Another Day – Another Miracle

Whether you believe in God as I do, or you believe that a series of random unplanned sequence of events (probably trillions of them) in which you have somehow survived and which has lead to your very existence – either way, be thankful for this day.  If nothing else is true, the very fact that you exist, it is a miracle – and be thankful for it.

I recently have noticed an abundance of miracles happening every day in my life.  The tougher the circumstance, the more amazing the miracle.  It’s building in my life more acceptance over the challenges and confidence in knowing that things will work out.

For example, I have noticed in my life a team of individuals working together to work miracles.  Not any one of them doing anything extraordinary but when combined as a group; they seem to accomplish miracles and they seem to move mountains.  The more practical a solution, the more basic and simple the solution; a bigger miracle it seems when combined as a group.  

I have noticed the confidence that comes from the courage to make a list and get it done.  To hold your attention on that list as a group, and get it done.  It’s an absolute miracle.

It’s a miracle to think that something as simple as writing down a list and getting that list done builds confidence.  It builds teams.  It builds families.  There seems to be nothing as powerful as this.  

There comes a certain point in seemingly every journey to where the logic ends and I can’t explain it anymore.  At the end of that road is where faith strengthens or weakens.  For those that believe in miracles, they seem to happen.  For those that don’t… I don’t know what to say.

In my prayers I have come to realize that things work out.  Sometimes good, sometimes bad.  But they always do work out. Sometimes I understand a deeper meaning, sometimes I don’t; but regardless of what I understand… things work out.

I’m not saying that all bad is good or anything like that.  Bad is bad, and if you know me personally; you know that I am not an optimist.  I know bad things happen to good people, it’s foolish to think otherwise.  In fact I have been know to say, “don’t worry, it can always get worse,” and not only do I believe that – I have seen that.  

What I have come to learn as if things are really bad, nothing helps more than making a list and starting to get things done on that list.

I count it another miracle.  I pray that you do too.

It’s Still A Stupid Idea

Let’s call it what it is, “stupid”.  Mass adoption of a stupid idea does not in anyway alter the intellectual value of that idea.  It’s still stupid.

For me when confronted by a populist idea – I remember an anonymous quote I heard years ago; “if 250 million people have a bad idea… it’s still a bad idea.”

Regardless of how many people think a thought, you shouldn’t make it yours because it’s popular.  That’s not what freedom of thought is about.  If the news media says it, if your mother says it, if your brother says it, if your employer says it… no matter who says it. If you are the last one in the world that believes it’s still a stupid idea – then it’s still a stupid idea.

To adopt any idea because it’s what the majority of people want – is horrific. I fear the day that I use this as a key criteria for making any decision.  The more popular a thought is, the more I worry that I am making the wrong decision. It scares me to go in any popular direction.

After all, “because everybody is doing it” is the sort of thinking that leads to drinking cool-aid, joining cults, putting bumper stickers on cars supporting whatever seems popular without even knowing the real agenda; it’s peer pressure for adults, populism, surrendering of ideals and surrendering thoughts.  

As for me, I am proud to go the other way.  I am proud to think on my own two halves of my brain.  I not only question authority, I expect answers.  I want to understand why it is so.  And if an idea wants my support, I want to make sure it’s not stupid.

So I suggest that because everyone else thinks it’s so – it doesn’t mean that it is a good idea.

In today’s age there seem to be daily polls on just about every major topic in the news cycle; and what purpose do they serve? If everyone thinks you should be shot, does it make it a good idea? Of course it’s absurd.  If everyone thinks your house should be burned down and you should be put in prison, does that make it a good idea?  Absurd as well.  If everyone thinks that you should pay 90% in taxes, does that make it a good idea? No, it certainly does not.  

What if everyone is wrong?  It’s happened before.  They are called mobs and they used to hang people, riot in the streets, burn cars in Paris, destroy downtown Seattle and help populists rise to power. Going along with the thoughts of the mob, the more emotional the thoughts – the worse it is… going along for the sake of joining the movement – is flat stupid.

By the way, some of the most foolish and stupid ideas come from the most statistically intelligent people you will ever meet.  You might say that smart people usually have really dumb ideas.  But that’s a topic for another day.

Remember, if everyone is doing it… that’s reason enough to double check that idea and make sure it’s not a stupid one.


