Challenges Make The Win Sweeter

For the last couple of Mondays I’ve shared lessons from the Road & Squash court. For some reason that is where I seem to find myself  in reflection almost effortlessly.

Perhaps the reason is those two places I, in a sense, disconnect from the usual bustle. Have you noticed places where you easily can disconnect and reflect? I think it is those kind of places where complexity ceases to be daunting.

Productivity takes on a new face when we’re in environments that encourage it. Sometimes changing my environment has made significant difference between getting things done and the adverse. At other times it hasn’t been a place but a time of the day… I learnt more than one thing last week, but I’ll highlight something I learnt from (you guessed it) a squash match I played.

I won the match I played.  I was glad for the win but was not ecstatic. It was a win but not as challenging as I would’ve liked. I prefer winning to losing but I realized something; I don’t just like winning but I like winning with a challenge.

There is something about a challenge that makes winning all the more sweeter. The lesson I learnt was the importance of challenge…

One of the reasons why people may feel unfulfilled is that they don’t feel challenged enough! I tend to feel cheated or like I’m the one cheating when I don’t get a ‘fair challenge’ (whatever that means).

After all that is the idea of a match. Perhaps one of the reasons you feel unfulfilled and have somehow lost the zest for your undertakings, work etc is that you’ve ‘outgrown’ your challenge.

An obvious remedy would be to seek or ask for more challenge. As a leader, you may want to review the challenges you give your team members. Some blatantly ask for more challenge and others more subtly.

The important thing is discernment on how they do it, which can be enhanced by knowing your team members. (Knowing those you lead is an invaluable resource for any leader.)

A sign that you’ve out grown some challenges is when your activity becomes mundane, dull or boring.  Perhaps you are not as incompetent or ‘weak’ as you thought. It may just be that you have been underestimating yourself.

It just could be that you’ve grown more than you think. Could it be that you are ‘under-challenging’ those you lead?

(More on challenges later…)

My Lessons From Last Week – Week #2

On the Road

Lately, this seems to be one area that I witness and sometimes learn some interesting things (to say the least). Besides occasionally having someone just cut in front of you without signalling, I’ve seen other ‘phenomena’ such as people holding up two lanes for about two kilometres because they were texting, some people reading novels when traffic is crawling, ‘Facebooking’ on mobiles and the one that is on number one at the moment (drum roll) playing an alto saxophone while driving at least 80km/h!

my lessons from last week
you will be amazed how much wisdom you have if you took the time to reflect

Let me get to the lessons… On one of the days I left the office about 15-20 minutes later than than I normally do, and it took me an extra 50minutes longer to get home!  I then concluded that 15 minutes actually is a lot of time. Sometimes taking a little time to do something could save us much more time ‘down the road’. I then starting thinking about areas where we lose time e.g.:

  • Snooze! When the alarm goes off in the morning. Other ‘snooze buttons’ that I think affect productivity can be. Imagine what you could do with the extra 10-20 minutes. Perhaps plan your day, helping you feel less rushed as you get into work mode. Perhaps use the time to interact with your spouse or children or catch the news update and find out what happened in the world while you slept, there may be something there that affects you. Or spend some time in prayer and meditation, setting the platform for your approach and mind-set for the day ahead or a little cardiovascular exercise… I think the first minutes when we get out of bed determine greatly how our day is going to be. Be very careful and intentional about what you do with the first few minutes when you wake.
  • Small talk that goes on for too long. I think it is important to connect with your teammates / colleagues but watch your time. At the office we have set days and times for us to interact / connect i.e. is outside of meeting etc. You may want to consider something similar. This has actually helped us reduce the amount of small talk that steals from productivity as well as help team building. Our team has grown even closer… Strong teams are not only built on sound clear strategy or vision but also by the strength and depth of relationship of its members!
  • Choice of battle. Sometimes we expend way too much energy on useless arguments. Useless in the sense that we don’t really achieve much by winning them. Okay, you were right that the new guy drives a pink and not an orange car… So what?! Cheesy example but am sure you get what I mean. You’ve just wasted 10 minutes on something that hardly adds value and will not matter at the end of the day!

