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DISCOVER, EQUIP, AND PURSUE YOUR PURPOSE

Archive for the tag “attitude”

Adjustments Along the Way

adjustsailsEarlier this year I got a new vehicle – I went from a sedan to an SUV. There were definitely some adjustments to be made. The simple act of putting the key into the ignition and turning the engine on was no longer one smooth move. It took me almost a week to get used to positioning my fingers and hand differently. Then there’s the gear shift. In my car it was on the floor, in my SUV it’s on the steering column. At times I still find myself grasping in midair for the stick.

As I changed careers and started building my own business, I found myself grasping in mid-air for things as well. Simple things like working outside of the standard eight-hour workday and catching up on my sleep at 2:00 in the afternoon, felt odd and at first produced massive guilt. And having worked for years in a highly professional arena, where the rules of deportment were clearly established and followed, it was a shock to my system that not everyone knew appropriate business etiquette (and didn’t want to). Slowly I learned to reposition my way of thinking – not to ignore or forget what I knew, but to adjust my expectations and learn how to shift the way I approached people and problems while maintaining my values.

As you pursue the purpose for your life, you should expect change to be a given. Don’t feel threatened or fearful. It’s not always about having to throw out your ideas or standards you value. Many times it’s just a simple adjustment in the way you approach things, a small change in the way you are holding onto something, or a new way of looking at people and their needs. It may be a bit uncomfortable and require a little bit of time (and practice), but you will eventually stop grasping the air and move into a new flow along your way.

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My “Aha” Moment from “Legally Blonde”

GROWTH

lb2

Reese Witherspoon as
Elle Woods

In the movie comedy Legally Blonde, the character of Elle Woods was originally on the road to a career in fashion merchandising.  There was nothing wrong with her dream.  It’s what she wanted, it’s what she was good at, and she had the complete support of her fawning sorority sisters, jetsetter family, and old-money fiancé.  But when her fiancé, an aspiring lawyer heading to Harvard Law School, breaks up with her, Elle wants to win him back.  Much to everyone’s surprise, she is able to pass the Law School Admissions Test and is accepted at Harvard.  It is here her worldview is shaken.  She does not fit in with the culture and is considered a joke by people at every turn.  People think she is dumb, especially her ex-fiancé.

Rather than retreat, Elle takes the opinion on as a challenge and raises the bar (no pun intended) for herself.  Applying herself in her new culture, she discovers she actually understands and enjoys the law.  Applying her social skills from her old culture, she builds a support base of quirky friends around her. She begins a new journey. Eventually it is a combination of old and new skills and abilities that bring her success and a new life.  But not, of course, without the mandatory make-it-or-break-it moment along the way.  At one point Elle decides that it is more than she can handle.  She decides to give up, crying “No more trying to be something that I’m just… I’m just not.”   Her friend’s response:

What if you’re trying to be somebody you are?”

Those are brilliant words.  That was a personal “aha” moment for me.

We tend to think that our past, our present, and our future are at war with each other, and that the only way into the next one is to make a violent break with the previous one.  While there is certainly old luggage that we don’t want to carry with us that often takes ruthlessness to let go of, to totally thrash all we have ever known is usually a mistake.

When you are in the process of discovering your purpose in life, you take into account the passions you have, the talents God has given you, and the dreams you hold.  Those passions and talents and dreams didn’t just drop into your heart yesterday.  They have been building and interweaving your whole life.  Your experiences, both good and bad, have influenced them and helped direct their growth.  As you move towards your purpose, things begin to adjust.  One of your passions cools down.  You discover a different outlet for your talent.  You discover a hidden talent. The journey to your dream slows wa-a-a-y down or perhaps picks up what feels like too much speed.  This can be disconcerting, it can be hard.  It can cause you to question yourself.  It may feel like you’re trying to be something you are not.  But,

What if you’re trying to be somebody you are?”

Proverbs 25:2 tells us that God takes pleasure in concealing things and we have the privilege of discovering them.  And the verse that follows talks about the endless depth and width of our heart.

We need to recognize that there is so much more to and for us, and we need to go after it and find it.

  • Rather than look at your past as an enemy, why not use it as a resource?  Start looking through all the dirt and find the gold.
  • Rather than being in such a rush to leave the present to get into the future, why not make the most if it?  Start looking at everything you have going for you now and see what other possible applications there might be.
  • Rather than stubbornly holding onto what you insist your future must be, loosen your grip and expand your horizons.

You can be more than anybody thinks, expects, or wants you to be.  You can surprise everyone, including – just like Elle Woods did – yourself.

EXCELLENCE

“Excellence means when a man or woman asks of himself more than others do.” (Jose Ortega y Gasset)

PURPOSE

“There comes a special moment in everyone’s life, a moment for which that person was born. That special opportunity, when he seizes it, will fulfill his mission – a mission for which he is uniquely qualified. In that moment, he finds greatness. It is his finest hour.”  (Sir Winston Churchill)

A Little Help from Jane Austen

GROWTH 

A few years ago I read a magazine article where a woman wrote about the realization that she was making some of her life decisions based on whether her childhood authority figures would approve or not.  She said she had probably passed over some excellent opportunities due to her concern about what her father, her childhood pastor, and her favorite teacher might have thought about it.   I’ve heard others admit  they also think of those people, but purposely do things that would shock them – an “I’ll show them” attitude.  

All of us can fall into childish behavior now and then, but we need to be particularly cautious of this as we pursue God’s purpose for our life.  We need to be conscious about who we allow to influence us. 

There are plenty of people who have strong opinions about the what/where/how of my pursuit.  But I am the one who chooses whose views hold weight with me.   There are those who I admire, those who are subject matter experts in what I pursue, those I ask questions of and seek advice from.  But I choose who will actually influence my course.   It’s hard not to be swayed by the thought that someone you admire might disagree with you and you risk losing support or respect.  It’s also hard when someone you don’t even know well (or at all) belittles you and your choices. 

In the past I have had painful experiences of allowing people to emotionally control me, whether they were figures from my past that I allowed in my brain, or people who I gave too much weight to (they may or may not have been aware) or, sadly, those who stepped clearly into  manipulation.  I have been awake in the wee small hours of the morning, questioning my abilities because I’ve replayed their  words and opinions in my head. 

Oddly, what helped me is a discourse held in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, where the character Elizabeth Bennett wearies of the  interference of other people outside her appropriate sphere of influence.  She finally states:

 “I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to YOU, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.”

This statement helped me construct a filter that I use when I feel overwhelmed and begin to question my calling.
  • What “constitutes my happiness”?  My answer is always:  Following God
  • Who am I “referencing” in my current thoughts?  Whose opinion/attitude has brought these thoughts about?
  • Is that person “wholly unconnected with me”?  Should this person have any influence at all in the pursuit of God’s purpose in my life?
  • In what manner should I be “resolved to act”?  If I am resolved to act to follow God and, if they should have no influence in this part of my life, I leave it behind.
How do you handle or recover from unwelcome influences in your path?  Let me know in the comments section.
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EXCELLENCE

“If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.  Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
(Colin Powell)

PURPOSE

Image from http://valleydalechurch.wordpress.com

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