Accomplishing More By Working Less: Learning to Live a Sabbatical Lifestyle

 Blogs  Comments Off on Accomplishing More By Working Less: Learning to Live a Sabbatical Lifestyle
May 172012

Caught in the Rat Race

I like to refer to myself as a Contemplative Activist or an Introvert Extrovert. Perhaps these monikers simply describe the inner ping pong match going on inside of me. One part of me is your classic A personality type who derives great satisfaction from working hard, multitasking, and filling my day with productive activity. I feel good about myself when I get a lot done in a day. I work well under pressure, and love juggling a few irons in the fire. I like the buzz from adrenaline I get when going at mach speed. I find that keeping busy with alot of stuff may at times be the default mechanism I subconsciously use to validate my existence, or the way I find my sense of worth from what I do. I get restless and feel guilty if I’m just sitting around when there is work to be done. Some days I feel like an activity and adrenaline junkie craving a fix!

The other part of me hates to be living life running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I chafe at the idea of cramming my week so full of meetings and events that I feel like I’m rushing from one thing to another with no room for interruptions. I rue the days when my schedule is so full that there is no white space on my BlackBerry calendar. I long for time to linger with people, time to slow down, to sit, and to smell the proverbial flowers.

Longing for Solitude and Silence

I crave simplicity, long for silence, and need solitude. In these moments of living in the fast pace of city life, I dream of fleeing to the country, a secluded island or joining a monastery…though I would probably only last for a month at best.

Do you relate? There are many days I feel inwardly conflicted. It is not wrong to be busy with the right things, and to work hard. I love that feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day when I can cross out a bunch of things on my ‘to do list’. Yet to be doing so in such a manner that I run my emotional, physical, and spiritual motors at such high rpm’s, so that I’m constantly red lining on my internal tachometer while neglecting the warning lights that start flashing on the dash, is setting myself up to crash and burn. Those warning indicators are things like emotional toxicity, being wound so tight that at the slightest provocation we snap, and the loss of joy. This is not the way God designed us to live.

Could it be that we can actually be more effective and productive in our personal and work lives by practicing a Sabbatical lifestyle? I experienced the truth of this counter cultural way of living while tree planting one summer in northern B.C. The foreman of our crew instituted the pattern of taking every Sunday off to rest. Now in the tree planting world this seemed like a crazy idea. Since the planting season was short, most crews would plant 7 days a week till they finished a plantation, so that they made as much money as possible in the shortest period of time. For most crews the only time off was the travel time to get to the next plantation and maybe a day to shop for supplies. Rival crews would shake their heads at us in disdain with a knowing smirk when we told them that we wouldn’t be planting on Sundays. They thought we were foolish. Yet each year our foreman’s crew planted more trees, and made more money than any of the other crews in the company.

So what is Sabbath living?

Sabbath living is the ceasing from our normal routines of work to practice the rhythms of rest, replenishment, recreation, and reflection. These habits may include sleep, reading, journaling, contemplative or soaking prayer, playing a sport, taking a walk in nature, or enjoying a hobby that you normally don’t have time for. This allows us to recharge or regenerate so when we return to our work we are more productive for a longer period of time. It is learning to ‘be’ alongside or before ‘doing’.

The Sabbatical disciplines of silence and solitude allows our pain, brokeness, and unhealthy motivations to surface. By choosing to pause from our work we enter into a detoxing from our addictions to frenetic activity, to adrenaline fixes, to psuedo-intimacy through porn, or to the need for people’s approval as ways we  attempt to medicate, anesthetize, or bury our pain. We get healed up and become whole again.

Hillary of Tours, a mystic, wrote:  “Many Christians suffer from a blasphemous anxiety to do God’s work for Him.” Most of us suffer from an over inflated view of our importance in which we don’t think we have the time to practice Sabbatical living. There is so much to get done, and if we don’t do it who will? We walk out humility when we realize that God does not need us to get His work done, but enjoys our presence and partnering with Him. Even while we are resting, He is able to accomplish much without us!

The Greek word for authority in Luke 9:1 is ‘exousia’ which means to receive delegated influence, strength, and competency from being with the one who has all authority: Jesus. Through walking out Sabbath we are infused with the life of Jesus, and His power to do His work! 

What is our Sabbath Exit Strategy?

Suggested Personal Health Inventory:

  1. Ask those who you live close to if you are showing the signs of being stressed out.  or on the verge of burning out? (Clues: being overly irritable or hyper sensitive,  lacking compassion, loss of mojo, not sleeping well, being emotionally drained and not rebounding as normal, negative talk or depression, dreading the work you normally enjoy)
  2. What is your heart condition?
  3. What are the addictions I use to cover over or medicate my pain?
  4. Do I struggle to say no to people and their expectations?
  5. Do I carve out time to rest, reflect, and recreate?
  6. What does that look like daily, weekly, and monthly?


Ideas for Sabbatical Living:

  • Sabbath is a way of life where we practice certain rhythms or disciplines daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and every 7 years.
  • REST: Daily take a half hour to be in silence and solitude. I find a walk in a park or finding a quiet, bright space in my house early in the morning, or late at night, to be the best ways to find silence and solitude in the city. During this time, relax and soak in God’s presence.  Let Him pour His love and life into you. Resist the urge to formulate prayers for people. Let His peace soak into every pore of your being!
  • REFLECT: Ask these three questions: What do I really want or what matters to me? What do I fear? What is God saying to me? Take some time to reflect on the subject of Sabbath rest by reading a short book such as The Way of the Heart by Henri Nouwen, or contemplate on these Scriptures: Lev. 25, Luke 4: 42-44; 5:15-16, Heb. 3:7-4:12
  • RETREAT: Take a day or half day and get out of the city by going to a retreat center, or a favorite place in the outdoors. Don’t be surprised if you end up sleeping for half the day.
  • RECREATION: If you are in any kind of people work, it is recommended that you take three weeks of vacation in one block every year where you get away. It takes 2 weeks to unwind and the third week to fill your tanks up. Spend time playing, reading, relaxing, and enjoying a hobby. For me that’s fishing!

    The Need of Rest and Recreation

  • RE-TOOL and RE-CALIBRATE: If at all possible, plan for a 1-3 month, longer if possible, Sabbatical from work. During this time, spend a couple weeks in a monastery or guided retreat, take a course or two, read some books you haven’t had time to read, travel to some places or people you would like to visit.


How Do Organizations Stay in a Movement State? Part 3: By Practicing the Accordion Principle

 Blogs  Comments Off on How Do Organizations Stay in a Movement State? Part 3: By Practicing the Accordion Principle
Apr 222012

Starfish have no central brain or head!

