Use Your Influence (No Matter How Old You Are Or Whatever The Circumstances)

A lesson from Akira Kurosawa's "Ikiru" (1952)

There is a concept that floats around a lot in the 21st century that, although it has good intentions, has been turned into something that I don’t think is very hopeful and encouraging for the human spirit.

The idea of “running out of time”, “being too old”, “being past your prime.”

It doesn’t leave a good taste in my mouth.

I understand the spirit in which these warnings may be given. Don’t squander your time or your resources.

Unfortunately, there is a negative effect that comes with this. People may feel that they have lost their opportunities in life, that the train has passed them by and all they can do at this point is throw in the towel.

I say: NO, NO, NO!!!!

You always have the ability to make an impact.

With this in mind, I remembered a great movie that example of using your influence and current skills, no matter what circumstance you may be dealing with…

“Ikiru” is a 1952 film by the great Japanese director Akira Kurosawa who is know for “The Seven Samurai”, “Yojimbo”, “Rashomon” or “Ran” to name just a few. Though “Ikiru” may be overlooked, it has a powerful message that inspires one to move forward with our work and our influence, no matter how small it may be.


The film tells the story of a longtime Tokyo bureaucrat who has lived a life of routine and boredom.

His life is drastically changed when he discovers that he has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. At first there are waves of shock, fear, sadness and self-pity that overwhelm him. This transitions into an appreciation of life around him. But the last section of the film is that which truly inspired me.

This dying man has the realization that although his time is short he can try to make a difference in his own small way before he passes away. I would encourage you to watch the film if you get a chance. I won’t spoil the story for you, but his work makes an impact in the community and effects his younger co-workers to model his action.

“Ikiru” (which means “To Live”) reminds us that no matter how small our world is, or how restrictive our environment, there is something that we have control or influence over. We must find the strength, the support and hope to take action and make a difference.


Survive Without a Smartphone [Podcast]

In this episode of “The Discussion with Kevin Gregg”, Kevin recounts to Jeremy his experience of not using his smartphone for a few days while he was out of town earlier this year.

In this episode you will learn

  • how to set yourself for success while your smartphone is off
  • dealing with the withdrawals of not picking up the phone and unplugging from screen time
  • the benefits that come once you put the smartphone down


References in this episode:

Previous article How I Survived the Weekend Without My Smartphone

How to set yourself up for a successful night’s sleep

Deep Work by Cal Newport

The idea of subtracting yourself from social media

Creativity comes through restriction, limitation and simplification

Jeremey tells an awesome story of get down to bare bones of something with drumming with                     Peter Erskine

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.


Hope In Slovenia – How Performing Arts Students Taught Me Life Lessons

A trip halfway around the world revealed some great insight

I recently returned from a trip to Slovenia where I worked with Josiah Venture’s Performing Arts Camp program with Slovene teens and young adults. The experience was life changing.


Hope in Slovenia with these incredible students

Not only was I in a beautiful part of the world, but I was getting to help young men and women who don’t often get the chance to express themselves in the arts. The program creates an encouraging atmosphere that helps to push these young people forward while providing an opportunity to talk about troubles and hardships they may be experiencing in their personal and spiritual lives.

I was so grateful for the opportunity and I learned some valuable lessons, not only from the program, but from these brave young men and women.

Here are my takeaways:

1. If you have a support system around you, you can stretch yourself farther than you thought possible
We worked with these kids over the course of a week to put up a 90 min show filled with drama, singing, dancing and instrumental challenges. For some of these kids, it was the first time they had performed a certain disciplines. It was not an easy task, yet they knew they were in an atmosphere that would support them through this. The result: outstanding.

The most inspiring moments came when you saw the transformation of students who started the week doubting they could get though the process. But slowly, with support and encouragement from teachers and fellow students, they grew stronger and more confident in a discipline day by day. By the final performance a week later they performed like professional artists.

I find myself a week later realizing that I need to do the same thing in my own life. How many times have I talked myself out of moving forward with a project, letting the fear of the struggle keep me from taking forward motion. If a young man who has never done musical choreography can proudly do a group combination a week later in front of friends and family, then what is holding me back?

A key element is to make sure that I have the support and encouragement of mentors and fellow travelers along the way. In community, wonderful results can appear.

2. It’s not about me.

Years ago I read Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life”.  The opening line of that book is “It’s not about you.”

What a counter-cultural thought, particularly in a day and age where we are constantly focused on self and self-improvement.

One of the challenges that Warren issues in that book, is that at some point in life, everyone should go on a mission to help others. It’s something that I had thought about for a long time with my wife. We weren’t sure what the opportunity would be. We had thoughts of going to Africa, or possibly going to Mexico to help build a house. When the opportunity come along to go to Slovenia and use my abilities and skills as a teacher and director,I couldn’t have received a better gift.

What’s more, when you are in the middle of a different country, you realize that there is need . I may not be able to fix it all, but I can do my little part. The written word cannot express the moments of joy that I experienced. An experience like this can dramatically snap any of my own aspirations quickly into focus. Life, just focused on my own needs and my own rewards, is not life at all. Life is meant for helping others and I am so grateful to these students for showing me the way.

