Sunday, June 2, 2019

Reflections from the Home Team - June 2, 2019

I am so grateful for the continued gift of life God has granted me that I don’t have the time and am not willing to waste the energy to complain.  I’ll take each day as it comes and tuck Willy’s advice away in a special place in my heart by treasuring each day as a continuing gift of life with the ability to start each day as a brand new game! 

Greetings from Cedar Falls!

Wanted to share a few thoughts today that were generated as I sat in a doctor’s office waiting for a client that I frequently provide Medical Transportation for.  It was a situation that brought back many memories that I experienced while going through cancer treatments in Iowa City. While waiting for my rider, a couple was doing some “serious complaining” about any number of issues ranging from having to wait for their appointment, to ineffective treatment options that had been recommended, to why “health issues” were now a part of their life… and on and on and on!

Well, my client came out of his appointment and I buckled him in the van and we shared some positive comments with each other on the ride home that were quite refreshing after hearing the previous discussion in the waiting room. When my rider asked to listen to some Country music on the ride home, I tuned to a local Country station and a song came on by Country artist Willy Tea Taylor that caught my attention.  The lyrics that caught my ear went as follows:

“And he never thought life would get so real; because he always thought life was a baseball field; and even if you lost; never complain; there is always tomorrow and a brand new game.”

Willy’s lyrics reminded me to be thankful for the fact that despite issues that may make our days uncomfortable, and at times cause us to complain, we need to be thankful that we have been given the gift of life and yet another day to live and start a brand new game!  His words provided me some perspective after listening to a couple that had appeared to fall into the “rut" of complaining, a place where I have found myself many times.  Maybe you have as well…Those lyrics in turn brought back a couple of life lessons I had learned about complaining which have helped me through some difficult times over the years.

The first lesson comes from one of my favorite coaches who was always big on the concept of “team”.  When he sensed that players seemed to be grumbling or complaining about problems day after day, he got us all together for a “team” meeting… something my former players probably can relate to as I often pulled my teams together to discuss things. When we all got settled in, Coach told us a joke that caused us all to crack up with laughter!  Can’t even remember the joke now. After a few minutes, he told the same joke again. This time only a few of us chuckled. Actually, we thought he might be “losing it”. Then he told the joke for the third time and no one laughed or even smiled. We were all convinced that he had lost it!  At that point he looked out at us and with a smile said, “You can’t laugh at the same joke over and over, so why are you always crying about the same problem?”

His point was a simple one… If you find you find yourself continually complaining about something, are you working towards resolving it? Or have you simply gotten comfortable complaining about it?  Often, the toxic emotions and experiences from our past can sabotage us or keep us stuck with the same old thoughts, patterns and regrets.  We need to let them go and look for ways to resolve them.  I know it’s easy for me to drift back to the pains and challenges that being a cancer survivor can bring, but complaining about them has never brought me relief.  I need to remind myself to always be looking for a solution and to be thankful that we have been given the gift of life and yet another day to live and start a brand new game! 

I often recall the Biblical story of Nehemiah when faced with challenges in my life. Nehemiah was a man who literally lived on his knees. Whenever he needed guidance, strength, provision, or protection, his first response was prayer. Because of Nehemiah’s humble dependence, God was able to use him greatly to achieve His purposes. Like Nehemiah, I constantly need to remind myself to come to God and the Holy Spirit for guidance, strength, provision and protection when life’s challenges lead me to the “ rut "of complaining. Psalm 27:1 says; “The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the defense of my life; whom shall I dread?” A comforting thought for me…

When we complain, we tend to focus on everything else but being our best. Complaining can result in lost productivity and it will sabotage the morale, engagement and culture of any team, if we let it.  Do we have differences from time to time with strategies on how to make decisions in the best interest of the team?  Of course we do, but we need to accept those differences as opportunities to grow and move forward.

