Fortitude, Personal Development

Going for the Bronze Medal


The Winter Olympic Games is interesting whether you appreciate figure skating and curling or not. Have you been watching? There are so many great stories of people beating all odds to fulfill their Olympic dream. Hearing the athletes explain the sacrifices made and injuries overcome to be the very best at the one specific event for the Olympic games is inspiring.

For most athletes competing in the games, their dream is to compete at the highest level of their sport and they don’t really expect to win. For others though, the pressure to win gold is astronomical. Can you imagine having worked your entire life, literally, for one event – one race at a specific time and place and you know you must perform better than you’ve ever done before for a chance at gold? Your family, friends, and your entire country (it feels) are counting on you to win. Phew!

In a similar way though, we are all trying to win gold. We live in a world that covets, pursues, and praises achievement above pretty much everything else. Think about it. Everyone has the “gold medal” they must achieve. For some it’s financial freedom or being rich. For others it’s the perfect body, perfect mate, perfect house, perfect kids. Maybe it’s the dream job, dream experience, or dream retirement. Maybe it’s just having your way or being happy – whatever that means to you. For everyone, there is that thing. The personal gold medal. What’s yours?

In my personal study I’ve come to realize that all these typical “gold medals” we have for ourselves are ultimately unsatisfying. There are stories of Olympians who sell their medals, just as there are stories of people like you and me who work themselves sick to achieve their gold medal only to find out it wasn’t so great after all and they are left feeling discouraged and disappointed. Can you relate?

I think there is a better way. What if we went for the bronze medal – 3rd place, instead of gold? Try to follow me here. The pursuit of gold is very selfish. Yes, Olympians are racing for their country and maybe for a special cause or person, but ultimately it’s a selfish pursuit. All our “gold medal” pursuits are equally selfish. And they leave us wanting more. What if we didn’t live for ourselves and the “looking out for #1” and “it’s all about me” mindset? Gasp! How could we?!?

Ever heard of the I Am Second movement? It basically says that we should live for God, submitting ourselves to his purposes, his ways and by doing so we reap the benefits of living a fully satisfied life. Thousands of people including many celebrities are on board. They put themselves second instead of first. Silver instead of gold. If you are a Christian, this is the way we should live. God first, me second.

But we can take it a step further, which brings us to the point of this blog. By pursuing the bronze medal, 3rd place, we are saying God first, others second, then me. Ka-Pow!

Equation for you math wizards: Love God + Love Others = Fully Satisfied Life

Imagine if we applied this to our marriages… instead of an “I’m Number One” mindset, we chose to love our spouses with an “I am third” attitude… first and foremost comes our Savior, than you (my husband/my wife) whom I am called to joyfully serve, and then me. Oh, to be sure, there is a time and place for appropriate self-care, but more often than not, things are a bit out of balance in that department. #preachingtomyself

“Just as selfishness is a sure marriage killer, an attitude of service and sacrifice—the “I’m Third” philosophy—is an indisputable marriage builder.” –Dr. James Dobson

This is servant leadership, and it’s the best way to live. Amen? Can you imagine what marriage would be like if the heart’s desire of both partners was to joyfully serve the other? How might our work relationships improve? Dang, if everyone lived this way think what the Facebook news feed would look like!

Part of my personal journey is learning how to live this out. I’ve got a long way to go for sure, but I’ve been around enough to know my gold medals do not satisfy. “I’m Third” is unconventional, counter cultural, and radical – which is why I’m betting it works. Seems like this kind of mindset shift is just what the world needs right about now, don’t you think?


Making Time

making time


I really like this quote. It reminds me that I CHOOSE how to spend my time everyday. Granted, there are things we must do (like work) that take our time whether we like it or not. But I’m often surprised at how much time I REALLY have to do the things that are important to me.
Few notes:
1. You first have to identify what is important to you. This may require some serious thought. Like me, you may find that what is actually important to you is not exactly what you first thought.

