Is America Dead?

Not if we choose otherwise

beautiful-old-rural-bridges-fbWhat a couple days, huh?

A crazy election race followed by much anger, rioting, crass commentary, racist remarks…at least that’s what the press would have you believe.

Have those things occurred? Sure. But if you think that is the bulk of the reaction you’re allowing yourself to be fooled.

It’s funny how both sides in this election believe there is a conspiracy that involves collusion at the highest levels of industry, government, and the media, against their side. And sad how quickly each side want to call those on the other side idiots.

The question we need to ask is, “Why is the press, which seems to be the mouthpiece for the conspiracy at worst and at best solely interested in their own gain, so bent on dividing us?”

Yesterday I posted this on facebook:

Let’s be honest. We’re a nation divided.
We were a nation divided yesterday and we are a nation divided today.
NO political win was going to unite us.
NO political party was going to unite us.
NO legislation will unite us.
WE have to unite us.
Which bridge will you build today?

Within less than an hour I had positive interactions with friends from all across the spectrum:

  • Christian
  • Non-christian
  • Muslim
  • Atheist
  • White
  • Black
  • Hispanic
  • Asian
  • LGBT
  • Straight
  • Married
  • Single
  • Republican
  • Democrat
  • Voted for Hillary
  • Voted for Trump

THAT is America.

We’re not determined by who sits in the oval office.

One friend put his fears into gentler words:

Curt, we may have been a nation divided yesterday but for the first time I felt I was having honest conversations about race relations with many of the people I knew who are white.

Albeit painful for some that was a bridge being built but I fear many who bought into the idea of “make America great again” believe the theme means quieting such discussions because it does not fit that narrative. 

And my response to him was the same as my response to all who are angry about the outcome of the election or fearful for their future.

It isn’t about them, it is about us.

The conversations that have started must continue and WE are the ones who get to continue them.

To those who are angry, we feel your frustration.

To those who are excited about the new President, understand you would have been just as angry had the vote gone the other way.

To both sides, the other side aren’t idiots. But if you allow the common rhetoric to convince you they are then there is no hope for us as a country. We will split. We will come, eventually, to some sort of civil unrest on a national scale, and we will fail.

We don’t solve that be whom we elect. A government OF the people, BY the people, and FOR the people has one important cornerstone that is being overlooked: The People.

If WE the PEOPLE come together instead of allowing ourselves to be divided we CAN make America great again. We are the ones who have to fight for us because we ARE stronger together. Legislation won’t get us there, parties won’t get us there, one president won’t get us there.

We will, one bridge at a time.

What bridges will you build today?

Why Your Friendship is More Important than Your Vote

A political commentary


There is no doubt about the fact that this election cycle has been one of the most divisive in quite some time. In my half century plus I can’t recall a campaign that created as much relational angst as this one.

And no matter which side you’re on I think we can agree on at least ONE thing.

Our relationships are more important than who wins this election.

Now, if you want to dig into me to sort out if I voted for your person and, as a result of my answer, want to end our friendship, so be it. I won’t come chasing you down.

It is obvious that folks on both sides think the OTHER side is blind.

And, to me at least, it is obvious that this is what the political establishment likes.


Because in a democracy the people have the power and when the people are as hatefully divided as we’re starting to become we abdicate that power.

As a software guy I have many times had to find a way to solve a business problem with the tools just weren’t built to work that way. We do that be getting a clear understanding of the goal then working towards it in a collaborative fashion.

So let me be clear about MY goal in this election and following.

I want life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…and I’d like to pursue it with my friends.

And I’d like all Americans to have that same opportunity.

Now, if you’re about to tell me that this cannot happen unless…


It CAN happen if we sit down and discuss solutions instead of discussing people, problems or politics.

And to that end I’d like you to enjoy this musical interlude:

Chill, I’m out.



10 Pieces of Wisdom for 2016

2016blogThis year I will surpass the average age that men in my family have attained over the last 11 or 12 generations. There were some curve busters in there to be sure and now I hope to bust the curve in a more positive direction. That being said, in my own context, I am an old man.

Thus, as an old man, I offer up these ten bits of acquired wisdom for your 2016. I do not call them “pearls” for to you they may be old hat, or pieces of something quite different than semi precious stones. Nonetheless I hope that your New Year is a blessed one!

