Questionable Contracts

 Dr, Gary, Davis, Needinc, Clueless, Christianity, Christian, Contracts, Questionable, Compromised,             It was a lovely dinner at their favorite restaurant with appetizers, wine, a beautifully presented main course and a special dessert, prearranged with the chef by John. Following a lengthy explanation the nature of commitment proclaiming his deep love for her, and a declaration of intent-to-marry, Sam dropped to one knee, gazed into Susannah’s eyes, and said those four heart throbbing words— Will you marry me?

She, of course, said yes! They were engaged. Over the next few weeks they excitedly told family and friends about their intended path toward matrimony, choose invitations, booked a place for the wedding/reception, and groveled at their parents’ feet for the $50,000 to pay for it all. They had much to discuss. Do I hear $12,000?

One night after watching a movie together, John slipped in the idea of having a prenuptial agreement, to assure their commitment would always last. Susannah was less than enthusiastic.

To be sure, contracts are meant to protect both parties in case something goes wrong with their commitment to each other. In business, that’s wise. In marriage? It seems more like a guarantee of temporary bliss followed by eventual failure.

The sad thing is that too many contracts are designed with loop-holes that can be used to default on the commitment. We think— If things don’t go perfectly (read- the way I want them to), then I’ll just sneak out of this one. Be it in a marriage or a merger, if we don’t get everything we want— we end it.

There are many reasons these escape clauses are slipped into contracts. One of the main reasons is that, over centuries, people have come to learn that they cannot trust one another, in business or in marriage. “I have to protect my own self first.” If people were inherently good this would not be a problem of course; but history shows otherwise.

Thus do we compromise on our commitments. We find those loop-holes that we can slip through and so slip our way out of the spirit of the agreement, though not the letter of the contract. We renege on our commitments in relationships, in business, and in life in general; all to protect ourselves and then the other parties.

What would happen if we put the other person or company first? What if the contract or marriage vow assured blessing and safety for the other first? Could we possibly be hurt or betrayed? Of course. But we would also be on our way to changing this world.

Remaining honorable in commitments rules out subsequent confrontation later.  Win/Win is always the best option.

For what it’s worth,

Gary

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Beyond being in control

Gary, Davis, Control, Needinc, Clueless, Christians, Let it go, letting goStaying in control is probably the #1 value of most people in Western Society. Being out of control is scary; it is always lurking just below the surface of our consciousness. Personal security, personal independence, and personal significance are our TOP priorities (after food and shelter.) We have this innate fear of being out-of-control.

Some people take it too far; becoming micro-managers at work and a home. They must be hands-on and on-top of everything. If this attitude becomes embedded in a person’s psyche it creates issues of trust and insecurity. Even close friends do not want to be around them. Sometimes, it causes people to hide their true selves from those outside and to cocoon within a private world of fantasy or fear. This is not good for the soul.

However, there is another path to be taken for those who draw their strength and define their identity from somewhere beyond this present realm. It is for those who have decided that being in-control isn’t as safe and secure as they once thought. It is for those who are tired of working so feverishly to have power over everything around them. It is for those who are ready to let go.

Moving beyond being in control is frightening and terrifying. It means that you are consciously removing yourself from the button, the control switch, from being the central figure around whom all others must revolve. You must become such a person who will put your faith, your trust, in others, and, quite frankly, in God.

Why is it that we rise to our point of success in life, only to find a ceiling of doubt and emptiness at the top? The reason is that we were not meant to climb this ladder in isolation, as individuals; we were designed to do it in relationships: first, in relationships with those around us, and second, in relationship with the God who made us. This is not rocket-surgery; it is an obvious observance.

We must move beyond being in control to trust, to delegation, both of responsibility and authority, and to letting go. [Listen— Paul Cardall. Letting Go. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bUONnfHb7a8 ]. It is in letting go of control that we lose our tightness, our fears, our need for dominance, and put on the cloak of grace.

If you truly want to lead, then you must move beyond being in control and learn to let go.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

Get your passion on

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Sir Richard Branson, Virgin, PassionPassion. That driving force within that will not allow you to give up. It’s that tenacious voice that screams within, “No matter what, I will, I MUST, do this one thing!” It can be a call to arms, a commitment to excellence, an unshakable compulsion to complete a task:  it might also be a deep heart yearning for a man, a woman, a love between friends that is a life-time commitment.

To be sure, passion, of any kind, can be twisted. It can be twisted into revenge, seething inner rage, or a deep evil desire to cause harm to another; like ethnic cleansing, terrorism, erotic murders, etc. These are perversions of passion. Still passion, but of the darkest kind. Don’t go there. It will inevitably consume your strength, turn your mind into a shadow, and hollow out your soul.

