The Bricklayers

A parable to start your day.

Three bricklayers are asked, “What are you doing?”

The first says, “I am laying bricks.”

The second says, “I am building a church.”

And the third says, “I am building the house of God.” 

The first bricklayer has a job. The second has a career. The third has a calling.

I think most people identify with the first brick layer but secretly wish they were the third. We WANT to do ___________ but we HAVE to do _______________.  A calling brings the two together. Most people misunderstand what a calling actually means. I sure did.

For decades, I believed I was called by God to serve him in the local Church. I gave my heart, soul and mind to a career as a youth pastor and looking back I still feel pride in the good work I was able to accomplish alongside so many wonderful people.  But then things changed. As much as I wanted to, I no longer believed in my calling. Or my God. This realization took time to root, but when it did, I was devastated. Heartbroken. Not only had I lost my job and career, I had lost my calling. As inconvenient as it was, I knew I could no longer lie to myself or the Church I was serving. I had no choice but to walk away. This took a courage I never knew I had. Without a calling I felt lost, depressed and had no idea what to do.

What do you do when you don’t know what to do? You lay brick.

For the past 10 years, I’ve laid brick in the form of running a landscaping company.  I’m quite certain a God never called me to do this, although my family still needed to eat. I had to get over myself in order to mow people’s lawns. Going from a discerned calling to a random career I wasn’t qualified for wasn’t easy and laying brick sure didn’t compare to building God’s house. At least, I never thought it did. But I had missed the obvious.

Laying brick is building God’s house.

Yes, I was just mowing lawns, but I wasn’t. I was discovering who I was, learning how to leap, building an ethical business I am immensely proud of and most importantly, living a life of integrity. What could be more Godly than that?

I no longer believe God is a male entity that lives beyond the clouds demanding we serve him through one specific calling that we better figure out. God is our higher self, whispering words from within, reminding us of our greatest calling:

Be true to yourself. And to others be true. 

This inspired me to start The Leaping Connection. The truest thing I have ever done.

One day, many years from now, you’ll look up from your bricks, sweat dripping in your eyes and you’ll see what you’ve built. If you’ve remained true to yourself, you’ll know in an instant, you’ve build a house fit for a God.

 

 

 

 

 

I- Internal

How do we know our goal isn’t SMART? It’s Superficial, Trending, Unclear, People Pleasing. Today, we continue our series on goals by discussing the 5th way we can know our goal is flawed. It’s Internal. In other words, it’s all in our head.

Neuroscience aside, we can agree that every goal begins as a passing thought in our head. Upon noticing it we:

  • Don’t give it a second thought.
  • Tag it, “interesting but later.”
  • Feel an emotion that causes us to grab hold of the thought.
  • Believe the thought is important and decide to act upon it.

Out of the hundreds of thoughts bouncing around in our head, it’s impressive when one actually sticks. What makes a thought stand out? It activates our emotion through our values/belief system. Yes, it appears our brain self markets based on past experience.

e.g. “Last time Master was in this situation, Master felt pain. We must keep Master away from this situation. Anxiety, do your thing.” Note: I assume we are all called Master by our brains? 🙂

Believing the message of our own thoughts is not an indication that the thought is beneficial or even true, so we must activate reason to vet the thought before making a plan to act on it. This is especially true for all negative thoughts lest they become toxic (anxiety, anger, jealously, shame, envy etc.)

Once a thought has made it through the vetting process (some call this Meditation) we can finally make a plan of how to implement it in our life. This is how goals are conceived, in case you’ve never wondered. Once conceived, it is up to us to take SMART action to ensure our goal is delivered. This defining action is critical to our goal’s survival. Unless our goal is nurtured and announced it won’t ever see the light of day. The tragedy is too often we forget about the goal we created moving on to the next thought, fear, obligation, goal.

I have spent a lifetime making soft goals. I’ve lost count how many times I’ve been inspired by something I’ve heard, seen, and felt in the moment and decided (soft goal) I was going to make some real life change.

  • I’m going to start getting up early
  • I’m going to start Meditating
  • I’m going to start working out
  • I’m going to eat more veggies
  • I’m going to be less strict with the kids
  • I’m going to pay more attention to my wife
  • I’m going to pay off this credit card

These are all great goals and for the most part they all passed the STUPID test. But…. with no plan of action they remained Internal, stuck in my head for years. The tragic reality of still born goals is they don’t only negatively affect us. They affect everyone we love.  If we hope to give birth to meaningful change in our lives, we must get the goal out of our heads and make a SMART plan of action for our life.

