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Entries in glory (3)

Monday
Apr222013

succesification

I read a lot of books about leadership and success. I also read a lot of "self help" books, geared mostly toward changing the way you think and behave. I read tons of biographies and case studies. I may or may not read more of these things that you, but I like my odds. 

The thing is, it's not like I started reading these over the weekend. I've spent years reading about ways to improve myself, in every avenue of life. And yet, for the longest time, even though I knew a lot about how to reshape my life into what I wanted it to be, I spent a great deal of my time doing and being the opposite of what I wanted.

Why?

There's a pretty simple answer to that, and it's one that makes me want to *head desk.* The fact is, reading tons of books about leadership and success and personal growth is a wonderful tool for getting your brain in gear and learning how to better yourself. But nothing you read is going to matter one bit until you DO SOMETHING.

The secret ingredient for success is action.

It took me a long time to get to that idea, even though I can specifically remember saying it, even as far back as my early 20s. I knew, even then, that knowing something wasn't enough. Acting on what you know is what gets you past ho-hum and into ho-boy!

Goal setting is another area where I've always fallen short. Every single book you read about leadership or sucess of personal growth tells you to write down your goals and revisit them often. I've written down goals over the years, but never really focused on them. I never revisited them. So what good were they? Until I'm ready to review those goals and take action on them, the answer is "not a lot."

As part of goal setting, I've read a lot about creating a "vision board." This is sort of a visual cue for your goals. You create a space where you can hang magazine clippings and photographs and small visual things that remind you of what you're trying to achieve in all areas of your life. Pictures of cars or houses you'd like to own, the physical fitness you'd like to achieve, careers you'd like to get into into. It seems strange, and the idea has been co-opted by some from the "new age" set, but the truth is vision boards are simple marketing in action.

I work in marketing. I know from experience that if you can get someone to identify with your product or service on a personal level, to connect to it through as many senses as possible, they are going to be far more likely to buy it. Ad campaigns use photos and video of happy people doing fun things, whether or not those have anything to do with the product itself, so that you can start to associate the product with "the good life." How often have you seen a commercial for a medication that never actually shows the medication? Instead you see happy, healthy people surfing and mountain climbing and playing in a park with friends and family. Message: "If you use this medication, your life will be as good as this one is." 

So having a vision board is like creating a marketing campaign for your own "product," your life. Set your goals, and then reinforce those goals by creating a vision board—your own "marketing campaign"—so that you are constantly giving yourself the message, "If I work toward my goals, I'll have the life I want."

The other side of this is adjusting as you go

Sometimes you think an action will lead to achieving your goal, but discover that things don't quite work the way you intended. Because life is inherently unpredictable, you have to be open to trying a new tactic when you don't get the result you want. Study what someone else is doing, through books and films, to get a result you'd like to have, and try it their way. If it doesn't work out the way you intended, study someone else, take what you learn, and try again. Measure what works and what doesn't, and adjust course until you get the result you want

The final bit is a piece of advice for getting where you want to go is something I actually fight with folks over. Seriouslythey see this as so profound, so revolutionary, so insane, they can't believe it would ever work in millions years. I hesitate even to give you this secret, for fear you'll scoff and never believe me again. But here goes. Deep breath ...

If you want something, ask for it.

See? Told you it was radical. Some people have been known to hear this advice and run, screaming "heretic!" all the way. 

But the truth is, most of the time we could easily have exactly what we want in our lives if we'd just take a chance and ask for it. I have seriously put this into effect in my own life. I ask for a better deal in stores. I ask if I can have something for free. I ask for a better position or a pay raise. 

The biggest barrier? Overcoming the sense that I'm somehow being offensive by asking for what I want. We are so accustomed to just taking what we get, accepting every price, accepting every offer as "the price, the offer," it actually offends our sensibilities when someone asks, out plain, for what they want! If you can get over that irrational fear, you'll find yourself getting more and more of what you want out of life. 

