The Most Important List To Have In Your Desk

Review Your Past Successes

If it is true that we become what we think about, then we should be thinking about success.  If we are going to live joyful and exciting lives, we have to learn to control our most valuable asset, our mind.  Life is full of experiences and they are all meaningless until we put an interpretation on them.  Sadly, we tend to be drawn to the negative in our thinking and we naturally focus on events that are demotivating and disempowering.  Sometimes we even put a negative tag on what was really a neutral event.  It takes energy to tackle the big goals of life and that energy flows from our attitude.  We must keep our attitude positive and upbeat, even if we are having a bad day. Mentally tough people keep feeding their minds positive claims about themselves.  They see themselves as successful people, who are good to others.  They keep their attention on the positive goals they are pursuing and refuse to be controlled by the random circumstances of life.

An easy way to do this is to mentally review victories from your past. I counsel people to create a list of 25 things they are proud of having done.  It can be as small an event as getting a perfect score on a 4th grade spelling test or as large as successfully starting your own business.  The important thing is to make the list and put it where that you can get to it easily.  When you are having a bad day, pull it out and review it.  You will immediately feel more confident and find new energy to tackle whatever problem you are facing.

This works for five reasons:

  • It takes control of your mind instead of letting it wander aimlessly
  • It focuses the mind on positive events and immediately improves our attitude
  • It reminds you that you are more than the events that happens in your life
  • It balances your mistakes with your positive choices in the past
  • It reminds you that you can continue to add to your list of successes

Mentally tough people don’t allow their minds to run unsupervised.  They control their thoughts.  They do this by feeding the mind positive spiritual truths, forgiving themselves when they fail, and regularly reviewing their successes.

Make your list today.  Refuse to stop writing till you have 25 things on paper.  Put that list where you can see it regularly and use it to remind you of what a wonderful person you are.

You can be mentally tough.  Begin today to change your life for the better.

Just for fun, put one of the things you are most proud of in the comment session and I’ll send you one of mine.

 

To Those Who Want To Grow in 2018

Some of My Favorite Resources for Growth from 2017

Like me, a lot of you love learning and expanding your skillset.  Here are some of my favorite things that helped me grow in 2017.   I hope you find something helpful, and please send me some of your favorites too.

Best books I read:

Spiritual:

The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming  Henri Nowen

https://www.amazon.com/Return-Prodigal-Henri-J-M-Nouwen/dp/0385418671/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1514314966&sr=8-4&keywords=the+prodigal+son+by+henri+nouwen

Personal growth books:

Designing your life    How to build a well lived joyful life   Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

https://www.amazon.com/Designing-Your-Life-Well-Lived-Joyful/dp/1101875321/ref=sr_1_sc_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1514314699&sr=8-1-spell&keywords=Designiing

Happy Money- The Science of Smarter Spending Elizabeth Done

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Blackout- Remembering the things I drank to forget   Sarah Hupola https://www.amazon.com/Blackout-Remembering-Things-Drank-Forget/dp/B00XO0NZNC/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313105&sr=1-1&keywords=blackout+remembering+the+things+i+drank+to+forget

The Lost Art of Listening  Michael Nichols PhD

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think

https://www.amazon.com/Abundance-Future-Better-Than-Think/dp/B00KEVW8DM/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313878&sr=1-4&keywords=abundance+the+future+is+better+than+you+think

History

Alexander Hamilton  Ron Chernov

https://www.amazon.com/Lost-Art-Listening-Second-Relationships/dp/B01M1C4Y1M/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514313492&sr=1-1&keywords=the+lost+art+of+listening+by+michael+p+nichols

Biography:

The Glass Castle Jeanette Walls

https://www.amazon.com/Glass-Castle-Memoir-Jeannette-Walls/dp/1439156964/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514314228&sr=1-2&keywords=the+glass+castle+by+jeannette+walls&refinements=p_n_feature_browse-bin%3A2656020011

Best business books:

Platform: Get noticed in a Busy World  Michael Hyatt

https://www.amazon.com/Platform-Get-Noticed-Noisy-World/dp/159555503X/ref=sr_1_1_twi_har_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1514314030&sr=1-1&keywords=platform+michael+hyatt