In the book The Starfish and the Spider, Brafman and Beckstrom compare the nature of a spider and a starfish when it comes to multiplying. If you cut off the leg of a spider it may survive, but if you cut its head off it will die. Yet in a starfish there is no head. The major organs are replicated in each arm. So if you cut a starfish in half it will replicate itself. With the Linckia, or long armed starfish, you can cut it up into pieces and each piece will grow into a new starfish. For a starfish to move, one of the arms must go through a process of communicating with and convincing the other arms that they should also move. (p.35) What an amazing creature! This is the nature of how de-centralized movements function.


Catalysts work at not becoming the center

The nature of most movements is that they start out being decentralized, and yet over time there is a natural gravitational pull to become more centralized. This happens as the movement develops structures to serve the organic life of the movement. The struggle revolves around the ebb and flow of centralization and de-centralization. So the seminal question in most organizations, businesses, church denominations is “How do we remain in a movement state?”  A subset of questions is: “How do leaders keep from staying in the center, so that if they die or resign the movement shrinks or dies?  How do we steward power and authority? Is it possible for de-centralized movements to exist in harmony within more centralized movements?” The core of the questions revolves around the issues of leadership and structure.

“Every river has banks to guide the water to its end goal; every tree has a trunk to support the sap getting to the extremities of the branches; and every body has a skeleton to contain the spirit.”

Sometimes organic movements overreact, out of the fear of becoming a hierarchical organization that is a bottleneck to change and growth, by becoming very suspicious, or even anti or allergic to any type of leadership, or anything that smacks of structure, ritual, or deliberate planning. This is one of the central themes or plots of history. The upstart spontaneous movements throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater. During the Luther led reformation, people reacted to the Catholic tradition of icons and relics by tearing down and destroying many of the icons in their churches. All icons and relics were seen as potential for idolatry and tools to manipulate people. Thus we get the word iconoclastic. On the other hand, the older more institutionalized organizations often see the new movements as a threat and try to squelch or even stop them.  This has resulted in numerous rifts, schisms, and divisive splits.

These same proclivities to swing from one extreme to the other are evident today. For example, look at what is happening in the Alberta political scene with the Progressive Conservative reaction to the Wildrose Party, as they threaten to unseat the PC’s from power in the upcoming election. Another example is the strong negative reactions and polar swings of some of the de-centralized emergent or postmodern forms of church, which reject any type of leadership or organization in meetings.

The Art of Moving From De-centralization to Centralization and Back Again

An alternative way which Brafman and Beckstrom raise in their book is the accordion principle. In the study of systems, what is being discovered is that a healthy organization will learn how to navigate the natural rhythms of moving like an accordion from de-centralization to centralization and then back again to de-centralization. If leaders learn how to deliberately take steps to move from one spectrum to the other in the life cycles of an organization, it is possible to remain in a movement state. Thus the question is not whether there is a need for leadership and structure, but more so how do we lead, and how do we adapt structures to serve life?


Brafman and Beckstrom posit the 5 legs of a movement that are keys to remaining in a movement state, moving back and forth from de-centralization to centralization.

Look for Circles of shared vision and trust!

1. Circles:  These are pockets of organic life organized around a common vision and natural relationships. These groups are small, self-governing, self-supporting, and self-multiplying. There is a strong sense of ownership for the raison d’etre of the circle, and there are norms that are passed on as a way of life that is caught, not as a set of rules or procedures that are passed down from on high.

  • Where are there circles of three people in your business, church, neighbourhood who have shared vision and trust one another?
“When people feel like a vision is their own they will voluntarily and joyfully sacrifice much to see the vision become reality.”


2. Catalysts:  Catalysts are inspirational leaders who develop an idea,  start a circle, and then get out of the way. They don’t care about recognition and holding on to power. They love to empower people to pursue the vision they already carry within them. They are allergic to hierarchy and becoming the center that the movement revolves around.  An example of a catalyst is Granville Sharp, who, even before Wilberforce, was the initiator of the anti-slavery movement in the 1800’s. Most of us have heard of Wilberforce, who gets all the credit, though we know nothing of Sharp, the original catalyst.

  • How can we inspire people with a big idea or help to draw out the vision in folks and encourage them to go for it?
  • What are some leadership models for charismatic catalysts to be who they are, and yet not mess things up by becoming the center or the bottleneck?
  • How are decisions made in your organization and who holds the trump card in the decision making process?
3. Ideology:  This is what I like to call the ‘Big Idea’ that grips people, or the song that already resonates with the longings in people’s hearts. For example, these days people are moved by the vision for justice, and ready to get involved in stopping human trafficking or dealing with poverty.
  • What big idea has gripped you so that you would voluntarily sacrifice to see that idea become a reality?
4. A Preexisting Network:  All movements are birthed out of a preexisting organization. For example, the Quakers were a platform for the antislavery movement in England.
  • How can existing organizations serve new movements being birthed from within, instead of fearing them and trying to control or stop them?


5. Champions:  These are folks who are salesman for the ‘Big Idea’. They are people persons and hyperactive networkers. In the anti-slavery movement, a fellow named Thomas Clarkson worked with Sharp to spread the idea of anti-slavery.

  • Who are some people persons you know who are great at networking and selling a ‘Big Idea’?




How Are Movements Sustained? Part 2: Through The Slow Way of Substance, Sacrifice, and Simple Structures

 Blogs  Comments Off on How Are Movements Sustained? Part 2: Through The Slow Way of Substance, Sacrifice, and Simple Structures
Mar 272012

Grassroots Movements with Substance Bring Change!

I want to start part 2 of my blogs on movements by sharing the story of a global movement against the injustice of slave labor in the Congo that occurred in the latter part of the 1800’s. This is a story that very few people have heard of, and is still part of the story of what is going on in Central Africa today.  To go forward we must look back. That is why studying history is so important.

Though this movement was ignited by a catalyst named Edmund Morel, he was only one of many brave souls, including a black journalist and historian named George Washington Williams and another black American named William Sheppard, who spoke out against the evil of slave labor in the Congo. Movements always start with a few catalysts and champions who are willing to sacrifice for the cause.

