If you want to act like a star you have to give me a star effort.

You remember that scene from Remember the Titans don’t you? It is the semi final game. Petey is making excuses about why he can’t cover his man like he should. For the whole movie Coach Yoast has gone easy on him, but no more. He confronts Petey in front of the team. He says, “If you want to act like a star you have to give me a star effort.” Petey whimps out and another player is brought in to play in his place. A less talented player named Allen who gets the job done because he gives the effort required.

Petey comes back to the coach before the next game and tells him he is ready to play for the championship. Coach Yoast tells him he is going to sit on the bench and cheer for the team and he will have a chance to play the next year. It is only after the less talented player give Petey his spot that Petey has a chance to get back in the game and finally give a star effort. The Titans win the championship. They wouldn’t have if Petey hadn’t learned his lesson and been given another chance.

I see a lot of Petey in myself. I know there are things that I am talented at. I know that I have the potential to be really good in some arenas. I even act like it sometimes, but I have rarely given a star effort to go along with the star act. Don’t get me wrong, I have worked hard on many things and been successful, but there are areas of my life that I have been slacking. One of the glaring spots? My health and fitness.

One of the qualities that I have liked about myself over the years is I am a fairly strong guy. I am not Samson by any means, but fairly stout nonetheless. For some reason I have prided myself on it, like picking up heavy stuff makes me special. It does not. (It has made me a good jungle gym for my son. I love that aspect of it.)

Being fit and being strong are not the same thing. You can be strong and not be fit. (You can be fat and be strong for that fact.) You can not be physically fit and not have strength though. I have been approaching it from the wrong direction. Because of natural strength, I have ignored my overall fitness. What good is being able to pick up heavy things if you can’t carry them very far without wearing out?

I took a stab at trying to undo this 2 years ago. I was more motivated than I had been in my life. I worked out 2 and 3 times a day for several months. I lost around 40 pounds. It felt good. I felt good. I saw a little bit of that star effort and the results of it shining through. Then, I went and gained more than half the weight back. What went wrong?

I did a good thing in losing the weight, but I did it in a way that wasn’t sustainable.  I never set a solid routine. I was a wild man doing all he could. A sustainable routine over a longer period of time would have been a better approach. I also realized that there is no stop date on a physical fitness plan. I got where I wanted 2 years ago and more or less quit. Yeah, bad idea.

So, it has taken me two years to find my motivation again. I am approaching this time with a different outlook. I want a solid routine. I want steady progress. I want accountability in what I am doing, but I don’t intend to talk about it much. It is time to put in the effort before anyone else knows about it. I waited 3 weeks into my new routine to write this post.

I once read that John Mayer played his guitar for more than eight years by himself before he would let anyone hear him play. Talk about putting in a star effort before becoming a star. I also read that the Beatles played together more than 10,000 hours on stage before America ever heard of them. They definitely put the effort into their career before they became the band that changed Rock and Roll.

So, it is time to do the work. Only time and my mirror will tell if I have put in the effort to act like I have done anything great. But, if all goes like I have planned, the results will speak for themselves.

 

 

 

You should love your children, but not worship them.

I heard a very wise man say this. Someone had asked him what was one of the most important lessons he could share about how he raised his kids. He smiled and spoke those words. You should love your children, but not worship them. The message in that sentence is profound.

The end goal of parenting is to raise a child up to be a fully functioning, productive member of society. Well, that is what the goal should be and once was. It is not that way anymore for many. It seems these days that many people’s goal is to survive parenting by catering to the child’s every want. Notice I didn’t say need.

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You know the kids I am talking about. They seem normal for a bit, but you notice that they are catered to. They are coddled. If the parent should dare to say no the child throws a fit to get their way and regain control. They are unruly and undisciplined. They may be good kids at heart, but it is hard to tell because there is so much chaos going on.

Then, you come across what seem to be miracle children. They are healthy and happy. They are respectful. They know how to say thank you and please. They get in trouble from time to time, but are eager to do good and be good. How is this possible? The parents love their children enough to teach them how they need to behave.

How could this be love though? Doesn’t love want them to have what they want? Doesn’t it want them to be happy all the time? No. Not really. Not all the time. Love wants to take care of their needs. It wants them to be healthy and well rounded people and guides them away from self destructive paths. Love doesn’t want to see them hurt, but knows that sometimes they must hurt to learn. Love knows they have to fail sometimes to really appreciate the view when they breakthrough and reach the top.

Recently my son, Trey, has gotten into the Pixar movie The Incredibles. There are tons of great lines buired in that film. One that stuck out to me happened when Mr and Mrs Incredible got into an argument over their son’s activities at school. She said, “You don’t even want to go to your own son’s graduation.” Mr Incredible replied, “He’s moving from the third grade to the fourth grade. This is psychotic. They keep thinking up new ways to celebrate mediocrity.”

In an effort to keep children from feeling bad, many people celebrate things that should not be celebrated. I have no idea if a third grade graduation is a good thing or not. However, I do know that by celebrating mediocrity you have a hard time encouraging excellence. If you tell a kid they are doing a good job when they’re really not, how is this productive? I’m not sure that it is.

Make no mistake, I love my son. He is one of the reasons that I get up and do everything I do during the day. There’s nothing better to hear that little boy laugh, see him smile, or have him run to me for a hug. I love it.