3. Dreaming about the possibilities is a good thing… as long as you act

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day activities of life. You keep looking at what’s in front of you that you forget why you are doing it.

Imagination is a wonderful tool given to us by God. It makes us ponder the “What If” in life. That “What If” is even better when, with God’s grace and courage, we start to realize “Why Not?”
I used to have dreams and aspirations about traveling the world. But I got hit by a couple of decades worth of opportunities and challenges. Slowly over time I left the drift of everyday life, cause me to put those dreams on the shelf until an undefined “someday.”

After my experience in Slovenia, I know that there are some incredible experiences ahead. I want to help this new family of students and friends in Slovenia. I want my children to finally meet their family and relatives in Ireland. I want to experience beautiful places in the world with my wife and sons. And I don’t have to do it just as a tourist. I can do it with purpose.

When I returned from my experience, I didn’t come back with a beautiful sad ending. I came back having had an ember stoked inside of me. That ember that reminded me of dreams from long ago and stirred the new sparks of “what else is possible.”


Again, I am so grateful for these students and for the Slovene and American teams involved with Josiah Venture and Cross Point Community Church. I pray that you get to have an experience that can rekindle those flames. My first suggestion, think about someone you could help using your talents, and then go do it… If there is a willing heart, who knows where God will lead you. I am grateful it sent me into a community of nearly 50 people who are now a part of my family and my heart.

Season 2 Episode 4 Hope (Podcast)

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

Hope… it’s essential to keep us moving forward.

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about hope and that future that lies ahead.


Hope Image Copyright convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

In this episode:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

Season 2 Episode 4 Hope (Podcast)

There is light at the end of the tunnel... so keep going

“There are far, far better things ahead than any we leave behind.” C.S. Lewis

Hope… it’s essential to keep us moving forward.

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about hope and that future that lies ahead.


Hope Image Copyright convisum / 123RF Stock Photo

In this episode:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.

Season 2 Episode 3 Envy (Podcast)

In this episode of “The Discussion” Kevin and Jeremy talk about a very powerful feeling that may be holding you back: envy.


Whether it’s feeling envious of people at work, in your social circles or even on Facebook, Kevin and Jeremy explore this negative emotion that may be holding you back.

In this episode:

  • We identify why you may be feeling this way
  • Explore what “Facebook Envy” is
  • We talk about 3 things you can do to combat this feeling (as well as two extra tips that can change your attitude right away)

Other mentions:

Enjoy the show and PLEASE help us spread the word. Rate and review us on Itunes and Stitcher.


The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living

This FREE eBook will explore why you need to follow your creative drive.

You just have thaFive Reasons Creative Workt feeling…

You may have a job that pays the rent, the mortgage, the bills.

But you know this isn’t it… there’s something else you are supposed to be doing. Something that’s creative.

You keep talking yourself out of it.

“That was when I was a kid.” “It’s irresponsible.” “It’s not the smart thing to do.”

But that feeling doesn’t go away…

In my new eBook “The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living”
I dive into why you need to move forward with that feeling that is pulling at you.
Do the creative work you were meant for.

Enter your email to get your FREE COPY of my eBook "The Five Reasons You Need To Do Creative Work For A Living"

Watch Your Mouth

What you say, both good and bad, can have an effect on you.

It’s not always puppies and unicorns with everything going your way. There are no promises that everything in this life is supposed to be perfect. There are trials.

But what are you saying when you’re going through a difficult trial?

You’ve got to watch your mouth.

There’s no denying that we can have a negative verbal reaction when we receive bad news. It’s like hitting your finger with a hammer… there’s likely to be some colorful language to come out.

There’s a danger, however, in letting negative words continually flow out of you. Rick Warren has a great observation with this. Anger is not something that when you fill up with it, you just let it out and get rid of it. Anger is a little more dangerous than that. When it starts coming out of us, it’s like a machine that can keep producing more and more and more anger. It’s like turning on the switch to the Negative Emotion Factory. This is the same factory that can produce plenty of other negative emotions: sadness, envy, resentment, self-pity.

There is nothing wrong with talking about troubles that you’ve gone through. Keep in mind that words fuel your feelings, both negative and positive.

Years ago I used to have a constant phrase I would use when people would ask me how I was.

“I’m exhausted.”

It was my way of letting people know how hard I was working and how I was juggling all the challenges of work, family and personal life. I said it ALL the time.

Until my wife corrected me after we went to a friend’s party. She had overheard a number of my interactions with other people that night, and the only thing I kept saying was how I exhausted I was. It wasn’t painting our life in a very positive way.
After the party that night, I made a concentrated effort to remove the phrase “I’m exhausted” or “I’m tired” out of my vocabulary. Here’s the strange thing… several weeks later after not saying these phrases, I actually started feeling more rested and energetic. My negative phrase and been physically and emotionally running me into the ground for months.

I challenge you not only watch your mouth with the negative thoughts and emotions, but to replace those words with  phrases that will build you up.

