September 28, 2013

7 Easy Ways to Show You Care

Don't you hate talking to someone you know is not listening? When that happens it's easy to stop talking, get ready to erupt, check them, determine you're not gonna waste your time with them again, or do all four right? Don't be that person and don't waste your time with someone who is that person. No one likes talking to a wall; matter of fact, you will be called crazy if you consistently talk to one!

Here are 7 Easy Ways to Show You Care when someone is talking to you. Do them and watch your conversations thrive:

1. Look the Person in the Eye
It may seem old fashion, but it is one of the greatest things you could do demonstrate that you are fully present. If someone is talking to you look them in the eye throughout the conversation. Eye contact is intentional engagement.

2. Refuse to Let Your Mind Wander
Anyone could tell when you start drifting. Catch those thoughts and focus your brain power on the person in
front of you. You may have to do this 100 times in the conversation; it gets easy as you practice, trust me.

3. Nod with Affirmation
Don't be fake with this, it is obvious! However, the more you affirm what is being said verbally and with your body the more likely you are to remain engaged. You don't need to necessarily agree with what is being said, but agree that what is being said is important to you because the person is important to you.

4. Get Off Your Phone
Nothing tells a person more she is not important. When you are preoccupied with texting someone, checking a score, or looking at Facebook you are saying your space is already filled and the person talking to you can't get it.

5. Get Off Your Phone
When you're in a face to face conversation your phone is nothing more than a distraction and agent of dehumanization. By being on it while someone is talking to you is telling the person he does not matter.

6. Get Off Your Phone
When you pull your phone out in the middle of a conversation you just told the person, "Shut up!" or, "Keep talking, but I don't care what you're saying." When you don't care it will show.

7. Stay OFF Your Phone
Staying off your phone throughout a conversation demonstrates to the person in front of you she is the most important person to you at the moment. Your eyes are the window to your soul, by consistently letting them float from her face to a screen is the same as screaming, "I'm more passionate about a device then hearing your heart." Put the phone away and stay off.

September 27, 2013

Can You Handle The Truth?

When you are afraid of people questioning your life, it is usually not because you don't want people in your business, it is usually because you won't like the answers they find. However, when it comes to you questioning your friends actions, authority, government, your boss, or why management does things the way they do there is no holds bars! Why is that?

Everyone wants people over them to be accountable, but when it comes to someone holding us accountable it's a different story. You want to be the questioner, not the one getting questioned. When you're the questioner you're in a safe place. It's so much easier to show someone else where they need to change in order to become more effective; it's much easier to point of the weaknesses of others. But, are you willing to place your life, actions, attitude, work ethic, and integrity on the stand?

Accountability is one of your greatest assets, but too many view it is their great enemy. Why is it that you see questioning as demeaning when it happens to you, but you see it as necessary for those over you? The first reason is because you can't handle the truth! The second reason is because you have a false understanding of the purpose of questioning and accountability.

When people hold you accountable in your life, actions, and words you need to see it as a good thing. It is for your benefit that people around you, especially those who love you and want the best for you, hold you to a standard through their questions. The process of questioning gets down to the core of who you are, why you are, what you are doing, why you are doing it, and where you can make adjustments to move forward. The real answers may hurt, but understanding them allows you to makes adjustments where needed for optimal growth.

It's happened to you right? You tell a friend, "I really want to save money and not spend so rashly," but the next time you go out you see something you don't really need yet you immediately want to buy it. Your friend looks at you and says, "Remember, you're trying to save money and not buy things you don't need." Then immediately you think and possibly say, "Don't judge me... I can buy anything I want."

"Don't judge me," is sad deflector for, "I really don't want to exercise self control right now." "I can buy anything I want," is a sorry deflector for, "I don't understand that true freedom is manifest in the ability to walk in self discipline." The truth is that you can do anything you want, but anything you want may not necessarily be good for you. The truth is that it is not judgment, it's loving accountability to a standard that you know is necessary for you and those around you. 

