Saturday, October 27, 2018

How will you be remembered?

How will you be remembered

Tim Connor

Please - I'm not being morbid - just asking a simple question.

Trust me - the years pass much more quickly than most people realize or are willing to accept.  Your chronological age is not the main determining factor as to when you will check out of here so back to my question - How do you want to be remembered after you are gone?

First of all, who remembers us and why depends on many factors; our relationships (family, kids, siblings etc.), careers (customers, fellow workers, bosses etc.), where we lived (neighbors, friends, acquaintances etc.), and yes even a few total strangers that might have crossed our paths quickly and even briefly.

Then there are our actions (things done and not done), behaviors (good, bad, stupid, thoughtful, selfish, kind, egotistical, compassionate etc.).

And of course, there are our words (things said and not said, kind words or hurtful words etc.).

And how about our belief’s attitudes, prejudices and opinions (did we always have to be right or could we accept mistakes, were we always talking, or did we ever listen and care, could we disagree without anger or validate others for who they were, did we live with a spiritual foundation or did we assume there is no God etc.).

Yes, there's one more - our goals, desires, dreams, and plans.  Did we include others or exclude them, did we rely on others or did we always go it alone, did we give credit when it was due or always keep it for ourselves, did we share our victories or assume we deserved all the benefits regardless of other's guidance etc.?

OK, I hope I have made my point - there are numerous factors regarding who will or will not remember us, why they will or will not remember us and how they will remember us - or whether they will.

I'm going to generalize a bit so hang in there with me.

There is an ancient Native American legend that states 'you will only get into Heaven leaning on the shoulders of someone you helped while you were on earth.'

Regardless of your opinion of this statement consider - if you helped no one in any way - what are your chances?  If you helped one hundred people - go for it.

As I go through my last life chapter I have spent a lot of time considering this question and is it too late to change what those who were in my life - for many years or even a few minutes - will remember about me or even care.

Ever wondered how many people will attend your funeral?  Full house or a lot of empty seats?

You've heard it I'm sure - It's never too late to make a new first impression.  Does this rule also apply - It's never too late to change your legacy?  I don't have a clue but what I do know is how you live your life while you are here become the guidelines for your legacy or how, why, if, when etc. you will be remembered.

I'm not referring here to all those famous folks like - Billy Graham, Mother Teresa, Babe Ruth or Henry Ford etc.  I'm talking about us normal folks who are doing our best to live a life of dignity, happiness, success, compassion, and love rather than fame and fortune.

So, here's a thought - make a list of all the people in your life that matter - current or past, relatives or friends - get it - anyone or everyone.  Now, write down the words that you think each one of them might use to describe you, your legacy or what you meant to them while you shared life with them if they were giving your eulogy. Got the courage to do this?  If no, why not?  If yes, go for it. 

And here's a final thought if you can handle it.  Now share the words, memories etc. you wrote down with as many of these folks as you can and ask them for their response (agree, disagree, like, don't like etc.).

Friday, October 12, 2018

There are three types of dying.

There are three types of dying

Tim Connor

Notice the title isn‘t three types of death.

Most people when they consider the concept of death only think about physical death, but I believe there are two others that are just as serious although not as permanent as the final one.

Yes, we are all one day going to die.  It’s a given regardless of your gender, race, nationality, age, education, wealth, lifestyle, spiritual values or any other life area or circumstance.

But before we die is it possible to slowly die in other ways?  I believe the answer is yes.

In my opinion, the other two types of dying are emotional dying and then there is spiritual dying, let me explain.

Over the years I have met many wonderful people who were engaging, fun, respectful and playful but I have also met some folks who were no longer connected, engaged or participating in life emotionally.

These were not necessarily people who were sick physically or even poor, alone or without a history of success or achievement.  But they were people who no longer wanted to participate in life with others whether family, friends, co-workers or even strangers now and then.

They were emotionally lost, afraid and often even had given up on life, not to the point of suicide but that they no longer cared about others and whether other people cared about them.

They were not necessarily loners or living alone or old and frail, or even without what others would feel are reasons to live or were addicted to some substance.  They just lost any zest, reason or purpose for embracing life as it was and was given to them.

They were emotionally disconnected or in my opinion, they were dying slowly but steadily. Ever known anyone like this?

And then there is spiritual death.

Regardless of your religion, beliefs, spiritual values or any other attitudes that you embrace one common element in all of them are that there are characteristics that are a part of them we don’t or never will completely understand and that we all for our personal reasons believe in this other, higher, or significant power no matter what.

So, I don’t confuse you, I am a Christian and believe in God.  But, I also know that I don’t have the right to tell you or anyone else what you should believe or how or why.  Having said this, I also know that there are some common traits in most spiritual belief systems.  It is not my intent with this article to dig into these beliefs or values (that’s a book) but to just share what I believe by spiritual dying.

In many ways, non-believers in any religion, spiritual system or a higher power, in my opinion, are already dying, but again I am not going to go deeper into this topic either. 

But, I can guess that depending on your spiritual values or beliefs some of you have either stopped reading or are getting ready to send me an email.

As a global speaker (25 countries and counting) I have attended churches, synagogues and been in buildings that were promoted as religious facilities in almost every country.  Yes, I must admit that on a few occasions during the services, I left early as the messages were very uncomfortable.

But, back to the topic of focus here. What is spiritual dying?

If you believe in a higher power, God or some distant being who guides areas of your life and being - when you lose this foundation or these bearings for any reason you will tend to feel lost, alone, abandoned and out of touch with others, life and often your reason for being or even living.  I have known a few people during my life travels who were experiencing these very circumstances and there was nothing anyone could do to help them get back their life spirit, purpose or sense of personal value.  As a result, many people in these negative circumstances do in fact turn to drugs or even suicide.

