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Mother Teresa, a truly inspiring woman who dedicated over 45 years of her life to ministering to the poor, sick, orphaned, and dying, while proselytizing Christianity, once offered the following words of wisdom:

“In this life we cannot do great things.  We can only do small things with great love.”

How very often we tend to look for the “grand plan”, the big things we can do to make a big difference, all while the small opportunities that are ever-present ever pass us by.  We look beyond the mark.

But big plans seldom work out, and big ideas seldom take off, whereas the little things, the more achievable things, the more straightforward things, the more immediate things, those things that are right in front of us, are those things that really matter and really move us forward.

It’s great to dream, it’s better to do.

After all, it’s usually the cumulative effect of so many little things, done persistently, and done well, that creates greatness.

“By small and simple things, are great things brought to pass.”  (Alma 37:6)

In our lives, whether in business or as parents, as we pay closer attention to making the most of the little opportunities that lie right in front of us, we will move naturally towards the dreams that matter most.

Rusty

I firmly believe that there’s no amount of feel-good fluff that can compare to the self-propelling power of pure principles in getting us through the hard times.  The internal strength, divine direction, and eternal perspective one gleans from studying and pondering pure doctrine is incomparable and irreplaceable.

Still, “variety is the spice of life”, and often motivation and strength can be found all around us.  In times such as these, when so many face so much, we may do well to absorb motivational messages from many more sources.

Here’s one for those touched by music…

As you face the challenges that are bound to be thrown at you, just remember… don’t give up, you are loved.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ls7ila3srzI

 

Rusty

I was in Orlando Florida last week, presenting some new software I’d been working on at a large tradeshow, when something I saw totally captivated me.

One morning, the group of us was following the masses toward the conference center entrance to get our badges scanned.  It was a gorgeous day, and I was looking around, enjoying the surrounding beauty when I spied the most amazing plants.

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These plants lined the front of the conference center.  As I walked, I noticed that these plants would grow along the gound, sprouting above-ground roots that would slither out in all directions attempting to find nourishment from their surroundings.  Apparently, at some point, they’d  find a sufficient source of nutrients, and the plant would be strong enough to start growing upward.

And then I came to this one.

plant3

I was captivated.  But it wasn’t the novelty that captivated me as much as it was the apparent symbolism.

This was the only plant of its kind.  It grew straight up.  Rather than sulking along the ground, seeking nourishment, one of its tendrils had found a large, neighboring palm.  It had then wrapped its root around this tree multiple times, giving it direction, strength, and protection that the others lacked.

Before I was befuddled with the frantic nature of the tradeshow, I had a brief moment to reflect upon the message this plant had to offer me.

In life, some people choose to “go it alone”.  Sometimes that choice is forced upon you, and you find yourself scrambling for nourishment (spiritual, emotional, or otherwise).  In either case, it’s a constant struggle for the most meager upward gains, and you end up spending much time and effort moving on a more lateral course, constantly reaching out in every way to find support and strength.

But we have been provided pillars of strength, and we should wrap ourselves around them.  By so doing, they provide us direction, strength and protection that ensure our upward growth.

For each of us those pillars may differ.  Sometimes it’s a close friend who somehow seems so grounded, or whose testimony is so sound.  Sometimes it’s a religious leader.  Sometimes it’s a family member.  Someitmes it’s something inanimate, like the scriptures.  Often, it’s the Savior.

But whoever or whatever you find, keep them close.  Wrap yourself around them, and let them give you strength.

The physical principle of gravity, that objects of lesser mass are pulled toward objects of greater mass, has a spiritual shadow.  If you surround yourself by those people, places, and things that are of greater spiritual strength than you, you’ll be naturally pulled upward by them.  But be careful, for the opposite is also true.

May each of us find our pillars of strength, and wrap ourselves around them.

Rusty

(click image below for large view)

P.S.  For a greater explanation of this take on “gravity”, see my post here.  For more about how you are shaped by your spiritual ecosystem, click here.

This morning as I drove to work, I reflected on Sept. 11, 2001.  I remember the day well, the pain, shock, confusion, fear, anger, sadness, and myriad other emotions that played across my consciousness that day.

As is often in my nature, I attempted to search for some sort of symbolism, looking for a lesson that I might be able to apply to my life.

Before I go any further, I am indeed aware that such an endeavor requires objectification, and can seem unfeeling and apathetic.  But that is not my intent.  Rather, I hope to draw from the event as many personal lessons as possible, knowing full well it does nothing to lessen the loss.  Indeed, my deepest and most sincere condolences and prayers go out to those who lost family, friends, and loved ones on that dreadful day.  While it was a heartrending day for our Nation, no one bore that pain more acutely than you.

I was inspired to hear these words from President Bush during today’s memorial services:  “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose”.

