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“It does take work and it ain’t easy – but man, the rewards!” (Susan Powter)


An older woman once said to me, “I always thought that there would be a golden age between zits and wrinkles where my skin would be perfect and radiant without me having to work at it.”  I laughed.  Then one day I realized that I had this same attitude toward my life.  I thought there would be a point where I would come through all the countless tests and trials and questions that helped build my life and I would slide easily into the land of milk and honey where I could lean back and have all my dreams fall into place without any further work on my part – perfect and radiant.  Aaaaah, success.

It didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen.

Working towards your life’s purpose is tough. You give it everything – time, energy, finances, emotions, and more. You wonder if you’ll ever finally turn that corner where you feel you’re actually getting somewhere with it.  So many times you want to give up, but you keep fighting. Then one day everything comes together, everything is set in motion, you’re where  you’ve always wanted to be, you’re living the dream. If your life was an inspirational movie, this is where the music would swell, the camera would pan back, the credits would roll, and the audience would applaud.

But life purpose doesn’t wrap up so neatly.

You realize your grip isn’t quite as tight as you thought it was and you lose a chunk of your hard won dream and you ask yourself, “Did I miss a turn?  Did I miss everything? Did I not do enough? Do I go back and start over? Do I keep moving on from here?”  You feel as if your life is a tragic movie, the music clashing, the screen dimming, and the audience leaving silently.

You need to change the script.  It’s in your hands.

You have to maintain the momentum to keep it going, which can be rougher than what it originally took to get you there.  You realize that you’re not quite as satisfied as you were sure you were going to be and it’s time for your goals to expand a little more – which takes even more work.

You see, the work never really ends.  But the goal is not to conquer your purpose in order to sit back and enjoy your life.  The goal is to enjoy your life as you are working – hard – towards your purpose.

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” (Anais Nin)


There can be a dark place in personal growth. It lies in the shadowy slope where insight slides into morbid introspection.

Insight: when you observe and analyze yourself, you see into the underlying truth of your actions, motivation, character, etc. and are empowered to make a change in your life.

Morbid introspection:  when you become fixated on the observation and analysis and – when you are faced with the underlying truth of your actions, motivation, character, etc. – rather than clean up and move on, you become negative and brood about your weaknesses, doubt your abilities, and belittle yourself and your goals.

Very Simple Solution:  Is there really be a quick fix to this problem?  Yes, there really is… but quick does not necessarily mean easy. You have to make a choice and to apply it immediately.  It might not seem fresh and original, but it is tried and true: You must change your thinking.  It’s not about reciting the 3×5 sticky notes on your mirror reminding yourself you are greater than you think.  It’s not about listening to motivational messages in your car on the way to work or errands. It’s about being consistently responsible to cut short the pity party and make the change at the moment you discover yourself in the darkness.  It’s not easy – it’s a hard road to climb. But it really does work.

  • “Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.”
    (Philippians 4:8 from The Message version of the Bible)



There is a concept of “Purpose” that I find important to emphasize whenever possible:  It cannot be wrapped up in another person.

I find it incredibly sad when a young person says their purpose in life is to get married, or a parent believes their life goal is to raise great kids, or someone indicates their whole life is dedicated to supporting their partner in whatever they do. Not that these goals are negative, but they cannot be the whole focus of your life.  What happens when the young person gets married (or if they don’t), what happens when the kids leave home, what happens if the partner dies?

Our purpose in God is unchanging.  It carries us throughout our lives, in every stage, in every relationship, in every circumstance.  Whether married or single, whether children or none, whether someone runs alongside you nor not.

Let me be clear.  Marriage, children, and partnerships can all be very fruitful, productive, important parts of your purpose.  God can and will  use those things to move you towards your purpose, but they cannot BE your purpose.

Action is the foundational key to all success. (Pablo Picasso)


“Practice makes perfect” – so practice being proactive about your life. Does that sound scary? Just start by making small choices that are different from the ones you usually make and don’t feel threatening. What if you took a different route to work in the morning? What would happen if you went to a different branch of your financial institution? What if you changed what you usually order at your favorite restaurant? Simple, and perhaps silly, but taking small, safe-feeling steps will increase your confidence and lead to more and eventually larger steps. Don’t worry if it takes some time, you’ll get where you’re going. This is not a race, it’s living your life – better.


I wasn’t exuding a sense of excellence earlier this week. Illness kept me in bed for several days and I discovered that when I’m feverish and exhausted, I am not a positive thinker. I thought about what I am trying to do here and the “who am I kidding” and “is it worth it” and “what if I fail again” moments were like bricks that wouldn’t stop assailing me. As I started to recover I found those bricks laying at my feet – still demanding to be answered, but not breaking me any longer.