A proper passion is not like that. As billionaire/philanthropist Sir Richard Branson once said, “There is no greater thing you can do with your life and your work than follow your passions in a way that serves the world and you… .” [Founder of The Virgin Group- Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Records, & 400 other companies.  He has always been one of my heroes.]

My passions, like my commitments, run deep and long. Many people see passion as a sign of weakness because it is an emotion. I’ve never understood that. Are people afraid of their passions (vs. feelings)? I don’t know many who have experienced a cerebral kiss. Sounds yucky. Personally, I would rather find someone who is truly passionate about what they believe than someone who is generally compliant, in the middle, indecisive, passive.

Every decade of my life has produced a mantra that guides me. My present one is—

Honor God, honor people—and make a difference.

            So if you are passionate about something, anything, you are well on your way to making a difference. [Or to becoming a great kisser.]

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

depression

Robin Williams, Danger, Depression, Suicide, despair, needinc, dr, gary, davis             Depression is a silent killer. You don’t even have to die to experience its death. You live the death just under your skin, suffocating your soul, 24/7. It is an insidious infection that never lets up.

Sure, you have moments of elation, rest, momentary peacefulness, or escape. I’ve struggled with it for years. When I first married, my new bride would describe me as morbidly introspective. Nice.

Yet on the surface I was upbeat, forward looking, powerful, and optimistic. Underneath, I always wondered if I measured up to peoples’ expectations. I was sure I didn’t.

So I performed better. And better. And… tried harder and harder… .

Robin Williams recent suicide brought it all back to me—the acting, the humor, the insecurity-amidst-confidence; and especially the fear of being known. I even wrote an article on it.

What drives such a successful man to draw an end to his life? In a word— despair. Def.- The conclusion that life holds no more for you. That managing life is now beyond your ability and/or desire. During my journey as a counselor three individuals have committed suicide under my care; one, premeditated, the other two, on the spur of the moment. I’ve always wondered if I could have prevented these needless deaths. My depression spiraled downward to the deepest depths.

If you could have walked through Robin Williams’ depression with him, what would you have said? What hope would you have offered? What reason to continue living? What great purpose would have fulfilled his life? Certainly his success as an actor and comedian did not bring him the fulfillment he so desperately hungered for.

Many fellow Christians might have offered him the reasons he sought in a relationship with Jesus Christ. But do you realize how strange that could have sounded to someone who had no hope, who sat outside the perimeters of God’s protection? It would have sounded farcical.

So many of us, Christians and normal people alike, place our hope in our personal security, our financial stability, and in our own abilities and self-confidence. I don’t think this is enough.

There is a great deal to be said for reestablishing a relationship with the God who made us. And for cleaning out the garbage of our lives. And for clearing the air with our friends.

I grieve Robin Williams death. He left us, unnecessarily, too soon.

 

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

Differences

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christians, Christianity, NEEDinc, cow, differences, different No, really, sometimes it really does feel like this. People are just…, different. Maybe you’ve experienced differences in your marriage, with your teenagers (duh), or with those who say they are related to you. Certainly you’ve felt some people at work were “different.” You thought they were like this, and they turned out to be like that. Or…, something!

We are all different from other people. Sure, we may have the same character traits, financial status, eye color, body types, etc. But people are different; that is what makes our human lives so intriguing. We are never quite exactly the same. Different.

When people are different individually they can be stronger together, as a group. Their differences can bond them to support one another in a team relationship. More can be accomplished the moredifferent people, and their skills, come together to make our world a better place. Differences— joining together. Unless, of course, you believe that people who are different should all stay together in their own little group, sealed off from those who are different from them. Hummm.

Personally, I enjoy people who are different from me. I learn from them. I learn a lot. I do not have all the answers; it is through others who are different from me that I come up with new and differentquestions. And that’s a good thing. It leads to new perspectives, new answers.

That being said, I must admit that I enjoy the comradery of those who think in terms of cross-cultural communication, paradigm shifts, regional colloquialisms, and international blending. So I’m weird. What kind of people do you like to be around? Are they all the same…, or different?

My friends are a little of both. A weird bunch, to be sure. But still, I enjoy them.

So when you are deciding which crowd you want to hang with, don’t pick just one. Join different kinds of groups. Join up with people who are much older than you, and with those who are quite younger than you. In doing so you will learn from the wise, and remember how to play again from those who come after you.

I know I keep going back to the Bible, but it’s my heritage. Christians were first named Christians because no one knew what to call this hodgepodge, diverse, seemingly incompatible group of strangers who loved each other. The name stuck.

