The urgent and the important

to doLast week I wrote about slowing down and having taken a week off and gone away on holiday I feel like I have slowed down. Although it was somewhat difficult chasing after a 3 year old and playing games with her all day everyday.

It also reminded me that what is urgent isn’t always important and we so easily get confused about this, albeit without thinking about it much. Slowing down helped me to realise what is important to me in life and when the pace is slow we notice things we miss when life is fast. It’s like we take in more of our surroundings when we walk rather than drive in the car. We have more time to be … ourselves.

I need to be reminded often about the need to slow down, reflect on what is important and try to focus on these aspects of my life, in between all the jobs I have to do! It’s always worth the effort.

Taking a break from it all

slowWe live in a busy world and it’s easy to get caught up in the flow and be pushed along at the speed of everything around us. I often feel like a piece of wood in a river, trapped in a strong current with no means to slow down.

So with this in mind I make sure there are times when I slow down and stop. In fact I’m writing this a week before it appears on the website and when it does appear I’ll be on holiday, by the seaside, away from the hustle and bustle of normal life.

It’s so important to take time to rest and recharge so we have energy to carry on and face the pressures of every day life. Simple things like going to bed earlier more often, resting our minds as well as our bodies and just trying to do less, saying no to things we might otherwise want to do.

I’m sure I will be a better person in so many different ways if I take time to slow down more often. It’s easiest said than done but we have to start with the intention and we’ll get there in the end, however slowly!

Having the right attitude

heartIt’s not always easy to do the right thing and it’s even harder to do the right thing with the right attitude. It’s one thing doing something because we have to (maybe because it’s our job) and sometimes we do it grudgingly or through gritted teeth. It may get the job done but I’m sure people will detect what lies beneath the surface and discern our attitude.

When relating to people, I’m sure it’s our character and personality, demonstrated in our attitude that people will warm to, not simply the fact we do something for them, however nice it might be. If our actions come from our heart and our heart is in the right place then we will have much more of an effect on people. Our love for them will shine through – not a romantic love but a servant hearted love which always seeks to serve. If we do things in that spirit of service and with the right intentions, then the results will be much more positive and affirming than if we just did it because we had to.

Meeting other people’s needs before our own is a sacrifice as we will have to give up time or the things we want to do or need, but in the end it is of far more value and long lasting.

The power of one a day

molehillsWhat do you do once a day? Go for a run, have lunch, read a paper, check the sports results? We are all creatures of habit and we all have a standard daily routine. Whether we have a paid job or some other job which fills our time, there are certain things which we do once a day, everyday.

If we were to commit to doing a simple act once a day then over the course of a year, at the end of that year  we would have a mountain. That simple act could involve getting fit, losing weight, promoting your business or simply an act of kindness to make someone’s life better. The thing is to do one thing once a day towards that goal, towards that mountain. Many little things make one big thing and so often we are put off by the prospect of the big thing that we never do anything about the little things, which is a shame.

‘Enough molehills is all you need to have a mountain.’ writes Seth Godin who inspired this post:

Keeping promises

rainbowHave you seen the film Noah yet? I’ve seen the trailer and read some reviews. Apparently it’s not like the Bible. It’s more of an eco-movie than a Biblical epic with a religious theme of salvation. Perhaps that’s why the Pope didn’t want to meet with Russell Crowe or maybe the Pope doesn’t see his role as promoting films.

Whatever we think of the film, the story of Noah reminds me that God keeps promises. The sign of the rainbow the Bible tells us, is a sign given to us by God that God keeps promises. You may say rainbows are caused by light refracting through water, but why does light refract in to 7 colours? Perhaps God made it that way.

In any case, it’s important we all keep our promises. I’m often reminded of the promises I make to my 2 year old daughter and she always expects me to follow through on them, which I do. Being true to our word is an important part of our relationship with each other and builds trust, which is also very important.

What promises have we made and are we keeping them?

Where’s humility gone?

duckHumility doesn’t get much of a mention these days, so it was good to see some examples of it in the news recently.

