The Devil is in the Details

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The Devil is in the Details

This common phrase likely originated in the mid-19th century. It is debated whether it was an art critic or an architect who coined the saying, but either way, today we commonly understand it to mean that it is the small things, the details, that make a task difficult or challenging.

Last night, as I was making dinner, I opened this bottle of wine and there on the cork (seen in pic) was that saying: “The Devil’s in the Details.” I’m almost certain the makers of Handsome Devil Malbec had in their minds to communicate that their attention to detail in the winemaking process is what turned out this fantastic wine (and it was a nice wine). However, it got me thinking about details a bit differently…

In my life, it really is the small things that make life both difficult AND amazing. My daughter walking in to my office to give me a kiss before she leaves for school in the morning, my wife telling me thank you for loading the dishwasher (which I should do regardless), and my son telling me “I love you too” when I tuck him in at night are all relatively insignificant things that really make life amazing. Contrarily, I also let some of the most mundane things make life difficult. People driving slow when I’m in a hurry, someone being a few minutes late for a meeting that has been scheduled for weeks, and forgetting something at home that I intended to bring on vacation are all really small things that sometimes drive me crazy. 

But here is the amazing thing about enhancing your self-awareness – you STOP seeing the Devil in the details and you START only seeing God in the details. The quote was actually bastardized and has been modernized by a 20th and 21st century society that has chosen to focus on failures and difficulties that arise from small things rather than celebrate the beauty that can be achieved by attention to detail. Gustave Flaubert, the writer of Madame Bovary, coined the phrase “the good God is in the details.” Flaubert was noted for being a perfectionist and he felt strongly that only attention to small things allowed you to truly find God. Improving my self-awareness has helped me realize that this is true. When you start to become aware of your own thoughts, you suddenly have the ability to ignore the ‘detail’ thoughts that focus on negativity and enhance the ‘detail’ thoughts that bring joy to your life. The more you bring the joy-filled details out and focus on those, the more at peace you feel and it is in that peace where you often find God. 

So yes, The Devil is in the Details, but more importantly God is in the details. No amount of ‘self-improvement’ will help you achieve peace and joy because you will only focus on fixing the negative details in your life and you’ll always be looking for the devil. Enhancing your self-awareness gives you the ability to choose whether you are looking for the devil or God in those small, insignificant things that fill our daily lives. When you choose to look for God in the details it is really hard to see the devil.

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Walk with the Wise

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“He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.”
                                                                                     – Proverbs 13:20

This past weekend we spent a fun-filled weekend with some of our dearest friends camping on the beach. Both families’ kids were remarkably well behaved and seemed to have a good time playing together, we did some solid outdoor cooking, and braved a little rain and some cold nights as the raccoons scavenged our campsites for scraps.

Amid all of the fun, I was reminded of the importance of good friendships to any marriage. The four of us have been laughing, loving, cooking, crying, drinking, debating, teasing, and talking for 14 years together. Our families have grown and lives have become busy; our marriages have had rough patches and we’ve helped each other through those; our values haven’t changed, but our priorities have. So this morning, when I read the Proverb above, it really hit me – my life is being enriched, and I am growing wiser by “walking” through life with wise friends. 

This past weekend it was the Richardsons, but there are many other wise people that I walk with and who walk with Jessi and I as a couple. I am thankful for each and every one of them and the wisdom they have added to my life. Sometimes it is just the right word at just the right time, other times it is just a hug and saying ‘I love you.’ The wisdom of friends comes in many ways and I hope that I can continue to walk with the wise. As for the foolish…there just isn’t time for fools in my life, so I’m sticking with the wise. They’re a lot more fun anyway!

The Energy Bus

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This blog is mostly about my personal experiences, thoughts, and perceptions, but I recently read The Energy Bus by Jon Gordon and was so inspired by it that I feel compelled to share some of the wise words I gleaned from it with others. I strongly encourage this quick read.

Quotes and Thoughts from The Energy Bus

“The goal in life is to live young, have fun, and arrive at your final destination – as late as possible – with a smile on your face.”

“Positive teams produce positive results, and the essential ingredient is positive energy.”

“It’s the simplest lessons in life that are often the most profound and meaningful.”

“…trust, faith, enthusiasm, purpose, joy, and happiness” are the things that make up positive energy

“Your positive energy and vision must be greater than anyone’s and everyone’s negativity. Your certainty must be greater than everyone’s doubt.”

“Trust that great things are happening.”

“What would you rather be, corny and happy or buttoned up and miserable?”

The gift you bring to the world is “your presence of feeling good and being happy.”

“The heart’s electromagnetic field is 5,000 times more powerful than the brain.”
– heartmath.org

“If you are open to the signs (of life) and look for them, they will always tell you where your bus needs to go and what you need for your ride”

“When you bring out the best in others, you can’t help bringing out the best in yourself.”

“Trust is the high octane fuel that will take your bus wherever it needs to go.”

“Do not focus on the future because the future brings only what the present gives it.”

