Commitment

A commitment should be treated as a binding contract with yourself. However, many of us break our commitments. We commit to people, banks, work, pets, ourselves… A commitment is something that you have no doubts about. Something you give 100% of your whole self to.

Commitment is a fulfilling endeavor that when followed through gives an immense sense of accomplishment. Think about something you have committed to, followed through with to the end, and how you felt at the end knowing you didn’t break it along the way. Weight loss, getting a formal education, going for the big contract and landing it…

Sometimes commitment can be confused with staying with something long after you should. Like a dead-end job or an abusive spouse. If you have any of this in your life, let’s look at it for a moment. Ask yourself why you are still in something that you have doubts about or don’t believe in or worse yet, that you give less than all of you to. People pick up on this subtle behavior. To stay committed to something, you have to put effort in and periodically change up what you are doing to keep it alive and fresh.

I was close to my grandparents and I loved them dearly. I also, remember that for many years their relationship was tense and they were not modeling the sort of marriage I had set as ideal and certainly not grandparent-worthy. But they stayed together out of commitment and they continued growing. In the later years, they were especially affectionate of one another. I was moved by Gran’daddy’s tender words and desire to be with Grandmother.

Commitments are what ground you and keep you active and engaged in life. Being free and having few commitments sounds so refreshing to many who have spouses, children, pets, jobs, mortgages… but for only a fleeting moment when life feels heavy and burdensome. We are social creatures who desire connections and relationships with others; a sense of accomplishment and pride in our contributions to making life better for everyone in our lives including ourselves.

Sometimes we need help with our commitments and we seek out this help through our friends, co-workers, spouses, coaches, mentors… By asking for help, we are strengthening our commitment to ourselves and others; we are fulfilling our obligations contractually with ourselves to follow through to the end, no matter what it takes.

Comfort

On Wikipedia, comfort is defined as a sense of physical or psychological ease and a lack of hardship while uncomfortable are people lacking in comfort.  I disagree!  I am hung up in the word “lacking”.  I think people who are comfortable are lacking.  Let me explain.

When you go along in life and stay within the lines, always on the safe side of the street, not taking risks and staying under the radar, you think you are comfortable.  You don’t ruffle feathers, you don’t cause problems, you avoid drama… Ha!

That is not the life I want to live. Not that I desire to ruffle feathers and be that obnoxious guy no one wants around. Far from it.  I want to be the person that takes the risks, that lives in that uncomfortable zone because that is where I am growing – taking life by the horns.  Experiencing new things.  Having new adventures. Dreaming big dreams and better yet, living the life I desire.

Comfort is a place where boredom sets in.  I define comfort as eating TV dinners in front of the television night after night with nothing worthwhile to say to my spouse while my kids are glued to their video games because our life is BORING! And Comfort is where I think those people live that are afraid of going for the big promotion because they live in fear that they aren’t good enough.  Or the people who have an idea for a great business, but they just aren’t ready to leave the paycheck.

I had once settled into a job outside my calling.  I had great reasons not to leave the boring job and get into my calling. FEAR! I was scared to death! OK. So, I was called into ministry and I had watched my parents financially struggle for years and worry about paying the bills.  I worried that I would face the same struggle… the same worry.

But inside that comfort, there were times that I was so miserable it hurt. I would talk to my sister back home who still lived at home – not like me with the new house and fast car. And though I had what I thought was success – did I mention she lived at home? I was the one making it and yet I was miserable! I had an encounter with God and I just say, “Yes. I’ll go home and into ministry.” I sold the house. I sold the car. I moved back home, but I said yes to a life with passion.

Of course, I didn’t stay in their house long, but I stayed in my calling and I came alive again. I think a comfortable life is dangerous – dreams die and then your soul dies a little every day.  I’ll take uncomfortable any day!

Change

If the facts don’t fit the theory, change the facts. ~ Albert Einstein

I love that quote!  Change is that scary word that most people shy away from.  I don’t want to change.  Why should I change?  Why doesn’t everyone else change to accommodate me?  If I change, then I will be out of my comfort zone.  Why change something that isn’t broken?

