Goals

The next word in the 100 Day Challenge is GOALS.

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a time frame by setting deadlines.

What goals do you have? Are they written down or recorded? Are they measurable? What would happen if you took your list of goals and threw it is the trash? Be careful where and how you do this but I think you would be just fine if you literally burned your goals.

I read a book recently titled Burn Your Goals by Joshua Medcalf and Jamie Gilbert. They did not set goals. Instead, they loved people, served people and provided value. Rather than focusing on arbitrary goals, they focus 100 percent of their energy on their commitments and controlables. If most of your focus is on your goals, you increase pressure and decrease confidence. That can make you miserable.

Focus on the process, and trust it. A football team should not worry about first downs and touchdowns and scoring points. They should be concerned with the process, doing things the right way, every play. If they can do that, first downs, touchdowns and points will take care of themselves. They will score more points than they allow. If you are measuring it by the number of victories, that equals success.

Try this: Don’t focus on goals or how far you must go; focus on the next step to getting there.

Today’s Winning Thought: In business and in life, trust the process of consistently doing the right things the right way. That will lead to success.

We Can Learn a Lot From Someone With Down Syndrome

I have been sharing each word from my book Sight Words the past few weeks, focusing on one word each day. I am not yet halfway through the 100 Day challenge. Today, I want to share something different with you. I will resume with the words tomorrow.

I apologize in advance for the length of today’s post. It is much longer than most.

I started writing this post a few days ago while going through some difficult days. I am in no way seeking any sympathy, that is just where I have been recently. These thoughts came to me while spending some time with our daughter.

I remember, some things more vividly than others, the early days and months of Kyle’s life. The first thing I remember is the night she was born. I knew immediately something was not quite right, or at least not like we expected. In the hours and days that followed, we learned that she was born with Down syndrome and a genetic heart defect. The latter nearly claimed her life before her second birthday.

I also remember waiting for her to learn to walk and talk. Our family knew her progress would be slower than most stereotypical ‘normal’ children. We just did. Not know how far behind she would be. I probably should not have joked about this, but I did. I would say that we could not wait for her to start talking. Now, we cannot wait for her to stop. I have learned during her 27 years that when she talks we would do well to listen. We can often learn what is bothering her or if she is hurting from listening to her self-talk.

Her actions and words have taught us a lot. We have learned a lot from a child with Down syndrome. I thought it might be worth sharing. Please share it with others if you agree.

LIFE. Never take it for granted. Life is short no matter how long you live. Live it to the fullest.

UNCONDITIONAL LOVE. It does not matter who you are, what you look like, or what you have done. Kyle loves everyone, without condition. She has issues with dogs. She does not like most of them. But people? You are loved by her and there is not a single thing you can do about it. There is not a chance that she will not love you for who you are.

PERCEPTIVE. She has a sixth sense. She knows when something is not right. And she acts on it.

EMPATHY. Empathy, it is said, is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another. Kyle has something we did not or could not teach. Sometimes I am in awe.

LISTEN. You have to listen carefully. I have never met a boy with Down syndrome who I can understand. Many girls are also hard to understand. Even Kyle on occasion. You have you listen closely. I often repeat what I think I heard to make sure.

SPEAK. Do this from the heart, with a measure of grace and gentleness. There is a time to be firm and straightforward. Whether it is speaking or through a keyboard, pause first because you cannot get the words back.

FEARLESS. Except for the dogs I mentioned, she has no fear. Mission trip to Haiti? Sure. “When does the bus leave,” she asked, when our missionary friend spoke about her orphanage and invited people to visit the 5th World country on a work mission. Asking people about their spiritual life? She is all over it. She puts me to shame.

PRAYERFUL. Every Sunday morning, Kyle is the first one up in our house. She prays for everything and everyone that comes to her mind. I know, because she sits on the sofa (where I normally sit) and she is praying out loud. One recent morning, she said, “Dad, come over here and let me pray for you.” #meltedmyheart

SERVANT. Sometimes we need a personal assistant to keep up with her schedule. She volunteers, attends college and participates in numerous activities. And a few days ago, she said, “I need to step up.”

GIVER. She simply has a giving heart.