Sometimes, all it takes is to ask and you'll get it. Other times, you'll get a counter offer, which is equally as good. The guy at the store says, "You can't have it for the price you want, but if you bring in a coupon from online or come in next week you can get it on sale." Your boss says, "You can't have a raise, but if you give me a sales goal and meet or beat it in three months I'll raise your salary." Counter offers let you know the "rules" for getting what you want, and knowing those rules lets you map out the steps to acheiving your goal. See how that worked out? 

There's actually a Biblical grounding for asking for what you want:

Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened for you.Everyone who asks will receive. Everyone who searches will find. And the door will be opened for everyone who knocks. Would any of you give your hungry child a stone, if the child asked for some bread? 10 Would you give your child a snake if the child asked for a fish? 11 As bad as you are, you still know how to give good gifts to your children. But your heavenly Father is even more ready to give good things to people who ask.

Matthew 7:7-11

Ask, search, knock. Sounds like action steps to me. Success in any part of your life requires you to take action and go out and find it.

Everyone wants a formula for success. Turns out the Bible has had one all along. But it helps to have things broken down for us into easy, step-by-step chunks. So I've worked up a formula that may be helpful:

Goal setting + Education + Reinforcement + Ask For What You Want + Taking Action + Adjusting Course  = Get the outcome you want

I think this is pretty simple. And I'm seeing results from applying this formula in my own life. But here's a little extra bit, a multiplier, that will accelerate and even exponentially increase the results you get from the formula:

Get the outcome you want X Glorfiy God in all you do = Get more than you ever dreamt possible!

Success isn't really that hard to achieve. Yes, it can be hard work to get the exact result you want, but the process is simple and straight forward. God wants more for you than just success, though. He wants to multiply your success, and give you a life above and beyond your own intentions. God has an intended life for you that is levels and levels above what you intend for yourself. So take action, but take action that glorfies Him. You'll find your success multiplying daily. 

That's math even I like. 

Wednesday
Mar202013

moneyfication

Tonight I start a 9-week course called Financial Peace University. It's a program developed by Dave Ramsey, and it teaches you how to reshape your financial life. Not exactly a topic that has been in my bailiwick over the past four decades, but one I desperately need as part of my education.

So why now?

The more I study and learn about God's will for my life, the more I start to realize I have fallen short in few areas. My health, though not "bad," could be much improved if I'd lose the 70 or so extra pounds I've packed on. My marriage could be more peaceful and joyful if I spent more time focusing on the needs of my wife than focusing on what I want out of our every conversation or situation. My spiritual life could be improved if I'd focus more on studying and continually dwelling in God's Word, rather than giving my mind over to TV and books and films that do little or nothing to glorify God. And my financial life could be vastly improved if I had even a modicum of education in that direction.

It's not an easy thing for me. Money is one of those things that tenses me up every time the subject is broached. Whenever I think about sitting down with Kara to figure out a budget or discuss our finances, I feel sick inside. When I think about doing our taxes I want someone to hog tie me and beat me with a bar of soap in a sock. Money ... I haven't had a very good attitude toward money for most of my life.

And yet, I have always tried very hard to figure out ways to get more money. I need money, you see. We all do. There's some weird sort of notion being taught in schools and in churches and in homes, that money is somehow evil, and that those who have it or want it are just greedy and evil. But the truth is, even if we disdain the green stuff, it's a vital and necessary part of our lives. We need it (or what it stands for ... the value it represents) in order to achieve the things God wants for us in life. Prosperity is part of the promise of God.

But it's not like it's just going to fall out of the sky.

I mean, it might. "Manna from heaven," that's a thing. But look at what had to happen before manna fell to the Earth every morning, to sustain those wandering in the desert. First of all, they were in a DESERT. For FORTY YEARS. They were on the run from a very angry king. They were stranded, far from home, in a land that was harsh and difficult. They roamed, homeless, for forty years, because of disobedience. God sent manna to sustain them because He knew that eventually they'd come around. It was part of his promise to them. (Read Numbers and Exodus in the Old Testament of the Bible to see this whole story play out)

The point is, manna didn't fall from heaven just because the whole lot of them wanted a bite to eat. They probably would have preferred a nice roasted fish, maybe a bit of tartar sauce. Steak would be good. But instead, God sent them what they needed, when they needed it, nothing more. The rest was up to them. Their choice about obedience is what defined their journey. 

