Saturday, April 25, 2015


A month ago I listened to a video by Rabbi Manis Friedman. Since then I have been mulling over a point the Rabbi made while answering a question. The host of this meeting was a real estate agent. He questioned making cold calls, an activity that pushed him outside his comfort zone. The Rabbi observed if your job didn’t push you out of your comfort zone, you probably wouldn’t amount to much of anything. However, he noted that you shouldn’t push against your capacity. That was a recipe for failure. The Rabbi remarked that telling the difference between comfort and capacity was a difficult task that required wise counsel from those who know you best.

Yesterday, I listened to a Joel Osteen sermon on freedom from unhealthy competition. He taught that you, as an individual, are only required by God to be the best you possible.

You are not running a race against anyone but yourself.

Galatians 6:4
Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else.

This morning I read a short blog article by Seth Godin titled Terrior. I was unfamiliar with the word so I looked it up in Wikipedia. Terrior is a French word used to describe the particular circumstances that result in the unique excellence of a particular product.

“Terroir is the set of special characteristics that the geography, geology and climate of a certain place, interacting with plant genetics, express in agricultural products such as wine, coffee, tobacco, chocolate, chili peppers, hops, agave (for making Tequila and Mezcal), tomatoes, heritage wheat, maple syrup, tea and sometimes Marijuana. The concept has also crossed to other Protected Appellations of Origin (PDOs a form of geographical indication), products such as cheeses.”

Seth encouraged his readers to so integrate the concept of Terrior into their life and work that anyone could immediately identify even the smallest and most insignificant product they create as something that belongs uniquely to that reader.

So there you have it. Comfort Vs Capacity. If your farm has the soil and climate to grow the grapes that make a fine dry white wine, grow the kind of grapes that will produce the best possible wine your farm can produce. If those conditions are not good for red wines, don’t try to produce grapes that are inappropriate for your farm’s capacity.

The farmer is responsible for “running the race” to be the best possible producer of the particular kind of wine his land can produce. He has a hard job tending the vines, deciding when to harvest his crop, on the type of yeast he will use in the fermentation process, and how to age his product to make certain it is the best it can possibly be. The kind of oak the farmer uses to age the wine will have an effect on the outcome of the process. Just like you, the barrels of your life will have an effect on how you age into the unique product that is you. Your friends, your church, your employer will all contribute to the outcome of your life.

I think the Rabbi is correct. Determining the difference between comfort and capacity is a difficult job. We all come front loaded with cultural and family baggage that makes it very difficult to discover who we actually are and why God put us on this planet. Living a life while simultaneously discovering how to live a life is a complex iterative design process that ideally should spiral upwards into a direction of self actualization. All too often we become envious of another person’s talent, beauty, or opportunities rather than focusing on the effort and wisdom required to produce a good outcome in our own life.

It all matters.
The soil; the climate; we have been given.
The decisions we make. The seeds we choose to plant. When to plant; how we choose to tend our garden; when to gather in the Harvest.
The level of effort we add daily to the gifts we have received from God.
The containers that age and enhance the product that will hopefully, someday, become everything God created us to be.

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