How do we know our goal isn’t smart? It’s lost in our head.

.

Waking Hour Update

Good morning! It’s been 6 weeks since I began Waking Hour and I wanted to provide  you with a personal update. If you don’t know what Waking Hour is, please read this first.

  • Before Waking Hour, I would start each day mindlessly scrolling through social media. The result was always the same. I felt un-motivated and slightly depressed to start each day causing the rest of my day to be unfocused and unfulfilling.  One of the cornerstones of Waking Hour is no checking social media/texts/emails/news until Waking Hour is completed. I thought this would be a huge challenge but honestly, it’s amazing how quickly and easily I was able to drop this bad habit. My guess is my brain knew it wasn’t good for me and was happy we were no longer doing it.

 

  • I’ve completed 30 of Sam’s guided meditation sessions! That’s more meditating than my first 42 years combined. Meditation is a focused practice that helps us learn how we can be mindful all day long and I have noticed for the first time in my life that this small practice – even 10 min in the morning-  I am able to catch myself later in the day/ middle of the night when I’ve become triggered by negative thoughts (anger, anxiety, pride). This is life changing news! When triggered I now pause, breathe, embrace then release the negative thought and come back to the moment. The result has been empowering as I used to believe my thoughts controlled me. Every moment is a chance to be more mindful thus more fulfilled and although I remain a work in progress, I like my current trajectory.

 

 

  • I have written 27 blog posts and in the process re-discovered my love of writing.  Thank you to all of you who have taken the time to read, I write every morning with you in mind.

 

  • I have engaged in 40 min of high intensity daily exercise dozens of times through Monkey Bar Gym and Shaun T’s insanity program. I even managed to achieve this while travelling out of country for half of January.  I have said this many times but it begs to be repeated. Exercise is not what I do but it makes everything else I do ok. I am simply a better person when I’m consistently working out. While I don’t work out for egoic reasons, I must admit it did feel good yesterday when someone at the gym said, “John, you’re looking ripped.” Hey, I’m only human. 🙂

 

  •  I have been booked by a women’s business group to speak on this Waking Hour topic at one of their breakfast meetings next month. Few things give me more joy then inspiring others on how to live more meaningful lives. If you or your organization, group, business or school is looking for a passionate speaker, I know a great guy.

 

  • As I reflect on these first 6 weeks of 2019, it’s obvious they have been the most focused and transformative of any six weeks I’ve ever experienced. Waking Hour has become a positive life habit I will continue to engage in. I hope you will too.

 

  • If you have your own Waking Hour ritual, please share it in the comments below to inspire the rest of us!

 

 

P -People Pleasing

What is humanity’s greatest internal conflict? Also, good morning! I suppose I shouldn’t jump into the deep end without first dispensing with some pleasantries. Are you a big TV watcher? If we were to pick our favourite show of all time, it would have to be Mad Men. We’ve watched all 7 seasons/ 92 episodes at least 5 times.

This excellent question was actually posed to Don in Season 4, Episode 2 of Mad Men. (don’t worry, I had to look it up, I’m not that obsessed) When Don asks what humanity’s greatest conflict is, he is met with this golden answer by the wise Dr Miller.

It all comes down to what I want versus what’s expected of me.

Upon hearing this, Don’s response is humanity’s response.”That’s true.” As social creatures, we are endlessly concerned with what people think of our choices. It is the question of every social media post. Do people like this/me? As an inherent people pleaser, I am forever walking the tight rope of this internal conflict.

When it comes to setting our life goals, we can’t base our goals on someone else’s voice echoing in our head. That voice could be our parents, teachers, coaches, mentors, friends, colleagues, team-mates, fellow employees or even the person with the most likes on social media. Instead of pleasing the other voice, we must learn to develop and discern our own voice (what do I want) and then courageously take a leap to the place we want to be.

How can we discern our own voice? One way is through a daily practice of putting all other voices on mute. This means shutting off our phone, closing our computer, removing our headphones, finding a quiet place where we won’t be disturbed and then beginning to pay attention to the voices inside our head. This practice is called Meditation. And it should be part of your Waking Hour.

Meditation is not about willfully silencing the voices in our head but hearing them loud and clear so we begin to determine which voices are helping us get what we want. In other words, which voice is ours and which voice is not. If the dominant voice in our head is not ours, why have we allowed it to stay rent free? Is it because we would rather please others then ourselves? Is it because we have never taken the time to listen to our own voice?

