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Deadline

email with a deadlineYou get plenty of emails, right?  To manage the daily onslaught, you have identified many originators as frivolous producers of unwanted solicitation.  Those are sent to directly to your spam folder and are never seen by you.

You just received a new email with “Deadline” in the subject box.  You open this email and the text reads, “You will die next Wednesday at 1130.”  This one did not go to Spam because the originator was God.  What do you do?

Before you can answer that question, you go through a series of emotions.

Disbelief.  “This must be a mistake.  I am too young.  I go to church on Christmas and, usually, on Easter Sunday.  It must have been meant for someone else.  I am not ready.”

But you check the addressee.  Yup, that is your name.  No change.  It was, indeed, meant for you.

Next, sorrow and grief.  “Oh noooo.  I like it here.  What will my dog think?  Who will take him for walks and feed him.  He will miss me and I will not have been able to explain my absence.”

You cry.  Your grief is overwhelming.  But your tears change nothing.

Then the final emotion: anger.  “This is not fair.  I don’t deserve this.  This should be happening to someone else, not me.”

You kick the door, you pound the wall.  Your anger changes nothing.

Exhausted, you are forced to accept the veracity of God’s email.  You will die next Wednesday at 1130.

Back to the original question.  You have been given a deadline (pun intended).  What do you do?

First, you recognize that your time is limited.  There are dozens of things that you would like to do; but you are forced to identify the two or three most important, the things that absolutely must be done before Wednesday.  You prioritize.

As you do that, you realize how many meaningless things are on your list.  The reality of your deadline forces you shed those irrelevant and trivial things.  You focus on what matters.

There is a lesson here.  Just because we have not received God’s email, it doesn’t mean that our time is endless.  Our time is, in fact, limited.  We need to set goals and continually monitor our progress if we are to achieve our true potential.  (See the letters “G” and “V” in the Youth Version of my Responsibility Workbook Series).

Use your time wisely.  You never know when you will get that email.

New Year’s Resolutions

1) Leap out of bed each morning before 0600

Then, before breakfast:

2) Run five miles

3) Do 200 sit ups

4) Read the New York Times & Wall Street Journal from cover to cover

5) Solve Global Warming

6) Negotiate peace for at least one war or two regional conflicts

7-A) Raise $200K for President Trump’s re-election campaign

(or)

7-B) Raise $200K for the Sanders, Warren, or Clinton (2nd) campaign

(take your pick)

8) Loose ten pounds

9) Compose a symphony

10) Write another chapter in the Great American Novel

11) Leap a tall building in a single bound

Finally, at the end of the day:

12) Not feel guilty if I fail to fulfill my New Year’s Resolutions

Magic Wand

donkey vs elephantYou have just been given a Magic Wand.  Your mission is to heal the divisions that are plaguing this country.

Choose wisely.  This Magic Wand is a single shot wand.  You have only one chance to achieve your mission.  What do you do?

Do you waive your Magic Wand and make President Trump disappear, or maybe Senator Schumer?  Don’t waste your shot on Nancy Pelosi.  She has pretty much disappeared already.

Making either one of these two polarizing figures disappear might have a temporary effect, but all too soon a clone would emerge, and we would be back to where we are now:  a divided nation, incapable of acting for the common good.

Try this instead.  Waive you Magic Wand and make the words “democrat” and “republican” disappear.  Gone forever.  Neither word would ever be spoken again.  Neither word would appear in print or on screen.  Gone.

Do that and suddenly the conversation would be about policy, not personality.  Decisions would be made, not to embarrass or damage the opposition, but to improve the lives of all Americans.  Political parties would no longer be compelled to attack or degrade.  Political parties would not exist.  This would be the end of “Gotcha Politics.”  (See Lanny Davis, Scandal: How Gotcha Politics is Destroying America, St Martin’s Griffin, August 7, 2007)

By the way, this is not a new idea.  Our Founding Fathers warned of the perils of party politics.

In October of 1780, John Adams put it this way, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other.  This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”  (Charles Francis Adams (ed.), The Works of John Adams, Vol. 9.  Boston, 1854, pp. 510-511).  (See also, Geroge Washington’s Farwell Address, September 19th, 1796 and James Madison, The Fedealist # 10, November 27th 1787).

No more Democrats, no more Republicans.  Just Americans.  Mission accomplished.

A Definition of Personal Responsibility

people being personally responsibleWhat is your definition of Personal Responsibility? Being responsible can mean many different things, depending on your circumstances and your world perspective. Is your world centered on a desperate street where more is spent on drugs than on food? Or, maybe, your world revolves around high finance, board room politics and country club society. Where you come from does not matter. What matters is how you see your world and what you want to achieve in that world. That will define your sense of Personal Responsibility.

Born in poverty with no family structure to guide you through your early years? Struggling to survive where gangs rule and violence is the norm? What you choose to do can mean the difference between escaping to a better place or drowning in the desperation that surrounds you. Your choices can send you in one direction or the other. Own your choices and you might, just might, make it to that better place. Taking Personal Responsibility for your choices will give you a decent shot at success.

Wealthy parents, elite education, surrounded by comfort and privilege? Sounds good on paper but what are you going to do with it? Make smart choices and a productive and fulfilling life can be yours. More important, you will have an opportunity to be of positive benefit to others, either by supporting programs that help the less fortunate or by being a role model for someone who has not yet developed positive habits. Did I say, “opportunity?” No, it is an “obligation.”

Make bad choices, however, and all that you have been given will melt away to nothing. The traps are out there. A heavy party scene and an indulgent life style, can lead to physical deterioration and decline. Even worse, it is easy to become complacent and let each day slide by without goals and direction (see the letter “G” in our Workbooks). This lack of motivation all but guarantees failure and mediocrity. Who wants that?