I want to give him every opportunity in life to succeed. And if that means I have to disappoint him by not giving him everything he may want, but giving him what he needs, I am going to. I have no doubt he will get many things that he wants, because they will be good things. He will know his daddy loves him, but he will also know that life is about more than just him.

There is always hope.

I have been reading back through some things I wrote a few years ago. I ran across this and wanted to share it. It is a piece about what happens when we find hope. I spent a lot of years with it diminished. It was just starting to find its way back as I penned these words:

Finding hope

Hope makes the heart tingle. It energizes as it moves in.

It makes its way across the body and it spreads throughout your limbs.

Lungs that were dusty breathe in fresh and deep. Your brain waves start moving as the giant awakes from its sleep.

Purpose can now be viewed and destiny is not far behind. The eyes of your soul are no longer blind.

So breath in the air and bask in the warmth of the sun. Your future is calling. Your winter is done.

What started as a spark has fanned into a flame. Your purpose has remade you and you have a new name.

A body that was useless has found its glory once again. Hope has brought life to the future of the man.


We all go through times where it seems we have little hope of finding better days. I have felt like this many times. I am reminded of a scene from the movie The Two Towers. The Battle of Helms Deep is about to begin. A young man looks at Aragorn and says this: “The men are saying that we will not live out the night. They say that it is hopeless.” Aragorn asks the boy for his sword. He examines it. He tells the boy, “This is a good sword.” And then he speaks profound words. “There is always hope.” In the next scene Aragorn’s words are fulfilled as an army of Elves comes to Rohan’s aid. They survive the battle. They ultimately win the way. There is always hope.

Do things seem bleak now? Are you in a job you hate? Are you in a relationship that you want to get better, but don’t know how it will? Do things seem desperate? I say to you what Aragorn said. There is hope. I didn’t see it all the time years ago, but it was there and a better day came.

What are you thinking?

Every once in a while you read something that unsettles you. I am currently reading Do The Work by Steven Pressfield. It is a challenging little book. It is a great read. One line stuck out and bit me.  Mr Pressfield states that he didn’t have a thought of his own until he was 30.  Every thought he had until that time was most likely a regurgitation of things he learned from his family, school, etc, etc.

It sent me on a journey into my own mind to see if I have done the same thing. Most people want to believe that they are self made. They want to believe that the thoughts and information and decisions residing in their heads  came from deligent study and rigorus application of what was learned. For some this is true at a young age. For the rest of us, I don’ think this is so. Many times we don’t know why we believe what we say we believe. We spend our lives filling our heads full of other peoples thoughts? Why is this?

We live in an age where information is hurled at us in a constant stream. We are so inundated that it is hard to take a moment to process everything that has come our way. It is hard to have an original thought and form an opinion on many things because the noise won’t stop long enough to let us start. I am not the only one this happens to right? Good. I didn’t think so.

So, what do you do if you find your mind full of thoughts that are not your own? If you examine your dominant thoughts and you don’t think they sound like you, it is time to take a break. An information break. There isn’t much new stuff out there anyway. It is time to take a few days and rest. What are your sources of information? Disconnect them for a few days. Let your mind go clear. When it does, you can start to think for yourself.

What do you believe in? What do you value? Who do you love? What do you want to be when you grow up? It is questions like these that help you make the most of your days. They shape the way you see the world and how you spend your time. Life comes into focus. The days are more meaningful. You can live them to the full because you know what you stand for. Until you can clear all the noise out of your head and have some thoughts of your own, this isn’t going to happen. Original thoughts won’t come. That is a shame too. The world needs more original thinkers.

If you don’t know where you are going…

I saw the title of a book recently that made me laugh. It is called “If You Don’t Know Where You Are Going You Might End Up Somewhere Else.” I haven’t read it, but it made me think. You have to have an idea of where you want to be before you can get there. You can say you want to be successful, but that is way too vague. What does successful look like? How do you see yourself fitting into the picture? How do you start from where you are now and get to the picture you see? This process of discovery is true with most any endeavor.

Let’s take physical fitness for instance. Say you have gone to the gym and you see someone who looks like you want to look. You have that end picture of what successful looks like. Now you can do your homework and figure out how much you are going to have to work out and diet to reach that goal. All the time knowing, they didn’t get there overnight and neither will you. You are now a work in progress.

This may sound like a strange statement, but I am glad that I am a work in progress. In most every area. Sure, it would be nice to be perfect, but there was only one man I know of that was…and I ain’t him. I look in the mirror and I see potential and setback, promise and frustration, the desire to be better and the fear of getting worse. Many times it is two steps forward and that many back, but over time I am progressing. It has been slow at times, but I keep moving forward. Get knocked down, get back up. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.

I am almost embarrassed to admit that I am only now figuring out who I really am and what I call successful. I thought I had it figured out at 18. Yeah, right. (Regarding what I knew as a teenager, I think of the Mark Twain quote, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”) I had flashes of it during my 20s, but that wasn’t much better. Now in my 30s I am beginning to see things more clearly. I know now though that I don’t have to have everything figured out. I have to do the best with what God has given me and keep moving towards the goals I have set.

Do you know where you are headed? What does success look like in your life? How are you going to get there?