Friday, June 24, 2011

Notes from the Book: Clutch

Have you ever wondered what it takes to be "clutch?"  In his book, Clutch: Why Some People Excel Under Pressure and Others Don't New York Times columnist Paul Sullivan investigates the key characteristics that people who are clutch possess.  He also shares three behaviors that prevent people from being clutch.  Each chapter is filled with stories of individuals who demonstrate the characteristic Sullivan is describing.  He finds his examples in the various fields of sports, military, legal, theater, and the automotive, financial, marketing and real estate business.

Clutch: the ability to do what you need to do under pressure just as you would do it in practice.

What Makes People Clutch
1. Focus
2. Discipline
3. Adapting
4. Being 'Present'
5. Fear of failure and Desire for Success

What Makes People Not Clutch
1. Not Taking Personal Responsibility
2. Over-thinking
3. Overconfidence

One of my favorite stories in the book is story of how Tampa Bay Rays pitcher David Price collegiate coach Tim Corbin (Vanderbuilt University) instilled a mindset of toughness into his players. Sullivan describes how Corbin brings a marshmallow, a jelly bean, and a rock before his players.  He then holds each object over a flame.  Under the flame the marshmallow burns right up.  The jelly bean shell withstands the heat initially, but eventually melts.  The rock however, remains and evens comes out looking a bit polished.

This Corbin tells his players is what will happen to them under pressure.  The flame signifies the pressure of college baseball.  Some of the players will melt instantly like the marshmallow, others will hold up for a while but eventually their cockiness and natural talent will give way.  But there are some players, who have solidified their skills through practice and persistence, that will withstand the pressure and flourish despite it.

Money Management Advice

Some solid money management advice from the book Clutch by Paul Sullivan:
If you only have enough money for less than twelve months of expenses and no income, you need to begin restructuring what you have.
Ultimately, being clutch in a personal financial crises means embracing thriftiness to keep yourself out of such crises in the first place.  If that fails, you need to dispassionately sell off assets to keep from losing everything.  People should live within their means, but they should also plan for the possibility that the present will not continue.  (page 198)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Purging Materialism from My Life

I have continued my journey in simplicity for the last few days looking through my things and trying to organize or eliminate as much as possible.

Here's what I have done thus far...

- tossed out 1/2 a garbage can full of junk in the garage (old caulk bottles, broken tools, etc.)
- reorganized and emptied an entire drawer in the kitchen that was filled with junk
- reorganized and emptied two of my dresser drawers
- reorganized and emptied one bathroom drawer (I have all my toiletries in 1 drawer now)
- threw away old hockey stick blades, rotten laces and straps, and misc. other junk
- donated 3 bags of clothes, toys, and books to a local school (who will give to a women's shelter if they are not sold in a fundraising garage sale)

It feels great getting rid of things that I don't want/need/use often.  I am learning that the more I give away the less I want to accumulate.  This is completely contrary to the way I often think, which is, the more I get the more I want.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Details of My New Job

I want to start this post by praising the wisdom, goodness, and faithfulness of my Father in Heaven.  The last six months while walking through trial, have been some of the very best months of my life.  Jesus Christ is worth everything ever wagered for him and much, much more. 

Yesterday I accepted a job offer from Wal-Mart for an Assistant Store Manager position.  That acceptance ends six months of prayer, searching, dreaming, questioning, wrestling, refining, seeking, and learning.  The lessons in faith, trust, and perseverance that I have learned trough my time of unemployment are lessons I doubt I could have learned any other way.  The purification of my spirit and the deepening of my faith are gifts from the Lord that I am extremely grateful for.  The healing and intimacy that has grown in my marriage is precious.

The circumstances of my gaining a position with Wal-Mart are amazing in and of themselves.  God's sovereign hand is all over them, and looking backwards it is so wonderful to see God's gentle leading and guiding and protection from myself.  No doubt, I had my days of doubt and fear, but more often I was filled with a peace and confidence that can only coming from the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life.

I want to thank the many people who prayed, fasted, and shared this journey with us.  Stephanie and I couldn't have made it through this without the support of both our birth families and our church families.  THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Book Review: The 100 Thing Challenge

Today I spent some of my Sabbath rest time finishing the book The 100 Thing Challenge by Dave Bruno (who blogs here).  In the book Bruno describes his wrestling with American-style consumerism and his attempt to unwind himself from the grip 'things' formed on his life.  In place of wild exploits about life without stuff, Bruno instead shares the lessons he learned during his time reevaluating what he needs and doesn't need to feel happy and engaged in his life. 

The book (and the idea of living with 100 things) is intriguing to me.  While I enjoy buying and having new things, I also get frustrated from time to time when I step back and look at all the things we have accumulated in our home.  Inspired by what I was reading I emptied out an entire junk drawer on Saturday and filled half the garbage can with junk from the garage that I didn't need. 

One thing I learned while doing all the cleaning was that I have bent toward keeping something because "I might need it someday."  I think this is a mindset I inherited from my parents.  I grew up on a farm and my dad had all kinds of stuff stored in coffee cans and bins all over the property.  After reading The 100 Thing Challenge I am making a commitment to keep less stuff in case I need it, and to just go and buy something when I need it.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

What Would You Change About Me?

I had a really cool conversation recently with my really cool wife that I want to share.

As we were laying next to each other she started the conversation with a simple, but knee-buckling question for any husband.  She asked, "If you could change one thing about me, what would you change?"  Thankfully she added a few qualifiers so I could stop sweating :) !  Then she reminded me of (and held me accountable to) a rule I have made for myself in 2011: I will share my feelings openly and honestly, in as loving way as possible, even if it causes me personal, emotional discomfort.

It took some courage but eventually I shared something with her that she had been doing that was kind of bugging me.  And here's the really cool part: she didn't freak out in anger, or try to justify herself, or crawl into a ball crying.  She said OK and we talked through.  I was able to understand her better and where she was coming from.  She was able to listen to my feedback and start thinking through adjustments that could be made.  Then we switched places and I asked her what she would like to change about me, and we worked through the whole process again.

And we GREW STRONGER as a couple through the whole experience.

I want to brag for one second.  Our marriage took a step forward that night because my awesome wife really wanted to know how she could make my life more pleasant and how she could grow as a person.  And she was willing to be vulnerable and humble enough to talk through it with punk like me!

How BRAVE and GODLY is that!