King Leopold II, the King of Belgium, desperately wanted to have a colony just like the British and the French. Because Belgium was not a big or powerful country, Leopold used guile and deception to colonize the Congo. Ostensibly, his motives appeared to be philanthropic. He claimed to be putting a stop to the slave trade and to be helping the people by welcoming in missionaries and investing in the infrastructure. Yet in reality, King Leopold was driven by greed and ego. He wanted to be seen as an important player in the eyes of the colonizing countries. He wanted a piece of the action in Africa, including the pillaging of Africa’s natural resources and people. It is estimated that between 5 to 8 million lives were lost through slavery in the Congo itself.

After observing the plunder of rubber and ivory coming off the ships in Antwerp, Edmund made the bold move of blowing the whistle on the egregious atrocities that King Leopold II and his minions were committing in the Congo. Below is a quote from the book King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild, that tells the story of how this one man gave his life to start and sustain a global movement against the injustice of slave labor in Africa.

The Power of Global Movements to Mobilize

Brought face to face with evil, Morel does not turn away. Instead, what he sees determines the course of his life and the course of an extraordinary movement, the first great international human rights movement of the twentieth century. Seldom has one human being – impassioned, eloquent, blessed with brilliant organizational skills and nearly superhuman energy – managed almost single-handedly to put one subject on the world’s front pages for more than a decade. Only a few years after standing on the docks of Antwerp, Edmund Morel would be at the White House, insisting to President Theodore Roosevelt that the United States has a special responsibility to do something about the Congo. He would organize delegations to the British Foreign Office. He would mobilize everyone from Booker T. Washington to Anatole France to the Archbishop of Canterbury to join his cause. More than two hundred mass meetings to protest slave labor in the Congo would be held across the United States. A larger number of gatherings in England – nearly three hundred a year at the crusade’s peak – would draw as many as five thousand people at a time. In London, one letter of protest to the the Times on the Congo would be signed by eleven peers, nineteen bishops, seventy six members of Parliament, the presidents of  seven Chambers of Commerce, thirteen  editors of major newspapers, and every lord mayor in the country. Speeches about the horrors of King Leopold’s Congo would be given as far away as Australia. In Italy, two men would fight a duel over the issue. British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, a man not given to overstatement, would declare that ‘no external question for at least thirty years has moved the country so strongly and vehemently’. (p. 2)

How are Movements Sustained?

  • Slow and Small precedes Speed and Size: Most movements that last start very slow and small with a very simple, yet big idea. Before the movement gains traction amongst the masses, there has been an incubation period when the cause or idea is percolating.  It takes time before there is a tipping point, or before the idea snowballs, picking up speed and momentum as it spreads. If you look at the issue of the invisible children and Kony in Uganda, there have been people on the ground addressing this issue for many  years. Suddenly the issue has caught the attention of the mainstream. My dad spent over 20 years in Africa modeling the practice of crop rotation and summer fallowing as a way of farming. It took years before a few Africans decided to adopt this practice, instead of the short term subsistence-living worldview which had resulted in poor crops by draining the soil of nutrients year after year. Every year, they would query my dad about why his crops were so much better than theirs, and every year he would tell them to practice crop rotation. Finally, after some years, he was able to convince a few to switch their long held patterns of planting the same crop in the same field over and over, to crop rotation and summer fallowing.
  • Substance and Sacrifice trumps Sizzle and Sexiness: What is clear in our day and time is that the subject of social justice is on the radar of most people. Thus, motivating and mobilizing, especially young people, to get involved in justice issues is an easy sell. The potential downfall of this is that people get moved and involved for awhile till some other thing comes along to grab their attention, or money and fame issues hijack the integrity of the movement. Case and point would be the movement started by the book Three Cups of Tea written by Greg Mortenson, about building schools for poor children in Pakistan and Afghanistan. There were allegations presented by 60 Minutes last year of financial indiscretion and embellishment of the truth. Whether the allegations are true or not, we need to learn some lessons.
  • The sudden spotlight with Kony 2012 and the ensuing pressure seem to have triggered a breakdown in Jason Russell, the leader of the movement. The pressure was too much to handle. Our human nature is to prematurely promote and publicize a movement so that it takes off quickly, rather than giving it the test of time.  Instant or fast success can be the greatest enemy of a fledgling movement. Often these movements are not ready to handle the sudden infusion of money and the deluge of attention that comes with quick notoriety. What started out as a good thing crumbles or fades.

What Africa needs are people who will give their lives to see things change over a lifetime. I just watched a documentary about a couple who have moved to the city of Goma, the nexus for much of the strife in the Congo. This women and her Congolese husband have started a center to see healing and justice come to the many women who have been sexually abused in the fighting in Central Africa. They are bringing healing to the emotional wounds these women have been scarred by, through the trauma they have experienced . They are training the women in marketable skills to support themselves. They are working to reform the corrupt justice system one step at a time, by bringing perpetrators of these crimes to account one by one. Their lives are a beacon of light pushing back the darkness, one life at a time. They know it takes a generation to change deeply entrenched worldviews and practices.

  • Structures must remain Simple and Serve the Original Life:

    Movements are like Spiderwebs

    Most movements start off with very little organization. Then as the movement grows, the natural propensity is to build systems and structures around the movement to support it and protect it. What usually happens is that the organization takes on a life of its own and begins to outgrow the organic life of the movement. In fact, any new shoots of life are seen as a threat to the existing structures and are resisted. Movements that last keep empowering the grassroots, and keep fighting to prevent the power from moving to a few in the center.

  • Some Movements do have a Shelf-Life: A disclaimer to the above would be that some movements are meant to start something and then die. This doesn’t mean that they were not successful in accomplishing their purpose for a period of time. Whether the Kony 2012 movement lasts for a few months or a year, if it heightens the awareness of the next generation to the justice issues in Central Africa and motivates a few to serve the locals in finding some lasting solutions, it will have been worth it. This same principle holds true for spiritual movements, movements of churches, or political movements. Either they need to morph, champion new movements to sprout from within the movement, or die after the raison d’etre has been fulfilled.  May we be wise students of history that do not repeat the mistake of holding onto the halcyon days of former movements that inspired us or movements that we helped start.
  • Questions For Reflection:
  1. Where are there shoots of organic life popping up or percolating around me in vision for a big idea or in relationships?
  2. What simple structures are needed to serve that life?
  3. Where am I still living in the past glory days, missing the new movements happening right before my eyes?
  4. Who are the people and where are the places that I will commit to for a lifetime?
  5. What slow, small movement with a big idea do I believe in, and am willing to serve and sacrifice for?

