social media icons with social cloud, catfish

The internet and social media provide some of the greatest tools and platforms to create and sustain vibrant community. However, due to our fallen human nature, we take these great tools and turn them into creators of dissatisfaction and envy. Dissatisfaction and envy kills relationships and communities.

Why do we take something with the potential to be great and turn it into something awful?

Well, let me tell you.

Everyone’s life looks better on the internet than it does in real life. The Internet provides an incomplete picture—we get to decide what people see and what they don’t see.  Sounds nice— after all, who wouldn't want a beautifully arranged and self-created life experience? But this isn't reality. Anytime that you put up a false front on your life, you will hinder your relationships and your community.

"Because community—the rich kind, the transforming kind, the valuable and difficult kind— doesn't happen in partial truths and well-edited photo collections on Instagram. Community happens when we actually hear one another’s voices, when we enter one another’s homes, with real messes, around real tables, telling stories that ramble on beyond 140 pithy characters."

So how do you create relationships and community that involve social media?

First, I think you need to accept it for what it is, as a platform with an incomplete picture of other people’s lives. I have hung out with certain couples in each of our homes and in social settings and I have never seen them get into a fight. Should I assume that they never get into fights? It is essential that we need to understand that we are looking at a created life and realize that there is more to it than meets the eye.

But are we guilty of trying to make ourselves look so great that we are destroying our relationships? 

Are we letting people into our lives or are we holding them at a distance based on what we place on our social media?

Now, I am not suggesting that you should post all the terrible ugly little details of your life (please don't, or I will most likely stop following you).

Vibrant relationships cannot exist on a platform where we hold each other at arm’s distance. We need to be willing to let people beyond the facade that we post of our lives and let them see the real us.

In honesty, I have met people online, learned a bit about them, then agreed to meet face-to-face. This has resulted in some great vibrant relationships, and there is a chance I would not have met them except through the use of social media.

I encourage you to use social media as the tool that it is, but don't expect it to replace life. Social media is a tool for our life.

Social media should enhance our life, not replace it.

As the article which inspired my thoughts states:

"Let's choose community. Let's stop comparing. Let's start connecting.”
Atticus Finch's role as a Father

Years ago, I watched the old black and white Movie To Kill a Mockingbird with Gregory Peck and, while I thought it was a good story, I didn't fully appreciate it or understand why the story was a classic.

I just finished reading the book. Now that I have read the book, I can finally appreciate the movie in full. It’s strange how that works, isn’t it?

For those of you who haven't read it, it is told from the perspective of a 10 year old girl, Scout, growing up in the South during the Great Depression. The story unfolds through her eyes as she watches her father, older brother, neighbors and the Townspeople navigate the trial of a black man as it shakes their town and the vision of a so-called peaceful community.

What truly struck me as I read the book was Scout’s view of her father, Atticus Finch. The picture she drew of this man caused me to want to strive to be a better man and a better father. I believe Atticus Finch has become my favorite father figure in literature.

He's a man who took his responsibilities seriously. As I have said before, a boy becomes a man when he is willing to take on responsibility. Atticus typifies that type of manliness. He isn't the swaggering, tough talking John Wayne style of man or the larger-than-life heroic soldier charging an enemy position, he doesn't have a very prestigious occupation.

He's a quiet man, a widower, with two young children to raise. He’s a small-time defense lawyer in a small town. His most courageous actions seldom gather accolades; they often gather scorn from almost everyone who knows him. He was a well-dressed man, courteous to everyone- even the undeserving—and willing to take on the most unpleasant of tasks because no one else would.

Atticus was willing to quietly walk away when faced with insults. He saw the bigger picture that not everything was about him, when insulted he didn't find it necessary to cause a scene through defending himself which often escalates into counter attacking which he could have done but never resorted too. here he is explaining to his son why he didn't fight back when a man who had just perjured  himself, confronted and spit in Atticus's face.
"Jem see if you can stand in Bob Ewell's shoes a minute. I destroyed his last shred of credibility at that trial, if he had any to begin with. The man had to have some kind of comeback, his kind always does. So if spitting in my face and threatening me saved Mayella Ewell one extra beating, that's something I'll gladly take. He had to take it out on somebody and I'd rather it be me than that household full of children out there."