THANKFUL. She is so appreciative of the little things.

FRIEND. It was not our goal for everyone in our community to know Kyle, but it seems like everyone does. We are blessed by her and our many friendships. We will never take them for granted.

Life gets busy and it is easy to get sidetracked. Be intentional. Live with purpose and on purpose. Don’t forget the lessons that we can all learn from a girls with Down syndrome.

Today’s Winning Thought: “I have Down syndrome and I can read. You need to pay attention and try harder.” — Kyle Loucks, speaking to a group of elementary students she was reading to at a school where she volunteered.

Forgiveness

The nest word in the 100 day challenge is FORGIVENESS.

In his book Next, Adonis Lenzy wrote, “unforgiveness has the power to keep us from moving forward while the person we are angry with has moved on with his or her life. While they are free, we are held captive by memories and emotions that continue to drain us of energy and ambition.”

You have heard the phrase ‘forgive and forget.’ You are human. Most often, it is not possible to forget. But, although it might be difficult, you can forgive. It might take every ounce of strength and grace that you have, but is possible. Forgiveness is not always easy, and it will not change the past, but it can change your future.

Today’s Winning Thought: Life is too short, no matter how long you live, to carry a grudge. Don’t let that heaviness injure your back.

Friends

Another word in the 100 day challenge is FRIENDS.

I do not believe God meant for us to go through life alone. We need friends. We need to be a friend.

Friendship comes from mutual esteem. The late John Wooden wrote in his book Coach Wooden’s Pyramid of Success, “Make friends and maintain friendships. Friends help to complete us, and we will be better for having taken them along on our journey to becoming all we are capable of becoming.”

You have something pretty special if you have some close friendships. Invest in them. Never take them for granted.

I have said and written many times that if you do not have a friend who you can call at 3 o’clock in the morning if you need to, you do not have deep enough friendships.

Today’s Winning Thought: There are many things in life that we should never take for granted. Friendship is one of them.

Finish

Today’s word in the 100 Day Challenge is FINISH.

I have been seeing this word, or something that reminds me of it, in a lot of places recently. There is a quote at the top of each daily page in the planner I use. Yesterday’s quote, from Mark Twain, read, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

I am also reading Jon Acuff’s newest book titled FINISH. The tag line under his title is “Give yourself the gift of done.”

Sometimes, it is hard to start something. Sometimes it is hard to finish. But it matters how you finish. Take life, for instance. It matters a lot how well you finish your life. You cannot go back and make a brand new start, but you can start today and make a brand new ending. And it will end. Whether it is a job, a relationship or your life, do not get to the end only to have regret.

And do not quit too soon. A few more football games were won last weekend on the final play. One in particular was by a team that had no chance of winning.

I like how seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson said it: “In order to finish first, first you must finish.”

Today’s Winning Thought: Finish. Finish well. Finish strong. Don’t worry about the outcome. Trust the process.

Family

The next word in the 100 Day Challenge is FAMILY.

One of the great tragedies in America today, I believe, is the breakdown of families. Home should be a safe place, where you are loved and supported. Sadly, too many homes are more like combat zones.

There is no question about it, I married up. I mean, I have a great wife. She is strong, a great support and is someone who I count on to provide me with wise counsel. I am blessed, and I know it. We have been blessed with a wonderful daughter, who has strengthened our marriage, and our immediate and extended family. But we are not perfect. Do we ever irritate each other? Sure. Anyone who says otherwise is lying. There is no such thing as perfect. Individually and as a family, we are a work in progress. Keep making progress and you will avoid many land mines and enter few, if any, combat zones.

How do you make progress? You start by being intentional, by being kind. Love builds up. It does not demand its own way. As Max Lucado once wrote, “Don’t change ‘I do’ to ‘I’ll redo.'” Remember the old saying, “Happy wife, happy life.” Do you want to right, or do you want to be happy? And as for your kids, one of the best things you can do for them is be a good spouse.

Having a loving, healthy and happy family does not happen automatically. You MUST pour yourself into your relationships. It requires continual effort and attention.

Today’s Winning Thought: You and your family will experience trials, struggles and pain. It is unavoidable. But take care of each other. It is your primary support system.