By Tim Schultz

How are Movements Started? Part 1: The Strength and Weaknesses of Viral Movements

 Blogs  Comments Off on How are Movements Started? Part 1: The Strength and Weaknesses of Viral Movements
Mar 192012

Fast Spreading Viral Movement of Justice

Like many of you, I have been both moved and fascinated by the sudden and rapid growth of the Kony 2012 movement. This movement was initiated by the YouTube film produced by the group Invisible Children and Jason Russell, to draw attention to the plight of children in northern Uganda who have been abducted into the Lord’s Resistance Army. The tactics of the LRA has been to raid villages, kill the children’s parents, and forcibly conscript children into their army. These children are then forced to commit heinous acts. The LRA is led by a despot named Joseph Kony who used to be active in northern Uganda, but is now operating either out of the Central African Republic or the Congo. The hope of Invisible Children is that by making Joseph Kony famous, they can stir up a grassroots movement to put pressure on the powers-that-be to capture Joseph Kony and put a stop to this injustice. As of today, close to a 100 million people, many of them young people, have watched the half hour film, and a grassroots movement towards justice has been born.

I love the conversation starter that this film Invisible Children has become, tapping into the growing movement amongst millenials, those born after 1980, to get involved in social justice issues. So let me start by saying, anything that raises awareness of justice issues and gets the ball rolling is a good thing. Because living out justice is a central tenet of the Kingdom, we should be thrilled at any movement that mobilizes folks to get involved.

Having lived in Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, and having grown up in Africa, that continent has a special place in my heart.

I love Africa

Africa is rich in both natural resources and in a beautiful tapestry of people that have much to offer the world. I long to see the corrupt and oppressive systems that abuse the people stopped and changed. Though I am no expert on Africa, I understand that lasting change there will not happen simply by throwing money at the problems of poverty and injustice through large NGOs or through being emotionally stirred by a film, as good as that is. It will happen through faulty worldviews being changed one person at a time. It will come as Africans and their friends devote their lives to finding solutions on the ground level to bring healing between longstanding tribal divisions, to develop easily reproducible ways for Africans to support themselves with dignity, to bring access to clean water, education, and health care to all, and slowly develop good governance and a less corrupt justice system.

The beauty of this latest viral justice movement is that very quickly, masses of people are being made aware of justice issues, and being mobilized to some sort of action to stop this injustice. My question is, how can this “viral justice movement” be sustained and address the long term systemic issues, whether that be in the Arab countries such as Egypt or in Eastern Central Africa?


Protesting Against Injustice

The breeding grounds for these nefarious individuals like Kony are power structures that are deeply entrenched. For every Kony there are at least 100 others like him. There are power brokers behind these men who gain both politically and economically from keeping age old tribal and political conflicts going. Mixed into that are multi-national companies who want to get a piece of the rich resources of gold, diamonds, timber and such, in Eastern Central Congo. These geo-political and economic issues must be understood and confronted as part of the problem.


As a student of movements, and one who wants to learn to catch the wave of movements that further what the Kingdom of God is all about, I will be doing a three part series on some of my reflections and observations on how movements are started and sustained. I will be referring to the Kony 2012 viral movement and other movements as examples.

How Do Movements Start?

  • By a Captivating Message with little Money: Movements start when a big idea or message resonates with people who grab hold of it and make it their own. An example of this is the book The Shack, which presents a different angle on who God is. The ideas explored in the book struck a chord in many people and the book sold like hotcakes. I believe that the Shack was first published in a garage, for only a few hundred dollars.
  • By a Messenger with the It factor: What is interesting to me is that many movements are started by young people who dare to dream of a better future and have the audacity to pursue that future in the present.  Jason Russell, the fellow portrayed with his young son in the Kony 2012 movie and the one telling the story, is in his early 30’s. The Welsh Revival in 1904 was led by Evan Roberts, who was 26 years old when the revival started. Evan’s sister Mary, who was also a key leader, was only 16 years old. Evan’s brother Dan, and Mary’s future husband, Sydney Evans, were 20 years of age. As one with a greying beard, I just want to cheer on the next generation to “Go for it!”, and tag along for the ride.
  • By a Medium that Moves the Message quickly: Movements have a medium through which the message spreads like wildfire, such as social networking systems today.
    The Mediums of Viral Movements

    The Koney 2012 message took off like a brush fire because of the mediums of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. In reflecting back on the Arab spring, we see the footprint of social media as the tool for mobilizing people quickly to gather and protest, such as in Tahrir Square in Cairo.

  • By Mobilizing the Masses from the Margins: Movements empower the grassroots and begin to challenge the existing power structures by shifting power from the center to the margins.

Reflection Questions and recommended Reading:

  1. For understanding some of the historical context for what is going on in Central Africa and the Congo in particular, I suggest the book King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild
  2. For understanding the nature and characteristics of movements, I recommend The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell.
  3. If you want a short but good read on Christian movements, Steve Addison’s book Movements That Change the World is a helpful resource.
  4. Questions for Reflection:
  • What “Big Idea” has so gripped me that I would give up everything to pursue it? Read the parable of the Pearl of Great Value in Matthew 13:44-46.
  • Who is a young person I know that I can encourage to make a difference in the world?
  • Where am I actively involved in turning the tide of injustice in my neighborhood and in the nations? “A ripple of change starts small with the power of one.” Read and reflect on Micah 6:8.
  • Examples: Helping to find affordable housing for the poor, especially single parents, becoming a friend with a Sudanese refugee family who have come from a war torn country and helping them assimilate here, going as a doctor or nurse to Africa to serve one month a year, or if you are a teacher, giving part of a sabbatical year to go teach in Africa, or you and some friends starting a simple movement to address a need in Africa such as orphaned children, the need for clean water,  or the need for micro-businesses that train and invest in Africans.
  • Go to Africa and let Africa get in your blood! Who knows you may end up moving there.

By Tim Schultz


How Do We Change Part 3: Developing Healthy Habits Through Forming New Grooves in Our Brains

 Blogs  Comments Off on How Do We Change Part 3: Developing Healthy Habits Through Forming New Grooves in Our Brains
Mar 142012

Let me start by reviewing a couple seminal ideas about how we bring about lasting change in our lives. They are simple ideas that are foreign to our natural inclinations. First of all, we are only responsible to change ourselves, not other people. Let me tell you, after 25 years of trying to change my kids and my wife, I’m finally starting to get it through my thick skull that I can’t change anyone but myself.

Second of all, true change starts from the inside out. To change, we must be motivated to change or have a revelation of our need to change. This connection to our heart is what we typically call vision or passion. Then we need the information of how to change which requires a shift in our thinking or in our head.

