The Genius Blog
Are You in a Safe Place?
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 1/4/13 10:14 AM EST
Sometimes I think that in January we should all wear badges that say "I survived the holidays." Each Christmas our family loads up the minivan (2 adults, 4 kids, one dog, and all the presents) for a 12 hour drive from North Carolina to my parents' house in Michigan. It's a haul, but always a fun time with family. This year, however, our return home was a bit of a nightmare.
We left early in the morning to avoid an oncoming snowstorm, but an hour into the drive, we blew a tire. The timing was not good. We were in the middle of Detroit, just over a bridge with only a thin shoulder on the right. When we pulled over, one side of our vehicle was against the cement barrier of the bridge and the side with the flat tire was about two feet from the traffic lane. It was a 70 mile an hour highway and the vehicles were coming downhill and around a curve. Our van was shaking violently every time some double-trailer semi truck whooshed by. The kids were pretty scared, but my wife and I tried to assure them everything would be okay.
Thankful for the AAA roadside assistance we’d recently purchased, I quickly made the call. An emergency operator came on the line and asked my name and then, in a serious voice said, “Mr. Rutledge… are you in a safe place, can you move to a safe place, or do you need emergency assistance?”
Not wanting to be overdramatic, I started to tell her that we were probably fine. My wife, who is a lot better in a crisis than I am, shook her head and said, “We can’t stay here for long. Please, tell them to come now.”
So I had to stop and think a moment. Considering the potential outcomes of our situation, I said, “Actually, we are not in a safe place. We need help.” They quickly dispatched both a police officer and a tow truck to our location.
We were incredibly thankful for the tow truck driver who risked his life and changed the tire so we could get to a store and buy a new set. Though we thought that would be the end of our crazy adventure, we discovered once we got back on the road that the delay put us in the path of the snowstorm. I’m from Michigan and have driven in plenty of snow… but this was bad. The roads were not getting cleared and we drove past two jack-knifed semi trucks, saw more than a dozen cars in ditches, and even watched a couple slide off the road in front or behind us.
We had to go about 35 miles per hour for a good deal of the time, so the 12 hour trip ended up taking us 18.5 stressful hours. When we finally dropped into our beds late that night, it was with a lot of prayers of thanksgiving.
You know – there’s something about crisis that brings important things into crystal clear focus. During the 18 hours of driving, I kept going back to my conversation with the emergency operator. In a way, we’re all speeding along the highway of life in our minivans… and once and a while we need to have a moment where life stops and someone gets very serious and asks us the hard question, “Are you in a safe place?”
I don’t mean physical safety, like whether or not you’ve got a security system to protect your family. And I don’t mean conservative safety, like whether you’ve got money in the bank to handle problems that come up. I mean… in the absolutely critical areas of your life… have you allowed yourself to live dangerously? Is your marriage in a safe place? Are you living dangerously in the amount of time you are investing with your kids? Are you playing games when it comes to diet, exercise, and your health? Are you ignoring or neglecting your spiritual life and your relationship with the Creator of the Universe?
Sometimes when we get asked these questions, just like me on the phone… we don’t want to be overdramatic. We don’t want to admit that we might be in danger. But this experience reminded me that we need to take the time to look around and recognize potential outcomes of the place we are in. We need to recognize the seriousness of our situation.
Are you in a safe place?
For me, the New Year is a great time to pull over the minivan and take a hard assessment of my life. To try to make 2013 about the important and not the urgent. And just like being stranded on the road… if I find areas in my life where I am in danger… there are really only two options: I need to move or get immediate emergency assistance. Hesitating is not an option.
COMMENTS: [View all 3 comments]
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Tue Jan 8, 2013 8:45 AM EST
Thanks Anne for your kind words! Glad your family made it safe through the storm as well. Have a wonderful 2013!
