep pushing their ceilings, and to push back at me because they are just killing it.

“You think that’s going to be hard, Coach?  That all you got? Nah.  Look at what I’ve got!  Look at what I’m made of!”  When they get to that point, I know they are getting ready to go against the best in the world.

Where in your life can you add a plus one?  I would recommend in most areas, make small changes.  Those are easier to accomplish and easier to track.  Over time, those plus ones have a multiplicative effect.

 

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passion

So, then there’s passion.  We are often told to “follow our passion” in life, to do what speaks to us.  We strive to have passion in our marriages.  More often than not, we use the word passion to mean great, deeply felt emotion, sometimes romantic in nature.

If we look at the word “passion” in an etymological framework, we see that early definitions of passion had to do with suffering, pain, and enduring.  I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone give the advice to follow pain and suffering.  Nor do I remember it being a good thing to try to increase suffering in marriages and relationships.

So, what to do?  Nothing, really.  Keep using the word passion as it is in the modern sense.  The definitions of words evolve and change.  Maybe you can find something you are deeply interested in that won’t cause you a lot of suffering, or put you in a frame of mind where you have to merely endure it.  Something that you care deeply about, and are still able to keep your sense about you.

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meh

So, I don’t feel like “blogging” any longer.  I’m not very disciplined in it anyway.  Additionally, I have well under a million “followers” who read it.  And, sometimes I find my own writing forced.  So, I just am not feeling it.

Except. I still have some things to say.  Maybe a lot of things.

And.  Despite how I “feel” at any given moment, those things are going to be said.  Because if I acted on just my feelings, my life would be chaotic and dysfunctional.

So, there it is.  Darn it!  Or, yay!  See?  Neither one of those will make my decision.

What about you?  What do you have to say?  Are you saying it?  To those who need to hear it?

Or, are you selling yourself short.  Are you afraid that they will laugh at you, ridicule you,  or get angry?  Or, worse yet, ignore you.

Too bad.  You have something to say.  How do I know?  Because you are.

So, there.  Get on it.  The world is hungry for people to step out and step up.

 

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red

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Monday afternoon, I had an unexpected gift on my desk.  A bag of coffee!  In fact, the very one that is pictured above.  I had not had a very good day up until that point.  I was tired and had gotten behind on a few projects.

This past weekend, some athletes, families, and I travelled  to Indianapolis for a seminar, and on Monday I was pretty exhausted.  We left early Friday morning, and came back Sunday evening.  It’s a bit over 600 miles from my house, and with construction, rest stops, and traffic, the trip home took about 11 hours.

Additionally, I did not rest well Saturday at the hotel.  There was a wedding, and some of the wedding party thought it would be a swell idea to have a loud, drunken discussion in front of my door.  At least they were having a good time.

Sunday night, I slept fairly hard.  Waking up Monday, I did not feel well rested.  Going about my day, I was in a bit of a fog.  Mentally, I was working hard to prepare myself for classes and training.  Mondays tend to be twelve hour work days for me, which most of the time is fine.

Seeing that bag of coffee on my desk immediately lifted my spirit.  There was an anonymous note with it.  You can see it at the end of this post.

I’ve trying for a couple of days to create some sort of grand, life-changing takeaway from this kind act.  How the universe somehow shifted, never to be the same again.  Instead, here’s what I came up with: Thanks.

Thanks for being generous.  Thanks for knowing me well enough to give me some really excellent coffee.  Thanks for thinking of me.

I’m going to save that bag when it’s empty.  Maybe that’s weird.  I don’t really care.  That gift came on a day when, unknown to the giver, I was struggling a bit.  It totally changed my day.  I want to remember that.

Thank you.

 

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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, mental health, world taekwondo academy

mri

Unknown

 

In my less-than-good moments, I am somewhat of a jerk.  (I was going to put something else, but want to keep this rated PG).  Take, for example, last Friday.  I was scheduled to get an MRI on my left shoulder, which got injured in a minor auto accident.  Since I generally follow a rule of “On time is late,” I arrived a few minutes early.

Which is funny, because I have had appointments at medical facilities before.  The most consistent thing is how off-schedule they tend to run.  For them, it seems, the “On Time is Late” rule is actually, “On Time is–not us.”  Whatever.  A minor inconvenience and a first-world problem.

