How Am I Sabotaging My Future? (Part 8)

Pastor Jim Riggle of Ohio, while preaching a powerful message on the consequences of the spiritual choices we make, said that choosing between what is good and what is better can be a hard choice.  But, choosing between better and best is even harder.  The choice he was referring to was between things of this world and things of Heaven.  But, we face hard choices in smaller matters, too.  You see, our perception of “good” has come to mean “good enough.”

How hard is the choice?  Retired basketball coach Bobby Knight alluded to the difficulty and its win/lose consequences.

“The will to win is not nearly as important
as the will to prepare to win.”

I recall hearing Zig Ziglar speak to the same issue when stating that it is easy to win in the game of life when most people quit or don’t even try.  He could have said that trading the best (especially before we even try) for what is merely good is a form of surrender, which is nothing less than being on the losing end of a bad deal.  Doing so intentionally is a form of self-sabotage.  Maybe it’s because I can hear the inimitable voice of Zig in my mind, but I like his version better.

Whether the choice is spiritual or something else, why do human beings so readily sabotage their futures by accepting what appears to be good, when better and best are available?  It’s a question for every individual in all important matters and perhaps some small ones, too.  Here are two questions to ask yourself …

  • In what important areas of my life am I settling for less?
  • Why am I willing to settle?

When you discover the answers, take Zig’s advice …

“I’ve got to say ‘no’ to the good
so I can say ‘yes’ to the best.”

— CC

Let’s Meet for Coffee!

The golf course used to be THE place business deals were made.  While that is still true, today’s “golf course” is also the local coffee shop or restaurant.  Friendly and fun places like Panera Bread, Bob Evans, and Starbucks are welcoming business owners, executives, college students and others to make their restaurant our office and meeting space.

“All lasting business is built on friendship.” — Alfred A. Montapert

Check back here over the next several days and you’ll see some more short video clips of business being conducted in non-traditional places like a bridge in Pittsburgh, Niagara Falls, Dayton, Ohio’s beautiful and historic Woodland Cemetery, and the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport.

God bless,

Clancy

Proper Perspective

Hurricane Ike brought devastation to parts of Texas and cut a wide swath of disruption and inconvenience as it moved northward through America’s midsection. In a couple of days, Ike created great changes in the lives of millions – some short-term and some long-term.

Countless hours of national news coverage documented the damage in Texas, sometimes overshadowing election-year politics, the pennant race, and world events. In Texas, Ike was one for the record books. Not to be outdone, our local news media took center stage with their cameras and microphones eager to report (some would say to “shape”) the news of Ike’s curtain call in Ohio. Breaking news reports and cancellation of regular programming were regular fare for almost a week. The words “closed” and “two-hour delay” still echo in my ears.

Repair crews and emergency response teams have been working overtime and taking risks for the purpose of restoring power and rescuing people as quickly as possible. Like the brave firefighters who entered the burning World Trade Center, these folks deserve our admiration and respect.

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” — Bible, John 15:13

I am amused every time I see a television reporter unnecessarily expose himself to danger while admonishing the rest of us to “stay home where it’s safe.” Apparently, a risky backdrop is a journalistic necessity. This dogged determination for “on-the-scene reporting” means we are frequently “treated” to stories with empty buildings in the background where something allegedly happened earlier in the day. One reporter even said something like “as you can see the lights are out and nobody is home, but earlier today …” You can decide for yourself if this was a Freudian slip.

After some cheap shots at our beloved news media, let me get back to a more important point — attitude. Focusing on Ohio, who was hurt by the storm? People who rely on electricity for special health and safety needs, people who were careless, people who were too curious for their own good, people without insurance, and people who were unprepared. However, the real victims were those that chose a bad attitude as their response to an unfortunate situation.

“Accept fate, and move on. Don’t yield to the seductive pull of self-pity. Acting like a victim threatens your future.” — Source Unknown

Every problem is a potential opportunity. I’m not talking about looting and predatory business practices. Consider a personal example. Despite our gallant efforts, we lost most of our perishable food. The opportunity? Clean out the refrigerator/freezer and restock with fresh groceries. No television, no big deal! We played cards and read by candlelight.

“In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.” — Albert Einstein

People choose their response to challenges. I’m happy to report that most people I came in contact with chose patience and helpfulness. The way our townsfolk coped and reached out to others was inspirational. Complaining was amazingly subdued. Instead of a “woe is me” attitude, the grumbling I heard was more like bragging. People exhibited a bit of proud defiance in their ability to persevere.