There probably isn’t a designation for the kinds of groups I associate with:  maybe wackos.

For what it’s worth,

  Gary

 

My Preference – my Presc-ciousss!

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, preferences, selfish, selfishness, precious, How much do personal preferences cause perennial problems between people?!? OK, the alliteration is iffy; but the issue it illuminates is a serious one. At times it seems that too many of us place our personal proclivities and preferences above the good of-the-many. It’s what I want that matters; not what you want. My desires come first.

Really?!?

Some of us just cannot seem to get along with anyone. Why? Because we refuse to cut any slack to anyone to who does not meet our standards of excellence; who will not see things any other way but their own; who refuse to admit that their personal preference is is only one way. They will not admit they could be wrong or that someone else might be right.

Really!?!

How dare we make our personal preferences the standard by which we judge everything else?!? So if you disagree with me, forgetaboutit. I need have nothing more to do with you.

Really?!?

NO ONE individual has all the strengths needed to master a craft, to complete a complex task, or to bring a dream or plan to fruition. We ALL need one another to make society, or family, or church, or business, work.

So can we lay aside our preferences and begin to build something together?!? Too many of us hoard our abilities and preferences like J.R.R Tolkien’s Gollum with his Presc-ciousss; his Ring-of-Power, which, in the end was the power that possessed him and destroyed him.

Far too often, our preferences take over our very core-values and destroy us. We believe that our way is the only right way, and we break friendships and commitments with those who feel otherwise. Some things, to be sure, are worth fighting for; but hanging onto our particular preferences is not one of them. True strength, true power, is the natural byproduct of people with different strengths, and preferences, coming together to build something greater.

Are up for that? Or would you rather hang on for dear life to your personal preferences…, your presc-ciousss?

 

Jus’ sayin’,

  Gary

Ripples

Dr, gary, Davis, Clueless, Christian, Christianity, effects, affected, relationshipsRemember sitting on a summer beach letting the water roll in— letting it wash over you in its salty brine? Did your eyes follow the surf as its ripples returned to the sea in currents and eddies? Never the same twice, but always the same ripples…, returning to the sea.

I often ponder the similarities between those ocean ripples and the effects I might have on another person. How do the ripples of my life choices affect the currents, the ebb and flow of the lives I touch? Hopefully, the way I live and relate with others builds them in their lives; hopefully, their lives start to reflect some of the same ripples that have trickled through my life.

For I am the result of countless friends, mentors, critiques, counselors, and even enemies. I have not been one to swim under the ripples that pushed toward me; rather, I have learned to flow with them, for a while, until I learn whatever lesson is carried by that ripple.

That being said, it must also be added that sometimes those ripples had to build to the level of a tsunami for me to ride along with it. We all fight the tides of life that threaten us, that want to push us off our course, and I was no exception. Now…, not so much. This has probably come from being churned up in the surf far too many times.

Whatever stage of life wherein you find yourself, whatever dire or laudable circumstance, you are making ripples for everyone you know. What kinds of ripples are you leaving in your wake? Do they buoy up a person, or just about drown them? Does your family enjoy and respect you, or fear your return from work? Do your employees see you as a hard task-master or someone who empowers them to greater performance and joyful sacrifice? As you meet passersby do you smile at them, or appear stern and even threatening?

You need to know the kinds of effects you have on the people that surround you. Is it building and uplifting, giving them the thrill of a surfer riding the waves? Or are your ripples more like the pounding surf in a hurricane, bringing destruction wherever its waves land?

The kinds of ripples you leave in your wake are your legacy to your family, your grandchildren, your community, and to this planet. Leave good ones! For what it’s worth,

  Gary

My Failures

 Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, failure, fail, grade, failedFailure. “It’s taken me most of my life, but I think I have perfected FAILURE to an art form.” A great quote, isn’t it? Many of us try to hide our failures, believing that they will reveal that we are losers, incapable of finishing anything, of accomplishing anything of significance. Others have a deeply rooted fear of failure and so work themselves to death to be successful. Probably another group of us are content with being failures. It’s just too much effort to try anymore.

            The choices we make in life will determine whether we are successful, marginally successful, or, well, failures. Then again, it also depends on who is defining success, failure. Being a CEO of a Fortune 500 company with your 5th wife, with kids who don’t want to be around you is not much of a success in my book.

            Speaking of my book, I would like to reveal to my more pertinacious readers some of my failures.

1.      I failed in being a good dad to my kids when they were younger.

2.      I failed in being a good son to my dad.

3.      I failed to build the kinds of teams needed to expand the reach of NEED’s principles of communication-in-community to Christians who still do commando raids for Christ.