Remember Palm Sunday when we remembered the humble king Jesus riding in to Jerusalem on a donkey? It’s hard to be humble these days as we see plenty of people asking us to follow them, cheer them and copy them as they seek to promote themselves before and above others. Where are the examples of people of humility who don’t seek the limelight but simply get on with their job with integrity and humility?

A recent BBC Sport report said  ‘Hard work and humility …  have allowed Atletico’s bunch of largely unheralded journeymen, none of whom (with the exception of Villa) were superstars before they arrived at the Vicente Calderon, to barge their way without an invitation into the upper echelons of world football. For any football fan who has become cynical about the modern game’s tendency to be ruled by huge dollops of money, Atletico’s unstoppable rise has been a breath of fresh air.’

Then there’s having humility forced upon you. Wirral Cricket Club were all out for 3 runs recently in a Cheshire league match. Ten of the batsmen were out for 0 and the number 11 gained one run with the other two coming from leg byes. They lost by 105 runs.

What are we impressed by when we see others? Which aspect of their character are we most attracted to and what role models are we making for young people?

New life at Easter

easter-egg-512x512We celebrate Easter with eggs as a symbol of new life. Do we remember it was the death and resurrection (raising from death to everlasting life) of Jesus which we are celebrating?

Jesus said ‘The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ His death and raising to life was the way we can achieve this life. Whatever we’ve done, if we ask for God’s forgiveness then we are forgiven and can experience this new life. This is the transformational nature of the Christian message which Easter is all about. Those things which bring us death no longer have any power over us, because in Jesus we can overcome them and live in the way God intended, which will ultimately be realised in heaven. If we live according to the values and way of Jesus now, we can have a glimpse of heaven here on earth.

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (The Bible)


He arrived in an unexpected way

donkeyHe arrived riding on a donkey. Yesterday was Palm Sunday when Christians remember Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey. People cheered and welcomed him with joy, waving branches and palms, singing and shouting to acclaim him as the Messiah. Shortly after this, the people of the same city were calling for his death.

Many Jews were expecting the Messiah to bring political change, perhaps even in a militaristic way. This was not the way of Jesus.  He spoke of a revolution of the heart, a kingdom not won with weapons and soldiers but whose foundation and method is love. The world looks to those with power and money to bring change, but the message of Jesus was (and still is) that it’s all about loving God and each other. Change needs to happen in the heart of every person and that’s the message Jesus brought to the world.

Jesus said,

‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.’

Next week we remember the death of Jesus, a death which meant we could have life, in all its fulness and forevermore.

Mothering Sunday

toddlerIt was mothering Sunday yesterday when we  thank our mums for looking after us and being there for us. Mothers are a real blessing and we are blessed if we have a good one! Being a mum is hard work, especially if you are a single mum.

Mums (and Dads) can teach us a lot and having just become a parent I’m learning I can teach my children both good things and bad things! However I wonder how many of us think being a parent can train us to be good leaders?

It didn’t make the top 10 most stressful jobs (the military got the top 2 slots in that) but it did make it to number one on the Forbes list of the toughest leadership roles:

As many parents would say, it’s tough but well worth it and now I think of it, being a parent teaches you plenty of things about how to lead people and if you can persuade toddlers to teenagers to do what you want them to do, then you probably have good leadership skills. Tales of parenting triumphs may not make it on to bestseller lists but parents will know they have won a victory when their child eats that food item, cleans their teeth or simply gets dressed in the morning without too much hassle.  What we take for granted as adults, has to be worked for when you’re a parent.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a parent give a talk at a leadership conference. I’m sure some speakers are parents but that’s not the reason for being asked to speak on leadership and the talk wasn’t about parenting either.

What can we learn from our parents?

Two is the smallest team

ropeWorking on your own can be a lonely place. It may be helpful when we need to focus and avoid distractions, but to be working on our own all the time is hard work. We need others to inspire us, give us feedback and help us when we feel like giving up.

Having a friend or a colleague to work with helps us to solve difficult problems, tackle tricky issues and provides someone from whom we can learn and inspire us to greater things or maybe just help us get through the day.

With a cord of three, with God as part of the team, we read in the Bible:

Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labour:
if either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

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