Finally, we need to develop new habits, practices, disciplines, virtues, or behaviors, which I call the work of our hands. This cycle of  change starts from the heart, then moves to the head, and then translates to our hands. This inside out way of changing is what we need to pass on to  those we parent, mentor, pastor, and lead.

The changing of habits or the developing of new behaviors is where most of us give up when it comes to change. We get inspired to change and we get the information on how to change, and even start out with good intentions to change our habits, and then lose steam. Why?

One of the belief systems entrenched in some of us from religious backgrounds is the idea that we are powerless to change ourselves, and that only God can change us. Sounds so true, right? Anything that smacks of us partnering with God in the change process sounds too much like a ‘works doctrine’ that undermines the concept of grace, so we avoid doing our part. Grace has two sides of the coin in its definition. First, the doctrine that restored relationship with God, often called salvation, is a free gift and cannot be earned by our effort. Second, grace is defined as God’s power and resources to be who God has called us to be, and to do what He has called us to do.

The consequence of twisting this doctrine of grace is that we wait around for God to zap us with His power, so that ‘presto’, all our bad behaviors cease. Through this download we expect to become instantly transformed into super nice, perfect people who act like Jesus all the time. We sit around as ‘spiritual couch potatoes’ putting all the blame on God for not changing us. We rationalize our lack of character by claiming that God’s grace means that we can do what we like and get away with it. This is what Deitrich Bonhoeffer referred to as ‘cheap grace’  in his book The Cost of Discipleship. The truth of the matter is that we cannot change our hearts, only God can do that.  Yes, we need God’s help to act more like Jesus from the inside out. Yet, as the Catholic tradition so wonderfully teaches us, the developing of virtues requires intentional c0-operation and practice on our behalf. Change of habits doesn’t just happen! We must activate God’s power through some training and practice. (Read Titus 2:11-12)

How Are Good Habits Formed?

The opposite extreme in religious circles is working hard to change our external behaviors, so that we look good on the outside, yet our hearts remain unchanged, full of pride, bitterness, and greed. We think we can earn God’s love or a free pass into heaven by all our good works.  This is what Jesus called religion. (Read Matt. 15:8-9; Matt. 23: 25-28) Religion is doing all the right things from the wrong heart. We have our religious act down pat, saying all the right words and keeping all the rules, but lack  the joy, life, and freedom that flows from a heart that has been transformed by God.

So what is our part in the change journey?

I want to share with you some natural, yet supernatural ideas from the fields of leadership, the brain, and change, that I have found helpful in this journey of developing healthy habits.  What is being explored is the connection between the limbic system which governs our emotional responses, and the neocortex part of our brain that governs our rational responses. Most of us initially respond to situations emotionally, not rationally. Emotions are what make us human. How we govern our emotions is the key. This is called emotional intelligence, and is the key to habit formation.

There is a small part of our brains called the amygdala, which is our emotional command center that reacts to emergency situations with the fight, flight or flee responses. A person who responds to a ‘not life threatening’ situation with anxiety and anger has developed deep grooves in the brain from the amygdala to the right side of the prefrontal neocortex part of the brain. The amygdala flight or fight response is hijacking a healthy response to the situation. This is why a person who has suffered from brain damage to the prefrontal cortex part of the brain will struggle with outbursts of anger, mood swings, or depression, triggered by seemingly small things.

Creating New Grooves in the Brain

Those who have developed deep grooves over time between the amygdala and the left side of the prefrontal area of the brain are able to override the negative emotional responses triggered by the amygdala. This allows a person to remain calm and positive even in a tense or pressure packed situation. The good news is that if we have developed negative habits, whereby we respond to situations with anxiety, anger, or panic, it is possible over time and with practice to rewire our circuitry in our brain so that we respond in a more positive way.

Let me give you an illustration from my life. There is many a day when it comes time for me to go do my workout, that the amygdala part of my brain says to me, “Flee! I don’t feel like working out today.” or “Working out is so painful, give yourself a break.” Yet after years of working out, I have developed a deeper groove between my amygdala and the left prefrontal side of my brain, which overrides the emotional messages from the amygdala by reminding me how wonderful and energized I feel after a workout. Thus I have been able to develop a healthy habit of working out. Learning to govern our emotions, which in the Bible is called self-control, is one of the keys to developing healthy habits.

Are We Self-Aware?

An example of where I still need to keep developing new grooves in my brain is my epidermal or emotional responses of impatience when an reckless driver is tailgating me. Another growth area is my proclivity to launch into a lecture with a frustrated edge when my kids are spending too much time playing video games instead of getting outside and being active. “It’s not what we say, but how we say it that matters!”

“Self-awareness that leads to self-mastery is the first step to changing oneself.”

Questions, Recommended Reading, and Excercises:

  • What virtues do you admire in others?
  • What are some healthy habits that you want to develop in your life?

    Get Honest Feedback!

  • What are some unhealthy behaviors you want to stop? A good book to read on this is What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, by Marshall Goldsmith.
  • Ask those who love you most and know you the best what would be one thing you need to change to become a better parent, spouse, leader, pastor, or friend.
  • Start with forming one new habit, like exercising 2 to 3 times a week, giving your kids a hug once a day, or a date night once a week with your spouse.
  • Set tangible, measurable, and attainable goals.
  • Tell a friend, a coach and your family what new habit you want to start, and give them permission to give you feedback and follow up with them.
  • Reward yourself for any steps forward.
  • Keep practicing even when you blow it.
  • Pick up and read Primal Leadership: Realizing the Power of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman and/or Virtues Re-born by N.T. Wright.

How Do We Change Part 2: Learning to Think Differently

 Blogs  Comments Off on How Do We Change Part 2: Learning to Think Differently
Feb 052012

Is Change Possible?

It is my firm conviction that lasting change is a process that begins from the inside out. As I expressed in the last blog, learning to live from the heart is a discovery of who we are and what we are passionate about. This clear sense of our identity is what gives us the mojo to change. Desire and hunger are the rocket fuel that propel us towards change

Another assumption I have about change is that we need outside help to change. As part of the 12 steps towards recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous has discovered that the journey of change requires a person to recognize their need of God or a Higher Power to change.

I agree with this premise: Transformation of the heart is a God initiated transaction. Alongside God’s help to change from the inside out, the chorus from old Beatle’s song that says ‘I get by with a little help from my friends’ so aptly states our need for external help to change.  This is where coaching comes in. All change requires the humility and willingness to ask for help.

Inside Out Change

With these two assumptions as the initial building blocks in the process of change, I want to discuss how change moves from the heart to our head. Once we have the motivation to change, we will need to have a change in some of our thinking.

