With Vision comes Discipline

If you know me at all, you know that historically I am not a very disciplined person.

Up until now.

What I have learned that if I am struggling with discipline, it is probably linked to the reality that my vision isn’t laser point specific, crystal clear, and incredibly compelling.

If it were, I would then discipline myself, i.e. orient the world in and around me, to achieve that vision.

Where there is a clear vision, the discipline follows.

It must.

In fact, the reality is: we are all disciplined.

For some of us, the discipline is that which enables us to avoid being disciplined.

I could write a book on this as I was a leading scientist in this field for nearly 29 years.

And if we are all disciplined, then we all have a vision.

For some of us, the vision is to be disciplined at not being disciplined.

Some of us have developed quite a skill for this over many years of a commitment to a lack of discipline.

To summarize:
We all have a vision.
We are all disciplined towards something.

The question is: are you liking what you are seeing?
Either way, you are choosing to be there. Yes, you.

Blaming others is simply another vision and another form of discipline.
And so is accepting responsibility and choosing a new path.

On Bitterness

I’ve been thinking about bitterness lately.

And by that I mean that in the past 12 months I have worked through a lot of bitterness.

And reflecting back on things and talking with friends and mentors, I have developed some thoughts that have been helpful to me and others and I would love to share them with you.

Bitterness is defined in a number of ways:
1. unresolved revenge
2. drinking poison and hoping someone else dies
3. anger, hurt or resentment because of one’s bad experiences or a sense of unjust treatment

The Christian Scriptures state that the root of bitterness defiles many.

Bitterness: Not something that I would say that I would like to be a part of my life.

Until it does.

And at times it even feels good.

To pay someone else back by witholding myself from them.

Until you wake up and realize how alone you have become.

Because you have devalued many of the people and things around you.

In order for bitterness to remain, one must devalue people and things in their lives.

The way I see it, bitterness is a vow to not be hurt again.

And in my experience, bitterness can go undetected for quite some time.
Because bitterness is the choice to blame others for the condition of your life.
And so if everything is someone else’s fault, what can be wrong with you?
You are doing just fine. It’s everyone else who is the problem.

Bitterness? What bitterness?

And so the cycle continues.

It begins with the perception that someone else has caused your life to be the way that it is
(Rather than taking personal responsibility for who you have chosen to become)
{more on this later}

So that is where it begins. You were hurt.
Now I want to be clear in my communication here. Crystal clear.
I am not saying that nothing anyone does should not hurt.
Nor am I saying that it is your fault that someone did something hurtful towards you.

I am saying you have a responsibility for your belief system resulting from the events that have happened in your life.

You were hurt.
You realized that it didn’t feel good to be hurt.
You vowed (to some degree) to not be hurt again.
You withheld yourself from others.
In order to withhold yourself, you devalued others. (you have to devalue them because if you value them, then they might be able to hurt you, and you are committed to limiting hurt in your life.)
So you devalue people and things.
You become cynical.
You are distrustful of others and become disillusioned with life.
Therefore, you choose to not show up and fully give yourself to others. You withhold yourself.
And therefore, you miss out on connecting with others.
Because you are trapped in your perspective (people can and will hurt you).
Because your perspective is safe (at least that’s what you tell yourself).
And if you did truly give of yourself and receive from others, that would make you vulnerable.
And vulnerability is a bad thing, as it exposes you to the potential of being hurt.
And you are committed at all costs to not being hurt.
And so you hurt others by witholding from them.
Yet it’s their fault. Because they or someone else life them (another human) hurt you.
And then you arrive at loneliness wondering why.

I have been there.

Waking up each morning feeling like you are in some sort of psychological washing machine with too much bleach, not knowing which direction is up nor having any idea where the door is because if you did you would do anything to kick it open and jump out…wishing for the days of old when you thought you knew yourself. When at least you had your innocence…

Hoping you will awaken one day and realize you were in a dream and everything is now fine.

And then the days turn into weeks, into months, into years.

You realize this is life. This is reality. No waking up from this.

You wonder if there is any hope. Could things get better? You ask yourself.

Everything you thought you knew seems to have deceived you.

And after a while, perhaps you come to the realization that it is time for something new.

At this point, you are likely willing to try anything.

Where do you start?

Here are my thoughts:

You are going to have to start by getting clear on how you have contributed to your life as it is currently.

Discover who you are currently bitter towards or disconnected with.

Get crystal clear about how you have contributed to the disconnect in the relationship.

Schedule a coffee date with them.

Begin the coffee date like this:

Admit to them that you have become bitter towards them.
Disclose to them how you have allowed your judgements of them to cloud your view of them.

At this point, I imagine you are getting a bit uneasy. You may have given up on me. But I ask of you, stay with me. I have been there. Before I had one of these conversations, I felt like I was going to throw up and pass out and have a seizure all at the same time. I ask you to consider how your current way of being has left you lonely and frustrated.

Recommit to do whatever it takes, at all costs, to rediscover yourself.

After you have acknowledged what is on your mind, ask for forgiveness.

Once forgiveness is extended, express your desire for a new relationship with the person.

