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Just this once

“Can’t we do it just this once President?”

Sound familiar?

Small choices, big consequences!

The question reminded me of this piece from a long time ago by Richard L. Evans.

“There is in our language a dangerously disarming phrase by which people often persuade other people to compromise principles.

It is the phrase “𝐉𝐮𝐬𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐬 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞.”

“Just this once” has a siren-like lure.

It is the forerunner of the phrase “Just once more.”

It is the beckoning voice of a false friend that leads us from safety to a false position, first “Just this once,” and then “Just once more.”

“Just once more won’t matter.”

“Just once more, and then I’ll quit.”

And so, we sometimes move from one false step to another, often deluding ourselves into thinking that this is the last time.

In some social and personal matters, many of us live somewhat this way.

Tomorrow

We may know, for example, that we are living our lives at a pace we cannot keep up, but we hate to refuse a friend. Thus, we are led from obligation to obligation, and each time we say “yes,” we tell ourselves that we are saying it “Just this once” and that tomorrow will be better.

But tomorrow is seldom better except as we have the backbone to make it better.

In matters of eating and appetite, people often go from one indulgence to another, always saying to themselves, “Just this once, Tomorrow I begin to diet.” “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.”

“Just this once” becomes especially serious when people persuade other people that a principle is a matter of frequency rather than a clear-cut matter of right or wrong.

It is true that a onetime offender is looked upon with more leniency than a frequent offender. But stealing “Just this once,” lying “Just this once,” deceiving “Just this once,” or any other act of immorality urged upon anyone “Just this once” is a dangerous doctrine.

“Just this once” is a long step, but “Just once more” is an easier step, and so men often forget their own fetters from link to link.

If it isn’t right, let it alone. Don’t do “Just this once” what shouldn’t be done at all.”

Listen out for the phrase in your own life – you may be surprised how often it occurs.

Consider your actions carefully, and the consequences that may occur.

How will you respond next time?

What path are you on in life?

Recently I was asked “Am I on the right path?”
Throughout my life I have observed that small course corrections, can make a dramatic difference to the success we have in our home, family and personal lives.
I recall a message by Dieter F. Uchtdorf who said: “Suppose you were to take off from an airport at the equator, intending to circumnavigate the globe, but your course was off by just one degree. By the time you returned to the same longitude, how far off course would you be? A few miles? A hundred miles? The answer might surprise you. An error of only one degree would put you almost 500 miles (800 km) off course, or one hour of flight for a jet.”
Clearly errors of only a few degrees, minor things even, can sometimes lead to terrible tragedies, disasters and the arrival at a different destination than the one you set out to achieve in the first place. “The longer we delay corrective action, the larger the needed changes become, and the longer it takes to get back on the correct course—even to the point where a disaster might be looming.”

𝐀𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐨𝐟𝐟 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐫𝐬𝐞 𝐚 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞?

What corrective actions do you need to take to get back on course?
Is it simply a matter of taking time to stop… reflect, consider and refocus on what really matters most?
What distractions are in your way?
Distractions: “a thing that prevents someone from concentrating on something else”.
Benjamin Franklin stated ” We stand at the crossroads, each minute, each hour, each day, making choices. We choose the thoughts we allow ourselves to think, the passions we allow ourselves to feel and the actions we allow ourselves to perform. Each choice is made in the context of whatever value system we’ve selected to govern our lives. In selecting that value system, we are, in a very real way, making the most important choice we will ever make”.
As I have grown fond of repeatedly saying recently – your personal values are your sure compass in life. Be true to them, live them, honour them – they are essentially who you really are.
“May we always choose the harder right, instead of the easier wrong” – Thomas S. Monson
From time to time, distractions and errors of judgement will happen.
We all need to accept that, there will occasionally be some moments of real serendipity along the way.
Be mindful to take corrective action, consider what really matters most, refocus and get back on the course that will enable you to arrive safely at your intended destination.
I am fond of a quote by Henry B Eyring, who said that “If you are on the right PATH, it will always be UPHILL” – How true that is!
Like my recent picture from Keukenhof below, there are many beautiful things to see and admire along the path that you choose to follow – if you will take the time to seek them out.
Where will your path lead you today?

What do you want to become?