Faulty or corrosive thinking comes from two sources: Worldviews that are formed over time as we believe and then buy into the  powerful spoken or unspoken voices in our cultures of origin that tell us what is right and what is real, and Wounds that have been inflicted on our core identity. Wounds empower lies that we believe about ourselves, and are the breeding ground for crippling behaviours in our lives. These narrow and negative thought patterns are like shackles that hold us captive, keep us stuck, and keep us from the freedom of change.

The following story illustrates how faulty worldviews and wounds must be confronted to overcome negative thinking and old ways of doing things. Esther and I just watched the movie Moneyball. This is the true story of Billy Beane, a highly touted baseball prospect of the New York Mets who failed to live up to expectations, and quit playing baseball. He also experienced a broken marriage in which he had a daughter. The wounding from a baseball career that went sideways, as well as a failed marriage, fed a lie that Billy Beane was a loser and would never make anything of himself. He became the GM of the lowly small market team, the Oakland A’s (41 million payroll), a team that nearly beat out the New York Yankees (125 million payroll) in the 2002 playoffs.

Challenging Pre-Existing Worldviews

At the end of the season, the Yankees gutted the A’s by offering players such as Johnny Damon lucrative contracts that the A’s couldn’t match. Beane decide to change the paradigm of how to build a successful baseball team by hiring a Yale graduate of economics who had developed a computer generated analysis program for evaluating and drafting players. Instead of trying to compete with teams such as the Yankees in pursuing and paying huge salaries to super star players or highly touted prospects, Beane and his nerdy assistant GM started looking for players undervalued by the market. They employed the use of sabermetrics, the specialized analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence, specifically baseball statistics.

This strategy went against all the conventional wisdom of the baseball culture and scouting in how to form a winning team. Beane set out to challenge the then existing worldviews in baseball and face the wounds from his past failures by thinking outside the box, asking a different set of questions, and challenging the power structures in baseball. Throughout the movie Beane is constantly battling the negative thinking and fear of failure due to his past wounds. He faces those lies and overcomes. After a successful season, the Boston Red Sox organization offers him a contract of $12,500.000 to leave the A’s and apply his method in Boston. He chooses to turn the contract down in order to be closer to his daughter in California and pursue a World Series in Oakland. Two years later, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series through Bill James implementing Beane’s strategy.

Though Beane hasn’t won a World Series title yet, he has changed the worldview and culture of baseball with his courage to think differently. A line (as I remember it) from Moneyball, “The guy who breaks through the wall first gets all bloody.”

Here are some  reflection questions and exercises to help you learn to think differently:

Reflections Questions:

  • Where are you doing the same old thing expending more energy and resources, yet getting the same old result? Where are you stuck?
  • Where do you need to ask a different set of questions to resolve an apparent problem or obstacle you are facing?
  • Where are you swimming against the current of established ways of doing something, and getting some flack for it because it is threatening the ‘sacred cows’ or power structures?
  • What new information is challenging your old way of doing things?

    Do you see an old lady or a beautiful woman?

  • What are the emotional barriers or cultural blinders such as fear of failure or pride that keep you from seeing a new reality?
  • What are the negative beliefs that you believe about yourself because of some wounding to your core identity? For example: “I don’t have what it takes to….” or “I’m a loser and everything I try ends up failing, so I won’t try again.”
  • What are the wounds you have experienced in your past that empower these lies?

 Practical Exercises to help you think differently:

  • Ask God for His power to change you from the inside out.
  • Ask some trusted friends to pray with you for healing from past wounds that empower lies in your life.
  • Practice risking by doing something that you fear or is outside your comfort zone, i.e. public speaking, learning to swim, eating a new type of food, or developing a friendship with someone from another culture.
  • Try making your next decision through a process of filtering it through two or three different worldviews at the same time. For example, an Eastern Worldview makes decisions through the lens of what the community thinks, while a Western Worldview makes decisions through the lens of what is most important for the individual. A gatekeeper is able to think in two or three different worldviews at the same time. These folks are very effective in global business, or as cross cultural communicators.
  • Make sure that in your posse of friends you have some positive people who believe in you.
  • For every negative comment you make, practice saying 3 positive comments.


How Do We Change Part 1: Living From the Heart

 Blogs  Comments Off on How Do We Change Part 1: Living From the Heart
Jan 132012

With the dawning of a new year, many of us are in the throes of taking stock of our lives by reflecting on the highs and lows of the last year, and trying to implement grand plans, or as we like to call them, resolutions, to try and change things we don’t like in our lives. For example, I have noticed the same trend year after year at the gym I go to.  Folks sign up in droves for a gym membership at the beginning of the year, determined to lose weight and get in shape. Yet after a month or so the crowds thin out, and I see mostly the familiar faces of the “regulars”.  People desperately want to change bad habits, but after trying for awhile, they often give up.

Another trend I have noticed in myself and others is what I call “destiny malaise”. Destiny malaise is a condition that can creep up on us even when we have a safe and secure job that pays the bills, offers opportunity for promotion, and a pension at retirement.  Yet, instead of being fulfilled, free, and joyful, we have this underlying feeling that we are going through the motions and not living out the purpose for which we have been placed on planet earth.  When we slow down and listen to our hearts, there is this nagging sense that there must be more to life, and we long to make a difference in the world. For others, destiny malaise comes from feeling stuck in a job that they hate or that is not what they are passionate about. (This is not to say that we can’t find joy or purpose in the mundane tasks of life.) It occurs when we settle for less than we should; when we buy into a false bill of goods about what it means to be successful.

Living with a sense of significance, the awareness that what we are doing is making a difference, and being true to ourselves – these are much better indicators of success. The two questions that I keep coming back to at the beginning of every year are:  Do people actually change? If so, how do people change? With these seminal questions in mind, I would like to do a three part blog on:  How we might actually bring about lasting change in our lives.

Passion Flows From Listening to Your Heart

The first step to change is learning to live from the heart. Unless we get in touch with who we really are, and what we really want, we will lack the passion, gumption, and motivation to change. Many of us are living life trying to satisfy the inner voices of the “ought self”. The ought self is what we feel obligated to be, or what other people think or have told us we should be. I have talked to people who really wanted to be artists, and yet are living under obligation to their parents, who told them that they had to pursue a career as a doctor or engineer, so that they could make a good living.  Now there is nothing wrong with being a doctor or engineer if that is what you are passionate about, and if you feel like you are making a difference in the world. The issue is not what vocation you choose, but whether you are being true to who you are and living with a sense of significance. I admire accountants, but if I tried to be an accountant I would be miserable!

