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The World of Possibilities

May 14, 2010

The World of Possibilities
There is much more to life than most of us imagine. But to squeeze the rest of the juice out of the orange in most cases, we have to, as the time worn phrase suggests, color outside of the box. That is where the possibilities lie.

I call it “getting off of autopilot,” our comfortable set of routines, and living a more adventurous life.
The book, The Blind Side, by Michael Lewis, seems to be following me around. It is a terrific book. I first heard it as an audio book on a “walking road” in East Texas. The movie, which Linda and I watched last weekend at the farm, is even better. Sandra Bullock won this year’s Best Actress Award in the lead role. It is about a well-off family, in Memphis with a big house in the right neighborhood, who adopt a high school African American kid. Everyone called him “Big Mike” and he lived in the projects on the other side of the tracks. His mother, caught in a deep fog of a drug habit, has had multiple children with multiple men. She calls “Big Mike” a runner because he has run away from multiple foster homes. Now he’s living on the street wherever he can find warmth and shelter.

“Big Mike” is a gentle giant with almost zero self-esteem. There are many like him (72% of African American kids are born out of wedlock). The Tuohy family sees Big Mike wandering the streets alone one cold night. They take him into their home “temporarily.” Mom, Dad, and their two kids pour their lives into him, finally assuming legal guardianship and making him, with his biological mother’s permission, a member of their family. It is a true story with a happy ending – Big Mike played football (and made his grades) at Old Miss and now plays offensive left tackle protecting the quarterback’s “Blind Side” for the Baltimore Ravens in the NFL. The author of the book, The Blind Side, said in an interview that he’s seen the movie several times and that he has had tears each time. That was my experience too.

This past weekend, strictly by coincidence, I experienced almost the same emotions reading a long piece in The Dallas Morning News. This time it was a Dallas family I have known and admired for years. Bill Hill left a lucrative practice as a litigation attorney to become a much admired Dallas County District Attorney at a fraction of his former income. After several very successful years as D.A, he told me he had “pretty much done what he had come to that job to do” and that he was not going to run for another term of office. “I’m going to go on to something else.”

A colorful character, to say the least, Bill loudly blames me and Halftime for his sacrificial salary and less comfortable role as D.A. I demur. He persists. Candy Hill, Bill’s quietly effective wife is a dead ringer, though less flashy, for the Sandra Bullock character in Blind Side. She is slender and attractive, she is a Bible Class teacher, and she’s an uber-mom — with three grown kids. She is ceaselessly active in her church and a variety of civic projects.

I asked Bill what the “something else he was going to go on to” was. He said he wasn’t quite sure but that it would probably continue to be in the “significance area.”

I do a 26-hour by-invitation-only program in our Dallas 100X Collaboration Center several times a year for ten or so capable significance seekers from around the country and the world (South Africa, Singapore, Scandinavia). Most of these highly successful folks don’t know what they “want to go on to” either. But an astonishingly high percentage of these discover who they are – the strengths that carry over to life-changing “otheration” work in the Second Half of their lives. And they find “the what” is something that has been wired into their lives for years. It is closer to the surface than they imagine. They come seeking to clarify “the what” and work on “the how.”

Their calling has just been covered up by what Jesus in the Parable of the Sower called “the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches.” Jesus continues, “And (they become) unfruitful.” Look it up in Matthew 13.

The proprietary process we use in the program called Halftime Institute is a journey into a world of possibilities. I always say it is more like archeology than construction. We help people discover what was there all along.

Back to my much-venerated pal, Bill Hill. I invited Bill to attend the Institute as my guest. I told him to think of it as a contribution to his next campaign. He attended and did all our introspective exercises for two days, a strain for the extrovert that he is. At the end, he said, “I expect I might go help my son with his ministry in West Dallas.”

Which leads me back, at last, to the full-page story in the May 9 Dallas Morning News. But in short, it is The Blind Side all over again.

Trey and Melissa Hill, along with their four children (now two boys, two girls ages 6 to 10) have moved to West Dallas, a different world from their cozy Lake Highlands home, to start a ministry. As you can see if you have summoned up their family picture (below), they have since welcomed Deandre Jones (19) and his brother, Darius Jones (16) into their home in West Dallas. Here is how The Dallas Morning News describes their situation, “The two brothers left behind a crowded apartment where seven people, including the older brother’s two kids, had squeezed into one bedroom. The move-in arrangement with the Hills was supposed to last two weeks. Two and one-half years later, they’re still there and thriving.” There are three copies of The Blind Side on a bookshelf in the West Dallas home. Melissa Hill says, “”Here, so many things are not comfortable. And yet here I’ve found my greatest joy.  You find there’s so much more to life than the little life you had in mind. … In pouring out your life, you benefit.”

Bill and Candy Hill, my friends, are close by to back them up finding meaningful engagement in the Second Half of their lives. One thing leads to another.

Photo credit: XIAOMEI CHEN/DMN

MELISSA HILL and her children (clockwise from top left):

Olivia Hill, Darius Jones, Sadie Hill, Dea Jones, Tee Hill and Graham Hill.

So What about You?

  1. Do you have a sense of possibilities outside your current world?
  2. I’ll let you make up the next two questions to ponder. Trust me. Every situation is different. I could tell you hundreds of stories, each one unique.


Final Health Report

A CT Scan on May 11 shows T4 and T5 are fusing, making need for surgery highly improbable. Little pain. Infection gone. Normal life resumes. I’m enormously relieved and grateful beyond words for waves of prayer which won the day. Yea God!

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