Stay The Course

As we finish up our look at success today I want to share one more thought on it, one last challenge and encouragement with you. One of the things that is awesome about the world we live in as well as challenging is how fast things happen, change, grow and evolve. I think one of the reasons we struggle so much with the changes that happen is because most of us haven’t developed the ability to change this fast physically or mentally. Some of us have gotten good at adapting to the constant changes, and even thrive with them, and others of us have worked really hard at backing off the fast path and are enjoying life in the slow lane.

But for most of us we’re in between these two extremes, we’re dealing with all the changes, but not as well as we could or should and thus we get frustrated and overwhelmed. Then when we add success aspirations to the mix we sometimes have to make the choice to deal with the changes in our life or the changes in the success journey because we can’t manage both. I get it, I’ve been there. It’s not easy to make the choice of which to deal with. But what if you didn’t have to choose between life or success?

The first thing you do is choose that you don’t have to be involved or check out or do every change. You don’t need to upgrade with every new phone on the market, you don’t need to join every social network, you don’t need to sell to everyone, you don’t need to try every product, you don’t need to do everything others want to do. You have to choose how much time you’re going to spend doing things, which people you’re going to spend your time with and what matters most to you. Don’t be afraid to try new things, but don’t feel that you have to try everything new.

The second thing you need to do is be persistent and stay the course. Sometimes the solution is to just keep working on things. Yes, some days you’ll give a little more attention and effort to your success efforts, but other days you’ll put the extra effort and attention to the life things. But countless leaders and successful individuals will tell you that they’re successful because they put one foot in front of the other and kept going. Day after day, story after story, action after action, effort after effort, you keep going.

Don’t give up on your success or the challenges you’ve had because you’re overwhelmed with changes, make the changes work for you, and take your time to work through the changes.

“We try to flee what troubles us, whether literally or figuratively, and God invites staying present… remain and find God here.” Br. Luke Ditewig

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Looking Beyond the Ruins

My heart hurts with the people of Vegas as they struggle to navigate the aftermath of the shooting. As much as we may try to do the right thing and encourage others to do the right thing as well, there will continue to be people who are evil and don’t have good in their hearts. With the tragedy in mind, I thought we’d take a look at the words of Isaiah 51:3:

“The Lord will comfort Israel again and have pity on her ruins. Her desert will blossom like Eden, her barren wilderness like the garden of the Lord. Joy and gladness will be found there. Songs of thanksgiving will fill the air.”

No where in the Bible does God or any of the writers make light of the challenges that we face on earth. Look at Job; no matter what way you look at his situation, he experienced some really tough stuff, Elisha and Elijah were both treated to some natural and supernatural situations and disasters, Abraham didn’t doubt that God could destroy a city, and Saul/Paul accepted being shipwrecked and bitten by a snake, and those are just a few examples of the people in the Bible. Today it’s no different, whether we’re looking at attacks, genocides, money issues, economic troubles, bad leaders or natural disasters, you can’t honestly expect that you’ll “escape” this life without incident. But the good news is that God promises that even with the bad days, good days will follow.

I don’t think God sits up in heaven and shakes His finger at us and says “that’s what you deserve!!”, I think He feels our pain and knows that we’re struggling. Jesus certainly, after spending days in the desert, knows what it’s like to feel desolate and deserted by life, as many of us have seen with neighborhoods completely dark and cold after this hurricane.

What Isaiah says towards the end is what captures my attention: he says that the joy will be found in the barren, now reborn, wilderness. Where there wasn’t much promise, now there is. Where there wasn’t anything worth living for, now there is. What only brought sadness and anger, now brings joy and gladness.

The choice that Israel had to make, and we have to make today, is the choice of how we react to the wilderness. Are we going to react with frustration and anger that we’re in ruins? Are we going to go beyond the reality and see the potential in the future and reach for it with hope and thanksgiving? It’s not about ignoring the bad, or bypassing it. In truth it’s important to see the ruins and come to terms with the tragedy. Not only does that give you perspective for the future, it’s also healthy to grieve for what you’ve lost. But just like the story of Jesus doesn’t end at the sealed tomb, our stories can’t end with us grieving for what we’ve lost. We have to choose to be grateful for what and who we have in our lives.

This week I hope you’ll join me in looking for ways to turn wildernesses into gardens and bringing life back into an area, and a country, that used to be vibrant and full of hope. What are you thankful for?