  1. Two things you must do everyday: Laugh out loud and exercise. There will be many days when you don’t want to do either but every day you do both will be a day that feels brighter, better and more hopeful. (Typing “LOL” multiple times doesn’t count as laughter OR exercise.)

  2. Invest in three new relationships: 1 person who can teach you something, 1 person whom you can teach, and 1 person who is just fun to hang with. This will stretch you more than any self-improvement class.

  3. Commit to dialogue: Yes, I see the irony of typing this in a monologue.

  4. Learn to ask questions and fact check: it will make you better equipped for dialogue.

  5. For my young friends who are trying to decide is they are currently with the person they should marry: Do NOT ask yourself “Can I see myself with this person for the rest of my life?” This is the wrong question. You’ll always find some foible that distracts you from saying yes. Ask instead, “Can I see the rest of my life without this person in it?” Because if you choose someone else that will be your reality. If your answer to this second question is no, then odds are you’re with the right person.

  6. If you’re a Christian: Spend time everyday reading your Bible. This will be difficult, really difficult. For myself, if I don’t do it before I get out of bed in the morning I will almost assuredly miss a day and have to catch up. There are many plans out there that can help you do this and even 1 year Bibles that break it up for you. When you read don’t worry about getting something profound out of it every day. It isn’t about “the words” it is about The Word.

  7. If you’re not a Christian: Invest some time each day in developing a deeper understanding and commitment to whatever it is you do believe: meditation, the Koran, the Talmud, the Vedas, etc. The result will be either a consistency between what you say you believe and how you live it or a change in what you believe that results in a consistency with how you live it.

  8. Set one goal: I’m bad at goal setting, really bad. I find though that if I set just one that is a little bit of a stretch AND set three milestones that land between here and there I not only get a little better at goal setting but I also have something to look forward to and strive for on the journey.

  9. Remember that text has no tonality: Real conversation, whether in person or via phone / Skype / Facetime is ALWAYS clearer, more easily understood, and more enriching, than anything you type anywhere. Don’t believe me? Give me a call and we’ll discuss it.

  10. Ask yourself often what it means to love people: The word has become so diluted that it is often hard to distinguish between what it means to love your spouse or to love pizza. Supposedly Sanskrit has 96 words that mean love. I’m sure one covers love of a spouse and a different one covers love of pizza. There is very little, dare I say nothing, in life that is riskier but that will give more back to you than loving people.

May your loved ones be close and drawn closer, may the scope of your world grow larger in wonder and in purpose, and may your God, whomever or whatever you conceive him to be, bless you richly in the coming year.


Gandalf vs. Saruman: Runner, Manager or Leader?

gandaldandsaruman Lord of the Rings fans can easily tell you the history between these guys. In Tolkein’s Middle Earth the wizards are sent to help mankind battle the evil of Sauron. In the initial stages Saruman, the guy on the right here, is established as the “leader of the white council”. So he is decidedly the guy in charge.


If you know the story then you know he eventually succumbs to evil and effectively becomes a lieutenant of Sauron. Gandalflf, meanwhile, goes from being a sort of #2 wizard, Gandalf the Grey, to being head honcho, Gandalf the White.

So how do you rate them on our personality scale?


If you recall we also loosely defined our three leadership personalities as follows:

Runner: Knows the top line goal, knows the bottom line performance needed to stay viable, often changes strategy mid race in order to accomplish the one or stay ahead of the other. We RUN organizations.

Manager: Keeps the processes running like clock work and thus can be invisible until problems arise, solves problems, likes things to run smoothly. We MANAGE processes.

Leader:Thinks people development first, often is less adept at managing upward, can sometimes less process slip. We LEAD people.


  • Chosen to lead, responsible for strategy to defeat Sauron
  • Begins to study the enemy through use of the seeing stone (palantir)
  • Becomes convinced the enemy cannot be beaten
  • Raises his own army
  • Begins to support Sauron
  • Tries to convince Gandalf of this “wisdom”
  • Winds up headed in the opposite direction from where he was chosen to lead

In a modern business sense you could argue that Saruman studied the competition and realized he could not compete and so chose the corporate buy out or merger path. Clearly those who had elected him to lead did not agree with his diagnosis nor his prognosis but he went there anyway. In the end his “enterprise” was destroyed.

In this regard he is almost pure Runner.

