The Captivating Wedding

It happened years ago in Brazil, where we lived at the time, in a little church my dad was overseeing. The modest chapel stood on a hillside overlooking the red clay-tiled roofs of the houses below that spilled out across the valley. On this particular day, he was presiding over a wedding and so we were all invited to attend what turned out to be an amazing ceremony and a valuable life lesson. Looking back now, it was without a doubt the humblest wedding I ever attended, but at the same time one of the most captivating.

We took our seats on the left-hand side of the small auditorium and watched as it quickly filled to capacity with well-wishers. As the ceremony got underway, a young woman came to the podium to sing a special hymn. Unfortunately, she had barely started singing when her nerves got the best of her and she started to stumble over the lyrics. Without hesitation the groom sprang into action and stepping forward he picked up the song where her voice had trailed off, giving her the confidence to keep going. As they sang together, he turned to his bride and then the congregation and motioned for them to join in. Before it was over the packed chapel was filled with the voices of this impromptu choir so much so that the melody spilled out through the open church doors and over the valley.  

If I picture that day in my mind and listen very carefully, I can almost see their faces and hear their sweet song these many years later. The bride looking on with amazement, tears dancing in the corners of her eyes. The groom wearing a plain white long-sleeve shirt standing in front of the alter leading the congregation in the song, his face beaming with the joy and anticipation of this special day when he marries the girl of his dreams. Nothing, not even the forgotten words of a song, can dampen his enthusiasm on this special day!

Couple on their wedding day standing in front of the church doors.

These days there are reality TV shows that apparently shadow couples prior to their wedding in order to document the many activities leading up to the big day. What I gather from the promotional clips is that things inevitably turn ugly as the couples lash out at everyone around them in their attempt to create the “perfect” wedding. Whenever I see an ad for one of these shows I reflect on the young man from Brazil, bursting with joy as he led the congregation in song. He was not worried about the condition of the flower arrangements, there were none. He was not concerned if the stringed quartet was going to show up on time, because he had not hired one. He did not even care that the young singer forgot the lyrics to her song. He was only filled with immense gratitude for the people who had come out on this very special day to share in his joy of marrying the love of his life.

Summary

As we strive for perfection in our daily lives, whether it be a party we are hosting for friends, an attempt to pull off the perfect date with that special someone who might be “the one”, or even our very own wedding day, are we consciously aware of what really matters? At the end of the day what really matters are the people we love, and the special moments they share with us.

So, the next time you are part of an event that experiences an unexpected hiccup, just picture the young groom in the white shirt and beaming face and be filled with gratitude and awe for the people around you that you love.

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P.S. Share with us in the comments below an inspiring event that has shaped your life.

The Best Time Is Now

A new year is upon us! Will this new year just wash over you with whatever it happens to bring, or will your intentional decisions be the force that changes the outcome of the year? What key decisions do you need to make in your life this coming year? Better yet, what is the one significant step you need to take in your life right now to make the new year memorable? If you know the answer, is it something big enough and bold enough that it significantly challenges you? Have you been waiting for the right time, the right opportunity, or even someone else to step in and take action for you on your big idea? I am here to challenge both you and me to make this the year where we take significant intentional action in our lives.

I was recently listening to a successful talk show host explain the benefits of being an entrepreneur and the financial difference he has been able to make in the lives of those who work for him. During the show, a caller asked him when he thought the best time was to start a business, considering the current market conditions and political uncertainty. Without hesitation, the host answered, “the best time is now”. He went on to say that now is always the best time to launch out and create the business you have been dreaming about. I believe this philosophy applies not only to starting a business but to life in general as we really only ever have right now to act.

In the 2018 Walt Disney Pictures film titled Christopher Robin, his childhood friend Winnie-the-Pooh endeavors to teach a now grown-up Christopher Robin how to live in the moment and seize what is right in front of him. In one of his many heart to heart talks with Christopher, he states “Yesterday when I thought about tomorrow, it was too much day for me”. I think what Winnie-the-Pooh was trying to say is that we really only have today to act on the things that matter the most. In another exchange, when Winnie-the-Pooh asks his friend Piglet what day it is, Piglet simply replies “it’s today”. It’s time to seize the moment.

