Are you planting trees, or feeling the pull of gravity?

Tree

 

When is the best time to plant a tree?  Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Now!

– Proverb

I know where I need to be and what I should be doing, but the motivation, sometimes, is not here.  The work to be done is daunting and includes the not so fun stuff. Holding people accountable, making a decision that is not popular and the rare occasion in which I realize I am wrong and need to regroup (lol).

How do I get the tree planted today? One step at a time. Movement overcomes the pull of   gravity from the tasks. Like Nike says, “Just Do It”!

My writing has fallen off (gravity), my exercise has all but ceased (gravity), but today is the day to plant the tree. Today is the day I find my flow of movement.

“Someone sits in the shade of a tree today, because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

 

My question today is; Are you planting trees or are you just sitting in the shade? What are you doing?

No matter what this job is, you must decide to do it well.

MLK.monument1-460x260

“No matter what this job is, you must decide to do it well. Do it so well that the living, the dead, or the unborn (Yes) can’t do it better. (Yeah) If it falls your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep streets like Raphael painted pictures; sweep streets like Michelangelo carved marble; sweep streets like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say: “Here lived a great street sweeper (All right), who swept his job well.” (Oh yes)If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, Be a shrub in the valley (Well)—but be The best shrub on the side of the hill.” –Dr. Martin Luther King

Although this excerpt was not a part of the “I have a dream” speech fifty years ago, it does ring true for leadership and remembering the insight of Dr. King.

I was told of a waste water worker in my city this past week, who has done his job for over 25 years. The director over this division spent a day with this man and had to tell me of his experience. He said this inspirational man stopped to thank God, several times throughout the day, for allowing him the opportunity to serve his family through his work. He thanked God while he was holding a suction hose picking up clogs of solid waste. The story goes on to say this man has done this for most, if not his entire career. He is also known as the best waste water worker in our city, possibly anywhere.  His enthusiasm is contagious, his knowledge and expertise is admirable, and his heart is inspiring.

Sometimes we lose focus on our purpose in life. We separate our personal life from our work life, like the two have no connection. How can we be the best at our career craft, without being the best at home? I guess the question could be refined to; what is the underpinning for your pursuit to be the best? Is it self-satisfaction? Is it in the service of others? and if so, then who are you trying to serve?

I’m as guilty as anyone at competing at work and switching gears at home to just “be”. This is the struggle I’m working on, being the best I can be in “life” rather than at a career. I am trying to focus my service on a higher calling that will collaterally serve all of my life and those who share it with me, be it home, work or those I will never meet, like the waste water worker, whom I’ve not met, (yet).

This post is a stray from my normal ranting. But it’s a step… for me.

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How did I get here?

The Path

As I was talking to a friend of mine the other night, I realized my experiences in life have brought me to where and who I am today. Ok, it sounds a little cliché, but as I was admiring the impressive career and resume of my friend, he asked how I got to where I am today. As I recounted my days in the fire service, I started to hear a story that didn’t sound so bad. Somewhat like Steve Jobs who stated he stitched his life experiences together to arrive at his pinnacle, I draw on many experiences that I had long forgotten. Ok maybe not Steve Jobs…  but the concept is the same.

Influence is about changing hearts, minds, and behavior to produce meaningful, sustainable results. (Influencer: The Power to Change Anything)

The people I have met along the way, the instructors, mentors, haters and mostly my friends, all direct my path in some way.  I have learned volumes from those whom which I admire as teachers or mentors (see earlier post; The Influence of My Dad.) The technical and academic knowledge and even emulation of character try to steal some charisma that they may have wielded.  I believe I can recount the lessons learned from those who either did not like me or vice versa. The haters are watched closely. If we glean more from our visible world than our audible, then these folks are both inspiration of what not to do or how not to do it. Lastly, our friendships in life make us happy and give us the belonging and acceptance we crave. Your friendships are also bestowed upon those who will cast influence on you. I never want to hurt those who I call a friend. I also do not want to be reserved with my thoughts or words around those who I trust enough to call friend. This is the big one. Trust will allow someone to tell you, “that’s wrong” or “what were you thinking” and not offend you because it is coming from a trusted source that cares.

Putting it all together, these experiences will shape your thoughts.  Your actions are another thing. Daniel Pink, best-selling author of Drive, explains that we are motivated in many ways, but nothing more powerful than these three factors;

 “1) autonomy, the desire to direct our own lives, 2) mastery, the desire to continually improve at something that matters, and 3) purpose, the desire to do things in service of something larger than ourselves.”

Our motivations coupled with our exposures will be the “who” we are.  How we employ our experiences, or learn from them, will result in our destination. If in fact our drive is pretty similar across all the who’s in who-ville, then we need to be very skilful with how the stitching of experiences is done. Follow the leaders that care for you. Be inspired by those that care enough to  be brutally honest with you. Learn from your negative experiences like they are valuable teaching moments in life. And then finally, think about the impression you are leaving on those around you in life and ponder, will it be stitched into shaping someone else’s life or just forgotten?

Parting Shot;

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps and makes them sure. (Proverbs 16:9)