Leaning in and speaking slowly, my new friend was about to make a confession. We were in a coffee shop talking about what life might look like after he finished school. After a brief discussion about mutual friends, he mentioned that he had recently attended a conference where inspiring speakers challenged people to take risks, […]
Everyone wants to have great relationships. This desire to be deeply connected to other people transcends the typical societal divides of class, culture, and status. On a recent trip overseas I was pondering what a great relationship looks like.
I took the trip with a good friend. We have known each other since we were kids navigating puberty and middle school lockers, and we have remained fairly close over the years. He was in my wedding and I was in his. We visited each other in graduate school and welcomed each other’s kids into the world. During our trip, we were reunited with other friends from our youth and we all belly laughed late into the night recounting tales of the past.
When I think about someone passing judgment, I get a pit in my stomach. Past pains, failures, and hurt feelings stream through my mind. Coaches passed judgment on my ability to make the team, employers passed judgment on my work, and friends passed judgment on the future of our relationship. Sometimes I have measured up and sometimes I have not . . . but I have never enjoyed it when people passed judgment on me.
What I have learned is that passing judgment is nothing more than a measurement. Judgments are just cold static rulers that generate a passing or failing grade. They are impersonal scoreboards that reveal the outcome of a game. Even the most accurate judgment only reveals what has already happened. In many ways it is easy to pass judgment on others. It does not require a relationship or a commitment to the future. When a defendant leaves a courtroom after being judged guilty […]
Have you ever seen a one-man-band? After strapping various musical instruments to his body, he begins to make music by simultaneously playing them all. When done well it is impressive: one person doing everything. Yet, it is more of an athletic accomplishment than a musical event . . . more side show than concert. One-man-band music does not top the charts and is not purchased on iTunes because what is memorable is the novelty not the music produced. […]
The other day my 5 year-old son came to me with a serious question. His voice was low, clear, and calm. I could tell he had something on his mind. He said, “Dad, will you teach me how to be a dad?” “Of course,” I told him. “I love who you are becoming and you […]
“I like Atticus the way he is,” my daughter told me. You see, Atticus Finch, the fictional hero of To Kill A Mockingbird holds special status in our house. I read the book to our kids when they were young and we were all inspired by Atticus’ consistent pursuit of justice in the segregated south. […]
At some point everyone will be confronted with the foundational questions of a mid-life crisis. Regardless of whether they result in circumstances obvious to others, they will reveal the quality of our priorities – and our choice of priorities determines whether the answers generate destruction or growth. Perhaps if we asked these questions of ourselves (and asked them of our friends) on a more regular basis, the answers would not yield a crisis at all. Instead only minor course corrections may be needed.
I wasn’t home when my daughter broke her arm. My wife updated with me the medical news: both bones of the forearm were snapped and she could see through the skin that the bones were out of place. Her little hand hung limp from her wrist. A cast alone would be insufficient. Surgery was necessary. […]
I didn’t want to leave India. My family’s first year there was filled with tremendous challenges. I had the daunting task of developing a replicable method of rescuing slaves under Indian law and building a team to make it happen. Meanwhile my wife almost died following the birth of our second child and suffered through […]
A stunning amount of conflict in our house was solved with one simple change. The idea comes from a simple command, maybe you remember it: “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes.” Most of us learned this famous quote in grade school. It was a dangerous and bold order from the Generals during […]
Some of the meanest things we ever hear come from ourselves. “You are a failure.” “That idea stinks.” “If people knew who you really were . . .” “You are a fraud.” These were the thoughts racing through my mind in the middle of the night. Tasks at work and home were pilling up and […]