June 6, 2014

Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn (III)

Hello, thank you for visiting Smiles No Matter today! This is our third week into our reading journey through John C. Maxwell's book Sometimes You Win Sometimes You Learn. To see the previous weeks' posts, please click on the following links and read up on those, because I think that they contain some blocks that build toward today's post:
    ~ Introduction
    ~ Week 1
    ~ Week 2

We are about halfway through the series so far! Reading this book has helped guide me in self reflection and I've found some parts of it to be valuable while I reflect on my past and consider how to go about my future. And I think that this series has been a lot of fun, so I'm hoping to be able to do another one based on a book again later on. If you have any book recommendations that you'd like to see on this blog, please let me know in the comments below!
Quote of the week: "When you cease to be better, you cease to be good. When you stop growing, you cease to be useful--a weed in the garden of prosperity.... We are what we are today because we were what we were yesterday. And our thoughts today determine our actions tomorrow" (George Knox).

This week, Maxwell is addressing the following question in Chapters 5 and 6: Why and how do we do all of this learning stuff, anyway?

Learning in the face of a mistake or tragedy is absolutely crucial, because during those times, usually there is very little good to draw out from them if not for the lessons we learn. However, Maxwell argues that learning should be an everyday thing, that we should try our best every day to make ourselves better. Why? Because we have hope.

I loved Maxwell's answers to the question, "What does hope do for mankind?" on pages 90-91:
  • Hope shines brightest when the hour is darkest.
  • Hope motivates when discouragement comes.
  • Hope energizes when the body is tired.
  • Hope sweetens when the bitterness bites.
  • Hope sings when all melodies are gone.
  • Hope listens for answers when no one is talking. 
  • Hope climbs over obstacles when no one is helping.
  • Hope endures hardship when no one is caring. 
  • Hope smiles confidently when no one is laughing.
  • Hope reaches for answers when no one is asking.
  • Hope presses toward victory when no one is encouraging.
  • Hope dares to give when no one is sharing.
  • Hope brings the victory when no one is winning.
Hope is hard to define, but I would say that it's the little voice that tells you to keep going even when everything else around you is screaming at you to quit. I would also venture to say that hope is a sort of combination between love and faith. Losses lead us to question our own worth, so we need to find that love and courage to believe in ourselves despite the setback. We somehow find faith that there will be a better tomorrow despite the pain. This is hope.

Maxwell presents three steps to cultivate hope:
  1. Realize that hope is a choice.
  2. Change your thinking. (I really liked the excerpt from Who Says the Fat Lady Has to Sing?. What did you think of it?)
  3. Win some small victories. 
Positive thinking helps us believe that we can do great things, and that belief in ourselves is all we need to move closer and closer toward our goals. 

Then, comes the doing. There is a method to learning. First, we must develop our senses of hope, humility, and responsibility. Then comes the actual learning, right? Maxwell makes a pretty self-evident point that the focus of learning is improvement (88). It sounds like an obvious thing, but sometimes we need the reminder every now and then. Have you ever asked yourself why you do something? Well, let's hope you do it because you believe it makes you better in one way or another--otherwise, why would you be doing it? 

Improvement is something that does not come easily. Improvement in all aspects require us to move our of our comfort zones, to accept that we're not perfect, to do things the right (often, harder) way, and to commit to it daily (78-84). Consider how we develop our artistic, technical, and physical abilities. Often through hours of practice a day, right? Well, here we're also talking about improving our mind and spirit. Do you sometimes neglect to dedicate time to your mind and soul? In this busy day and age, I know I do.

For instance, I have found that I need and want to develop my patience and compassion for others. It is something I must reflect upon constantly in order to keep myself on track, but yet it is so easy to forget all about it!

Maxwell believes that it is necessary to make improvement intentional. And in order to intentionally improve, he lays out the following steps:

  1. Decide you are worth improving.
  2. Pick an area to improve. (You can't improve everything all at once!)
  3. Find opportunities to improve in the wake of your losses.
I think that the first step is essentially having hope for yourself, the belief that with some work you will be better tomorrow than you are today. I agree with Maxwell--you are totally worth improving! And since we do have the ability to get better and are blessed with new opportunities each day, don't we owe it to ourselves?

Next week, Maxwell is going to get more in depth with improvement, more methods to do it. But for this week's reading, I've found the renewed awe in the power of hope and look forward to Chapters 7 and 8! Please visit again next Friday for a discussion on "Teachability: The Pathway of Learning" and "Adversity: The Catalyst for Learning" and subscribe to Smiles No Matter so you'll never miss an update! Have a wonderful weekend!

Smile on,
-Riley XO

1 comment:

  1. "Consider how we develop our artistic, technical, and physical abilities. Often through hours of practice a day, right? Well, here we're also talking about improving our mind and spirit. Do you sometimes neglect to dedicate time to your mind and soul?" Wow! This is great! I've never really thought about it before. Time to pick an area to improve on! Great post!


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