Populie 2: Everybody’s a Winner … February 5, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

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award for participationWhen popular opinion yearns to promote an idea pleasing to the masses, that generates “warm and fuzzy feelings, ” then politics, religion and entertainment get behind the notion, propelling it forward, even if it’s necessary to create a lie or two in order to maintain the enthusiasm.

Thus, Populie.

And one of the most interesting presentations of this phenomenon is the abiding, insistent and seemingly heavenly energized commandment that “everybody’s a winner.”

  • Politics loves it because it makes the electorate feel content in itself.
  • Religion embraces it because everything can be drenched in the grace of God, and congregations don’t have to be challenged to excellence.
  • Entertainment imbues its plots with the precept because it allows them to always have the delightful Hollywood ending.

I call it “emotional marijuana.”

Put up the smoke screen of equality based upon “just what we’re doing and nothing more,” in order for everybody to munch Fritos while watching reruns of Star Trek.

But let me take you on a brief journey. May we call it a Tale of Two Stories? They are found in the Good Book. Listed twice, some people think they are the same parable being perceived by different authors. But I don’t think so.

The first rendition is a revelation about a king who goes off to a far country and leaves money behind for his servants. Each one receives–well, let us say $1,000. He gives them no instructions; merely entrusts his finance to their good care. But upon returning, they discover that he had thoroughly anticipated that they would take the funds, invest it wisely and bring back dividend.

The second story is similar–but this traveling monarch selects to give $5000 to one fellow, $2000 to another and $1000 to the remaining servant, based upon their abilities.

So here’s what I derive from these two delightful tellings:

Everyone is born with life. No one is better than anyone else.

Then culture comes along–circumstances, abuse, blessing, passion, discipline, parenting, neglect, and all other factors involved in the process of human beings growing to adulthood. It is in this phase that we develop both our abilities and our predilections.

So the truth of the matter is, if we don’t teach people to be adequately competitive, energetically involved, avidly pursuing betterment, they will make the same error as the folks in these parables from the Good Book, who hide their lives and talents due to fear of failure.

So we have a two-step process which needs to be promoted if we want to improve the planet:

  1. We need to admit that No One is better than anyone else. By birth, our Creator made us equal by giving us life.
  2. Then we must understand that without inserting a voracious desire to be successful and to use that benefit to enrich our own lives as well as the lives of others, we stall people–not only in their finance, but in their emotional, mental and spiritual ascension to the best that earthly life can offer.

The Populie is, “Everybody’s a winner–even when they lose.”

The truth is, “Everybody’s a loser if they don’t at least attempt to win.”

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Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

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Sniff and Whiff … December 2, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

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scratch and sniff“That stinks.”

Two words normally thrust together when we are in a mood to express our displeasure over some event or individual.

Matter of fact, often we talk about the “smell of success,” so it’s safe to assume that failure has its own distinctive odor. If you think about it, being a human being, you can certainly sniff the whiff of doom, compromise and defeat on another person.

So how do we keep that unpleasant aroma from permeating every pore of our being? There are many schools of thought. The normal diagnosis for such weakness is to express confidence in ourselves and let that exude from our beings as evidence of our pending victory.

But over the years I have learned that confidence leaks and flat-out dumps its load of joy whenever confronted with unexpected difficulty. So some of the more boisterous and bold individuals I have known turned into real chickens–cluckers–in the heat of the frying pan.

Equally as useless is false humility, where we pretend to be modest while secretly storing up a ton of self-assurance to allegedly release at just the right moment when surrounded by trial and tribulation. It’s just another disguise.

There is a path that does remove the stench of inadequacy while also realistically assessing our abilities without either diminishing our capacity or over-reporting our statistics.

“I can’t, yet I do, so I will.”

These are the three ingredients that make us appealing to fellow-travelers, while also keeping balance in our own lives.

1. “I can’t.”

