BLOG

What’s Intimidating You?

What’s Intimidating You?

Subtitle:  Adventures in Car Hauling

My son-in-law bought my dad’s old truck from my mother.  The truck no longer ran and there was a lot of confusion about what might be wrong with it. But, Charley figured it would make a good starter vehicle for my grandson, who was fast approaching driving age.   He learned that other family members possessed a long bed trailer suitable for car hauling and he decided to drive down and haul the truck back home to Tyler. I decided to go along with him on the 3-hour trip, so I could see my mom, sister, and the rest of the family, and because I had brokered the deal.   We made a boy’s trip.  My son-in-law Charley, myself, and two of my above average grandsons set off on a distinctly, masculine adventure.  How hard could it be?

We thought we could do this. I mean it wasn’t rocket science. But, the more we talked with an experienced person, the more our insecurities mounted.  Neither one of us had ever pulled an 18-foot-long trailer, and we had never hauled anything as large as a truck.   As we learned about the things we needed (tie down straps, come-alongs, and weight-centering strategies, our fears began to mount), we realized this was serious stuff.  If we messed up, at the very least, it could be expensive, and at the worst, someone could get hurt.   But, we did it. We faced our fears, we loaded that truck and safely hauled it back to Tyler. We were feeling pretty proud as we rolled into the Rose City, thinking we had once again earned our “man cards.”

This adventure of car-hauling and the mental gymnastics we went through made me think about how people get intimidated out of attempting things that will take their careers to new levels of success. 

  • They turn down a promotion, because they’re not sure they can handle the stress of leadership.
  • They change their minds about relocating to a dream company, because it’s out of state and they have never moved before.
  • They own a company that is offered the chance to bid on a contract that will pay them the kind of money they have been dreaming of, but turn it down, out of fear they can’t hire enough quality employees to fulfill the contract.
  • They perhaps are encouraged to write a book about a life changing experience, but refuse to take action, because they have never written anything before.

All of these opportunities have the same key factors.  One, they offer tremendous potential for improvement in life. Two, they require the learning of new skills or the need to enter into levels of leadership, not yet experienced. Three, they are fear inducing.

These tips from my car-hauling experience might keep you from missing your opportunity.

  • Refuse to be intimidated. Everything is new the first time you do it.
  • Remind yourself that it can be done. Others have hauled cars, so can you.
  • Seek out good instruction. My brother-in-law provided needed expertise that greatly increased our chance for success.
  • Have confidence in yourself. You have made it to your current level of success through hard work and discipline and you can make it further using the same tools.

I don’t want to encourage you to do anything foolish or dangerous in life.  But, I also don’t want you to get intimidated out of what may be one of your greatest chances for success, because you’ve never done it before.

Take on the task.  Take up the challenge.  Haul a truck if you need to.  You might even earn your “man card.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stupid Human Tricks

Every so often, I attend youth events like summer camp.  One of the staples of these high energy gatherings is a game called “stupid human tricks,” that the camp director will use to warm up the crowd before a service. The idea is to offer a reward to anyone who is willing to demonstrate an unusual trait or behavior before the crowd. There is never a shortage of participants.  The “tricks” run the gamut from joints that can be bent backwards, to the ability to turn your tongue upside down in your mouth, or some such oddity.  My youngest daughter was a regular winner of these games, but I am sworn to secrecy not to tell her “giftedness.”

This silly game reminded me of the even sillier games that some people, who really should know better, play in their interactions with each other.   I call them “stupid human avoidance tricks.”

They include:

  • Jumping relational canyons to escape intimacy; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “Bob sees his wife even less than I do and she never complains.”
  • Pulling unrelated complaints out of a hat to distract from intimacy; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “I might come home more often if you didn’t park your car on my side of garage.”
  • Using verbal sleight of hand to hide uncomfortable truths; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “Oh, you always look so cute when you are so serious.”  This is said with a wink and nod.
  • Hiding painful truths in hidden pockets; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, “I know, we’ll talk about that this weekend. Now let’s eat.”
  • Piling unimportant words so high that crucial words are never spoken; i.e., the argument is that I don’t see you enough. The accused responds by saying, and saying, and saying, and saying… you get the point.