He isn't be the typical literary picture of a man, but I found myself wanting to be a man like him. His character resonated with what I strive to be. I think he is one of the greatest example of manhood, and in particular, fatherhood, in all of literature.

We see him raise his children by teaching them the importance of character. We watch him struggle as he saw his children struggling and to help them to deal with it as best he could. He didn't step in and try to fix his chilrdrens problems for them, he made them deal with their own issues but was always the one they could turn to for support.

We see him take on a job that nobody else would take on, one that would make him the most despised person in the town. We travel with him on his journey as he make decisions with courage-- decisions that would endanger himself and his family— because he knew to do what was right rather than what we easy.

Despite all of the obstacles, he still took on the task and did it to the best of his ability because he knew it was the right thing to do. That is a man.

 Atticus was known as a man who was “the same in his house as he is on the public streets.” That is something I would like said about myself.

Here are some quotes that stood out to me.

"This case, Tom Robinson’s case, is something that goes to the essence of a man’s conscience-Scout, I couldn’t go to church and worship God if I didn’t try to help that man.”
“Atticus, you must be wrong…”
“How’s that?”
“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong…”
“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”
- A discussion between Atticus and his daughter, Scout

"I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Mrs Dubose won, all ninety-eight pounds of her. According to her views, she died beholden to nothing and nobody. She was the bravest person I ever knew."
- spoken to his son, Jem by Atticus Finch

“If you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

“Do you defend niggers Atticus?” I asked him that evening.
“Of course I do. Don’t say nigger, Scout. That’s common.”
“it's what everybody else at school says.”
“From now on it’ll be everybody less one.”

“I simply want to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”
“Oh,” said Jem. “Well.”
“Don’t you oh well me, sir,” Miss Maudie replied, recognizing Jem’s fatalistic noises, “you are not old enough to appreciate what I said.”

"It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived."

Poem about moving into action

If it’s in your heart to do, then do it.
If you know that it is the right thing to do, then do it.
If there is risk involved, be careful, but do it anyway.
Don’t wait to be asked.
Don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s okay.
Don’t wait for validation before you begin.
Don’t wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself.
Don’t wait for all the lights to be green before you pull out of the driveway.
Just step out and do it.

Just do it! For more information about how to enhance your business, visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at

Handshake, potential business partners

I was recently at a entrepreneurial pitch night where people with an idea, pitch that idea to potential partners. It was a lot of fun and a great night, but afterward, I was thinking about what one should look for in a potential business partner of any kind.

The first thing to look for is passion. Without passion, why bother?

But there has to be more than passion because just like in a romantic relationship, passion is easy to come by. In marriage, it takes more than just passion to make it across the finish line.

You are looking for someone who has the character to take hard hits and overcome obstacles. Someone who will “stick with it” even when times become very challenging. You want to find someone who won’t give up in the hard times. Find someone who will really believe in the worst of times.

Someone who comes upon each challenge with hope and stamina. Avoid people who are going to feel sorry for themselves (self-pity is a huge time waster. It’s self-centered and keeps you focused on the problem instead of looking for a solution).

So here is an (admittedly incomplete) list of what to look for in a potential business partner:
1. Passion - without it, why bother?
2. Character - passion without character will often create failure
3. Stamina - Can they take hard hits and still keep coming with a good attitude?
Is there anything else I am missing? For more information about how to enhance your business, visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at
People working together for business

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford, Ford Motor Company Founder
Innovation is a social process, Yes, we can come up with ideas in isolation, but working with others helps us make them a reality. Social interaction spurs the thinking process, making us aware of problems and potentials that we may not have noticed before. Our ideas come to life as we critique and improve upon each other’s plans, but without feedback, we get stuck in a rut. We lose sight of the big picture as we spin our wheels, unable to take our ideas to the next level.

Unfortunately, fear often keeps us from sharing our ideas. What are we so worried about? Perhaps we think someone will take our ideas and run faster with them than we can. Maybe we fear the inevitable criticism that comes with opening our ideas to the world. Can we handle people critiquing our “babies?” At first it might be hard, but unless we share our ideas and risk feedback, it’s unlikely that they will ever become a reality.