Some folks consider this to be negative, but actually, it’s humility. The gift of knowing your true talents while also being aware of your weaknesses through trial and error is the greatest gift you can give to a comrade–and an endearing one, at that.

Candidly, a truthful person always has the potential of doing more. A liar is stuck with his or her promises.

2. “Yet I do.”

“Even though I have discovered areas of lack, I have taken the time to acquire expertise and am consistently bearing fruit.”

Merely saying “you can’t” without producing something you can do is to be a loser. But knowing what you can’t do while pointing to obvious successes that you’re presently pursuing is balanced human thinking.

3. “So I will.”

I will what? “I will continue to do what I do well, while expressing my energy to humbly try something new.”

This is the trio of emotions that make us appealing to one another–because we say right out loud, “I have a weakness, I have a passion and I have a willingness.”

There is nobody who can counteract, contradict or criticize such candor.

So as you go about your business, especially during this holiday season, don’t be afraid to report your can’t quotient as you give a tally on what you are doing, and also express a desire to pursue more.

This is the sniff of a whiff that lets other human beings know they can draw close … instead of pulling away, repulsed.

The producers of jonathots would humbly request a yearly subscription donation of $10 for this wonderful, inspirational opportunity

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Click for details on the SpirTed 2014 presentation

Please contact Jonathan’s agent, Jackie Barnett, at (615) 481-1474, for information about scheduling SpiriTed in 2014.

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

click to hear music from Spirited 2014

Acts-I-Dent… May 22, 2013

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dentAmazing grace is only amazing if it helps us find a way to stop being so stupid.

Even though I am very grateful for grace, mercy and forgiveness, somewhere along the line, I would like to grow up, mature a little bit and not always be standing in the bread line of neediness. If you don’t agree with this, I understand. There are many religious AND non-religious people who find submission to inadequacy to be appealing–or maybe even the definition of humble. I happen to think that you don’t get the CHANCE to be humble until you do something great.

So you see, on Monday when I backed my van into a truck, denting my door (see above picture), I did not feel humbled by the experience because I did NOT achieve anything great.

What I would like to describe is the process my brain unleashed following this little piece of idiocy. When I felt the thump of making contact with the pick-up truck, I thought:

1. “Oh, crap.” Truthfully, it wasn’t crap–but for the sake of discussion, let us keep that word. It is my normal reaction to difficulty. I have not become a supernatural being who welcomes adversity because it builds patience and character.

2. “Oh, no.” The realization came very quickly: I was entering a world of insurance companies, phone numbers, complaints–and fussiness. I hate those places. Sometimes I pursue extra work just to make sure I don’t have to do THAT work. So realizing I was now in an unwelcome realm, I moved to:

3. “Oh–who or what  can I blame?” Let’s be honest–no one wants to look like a loser, so even when we do loser things, we want to make sure that everybody thinks we are winners doing loser activities. To achieve that requires some back-pedaling and manipulation of the story. But since I don’t like to blam eother people for my mistakes, I had a fourth notion, which was:

4. “Oh. Where can I run?” I don’t have very good legs at this point, so escaping the scene of the accident was unlikely (unless I was being trailed by a herd of turtle-constables). So in that split second, when all these conflicting thoughts were jockeying for attention, the first viable inclination surfaced:

5. “Oh. I’m not gonna lie.” I was not going to tell the guy I hit that it was his fault because he hit my rear end. I’ was not going to tell my friends in the van that it was their fault because they distracted me. The cleanliness of that notion quickly took me to:

6. “Oh, It’s my fault.” Okay, okay–no one likes to say it. But the sooner we get to that freeway of understanding, the faster we can exit from our calamity. It was my fault. I can give you excuses. I can tell you I was tired. I can tell you I should have already been in my room instead of out shopping. I might even get your sympathy. But my series of explanations would never get your respect.

It was my fault. And I have the dent to prove it.

