Why Chariots of Fire Remains One of My Favorite Movies
Bring me my Bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my Spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of fire!
-William Blake, “Jerusalem”
I was a single seminary student in 1981 when I passed a bulletin board poster for the film Chariots of Fire. Rex Reed called it “A masterpiece.” Vincent Canby described it as “an exceptional film. Unashamedly rousing, invigorating.”
I figured it was on the seminary bulletin board for a reason, so I bit.
I’ve been smitten ever since. Through 32 years of marriage, three kids, 8 grandchildren, and various twists through life, that movie with its iconic 80s soundtrack and cast of young dreamers still captures my imagination. But only recently have I stopped to consider, at the urging of counselor and life coach Dwight Bain why this film still resonates nearly 35 years later.
I don’t care whether you love it, hate it, or have never even seen it. Behind the partly-fictionalized story of Great Britain’s 1924 Olympic team lies the epic question that challenges anybody who ever aspired to anything:
Why do you do it?
I won’t rehash the details of the plot which you can easily find here or here. I’ll just say that four characters in the film reflect four driving motivations. At any given time, any of these characters can represent my driving force for what I do, and each has its place. These motive checks allow me to consider whether my “why” is useful to my life purpose and goals.
In other words, I may be doing the right things, but for impotent reasons.
Why do you do what you do? [click to continue…]
I want to tell you about Wayne.
Wayne is a painter, and he’s doing some painting at my house.
He’s very friendly, has great rates and does fabulous work.
But that’s not what’s remarkable about Wayne.
What’s remarkable is that he loves to paint.
Now I’ve painted for money before.
I don’t love to paint.
I’ve painted for free before.
Verdict is the same.
Wayne? He’s crazy. [click to continue…]
Ever have a conversation like this?
Whatever happened to ________? I really thought he was going places.
Not sure. Ever since [insert a distracting or demoralizing event] he never was quite the same.
I’ve witnessed countless scenarios like that one. I even lived out a few of them.
The idea of leadership is that you’re influencing people, formally or informally, to move together toward a certain goal. If it were easy, anybody could do it. But because you’re dealing with people, and because leadership often involves matters of the heart, it’s easy to find yourself sucked into leadership quicksand.
At best, it’s a distraction and you lose focus.
At worst, it can paralyze and ultimately destroy your influence.
Here are 10 sloughs to avoid (or get out of today) to allow your leadership to see another day: [click to continue…]
Here’s a good conversation starter for you. If you could identify one thing in a prospective leader that would ensure success, what would it be?
Or if you are currently in a place of influence, what’s the one thing you should strive for, today and every day?
Let the suggestions roll in… discussions like these will yield stand-by favorites such as vision, compassion, examples, character, communication, inspiration, encouragement and the like. All good answers.
It probably wouldn’t surprise you to know there’s a Bible answer for that. In fact, there are several, if you dig deeply enough. But there’s one place where the Bible – particularly the Apostle Paul – addresses leaders. And there he could have used any word in the language of his day to challenge them. So what one word did he use? See for yourself: [click to continue…]
There’s a certain kind of tired, a certain kind of strain
A certain season of get-it-done-now
When it’s a good thing that some things run on autopilot.
Otherwise, I may just forget to breathe.
But then You specialize in keeping my whole world turning
My light still burning, My heart still yearning –
And after all these years I’m still learning
To trust and know You’re there. [click to continue…]
Sitting on the back porch this morning, watching Thomas G. Glavine. Not the famous pitcher for the Braves and some other nameless team, but the yellow-striped cat named in his honor. The G. doesn’t really stand for anything – that’s just something we tossed in there for good measure.
Glavine is a world-class mouser and extraordinary bird hunter. He’s almost 11 years old and may have lost a step or two, but don’t tell the birds that. A dove was sitting on top of the 10-foot fence this morning, and Glavine went to work. His tail started swirling back and forth. He waited and watched for the perfect moment. Then he made an epic, heroic leap off the patio table and landed eye-to-eye with the bird, tail still swirling.
Well, the dove flew off and lived to see another day, and the cat went on the prowl for other prospects. And the Lord and I had a little talk about what I had just witnessed.
