Bob began writing his Active Energy newsletter in March of 2005. The wisdom is timeless and therefore worthy to read again.
MARCH 21, 2005
Several years ago my friend and someone I admire greatly, Rick Warren, told me I should write a weekly letter to my friends and just call it “From the Mind of Bob.” Well, several years later and technologically enabled, I am humbled that you count yourself as someone who might want to listen to what I have to say…so here goes.
From the Mind of Bob
You can’t always plan Halftime, but you can get ready for life’s pivotal events and transitions. That was Peter Drucker’s insight for me while I was working on Finishing Well. “In many cases,” he explained, “you will find that people are not planning on how to do Halftime — that comes in over the transom. But they have a pretty good idea what to do and what not to do.”
Halftime often comes unexpectedly. You get fired. You sell a business. You get a divorce. Stuff happens. You can’t even plan your age for Halftime’s arrival. Linda and I saw a stunning example last week. Tired from a long day, we had settled in to watch CNN’s Aaron Brown wrap up the day’s news. The program turned out to be a full hour’s recap of the prior week’s startling events in Atlanta. There, a 26-year-old mother, waitress and student had been held hostage at gunpoint in her apartment by a desperate Brian Nichols, who was on the run after killing four people in and around an Atlanta courthouse. It was clear to me that hostage Ashley Smith’s entire upbringing had prepared her for the situation. For her, Halftime came at age 26. Her life will never be the same.
Ashley Smith, like the fugitive who held her life in his hands, had had a difficult life. As a teen, she was arrested on suspicion of shoplifting and was given a year’s probation. Later came arrests on charges of drunken driving, speeding and battery. Her husband was stabbed to death in her presence and died in her arms. Yet this young mother, waitress and student drew upon an inner calm and her spiritual upbringing to survive the seven-hour hostage ordeal.
The Associated Press capsulized the story in its headline, “Ordeal Brought Out Hostage’s Strengths.” That reminds me of another lesson that Peter Drucker repeatedly has taught me: You spend the early part of your life developing strengths for an unexpected opportunity. A Dallas Morning News editorial described the hostage situation as follows:
“Desperate and on the run, Atlanta courthouse gunman, Brian Nichols, stood before a trembling Ashley Smith. It was the sort of confrontation that often ends in violent tragedy. Ms. Smith, however, supplanted fear of dying with uncommon grace toward Georgia’s most wanted fugitive, not grace as the synonym for poise under pressure, but grace as a spiritual connection to another’s humanity. She shared family pictures and according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, read him passages from The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren’s best selling book of Christian guidance.
“She told him he had a purpose in life.
“He told her he deserved to die.
“She told him that he must pay for his crimes, but that by ministering to other inmates ‘you can go to jail and save many more people than you killed.’ She calmly restored humanity to a person who had lost faith in his own worth.”
Rick Warren certainly didn’t write his Purpose Driven Life for this set of circumstances, but his doing so prepared both of these young people for the watershed event of their lives. Somehow, I believe that God will use both of these people for His purposes. Brian Nichols will have his chance in prison. Just recall the tremendous amount of good that resulted from Chuck Colson’s imprisonment. According to the Associated Press, Ashley Smith already has received offers for four book deals and a film project. Let’s all pray that this “over the transom” opportunity is aligned with God’s destiny for her. It seemed that way to Linda and me as we watched this astounding saga unfold on television. You can’t plan for this stuff, but you can be prepared like Ashley Smith. Even difficult things, perhaps especially the difficult things, had equipped her for the unexpected. An amazing story and it is not done yet!
So What About You?
This newsletter has little value to anyone if it doesn’t actively impact your life—if it doesn’t help you create active energy with a significant purpose. I hope you will take these questions seriously as you work to apply what you find out about yourself. Personally, I will be keeping a spiritual and intellectual journal where I answer these questions for myself.