Improving Our Actions

This month we’ve been talking about self improvement.  We started by talking about why we should work on improving ourselves, then talked about change, and last week we talked about our attitudes.  Today we’re going to wrap up the month and our discussion with some thoughts about improving centered around our actions.

First, actions reflect our improvement, or lack thereof.  Words are important, they are the core of who we are and what we believe with, as thoughts are typically words and our emotions can be expressed in words.  But as helpful, impacting, and meaningful as our words can be, when your words are backed up by actions, you have the power to become a whole new person.  See, as good as it is to learn how to be better and talk a better game, there comes a time when your actions, the way you live your life, will show if you have truly improved yourself.

Second, we can improve our actions to better the world and ourselves.  As I said, words are powerful, but words won’t cure cancer, feed people or build shelters; only actions can do that.  When we finally decide that we really want to see true change in the world, you’ll see more people in action.  Some of that will be in the form of money put in action for groups who help the world, but much of it will be people doing things for others.

What about you?  What do your actions say about who you are, what you believe and what you’re doing with your life?  Do your actions show that you’re consistently working on growth and improvement, learning more about yourself and the world around you?  Everyone has room for improvement, what will you work on improving today?

Joseph’s Successes

As we wrap up our look at change this month, I thought we’d take a look at the story of Joseph a bit.  Joseph, Jacob’s son, went through a lot of changes in his life, mostly because he had some really crazy dreams that got him sent away into slavery in Egypt by his jealous brothers.  In Egypt he worked for a man who thought he did something wrong, but didn’t, and threw him in prison, from time in prison he became second in command to Pharaoh.  Why could Joseph keep going and why did he do so well no matter what he did whether working on the farm for his family, working in slavery or the prison, or with Pharaoh?  I think a key is found in Genesis 39:21-23

“But the Lord was with Joseph in the prison and showed him his faithful love. And the Lord made Joseph a favorite with the prison warden. Before long, the warden put Joseph in charge of all the other prisoners and over everything that happened in the prison. The warden had no more worries, because Joseph took care of everything. The Lord was with him and caused everything he did to succeed.”

Joseph somehow learned in all the changes he experienced in life that even if things changed because of other people, God’s plan would still come to fruition.  There’s nothing that anyone can do to ruin the plans God has for your life.  They may throw some challenges in the way, but if you stay focused on God and work on your relationship with Him, you’ll be able to get past those bumps and onto what God has promised.

Was it easy for Joseph once he was in Egypt and second in command? No, I’d imagine that then more than ever he needed God’s strength to help him make wise decisions that would help the region stay alive and live up to the blessing of this position that he was given.

What about you?  Are you busy focusing on all the stuff that gets in your way or are you learning to find God’s plan even when you can’t see the path anymore?

Attitude in Action

This month we’re spending Fridays talking about self-improvement.  What have you done this month to improve yourself?  I’ve worked on my work-personal balance a lot this month.  I’ve been a workaholic for years, and it’s very challenging not to be working!!

When I think of self improvement, the first thing that comes to mind is attitude.  Attitude is often the thing that people need to improve and the last thing they want to deal with.  It’s really easy to get in a groove with your attitude and how you approach situations and people.  Your attitude can make you stick out like a sore thumb, or shine like a star.

Before we go further, I’m not saying we all need a “glass half full” approach to life.  In fact, I’m not going to tell you what kind of attitude you should have today.

Instead, I’m going to encourage you to discover what kind of attitude you actually have towards life, different types of people, different situations, and even yourself.  What is attitude, you ask?  Attitude is a frame of mind that affects how you view the world and the people in it.  Even with a really “good” attitude, you can still make snap judgements that aren’t in line with how you really view the world.

You should be comfortable with how you approach the world based on your attitude, yet your attitude shouldn’t limit you in relationships, partnerships, opportunities or situations.  Let me be clear: your attitude can attract or repel people in your life.  It may be what keeps you from getting a job, a partner, a home, a client, a nice night out or countless other things.  Why does something like an attitude that isn’t physical or visible affect so much?  Because your attitude directly affects your action and words, which are two things very visible to other people.

Today I encourage you to take a good look at your attitude, and ask someone you trust what they think of your attitude towards life.  If you’re scared of what their answer might be, you probably have some work to do!

Practicing Peace

In just a few days we’ll be celebrating International Day of Peace and World Gratitude Day on the 21st.  These are two important things to celebrate for many reasons, but most of all because without peace and gratitude the world would fall apart.  I believe they’re like the glue that not only holds us all together, but makes us stronger than we were before.  Today I have a quote for us to contemplate:

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.” Eleanor Roosevelt

Eleanor Roosevelt captures the truth about peace here-it’s not something that happens or can grow by itself, it takes work.  Throughout the Bible we find people who need to make peace with each other.  Think of Esau and Jacob, David and Saul, Paul/Saul and the Apostles, the list goes on.  None of these people had it easy when they said they wanted to make things right.  In the case of David and Saul, they never were able to fully come to peace together.