That wonderful admission to myself brought about another reassuring ointment to my mind and heart:

7. “Oh–I’ll survive.” I always have. There’s no reason to think this is the one that’ll take me down. Not until I am unconscious, flying away to eternity, will I run across a problem which is beyond my power–based upon my willingness to adjust.

I was not proud of my stupidity. I don’t ask God’s grace to cover it. God’s pretty busy in Oklahoma right now. What I want is to tell you is that the Acts that I put forth Dented my van.

It was me. I am better because I survived the seven-step process–which only lasted two or three seconds in my mind–to finally land in the reality that I will “never be left nor forsaken.

Stop being afraid of the truth and give yourself a chanceto be made free.

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I’m Looking For… A Pleasant Planner February 1, 2013

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listWedged somewhere between the pesky pusher and the lazy loser is the delightful individual who purposely discovers ways and means to be a pleasant planner.

Although many individuals hate to admit it,we all do realize that some sort of organization is necessary in order to avoid … well, to avoid disorganization. Life is way too short to have to constantly peer at the rear end of people who have passed you by because they had an idea on how to follow through. Here’s what to avoid in the pursuit of a goal:

1. Don’t be too serious. If joy is our strength, then nagging is our death. Being somber in an aspiration communicates dissatisfaction and certainly does nothing to recruit followers.

2. Don’t be too involved. If you have your fingers in EVERY pie, no one wants to eat your pastries. Sooner or later you have to trust people to do something even if you believe it may amount to nothing.

3. Don’t take too long. Anything that takes over an hour needs to have a reprieve. I have heard directors tout the importance of three-hour rehearsals, but I will tell you–they only got sixty minutes of productivity out of it. Every human being needs a break after the hour hand goes around once.

4. Don’t be too boring. Some propagators insist that a certain level of tedium is necessary to prove sincerity and that we’re grown up about the vision. Good luck with that.

And finally …

5. Don’t be too strict. I know the old saying is “close enough for Hoyle,” but since nobody knows what that means, could we change it to “close enough for human?” Be prepared for people to fall short. In the movies, strictness is always portrayed as wrong, annoying and punishable. You might want to take a more cinematic approach.

Here’s what I think goes into becoming a pleasant planner:

1. Keep it simple. Just about the time you think it’s too childlike, you need to knock off a couple more steps from the directions. We are human beings. We like to celebrate. Establish benchmarks along the way where partying is possible.

2. Be ready to change. Even the Ten Commandments had to be amended. God knew that we human beings would never be able to follow anything past Number 1. That’s why, at the end of the Good Book it says “love your neighbor as yourself.” If you pull that off, you have done your part.

3. Laugh at your lack. There is one certainty in every project–it will run out of both energy AND money. If you’re not prepared for that you shouldn’t begin. A good sense of humor about falling short of the glory of your aspirations is the beginning of energizing future accomplishment.

4. Have fun getting it done. When you remove the excitement from life, you take the blood out of the body. For a little while it still looks like it’s human, but gradually, without blood flow, it starts to decay and stink. If you take the pleasure out of progress, everything around you will die and develop a stench.

5. Learn and burn. Learn what works and burn away everything that doesn’t. That means that a lot of things on your original list will have to be dumped along the roadside. You only look stupid if you become sentimental about things that are no longer valuable. You look like a genius when you follow through on the plans that do bear fruit.

Yes, I am looking for a pleasant planner.

I am looking to follow someone who tells me that my burden is easy and the weight is light.

To tell people anything else is to scare them away from following and chase them down the road … into obscurity.

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Beautiful … August 16, 2012

  • Loser — Part 3
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I am not beautiful.

I have known this for some time. Ever since I realized that the mirror before me was a reflecting piece of glass instead of a gateway to find Alice, I have been fairly aware of my status. What astounds me is the evolution that has occurred in the reaction I receive from people when making that simple statement. When I was a kid, if I said, “I am not beautiful,” the response from those around me would be, “Well, who is?” But now there’s a severe emotional handicap that causes people to literally rebuke me if I happen to be candid about my obvious condition. To say “I’m not beautiful” is considered poor self-worth, a blemish on self-esteem.

