Spirit

“Remember, that of all the elements that comprise a human being, the most important, the most essential, the one that will sustain, transcend, overcome and vanquish obstacles is – Spirit!” – Buddy Ebsen

You needn’t look far in the pages of history or the chapters of your life to see that spirit is essential to both being and achieving. The spirit or life force in you is what animates you, for without it you would be a disorganized lump of inorganic and organic matter. But it doesn’t stop there. That same life force is also what allows you to overcome that which blocks the road to achievement and fulfillment in your life.

Spirit is your most precious resource.

Self-Discipline

“The man who waits for roast duck to fly into mouth must wait very, very long time.” – Chinese proverb

Knowing what you want to do and actually getting it done are two different things.

Think about it this way: there is a no-man’s land between every goal that is set and every goal that is accomplished. That no-man’s land begins as unclaimed and uncharted territory, but with the application of focused and sufficiently persistent work, it gradually becomes familiar as it is traversed.

The process of achieving any goal involves the transformation of the unknown into the known. Self-discipline allows this to be done. The ability to do the right thing when it needs to be done without external control or coercion is the measure of self-discipline. And self-discipline is an essential element of physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual maturity.

Self-discipline at one level (e.g. physical or mental) provides foundational support for the development of self-discipline in the other levels. As such, the successful handling of the small, seemingly insignificant details of life contributes significantly to the pattern of victory in the larger goals and aspirations.

School of Life

If you’ve ever seen a time lapse video of plant growth you likely marveled at the beauty and wisdom of life. The flow of life vivifies what would otherwise be an uncoordinated conglomeration of matter and energy.

Life surges through the members of the animal and vegetable kingdoms it animates, including mankind, though man, with his capacity for free will, can modulate the expression of the life which pours through his form more than any other animal. Every man, woman, and child allows, through his or her pattern of choice, for the outpouring of life within. Some choices amplify the flow, while others attenuate it.

The creative process is by nature incredibly forgiving. The physical world is constantly in flux. Life, which is by nature eternal, is constantly inspiriting new forms in new ways. Old forms give way to new ones, but life itself never dies. The death of a loved one is not the death of life, but the sundering of life and the form it quickens. There is loss, but it is not total.

Every new thing you undertake moves through a life cycle. Impregnation, gestation, birth, and maturation work out through every aspect of your life. This order is the law of life. It manifests in a pattern and the pattern is immutable. That, however, doesn’t stop people from trying to work around it. They lean into it with the force of their will, pitting cleverness against wisdom in an effort to speed things up or to bypass the laws of nature. While such attempts may appear to work in the short term, they are eventually swept away by the pliant, yet unchangeable laws of life.

At any given point in time you will find yourself in the midst of any number of cycles which are at various stages of unfoldment. Time management, project management, life and leadership skills, and so many other clever classifications are simply fancy ways to describe the process by which these cycles of life are managed. Some advocate the use of force more than others, all demand a certain level of understanding of the principles of organization, but ultimately we are all students in the great school of life.

Your dominion over the world you center is as dependent upon the timing of your action as it is the quality of your action. Pushing and demanding results, insisting that the form be a certain way prematurely will distort the outcome and possibly abort the unfolding cycle. Likewise, waiting too long to act, procrastinating beyond the point of no return, or constantly wishing things were different than they are now will likely result in a string of missed opportunities.

Life is wise. Life is beautiful. Coordinate with it and you will flourish and blossom. Struggle against it and you will wither and eventually find yourself unable to accommodate its vibrancy. In this sense the old adage is correct: if you stop and get a whiff of the flowers, you might just begin living more generously, more radiantly. And like the time lapse films, it may work in and through you faster than you might have thought possible.

Daily Progress

Every day you have the opportunity to make progress. Whether you do or not is entirely up to you. Even in the most constrictive, troubling and dark circumstances you can find an opening for the radiant expression of your inner self.

So rather than obsess about the elements in your world which are stuck (because they are not yet ripe or because they are frustrated by factors beyond your control), look instead to identify and engage with those elements which are ready for action. Don’t overlook the possible because of a fixation on the impossible.

Do what you can, now. Move it forward, even if it is just a little. Every little bit counts.

Asking for Help

How effective are you at asking for help? Men are notoriously bad at this and being a man, I must admit to having done a lot in my life to lend credence to the stereotype. But why?

What makes people not ask for help? I imagine there are a number of causes, but several which come immediately to mind are: a ferocious sense of responsibility, an unwillingness to make oneself vulnerable, a concern not to overload others, insufficient trust in others’ ability to get the job done, arrogance, poor delegation skills, fear of failure, fear of success, and the list goes on.

While it may seem obvious that we need one another, that no man is complete unto himself, it is easy to lose sight of the value of collaboration in the heat of the moment, especially if those heated moments last for more than just a moment. It is easy to fall into the habit of trying to do everything oneself, but that approach is fundamentally self-limiting and ultimately self-destructive. A person can only stretch himself so far.

To reprove this habit there must be a willingness to address the underlying causes. To be sure, blaming your circumstances never resolves the issues contained in them. Asking for help may get the ball rolling, but the change in approach must typically go deeper, to the level of repentance, if there is to be any lasting change.

Labor Day

“Don’t mistake activity with achievement.” – John Wooden

Labor Day is a national holiday in the United States that is celebrated on the first Monday of September. Originally organized to celebrate various associations’ victories in the American labor movement, Labor Day has become a a day of rest, a temporary respite from the activities of the workaday world.

To my mind, Labor Day should also be a time of reflection, a day in which we can consider the nature and quality of our nearly ceaseless activity. Asking questions like: “Is this activity making the world a better place?” or “Is this activity bringing about the advancement of virtue in the world?” is a good place to start.

Take care that you don’t do as so many do and hide in the wearisome “comfort” of a busy life. Busyness devoid of true purpose is frenzy. You are here to achieve great things, to make a positive difference in the world.

Happy Labor Day!