Believe me; I know a lot about complaining. I have been a part of teams in the past where we had some “professional complainers” (sometimes even myself) and found that it not only sabotages your own happiness and success, but the success of your team, whether at work, on the field or in the classroom. I began to realize that we often complain for two main reasons… First, we may feel powerless and second, it may be a habit. Personally, I decided to break the habit as I did my daily best to stop complaining.

I often refer to several suggestions on team that I learned from Jon Gordon, a leader I have grown to admire and respect over the years. Jon has worked with any number of teams and organizations that I have been a part of and he offers some ways to break out of a "complaining" rut if you find yourself in one as I did. His suggestions helped me realize I was not powerless and that I had the power to choose my personal beliefs and actions. And by focusing on the positive instead of the negative, I found the faith, strength and confidence to take on life’s challenges and identify the solutions to my complaints. In a nutshell, here are those suggestions…

Jon Gordon writes:

Practice Gratitude. Research shows that when we count three blessings a day, we get a measurable boost in happiness that uplifts and energizes us. It's also physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. Two thoughts cannot occupy our mind at the same time (despite what some multi-taskers may share).  If you are focusing on gratitude, you can't be negative. You can also energize and engage your coworkers by letting them know you are grateful for them and their work.

Praise Others. Instead of complaining about what others are doing wrong, start focusing on what they are doing right. Praise them and watch as they create more success as a result. Of course, point out their mistakes so they can learn and grow, but make sure you give three times as much praise as criticism!

Focus on Success. At the end of each day, write down or journal the one great thing about your day. The one great conversation, accomplishment, or win that you are most proud of. Focus on your success, and you'll look forward to creating more success tomorrow.

Let Go. Focus on the things that you have the power to change, and let go of the things that are beyond your control. You’ll be amazed that when you stop trying to control everything, it all somehow works out. Surrender is the answer…

Pray. Scientific research shows that daily prayer reduces stress; boosts positive energy; and promotes health, vitality, and longevity. When you are faced with the urge to complain or you are feeling stressed to the max, stop, be still, plug-in to the ultimate power, and recharge!

As always, Jon has good advice to help us through our difficult moments. For many of us, I think prayer may be one of the most challenging areas of Jon's suggestions when dealing with complaining. I know it can be at times in my own spiritual life when I get the urge to complain. 

When I think of prayer, I often think of Matthew 19:13...

“Then people brought little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them.” 

Praying for the people we love is one of the greatest gifts we can give them and who doesn't love little children! Jesus especially loved little children and the image I often create in my mind of Him placing His hands on those little ones and praying for them touches me as to the importance of prayer as a gift in our daily lives. And letting people know we are praying for them during difficult times is also an important part of that gift.

We often try to make prayer complicated, but it really isn’t. Prayer is simply a conversation with God. Our helplessness is our most powerful prayer. God does not listen for the eloquence of our words, but rather He listens for the voice of our need.

To close out this reflection, I am so grateful for the continued gift of life God has granted me that I don’t have the time and am not willing to waste the energy to complain.  I’ll take each day as it comes and tuck Willy’s advice away in a special place in my heart by treasuring each day as a continuing gift of life with the ability to start each day as a brand new game! With the help of my "Home Team", both human and Divine, I'm able to tackle the challenges that life may toss my way while doing my best to stick to the "no complaining" rule.

Many blessings to each of you and thanks so much for being such a special part of my Home Team!

Are you or someone you know fighting cancer... struggling with the physical, emotional and spiritual issues that accompany a cancer journey or other serious health issue? Making ourselves available to others can open up the doors of opportunity for deeper relationships, healing, and transformation. For many, time is one of the most valuable commodities in today's fast-paced world. Sharing time with others is a wonderful gift. It says, "Here I am. . . for you. To listen, to care, to serve." The power of presence should never be underestimated!  

Be an encourager in someone else’s life!

To learn more about being an encourager, and to view the Reflections blog, visit the Reflections from the Home Team website at: