Today’s post is the featured article from the April 2011 issue of The Front Porch Newsletter. If you would like to automatically receive The Front Porch e-newsletter on the last Thursday of each month just click here to sign-up for your complimentary subscription.

john-newI forget. I get distracted. Sometimes I just get in a comfortable rhythm. Other times I just get uncomfortably overwhelmed. Maybe you, too, have days or weeks or months like this!

It may be the reason why our bodies were designed to need sleep each and every day. Not for sleep … but rather for the practice of “waking-up.” Both “waking-up” and “staying awake” can be a real challenge. I’m not talking about post-sleep. I’m talking in our everyday life through the circumstances, challenges and celebrations that come our way.

Keeping our eyes wide-open helps us see beyond the veneer of our work and our life. Beyond what appears to be happening vs. what is really happening. The increasing speed at which we move can diminish our ability to think. More importantly, it diminishes our ability to reflect upon and ponder our day-to-day experiences. It has an impact on every arena of our life … family, faith, and formation. It certainly has an impact on our work.

Speed and efficiency can be deceptive.

They can look good on the surface and in the short-term. But they can be the enemy of what is profound. They can also be the enemy of “waking-up.”

A lot had happened just before I began to pen the manuscript of my first book, Silent Alarm. There was Enron, Worldcom, the related implosion of Arthur Andersen, the first bankruptcy of United Airlines, the tragedy of 9/11 and the beginnings of a crisis in the Catholic Church. All of this had happened in a short six-month window. I remember questioning … are we going to learn something from this? Or are we just going to hit the snooze and try to get back to normal? You know, just go back to sleep.

Tragedies are ultimately tragic only when we have learned nothing from them. When we refuse to wake-up and grow from our experience. Silent Alarm was designed to be a wake-up call … and emails, since its release, have indicated to me that the call has rung loud and clear for hundreds if not thousands of people who have read it.

It was certainly a wake-up call for me when I wrote it.

Businesses have worked hard to weather this economic storm. They have strived to become as efficient and effective as possible. But I know how easy it is to fall back asleep … even after we have been wide-awake. We forget … get distracted. Sometimes we just get in a comfortable rhythm and again get uncomfortably overwhelmed.

Just like the need for our daily sleep, we have a need to wake-up on a daily-basis. While Silent Alarm is the parable of a fictional character named Jack Turner … I believe Jack is very real in most of us. It is a story of his terrible accident created by his own doing. Actually his tragedy is the context … the story is really about what he learns about life as he recovers. He clearly has a wake-up moment. Tragedies can tend to get your attention … and wake you up.

But, hopefully, we don’t experience tragedies every day. We experience everyday life. This is possibly why it is so hard to wake-up each day. Often times it is just another day. And what we end-up with is not very pretty. As my long-time mentor, Kevin Freiberg, puts it … we end up with dead people working. Unfortunately, we also end-up with dead people living day after day.

We can all become quite competent in “dead” living!

I am also convinced we can become masters of waking-up each and every day … every hour … even every minute! And it doesn’t take a tragedy to do so.

Last fall, I approached my great friend, Jimi Allen, to create a video experience that, while inspired by Silent Alarm, was really more reflective of our need to wake-up each and every day. Jimi Allen Productions, along with their strategic partners, came back with the animated video of “Life of i.”

We released it on the internet last week. If you haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, I hope you will take the short 3-minutes it takes to experience it (just click here). If you’re too busy to take a short 3-minute timeout to watch it … well, let’s just say you probably have been hitting-the-snooze too long! (And please don’t ask me how I might personally know this to be true!)

Taking the time to do so, is the paradoxical answer to getting more done … or, at least, the right things done. If you watch it and it leaves you hanging (with like a huh?, or a what?), it has likely done its job. It’s just to get you thinking. And unless you hit the snooze, it will likely keep you thinking for a while.

While it may look like a wake-up call, please know it is sent as a gift. Wake-up, oh sleeper, and rise from the dead! Again.