Latching on to the example

When someone is making a point — and she cites an example to clarify — don’t be the person who latches on to that one example, identifying instances where such an example does not support the argument.

Don’t treat an exempli gratia as though it’s been presented as scientific evidence.

Focus on the merits of the assertion. Focus on the ideas.

Hold back your inclination to say, “Yeah, but ... ” and instead try, “Tell me more.”

stephen
Naming buildings

Sometimes, when someone donates a large sum of money to an organization, her name is placed on the side of a building.

Other times, a building will be named after a long-time employee or life-long volunteer.

It’s that second occasion that’s more compelling.

How can you bring your whole self into service? To contribute with such excellence that one day, a board of directors would vote to name a building after you?

What if we were able to act as if?

What would it take to bring that level of generosity to what we do?

Not to aim for a naming honor, but to give at that level.

What would it take, and what if more of us were to choose that path?

stephen
Planning

If you don’t have a plan for today, Facebook does. So do Instagram, Netflix, cable television, and online news outlets. They will gladly occupy your day. All of it.

You’ve probably noticed how many websites (Yahoo, for example) now scroll infinitely. As soon as you reach the bottom of the content, more content is loaded automatically, and you can continue scrolling.

Likewise, television and streaming services often pre-load the next episode to overlap the tail end of whatever you’ve just watched.

If we’re not careful — that is, if we don’t have our own plan — we risk giving much of our time and productivity to media services and advertisers.

If we want to, we can always get on that bus where content is served up to us unceasingly. But we can also choose to drive ourselves — to be selective about where we go, what we consume, and when we get back to doing other things ... like following our plan for the day.

stephen
On script and off script

You can tell when the “have a nice day” is scripted. The airline “buh-bye.” Or, “Is there anything else I can help you with today?”

Sometimes our replies feel scripted, too.

Let’s make a conscious choice to be off script.

Let’s choose to be intentional.

As you part ways with someone, if you were tasked with saying something brief, but meaningful, would it be, “Have a nice day?”

Probably not. Not using those words, at least.

* * *

“Say it like you mean it” is an instruction parents sometimes give to young siblings who are compelled to apologize to each other.

But really, if we mean it, we’re more likely to say (whatever we’re going to say) with heart and conviction.

So let’s abandon the script, and say what we genuinely intend to express.

stephen
Music as a valve

Music has the ability to reach inside our chest and to release emotion that has been denied its full expression.

It can turn a release valve to allow joy, pain, sadness, excitement, anger, love, serenity … to let those things come to the surface and to flow out of us.

There are times when we choose songs based on our feelings but there are also times when a song catches us by surprise, turning that valve, and there we are — faced with that raw emotion that had been waiting for its moment.

Let it come … and let it go.

stephen
Two friends in competition

I watched a beautiful act Saturday afternoon. Here’s the scene:

Two little league baseball teams on a picturesque spring day.

Two friends on opposing teams — one at bat, the other at shortstop.

The batter’s team is leading significantly, but the batter has not yet contributed.

The pitch... the swing... *crack* The ball sails into the outfield, and the batter makes it easily to second base, smiling as his team cheers wildly.

And without any hesitation, play complete, the friend at shortstop trots over to second to congratulate his pal before getting back into position.

* * *

Character in the face of adversity. Friendship within competition. Young, athletic passion.

It was all there on that baseball field, and it was worthy of goosebumps on a warm day.

stephen
The first step in helping

When someone is relaying a challenge... when they’re discussing a setback... sometimes we have this pressing thought: “What can I do to help solve the problem?”

But usually, the wise first step in addressing “what can I do?” is to listen.

Don’t start by solving the problem. Start by listening.

stephen