campfire
November 6, 2014 Life Lessons No Comments

There is just something fabulous about gathering with friends and family around the warmth and wonder of a campfire.  Along with toasting marshmallows, my favorite part of the fire is the conversation that takes place.  Sometimes funny, sometimes soul-searching, a campfire chat is always rewarding.  It also has lessons for life that you might find surprising.

1. Start with intentionality.

A campfire does not just happen.  It must be built intentionally.  On our recent trip, my friend and I agreed on building a fire. We were specific about what we wanted and we chose our spot with care.  As in life, being specific leads to being terrific.

Are you being in intentional with the choices you are making in your life?  How is your marriage?  Is your business or career where you want it to be?  What needs to change?  Be intentional and start taking charge of the choices you make.

2. Outline boundaries.

A campfire needs boundaries.  Before I arrived, my friend gathered medium-sized rocks to form a pit, forming boundaries to contain the fire and keep it from spreading out of control. It would be reckless to start a fire in the forest without a pit.  Our fire was able to grow and our families and the neighbors were all safe because of the boundaries.

In our daily lives, boundaries are critical in order for relationships to be safe and to thrive.  Your boundaries might be with a family matter, an employee, or even an overly-friendly neighbor.  Recognize the need and set boundaries in your relationships.  It will protect you from unintended “fires.”

3. Embrace the need for diversity.

A really roaring fire requires different types of food.  Twigs and dry brush provide essential starter power, but large logs feed the long burn.  Both are needed for the fire to really take off and last…equal in essence but different in function.

Life is like this, too.  You need different types of activities, different types of people, different types of food…on and on the list goes.  A full life needs diversity, different elements equal in essence but different in function.

4. Fan the spark in others.

Our fire started to burn out before we did, so we fanned the flame.  By blowing on the fire and fanning it with our hats, we increased the flame.

Whose flame (at home or work) appears to be lessening and could benefit from a good fanning?

5. Build integrated partnerships.

My son removed a stick from the fire, held it up and asked, “Will this stick keep burning?”  A stick isolated from the campfire dies out quickly because when the sticks are bundled together, they have power, unity and impact.

“Two are better than one and a threefold cord is not easily broken.” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)  No life, organization or business can grow deep if they function as silos.

6. Monitor success.

We were attentive to the burning of the fire.  We were mindful of when the fire was lessening and we were intentional about adding sticks for burning on vs. burning out.

How do you know when you’re successful? Success is not static. It’s dynamic.  We stoked the fire. We stopped. We reflected. We enjoyed the warmth of success.

7. Have necessary endings.

We never intended to build a permanent fire, but rather one for a pleasant, slightly chilled fall evening.  We had to bring it to an end.

Sometimes a necessary ending is knowing when to transition on to the next thing. Around a campfire and in life, an intentional ending is an essential tool.  Know when to bring something an end.

Written by Johnny Parker
As a relationship architect and executive coach, Dr. Johnny Parker has helped hundreds of men and women experience authentic joy and fulfillment by viewing their life as a story. Dr. Parker is an Associate Professor at Johns Hopkins University. He has also served as a team life coach for the National Football League and WNBA. He holds a Masters in Counseling Psychology and a Doctorate in Strategic Leadership.