Photo Friday: The Little Things

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Photo Credit:  Snapwire Amarpreet Knur- CC Public Domain

I’m traveling again on business. At the TSA check today, I pulled out my toiletries out of my bag and spotted a little note card that my wife put in my bag about five years ago. I was leaving for a men’s retreat and she snuck the note in my bag along with some other stuff. The note is now yellowed and showing the wear of thousands of air miles

I looked at the note and smiled. The smile came at the right time. I was tired, just out of gas and getting on another airplane. Heading out again. But there was that note…again. Reminding me that I have someone who is supporting me. Someone who is on my side. Someone who I can count on no matter what happens.

These little things are big. They have weight- at least to me. I also have come to realize that some folks go through life kinda clueless. They don’t have any idea what is going on around them. They are rushing through everything. They are missing so much of what is going on around them.

But I see the little things. And they brighten up my day. And that makes all the difference!

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The Daily Do Over

His eyes were tearing up while he shared his story.  A story we have heard before.  Trying hard to hold down two jobs.  Twenty years in the prison system.  Wife addicted to crack cocaine.  He tries his best to keep her inside the house in order to keep her away from the neighborhood predators.  Health problems.  Car problems.  All of this is overwhelming.  He’s trying hard to keep focused- but it’s really hard.  He looses his cool sometimes and lashes out.  He struggles to stay on the right side.  Things are not fair.  He’s tired.  He’s VERY tired.

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Life is hard.  We have a tendency to put pressure on ourselves for our failures.  Our mistakes.  I shared with this guy that the Lord has given us a great design to help us handle these failures.

Every morning, the sun comes up and it’s a new day.  Each day is an opportunity to forget about yesterday and do it right today.  And if you fail again, you can try again tomorrow.  We get a “do over” every single day.

Some days are magnificent.  Everything just falls into place.  Smiles.  Laughter.  Family.  Hope.

Some days are tough.  Really tough.  You just want to crawl in a hole and wait for it to end.

Then the sun comes up again!

What a great design- huh?  If our lives were one really long day we couldn’t do it.  We would get completely overwhelmed.  We would be discouraged.  Beaten down and unable to recover.

I encourage him.  I told him the stay focused on what is good.  Don’t be deceived by the enemy who is trying to hold you down.  Keep fighting the good fight.  Don’t listen to those voices that are trying to make you feel hopeless.  You have much to be thankful for.  You ARE making it.  You CAN find your way out of this.

You get a do over.  Every single day.  You can put yesterday behind you and look forward to a new day of promise, opportunity, and hope.  He designed it this way.  Don’t look back.  He made a way for you to recharge and refocus.

He makes all things new!

Have you ever considered what it would be like to live one enormously long day?  Do you take advantage of the daily do over?  Is the morning your time?   Click on “leave a comment” and let me know what you think!

Smile Power

My daughter was born with a smile on her face.  She was, and still is, always smiling.  When she was a baby we would get comments about what a happy little girl she was.  Her smile was contagious and helped her make friends quickly.  When our kids were young we would frequently go camping and, before I could get the camper set up, she would be asking me to unload her bike as she already had found a friend.  In like five minutes.  Her smile continues to be big part of who she is.

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I tend to go in the other direction.  My natural look is to sport a serious face.  This may sound weird to some, but I actually have to remind myself to smile, especially when I meet new people.  My wife has had to field comments like “Is he angry.”  And, “I don’t think he likes me very much.”  Comments that are not at all flattering.

I used to think that it was OK.  I am who I am, right?  I’m just focused.  They just need to get over it.  But I have come to realize that it’s not right.  I shouldn’t make people feel uncomfortable when all I need to do is smile more and be a bit more engaging.  Smile.  Seems simple right?

I have come to realize that there is real power in a smile.  Last week I was at the airport toting my bag and backpack and surveying the perfect spacing of seating in the boarding area.  As I walked down an aisle, a woman looked up from her phone and eyes meeting gave me a big smile.  A simple, friendly, warm smile.  The airport is not always a very “smiley” place so it really caught me off guard a bit.  I smiled back and continued my search for a seat.  Her smile was a little “pick me up” and a moment to refocus.  Or maybe even unfocus?