The purpose of the questioning and accountability is holding you to the standard that you declared as necessary for your success. It's about you making a commitment and someone assisting you in seeing it lived out. It's not about exposing your flaws, it's about exposing the gaps of what you need and where you are in order to bridge them.

Learn to see questioning as your friend, not your foe. Learn to see accountability as necessary for your growth, not as an oppressive watchman. Your success will always be contingent about having the right questions asked and the right answered lived out. Questioning why you do what you do on a consistent basis is one of the best things for you. Don't be afraid to be questioned, don't be afraid to face the truth; if you want to be successful, determine that you will do both and make adjustments accordingly. You can handle the truth and you will grow because of it!

September 26, 2013

A Blessing In Disguise

Have you ever just wanted to quit, throw in the towel, and run? I totally understand. Working two jobs has not always been fun. Honestly, it has been down right hard. There have been times I have wanted to quit, cry, not go in, and throw in the towel. But, through the grind of it all greater vision for my life, marriage, finances, relationships, education, and future has begun to spring up inside of me. At one of the places that I have experienced the greatest frustration and toil I am now reaping some of the greatest fruit.
No one likes frustration, but it can cause you to dig for clarity. No one enjoys exhaustion, but it can cause you to work smarter. No one delights in financial struggle, but it can cause you to gain vision to change your family tree, to leave a legacy for your future generations. The place of your greatest pain, struggle, and oppression could be the place of your greatest healing, strength, vision, and success.
The Israelites were in slavery in the land of Goshen, in Egypt, for over 400 years. It was the
most oppressive time of their history. When they first came to Goshen their family line numbered about 70 people. However, when it was time for God to deliver them through Moses they numbered in the millions! It was in the place of their oppression that they saw the miraculous work of God, the provision of God through the 7 year famine, the protection of God through the 10 plagues, the favor of God as he turned the hearts of the Egyptians to give them goods, and the multiplication of God when they went from 70 to millions!
The struggling season is never fun. Naturally, it's not enjoyable when you have great vision for your future but you feel restricted. Or, when your heart is bursting with ideas but you have no resources to carry them out. But, how you respond during those seasons will determine your outcome. You could either wade in a pool of discouragement and frustration or you could use it as a time to multiply. Your current struggle may be your greatest future asset!
What you don't realize is that you are in the midst of a blessing in disguise. You may be in a job you don't like now, but how are you meant to grow from it? How is it meant to reveal God's miraculous work, provision, protection, favor, vision or multiplication? Stop looking at what is horrible about it and start looking at the greatness it can produce in you.

Your success is not contingent upon the greatness of your position, it's contingent upon the greatness of your disposition. Where you are now positionally is not as important as where you are dispositionally  always. Determine today that you will thrive no matter what and no matter where!


September 25, 2013

Your Perspective Is The Game Changer

Your perspective is the game changer. You have to determine that no matter what type of situations come your way they are going to work out for your good. Someone who does this maximizes struggle, minimizes blame, and sees every situation as an opportunity to grow. It's simple.

Until you stop giving things and people control over your perspective you will feel as if you are enslaved to them. But, a free woman in heart and mind is always free. When you step back and look at your work situation what do you see? Do you see your boss as a task master, your coworkers as people out to get you, and your position as something you dread doing? Or, do you see a boss who you can glean from, coworkers you can support and learn from, and a position that is a step towards something greater?

A young man was walking along a road from one small village to another and he asked an elderly gentleman sitting under a tree, "What type of people are in this village I'm approaching?" The elderly man responded, "What type of people where in the last village you left?" The young man shot back, "They were all thieves, crooks, and swindlers." "You'll find the same in this village too," replied the old man. 

What YOU see is what YOU get. You will always find what you are looking for. The questions are, "What are you looking for? And what is the lens through which you're looking?" I talk to people all the time who complain about their job, boss, work hours, coworkers, and future with their company and there is one thing they have in common, their perspective is destructive.