Are you clear about what you want to become?
Dallin H. Oaks, shared this understanding…
“A wealthy father knew that if he were to bestow his wealth upon a child who had not yet developed the needed wisdom and stature, the inheritance would probably be wasted.
The father said to his child: “All that I have I desire to give you—not only my wealth, but also my position and standing among men. That which I have I can easily give you, but that which I am, you must obtain for yourself. You will qualify for your inheritance by learning what I have learned and by living as I have lived. I will give you the laws and principles by which I have acquired my wisdom and stature. Follow my example, mastering as I have mastered, and you will become as I am, and all that I have will be yours.””
I know we can all become the person we were born to be!
At home in our families, our communities and our workplaces.
When we’re desperate to become the people we were born to be, our vision changes.
What is your true identity?
What do you really want to do with your life, family and career?
Through my daily choices – who am I becoming?
Am I progressing in the right direction?
In the nanosecond of life – be mindful of what you choose to become.

Time

As a teenager, only moments ago, I had time aplenty. However, youth moves quickly to maturity.
Now, in my mid 50’s – I’m acutely aware of my mortality, my time here on earth is running out!
Families that were once young, are then grown, and then gone.
If we have lived through half a century, a quarter or even a fifth of a century, we know how quickly time has come and gone.
Like me, if you have lived through half a century, then you’ll know as I do that two times our lifetime isn’t very long at all!
Time is so full and yet so fleeting, and upon its use depends all the possibilities that there are.
Sometimes we can think of the past as a thing quite apart from the present. Really they are one eternal round.
As Goethe put it, “things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.”
Jack N. Gerard observed “We live in a world of information overload, dominated by ever-increasing distractions that make it more and more difficult to sort through the commotion of this life. Unless we take the time to reflect, we may not realise the impact of this fast-paced environment on our daily lives and the choices we make.”
As I flick through TV channels, or scroll through social media, too often I find a world saturated with incessant noise, much of which is too loud, garish and crude. We need to pause and contemplate what we choose to do with the precious gift of time, before we fritter it away in frivolous “trivial tripe!” said James E Faust.
We don’t need more time. We have all the time there is. No one has more of it than each of us has. We must manage ourselves accordingly, rather than allowing conditions to manage us. Step back from the world – ask yourself how will I measure my life?
Words may change, styles may change, the man-made manner of life may change, but the stars in the heaven retain their course, and I know that our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, the creator of heaven and earth and all things are, remain in command.
“Time is clearly not our natural dimension. This it is that we are never really at home in time because we belong to eternity. Time, as much as any one thing, whispers that we are strangers here.” Neal A. Maxwell.
Treasure your time, value it, use it wisely. Much will come from very little effort if we slow down, observe and see.
How will you choose to use your time allotment today?

Interruptions!

“Will I answer that?” I thought.

It had been an extremely busy day.  Our schedule was packed full.  On arriving home around 3.30pm yesterday, I said to Monic that I was going for a walk to get some fresh air, stretch my legs and generally chill for half an hour.  I asked if she wanted to come, but she needed to attend to some other things.

So, off I strode, along to the canal side to enjoy a pleasant stroll and clear my thoughts.

Pausing along the way to enjoy the nature and the windmill, I pulled out my phone to take a picture.

And there it was, the phone was silently ringing, some young missionaries were trying to get a hold of me.  And then came the thought above!

What is it about a ringing phone that compels us to answer it?

I was so enjoying my little walk!

Interruptions!  How do you deal with them?

So, I chose to answer the call.

“Do you have a minute?”  asked the young missionary, “I just have one quick question. I can call you back if it is not a good time?”

Smiling, “on you go” I said.

We spoke for 10 minutes and resolved the immediate matter at hand.  We talked, shared, asked questions, problem solved and above all I listened.

How many times a day do you hear those fateful words?

Frequently, one-minute turns into 10, one question becomes several, and you can end up losing big chunks of your day.  Balancing the need to be accessible and productive is a challenge that we all face at times.

All that said, I enjoyed our conversation.  We resolved a few things together and followed up later with an email to address the main concern.

Interruptions happen, so it’s how you deal with them that matters.  Over the years I have learned to expect them!

Each of us oftentimes face many random factors in our day. They will control you unless you control them. It’s your choice.  And yesterday I chose to take the call, and I am glad I did!

My advice, if you do need to interrupt someone, give them the option of turning you down without appearing rude. For instance, instead of “I just have one quick question,” ask “Is now a good time to talk?

Slowing down, to Speed up

On this chilly snow filled February morning, my thoughts turned to a memory from a few years ago. This is one of my favourite pictures of my son Kyle and I, just south of Provo, Utah on the western edges of the Rocky Mountains, in the Wasatch Front, April 2013. Waking up today, to our best snowfall of the year in Scotland, having a couple of these snowmobiles would have been really handy!