So, what specific action will you take today that will change the outcome of the new year? Is it to improve your health, start a business, invest in a meaningful relationship? If you are not sure, grab some paper and start writing down questions you can then ask yourself that align with the things you are passionate about. Here are some examples.

  • Is there a cause or an injustice that I should help address? Example: Have I considered that 12.9% of the world’s population goes to bed hungry every night? World hunger statistics from the Food Aid Foundation.
  • Am I surrounding myself with people that inspire me? Example: When I spend time with my close circle of friends (top 3-5), do I come away inspired or drained?
  • Is my lifestyle contributing to my long-term health? Example: Are my daily habits improving my health or are they potentially compromising my future quality of life?
  • Am I prepared to invest in a meaningful personal relationship with someone? Example: Am I working to develop the very qualities in me that I would value in that special someone I am looking to attract? Am I generous, forgiving, motivated…?
  • Can I name the top three mentors in my life? Example: Are there people I admire that directly through personal relationships, or indirectly through podcasts or other training venues feed vision into my life weekly?
  • Am I investing in my spiritual well-being? Example: Do I make time in my day for spiritual mediation and inspired reading?
  • Is this the year to start my own business? Example: Have I researched the many opportunities the Internet provides for starting a purpose-driven business that has the potential to change thousands of lives?  

Pick one item from your list that you are ready to focus on and then answer the following questions.

  • What tangible action will I take to see the desired outcome in this area over the next year?
  • How will I specifically measure my progress? You can leverage the OKR (Objectives & Key Results) method if you are familiar with this approach.
  • Can I do it on my own or will I need coaching (who will keep me accountable)?
  • What can I do today to set this plan in motion?

Summary

As I walked from work the other day toward the parking garage, I observed a pigeon hop down a long flight of stairs one by one. I found this interesting considering he was perfectly capable of flying, which he demonstrated when I got close enough to him. While he had no internal motivation to fly over the stairs on his own, he did so once he came in contact with an outside force (me). My question to you is, do you sometimes take the stairs in life when you could be flying over them? Are you waiting for an outside force to nudge you into flight? I trust this article motivates you at the beginning of this new year to do what you are already capable of doing, but perhaps currently avoiding. Don’t hop if you know how to fly. Identify the one thing you are going to take action on, write out your plan, and then act because the best time is always now!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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P.S. Share in the comments below the one big bold step you are going to challenge yourself with in the new year and don’t forget to subscribe to receive an email notification each time a new blog post is published!

3 Keys to Make Exercise A Lifestyle

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OK, here’s the warning! Always check with your physician before beginning any exercise program.

I was very careful in the title to indicate exercise should be a lifestyle. Starting exercise regiments based on a new year’s resolution or even jumping into hours of training for a specific event often leads to spurts of great effort, followed by long sedentary off-seasons. The only way to truly increase your physical strength and flexibility as well as improving overall cardiovascular health is to make exercise a lifestyle.

Proper exercise has officially become a discipline that we now need to schedule into our daily lives. When we were primarily an agriculture-based society, exercise came naturally in the course of hard work on the farm. Now that more jobs are becoming serviced based, too many of us find ourselves lost in the dreaded cube farm staring at a computer screen 10 hours a day. If this describes your average day remember, your body was created to move and not sit at work all day followed by an evening on the couch watching TV. It’s time for you to make exercise a lifestyle!

If you are just starting out pick a level of exercise that is appropriate for you right now and that will also build a base for a more active tomorrow. For example, I have a friend who decided to lose weight and start exercising. So, all he did was remove bread from his diet and on day one walked around his block. On the next day, he walked around two blocks and the next three and so on. Before he knew it, he had lost 20 pounds simple by eliminating bread and starting a daily walking routine.