Favorite podcasts:

  • The Art of Charm Jordan Harbinger – Not about charm, about fascinating topics and leadership
  • Freakonomics Radio – insights from bright minds that take fresh looks at economic principles
  • The Gospel in Life – Pastor Tim Keller- great sermons from one of the best Christian preachers today

Favorite technology:

  • Began using a Macbook Air with plug in desktop desktop display, this has changed my life!
  • Mobile check deposit- goodbye waiting in line at the bank
  • Increased use of video on our church website and church Facebook
  • Finally getting the Twitter thing down
  • Calm- a wonderful meditation app to help me with focus

Favorite Blogs:

For those of you are not into spirituality you might want to stop here, but faith is the key to my life, so a few wins from that area are in order:

  • Spending weeks studying the concept of Christian grace- new freedom flowed into my life
  • Learning to write out my prayers when the mind is locked down
  • Walking with a dear friend through her courageous battle with cancer
  • Using the power of spiritual consensus to find the next step in our church’s growth

I hope you find these useful and I look forward to seeing your suggestions.  Be sure to watch for my next blog which will be the fifth in the series listing the 5 Attributes of Mental Toughness.

If you haven’t already done so,  please take a moment to subscribe to my blog.  All you have to do is enter your e-mail address and you’ll be notified every time I post a new one.  My  goal is to supply you with helpful insights on leadership and personal growth.

Make 2018 a great year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The One Thing You Must Always Refuse

Identity is the key to transformation.  It’s also a dangerous pitfall for high achievers.  We are vulnerable to having others push an identity upon us.  That identity, though well meant, could be limiting.  Never allow yourself to be defined by the opinion of others. This is the fourth attribute of people who possess mental toughness.

The story is told of a farmer who found a baby eagle that had fallen from its nest.  Its wings were not yet developed enough to fly and its mother had abandoned it.  The farmer in compassion took the eagle home and since it was so young, he put it in the pen where he kept his chickens.  The chickens paid their new guest little attention and the eaglet soon adapted to life in the coop.  Having no idea of its identity it took the chickens as role models.  The tiny eagle scratched in the dirt for worms and hopped around the coop without spreading his wings.  Even after the eagle had grown considerably, it still acted in every way like a chicken, and rested at night in the chicken house with the other birds.  One day, while he scratched in the dirt he heard a new sound.  It was the cry of an eagle that was soaring over the cage.  He looked up, and saw a magnificent bird floating high on the rising air currents.  In a moment, he was transformed.  He spread his wings and flapped them tentatively.  Quickly, realizing the power contained in his body, he rose into the air and easily flew out the coop to join his fellow eagle in sky.  He had eaten his last worm and he was through scratching in the dirt.  He was an eagle, and he would never allow any other identity to limit him again.

Do you know who you are?

Have you seen what you are capable of becoming?

Have you seized on the heights you are designed to achieve?

 

 

Mental toughness demands that we hold to these visions of ourselves and not allow anyone else to define us.   It may surprise you that some people will actually try to slap a limiting identity on you.

Who would try to limit your life by defining you?

  • Those who are intimidated by your success
  • Those who are fearful of your leaving
  • Those who are supported by your weakness
  • Those who are simply ignorant of who God has called you to be

Make up your mind right now that you will never allow yourself to be defined by the opinion of others.  You are done “scratching in the dirt, and eating worms.”  It’s time to live out the unique identity God created you to become.

In my next blog, I discuss the fifth and final attribute of those who possess mental toughness; “Regular Review of Past Successes.”

THE ONE CHARACTERISTIC THAT ALL WINNERS SHARE

Mental Toughness:  Relentless Optimism Rooted in Faith

 

Let me tell you a funny story and then a real one to illustrate what relentless optimism looks like.