Reality Reflection: A Little Screw Up

Today I’m thinking about those screw ups that we sometimes do. A friend of mine got pulled over by the police recently for not taking sufficient time at the stop sign, and it got me thinking. Just because my friend got pulled over it doesn’t mean they’re a terrible person. The same could be said about people who cheat on their partner, those who steal, those who get into accidents, those who swear or those who are messy. No one is perfect, but sometimes we make a really big deal about the things they do that aren’t so great, regardless of how big of a deal it really was.

Of course, there are bad people out there, some people belong in jail or punished or with limited privileges. Some people can learn from their mistakes and make changes and live better going forward, while others never do. I hurt for the people who fit into that ‘bad’ category and wish they could see the light of living life a different way.

Do I think that we all could do a better job with our lives, of course. We’ve all got room for improvement. But sometimes I think we poke at and pick out those flaws because we’re scared or we want to look better than them, or because we feel we don’t measure up, or we didn’t get forgiveness when we needed it or we like to make others feel bad. While I hope you’re not the type of person who enjoys making others feel bad, those types of bullies are out there and we do deal with them on a regular basis. If you’re busy poking at someone else’s issues I encourage you to take a look at your own life, reflect on your motivations about why you do that and consider changing how you interact with others.

If you have been screwing up a lot lately or find that people point out how flaws and issues, maybe it is time for you to take a look at what you’re doing or how you’re interacting with people. I love personal growth and think that we’ve all got room to grow and improve, and sometimes we need to hear it from others how we can improve (of course there’s a nice way and a not-so-nice way to do it). So first and foremost don’t be discouraged, you’ve still got time and opportunity to improve, each day is a new opportunity to shine.

An Enemy of Freedom

As we talk about the topic of freedom this month today I want to talk about the challenging topic of indecision. I talked about what indecision means in your business on my other blog, but here today I want to talk about indecision in your personal life. Let’s face it, sometimes we really stink at making decisions. I get it, we’re tired or there’s too many choices, or not enough choices, or there’s too many opinions, or we’re feeling lazy, or we don’t feel it’s really a priority. But when you don’t make a decision you actually do make a decision, it’s just not the decision you may have made if you actually made a decision. Not having an active role in making the decision leaves you up to the whims of the universe. I like a little luck in my life, but some things are too important to leave up to luck.

Indecision and decision making is an important part of freedom, because without making decisions you’ll never have the freedoms you want, or help others get to that freedom. If others are making decision for you, you may end up at what someone would consider freedom, but not what you want as your freedom in life. So if you’re really serious about having those freedoms in your life, you’re going to have to make some decisions and take action on those decisions.

If you want to beat your struggle with indecision, a really effective way is kind of a trick. Ready? Make more decisions. Yep, that sounds really dumb but if you’re consciously making more decisions you’ll learn how to make decisions through experience so when the big decisions come your way you’ll be prepared to make those decisions quicker and better.

If you’re not sure how to make a decision about something, part of that decision making practice should be to make a step-by-step plan. This should be more of a strategy or plan framework so that you can apply it to other decisions you make. It will probably include listing the options you have, researching your options, setting goals/steps, asking for or finding opinions, and trying things out, and maybe even role playing so you can get a feel for how things might go if you make a particular decision. Of course the last step of every plan or strategy you create is taking action!

As I mentioned in the last point, one of the ways you can make better and quicker decisions, and make decisions at all, is to better tap into the available resources. I hear from too many people in this internet age that they have no clue about being a parent or being in a relationship or starting a business or using social media. There’s almost no excuse for not having or getting some foundational knowledge about any topic you’re experiencing in your life with all the blogs, podcasts, videos, courses, webinars and classes available both online and offline. There are also tons of people in your physical circle as well as online that you can talk to about topics that confuse you, and give you some of the information you need to make your decisions.

But as we’ve said throughout the post today, the biggest aspect of indecision that has to be addressed is action. It’s great to make a decision, but once you make that decision you have to take action on it. Yes, sometimes that will mean you’re not taking action because you decided not to pursue the options that were presented to you, but more often than not you’ll have some things to do, buy or change as a result of the decision you’ve made. Don’t let the fear of taking action or worry about commitment be the reason you are indecisive. I encourage you to decide to choose your future today.

Faith in Planting Seeds

Summer is always an interesting time of year, it’s my favorite season, we get to enjoy late nights and early mornings, we take lots of time to be with friends and family, and unfortunately it goes by so fast! One of my other favorite things about summer is all of the readily available fresh fruits and vegetables, many that are available grown locally or within the US, which isn’t the case during the rest of the year. But summer’s break for all the kids and teachers and fresh fruits and vegetables is only a result of the work that’s done prior to summer arriving; summer and into early fall is the time that we see the results of the seeds that we’ve planted in spring, and the education that’s been going on for the past 8-9 months.