What are some answers if you feel you are, or you know someone who is slowly dying in one of these areas?

I am not a psychologist or therapist and don’t have the right to give advice but what I can tell you is there are generally five things others can do to help them;

1)   Don’t invalidate them because of their behaviors or actions. 2) Don’t abandon them because they are no longer who you want or need them to be in your life. 3) Don’t judge them.  None of us are perfect. 4) Listen to them with compassion and understanding. 5) Urge them gently to participate in counseling or therapy.

What people who are emotionally or spiritually dying need in my opinion are compassion, understanding, empathy and often even some tough love.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Your Life's Report Card

Your life’s report card

Tim Connor

Remember when you were in high school or even elementary school you used to get a report card every few months?  If you behaved, did your homework and studied, you might have received a B or even an A.

But if you slacked off in some or every way you most likely had to explain to your parents why you got a D or even an F.

Basically, your grade was your teacher’s opinion or rating of how they felt you were doing with your responsibilities, actions, and behaviors.

Think you are still getting report cards today when you are in your 30’s or even your 60’s? Oh, the teachers have most likely retired or have moved on to new classes and different students but trust me, life is still giving you a report card- every day, every month and yes, every year.

It might not be a piece of paper with a bunch of letters or numbers on it but believe me, you are still getting reviews on how the people in your life believe you are doing?

And who are these people?  They are your; customers, bosses, spouses, kids, fellow employees and often even some of the strangers that pass through your life like; flight attendants, restaurant servers, mechanics or your physicians.

No, they all don’t give you a written report, but they do evaluate – who you are, how you act, what you believe and even how you may treat them.

So, If I still have you, what kinds of grades do you think you are getting from; a spouse (not referring here to counselling sessions) , your boss (and I’m not talking about your annual reviews), your kids (and I’m not talking about the grades they are getting in school or on the soccer field), your customers (and I’m not talking about how much money you might be making from them) or your family physician (and I’m not talking about your annual physical or check-up)?

Unfortunately, most people (and I’m including myself in this group) wait until they are failing at something or something just stops working before they make changes, attempt improvement, modify behavior or just admit that what they are doing is or will some day give them an F.

Let me give you an updated grading system that is a bit more relevant to life than the report cards you used to get.  I call it My Life as it is Report card.

You are getting an A -

Notice I didn’t include an A+ in this group? It’s simple – none of us are perfect, we all have flaws, we all make mistakes and sooner or later we all fail at something.  An A means you are exceeding life’s expectations.  You are learning, growing, maturing and recognizing life areas where you need further improvement.  Your ego isn’t running your life. Your arrogance is under control and your patience is not demanding you do something or everything faster, better and/or easier. Your need for control is under control.  Your stress is not killing you. And your spiritual life is ruled by humility, peace, giving and compassion. Yes, there are a few more items that are contributing to your – A - grade but in the end, the ones above are the primary factors that are saying to you - you are on the right path, keep going. But, be careful you don’t lose the above items, or the consequences could be dramatic.

You are getting a B –

Take all of the above-mentioned items and just reduce the definition, for example.

You are learning, growing, maturing and recognizing life areas where you need further improvement, but you are not doing as much as you could or need to do.  Your ego isn’t running your life, but it has its moments depending on the person or situation. Your arrogance is not a serious issue, but it could be. Your lack of patience is often demonstrated by your hurrying or need to do something faster, better and/or easier. Your need for control is not under control.  Your stress is not killing you yet but is having a negative impact on some area of your health, relationships or life in general. And your spiritual needs more time, attention, effort and/or better awareness.

You are getting a C –

A C means you are average in all of the above areas.  You are not in serious trouble anywhere yet, but you are also not moving in the right or best life direction.  If you don’t make some changes soon – you could very quickly find yourself in the D or even F categories.  It’s time to wake up and recognize that life isn’t easy, fast, accommodating or revolves around your needs, expectations or desires. It’s time to grow up and it’s time to let go of your “the world owes me” and/or your “selfie mindsets”. This is a life crossroads where you can change direction in a positive or a more negative way and destructive way.  You can begin to move into B territory and start getting better, stronger, wiser or healthier or you can wake up one day and realize you are failing, and it could be too late to change.

You are getting a D –

A D means you are heading towards disaster and time is running out.  Make some changes soon or before you know it life will give you an F.  And believe me an F can be costly, uncomfortable, painful and even deadly.  A D says you still have some time to fix some things, but life is gradually losing its patience with you.  It says, “I guess the only way we can get your attention at this time is with some kind of jolt, disaster or circumstance (a divorce, a bankruptcy, a heath attack or getting fired).”  Don’t wait too long – the pain of turning a life around at this stage can cause many people to stop trying or just give up entirely in life accepting the consequences of the next and final grade – an F.

You are getting an F –

An F means – you have failed and will spend a lot of time and your remaining life; alone, afraid, in regret, angry, resentful etc.  It is now time to pay the price of all of your mistakes, failures and poor choices and behaviors.  Can you recover?  Of course. Can you rebound?  Yes.  Can you begin again? Always.  Can you get a second chance? Yes.  But at this stage, it will require a great deal of; humility, effort, surrender, admission, time, patience, hope and help and guidance from others.  And, it will require accepting letting go of control of what life brings to you and the willingness to trust God during your return to sanity.

So, give yourself a grade today in; your finances, your marriage, your career, your business, your health, your social life, your relationships, your family and your spiritual direction and its beliefs, values, and actions.