Don’t let the opinion or agendas of others define who you should be. I believe that some of our struggle to change unhealthy habits is connected to living life without purpose or passion. We then anesthetize our pain or relieve our boredom/malaise  with addictions to food, sex, other drugs, and activities that provide an escape or ramp up the adrenaline! These habits dull our ability to hear the inner voice in our heart calling us to more. If we don’t live from the heart we die a little each day. The book of Proverbs puts it this way, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is the tree of life.”

Os Guiness says it this way, “Our passion is to know we are fulfilling the purpose for which we are on earth.  All the standards of success – wealth, power, knowledge, position, fame – grow tiny and hollow if we do not satisfy this deeper inner longing!”

Here are some questions and a reflection excercise to help you listen to your heart:

1. What would you keep on doing even if you weren’t paid for it?

2. When have you felt the most alive?

3. What kind of job would make you want to get out of bed each day with energy and desire?

4. What is your purpose for being on earth and how would you like to make a difference in the world?

5. Where are you in bondage to the “ought self” – trying to be what someone else thinks you should be, or, where are you held back by the fear of what other people think of you?

6. Try this reflection exercise each day as a tool to learn to listen to your heart.  Ask and be attentive to these two questions:  What made me happy today or what gave me life? What made me sad today or was a life drainer?  The life giving experiences are clues to living from the heart, and the life draining experiences may be clues to what you need to avoid or where you are not living from the heart.

7.  Ask those who know you well what you are good at and then do more of that!

I close with this quote from Steve Jobs, which sums up what it means to follow your heart: “When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like, ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.’ Since then…I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Your time is limited…Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.  And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

The Journey of An Architect Learning How to Be An Artist

 Blogs  Comments Off on The Journey of An Architect Learning How to Be An Artist
Sep 302011

The Grand Vision of the Architect Ready to Be Executed!

For most of my life, I have operated from a leadership philosophy/paradigm and a set of practices that cascade out of the notion that the role of a visionary leader is to be solely that of an architect. The prevailing thinking that has influenced my leadership training and practices flows from a Newtonian, mechanistic worldview in which predictability, creating plans and programs to produce order, and determining the end outcome are the key objectives. From this perspective, people can be viewed as cogs in the machine which can be manipulated to get the desired result, or seen as replaceable pieces to be discarded when no longer productive. An effective leader’s job is to come up with a big vision, to cast that vision to a group of people, to find the people with the necessary skill sets to execute that vision, and to implement the five year plan to bring that vision to fruition. This approach to leadership does bring about results and seems to work.

Yet we are entering a time when our Newtonian mechanistic worldview is colliding with other realities. Discontinuous or random change happening at an accelerated rate is making it more and more difficult to have long range, rigid plans.  The realization through chaos is that we are not as in control as we think we are – just look at the fluctuations of the stock market in the last month. There is a growing awareness that systems/organizations are not machines, but a network of interconnected relationships where even little decisions can have great impact on the whole – look at the grassroots revolutions in the Middle East in the last year. If you want to reflect more on some of these ideas, I suggest Margaret Wheatley’s book, “Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order In a Chaotic World”.

This collision of worldviews has given me an opportunity to complement the leadership skills of an architect by learning another way of leading. There are some who in reaction to the extremes of present and past forms of leadership are proposing no leadership, or anarchy.

Vision Flows out of the Imagination

Vision Flows Out of the Imagination!

What I’m discovering is that I need to learn to lead like an artist alongside my penchant for being an architect. Now I’m not much of an artist when it comes to painting or drawing. Although, I’m not too bad at sketching stick figures or randomly throwing paint on a canvas! I love art…just come look at my house sometime. I am learning that art is a way for us to get in touch with our longing for beauty, a portal to help us catch glimpses of the eternal, and a conduit for the creativity embedded by God in our imaginations to be unleashed. The art of leadership is not just casting a vision but creating contexts for others to unlock their imaginations, and together put strokes of the vision we see on the canvas. As leaders we are to create the borders to the canvas which are a few values and practices that make it safe for people to explore and express the vision they carry in their imaginations of what a better future would look like.

Creating Together

This means we as leaders have to give up control of what the end picture will look like, which, if we are really honest with ourselves, no person can determine anyhow! The borders or boundaries around the canvas keep us from tipping over into the abyss of rugged individualism – everyone doing their own thing – or the top down power politics where only the few most dominant or gifted get to paint on the canvas of vision.


Here are some questions to ponder as you contemplate learning to lead like an artist:

  • What does the desired future that brought us together look like?
  • Who needs to be at the table to put a stroke on the canvas of our painting of a desired future?
  • What are the values or practices that will make it safe for us to explore and paint together?
  • What borders or structures will complement the painting we are creating together? 

Life Lessons Learned Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

 Blogs  Comments Off on Life Lessons Learned Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro
Sep 092011
This summer as part of the rites of passage coaching I do with parents

Getting High on the View

and their kids, I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa with my son Jonathan and my brother Steve and his son, Ben.

Gung Ho and Ready to Go

Two nagging questions that you face while preparing to climb a mountain like Mt. Kili are: “Why am I paying big bucks and investing all that time to inflict pain on myself by climbing this mountain?” and  “Am I going to make it?”  Couched in these questions  are the the seminal questions we all ask whenever we are faced with an opportunity or challenge that will require risk yet great reward on the other side.What I have found is that the journey of climbing a mountain is a metaphor for life. That is why mountain climbing is such a great rite of passage experience for parents and kids.

The Challenge of Mt. Kili

Here are 7 life lessons that we learned on the mountain:
  1. GO SLOW TO GO FAST: On the first few days of the trek our sons were blazing the trail ahead of us grey-beards at a torrid pace. I kept saying to the lads, “This mountain will teach you to go slow to go fast!”, but to no avail. That is until the last night when we made the last push to the summit.  Altitude and -15 C  temps became the great equalizer. The two young studs were no longer out there leading the pack. At one point we thought the youngest member of our expedition wouldn’t make it to the top. Where as earlier in the trek he had boundless energy, he was now in agony, swaying and staggering under the affects of altitude sickness with every breath laboured. Yet slowly, at what seemed like a snail’s pace, we all made it to the summit…with guess who at the front 🙂  IN WHAT AREAS OF YOUR LIFE DO YOU NEED TO SLOW DOWN? WHERE IS THE TEMPTATION IN YOUR LIFE TO TAKE SHORT CUTS THAT WILL COST YOU IN THE LONG RUN?