Change.  Asking someone to change is like expecting the sun to not rise.  Isn’t it a pointless request?  Change comes from within.  Change is something we do with ourselves.  Only we can control us, no one else.  So why ask, expect, anticipate, anything from someone else?

Let’s focus on how to change us.  First why would anyone want to change themselves?  Is it because they don’t like the outcome?  Have you ever had a conversation with someone and you really want to change their mind about something?  You try so hard to convince them that your point of view is right and theirs is wrong!  Can’t they see that?  I mean do they realize just how foolish their ideas are?  Ha!

Cause and Effect.  Facts and Theory.  If you don’t like the end result, then you need to change the actions.  If the facts don’t fit the theory, in other words, the end result of the facts is not the theory then the facts must change.  Your actions (cause) create an end result (effect).  If you don’t like the effect, change the cause.  If you want a particular effect, but aren’t getting it, then change the cause.

It is really simple but we complicate it because we think it is everyone else that needs to change and not us.  Stop.  Take a breath.  Read that again.  It is really simple.  We want a different end result.  We need to make a change.

If you want to convince someone you are right and they are looking at you like you have three eyes… stop.  Look within.  Why do you want to convince anyone of anything?  If someone cannot see your point of view for whatever reason, if someone is doing something that you do not like, if someone or something is not what you expected… then look within.  Look at what you are doing, thinking, saying… resign from the need to assign blame and look at your actions and make the necessary changes and adjustments to achieve the end result you so desire.

Let go of having to be right and prioritize the relationship. Value the person above whatever it is about them that you desire to change. Appreciate that they are on their own journey and simply support them. Take all that energy that was directed at changing them and point it towards yours truly.

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Challenges

So many people wish life was easier, with fewer challenges and obstacles but without challenges, life becomes stagnant and we stop growing.  Challenges help us uncover who we are and it allows us to become better people.

Let’s examine a very simple 4-step method to overcoming challenges.

First, state the problem clearly.  When we are faced with challenges, we tend to avoid the issue and run the other way burying our heads in the sand hoping it goes away.  Or we may say – ok, there is an obstacle, instead of heading right to it and plowing through, I am going to look for another path and even though that is not the way I want to go – it looks easier… less headache… but rarely does that work out.  When we avoid or go out of our way, we cause more headache in the end.  It takes more of our time, it takes more of our energy and we don’t get the end result we are looking for.  So, take this time to understand what the challenge is.  Ask yourself what is the question, what is asked of me, what is the main goal? Write this down on paper.

Second, identify what you have at your disposal – what resources are available to you to work through this challenge? List all of these resources out.  These should include things such as tangible assets – money, computer, books, etc.  And then what skills you have, what are your strengths to work through this?  Don’t forget others – what access do you have to others that can help?

Third, design the strategy to overcome this challenge.  Utilize all your assets to create a plan of action.  You may find this plan will need to be tweaked as you execute and that is ok.  Keep at it.

Lastly, execute the strategy with effort and determination.  Do your very best with all you have to overcome your challenge.

If you find that you still cannot overcome a challenge, then re-evaluate.  If your strategy just won’t work because it isn’t viable or effective, then change it. If your strategy doesn’t work because you didn’t execute it well enough, be persistent and tweak your efforts, giving it more.

Practice this method on small challenges and see how easy it is to overcome.  Then try it on the big challenges!

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Behavior

Behavior defined can be a physical thing one does such as a morning routine and it can be non-physical such as replaying negative thoughts all day long.   A few behaviors are instinctual and built in while the rest are learned through meeting needs.  What this means is that our behaviors are motivated by our needs and therefore we can be manipulated as well as manipulate to have our needs met.

So, when we have negative behaviors and we want to change them, we find it isn’t always so easy because these learned behaviors that we exhibit are actually rather complex.

There are two types of motivation – the motivation to approach something and the motivation to avoid something.  When we desire something, we are motivated to approach it, therefore, receiving positive reinforcement or feedback.  When we avoid something, we are motivated to move away from it or we will receive negative reinforcement or feedback.  This is pretty simple.  We understand that when we eat something sweet, most of us have a pleasant experience and when we eat something sour, our faces pucker and we try to avoid that experience again.

