Friday, July 31, 2009

Mindset of success

If you manage any people, if you're a parent, an athlete, a teacher, a leader, etc. you need to read this piece The Effort Effect by Stanford psychology professor Carol Dweck. The article examines her thirty-year study of why some some people excel and others don’t. She postulates that people have two kinds of mindsets: growth or fixed. People with the growth mindset view life as a series of challenges and opportunities for improving. People with a fixed mindset believe that they are “set” as either good or bad. The issue is that the good ones believe they don’t have to work hard, and the bad ones believe that working hard won’t change anything. The view we adopt of ourselves profoundly affects the way we lead our lives. It also reveals that your mindset can determine whether you become the person you want to be, and whether you accomplish what you are truly capable of. Dweck also released a book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success that expands and further details this topic. I definitely plan on reading it!

Here's a sidebar from the article called “What Do We Tell the Kids?” You have a bright child, and you want him/her to succeed. You should tell her how smart she is, right? That’s what 85 percent of the parents Dweck surveyed said. Her research on fifth graders shows otherwise. Labels, even though positive, can be harmful. They may instill a fixed mind-set and all the baggage that goes with it, from performance anxiety to a tendency to give up quickly. Well-meaning words can sap children’s motivation and enjoyment of learning and undermine their performance. While Dweck’s study focused on intelligence praise, she says her conclusions hold true for all talents and abilities. Interesting....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

To let go....

To let go doesn't mean to stop caring, it just means I can't do it for someone else. To let go is not to cut myself off, it's the realization that I don't control them. To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences. To let go is to admit my powerlessness, which means the outcome is not in my hands. To let go is not to try and change or blame another, I can only change myself. To let go is not to care for, but to care about; not to fix, but to be supportive; not to judge, but to allow another to be a human being. To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to effect their own outcomes. To let go is not to be protective, it's to permit another to face reality. To let go is not to deny, but to accept. To let go is not to nag, scold or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and work on them. To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires, but to take each day as it comes and relish each moment. To let go is to try to become what I dream I can be. To let go is not to regret the past, but to grow and live for the future. To let go is to fear less and love more.

Friday, July 24, 2009

"I will sing you to me"

I recently watched the movie “Australia” with Nic Kidman and Hugh Jackman and thought it was a really good film, both historical and whimsical. But what stood out for me the most was one line "I will sing you to me" (definitely an awesome song in that line waiting to be written!!) There was a little boy in the film named Nullah, who is half white, half aborigine. He was a dreamer, the epitome of what I think we all embrace and love about children. Don't they live with so many less constraints in life than we do? Anyway, he would sing people to himself. The aborigines believe that songs can draw them to each other and to nature. Every time he had to leave his new mom and dad, who essentially adopted him, he would say, don’t worry “I will sing you to me”. The whole story is about this child, who is basically an orphan, finding a new life, with new parents. It causes me wonder how often God is "singing us to Him" and we don't even realize it or listen....

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Happy Prince

One of the most moving stories I've ever read is Oscar Wilde's "The Happy Prince." Despite Wilde being jailed for debauchery by order of Queen Victoria, he at least understood that the Gospel isn't pretty. It's not about success or excellence, but about the bloodied remains of the Messiah nailed to lumber. If you're not familiar with Wilde's story, I really encourage you to read "The Happy Prince" at this link.

The story tells of a gilded statue named "The Happy Prince" erected in honor of a long-dead prince who was known for his lightheartedness. As winter approaches, the bejeweled statue becomes friends with a stray swallow on his way to the warmth of Africa. The swallow is concerned at the statue's sadness over the plight of the downtrodden in the city, so at the statue's request, the bird begins stripping all the gems and gold leaf off the Happy Prince and giving them away to the needy. In time, there is nothing precious left of the statue, and the dedicated swallow who once told exotic tales of Egypt to the statue, is chilled and exhausted.