    The End Goal Within Reach

    The axiom often quoted these days says, “It’s all about the journey, not the destination.” Though I appreciate the idea that we need to take time on the trek of life to enjoy the landscape, vegetation and each other’s company, which we did, I can’t imagine climbing Mt. Kili with no intention of reaching the top.  Having and reaching one’s goals are important. Yes, sometimes the task or the mission can be so all consuming that relationships suffer, and we miss out on living fully in the moment. Yet somehow on the mountain, we learned how to live in the tension of enjoying every minute of every day, and yet pushing each other on and pressing through to reach our end goal. We had some belly aching laughs as watched how many times we had to pee on the mountain because of all the fluids we were drinking. As we huddled in our tents at night under the clear, star-studded African skies, we treasured the rich conversations we shared about the mysteries of a woman, our fears, and our hopes and dreams for the future. Just as rewarding, though, was the profound sense of accomplishment and exhiliration we all felt at making it to

    Working Hard to Reach the Top

    the top of Mt. Kili. Imparting to our sons the life lessons of setting a goal, of doing the planning and preparation to attain the goal, and then working hard to achieve that goal was worth every penny. On top of that the personal pride we felt as dads at seeing our boys reach their goal, alongside the simple pleasure of  being and bonding with our boys made the journey and destination worth it. ARE YOU ENJOYING THE SIMPLE PLEASURES OF YOUR JOURNEY? WHERE DO YOU NEED TO SET SOME GOALS TO FULFILL YOUR DREAM?

    Made It!

  3. IT TAKES A TEAM TO LIVE THE DREAM: We were blown away at how many porters and guides we were assigned to climb the mountain: 14, including two guides and two cooks.  At first we thought this was overkill. Yet when we were trudging up the mountain gasping for air as we watched these incredible porters whiz by us wearing flimsy tennis shoes, carrying 50-70 pounds of gear sometimes on their heads or necks, we realized we may not have made it without them. What a gift to do this climb with my son Jon, my brother Steve, and his son Ben! They were just the right team to share this experience. WHO ARE SOME FRIENDS OR FAMILY THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURSUE A DREAM WITH?
  4. OVERCOMING OBSTACLES IS PART OF PURSUING ANY DREAM WORTH REACHING FOR: One of the most poignant memories of our climb occurred on the final night of the summit ascent. We started the climb up to the top at 12am. Right away we noticed that Ben, my brother’s son, was struggling with the effects of altitude sickness. He was having a hard time breathing, which was

    Overcoming Obstacles to Reach the Top

    compounded by a slight case of asthma he had been diagnosed with in the last year. He kept saying that he was sleepy and every step forward took all the strength he could muster. I was so impressed watching my brother Steve walking behind Ben speaking words of encouragement and at times literally pushing Ben up the mountain. At one point my brother, concerned for Ben’s wellbeing, asked the guide whether they should turn back. The affable guide turned and said, “No, Ben is a strong young man and he can make it.”  Ben was able to overcome and we all made it to the top at 6am, albeit with our water bottles almost frozen solid and our toes and fingers feeling a little numb from frost bite. We were rewarded with a glorious sunrise on the way down. WHAT SEEMINGLY INSURMOUNTABLE OBSTACLE IN YOUR LIFE DO YOU NEED THE COURAGE TO OVERCOME?

    The Reward


    5. CELEBRATE YOUR VICTORIES : It is hard to put into words the euphoria you feel when  you get to the top of a mountain. Perhaps it is simply the lack of oxygen that makes you feel a little giddy, but I think it is that sense of fulfillment, joy, and feeling truly alive, even though bone weary, cold, and feeling the aches and pains in parts of your body that you never paid much attention to. We were truly elated and proud of our boys and their accomplishment. WHAT SMALL OR BIG ACCOMPLISHMENT IN YOUR LIFE OR THE LIVES OF THOSE AROUND YOU DO YOU NEED TO CHOOSE TO CELEBRATE?  CELEBRATING BUILDS CONFIDENCE IN PEOPLE TO RISK AND FACE FAILURE.

    WooHoo...WE DID IT!


    6. CHEER ON  THE NEXT GENERATION: As I get older I realize that my role is to be a cheerleader for the next generation, encouraging them to dream big and go for it. Hopefully I will get to tag along. As was evident on most of this trek up Mt. Kili, our two sons had far more energy, vigour, and faster recovery rates than us dads.  We were constantly being passed by them on the trail. Rather than trying to compete with them, we encouraged them to lead us on up the mountain. The next generation needs us to coach them, create space for them to explore, risk, and yes sometimes fail, and most importantly to be their best cheerleaders and champion their dreams. WHO IS A YOUNG PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT LOOKS TO YOU FOR MENTORING? CHEER THEM ON, AND WHEN THEY ASK, PASS ON YOUR LIFE WISDOM.

    7. SQUATTY POTTIES KEEP YOU HUMBLE AND HUMAN: Have you ever tried to squat over an open hole on the side of a mountain in the dark to do your business? What I learned is that you have to be pretty good in geometry and have strong quads to be successful in your mission. From first hand experience, if you position yourself to0 far forward or to0 far back, you will surely miss the target! Besides that, squatty potties are not the place to catch up on your reading, as after a minute or two of crouching, your thighs start burning and cramp up…and yes, make sure you bring toilet paper with you as there is no guarantee that it will be provided, and if you have no toilet paper you find yourself in a very awkward position 🙂  WHAT IS KEEPING YOU HUMBLE AND HUMAN THESE DAYS?

    If you like you can take a look at the youtube movie of our climb below.


    Mission Accomplished- Uhuru Peak - the Roof of Africa @ 5895 metres


Learning to Play Is a Key to Health

 Blogs  Comments Off on Learning to Play Is a Key to Health
Mar 172010

Letting Loose Feels Good!

 With all the pressures and demands of life, it is easy to take ourselves to seriously, and lose the joy of being fully present in the moment. I love this quote by Thomas Merton: “What is serious to men is often very trivial in the eyes of God. What in God might appear to us as play is perhaps what He Himself takes most seriously.”


Below are some questions to reflect on regarding play:


Being Child-Like is Fun

When was the last time you laughed so hard your belly ached?
When was the last time you danced without inhibition….without being under the influence of some spirits:)?
What hobbies give you life?
When was the last time stood in awe at some discovery in nature?
Learning to play is a great way to relieve one’s stress and deal with road rage!  If you feel overwhelmed with life including all the responsibilities of work, bills to be paid, and are feeling burdened with the nagging guilt of all those unfinished chores….give yourself a break and go play!



 Posted by at 10:24 am