He radically changes direction leaving his “staff”, the other members of the white council, first confused then dismayed. He sets off on a course only he agrees is right and we then only ever seen him in the company of lackeys and yes men.

I believe the phrase “It’s lonely at the top” originated with a Runner.


  • Willing to serve as a individual contributor
  • Goes about doing what appears needing done
  • Sets others in motion
  • Is maddeningly absent from time to time
  • Eventually takes on the mantle of “executive” leadership

In a modern business sense here we get the idea Gandalf is like the guy in charge of an independent business unit. He motivates his people and gets them moving with just enough instruction to allow them to maneuver on their own when necessary. He seems to understand what it takes to motivate each of his different types of followers.

In this regard he is almost pure Leader.

Interestingly enough he also illustrates one potential weakness in the Leader personality, an inability to or a lack of regard for “managing up”…but more on that later.

Did you label them as I did?

Which personality types did you pick, and why?

Aragorn vs Denethor: Runner, Manager or Leader?

Denethor vs Aragorn  I have to confess that I am fascinated by the leadership profiles that Tolkien provides in his books. My original listing of some of those profiles can be found in a previous post here.

Today I wanted to look at these two characters, each vying for the leadership of Gondor. If you’re not familiar with the story… well, this won’t mean quite as much to you, so I won’t go into too much background detail. But read on and see how you decide.

Suffice to say that Denethor has been ruling Gondor as Steward for years. Aragorn is the  rightful heir to the throne and while he does not come to claim that throne outright he does have his sites set on restoring the kingdom.

I previously listed their leadership profiles as follows:

DenethorSteward of Gondor

  1. Leads out of a fortress mentality
  2. Leads out of ancient traditions
  3. Leads out of militant participation ( I gave him credit for possible past performance. We do NOT see this in LOTR)
  4. Leads out of an ego that forgets limitations and boundaries
  5. Succumbs to temptation and evil in the end

AragornKing in exile

  1. Leads out of patience and longsuffering.
  2. Leads with an acute knowledge of the mistakes of his predecessors.
  3. Leads with a sense of timing and purpose.
  4. Leads as a decisive participant.
  5. Inspires others to greatness (I gave him credit for where he ends up)


If you recall we also loosely defined our three leadership personalities as follows:

Runner: Knows the top line goal, knows the bottom line performance needed to stay viable, often changes strategy mid race in order to accomplish the one or stay ahead of the other. We RUN organizations.

Manager: Keeps the processes running like clock work and thus can be invisible until problems arise, solves problems, likes things to run smoothly. We MANAGE processes.

Leader:Thinks people development first, often is less adept at managing upward, can sometimes less process slip. We LEAD people.

So, with what you know about Denethor and Aragorn which personality would you say they each work out of most often?


He rules Gondor with a bit of an iron fist but he has too in the time when we meet him due to the demands of war. He states that he wants things to remain as they always have in the days of his fathers before him. He is quick to act even spending the lives of his own sons in defense of the city. He reacts to what he “sees” in the Palantir and eventually succumbs to the threat on his border, committing suicide and attempting filicide. (killing of his own son)

He knows the ultimate goal, defeat Sauron. He knows the bottom line, things the way they used to be, and he radically changes strategies in order to cope throwing his people into chaos. I’d label him as a Runner.


He starts off quite aloof seeming to merely be following Gandalf’s instructions to look for and aid the hobbits. It is almost as though he doesn’t want to be bothered but would rather maintain his anonymity until he is told it is time not to by either Gandalf of perhaps Elrond. Eventually he comes around to showing a different side of himself as he comes closer to resuming his throne.

He has managed process for years and stayed invisible. He’d rather not be bothered with people (hobbits), he waits patiently for the time to be right to solve the problem. Clearly he starts out as a Manager.


What is fascinating to watch in Aragorn is his transformation from Manager to Leader. The shift that happens in how he relates and thinks once he starts operating from this new perspective. By the time we get to the end he is clearly working from a Leader personality indeed!

Try reading the book again, or watching the film, through this lens and see if you can spot all the ways in which Aragorn goes from working out of a Manager personality and shifts to s Leader personality!

Did you label them as I did?

Which personality types did you pick, and why?




Three Leadership Personalities

What kind of leader are YOU?

  • Do you manage up as effectively as you manage down?
  • Are you a visionary who paints grandiose pictures?
  • Are you a plan and process guru who regularly nails forecasts and execution?
  • Do you have a loyal following?