Wilde's conclusion to his story:
The poor little Swallow grew colder and colder, but he would not leave the Prince, he loved him too well. He picked up crumbs outside the baker's door when the baker was not looking and tried to keep himself warm by flapping his wings.

But at last he knew that he was going to die. He had just strength to fly up to the Prince's shoulder once more. "Good-bye, dear Prince!" he murmured, "will you let me kiss your hand?"
"I am glad that you are going to Egypt at last, little Swallow," said the Prince, "you have stayed too long here; but you must kiss me on the lips, for I love you." "It is not to Egypt that I am going," said the Swallow. "I am going to the House of Death. Death is the brother of Sleep, is he not?"

And he kissed the Happy Prince on the lips, and fell down dead at his feet. At that moment a curious crack sounded inside the statue, as if something had broken. The fact is that the leaden heart had snapped right in two. It certainly was a dreadfully hard frost.

Early the next morning the Mayor was walking in the square below in company with the Town Councillors. As they passed the column he looked up at the statue: "Dear me! how shabby the Happy Prince looks!" he said. "How shabby indeed!" cried the Town Councillors, who always agreed with the Mayor; and they went up to look at it. "The ruby has fallen out of his sword, his eyes are gone, and he is golden no longer," said the Mayor in fact, "he is little better than a beggar!" "Little better than a beggar," said the Town Councillors. "And here is actually a dead bird at his feet!" continued the Mayor. "We must really issue a proclamation that birds are not to be allowed to die here." And the Town Clerk made a note of the suggestion.

So they pulled down the statue of the Happy Prince. "As he is no longer beautiful he is no longer useful," said the Art Professor at the University.

Then they melted the statue in a furnace, and the Mayor held a meeting of the Corporation to decide what was to be done with the metal. "We must have another statue, of course," he said, "and it shall be a statue of myself." "Of myself," said each of the Town Councillors, and they quarrelled. When I last heard of them they were quarrelling still.

"What a strange thing!" said the overseer of the workmen at the foundry. "This broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace. We must throw it away." So they threw it on a dust-heap where the dead Swallow was also lying.

"Bring me the two most precious things in the city," said God to one of His Angels; and the Angel brought Him the leaden heart and the dead bird. "You have rightly chosen," said God, "for in my garden of Paradise this little bird shall sing for evermore, and in my city of gold the Happy Prince shall praise me."

Sometimes when we're in the grips of excellence and success we become like the Mayor and Town Councillors in the story. Our ability to see true beauty in the less than perfect is thwarted and along with it the beauty of the Gospel.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Food, Inc - a documentary!

I think this is an important film everyone must see!! Sadly though it doesn't look like it'll be playing anywhere in Arizona!! That just may be an excuse to head to CA to go see it! ; )

Check out some reviews:
"I'm not generally in the habit of praising movies for being good for you, but Food, Inc. is more than just a terrific documentary—it's an important movie, one that nourishes your knowledge of how the world works."
- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"Does for the supermarket what 'Jaws' did for the beach."
- John Anderson, Variety
"Don't take another bite till you see Food, Inc., an essential, indelible documentary."
- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone
"Essential Viewing"
- Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times
"3 1/2 Stars"
- Roger Ebert, Sun Times
"Required Viewing. One of the year's most important films."
- Rossiter Drake, 7x7
"You Have To See Food, Inc."
- Corby Kummer, The Atlantic
"See it. Bring your kids if you have them. Bring someone else's kids if you don't."
- David Edelstein, New York Magazine
"Excellent in every respect."
- Pete Hammond, Boxoffice Magazine
"A cleverly written and well produced documentary. Kenner crafts an intelligent, visually compelling argument grounded in old-fashioned investigative research and journalism."
- Maria Garcia, Film Journal International

Monday, July 13, 2009

Bash not

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about how people have been Obama bashing (trust me, I've done my share), but there's one thing I've come to realize...this country we call 'home' exists only by God's permission and power. Leaders don't determine the future of countries, God determines the hearts of leaders. "The King's heart is like a stream of water directed by the Lord; He guides it wherever He pleases" (Proverbs 21:1 NLT). The stubborn will of the most powerful politician can be directed by God as easily as a farmer reroutes a shallow canal on his farm. So wouldn't it be better to pray for our leaders and trust God to work on their hearts?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

When chalk meets the road!

