Sunday, November 29, 2009

Love More

John Ortberg suggests that one of four ways to avoid regrets in life is to love more. (When the Game is Over it All Goes Back in the Box, ch. 9) But how can you "love more"? Can you tell a person how to think more? Or feel more? I understand how you could eat more, read more, or do more, but how do you increase an emotion? Unless part of the key is that love is only partly an emotion.

What if fundamentally love is something more than a feeling? (Bonus points if you just started humming the song.) Sure there is a feeling dimension to love, but at the core, what if love is an action. Something we do as much as something we feel. Then we can actually do something about loving more. But what is more? Is it more intensely? More often? More meaningfully? Simply put, YES!

It may be like a year of running. Yesterday I went over 800 miles for 2009--my second highest annual total in my 49 years of living. (2007 = 840) Looking back at the log, the way I got to 800 is a lot of 4s, 5s, and 6s, and relatively few 13s, 16s, and 25s. In the same way, loving more is a lot of smaller acts of love punctuated by a few more extensive acts of love. If every run was a short one, it would be difficult to get to a record-breaking annual distance. But if I only did the long runs, my body would not likely survive the experience. But the blend of the long and the short; the special and the ordinary; the less demanding and the more taxing; that is what has gotten me to 800 for the year (and probably a new annual distance record in the next week or so).

In fact, loving more may be about the daily, ordinary acts of love more than it is about the rooty-poot nights out, or the trips to exotic destinations, or the jewelry that should be kept in a safe. There may be a place for such things, but they cannot be the foundation upon which a more and better love is built. "More love" is built on washing the dishes or folding the laundry or watching the football game (whichever suits your particular circumstances) far more than on the amount of money spent on a lavish gift.

The best part is that it is never too late to love more. Whether your annual mileage total today looks like 650 or 65 or 6.5, you can add more miles today. Whether 2009 has been a good year of loving more or whether your love has not been much to write home about--today you can love more. So today, find someone close by (family or friend) and do some action of love--something that honors them above you. Something that communicates "I care".

Press On!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Supplement for Today

The new job is great! Interesting people who are also pretty driven to make the business succeed. Enough capital and firepower in the larger company to back up those ambitions. Some really good early successes that are driving new business our way. The freedom for me to develop a new and emerging consulting arm of our business unit. A fair amount of travel (love those SkyMiles). The first time working for a "big" company (1500 employees in 15 offices in eight countries).

I am becoming a huge fan and you can check us out at

No "Do-overs"

In case you hadn't noticed, life has no rewind button; nor are time machines real. Once you take your finger off of the chess piece, that turn us over and, once you are older than two or three, you can't change your mind and make a different move--there are no do-overs. Someone once said, "You are free to make whatever choices you may want, but you are not free from the consequences of your choices." As in chess, so in life.

Regret is a hard thought/emotion for many people to deal with--myself among them. Even though I know that there is no time machine that can allow me to go back and undo mistakes, bad decisions, and outright wrong choices, I still wish that there were. Of course, why do I think that I would get it right the second time? (Perhaps because I cling to the hope that we actually can learn from our mistakes.) You cannot go back and un-eat yesterday's second serving of turkey and dressing, or that fifth piece of pie; but there is no reason that you have to do the same thing today (even if you are celebrating a second Thanksgiving with your
other family).

Ortberg writes that people's regrets generally fall into four categories: I would have loved more deeply; I would have laughed more often; I would have given more generously; and I would have lived more boldly.

There will be other posts to unpack each of these, but just a few initial thoughts. Each of these qualities of living is possible no matter how young or old a person may be. Each of these qualities of living is also possible no matter what choices you may have made in the past. Each day is a new day and in addition to God's mercies being new every morning, so are my life quality options. Maybe only in small ways, but new all the same.

Today I can choose attitudes and actions that will express love more deeply; that will laugh often; that will be giving of time, energy, and other resources; and that will not be timid. If I had Bill Gates-type money I would still have the same core choices--the manifestation of those choices might look different, but they are still the same choices. If I were in prison for the next 20 years I would still have the same choices. The context of the choices or their boundaries might look different, but the core choices would remain the same.

BUT the kicker is that I must choose--or something will be chosen for me, and I will still need to live with the consequences. Today it is my turn (game analogy) and I cannot skip my turn or come back to it later. Today I must make today's choices, so why not choose today to love, laugh, give, and live boldly? I think that this quality of living may also carry fewer regrets into tomorrow.

Pressing On!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Back in the Box

For as long as I can remember, I have been aware that there is an eternal aspect to everyday life. That even in the midst of the day-to-day, there is some dimension of those activities that can last forever. Not that I have always chosen wisely, but at least I have been aware of the issue. John Ortberg's new book, When the Game is Over it all Goes Back in the Box, has been a practical, new look at this issue that has resonated with the way I think.

Ortberg uses the rubric of game-playing to help me focus on that which is most important and to keep everything else in proper perspective. He starts with Monopoly and recalls playing with his Grandmother--an avid player. You know the feeling, you get some good properties, some houses and hotels, then other players start landing on your places and paying you exorbitant rent until you wipe them out. Yet, no matter how much you have accumulated during the game, when you are finished playing, it all goes back in the box--all the houses and hotels, all the money, all of the talking smack to other players, even the game pieces themselves--and it no longer matters what happened around the Monopoly table.

One message that has come clear through the book is that I can enjoy playing the game and even enjoy winning from time to time, but it is far more important to enjoy the other players, than to alienate others for the sake of winning the game.

I can see a bit of this in my new job. I am thoroughly enjoying the first month and I think that it has been a great move. The people I work with are driven to make the business succeed, but also seem to have a pretty good handle on the importance of the team and of each person's contribution to the team. There are high expectations for performance, but there is also an atmosphere of being willing to take time to get to know each other on more than a "what can you do for the company" level. I feel fortunate to have had several meaningful conversations with my colleagues that have gone far beyond what we are doing to grow the business. We are in this game to win, but there is a healthy sense that we are in this game together.

For some reason, right now the "together" part of work, church, and family seems more important to me than it ever has before--perhaps because of the recent reminders that together can be a fleeting state of being. If so, the best approach may be to focus intently on playing today's game today, with whomever is around the table, and let tomorrow's game wait for tomorrow.

Pressing On!