EssentialismBook

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less (New York: Crown Business, 2014)

“I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.”  Bronnie Ware, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

Do you ever feel that way? It’s a tough balance to live out the life and purposes we feel so compelled to pursue, while being confronted every day with an overwhelming number of requests that we cannot meet. And the confusion most of us face is what do we say “yes” or “no” to? How do we discern what is important and what is most important? How do we work through the process of turning down some very good opportunities so we can focus our resources toward the right opportunities, or the best? How do we reduce the clutter so we can identify what we’re supposed to be doing in the first place?

In what has become one of the most influential reads on my bookshelf, Greg McKeown’s Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less presents a roadmap to these questions and the way of the “Essentialist.” This is not some flower-child sell-off-all-your-possessions idea. It is the solution to how we can accomplish more by doing less. “Less but better,” as McKeown says. He helps you take an honest look at the pressure cooker lifestyle you’re living right now and shows you the way out through choice—your choice.

McKeown’s offer is written for today’s generation. I nodded through the entire book thinking, this guy knows exactly what’s happening in our society, and he gets it. It’s not only helped me avoid burnout—again—but it has also given me focus on strengthening the key relationships in my life, getting serious about my health (and the 40 pounds I’ve gained in the last four years), and the freedom to invest in the areas where I am passionate and needed the most versus those opportunities where I am simply wanted the most.

-bsh

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Embrace Stillness Training

I was barely ninety minutes eastbound out of Denver when the road closure forced me off the interstate. A spring blizzard near the Colorado-Kansas border was laying sheets of ice across roadways and knocking visibility down to zero. Even though the sky was sunny and blue at this exit, authorities deemed it too dangerous to allow travelers to rush into the storm unaware. So this is how it begins, I thought.

LeavingColorado

My wife and I had decided, after five years in Colorado, to relocate our family back to our hometown area in Southern Indiana. A tough decision—it was Colorado, after all—and if it wasn’t hard enough leaving my wife and children behind for the next two months to start a new job, getting stuck in Eastern Colorado (with no mountains) didn’t help.

But this inconvenience was about to reveal something crucial for navigating any season of life successfully.

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Snow Day (New York, NY: FaithWords, 2010)

(This is a re-post book review from January 2011. I enjoyed this book very much and thought this would be a great time of year to recommend it again.)

Peter Boyd is the neighbor we all want to have. He’s hardworking, loves his wife, adores his children, lends a hand, and carries that small town common sense we all could stand to tie to our own hitch. But there’s one problem nagging at an otherwise blessed man.

Talk of layoffs at the local factory has Peter worried about everything he has worked so hard to build and support. If he becomes a victim of the sign of these poor economic times, he’s up cow-patty creek to find suitable work in his hometown. The water is rising fast on the few dreams still holding breath for his family.

And worse yet, the special needs of Peter’s young daughter only add to the strain of a man already doubting his faith in a God who is supposed to care.

Oops! Sorry for the Mess

Sorry for the mess around here. I’m in the process of moving from my old blog hosting site to a new one. I’m still unboxing a few items and finding their homes on the shelves.

moving

The good news is I wouldn’t be moving to a new site if I weren’t planning to connect with you more, so I hope you check back soon!

-bsh

Paying Yourself Extra for Free

At 4:30 a.m. on a snowy December morning, all I had on my 13 year-old mind was getting each nearly-frozen newspaper off my sled and onto each customer’s porch. The faster I could unload papers, the sooner I could melt back into a toasty bed. But I stopped after ten houses, glancing back.

newspaper

Four newspapers had missed their targets by a mile, each sticking out halfway in the snow. Hey, I was paid for delivering newspapers to the premise, not customized handling. And besides, my toes were cold.

Shore Book Project Update – Still Cranking

It’s been a while since our last update, and we’re happy to report the cogwheels are still cranking with Mike and Christa Shore on their book.

cogwheel

2013 proved to be a very busy year for all of us with work, family, and ministry commitments, so our book interview sessions were few and far between. We decided in December that instead of trying to piecemeal a few hours here and there to conduct interviews, which left far too much time in between each get-together, and having to re-visit parts of the story, we changed our approach to what we call “marathon sessions.” We opted to set aside 6-8 hour chunks on Sundays to crank out several story interviews back to back, and get ‘er done.

Polka Dot Wonder

Clumsily the polka dot wonder pranced through the brush, breaking sticks under its toddler feet and drawing so much attention within a quarter mile that it might as well have worn a blaze orange sign with the words “Eat Me.” Don’t you know there’s a coyote pack roamin’ these parts, little podna? I thought.

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Usually it walked the fields with its twin sibling, and usually its mother was nearby. Not today.

There was more shuffling. The bushes along the fence row shook one after the other, like a sloppy version of “the wave” in a stadium crowd. I stayed in my seat as to not alert of my presence.

Where are they? I surveyed the yard and neighboring woods for momma and sister, thinking the worst. The coyote howls had drawn closer to the house the past few nights.

For Love of the Irish

The hard crack of the collision reached the upper level almost immediately through a roaring crowd. Shortly thereafter, a yellow flag was thrown, desecrating the sacred ground of Irish turf and igniting thousands of chanting football fans into an eruption of fury.

Irish-helmet

The referee had committed an unforgivable sin. It was a clean hit. I saw it through binoculars. Larger than life.

But the play was over. And the penalty—withstood. The Celtic giants, unscathed by the dirty work of one overzealous official, returned to the frontline, wiping from their mouths the mud that was as gritty as their toughness. There is no glory in looking back.

Focus Frenzy

When I was twelve years-old my parents bought for me Juggling for the Complete Klutz. Do you remember those kits? It came with a how-to book and three bean bag cubes packed in a red nylon net. I don’t know if my parents thought it was a neat gift idea or if it was a hint, but I wasted no time accepting the challenge.

klutz


Juggling three tennis ball-sized objects can be learned fairly quickly and in three simple steps (if you’d like to learn, click here), but keeping them airborne requires a fourth step with a little more discipline—focus.