Sunday, January 6, 2013

Pushing the (Mental) Boundaries

The biggest barrier we always have to overcome is the mental one.

Whether you want to build a V8 engine, build an 800m tall building, or run a marathon you will only be able to do it if you conquer the mind battle first.  If you can believe it, then you can do it.

I have just finished reading two books that help me to let my mind expand:

Running to Extremes, by Lisa Tamati
Arthur Lydiard: Master Coach, by Arthur Lydiard and Garth Gilmour

Both these books broke the limits of what I had believed about running.  Both these books took down the fence in my mind about my own running possibility.  The fact is, that I don't know what my running possibility is because I haven't experimented enough.

What I do know is that my 'lofty goals' were very mediocre and were based on all that I could conceive at the time.

Now I have read of Lisa running for 37 hours in a race and Arthur Lydiard breaking 3hrs for the marathon at 62yrs old.
Now I have read of Lisa having such tremendous will to run, that she woke up running into trees during a 24hr race.
Now I have read that Arthur Lydiard experimented by running 250miles per week when he was younger.

Now I have read that, I realise that my thinking is limited because I haven't made any more progress towards the edge.

If I have one goal in 2013 (apart from my stated New Years Resolution: To eat more) then it is to go closer to the edge.  Running is a tangible place that I can start.  Now that I know that there is a lot more reserve in our body than I previously assumed, I know that only I can stop me achieving more.  Actually, up until now it was only me stopping me, but I didn't know that.

I believe that success in one area flows to other areas precisely because you train your mind to expand and then work towards your new belief.  For me running is a proving ground for my mind more than my body.

Monday, August 15, 2011

There's no H2O like Snow

In New Zealand we have just had a big blanket of snow fall over most of the country.  For many of us in the cities it has been a novelty and a talking point.

There are many things to say about snow but one of them has to be the beauty that it gives to even the most mundane of outlooks.  Even a letter box looks cool with a slab of snow icing on top of it.  Trees look great too either being laden with clumps of snow balanced on their evergreen branches or the deciduous trees like skeletons frosted white.

What adds to the beauty and mystique of snow is the silence with which it falls and the quieting effect it has when fallen. I like the way Simon and Garfunkel refer to snow in their famous song "I am a Rock" as " a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow".  Isn't it precious to wake up in the morning and open the curtain to a snowy blanket that settled in the night without a sound!

I think in NZ right now, snow might just be our favourite form of H2O.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Jesus be the centre of my life - making it happen.

I've just been to a couple of night meetings at the Arise Conference 2011 and while I was there booked in to Arise Conference 2012.  I enjoyed being in the Michael Fowler Centre with around 2000 people who were singing and jumping in worship to Jesus.

One song that stuck out for me from the Friday night was a song by Israel Houghton called "Jesus be the centre of my life"

I especially loved to sing this line:
From my heart to the heavens Jesus be the centre.   It's all about you, yes it's all about you.
 These are great lyrics to sing and a great sentiment to have and while you are singing it, you believe you will do it.  Often, though as you return from a conference or a high point of experience, you can return to what you were before you went to the conference.  John Cameron had a good word in this regard. He said to build a monument and give an offering.

In the old testament times the Israelites often built monuments of large stones when something significant had happened to remind themselves of that occasion. Every time they would pass it they would see it and remember something great that God had done.  It would also be a reminder to be faithful to the plan God had given them.

What can we do in our culture today to give ourselves reminders of what God has done and the plan he has for us?  You can do tons of things but here is one idea.  Use your phone.  Many of us carry a phone around with us almost 24/7.  Why not make a note about what God has done and set an alarm to go off each week to bring that note up.

Whatever you do, make the effort to appreciate what God has done and honour him by living up to why he did it.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

How do you know if you smell?

Have you ever had the experience of realising too late that the garlic you had last night is pouring out of your pores into the noses of your friends or workmates?

What about the classic question - pooh! who stepped in something? Only to realise when you check your shoes who it was.

One of the greatest difficulties in life can be to get the right perspective especially about yourself.  Because just as you can smell something and assume it is coming from someone else or you can smell of something without being aware of it yourself sometimes in relationships we can be off.

For instance, how do you know if you are a genius and have an idea that no-one else can see the merits in or are a fool and have an idea there are no merits in?  When you have a conflict with someone is it them or you that is the cause?  It is so easy to assume we are right.  For some of us our default position is to think we are right.  Unfortunately, sometimes there is a fault with our default and it is actually our fault.
For me, my default position is that I am right.  I cannot really help it, it's the default I have.  I do need to be aware of it though and make sure I can get a perspective to see myself in the right light.

Jesus talked about this tendency to see other people's problems before our own when he said "Don't judge", "Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"  In other words, maybe you have the problem.

So, how do you know if you are at fault or the other person?  Well here are a few clues from my own experience;

  1. When it's everyone else, it's you - If you are running into several idiots a day and not being understood by any of them... oops!
  2. Get a third person's view - If in doubt, take feedback, just make a pact with yourself not to shoot the messenger if you hear what you don't want to.
  3. Use a mirror - The Bible can be like a mirror.  Looking into what God reveals in the words of the Bible is of value to us if we do it.  If you genuinely read the Bible to follow what it says, it is hard to keep the planks (or be concerned about the sawdust actually). 
Ultimately you can still have the Garlic problem, where you don't even know you smell and no amount of huffing into your hand can help you to smell it because you are already desensitised.  What you must realise in that case is what goes in, must come out.