  • Tweeting, Facebooking, ‘LinkedIning’ etc You are never going to exhaust everything on the internet. Worrying that you may miss something is not valid enough to spend too much time on these platforms. They can help productivity but be a good time and energy waster too if not managed properly.You don’t really need to see every video posted on Facebook or YouTube.  Resist the urge to follow every link that pops up on your Tweetdeck (great app by the way) etc

  • Doesn’t Matter How Much You  Think About It you will still need to get it done. Sometimes we spend too much time thinking about whether we feel like it. After half an hour debating with ourselves we decide to go ahead and do it. Stop checking how you feel about doing something and just do it. Thinking about whether you feel like it or not isn’t going to change the fact that it needs to be done! Nike – “Just do it”!

My Loss

Guess what, I lost my squash league match last week. Yeah losing did sting! I had a sore neck and part of my left shoulder was a little sore. I learnt that I shouldn’t aggravate pain unless to heal. Playing in that condition did not help much except the pain. My movement on the court was terrible to say the least as it was hard to turn especially to my left. I learnt to listen to my body and not try pushing it to do things it is not ‘ready’ to do. I guess this applies all round. Don’t try to make your team do things that it is not ready for, it may hurt them. This may cause them to not want to go down the same road again when they are ready. When ‘hit’ take time to recover. Not doing so will only make things worse. Take a chill pill, get back in the  game another day.  You are no good injured!

A friend of my asked me how my game was and I told him, “I played a rubbish game”. He responded with a truth that stung a little, “Then you deserved to lose!” How true! I learnt to own failures and not make excuses for them. If my input was bad then the only thing I should expect is an output that is bad. Made me think, “Have I downplayed the fact that in some cases I have been the enabler of my own demise?” If your team has failed because of some wrong / bad calls as the leader own them and chart some solutions! Don’t waste time looking for a scape goat. Contrary to what most people think, you’re more likely to gain their respect and confidence. Besides, that is leading by example. I’m sure you  like those on your team to own their role in in not getting the target. As leader this is one of the areas you must not make any exceptions when it comes to you.  I love the varsity of life!

Don’t just let life happen to you, learn something and grow! Have a great week!

…Quit ye like men, be strong – Apostle Paul

Where have you been losing time? Any stories of how you ‘enabled’ your own demise?

The Follow

One of the worst disservices Christians can do to themselves is not fully understand their identity, i.e. who they are and what they are called to.

Being Christian is not a set of rules or a ‘to do or a not to do list’, but relationship with God. After responding to Christ’s invitation to follow Him it becomes very important to nurture our relationship with. Some of the ways of cultivating our relationship with God include Bible study, prayer and gathering in worship and community with other Christ followers. These are critical in our walk as individuals and as a church but are not the end in themselves, but form the basis from which we impact the world.

Some may say spending time with God (e.g. prayer & Bible study) is more important than doing things for Him citing the story of Mary & Martha as reference (Luke 10:38-42). I cannot overstress the importance of spending time with God, but I’d like to suggest that if it was all we did we would be falling short on our call as Christians.

Walking along the beach of Lake Galilee, Jesus saw two brothers: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew. They were fishing, throwing their nets into the lake. It was their regular work. Jesus said to them, “Come with me. I’ll make a new kind of fisherman out of you. I’ll show you how to catch men and women instead of perch and bass.” They didn’t ask questions, but simply dropped their nets and followed. – Matthew 4:18-20 (The Message)

Jesus called the disciples out of their regular work. His goal was to make the disciples fishers of men. However, from the gospels, we learn of the disciples being with Jesus, witnessing His miracles and seeing His lifestyle first. Later in the journey we learn that “Jesus then called the twelve together… and He sent them out…” (Luke 9:1-2 NIV). Thus demonstrating that we are not only called to be with God but to do with God as well. After all, being Christian means to be like Christ. Jesus demonstrated a very good balance of being with God and doing with God.