But let’s look at those things we approach or avoid because the thing doesn’t create that behavior, we do.  Some people desire the adrenaline rush of jumping out of an airplane. It is exhilarating – it is something they repeat again and again as it has a positive affect on them and they desire that and are motivated to seek that experience.  Some people avoid even the thought of getting on an airplane due to their learned fears that it will absolutely crash and they will die no matter what statisticians say – forget purposefully jumping out of a perfectly good airplane!  Did the airplane create these behaviors?  No!  We learned them.  And each of us reacts differently to different things, experiences, tastes, smells, thoughts, etc.  All because of our own personal thoughts and behaviors.

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So how do you change your behaviors?  Your thoughts?  Let’s say you want to become a public speaker but you are terrified of speaking in front of people.  How can you overcome this fear, build confidence, perform and knock it out of the park?  You have to change your behavior so that you are motivated to approach public speaking effortlessly without turning into a nervous mess.

Practice.  Anything you try for the first time will be clumsy and awkward, maybe even difficult.  By practicing your speech – over and over again until it is so ingrained in you and flows off your tongue as if it is just another story you are telling a friend, you build your confidence to speak to several friends or a small group… until you are ready to speak to a large audience.  Practice.

Shaping.  Practice your speech and ask your audience (family members, friends, mentor, coach) for feedback.  Try giving it several different ways.  Break down the speech into parts and mix it up.  Continuously correcting your approach and delivery until you shape your presentation and performance. Before I practice on people I record and listen to myself… eye-opening.

Chaining.  Very good and effective speeches, keynote talks, sales pitches… are complex.  They are made up of many components within the speech to get you to the end result you desire – sell a product or service, teach a thought or program, build rapport with your audience, create new clients, whatever your end result is, your speech has to be built on a frame and chaining is how you piece it together so there is a natural flow, a rhythm that mesmerizes the audience. Think about a really good comedian who gets up on stage and tells little stories for the whole set and the last story wraps up and circles back to the first story – bringing the evening to a close so naturally and you give a standing ovation because you were mesmerized by how good he was – he practiced, shaped each story or joke, chained them all together and brought it to a close.

By using these techniques, you can change an old behavior that you don’t want for a new one that you do want.  Whatever you want to change, practice your new desired behavior, shape the new behavior by approaching it in different ways and ask for feedback all the while tweaking it, chain all the components of the new skills you are now mastering together and now you have successfully changed your behavior.

Attitude

Attitude is the one thing all human beings have complete control of and yet many unknowingly choose a negative attitude.  If we understood the power of our own attitude in our lives, most of us would change it immediately.  How many times have you been told to change your attitude?  That is a common order from most parents and teachers!

Attitude is created by your thoughts, feelings, and actions.  Your mind controls feelings and decides whether these feelings will be positive or negative through your thoughts.  Your body then follows these thoughts through actions and behaviors.  It sounds simplistic because it is.

You can direct your thoughts, change your thoughts or reject your thoughts. You can think about the way you think and you can change the way you think. Your thinking impacts your feelings which change your actions. What is the last thought you had about yourself or your abilities? Now choose to embrace, change or reject that thought. Replace it with a thought that you truly believe.

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My daughter was home from school one break and she said, being home is hard. I want to go back to school.” I was crushed that my daughter found being around me to be hard. She was kind when I asked her why, but it was just my attitude. I was looking at my situation through a very negative perspective. I was ignoring where God was at work and instead I was focusing on how I did not appreciate where I was in life. I became aware of my attitude affecting my daughter and I chose to change the way I was thinking about my situation.

Through our thoughts, we create an attitude.  This attitude is expressed based on how we internalize ideas.  Our mind and body move into a new state of conscious awareness known as feelings.  These feelings effect the actions and behaviors that produce the results in our lives.

Attitude [Thoughts + Feelings + Actions] = Results

Imagine feeding our minds with positive thoughts and flow through the process.  We will end with positive results.  Now imagine feeding our minds with negative thoughts and flow through the process.  Makes sense, doesn’t it?