Posted by Sister Judy Hayes on Fri Jan 18, 2013 4:28 PM EST
food for thought. I tried today to approach each person I met with the thought, 'can I help them be in a safe place?" One person helped me get to a safe place today,
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 6/13/12 10:31 AM EST
Father’s Day is a bit of a joke. Sometimes it seems like nothing more than a way to peddle more ties and t-shirts to guys that need neither. Our stores even use the term “dads and grads” – lumping events together just to get as many people in the store as possible. If there was another word that rhymed, I’m sure we’d celebrate that too.
For many, Father’s Day is about expressing gratitude to their dad. But even then, I find that our expectations for Fathers are incredibly low. Visit your local Target and you’ll find lots of Father’s Day cards about dads playing backyard ball with their kids or working hard or providing sage advice. Those things are nice - but is that the standard we set for Fatherhood?
In recent years, there have been some groups trying to elevate the status of Fatherhood by quoting a bunch of statistics. You may have heard that 75% of adolescents in chemical abuse centers come from fatherless homes, 85% of children showing behavior disorders come from fatherless homes, and 90% of all homeless/runaway children are from fatherless homes. The statistics go on and on related to suicides, crimes, dropping out of school and the like.
But while it's a good start, these groups are still missing something. Because this new “focus on fatherhood” is primarily geared towards getting dads to be more involved in their family at home - to get dads home from work on time and staying faithful to their wives and teaching their kids what is right. And that’s all great too, but we’re still selling Fatherhood way short.
We need to completely redefine Fatherhood.
I just got back from a missions trip to Liberia. I’ve been to Africa three times since my wife and I adopted two orphans in 2007 and my involvement in Africa and adoption has turned my view of Fatherhood on its head.
In America, Fatherhood (and “good parenting”) is about taking care of your biological offspring and giving them every opportunity to succeed and expand your family legacy. We’ve got to think bigger.
True Fatherhood is protecting, nurturing, and empowering those that are defenseless, weak, and abandoned – wherever they are.
One thing I never really grasped before adopting is that Fatherhood is a choice that has nothing to do with blood. I have absolutely no connection to my adopted son and daughter, born thousands of miles away with different skin, culture, and talents. But because they needed a father, I choose to be that in their life. And I didn’t expect this, but I discovered that there is virtually no difference between the influence I can have in their life and the one I do in the life of my two other biological kids.
And once you throw out that whole concept of blood, your definition of Fatherhood starts expanding fast. The first time I travelled to Africa, the whole “it takes a village” culture really humbled me. Africans realize that Fatherhood is more than taking care of the kids in your home. In Africa, your family is whoever needs you - whether that’s your nieces/nephews, the neighbors around you, or an abandoned elderly person from church.
Fatherhood has no boundaries.
Personally, I've made a ton of failures as a dad. But during our recent trip in Liberia (did I mention that my dad went too?), we had the absolute honor to work in two children’s homes with some of the poorest kids in Liberia. These kids have no one to stand up for them – to make sure they are fed, to tell them they are loved, to protect and train them. It was a brutally hard trip on our team – but a joy to be able to work to make their buildings safe and secure, to expand a sponsorship program that will provide ongoing food, and to encourage and teach them.
To me, THIS is Fatherhood. We need to throw out that weak picture of dad and child building a birdhouse. Wherever there are hungry, weak, defenseless women and children… there is a gaping hole waiting to be filled by true Fatherhood.
And while I happen to have a connection to Africa, the need for Fatherhood is everywhere. Fatherhood can be as simple as providing authority and guidance to unsupervised latchkey kids playing in your street. It’s providing advice and encouragement to the young man just out of college that interns for you at work. It’s building businesses and ministries that care for and employ the poorest in our cities in America and beyond. And it’s definitely taking the kids in your home along with you on the journey… and showing them that you expect more from them than to grow up and live in the suburbs and play backyard sports with their own kids.
So let’s rewrite the standard. One of my favorite descriptions of God in scripture is from Psalm 68:5. “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” Now that’s the kind of father I can aspire to be.
And when we have more dads like that – celebrating one Sunday in June won’t nearly seem enough.