“The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective.” — Al Neuharth

Less than two hours away, there were different responses. Students at one university complained about attending class during the power outage, which led to a rowdy protest in front of the university president’s home where several arrests were made. Turning to another nearby university I learned that an agitated parent called and insisted her child be housed in a nice hotel at university expense. Apparently the university’s makeshift arrangements were not good enough. It gets worse. When the power company’s technicians finally arrived to work on the problem, they were harassed by angry students.

Homes and businesses in Texas were leveled and this is how some respond to the inconvenience of a power outage.

“Self-pity is easily the most destructive of the nonpharmaceutical narcotics; it is addictive, gives momentary pleasure and separates the victim from reality.” — John W. Gardner

“It is said an Eastern monarch once charged his wise men to invent him a sentence to be ever in view, and which should be true and appropriate in all times and situations. They presented him the words: “And this, too, shall pass away.” — Abraham Lincoln

Face it, challenges like Ike are part of life. While a world with never-ending, rapid, major disruptions would be unbearable, a life with no changes would be exceedingly boring. Learning to keep change in perspective and to deal with it in a positive manner is a characteristic of maturity. (Unfortunately, not everyone grows up.) With a mature attitude, change can be managed and even enjoyed.

For most of us in Ohio, the events from the week that began on September 14, 2008, which interrupted our routines, created memories that we will recall and eagerly retell over a cup of coffee and at family reunions for years to come. Where were you when the lights went out?

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright September 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com

Imagination and Rocks

The wonders of life reach new heights of awareness for those who become adept at seeing with their imaginations.

Years ago, while vacationing on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, Canada, I happened upon a rock shaped like the state of Ohio. The shoreline was a massive pile of rocks, so why I focused on this particular rock is a mystery. The important thing is that it happened and I lugged that old rock back to camp. From that point on I wondered if we might find a Massachusetts, Michigan, or Alaska in the heap. We kept our eyes glued to the ground and managed to find another Ohio rock.

Years later, while visiting my friend Karen, we started talking about her hobby as a painter. Unlike the traditional canvas artists, Karen paints on odds and ends. Apparently there are lots of people who salvage things from the house or pick up junk at a flea market to be used as their canvases. I told her about the Ohio rocks. She was as fascinated about the idea of painting a rock as I was about her hobby. A project was born.

To me, someone with terrible small motor skills, almost no training and even less artistic talent, painting tiny pictures on rocks would be an unmitigated disaster. Yet, I figured it would be fairly straightforward for an artist. I found out later how much more goes into a project like this. First, there is the research and the creative inspiration. What should go on an Ohio rock? What would be an attractive design concept? Next came the messy part. The old rocks had to be thoroughly scrubbed and primed or the paint would not stick. Getting tiny amounts of paint to go where they are supposed to on a rough uneven surface proved to be a major challenge. Several of the tiny objects had to be “erased” and repainted.

“Creativity is allowing oneself to make mistakes; art is knowing which ones to keep.” — Scott Adams

Once the mineral masterpieces were completed, they needed to be protected with sealant. This was no time  problems. Alas, there were problems –- some of the paint ran. Karen’s recounting of that set-back was a reminder that being an artist also means being patient and solving problems.

When Karen called to tell me the project was finished, I recalled the following Jim Rohn story:

“A man took a rock pile and turned it into a fabulous garden. Somebody came and saw it and said, ‘You know, you and the good Lord have a fabulous garden here.” The gardener said, “I understand your point. But you should have seen it a few years ago when God had it all by Himself.” — Jim Rohn, Talking about our role in the miracle process.

Karen graciously shared credit with me, the rock finder. But she was actually the one who shared in God’s miracle process.

“It is through creating, not possessing, that life is revealed.” — Vida D. Scudder

“We must accept that this creative pulse within us is God’s creative pulse itself.” — Joseph Chilton Pearce

Two dusty old rocks plus her imagination, skill, patience, hard work and some special know-how created some very nice artwork that I will be proud to show off for years to come. But the deeper satisfaction belongs to Karen.

“Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.” — Franklin D. Roosevelt

Rock Art by Karen Pettus
Rock Art by Karen Pettus

“My future starts when I wake up every morning . . . Every day I find something creative to do with my life.” — Miles Davis, musician

God bless,

— CC

© Copyright July 2008, Clancy Cross. All rights reserved.
Read more “Clancy’s Quotes” at: ClancyCross.WordPress.com