Yesterday, I watched The Prince of Egypt with my kids. While it adds to the Biblical story significantly, the great film creates a credible, emotionally rich version of Moses. Raised in privilege in Pharaoh’s household, Moses discovers his Hebrew heritage and tries to fight for justice, only to find himself rejected by his kinsmen and on the run from Egypt as a fugitive. Only after living for years in exile does he receive his call from God and return to Egypt as the vehicle for the Hebrews’ emancipation.
As I watched, I realized something: the setbacks faced by Moses prepared him for God speaking into his life. He could have simply identified himself with the ruling elite of Egypt, except that he can’t ignore that he is part of an oppressed people — and that he himself was nearly killed by Pharaoh’s cruelty. His failed attempt to bring justice to Egypt made him realize the limits of human ability, while his exile in Midian became the occasion for his call from God. The Prince of Egypt does an especially good job of showing us Moses’ transformation from a brash, reckless young man into a humbled servant of God. With the full context of his story in mind, Moses’ feelings of inadequacy make more sense: he has already tried and failed. If he wanted Israel to be freed from slavey, his only option was to rely on God.
Turning Setbacks into Success
At my work, we recently completed a massive, 9-month-long software project. The project, for the most part, was a terrific success, but it didn’t always look like it would be. Right as we were moving from the design phase to implementation, one of our key team members left the company. Not only was our schedule thrown completely off, but we were left with a sizable skills and experience gap. We didn’t know when we would be able to begin the implementation, much less finish it. Continue reading Setbacks, Software, and the Prince of Egypt
The first time I was unemployed, I became an incredible basketball player.
Several players, in fact: a playmaking point guard, a high-flying forward, a 7-foot defensive specialist. Not real ones, of course — these were all versions of me that I created in NBA Live ’99 on the GameCube. Eventually, my team of avatars played for the NBA championship, and it felt — well, kinda awesome at the time.
That period in my life was hardly the most productive or rewarding one I’ve experienced. As I’ve reflected on why I spent so much time playing video games, when I could – should – have been doing so many other things, a few reasons occur to me.
A lack of urgency: My wife and I had very few bills at the time (we were living with her grandmother), and she had a full time job as a teacher. So, from my (mistaken) perspective, I could wait for the perfect job to find me. But here’s what I didn’t know:
- My wife would become pregnant while I was unemployed.
- It would take me 9 months to find a full time job, never mind the “perfect” one.
- Eleven years later, we would still be paying off the student loans that we thought would be “easy” to pay off once I got a job.
I should have felt urgency. I should have been doing much more with my time. There were ways I could have been making money that I didn’t even consider, and there was a tremendous amount of unpaid work that I could have been doing. (More on that in a minute.) Continue reading A Second Chance at Unemployment
A few years ago, I read The Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. It has been described as the best book ever written by a US President. While I’ve not read every book by every president, it remains one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. Written as he was dying of cancer, Grant intended the book to provide for his family after his death. 
As I read them, I was struck by how little Grant wrote about his civilian life. Most of the book details Grant’s military career, first as a young West Point graduate in the Mexican-American War, then as a general in the US Civil War. Grant covers the seven years between the end of his first military commission and the start of the Civil War in just a couple of pages. Largely, I’m sure, it was a business decision: Grant and Twain knew that the reading public would be far more interested in Grant’s remarkable military career than in his unremarkable life outside the army or his disastrous presidency.
The contrast, though, between Grant’s descriptions of his Civil War campaigns and his civilian is so great that I wonder if there’s something more going on here. Continue reading What Will You Remember about This Chapter of Your Life?