Posts in Quotes
You Want Quiet But All You Hear is Noise
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The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas in the United States is very, very hectic.  I appreciate Joshua Becker’s recent post on doing holiday traditions that you want to do rather than feel that you need to do.

Still, even with an “on my own terms” mindset to the holidays, you can feel overwhelmed.  I know that I do.

The spillover of course is that when you go to pray, your mind is still racing...

  • Is the gift for Aunt Helen the right gift?
  • When is that holiday party?
  • Did we get the tickets for Breakfast with Santa? (An event I despise by the way but that’s another story.)

The list goes on and on.  A seasoned person of prayer knows how to gently hit “pause” in his head when these thoughts barge in.  A person with a young prayer life will be pulled in a thousand different directions when these thoughts come in.  Whether you are new at prayer or are steeped in holiness, silence and quiet are very important.  

St. John of the Cross said this, "What we need most in order to make progress is to be silent before this great God with our appetite and with our tongue, for the language he best hears is silent love." 

I suggest, when the racing thoughts approach, that you do one of two things:

  1. Say to yourself, “I’m going to let that one go...” and truly let it go.  
  2. Write it down.  If it’s really important, write it down or capture it in your task manager.  This way, you can then go back to prayer and have the confidence of knowing that you can revisit the item later.

Prayer is an art and takes practice.  With these two strategies, you’ll be able to handle the distractions that come your way.

prayer, Quotes, StressMike StPierre
How to Read Slower and Yet Retain More

The rise of Twitter, Facebook and a host of “read it later” services (i.e. Instapaper and Pocket) make reading a lost art.

Think about it- in the last week, how many articles or posts did you read in their entirety? Notice that I didn’t mention books since fewer and fewer people read them (read: "The Decline of the American Book Lover")

Still, reading accomplishes at least three things:

  1. It humbles us. Trappist monk Thomas Merton once said, "Pride makes us artificial and humility makes us real." When we read, we bow to the ideas of another.
  2. It enhances our leadership. As the saying goes, “all leaders are readers”.  The best leaders I know have 2-3 books that they devour at one time, hungry for new insights.
  3. It deepens our spiritual core. Reading, in its pure sense, is an old fashioned way of taking in information, making sense of it and then putting it into action.

I noticed, about 6 months ago, that I was reading very little. Sure, I was scanning a ton but as for reading things in full, I was a slacker.

What to do? I decided to declare “Read it Later Bankruptcy” and start from scratch.  I deleted all of my old articles and posts and just started fresh.  Heck, what are the real chances that I'll get to that article that I saved months ago?  Slim to none...

This meant a few practical action steps:

  1. I would empty (i.e. read fully) any article that I had saved in Instapaper within 24 hours.
  2. I would be much more choosy as to which blog posts I would put into Instapaper.
  3. I would take my time and not rush through things.
  4. Hardcover books would become a pleasurable experience once again. As a result, David Brooks’ The Road to Character has been in my hands a lot lately.  It feels slow (and wonderful) to turn the pages and enjoy the author's salient points.

One surprising side benefit to all of this is that I’m now reading other things in more consistent spurts. Our family has the Bible Verse of the Day (said in a Count Dracula sort of way for dramatic effect) just before dinner. Also, my morning devotions have become more contemplative and patient as I’m taking time to really read rather than just scan.  Finally, by reading slower, I'm sitting with the author, getting to know him and his thoughts.

The bottom line: by reading slower, I'm retaining more.

As a follow up- how do you read each day? What are your routines and habits? How can you slow down your own reading such that you not only take in information but enjoy the ride?

Working Alone or in Groups?
I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork...for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person d the thinking and the commanding.

Albert Enstein
Quote, QuotesMike StPierre
Leadership Quote of the Week
The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work that you need
most to do and that the world most needs to have done…The place God
calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep
hunger meet.
Frederick Buechner
Quote, QuotesMike StPierre