Fair

FAIR is the next word in the 100 Day Challenge.

BREAKING NEWS! Life is not always fair.

Sometime in your life, something is going to happen that is not going to be fair. You might be the person who gains an unfair advantage, or you might not be. Sometime, someone might even do something intentional to get what you should have been given. Don’t be surprised, it (unfairness) is going to happen. Just roll with it if it is a minor thing. Don’t worry about the small inconveniences. There might be a time when the unfairness crosses over the line and you have to take action to keep from being taken advantage of. If that happens, know your legal options.

Don’t fret the small stuff.

Today’s Winning Thought: Going foreword, try living by Rotary’s Four-Way Test. Of the things we say, think or do: Is it the truth? Is it fair to all concerned? Will it build goodwill and better friendships? Will it be beneficial to all concerned?

Failure

FAILURE is the next word in my 100 Day Challenge.

A few days ago, I wrote that a person can go from failure to success, but not from excuses to success. That is because success begins with failure.

Embrace failure. Do not be afraid of it. You should wish for it for your kids. What? Don’t be afraid to let them fail. Just encourage them to not waste a failure by failing to learn from it. You need to hope that they fail at small things when they are young so later they won’t fail at bigger things, like life.

Failure is part of the learning and growing process. A friend of mine is a former college football coach. One of his teams was rolling along unbeaten and headed for a great season. Then they lost a close game. I remember him telling his players that they had lost a game, not a season. You are going to lose a game or a sale or a job more than once in life. Your response will say a lot about you. Pick yourself up off the ground and start again.

Today’s Winning Thought: “The road to success is filled with the potholes of failure.” — Kevin O’Leary

Faith

Next word in the 100 Day Challenge is Faith.

My faith is an important part of my life. You might be a person of faith, or you might not. Regardless of your beliefs, I think you will be encouraged by the words in my book Sight Words.

I like how author and pastor Max Lucado puts it: “Faith is trusting what the eye can’t see.”

For me, that included trusting God when our daughter was born. We knew seconds after she was born that something was not right. Yet we were at peace. Our doctors suspected and soon confirmed that she had Down syndrome. A few hours later, we learned of added complications — a heart defect that would have to be surgically repaired. Those were things known to us. There would be more times when our faith was tested. There always are. Who knew that 17 months later following successful heart surgery that she would contract a virus which almost took her life?

I did not know how I would do it, but I was certainly going to have to trust what I could not see. Scripture helps. I remember reading a verse in Ecclesiastes that just seemingly leaped off the page. “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things.” (Ecclesiastes 11:5).

Before Kyle was born, I did not do well when I saw people like her. Now, there was no place to run, no place to hide. I never ever thought of running away, but I was going to need someone stronger than myself as I walked into an avalanche of emotions that barreled toward me. I did not have to know why she born with Down syndrome and a huge hole in her heart. I only had to trust. I had unexplainable peace when I first heard the words ‘Down syndrome’. I had peace when I handed her to two anesthesiologists who would take her to the surgeons who would repair her heart, and I had unbelievable peace when I heard another team of doctors at the Mayo Clinic say they could do nothing more to save her life.

Today’s Winning Thought: “Many things in life will be beyond your control, so it is a good idea to get used to it and start developing your faith.” — Dan Britton and Jimmy Page

Excuses

The 36th word in the 100 Day Challenge is EXCUSES.

I was visiting recently with about 100 high school freshmen and sophomores. We were talking about success in life. The group I was with encouraged the students to be and stay positive, always be learning and never make excuses. I told them that the people in their lives can help them get from failure to success, but no one can help them get from excuses to success.

So, the message was avoid making excuses, think deeply and often, figure life out, take care of what you have, work hard and take responsibility for yourself. The person who does that will be more successful than the one who makes excuses. And the sooner they learn this equation, the easier it will be.

In a few days, I will write about lessons, which is another of my 100 sight words. One of the lessons is ‘No Excuses.’ I wrote that people hate excuses like they hate arrogance. Maybe even more.

Today’s Winning Thought: “Maturity is when you stop complaining and making excuses in your life; you realize everything that happens in life is a result of the previous choice you have made and start making new choices to change your life.” — Roy Bennett