“And a small rudder makes a huge ship turn wherever the pilot chooses to go, even though the winds are strong. In the same way, the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches. But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire.” James 3:4-5 (NLT)

Perhaps the negative emotions that you are feeling are really a disguised call for help. Try flipping those words of frustration into “I’m in a rough spot and I need some guidance, direction and support.” There’s a very good chance someone will hear your call and give you the support you need.

What negative phrases do you find yourself automatically saying? How could you flip that into a positive? Share your thoughts on my Facebook page.

Learn to Say No

Make sure that you are saying "yes" to the right opportunities in life.

You want to make everyone happy. You don’t want to let anyone down.

You want to stretch yourself and grow, but instead you find yourself worn out and exhausted.

There may even be a part of your faith which makes you think that you must say “yes” to every request that comes your way because it is your duty.

Even though there may be good intentions with saying “yes”, it is not always the best thing to do.

We have to learn to say “no”.

There are only a set amount of hours in the day and week. In that week, we have to sleep, eat, enjoy our family, friends and loved ones in addition to work and other responsibilities.

When we say “yes” to something, we are impacting these areas of our lives.

In his book “Essentialism“, Greg McKeown talks about this concept. When we don’t say “no” we are saying “yes” to something else by default. That’s not good. Because now all of our time energy and effort is being spent on tasks that we weren’t supposed to be doing in the first place.

I know this first hand.

Back in 2005, I left my work at The Disneyland Resort to pursue acting in commercials full tme. But I didn’t have a plan. We had some money as a buffer, but I just thought opportunities would present themselves.

Well, several things presented themselves. However, it wasn’t what I expected.

I found myself getting over involved in my sons’ school, since I was now a “stay at home dad.” My continual automatic volunteering led me to overextend myself. I couldn’t say no. All of my energy and effort was now being put into projects where people would ask for help. My default answer of “yes” resulted in a never ending cycle of getting frustrated, stretching myself too thin and leaving me with no time to look for work. Our funds soon depleted. I was very fortunate to be allowed back to my work at Disneyland, but I learned a valuable lesson.

You can’t say “Yes” to everything. No matter how important it seems.

I learned another valuable lesson from McKeown’s “Essentialsim” about making decisions. Ask yourself, “What percentage do I feel like this is the right thing to do?” I’ve had opportunities that have come my way where I felt “Yeah, I feel like that’s about 60% the right thing to do.” That number doesn’t sound so bad…why not, it’s more than 50% right?


What it we took that same percenetage of 60% and looked at it as a score on a test? It would be an F or D minus grade at best.

And that’s a life decision! Why would we accept failing grades in our life decisions?

If you are not feeling 90% or more regarding a decision, if it’s not an automatic “YES!!!! I WANT TO DO THAT, BE A PART OF THAT!” then don’t agree to it.

It’s not easy to say “no”, but remember you are making room for that “yes” that can lead to the things you really want to be doing in your life.

Where are areas of your life that you are having a difficult time saying “no”? Let me know on my Facebook page.

Running Away From Fear: A Lesson from the Dentist

Went to the dental hygienist and was in and out in 40 minutes. It was an easy visit.

That was not the case as recently as five years ago. I used to be petrified. I’d have to get myself mentally and spiritually prepared for a visit to the dentist.

I had terrible experiences as a child at the dentist’s office. I won’t go into the terrible details, but it really did a number on me mentally. It took me decades to get over this. I had a couple a decent experiences in my 20’s and 30’s with other dental offices, but after another long absence of check-ups and exams, I needed to do something. In my late 30’s I went back again and worked with my current dentist to get through my phobias.

I had a couple of advantages going back. Dental technology and practices have greatly advanced. Pain is not the norm in 21st century dentistry in North America. I also had a doctor and dental hygienist that were able to talk to me and explain uncomfortable processes, like deep cleaning and a root canal.

You’re probably facing a challenge in your life that’s like the dentist. It could be taxes, debt, finishing school. Maybe you’ve been running away from them for a long time. Running away doesn’t work. It delays that which has to get done. Running away also feeds the “fear monster” that has the habit of turning reasonable concerns into imagined gigantic unconquerable fortresses. These imagined fears of what will happen get so large that we continue running away from what needs to be done.

It’s not helping you. It’s hurting you. It’s hurting your forward motion.

Have you been running away from something that’s just been weighing on you for a long time? Is it a commitment that honestly you just can’t keep and you’ve got to let someone down? Is it something that you hope will go away, but it has to get done no matter what?

There’s hope.

Other people have gone through the same situation. Seek them out, give them a call for help. Listen to their story online. You’ll soon discover there are other people who came out the other side of a situation very similar to yours. And they survived. And it wasn’t as bad as they thought it would be.

I’m sorry you’re going through this. But believe me, with a little time, a little focus and a lot of support you could have the same feeling of ease I did coming out of the dentist’s office the other day.

Share what you’re fighting through on my Facebook Page. It might be a great first place to ask and receive the help you’re looking for to move forward.