My check-in time was 2 pm, and the procedure was scheduled for 230.  Fine.  In medical terms that means my check in is at 2 pm, and my procedure sometime after 3.  However, Friday was meant to be a special day.

As the day got on, I started not feeling terribly well.  Nothing big, just sort of icky.  Went to the MRI anyway.  As I sat waiting, every once in a while the lights would flicker, followed by a huge clanking.  Since I have had an MRI before, I guessed the noise and lights were the  machine probing someone else.  However, interspersed with the loud noise and the flickering lights was a sound light a huge cat coughing up a fur ball.

In the next room, I could hear voices asking someone if he felt OK.  Apparently he did.  This went on for several minutes.  The hacking, the questions, the answer.  A mini game of Groundhog’s Day.  With a lot of phlegm.

At about 245 (early-late!), I got called to the second waiting room.  Because it makes us feel better to be moved from one spot to the other to do the exact same thing–wait.  Whatever.  Minor progress, I guess.

The nice young woman who took me back explained that I would be changing into a gown.  I asked her how long this part of the waiting was, because the first part was such a blast, and she said, “I have no idea, honestly.  We’re really far behind.”  She then said I could wait while she found out how long it would be.  I told her I would not be putting on the gown at this particular time, which gave her some pause.  “Yeah.  That’s smart.  I wouldn’t either.”  She paused again, because the man was coughing.  Again.  “He just got over pneumonia.”

She left.  I stayed.

Happy, happy, joy, joy!

The good news is that I was now into close proximity to this gentleman.  Some of the personnel kept asking him, “Are you sure you’re OK?  You sure?  Really?”  Because, as you know, you have to be still in the MRI thingy or it doesn’t work.  Coughing does not still make.

I heard a crunching, chewing noise around the coughing.  The gentlemen said, “No (hack), this cough drop they gave me is really good.  Really good.  Did the trick.”  Yep, sure did, as evidenced by your only coughing five times in a row instead of ten.

The woman who had been attending to me came back into my little closet. Yes, I stayed in the closet where the gowns were, because there wasn’t anybody in there working whatever he was working out of his throat.  And there was a bench-drawer thing.  Deal with it.  Anyway, she looked at me with now-tired eyes and said, “Well.  It’s gonna be a while.  There are a few people ahead of you (a few!  yay!).  And, well, we can’t find the doctor.”

Huh.  That’s a new one.

“Would you like to reschedule?”  No, no, thank you. I would rather sit and wait by someone who is “just” over pneumonia (whose gown is not closed in the back, but nice boxer shorts), when I am really starting to not feel well, and this is going to be probably another hour before I go in to a machine with very tight walls and, because I am a bit claustrophobic my brain tells me I am trapped in it.  No, no.  I think we are good here.

Then, it hits me what ungracious and un-called-for thoughts I have been having.  I realize how much negative energy I know I projected.  That these woman might have had a long day as well, and that even if my afternoon was inconvenienced, I don’t have to be an ass.

So, I take a breath, and say, “Sure.  That would be great.  Thank you for all your help.”

Here are some takeaways from that experience:

  • I forgot what grace and mercy look like, and that I could have had and shown more
  • I am a pain for all things medical (see first point above)
  • If restaurants ran their operations like many medical facilities, they would close
  • I am a pain
  • I could have prayed for that man’s healing, for the people working there, and for my own patience

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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refuse

One of the books I’m currently reading is, “The Champion’s Comeback” by Jim Afremow, a sports psychologist. One of the takeaways for me is, “Refuse to be outworked or outhustled.”  This resonates with me.  My team and I talk a lot about this during training sessions, how we need to refuse to settle for less than a championship effort.

Here are some of the different ways we talk about this:

Refuse to be outworked

Refuse to be outhustled

Refuse to take training for granted

Refuse to settle

Refuse to deny yourself the pleasure of hard work

Refuse to have professional talent and amateur effort

Of course, pretty words and phrases aren’t enough.  Elite athletes need to have effective effort, with a growth mindset.  They need smart planning and training, and the guts to look and feel stupid while putting in those “smart hours” as they are learning and growing.  Elite athletes need to “want it” more than their coaches, parents, spouses, fans, and teammates.

Championship athletes refuse to be outworked.  They refuse to be outhustled.  They come to believe and own this.