Just like garlic, what we feed ourselves a diet of - in thoughts and desires and influences - will eventually come out of us, even without trying.

Smell you later.

Monday, September 20, 2010

What have you got to offer?

The most you have to offer anyone is yourself!
It is easy to forget just how powerful it is when someone makes themselves available to you. Spending time is one thing, but when someone is willing not only to spend time with you but to be available to you, to help you, to encourage you, to enjoy life with you, that is a great gift.
In the day of so many portable electronic devices it is very easy to be partially there but partially away somewhere else. But often you are neither here nor there, you are in another place, a little bit like Playstation's 'third place'. Ultimately it is a world where you are the centre, where you straddle the divide between where your body is and where your mind is. It is a selfish place in many cases.

Am I against cellphones, blackberry's, i-Phones and the like - no, of course not, they are very useful, but they are a neutral force - able to be used well or badly. In my opinion we can be tempted with devices such as these to retreat from the place where we are, where we may have responsibility, where we could interact with what is before us, where we could connect with another human in some meaningful way. We can be tempted to continue to be a receiver - of entertainment, of pastime, of input. And very often the muscle of output atrophies.
Check yourself, are you fully present with your wife, your kids, your friends, workmates etc? Or are you living in a flux between a cyber entertainment and where your body is?

My final word, don't believe the saying; "it's the thought that counts", you know in your own life actions speak louder than words, take action today.

Friday, June 25, 2010

How do I keep track of all my passwords?

If you are anything like me then you will have dozens of different online and other accounts requiring user codes and passwords.

How do you keep track of all these different passwords?
Obviously writing passwords down is a no-no right? But that means you have to keep them all in your head. Unless you have taken George Orwell's 1984 to heart or you are my wife, you will figure that no-one can mind-read. So in theory keeping everything in your head would be very secure.

It can sometimes be very secure. So secure in fact, that you yourself cannot recall what the password was for a certain account! That is where the trouble with passwords starts.

In an effort to remember your password there are few fatal traps you can resort to.
  1. Get lazy - You can use passwords like 'password' or 'drowssap' (password backwards) '123456', 'abc123' or even you own name. This is like leaving the key in the door for any hacker wanting to get into your account.
  2. Get sentimental - you could use the name of someone close to you, but listen, there is no romance in being hacked because you used your loved one's name for a password. This is like leaving the key under the doormat.
  3. Show your colours - This is just a variation of being sentimental but about your favourite sports team instead of your favourite person. This is like leaving your key under the potplant by the door.
  4. Use the same password for everything - This is potentially the worst of all passwords sins. If someone gets hold of this password, they could get into everything and since you use it for everything, the chances someone getting it are much increased! This is like putting your name and address on your key ring with your master key
So, if you find yourself described in one of those categories, you have low password security and would benefit from a change of habit. Here's an idea that may help you while also helping you to;
  • avoid writing down your passwords
  • avoid using generic or guessable passwords
  • remember your passwords
  • increase your security
Not all accounts have the same value. That is, your internet bank account probably has more value to you than your carpooling log in. Then there are some that are in the middle, like your gmail password or Facebook, perhaps your WoW password is in the middle somewhere. Lets say you identify 3 different levels. To help you remember passwords for things that are not that important from a security point of view you could use a single hard to hack password for all those. For level 2 you have a completely different password, perhaps with variations for each application. Level 1 you have a different password for each level 1 account.

Now, does all this make your memory better? No, but perhaps it gives you a framework to remember what password you chose based on the account and maybe the act of being more deliberate about setting the password helps your memory too.

Good luck and change regularly.

Monday, September 14, 2009

What we test and what we don't

You know, sometimes when I am buying shoes or something of relatively low value, I spend months and weeks trying out different ones to decide what I want.
I put them on, walk around in them, look at myself in the mirror and ask my wife what she thinks of the shoes.

The house I am living in - I didn't even sleep the night in it before buying it!

What about new beliefs?  Do I fully check them out before buying them?  Do I test them, do I see if they check out, do I talk to others about them?  
I Thessalonians 5:21 says "Test everything.  Hold onto the good."

Some things we do test.  The thoughts and beliefs we actively choose to pursue are likely to be tested - that is the front door so to speak.

But there are many other thoughts and beliefs coming to us that we don't seek out.  These come through the words and actions of others (and ourselves), our culture, our church, our surroundings and media sources to name some.  The unspoken assumptions and inferences that are behind what people say and do come to us and present themselves as the truth.  They try to enter in the backdoor and windows of our heart and mind.  They may not get the test unless we realise what we are receiving and measure it, test it, check it out to see if it is a truthful belief or not.  

II Corinthians 10:5 says "We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ"

Be alert to what you are building your life on and make sure it aligns to the Truth of Jesus