 

There is the story of the little boy who was practicing his baseball skills.  He was throwing a baseball into the air and then attempting to hit it with a bat.  As he tossed the ball up, he was heard to say, “I’m the greatest hitter ever to play baseball!”  Unfortunately, he missed the first toss. He threw the ball again and repeated the phrase, “I’m the greatest hitter ever to play baseball!”  He missed again.  On the third try, he repeated his positive statement about his ability to hit, but he once again hit nothing, but air.   He stood there quietly for a moment and as he tossed the ball into the air, he was heard to say, “I’m the greatest pitcher in baseball!”

That story gives you a snapshot of relentless optimism.   The challenges of life are many and few people find success on their first swing.  You have to be able to keep on swinging, or if necessary, to be able to switch your efforts in a new direction without any loss of optimism.

Here’s my real story.  In the early days of my career when I was still struggling with the basics, I had devastating failure.  It was demoralizing and embarrassing and I was immersed in negative thoughts.  The enemy crawled on my shoulder and informed me that I should quit.  He asserted that I would never master the requirements to succeed in changing lives.  I was so frustrated and angry at myself that I almost took his advice. But, I can remember shaking my fist at the sky and with tears in my eyes I said, “I refuse to quit! I may never succeed, but I will not quit!”   Forty years later and having impacted thousands of lives through God’s help and power, I am glad I didn’t quit.  What enabled me to maintain mental toughness?  Optimism rooted in my faith.

Optimism (when it’s rooted in faith) contains several key components:

  • A realistic confidence about your talents and skills and how you can put them into play
  • A world view that sees abundance as opposed to scarcity.
  • A belief that God has a “soft spot” for those who just refuse to quit.

I want to encourage you to keep on building your mental toughness. Wherever you are at today, it’s not your final destination.  You can become the man or woman you dream of being and hundreds of lives will be impacted by your determination to relentless optimism.

When were you tempted to quit?  Make a comment below.  I’d love to hear your story.  Also, be sure and subscribe to this blog.  Next month, we will examine the fourth attribute of the mentally toughness, “the refusal to define yourself by the opinion of others.”

 

 

Stop Doing This Now and Start Moving Ahead

Mental Toughness Attribute #2

Refusal to dwell on past failures\regrets

I’ve had some monumental failures in my life. Some are humorous, and some make me weep.
I once asked a woman, whose name I was having trouble remembering, how her mother was doing? She looked at me with a shocked expression and replied, “Well, you performed her funeral service.” Ooops. I felt terrible, how do you recover after that?

Mentally tough people don’t sabotage their present life by getting caught up in reviewing past failures and regrets.

We all have failures in our lives. They range from the trivial, such as social blunders, to life altering mistakes in judgement.

Let me list a few failures:

Social errors:
• Public clothing mishaps
• Falling down on a busy sidewalk
• Getting people’s names drastically wrong
Leadership snafus:
• Making public promises that you fail to deliver on
• Unwise acquisitions for your business
• Hiring someone you later have to fire
Life changing failures:
• Bankruptcy
• Divorce
• Getting arrested

Everyone has something in their lives they regret, but tough-minded people push past those negative memories and move ahead. How do they keep their spirits positive after messing up?
• They accept that they are only human, and that mistakes and blunders are part of everyone’s life.
• They realize the foolishness of wasting the opportunities for a productive future on the lamenting of an irreversible past.
• They have a vision or dream that compels them to get back in the race no matter how devastating their failure.

I knew a Pastor who was helping his church to clear a downtown property for an expansion of their auditorium. When he was asked by the demolition company which building they were supposed to tear down, he pointed to the wrong building. The blunder cost his church thousands of dollars as they had to rebuild the partially demolished structure. He did not quit, but kept on serving his people and his church continued to grow and impact their community. He was mentally tough.

Make up your mind that the past is gone, and you will let the failures contained in it die. Extract any lessons for improvement from your failure that you can, and then put it behind you, and move on.

Success is difficult. Only those who can muster the continued energy to overcome obstacles obtain it. That’s why you need to be mentally tough, and mentally tough people refuse to let past failures and regrets steal their energy for life. Learn from the past, but live in today, and keep dreaming for your future.

Leave me a comment about how you have overcome regret and failure in your life.  I’d love to hear your story.

