Friday, December 19, 2008

A Living Message

Our children are a living message to a future we will never see.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Rational Excuse

“More often than not, the only thing between you and your dream is a rational excuse.”

Mark Batterson, In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

How Far Are You Willing To Go?

If you’re like me, you recognize that our children provide us with a great excuse to be kids ourselves. Over the past 12 years, I have cherished the time I share with my son Matt, and I’m very intentional and intense about that time. The interaction and the relationship are what’s important. The event, the game, or the environment can enhance the time, but they are not the focus. It is time invested in his future. Sadly, so many parents miss out on this precious time.

I’m blessed that Matt enjoys to go to movies with me. As adults, we rarely venture out to the rated G movies on our own. Sadly, we sometimes miss out on some incredible messages.

It’s been a couple of years since we saw the Disney movie “Meet The Robinsons” together. I walked away from that movie absolutely on fire. Look at any summary of the film, and you’ll see that the life lesson was to keep moving forward. Failures, mistakes and setbacks are not obstacles. They are not the end of the line. They are an opportunity to learn and to grow. They refine us, and they lead us to better solutions.

We only fail when we quit.

Disney himself is credited as saying, “Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we're curious...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

The “keep moving forward” concept is critical to who I am and how I live my life. But was that enough to set me on fire? Well, no. I drew something else from the film that resonates with me to this day and drives me forward with strength and energy. With intensity.

I claim it was on the opening screen, even before the film itself. I may have the wrong movie. I may be misquoting the message. I may have been the only person in the theater who saw it. I can’t seem to find a reference to it anywhere. It's not on the DVD. But it is burned into my memory and is as real as the day I saw it.

“Everyone on this planet has a dream. The question is how far you are willing to go to make it come true.”

From the moment I heard that, I knew that I must be faithful to the dreams planted inside of me. How far indeed would I be willing to go to make them come true?

You have a dream planted inside of you. Do you have the courage to find it? Do you have the passion to follow it? Are you willing to step out, to keep moving forward and to persevere in the face of any obstacle?

How far are you willing to go to make it come true?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Are you listening?

What and who we listen to ultimately influences what we do.

(Thanks to Andy Stanley for his message on that theme for the past three weeks.)

What does that assertion say to you?

You often hear that you are a product of your associations. Everything about you, eventually, assimilates into the patterns of the people around you. Your thinking, your habits, your attitudes, your wardrobe. Your income. Eventually, everything.

It seems obvious when you see a group of teens all dressed alike. The latest trends to grunge. Hair the same, tattooed or not, perhaps piercing. It is also plain to see in talk, interests, music, hobbies and habits. Like attracts like, or else like becomes like if it wants to remain in the fold.

We instruct our children to watch who they hang out with. We know what can happen. Are we as careful ourselves?

That’s the “who” part. It’s not so obvious with the “what”. What we listen to. What we read. What we watch. Each of these inputs eventually drives our thinking, our belief systems, and finally our actions. When we see, hear, or watch something long enough, it becomes our norm. It becomes our reality. Over time, we may even find ourselves defending it as if our life depended on it.

Perhaps that’s actually true. Perhaps our life - the quality of our life - indeed depends on it.

In my personal mission statement, you’ll read this. "I never stop learning and growing, always drawing from the best sources of information. I guard my thoughts from unwholesome information and unhealthy environments. I seek wise counsel and mentorship, knowing that The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel."

What about your personal mission? If you are intentional about your future, it is critical that you ask:

“Who am I listening to?”
“What am I listening to?”

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Your Measure of Success

Quote of the Day:

"The size of your success is measured by the strength of your desire, the size of your dream, and how you handle disappointment along the way."

- Robert Kiyosaki

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Middle Class is Shrinking

Wealth, poverty, and the group in the middle. There is a distinct division within our society. Though we may debate the actual numbers, don’t miss the point.

We find the wealthy at one end of the spectrum. I reference Robert Kiyosaki and the Cashflow Quadrant for my definition of the wealthy, and the estimate that it‘s about 5% of the population.
On the other end are those below the poverty line. A year or so ago, that was about 15%. What would you think has happened to that number in the last few months?

For now, that leaves the remaining 80% in what would be called the middle class.

Kiyosaki and others have documented what we can see clearly. The middle class is shrinking. Jobs are going away by downsizing and outsourcing. Those reductions have recently accelerated through business failures and store closings. For those that remain, wages are dropping. Add global competition and a transformation of the business world, the rate of change is staggering.

Much of this change, and the impact, is outside of our direct sphere of influence. But not all of it.

