Who are you choosing to be?

Recently, someone said “you are the sum of the five people you spend the most time with”. Now, for some of us, this can be a scary thought. What if you spend most of your time with your children, does that mean that you are the epitome of those children, all rolled up into one mass of terror? Sometimes, you do not have the luxury of choosing who you you work with…so does that mean that you are doomed to be the conglomerate of your closest five co-workers?

Now before you start getting all negative about your future, let’s examine something. For someone to be influenced, there has to be an influencer. That person would be called a leader in some circles. If you look at that person, why are they influencing others? or why are they doing the influencing? Is it because they set out from the beginning of every day, to influence others rather than be influenced? In some rare cases that may be true, but those “spawnings” of influence usually do not last long…and there is a good reason. They are like seeds that sprouted on a rock, only to find that there was no ground under them; nothing under them to support them. Their influence needs something to root itself into; some solid ground to grasp.

The influencer has a foundation and it usually was birthed early in their life but sometimes it was created later on, having such a profound impact that it became a formed habit. The influencer can be good causing everyone around them to be better, or bad making sure that no one can infringe on their turf. Either way, they are the primary influence, whether influencing all or not. So if you are not that “influencer” or at least you think that you are not, what can you do to keep from taking on the negative attributes of the “sum of five”?

The saying referred to the “who” of your influences but not of your “what”. Let’s make a few quick “sum of five” lists.

What are the last five books you read (or at least a part of)?
What are the five TV shows that you choose to watch the most?
What are the five websites that you direct your attention to the most?
What are the five places, besides home and work, where you spend most of your time?

While it would take a while to examine each of these areas at length, let’s just look at one and you can examine the others later, if you choose. In fact, I recommend it. OK, so what are the last five books that you read with the intention of finishing one day?

You know, reading is kind of magical. In a fiction book, it has the ability to take you a foreign place and thrust you into an adventure that few, if any of us would ever see in our lifetime. In a non-fiction book, it brings a reality to light and causes us to examine our own lives at times. Either way, reading has this method of getting inside of your mind and causing you to think, form ideas and then execute. Unlike watching TV, when reading, you pause and elaborate at times to expound and create.

Keeping that in mind, what things are you putting in your mind to expound and create upon. These things are influencing you and many times, they find their way through you to influence your “five”. You may be the influencer and not even know it.

So if you are an influencer, and are choosing the things that influence who you are going to be, who are you choosing to be?

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Dam

So much has happened since Thanksgiving that it would an injustice to myself to NOT write anything. Time has been flying by and it seems sometimes that I cannot catch up with it all. Some years it seems that the holidays drag by but not this year. Until this moment, and probably afterwards, life has come very fast. I have just had to hold on for the ride. That being said, life is directable, yes, but unstoppable. How can that be? I liken it to a river.

 

Consider a small river, flowing through a forest. You cannot step into the middle of it and stop it. In fact, you and a hundred others stepping into the middle of it cannot either. It is not stoppable in that manner. But yet a small group of animals carrying one or two branches at a time can eventually direct it and in the process, make a cozy little home for themselves. In fact, carrying that thought a little further, they can concentrate the force of that river and make it calm in one section and raging in another. The river that may have been uncontrollable in the beginning, has succumbed to the efforts of a couple of small animals and its power harnessed to work for them.

 

I know that you didn’t expect a nature lesson today but you got one anyway.

 

So how is it that a large rodent with a flat tail can teach us about handling life? Well, it is obvious that its ability to harness the power of the river is monumental. The beavers also chop down large trees, store their food in the still portions of the river (a home-made refrigerator) and build tributaries and canals for the river to spread throughout the area. Do they do this because they know that the surrounding habitat needs it and that there efforts will be heralded at the next Annual Forest Convention? No, they do this because it is how they were taught and it is their instinct.

 

One thing to note though is that beavers are not perfect. Sometimes, when they are constructing and doing things instinctively, they have a dam collapse or a bear attacks and they can get hurt or a member(s) of their family dies. Sometimes pollution or human progress causes them to move. When this happens, do you know what they do? They adapt to their new surroundings and do what? What they were taught and do instinctively.

 

What are you teaching your friends, children or grandchildren to do instinctively? Yes, I said friends too. In case you haven’t noticed, when you hang around others, their habits and sayings tend to rub off on you and vice versa. This is why it is so imperative for you to exhibit leadership habits. Not so much to show off or try to be the big shot but to offer good teachings and instinctual habits for others to glean. And you do not have to be perfect in your efforts.

 

After all, you can direct life without having to stop it. And you can lead with out being the leader. One or two small branches at a time.

Not Your Typical Thanksgiving List

This list is not made because I think that you should have experienced these things too, but truthfully, it is for me. Yes, it is true. It is selfish but it has an unselfish purpose. I hope that you will see it before the end.