Do you have a championship mindset?  What do you refuse to do that hinders your performance?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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beyond

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Sometimes I wonder about “The Universe.”  I joke that if indeed the universe is both infinite and is infinitely expanding in all directions, then I must indeed be the center of it.  Yesterday, I had the thought, if the universe is infinite (as we understand that term), and if it is still expanding, then maybe we are never and always at its center.

This, of course, led me to think about the Infinite God.

If God is perfect in His holiness, and complete in Himself (meaning that He is in perfect harmony in and of Himself, in perfect relationship as a Triune God), then it could be reasoned that my sin of resentment or hate towards my enemy has the same weight as the sins committed by murderers, rapists, and terrorists.  He is so holy that in comparison to that Perfect Holiness, any and every sin has the same weight, and therefore can be forgiven to the truly repentant.

I have a hard time getting my head around this.  My freshman year of college, I had a roommate for a few months who was really on fire for Jesus.  He did not preach or attempt to convert, and would engage in conversation when invited.  I got supremely angry at him one day.

We were in the dorm room, talking about our faith walks.  I’m not sure how we got on the topic, but we started talking about sin and forgiveness.  I remember asking him something like, “You mean to tell me that if Adolf Hitler asked for forgiveness, and really meant it, that he would be forgiven?”  My roommate laughed delightedly, and said, “Yes!  Isn’t that great!?”

No, no it was not.  I was fuming.  How could someone so vile, so evil, who had knowingly committed such atrocities be forgiven?  How?  Because God’s goodness vanquishes evil.  Because He put “death in its grave.”

Sometimes, I still view acts of sin and rebellion like they’re objects that are put in a container.  The container is only so big, and can only hold so much.  Once it’s full, you’re done.  No more.  No passing Go, no collecting any reward in Heaven.  You are too far-gone for even the God of the universe.

I think this about my own behavior sometimes.  This is something I am working out with God.  I still struggle with knowing that I fall short of His glory, and He still welcomes me and calls me His son.  That my sin is not put in a container that will get so full that God will reject me.

Recently, a good friend of mine gave me a CD to listen to.  Good thing my car has a CD player.  In it, the preacher says that God does not deal with our past.  Our sin is dead in Jesus.  He deals with our future self, the one who has been forgiven and is made perfect in Him.  What we need to focus on is His righteousness in our lives.

Now, I get that there needs to be accountability.  No question.  For today, for Ash Wednesday, I am going to remember God’s perfect goodness on my life.  That He sent His son, who already paid the price for fools like me.  Who am I to deny God’s love and forgiveness for me?

Yes, there must be repentance.  Yes.  And, the God I believe in has enough grace, love, mercy, and power to forgive those who truly seek it.  We cannot behave ourselves into righteousness.  That being said:

Forgiveness does not equal reconciliation.

Forgiveness does not equal tolerance.

Forgiveness does not equal permission.

Forgiveness does not equal justification.

Forgiveness often means freedom for the one forgiving.  Forgiveness must be an active part of our spiritual DNA, because the Jesus of the Bible always forgave those who repented.  He sought the unclean, the unworthy, the broken.  He sought me.  And you.  He still is here for us.

Some of you will probably want to respond to this post with comments that are political in nature, or with verses (certainly from the Old Testament) that show God as vengeful and a just (meaning angry) God.  That’s not the person I know in Christ.  I would encourage you to engage in some meta-analysis as to why you would feel compelled to do so.  Is it born out of true righteousness, or self-righteousness?

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Posted in Life, Uncategorized, world taekwondo academy

looped

 

Most mornings I wake up with part of a song in my head.  For several months, it was a song by the band Chicago, “Hard to Say I’m Sorry.”  I can’t stand that song, and I don’t like the band.  Peter Cetera’s voice, to me, has the same effect as scraping a knife on a glass.  Sorry, Chicago fans.  Incidentally, by typing that paragraph, I got that darn song in my head again.  Ugh.

The past few days, however, I have had “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.  Now this band, I like.  One of my favorites in the 80’s, and I still like that particular song. Still, a weird and curious way to wake up.

I’m sure there is an explanation for this, getting songs stuck in our heads over an extended period of time, that is probably interesting on several levels and that, at this point, I don’t really care to research.  You can do that and get back to me.  For now, I’m going to call this “looping,” because it seems to fit and because this is my blog.