In my mind, this is so stinkin' cool!!! What a great way to inspire hope and I think the Tour de France will be just the start for Chalkbot's!!

Wieden + Kennedy, Portland, Nike and Armstrong's foundation for people affected by cancer, Livestrong, have created a robot that lets people from anywhere in the world chalk messages of inspiration, hope and encouragement directly on the course of the premier French bicycle race.

Users can submit messages via text message, the campaign website, online banners or Twitter for the chance to be printed on the Tour roads by a street-painting robot, Chalkbot. Wieden's executive interactive producer Marcelino Alvarez and technologist-cum-creative Adam Heathcott say that about 90 percent of the messages that have come through and been approved are from Twitter. And because of Twitter's characteristic character limit, the short Chalkbot messages, averaging less than 40 characters, have been some of the most poignant and well-written. Alvarez and Heathcott are both with the Chalkbot in France--see their photos of the robot and chalk messages in situ at the end of the story.

Once submitted, messages are queued and reviewed and up to 100,000 will be inscribed on the roads that make up the course. Approved messages are sent to the Chalkbot, which was developed in partnership with Pittsburgh-based mobile software design company DeepLocal and StandardRobot. Like a giant dot-matrix printer on wheels, Chalkbot sprays a liquid chalk mixture onto pieces of road about eight hours ahead of the Tour bikers. The person who originally submitted the message will then receive a link to a robot-captured photo of the chalk design along with its GPS coordinates as a record of their words in the physical world.

"James Moslander and I were very interested in making a digital experience a physical experience as well, something that exists out in the world that talks both ways," Heathcott says. "We started looking at the different things that exist out in the world for the Tour de France. One of the things we came across that's already being utilized by local Livestrong chapters was chalk. Historically in the races they've done chalking on the roads: messages of support for their favorite rider, hi Mom, whatever."

"Livestrong is an organization that doesn't just exist on a web forum," he adds." It's people that go out and do things to make change in our world, how we feel about cancer and how we go about getting it eradicated. They're out in the world, so making an experience out in the world, instead of one in their cubicle, speaks to people more directly. This campaign invites people from all over, people who can't normally participate in the Tour de France because it's too far away or because they can't afford to travel, to play a part in cancer awareness."

Once the idea for automated chalk messages was hatched, Heathcott thought of friends from Pittsburgh who had worked on street-writing robots GraffitiWriter and StreetWriter in 1998 and later formed DeepLocal and StandardRobot.

Alvarez says the major challenges of the campaign came after the robot was built and programmed. For one, the team had trouble finding chalk paint that's non-toxic, removable and in Livestrong's signature yellow. And then there was the issue of travel.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

This is written by one of my all time favorite devotion writers, John Fischer and I thought I'd shared it here!

"Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is proof—credibility—evidence of the fact that God is at work. (2 Corinthians 3:1-3)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is adequacy—the ability to do what God wants us to do. (2 Corinthians 3:4-5)
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, all rules are off. We're operating under the singular law of love that encompasses all others. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is life. The law kills, but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:6)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is boldness to be who you are. (2 Corinthians 3:12-13) Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is no need to hide, or cover up, or put on a false front. (2 Corinthians 3:16)

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is hope. (2 Corinthians 3:12)

This weekend, while America celebrates its independence, we celebrate our independence from ourselves and our freedom to life in the Spirit. Risky, unpredictable, transparent, bold, adventurous, transforming life in the Spirit. Happy Independence Day!