Finding Your Place

In our last week of the month of studying the wisdom of great women of America, we’re looking to Margaret Mead for one last bit of wisdom:

“If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”

I think we live in a pretty great world, but I know that there’s lots of room for improvement in everyone’s lives, and in the world as a whole; it’s all far from perfect.  The good news is that we don’t have to start from scratch, we’ve got lots of good stuff we can build from.  But the first thing we need to do, as Margaret Mead points out, is recognize our diverse gifts, and accept them.

The great thing about 2013 is that diversity is more recognized and celebrated than ever before.  But, there are still many people who believe in the old, fixed, lines of years gone by.  Like the people who think that being a doctor or attending a great school are the best choices, when there are lots of other ways to plan for a very successful future.  It’s up to each of us to discover what that path to success looks like for us personally.

But it’s about more than just success too, because at some point in time in our lives the success feels rather empty.  The rich culture Mead speaks of is more than all of us succeeding, it’s about enjoying life and each other too.  Society and the social fabric don’t succeed by success alone.

You are more than your successes (or failures), and it’s up to you to recognize that, whether the world does or not.  At the end of the day there should be a lot more to you than what you would put on a resume.  What unique contributions do you bring to the world?

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Easter Experiences

This year Easter is early according to the calendar, and with the non-spring we’ve had so far, I don’t really feel much like celebrating yet.  Maybe that’s a little like Jesus felt.  Let’s take a look.

Yesterday Jesus would have taken Jerusalem by storm; riding in on a donkey to cries of “Hosanna.” He’s got a week of teaching leading up to the Passover meal.  A supper to remember the leaving of Egypt many years ago by the Israelites, who were about to be freed by God.  Then there’s the betrayal and Good Friday when He’s crucified on a cross for the sins of the world.  All of this culminates in being raised from the grave 3 days later.  Celebration time, right?

Well, not quite.  Jesus spent another 40 days on earth after that.   He couldn’t go back to heaven where he had been for the past however many years, He couldn’t go back to God, He wasn’t quite done on earth.  Yes, these last few days were important ones because they were days, meetings, interactions that proved His story; His death and resurrection.  But I’d be a little tired of the work at that point in time too.

Jesus rose again, why is there need for more?  In a way, those last days were a gift.  They’re like the months that someone who finds out they have incurable cancer gets to live out to say their goodbyes.  Those last days were also a chance for Jesus to make sure people understood the Scriptures and what they said about Him.

New life only happens after the old is gone.  You can’t start something new if you’re holding onto the past. But breaking from what you know can be scary, even down right intimidating.  But as Jesus knew, the best is yet to come.  Getting past that last hurdle means you’re home free, free to that new life.  But if you look at the Apostles who were with Jesus, they got over the hump and I believe they died proud of what they accomplished.

This week I encourage you to follow Jesus’ trail, take bold steps toward your freedom, even if they seem scary at times.

The Questions We Ask

This month we’re taking a look at some of the wisdom of women throughout the ages.  Today our featured inspirational woman is Jane Goodall.  Jane has spent much of her life speaking out for chimps and other primates and encouraging us to be better stewards of the earth and natural resources around us.  Through her time in nature Jane has been able to get a different understanding of us humans, which helps us all understand ourselves better.  Jane said:

“What makes us human, I think, is an ability to ask questions, a consequence of our sophisticated spoken language.”

From our earliest days of being able to talk, we ask questions.  If you’re a parent or have spent any time around kids, they love to ask questions.  They ask questions like it’s their job, and quite honestly it probably is.  The best ways to learn things are by trying and by asking questions.

I’ve learned that one of the best ways to be successful is by asking empowering questions that help you reveal the challenges, blockages and possibilities that exist within your current situation.  I don’t think you can really get past your current challenges if you don’t ask some questions about how you got there, what you want next or instead, and how to get there.

This week I encourage you to really watch the questions you ask.  Asking “why me!?” won’t get you anywhere good!  Try asking more helpful and revealing questions like “what better opportunities are coming my way?”  “I wonder…?” and “what can I do to turn this situation around?”  Yes, it’s a little scary because you’re no longer stewing in the problem, but rather working towards finding and creating solutions that get you to where you want to go.  If the animals can figure out how to coexist and work together without the extensive verbal communication skills we have, I know that asking a few questions can not only transform your life, but also the world.

