Three Questions to Get You Started and Keep You Going –

What are you reading?

What are you thinking about?

What are you doing?

Yesterday we ate the traditional New Year’s Day fare for luck and good fortune. (That meant pork and sauerkraut for my crew – and, yes, the house still stinks!) For many, we packed up the last of the Christmas decorations and cleaned our houses. And as we did those things, we dreamed and plotted for the new year we rung in with hope and celebration.

Today, the work begins.

I offer these three questions as both a guide and a challenge. I’ve learned that I can do a lot of things, but if I’m not reading and thinking, a lot of my efforts are in vain. And if I’m reading and thinking but not doing, well then, I’m stuck.

The world never became a better place because of something someone thought. It’s better because they translated their thoughts to action. And the great thinkers found ways to share their thoughts in a way that invited the whole community to act.

So…

What are you reading?

We need the voices and experiences of others to remind us we are not an island. Our ideas and perspectives are formed by our own experiences and we limit ourselves to a very small world without seeking the experience and perspectives of others. I challenge you to read broadly this year.

The same goes for listening. What podcasts are you listening to? Whose voices are you inviting into your thought process?

I’m starting the year with a Pulitzer Prize winning novel called “The Orphan Master’s Son” by Adam Johnson. I’m only a few chapters in and already the language is a little rough and the content a bit graphic, but I’m already finding myself drawn into the story of a young man born and raised in North Korea whose life and thought is radically different from my own. He grew up without a mother, and with a father who didn’t acknowledge him as his own. It’s making me wonder and marvel about people who have to raise themselves, without mentors and parents to guide their moral compass. I already have questions I’m kicking around in my mind. Reading always leads to thinking…

What are you thinking about?

No one will pay you to think. Nor should they. They will, however, fire you if you don’t. As they should.

A counselor has taught me in recent months that my M.O. in life is to actively not acknowledge nor process my own feelings. “I’m fine,” is my mantra. Without delving into the recesses of my psyche (we’ll save that for another day and another post), I think the same can be said for many of us when it comes to our thinking. We get so busy doing, we forget to stop and think. Or we think, but we don’t process our thinking so it gets acted on in its most basic and elementary formulation, which doesn’t always serve us – or anyone around us – well. (see Brene Brown’s work on the “SFD”)

What would it look like for you to think on purpose this year? How could you take the time to acknowledge what you’re thinking and how you got there – to ask the next question? Carey Nieuwhof says, “We are a culture of strongly-held and weakly-formed opinions.” I think he’s dead on.

I’ll be doing a lot more writing this year – some for the world to see, and much for my own active process of thinking. And speaking of doing…

What are you doing?

All of the reading and thinking in the world matters little if we don’t get out of bed every morning and do something with it.

I am a communicator. I speak and I write. Only, a lot of my time gets spent leading the organization I helped to start. That work is essential. However, it easily becomes my excuse for not doing the speaking and the writing when, in fact, the speaking and writing are my greatest contributions to the organization. This year I’m doing the things – all three of the things.

How about you? You can’t get unstuck without moving. And sometimes you don’t know which way to move without trying a direction and finding out it’s the wrong one. But you have to start somewhere.

Cheers to all of you and to a new year of reading, thinking, and doing!

One Comment on “Three Questions to Get You Started and Keep You Going –

  1. Great words! I like the comfort of having a book to read, but spend too much time thinking about reading instead of doing it. This year I need to crack open the books I get from the library before they’re due to be returned. Haha. It could be that I always gravitate toward the self-help books. It might be good to put a couple fun books on my list this year.

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