Monday, May 17, 2010

Exposing Yourself

The kids were giggling like crazy as we played outside on a hot summer day. We had a "kiddie" pool but within minutes it was as warm as the ambient air. The only source of coolness was the garden hose. With towels wrapped protectively around their heads and held there by their upraised arms like a boxer defending against the opponent's blows the kids tried to keep the stream from hitting them with a full-on facial. I manned the hose with my thumb on the end to get the pressured stream as the three of them giggled and briefly exposed their face and upper body. I would quickly switch from one to the other "just missing" each of them as they closed up again. But every now and again I would catch one of them exposing a little too long and they would get a mouthful and nose-full of cool well water. Now only two kids were giggling while the third caught their breath and dealt with the sting up the nose.

You have so many options in this world now that you can expose yourself to; what do you chose and how do you chose what to open up to? This becomes an important question because your exposures have a lot to do with the kind of person you turn out to be.

Expose yourself to bad and you will get used to and maybe even become bad.

Expose yourself to good and you will get used to and maybe even become good.

Expose yourself to get-rich-quick and you will fixate on money.

Expose yourself to the smart and wise and you will be too.

Expose yourself to anger and you will be angry.

Expose yourself to love and you will experience love.

Expose yourself to fast food and you will crave the Big Mac or some King sandwich.

Expose yourself to art and you will appreciate it, understand it, and seek to make it.

The wisest man who ever lived said "Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life." Solomon knew the GIGO principal. (Garbage In Garbage Out; Good In Good Out) We all know that principal but most of the time we believe we can hold that towel and our arms over our face and not get blasted up the nose with the BAD. We do this because the BAD has a better PR firm working for it. BAD looks so tempting to us while GOOD looks so boring. BAD is instant gratification and GOOD is delayed. A Big Mac and a La-Z-Boy now is so much more appealing than celery and a gym.

Next time we will discuss GOOD vs. BAD and how to decide between them, but for now learn from the sting of water up your nose and don't do it again. Guard carefully what you expose yourself to.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Unmanaged Time

"Where did all the time go!"

"Boy that hour FLEW by!"

"I just don't know where that day went!"

"I can't believe Christmas is just around the corner!"

"What have I done with my life!"

All these statements we have all heard and they all relate to the passing of time. Why does time fly by? Why do hours, days, weeks and even YEARS fly by before we "know" it? Why does it seem kids grow up too fast? I have written a LOT about time management and you can look up my columns on this over the last 5 years on my blog but I have a new twist for you on time management.

Here you go; are you ready? This is a pearl of wisdom that could change your life if you let it: "Unmanaged time flows to your weaknesses." There ya go, if you understand the implications of this then time will NEVER again fly by, you will find joy in life and it will cure acne. Well, the last one there was kind of a stretch but let's think about this.

If you don't manage your time it doesn't just disappear it FLOWS to your weaknesses, your habits, your laziness, or your closet sins. Unmanaged time is NOT freedom, unmanaged time is bondage due to a lack of self-discipline. Say you have a tendency to play computer games and you have a "spare" hour before you go to work; what do you do? You quick hop on the computer and play and "before you know it" you are late for work. Say you got off work early and you had a few extra bucks in your britches so you stop at the local casino and slide the dough in the slot and "BOY , that hour flew by!" and now you are late in getting home and have to explain where you were. Unmanaged time flows to you weaknesses.

Why not use that extra time to exercise (you know you need it) or to see mom and dad (you know you should) or take your kids/grandkids out for ice cream (you haven't spent much time with them lately to know what's going on in their lives). Why not PLAN what to do in the 24 hours God has given you and not just let it flow away into a malaise of regret. Here are a couple of helps to stop that flow of unmanaged time:

- Carry that book that you want to read with you so you can read it while waiting in line or when you get a few "extra" minutes.

- NEVER watch TV without an exercise weight. If you get too tired to keep it up you have to turn it off.

- Take online classes instead of online games.

- PLAN to see and spend times with friends and family, don't just EXPECT it to happen.

- Get a hobby that "trips your trigger" like photography, coin collecting, bird watching, or whatever to channel that flow time when it becomes free.

I am NOT saying that watching TV, playing video games, gambling or even extra sleep is BAD. What I am saying is that IF your time flows into your areas of weakness you will forever be wondering what happened to your time, and so your LIFE. You will forever be behind, running to catch up, and wondering "what happened to all that time?"

Monday, May 03, 2010

My Last Nerve

Have you ever heard of "Prince Rupert's Drops"? You should have because they probably have saved your life or the life of one of your loved ones. Rupert, Count Palatine of the Rhine, Duke of Bavaria lived from 1619-1682 and was generally considered a military man. When he retired from war he was an amateur scientist and most of his "discoveries" were really just stolen from true scientists with his better PR. He brought them to the king FIRST and had them published. So you could say he discovered them but he discovered them on the work bench of a competitor.

One of these "discoveries" was a drop of glass which he demonstrated before King Charles II. They looked like simple drops of glass yet when he took a hammer to them they didn't break. Dramatically, he asked a strong looking WWF soldier to pound on it with a bigger hammer, yet it didn't shatter or even crack. Then to even greater PT Barnum-type fanfare he took a simple tweezers and asked all to stand back as he broke the tail of the glass tear-drop and it exploded into a million pieces.

The discovery was something that we, today, call tempered glass. The principle is to take molten glass and quickly cool it in water. So quickly that the surface hardens while the center is still molten. The cooling glass contracts and caused the interior glass to be pressurized at it cools. That pressurized glass becomes amazingly strong and IF it breaks it will shatter into millions of pieces instead of dangerous shards. This has been perfected into the safety glass we all have in our cars, windows, and doors.

Prince Rupert's Drops had one flaw that today's glass has eliminated. The tail on the tear drop was its weakness. You could pound all day on the stress filled drop but a simple snap of the weak-point would cause the whole drop to explode. Kind of sounds like some people I know.
I went to the cubicle of a coworker a number of years ago and remember a bright red poster that said "I'm working on my last nerve and you're standing on it!" A good friend who was the most gentle man you would ever run into was asked a simple question like "how's it going?" and he blew up at the guy in one of the largest displays of anger and release I have ever seen. Pent up stress can do that, all it takes is a little nip at the tail and an explosion occurs.

What we all need are pressure release valves. Do you have yours? A few of mine are working with plants and my lawn outside, a movie, or simply floating in my pool. What are your pressure releases? What keeps the hot molten glass inside you from building pressure until it explodes at its weakest point? Pressure and stress can build strength and make you a stronger person but eventually that will have to be released. Make sure the release is not shattering.