Tuesday, July 31, 2012

When Doing the Right Thing Comes Up Short

Many of you have heard of the controversy surrounding the Olympic Fencing Semi-finals (okay, maybe you haven't because fencing is on the top of everyone's radar), but if you were a citizen of South Korea you would be well-acquainted with what happened with the Fencer, Shin Lam in the semi-finals. I want to make it clear that I do not know how fencing works, however, as I understand it there is a clock and when the clock hits zero the person with the most points wins... sounds simple enough, like most games (with the exception of soccer). She was battling it out with Germany's Britta Heidemann and was tied with one second left on the clock. However, this second was not one that would fall off the clock so fast, as a glitch in the system left one second hanging on the clock for significantly more than a second as Heidemann scored her go-ahead point to win the match, technically after the time ran out, however the clock didn't strike zero until after Heidemann scored, sending her on to compete in the Gold-medal round, every Olympic athlete's dream and sole ambition.

As you can imagine, Shin Lam's coach challenged the happenings, and to make matters worse, because of a by-law Shin had to remain on the mat as the judges made their decision on the review. The deliberation lasted over 30 minutes. Talk about agonizing! As Shin Lam sat there with a towel covering her tear-soaked face waiting on the officials to decide her fate. My speculation is that she had to have been thinking about the past years of her life and how, from the time she was a little girl her dream was to win an Olympic Gold. While I did not see the event live, I merely saw pictures and read the story, my heart went out to Shin Lam and her coach and parents and anyone involved in getting her to the place she was. There is no doubt in my mind that she had spent years training and didn't miss a single day of practice or workout to get to where she was; she had done the right thing all along only to have her fate decided by a malfunction of a clock that should have struck zero a little sooner than it did.

The decision was made that the score would stand and Heidemann would advance to the Gold-medal round leaving Lam just short of her goal that she had set out for from the start. As if it was a consolation she had the opportunity to compete for the bronze, but after being shaken up by the disappointment, she came up short of victory once again leaving her standing on the sidelines as three other athletes stood on a podium and watched as their nation's flag was raised into the air. She was so close she could nearly have heard her national anthem as she could have been watching her flag raised. Thus enters one of the most difficult leadership pills to swallow: sometimes you can do all the right things and it will still leave you short of your expectations.

This must be where Paul was coming from when he tells the Thessalonians to "never get tired of doing what is good." Sometimes you can make every right move and be in the right places and say the right things, but some outside factor that you have no control over can thwart what you have worked so hard for. It leaves you wondering if you really did everything you could, but when it comes down to it there are simply some things that are out of your control and that are out of my control. When those things happen you are left where the only thing you can feel is your heart beating a harder than normal, you can't quite formulate a complete thought, and all you can do is wonder at how things would be different if were in control of it. But the truth is, you cannot control all of the little details and you cannot control how people respond to the things you do. You can hope for the best and pray that it happens, but that is about the extent. Because sometimes you can do all the right things and still come up short. But don't let that discourage you, never, EVER get tired of doing what is good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Work it Out

"Now it is back to the ole grind stone."

If you have ever said this about job that you have worked then I hope this post is encouraging for you. There are countless ways people describe jobs that they can't stand, whether it is a full-time job or a part-time job, if you don't enjoy doing what you are doing, then there is a chance you are doing the wrong thing. It is also possible that you have the wrong perspective of the work you currently do; you just can't see the big picture, so you don't see how your work lines up with and adds to the bigger picture of what is going on around you.

There are two reason someone will work:

1. The most common reason is because they have to. As they say, "you gotta eat" and while this doesn't referring to a Rally's slogan, it is simply truth and in order to eat you need to have some money. In order to get some money, sometimes you have to do what you have to do, and sometimes that thing you have to do isn't all that fun to do. Nearly everyone at one point in their lives will have to do something that they may not get an overwhelming enjoyment out of, but they simply need to do it. (some of you might be thinking, "I have been there for 20 years!" bear with me)

2. The less common reason people work is because they have a great passion for what they do and if they don't do it, then it won't get done. They have a burden to do what it is that they do and they would never refer to their work as a "job," rather something they do. If you are unhappy because you have been working a "job," counting down the hours until the day ends and spending all your free time (or work time) planning your next vacation, then I have good news for you: you don't have to stay where you are!

Seth Godin says: "Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don't need escape from." Most people spend a fair amount of time going through their day doing a lot of things they would rather not be doing, but few people ever sit down and make a plan for the day, let alone a plan for how they can work their way out of the work they are currently doing and into something more meaningful. You would be amazed at how much more you can do in a day when you sit down to write out the things you are going to do.

Imagine what you could do if you sat down and planned out your next year and the things you want to accomplish. What if you sat down today and wrote out a plan for how you can start doing what it is you want to be doing. I know as well as you do that there might be some things that you simply must do right now, but if you apply yourself to reproducing yourself then you won't have to do what you are doing because you have successfully trained someone else to do it. I pray that your work will be meaningful and used to build others up. That you do not hate what you do, but you find joy in it. That your life is filled with purpose and you wake up every day excited about what you get to do that day.
I'll leave you with something Malcom Gladwell says and I hope this brings some hope to your future: "Hard work is a prison cell only if the work has no meaning."