The details will differ but there is one common theme: your choices have consequences. If you live in a wealthy community and have all the security and comfort that comes with that life, your choices are no less consequential than those of someone living in back alleys, scratching for food every day.

A Lesson Learned – Or Not

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”  (George Santayana (1905) Reason in Common Sense, p. 284, volume 1 of The Life of Reason).

In September of 2010, Christine O’Donnell stunned the political experts covering the Delaware State primaries by defeating Mike Castle to become the Republican Party’s nominee for special election to fill the Senate seat vacated when Joe Biden joined Barack Obama in the White House.

Castle had been hugely popular as Delaware’s Congressional Representative and former Governor.  O’Donnell was a virtual unknown and had no national political experience.  But she did have the support of Delaware’s Tea Party.  No one anticipated the impact that such support would have on the outcome: O’Donnell’s 53% to Castle’s 47%.

The outcome of the subsequent special election was less of a surprise.  After a chaotic and ineffectual campaign, O’Donnell was easily defeated by Chris Coons: 57% to 40%.

At the time, there was much hand wringing amongst the Republican establishment with vows to never let such a thing happen again.

Choices have consequences.  Today’s Republicans have made a choice and consequences will follow.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Bug Off —- “Plan A”

The dog days of summer are here but you are still a runner.  You have just set out for a relaxing recovery run (see my Blog “Hill Training For Runners,” posted 4-Dec-14).  It is late in the day and still hot; so you turn off the main road for the shade of a quiet side street.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, they attack.  Dozens of tiny black bugs swarm around your head.  You swat at them to no avail.  Then, ughh, you inhale one.  Swat again but another flies into your left eye.  Not good.

Then, miraculously, a breeze picks up.  The bugs disappear.  But your respite is only temporary.  The breeze fades and they are back with a vengeance, more annoying than ever.

Being the person that you are, you don’t accept defeat.  You are a problem solver.  You analyze the situation and come up with a plan: create your own breeze!

You crank it up, leaving your leisurely 8:00 minute per mile jog.  In a matter of six strides you hit a blazing 5:00 minute per mile sprint.  It works!  The bugs fall in your wake!

Only one problem: in the next four strides, your body totally rebels.  You fall on your face, unable to keep up that ridiculous pace.  The bugs swarm around you, sensing road kill.

Time for “Plan B.”  You do have a “plan B,” don’t you?  My plan “B” would be to limp back to my car, slam the door on any trailing bugs and crank up the ac.

Things do not always go as planned.  It pays to have a “Plan B.”

Identity II

Do you know who you are?

You are not what you say

Do you really know who you are?

You are what you do

Who are you?

Identity

I looked in the mirror

and saw myself

You looked at me

and saw someone else

You saw what you wanted to see

but what you saw wasn’t me

The Housler Effect

When I was younger there was a group of runners who would get together for training sessions and races.

The training was organized by one of the more experienced runners.  We would meet at a local high school track.  After a two mile warm up, we would hit the track to do the prescribed workout. It was fun.

The racing was also great because we knew each other and had our own rivalries to keep things interesting.

One of the runners in our group was Cal Housler (not his real name).  What a runner!   He seemed to glide around the track while the rest of us would plod along, huffing and puffing. Without a doubt, he was one of the most graceful runners of the day.

When it came to racing, however, Cal had a problem.  He never seemed to perform up to expectations.  Oh sure, he would start out fine, often leading his age group.  But then, within half a mile or so of the finish line, Cal would tie up.  His fists would clench, his shoulders would bunch up, his face a grimace of sheer agony.  His pace would drop and he would often be passed by less gifted runners.

We began to notice that this was a consistent phenomenon.  The race distance did not matter.  Put Cal on the starting line of a 10 K (6.2 mile) race and he would fade at around six miles, just two tenths short of the finish line.  The same for a half marathon:  blazingly fast for the first thirteen miles but the anchor would come out within the last tenth of a mile.

More often than not, Cal would fall apart within sight of the finish line.  We called this The Housler Effect.

Do you fade as you near your finish line?  The reality is, it is never as bad as you think it will be.  Cal’s reality was, it always was as bad as he thought it would be.  What is your reality?

Read my blog, “Where Is The Top Of The Hill.”  Had Cal been able to do that, the Housler Effect would never have been born.

Ideals To Live By

Am I going to tell you what ideals to live by?  No ….. not my job.  It is your life; so you pick the ideals.

What I can do, however, is suggest how to use your chosen ideals to guide you throughout your day.  After all, what good are ideals if you don’t live them?

This is not complicated.  Try these four simple steps.

First, pick two or three ideals that have meaning to you.  There are many to choose from.  Think of things that you might want to be known for: honesty, integrity, kindness, trustworthiness … the list is very long, indeed.

Second, tag each of your ideals with a person or a character.  This could be a relative, a celebrity, an heroic figure, or even an animal that in some way has inspired you.  For example, if you had chosen “Compassion” as an ideal, you might tag that ideal to Mother Theresa.  Or, if you felt that “Determination” was an important ideal, you might tag that one to Winston Churchill

Third, identify something that you do at the start of your day.  It can be a simple act that you perform every day …. stretching when you first get out of bed, brushing your teeth, pouring your first cup of coffee.  The act itself does not matter, as long as you do it consistently at the start of each day.  This will be your trigger point to activate the process.

The fourth, and final, step is where you bring it all together.  Let’s say that you have decided to use the moment when you pour your first cup of coffee as your trigger point.  As you pour that first cup, say the words, “Mother Theresa is Compassion.  Winston Churchill is Determination.”  This will bring your ideals to the forefront of your mind.

Follow these four steps and there is a good chance that your chosen ideals will be there to guide you throughout your day.

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