Archives For Observations on Life

Observations on life.

“I’ve been meaning to get around to that, just haven’t had time…”
“I really want to start getting healthier, just haven’t been able to focus on it…”

Think about it: the truth is probably not that we didn’t have time or literally couldn’t focus on it. It’s just that we didn’t.

Excuses are lies that make us the victim. Reasons are legitimate facts and realities. Be sure you know the difference.

Hold yourself accountable and don’t allow yourself to make excuses.

Saying no is fine. Saying yes is fine. Saying it wasn’t a priority is fine. Saying you made a mistake is fine.

But making yourself a victim and fingering the blame in another direction is not fine.

Most of our schedule and responsibilities are maintenance. Things like maintaining our physical and financial needs and obligations. And maintenance is a necessary part of life.

But it’s in the margin that the good stuff happens.


The maintenance part of your budget keeps the bills paid. The margin part of your budget is where you can support a cause, splurge on something fun, start a new hobby, and bless others. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

The maintenance part of your schedule is where you fulfill your obligations. The margin part of your schedule is where you have time to think and dream and notice and have conversations, and spend more time with people you love. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

The maintenance part of your workload is where you get done what has to be done. The margin part of your workload is where you have room to take on new projects and ideas, improve processes and systems; working on your business instead of just in it. The margin is where the good stuff happens.

If you have no margin, you have no room for the good stuff to happen.

Life is not about what you want; it’s about what you want most.

  • You want to lose weight. But you also want a piece of cake. Every time you eat the cake, you are showing that even though you want to lose weight, you want the taste of cake even more.
  • You want to be punctual and on time. But you want to hit the snooze button and not have to get out of bed most.

Look at your routines, habits, and calendar. You’re doing exactly what you want to do most.

As a young man, I worked at a radio station, but dreamed of becoming a writer. I used to always complain to my wife that I wanted so badly to be a writer. One day she finally said to me, “No you don’t.” I was shocked. I had just said I did, how could she tell me I didn’t? “Because,” she said, “if you really wanted to, you’d do it.” You’re doing exactly what you want to do most. So either change what you’re doing, or stop complaining about it. – Ray Edwards

It’s not about what you want. It’s about what you want most.


When you set big goals, even “failure” is success. Even if you don’t accomplish exactly what you intended, the goal will still have stretched you and pushed you to a measure of success.

what are your goals?

what are your goals?

  • Say you set a goal of losing 20lbs. Even if you only lose 16lbs, you’ve still made great progress.
  • Say you set a goal of increasing your income by 30%. Even if you only increase your income by 14%, you’ve still made progress.

“Shoot for the moon and you’ll land among the stars.” That’s a terribly cheesy and pithy old saying. But there’s actually some truth in it.

Failing at big goals will leave you much closer to success than having no goals.

Opportunity Clocks

June 24, 2016

I once overheard: “We don’t have any alarm clocks at our house. We call them opportunity clocks.”

alarm clock
I love that! For the Christian, there is no cause for alarm. Each time your clock wakes you up, it represents the beautiful opportunity God has put before you. The opportunity to live, laugh, work, love, breathe, and glorify Him.

As a human race, we are often terribly oblivious to our surroundings.

We are often so task-focused that we don’t notice what is around us, or take time to contemplate or observe it.

Tasks tend to blind us to everything but the task. And this is a built-in, necessary part of tasks.

But that’s why it’s so important to have set aside time to abandon all tasks. Task-less time, like Sabbath, is so we can stop doing and start observing; time to become more aware of our environments, our blessings; time to wait, listen, watch, rest.

Resolve to never let tasks dominate 100% of your time. Be intentional about setting aside task-less time each week.

I learned from Seth Godin that there are three different time-frames in which you can address a problem:

  1. Before the problem occurs. – Avoiding a problem with foresight and good design is a cheap, highly leveraged way to do your work.
  2. As soon as you realize there is an existing problem. – Extinguishing a problem before it gets expensive and difficult is almost as good, and far better than paying a premium when there’s an emergency.
  3. After it becomes an emergency. – The magic of margin (a little extra time in the chain, a few extra dollars in the bank) is that it gives you the resources to stop and avoid a problem or fix it when it’s small. The over-optimized organization misunderstands the value of slack, so it always waits until something is a screaming emergency, because it doesn’t think it has a moment to spare.

Fretting about an impending problem, worrying about it, imagining the implications of it… is worthless and does no good.

Action is almost always cheaper now than it is later.


Stating organizational or family values is a great way to reinforce and remember them, but it does not CREATE them.

Just because you have a sign in your lobby that says you care about customers doesn’t mean your company actually cares about customers.

Consistent ACTIONS and DECISIONS that reflect your values are the only way to create a culture built around them.

Attaining success is really only the first half of success. Sustaining success is just as important.

Losing weight and getting in shape is great. That’s attaining a level of physical success. But if you go back to eating ice cream and stop working out, you’ll lose that success. There are daily physical habits required to sustain your success.

Getting close to God is wonderful. But if you abandon your spiritual disciplines and distance yourself again, you’ll lose that closeness. There are daily spiritual habits required to sustain your success.

Most areas of success in life aren’t one-time achievements, they are ongoing processes.

  • What does it take to get you in a bad mood?
  • What does it take to ruin your day?
  • How easily can you be knocked off your happiness?
  • How easily are you angered?
  • How easily are you frustrated when things don’t turn out the way you wanted?

Being easily angered, offended, and frustrated are signs of spiritual and emotional immaturity.

Take a child, for example. A child is, by very definition, immature. That’s why at his third birthday party he can receive tons of gifts and be having tons of fun and all is right in his world. But if he accidentally lets go of his balloon and it drifts up into the sky, he has a complete meltdown. It doesn’t matter that there are a million things going right in his life, the lost balloon outweighs them all. He has not yet learned to see the bigger picture; thus he is easily angered and frustrated at little setbacks. In fact, little setbacks are not little at all to him.

The process of maturing for the little guy is the process of learning that a single balloon is not the end of the world. That there are other balloons. It’s the process of seeing the bigger picture and having a better perspective.

Unfortunately, many children never outgrow this immaturity when they become adults. They never gain a mature perspective. The slightest comment can throw them off. The smallest disappointment can ruin their day. The tiniest of perceived slights can ignite their wrath.

You probably know someone like that. But the question is… is it you?