COMMENTS: [View all 3 comments]
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:19 PM EST
Thanks Teresa & Rachel. I really appreciate the kind words and for you taking the time to read it! Have a great day.
Posted by Michael Danis on Fri Jun 29, 2012 2:39 AM EST
Very nice post, i m very happy to read it..
SignUpGenius Serving in Liberia
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 5/4/12 04:01 PM EST
In 2007, just about a year before I launched SignUpGenius, my wife and I traveled to Liberia, West Africa to bring home two children via adoption. The kids were living in a children’s home run by an indigenous ministry called Africans Christian Fellowship International (ACFI).
That trip was a life-changing milestone in our lives, and it would take a couple hours at a coffee shop with each of you to truly explain how we got to that point and what God taught us along the way. But the short story is that on that first trip God broke our hearts for the difficulties the beautiful, vibrant people of Liberia are going through after their country was absolutely gutted by fourteen years of civil war. Statistically, Liberia is one of the ten poorest countries in the world, and depending on which ranking system you use, it’s sometimes listed in the bottom three.
After coming back to the States, my wife and I got together with several other U.S. families that wanted to support ACFI in the work they were doing to care for the some of the neediest in their country. We were a rag-tag group with a variety of backgrounds – but we prayed and took one step at a time as God led. One of the things I was able to help with was building a website, AfricanChildSponsorship.com, so that we could establish an online child sponsorship program to help provide enough resources to care for the kids still living in the children’s home. We also started taking periodic mission teams back to Liberia where we were able to support the efforts of the faithful men and women of ACFI.
At the end of this month, my wife and I will be returning to Liberia to lead a mission team of 14. The team will be serving in two ACFI children’s homes providing teacher training, maintenance and repair work, getting sponsorship updates, and running a vacation bible school with the kids. We’ll also be doing some training for the ACFI leaders in small business and technology.
This year, we were excited that SignUpGenius was able to contribute to a project fund that will be used in these efforts. In addition, we’ve used SignUpGenius ourselves to organize donations and responsibilities for the trip!
It’s hard to write a post like this, because it’s not intended to make me look good or to drum up comments from people that it is “so neat” that SignUpGenius is involved in this. I know that there are a lot of different beliefs from the people that read this blog – so without explaining everything completely - let me just say that God has given so much to me (and I’m not primarily referring to physical blessings here) that it’s an honor to follow Him on this crazy adventure. Hopefully our story will inspire others to step out and embark on something that God might lay on your own heart.
We’re thankful for all our users that played a small part in this trip just by helping SignUpGenius grow and making it possible for the company to contribute. I feel like I’ve got the best job in the world, and I am grateful that SignUpGenius can be a small part of the efforts of thousands of churches, nonprofits, schools, and groups - whether you’re making a difference in the middle of Kansas or in a dusty children’s home in Liberia. The rest of our staff will be holding down the fort while we’re gone, and we’ll share more about the trip when we return!
Building a Slideshow
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 4/12/12 09:23 AM EST
Everyone needs to go to a funeral now and then. Particularly one of someone your own age.
I went to a memorial service this week for the relative of a friend of mine. I went to support my friend and had never actually met the man that died. The man was my age, though, and tragically left behind a wife and a young son.
Despite the fact that I never knew this guy, this service moved me more than anything has in a while. While I know that all memorial services tend to focus on fond memories of the deceased – this one went far beyond the typical niceties. It quickly became evident that this young man had been absolutely knocking it out of the park as a husband, father, and man of faith.
There were lots of moving stories – snapshots of a man that genuinely cared and intentionally connected with every person he met – from his buddies at church to the Fed Ex guy that delivered things to his house. His wife wrote this incredible letter that they read - and basically said that she felt so treasured, that she would rather have been married to him for 10 years than have a lifetime with any other man on the planet. As they were going through his desk after he died, they found special cards this guy had already bought for his family – a typical practice, apparently, to express his love.
