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Things To Think About, Monday, December 17th, 2018.

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"No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own were:
Any man's death diminishes me,
Because I am involved in mankind,
And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
It tolls for thee."

John Donne


Happy Monday, or whatever Monday you choose.


Our actions do not occur in a vacuum and have repercussions even if we do not see them. Twenty One Pilots sing about a desire to turn back time and return to the "good old days." How many of our goals are perhaps rooted in a quest to return to our golden age? Things familiar to us provide comfort; we do not grow when we are comfortable. The past can also color our feelings causing us to avoid situations that open old wounds. Maybe you never got over when the kids laughed at you at the school play and are terrified of public speaking. With the preponderance of F.U.N., the acronym which I shall not repeat in polite company but are nights were people discuss their failures; it is safe to assume that you are not alone. Maybe the people around you are not out to get you but are also trying to protect themselves from old wounds. What would happen if you invited others to your island? What could you create together?


But, and there is always a but - you have not been able to let go of the past. There is the adage about being the change you want to see. If you acknowledge that many people are in the same boat, perhaps you can be a leader and practice active listening. When you treat people with respect and listen to their thoughts with an open mind, you open up space for productive collaboration. I have said it time and time again, "you are the boss of you." Why are you holding yourself back? Use your fear as an opportunity to discover courage. According to Google, courage is "the ability to do something that frightens one."


Descartes reasoned "I think therefore I am." I challenge you to conclude, "I think therefore I act." Every action was a thought, conscious or unconscious before it happened. Do not let your thoughts hold you back from taking action. If we continue to think about the past, we will live in the past. If we only think about the future, we can be overwhelmed. When I find myself in analysis paralysis, I focus on the now. I have twenty million things to do, but what do I need to do right now? I can only do one thing well at a time. My son has us doing a plank challenge. His thoughts cause him to cry out very melodramatically about his upcoming demise due to the pain of holding a plank. I told him to focus on the next five seconds, and after you survive, the following five. Now instead of screams of anguish, I hear "one Mississippi, two Mississippi," and we finish our planks.


What's next? Are you ready to face your past? Are you prepared to grow? You can move forward if you decide to act. Be courageous. Throw out the old playbook and decide on your next move. Then. Take — a Step. Breathe. You did not die. Take another step. Decide to ground yourself in your new reality. Greet the people on the island and help them take their first step. When you can teach others, you have learned the lesson.