The night I quit my job I had a decision to make… wait, or just start. I chose to just start and held a seminar the next day. People in motion tend to stay in motion and people at rest tend to stay at rest. So whatever it is you’ve been waiting to do… just start!

Being terrified doesn’t mean you’re weak, it means you’re human. And the most important steps we take in life are often going to be the most terrifying. They’re terrifying because they’re significant. They’re terrifying because they take you from where you’ve been and set you on a path to somewhere new. And because that path is new, it is mostly unknown, and we’re afraid of the unknown. The the wold belongs to those who step anyway. The world needs you to take that next step.

Today I went inside for a little break to see what everyone was up to. I walked inside and found my eldest son (13), busily typing away on the macbook pro in the living room. I wondered what he was so intent on.

I let him be and decided to chase a few little ones, playing “who can catch the sussa (pronounced “sue-saw” of course). Sussa is the random word my 3 year old invented as sort of a “fill in the blank”. It can mean whatever you want. The game is played by me chasing them down, tackling them, and tickling them  as I shout “Ha! I caught a real life Sussa”… it’s hilarious. At least for me.

Exhausted, I noticed my oldest had finished his computer project and was down in his room. I decided to pay a visit.

I walked in and found him putting away my sander. He’s been busy working on a gift for a family. He came up with the idea that he wanted to carve walking sticks for each of them. 7 in total, not a small task. He’s been busy nearly every day, carving intricate designs into the handles of these thick wooden dowels. Each one has been made with great care, following closely the sketches he had made of each handle previously.

Each carving was done using only a pocket knife, while sitting in a hard wooden chair hunched over a bath towel he’s thrown on the carpet in his bedroom to avoid making a mess. I’ve watched him carefully take his shavings outside to dispose of them.

He’s been doing this for several weeks now, and today he finished by carving a common symbol on the top of each walking stick.

To complete the project, he had typed up a note, which was laying on his bed. He said I could read it, and I was touched.

With his permission, I’ve posted it below.

Merry christmas! I hope you have been having a stellar holiday season!

I’m sure you all know the story of the birth of Jesus Christ. Mary and Joseph had to go to Bethlehem, the place of their birth and heritage, to pay taxes. Right when they got there, baby Jesus was ready to be born! So Mary and Joseph had Jesus in a stable. Soon after the the christ child was born, an angel appeared to shepherds and told them to go and see baby Jesus. They did.

But, not too long after the birth of Christ, wise men in a far away land were searching the skies. They saw the star in the east, which as prophesied, meant the magnificent King of the jews, the Messiah, had come into the world.

Now, I’m sure these wise men had very busy lives. They probably had jobs to do, errands to run, appointments to make, and maybe wanted to go see that cool movie that just came out. But, through all that stuff to do, they left their city and traveled for days in the desert following the star. And they finally found baby Jesus and gave him gifts. But I think that the most important gift they gave him was their time. By sacrificing their time, I’m sure that Heavenly father was happy because although they were busy, they took time to seek his son.

The wise men probably had walking sticks, like these that I carved for you. Now, like each of your walking sticks, each of us has an exquisite and complicated life. But each stick is marked with a special symbol to signify your alliance as a family to seek Christ, Just as the wise men joined together and found him. I encourage you to take this christmas season and all the rest of the year to seek Jesus Christ as a family.

How insightful I thought it was, that the greatest gift we can give the Savior at Christmas time, or anytime, is that of OUR time. And what better way to emphasize his point than by spending so much of HIS time, creating an icon for this family to represent it all.

“For inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my bretheren, ye have done it unto me” Matthew 25:40.

This Christmas season, I would simply echo the encouragement of my son, to find opportunities to give of yourself, to give of your time, and seek the Lord, at least in part, by serving others.

Merry Christmas,

Rusty

P.S.  Please share this story with others.

This last year I’ve been working as Director of Product Management for Agent Image, also known as The Design People.

Thursday, I got an invitation by email from my boss, one of the company owners, to join him and the other two owners later that day in a meeting titled “Update”.  I’ll admit I was suspicious.  I knew how difficult recent times have been for the company.

At the appointed time, I launched the video app I use to join meetings (I work remotely) and quickly found that only one of them had decided to show up.  This raised my suspicions.

On the video feed I could tell the poor guy was tortured by something.  He was far more fidgety than usual; I knew right away my suspicions were correct.

I should note, this is an extraordinarily nice person.  He means well, has a great heart, and it was difficult to watch him have to do this “we-just-can’t-afford-to-keep-you” thing.  I’ll admit, I made him go through the whole spiel without a comment or expression from me.  I just sat back and listened until he stopped talking.

But when he was done, I called him by name, and said, “… it’s all right, I’ll be just fine”.  I told him that I’d been on his side of the table before, and understood just how hard that is, and reassured him that he shouldn’t worry about me.

I closed the video program and sat there looking at my computer screen.

At that moment, perhaps I should have been thinking about my 6 kids.  Or about how it was almost Christmas, and how much it would change now.  I should have been thinking about how difficult it is right now to find a job, and how much I don’t want to be like my first three fathers, who all (try as they might) were repeatedly unable to provide well (that story here).

I should have been worried about keeping our house, having burned through our nest egg between the last two jobs, and not getting a severance this time (“can’t afford it”).

I should have been worried about my beautiful wife who is a full-time mom to a large family, her life’s dream, and her ability to keep that dream.