Keys to Get Moving

  1. Create a Workout Schedule. Pick the cadence for your weekly workout (every day, every other day, etc.). Whatever it is, schedule it like you would your meals. Lay out a realistic schedule that you can stick to and then be very protective of this time. Schedule your weekly workout plan on your calendar or map it out on your whiteboard, but have it charted somewhere so you can check off each workout and track your progress. Mapping out and tracking your workout schedule will dramatically increase your success rate! You can also build in a make-up day. For example, if your schedule calls for Monday through Friday workouts, keep Saturday open as your make-up day in case you are forced to miss one of your week-day workouts.
  2. Chose a Workout Place. For me, it’s my basement. Five days a week I am in the basement at 5:40 AM working out. I keep telling myself I am going to invest some time to upgrade the space to look like a proper gym but I am not waiting for that project to complete before I get moving. For you perhaps it is a gym, the track at your local school or simply the streets of your neighborhood. Wherever it is, make sure it is accessible to you when you need it. Also, if your preferred workout location is outside, have a go-to fallback in case of bad weather. Don’t allow the elements to dictate your exercise lifestyle.
  3. Have a Workout Plan. Decide in advance what your daily workout is going to be. I purchased a couple of 30-minute workout plans (one weight lifting and one cardio) that I alternate between every other day. They are my virtual coaches that guide me daily through my workout, pushing me beyond what I would do on my own. The plans also take me through a series of workouts day after day eliminating time wasted each morning trying to decide what workout to do. Whatever your approach is, make sure you have a sustainable plan before you get started.

What changes will you choose to make that will become building blocks for your future health and wellbeing? If you are not exercising today, start slow but never stop. Make exercise a lifestyle!

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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Healthy People: The 3 Things They Do

Healthy People Jogging

For me, a healthy person is by definition a well-balanced individual. “Healthy” comes in a lot of flavors including physical well-being, mental soundness, the strength of one’s relationships, and the list goes on. For the sake of this example, let’s focus on physical health. What are the keys to living a healthy physical lifestyle? Why do some people appear to achieve this state with relative ease while others yo-yo between food fads, diets, and the latest workout craze but with no lasting results? Here is the answer in three not so easy steps!

They make healthy living a core value. Bottom line, healthy individuals tend to define what their core values are and healthy living makes the short list. They may not have a written list of core values (which I highly recommend) but they live by them just the same. As you age, you will not naturally fall into a healthy physical lifestyle. The fact is, it will come through careful planning and a core value that is set to some extent on defying the natural aging process. Planning for physical health must by default include a solid definition of the core attributes that define you. Once you incorporate living a healthy lifestyle into your core values, you will be on your way to realizing success.   

They have habits. I heard someone say that people do not fail for lack of goals, they fail due to lack of systems. This is why new year’s resolutions, like joining the local gym, are a complete waste of time. Setting goals without the necessary systems and routines required to support them are actually harmful as it tends to reinforce a track record of experienced failure. Living a healthy lifestyle requires systems that turn into routines that lead to habits (systems > routines > habits). You don’t argue with yourself about brushing your teeth each morning. This is because you have transitioned from learning the system of how to brush, then when to brush, to finally making it a lifelong habit. Once a healthy lifestyle becomes habitual, you will be successful in this area for the long term.

They have a vision. A wise biblical sage once said something to the effect that without vision, people perish. Vision (the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom) provides the underlying energy your core values and habits will need in order to succeed. Can you clearly imagine the healthy lifestyle you will be enjoying 5 to 10 years from now? If so, you have an initial vision. Can you apply wisdom to your imagination and envision why you need to be healthy 10-15 years from now? If so, you have a mature vision. This skill is absolutely necessary for long term success and has the potential to fuel a healthy physical lifestyle for years to come.

Vision for a healthy lifestyle
Vision for a healthy lifestyle

At the end of the day, people living healthy lifestyles have characteristics that brought them to this well-balanced place in life. Whenever I read about someone who has achieved health in an area of life, I look carefully for signs of the underlying principles that have contributed to their success. They may not specifically be the ones listed above, but if you look hard enough, they will always be there in one form or another.

So, what healthy, well-balanced goals do you have for life and do they align with your core values? If not, find ones that do then seek out systems that lead to routines which turn into habits. Finally, energize your habits with your life’s vision. If you consistently apply these principles, there will be no stopping you.

Resources

Here are links to related resources you might find useful. If you find your life is out of balance, take action today to change that about yourself. I heard it once said, the time is going to pass whether or not you act. Wouldn’t you rather spend that time becoming the person you aspire to be?

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