How can we make the other voices go away? Again, meditation. Meditation allows us to pay attention to each voice and hear it for what it is. Upon listening, we hear which voice is impure (not ours) and then, with courage, we calmly release it. The reason the voice is there is because we haven’t vetted it properly causing a white noise blocking out our own voice. This daily practice of listening and calmly releasing other voices will gradually allow us to develop and hear our own voice and that’s when we’ll find we’re more focused with creating goals that we want. Not to mention, we’ll feel a whole lot more fulfilled.

A SMART goal is a goal we have set for ourselves to help us get to where we want to be. It can be informed by others but should never be for others. Like a great TV show, a goal is created by us and for us and then ultimately distributed to a waiting world.

U – Unclear

Hey John. Hey! What do you want to do with your life? Um… Eat Doritos for sure. Beyond that.. am I a millionaire in this fantasy or…  I guess ultimately I want to make a difference and inspire people. Nice! How will you do that? What do you mean? I’ll Just Do It. That’s a Nike slogan John. And a damn good one. So.. that’s all you got?

I wish the above was some funny fiction but I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve used the, “make a difference and inspire people,” line to articulate my life goals with little follow through. It turns out, it’s pretty easy to do this kind of thing when asked.

Today we are continuing our series on STUPID goals. How do you know if your goal is stupid? It’s Superficial. It’s Trending. And today… It’s Unclear.

How about you? What do you want to do with your life?

  • Make good money.
  • See the world.
  • Create art.
  • Start a business.
  • Revolutionize my industry
  • Be successful.
  • Raise a family.

These are all great things!! Inspiring things!! Just a few follow up questions. Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? Once you’ve answered all of these, you’re probably ready to begin making some SMARTER goals based on those answers.

Just to be nice, I’m going to take you through this process. Don’t mention it. Let’s say you want to.. Start a Business. Here are some basic questions you should be asking before spending a dime. Your answers will naturally lead to even more questions.

Who?  Are you starting this business? You and someone else? Are you married in this scenario? Who are your clients? (People with money is not an answer.) Who is funding this startup? You? Your Parents? Bank? Investors?

What?  What do you need to start this business? Equipment? Office space? Money?  What do you need to launch? What is your product? What are you selling?

When?  When will you launch? 6 months from now? 1 year from now? Next week? When will you be ready to launch?

Where?  Where will you find the time and money for this? Where will you run this business? Home? Office? Neighbourhood coffee shop? Where’s the geographical area your business serves?

Why?  Why do you want to start this business? Personal fulfillment? Increased wealth? Promote your values? Provide a need? All the above?

How?  How will you know you have been successful? Revenues? Profit? Number of clients? Increased growth? Media coverage? Awards? Online engagement and reviews? Personal fulfillment? How will you get the message out about your product? Newspaper ads? Online advertising? Radio? TV? Word of Mouth? Osmosis?

Once you’ve taken the time to go through this lengthy process (there are no short cuts to reaching your goals) you’ll likely discover some important things about yourself.

  1. You didn’t go through this process because you realized you don’t actually want to do this particular thing with your life.
  2. That thing you thought you always wanted to do was actually something others expected you to do.
  3. You still know what you want to do AND now you know it’s doable. Woo!

So… now kinda know what you want to do with your life and you’re confident it is doable. Awesome! It’s time you began making some SMART goals to turn your dreams into reality and start living the life you want! While making your smart goals, you’ll likely discover you need more info, more help and more expertise. It’s all part of the process. But at least now you have clarity.

 

 

T- Trending

Hey John, you should go Vegan. Yeah? Yeah man, I’ve never felt better. What’s Vegan again? Well you can’t eat eggs, screeching tires. So…I never went Vegan and never will as long as eggs are off the table, but that doesn’t mean I’m immune to the pull of the latest internet health claim/trend. By the way, this post is a continuation of our series on STUPID goals, in case you found this kinda random.

Note: I’m not saying Veganism is a trend but the noise around it can be. Also, I think it’s important to point out that I make a real effort to only eat cruelty free eggs and buy local meat or at least make sure it’s “free from.” The cruelty shown to caged animals in factory farms is morally repugnant and we should do our best to avoid supporting this industry.  This means most fast food/ processed frozen meat is off the table which definitely makes things more challenging in our fast paced world.

*Scrolls*

Wine increases longevity.

