A Life Message: Asking the Right Question

I met with a young man recently who is passionate about growing in his relationship with God, being a better husband and father, becoming more active in the church and community and excelling in his work.

He’s sensing an internal, self-induced tension to do more and be better in each area of his life.

His question to me was basically, how can he balance all the things he wants to do or feels he needs to be doing?

I certainly understood the question. It’s a pressure I’ve experienced many times in my life, especially during certain seasons. In fact, I’m sensing it again as I entered the empty-nester phase of life. I do believe in order to be successful with all the demands a person has, one has to get better personally, physically, spiritually, emotionally and relationally, before we can achieve more but, I think there may be a better answer than that.

I gave him one word of advice that has helped me during those seasons. Perhaps you need to hear this as well.

I challenged him to consider if he was asking the right question.

Instead of asking…

What should I be doing?

Maybe he should be asking…

Who do I want to be?

I have found that when I consider the person I want to be that the actions I need to take to get there become clearer. In fact, many of the actions I may have thought I needed to take, become less important, because they don’t seem to help me become who I say I want to be.

Which question are you or do you most need to be asking?

Friday Discussion: Help Write Your Obituary…Epitaph

For several years, I spent some of my reflective time in an old cemetery in our city. The older the tombstone, the more likely to have an epitaph inscribed. This short sentence or phrase was intended to capture the heart of the person…the way he or she lived his or her life.

If you Google my name “Ron Edmondson”, you’ll easily find my blog, that I’m on Twitter, my church, and some other blogs that I’ve commented on or that have featured some of my writing. What you’ll also find is that I died June 11, 2008. I was an attorney in Texas, apparently well-respected, and I left a loving family. Of course, that’s not the real me, but who knows that in 13 years…or any day…it won’t be.

I’m not trying to be morbid, but when I ran across this Google listing, I couldn’t help but consider what they will write about me some day. By the way, most likely, others will have to say or write something about you some day also.

What will the say?  Perhaps, more importantly, what do you want them to say?

Do an exercise with me. Help write your obituary…your epitaph…beyond your date of birth, birthplace, occupation, and family listings…Those are the basics…everyone gets them listed.  When you get past those points, what will they say?

The Difference in Knowing and Doing

There is often a difference in…




When it comes to right things…things we should know and do…

It’s true for all of us…some more than others…

You can know the right things to do…and never do the right things…

In my experience, not doing is often a bigger problem than not knowing…

Many people who know never do…


The margin between knowing and doing may determine the degree of success you attain…

Understanding your margin sets you up to address the problem…

What is the current margin between your knowing and your doing?

That Inner Nervous Energy…Some of Us Thrive On It

Do you know that nervous energy you get when you face the uncertainty of life?

You feel it when you assume a overwhelming risk…

It’s that emotion…that adrenaline rush…almost an inner fear…

Yet something inside prompts you to proceed in spite of the nervousness…

You feel it deep in your gut…

Ever felt it?

Well here’s the reality…

Some of us…as awkward, difficult, stressful, and even painful as it can be…

Live for that emotion…

You’ll find it in entrepreneurs…
You’ll find it in church planters…
You’ll find it among risk-takers…
You’ll find it in extreme sports enthusiasts…

I think the Apostle Paul must have had it…

It’s an inner drive to achieve, to accomplish, to pursue big dreams, conquer huge obstacles…

And achieve what others will not attempt…

I think it can be a God-given emotion…

It can be abused…

It must be used carefully…

But it shouldn’t be wasted…

Can anyone identify with that emotion I’m describing?

When’s the last time you felt that nervous energy?

(Share other examples of people who seem to enjoy this emotion.)

One Principle of Attaining Success in Life

Here’s a principle I’ve learned the hard way:

Sometimes the most successful are not the ones who do it perfectly but the ones who do it…

Whatever “it” is…

Many times we wait until the perfect timing, until all our questions are answered, or until the perfect set of circumstances are aligned before we move forward. In the meantime the world keeps moving and those who move, even though conditions are less than ideal, realize the victories others miss.