So nowadays, human beings,rather than finding a way to be truthful about their own feelings in situations, have to hide them behind a mask of verbal propriety, which literally requires that we always put their best foot forward and never become critical of their situations. Now, I might be impressed with this if it actually made better people. But instead, it creates haughtiness, a defensive nature and a whole lot of cover-up about what we know to be true.

I arrived early for my gig last night, so I found a secluded section of the parking lot and sat, enjoying the beauty of the day. Directly in front of my eyes was a patch of weeds which the landscaper had obviously ignored or had not yet put on his daily list of activities. I thought to myself, how do I know these are weeds? They’re perfectly green–just like other plants. They’re growing like …well… like a weed. Some of them even had little flowers on them, to increase the possibility for approval. But I knew they were weeds, and because I had this knowledge, I judged them harshly. It made me laugh. Basically, I am a weed.

Here I was, sitting in the parking lot of this strange church, ready to go in to set up my equipment and do my presentation–and I can tell you of a certainty, after forty years of performing, I am still not confident of my own ability. I am never sure I have enough. Truthfully, I do not know why anyone would want to listen. I am aware of the many distractions that leap before the human eye, to draw people away to other pursuits. Lots of folks would think it’s ridiculous for me to be so insecure about what I do, which they would tell me is done quite well.

But the answer is simple:

  • I have lost
  • I can lose
  • And therefore I am acquainted with being a loser.

That particular three-pronged passage would cause many people to be critical of me, telling me that I need to have more confidence and be more assertive. But it’s just not true. If I wrote in this jonathots that I’m a winner, that I can’t lose and that I have never been a loser, you might nod your head because society tells you that such proclamations have become appropriate.

But honestly, part of you would despise me. None of us like arrogant people, even when their conceit has some basis in reality. We want our geniuses to admit to moments of stupidity. We want our beauty queens to share a story about their battle with pimples. We want our politicians to admit they made a mistake, and therefore they are flip-flopping towards a more enlightened conclusion. I think we’re all grateful for a God who destroyed the world with a flood, but then turned around and admitted He was sorry He did it.

There is no power in being beautiful. There is no warmth in proclaiming your superiority. Anyone who would get in a van and travel across this country meeting strangers every single week, should be a little uncertain of the conclusions. If he or she isn’t, they are just self-deluded and overwrought about their own talents.

I believe I am valuable to God and other people because I know I’m not beautiful. I cannot stand in front of an audience with a straight face and tell them that all of my choices, ideas and ventures have been successful. They haven’t.

But until we understand that weakness, losing and even being a loser is a part of this experience on our cruise of earth, we will be in danger of either becoming obnoxious or just outright liars.

Because I am not beautiful and I am a loser, here’s what I do:

1. I work on my heart–my emotions. I want them pure.  I try the best I can to make sure that what I tell people is the closest thing to the truth as I see it now.

2. I also put my soul on notice that it is not allowed to be pompous or religious. My soul has two jobs–to be grateful to God and free of condemnation of others.

3. Because I know I’m a loser, I renew my mind by keeping it young, contemporary and evolving it towards discovering things that I don’t presently know.

4. And when it comes to my body, what I can do–my best choice–is to perform as well as I can without looking ridiculous. That’s it.

Trying to keep from being a loser is forsaking your humanity and attempting to make yourself a God among your peers. But when you’re able to admit you’re a loser and you work on your heart to keep it pure, your soul to be grateful and free of condemnation, your mind to be young and evolving and your body, to do the best it can without “jumping the shark,” you will have fellowship with many people and be of value to the world around you.

I am not beautiful–and by the way … I am so glad.