“Hey hon, you gotta read this AMAZING new study on how healthy wine is. Hey, we should have wine tonight actually!” Bait. Click.

  • Wine increases longevity more than exercise

 

  • You can eat as much bacon as you want as long as you don’t put the bacon on bread.

 

  • A brisk walk in the evening is all the exercise you need.

 

  • Lather everything in butter NOT margarine.

 

  • Beer prevents the stomach flu. It’s also a great recovery drink after a workout.

 

  • Greens, Fruit, Lemon, Cayenne and Water! That’s all your body needs.

There are yummy bits of clickable truth to all of the above health claims. Enough truth to inspire us to create flawed health goals. Whenever I’ve made unhealthy health decisions- these 3 things were usually driving it:

I want to continue to eat what I’m already eating.

I want to continue to avoid strenuous exercise but still lose weight and feel better.

I really want to eat bacon and stress is worse for me than bacon so I should joyfully eat bacon.

Speaking of rationales….Check out this amazing diet. If only Science could prove the health benefits, I’d be so in 🙂

We can’t create goals based on the lastest headline or online trend, especially if we don’t take time to read the article/study the headline is attached to. Modern science moves quickly and today’s truth is tomorrow’s, “actually eggs are great for you and it’s sugar, not fat, that leads to pre-mature death.” We certainly can’t create goals based on our delicious cravings or clever rationales.

I’m not going to tell you what you should or shouldn’t be eating but I will say this, I believe we all know what’s best for us. Even more importantly, we can know what’s best for us. We can make SMART healthy choices by investigating claims, practicing moderation, achieving balance and most importantly monitoring how certain foods/drinks and exercise makes us feel.

For example, I stay away from white flour and processed sugars because when I eat them I feel like I have the flu. This makes them unhealthy for me and not worth consuming. Science has proved these things are unhealthy for other reasons as well, but the reason I really care about is how they make me feel after consuming them. This is not to say that if a certain food or drink makes you feel good it is good for you, you still have to combine your feelings with Science and common sense.

So eat, drink, and be merry! If you don’t feel merry, it’s probably time to make some smarter goals. And exercise.

 

 

 

 

 

S – Superficial

I got some push back yesterday. People were all up in my grill saying things like, “no goal is stupid if it’s yours,” and “stupid is a mean word, how about some positivity Mr Leaper.” I understand. Still….some goals are definitely stupid. No sense in being dishonest about it. Besides, I should know, I’ve had dozens of them.

Over the next week or so we are going to look at 6 ways goals can be better through the lens of my own stupidity.  Most importantly, we are going to learn how we can avoid  unrealized goals in the future. As this post is part of a blog series on Stupid Goals, you really need to read these posts in order to get the full effect.  You can read part 1 here.

The first way a goal can be stupid is if is Superficial. Superficial literally means, “presenting only an appearance without substance or significance.” In other words, a superficial goal isn’t worth our time because as a goal it doesn’t exist. If the purpose of a goal is to help us get what we want, we’re going to need something real and significantly more substantial.

20 years ago, my goal was to move to Dallas and speak my message to thousands, “because then we’ll be able to afford seasons tickets to the Cowboy’s games, Angie.” Spoiler alert: We didn’t move to Dallas. If you can’t imagine why it’s pretty simple. I had no plan, no message, no thousands, wasn’t American and if that isn’t enough, Angie hated football almost as much as my plan. In my limited defence, there was nothing morally or ethically wrong with having this as a goal, it was just lacking substance, wasn’t significant and even if it was, I had not taken the time to develop an achievement plan.

Big goal + No plan= Superficial goal.

Looking back, I feel embarrassed that my brain even entertained this “goal” let alone convinced me to sit Angie down in a coffee shop and with wide eyes tell her, “my dream.” It turns out, it’s surprisingly easy to come up with superficial goals that we pawn off as actual real life goals . Listen for these key words.

One day I will…_________________________”

“I’ve always wanted to…. _________________________”

“At some point I will definitely… __________________________”

What makes a goal superficial is not the goal itself. It’s the lack of substance, significance and plan.

We are living in an exciting time and have the freedom to make any life goals we want!  So let’s make SMART goals. If you have a graveyard of dead goals it’s likely for 2 reasons.

  1. Your goals were superficial thus forgettable.
  2. You never had a plan.

This was definitely the case with me 20 years ago and has been many times since. The good news is, it doesn’t have to be. Next time we’ll discuss another way to know your goal isn’t SMART.