I recall those couple of days in Utah, in the middle of nowhere. Those snowmobiles were fast! Reaching speeds of up to 70 mph on snow filled meadows that seemed to go on forever, was great fun, exhilarating and terrifying all at the same time for the pair of us.

With today’s weather, it is very likely that I won’t get very far at all. Unlike those snowmobiles, equipped for the most challenging of winter weather, my ability to travel anywhere at speed today is likely to be limited to trudging through the snow on foot at best.

Like many of the storms we pass through in life, I have found that the direction we choose whilst travelling through them, is more important than any speed we attain.

Slow down and stay safe, wherever you are today.

What part will you play today?

What “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” will you play today?

Every day – I make commitments to myself, my family members, my friends, my work clients and to voluntary opportunities that I love to serve in.

For example, yesterday I had a key “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” to play as the facilitator in a global virtual workshop, with 129 participants. I turned up at 6.00am (GMT), ready to guide each participant through the experience. Shortly afterwards my heart leapt when I received this lovely comment – “I must say today’s session was one of the best ever with such a spontaneous audience and so many volunteers! Thank you as always for making it so engaging and delivering it with such high energy!”

I loved playing my “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” in the whole experience.

Yesterday, I was also thrilled to play my 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭 as a husband, a father, a son, a brother, a coach, a friend, a servant and a leader.

Wherever you are, whatever you choose to do with your life, may I invite you to consider this phrase quoted so frequently by David O. McKay – “What e’er thou art, act well thy 𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭”.

Acting your part well simply means that wherever you are and whatever you are doing, you choose to do it to the best of your ability and to be as useful as you possibly can.

How will you choose to play your “𝐩𝐚𝐫𝐭” today?

Does 9.00 am exist?

“Does 9.00 am exist” I asked the delegates on the virtual time management workshop. Unanimously they responded “yes!” followed by a few whispers and puzzled faces.

As we explored the concept of time together, everyone soon realised that 9.00 am, along with 24 hours, 1,440 minutes and indeed 86,400 seconds were all simply something that mankind had created to manage time better – the study of horology is fascinating! We concluded – 9.00 am isn’t real! In fact the only thing that is real, is day & night, along with the seasons – spring, summer, autumn and winter.

Each of us are stewards of our time here upon earth. Each and every day counts.

Henry B. Eyring captured it well when he said – “Someday, when you know who you really are, you will be sorry you didn’t use your time better.”

I love these words penned by Robert Baird:

Time flies on wings of lightning;
We cannot call it back.
It comes, then passes forward
Along its onward track.
And if we are not mindful,
The chance will fade away,
For life is quick in passing.
’Tis as a single day.

Consider these questions focused on different time frames…

Are you doing everything that you should be doing with your one precious life?

How will you choose to fill the blank pages of your book of life today?

A big stick!

You’re safe, I’m not going to hit you with this big stick!

Do you remember the Stephen Covey quote “When you pick up one end of the stick, you pick up the other.”

Many years ago, whilst walking home with our golden Labrador Shane, he found a big stick and was determined to carry it all the way home.  A fence with a narrow opening became a massive problem for Shane.  Carrying the stick, no matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t get through, as the stick was longer than the narrow opening in the fence.  Several attempts at manoeuvring his head and his body in different directions, proved unsuccessful – he couldn’t do it.  Eventually, I took the stick from his mouth, carried it through the fence and gave it back to him on the other side.

I have never forgotten that experience with Shane.  I remember watching him try over and over again.  It was only when I intervened, was the obstacle overcome.

So it is with all of our choices in life.

We are free to choose our actions – “you pick up one end of the stick” but if we think that those choices are simply isolated to us alone – we are mistaken “you [also] pick up the other [end of the stick]”.

Both ends of the stick came with Shane that day.  The consequences quickly followed.

What are the consequences of whatever “stick” you choose to action and pick up today?

Choices

Earlier this morning, I discovered this poem circulating on social media – appropriately written for our time. Before hastily returning to your pre-lockdown life, please consider these words. I hope we will all choose a better way. Enjoy!

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

𝑨𝒇𝒕𝒆𝒓𝒏𝒐𝒕𝒆: The poem is attributed to various authors from 1869, 1919 and even now in 2020 variations of the name Kathleen O’Mara, Catherine M. O’Meara and Kitty O’Meara. My own research indicates it was written only a few weeks ago for our day by Kitty O’Meara.

What are you choosing to change?