4.      I failed in living out the holiness God has already granted me.

5.      I failed in being a consistent, genuine Christian, often falling into being merely a nice one.

6.      I have frequently failed in humility, seeking my own ascent in place of lifting up others.

7.      I failed in resilience, settling for 2nd best, 3rd; or I’ve just given up, giving in to hopelessness.

8.      I failed in losing my temper 8-9 times in my life. Maybe that’s not too bad?

9.      I failed in admitting I was wrong too many times.

10.  I failed in many relationships, disappointing people and letting them down.

There are many more areas in which I’ve failed but I must limit this confession to one page for the sake of my readers. If you want, I can tell you more things I’ve done that are really terrible. Seriously.

If I can admit the things where I have failed, maybe you can to. Some things I’ve been able to correct and received forgiveness; others, not so much. But I do not dwell here: I press on, still failing, making colossal mistakes, and watching God make use of me nonetheless.

Pass/Fail? God have mercy,

  Gary

preemptive positioning

Dr, Gary, Davis, restitution, reconciliation, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, posturing, positioningIn time of war a preemptive strike is meant to give “first strike advantage.” Strike first, surprise the enemy, and win the day. The same is true in much of the world economy, interpersonal relationships, and politics. It’s all about positioning. [I wonder if we even play this game with God.]  Humans tend to want the higher ground in all creation. We need to win, to be right, to dominate in business, in interpersonal relationships, and in our general mindset that—

I am always right!

            We hold and assert preemptive presuppositions on just about everything.

“There is NO God!”  “There is only One God!” 

“God is on our side!”

“Killing anything, anyone, ever, is wrong!”

“War is always wrong!”  “Peace at all costs!”

“All men are pigs!”  “All women are manipulative!”

“Eating meat is wrong.” “Vegetarians are stupid.”

You get the picture. We position ourselves as judges over other peoples’ life-choices so we can pontificate for our position. In so doing we dismiss their thinking with little comprehension, let alone compassion, for what they value and hold dear. THAT is what makes such positioning both presumptive and preemptive. We drift naturally toward winning the debate more than considering the person or society so different from our own.

            Is this what we want out of life? To be on top? To control? To win at any cost? Granted, there are many things worth fighting for; some worth dying for. But to start with a preemptive strike, and continuing to annihilate your adversary’s position, and/or life, does not add much to human dignity, let alone reconciliation and restitution.

            May I proffer that a preemptive strike may win the day, but hardly the war. For a peoples’ values and beliefs run deep; defeating your enemy may give birth to generations of aggressors against you. I’ve always found Jesus’ words to be of some value— “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” Probably something we should all work at a little more. For it calls on the greater power, be it a nation or individual, to create a path of peace. This is hardly our world’s operating procedure today. Contrary to Vince Lombardi’s, Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing, maybe it is the peacemakers who are the ones who truly win.

  Gary

Why my heart aches

Dr, Gary, Davis, Clueless, Christianity, NEEDinc, heart, ache, heartache

There have been too many times in life where my heart has been crushed by the suffering of others. Their experiences and anguish were hard to hear. I can’t imagine how they lived through those times. Some had gathered the fortitude and faith to persevere; others, not so much.

What the human spirit, heart, and body can endure always amazes me. I remember a woman, a teacher, once came to me with grey hair. The day before her hair had been auburn. The beating she had endured the previous night had been so terrifying that it turned her hair grey in a matter of minutes. Her husband is now in jail. How did she endure such terror?

Another person I know has almost lost her mind and any will to live because of a brutal rape. Another woman came to me after her 6th abortion. Sixth! She wasn’t sure who she was anymore; she wasn’t sure she could ever have children.

Other friends have lived through “less” traumatic experiences— the suicide of a husband, the loss of a job, living on the grace of others after months of unemployment, the loss of their child. My heart aches for these people.

Over the years, I have been able to move from sympathetic to empathetic, allowing me some distance to garner wisdom and perspective on their horror. It is hard to help another when we are in the thick of it with them. When there, we can offer comfort; but little else. We have not the strength.

On a grander scale, my heart aches for this world— the natural catastrophes, the fires, floods, and earthquakes; but also the human devastations— genocides, regional wars, terrorists attacks, the manipulation of the balance of trade, the prices of oil and grains, and forced poverty and human sex trafficking. The injustices I read online every hour. All of this weighs on me heavily.

How should I, should we, respond to this mess?

My first thought is to become a part of the solution. To make a difference! To be one-of-many who count the cost and throw themselves into the fracas. Who, instead of protecting our own interests, look to the needs and well-being of those truly in need.

Sure, my heart still aches. But at least I am doing something. How about you?

‘Nough said,

Gary