They ran this slide show in the background of this 90-minute service and it showed picture after picture of this man smiling and playing board games and vacationing and just goofing around with his son and his wife and various friends/family. You can’t fake the kind of joy and love in these photos. It was so striking I almost wished they’d just turn it off after a while so I could have a break from the emotion of it.
There are many other details I could share, but the main thing that struck me is how lazy I can get with my family and those I love. If I were to die today – while I’ve done a lot of things pretty well – I’m not sure I’d be satisfied. I’m not sure my slide show would be as full. I’m not sure that my wife would be so genuinely filled-up with love. I’m not sure that I would have demonstrated to my kids the kind of active faith in God that I want to.
This week I saw a glimpse of the potential. The service that you want to have. And it was humbling.
What pictures will you put in your slideshow today?
Posted by Lella Vick on Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:25 PM EST
I live in Norwood,N.C and I knew Dennis,Patti,Scott,and Trish,when they lived here ...great people ! Scott was a fine young man who loved golf and he loved his family.They lived on the lake and had lots of family fun times on the lake. I knew that someday ,Scott would make his mark in this great big world and as sad as this time is...he has done just that !!! God Bless you Denny,Patti,and Trish.
Posted by Tammy L on Tue Apr 17, 2012 12:43 PM EST
What a touching post.
It was the death of one of my friends from high school that made me realizing I hadn't been living, just passing time. That is when I started building my slideshow.
Thank you for the reminder that that should be an everyday occurrence.
You are an artist
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 3/22/12 11:20 PM EST
You are made to be creative. We all are.
I bet you started strong. There was undoubtedly some refrigerator art and play dough sculptures and possibly even some crayon on the wall that had to be scrubbed clean. Creativity is hardwired in all of us. And that make sense really – because everywhere you look, from the intricacy of the tiniest flower to the vast canvas of a sunset – you can see the fingerprints of the great Creator that your life reflects.
That’s something that was breathed into me from an early age. My parents made everything a creative adventure. There were the elaborate Christmas cookies that were almost too detailed to eat… the over-the-top sand castles… the ingenious hand-made Halloween costumes… and around this time of year, the Ukrainian Easter eggs. We did everything with passion.
That was some fertile creative ground – and it definitely shaped me. As a college student and in my twenties and early thirties I had an insatiable drive to create. I studied film/video, moved to Los Angeles, and was obsessed with creating culture-shaping, paradigm-shifting projects. I was never satisfied and was always trying to figure out how to create the next big film.
In the last decade, though, the realities of mortgages and minivans and pee-wee soccer leagues gradually caught up to me. As happens to a lot of folks, the big dreams had to take a back seat to life. To be honest, it was a little depressing. When the dreams got shelved, it felt like the creative side of me had to be boxed up with it.
But lately I’ve been realizing that I was missing the whole point of all those early lessons in creativity. I’d been doused in a culture of Oscars and Emmys and American Idol… and I started to believe that being the artist I was created to be meant that I had to be the best and become world famous and change everything.
I think that what I missed from those early lessons in creativity… is that all of life can be art. We can reflect the creativity and excellence of God in every small thing that we do. There is an absolute beauty in baking the perfect apple pie for your family. Or in coming up with a creative way to teach fractions to your 3rd grader. Or in picking out the perfect colors to paint your home. Or in making a flower arrangement for your spouse. Or in photographing a cousin’s wedding. Or even writing a blog post.
Nobody needs to text in their vote for you or hand you a gold statue in order for you to create beauty that enhances those around you. You were designed for this. You are an artist.
So break out the refrigerator magnets.
COMMENTS: [View all 6 comments]
Posted by Pia Capell on Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:29 PM EST
Is there a way to have people preview your created sign up before you finalize & send it out?
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Tue Apr 17, 2012 2:37 PM EST
Hi Pia. The easiest thing to do is simply publish your sign up without inviting everyone. Then send it to the few people you want to preview it yourself. When you are all ready, go back and add your remaining invites. See this FAQ: http://bit.ly/HRzxPC
My Favorite Sound in the World
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 1/24/12 08:42 AM EST
I remember sounds.
