Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Choose Your Path Wisely

This post will be short and simple. The idea comes from an issue I’ve been wrestling with for the past few months. I have never felt more convicted about what to do than right now…

Maybe you’re just like me or you’ll find yourself in the same situation like me one day. If so, I hope this helps.

For several years I’ve had a fairly specific career goal. My plans to obtain this goal were all based on advice given to me by others. I followed this advice because, after all, they had accomplished in their life the goals I had for mine.

However, this logic is flawed.

It’s flawed because though the advice worked for them, I am a different person. I have different stress levels, abilities, dispositions, and a different family life.

These past few months have been almost unbearable because I’ve been living in someone else’s shoes. Instead of charting my own path, one that fits me, I chose to walk the path previously paved. Some very capable and solid leaders paved this path, but it’s not mine… it’s theirs.

I have to start adjusting my course. I have to start seeking my path. What that will look like, I have no idea.

No, I have zero plans of quitting my current job… at least not right away. I believe there are lessons to be learned from it. I believe with some shifting of focus, it can be a part of my new path.

The walkaway from this is…. Don’t let others plan your future. Don’t check to see how everyone else got where they are before you get where you’re going. Choose a path that fits you.

Some might say it would be unfortunate if I didn’t at least give a reference to my good ole buddy Robert Frost here... So which path will you choose? The one less traveled? I can assure you, in the last few weeks… it’s making all the difference.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Why The Adulterous Woman Is Relevant To Us Today

1 But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts; where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" 11 "No one, sir," she said. "Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin." - JOHN 8: 1-11

Before I get into this, it’s important that you know I am no theologian. I have several very good friends who have spent most of their lives researching the Bible both for personal/spiritual and academic fulfillment. I would not fall in the latter category.

The adulterous woman in John 8 is a story often brought up when someone close to us does something that society or we see as unacceptable. However this isn’t a pick and choose story. This is a teaching of Christ.

I love the stories that as your reading you can visualize the look on the faces of the people who think they are backing Jesus into a corner, this happened often. They keep pushing, harder and harder. Then Jesus looks up, almost with the look of “you’re still here?” and he creates a teachable moment.

He responds to their continued efforts to have her stoned and to ultimately “out” Jesus as being who he said he is with a simple response, “Hey guys, you’re right…. But how about the one with no sin step up first.” He blasts them away.

For some reason, that’s where a lot of references to this story stop. However, the last part of this story is probably the most important portion of this teaching moment.

I can imagine the woman bent down with her face to the ground and hands covering her head in preparation for the stones that would be thrown and she begins to hear a thump and then more. The stones are falling to ground. Not only has the crowd dropped their stones to the ground, they leave the area. She looks up and it’s Jesus she sees. He is the only one standing there. He looks her square in the eyes and tells her, “Go and sin no more.”

Jesus doesn’t only challenge the accusers he challenges the accused.

There is something in this story for both sides. And after all, we are all on one side of the situation more times than we can count.

We establish rules and laws in society and sometimes we get caught up in the rules and laws. We forgot why we put these rules and laws into action in the first place.

If we go after the rule breakers without consideration for the spirit of the law, we are no better than those who are standing there with the stones ready to pounce. The woman had to bear public humiliation. I’ve heard it said that this woman was literally caught in the act and pulled straight from the bed and out to the streets.

Jesus, probably with the eyes of a father, looked at her and told her to “stop this foolishness.” “Turn it around.” “Your life is important to me and I don’t want you to waste it.”

I’m not sure what happened to her after this. I would like to think it was a transformational experience and she probably struggled but she would always remember the time a man saved her life and would make attempts to do better.

The challenge I offer here is this: Let’s stop trying to pretend we are perfect. Let’s stop trying to pretend we know better than others. Yes, we have rules and laws, but let’s do our best to carry out the spirit and not the letter.

Jesus showed great mercy and grace to those he came in contact with, but he never left them unchallenged or unchanged. However, he couldn’t do the latter without the former.

And that is why the adulterous woman is so relevant to us to today.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Status of New Year's Goals

As stated in a previous post, here are my goals for 2014. As promised, I will give you an update:

Here are my goals for 2014... 

1.  Finish writing my dissertation
2.  Run ten miles a month
3.  Read one book a month (part of @JonAcuff's #EmptyShelf challenge)
4.  Post once a week on nbcopeland.com

As you can tell, I'm completely dominating my initial goals by completing working toward goals 1 and 3. I'm a month in and I can't go back now. I say "working towards" because I'm far off from completing my dissertation. In fact, this goal may not be feasible. I just got word that my chair is taking a sabbatical in the fall semester. I was going to try to ramp up and complete everything by the end of the summer, but my initial draft of chapter two came back and looked like it died the death of a thousand cuts. So, it's essentially a re-write. Which is partly why I missed posting last week; to be honest I was in a slump. I've decided to climb out of the pit and start chipping away at goal one. As far as running ten miles a month.... It was a good idea, but the cold weather won. I don't mind bowing out of that one.