Things I am thankful for…

1. I am thankful that my parents divorced when I was 6. I have learned more about the value of marriage because of it.

 

2. I am thankful for having a single mother. She fought and struggled, won and lost, laughed and cried. She gave me more than many mothers would or could because of the obstacles. She also taught me to never give up.

 

3. I am thankful for the years I spent as a truck driver. It made the saying “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” mean so much more. It also meant that I was able to face many “personal demons” head on with God leading the charge.

 

4. I am thankful for not being popular at school. I learned that I am responsible for myself and cannot control whether I am liked or not, therefore I am to be who I am and look to be the best at it.

 

5. I am thankful for having surgery on both biceps and being out of work almost 2 years because of it. The hard lessons I learned about myself and my family as well as the opportunity to meet many people, was well worth it. I can look back now and see benefits whereas when it was happening, it was gut wrenching.

 

6. I am thankful that I was able to be next to my dog when he died this summer. My beautiful 14 year old “pup”, who God brought into our lives to teach us about unconditional love (among many other things), saw me and my 14 year old son as his last sight. It was a sight that made him happy as well as me and my son, bigger and better men.

 

7. I am thankful that I have had supervisors that I have not liked. These “situations” shaped me into a better person and actually changed the way I supervise situations.

 

8. I am thankful that I do not have a brand new vehicle. Because I cannot stand it when something is brand new and a mistake of mine or someone else’s scars it (I realize that this is probably a character flaw and translates to much of my life but for the sake of the list, I am thankful).

 

9. I am thankful that I have failed at a few business ventures. Because those “failures” are steps, times to learn, experiences to relate to my children and history to put on paper so that they may serve a purpose beyond my own physical reach.

 

10. I am thankful for having two very different close family members pass away within a year of each other about 4-5 years ago. It showed me the value of keeping the people you love, close to you. One died scared and alone, the other died with her husband at her side. They both were loved but they died in the situations that they prepared for themselves. Every day you live is preparation for your own day that you leave this earth.

 

11. I am thankful that God offered his own Son to be crucified. Since I am a Christian, I consider this the ultimate gift. Many cultures cannot understand this “gift” but it was made so that you can have a choice.

 

These are all gifts, believe it or not. All of the above gifts are there so that you can make a choice; the last being the most important. It is like receiving a pen and paper for a Christmas gift. It is what you make of it. You can write or draw. You may write the next great novel…or not. You may be the next Rembrandt…or not. But your life is there, waiting for you to make it happen. Be thankful and grateful for ALL things, even the things that are not pleasant…because all of them can be used to choose to make a better YOU.

 

A Mess of Feelings

Sometimes you have so many feelings inside that it is hard to sort all of them out…been there? When this happens, what can you do to dig your way through it. Well, you can just start writing and hope that it all comes out like spitting words on to a page. It works sometimes but what if the words just won’t come out, even on paper?

Boom At that time, you need to blindside yourself…again. Seems like we need to do this quite often, huh? But consider this…if your attitudes, fears and reactions were correct everytime (and I mean everytime), you probably wouldn’t be reading here. So admit it and let’s move on. You need to know what the destructive behaviors are so that they can be targeted.

Now you noticed that I said “destructive”. Did that surprise you? Thinking of your life as a road that you are driving on, when a car drives in front of you while you are moving at a high speed, do you have time to sort your feelings out? No, your reaction is the decision you have to live with. Let’s think of it another way. When teaching martial arts, many times instructors will set up scenarios and have you react over and over until it is part of you. The situation is usually one where there needs to be emergency action, therefore a best reaction is programmed and the student responds. Life does not change its learning processes in other areas just because feelings are involved.

So the reason for blindsiding yourself is that you do not want to provoke one of your behaviors that may be destructive. I think Michael Hyatt was the one who said  “The really important stuff happens outside of your comfort zone.” That is what we are talking about, but in a different way. If you keep saying “Why can’t I get better at ___________?”, or “Why can’t situations be better?”, you may need to consider this as well. Remember the definition of insanity…doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results each time?

Sorting out feelings sometimes requires backing up a bit. Get out the pen and paper or computer and get ready to list. By the way, do you know why pen and paper work better than the computer? Because you can’t turn them off. But however you do this, take action. “Action cures fear”, a phrase coined by David J. Schwartz, is a key here.

bowl of jelly beans

So backing up here will mean looking at categories, subjects or areas where these feelings reside. Think of this as having a large bowl of assorted jellybeans. You take a jar, open the lid and write on the side of the jar “Green”. Just that one jar.

I know what you’re thinking. “But I need a few jars, one for each color, and I need to dig through the bowl and find out how many colors there are so I can have enough jars and…”

Just one jar.