Achieving excellence is not just about doing excellent things and thinking excellent thoughts and achieving excellent goals – that’s just one part. The other part is what happens when the things you do are not up to par, what happens when your thinking is garbage, and what happens when you discover that lofty goal isn’t going to cut it. What do you do when doubts and fears are overwhelming and you feel like bailing out?

Why don’t you cut yourself a break? When those bricks were slamming me I thought to myself, “I’m sick. I’ll deal with this next week when things better.” What would happen if, when those bricks come flying at you and you begin to doubt yourself, you cut yourself a break and say, “I’m frustrated/ stressed/ fearful/ unsure. I’ll deal with this particular question in a couple of days when things are better”?

If it’s something serious that still needs adjustment when things are better, find someone you trust to talk it over and you can deal with it. If it’s just the typical ups and downs of being a human being in search of excellence, your confidence will probably return and you can address them easily and move along.


In last week’s blog I suggested developing a list of your individual gifts, talents, skills, abilities, tastes, desires, interests, affinities – things that bring you satisfaction and make you feel alive. I’m assuming that you have listed at least two things. This week, I would like you to take at least two things from your list and do something with them. Block out two 5-minute blocks of time this week – that’s 10 minutes out of the 10,080 minutes you’ll have available – and think about those two things exclusively. You don’t have to do anything about them, just think about them. Imagine yourself doing them and pay attention to how it makes you feel.

And if you’d like to share… I’d love to hear from you in the comments section…

Have the courage to hold onto the best and let the rest fall away. (DeWitt Jones)


Do you ever get tired of waiting for things to change? The economy, a difficult manager at work, an overdramatic friend, a situation blocking your path.  These have all, at one time or another, made it to the top of my “Would You Please Just Hurry Up and Change” list.  But my current number one offender is … myself. I really do want to change the world, and I really do think it’s possible, but if it is dependent upon ME changing – well there’s going to be a problem.

Oh, it’s easy to change the things I do:  recycle, volunteer, give more to charity.  But changing the way I think, which pretty much means changing who I am? That’s when my defense mechanisms go up. My first inclination is to throw a fit and start screaming, “Why should I have to change?  What’s wrong with me being this way?”  This reaction in itself reveals to me the importance of the change – moving from immaturity to maturity. My second inclination is to dig my heels in and say, “I’m tired of having to be the one who has to change, why can’t they/it be the one to change this time?” This petulant reaction triggers a question: what if the person or circumstance NEVER changes? Am I willing to stay stuck, just to make a point?  Are you? …


… Pursuing excellence in our lives pretty much means that changing ourselves is a given. Changing the ordinary into extraordinary, changing average into greatness, changing the mediocre into superb, changing ourselves into the most excellent version of ourselves. That actually sounds pretty good to me.  So what are we waiting for?


Last week I wrote, “I believe that God has created every human being with individual gifts, talents, skills, abilities, tastes, desires, interests, affinities – things that bring us satisfaction and make us feel alive.”  For most of us, these things are easy to list about ourselves:

  • “I’m good with numbers”
  • “I love to paint”
  • “Modern contemporary furniture is to die for”
  • “I want a waterfront home”
  • “Everyone loves my cinnamon rolls”
  • “I couldn’t live anywhere but New York City.”

But for some of us, we’ve lost our way.  The cares and concerns of life have become so tightly packed down around us, we can’t think past what is currently happening in us and to us. We feel stuck.  We feel like we’ve missed it.  We feel like we blew it.  If you feel this way, I want to give you permission to take five minutes out of your schedule to do the following:

  • Say this sentence to yourself:  “I want something more. I need something more.”
  • Remember what used to bring you satisfaction and made you feel alive and write them down.
  • Say this sentence to yourself: “It’s okay to want and need something more.  It’s okay to want to feel satisfied and alive.”

Next week when you visit again, bring your list with you and we’ll take a closer look.

Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still. (Chinese Proverb)

There’s been a sense of something missing from this blog since I began it last month. It suddenly dawned on me that a whole chunk of my objective is missing.  Since my passion is to help others toward their purpose, there is now a separate section devoted to “Purpose.”  To make way for this,  the Exellence and Success sections have been combined (since the whole point is that true success is only found in pursuing excellence).  


Do you remember the very first time that you recognized that you had grown up a little?

When I was about ten years old I had a habit of throwing my jacket on the coat closet floor.  My mom would get after me about it and I would usually say, “Oh, it must have fallen off the hanger.”  One day I decided put a little zip into my story by actually putting the jacket on the hanger and then throwing the whole thing on the floor.  Ha! Worked like a charm! But the second time I did this, the thought came to me, “If you are going to take all the trouble to put it on the hanger and throw it on the floor, why don’t you just hang it up? It’s just as easy, and you won’t have to waste time later coming back to do it.”  When I put the hook over the rod, I realized something had changed in me.