So, how should we start sharing our ideas? Many turn to online forums, but internet connections can never beat face-to-face conversations and close physical proximity. When we work together in the same space, challenging ideas flow and bounce around at an accelerating pace, creating a culture of innovation.  Having lunch or coffee with other innovative people allows us to spark new ideas and refine old ones, and spending a day working together enables even more to be done.

Don't try to go it alone. We all have this image of a solitary Thomas Edison toiling away in his workshop, but what we should be visualising is the little-known group of 50+ innovators that came to work with him from all over the globe. Together, they created a culture of innovation that allowed them to literally shed light on the world. Finding other people who are innovative thinkers and getting together with them on a regular basis allows us to create an energy and buzz that can never be rivaled.

Here in West Michigan, there are several groups trying to create such an innovative culture. Hope College has a phenomenal entrepreneurial program. Grand Rapids’ Startgarden helps  startups get off their feet, providing them with funding and opening their ideas to public critique. Co-working spaces like Warehaüs in Holland host great networking events and make room for the social development of ideas every day of the week. So put yourself out there! Connect with the sort of people who bring these organizations to life. Find the ones who challenge your way of thinking the most, and work with them every day if you can. As James Cash Penney (the man who had the idea for a little thing called the department store) once said, “growth is never by mere chance; it is the result of forces working together.”
In what setting are you most effective? For more information about how to enhance your business, visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at
Tennis Shoes, buying bigger sizes

Do you remember the thrill of getting a new pair of shoes? 

As I was growing up, my mother, much like your mother probably did for you, would take me to the shoe store to buy a pair of  shoes. After trying on a few different pairs of shoes and walking around the store with them we would find a pair that we liked. Then, and only then, our mothers would give the ultimate test, the Thumb Test. Using their thumb, they would push down on the end of the toe to make sure that the shoe had plenty of what? Growing room. Why? Because they wanted to make sure that the shoes allowed for our feet to grow, rather than only being comfortable for a short time. Sound familiar?
Now that I am full grown man I no longer use this thumb test. No longer am I growing, no longer do I need the extra room. For the rest of my life I will wear the same shoe size. It is one of those limitations that God placed on these bodies of ours. I will never be any taller then I am now, I might grow a little around the middle as some of us have a tendency to do in later years, but as a general rule we are done growing —or are we? Perhaps we should look beyond the physical to our minds, our character, even our personalities. All of these were meant to keep on growing indefinitely! The great thing about life is that there are no limitations on how much we can grow and develop. Unfortunately most people don’t tap into their growth potential. Benjamin Franklin’s thoughts captured on this gravestone inscription are very true:

Most of us complete our education and we stop learning and growing. 

What a tragedy, what an utter waste of a great life! Don’t let this be you! Don’t ever stop learning; always keep growing. I want to encourage you to make yourself a lifelong learner. No matter what level your abilities are, you have more potential than you could ever realize in your lifetime!

Why do people stop growing? 

Is it a conscious choice—or more a lack of a making a choice? You see, upon reaching adulthood, most people find an “environment” that they feel comfortable in, much like a worn pair of comfortable shoes. The choice that has to be made is that of stepping out of our comfortable environment into one that is bigger than we currently are in, the same way we used to get a pair of shoes that we could grow into. Figuratively, find a pair of shoes for your mind that gives you room to grow. Step out and step up to a responsibility that is “too big” for you right now and that requires your growth in order to fulfill it. Find an environment where you are forced to grow just to keep up. Keep stepping out and stepping up for as long as you want to grow. Because you will never find a shoe for your mind so big that you cannot grow into it.
Give your life the Thumb Test; step out of your comfort zones, take on new challenges, and stretch yourself. Do things that you never thought you could do. Take on a responsibility that is more than you feel like you can handle so that you will be challenged to live up to it. Don’t ever get a pair of shoes for your life that fit you perfectly; always provide some growing room. If the shoe fits, don’t wear it. Experience once again, or maybe for the first time,the thrill of learning, of conquering! The thrill of growing into a new pair of shoes.
What size shoe are you wearing? For more information about how to enhance your business, visit my page Who & Why or send me an email at