Knowing When to Say When - Betty Streff
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Knowing When to Say When

it was a nice ride

Knowing When to Say When

“We humans have two great problems: the first is knowing when to begin; the second is knowing when to stop.“~Paulo Coelho


If I was a car part, without a doubt I’d be a battery. What would you be? Steering wheel? Brakes? Good! We need ’em! I’ve often use a car as an analogy for a team when I’m speaking. A car needs several key parts and all of them serve critical functions. Each is unique but all are necessary for it to perform. Teams and families work the same way. Thank goodness for variety in personalities, strengths and talents!


Personally, I’ve always been way better at beginnings than middles or endings. Starting something is always easy and fun for me. However, when it comes to endings, I’m like a junkyard dog with a ham bone. Sometimes I have a hard time knowing when enough is enough.


“New Eyes” makes “New Wise”


Several weeks ago, that thought leaped in my mind. Elizabeth Gilbert wrote about it this way in her sensational book Big Magic. “When an idea thinks it has found somebody – say, you – who might be able to bring it into the world, the idea will pay you a visit”…….And then, in a quiet moment, it will ask, “Do you want to work with me?”  For myself, I always believe it’s the Holy Spirit that speaks at times like that. And I answered yes.


On that day last fall, I heard it clear as can be. “See life with new eyes.” I’ve been writing about it since then. And, it’s been a nice ride. But a funny thing happened immediately after I posted Lesson #8. I began to think about what to write next and that led me to wonder and worry a bit about how many lessons there should be. Where should it end? The very next day a new idea came calling. It said, “Stop now and go back. Lock it at seven.


knowing when to lock it

So I said, “ok, seven it is.”


Why seven? Seven is special. It’s a prime number and it’s considered lucky. Furthermore, as David Derbyshire writes in UK’s Daily Mail, “There are seven days of the week, seven colours of the rainbow, seven notes on a musical scale, seven seas and seven continents. Ian Fleming also chose 007 for a reason.”


The first thing that came to my mind, though, is the spiritual significance of the number seven. Biblically, seven is the number of completeness and perfection. It is used 735 times in the Bible. If we include sevenfold and seventh, the total jumps to 860. So, seven seems like a good choice!


So what’s next?


First of all, I’m going to keep writing about living life fully engaged, checked in and wide awake. I’ll keep writing about all the key ingredients we need in our pantry of characteristics that make it possible to squeeze the most out of every day life. Traits like curiosity, gratitude, imagination and hope. Actions like paying attention and listening with the intent to understand. Beliefs like everyone matters, that we are enough and that the Universe is kind.


But for today, I’ll simply remind you while much is out of our control and life can turn on a dime, there are many things we can always control. Here are seven nuggets to start you off.


Our response. In the critical inch between what happens and what we do next, we always have a choice.


What we look at. There is beauty and goodness everywhere. Train your eyes to see it.


What we put in our mouth. Zig Ziglar once quipped he never ate anything accidentally. We have power.


What goes in our mind. There’s never been so much easy and no-cost access to excellent books, videos and audios. Choose them.


What we focus on. The Bible teaches “whatever is true, noble, pure, lovely, good, commendable, if there is excellence, think about these things.” Great advice, no matter what your spiritual beliefs.


Who we spend time with. In some cases, we can’t escape completely but we can choose to limit the time we spend with toxic people.


How we talk to ourself. Most of our inner dialogue is negative monkey mind chatter. You can re-script it!


where the path ends

I’ll see you again Thursday. Meanwhile, I’m preparing a program about seven ways your world can be different when you see life with new eyes. I’d love to bring it to your group or workplace. Message me here or email me at





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