See, before his feet made the leap to the top of the fence, his heart was leaping at the sight of the bird. [click to continue…]
Don’t confuse your business with your delivery system.
What do you mean?
Your “business” is the value you bring to people. Your delivery system is the way you deliver it.
Okay… I’m still not sure I get what you’re saying.
Okay, let illustrate it. Let’s pretend it’s the year 1900, and you own one of the dominant businesses of the day – a railroad company. What’s your business?
AAAANNNNK! You lose. Twenty years from now you’ll be out of business and replaced with trucks. Anyway, who gets up in the morning wishing somebody would give them a bunch of steel and cross timbers? Let’s try it again. What business are you in?
Good. You may survive this after all.
Okay that makes sense, I suppose. But I’m not a business owner.
Of course you are. [click to continue…]
There seems to be a for Dummies book for everything – over 1,600 titles and growing. They must be doing something right. For 20 years, Wiley has published “a reference for the rest of us” covering such far-ranging titles as running a bar, acne, Windows, and wikis. There’s one for Christian prayer and yes, one for leadership. The premise for each of the books is always the same: keep it simple and clear, offer cheat sheets, keep it light-hearted, and give easy-to-comprehend “get in, get out” tips.
With all due respect, maybe it’s time for a different approach. Maybe instead of presuming ignorance and moving up from there, somebody should presume that he or she is writing to geniuses.
They just may not know it yet.
Nowhere is that more real than in the area of leadership. Often both leaders and non-leaders approach the subject as if becoming a leader is a power we gain to overcome weaknesses, information we gather to overcome ignorance, or favor we gather to overcome anonymity.
But what if you already had the power, the understanding, or the favor? What if you’re already a leader, but just didn’t know it because nobody ever seems to recognize your unique genius? What if you’re beating your head against the wall trying to get better in an area where you routinely stink it up – all the while ignoring or running from areas of your greatest power and influence?
Maybe it really is time for a different approach. How about Leadership for Geniuses? [click to continue…]
You don’t have to read through this site very long to figure out that music flavors a lot of my thinking. I often tell people that I almost always have a song on my mind, and it’s often very random. (I’d rather not tell you what song is there right now, but it does have the phrase “freakin weekend” in it).
Hey, I never said they were all spiritual.
Like a lot of people, I love the idea of new ways of expressing things – of what the Bible calls “singing a new song to the Lord.” And I get tired pretty quickly of rehashing the same-old same-old.
That said, there are some songs that defy time and never seem to lose their place in the hearts of people. They may not be on this week’s Billboard Top 100, but they never lose their ability to capture the imagination and connect to the soul. They’re the songs we can sing forever.
For example, my grandmother absolutely loved music. She loved to sing it, play it, and hear it. But something completely changed in her countenance when somebody started in on “Amazing Grace.” It was a song she could sing forever. [click to continue…]
We live in a disposable culture. “Old” has been redefined by phone companies in terms of seconds, and kommitment has been karikatured by kertain kelebrities as a multimillion-dollar hoax. And in a culture where the official religion is the Church of Relative Truth, disposing of beliefs or vows is old news.
Science has made recycling possible, but we’ve taken the plunge with some things – and people – that never should have been “cycled” in the first place. It’s one thing to recycle McDonald’s napkins; recycling children is another story. And some people recycle relationships with little more care than they might recycle motor oil or a milk jug.
Of course, some things should be disposed of, either because they’ve satisfied their purpose or because they hinder our growth and progress. Henry Cloud, in his must-read book Necessary Endings, says,
“Getting to the next level always requires ending something, leaving it behind, and moving on. Growth demands that we move on. Without the ability to end things, people stay stuck, never becoming who they are meant to be, never accomplishing all that their talents and abilities should afford them.”
We can’t be free to let go, however, until we have some clear life anchors – those beliefs, relationships, and commitments that keep us grounded and pointed in the right direction. Simply put, there are some things you should never let go of. The question is, how do you know what to throw away and what to keep? What’s the difference between a relationship or belief that serves as an anchor and one that is more like a ball-and-chain?
Here’s where I would start in your search for life anchors: [click to continue…]