The tape-deck that is my brain seems to record them. Sometimes I like to roam the archives, replaying the tracks in my life like a playlist of favorites.
One of the first I remember is from being a kid. I remember waking up on school mornings and just lying in bed and hearing the sound of my mom taking out dishes for breakfast. I loved that sound. It was like a musical alarm clock announcing that everything about the day was normal and safe and that there was someone out there thinking about me long before I even woke up. Even as I got older, I used to love coming home from college just to hear the morning symphony of silverware.
Some of my favorite tracks come from my wife and kids. The "I will" said just to me. The beautiful horrible gasps of pain that preceded those first sweet cries from my two biological kids. The sound of the African rain against the roof of a beat-up taxi as we drove back from picking up my two adopted kids from their orphanage. You won't find those sounds on iTunes, but I can hear them more clearly than any song on my iPhone.
Lately I've got a new favorite. And this one I bet you've heard too. It's not a catchy tune – but I could listen to it every day and not get tired of it.
It's the sound of the garage door.
I think I first noticed it this summer. My wife took my kids on a trip for a couple days and I had to stay home and work. I'm generally not a worrying type of guy, but for some reason that trip I was keenly aware of how my life had the potential to be completely turned upside down in a moment. A forgotten turn signal, a bartender that doesn't take away some guy's keys - and in the blink of an eye - the soundtrack of my life could get a lot more silent.
So I'm waiting on the day they're coming home and it's so amazingly quiet in the house. And then suddenly, piercing that silence is that sound I've heard a million times before that took on fresh meaning.
The garage door.
Everyone's home. Everything's normal. Everyone's safe.
Like a new remake of an old favorite.
So now it's nearly February and sometime in this next month you'll probably buy some flowers or some chocolate or a new tie for someone that's important to you. And while it's great to to have a day that makes us stop and remember and express love to those we care about – we gotta make sure that happens a lot more than on Valentine's Day. And for me - I’m going to try and remind myself daily – to say what needs to be said, to cherish the moments, to thank God for the gifts.
And now I've got a daily audio reminder.
My favorite sound.
COMMENTS: [View all 5 comments]
Posted by Julie Luton on Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:03 AM EST
It's so funny ... my 13-year-old son just wrote a monologue for Drama class on sounds and how important they are. Your love letter to your family (which is what the above really is) hit just the right spot. Thanks for sharing.
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:26 PM EST
Thanks Julie! Have a great weekend!
Announcing Our Contest Winners!
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 1/10/12 04:59 PM EST
Here at SignUpGenius, we love to shine the spotlight on people who are making their corner of the world a better place. That’s why our recent "Real Life St. Nick Contest" was such an inspiration to all of us and hopefully to many of you as well. With so many encouraging entries about the ways that every day people are influencing others with their extraordinary generosity, we had a tough time deciding on just a few to receive prizes. Congratulations to our "Real Life St. Nick Contest" winners!
“I nominate Lauren Cray. Four years ago, Lauren began helping raise funds for an orphanage in Kenya with 20 children in a rented facility and in constant worry about their next meal. In August, Lauren took a leave of absence from her job to help more. She has purchased a van and a small farm for them to grow food. She is a hero to these kids on the other side of the world!”
2nd place prize: A $50 Visa gift card for Maxcine Howell and one for her real life St. Nick mom!
“My mom is 82 yrs old and is still sewing gifts for people all year long. She remembers birthdays for 8 children (1 deceased), 22 grands, 15 greats, and a million adopted ones. She remembers to pray for everyone and will give her (and my dad's) last dime to help someone. She's the greatest.”
3rd place prize: A $25 Visa gift card for Margaret Konczal and one for her real life St. Nick friends, Bob and Jo!
“My ‘parents’ are nice people I met when I started going to church when I was having a difficult divorce. My ‘parents’ helped me get back on my feet to take care of my then 3 small children. They are generous to the church and community also and my ‘dad’ even bought the next town over a fire truck when theirs broke down and they couldn't afford a new one.”
