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Stepping into Their Shoes

A high school pitcher got the winning strikeout that sent his team to the state championship.  He ran toward home plate, seemingly to celebrate with his catcher.  As the catcher ran toward him, he waved him off and proceeded toward the opposing team’s batter — the one he just struck out. It turns out they had been friends for a lifetime. (Watch video clip here.)

He grabbed the batter and told him what a great season he’d had, how proud he was of him and how important their friendship was to him. While he lingers at the plate, encouraging and investing in his long-time friend, his team mates gather at the mound celebrating the win (without their pitcher).  Ty Koehn knew the celebration could wait, the relationship was the priority.  

In an interview following the game, Ty said the friendship was far more important than winning the game. Ty was aware that he would never get that exact moment back to comfort and inspire his friend. It’s not often that we see such a clear model of prioritizing people over accomplishments.  


In a fast pace, high demand society, recognizing and understanding what the other person needs is a skill the majority are lacking.  I sat at a lunch table of five upbeat, lively conversationalists, except for the one — one woman was uncharacteristically quiet. In a meeting of professionals making a handful of decisions, a colleague was berated. Parents corrected a child for simple, childlike behavior without understanding what drove the behavior and the child walked away dejected. No one seized the moment to prioritize the relationship.  Instead, they focused only on the the accomplishments. Stepping into other’s shoes is not only for Hollywood actors. Prioritizing relationships accomplishes more than the task at hand.

What could you do today to place a higher priority on people than accomplishments? 


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The Overflow

There is one line in a piece of ancient writing you’ve likely heard quoted, “my cup runneth over.”  You may not have afternoon tea in your world but if you did, it’s not likely that you would want your cup to be filled to overflowing.  That’s just not proper etiquette. Because I’m curious about words, I did a little research on this idea of running over or overflowing.  In the original language, it’s the word saturated.     

Across a large part of Texas in February, we experienced rain and more rain.  The ground was fully saturated and then we had a full day of even more rain.  I live in a home that backs up to a a sweet little golf course pond.  When the pond gets full, there is a spillway that carries the over flow into a creek just a few yards away.  On this particular day, the pond was full, the spillway was carrying water as fast as it could into the creek, and the creek was directing the run off into the nearest river.  At the same time, the rivers we’re filling the lakes and reservoirs all over the area.  The rain continued and for a few hours the golf course flooded as it waited for all the canals to catch up with the rate at which rain was coming down.  


Saturated.  Things were saturated that day and as a result everyone benefited, not just the pond.  The creeks were filled, the rivers were filled, the underground reservoirs were filled, the lakes were filled.  

As I was looking at this poem King David wrote a lifetime ago, it struck me that a cup that overflows, overflows for the good of everyone else.  That’s not a statement that reflects how great our life is, although that’s typically how we use it.  It’s a statement that reflects how much we are impacting, improving, investing, and pouring into the lives of others.  

It’s just a little different perspective on a very familiar phrase.  Where’s the overflow of your life going?  Who is benefiting from it?

Go Ahead and Become

I ran across this LIFE by design blog in the archives from 2015.  As we forge into 2017, it's worth remembering the Velveteen Rabbit. 


He said, “You become.  It takes a long time.  That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept.  Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby.  But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” ~ Velveteen Rabbit

Becoming is a process.

It takes time and resilience.  Your decision making becomes more about your convictions than how much you can accomplish.  Do you start the day wondering how you’re going to get it all done?  Part of becoming is recognizing that “getting it all done” was never the intended end result.  Perhaps a better questions is: how do I want to be remembered?  

Being real! 

Now that’s something to be proud of; a direction to go toward; a desired destination. Being real means you no longer pretend you are the answer for all the problems.  Being real means you don’t have to look like the next guy.  Being real means you know who you are and are comfortable with it and have made an impact because of it.  

What will you do in 2017 to work on “becoming?” Because “being real” is beautiful!

If you'd like some help with "becoming," LIFE by design is offering Design Your Life Workshop on January 28th. Launch yourself toward a life of greater joy, meaning and fulfillment!  Check out the details here:

Emotional Domino Effect

Children are so fun to watch.  They can get lost in their own little world and forget about everything around them.  Or get consumed by all they want to say to you and tell you everything they know in the five minutes that you are slowly walking by them in a grocery store.  I find interactions and observations of children so amusing.  However, the same behavior from an adult is not enjoyable at all!  

We realize that children are not self-aware; but we expect our adult co-workers, family members, fellow planet inhabitors to be cognizant.   Self-awareness comes from developing a straightforward and honest understanding of how you are designed — what you do well, what motivates and satisfies you, which people and situations push your buttons.  

If people say that you remain calm, cool, and collected even in times when you must have felt frustrated or angry, then you have a high level of self-awareness.  Managing your emotions, not letting your emotions manage you, demonstrates your attentiveness.  On the other hand, if you score low on the self-awareness scale, people might be saying that you are in your “own little world.”  Do you notice that your co-worker is busy with something else before you jump in and start talking?  Are you fully aware of how you come across to people?  

Here are some strategies for increasing your self-awareness:

Label-Free Feelings

Judging your emotions as good or bad keeps you from really understanding what it is you are feeling.  Emotions always come from somewhere.  If you label them as bad or good, you might be less likely to investigate the root.   It’s important to find out why something gets a reaction from you.  The next time you feel an emotion building, take notice!

Emotional Domino Effect

My sons used to love to set up lines of dominoes throughout the house, tip the first one over and watch the entire configuration fall down one domino at a time.  Our outpouring of emotions are much like that, they surge through the people in our lives.  Think about the last time you watched a manager berate an employee in front of the whole team.  The entire team feels the wrath, not just the one who took the lashing.  Maybe productivity increased for the afternoon but fear settles in and creates a cautiousness that in the long run will impair productivity.  The more you understand that your emotions ripple across the landscape, the better you’ll be at choosing what type of ripples you want to make.

Watch Yourself

To develop a more objective understanding of your own behavior, practice taking notice of your emotions, thoughts and behaviors.  The goal is to slow yourself down enough to take in all that is going on around and within you.   If you are currently raising teenagers, you have the perfect place to practice watching yourself.  When your teenager is two hours past curfew and not answering your phone calls, you begin to think about how he’s disregarded you, robbed you of sleep and so on.  At this point you’ve completely forgotten that your original concern was for his safety.  This is the time to realize that your brooding has just fueled your anger.  Anger is not going to make him change but if your not watching yourself it will be the first thing that rumbles when he walks through the door.  The better response is to explain the rationale for his punishment and why you are so upset (safety, if you’ve forgotten).  

Grounded in Values

We live in a fast-paced society, where we juggle relationships, projects, deadlines, errands, family, job, neighbors, and more.  This requires a great deal of focus and effort which leaves little time for looking at ourselves.  When the “to do” list runs us ragged, we often find ourselves saying things and doing things that we don’t feel good about or don’t even believe.  Put some time on your calendar to ask yourself what kind of values you want to live by.  Write down your values and the things you’ve done or said recently that you aren’t proud of.  Is what you value lining up with the way you’ve behaved?  If not, write down possible behaviors that would line up with your values.  Repeat this exercise weekly for the next six weeks.  

As you incorporate these strategies in your daily routine you will develop an increased capacity to respond effectively to your emotions.  Emotions are not something to get rid of, just a piece of ourselves to understand.  

What are some strategies you use to stay calm, cool and collected?