“Happy birthday, son”, words from a June phone conversation I had with my father for my twelfth birthday; my birthday is in April. He never took the time to get to know me as my parents separated and divorced while I was still in diapers. An absent father has been one of the many events that have shaped my life.
I remember standing in the hospital on March 31st, 1992 and holding a five-pound baby boy, my first child, promising to always know him. I promised to be ever-present in his life. I promised not to treat him as my father had treated me. I was going to provide for him, teach him to become an honorable man and model an authentic relationship with God before him. On February 26th, 1993, I made a similar resolve as I spoke over my second son and promised him the same proactivity as my first son. These are promises I have kept now for nearly twenty years.
My children have grown to be fantastic young men. I’m very proud of them and excited to see how God will use their lives in the years to come. It hasn’t been easy but it has been rewarding.
Twenty-six years ago, parked on the shoulder of highway 167 in my Subaru Brat, in Renton, Washington I envisioned what my life would become. Today, with very few exceptions, I’m here – I won’t stay here – mind you – I’ve got work to do and places to go. But, my life is exactly where I purposed it to be.
Let me share with you how I got here: one day at a time. Don’t leave – I know that’s a simple statement but one that needs a bit of explaining. So stick with me… Everyone in life – every day of his or her life – develops. We develop emotionally, intellectually, spiritually and physically. Unfortunately, most people develop solely reacting to situations and circumstances. Like a pinball, they’re flung to and fro never really knowing which way is which. They wake up, work a lot, play little, have families, experience joy, pain and disappointment. They live life never really knowing who or what they’re becoming. The whole of their existence has been one reaction after another. That’s no way to live – but it’s how most people live.
Instead of living a reactive life – be proactive. Determine who you want to be and where you want to go and get there – one day at a time. Over the last couple of decades I’ve developed a system that I call My Personal Development. It’s currently in the form of a Microsoft Excel file that you can download here if you’re interested.
Let me tell you how I use it:
Everyday I ask myself thirteen questions based on the virtues Benjamin Franklin asked himself. I also evaluate the steps I take to becoming a person of influence. I follow everything up with a quick journal entry that begins with the word, “Yesterday”. I find it helpful to look one day over my shoulder so I can make mid-course corrections and stay proactive in my development. In the journal portion, I write about the previous day and evaluate my contacts, conversations, regrets, and moments of celebration. If, during the course of the journal entry, I discover something that needs corrected – I make it right as soon as possible and optimally that day. Mornings are my most successful time to use the system. You use it when you feel it works best in your schedule. The important thing isn’t the time of day; the important thing is to use it everyday or most days. Be consistent, proactive and get there one day at a time!