Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Driver’s License and Other Little Goals

There are big goals in life, but the seemingly insignificant little goals are the key to actually achieving the big ones.  For me, one of these goals is my driver’s license renewal due up about a month from now.  For the first time in 15 years, I want to (honestly) list my weight as “170 lbs.”  Silly? Maybe. Vain?  Perhaps, especially now that I’m sharing it so publicly.  But in the wake of my yo-yo weights from about 1997-2007, I developed an iron will regarding my current resolve to get fit and stay fit--whether it be for marathons or a simple I.D. card.  Hey, in my present hiatus from road racing, my D.L. renewal is a different kind of objective deadline! 

I could go on about how my personality is extremely predisposed toward goal achievement once I set my mind on a thing.  But suffice it to say that my D.L. weight goal relates to other seemingly insiginificant or even silly goals that the coaches, student leaders, and I reinforce in the Jugheads on a daily basis.  “Stay in rhythm in warm-ups.  Don’t pick up a drop ‘til after a pose or a dance step.  Learn and use leaders’ and peers’ names.  Achieve all of the Rec. standards by the end of the year.   Be honest with your snack choices and clean-up.  Inform us of rehearsal absences. Be courteous in team drills.”  Now, none of these are explicit (or implicit) grad. standards for any high school represented among our members, nor will college or job applications ask for a candidate’s five ball record.  However, little goals lead to bigger goals, and discipline in small areas usually leads to discipline in bigger areas.  Jesus put it this way in a parable to His followers:  “You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much” (Matt. 25:21, ESV). 

In a previous column, I listed my Top Five reasons I maintain my personal fitness: God, Marriage, Career, Quality of Life, and Longevity.  However, something as simple and finite as a D.L. renewal is a very reachable standard, especially after 4.5 years of training.  This season is all about the Jugheads achieving reachable standards, and it’s the little choices and little goals they’ve set and achieved since last fall or over the past 10 years that add up to all current successes.  Be faithful in a little now, and one cannot know the positive impact awaiting down
the road--in both mundane and grand manifestations.

Juggling Priorities--Part 1 & 2


If you wouldn’t have guessed it, I come from a family of wordsmiths.  All four of my siblings and I enjoy writing in various forms, from regular community newspaper columns to poetry to some dabbling in fiction.  Since my early years of youth work, I’ve thought about writing a book combining life experiences with wisdom/mentorship-type advice.  That, combined with my passion for discipline in several diverse areas of life, caused my brother (Jim) to come up with a book title for my hopeful endeavor: Juggling Priorities.  While this book isn’t even in its planning stages yet, it gives me an excuse to focus the opening columns of 2012 on that title. This month is about JUGHEADS’ priorities; next month will be about life’s priorities.

January through July are markedly more busy for this company than our half-summer shut-down and our contests-and-standards-driven fall months.  The first half of each year has big events that permeate almost everything we do here: regional festivals (MadFest & MONDO); the EYJA Showcase; Juggle Jam; and the IJA Festival.  With these immovable milestones in mind, each club day places a priority on routine planning, skill honing, team creativity, music studying, and goal setting.  Even though this makes for a relatively highly structured atmosphere, the free times are all the more sweet: e.g., snack conversations, basketball or combat at club’s end, and a bonding that takes place because of such extra efforts to work toward common goals.

As Wendy, the coaches & I juggle the priorities of what it takes to make JH tick, I’ll venture to say that we keep five basic balls in the air: hospitality for the members; clear communication to the parents; maintaining and adding to traditions that give us roots and ever-expanding branches and fruit; keeping finances solvent regarding prices, equipment, rent, supplies, and compensation; and ongoing leadership development so that the company runs smoothly at all levels.

Running a juggling company is a balancing act in itself.  May this year be richly rewarding as we all juggle priorities within this truly unique priority of youth juggling.    


Last month, I covered five basic priorities in the life of this company.  Now, I’ll cover seven basic priorities that this director tries to keep “in the air” for balance in life and success in youth work:

1.  Spiritual. Commitment to regular Bible reading, prayer, church, fellowship, and designed acts of kindness (service).
2.  Relational. God, marriage, family, friends, JH families.
3.  Physical. Running, core, nutrition, hydration, sleep, rest.
4.  Financial. Stewarded giving, saving, spending, investing.
5.  Musical. Daily banjo practice toward mid-life proficiency.
6.  Intellectual. Regular reading: news, growth, inspiration.
7.  Professional. Career development, driven largely by all of the above—plus my own childhood and adolescent experiences.

That’s a lot of “balls” to keep in the air on a (nearly) daily basis! However, I’ve personally learned and admonished the Jugheads that discipline in one area of life almost always leads to discipline in other areas of life.  Imbalance in any given area requires a re-examination of one’s priorities, but if the priorities are right, one can add to, rather than have to choose between, wise priorities for a full life.

 Admittedly, I have an advantage with certain personal goals and priorities due to the fact that Wendy & I are unable to have biological children, and we’ve not felt led (and/or we’ve had doors closed) to adopt children.  However, such a place in life as a married middle-aged childless man in the prime of life with a strong Christian faith and a conscientiousness nature to live a fruitful life drives my goals.  If I ever write a self-help book, I suppose I could devote at least an entire chapter to each of the above priorities (and perhaps others) and how they continue to shape who I am.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue to admonish the Jugheads, student leaders, and even the coaches to make the most of one’s time both in and out of this company.  Personal priorities may differ from person to person, but one key to eventual success and balance is choosing a set of priorities, learning to juggle them, and recovering from the drops that mark every human life. Dream big, discipline the details, and pray for joy in the journey.