What dream, vision, call of God do you need to move forward on today?

The Inner Resolve to Overcome: Lesson from this week in Chicago

I’ve been amazed this past week at the resolve of the people of Chicago. Reportedly this week saw the worst snow storm since 1967.  I’ve not been through a blizzard before, so this was an experience.  You can read why I’m here in THIS POST.

What amazes me is how the people responded so quickly.  Even before the storm hit, people were taking precautions, but during and after the storm, people spread salt, shoveled snow, pitched in to help one another, and quickly got back to normal.  Many places were closed early Wednesday, hours after the snow ended, but many were open by the afternoon.  By Thursday everyone was seemingly back to normal. There’s still a lot of snow on the ground, you have to be careful where you walk, but people have gone about their business…in spite of the largest snow the average Chicagoan has ever seen.

Watching the quick response of the Chicagoans this week prompts me to ask:


Because there is an inner resolve in people to survive…to recover…to succeed!

  • We saw it in our city after the devastating flood last year.
  • We saw it in our city after the 1999 tornado destroyed most of downtown.
  • We see it in the aftermath of earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, and famine.
  • I’ve seen that resolve firsthand in Brazil, and Lithuania and Sierra Leone.
  • I’ve seen it in families who lost everything in a house fire.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals whose lives were wrecked by adultery, cancer and financial devastation.
  • I’ve seen it in individuals, who in spite of paralyzing injuries, continue to live with great joy.

There’s an inner drive in people to overcome.

I love seeing it…

I think it’s God-given…

I’m thankful for the times I’ve been able, by God’s grace, to pick myself up and move forward.

If you are experiencing the bad side of life these days, may I be a voice encouraging you to draw from that God-given inner resolve to push forward! The best is yet to come if you will pursue it!

Who has a story of recovery from tragedy that inspires you?

Do you have a story?  What’s the worst thing that ever happened to you…you lived to tell about it?tell me NOW!

I’ve written before about failure in these posts: (Click on the title to read)

7 Ways to Recover from a Major Failure or Mistake

How to Recover from Failure

5 Principles I’ve Learned from Failure

Failure Can Lead to Success

Writing a Life Plan, Part 5

It’s day 5 of our life planning series. We’ve attempted to take it step-by-step, in a simple format, to write a plan that will help us achieve some specific goals for the new year.

If you missed any of these posts, be sure to catch up by reading:

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Today we have our final step — and it’s a good one — in fact — it’s my favorite.

Possibly yours too!

The last step in our life plan is to…


In fact, you must!

It’s critical to any long-term success.

Build a reward in for the completion of each of your goals. The size of the reward can be based on the size of the goal and the size of your budget, but it should be enticing enough to keep you motivated.

It’s been said that what gets rewarded gets repeated — and that seems to be true from my experience.

Find a way to celebrate achieving your goals this year.

Using our hypothetical goals, here’s an example of what this might look like:

Lose 10 pounds – Buy a new outfit — or two.

Improve my marriage communication – Plan a special vacation together or eat at your favorite restaurant.

Pay off my credit card – Buy a new couch — but pay cash for it.

Read through the Bible – Give a Bible to someone who needs one.

Write a book – Get a weekend away to do nothing — absolutely nothing.

These are just hypothetical. You can come up with something better for you for celebration. It is important that you reward yourself though.

Obviously you may need to get help accomplishing some of these rewards, but that’s part of the beauty of Step 4. As others are included in your progress they will be enticed to help celebrate your win.

That’s the planning process. Simple enough?

I’d love to hear from you if you are going to attempt this process. Leave me a comment.

Here’s hoping for an extra productive new year!

Writing a Life Plan, Part 4

calendar, blue target

We’ve been writing a life plan this week. I hope you are following along and writing your own plan. I have tried to keep it simple, hoping that will improve your chances of following through to completion. If you’ve missed any of them, be sure and read

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Today we add another step in the process.