When asked about her response to winning the contest for her generosity to kids in Kenya, Lauren Cray responded, “I was so surprised to find out that my mom had entered me into this contest, and even more surprised that I had won! I told my friend that I wanted the gift card to go to Belwop Rescue Center for the two new children who just arrived on our doorstep at Christmastime.”
Lauren shared with us a little about the Belwop Rescue Center in Kenya. “I have been involved with Belwop for four years, since I was a junior in college. My work at the orphanage for the last five months has included creating fundraising to purchase a small income organic farm as well as a passenger van, teaching art, planting a home garden, painting and selling pictures. In addition there have been so many great personal experiences: hosting a Christmas pageant where leaders in the community could come and watch the kids sing carols and at the same time bring them gifts, or just playing with the children and tickling ten little munchkins until we were all crying with laughter! The best day of the trip was my last day there: I got to see all the kids open up their very first Christmas presents, wrapped in shiny paper with their names on it-- the girls screaming with joy over their first ever baby dolls (each unique to them) and the boys jumping up and down over their soccer jersey or toy car. I am going back next summer to help build a new home for the children of Belwop, hopefully with a large team, to see this dream continue on.”
Posted by Kimm Cray on Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:14 PM EST
Thank you SignUp Genius for this generous gift. I am grateful that our school volunteers use SignUp Genius for all kinds of things like sports snack bar duty and teacher luncheons. That's how I heard of your St. Nick contest. Thanks again!
Posted by Leslie Edmonds(secretstojewelrymaking) on Sat Jan 14, 2012 8:39 PM EST
Leslie deserves to win. Thank you for all these real-life heroes. They are such an inspiration.
Thanks to YOU!
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 1/3/12 10:11 AM EST
As we flip the calendar to 2012, we’re so thankful for the many volunteers that gave of themselves to help others last year. Whether you signed up to bring meals to a frazzled new mom, pray for a hurting friend with cancer, read to a group of eager first-graders, or bring snacks to some tired soccer players – you are a part of a movement of people that are changing our world, one volunteer position at a time. It is a movement of people that are not looking for money or glory – but who sacrifice of themselves out of compassion for the young, the hurting, the needy, and the defenseless.
We are honored to get to be a part of the good works being done by individuals, churches, temples, schools, sports leagues, and organizations all around the country. It’s humbling to see the incredible things that can be accomplished when good people join together to make a difference. While no statistics can ever measure the eternal impact of your collective work – we wanted to give you a picture of the scope of effort made by our users last year.
In 2011 at SignUpGenius, over 3.25 million volunteer responsibilities were
WOW!!! From all of us here at SignUpGenius, thanks for your generous volunteer work in 2011. We look forward to being a part of your efforts in 2012. We take our role very seriously and we are absolutely committed to the continual improvement of our site and service. We want to make sure that in 2012, our site will make revolutionizing your little corner of our world… even easier.
It is truly our privilege.
Posted by Helen Baller PTA on Mon Feb 13, 2012 7:50 PM EST
Help, how do I send a thank you to those who signed up for an event after it's happened?
Life Lessons from the Suburban Battlefield
Posted by: Dan Rutledge on 10/18/11 10:31 AM EST
Six years ago in March, we moved to the suburbs of Charlotte from a little condo next to a highway in Los Angeles. I remember walking outside at night and standing in the street and being amazed that I couldn’t hear any traffic. It was glorious.
What I didn’t know is that paradise comes with a price. Lurking in the shadow like a cougar ready to pounce… was spring. And as April blossomed, I got my first taste of an epic battle between good and evil that has raged war against suburban men for decades. This age old struggle has chewed up and spit out even the toughest of men – leaving only shattered shells of failure.
It is the quest for the perfect lawn.
