Success in Real Life

“When you work you are a flute through whose heart the whispering of the hours turns to music. To love life through labor is to be intimate with life’s inmost secret. All work is empty save when there is love, for work is love made visible.”  Kahlil Gibran

Sometimes it seems like personal growth coaches and experts talk about stuff that seems so unrealistic in our situations.  I know, I’ve been there.  Sometimes you wonder where they came up with the money or the brilliant ideas that sound so great, yet are so hard to put into practice.  And that’s reality: life can be tough.

Then you run into those people who seem to have either fabulous lives, or seem suspiciously happy.  Those who seem suspiciously happy (and aren’t living in an altered reality) have learned one of the secrets to a happy life: their attitude.

As Kahlil Gibran reveals, work, or even life, is empty except when love is present.  Which is one of the biggest things I’ve learned throughout my years of studying success and people: our attitude and our love for life won’t make the problems go away, but they will make it much easier to deal with the problems as they arrive.

A great attitude doesn’t make the boss less grumpy, but it means we won’t be affected all day by their bad attitude.  A great attitude means we can smile at customers after being on our feet for 8 hours.  A great attitude means that we learn the lessons in our mistakes and in criticisms and then move on. A great attitude means we’ll develop friendships more easily that will last longer. A great attitude means we’ll give things a try rather than just stamping them “impossible”.

Best of all, you have the power in your hands (well, your head), to make your day at work a success: change your attitude.  It’s free to do and anyone can do it, but it does take a bit of work.  But you’ll discover that when you look at life with a different attitude, it will be a whole lot easier to start loving who you are and what you do.

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The Truth about the Struggle

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.” Ephesians 6:12-13

This is one of those verses that you hear taught in every Sunday School classroom.  It’s easy to help kids imagine putting on armor, like the latest action figure, and fighting off the bad guys.  But as it came up in my devotions the other day I was reminded that this verse reminds us of several things, more than just that we too can be like an action figure.

First, each day brings us challenges: challenges that may seem like they’re just physical (car accident), or just mental (yelled at by your boss), but the truth is that most challenges are both mental and physical, and sometimes they’re spiritual too.  You probably remember the story of Job, who the devil wanted to test and God let him.  In his case he did experience mental, physical and spiritual challenges. Maybe you’ve had a day where you did too.  It’s OK to admit you’re struggling and being attacked, no action figure (or medieval warrior with a brain) goes into battle alone, they always have a side-kick or army with them. Which brings me to the second point.

Second, you’ve got the ability to deal with the challenges.  You don’t have to go through them alone, nor are you powerless.  In this age of technology, it’s easy to connect with any number of people in groups on Facebook or individuals on Twitter who will listen, support and pray with and for you in your struggle.  There are also tons of local pastors who would be thrilled to have an opportunity to speak with you and encourage you.  But just like an action figure won’t go into battle without his sword, neither should you face life’s challenges unprepared.  Subscribe to some newsletters (or my weekly devotional or free bi-weekly newsletter), read inspirational and encouraging books including the Bible, and join a local small group that will help you build up your arsenal of tips and tools to support you when challenges come calling.

There will be struggles you’ll face in life, but you don’t have to fight the challenges of this life alone. There’s hope and help if you would just ask.

Strength of Light

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  Martin Luther King, Jr.

On Monday we celebrated the birth of a man who did much for the USA, Martin Luther King Jr.  He had a dream for peace and unity, and brought to the public eye the disgraceful way that people were treating other people.  He didn’t let the issue stay buried, he didn’t just petition government and hope they would do something, he got up and spoke his mind with the support of thousands of people, started a movement and inspired a dream.

All these years later we still remember his strength and his hope for all of mankind each January.  Why?  Because like Mother Teresa, he knew that every person has value.  Every person deserves the chance to live a great life and accomplish their dreams.  And even though there will always be bosses and employees, everyone has a right to be treated with decency and dignity.

What Martin Luther King Jr. knew was that the best way to accomplish his big dreams for humanity was not with a war, but with peace and love.  I’m not anti-war, war has its place in this world.  But war isn’t always the answer, as he knew.  Dr. King knew deep down that more respect would be earned and given if a statement as powerful as a war could be made peacefully.  I think that the Civil Rights Movement did just that, it’s as ingrained in the history books as the Civil and Vietnam wars.

This week, in honor of Dr. King, use the power of light and love to make your statement on the world.  I have a feeling that your statement could be just as big and bold as his.

Joy and Trials

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

This verse catches many people off guard.  Who can be joyful when trials are going on?  Who actually enjoys going through life’s difficulties?  I know life is much more pleasant when you’re not struggling to make ends meet, work with a tough coworker, go through a divorce or death, or deal with a difficult kid.  Yet our lives are full of experiences just like these.  Most of us have a trial of some kind, big or small, every day (sometimes more).

I don’t think any trial is really meant to evoke feelings of joy when we’re dealt them.  I don’t think God’s up there smiling that we have a trial to go through, and I don’t think He really expects us to jump with excitement when we’re faced with trials.  But the joy James is referring to in this verse has much more to do with something we talk about quite a bit, your attitude.

If you’ve been hanging out on this blog for a while, you know that I believe that attitude is one of the most important things for each of us to work on.  Our attitude can make our break our careers, relationships and health even.  When we have a positive, upbeat attitude we can, like James suggests, view our troubles with joy (or at least with peace that we will get through with God’s help).  I’m not talking about the positive-all-the-time, drive-you-crazy positivity where nothing can go wrong and nothing can ever get you down.