How did you do? Have you worked towards the goals you've created? I have heard from some of you through twitter and will continue to check in for some added accountability. If you didn't make goals, start now. Don't wait until next January to start goals, that's just silly.     

Thursday, January 23, 2014

An Open Letter to Jon Acuff

Dear Jon:
       Thank you for being awesome. I have enjoyed reading your books, blog posts, and tweets. If I were to completely switch gears in my career I would probably take a page out of your playbook. The problem is you've made it seem so simple. It’s almost like one day you weren't there and then all the sudden you were. You didn't do this intentionally, but it does seem that way. All credit to you for capitalizing on each opportunity given. Honestly, I never saw the “exit stage right” from the Lampo Group coming. It was a gutsy call, but then again… you did just write a book about quitting your day job to follow your passion. Back to the problem at hand, you have made it look crazy simple to get out there and be noticed. You've been quietly building this huge user base foundation and now you are reaping the benefits of a very well timed and executed plan. Seriously, you are kind of like a rock star in my book (full disclosure…I don’t actually have a book).
          In all seriousness, you have helped me create a sense of passion for communicating. You are a great example of following your dreams and not stopping when the first dream becomes realized. Will I ever be a bestselling author, have over 1000 twitter followers, or speak at awesome conferences… I have to think probably not, BUT that doesn't mean I won’t try.
          Thank you for being a great example of never giving up and making things happen. Thank you for being awesome.

Your friend (kind of, except we've never met),


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Fear of Being Irrelevant

One of the biggest fears I have is one day constantly changing technology will become too much to keep up with and I will become irrelevant. I believe I was very fortunate to have grown up during the tech-boom. Considering the pace at which technology is evolving, things are being less intuitive to me. I used to be on, what I considered, the cutting edge of social media and new technology, but now there is so much available, I don’t even think I know half of what’s out there.

I remember the Christmas morning my brother and lifted that huge box off of the table and there sat an IBM tower and monitor. Years later the internet was mainstreamed and I had a chat conversation with someone in Germany. I had no idea what they were saying, but I was typing messages to people across the globe. With that came my first email account, an AOL account nonetheless. I was a freshman in college when Mark Zuckerberg allowed the rest of the nation’s colleges to join in on what Harvard and Stanford had privately enjoyed for a short time. Twitter seemed like an easy jump and now I’m sitting with a little over 700 followers (not breaking records, but I can appreciate that number).

So why do I feel insecure about the future? I have one of the coolest jobs on the planet; I get to teach college students. Something I have noticed recently is the way my students think has changed a degree or two. The way their cognitive powers work have shifted a bit and I don’t think this change is good or bad, just different. I constantly have to update the way I teach my course (which is probably how it should be done anyway), but this updating is much more frequent. I can’t exactly put my finger on it, but I would venture a guess that this generation of students is the microwave generation and used to instant results. Maybe I fall between the toaster oven and the convection oven, but I don’t think I’m quite in the microwave group and this scares me a bit.

Last semester I met with a student every Wednesday for almost the entire semester. This student has a vision for a company she wants to start. It’s fun to help people shape their dreams and give guidance, especially when it’s a super-cool tech start-up. This experience led me to think about the increasing amount of freshly minted graduates (or some who didn’t quite finish) who take risks to start their own company. If there is ever a time to go for it, now is the time. And this is why I’m worried about the future….

If I cannot keep up with these young minds and their constantly shifting and developing technological platforms and ways of analyzing problems, how can I be relevant to anyone? It has been suggested that there will be a generation who rejects interactive technology as we know it today, but I don’t see that happening. We have created too much infrastructure around the way we live to just drop it completely.

My resolve is to do the best I can to stay sharp, to spend the time it takes to learn new technology, and to never be afraid to ask someone for help. I refuse to be an ostrich with my head in the sand. I refuse to let one of my biggest fears become a reality. I refuse to become irrelevant. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

4 Goals For 2014

New Year's goals are often made, but
StatisticBrain.com says only 8% of the goals
are achieved. I have been in that 92% all too
often, but this year I'm going for a different
approach. Instead of trying to fill a list of 10 or
14 (for those of you in the "14 for 2014" camp),
I'm sticking with some basic, but challenging
goals. I'm not going to overdo it by setting
myself up for something that can't be
accomplished. However, I'm not going to set the
bar so low it can all be accomplished by March. 

Progress reports will be posted every first day
of the month. If you want someone to help keep
you accountable for your goals, comment
below. I'll send you a message each month to
check on your progress. Let's tackle these goals 

Here are my goals for 2014...  

1.  Finish writing my dissertation
2.  Run ten miles a month 
3.  Read one book a month (part of @JonAcuff's #EmptyShelf challenge)
4.  Post once a week on nbcopeland.com