By changing our thoughts, we can change our attitude, which will ultimately change our results.  Attitude is the creative cycle that allows us to feel a certain way and then take the necessary action to a specific result.

Start with the end in mind and make the decision that today is the day to change your attitude!

80/20 Rule

The 80/20 rule sounds like a mathematical formula and in some ways, it is but don’t worry, this isn’t a lesson on statistics.  The 80/20 Rule is an evaluation tool. The rule came from an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto. The 80/20 Rule or Pareto principle states that 20% of the effort gives 80% of the results. Pareto observed that 20% of his pea plants produced 80% of his peas.

What this means is that 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.  To put this another way, 20% of your activities are responsible for 80% of your happiness.  20% of your work produces 80% of your income.

To test this theory, look at the distribution of wealth and lately with the shrinking of the middle class, this is even more apparent that a small portion of the population controls most the economy.  Look at business, the top earners are a small percentage of companies and earn the largest portion of income.  And if you look at your own habits, you most likely spend most of your income on few things like your mortgage, car payment, food and you probably spend most of your time with a few people each day.

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So how can you use the 80/20 rule to maximize your results?  Let’s look at John Maxwell.  He talks about the fact that he is only good at a few things.  Therefore, he doesn’t waste his time with those things he cannot do or does not want to do.  By focusing on what you are good at – those few things; and not wasting time on those things you are not good at, you maximize your efficiency and effectiveness. By focusing your time and attention on the right things, you can improve and expand your skillset on what you are good at and what you love to do.

The 80/20 rule will help you focus on pursuits that have meaning and heart for you.

Take a moment and consider what you love and what you are good at and then list out those things that cause you to waste time and decrease your efficient self.  If you are able, hire someone to do those tasks that fall on that list.  If hiring is not in the budget get creative. Share duties with your children, spouse, roommate, significant other, co-worker, team members etc.  Trade your time and skillset for theirs.  You will find that focusing on those 20% tasks, the 80% yield will be worthwhile.

7 Reasons to Join a Mastermind Group

[This online article is from Forbes.com and written with business in mind. I have seen masterminds benefit every area of life – business and beyond!]
Mastermind groups are relatively new to most people, even though Napoleon Hill created the concept around 75 years ago with his book, Think and Grow Rich. A mastermind group is designed to help you navigate through challenges using the collective intelligence of others.
How does a mastermind work? A group of smart people meet weekly, monthly, daily even if it makes sense, to tackle challenges and problems together. They lean on each other, give advice, share connections and do business with each other when appropriate. It’s very much peer-to-peer mentoring and if you are lucky enough to get invited to one, you will most likely see a marked change in yourself and your business.
Here are 7 reasons why a mastermind might be right for you:
1. You’ll be part of an exclusive community. Joining a mastermind typically involves you being invited by the members or going through an application process. The other members need you just as much as you need them, so quality of experience and knowledge is crucial to all involved.
2. Advisement. Once you are involved in a mastermind, that feeling of “being alone” while running your business is gone. The other members of the group turn into business advisors of sorts and vice versa.
3. Collaboration is the name of the game. You may find someone in the group that is a perfect fit to work on a project with you. Or, you may be the perfect person to help another member as well. The group works together collaboratively, to achieve more together.
4. Extend your network. Joining a mastermind expands your network exponentially and rapidly. If you are in business, you know how important your network is. By joining a mastermind, you instantly add to your network and typically gain the networks of those in the group with you.
5. New learning. Everyone in the mastermind is unique in skill, experience and connections. By interacting and sharing your challenges, it’s almost certain that someone in your mastermind will have a solution for you and you may also be able to offer a solution, connection or tactic to help another in the group.
6. Cross-promotion. When you join a mastermind, you will most likely find ways to help each other by utilizing cross promotion. Finding ways to help each other through promoting to your respective networks.
7. Think bigger. Being in a mastermind will truly give you a Master Mind! You can’t help but think bigger and stretch beyond your boundaries when surrounded by amazing people doing amazing things.
Masterminds are incredible and can do wonders for your business as well as for you, personally. Growing in a group is not only more effective, it’s quite a bit more fun!

