Reality Reflection: Is the Juice Worth the Squeeze?

Recently I was talking with a friend about the successes his son has had at swimming. From previous conversations I know that he is paying a decent amount for his son to swim with the team each year. As any responsible parent would, every year he considers if the cost of having his son swim is really worth it, or if the finances would be better spent on other activities, not to mention all the time devoted to practices and meets. Hearing all the successes his son has had this year we both agreed that it’s been a good investment for his son. His son hasn’t won any money or college scholarships (he’s not at that level yet), but the records he’s broken and medals he’s won show constant improvement and better-than-average success.

This conversation got me thinking about the rest of our lives and the investments we’re making.  The investment and the value are things that we should be considering in the decisions that we make. They should help guide our decisions and remind us to spend more resources on the things and people that give a good return. If some of us put even a tiny bit more thought to the investment we’re making and the value we’re getting out of a decision, I think things would look very different in the news right now.

You can’t avoid hearing about all the women coming forward and sharing about unwanted attention, about the lies that people tell to others, or about the questionable decisions that are made in various business industries by leaders and employees alike. I know that it can be seductive to go the easy route or cut corners, but time and again it’s been proven that making the decisions that benefit the fewest number of people are a bad idea!

I’m not saying that we can’t have any fun or do mostly pointless activities like watching TV or going out with friends, just that we need to be more aware of the decisions we’re making and making sure that we’re OK with how the investment of resources will turn out.

As we enter this last month of the year how have your investments this year worked out? Have you made good investments, or do you have some work to do before the year is out?

Advertisements

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

Crossroads of Success

Life in general challenges us, so when it comes to success we often find that we’re more challenged than we want to be. If you’re struggling with life or success, know it may get worse before it gets better, but I know that God will be with you through whatever you go through. One of my favorite verses in Jeremiah showed up this week in my readings and it got me thinking about God’s timing in life. Take a peek:

“This is what the Lord says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask where the old road is. Ask where the good road is, and walk on that road. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves…” Jeremiah 6:16

This verse is telling us a couple of important things about life and our success journey:

1-think through decisions
2-ask for help
3-take action

It may feel like you’re approaching a new crossroad every day, feel like you’re all turned around and confused, not able to find rest anywhere. I can empathize-I’ve been there many times myself, everyone has. So often it feels like we’re on a merry-go-round at these crossroads, just going in circles, not sure when to get off or where to go. Where do we find the clarity? How do we know which road to take?

Here are my suggestions:

1-realize what’s not working. Before you get anymore turned around, stop and take stock of your life. See where things are, what’s working for you and what needs to be let go.
2-consider where God has led you before. This has to do with your life purpose, the gifts God has given you and where you’ve found God’s presence strongest in your life before.
3-make a list of all possible roads. What ways could you go? Where could God lead you? Can you “map out” a plan for each idea? If you’re not feeling God strongly push you in one direction, and you can’t make a plan for the road, it’s probably not the way to go.

When it comes down to it, the best thing to remember is that each day is a new day, God is abundant in forgiveness, and there’s almost no mistake that’s too big to fix or learn from. Even if you go down the wrong path, God will give you opportunities to learn while on that path that will benefit you when you get on the right path. And above all else, don’t forget to ask God for his guidance. He’s the only one who really knows what’s going on and where you’re heading. He’s a big God, and is willing (make that jumping-up-and-down excited) to work with you on your life, both the big and the small. What will He show you today?

Thankful for Success

We have so much we can be thankful for in our lives! As we celebrate Thanksgiving in the US today I’m making my list of things I’m thankful for. And as I type those words and think about this blog post and other work I have to do, I’m reminded that it’s important to be thankful for success, and how thankful I am for the different successes in my life that I’ve experienced. Yes, we’ve talked about celebrating our victories, but that’s a little different. As much as giving thanks is a celebration, there’s also often a lot of humility involved as well.

Giving thanks for our successes means being honest about how difficult it was, seeing the failures and close calls for what they were, and feeling the relief that you’ve accomplished as much as you have. You can certainly share words of gratitude during your victory celebration or success party, but it’s not usually shared from a bragging perspective, but rather with a distinct down-to-earth feel.

As you take the time to reflect on your successes, the way this year has gone, and your dreams for the future, I encourage you to make time to be humble, grateful and honest about it all. Recognize what has gone right, create time to fix what went wrong and needs to be better in the future, get the support you need, and thank those who have played a crucial role in your success, whether they knew it or not.  What or who are you thankful for?