Don't get me wrong, working two jobs is not easy. There are times I sit in my car after a 13 - 15 hour day and ask, "Why the heck am I doing this?" Then I remind myself that some people don't have work. Some people are beating the pavement and being shut down time after time. Some people are struggling to feed their families. Yet, I have the opportunity to work two jobs, both in which I am growing, learning, and moving towards the fulfillment of my destiny. 

You will always find what you are looking for. What are you looking for in your situations, on your job, and in your relationships? Refuse to allow your perspective to be destructive, learn to see each situation as an opportunity for your good and growth.

September 24, 2013

Making "Why" Your Favorite Word

If the question of "why" is frustrating to you it is for one simple reason, you don't yet realize how it is at the core of everything you do.

You have a why for everything you do, everything. Why do you eat? Because your body needs food and food is amazing! Why do you work? Because you need to feed your family, you're trying to pay off debt, or you're saving towards a goal. Why does a single parent mother or father work two jobs? Because he or she refuses to allow his or her kids to suffer. 

However, the question is not necessarily, "Why do you do what you do?" The questions are, "Is your why strong enough to sustain what you are doing? Is your why important enough for you to keep doing what you're doing or should you be doing something else? "

If your why is unclear it will be easy for you to get distracted, discouraged, or deterred. This is why businesses create mission statements, it is there why, it is meant to keep them focused in the midst of the daily chaos of business. Your why needs to be strong enough to keep you focused, simple enough for you to remember, and powerful enough to compel you in the midst of adversity.

During World War II Winston Churchill was approached by someone in his administration about cutting all funding for art programs in schools in order to use the money towards the war efforts. He responded by asking, "Then what are we fighting for?" In essence, if we take away the freedom to express oneself, to learn, and to grow, then why are we fighting? His why was too important to cause him to back down or to strip things from his people that he knew characterized freedom.

If you start things, but tend to easily throw in the towel it is because you need to strengthen your why. You need to have more answers to "Why?" then "Why not?" You need to ask yourself over and over, "Why am I doing what I am doing?" Refuse to get frustrated by the question, allow it to become a filter for useless action and an agent of greater determination. Learn to make "Why" your favorite word.

September 21, 2013

10 Things A Champion Knows

If you want to be a champ you need to think like a champ

A Champion knows...

