Posts Tagged ‘Self-Help’

Just Shut Up and Sing

January 26, 2011 4 comments

Well, they say that the best way to get better at writing is to write something every day. Write anything, whether it’s good or not, whether any one will read it or even if you don’t feel like it. Write even if you are sick, sore, tired or if it’s inconvenient. Just write.

 Such has been my problem over the last few months and some would say much of my life. I tend to find excuses, disguised sometimes as over-analysis, why I don’t do some of the things that I really enjoy or that I have committed to do. I don’t have the time. I don’t feel well. I don’t know what to write about. I don’t have any fresh ideas. Nobody will want to read it. I’ll start back again next week. I need to think it over more. I keep finding in many areas of my life where I procrastinate terribly, all while convincing myself and others that it is in everyone’s best interests. 

As a part of the band Sound of Faith, and the larger umbrella of Sound of Faith Ministries, I have been involved with many discussions and decisions, including major ones such as recording and producing a CD and finding a new drummer, to the mundane like paying taxes and developing set lists. It has always seemed like all of the discussion that went around many of these things were necessary; that we needed to understand every nook and cranny and every possible outcome of our decisions and have a robust plan in place before we could move forward and take the next step. In fact, although I am not the only disciple of over-analysis in our band, I certainly could be called the leader by example.

A few years ago, it became common when these long drawn-out discussions would take place that one of the band members, Scott, would say “Let’s just shut up and sing.” Aside from sounding like a quote from Yogi Berra, it was also his way of saying that the reason we were together was because we were a band, so let’s do the thing we exist for and let the details work themselves out as they will. It used to drive me crazy, because I felt like these discussions were not just necessary, but vital to our band’s success.  But over time, I have begun to see the wisdom in those few words.

My wife and I participate in a popular DVD-based exercise program whose slogan is “Just push play”. Their motivation is to get you to get to the point of starting it every day, to get you over the inertia of stagnancy. Once you overcome the “Will I or won’t I?” decision, the muscle memory takes over and you go to work.

Now looking at the band and what we have in front of us for the year, I see a lot of opportunity and a lot of opportunity cost for wasted time. And, although many of the discussions we have had in the past were very necessary, I keep feeling the overwhelming desire to just jump into things with both feet and feel our way along, instead of trying to plan things to the nth degree before starting. I want to get over that at-rest inertia and get to the “body-in-motion-stays-in-motion” part. I think we have a tremendous amount of God-gifted talent and I can’t help but feel that we are suffering paralysis by analysis.

As I look at all of the things in my life, chores that need to be done, hobbies left unattended, friends or family I haven’t seen recently, or the band itself, I keep seeing opportunities where, instead of procrastinating or over-analyzing, I should just jump in and do something. A good friend has been after me to start blogging again, and while I was able to come up with all sorts of excuses as to why I couldn’t, I was never able to say that I didn’t want to. So instead, I have decided that I needed to just write and see what happened. This is the first post of that experiment; we’ll see how it goes from there.

You know, just shut up and sing.

How Do You Define Yourself?

August 11, 2010 2 comments

You see it all the time. In a job interview your potential employer says “So, tell me about yourself.” On Facebook, you fill in the About Me section of your profile. On your first day of class the teacher asks you to tell the class about yourself. If you are like most people, you don’t put a lot of thought into it. You probably say something about your family and your job and maybe a couple of things you do as hobbies. But is this truly how you define yourself? Are you the sum of those three sentences on your profile? I am guessing not.

For the longest time, I defined myself in a similar way. I was a project manager for Wachovia. I was a husband, no kids. I was what’s-her-name’s husband or what’s his name’s son. But for me, I never felt like that was what defined me. You couldn’t sum up my thoughts, fears, experiences, values, phobias, principals, quirks and guilty pleasures all into “I live in Albemarle, NC with my wife and work in IT at Wachovia.”  Anyone reading this who knows me also knows that a lot of time has passed since I felt this way. I live in a different city now with a different wife and we have three children. Wachovia has been bought by Wells Fargo and I am still struggling not to say Wach… er… the old bank name. I have also begun to define myself in a much different way.

Please keep in mind that I am talking about defining yourself, not just describing. If I was to describe myself to you, I would probably start with height, weight, hair color, build, and then would place myself in the world with where I work, where I went to school, where I go to church, etc. But that does not define me. In a dictionary, we could look at the word “see”. A description of the word would look something like this: “A three letter word, beginning with the 19th letter of the alphabet and followed by the 5th letter, which repeats once.” This tells you nothing about what the word means but rather just how to recognize it if you see it again somewhere. The definition of the word, however, is much, much bigger and more important. Looking at the Online Merriam Webster dictionary, the word “see” has 13 different definitions, depending on how it’s used.

The problem with defining yourself by your job, or the people that surround you, is that you have little or no control over how those things change over your life time. I could say I am an IT professional at Wells Fargo, but I could get laid off next week. Then would I define myself as unemployed? OR is this just merely a description of my current situation. I may say I am Steve’s best friend, but I have no control over what Steve may do in the future, and if I define myself by being Steve’s friend, what happens when Steve does things that no longer earns my friendship?

When you are telling someone about yourself, you are essentially telling them which categories or groups you fall in: people who are married, people who play guitar, people who went to college, people who think guinea pigs are evil, etc. If you want to make yourself memorable to others, your goal should be selecting the appropriate set of groups you belong to that 1) best describe yourself and 2) when combined, provide a unique picture of you. If I tell you I am an IT guy at Wells Fargo… Well, yeah and so are 20,000 other people. If I tell you I am married with 3 kids, well, that doesn’t narrow it down much either. But if I think about what really matters to me and makes me unique, I would come up with something much more compelling:

I am a guitarist for a Christian rock rand, a blogger, and I help develop IVRs (those annoying phone systems that everyone hates) for Wells Fargo. In my free time, I enjoy developing online web sites and applications for non-profit Christian entities and playing MMORPG’s. My wife and I have been happily married for almost 8 years and we have three sons, a 5 year old budding geek, and identical twin 2 year old geeks-in-training.

This is not a contest or who has or is doing the most, or who is most interesting. I am probably more boring than most people. What it is, is a way to present yourself in a positive light, and in a way that leaves a good, lasting impression on people. My description above gives you a lot of details without being overly wordy and also gives a lot of hooks for someone to ask about in more depth. More importantly, I am defining myself more by what I do (guitarist, blogger, geek) and less by those things with which I associate myself. Even more so, I am defining myself, even if somewhat indirectly, with my belief system and principals. I think anyone who read this would understand and I view myself as a Christian and as a tech-savvy dad. Those things, and not my job or my hair loss, are the things that truly define me.