Finding Confidence in God

One of the biggest challenges to our lives and successes has to do with the fact that we’re sometimes insecure people, or lacking in confidence. Yes, each of us has little things that set us off or raise red flags and make us question, even if there is no need to question, even though we’re confident, strong people in every other area of our lives. Many of us have insecurities around whether we’re important or not, whether it’s at work, in a relationship or to our children. Whether we’re young or old, we sometimes feel that we’re not important, it’s unfortunately part of being human.

Ezekiel 37:14 says: “I will put My spirit in you, that you may live.”
Psalm 89:17 says: “You are their amazing strength. Their power comes from you.”
Jeremiah 31:25 says: “I will give rest and strength to those who are weak and tired.”

God gives us life, gives us the strength to become the best version of ourselves, and the encouragement to get through the times of doubt. This week, know that you do matter. Who you are, what you can do, your dreams, your goals, your hopes, your dreams, who and what you call home, these things all matter. To you, to me, and most importantly to God. He’s your biggest cheerleader and greatest coach, the voice of reason and little flame that spurs you on to do better.

If you’re struggling with confidence or feelings of insecurities, turn to God and ask Him to show you the confidence and strength that He revealed to so many leaders in the Bible who didn’t start out as amazing leaders. And don’t forget to tell someone this week that they matter to you, you may think they know, but they may not. Your vote of confidence in them and acknowledgement of their ability could be the encouragement they’ve been needing.

Can You Have Too Much Help?

I firmly believe that we rarely achieve success without at least one other person being involved and helping us along the way. Maybe that person is the stranger who built the website technology you used to create your website for your business. Maybe that person is your partner who encourages you to get up and exercise every day. Maybe it’s the truck driver who delivers the supplies to your store after hours. I think it’s great when we’re brave enough to ask for help, but can it go too far? Can we get too much help?

I think that in order to really achieve success personally we have to be involved in the success process. I don’t think you can really hand it all of to your people or your team and call it a win for you personally when you didn’t do anything (this would be an example of a team win). And you can’t call it a win at all when all you do is hand stuff off to others so you don’t have to deal with it and don’t take up the responsibilities that you should be handling instead.

What we’re talking about here is delegating vs abdicating.  The difference between delegating and abdicating or abandoning is that when you delegate you do so with the express purpose of giving a task to someone better equipped to do it or because your time and effort are much better spent doing other things.  Abdicating and abandoning means that you’re either giving up, paralyzed with fear or so overwhelmed you can’t do what you should or could be doing, and so you do nothing.

I’m all for delegating when it comes to success, I don’t know that anyone is truly capable of doing everything for themselves all the time, especially if you want to live in the world that we do (and not be a farmer who lives off the grid and doesn’t really interact with society). But delegating becomes an issue when you’re using the delegation to avoid doing anything. Then not only are you not having successes, the people in your life are probably also not having successes, and they’re possibly getting frustrated with you.

As you finish off this week I encourage you to take a moment and think about the responsibilities in your life and whether you’re living up to them or not.  Victory may be just a few commitments and actions away.

The Discipline of Success

There are so many different sides and aspects to success, and what you may see as success today may not be what I see as success. Maybe success for you is getting out of bed, maybe it’s getting to work on time, maybe it’s cooking a dinner that tastes good and wasn’t from a box or the freezer, maybe it’s crossing a lot off your to-do list, or maybe it’s making time to spend with your partner and/or kids without constantly looking at your phone.

One of the things that can help you get to success is discipline. I know, it sounds like the big scary word you remember as a kid that always meant you did something wrong and were about to be punished. But in this case it’s not about doing something wrong or even about punishment, but about being proactive and intentional about the decisions you make and how you spend your time.

It could be your discipline to spend 30 minutes a day watching a cooking show so you can become a better cook. It could be your discipline to only answer emails at the beginning and end of your work day. It could be your discipline to take 10 minutes at the beginning and end of your day for yourself. It could be your discipline to work out every day. It could be your discipline to schedule your time during the work day so that you make time for your work and what everyone else needs from you.

The question today isn’t can you be successful, but do you have the discipline to get from where you are to where you want to be?  If you don’t have those disciplines set up in your life today I would encourage you to be proactive about getting them in place so that you can make the most of these last 2 months of 2017.