Thought Momentum

Thoughts combined with action and deeds creates momentum towards a goal.

Thinking about something, committing it to paper (or a different media) and starting to take action on that thought is what gives us substantially all forward progress.  

Thinking about something, and letting it pass – leads to regret.

There probably is no more fundamental truth about personal productivity than this; think about it and get started doing it.  

The distance between a thought and the start of action to achieve the goal is called hesitation.  There are two forms of hesitation; passive and active.  Passive hesitation is where reservation to start on the task is either because of distraction or concern over what it would take to accomplish the goal. For example, I may hesitate because I feel incompetent or because I don’t know.  Another form of passive hesitation is that I may not be able to focus due to distractions that I let take over my available time.  Regardless of which it may be the outcome is the same.  Nothing is done to achieve your goal.

The other form of hesitation is constructive.  It’s deliberation on how to accomplish the goal.  While it may start out as a feeling of incompetence, it quickly can turn into many different ways or optional paths to take to start achieving your goal.  

If you hesitate to do a thing; it should be to determine whether or not the thing is worth doing, or what it would take to get it done.

Again; thinking about something, committing it to paper and starting to take action will create momentum and odds are lead to greater success.  Thinking about something and not taking any action (even if the action is the decision not to do it) leads to regret.


Thought Injection and Thought Security

Accepting the thoughts of others without validation is foolishness.  The more thoughts that you accept, the more momentum you create in those thoughts and the more vulnerable you become to the influence of others.  

Surrendering your thoughts without conscientious deliberation is like surrendering your possessions.  No, it’s more significant than that.  It’s like surrendering your life, your liberty and your freedom. However, if you surrender your thoughts after conscientious deliberation – it’s not surrendering but affirming your values your dreams and your liberty.  

I’ll say it again; accepting the thoughts of others without validation is foolishness.  Try it out on this very premise, don’t accept what I say.  Think it through for yourself.

With each statement I make ask yourself if you agree with that statement and why?  It’s important to be able to articulate why, not merely agree.  If I say something what harm is it to validate it’s truth?  Assuming it is not a life threatening, instantaneous you-are-about-to-get-hit-by-a-truck-type-get-out-of-the-road-type circumstance; then there is no harm to think that thought through and check it out for your own self.

On a daily basis most people seem to surrender what occupies their mind’s thought with the bombardment of constant content and messaging.  Their minds are an open door to what would interrupt them and take over the power of their thoughts. Most content is blindly accepted and assimilated.  For what purpose and more importantly at what cost?

I call this thought injection or probably better stated as thought security; protecting yourself from threats that would steal your resources.  In this generation the momentum of insertion is gaining speed.  It’s been said that my generation grew up with a 7 minute attention span because of the length of TV segments between commercials.  Now it seems that we are on our way to a 30 second attention span with commercials themselves, internet media, tweets and facebook feeds, SMS, etc.  All of them short bursts of content that affect ones thoughts.  

The capacity to think is the most valuable resource that you possess.  Your mind and how it processes data is what keeps your world running and every relationship you have.  Your thoughts are key to your well being. Therefore thought injection is a threat to your personal well being.  Guarding your thoughts is critical.

Be mindful today of how many thoughts interrupt you.  Or better yet make up your mind to focus on an objective that is most important and train yourself to monitor that thought.  Watch for what distracts you, interrupts you and takes you away from what is most important. You’ll be amazed at how many things threaten your ability to focus on the task at hand.

Like a virus attack on your computer, it’s important to recognize a thought attack. There are different types of attacks.  I don’t have enough time to go into too much detail on this today, but I want to mention a couple.  

First up – media attacks.  I liken these attacks to when you receive information with extra spin put on it to solicit a manipulative response.  As an example, let’s take the news media.  Instead of getting the facts of the report, you are usually told how to feel about it, how it’s not right and what you should do about it.  What purpose does this really serve?