Smiling has power.  Scientists have concluded that smiling people actually live longer, have better marriages, are more successful in business, win elections, and have greater influence than the general population.

Smiling works.  It has a way of disengaging tense circumstances.  It is a powerful, yet silent, introduction.  It builds trust.  It communicates peace and contentment.  Are you using your smile?  Unlike other leadership tools, it’s always ready and available.

My father always had a smile on his face.  I don’t know anyone that didn’t like my Dad.  He was always lighthearted and positive.  How do you want to be remembered?  Serious and focused?  Or smiling?  I know which one I would choose!

So what do you think?  Click “Like” if you agree!  Do you have a “smiler” in your life?  Click “Leave A Comment” and let us hear your story! 

 

Warm Bread: Irresistable!

Back in the early 90s,  Kathy and I particularily enjoyed a restaurant that had an appetizer specialty called teacup bread.  The bread would arrive warm and still nested inside of a teacup.  This was a really special treat.  The bread was light and soft and had a sweet flavor.  You really could eat this bread for dessert.  We loved the food at this place, but really, the bread always brought us back.  We would get several servings.  Warm, sweet bread.  I really want some right now!

Slices of French Bread

Warm bread is a great way to invite guests into your restaurant.  The smell, the taste- every sense gets bathed with great bread offered as an appetizer.  I remember several restaurant experiences where the most memorable part of the meal was the bread.  Warm and inviting.  Something really special that leaves a lasting memory.

I have also had the pleasure to meet people that I would say have the characteristics of warm bread.  Upon meeting them you are immediately enveloped in warmth.  You can feel the love ooze from them.  Like the bread, they leave a lasting memory.  You can’t help but think about them.  They are like the teacup bread- you want to go back for more.

What makes a person that you meet like warm bread?  What makes them irresistible?  Here are a few observations:

Focus:  They are completely focusing on you.  They look you straight in the eye as you begin to talk to them.  You are the only person in their world.  They have the skill to shut off everything else.

Smile:  They start with a smile and have a way to continue to smile throughout the conversation.  The smile is a powerful tool.  A smile disarms.  A smile invites you in.  A smile tells you that they are enjoying your company.

Genuine:  They are genuine in every way.  They want to know about you.  They are humble and authentic.  There is no agenda.  The focus is personal.

Listen:  They are skilled listeners.  The questions are based on getting to know you.  They do not lead you in a particular direction for their benefit.  They allow you to tell your story and let you enjoy doing it.

Connect:  They are skilled at connecting the wires between you and them.  They will seek out common characteristics and interests.  You will share ideas, struggles and experiences.  You will feel like you have known them for years.

Easy:  They have a way to navigate through a conversation that makes it fun and enjoyable.  No awkward quiet moments.  No challenges.  You will have the opportunity to share a little or a lot- your choice.  Time flies by as you talk and connect.

Have you been there before?  Can you think of someone you have met who is unusually warm and engaging?

OK- confession time.  I am not that person.  I would characterize myself as crusty rye bread- not tea cup bread!  I struggle with focus.  I tend to be serious, so I typically have to remember to smile.  I tend to talk only when I need something.  I am content to sit in silence.  This is my nature, however, I am aware of it now.  I have to make an effort to be the warm bread.  It doesn’t come natural to me, but I am learning and I recognize the power that warm bread has.  My typical nature is selfish and I know it.  However, I am getting better- much better!

We often overlook the effect that we have on others.  A smile goes a long way and it is such a simple gesture.  Are you a warm bread person? Do you focus on others instead of trying to get out your story?  Are there areas that you can work on as you interact with others to make yourself inviting?  Like the tea cup bread, once you master the skills of warm bread you will bring them back over and over again- a warm and sweet relationship!

Do you know someone with these skills?  Share your story by clicking on comment below!