Friday, February 09, 2018

Foggy days

After a great party last night for a friend's 41 birthday, it was deadly difficult to get up at 2:30 am this morning for the rush to the airport for my early early EARLY flight. But I did. It's the adult thing to do, you know, that whole go to work thingy. But I am certainly a little foggy today. 

And not only me, it was so foggy outside this morning that I could hardly find my car! And no that was/is an actual weather phenomenon not a metaphor for my mental struggles today. That was in the previous paragraph. But I digress, it was actually so foggy this morning, that I was pretty sure my flight was going to be canceled which often happens here. (And I would have happily drove back home and went right back to bed!) A few years ago the airport was closed almost every day for a six week fog extravaganza! But alas, since the plane I am currently riding in arrived last night BEFORE the fog arrived, we had something to ride the friendly skies with this morning, and the fog has never been a problem for the planes taking off, only landing.

So my flight flew, and so have I. And now I have a lovely 6 hour layover in Vienna before heading to Naples, and then a bus and then a train, and if all continues to go well I will arrive at my destination, at my hotel some 18 hours after getting up at 2:30 for the rush to the airport. All in a foggy day's work.

Saturday, February 03, 2018

All the snowy travel places I have been

All the snowy travel places I have been

I am currently in Zagreb on my way home after a great week of work in Bosnia. But it is snowing like mad outside and my flight is questionable. As I was standing outside watching it snow, all the airports and bus stations I have been over the years in snow storms watching it come down in buckets and wondering if I will get home or not came back to me.

First of all were the years we lived in Central Canada. There we lived in the coldest temps we have ever experienced and there were a number of ice/snow/cold travel experiences. The worst one was when I had to go down to Minot, ND to pick up Brenda's mom from the airport so that she could be there with us for Jake's birth. It was in the -35 to -40 degrees below zero range, and the defroster in the car could never manage more than a small circle of cleared glass on the windshield even with the defroster on high the entire trip.

Then were the years we lived in Russia, where snow removal was iffy at best and de-icing non-existent. Those were some hairy flights, take-offs and landings. And many a bus trip and the waiting for a taxi or tram were done in the falling snow for hours.

And then the last 18 plus years in the former Yugoslavia. I have lost count how many days and hours I have waited and waited and waited to find out if we were flying out or not. Tonight is just another one, in a long series of such events in the life of an International worker living abroad in cold climates. But eventually I will get home, even if I have to wait until Spring.

Thursday, February 01, 2018

Zagreb work days

Zagreb work days

It seems that I get laid over in Zagreb at least once every year for an extended time. Between the last time this happened and today, hell they went and built a new airport!! The arrivals hall alone is bigger than the last airport altogether. Now I sit here at Nero Coffee enjoying space, time, quiet (before was always so crowded and noisy and intrusive) the warm sun on my back, a fine coffee, an excellent apple strudel, and free WiFi. Now if I were only well rested, it would be an ideal working day. In the past this airport was so crowded I would go to the nearest hotel and pay the day rate so that I could get some work done.

This layover is not quite long enough for that, but I am not sure that it is even needed. This ambience works just fine for 3-4 hours. So I am traveling light and fast, only a Timbuktu messenger bag for the three day trip to Bosnia. A few shirts, clean undies, a few socks, a few cigars, an iPad and couple of phones, and I can conquer the world of travel and client work.

Now if I could only resolve the Brenda Earl Asia conundrum I would be a rock star. That will be what I work on after I finish writing this short blog. THAT requires a great deal of thinking, and then, a great deal more thinking. Ah Zagreb work days at their best.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

I am not desperate anymore

This was a statement made by the son of one of my clients recently. It reflects the years of work I have put into this family and indeed, they are not desperate any longer. They are developing leaders hand over fist, they are expanding their ministry and extending their reach by their investment in others - just like I have in them.

I too, am no longer desperate. Desperation is the condition of working in an environment of scarcity. It is a lack of all that you need to move forward and succeed, and can be caused by the lack of vision and understanding of you the individual, or the weakness of the organization that you work with, creating a too narrow understanding of what is important and what is possible. It is a terrible way to live and lead.

Abundance thinking and abundance actions are the polar opposite. You understand that you have all that you need or actually could ever want or use effectively, but you have to grasp what you could not see before, take what you did not believe to be available before, develop what you attract with your character and vision and the very compelling nature of what kind of giver and developer you are with others. Live in abundance.

Friday, January 19, 2018

Cross throwing

Cross throwing 

Today is a holy day here, the annual cross throwing day. This is the day when crowds gather in the center of town and the Pope literally throws a cross into the freezing cold waters of the Vardar river from a bridge right in the center of town. Then with the TV cameras whirling, people literally jump into the freezing cold rushing water all vying to retrieve the cross. All kinds of good stuff is supposed to happen to the person who retrieves it. All the other swimmers who are freezing to near death, all the onlookers who are freezing while watching this spectacular display of desperation, all of them go home with nothing except maybe frostbite.

I like my version of the cross better, where all who come are welcome, all win the grace and mercy and forgiveness of the Savior who gave everything so that all could benefit on that death instrument. There is no competition here, no better or lesser saints, no faster or slower recipients, all who show up at the cross and confess, receive. There is no respecter of class, wealth, need or swimming ability at play here.

Monday, January 15, 2018

What you should care about, and not care about

I read thousands of RSS feeds every year. It is where I mine for bitcoin, . . . uh huh, I mean I mine for insight and information and tools to help my clients move forward in their leadership development. I have noticed a number of trends over the years and one that is becoming clearer and clearer is personal optimization as the actual goal of development material being written about out in the wild.