1. Pursing your dreams is more important than what the score card says.

2. There is no such thing as a loss, everything amounts to growth.

3. Failure is only a stepping stone to greater success.

4. Strength will only take you so far, vision and heart are the real fuel.

5. Discipline is not the enemy of freedom, it is its friend.

6. Impossible is a scapegoat for the fearful.

7. The crowd is fickle, you are not moved by them.

8. What you do under the lights always reveals what you do at practice.

9. Your victory begins in your mind, excuses only keep You back.

10. Your level of greatness is never achieved by you alone.

September 20, 2013

The Monster In Your Closet

Change begins with you.
Have you ever talked with somebody and shared issues that you were experiencing on your job, in your relationships, with your family etc.? I mean, every time you get a new job there are 'those' issues. Every time you make new friends there are 'those' issues. At every family event there are 'those' issues. I'm going to let you in on a little secret, people are not trying to sabotage you, you got issues.
You see the thing about 'those' issues is that no matter where you go 'those' issues will be there. It is so easy to point the finger and blame people for how they 'make' you feel or what they 'make' you do. But let me free you up right now, no one can make you feel anything, no one can make you do anything, and no one can make you react in a particular way. You, and you alone, have control over you. The minute you forfeit your control you are giving people power over you that they were never meant to have.
Until you start taking personal responsibility for where you're at in your life you will continually blame others for where you are or where you are not. You are the monster in your closet. There is no one set out to get you; there is no boogie man under your bed waiting to dash your dreams into oblivion. You are the woman in the mirror. The question is, what are you going to do about it?
Before I set out on the journey to get out of debt this year with my wife I constantly blamed my circumstances and situations for why we were in debt. "I didn't grow up knowing how to handle money... If someone would have taught me... If I just made more... If people would stop asking me to help them out..." These were all excuses, copouts. The minute I began to realize that change began with me was the minute I stepped into my authority as a son of God, a husband, a man, and a human being in a way I never have before.
It was my thinking that kept me back, not people. It was a pity party mentality that kept me bound, not the lack of opportunity. It was my sense of smallness in my own eyes that kept me from pursuing greater things, not the absence of possibility.
Stop looking for people and situations to blame and begin to realize that you are fully adequate, capable, and authorized to pave a new path for your present and your future. If you don't take hold of your life situations and other people will, but it is only because you allowed them to have the reigns. If you want to see things change then do something about it. The change begins with you.

September 19, 2013

Caring For Yourself: Selfish or Necessary?

Caring for others to the point of your demise is not noble, it is foolish.

I'm sure you have seen it, a leader who is constantly meeting the needs of those around him, but then spirals into a pit of burnout. Or, a friend who consistently pushes herself to answer her friends beckoning call until she takes off and runs in order to get away from it all. "What happened? He or she was the most caring person for others."
What happened is that those individuals truly did care for others, but they failed to care for themselves first. It's counterintuitive. Caring for yourself is one of the most selfless things that you can do. It's not only selfless, it's necessary.
As a leader, parent, pastor, family member or friend you think to be loving, giving, sacrificial, or selfless you need to be continuously pouring out, but what about pouring? You can't give what you don't have. You can't refresh others when your well is tapped.
Think about it financially. I'm sure if you had it you would love to give graciously to those around you. But, how can you be selfless in your finances if your bank account is empty? Unless you take time to intentionally plan for your financial future, save, invest, and grow in your wealth, you will constantly have nothing to give.
The same goes for your emotional bank account. How often have you felt like you just didn't have the emotional capacity to give to anyone else? If you don't consciously feed into your emotional bank account when it's time for any withdraws you will be having some 'withdraws' all right; yelling, shutting down, running. You get it.
One of the most selfless things you could do for others is set time in your daily schedule to care for yourself. What are things that fill your emotional tank? What things bring you joy? In what ways do you need to build your relational, financial, emotional, spiritual, mental, or physical reservoirs? Begin to discover these things and then begin to do them. Caring for others begins with caring for yourself.

September 18, 2013

Feedback: It's For You, Not Them

Do you ever consciously take time to ask for feedback from those around you? Do ever go to your boss, spouse, friends, co-workers or family members and ask, "How can I grow… in my relationship with you, effectiveness in my work, skills at listening to you, communicating with you in a way that is clear and understandable?" I know this can be a very scary thing, a very vulnerable thing, but it is a must if you ever desire to grow into the best you.

Many refuse to ask for feedback and consistently stunt their personal growth because of one simple reason, fear. Are you one of those many? Let’s be honest, who likes to be told they are doing something wrong, need to change or can do it better? I will tell you who, someone who desires to grow and cares more about who they are becoming then being right all the time. Your growth is more important than your front.

The reality is that those around you know, usually better than you, the areas in which you need to grow. 
Be real with yourself, do you honestly think the people you see every day can't see your flaws, weaknesses and areas where you need improvement? The question is, "Are you willing to be vulnerable enough to let them help you see those areas?"

If you're a leader, I challenge you to ask those you lead to share with you some areas they believe you need to grow. If you're a spouse, ask your spouse how you can love him or her better, listen better, show affection better. If you're an employee, ask your boss how you can be more effective with your time, how you can contribute in a greater way to see the vision come to pass. It’s not for them, though it will impact their lives in a positive way, it is for you. 

