Sunday, September 25, 2011

Base line Life

Base Lines in Project Managemet are pretty useful tools. They track where you should be in terms of expenditures and successes and let you identify places you need to pay more attention to. For example, if you are almost our of budgeted funds but only half way through the project, there may be an issue.

While some projects are forced away from their base line by major events like corporate reorganizations or major budget shifts the reality is that most suffer from "scope creep". That's what we call the little requests that come in for favors, "just one more feature", or trying something new.

Scope Creep jumps us in life, too. One more family commitment, promising to bake that cake by next Sunday, or picking up a new set of work out videos because the last ones didn't do much for you. We often make a good promise on a good thing but don't remember to take into account all the other good commitments we already have.

I thought about encouraging you to clean up your schedule a bit and spend time giving away toys, tools, books, videos, and whatever else you have that has been doing nothing but gathering dust for years. We've done a few rounds of that lately and I can assure you life is much better! There are things I've been beating myself up about; I spent good money on something but never really used it. My personal monkey is books; I have lots of them. Really....lots. Like "pared down to just four bookshelves full" lots.

That was the planned conversation; a sort of "Think about what's important" kind of encouragement. Then I spent some time in our Prayer Chapel at church and spoke to God about the needs written on little prayer request cards. Needs like wanting to beat cancer so you can see your child go to kindergarten. Or a family trying to cope with an accident at work where someone won't be coming home, ever. I sadly realized that what had been important before paled in comparison with what my brothers and sisters are facing.

So, yeah, take those diet books and workout videos to the library. On your way home park it on a pew somewhere and open yourself up to God about how you can really focus on what's important in life. Skip worrying about Monday morning at work and spend time on the life and love we take for granted. Apologize for that argument, take that walk with someone special, and don't equate earned income with personal value.

If realizing you're way off base makes you cry, well, you're not the only one.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Will the real me please stand?

Anyone who believes the statistic that only one percent of the population suffers from multiple personality disorder has never tried to be a parent, worker, spouse, bread-winner, cried on shoulder, best friend, junior league sports coach, dutiful child, Scout leader, bill payer, church goer, "one of the guys/girls", and engage in one or more of a zillion hobbies we can consumed by.

At work one beautiful day a gentleman who serves as a mentor/managers asked me "What do you enjoy doing?" His question was designed to get me clear on career goals and I sadly must admit to gasping like a fish out of water. My career has been "whatever needs doing" for so long that I couldn't really remember what I truly enjoyed.

That got me thinking, and reading, and studying. Soon I realized that I had been doing the "whatever needs doing" in my hobbies, relationships, and spare time. Things I once enjoyed were now just items on a rather long task list. Decent money has been spent on things that I thought I should be doing or sensed there was some vague need for.

Oh Lord, "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made..." (Psalm 139:14a)  Now, uh, Lord, who am I?

Lest you think have hard evidence that I am totally crackers, go back to the first paragraph and see how many personalities you are expected to fill. I probably missed a score or two and you can fill in the blanks. Go on, give it a try! I bet you can come up with at least a dozen things you're expected to be in the course of the next couple weeks. Are there enough hours in the week to give each of these roles half a day and still go to work and get any sleep?

So here is the challenge; to find out what I really am created to enjoy. Who is the real me and where did all these other shadows of me come from? How many are expectations because I didn't say "no" to a volunteer assignment. Or something was broken and no one else was working on it.

Who am I, really...and who are you?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Even the kids were there.

Lee County. Georgia. held a special ceremony honoring the First Responders locally and remembering the sacrifice of the First Responders in the 9/11 attacks ten years ago today. I was proud to be in the crowd. 

The other day I posted on a Tom Dziubek's Facebook page:  "I think we are more judged by what we stand for, and against, than for what we allow. Telling a child about 9/11 means dealing with the existence of bad in the world but also the strength and community that bound America together in the aftermath. I strongly feel that the more we, as a nation, stand up and remember the more we, as a nation, deter it from ever happening again. When all races, creeds, and life-styles join together and say "Touch any of us and we'll all kick your $%$%$%!" The less of a target of choice we become."

How do you tell your kids about anything? With openness and truth. Parents are responsible for educating their children on the basics of life: why drugs are bad, why sex is special between a husband and wife, and why patriotism is a good thing. There is a strength in clarity that is tempered with wisdom and love. The terrorist attacks on America were wrong but we are no less wrong if we degrade people with no connection to the attacks. Tell your kids that bad people attacked America and that we are seeking justice. Tell your kids that making a bad choice has a bad consequence. Passionately affirm your kids when they make good choices and joyfully celebrate them when they stand for the right thing against the odds and their peers.

As Mark Twain said: "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astound the rest." Do right in your home and model it for your kids. Live your life in a way that astounds people.

And never forget.