In this episode of Leadership we’ll look at three personalities that emerge when leaders are asked:

What do you do?

Excellent leaders know they must keep these three personalities in balance, but what happens when one of the three becomes predominant?

Take a look:


Leadership Styles in Tolkein

jacksontolkeinWith the release of the second chapter of Peter Jackson’s version of The Hobbit this week I thought it might be appropriate to revisit some old friends from the Lord of the Rings.

It seems to me that leadership conversation are wending their way into my day with ever increasing frequency. With that in mind I use the observations below, which I have in fact posted previously, as the start of a new series on leadership looking at several of these characters as well as several from The Hobbit. See if you can find yourself in the list below


ElrondElf Lord, bearer of one of the three elven rings.

  1. Leads from a base of wisdom: “counted chief among the wise”
  2. Leads from a safe haven: Rivendell, “the last homely house”
  3. Leads as a counselor, not as a participant.
  4. Leads out of enough experience to have become somewhat jaded.
  5. Provides a sense of big picture direction

GaladrielElf Lord, also a bearer of one of the three

  1. Leads out of a safe haven: “Lorien, a place where time seems to have stood still”
  2. Leads rooted in an ancient traditional past.
  3. Leads as a counselor not as a participant.
  4. Leads out of specific commitments rather than overall purpose
  5. Provides potential operational direction: “The mirror of Glaldriel”

TheodenKing of Rohan, the horse lords

  1. Leads from a deep association with his people.
  2. Leads out of militant participation.
  3. Leads with compassion.
  4. Leads with a sense of his historical place within his organization.
  5. Is the prime example of redeemed leadership.

DenethorSteward of Gondor

  1. Leads out of a fortress mentality
  2. Leads out of ancient traditions
  3. Leads out of militant participation
  4. Leads out of an ego that forgets limitations and boundaries
  5. Succumbs to temptation and evil in the end

BoromirEldest son of Denethor

  1. Leads with a sense of his own strength.
  2. Leads as a militant participant.
  3. Leads with fervent passion.
  4. Leads by putting the world on his shoulders.
  5. Succumbs to ego and temptation.

FaramirYoungest son of Denethor

  1. Leads out of a sense of duty.
  2. Leads out of a love that inspires.
  3. Leads as a militant participant.
  4. Leads with a sense of nobility.
  5. Leads out of a humility that is almost his undoing.

TreebeardAn Ent (talking trees)

  1. Leads out of long tradition.
  2. Leads out of deliberate thought not sudden emotion.
  3. Leads out of a commitment to purpose and his people.
  4. Leads as a militant participant.
  5. Is the prime example of a long dormant leader rising to meet a new need.

FrodoA hobbit, ring bearer

  1. Leads out of reluctance.
  2. Leads out of a sense of purpose.
  3. Leads out of compassion.
  4. Leads for a project, not a period or a program.
  5. Retires from leadership after having accomplished his “task”.

Sam A hobbit, Frodo’s “man Friday”

  1. Leads out of devotion.
  2. Leads out of humility.
  3. Leads only reluctantly.
  4. Leads without knowing it.
  5. Easily moves back and forth from servant to leader.

Merry and PippinHobbits, cousins of Frodo

  1. Lead out of a desire for something better.
  2. Lead as militant participants.
  3. Lead out of organizational and inspirational strength.
  4. Lead through crisis and on into stability.
  5. Are the classic examples of leaders being “grown up”.

GandalfA Wizard

  1. Leads out of wisdom.
  2. Leads as a steward.
  3. Leads with a fervent passion.
  4. Leads as a militant participant.
  5. Occasionally allows his passions to overrule his compassion..

AragornKing in exile

  1. Leads out of patience and longsuffering.
  2. Leads with an acute knowledge of the mistakes of his predecessors.
  3. Leads with a sense of timing and purpose.
  4. Leads as a decisive participant.
  5. Inspires others to greatness

I love looking at leadership styles using these characters because we’re given a view of them in the context of an epic story. Your life is an epic story, even if you don’t have to battle orcs, nazgul, and evil wizards. So as you read the above descriptions ask yourself the following questions:

Did you find one that matches your style?

Try watching the film that features the character you chose (or reading the book). What are that characters strengths, weaknesses, blind spots?

