Friday, April 29, 2016

People I Highly Respect

There is a group of people I have a growing respect for and I want to be like.  Here they are . . .
  • Canceled their cable or gotten rid of their TV . . . but don't pressure you to do it too.
  • Deactivated their facebook account . . . but don't don't pressure you to do it too.
  • Pushed through a Dip in their life . . . but don't presume you're in the same Dip.
  • Send their kids to Christian school . . . but don't pressure you to do it too.
  • Send their kids to public school . . . but don't pressure you to do it too.
  • Never touch a drop of alcohol . . . but don't pressure you to follow suit.
  • Never watch an "R" rated movie . . . but don't pressure you to do the same.
  • Love Bernie Sanders . . . but don't pressure you to do the same.
  • Think Trump is evil . . . but don't assume you're also evil if you vote for him.
You see the pattern?  With the continuing explosion of social media, it seems that everyone is free to share their story - for free.  I'm glad about that.  It's a good thing.  But, as we share our stories, let's resist the temptation to take the things God is speaking to us and make those things a universal principle everyone else must follow.  Hey, I struggle with this as much as the next guy - probably more.  That's probably why I notice it so much.  But, let's all allow God be as creative with others as He's been with us.  Enjoy where you are and don't worry so much about others.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Caution: You May Find This Offensive

I'm going to make a prediction.  This will be one of my five most-viewed blog posts of all time.  Because it's so well-written? No.  Because I'm solving the world's problems with my words?  No.  The simple reason I'll make this prediction has almost everything to do with the title and what you might be looking for.

Can I ask you a question?  Why did you click the link and start reading this?  I mean, it's illogical.  If the title suggests you might find it offensive, logic would dictate that you steer clear.  But that's the issue, isn't it?  We're in an era where we love to hate offense.  We look for it.  Some of us even crave it.  Our culture is moving, ever-steadily, toward a victim mentality. Whatever the issue, it's usually someone else's fault.  We seem to have an ever-increasing need to cast blame, whether it's for high gas prices, low gas prices, state budget shortfalls, potholes in the street, or whatever else is under our skin this week.  We have a need to cast blame and we have a need to take personal offense at almost every turn.  After all, if I feel less than satisfied with myself, isn't it better to blame you (because you've offended me) instead of just taking responsibility for myself?

Doesn't it seem like almost everyone is offended by something, for some reason, most of the time?  But why?Living a life of offense will never put you in a place above others. It will never get you ahead.  It will never help you find happiness.  Living a life of offense will never make you feel better about yourself.

So, since offense seems to be a useless emotion, I want to challenge you to drop the act and realize a very important truth today.  To take offense is a choice.  Plain and simple.  The rock-bottom truth is that not one other human being on this planet can offend you.  They can behave in deplorable ways. They can throw insults at you.  They can ignore you. They can cheat you.  They can even commit crimes against you.  But, after all of that, they can only offend you if you choose to take offense.  In this case, you have all the power, yet you choose to give it away when you choose offense. Choose wisely.  For some additional reading on this topic, click here.

Oh, and if this offended you, please leave a comment.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Are You Willing to Re-learn What You Thought You Already Knew?

If you are one who cherishes learning (and you should be - if you're reading this, you probably are), it's really amazing how much there is to learn; especially if you consider how much you might need to re-learn.  I was just taking a walk with my wife, Sara, last night and we were talking about just that. I'm 43 years old and I feel like I'm spending the better part of my adult life re-learning what I thought I already knew.  I don't resent it.  Not one bit.  To the contrary, I feel grateful for all that I'm learning these days.

In my conversation with Sara last night, we were talking specifically about food and nutrition.  My re-learning journey in this area began January 4, 2015, when I took a huge step and joined the Fit Pastors Academy.  Since that time, I've dropped about 25lbs and many inches in various places and I've also gained enough knowledge and replaced enough bad habits with good to keep that extra weight off.  

That was the beginning of the journey, but it continues today.  Last week, I finished a fascinating book, recommended by my friend and fitness coach, Ricky Van Pay.   The book is called In Defense Of Food and is authored by Michael Pollan.  I loved this book. It's been my favorite of the year, so far.

To talk about this book, I'll start with a question.  Are there assumptions in your life, maybe ones you learned from your parents and even grandparents, that just seem wrong to you?  I mean deep in your core.  I heard it put, once, very eloquently that there are certain issues that 'insult our souls'.  That is to mean that even though they are generally thought to be a fact, something deep inside of us just knows that "fact" is erroneous.

Since I've been on my own personal health journey, there have been nutritional "facts" that have insulted my soul.  As I've scarfed down protein bars, multivitamins, and extra meat to reach my nutritional targets for the day and supplement my vitamin deficiencies, I've continually found myself wondering what people have done for thousands of years without all this scientifically engineered and synthesized "nutrition".  I mean, could it be an error to think we can't get all we need from simple, God-given, whole foods?  Maybe.  As is the case with any learning journey, that's something you and I need to decide for ourselves.