But I’ll admit, I was none of those things.

Perhaps being laid off last year before Christmas changed me.  I experienced all these things then.  Then, I was humiliated, embarrassed, and angry.

Not this time.

This time all I felt was excitement.

Perhaps it was the emergence of my faith and trust in the Lord, he having shown me over the last year that he will provide.  Perhaps it was the surfacing of my self confidence, which had been bolstered this past year as I took careful inventory of the skills and abilities which I have been given.  Perhaps it was because I have had ongoing insight as to how to turn this life-engineering hobby into a career, and have felt anxious to get started.

Perhaps it was all of these, and more.  And while some of those (mostly the anger) came in modest amounts later, the predominant emotion has still been excitement.

Excitement to devote more time and emotion to life-enginering.  Something I should have done after having lost my job last year, but didn’t.  It was like I had neglected the path I was intended for, and to help me on my way, had the reset button pushed on my career, once again, to give me a second chance.

Most of all, it was a reminder of a true principle.  All too often, hidden within the consequences of painful adversity, lie the greatest opportunities.  If life was robbed of adversity and conflict, what growth would there be?  True discovery, discovery of things that are everlastingly meaningful, are hidden within tough challenges and worthy quests.

This holiday season, my joy is full, for I have been given a most precious gift.  I have been given a true challenge.  I have a vision of something more that I can become, of something greater that I can do, and now an opportunity and motivation to make it happen.

How exciting.  I can think of no greater gift, for a person like me, than a real challenge, uniquely tailored to me, with the promise of a remarkable journey for me and my family that is sure to be remembered for a long time to come.

While I don’t wish for anyone else to lose their jobs, I do hope you find your Christmas equally stimulating, and choose to see within your current circumstance opportunities for greatness.  Make life a journey, and make it something to remember.

Merry Christmas,
Rusty

Todays message comes from my son, who came home from preschool the other day, and couldn’t wait to sing me this song.  I love the first few seconds where he forgets the words.

 

So remember, you are very special.

Rusty

The movie “Waiting for Superman” premiers this week in select cities. I’m gravely disappointed that none of those cities are near me.

If you haven’t yet heard of Waiting for Superman, you can read more here, or view the official Waiting for Superman website here.

In short, it’s a movie about how badly we’re failing with our school system, and it’s being heralded as one of the greatest documentaries of all time.

Our schools are the incubators of the future, and right now they’re scarcely luke warm, and our nations education ratings are amongst the lowest of all developed countries (see the alarming stats here).

There are many compelling, astounding, and enraging stories in Waiting for Superman.

At the heart of this issue is one of the primary problems with our school systems… we cannot fire teachers who need to be fired, and we cannot promote or reward the teachers that deserve it.

One of these is the story of Michelle Rhee, a “warrior woman” (as Oprah Winfrey today called her), who is creating chaos in Washington by simply firing teachers that aren’t cutting it.  But of course labor unions, in their “wisdom” are battling her, and preventing such radical changes.

Incentives, carrots and sticks, rewards and punishments, are such a fundamental element in any system that seeks to improve.  What happens when you remove those elements?  Stagnation.  And that’s just what our educational scores are showing.

Waiting for Superman is bound to be a movie behind which people will rally.  It touches upon a nerve, often a raw one, in our society.  Education, which among other things, is killing creativity (here).

None of the answers are easy, but it’s time to explore them.  It’s time for far more attention to be devoted to it.

You’ll be hearing much more from me on this topic in the near future.

In the meantime, the book “Waiting for Superman”, is now available in digital format on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Borders, IndieBound, Powells.com, and I just purchased a copy for the iPad on Apple’s iBooks.

Rusty

When you’re amazing… when you’ve found something that you absolutely love, and you’ve dedicated yourself to it, pursuing it with the full force of your passion and vigor, you can do amazing things.  Things that stun your audience.

Federrer just did it in his victory over Brian Dabul on opening night at the US Open.  He did it last year against Novak Djokovic as well.

If you missed it, here’s the without-looking, between-the-legs shot.  It is… amazing.

I love watching those moments when a whole lifetime of effort and time and sweat and tears and pain and sacrifice all culminate in a single, astounding moment.

Thanks Roger, for inspiring me.

Rusty

Image (Josh Haner)

Have you ever met one of those people who just always give?  They give and give as though that’s all they care about.

My wife is like this.  Regardless of how tired she is, or how much she’s already given, or how busy she is, OR how late it is, she is always giving.  Giving to our children, giving to me, giving to her friends, giving to the church, and even giving to people that she doesn’t even know.

There are lots of stories of these kinds of people, like this, and this, and this, and countless others.  These people seem to have a particular mindset – I call it Abundance Mentality.  It’s as though they feel like there’s this undiminishable reserve that there’s always enough to give.  Always.

I contrast that to the far more frequently encountered Scarcity Mentality.  Here we feel like we’ve got no more to give, or that we didn’t have enough to start with, or that we’re too busy/tired and we’ll give tomorrow.

The key thing to realize is this. This is not a difference in the availability of resources. It’s a difference of perspective. It’s another illustration of how we can control life, simply by choosing to perceive it differently… of how perception truly does shape reality.

So, do you know someone with Abundance Mentality?  if so, please share, so that we may all be inspired by their stories, that perhaps we can all give a little bit more.

Rusty