How is that character tempted?

How do they respond?

Any parallels in your real life?

Three More Reasons to Run a Marathon

marathonheaderI said, “There’s no good reason for me to run anywhere unless someone is chasing me.”

I said, “There is no sane reason to even attempt running 26 miles!”

I said, “I feel pretty confident that I will NEVER try that, nor ever feel the need to try that.”

And then, in January of this year, in Orlando, I ran the marathon I said I would NEVER run.

Now listen, you’ve probably seen any number of posts where people try to convince you you can do this (which is why I call it three MORE reason…) so I’m not going to promise some new secret sauce. What I will tell you though is that:

  1. I’m 52 and the longest distance I had run before signing up for this race was 6 miles.
  2. When I started training for the race I was about 35-40 pounds overweight.
  3. I’ve had two knee surgeries and now have one pretty badly arthritic knee.
  4. My ortho told me I probably shouldn’t run much at all.

So compare YOUR excuses to those before you continue.

Ready to continue? Ok.

The process of HOW I conned myself into this is the subject of another post. For the moment though let me tell you why you should give a marathon a go.

Reason 1: Because you CAN do it.

No really, you can. It is as much a mental thing as it is a physical thing. There are any number of training programs out there that can get you from couch to marathon in less than a year. The two I used primarily were an app called GIPIS and a combination of app and training program from Jeff Galloway. His run/walk/run approach really does work and you can tune it to you.

So ok, doing something just because you can isn’t all that great a reason so…

Reason 2: You will become part of an ELITE club.

According to a couple of studies from 2011 less than 1/2 of 1% of people IN THE WORLD has ever run a marathon. In what other categories can you claim to be in the 99.5th percentile? Talk about bragging rights! People will call you crazy, they will shake their heads, and they will secretly wish they could accomplish something as unique as what you have done.

Of course it doesn’t seem like the percentage is that small when you’re running in a crowded race but you’ve surrounded yourself with a group of folks who are going after something incredibly unique and that alone feels incredible.

Reason 3: You will believe in yourself in a NEW way

When you finish the race you’ll have to deeply philosophical and life changing thoughts:

  1. Crap, I’m never going that again!
  2. Dude, I can do anything!

The first of those two changes within the first 30 minutes simply because the strength of the second is so all encompassing.

I ran my race two months ago today and I am still feeling the motivation, the encouragement, the sense of accomplishment, and the power of that experience.

Will it be hard? Yes.

Will it take some concerted effort in terms of training? Yes.

Can you find the time, the strength, and the will to do it? Yes.

I’m already planning to go back to Orlando next January with an ever crazier scheme in mind than JUST running a marathon. Why not start planning now to join me?

What is it about you that makes you think you couldn’t do this? Are you willing to try?



What is CX?

Customer Experience, or CX for short, is the sum of all experiences a customer has with a supplier of goods or services, over the duration of their relationship with that entity: from awareness, discovery, attraction, interaction, purchase, use, cultivation and advocacy.

While most organizations now how to find, acquire, service or retain customers they rarely take the time to create an organization wide story around the look and feel of a customer’s entire life cycle.

You don’t have to dig too far to find some pretty incredible evidence for the efficacy of excellent customer experience. By way of example:

In order to find out more about how to create customer experiences that can drive satisfaction, increase attraction, and convert customers into advocates subscribe to the customer experience feed and get regular blog posts on building a better customer experience.

The War on Christmas: definitive proof that it does exist.

blogheaderwocGot your attention didn’t I?

I should point out as I begin here that this is really a kind of “family discussion” among Christians. I don’t often post these and you’re more than welcome to read it if you’re NOT a believer but I just thought I’d let you know from the start. Ok? Ok, enough for the disclaimers.

Brothers and sisters there IS a war on Christmas whether you choose to believe or not, whether you listen to/watch Fox News or not, whether you know the history of the X in Xmas or not, there IS a war on Christmas. But it began long before you ever knew about it.

Let me offer three truths as definitive proof:

1. It was Predicted

And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15

This passage from Genesis foreshadows the war on Christmas as it tells of the hostility that will exist between Jesus and the enemy. The word “war” can be defined as “a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism” so the war was predicted before Christmas was predicted.