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The Missing Interview … August 14, 2012

  • Loser — Part 1
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During the Olympics, when they had an interview with visitors to London about the various styles of fish and chips, you realized that they had reached the end of possibilities for making the event any more marketable. After all, seventeen days is a long time. Even when you’re talking about athletes from 204 nations converging on a single city in an action of sporting pleasure and worldwide unity, it still loses some of its glimmer when you cross about twelve days–especially when you consider the rewards system.

Because in the midst of all that coverage, there are many interviews with many people who are participating and later winning in the games. I listened to them intently and like everyone else, was deeply impressed with those athletes who won gold medals, especially in multiples. I found it somewhat interesting when they would have a conversation with a particular sportsman from a small nation who won a silver medal which ended up being the only one his country acquired.

But the obvious missing interview was the discourse with the individual who, through much effort and training, was able to win four bronze medals.

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on displa...

A set of 1998 Winter Olympics medals on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yes, for some reason or another, NBC, which certainly became desperate for feature stories, still did not consider a third-place finisher who had achieved it several times to be worthy of air time. Perhaps the Olympics was the beginning of the notion that prizes should be given not only to the winner, but also to those who come close.I’m sure I would feel differently if I was an athlete at the Olympic Village, but somehow or another, bronze leaves me cold. I’m not particularly thrilled with silver. And I know that I’m not alone here. Because even though they do tally the silver and bronze medals, it is worse than an afterthought, but rather, a necessity brought to our attention because the Olympic Committee decided to offer also-ran prizes.

Yes–the missing interview is with that guy or gal who won the most bronze medals. It’s just difficult to celebrate their position. It would be similar to attending a party of an individual who lost on Jeopardy! who decided to be festive by inviting all of his friends to his house to indulge in enjoying the Rice-a-Roni he got for third prize. It leaves something to be desired.

It’s not that I’m saying that people who come in third in the Olympics are mediocre. It’s just that we need to stop trying to make people feel that they have achieved what they really haven’t. All of us are trying to escape self-deception, and it doesn’t help when the world around us encourages it.

If you won a bronze medal, you’ve really lost. Maybe you came to London to win bronze. I guess that’s possible. But somewhere along the line in your training, even if you were pursuing third place, you would have a particularly good day of exercise and begin to believe that first place was possible–so therefore, disappointment is inevitable.

The only thing we all share in common is that we’re all, at one time or another, losers.

In other words, we lose. There are three deadly reactions to losing that eliminate us from further human contact: (1) anger–an abstract sense that life sucks and is not fair; (2) excuses–going through a litany of possible explanations of why you didn’t get gold; and (3) resignation–“oh, well, it was just never meant to be” or worse yet, “it was just God‘s will.” All three of those positions drive other human beings away like an odor hanging in the air from a busted port-a-potty.

What do you do when you’ve got five bronze medals that accurately telegraph to the world that you’re a loser?

1. Be grateful you’re healthy. In the pursuit of gold, you became a phenomenal physical specimen. Amazing. You are in a tiny percentile.

2. Realize that you got to play with the best. There is a difference between winning first place at your high school talent show and coming in third on American Idol. The difference is that you have a clear understanding of what it means to bark with the top dogs.

3. Know that you got to be part of something great. For the rest of your life you will get to say that you competed in the Olympics. Now, there’s always some jerk who will ask you if you won any medals. After about a year, bronze will start sounding better and better.

4. You learned what you can do and what you can’t. The beginning to all future success is putting your abilities to the test and finding out where you leak. You can plug the leaks or you can avoid exposing them. Either way, you’ve got information.

5. You can take the adventure and rather than experiencing humiliation, mature it into humility. When we are not ashamed of what we’ve done, we can be honest about our place in life. It gives us a humility that makes us attractive to our fellow-travelers. It is a benefit you receive only when you don’t win the gold.

So there you go. Even though there was a missing interview with that bronze champion, he or she will come out of the experience having been surrounded by the same intensity, beauty, power, fellowship and pageantry as all those who won gold.

It’s just a matter of taking the best from every experience and using it to increase your next possibility.

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