Saturday, March 4, 2017

Raise the Bar

"Set a new standard of excellence. Raise the bar." -Lars Anderson of Nick Saban
I got a sort of out of the ordinary weekend recently in the form of a few days out on the water.  I love the sea and all its vast mystery. It is such a powerful force that cannot be defined and yet is also full of hidden treasures and calming antidotes. My family was blessed to spend a few days with an incredible view of the bay, a five minute drive to the beach and some time with some relatives. During our trip, to our delight, we were able to get the boat out for a great day of adventure and sailing. We picked up speed out in the open bay and my heart couldn't help but feel free.
We began to cross paths with many other boats and would ride in the wake they left behind bumping up and down across the waves. It's thrilling to bob like a fishing lure, momentarily defying water in a trail someone else has left behind. As I gazed at the foamy water I realized something about riding the wake. It can be a fun place to be in, but it was never meant for us to stay in forever. We are called to blaze our own trail and not ride on the wind tails of somebody else.
The image that stayed with me above all else that day was the effect the boats had on the water; on each other. For every action someone took on the water, a reaction was created. Just like skipping rocks across the pond—we made a rippling effect.
I'm fascinated by this idea because I think it is true of everything we do – every choice we make. Shakespeare said the world is our stage but I expand upon that idea and I say that the world is our ocean. We make waves when we go out into it. What we say, what we do, how we live our lives all have an effect on the things and the people around us just like the boats.
I think the question then is—what effect are we having? Are we adding to the value of what something is or taking away from it? Are we a soft gentle breeze or a heavy downpour? Does our rock add depth or weight?
I love positive leaders and speakers like Kevin Elko and Carson Tinker and so many others who understand that life is won in the mind and what we do in this world depends on us and our actions. It doesn't matter the history, the circumstances, the expectations or limits—we have the choice to win the battle every day. Our influence can be a good one.
In Lars Anderson's book the Storm and the Tide he explains that Nick Saban is always setting a new standard of excellence and raising his own bar. I love that! I wrote it down and taped it by my computer as a personal philosophy. And I challenge humanity with a question...why not live like that? Isn’t it haunting that we are often our own worst enemy? I know I let my mind run wild sometimes with fears and anxieties and what ifs and defeat. I can be so positive, but I can also be so negative sometimes. It’s a battle of the heart and of the mind and we have to make sure we stay in it!
I think we have to stop comparing ourselves and trying to keep up with everybody and ask what is my personal mission on earth? What is my best? What do I need to do today in order to make the world a better place? How can I raise my bar from yesterday?  What does the Creator see when He looks into the plan for my life? If this was our focus, I’m pretty sure the petty things would stop getting so much of our attention.
Society needs your wake, your waves and your ripple added to the balance. But make sure it's a positive one. You already have an effect one way or the other even if you don’t realize it. Our duty is to “go out into the world uncorrupted, a breath of fresh air in this squalid and polluted society [and] provide people with a glimpse of good living and of the living God” (Philippians 2:15). That’s our mission right there ya’ll, in everything we do. Is it fresh air that is blowing your sails? There’s a saying I’ve heard that says, “One rain drop can raise sea. Think of what two could do.”
If boats can make such a commotion in the water, think what we can do in the lives of others. God calls us to make a divine significance. Don’t let the world change you; go out and change the world (Chris Hodges). The choice is yours—stay in the wake of somebody else or sail to new horizons. Make some waves!
-Only Hope

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