Peace isn’t easy.  It’s not easy to forgive, make amends, start over or rebuild from the ground up.  Yet often that’s what has to happen.  Because as abstract as peace may seem, it takes a lot of work for it to be a reality in daily life.  In order for us to have true peace in our relationships and in the world, it will take daily commitment and action to achieve.

One of the easiest ways to create peace is by focusing on being grateful.  When we’re focused on what the other person has done right, the effort they’re putting forth or their heart in the situation, it’s a lot easier to keep the peace. Not only is it important to work to have peace among ourselves, but it’s also important to express our gratitude for each other.  It’s as simple as sharing a compliment or being honest about how much an action or word meant to us to not only reinforce the peace, but encourage and uplift the other person.

This week I challenge you to look at the relationships you have with those in your life.  Are you a peace-working person who is grateful for the things and people in their life?  Or do you have a lot of work to do to repair these relationships?

The Relief in Change

Last week we started talking about self improvement.  I think it’s an important and very helpful topic, because you, yes you, have the ability to totally transform your life, should you be willing to take some action, and possibly make some changes.  Today I have 3 quotes and a few thoughts to hopefully inspire you on the topic of change.

“Growth is the only evidence of life.” John Henry Newman

Have you ever planted some seeds, maybe grass seed or some seeds for a garden and waited and waited for them to burst through the ground?  The only way you know if something is alive and healthy, is if you can see the growth.  The only way that we get those plants to grow, is if they change the form they’re in.  A seed can’t become a plant unless it transforms.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” Victor Frankl

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes it’s not the situation or the world that needs changing, it’s us!  If we were to stop looking at the world and start looking at what we can do personally for ourselves that will better the world, it would be a good first step for many people. The world is a great, big place that needs lots of improving, but sometimes the best thing to improve is ourselves.  Sometimes, looking at the challenges the world faces can inspire us to create change in our own lives too.

Looking at a more personal level, if you’ve got challenges appearing in the relationships you have with the people in your life, maybe it’s a signal for you to take a step back and not just look at how they’re treating you and how you’d like to go about changing that, but also if there’s something you’re doing that is causing the challenges.

The way I see it, change shouldn’t always be viewed as a destructive, scary force, but rather one that can be, and should be, used for empowering and transforming lives and situations.  How can change improve your life?

After All

Life is full of lots of twists and turns, each one bringing me new knowledge and discoveries about who I am and what is in this world.  I’ve learned things over the years that have thrilled me and things that make me sad.  I’ve learned that the world works best when we can all accept each other as different, and let that be a good thing, not something to change.

We go through life each day interacting with people who may or may not have an impact on our future, and often the impact is determined by us allowing them into our lives, or blocking them out.  We do have the ability to impact our future, and map out a new direction if we desire.

No matter what anyone says, it’s people who make the world go ’round.  Not business decisions, architecture, ancient civilizations, or technology.  Why?  Because behind each of those things are people.  People who make decisions sometimes without considering the impact their choices will have on others.  When all is said and done, what will your decisions say about you?

Will your actions reflect a desire to worship God and carry out His plan for your life in the world and in the lives of those you meet?  Will your dreams line up with healing the world of the pain that we have caused each other?  Will you encourage others to live respectfully for the world around them?  When all is said and done, what impact will you have made on the world?

God created us with the heart that we would learn to live and work together, yet so many of us are so far apart in making that happen.  What part do you have in keeping people apart?  What can you do to bring God’s dreams to fruition?  I encourage you to ask God to give you wisdom and a heart for the role you have in His dreams.

Self Improvement Starts

This month we’re going to talk about two topics that often find themselves on people’s “evil” list: change and self improvement.   Don’t worry, I’ll save change for another day, but today we’re going to start a Friday series on self-improvement.  Why?  Because it’s one of the most important things you can do with and for your life.

Today we’re going to tackle the question of why should we “self improve” anyway?

First, because it means you have to take a good look at yourself and spend time working on who you are as a person, with no one else influencing or responsible, unless you ask for assistance in your journey.  Self improvement is not you becoming the person the world wants you to be, but improving the person you know you are deep down inside.  It’s about being honest with who you are, learning to accept that and discovering how you fit into this amazing world we live in.

Second, self improvement and learning needs to be a life-long occurrence.  You can’t expect that once you leave the traditional school you’ll just stop learning and not need to learn or grow at all to keep up with the changing world around you.  Honestly, I learn better outside the traditional schooling and have thoroughly enjoyed all that I’ve learned about leadership, business, spirituality and life over the past few years in developing my businesses.

Finally, self improvement is the only way we’re going to make it through all the changes that the world is experiencing.  You don’t have to go back to school and get a new degree just to get a job.  You do however have to keep up with the changes in the world and in your industry if you want to keep your job or find a new one.  Being open to learning and growing is the only way you’ll have fulfilling relationships, a satisfying income and exciting plans for the future.  I don’t know about you, but I want a future that’s worth getting to.

What it all comes down to is that self improvement has to start with you.  If you’re not open to the possibility that you don’t know everything and that someone could teach you something or help you better understand something, I can guarantee that you’re going to miss out on life.

Where should you start on your self improvement journey today?