I submit that where we find ourselves now (and the direction we move) relates directly to our ability to compete on an individual level. And it’s far beyond tactical execution. As an example, did you know that 80% of people that lose their jobs do so because of people skills rather than technical skills or expertise?

More than anything else, it's actually our thinking, the information that we obtain and leverage, that drives our results.

What I’ve learned is that, for me, I have to constantly develop myself to remain competitive. I have to grow to simply keep pace. As an employee, as an entrepreneur or as a business owner, the story is the same. Stop learning, and you start dying. In this case, that’s financial death and all that comes with it.

So what will you do with this information?
Do you agree that there is a 5/80/15 split?
Do you agree that the middle is shrinking?
Are they moving up to the 5% or down to the 15%?
By default or inaction, most are moving down to the 15%.
Will you follow them...
or will you chart a course towards the 5% instead?
Where are you now…
and which direction are you planning on going?
Will you take action?
What will happen if you don’t?

Thursday, December 4, 2008

No Regrets

The older I get, the more I hear people express regret for the way they’ve lived their lives.

Sometimes it traces back to what they have done. An action. A choice. A mistake in judgment. Perhaps a blatant, intentional decision fully knowing the negative consequences. One event that changed the course of their life, or a chosen course that slowly defined their life.

More often, though, the regret is for something left undone. Mark Twain put it this way. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do." If you ask me, this one is tougher. But it hits home all the same. Call it comfort or complacency, fear or ignorance. No matter, we will always miss the shots we didn’t take.

“Do I regret how I have lived my life?” Actions taken or failures to take action. As I write, and as you read, the question must be asked. Someday we'll be called upon to give an account for our lives. Will we like the answer? I don’t think I’ll have regrets for missteps or mistakes. I believe my greatest disappointment will be the day I learn what could have been. My full, unrealized potential. When I learn all that I was capable of doing that I simply ran from, avoided, or just let linger without a response. Things I stepped around. Wherever I set the bar, the understanding that I set it too low.

We all have the same 24-hour day. We all have a dream, a passion, planted within us. We all have skills and talents that support that passion. We all have resources that support those skills and talents. No, we don’t all have the same talents, skills or resources. Sometimes it takes a stretch, some extra effort, to make something happen in the midst of our circumstances. Still, we all have the opportunity.

I believe the differences, though, are not the limiting factor. We are far more limited by our thinking. Our beliefs, our attitudes and our self talk. The information we have on hand, and the new information we pursue. The actions we choose to take based on that information.

Beliefs drive decisions. Decisions determine direction. And every direction has a well defined destination.

I believe that each and every one of us are called to greatness based on the unique talents and skills that have been planted in us. They were planted in us for a purpose. They were planted in us for our mission.

The beauty in all of this? No matter where you have been, and no matter where you are now, you can choose a different path. You can tap into your passions and pursue a life void of regret. You can maximize every moment, every day and every opportunity. If you don't like the direction your life is taking, and the associated destination, you can step back and address the beliefs and decisions that are driving you there. But you must take action.

You were meant for something great. Step out and chase a mission worth every breath you’ve been given. Armed with passion and determination, you will create a valuable, abundant life. Stretch yourself! Dream BIG! Leave it all on the battlefield, with no regrets.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

And So It Begins...

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.” How can you go wrong by quoting Ben Franklin, right?

My mission includes both, thank you. If I'm going to invest my time in writing, it must be worth your time in reading. I plan to inform, to entertain, to teach, and to reach. I look forward to sharing what I've learned, and learning from what you share in return. I'm sure we'll both grow along the way. If not worth the reading, say so.

But writing alone is not my purpose. I would consider that, for myself, a very empty life. Taking a page from my own book of quotes, “Education without application is worthless.” Our life lessons are worthless if they fail to bear fruit. Application requires action. We were blessed with our lives for a purpose, and that's certainly a cause beyond ourselves. We're here to make a difference. We're here to impact and influence.

Beyond results in our own lives, we are called to leverage ourselves to equip, encourage and enable the successes of others as well.

My passion in life is helping people grow and change in the way others have helped me. Sharing principles of health, of wealth and of wisdom. Financial common sense. Wealth thinking. Relationship building. Self Mastery. Learning like we'll live forever, but living with an understanding that we are never promised another day.

Why bother? Simply put, it is amazing what can happen when you take personal responsibility for your actions and your decisions, when you take mastery of your life and control it's direction. The Principle of the Path tells us that direction determines destination. In the days ahead, however many we are given, we'll unpack that too.

I invite you on this journey. The destination is yours to create. Enjoy the ride!