2. Take inventory of your time to identify where your time is currently spent. If you don’t like how you spent it, then CHOOSE differently next time.

3. While it is impossible to actually “make time”, we can CHOOSE to spend our time on the important things we’ve identified.

What is important to you? I hope it includes taking care of yourself – and I mean your whole self:
-your mind through reading, art, personal development, etc.
-your body through good nutrition, regular exercise, and rest
-your soul through prayer, Bible study, meditation, helping others, etc.
‪#‎liveonpurpose‬ ‪#‎beyourbestself‬

Fitness, Fortitude, Personal Development

Brush Your Teeth To Fitness

Discipline bridge

Here are a few ideas to help you achieve your fitness goals, whether you are triathlon training (like me), trying to get to your target weight, couch to 5k, or making it through an entire Beachbody DVD program like PiYo (my favorite).

1. Write down your plan.
Make your workouts part of your daily schedule/ routine – just like brushing your teeth, work meetings, appointments, etc. Consistently completing your scheduled workout appointment will build the habit – and improve your results.

2. Have a purpose to your workout.
This is especially true of endurance athletes who often log unnecessary or “junk miles” because they believe the volume of work will make them better. Not necessarily true. Regardless of your fitness goals, make sure your workout is aligned with them. Focus on your form and the quality of your workout. Learn to do it right before adding weight or intensity to your workout.

3. Try Habit Stacking. One clever way to sneak in your exercise is to associate it with something else already in your routine. I’ve made it a habit to hit my pull up bar after brushing me teeth in the morning. It only takes a minute. Brush teeth. Do pull ups. Boom! done!

4. Don’t ever give up.
Sometimes circumstances will block your workout schedule. Life happens. Healthy living is a journey intended to last a lifetime. Miss a day? Don’t do a double the next day, just move on to the next one. Short on time? Sneak in a partial workout, or modify it to get some activity in. Some is better than none. Building the habit is key and consistency grows over time. Eventually, exercise will be such a natural part of your life that you hardly have to think about it. Daily workout? Yep, that’s just like brushing your teeth…


Your Top Priority Revealed in 3 Questions


What is your top priority? I understand that your top priority today is likely different than it will be next year or last year and that’s ok. There are ‘seasons’ in life that require our focus to change. For example, you may have gone back to school in order to change careers and that is your top priority for a ‘season’ of time. When you graduate, school will no longer be your top priority.

The point is that we all have a top priority today and my hope is that we take the time to identify today’s top priority and evaluate whether or not it is what we want it to be. To evaluate today’s top priority ask yourself a few more questions.

1. Where does your money go? A revealing way to assess where your priority lies is to look at your expenditures. Where you spend your money (or more specifically, your ‘extra’ money after the standard bills & such) indicates where your priority lies. You are your own judge as to whether or not the way you spend money aligns with your priority.

2. How do you spend your time? Think about how you spent your ‘free’ time this past week or month. Decide for yourself if where you spent your time aligns with your top priority. For me, I’ve spent virtually all my free time the past week or two working on our new house – demo, painting, cleaning, moving our stuff, etc. so it can be made ready for my family to move in. It has been my top priority, but hopefully VERY soon it will be done and my priority will change.

3. What do you think about? This might be the most revealing of all. In your quiet thoughts you reveal your true focus. If what you constantly think about differs from what you want your top priority to be, then you know you have some work to do to change that.

While changing your top priority (assuming it is not what you want it to be) is not easy, it is simple. Your priority ultimately comes down to your CHOICE. You choose what your top priority is whether you are conscious of it or not. That may sound a bit narrow minded, and I’m sure there are instances where circumstances are out of your control or ‘seasons’ where your top priority is not what you want, but for the most part you can choose where you spend your extra money, how you spend your free time, and what you think about. Hopefully, your top priority is aligned with your values, is related to a big goal you set for yourself, and includes the important people in your life.