Saturday, May 30, 2009

Las Vegas Northwest Rotary taught me what a service club can be.

Wow. What an experience.

Last Wednesday, the 26th, I went to Las Vegas with my boys, Acey and Ethan. We arrived late (sorry, long story) at the club house at Summerlin TPC and met one of the best groups I’ve ever seen.

What a lovely place to meet. One day it would be a dream come true to actual play golf at TPC Summerlin. But speaking to this Rotary Club was just as memorable. Great attendance, gracious introduction, attentive group, thoughtful input.

We talked about the fine line between help and enabling. Sometimes when we reach out and serve someone, the result is not what we expected. No one is obligated to react in a certain way when they receive help, and we cannot expect any certain behavior or reaction to our efforts to serve.

I’m reminded of a comment someone recently made to me when I was speaking to a club. This man told me how he had tried to help a neighbor who had a truck that wasn’t running. The neighbor really needed the truck for the work that he did.
The truck needed a new engine, and this man had the connections to provide a new engine.
What great service! Providing a new engine for a truck is a big thing to do for a neighbor.
The mechanic who installed the new engine mentioned to this man that the engine had burned up because the radiator was faulty. It would need to be repaired.
So this man told his neighbor that his truck now had a new engine, but that he should take the truck immediately to a radiator shop and have the radiator repaired.

Was that too much to ask? After receiving a new engine, should this man expect the neighbor to respectfully care for the truck and have the radiator repaired?
The radiator was ignored, and the new engine was burned up in two weeks.

What’s the message here?
Reaching out to a neighbor who needs a vehicle repaired is a very good act of service.
But we CANNOT expect the recipient of that service to respond in any preconceived way.
Once we have performed the service in question, we have done all we can.
Was the service wasted?
Absolutely not.
First, the service performed changed the giver more than the receiver, and that’s the most important thing.
Second, we may never know the underlying effects on the receiver because of this service that may make a difference later on.

Give with out expecting anything in return.

Over all, a wonderful morning. Great breakfast! Beautiful setting! Strong, impressive club. And best of all, my boys got to see me do something I love so much.

Monday, May 25, 2009

You’re holding your mouth wrong.

In the spirit of this blog, consider the following fishing lesson story:

When I was twelve, I had a Boy Scout leader who was an expert fisherman. Our troop decided over the winter that we would have a week of fishing for our scout camp the following summer.

So our leader taught us all about fishing. We gathered fishing equipment until we all had very similar set ups.
Then we learned to tie flies. We spent a lot of time perfecting our flies, and learning why and how they would work and under what specific conditions.

Finally summer came and we headed out for a week in the Uintah Mountains of Utah.
We set up camp and then prepared our gear, and finally each of us took up a spot on the banks of a little nearby lake.

All of our equipment was very similar, and all the flies we had tied were very similar.

But a strange thing happened.

None of us boys were catching any fish.

Our leader, however, was having great success and was catching fish at a steady pace.
We watched our leader with growing annoyance.

What had he neglected to teach us? What was he holding back?

A few of us set down our poles and marched over to our leader and demanded that he tell us what we were doing wrong.

He surveyed the line up of boys along the shore of the little lake and chuckled.

“You’re holding your mouth wrong.”

I’ll never forget that answer.
I didn’t understand it at the time, but I’ve come to discover that each of us have talents that are difficult to explain or teach.

I believe that if we could find a way to share that special knowledge or ability that we alone possess, we could change the world.

What do you do, what do you know that is hard to explain? How could you teach it to others?

It might be hard to do, but think of the difference that it could make in our world.
No one wants to take away the thing that makes you special, we just want to understand it, so that we can learn to develop special abilities and knowledge of our own.

So, teach me how to hold my mouth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.

My boys had a scout master who used to say this.
I’ve given this concept a lot of thought.
What exactly is the main thing?
You really have to figure that out.

What’s the main thing for the long term? What’s the main thing for the week? What’s the main thing right now?

For me this takes a little meditation.
What I like to do best is to take a drive and think about it.
What’s the main thing for my family? What do I want for each of them?
How much am I willing to let go?
What’s the main thing for me?
Holy cow, that’s a tough one!
But it’s all possible.
We can all figure out what the main thing is for any given situation or time period.
And it will require lots of honesty.

Right now, for me, the main thing is developing long term bond of love and friendship with my family. No matter what happens in this life, if I have those bonds, I’ll be alright.
Right now, for me, developing my writing and speaking careers is the main thing.
Right now, for me, minding doctor’s orders and making sure that I’m doing what’s best for my health is the main thing.

So we all figure out what the main thing is.

Then, our mantra:

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

We’re diverted much to easily.
Fighting, discouragement, ego, haste, impatience.
It all makes us lose sight of the main thing.
Arguments especially can take a zig zagging course as we are filled with the temptation to win or to hurt our opponent.

What’s it all really about?

“The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing.”

Friday, May 15, 2009

Almost missed the Ogden Kiwanis Club.

It would have been a tragedy.
Xochil came with me again to help, and I was glad to have her with me.
Mom was stranded with a vehicle that wouldn’t start at the DATC, and we scrambled to help her. We didn’t think it would put us behind schedule, but it did. Then we chose to take the 31st Street exit in Ogden, and found ourselves in the middle of construction.
So we were late.
I hate that, and I felt very bad about it.
But the Ogden club was understanding and welcoming.
They meet at Rickenbacker’s near the Ogden Airport, and we found that it’s a really fun place.
We talked a lot about deference in the service of others. This is something I’m passionate about.
I truly believe that service without interest leaves a bad taste. Service without understanding and appreciation just doesn’t work. Service without deference is just self interest.
Now, I had more than one person tell me that they needed to look up the word ‘deference’ to be sure that they really understood it.
I do that too!
We need to look things up, find out for ourselves, make sure we really understand things. That’s the whole point.
When we explore things to make sure we really understand them, we are lead down a path of discovery that takes us to new adventures and new points of view.
We also had the Key Club with us yesterday, and I am always grateful for that.
Young people today are outstanding. If they’re taking an interest in participating in Kiwanis, you can be sure that our future is in good hands.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Quick Joke:

Oh how we wish things were as good as they used to be.

Or as easy. Or uncomplicated.

I've been taking some time off. But now it's back to work.

I'm on the verge of some new, wonderful discoveries. We're going to have some great things to talk about.

My wife and daughter are both nurses, and they tell me how honestly their patients view life and the circumstances that have befallen them. Sometimes the frankness is downright uncomfortable.

You really find out who's compassionate when you need help in the bathroom. It's useless to worry about what you used to think of as dignity when you can't bathe yourself.

So we learn to find new meanings for words like dignity and modesty and embarrassing.

And we find new ways to look at comfort, confidence, and gratitude.

Life teaches us, sometimes through great trials.

So, we're back at work. But first, a joke:

At the beginning of my shift I placed a stethoscope on an elderly and slightly deaf female patient's anterior chest wall.

"Big breaths," I instructed.

"Yes, they used to be," answered the patient remorsefully.