If you want to see your goals become reality, you need to build a system of accountability into your plan. If you are confident you want to complete the detailed goals you’ve set, and you believe the action plan you have written will help you meet them, then you must find a way to hold yourself accountable to completing the action steps.

You’ll need to add accountability you are comfortable with and makes sense for your goals and action steps, but here are some suggestions to consider:

  • Put action items on your calendar for the next year. I have some items that repeat throughout the year.
  • Print your life plan and share it with someone — give them permission to check in with you throughout the year.
  • Find a partner — this is especially helpful when exercising or in weight loss. (This is what makes Weight Watchers successful.)
  • Use an application/program such as Things, which I use, to schedule tasks and set alarms to remind you of your action steps
  • Comment on this post with your plan, or post it on your own blog — there’s something about going public that builds a stronger desire for completion

The key here is to build a system that will hold you accountable to completion of your goals. As you repeat the actions and see results towards your goals, you will develop habits in these areas and in the process of doing so will find you achieve more of your goals.

There is one more step to this process. I’ll share it in the next post.

Can you guess what it is?

Writing a Life Plan, Part 3

This series we are writing life plans for the coming year. If you have missed the first two posts, read them HERE and HERE.  

My desire is that we realize all the dreams and goals we have this year. I’m convinced many of our resolutions — if we make them — are reachable if we are a little more intentional and with discipline. Many refuse to make resolutions, because they have repeatedly failed at keeping them. The purpose of these posts is to help you start the year on a good path towards reaching those goals.

Today we add another step. Let me be honest. This step is not as fun as setting goals — at least for people wired like me. This is a little more difficult and will take a little more time to complete, but it is a vital step to the success of your plans.

Chances are good that if you fail to keep your New Year’s resolutions, not doing this step well is the more likely reason.

In this step, we will write some action steps, which will help us reach our specific goals. The question you should attempt to answer here is: What specific action steps do I need to take to ensure I reach my goals?

Be specific here. The more specific the action step the greater chance you have of completing it. I continue to use the same hypothetical set of goals for illustration purposes. Below you will see the specific goals followed by the action steps.

Lose 10 pounds – I want to lose 10 pounds by (Insert Realistic Date Here) by eating less and exercising more.

  • Exercise on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays
  • Limit eating fast food at lunch to twice a week
  • Stop drinking diet soft drinks and drink more water
  • Keep track of calories, attempting to eat less than 2,000 calories per day

Improve my marriage communication – I want my wife and I to argue less about things, simply due to poor communication. I want to understand her better and find more times when we are on the same page without arguing to get there. I want us to be able to talk through issues without raising our voice at each other.

  • Write out questions for our date nights to answer together…
  • Read one marriage book together and do one Bible study together
  • Attend a marriage conference this year
  • Have a date night every week

Pay off my credit card – I want to pay off $7,000 worth of debt by (Insert Realistic Date Here).

  • Limit eating dinner out to once a week
  • Work to refinance the house
  • Write a realistic budget by Jan 30th. (Set a date approximately 30 days out)
  • Read the book “I Was Broke and Now I’m Not” by Joe Sangl

Read through the Bible – I want to be able to say I have read the entire Bible and finish all of it this year, without losing interest in three months. I want to read the Bible consistently throughout the year at least 5 days per week.

  • Use one of YouVersion’s daily reading plan
  • Not check Facebook or email until I’ve read the Bible
  • Follow along with my small group curriculum
  • Get the YouVersion smart phone application

Write a book – I want to finish one of the many book ideas I have, have it completely written, and either have a publisher for the book or decide to self-publish. (These dates are for example. You set the realistic date that works for you.)

  • Write a book proposal by January 30th
  • Send out proposal letters to book publishers and agents by March 1st.
  • Outline book chapters by Feb 15th
  • Write a chapter every two weeks beginning March 1st

As I stated yesterday, during this step you may decide to alter some of your goals — or even scrap one of them — that’s okay — they’re your goals. You are far more likely to follow through with goals you fully believe you can accomplish.

Tomorrow we add another step. There’s just a little more to do to ensure success. You’re almost there.