One that chooses authenticity over cordial hypocrisy (aka acting if everything is always fine even when it is not)
Curiosity over judgment
Possibility over limitation
Love over condemnation
Fully giving of oneself over withholding
Compassion over anger
Clarity over confusion
Connection over disengagement
An unprecedented future worth having over rehashing past frustrations and hurts
Confession over pride
Hope over despair

Express your desire for this and then commit to it.

If they agree, then you have broken through to something new.

If they don’t agree, there are some things to think through…
Maybe a chance to try again with the conversation or perhaps choose other friendships that can be founded on the values you are committed to.

Every part of me hopes you will choose something new.

Every day. Something new. A new way of Being. Hoping. Living.

Cheese and Change

So, yesterday, Sarah and I went to the Cheeseboard.

The cheeseboard is a wonderful place here in Berkeley that has exotic cheeses from around the globe.

They also make fantastic pizza’s and pecan sticky buns and the atmosphere is like an invitation to a place you have never been however you know all the people.

Sarah and I were feeling adventurous so we went to try some new cheese.

If you know me at all, you know I like one cheese. Sharp cheddar.

As you can imagine, the invitation at a place like this is to broaden your horizons and allow your palette to discover new tastes that you were previously unaware of.

But as I mentioned, I like sharp. cheddar.

And so I tried some other cheeses.

And it was weird at first, as I let the unique cheeses melt on my tongue as I absorbed the flavors, my mind was telling me frantically, (in the character of an old man resistant to change), “David, this is not sharp cheddar; what is this, it’s not sharp cheddar; what is this…oh, oh, that was, that was kind of good…I wonder if I could like it…no, no, no, it is not sharp cheddar; I can’t possibly like it.”

Welcome to my world.

I wonder how often I am resistant to the unprecedented, the unknown, the uncertain because I am stuck in how things are; all the while unaware of a world that might exist. A world I have already given up on.

Now I know this may be a bit of a stretch from cheese, but it really got me thinking.

I find the risk worth the possibility of discovering those cheeses that are so savory they cause me to expand my vocabulary simply to describe their character

I wonder.

Gift Giving

Up until now in life, I have had a habit of waiting until the last minute to figure out what gift I am going to give someone on a particular occasion.

And, as you can imagine, as I am writing this now exactly 1 week before Christmas, this habit has somewhat crept up on me again.

Or have I chosen to wait until the last minute?

Often, I struggle with this whole gift giving thing.

At times, I outright dislike it.

It has, at times, turned into just buying a bunch of stuff.

And I don’t like the idea of that.

I am realizing that gift giving can and should take time. Not necessarily time getting the gift, but mostly time thinking about the person to whom you are giving a gift.

From now on, I am committing to choosing to spend time thinking about the person I am buying a gift for, and thinking about what I could buy them or make them that would bring joy to their life.

Rather than simply asking them what they want.

The Discipline of Writing

So, I have been writing quite a bit more lately.

Which brings the inherent reality of the resilience necessary to become an accomplished writer.

And of course this makes sense, even if I am not always a fan of the work necessary to produce a quality piece.

I am working on a poem right now. One that I really like the idea of.

It is taking me a bit longer than I thought. At times I want to give up on it. Or give it to someone and have them fix it up.

Oh, writing, why must you be so much like life.

Writing More

As you may have been able to tell, I have been writing quite a bit more than previously.

I have written more in the past three weeks than I did in the previous 11 months.

I have committed to a couple of things: writing 3 pages of random thoughts/journaling 5/7 mornings each week, writing at least 5 blog posts each week, and writing a poem each week.

And three weeks into all this, I am realizing the resilience involved.

Like right now for instance. I am writing because I believe in the discipline of simply getting my thoughts out and putting the words on the page.

And at times it is tedious and at times I love it.

If the vision is clarity of thought, then the discipline that follows must be faithfulness in the everyday.

Would you join me? Make some commitments for January 2012.

Tell someone.

Follow through. Even when you don’t want to.

Scarcity and Abundance

This is a shorter blog post that I am going to expand on in the very near future.

I believe there are numerous ways to look at life.

One of those ways – I have been reading about lately – is the idea of scarcity and abundance.

Scarcity is being insufficient for the demand.
Abundance is having a very large quantity of something.

These definitions are very intriguing to me especially when considering my responses to the world around me.

Oftentimes when I respond, it feels as if by default. That is just the way I respond and that is that.

According to the definitions, that response is a mindset of scarcity. There are not other options. The options are limited. There are not enough options to meet the demand.

Lately I have been trying out the abundance mindset, and it has proven much more resourceful.

With this mindset, I realize in almost all situations, there are numerous ways I can respond. There is a “very large quantity” of options that I can access if I think about it, and choose something other than my default.

Being in command of my life and knowing my vision facilitates my ability to weigh those options quickly, in real time, and choose the option that is in line with the person I am committed to being and the difference I am committed to making in the world.

In the end, it is all about my commitment. If I am not getting the result I want, I realize there are infinite other ways to try next time…until I get the result I am committed to having and my vision is actively being fulfilled.

Or I could just keep defaulting on my responses, blaming the world around me for my frustrations, wondering why I am so frustrated, saying I don’t know what I am doing, etc., and then repeating that formula until I decide I want something new.

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