So back to the financial education bit. 

If you're going to live a life of prosperity, however you may define it, having a financial education is essential. Required, really. If you're plan is to free yourself from 9-to-5, to improve your lifestyle and achieve the freedom you need in order to accomplish your goals and your dreams, you have to know how money really works. You have to know how to make money work for you, instead of you working for money. 

Wealth ... that's a loaded term. It has all sorts of connotations, good and bad. For me, true wealth is the ability to choose how, when, and where I do the work God has ignited in me. Wealth means I have the means to glorify God with what I do, and to increase the reach of what I produce. It means I'm free to experience the world the way God intended.

Hard times? They'll still come. Stress and worry will always be a part of the equation. Wealth isn't a force field—it doesn't block difficulty from getting in. What it does is give us a tool we can use. And as with all tools—from screwdrivers to laptops to diesel-powered tractors—knowing the right way to use them makes all the difference in their effectiveness.

So I'm on a journey to learn more, and grow, and improve, and build wealth. I want to understand money, and I want to apply what I know about innovation and strategy and marketing and life, and use money as a tool to glorify God and accomplish my dreams and goals. And I want to drag you along with me. 'Cuz I loves ya. So I'll let you know what I learn over the next nine weeks, and how you can apply it to YOUR journey, too.

 

Tuesday
Mar052013

changeocity

I'm thinking about change a lot this morning.

It happens. Sometimes we don't get much of a choice in the matter. And at that those times we have a tendency to push back. We like forward trajectory, after all. We like to continue momentum. Change means discomfort, effort, anxiety.

Even good change can bring on a little bit of a panic attack. Having a baby? Getting a new job? Having corrective surgery? 

How we deal with change is the very definition of our character. If you want to test who you really are, who it is that lurks deep within the folds of your brain, what the color of your soul may be, change is your chance. Nothing will tell you more about you than you during times of change.

I like deliberate change. Those changes you've planned, plotted, strategized, chosen. You don't get many of those ... well, you get as many as you want, but most people tend to avoid deliberate change.

I'm like that. Or I have been, most of my life. I flow with whatever's happening around me, adjust to itbellyache about it, but mostly just go with it. I've spent a considerable amount of my time on Earth just waiting things out. You could almost call it patience, if I weren't so busy complaining about it.

The thing, the idea, that I've come to, though, in my daily thinking, in my new perspective on the world, is that change is meant to be deliberate. We are meant to choose and grow. God built us to be choosing, changing machines. 

I picked up an adage somewhere along the way: "See a task, do a task." See a job that needs to be done? Do that job. See some trash on the floor? Pick it up. See someone who needs help? Help them. 

I don't always get that right, but I try to at least tip the balance into upper 50% territory. 

That's one way, on a moment-by-moment basis, that we can effect deliberate change in our lives, and in the lives of others. I think that comes from the highest command we've been given, which is to love each other like we love ourselves. 

How good at it are were going to be? Not so good. We're going to fail. You probably know that, instinctively. See, that's the point though, isn't it? You know, without doubt, that you aren't always going to do the right thing, make the right choice, take the right path. But you make the effort anyway. You make the choice anyway. And then, things REALLY start to change. 

There's another adage: "Be the change you want to see in the world." I like it. It's nice and positive. It's not a bad way to live. It's, again, the choice you make every moment of every day. 

Change is going to happen. Sometimes it's good and sometimes it's bad. It's almost always anxiety-inducing. But how we deal with change is the test of our character that we need to set a few benchmarks and goals, to find the leaks in our character, to start making choices and start making change a more deliberate part of our lives. 

Choosing would be nice for a change.