Second up -email attacks.  I’m not talking about viruses here.  I am talking about waiting on productivity because you are constantly checking email.  Email is a great tool, don’t get me wrong.  Where I have noticed a problem is when I get stuck in a rut constantly checking email when I am waiting on something.  I seem to surrender hours of productive time to checking the ‘in box’.  It’s fruitless. What is even worse is when I constantly check it and respond to what comes in.  With emails coming in seemingly every minute,  I can literally waste all day fielding messages in a defensive mode instead of a productive mode.  Again, if you are like this and you spend most of your day responding to emails – what purpose does that serve?  I am not saying shut it off; I am asking how often do you check it.  And when you check it, what’s the purpose?

Third up – (and last for today) is background noise.  My historically biggest offense was working with the TV on.  I thought I was productive, but I found my attitude sinking downward and downward.  Constant media stream in the background while trying to be productive on a task is not conducive to a healthy work environment, at least for me.  I have met many people that say they need background noise to work.  I used to feel that way.  I have come to learn my need to have that distraction was an escape from focusing on what the ‘really important’ things are that I needed to do.  The background noises distracted me, they didn’t help me. (More on this in another post some day).

Controlling the thoughts that capture your attention is the key.  If you aren’t controlling them, odds are someone else is.

Enough for now.  Careful what you think about, thoughts start things…

What you fix your attention on accumulates

What you fix your attention on accumulates.  What you apply pressure to either strengthens or weakens.  In this way good thoughts become great ideas and bad thoughts become potentially destructive.  What you fix your attention on will grow in strength.

The freedom to think, lead to the freedom to speak, the freedom to speak lead to the freedom to live.  Good choices come from good thoughts.  Articulation of good thoughts lead to the accumulation of freedom.  Thinking leads to goals, to action, the expression of passion.

Thinking leads to books, to music, to buildings, to invention.  Thinking leads to love.  Thinking also leads to power both good and bad.  Thinking leads to theft, oppression and abuse. Thinking can lead to sin, to hate, to violence, to abandonment – to separation.

If thinking about an idea serves to get an idea started, repetition of a thought can lead to initiative.  Maturing a thought from a flash of inspiration to a well articulated thought creates momentum and purpose.  Purpose with the expectation that the thought can be realized has been the beginning of many good things.

Thoughts affixed to paper have a different resonance than thoughts that are spoken.  If I speak a thought – does it carry more emphasis?  How does it affect my thought’s value?  Does it increase its power?  When sharing thoughts – repetition can be affirming or detracting to relationships; in business, in social settings, or in love and family.  

How many times have you had a good idea only to lose it?  Perhaps a good idea starts but you can’t seem to manifest it into reality?  It’s true for most all who think to begin with – and I’m sure all of us think.  Most potentially good thoughts are not nurtured at all, and therefore suffer loss.  Even though those thoughts with which we occasionally dwell usually return good and often surprise us.  You may have said to yourself, “…you know I was thinking about that”.

If fixed attention strengthens or weakens, distraction must have the opposite affect on thoughts. If one is accumulating momentum of thought towards a positive outcome – thought transforming into power – interruption or distraction can take away from that power.  If distraction is desired to escape thought – then this is only valuable if thoughts are destructive.  Confronting negative thoughts with transactions of positive ones is a better means of coping than escape.  Escape more often leads to self destruction and the defeat of noble ideas and liberty.

Whom do I love and in what way can my thoughts honor them or hurt them?  These thoughts are essential to control of good over bad.  Thoughts can be given away or sold.  Thoughts lead to conversation.  Conversation to transactions.

My job is to think, to organize those thoughts, to share those thoughts. What I think about – who I think about and what I am supposed to think about is relative to my job.  Thoughts become ideas, to which I share.  Other peoples thoughts I am meant to receive, assign value and accept or reject.  To those I serve, it’s important to value their ideas well.

Balancing whom I serve and how my thoughts support them keeps my thoughts focused on how best to serve them.  Returning to thoughts and continuing the work they begin is the foundation of power. When distracted, its essential to return the focus to those thoughts until the value of the thought is realized.

The will to do something comes from persistent thought.  A powerfully constructed thought articulated to others, leads to powerful relations in business and in life.  Thoughts grow their maker in strength, character and in power.

If you are to do something well, fix your attention upon that thought.  Pick a thought, repeat it and nurture it.  Focus and protect it.  Avoid distraction until the thought is articulated.  Then return to that thought and it’s articulation.  Share it, nurture it, and action will begin.

Remember that thinking makes it so.  What you fix your attention on will accumulate.