10 Rules for the Ride of Your Life
1. You’re the driver of your bus.
2. Desire, Vision, and focus move your bus in the right direction.
3. Fuel your ride with positive energy.
4. Invite people in your bus and share your vision for the road ahead.
5. Don’t Waste your energy on those who don’t get on the bus.
6. Post a sign that says NO ENERGY VAMPIRES ALLOWED on your bus.
7. Enthusiasm attracts more passengers and energizes them during the ride.
8. Love your passengers.
9. Drive with purpose.
10. Have fun and enjoy the ride

5 Ways to Love your Passengers
1. Make time for them
2. Listen to them
3. Recognize them
4. Serve them
5. Bring out the best in them

You can buy it here: 
http://www.amazon.com/Energy-Bus-Rules-Fuel-Positive-ebook/dp/B0086I25S8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395147092&sr=8-1&keywords=the+energy+bus

 

Alone and Together

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I mostly run alone for a lot of reasons – some time to be quiet and reflect, the ability to be distraction free and observe the world around me, the chance to run as fast or slow as I want depending on how I feel that day, and the focus it creates for me on being my best regardless of what is going on around me.

Partially because I run alone, I also enjoy races. I don’t run races every month, let alone every weekend, but I try to make them a regular part of my running life. Being Together with other runners reminds me that I’m not insane – that others value testing their bodies this way. I enjoy running in races because the conversation and camaraderie with other runners on the course is fun and engaging; it inspires me to keep going sometimes or speed up sometimes. Running in a race is so different than my daily running alone, that I get a lot of enjoyment from it and make it a priority.

Life is the same way. I have to do a lot of things alone and I choose to spend other time alone. A lot of my work, whether it be from my home office or on the road traveling to be with a client, involves being alone. I used to dread this, felt like I always needed people around me. Now, I enjoy it, even savor it, because I recognize the value of being alone. Being alone and quiet in life has become something I prioritize and work to make a part of my life, for much the same reason that I run alone. 

Most importantly, being alone in my daily life creates a greater appreciation for times I get to be together with my family and friends. The picture above is from our family visit to the US National Whitewater Center’s Green River Revival for St. Patrick’s Day and it was great to be completely focused on that time together, enjoy the conversations with my kids, and share in some pure fun. I’ve had some great opportunities recently to see friends that I don’t see very often and those times together have made me more appreciative and thoughtful of them when I’m alone.

I look forward to my alone time this week and I’m also looking forward to some upcoming “Together Times” with my family and friends. BOTH are valuable parts of a healthy life and must be protected and prioritized.

 

Spring Renewal

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Spring is here in the South, and as I was walking the dog in the neighborhood tonight it became very obvious – the smell of meat on the grill, kids still outside playing at 8p because it isn’t fully dark, short sleeves and flip flops to walk the dog, and blogging from the front porch with a cold one.

Spring is a time for renewal of so much of our lives and that should be embraced. Not only are the 4 months from March 1 to July 1 some of the best weather all over the country, but it is also a time many of us get serious about exercising, start planning and getting excited about upcoming vacations, look forward to the end of another school year, and clean out the garage, yard, car, etc from all of the winter build up. 

In business, this four month stretch is one of the strongest of the year in car sales, home sales, travel related industries, and business to business transactions. I’m not an economist, so I can’t explain everything behind that, but it makes sense to me that people are more energized, feel more productive, and have a greater sense of optimism in the spring, which leads them to spend more of their money. As someone who makes his living on sales, I, for one, am happy for that!

So what is going to be renewed for Spring 2014? I’m committed to my running lifestyle, but it gets a jolt with better weather for longer runs; I try to make more of our family time about being outside together where the whining and complaining seems reduced and my tolerance and patience seemed increased; I have several really fun trips and visits planned with family and friends the next four months and just thinking about and planning those gives me energy; and the beauty of nature coming back to life is a strong reminder not only of God’s love for us, but his promise to always bring life and good out of times that seem tough and dark.

I’m going to embrace and savor this time of renewal so I can watch and see what other areas of my life can experience some new growth.

Social Media Lent

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Today is Ash Wednesday, the traditional start in the Western Christian Church of the season of Lent. Lent is a 40 day observance by Christians leading up to the crucifixion of Christ on Good Friday and the resurrection of Christ on Easter. Like many church traditions, Lent is not a Biblical teaching, but a creation of the early church to remind themselves of final days of Jesus’ ministry and the importance of his final days to the salvation of believers. The tradition calls for believers to deny themselves some common pleasure, vice, or comfort during this time and replace it with prayer, fasting, and remembrance of Christ’s suffering.

Last night, as I sat down to the above fat, juicy, succulent steak on Fat Tuesday and, along with the other diners in the restaurant celebrated a final night of gluttony before this season of denial, I had to take pause.  I realized that if I was going to be serious about experiencing real emotional and spiritual growth during the season of Lent, I should really deny myself something that really mattered to me and would actually cause me to pause every time I thought about it and force me to redirect those thoughts to prayers.

So I’m going to take a Social Media Lent. Shortly after I hit “send” and “post to Facebook” on this blog, I am going to remove the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps from my phone for the next 40 days. I plan to continue to blog, as for me that is a writing outlet, not a social media engagement tool, per se, but for the next 40 days I will abstain from social media. I realized recently that I tend to look at Facebook 6-10 times a day and that time is going to be replaced with prayer for the friends that I typically am watching and engaging with in that forum, an email or phone call to that important group of people I call friends, and making time to connect in person with some of the people I only ‘follow’ through social media.

I’ll be back, because I do genuinely appreciate the connections I receive with people through Facebook. However, my hope and prayer for this Season of Lent for myself is that my concern and caring for the most important people in my life will grow during this time and that I will find greater interpersonal connections than I currently have. A blessed Lenten season to all.

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