The One Thing All Successful People Do

A Rigorous Commitment to Reality

“It is far better to grasp the universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.”– Carl Sagan

The first key to mental toughness is to commit to facing the reality of every situation of life without flinching.

Have you ever tried to hide from reality?  Have you ever refused to open a bill that came in the mail, because you were afraid to see how much your debt had grown?  Have you ever refused to see your physician, because you were afraid to know what that pain in your stomach might really be?  Have you ever pretended not to notice the distance between you and your mate, because you were afraid to hear an honest answer to the question, “What’s wrong with you?”

Mental toughness demands that you face the truth.  One of the greatest questions you can ask yourself is, “What am I pretending not to know.”   It is staggering to think of how some of the most powerful leaders in some of the highest organizations, pretend not to know certain hard truths.

Mentally tough people have a rigorous commitment to reality.   They don’t ignore problems and hope they will somehow magically disappear on their own.  Mentally tough leaders encourage their subornates to tell them the honest truth about every situation, even if it is unpleasant or discouraging.

How hard is it to make the commitment to reality?

  • It could be as simple as deciding to pay attention to an uncomfortable, nagging feeling.
  • It could be as easy as not looking the other direction when you see something disturbing.
  • It might be as difficult as asking someone for the complete truth when you sense they are holding back.
  • It might be as demanding as setting up a meeting with a disgruntled client.
  • It might be asking yourself, “What am I pretending not to know?” 

First of all, reality isn’t the way you wish things to be, or the way they appear to be, but the way the actually are.   Secondly, the theory states that you either acknowledge reality and use it to your benefit or it will automatically work against you.”  Robert Ringer “Winning through Intimidation.”

In my next blog, I will examine the second attribute of mentally tough people; the refusal to dwell on past regrets or failures.

 

The One Attribute That Will Double Your Success

Mental Toughness

 

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise: Rudyard Kipling

 Rudyard Kipling

What separates the world class performers from the merely successful?

Mental toughness: the ability to withstand stress and control your mind.

Are you cool under pressure?

A minister I know was praised for how he led his church .  “He might be up to his knees in the fires of controversy and criticism, but you’d never know it when you heard him preach, he was cool as a cucumber no matter the pressure he was under.”  That’s mental toughness.

Are you cool under pressure?

Mental toughness is more important than talent or education. The real battlefield for success is in the mind.  Talent cannot save you if you cave under pressure.  Education will provide information of what to do in a crisis, but it cannot save you if you fold in stressful situations.  One of the arenas where you see this truth played out is professional golf.  You may not like the sport, but take some time to watch it carefully, and you’ll see mental toughness displayed in every tournament.  The pressure of having to summon up a relaxed and graceful putt on the final hole of a championship, with hundreds of thousands of dollars riding on the stroke, is determined more by the mental toughness of the player than by his hours of practice and natural skill.  Watching a player, who has just had a disastrous hole that put him behind in the score, put the bad strokes out of his mind and perform at championship level on the next hole, is a primer for mental toughness.

Examples of mentally tough people:

  • Winston Churchill withstanding the pressures of the near disasters of the early part of the World War II
  • American prisoners of war surviving years of abuse and imprisonment in Vietnam
  • American gymnast Kerri Strug working through the pain of an ankle injury to help her team win a gold medal in the 1996  Olympics 

What does it take to grow mental toughness in your life?

Over the next several blogs I’m going to examine five attributes of the mentally tough and give you tips for strengthening each one in your life.

Here are the attributes we’ll be studying:

  • Rigorous commitment to reality
  • Refusal to dwell on past failures\regrets
  • Relentless optimism rooted in faith
  • Refusal to define self by the opinion of others
  • Regular review of past successes

This will be a series of blogs that can take you to “next level”  success in your life.

How have you developed mental toughness in your life?  I’d love to hear your stories.  Please leave a comment and if you haven’t subscribed to my blog yet, please do so.

You Don’t Have To Be Serious All The Time to Be Successful

Whether you are a spiritual person or not you need faith.  Faith in yourself, faith in your opportunities, and faith in people.  Since it takes faith to keep chasing your goals you should learn everything you can about faith.