Which of these is your favorite?  Is one of these “tricks” limiting communication in one of your relationships?   One of the most frustrating relationships to be in is when someone you care about is emotionally distant.  If someone is distant, they are probably using one of the stupid human avoidance tricks.

All of these techniques serve the purpose of avoiding confrontation.  But, the problem with avoidance is that the problem is still there.  Avoidance is just relationship procrastination.

If you want anything to improve, you have to start with honesty.   No suffering relationship ever improved while people were utilizing avoidance tricks.  

Suppose your friend is “hiding painful truths in hidden pockets.”   Every time you bring up a troubling behavior of theirs, they tuck it away temporarily in a fake show of connection.  It doesn’t take long for the behavior to show back up and you know you haven’t really dealt with the issue.  How do you get past this trick?     

  1. Pick a time for the confrontation, where conversations will not be interrupted.
  2. Pick your words to demonstrate that your goal is improvement, not blame.
  3. Pick apart surface attempts to hide the offense by refusing to accept meaningless praise.
  4. Pick a powerful memory to share of a time when the relationship was thriving and growing.
  5. Pick a demand that will demonstrate real improvement from your partner on which you will not compromise.
  6. Pick a time to put the relationship on hold if the promised improvement does not come.

Much of our joy and most of our misery flows from our relationships.  Refuse to indulge in “stupid human tricks,” and don’t let those you value, get away with it either.

 

 

Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law

Raising Healthy Sons-in-Law, And Other Relationships Challenges

My son-in-law Charley, has been telling me that my wife and I need to write a book about how to create healthy in-law relationships.  He thinks we have done a good job in this area, at least, so far.  I think that’s because he really likes my wife, Barbara’s kindness, but I’ll take the compliment.   He went so far as to send me some starter ideas.  As I looked them over, I realized some of them were good for creating healthy friendships as well.   Let me share them with you.

  • How to be close without smothering
  • The money dilemma, giving gifts versus making loans
  • The different techniques for giving solicited and unsolicited advice
  • Establishing healthy boundaries
  • How to watch someone you care about make a mistake

My son in law is pretty smart, isn’t he?

Let’s take the first one.

How can you maintain a close relationship without smothering?

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law, you must be concerned about how you can bless them, not how you can control them.  If you want to have healthy friendships, you must be as concerned with how much you contribute to your friend’s life, as you are with how many resources he brings to your life.

If you want to raise healthy sons-in-law and build strong friendships, then don’t work out your inner demons on them.  If you find yourself engaging in irrational responses toward minor annoyances, you’re probably fighting some wound from the past rather that actually dealing with the current problem.

When you are struggling in your relationships, take the time to examine your feelings about the relationship to see if they are healthy.

  • Are you focused on what makes you feel good or blessing the other person?
  • Are you allowing subconscious wounds from your past to color the relationship?
  • Are your emotions growing in maturity as you deepen the relationship?

I’ve been blessed with two fine sons-in-law.  They love my daughters and have provided my wife and I four, above average grandchildren that vastly enrich our lives.   I want to keep our relationships healthy, so I need to give them space to build their own families.  This is true even if they are making a decision that seems foolish to you.

I owe my father-in-law Gene Davis for teaching me this truth through efficient role modeling.  The first car I bought after Barbara and I were married was a banana yellow, Ford Fiesta.  Now, there is nothing wrong with that model of Ford, and for many people it would be a good choice, but not for me.  We lived in hot and humid Texas and this tiny little four-cylinder car didn’t  have air conditioning.  It had a manual transmission that Barbara did not know how to drive, and it was way too small for my 6’3’’ body.  I bought this car on monthly payments because I did not know how to tell a salesman no.   When I took this car to Gene’s house he displayed tremendous discipline and kindness. This knowledgeable mechanic, who knew cars like few other men, simply walked quietly round it several times listening to me explain its features.  Finally, with a slight grin, he said, “Well, that’s a car.”   Then he turned and walked into the house.  It was many years later that I realized how many words of ridicule he must have held back at my foolish purchase.   But, he was raising a healthy son-in-law, so he simply let me find out on my own about the hazardous of buying a car without careful thought.  We lost Gene to heaven nearly twenty years ago and I still miss that good and wise man.