Labeled “Green”.

Find one that is green and put it in there.

Just the same, Label the “jar” as “Job”, for example. Write it out. Find one thing that bothers you or concerns you about that and write it down. Think about only this one thing right now and look at ways to make it better and write them down. Think of something else that bothers you about your job or career and put that “jellybean” in the “jar”.

You might say “But what is the goal here? At this rate, I will never get finished”. The point is that history often repeats itself and you learning to handle one thing at a time means that next time that “jellybean” is thrown at you, it gets put in the “jar” right away and never gets to the “bowl”.

Do you remember learning to write, then spell, then read? It didn’t all happen at once. They built on each other. Your learning process is still the same. Find a “jar” and label it. Soon, you will notice that your “bowl” is out of green jellybeans and it is time for another jar. Repeat.

Your life is what you make of it. Every move you make can either get thrown in the bowl or in the right jar.

The bowl is indecision and the jar is decision.

Less Stressing, More Blessing

The motto for the day (week, month, year, life). In essence, it means that no matter what is coming at you, focus your energy on the good of others. It goes hand in hand with the quote from Zig Ziglar, “You can get what you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.”

 

Where this statement gets its weight is that we really do not know what we want. We don’t. Really. You may think that you want to be a best selling author or maybe a professional dancer. Maybe you have the dream of having your own successful business or an in-demand speaker.

 

Well, to achieve those goals, you need to:

1. write what others want to read

2. perform the way others will enjoy watching

3. produce something others will buy

4. speak about subjects that others will want to hear

 

Just another way of saying, “It is not about you”. Don’t stress about the things you cannot change, but bless others with what you have to give…and seek to get better at it so you can give better. You will get what you really want by turning the focus away from you.

Attack mode Part 3 – 5 ways to fill the gap

Is there a cure for this inability to move…this choice of sitting that is not laziness but paralysis?

After all, this gap can cause life to stop and end up being more damaged than an action with rejection.

Here are a few ways to take action and fill the gap

  1. Start small.  None of these work unless you take action, so start something towards the event that paralyzes you.  Sometimes the event or goal is urgent that going into attack mode seems like the only way.  Starting small gets the ball rolling and opens up new opportunities that are small successes.
  2. Chunk it down.   This may seem exactly like the first but it has some differences.  This is taking one goal and setting it out into steps.  Attach dates to the steps and whenever you don’t make a deadline, give yourself a verbal warning.  Readjust future deadlines and keep going.
  3. Blindside yourself.  This is actually fun.  Pick something that you know nothing about and get involved with it.  For example, volunteer someplace for short time period a week for an organization that provides a service for certain individuals that cannot help themselves;  something that is bigger than you.  It could be for just 2 hours/week.  Do not think that the organization will not take your help.  Most are appreciative for any they can get.   While you are there, concentrate on doing things to help that are outside of your comfort zone.  It is the key to filling the gap.
  4. Build a quick sales pitch for yourself.  When I heard this one, just 2 days ago, I decided to work on it.  Think of how you introduce yourself when someone asks “What is your name?” and start your QSP (quick sales pitch) on paper.  For example, “My name is ___  ________, and I go all-out to be the best in my field.  My purpose is to serve others to the best of my capacity with integrity and strength, while striving to provide service as if I were regarded as the industry’s best.”   If you actually memorize it, every time you meet someone in person or on the phone, the whole affirmation will come to you and set your course to be your best.
  5. Work it backwards from the visualized goal.  This is one that I believe is not utilized enough.  The ability to take a result and work backwards, step by step, to map your path.  It is where society has gone wrong many times, by not having “cause and effect” thinking.   The ends must justify the means.

These are just a few.  I am sure that there are many.  Please feel free to add more in the comments that have helped you.  If you do, they may help someone else.

Attack mode – 2.1

This is good stuff.  You need to watch this.  The ability to make yourself vulnerable is tough for many…watch.

If you have seen it, watch it again and I guarantee that you will hear something you didn’t the first time.  Besides, repetition is conducive to learning.

 

Attack mode – Part 2

The element of control…why is it there?  Everyone likes to be in control.  Even when it seems that someone is out of control, the reasoning for their actions is for them to be in control.

Back to the chess game.  Stalemate.  Why? Because one has refused to move.  Reasoning?  The game or process is coming to a climax and the result will be evident:  Success …or failure.  Both of them are painful.  The latter means rejection.  The former means that the process will be encouraged again and the possibility of rejection will creep up again.

This stagnation is real with many.  It is a gap that is hard to fill.  The ability to risk rejection and succeed or fail is coveted but seemingly unreachable at times.

