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If you owned a zoo, you wouldn’t put an elephant in the Arctic exhibit.
And the penguins and polar bears wouldn’t thrive in the desert section.
You wouldn’t leave the birds in an open area where they could fly away.
And no-one would put venomous snakes in a section with open bars where they can attack the visitors.
If we can find a way to ensure that animals are kept in conditions that best match their unique needs and enables them to thrive, why do so many people spend their lives in jobs that don’t match their skills, for companies that don’t match their values?
This week, our oldest son Hayden started middle school.
It only seems like yesterday that he started primary school, but now he’s wearing a blazer and taking the next step in his education. I may or may not have shed a tear, I can’t quite remember.
In the last couple of days, he has expressed a small amount of anxiety over this next stage.
And then, on the night before school started he marched out to us and proudly announced, “I’m looking forward to a new adventure.”
One of the books that I’m reading at the moment is Wayne Cordeiro’s “The Divine Mentor.” In it, Wayne reminds us:
“Life has given us two very effective teachers. Both are topflight instructors, but neither comes cheap. While both are effective, both require something of us. We have to choose one or the other, and if we choose neither, the second will be chosen for us. The teachers are Wisdom and Consequences.”
Wisdom and consequences.
Today is Australia Day, which is a wonderful opportunity for a proud Australian like myself to reflect on what it means to be living in such a great country.
As a passionate advocate for refugees and asylum seekers, I have the privilege of helping people from every corner of the world find meaningful work and have had many clients from South Sudan, so when my wife showed me the story of Deng Thiak Adut, I knew that it was a wonderful example of a great Australian to share with you today.
Deng was born in the nation of South Sudan and at the age of 6, he was abducted from his family’s farm to fight for the People’s Liberation Army. He fought with them as a child soldier for many years, saw atrocities that no child should ever see and eventually was injured in combat after being shot in the back at the age of 12.
One of my goals this year has been to increase my fitness and decrease my waistline.
So every evening, armed with my new Fitbit and an over-exuberant golden retriever, I set out to achieve my goal of 10,000 steps per day.
I have a few routes, but my favourite (and Dusty’s) involves a walk along a copse of trees near my house where the dog gets some time off the leash and I get some time with my thoughts.
There’s just one problem.
It’s downhill on the way out, which makes it a tougher and slower uphill climb on the way back.
I know it seems obvious, but if you walk uphill first, the second half is much easier, and of course, this principle applies to more than just my middle-aged exercise regime.
In Proverbs 24:30-32, Solomon writes:
I went by the field of the lazy man,
And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding;
And there it was, all overgrown with thorns;
Its surface was covered with nettles;
Its stone wall was broken down.
When I saw it, I considered it well;
I looked on it and received instruction.
The first time you try a new software application, you fluff around like an idiot while you get used to it.
Then you become an expert.
When you try a new golf swing, you feel stupid and unnatural for a while.
Then it feels better and you get better.
Most people feel self-conscious and awkward the first time they speak in public.
Then over time they become more comfortable and confident.
Something happens when you look for a reason to smile.
When you try to find the humour in your circumstances.
When you search for joy in the midst of your busyness and stress.
When you look at your children, dog, colleagues and in-laws with less angst and more goodwill.
I have a confession to make.
There are times when I suffer from the comparison curse.
Every now and then I find myself looking at the achievements of others with a moderate amount of envy.
I look at those with better blogs, bigger speaking gigs and more glamorous holiday destinations and allow myself to feel diminished.
I start asking questions like, “How did they manage to get that opportunity?”
When there’s a door of opportunity in front of you, don’t just stare at it, waiting for it to open.
Go up and knock.
Ring the doorbell.
Try the doorknob.
Try it again.
Try it harder.
Bang on the door with your fists.