Credit: http://www.forbes.com/sites/chicceo/2013/10/21/7-reasons-to-join-a-mastermind-group/#480921e017ab

Got a complaint?

Jeremiah 12:1 (NLT) — 1 LORD, you always give me justice when I bring a case before you. So let me bring you this complaint: Why are the wicked so prosperous? Why are evil people so happy?

I know I have felt this way before. It comes out in many ways: “That’s not fair! They don’t deserve that! I have worked harder!” We have other reasons to complain: we have prayers unanswered, disappointments, harsh words from friends, changes at work that don’t suit us and on it can go.

Jeremiah brought his complaint to God in prayer. No matter what else you need to do you should complain to God. That seems funny to complain to God, but the fact is he can handle your complaint and thinks none the less of you for it. He knew you perfectly prior to the letting Him have it and you might as well tell Him what you are thinking. He will not be shocked no matter what you have to say.

I am working on my words and being conscious of how my words influence others for better or for worse. It is hard to change. When we focus on the external like just policing the words that come out of my mouth it is nearly impossible. But when I examine the reason why I let my complaint spill over and out my mouth, text, tweet or post real change can happen. First thing I can do is express my COMPLAINT to God. No one gets hurt in this way. He is not discouraged and his self-image remains in tact. It is therapeutic for me also. Many times it is the beginning of processing the hurt.

I think it is usually necessary to talk to people too. If you are going through a difficult time then you need friends who can help. Belonging to a church, small groups, ministry team or a group that allows you to support one another.  Do talk to God. Do talk to people who will help you and not pile on more complaints. Do smile. Smile in the confidence that God is your dad and He loves you more than you can comprehend.

Do not vent for all the world to see. The most important mission while we are still on earth is to reach people for Christ and the biggest barrier is Christians who live a mixed life. Sometimes they do life God’s way and sometimes they do life their own way. I wish I had an editor who reviewed my words before they left my mouth or fingertips. I have decided to ask the Holy Spirit – the Spirit of wisdom, counsel, might and the fear of the Lord to be my Divine Editor.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight O Lord!

QUESTION: How do you process your complaint?

Warning!!! What you don’t know can hurt you.

As a pastor God has given you vision for the church. You can see potential where others have given up. You see the impact the church will have in the community. You see the lives being changed for God’s glory. You have an overall view of the church. One of the descriptions of pastor is overseer.

What you don’t have is the view from the bottom. There are things going on in your church that you don’t know about! Some people won’t tell you because they don’t think you will care, they are scared you will shoot the messenger.
Don’t! When I get upset with the bearer of bad news. They stop telling me the bad news. I tell them I want to know, but I get a little up tight.

I realize that even now my team is a little reluctant to tell me everything because of my reactions in the past. So they may not tell me everything I need to know. Remember there are things I don’t know that are going on in my church. I need to change my reactions into healthy responses, but until then I need to know what’s going on.

Last team meeting I turned it over to my wife who is also the Executive Pastor. I went to check on the praise team rehearsal. Turns out that it was the best thing I could have done. They got more honest in my absence.

People were wondering why the nursery was not finished when we had just received a large gift and they assumed the cost of a build out in the basement would be only a few thousand dollars. We had not done anything wrong, but we had missed some essential components of communication for this project.

It is easily fixed. Bernie said we can put a full report in the next quarterly giving update. Others put in their thoughts to craft the update. It is not rocket science. Anyone can do it.

What’s important is creating the “safe harbor” that people can speak freely without fear of being “in trouble.” Of course, we want to find out what’s wrong so we have an opportunity to fix it. But many times our first reaction is so overbearing that the next time they have some bad news they just wait and let someone else pass it on. If you suspect that you are not getting honest information in your team meetings there are some things you can do. The quickest is to do what I just did and get out of the way. Let someone else lead part of the team meeting. I thank God for the insight that came out in that short time.

Also, you need to change your reputation over time. You cannot talk your way out of a reputation that you behaved yourself into. That is worth another discussion but for now let me ask have you ever “shot the messenger?”