2. It was Prompt

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Matthew 2:16

I know it was blown out of proportion but the next time someone gets perplexed by a red cup remind them that their particular battle in the war on Christmas didn’t involve the death of a child. Can you imagine a Bethlehem parent hearing any of today’s nonsense and wondering how on earth that compares to the war on Christmas they suffered through? And they probably didn’t even really know why.

3. It is Present

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

The spiritual battle that was predicted in Genesis is constantly being waged. It occasionally spills over into the physical world as it did at the time of Jesus birth. The war on Christmas continues on a cosmological scale why wouldn’t we expect to see the effects of that on earth in our lifetime?

So what now? How do we respond?

1. Be Gentle

People that don’t want to celebrate the birth of Christ are not the enemy. Atheists who put up billboards denigrating Christmas are not the enemy. Politicians who outlaw Christmas songs, displays, even the word “Christmas” are not the enemy. The ENEMY is the enemy. These others are just good folks who have been fooled. (I warned you this was a family discussion didn’t I ?)

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.   2 Timothy 2:24-26

Don’t yell at the captives. Don’t forget who is the real enemy.

2. Be Joyous

I love Christmas. I love our family traditions. I love the celebration. I love the feeling of the season. That’s a whole lotta love. The spilling out of that love brings joy.

Spill on people. Spill the love and the joy. Not in a snarky way…which BELIEVE me is easy for ME to fall prey to…but in a genuine “Peace on Earth”, “Goodwill to Men”, “God Bless us Every One” kind of way. Let God fill you with it to overflowing so that it is obvious that:

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.

      “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:13-16

We don’t cajole and condemn, we enhance and enlighten. But we can’t unless God’s love and joy are spilling out of us. When should that happen more than at Christmas? Who could possibly be strong enough in their political machinations to steal what God has put in us? Spill, spill, spill!!

Don’t let the enemy steal your joy.

3. Be Still

Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth. Psalm 46:10

The war on Christmas is both ongoing and over. We win in the end. If our joy is dependent on the societal acceptance of our cherished traditions then perhaps we need to go deeper this Christmas but I don’t think we do, I think we’re better than that.

Be still, and spill.

Merry Christmas!
Happy Holidays!

“God bless us, every one”

An Appeal to the Christian Community

unityThe events of the past few weeks have given rise to a lot of emotion…and a lot of emotions.

At the risk of proof texting, and I pray that I am not, may I respectfully remind my brothers and sisters of a few simple truths?

1. Our enemy is not the obvious one:

Ephesians 6

11 Put on the whole armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the devil’s strategies. 12For our struggle is not against human opponents,l but against rulers, authorities, cosmic powers in the darkness around us, and evil spiritual forces in the heavenly realm.

We are not battling democrats, or republicans, or liberals, or conservatives, or Muslims, or terrorists. Our enemy is far darker and far more deceptive and would see us divided against each other.

2. Whether we agree or disagree we are all one:

1 Corinthians 12

25-26 The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance.

If you have a disagreement with your spouse do you post it on a billboard alongside the highway? If you want your children to act differently do you express disappointment in a 30 second television ad campaign? And yet we’re willing to call our brothers and sisters to task in social media in a broadcast approach that is just as wide spread.

3. We’re commanded to do better

John 13

34-35 “Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.”

Yes, this may sometimes include the infamous “speaking the truth in love” but I’m not sure Jesus took the opportunity to rebuke the disciples in the midst of the sermon on the mount. If he needed to he did it in a much more intimate way and we’re commanded to love one another as he loved.

4. We’re being watched

Jesus said it would be the hallmark of those who are His that the world would recognize them by their love for ONE ANOTHER. We’re allowed to disagree and have varying political points of view and we’re allowed to challenge each other but always in a way that strives for unity.

Ephesians 4

2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.

Believe me, I love a spirited debate. The ebb and flow of logic and theology and political expediency is like food to me. But the world is watching to see how we respond as a body and when we respond with shaming, and condemning, and accusing each other we, all of us, suddenly appear vastly irrelevant in the discussion.

I’m not convinced that the ONLY Christian response is to allow refugees into our country. Even the Good Samaritan, the example of “love your neighbor as yourself” didn’t bring the wounded man into his home. He paid someone else to take care of the man and said he’d check back later.

