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July 10, 2014

Tim Kolodziej: Our problems really aren’t THE problem

NEW CASTLE — “So, WHAT do you do?”

A simple question that’s probably been asked thousands of times this summer over barbecue or a burger.

Simple answers, too.

I’m a dentist.

I’m a teacher.

I work at a department store.

I’m a stay-at-home mom.

(Look of confusion.)

(Long pause.)

“Geez, I’m sorry. That’s not what I meant. I probably should have emphasized a different word when I asked the question.

“So, what do you DO?”

Very different.

WHAT we do is how we make a living.

What we DO is how we make a life.

And that’s the one that makes a difference.

“It’s more important to live a disciplined life than a busy life.” — George Raveling

You were created to be an influencer.

So was I.

That fact often gets lost in the midst of work responsibilities, errands, home repairs, meetings, parties, pick-up and drop-off ...

You know, life.

Those are the “Whats” of our existence.

Yet no matter WHAT we choose to do each day, we can’t help but BECOME in the process.

Tired.

Bitter.

Angry.

Selfish.

Apathetic.

Or ...

More patient.

A better communicator.

A more interested listener.

A more grateful parent.

A more focused employee.

We’re either being influenced.

Or we’re being influencers.

We can’t be both.

“We don’t drift into good directions. We discipline and prioritize ourselves there.” — Andy Stanley

So, what do you DO?

When the customer screams at you. When your meeting is postponed at the last minute. When your kids forget to call. When the dry-cleaning isn’t ready.

When life is perfectly imperfect. When your timing is impeccably bad. When all the whistles are favoring the other team.

When, when, when.

So, what do we DO ... “when?”

I’m a work in progress with lots and lots of training still in front of me, but here’s what I’m learning: Just take the first right action. It’s the only thing we can control. It’s the only evidence of who we are becoming.

“Life is too short to live someone else’s dream,” Steve Jobs famously said.

That’s true, profound and wise. But in a positive sense, at least you’re living a DREAM.

Let me turn that phrase around and offer a statement that I think is even more powerful, at least for me.

“Life is too short to live someone else’s issues.”

When we allow the insecurities, the anger, the mistakes or the insensitivity of others to dwell in our minds, that’s EXACTLY what we’re doing.

Whether we realize it or not, we often drift into being influenced with every interaction in our day.

He said WHAT? She did THAT? They gave your spot to WHO?

In other words, their problems are not the problem. The problem is allowing them to become OUR problem.

Our lives, our world, could be so different if we would just take the lead and become an influencer.

It will be hard. Extremely hard. And it will take incredible discipline on our part to flip the “why me?” problem in our mind to “what can I do to improve the situation?”

But today, you can take that first step. You have more influence than you think.

Yes, you DO.

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