Posts Tagged 'action'

The Can Do Man

Courtesy of KVOA.com

Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do.
John Wooden

I love to cook, but have a hard time boiling eggs.

Over the years, I’ve tested every method I could find to make them.

The internet has been a bust.

Food Network was no help, either.

If the Queen of England came over tomorrow and wanted one for dinner, we’d be ordering in.

For someone who enjoys being in the kitchen as much as I do, this is a bit distressing. How can I consider myself a decent cook if one of the most basic tasks eludes me?

I am frustrated by this fact until I remember what I am able to do.

Chocolate chip pancakes with blueberries.

Scallop and shrimp salad.

Pork tenderloin medallions with asparagus.

All of these dishes are palatable, to say the least. Why be concerned about something else?

The best use of my time — for myself or anyone else — is the things I do well.

Something about the American ethos glorifies the idea of turning weakness into strength. The legendary figures of this culture are perceived as heroes for rising above all that would hold them back.

Guided by this assumption, we come to believe triumph is rooted in overcoming faults.

Most of the time, it’s quite the opposite.

Success, in any walk of life, is about leveraging what we do really well to create the desired result. All of us have done so — and will continue to — time and time again.

Greatness is the repeated expression and magnification of skill. Attempting to improve lesser talents takes time away from the pursuit of excellence in those that matter.

And, if we’re not careful, what we cannot do keeps us from doing what we can.

Shibboleth

Courtesy of ClusterFlock.org

Words are my passion.

My days are spent in the quiet pursuit of concise, elegant phrases to paint clear verbal pictures. This is a process designed to illuminate the images on my internal movie screen for the outside world with perfect clarity — a goal achieved far less than I would like, it seems.

For me, a sentence is a brush stroke.

I carefully place every syllable.

I am precise with each comma and hyphen.

Further, I do my best to match my speech to my actions.

Aligning the two concerned me less during my youth than it does now. I’ve been uncomfortable around people I thought were “better than me” and made the mistake of puffing myself up for others. In my late teens, I decided to avoid compromising when it came to one subject: spirituality.

For the most part, I kept the topic in a silent room in a private corner of my mind. I did my best to shut my mouth when it came up, lest a disingenuous statement spill from my mouth.

I agonize over what small sentences reflect, why would I be haphazard when it comes to faith?

Growing up, the ritual nature of religion squeezed the meaning out of everything wonderful about the message of Jesus Christ and the love of the Father. Through my eyes, “following” seemed geared more towards achieving pre-planned steps  in a systematic fashion laid out and agreed upon by a congregation. What I felt most important of all, the personal quest for understanding, appeared to be stripped away in favor of a routine.

One of my deepest desires is to keep from doing something because I’m “supposed to” or saying whatever I “should.” These are offenses of the highest order, violations against myself and my principles. I would rather do nothing than perform a bunch of empty gestures simply to prove I know the secret handshake.

I strive to choose those words which give proper weight to every situation instead of gaining acceptance by uttering the appropriate shibboleth at the right time.

In my mind, to say something half-hearted is far worse than being silent.

When discussing my walk with God, I choose to speak only what I can safely put my soul behind.

Therefore, I do my best to follow my heart and go where it leads.

Sometimes that means I have to shut up. Others, that I have something to declare.

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Seeds

Courtesy BeginningFarmers.org

The soul is a garden.

It’s a very small space, like a tiny farm enveloped by a burgeoning city. Regardless of the hubbub outside its borders, the sowing and reaping are done, just as they always were and forever will be.

Within this sacred property, there is highly fertile soil.

Any idea can grow there.

Space is certainly limited, only a few will sprout, but whatever is planted and nurtured will bear fruit. This microscopic patch of waiting earth is the root of all we see in the world, the intangible cause of tangible effect.

The best things are embedded in us.

We have an instinctive recognition of what reflects beautiful, unmistakable truth. All of us understand these concepts with little in the way of observation or training.

Courage.

Faith.

Love.

From birth to death, these small beginnings are given a fresh opportunity to bloom in the fields of our hearts through the cycles of our lives.

Weeds make every effort to take over.

Unsavory experiences and poor influences scatter spores of negativity across our landscape. These nefarious flowers, being easier to sustain, multiply with little work.

Fear.

Doubt.

Unhappiness.

Life is about the things we allow to blossom.

What gets the sunlight of our attention?

What is fueled by the breath of our thoughts?

What is quenched by the water of our actions?

What are we doing for our seeds?

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Movements

Evaluating the past leads to stark conclusions.

Over the last several months, I’ve come face-to-face with a compendium of my faults. I’ve looked through everything I can remember, it seems, and picked out why it happened.  In most places, I can trace the results backward to a handful of precipitating experiences, times when a fear burned deep into my brain and kept me on the ledge when I might have jumped.

As a result, I’ve strung together a bunch of half-assed movements.

I’ve gone through the motions more than I thought. Mired in doubt, I did what I felt I was “supposed to” most of the time. I dragged myself through thirty-plus years afraid to take on much beyond exactly what I was sure I could accomplish.

The sad part is, I keep grieving lost opportunities.