Summer seems like we get instant results, but the reality is that those results took a lot of work and time to get to. If you’ve done any gardening before you may be familiar with plants, especially in the fruit category, that take more than one year to really see results. For instance, you won’t see apples the first year you plant the tree, nor will you see raspberries the first year you plant the bush. Just like apples and raspberries, most of the great results in our lives take time and effort.

I think this is something God planned intentionally, knowing how immediate and light-speed our lives would be today. It’s an important lesson on taking time in our lives. Technology has shortened the distance between people which is amazing, it’s also made it easier and cheaper to connect with others than ever before, which means that we’re able to take the time we never could to really build relationships and have conversations. It’s easier than ever to touch base with someone who needs a friend or is having a bad day and just tell them that we love them. Since it’s that easy to do, we really have no excuse not to do it.

It’s also an important lesson on the value and concept of planting seeds. It’s easier than ever to get things done and make changes in our lives with all of the resources and technology available to us, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t take time sometimes to really get things done the way they should be done or the way we want them done. Sometimes God will delay that timeline intentionally because we’re not ready or because the time isn’t right yet. God may have you working on something now that won’t show fruition for several years or seasons of our lives, and other times we may not even see the results of the seeds we plant because those seeds are planted in people who move away or live after we die.

So this week I encourage you to not only plant seeds, but to make sure you’re taking action when you’ve got the opportunity to do so, and enjoying the fruits of your labor when they do happen. And don’t forget to thank God for bringing you from seed to fruition too.

The Purim Journey

This past week was the celebration of Purim in Jewish communities around the world.  It’s a celebration that anyone who has read the Christian Bible is familiar with as well because the story is told in the book of Esther.  The story is noteworthy for many reasons, but it all boils down to a queen (a woman) stepping up for her people (Jews) and stopping an evil plot that would have been one of the earlier examples of genocide. Because of her bravery she has been remembered throughout the spiritual histories of both Christians and Jews.

This story of deliverance is an excellent example of the way that one person can step up and do something great for many people.  Esther took a big risk by pleading for not only her life but the life of her people before the king.  While most of us are not in the position of great power and responsibility that she was, we can still learn from her courage and her story.

Royalty in that day and age wasn’t always a by-birth thing.  Esther grew up a normal girl who got picked to be queen, she didn’t know her life would take that turn.  We don’t know where the journey we’re on will take us. We can make some educated guesses based on the decisions we’re making and things we see showing up in our lives.  Most of us do have the power to change that path if we’re not happy with it or if we want something different/better/else. If an ordinary girl can become queen, I have to believe that the options for the rest of us are just about endless.  What will you choose to do with your future?

Reality Reflection: Past and Future

I was talking about the show “Hoarders” with a client this week.  I love organization and it’s something I work on with my clients, but it’s not a show I enjoy watching or choose to watch.  I have watched it in the past because of what I do and out of curiosity.  The premise of the show is that there are people whose houses are so crammed full of stuff that they can hardly move.  Something has happened in their lives or the lives of family members and as a result they’re finally deciding to try to do something about the clutter.  The Hoarders team is brought in and together the client and team work to not only throw out or donate a lot of stuff, they also talk about the non-visible clutter that made the visible clutter get this bad in the first place.  I saw a recent commercial for it featuring an individual who had been on the show as a client and he shared his thankfulness about the transformation that took place in his life through the show.   If you’ve seen it you know that as a result of the work the clients do experience great transformations and are given a fresh start at life.

The reason I bring it up is because of the conversation we were having around it.  Yes, the craziness of the hoarding was mentioned, and they said that they sometimes get sucked in and watch because they can’t believe it and it just amazes them.  The reason I like the show is because they achieve a great transformation with it.  I’m not a fan of news TV because often it’s just a report, nothing is done about the issue. Yes, it’s great that issues are coming to light, but just bringing them to light doesn’t really do anything. The rare exception is when someone’s experience or emotions are confirmed around a situation or person and they’re able to find some peace or freedom as a result (like hearing the story of a rape survivor or knowing a dishonest executive was sent to jail may give them some peace even if the individual that raped them or took their money wasn’t).

Yes, I take time to look at the issues with myself and my clients, I don’t believe we can really move on unless we take time to work through them and understand them at least a little and see how they fit into our life story.  But I don’t believe it’s healthy for all of us to be bringing up our history or focusing on what went wrong in our lives all of the time.  I believe there has to be a point at which we choose to move forward and start telling a new story.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to move on to what 2017 has for us. I’m tired of talking about 2016 and the past, and ready to start equipping myself and others to conquer all this year has to offer.  Are you?