If you want to build healthy friendships, then learn to cherish your friends, but allow them room to grow as human beings.  If you do have good sons-in-law or ever hope to have some, be slow to speak words of criticism and quick to support their decisions.  Even if they buy a banana yellow Ford Fiesta.

 

 

The Power of Quiet

Too many voices, too much noise, too crowded schedules, too many demands…. work that can’t get done, because it demands creativity and the noise drowns out your original thoughts.

You must get away.  You must unplug.  You must create a quiet space, or you’ll never produce anything original and deep. You’ll never be able to create quality material if you don’t get away from the “maddening crowd.”  Your mind has the ability to create new information for the world and problems you are facing.  Your brain has the capability to make new connections between the many streams of information coming at you and your team.  But, you’ll never make those connections if you don’t take time to listen to your own thoughts.

You must get quiet if you want to produce material that will make real noise in this world.

The reason why quiet works is because it combats the productivity loss of interruptions.  When we are in our office, our work can be interrupted five or ten times a day.  According to a study by Fast Company magazine, it takes 23 minutes and 15 seconds to reconnect to the level of thought we were functioning in before the phone rang or someone walked into our office.  Multiply that time lost times ten and you’ve lost 230 minutes or nearly 4 hours.  That’s half the day!

The religious have long known this truth.  If you want to do serious work on the soul or deep thinking you must flee the crowds and find a place of solitude.   Jesus Himself, withdrew from the crowds to get alone during His ministry.  For God followers, that pretty much settles any argument we have against getting quiet and alone.

Why don’t we spend more time alone?  Usually it’s because we don’t think we can afford the time away from our busy office and constantly beeping computers and cell phones.  We are wrong.  The creative and mental output you can generate when you are alone is staggering.   I recently took a day to unplug and write.  It took me an hour and a half to get settled in my silent hideaway.  In the next four hours, I had written a chapter to lengthen the book my agent is trying to sell, written a Sunday School lesson, written a blog post, and written a chapter for my next book. Altogether, about 6000 words hit the page, or in reality the computer screen that day. That’s a lot of creative output and the amazing thing is I didn’t even feel tired.

You must get quiet if you want to produce some real noise in this world.

Quiet places are all around us:

  • For those who have access
    • Lake houses
    • Beach houses
    • A tent or RV in a State park
  • For those with less access
  • A coffee shop with good WIFI
  • Your home when everyone else is at work
  • The public library
  • Under a tree in the local park

It’s time for you to get away.  Do it for your business, your family, and your sanity. Get quiet so you can produce the kind of original work that will make some real noise in this world.

 

 

 

 

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

What Would You Do If You Were Not Afraid?

I came close to refusing the offer to become the Pastor of the amazing church that I am privileged to lead.  I was afraid that I wasn’t up to the task.  I told myself, “I should tell them thank you, but you should get someone else.” I am extremely grateful that the Lord spoke to my heart in that moment and said, “Oh yes you can do this.  If I have called you to this task, I will empower you to accomplish it.”   Thirty-one years later, I am still enjoying the opportunity to lead this fantastic group of people, which has certainly been one of the greatest of my life.

Are you letting fear keep you from something that you would like to do?

Is there a position you’d like to apply for, but you’re afraid to submit your resume?  Is there a project you’d like to take on, but you are afraid you will fail in bringing it to pass?  Is there a relationship you’d like to pursue, but you fear that you’ll be rejected?  Do you wish you had the courage of people around you, who seem bold enough to chase any goal they get excited about?