“We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent us here, working while the sun shines.” – Jesus (John 9:4 – The Message)

When we spend time with God and do nothing to serve His body and purposes and vice versa, we are imbalanced Christians. Also, when we concentrate on ‘doing’ without relationship with God we are anemic Christians.  It means we fail to fully follow Jesus’ teaching and example.The challenge is that we do not become obese because we’re always ‘taking in’ without giving out; it is that we are not always ‘giving out’ that we get depleted to our peril. A balance of both is what I believe God wanted us to embrace…

How have you been doing in relation to spending time with God AND serving?

My Lessons From Last Week – Week #1

This is the first of my feature posts – Monday is for “My Lessons from Last Week”… Over the next few weeks (maybe longer) I will share some of the lessons I would’ve learnt for the previous week…

I learnt more lessons than this last week but I chose a couple… Enjoy!

On The Road

I will not go into detail on how I arrived at this one but one of the lessons I remember from last week was that not everybody drives like me. (I don’t know if I can call it a lesson or reminder, perhaps both…) It may take me a little longer and in some cases faster than others to get between two places.

What does this have to do with anything? Well, I was reminded that not everybody will do things the way I do.  While we all may have the same destination in mind, we are very likely to have diverse ways of getting there. While I’m more likely to think what is the fastest route someone else may think what is the shortest route. This is so because sometimes,

the fastest route is not necessarily the shortest and the shortest route is not always the quickest.

We may place the same value to the destination or not. Despite the value we hold for the destinations, I believe there are other values at play. We all have different ways of doing things done because of the diverse values we hold.  I may feel that that my time is more valuable hence the shortest route, while John may esteem his fuel tank with higher regard, yet going to the same destination.

In a team context, I think there are some things that the leader can leave his team to seeing that they happen. At the same time, besides just getting to the ‘destination’ there may be some values that you want your team to embrace. The journey to the destination may be as worth as the destination as you add values at each step.

We may value the ultimate destination the same but the steps on the way differently. Sometimes it may be more important to focus on the desired outcomes than on the methods. As a leader, watch the methods / steps in the process for where you can ‘punt’ a value. As we’ve established, not everybody will do things the same as you…

On The Squash Court

I probably played one of my most exhausting and exhilarating, yet best squash games in a long time on Wednesday last week. I wanted to be so tired that I couldn’t help but sleep, hence I pushed myself. I had started off with a good lead but from having played several games before this one I was very exhausted.

My lead started narrowing and I was very alarmed. You know the guys that play the game for some cardiovascular exercise? I am definitely not one of them! I am one of those guys who does not believe in the “what’s important is that you participated” philosophy! If I am going to be in a game I have to be in it to win it! There! The truth is out – I don’t just play for a cardiovascular workout or to take part, I play to win! Period! Yes, I sometimes lose…

Whilst on that, I think people that use the “what’s important is that you participated” line are not always honest. The truth is it sucks to lose! If you one of the people in the “what’s important is that you participated” club I dare you to be honest! It sucks to lose and you hate it!

Sorry, I’m getting a little carried away… Where were we… Ah… back to my game on Wednesday… I eventually got back in the game, extended my lead again and won. One of the lessons I learnt on the court that day: there is always some fight left in you!

When we defeat ourselves everything else will walk over us. We defeat ourselves when we constantly tell ourselves we have given all.

When we constantly tell ourselves we cannot ‘fight’ anymore then we cannot. When we tell ourselves there’s not more hope then there isn’t any more hope. I learnt to constantly check the things I tell myself. What I constantly tell myself, believe and embrace is a sure indicator where I will end up.