People with positive attitudes like James mentions aren’t deluded into thinking nothing can hurt them.  Instead, they accept the reality of the situation and pray and seek counsil as to what to do about the situation.  And above all else, they don’t get permanently beaten down by the trial, they have the strength, one day, to get up and go on with life.

What about you?  Would a change in attitude help the situations in your life?  Maybe seeing things through different eyes would give you the solution you’ve been seeking.

What the World Wants

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.” Mother Teresa

This quote by Mother Teresa is a fabulous reminder that while everyone says they need and want money and bread, deep down they want more than just the white picket fence, nice home and 2.5 kids.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware just how impactful money can be.  It opens doors, gives you opportunities and meets needs.

But at the end of the day, we’re not just robots that need a little oil and a tune-up.  We need more than that.  It’s easy to say “here, have some money,” and walk away from someone thinking you’ve helped them.  And chances are you did help by giving money to a charity organization or by giving your employees a raise at work.

But the only way to truly feed the hunger for love and appreciation in this world is through a human connection.  Which means we have to get down and dirty and actually open ourselves and our hearts up to one another.  We can do this by volunteering at a food bank or local church.  We can do this by having our kids’ friends over for pizza and game nights.  We can do this by getting coffee with friends or coworkers who seem to be having a hard time and listen and support them.

At the end of the day, money won’t warm your heart.  It may warm your house, but deep down inside you’ll feel empty.  So I challenge you to do something this week that matters to your heart, and I invite you to share the blessings you gave and received in the comments below.

What God Sees

This week, as you can tell from the subject line, I’ve been thinking about what God sees. Obviously being God and Ruler of Everything Created, He sees a whole lot more than each of us do in our little corners of the world.  But that’s not the kind of seeing I’m thinking about today.  My thinking started as I read about the woman at the well in John 4.

The short of the story is that Jesus talks with this woman at a well that according to local customs/traditions/laws He shouldn’t have been talking with, and Jesus shared a few insights that he as God’s son would know. The woman is blown away by Jesus’ insights, and runs off to tell the townspeople.  Her words to them in verse 29 are:

“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!  Could he be the
Messiah?”

Jesus saw this woman as both the woman God created, and the woman who had 5+ husbands.  He saw beyond the earthly, beyond what her neighbors saw, beyond what the disciples saw.  He saw her as part of the world where all people can worship God together.

Let’s take a step back and look at King David for a moment.  He was called a “man after God’s own heart,” even though he fought in battles and slept with someone else’s wife.  Or what about Paul/Saul in the New Testament?  He spent lots of time killing and working against God, but God said to Ananias in Acts 9:15 “I have chosen him to tell foreigners, kings and the people of Israel about me.”

So what does all of this mean?  What it means is that God sees the beauty He’s created, He also knows that among that beauty is imperfection.  God doesn’t overlook sins, but
chooses to forgive them so that people can move on to fulfill the potential God sees in them.  He had plans for the woman of John 4, He had plans for King David, He had plans
for Saul/Paul, and God has plans for you.

I hope that you’ll take a lesson from Jesus and start seeing people for who God created them to be, not their sins or pasts.  You never know who God will send your way or want to connect you with to fulfill His plans for your life.

Who Are You?

I got an email today, one of the many newsletters I’m subscribed to. No, I’m not a newsletter junkie, as a good business owner I like to stay on top of the trends and things going on with other people and their businesses.  So this article from Robin Sharma, a guy with a great perspective about leadership and life, is about 62 ways to get unstuck.  It’s a great article with lots of helpful points for moving forward in my life.  But as I was reading it, I kept coming back to the fact that lots of people are talking about being stuck or having to make changes, especially now at the beginning of the year.  So I asked myself,

“Why are so many people stuck?!”

I do believe that it’s important to get stuck once in a while so that you can learn how to un-stick yourself, but to start each, and every, year off as a stuck individual?!   Now, if you’re feeling stuck right now, know that I’m not yelling at you or think you’re crazy to be stuck.  The world has put an unbelievable amount of pressure on each of us as far as money, careers, relationships and appearance goes.  The standards some of us try to live up to are totally impractical.  And for that reason I can totally understand why so many of us are stuck.

So the conclusion I’ve come to is that before you can get yourself unstuck, you have to have a new set of standards, or new goals, that you’re going to work towards.  Yes, sometimes all you need is a moment of insight and you can continue on your merry way.  But for most people, that’s not the situation; they’re working towards goals that aren’t right for them.

So to start this year off, instead of asking yourself what crazy things can I accomplish to make me stack up against my superstar sister or lawyer-to-the-stars father, ask yourself who you want to be.  When you start living the life that you’re meant to live, a life that works for you, you’ll only get stuck in situations with glue, not quicksand.  Does this mean you can’t be a millionaire or billionaire?  No, it just means you have to find your own way.

I’m doing just that this year too, and making a new commitment to helping you get a fresh perspective in your life.  You’ll be seeing some more changes in the coming weeks, but I invite you to join me on Twitter or check out some of the changes happening slowly but surely at my website.

I believe this is your year to become unstuck.  Share what you want to be free from below in the comments too!