Hiding from God

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.”
Psalm 139:7-8

This verse holds good and bad news for us.  First, we’ll get the bad news out of the way: we can’t go anywhere without God knowing where we go and being able to go there too.  There’s no escape, we can’t hide, no matter how hard you try God knows.

That’s also the good news: God loves you so much that no matter where you go or what you do, He’ll know and be there.  The man who wrote these verses certainly knew what he was talking about, the man was King David of Goliath, Bathsheba and Solomon fame.  He had some big highs when God led him to some incredible victories and when God transformed him from a lowly shepherd boy to the king of a nation.  He had some big lows when he sinned with Bathsheba and didn’t listen to God.

There were days that I’m sure David wanted to escape God but couldn’t, and I’m sure you’ve had days like that (I know I have).  God’s love and attention to our lives is bigger than anything we can say or do.

This week, instead of trying to see if God is checking up on you, look instead for His abundant love appearing in many areas of your life.

Lives of Learning

Today we take a step back in history to learn from the wisdom of Abigail Adams:

“Learning is not to be attained by chance, it must be sought with ardor and attended to with diligence.”

What does this mean?  Well, Abigail has stumbled onto one of the greatest success secrets of all time: if you want to be successful you have to learn constantly.  You may get to success knowing a few things, but you won’t stay successful for long if you don’t keep learning and updating your knowledge of the rapidly changing world.

So what can you do?  My favorite learning solutions are books, blogs and newsletters, personally I love reading.  But there are also teleseminars, audio programs and online seminars and courses you can attend, as well as in-person events and classes for those who learn better in other ways.  I make time each and every day to do some learning that will help me in some area of my life or business.

The thing to remember is that even if you’re an average Joe or Jane, you probably have a family (or want one), and a job (or want one), and I don’t know anyone who couldn’t learn something and improve themselves in either area.  When you learn more not only are you more equipped to be a better employee, you’re also more likely to get pay raises and advance with the company, or find an even better job!  When you learn more about yourself or family, you can create an even happier, healthier, better-prepared-for-the-future family than the one you have.

This week I encourage you to get out there and start learning!  You don’t have to take on a bachelor’s or master’s degree at a college, just get out there and start learning and exploring your world.  You’ll love the results!  And if you’ve got a favorite method of learning, resource or book you love, share it in the comments.

The Secret of Storms

History tells us that Portuguese explorer Vasco De Gama traveled to the southern tip of Africa with no clue of what lay beyond the terrible storms that the cape was known for.  What he learned was that just beyond the storms there was calm seas and eventually the shores of India.  Based on this experience, he renamed the cape from the Cape of Storms to the Cape of Good Hope.

Often we get into positions in our lives like the people of De Gama’s time.  We can’t see beyond the stuff that’s going on to what could be there.  Sometimes that’s because we don’t try, sometimes we’re too beat up by the battle to try to get there and other times we just get so turned around we don’t even know which way is up anymore.  That’s where God comes into play.

Psalm 3:3 says “But you, Lord, protect me. You bring me honor; you give me hope.”

Yes, we should be turning to God before we can even describe the storms in our lives as storms, but often we try to get through them on our own.  God does give us strengths and abilities to do things as people, but what we need to realize is that those strengths and abilities aren’t really ours, they’re from Him.  And in order for our strengths and abilities to function at their highest potential, we have to connect with God.

This week know that no matter what you go through God is waiting for you to call out to Him and ask Him to be with you in the storm and guide you through.

Eleanor Roosevelt on Friendship

This month on Thursdays we’re going to take a look at some fabulous women in honor of Women’s History Month.  We begin our journey with wisdom from Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Friendship with ones self is all important, because without it one cannot be friends with anyone else in the world.”

It’s important to have friends in life, no one can go through life alone and experience the depth of life that is available when you have friends and associates in your life.  It’s also easier to have people in your life who can support you rather than trying to do it all alone.  But it’s not always easy to find people who you like and can related with more than once every few months over a drink or brief dinner.

Eleanor Roosevelt is right that to have friends you really need to be friends with yourself, because if you’re constantly putting yourself down and saying how much you don’t like things about yourself, it’s very hard to want to be friends with you! But even more than just getting friends, if you don’t like yourself you won’t do as well at work, in career advancement, or in your romantic relationships either.

This weekend I encourage you to sit down and make lists of the things you do like about yourself and the things you don’t like about yourself.  Then take the list with the don’t like’s and seriously consider if you can do or change anything on that list.  If you can, pick the one that you think will be either the easiest to work on or create the most dramatic difference in your life if you changed it, and get to work!