I AM convinced that we need to be compassionate in ways that effect us personally. (Neither did the Good Samaritan walk past the wounded man, go to the inn, and send someone back down the road to look into things out of fear that the robbers might return.) And to be transparent many of my Christian friends who are calling for the refugees to be allowed in are willing and ready to take people into their homes.

The issue of the refugees is a politically and economically complex one.

The point is NOT how we respond to the crisis or the need.

The point is how we respond to one another.

In Love

In the Peace of the Spirit

Striving for Unity

Three Lessons from the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge

IMG_1579If you’re not familiar with the Disney Coast to Coast Challenge it is a pretty slick marketing scheme whereby Disney convinces you to run a minimum of a half marathon in Florida and one in California in the same calendar year in order to obtain the coveted Coast to Coast medal. Up until recently there were a couple options in Florida, the biggest  being in January and only one in California, that being over Labor Day weekend.

We’re pretty big Disney fans here in the Fletcher home and we have a lot of family memories at Disneyland in particular. The Coast to Coast medal, as you can see here, depicts Walt and Mickey holding hands, a representation of a statue that is in front of the castle at Disneyland. That statue has been “the meeting spot” for us since our boys were four and five. If you get separated in the park, you go to the meeting spot.  I mention this because it is a large part of what makes this medal special for me.

  • I first found out about the challenge about seven years ago. I had done a couple triathlons then but I’d never run anything longer than a 10K. (6 miles).
  • Six years ago I decided I would go for it and try to run a half marathon in each location.
  • Five years ago I missed the registration date.
  • Four years ago it wouldn’t work in our schedule.
  • Three years ago the half marathon was sold out by the tie I checked.
  • Two years ago I missed it again, it sells out fast.
  • Last year I was determined not to miss the registration and got to the web site in time, called my wife to confirm it was in the budget, and it sold out before we decided.

I was seriously disappointed! You see if you don’t get the January race in then running the one in California in September doesn’t matter. In a moment of crazy deep frustration I looked to see how much it cost to run the full marathon…after all we’d agreed we could budget for the half…and lo, it cost the same amount.

I signed up.

I would never have agreed to try a full marathon. I was pretty sure I could struggle through 13 miles but 26 was insane. And yet I wanted that Coast to Coast.

Before last year at this time I had only ever run 6 miles in a stretch and frequently said I wouldn’t run even THAT far unless I was being chased.. Since last October I have run three half marathons, including the one at Disneyland, and one full marathon, at Walt Disney World. I have run through the soles of three pairs of Vibram Five Fingers through hundreds of miles of training and I have convinced my wife to run HER first half marathon.

So what did I learn in the process?

Here’s three lessons I learned about achieving goals:

1. Don’t give up on your goals.

It would have been easy to give up on the idea of completing the Coast to Coast. Year after year it seemed to elude me. But I persevered because I had a emotional connection to what I wanted to accomplish and I didn’t give up on it. Circumstances will often conspire against you when you’re going after a goal, sometimes it requires a new strategy or a greater effort but many times it just requires that you soldier on and don’t give up.

2. Recruit a team to your dream.

Yeah, sounds cheesy, but it makes it easier to remember. My wife first got behind the idea of me running in Florida because I was going to try to do the impossible. Her support through the process and then the weekend was awesome. Even bigger though was her commitment to run with me in California. That meant we were training together for months. On days when I was too tired or too sore she’d pick me up, and vice versa. I also convinced my buddy Kurt to run with us in California after he’d done the half in Florida. The occasional check in via phone to see how training was going kept us honest too. Having a team sharing your goal with you provides the motivation to keep going in those times when your motivation lags.

3. Focus short to go long.

I REALLY learned this in the marathon. I couldn’t think about running 26 miles or mentally I would collapse. I COULD think about making the four or five miles between parks. I COULD focus on making a couple miles between water stations. In the months in between races we dealt with bad weather, multiple nagging injuries, and schedule conflicts any of which could have derailed us. By just focusing on the next opportunity to train, rather than worrying about how a miss might effect the big picture, we took the little steps that got us to the starting line ready to go on race day. Sure we set a goal time but our BIG goal was to finish a feel good about it and by focusing on the little goals along the way we accomplished that is stellar style.

By persevering over seven years, recruiting a team, and focusing short I finally achieved the dream. When they hung that medal around my neck I have to confess I got a little teary and man, did it feel good.


What goal do you have sitting on the shelf? How can you apply these strategies to achieve it?