Here’s a little secret: They are afraid too.

Everyone feels fear.  Everyone has doubts.  Everyone feels that they are not up to the task.  But, successful people push through their fear and do what they dream anyway.   It takes courage to put yourself out there in front of people.  It takes a brave heart to write a book on relationships, offer a class on success, or apply for a demanding job. The ugly thoughts of your inner critic begin to hammer at your doubts. They attack you with questions like:

  • Who are you to think someone would listen to you talk?
  • Who do you think you are to write a book?
  • Who made you an expert?
  • You know you are not perfect. You’ll be a hypocrite if you write or speak about success.

Michael Neill wrote about his strategy for facing fear in his book “Financially Fearless.”

 “As I have written elsewhere, there is a tremendous difference between feeling the fear and doing it anyway and the freedom which comes from finding that space in yourself which is beyond fear. And the more time you spend living beyond fear, the sooner the answer to ‘What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?’ will become ‘Exactly what I’m doing now.'”  

How to push through fear to success:

  • Make the decision to try, after all, the worst you can do is fail
  • Make the distinction that failure is nothing more than a learning experience
  • Make the connection with your God and tap into His power
  • Make the leap of faith

In the beautiful movie “We bought a Zoo.”The father, Benjamin encourages his teenage son, who wants to ask a girl out, but is afraid to, with the story about how he met, the boy’s mother. Benjamin told him he saw a lovely girl through a shop window and found the nerve to walk up to a complete stranger and introduce himself.  This led to the great romance of his life.

Then he told his son:

“You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.”

What would you attempt if you found 20 seconds of insane courage?  I hope you find those 20 seconds, because I promise you, the world is waiting on your greatness.

 

 

 

 

 

DON’T EVER GET UP TO SPEAK WITHOUT THIS

THE POWER OF PASSION

Here’s something ministers know that many people do not.

“You can teach anything you know, but you can only preach what you feel.”

If you want to move people rather than just educate them, you have to engage with passion.

Most ministers have learned this truth through painful experience.  They have endured the frustration of giving a sermon that is being listened to by polite, yet clearly bored people.  When they do their post-sermon review, they remember that when preparing the sermon, they personally felt unmoved by the material.  They understood it well, and it was no doubt solid truth, but they were left feeling indifferent to its content.   They “kick themselves” later for taking such personally dull content to their pulpits.  Knowledge (to be transformational)  has to engage the emotions.  Any speaker, who attempts to deliver material of which they have not discovered an emotional hook that will capture his listeners, is ensuring a disengaged audience.  Only speakers who have audiences that are required to listen, like college and high school teachers, can indulge in this kind of presentations.

Have you ever listened to a speaker and wondered if she was as bored by her speech as you are?  Have you mentally checked out during a speech, while the presenter droned on with seemingly endless points that were unrelated to your business and life?  Or, perhaps you have felt yourself captivated by a presenter who caused you to lose track of time as she shared stories of success and personal impact.  The difference between these speakers was passion.

Passion is like charisma.  It’s hard to define, but it is easy to spot.  Speakers that bring passion to their presentations are delightfully captivating and you always leave motivated to make some change in your life.

How can you get passion into your speech?

  • Speak only about things that move you personally
  • Speak with clarity rather than industry jargon
  • Speak with your entire body, not just your words
  • Speak with intensity, as if this were the last speech you’ll ever give
  • Speak with connection, look at the eyes of your listeners, not your power point

If you are given the opportunity to give a presentation, no matter the size of the audience, refuse to speak until you have found an emotional connection in the material that moves you personally.  Then get up and give your speech with passion.

You will be asked back to speak again.

Remember, you can teach anything you know, but you can only preach what you feel.

P.S.  Be patient with your minister. He has to give a speech every week!  That’s a lot of passion to create.