It is that point that I hope to emphasize.

Within each of our lives, often there are instances of unspeakable tragedy, times when we have been brought to our very knees.  Sometimes we have brought these things upon ourselves through sin and transgression, sometimes we have done nothing to deserve them, but almost always they hit us in an unsuspecting moment, and often they can cause seemingly irreparable damage.

We wonder if we can ever continue, if life can even go on.  The devastation, pain, heartache, and tragedy, at that moment, is so close to us that it blots out our vision and we cannot see past it.

We experienced this together 7 years ago, in a very real, tangible, and terrible way.

But go on we did… not weaker, but stronger.  And though, even after cleaning up the rubble, we were left with a whole in the ground, we quickly began rebuilding.  We cleaned up what we could, reviewed plans for beautiful new edifices, selected one and began building.

In our own lives, we must take the same approach.  It’s easy, and normal, to allow catastrophic events that plague our past to cripple our future, but it must not be so.

If it is sin, we must repent and rebuild.  If it is some other event over which we had no control or responsibility, we must embrace it as part of the divine planning of our lives, preparing us to be stronger, greater, more feeling, and more capable.

It is within our power to choose what we become, to choose how we respond, and to select from the options that are before us an edifice for our lives worthy of our future.

As that becomes the object of our focus, not the destruction, but creation, and as we involve the Lord in that creation, we heal faster, and the building we create will have the distinctive reflections of divinity, and inspired architecture of eternity.

Though the buildings of your life may fall, a hero will rise.  You.

Rusty

A larger vision

“Don’t get your hopes up” the world so often says.  Being hopefully optimistic leaves you open to disappointment, and the result?  Hope aversion.

But naturally optimistic and hopeful people tend to achieve more.  Look at most of the people that you know who are high achievers.  In general they’re dreamers, inherently optimistic people who catch a vision and drive for it. They dare to think big, aim high, and reach for records.  They’re not held hostage by reality, but see things not for what they are, but what they could be.

Going all the way

“Be realistic”, is all too often associated with holding back effort.  It usually means “don’t get too attached”.  But attachment is exactly what propels the optimist to drive harder, to push farther, to commit, to take risks, and those are the very things that lead to success.  To them the vision is almost tangible, they let themselves get sucked in, attached, and that keeps them going when everybody else gives up.

Path finding

The path to any valuable objective is bound to be fraught with challenges.  A realist looks at those challenges and sees roadblocks, but an optimist sees only the paths around them.  They lose little time focusing on the challenges themselves, for they’re too captivated by the possible alternatives that may lead to the destination.  This focus on the destination allows them to move maneuver more nimbly, more quickly, and with more surety.

Not afraid to try

Finally, as I talked about yesterday in “Reconciling hope and disappointment“, a realist sees failure as terminal.  To them, failure means they need to adjust their view of reality, rather than keep trying, for disappointment should be avoided.  To them, to hope is to risk.  But the hopeful optimist is fueled by failure.  They don’t see failure as disappointment (nor, in truth, as failure), but rather an indication to try something else, some new approach.  And the more attached they are to their vision, the more they’re willing to keep trying.

Look at all the breakthrough’s we have experienced as a people, and ask yourself if those were led by realists, focusing on what is “realistic”, or by optimists, hoping for the realization of a dream.  Would we have ever walked on the moon?  Would we have ever flown at all?  Would we be able to peer millions of light years into space?  Would we have the miracles of medicine that we have today?  Would we have computers that can process unthinkable amounts of data in unthinkable amounts of time and that can form a vast global, interconnected network on which any person, anywhere can start a blog and talk to the world?  Would we have any of the rich media sources we have now?   The list could go on indefinitely.

None of these would be possible without the pricelessly propelling power of hope.  Hope brings dreams to reality.  Hope makes the impossible, possible.

If so many miracles are made reality by simply choosing to hope, what kind of changes would be possible in your life if you too, decided to see it not for what it is, but for what it could be?

[digg=http://digg.com/people/4_reasons_hope_breeds_success]
Rusty

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Margaret added a poem to the comments over on the “That’s not my job” post (with the funny images of prime examples of this pervasive mindset).  I thought it warrented it’s own post.  Thanks Margaret

That’s Not My Job
By Author Unknown

This is a story told about four people named, Somebody, Everybody, Anybody and Nobody.

There was one important job to be done.

Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about it because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it. Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

P.S.  If anybody knows the author of this poem, please let me know so I can give them due credit.  They deserve it.

Rusty

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NBC has an article I found today about a man named Greg Pike, of Santa Barbra, who trained his cat, dog, and rat, to all get along.  He did it to prove that nothing is impossible in life.  He says that if animals can be taught to get along, so can people.

Amen Greg. 

