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Learning to Risk. Risking to Learn.

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VISIT

I can’t fly alone

11/19/2014

When I was seven years old, we had a gazebo in our back yard. Tree branches hung over the roof low enough for me to climb to the top. One day, I mustered the courage to make the ascent. Once I arrived, I felt I had reached superhero status – perched atop the roof of a skyscraper as the perfect embodiment of Superman, Batman, and Spiderman trapped in the chubby body of a middle eastern boy.

I looked to the ground, then to the sky, then to the ground. I could travel back to humanity through mere mortal means, or I could implement my newfound imagined abilities and take the audacious jump before me.

I chose the latter.

It ended poorly.

Thankfully, my mom heard my cries for help and came to bandage my wounds. Then, to my surprise, she picked me, placed me back atop the gazebo, and told me to jump again.

I had always thought of my mother as slightly kooky, but this request had moved her to utterly insane. In my toddler wisdom, I declined the ludicrous request.

She assured me that I would not hit the ground if I tried again. It would be different this time. When I asked what gave her such confidence, she simply told me to trust her.

So, I did what any self-respecting boy would do at that point. I closed my eyes, opened them again for a moment, saw my mother give me a nod, and then leapt for the heavens.

This time, rather than falling to the ground, I began to fly through the air. My super powers had kicked into full swing. I never touched the ground as my 5’ 3” middle eastern mother whooshed my hefty body through the backyard, laughing and making the best sound effects she could.

I learned an important lesson that day. I can’t fly alone.

And, neither can you.

 

Make it good

11/12/2014

Throughout the course of your life, you will spend a great amount of time working. The amount of time will range at various seasons, but for most people, much of life will be spent working on something and with people.

You have the option to let your work rule you or to rule your work. Your job is yours and no one else’s. It’s your time, your heart, your sweat. What you put in is what you will get out.

If you put in angry, disgruntled hours – that’s what you’ll receive.

If you overdo it and push yourself to the point of burnout, you’ll get burnt products and relationships.

If you exert little or unimaginative effort, do not expect exciting discoveries.

But, if you put in creativity, passion, diligence, thoughtfulness, and resilience, you will find yourself tired, but full of joy and excitement for what’s to come.

Work is what you make it. So, make it good.

Today is yours, live like it.

11/05/2014

I dare you to test the limits of normal, to dance on the edge of certainty, to skip along the shore of impossibility – dipping your toes in the cold water of what could be. Venture to swim turbulent seas. Lunge towards stars that seem within reach.

As you fly, let your toes graze the tops of skyscrapers – let gravity remind you that impossibility is just imagination’s canvas.  Let fear pass you by as quickly as time.

There is no greater joy than to see today for what it is and tomorrow for what it could be.

Today is yours, live like it.

The Curse of Vision

10/29/2014

Some people only see what is in front of them. They enjoy their lives in twenty-four hour periods that should be filled with whatever is necessary at any given moment.

Others see the horizon. Time is like an endless canvas and hope is their paint. They see what could be and work tirelessly to help others envision possibility.

Neither of these are better or worse than the other. Both can be dangerous.

The person of great vision is confined by their abilities (or lack of them) and is often in a state longing. They are required to fight for their vision – constantly in tension with what is here and what is yet to come.

The other can become paralyzed by apathy, immediate satisfaction, or self-absorption. Thinking of the future seems frivolous and talks of change are foolish.

Vision in small glimpses leads nowhere and in excess is disorienting. You must take the time to see what is here now, and celebrate it. However, you must also look to tomorrow and notice the vast expanse that time offers to build and improve the world around you.

Learning to see both reminds you that today’s decisions have the great power of shaping what tomorrow will become.

Don’t try so hard

10/22/2014

There is a difference between working hard and trying hard.

One requires diligence and the other requires an audience. You can tell pretty quickly which is taking place. If your best work surfaces only when you have, or are about to have onlookers, then you’re probably trying. But, if you love a craft because you see its potential, and you get lost in making it and improving it, then you’re exerting effort in its purest form.

Why you work is just as important as the way you work.

So, don’t try so hard.

Leading Hesitations

10/15/2014

Every once in a while, courage will pass by your doorstep. It appears after you conquer something that seemed impossible. It will brighten the way. As soon as it appears, lead it to your darkest places. It will guide you through treacherous paths.