Reinhold Niebuhr  wrote, “Humor is, in fact, a prelude to faith; and laughter is the beginning of prayer.”   Why does humor often comes before faith?

  • Because we rarely laugh without feeling some kind of confidence about life
  • Because finding the silliness in situations demands believing that most things work out
  • Because when we laugh, we accept that we are not really in control in life

I’ve known a lot of people of faith.  Those with the deepest beliefs often had an easy sense of humor.  It’s those who can laugh who really believe the most.  Some of the craziness around religion would disappear if those who claim deep beliefs would learn to laugh a little.

What problem is robbing you of peace?  Can you find a way to laugh at it?

I remember an occasion when I worrying my way to an ulcer.  The problem was financial and I felt like I should know the answer.  I was released from my depression when a friend said he had two truths for me.  “One, there is a God,  and two, you’re not him.”  Then he stood there grinning at me till I started to smile and then we laughed together.

When was your last good laugh?  Can you laugh at yourself or some problem that troubles you?  Can you take yourself a little less seriously?  You might be on your way to faith.

Please leave a comment about humor in your life, I’d love to chat with you, and don’t forget to subscribe to this blog.  Thanks.

 

“I did it because I know what it feels like to be desperate.”

 

I heard Ben Horwitz, CEO of Opsware, tell a touching story about why he had his company pay insurance premiums for an employee that technically was not eligible for them. The man needed treatment for terminal cancer and the cost would be over $200,000.  Ben had been leading his company through a protracted struggle for it’s very survival for nearly five years when this decision was made. When the man’s widow called two years later to thank him for such a generous gift she asked him why he would do something like that for someone who he didn’t even know, he told her “I guess I did it because I know what it feels like to be desperate.” 

It’s interesting to speculate about whether or not he would have made such a generous gesture if he hadn’t been through such a struggle.  I don’t know Ben, but I think he, and almost everyone else in the world, might not have done it. There is a sensitivity to pain that is born in our hearts when have been through a fire.

This sensitivity is called empathy.  The dictionary defines empathy as the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Empathy is a valuable tool for building your career as well as for helping others.  Since every business is a people business, we must remain in touch with our humanity.  Responding to the desperation in people’s lives will enhance our reputation among those we lead, and build rock solid loyalty in those we assist.

Some thoughts about empathy:

  • We don’t always choose when it shows up
  • We don’t always pay attention to its call for our attention
  • We always benefit from following its promptings
  • We will always be remembered  when we use it

Next time you are personally going through the fire, be grateful that not only is your courage being tested, and your resolution to succeed deepened, but that your heart is also being tendered for those who need you most.

I’m curious about how empathy has shown up in your work life.  Please make a comment and share your thoughts and don’t forget to subscribe to the blog.

 

 

 

 

HOW BEING TERRIFIED CAN HELP YOU

 

 

I went zip lining in Costa Rica last week. I thought I was going to have to “wimp out” as I flew out into space on the first of 7 consecutive zip lines.  I am not afraid of heights and I’ve zip lined before, but never at such heights and speeds.  I didn’t want to go on, but I was with my church group and I refused to let them see me “chicken out.”

Flying hundreds of feet over the jungle canopy while supported only by a skimpy seat harness and a well-worn cable, I began to doubt my rationality.  What kind of crazy man risks his life like this I wondered? No, that’s not quite right.  What I really thought was, “Dear God what have I just done, please don’t let me die.” I was three zip lines into the experience before I began to relax and enjoy the amazing view and the thrill of speeding down the line. Once I got over my initial terror my senses were almost overwhelmed with the beauty below me and the fun of getting as close to personal flight as I have ever been.

Are you going through a terrifying time? Remember you are not alone. Starting a new business, career, or relationship can be scary. But often you’ll find that what waits on the other side of your fear will be one of the greatest experiences of your life.

What did I learn while terrified?
• Once you relax it gets good
• Beauty is available even when you are terrified
• Trust in those who have gone before you
• Use your peer group to propel you past fear
• Don’t miss the experience of a lifetime out of fear

When was the last time you were afraid? What lessons did you learn? Please leave a comment. I’d love to read your insights.