So what is the gap?  If someone were raised without a father or a child of divorce, the fear is sometimes too real to bear.  Taking the step into the unknown is stagnating… paralyzing…debilitating.  Whether acceptance or rejection, there will be rejection at some point if the process is allowed to continue.  So immobility is the choice.

It is the choice.  The act of not choosing is still a choice, and immobility is choosing to fail.

And waiting until there is not any other choice but action?  Is what?  Still failure or a forced effort?

Many entrepreneurs have talked about some of their best work coming at the time when that effort is forced.  Some of their greatest innovation coming to be when they had no other choice.  But should someone put themselves in a detrimental situation every time they desire great innovation?

There is a better way; in fact, many better ways but that “effort” can be engineered rather than forced.  Therein lies the immobility factor again, though.  Some people will plan themselves to the grave.

More to come…

Attack mode

What makes you feel capable of doing the things you set out to do?  Or do you just do it whether you feel capable or not?  Many times, when your back is up against the wall, like a wild animal outnumbered by its aggressors, you attack a need.  But is that what it takes to get you to act?  And once you do, do you feel that it was not done well efficiently?

Wouldn’t it work better if you acted, made mistakes, corrected them in a timely manner and continued until you got finished?  “Attacking” the issue with a calculated fervor before it has progressed to the point of expediency?

The problem can be procrastination,…fear, …laziness, …you name it.  It is something that is engrained in you and your psyche.  To get past it, you need to fight the urge to “not do it”.  Like quitting smoking or eating junk or drinking, it is an urge that is just as destructive.  If you don’t do it, you are putting yourself at the risk of going into attack mode to get it done.

This is part of posterity thinking, you know.  Remeber the chess game?  What happens in a chess game when one player  decides to wait, stall or just not move?  Well, if it is a timed game, that player loses.  But if it is not, the game stands still…the other player is at the mercy of the first…who is in control.

Do you see the issue?

More to come…

The weight of the world comes crashing down…

So, mornings are tough when the weather changes and even more tough when crisis strikes…and even more tough when both strike at the same time.  Ha, when it rains it pours.

It will not keep me away from sharing with all of you, though.  Many things have happened to shed more light on life and I am eager to be transparent…to your benefit, I hope.

The weight of the world comes crashing down.WeightoftheWorld

You had one of those moments before?  I woke up the other morning and I felt like stress found me.  My pastor had said in his message the day before that in an average day, a person makes approximately 168,000 decisions.  Now I could have let that statement go, maybe zoned out during his talking and not let that sink in.  But for someone who has fought through some major and minor decision-making issues in his past, that statement sunk my boat.

I usually do not know when stress is happening until I physically feel it…and WOW! did I feel it.  A mental fog set in and threw my day out of whack.  I was just operating on auto-pilot the whole morning.  I am glad that some good habits were formed in me so that I could work by going through the motions, though.  It took some real intense thought and prayer to claw my way out of the most of it.  Some of it still remains.

But what if I would have chosen to stay there.  Have you ever had that happen to you and you stayed there…in that muck and mire…wishing for someone to reach down and pull you out?  Or maybe you didn’t hope for someone to show up but you just gave up?

When this happens, it really is a matter of perspective.  Our society has become so computerized that we have forgotten the value of the physical pen and paper.  Getting yourself transparent and writing things down is a humbling experience at times.

Questions to yourself need to be answered.  Here is one:  How much of this can I change the outcome?  Can I somehow produce an outcome that will decrease its “worry” weight?  If not, then you are just a spectator.  Prepare for how it will affect your world to lessen its effect.

Another question is:  Is it my problem?  Is this based on someone else’s decision?  Even if it is your adult child that you raised, does lamenting over the crazy things they do change what they do?  Again, you are just a spectator.  Prepare for how it may affect your world.

Final question:  Can I talk to someone (close friend or spouse), that can offer a different perspective and will I shut my own mouth and listen?  This is the key many times.  When you have experienced levels of distrust in their life from those who are supposed to be responsible, you tend to lean on yourself because at least you know what to expect from yourself.  You may have heard the saying “Behind every successful man, there is a strong woman”.  I will tweak that saying and say “Behind every successful person is a trail of people who teach”.

Plain and simple…You do not know it all.  The answers to all of your problems are not lurking around in your subconscious, waiting for you to catch them.  I know that there have been self-help teachings that say the “Greater Consciousness” will give it to you if you ask.  Well, here is a shocker for you:  Just like God uses you to help others, He will use others to help you.   Part of the problem with “self-help” teaching is just that:  It teaches you to only rely on yourself for answers.  Don’t act like the word “ASK” is a four letter word.

We do not know it all.  Never stop learning.

Lay down the weight of the world.  It is not for you to worry about.  You do have responsibility to make good decisions for the future, not for the past.  All 168,000 of them.