Most of the time, however, hesitation sits on the porch of our lives. It lingers like an unwanted extended family member whose lineage we can’t recall.

Oddly enough, you must also lead those hesitations.

Coerce them to embark upon a journey to a far-off land where they will meet their old friends, uncertainty and comparison. Convince them that you have no more food to eat, no more time to spend, and no more need for their voice. Cast a vision for them to find the man who’s on the brink of something unjust or unhelpful. Let them find their home with him.

Lead your hesitations to another place. By doing so, you’ll leave room for courage to arrive.

When the pieces don’t fit

08/27/2014

Sometimes, the pieces don’t fit. That’s ok.

Our job isn’t to force the pieces to come together, our job is to be the right piece.

When we toil towards being in control, we forfeit being a part of the process. Control is merely an illusion created by people who have vision but no patience. They see the possibilities but aren’t willing to work or wait until that vision comes to fruition.

Like a gate that opens slowly or a piece of fruit before it ripens, we must learn to wait, to be on the ready without forcing movement.

Then, when we’ve given time and space for our hopes to blossom, we will notice that the things we once sought to control are the very things we are happy to let go.

That’s when it will come together. That’s when the pieces will fit.

Pick a Side

08/20/2014

If you were one of the millions of World Cup viewers this summer, you know the excitement that comes with the game. One of the most tense situations is the moment when a foul is called within the goal box.

The penalty for such a foul is a free kick from a mere 12 yards away from the goal line. The odds are not in the favor of the goalkeeper.

I started playing goalkeeper during my chubby middle school years, mainly because it seemed to entail the least amount of running. By the time I entered High School, I had slimmed down and fallen in love with the position. When my goalie coach, Coach Palmer, would practice penalty kicks with me, he would coach me to simply pick a side and dive with all of my might. If I thought the shooter was going to kick to my right, I should commit to dive to my right even before he took the shot. If I guessed correctly, I’d be able to stop the ball. If not, people would know that I was fully committed. He’d remind me that the pressure isn’t on the goalie, it’s actually on the shooter.

If he misses the goal, he’s a bad shot.
If I save the goal, I’m a hero and he’s a bad shot.
If he makes it, and I gave a valiant effort, no one will fault me.

There was a certain peace of mind that came with knowing that I was either going to be just fine or a total hero and the shooter would either meet expectations or be a total failure. In fact, before penalty kicks in college, I would regularly shake the hands of my opponent and remind him, “…the pressure is on you.”

If you’re bold enough to stand on the goal line–to create or develop new ideas in a world that will take countless shots at you–remember that people know the odds are against you. But, the pressure isn’t on you to always protect the net, it’s on you to pick your side and dive.

The more you practice, the more you’ll learn to read the ball and the more likely you are to choose the right side.

Home is a song that should be played often

08/13/2014

I walked into the home. Kids were chuckling and bickering. Mom was clinking pots and pans as she prepared for dinner. A dog howled. Feet stomped throughout the house. Faucets were turning on and off while the fridge was being opened and closed. Ice cubes dropped into glasses. Dad grabbed a handful of silverware and began setting the table.

It was a concert – an orchestra playing a familiar song that flooded my mind with memories. Each noise on its own took me to a specific place; but when played all together, it was the sound of home. It was the song of caring people who were tied together for life. There was no need to impress or convince. I just needed to play my part through laughter, conversation, and partaking in a meal.

Home is a beautiful song that sings a truthful chorus. Play it often.

Be scared. Be very scared.

08/06/2014

As kids, our little bodies required us to constantly look up. Doing so gave us grand views of the clouds, the stars, and endless space to imagine. There was less to fear and more room to wonder and wander.

As we grew older, we needed to look down more often to watch our steps and notice the dangers around us. Everything from the news to the challenges of the day made us more aware of the ground and how hard it hurts. Glaring signs warned us of how many people fall and fail and how painful those things are.

Fear set in.

It led some to become cautious and others to become crippled. People called this growing older or becoming more mature. Sometimes, it was just growing scared.

But, it’s ok to be scared. It’s ok to be very scared. We mustn’t ignore our fears, but rather we ought to know and study them. They are the friends (or relatives) we never asked for but  must learn to live with.

As we get to know them, they become less daunting, less novel, and more familiar. The more we face them, the more we learn their manners, why they exist and what makes them tick. The more we do so, the smaller they become.

As they shrink, we can begin to look up again, and see the great places they never wanted us to reach.

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