Even as I stretch in new directions and grow minute by minute, I hear a nagging voice in the back of my head admonishing me for wasting time. Some part of me knew I had to change direction and I stayed the same course, a fact which I’m letting go of–slowly.

I’ve made an effort to attack each day differently, to spend less time pondering and more time acting, in some cases. In others, I’ve begun thinking instead of just tossing about weightless phrases.

More than anything, I decided to accept small steps and tell more people I love them.

Basically, I’m starting to live.

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A Final Lesson

The following is a letter I published on the website for my students and, as it contains insights valuable to all of us, I have chosen to post it here, too.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My time on the NAU campus has come to an end. After two sessions, six classes and 60-plus students, this moment is very bittersweet. I must take a moment to thank Ruth Cook and Duane Petty for hiring me and offering me the opportunity to step in front of students for the first time. Of course, Paula Phelps deserves a big hand for the tremendous support she’s given me from the start, both inside and outside the classroom—it makes life as an instructor that much easier. Last, but not least, I have to tip my hat to the remainder of the staff and faculty: I appreciate all your efforts in making me a part of the community and continue to be amazed by what you contribute to the campus.

To my students, I cannot begin to express how grateful I am for the gifts and cards. I will cherish the memory of your hugs and words wherever I go for the rest of my life—and will maintain a sugar rush from all the candy and cookies for several weeks, at least. I feel privileged to have been trusted with the awesome responsibility of playing a part in your education. With that in mind, I would be remiss if allowed us to part ways without a final lesson, something I hope you apply as you continue beyond campus walls:

1. Have great expectations
Achievement of any kind, whether getting a certification or becoming President of the United States, begins with an idea. Success, then, is a reflection of what you fix your mind on. Set your eyes on something far in the distance and pursue it with all your strength, through every hardship. When you are tired and think about giving up, remember what Thomas Paine wrote in The Crisis: “the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

Understand the difference between a goal and a step. The first is the target, a fixed point you are heading towards, in the same way Kansas City will always be exactly where it is. The second is how you get there, a series of movements leading to your destination—be open to taking any road, regardless of how treacherous or far out of the way it seems. As long as you keep driving on, you will get where you want to.

2. Do your part
Whatever it is you’ve set out to do, realize the lion’s share of effort will be yours. Though there will be others that help you along the way, most of the work will fall at your feet–from meeting the right people to learning the proper skills to performing at a high level in the field. Understand this fact, concentrate on being your best and let the cards fall where they may; more often than not, things will end up in your favor.

3. Make the best of every situation
The cushion of extra credit is absent in everyday life. We walk a fine line in the healthcare environment, there is no room for mistakes. Failure is a learning experience, accepted as part and parcel of the high-stakes practice of medicine. For some of you, a coding error or HIPAA violation may cost your employer money. For others, a patient may be injured or die.

Sometimes things will not go your way. Take a moment to figure out what you can correct and what you did well, then use that knowledge the next time. Always keep in mind that if you’re perfect, chances are pretty good you aren’t really doing anything.

It is my distinct honor to have stood before you and witnessed your growth as human beings. Believe in yourself, work hard, spread kindness and I am certain you will go as far as you wish.

With sincere best wishes now and always,

Jason Eichacker, DC

Change Something to Reign Supreme

What is the value in being different?

One of my guilty pleasures is the original Iron Chef, a Japanese “cooking battle” dubbed into English. I find it entertaining because my brain somehow conceives of this as gourmet cuisine thrashing about on the set of Godzilla.

The show is loosely tied around the idea each contestant will push their knowledge and skill into new works of culinary artistry. In other words, they are charged with taking everything they’ve done before to create something unheard of.

Success is almost always the result of asking how an approach can be changed while making use of what is already being done well.

The thing is, taking old ideas in a new direction invites criticism and Kitchen Stadium is no different. Every episode culminates with the evaluation of each dish by a panel of three judges.

As the food is graded, the taster attempts to parse wholly original entrées against the backdrop of standard restaurant fare. Nibbling from plate after plate, the diners offer their appreciation and “suggestions” to the presenting contender, who–in a manner typical of the Far East–accepts both with understated gestures of deference and respect most of the time.

Really, though, everything on the table should be at least a little ridiculous.

A novel concept–regardless of how extreme–takes others some time to understand and value, whether in a fine restaurant or up-and-coming business. If it were too similar to everything else, it would blend into the landscape and lose out to what has done the same for longer.

Familiarity is a craving, too–particularly in a species as afraid of change as we are.

Humans must be confronted by fresh experiences periodically to avoid stagnation. When our worldview is widened by a unique encounter, we are forced to determine if there is any benefit in assimilating “now” into “before” to change “after”.

Modernity is the result of repeated exposure to uncommon notions.

Otherwise, Henry Ford would have been defeated by the horse and computers would be dozens of vacuum tubes taking up entire rooms in a handful of locations around the world.

The future belongs to those who let the unknown reign supreme today.

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Top Posts, July 2010

It’s a few days late since the 31st of July fell on a Saturday, so I apologize.  Here are the most viewed posts for the past month:

5. 5 Steps to Your Best Apology

4. Running into God

3. Looking at Life from the Threshhold of Death

2. The Fear Soliloquy

1. 1 Difference Between “Trying” and “Doing”


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