Stretch your mind and grow as a person…

December 2, 2016

Recently Jack Freed posted this quote to his blog, Jack’s Winning Words – “A mind stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”  (O.W. Holmes Jr)

Jack went on to write – Dr Robert Cooper, a neuroscientist, says that we only use 10% of our brains.  We have programed ourselves not to stretch into new thinking.  “We’ve always done it this way!”  But, a willingness to explore new ways can open us to limitless ideas.  Have you had an “aha!” moment?  (Now, I get it it!) 

I belong to several local community organizations and serve on the boards of some. One of the things that I hear very often when something new is proposed in board meetings is the phrase. “We’ve always done it that way.” Usually this is in defense of resisting any change or anything that no-changeis new and different. In fact it is often used preemptively, before the idea is even discussed to try to shut down new ideas or suggestions of change before they even get a hearing. If can be very frustrating, especially if I believe that the changes or new idea are necessary to keep the group viable in the community.

Many small, volunteer community organizations (and even churches) die out because they resist all efforts to make changes that would keep them relevant to the changes in society within which they exist. Small, traditional churches seem to be having the most trouble staying alive in today’s highly secular environment. Many small local groups have particular trouble making the changes that will keep them relevant within their local community. The trouble is that the “we’ve always done things this way” mentality prevails over most suggestions for change or trying new things. Hopefully that is about to change, due to them having “Aha” moments before it’s too late. If not, those organizations will slowly disappear from our communities, although few may even notice.

At a personal level, we all need to challenge ourselves to expand our thinking and our experiences and to continuing growing as people. One of my dad’s favorite sayings was “Go with what you know.” My wife and I often use that when considering where to go out for dinner on weekends. It is so much easier to choose from our short list of well-known local favorites that to be adventuresome and try a new restaurant. Yet, when we reflect on it, all of the great places that we like to go now were once in the unknown category and it is only through trying something new that we “discovered” them.

comfort-zoneIn life in general the same thing is true. If you never get out of your comfort zone and venture into new relationships with people, you may never meet the person that becomes your BFF or even your life partner. If you shun those who are not like you, you will never get to understand their point of view on things and miss out on the new colors that they could add to the pallet of colors through which you see and experience life. You will never have that “Aha” moment when you understand why they do or say the things that they do, because of their completely different frame of reference for life. If you just go with what you know and who you know, life can become very boring indeed.

Many people find safety and comfort in the sameness of never venturing into the unknown experience or meeting the unknown person; however, even they must admit to themselves that those carefree risk takers who always seem to be meeting other people and doing new things appear goth-personto be having a better time than those pressed back against the walls in fear of trying anything new.

So, take a chance. Say hello to that person with tattoos and a nose ring and purple hair. Engage them in conversation and find out more about them. They are, after all someone’s son or daughter, someone’s boy or girl friend, maybe even someone’s wife or mother. They have opinions and feelings and life experiences that may be different from yours and maybe you’ll expand your mind by trying to understand those things. You may even find that you share a lot of common ground, too.

Instead of turning away from the LBGTQI person that you encounter, engagement them in lbgtqi-symbolconversation. They won’t bite you and standing there talking with them is not going to give you some horrible disease. Being open to them doesn’t mean that you are joining or even agreeing with whatever movement or lifestyle they are pursuing; it just means that you accept that there are differences and hopefully that you welcome the opportunity to try to see things from their different perspective.

So stretch your mind and grow. Try something different. Eat somewhere different. Meet someone who is different. Think differently. Grow and you won’t want to go back.

Before you go with what you know; grow with what you don’t know.


Start your journey to success…

May 3, 2014

“Don’t let life discourage you; everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was.”  (Richard L. Evans) from Jack’s Winning Words.

I also like another quote that may serve as a starting point for today –“Where ever you go, there you are”- Jon Kabat-Zinn.

We are all somewhere in life, so there we are. Most of us have dreams or hopes of being somewhere man daydreamingelse, maybe to have a better job or just to make more money, maybe to be happily married, maybe to have children, maybe to have a bigger house or a better car. The things that we might be wishing for and dreaming about could probably be lumped into two broad categories – stuff and relationships.

Sometimes, when we spend time dreaming of things that we don’t have, of the place in life where we’d like to be; we get discouraged because our dreams seldom come with instructions on how to get there. Just dreaming about success or even visualizing it doesn’t accomplish anything. We need to stop and assess where we are currently (where we are beginning from). Once you have a good handle on where you are – what are your current skills, what is your current education level, what experience do you have that might help,  what resources and support (family, friends, etc.) do you have to begin with – you are almost ready tolist start planning how to achieve your dream.  Write all of those things down somewhere and keep that list handy. This is the “where I started from” list and you’ll have use for it later.

But, before you take that first step; sit down and have a heart-to-heart talk with yourself about your goals. Success in life does not come without dedication and hard work. Are you truly committed to do what is necessary to get where you want to be? Are you ready to take the training or get the education that is required, even if you have to take it just a little at a time? Are you ready to make short term sacrifices, to work longer hours, to miss out on some fun things today in order to get to the goal of tomorrow? Success in life is not about buying a ticket and waiting to see if you win the drawing. If you are committed, then step off on your journey.

Since this is a journey from where you were to where you want to be, having that list that you just made above will serve as a way to measure progress. Make a note of each training course that you take successfully or each educational course that you pass on your way to the certificate or degree that you need. That way you’ll at least be able to see the progress that you’ve made from where you were. So wherever you go, there you are; and, you can see where you came from – it’s sort of like marking your growth on the kitchen door frame when you were a kid; only now you are marking your growth as a person towards your goal . Be sure to reward yourself along the way as a way to keep motivated. Celebrate each success and record it.

angry accuserAnother important part of the quote that kicked all of this off is not to let anyone discourage you. Sometime we have supporters and sometimes we have those who would drag us back down with them; telling us that we’ll never amount to anything and perhaps ridiculing us for even trying. Those are not really your friends, so let them fall by the wayside as you make your way. You can do this. You know that you can do this. If they don’t want to be there cheering for you as you achieve your goals then don’t let them become roadblocks to your success. There are many bad things that you are leaving behind on your journey to success and they make be a part of that old baggage that gets left behind.

One of the interesting side benefits of taking such a goal-oriented journey of self-improvement is that your life will likely change for the better along the way. People around you – family, friends and co-workers – will likely take note of your attitude and determination and your increasing skills and education, not because you tout them, but because they will make a difference in how you conduct yourself. You will likely be more confident, a little more outgoing and a lot more interesting person to know.

You will also meet lots of new people along the way and many of them may become new friends. That’shandshake a good thing because they join and increase your support group. It’s not unusual that your current boss at work may take notice too and offer you advancement based upon your new skills or education and your new way of carrying yourself. Maybe you hadn’t thought of that as a step along your journey, but each step up the ladder helps and it gives you another small success to add to your list. Sometimes it will feel like baby steps and sometimes like giant leaps forward. The important thing is to keep moving forward to keep your eye on the goal. Everybody began where he was. You did too; but, you are no longer there. You have moved forward and there you are.  Congratulations!