I wouldn't so much call In Defense of Food a "how-to" book, but more a "why-to".  I am always a fan of the why behind the what.  Maybe that's what I love so much about this book.  Or maybe it's that it sheds some light on those issues that have insulted my soul for some time.  Here is the brief synopsis:

"Because of the so-called Western Diet, food has been replaced by nutrients and common sense by confusion - most of what we are consuming today is no longer the product of nature, but of food science.  The result is what Michael Pollan calls the American Paradox: The more we worry about nutrition, the less healthy we seem to become."

If you read this book, which I highly recommend you do, you'll read through some fascinating history of nutrition science and you'll see how the science of nutrition has been hijacked by the marketing machines of food companies.  It's sad, but not surprising, that much of what we believe to be fact is not fact at all, but just a story packaged up by food producers and our own government to meet the needs of the industry.  I know, this sounds super weird and conspiracy-theory-esque. But, if you can trust me that it's not as weird as it sounds and just read the book, I think you'll see what I mean.  

So, what does this new learning mean for me?  Well, not huge, wholesale changes.  My wife has already known for years a lot of what I'm just learning now, so our food supply in the Fitch household is fairly clean and real.  However, there are changes I'm continually making.  Especially now that I know some additional 'whys behind the whats'. But, the better question to ask is what will this new learning mean for you?

I'd really encourage you to check this book out and see what you can learn.  I would especially recommend this if you're overweight, struggling with illness or you're medication-dependent.  I'm not trying at all to make a judgment on your situation, but I do believe the foods you eat are the single biggest determining factor to your personal health.  So, I dare you to re-learn what you thought you already knew.  Will you take the dare?

Friday, April 8, 2016

A Tale of Preparation and Failure

Here's a true story.  A number of years ago, I worked for a friend in a start-up business of his.  Just a few weeks into my work, I was driving the company truck and was pulled over for a missing mirror. Naturally, the officer asked for my license and the vehicle's proof of insurance.  I looked all through the glove compartment and the center console.  No insurance card. I called my friend (the owner, the boss) and asked where the insurnace card was.  What ensued, after five seconds of silence, was the confession that he had no insurance.  I was shocked.  What further ensued was a citation written to me, not the owner of the truck or the business.  I had to go to court, plead no contest and was given a hefty fine for driving without insurance.  I know, it's ridiculous, but that's the law - at least in the state of Oklahoma.

My boss did reimburse me for the fine, but it was only a couple more weeks before a paycheck bounced.  Once that paycheck bounced, I quit on the spot.  That's not how I operate and I have very little patience for that kind of ongoing irresponsibility.

He seemed surprised. But why would he be surprised?

A better question might be, why are you surprised when the people around you leave for greener pastures?  One of my favorite quotes of all time is, "The more you sweat in preparation, the less you bleed in battle."  Another great one is, "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

Look, I'm not writing this from a place of perfection.  I've had my share of leadership failures that have caused frustration and even pain to those I lead.  But, can I tell you something?  If you're in any type of leadership position, your habitual lack of preparation and attention to detail is killing your team.  If you are putting your team at physical risk . . . if you are chronically missing meetings . . . if you regularly miss deadlines . . . if you're mismanaging finances, those high capacity people on your team will .  .  .   You know what?  Never mind.  You won't have to worry about them for long. Carry on.

Surprised?  Why would you be surprised?

Friday, April 1, 2016

The Journey Is The Reward

Today's post is written around an excerpt (paragraph below) from my upcoming, yet untitled, book.  The manuscript is still a work in progress, but this idea is with me often because it's a regular struggle of mine.  My name is Jason and I struggle with "When Then Syndrome".  How about you?

I guess we all struggle to see the small victories for a variety of reasons.  We don’t see healthy children as a victory because they are making messes and breaking stuff in our house.  We don’t see our reliable car as a victory because it’s not one that turns heads.  We don’t see our profitable business as a success because our profits didn't reach projections.  We don’t see our personal health as a blessing because we don’t look good enough or we have some nagging aches and pains.  Can I tell you something?  You’ll never be as good or as strong or as rich or as famous as you want to be.  We all suffer from “when then syndrome”.  You know that condition.  When I make “x” amount of money, then I’ll be happy.  When my kids behave a certain way, then I’ll be happy.  When I can land that new job, then I’ll be happy.  When I have a bigger crowd at my church, then I’ll be happy.    Truth is, it’s all a smokescreen.  None of that will satisfy us because none of that is what was ever designed to bring satisfaction.

You know what brings the real satisfaction?  It's the journey.  Not the destination; the journey.  Perry Noble made a great comment, recently, when he said, "One of the greatest dangers for leaders under 30 is to focus on their desire to be discovered rather than developed." Is this even exclusive to those under 30?  I doubt it, but either way, can you relate?  The development is the journey. But, somehow, we neglect to appreciate that part of life.  We watch shows like American Idol and see kids whose hearts are broken because they didn't win.  Win?  That's one in a million.  Actually, it's one in way more than a million.  You know what else is one in a million?  The journey of development and experience they got to go on just being on the show.  Everyone's journey will look different, and though we all have a destination in mind, we'll never really reach it.  Or at the very least, when we do reach it, our desire for the destination will change.

What victories are there in your life right now that you’re missing?   What journey are you on that you can decide to embrace and enjoy instead of simply endure?  The truth that most of us miss is that the journey, not the destination, is the reward.