We’re often so caught up in proving ourselves right, or exerting dominance, or clinging to past prejudice, that we simply fail to get along, dooming ourselves to far more misery and hatred than is necessary in life.  Such long-standing hatred and intolerance erodes is corrosive to our happiness and erodes our ability to enjoy the present… to enjoy life.

But if we let go of our differences, or just accept them for what they are, or if we can learn to appreciate the strengths in each other, or at the minimum the blessed nature of variety, then peace can take a greater portion of our life, and the world will be a better place.

Rusty

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Life seems to have become so focused on how much more you can take on.  How much more you can do.  How much more you can acquire.

But all too often, we mistake complexity for progress.

Whereas complexity merely spreads us thin, dilutes our efforts, and leaves us nowhere farther than before (just distributed amongst more places), progress is where we find ourselves moving forward in general, toward some predefined goal.

If all we do is take on more and more projects, tasks, responsibilities, ad infinitum, then all we’ll do is face an increasingly insurmountable set of obstacles in our life.  We’ll be doing more, but accomplishing less.

Businesses face this problem as much as people do in their own personal lives.  Families, societies, organizations, and individuals alike must ask themselves if they’re trying to do too much.

But how do you discern distractions?  How do you know if adding something to your “agenda” is helping you progress along your path, or merely taking your eyes off your goal.

I’ve found that dilemma is often overcome by one specific thing… clarity of purpose.  The clearer your purpose, the more stark each opportunity will be in whether it propels you toward your destination, or inhibits your progress by diluting your efforts.

If you truly want to be remarkable in something, then learn to focus your energies.  Figure out what you want to do, or who you want to become, and then measure all things against that. 

As you focus your life, as you simplify, you’ll find that not only can you move faster, but you’ll enjoy the ride so much more.

Rusty

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Every year, millions of people endeavor to become more physically fit.  They embark on rigorous exercise schedules, adopt new diets, and set goals to lose weight and get in shape.  But physical fitness is fleeting (especially as you get older ;-).

So I’ve decided to come up with a new fitness program, one that’s far more enduring… I call it “faith fitness”. 

Faith fitness is the process whereby you work to increase your capacity to believe. 

Much like how with physical fitness, you don’t suddenly wake up slim, beautiful, and healthy (at least I don’t).  Rather, there’s a regime of exercises you have to follow, and a diet as well. 

The same is true with faith fitness.  You can’t simply expect yourself to suddenly “have faith”.  Faith is as much a journey as it is a destination.

Here, I’ll be creating a 7-day exercise program meant to increase our capacity to exercise faith.

Also related

Of courese, this program is free (and therefore backed by my 100% money back guarantee).  I guarantee results that will last beyond a lifetime.

I hope you’ll join me in the program. 

Rusty

As an addendum toWhat do Mormons really believe, Part 4

We live in an amazing time.  Empowered by unprecedented technology, and with billions of dollars being spent on research in every imaginable arena, scientific breakthroughs are seldom even “newsworthy”.  Today “proof” and “evidence” are commodities.  We’ve become reliant upon them.

“Prove it!”  That’s our mantra today.

But I think, in a way, this obsession with proof has crippled our ability to just believe.  Today, unfound belief is a weakness.  You’re often considered a fool for believing something that isn’t proven, even when we’re continuously “unproving” things that were heretofore “proven”.

But there’s real and tangible power behind belief that even proof cannot equal.  For belief requires strength, not weakness.

To believe, you become vulnerable, a state the natural man avoids at all costs.  So to have faith, to believe in things that cannot be seen or proven, you must overcome the natural man, and in so doing, you transcend the spiritually crippling shelter of the “prove it” mentality.

When exercised regularly, your faith becomes a powerful muscle that can be used to affect great change in your life, and in the lives of others.

I fear that too often we underestimate the power of faith, and our actual ability to change the course of events by righteously exercising it.

As Mark 9:23 states “… all things are possible to him that believeth”.  Faith can move mountains, and if it’s strong enough to do that, then it’s strong enough to move the smaller obstacles that confront us all throughout our lives.

When Jesus and his apostles were traveling by boat, being tossed in the storm, they woke Jesus, fearing they’d be overturned and cast into the sea.  So Jesus spoke, and calmed the storm, then seeking to teach his disciples, accused them of having too little faith.

So often in our lives we feel threatened, as though on the verge of being cast into some sea of despair.  But the message our Savior is to all of us – have faith.  Be of good cheer.  Do not doubt.

“Behold the fouls of the air:  for they sow not neither do they reap,  yet your Heavenly Father feedeth them.  Are ye not much better than they?”  (Mathew 6:26-30).

God has given us the power to do many mighty things, if we will but believe.

“Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things” but to “hope for things which are not seen, which are true” (Alma 32:21).

Therefore, let us all be found enveloped in an ever strengthening capacity to believe.

Rusty

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