Stop waiting until things end up in a place where people have to tell you where you need to grow and start inviting them into the process. Don't let the fear of criticism keep you from being a better you.

Make growth the focus, not perfection. 

When growth is your focus then criticism becomes a guide to greatness. When growth is your focus then you are willing to make any change necessary in order to be the best you can possibly be. When growth is your focus then you intentionally ask for feedback.

Remember, it is for you. What keeps you from asking for feedback? What are you going to do about it?

September 17, 2013

Things Are Used, People Are Valued

Don’t you just hate the feeling that you are being used? I mean, doesn’t it just boil your blood and make you want to shout out, “I’m a person not a machine!” Who wants to be taken advantage of? Who wants to be valued only for what they can give or do? Yet, it happens every day in your friendships, working relationships, your marriage, and most other types of relationships.
"I never use anyone," you say. But the reality is that in one way, shape, or form you are absolutely dependent on those around you to help you move forward in your life. There is NO ONE who ever achieves great things who is completely independent of the help from those around him or her, NO ONE! Whether it is someone who helps you answer a question, discover a solution for a conflict, gives you advice, or affirms you so you feel empowered to keep going; every one of us need other people.
The question is not whether or not you are "using" people, it is whether or not you are valuing them for who they are, what they contribute to your life, and if you also are pouring back into them. When one gives to you and you intentionally refuse to appreciate him or her in any way, that my friend is called using them, not valuing them.
You are using people when you care more about what they can give you than how you can reciprocate their investment in your life, when you value what they contribute to your team, rather than value who they are. You are using people when the only reason you are in relationship with them is to help yourself get one foot ahead, when you insist that your needs be met before you are willing to meet their needs. Things are meant to be used, people are meant to be valued.
You cannot truly value others when you don't value yourself. If you see your life only as an accumulation of achievements, skills, or work then you are not separating who you are from what you do. The consequence of this perspective is two-fold, once you can no longer achieve your value ceases to exist and you only value people for what they do. However, both you and those around you are more than machines, you are human beings. Value yourself today and value those around you.

September 14, 2013

Dream Big, Start Small

Isn’t it crazy how sometimes rather than inspire us our dreams could overwhelm us, even cause us to feel crushed? We have all shared some great things we would like to accomplish, but when asked why you are not pursuing them you say, “I could never REALLY do it,” “I’m not at that level yet,” “I’m not experienced or gifted enough,” or “One day.” Too often we never pursue our dreams because we seems too big or impossible.

Last year I felt exactly the same way about getting out of debt. Before my wife and I got married we racked up a good amount of debt and for the first couple years of our marriage we just swept it under the rug. It was a great “dream” to get out of debt, but it seemed so insurmountable. On our salary it would take us years to vanquish our consumer debt. It was easier to think, “One day we’ll get out of debt. Someone will write us a big check or we’ll both land these high paying jobs.” Right.

How do you build a wall? One brick at a time...
At the beginning of the year we came to our senses and determined to do something about it. I realized that I need to dream big and start small. So we laid out our dream concerning our finances and begin to start small. I picked up a second job and we started making small decisions to change how we spent, why we spent, and when we spent. Has it been difficult? Of course. But, there is no great thing that can be accomplish without passing through difficulty. If you’re looking for easy then you have already forfeited your dreams.

As of this time right now we have paid off 10 credit cards/debts and 2 debts have been cancelled! We are on track to be fully out of consumer debt by the end of the year and poised to tackle our student loans. However, if you were to ask me if this were possible at the beginning of the year I would have said, “No way, it seems too big.”
Make your dreams a reality. Don't be crushed by your dreams, pursue them. 

Every step you take towards your dream add up to a destination. A dream is only a fantasy until you make it a goal. And a goal is only a good idea until you make it a lifestyle. What is it that you have been dreaming about doing or pursuing? What is the job? What do you want your marriage to look like? Where do you want to be financially in 5 years? Dream big, start small. Start today.