Even as adults, our moments of growth don’t have to be earth shattering to be a turn in our life’s path.  Growth can be subtle.  A nudge to increase our awareness of a situation can lead us to a different point of view about what is really needed.  A prompt to adjust our attitude can keep us from an unwarranted argument.  A spur to revise our perspective can open us to new creativity. A check to hold back on a comment can save us from our own ignorance, or protect another’s character. These seemingly small things can lead to the expanding of our life in ways we might not see until we are further down the road, a little more… grown up.


Found on


The Westminster Shorter Catechism states, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”  It’s a great statement.  And it leads to a great question: How do we glorify God and enjoy him forever?

I believe that God has created every human being with individual gifts, talents, skills, abilities, tastes, desires, interests, affinities – things that bring us satisfaction and make us feel alive. I am pretty sure that each person faces unique experiences and circumstances – things that challenge or threaten us. I am learning that the conglomeration of all the giftings and all of the hardships results in a person’s unique purpose in life. And I know that finding that unique purpose, pursuing it with excellence, and honoring God with it is how each person finds fulfillment. When you become what you are created to be, that  brings glory to God.  

Discovering our purpose is a matter of understanding our strengths and our challenges. Implementing our purpose is a matter of finding practical expression of it in our lives. Completing our purpose is a matter of . . . well, that’s not possible. Remember the catechism, we are to “enjoy him forever.”

“Life doesn’t give us want we want, it gives us what we go claim.” (Stephen Pierce)


“The most difficult battle you ever fight is the battle to be unique in a world that will marshal its every force to keep you the same.” (James Ray)


It is 3:00 in the morning as I write this.  I am extremely tired, my eyes are blurry, and yet I cannot sleep.  My body is restless and my every thought leaves me either cranky or in despair: What did so-and-so mean when they said what they said earlier today? I think I hate them now. – cranky. What did so-and-so mean when they said what they said earlier today? Do they hate me now? – despair.  This state of weariness leaves me unable to measure the true weight of… something or other… what’s the word I’m looking for… anyway, the point is that I am not at the top of my game at the moment. It is not a good time to try to make a decision or try to accomplish anything of significance. When it comes to establishing excellence in your life, it’s important to know your limitations, your areas that need strengthening. It’s about being aware of times/circumstances that may cause you not to perform at your peak. You need to know when to hold back, wait, ask for advice, or even hand it over to someone else.  (Just don’t hand it over to “so-and-so” — I’m not sure about them at the moment.)


Success is not about achieving a goal or being satisfied with an outcome.  A successful person is one who makes a daily choice to move forward through both accomplishments and setbacks, understanding that it is the depth of your work, not the width, that is the true measure of a lasting legacy.

“I must be willing to give up what I am in order to become what I will be.” (Albert Einstein)


Imagine my surprise when a 92-year-old woman asked to have a counseling session with me this last week. Figuring that it would probably not be about her marriage, her workplace, or her career plans, I was fairly confident it would be about a relationship (“Martha is driving me crazy!”) or something to do with a telemarketer’s offer.

As we sat on her comfy couch and had cookies and coffee, she began to tell me of her personal growth over the past three years.  She told me about her negative mindset and the problems it had created over the course of her life. She told of the weekend in 2008 when she read in the Bible:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

When she read it “all the lights came on” and she determined that negative thinking would no longer dominate her life and how in the last three years she had been transformed.

It was a lovely story.  But I was a unsure of exactly why she had called me – maybe she just needed a listening ear.

She reached out and she touched my arm.  “I still have so much growing to do in other areas.  I need someone to help me be brave. I need someone to help me keep on track.  Would you coach me a little bit?”

I was sort of thinking/hoping that there would be this golden moment in life where there would be a sense of everything coming together and for one brief shining moment I could say there’s nothing more to accomplish.  My sweet friend, and new client, reminded me that there’s always opportunity and time to reach for an even better life.  There’s always room to grow.

(permission was given to share this story, and changes were made to protect my friend’s identity)


In perfection, there is always comparison with an external factor – another person, a previous attempt, a degree of accuracy.  It connotes judgment, the rendering of a formal, authoritative opinion. This is acceptable when it comes to matters of law, finance or the manufacture of a product.  It is shaming when used to define a person’s value or a person’s abilities.

Most dictionaries define excellence within the realm of a talent being possessed or a quality being achieved. And while excellence does imply the surpassing of a standard, that standard is not about attaining a goal but rather acheiving a  consistent demonstration — of going beyond what is required, of surpassing the expected, of contributing value.

Perfection allows for either success or failure. There is nothing more.

Choosing to expect exellence, from ourselves and others, always provides opportunities for advancement and expansion.


Actor Kevin Spacey gives a very insightful response regarding success in this YouTube clip:

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