In the midst of my fatigue I told myself, “I can still win this and I am going to return every shot well” and that’s what I did. You will benefit more by keeping your eyes on the ultimate prize than the pain. The prize will last longer than the pain. After the game, victory was where my focus went and the pain was not as prominent. When you get the prize somehow the pain becomes irrelevant.

As You Slide Down The Banister Of Life May The Splinters Never Point The Wrong Way – Irish blessing

P.S: If you planning on falling on the squash court, make sure you don’t fall on your behind and slide, you may just get a splinter!

Some of My Favourite Quotes From the Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

Well, I really felt like posting this and i kinda debated with myself. Some may think this childish… but i remembered someone telling me, “You are never too old to have a happy childhood!”

I just had to! I remember watching many episodes more than once… Here goes some of my favorite quotes. Some of them actually have some wisdom (at least for me). Enjoy!:

Winnie the Pooh: What day is it?
Piglet: It’s today
Winnie the Pooh: My favorite day

Winnie the Pooh: Oh bother!

Eeyore: It’s not much of a tail but I’m attached to it.

Winnie the Pooh: Think, think, think

Winnie the Pooh: Oh, oh, help and bother! I’m stuck. [this was after Pooh had eaten too much honey at Rabbits place and couldn’t go through the door]

Rabbit: Oh, dear. Oh, gracious. Oh. Well, it all comes from eating too much.
Winnie the Pooh: It all comes from not having front doors big enough!

Rabbit: Why did I ever invite that bear to lunch? Why, oh, why, oh, why?

Winnie the Pooh: A grand adventure is about to begin

Favorite Quotes and Sayings From Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
sometimes life’s laughs have touching truths

Winnie the Pooh: Oh, bother! Empty again! Only the sticky part’s left.

Eeyore: Thanks for noticing me

Winnie the Pooh: [opening his door] Hello, out there! Oh, I hope nobody answers.

Tigger: T-T-F-N. Ta-ta for now.

Tigger: Say, who are you?
Narrator: I’m the narrator.
Tigger: Oh, well, please, for goodness’ sakes, narrate me down from here.

Tigger: Oh but the most wonderful thing about tiggers is I’m the only one…IIIII’m the only one. [growls]

Eeyore: It’s snowing still…And freezing… However, [ brightening up a little] we haven’t had an earthquake lately.

Rabbit: [drawing on Pooh’s backside when he’s stuck in Rabbit’s door] Oh Pooh! You messed up my moose!

Christopher Robin: Pooh, promise you won’t forget me, ever?

Tigger: Yuck! Tiggers Don’t like honey!

Winnie the Pooh: Always watch where you are going. Otherwise, you may step on a piece of the Forest that was left out by mistake.

Winnie the Pooh: Did you ever stop to think, and forget to start again?

Winnie the Pooh: I am shushed!

Tigger: T-I-double”guh”-errrrr, that spells Tigger!

Winnie the Pooh: If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together.. there is something you must always remember. you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. but the most important thing is, even if we’re apart.. i’ll always be with you.

Gopher: That supercilious scoundrel confiscated my honey.

Winnie the Pooh: Good-bye, Piglet. Now, is the next chapter all about me?

Piglet: I don’t mind the leaves that are leaving. It’s the leaves that are coming.

Winnie the Pooh: Oh, stuff and fluff.

Owl: Being a screech owl, she also sang soprano in the London Opera.

Winnie the Pooh: Where are you going, Piglet?
Piglet: That’s what I’m asking myself, where?
Winnie the Pooh: And what do you think you will answer yourself?

Gopher: If I was you, I’d think about ssssskedaddin’ outta here.

Tigger: Have I won?

Winnie the Pooh: If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day, so I never have to live without you

Winnie the Pooh: A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference

Winnie the Pooh: Before beginning a Hunt, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.

Winnie the Pooh: I must rescue my supper!

Winnie the Pooh: Can’t we go back to page one and do it all over again?
Narrator: Sorry, Pooh, but all stories have an ending, you know.