When we bought the house, I didn’t think much about the grass. All you have to do is mow, right? Apparently not in the Carolinas. It didn’t take long to see that without purposeful effort, the lawn quickly digresses to a patchy weed garden.
Being a type-A first child – I determined that no weed would conquer my land. I marched into the local Home Depot and bought my ammunition. And I waged my war - hand-spraying weed killer, sometimes several times a week. But the weeds kept coming and I battled that entire first season, and it made hardly any difference.
So the next year, I decided to get even more serious. When I saw crabgrass sprouting, I bought some Round-Up (which basically kills anything that grows) and I started in the back and sprayed any weed I saw. And yes… that finally killed the weeds! Unfortunately…it also killed pretty much all the grass. I had sprayed right before we hit a draught and subsequently the entire back yard turned into a big patch of red clay! That summer, the kids left red footprints anytime they walked through the house.
I was a broken man - cruelly humbled by the bladed beast…and I finally stooped to do what all men do in desperate times. I talked to my dad.
And like a wisened sage of the turf, my dad shared with me a little secret that turned my battle plan on its head. Three words that reversed my thinking.
DON’T WEED. FEED.
My dad encouraged me to quit focusing on the weeds and instead turn my attention to the good grass. True well-bred grass thrives when watered, fed, and given good ground to grow. It will actually grow up strong and force out the weeds.
So the next couple years I completely flipped my plan. I fertilized and aerated and we even had a sprinkler system installed. I was all about the good grass. Now… nurturing good grass is not a fast process. It took multiple years of feeding and seeding and patching bad spots to slowly take back the dirt field I had created. But each season it got easier until finally - this year - the real grass is thriving and the turf is thick and the weeds are becoming few and far between.
So I was mowing the other day and enjoying the fact that the mower was finally filling the bag instead of blowing dust everywhere… and it suddenly hit me.
Isn’t this the same error that I make in my life all the time?
Whenever I have a problem, I try to solve it by attacking the negative item. If I’m getting overweight, I diet and try to weed out the bad food. If I’m busy and stressed, I try to evaluate and weed out items from my schedule. If I’m having trouble being a great father or husband, I try to crack down on myself and weed out anger or impatience. But these techniques almost never work in any of these situations.
What creates real life change… is feeding. Investment in positive growth is far more effective than attacking the negative. If you’re overweight, start a new exercise program and you’ll find that your body naturally wants better food. If you’re stressed, force yourself to add time in your schedule for reading and taking a walk with your family, and watch how you’ll naturally eliminate other items. If you want to be a great father and husband, try saturating your mind in scripture and prayer, and watch how growth comes from the inside out.
Browse the news and you’ll see lots of examples of weeding. Recently a big executive started a campaign to stop funding politicians in order to try and root out corruption. On Wall Street, jobless workers are currently protesting to try and force changes in business ethics. Even if the goals are admirable, in my mind, all this is going to do is create more dirt. If you really want to see change – in your own life or the world around you –
It’s all about feeding.
Be gone ye evil weeds.
COMMENTS: [View all 4 comments]
Posted by Tammy Fareed on Tue Nov 15, 2011 8:47 AM EST
Read a book called Whale Done. It's a little self-help thing written from the point of view of training orcas at Sea World. The trainers point out that you can't train a killer whale by punishing failure..... Some time outs to regroup, redirecting toward good behavior, and rewarding any little success builds relationships with the whales that result in those extraordinary performances. And every whale has its bad day, which is just normal, and those days are set aside, then the whole positive reinforcement process picks up again. I wish I could live like that every minute of every day. Your weed story is awesome and offers me that positive reinforcement that myself need and don't get very often!
Posted by Dan Rutledge on Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:36 AM EST
Hey Tammy - thanks for the encouraging note and the book recommendation. Sounds like a very interesting one! I hope you have a fantastic day!
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Like you need another blog to read, right? Well this one is completely different than anything you've ever read before!! Um... not really. But you can read it if you want to keep up on the latest SignUpGenius news and the off-beat thoughts of our company President, Dan Rutledge.
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