But leadership is about helping others move forward. We need leaders to help us navigate the difficult and complex, not the easy. So development from where I am sitting/standing is more about character and skills and empathy and learning, than it is about optimization.

Personal optimization leads us down the wrong path, it is the wrong direction I think. It is in the words of Mark Manson a sickness. He says it like this " . . . you will feel that you’re perpetually entitled to be comfortable and happy at all times, that everything is supposed to be just exactly the . . . way you want it to be. This is a sickness. And it will eat you alive. You will see every adversity as an injustice, every challenge as a failure, every inconvenience as a personal slight, every disagreement as a betrayal. You will be confined to your own petty, skull-sized hell, burning with entitlement and bluster, running circles around your very own personal Feedback Loop from Hell, in constant motion yet arriving nowhere." (From his book "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck" p.13)

You don't want to live in this place. Instead you want to make a difference, to matter, to accomplish the important, the lasting, the sustainable change that will help others move forward. Care about this, rather than about your own personal optimization. It will make all the difference in someone's life.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

The saddest of days

The saddest days

The saddest days are when your family flies away again. A life of goodbyes. It was a great visit, which is awesome and terrible. Awesome because it was great to have them here and awesome to spend time with them day after day, to have the house filled with noise and laughter once again. Terrible because it was awesome, and it had to end. Thankful, but sad. A life of goodbyes.

The saddest days are when you can't get that terrible day out of your mind when your niece called and told you that you brother was gone forever. So thankful for the days and years that we had with him, but everything is changed forever because he is no longer with us. Thankful but sad. A life of goodbyes.

The saddest days are when you realize once again that you won't ever hear your mother laugh again, the loveliest of sounds. She too is gone. Thankful for all the years we had together, but sad there won't be any more. A life of goodbyes.

I am weary of goodbyes, and have been for a long while. The saddest of days. Here is hoping for when and that we can be together again.

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Should I let this dream job go?

Should I let this dream job go?

It wouldn't be the first time. I have already let one dream job go. Best. Decision. Ever.

For a number of decades I was a pastoring various churches, I know I know, you can't imagine me doing that, and neither can I any longer. But I was, and the last one was perfect. Few problems, low maintenance, highly intelligent, very appreciative, wonderfully supportive, and overall a perfect church (yes they actually do exist, although extremely rare I admit) to lead. I got to do all the pieces I am best at, and very few of the pieces I suck at doing. Like I said, a dream job. I walked away.

Yep, I walked away from the dream job/perfect church, and have been offered much money since leaving five years ago, to return as leader. Not even remotely interested. Because I was coasting. And that is death.

Now I currently have a second dream job, one that I am even better at than I am at leading perfect churches! Few ever get one dream job and I have had two! Now I am seriously thinking about walking way from this one. Because its coasting again. And that is death.

Most people are looking for the perfect job where you can coast on your strengths and look amazing all the time. But folks you need pressure, cliffs, danger, failure, explosions, mistakes, to stay sharp and keep growing! Being stretched (which often translates into being scared!) and at risk of serious failure is necessary to a healthy growing developing person. No I am not an adrenaline junkie . . . very much. Coasting can be great after a long periods of highly stressful living, but if you stay there long, you go stale or worse, just existing, and that is death.

If you don't believe me, then read this

Thursday, January 04, 2018

So much noise

And not all of it bad. These holidays and vacation days have been super fun because of the special noise of family in the house. Yes it is much louder than normal, and that is good, the sound of laughter and real conversation and expressions of admiration and love.

But silence and mental space are not replaceable nor good gauges of the various values of which kinds of sounds are positive and healthy (which is a very small portion of the overall noise) and which kind of noise is simply noise. Useless distracting debilitating irritating frustrating claustrophobic noise. There is no space to think. There is no place to stop and assess. There is no room to gather your thoughts and order them and let them be important.

The noise is infectious, contaminating every thing it comes in contact with, and whatever happened to companionable silence? Noise infection makes everyone suspect something is wrong and out of sync relationally if more noise isn't constantly being produced! Many interactions with people feel like these firecracker bombs we have here in Eastern Europe at this time of year, children gleefully shocking and startling every unsuspecting person within earshot. Whatever happened to just enjoying a person's nearness and warmth without the impurity of noise or senseless talk?

So much noise. How is a person to create, make, produce something compelling exciting important significant or even interesting, something that matters, when the noise is so loud and pervasive? Find that space, that mental room or glade, the zone, the deep meditation spot where you can actually accomplish something. The world needs what you are thinking and can create.

Monday, January 01, 2018

The last human freedom

Today in my RSS feeds were articles about how Iran and DRC politicians/dictators are cutting off internet and mobile service to their citizens, in order to try and contain the violence being unleashed toward them (the dictators/politicians). Human freedoms seem to be under siege on this first day of 2018.

Everyone feels like their options and freedoms are being restricted at some point along the way of their lives. Of course this is a huge scale - it is one thing to be thwarted in your desire to veg-out and have some me time because of the needs/demands of your family for instance, versus being in a concentration camp and being systematically stripped of everything that makes you human. That is a huge scale.

On this later one, Viktor Frankl (Holocast/Auschwitz survivor) says, "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms - to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way." He meant this literally, that everything, everything can be taken away and was. Except the last human freedom - to choose your posture, or attitude to what is happening to you.

This is my greatest aspiration and my most regular disappointment in myself. Even though I catch myself quicker and quicker, I still fail to reign in my tongue and my thoughts soon enough many times. Here is my primary goal for the rest of my life, to enjoy this great last human freedom - to choose well how I see the events and their significance, that happen in my conversations and life.