Month: January 2016

Begin before you Start into the Wind

My wife and I spent the first week of 2016 in a beach vacation house in on the Gulf Shores, Alabama. It was not the ideal time to being on a non-tropical beach, but we thought it would be fun. We knew it would be cold, but we could bundle up. Best of all, we would have the beach mostly to ourselves.

The temperatures were comfortable the evening we arrived, so the next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn and went outside to see the sunrise. I was totally unprepared for the near gale force wind that hit me cold. With no coat on, the wind went straight through me. Walking to the car, much less a stroll on the beach, felt like pushing a wheelbarrow up a steep hill that never ended. It was exhausting. I may have managed things better and even enjoyed my walk if I had stopped and prepared before I rushed out into the wind.

Three Things
You may work in a world that can feel like a gale force wind of unwanted and non-essential activities that can push you off track and exhaust your time. I have observed that there are three primary things that contribute to extremely windy days at work for many leaders :
1) Meetings: sitting in meetings you don’t need to be in, especially when there is an ill-prepared Power Point presentation

2) C Players: spending too much time trying to fix the C players in our organizations – a nearly impossible mission to accomplish

3) New Technology: trying to learn how to operate new software and getting distracted from operating the business and, of course, attempting to manage the constant stream of untethered electronic communication.

4) add you own here…

It would be wonderful if we could simply step out of these winds while at work and cleverly avoid our time wasters. But after years of watching myself and other people strive to pull out of the gale force activity winds while in the midst of those winds, I have concluded that this strategy fails every time. But there is a strategy that works.

The folks who decide to Begin before they Start each day are the ones who more often keep their footing in a world of unyielding distractions. Their secret , they tell me, is to never let daily activities Start before you Begin. Invest a few purposeful minutes to put on your emotional and spiritual coat, before you step out into the wind.

Journal Entry:
Do you start your day in the wind with email, a calendar check, and a task list or do you begin with some time to reflect on things that really matter? It may be worth a try to intentionally “Begin before you Start” each day of your Leadership and Life in 2016.

“In times like these, it helps to recall that there have always been times like these.” – Paul Harvey

“The real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals.

And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in.

And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind.” – C.S. Lewis – from Mere Christianity

Wisdom of an Innkeeper

Mary and Joseph’s First Christmas (another perspective)

The weary couple at the close of day
hoped this crowded Inn was their place to stay.
Compelled by the expectant couple’s plight,
the innkeeper found them a room that night.

He ushered them into his hectic hall
When he heard God’s voice so still and small,
“Don’t birth my son in the ruckus place
Of noise and drink and want disgrace.
Is this a place to begin a life
that will change the world of dark to light?

So the keeper of the inn did say,
“There is no room for you to stay.”
And he turned the worn out couple away.

Stepping outside his lodging place,
He whispered to the groom in haste,
“There is a spot where you can stay –
out back- in my livestock stable hay.
Though not as warm as sleeping here,
it is distant from this dwelling of leer.”

“This is no place to birth a king
whose life will make the angels sing
Of love and joy and grace to all –
Don’t start His life in this reckless mall.”

Stark words he spoke, were not his own.
Where had his compassion gone?
This kind innkeeper had been used
to protect God’s son by his refuse.

The groom in livid anger said,
“I’ll take my bride to this unkempt bed
to birth a child alone this day.
But you, dear sir, will be known for all days
as he who turned the King away.

In great dismay by what he heard
The innkeeper left without word.

That night a savior child was born
in the silence of a manger lorn
With sheep and mules and cattle there
to gaze upon the baby fair.

The groom looked at his bride and child
in this quiet place of peace and mild.
He understood the innkeeper’s will.
That put them in a place so still
so they could hear the angels’ thrill
and see the star above the hill.

If they were in the noisy inn
the angels’ song could have never been
heard above the party crowd,
the star obscured by a smoky cloud.

Now they both knew the reason why
the innkeeper had passed them by
This tiny king in their arms this night
Will never be found in the noise and blight
And bustle of a world that reeks
of self excess – where egos peak.

Instead He is found in a silent night
Where angels sing and stars are bright.

As you seek your Christmas this year
Look not in the hustle and bustle so near.
Consider the innkeeper’s faithful ear

To God’s whispered voice,
which always speaks,
but seldom shouts or competes
with all the glitter, glitz and haste.
Find Christmas this year in a common place.

By Michael Alan Tate (original 2004, revised 2006)

Working Journal Entry: Where will you find Christmas this year?

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