Leveling Up

Everyone I know seems to be using this phrase lately.  I heard it while sitting in a board meeting yesterday.  It was the background message at church this Sunday with our guest speaker reminding us of the purpose of our faith.  Heck, it was even a pop up ad for my blog software this afternoon with the promise that “a new editor was coming to level up” my writing experience.  It’s everywhere, and likely for good reason.  For me, the phrase “level up” is a constant reminder to raise my game.  Sure we’ve accomplished some things in 2018, but what’s next?

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, particularly as it relates to our political and social climate.  Last year my wife and our family sacrificed a ton to go all in for a political race where we fell short of our goal.  In the process we learned so much about ourselves as a family, what we truly believe, what we’re capable of.  I believe we came out stronger as a result.  This year we watched as our country lurched towards ever more political and social division.  The thing I keep thinking about is how most of our disconnect as a society likely stems from not really taking the time to hear one another.  Really listen, and understand each other’s stories.  It’s a lot easier to shout at, discount, and demean someone whose story you don’t know or understand.  While watching the heartbreaker of our own gubernatorial race unfold with all the discord, I wonder where do we go from here?  What does leveling up socially and politically look like for those who govern and for those of us who are fed up with where things seem to be headed?

On a more personal note, I’ve thought about the implications of my local school board that has gone unchecked and unchallenged for far too long.  I know that change is possible.  I’ve seen historic accomplishments from contemporaries of mine, folks willing to challenge the status quo.  As I prepare to head into 2019, what does leveling up as a concerned and engaged parent look like when it comes to public education?

I’ve also been thinking a lot about this, particularly as it relates to my family.  For us “leveling up” this year was measured by consistently building intentional habits.  We started the year by daring ourselves to raise our game, and it’s starting to pay off.  This year our focus as a family has been on creating margin, or breathing room, with our time, health, and finances.  Our bet is that when we prioritize habits such as living a life of faith, family dinner 2-3 times a week, a weekly family movie night, volunteering together as a family, good financial habits, and healthy eating, sleeping, and exercising…this leads us to our longer term vision.  What we’ve seen as a household is that the little things add up.  I can hardly wait to see what happens next.

Of course, you can hardly attempt to level up without acknowledging the necessary battles that must be won right in front of you.  One of my favorite quotes is, we become what we want to be, by consistently being what we want to become each day.  Here’s to setting a standard and attempting to live up to it, each and every day.


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