We have chatter going on in our heads constantly.  One of the most difficult things to do is to quiet that noise.  A lot of that noise is fairly benign, and fairly quiet.  We might notice them, but not give too much attention to them.  Fine.

From time to time, however, there are thoughts and ideas looping in our heads that aren’t so benign.  They tell us we aren’t worthy, that when we make mistakes those total the sum of our being, or other, more insidious thoughts.  What is one to do when those songs keep looping?

Tell a trusted friend.  They will speak the truth to you about who you really are.

Combat the lies with truth.  If the song that is stuck in your head says, “You’re horrible,” replace it with something like, “I am a child of God.  I am chosen and worthy.  I am a wonderful creation.”

Get help.  The song won’t stop?  Is it disrupting your life?  Get help.  If you break your leg, I would hope you would get professional help.  It’s the same with our mental health.  Sometimes we need to get help.  There is no shame in that.  See a minister, social worker, counselor—someone who is outside of your inner circle who can give you objective advice and counsel.

As for songs that get stuck in your head, think about something else.  I was listening to a podcast several months ago, when the guest was telling about a time when he spoke with Bode Miller, the US Olympic Downhill Ski champion.  When he told Miller about a song he had stuck in his head, Miller looked at him and said, “Think about something else.”  That’s a pretty good mental exercise, actually.  I did that a few minutes ago with that Chicago song, and it worked.  Mostly.

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disagree

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In the early 1990’s, when I was a young teacher, I had the opportunity to be the assistant coach for a school district’s varsity debate team.  The kids I was primarily responsible for debated in the Lincoln-Douglas style, as opposed to the Policy Debate style.  It was a lot of fun seeing really smart, hard-working teenagers do hard research, write cogent speeches, and then engage in vigorous debates.

The kids were rgiven a topic or policy question, and then had to research both for and against the resolution.  Moreover, they had to be prepared at any time to effectively, passionately, and efficiently defend both sides.  In essence, they prepared to vehemently and intelligently disagree with themselves.

Disagreement within organizations can be healthy.  A lot of people in those organizations either shy away from the conflict of disagreement, or have not yet learned how to disagree in an effective and healthy manner.  Furthermore, many “bosses” still get threatened if one of their employees disagrees with them.

That’s unfortunate.  It can be effectively argued that if everyone believed the same things, or if organizations were exclusively filled with “yes people,” not a lot of real progress would be made.  There are many positives of disagreement and debate, however.

Healthy disagreement:

  • Exposes biases and assumptions.  Part of this has to do with metacognition and “meta-listening.”  Metacognition challenges us to think about our own thinking.  If we carry this further, such as during a disagreement, we can start to think about why we have come to certain conclusions.  Meta listening is the act of listening beyond the words, to get to the meanings behind them.  When we pay careful attention to our thoughts and language, and when we deeply listen to others, we are able to challenge our thinking and gain knowledge and wisdom.
  • Sharpens iron: As we engage in the act of debate or disagreement, and we articulate our views and are challenged on them, we have the opportunity to present those views in a more refined, intelligent manner.  We become more skilled the more skilled we become.
  • Clears the air: Done safely and constructively, disagreements often lead to understanding.  Rather than believing something about someone without engaging them, dialoguing and disagreeing over an issue allows both sides to express their thoughts and feelings.
  • Provides catharsis: If we have an issue that is bothering us, and we keep it to ourselves, we tend to perseverate in thinking about it. Since our minds are powerful, the longer we allow that issue to fester, the larger it becomes to us, and the more upset we become.  Have a structured conversation with someone about it provides the opportunity to put our concerns on the table and refresh our thinking.
  • Draws people together.  This might seem counter-intuitive.  However, taking an active role in listening to others, asking questions of them, and then providing our own viewpoints can be an intimate experience.  When we are able to really dial in to what people are saying, and inviting them to do the same with us, the more we expose of ourselves.

Certainly, this list is neither exhaustive nor is it complete.  It would be great to leave comments on your ideas.

*photo credit: http://bearmedicineherbals.com/healthy-disagreement-in-herbalism.html

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Posted in Coaching, Leadership, Life, mental health, neuroscience, Uncategorized
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Photos from the UTTC tournament.  Great job, team! Ground defense Congratulations to Ms Hackett, WCCO Educator of the week! 
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