Adapting for Success – 5 Keys to Making it Happen

I recently read an article in Fast Company magazine about Todd Yellin, the CEO of Netflix.  He made a bold decision to push his company to create more access on mobile applications, because he saw two boys in Bangkok watching Netflix on a mobile phone.   He saw the opportunity for his company to expand in new markets and he was quick to adapt.  In 2017 subscriptions grew more than 25% to 117 million, and more people subscribed via mobile than either TV or laptop. Yellin’s ability to be flexible and quick secured their success.

I recently saw a Christian missionary group shifting its priorities from the patriarchal approach of a pioneer to the partnership approach of long established native.  They chose to go in a new direction in their work with the indigenous people of their nation.  They did this because they could see that the people, who they had once evangelized, were now fully developed Christians capable of leading themselves.  They are having phenomenal success, seeing new churches planted in an exponential rate because they were quick to adapt.

If you are alive emotionally, financially, and spiritually, you must adapt in order to thrive in your life.   The only true constant in life is change.  What you counted as a “given” in your career last year, may be obsolete today.  Tried and true practices of success that worked a decade ago may not work today.  You must adapt.

5 keys to successful adaptation:

  • Keep your eyes and mind open.

You must become a life-long learner.  The world is full of exciting new ideas and people pushing the boundaries of what is possible in business and life.  Read all you can.  Force yourself to read magazines and books about technology.

  • Hold your convictions of what works loosely.

The most dangerous concept you can hold in your mind is: “I know.”  You only know what was.  Most of what you know was it taught to you years ago, and most of it is obsolete today.

It doesn’t mean it wasn’t true, it just means that innovation has  changed the way that knowledge must be applied.

  • Expose yourself to innovation whenever and wherever you find it.

Don’t run from new technology.  Set yourself to learn how these new toys and systems can be used to improve what you do.  Go to “maker’s fairs.”  Buy tickets to business and tech expos.  Dabble at the edges of change.

  • Refuse to be lulled into the lie of “that’s just the way things work.”

Five years ago who would have thought that a huge amount of the social interaction between people would take place through hand-held devices?  Five years ago, everyone used the telephone as the first choice for communication and now it is texting.  “That’s just the way things work” is lazy thinking.

  • Try something new every week.

Drive a new route to work.  Eat at a new restaurant.  Watch a foreign film on Netflix.  Cook a new dish.  Doing something new keeps our minds limber and helps us to adapt to the larger things in life more easily.

Adapting to change is a powerful tool for success. Take advantage of your flexibility and you’ll move ahead of your competition.

Leave a comment about an area where you successfully adapted in your career this past year and I’ll share one of mine.

 

The Quicker You Do This, The Better Your Chances Of Success

If you want to do more than just survive, you must learn to adapt to the changes of life.

I am a man of faith.  When I use the world evolution I do so cautiously, but there is a principle in evolution that is true regardless of your belief system. Louisiana State business professor Leon C. Megginson in a speech summed up the idea:

Yes, change is the basic law of nature. But the changes wrought by the passage of time affects individuals and institutions in different ways. According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself. Applying this theoretical concept to us as individuals, we can state that the civilization that is able to survive is the one that is able to adapt to the changing physical, social, political, moral, and spiritual environment in which it finds itself.

The one who can adapt is best able to survive and prosper.

If you put a rock on top of a weed growing in your garden and it gets water, it will grow around the sides of the stone.  It adapts and survives.

Adaptability is listed various lectures as one of the 5 signs of life.  Alongside of growth, reproduction, assimilation, adaptability demonstrates life.

If you are alive emotionally, financially, and spiritually, you must adapt in order to thrive in your life.   The only true constant in life is change.  What you counted a “given” in your career last year, may be obsolete today.  Tried and true practices of success that worked a decade ago may not work today.  You must adapt.

The computer age has made adaptability exponentially more important for success. Computer’s rapid evolution creates constant change in every area of our lives.   Take a moment to think of how different life is today because of the ever-present computer universally present in the hands of people, their smartphone.  We have been forced to give up the idea of “time off,” unless we can head somewhere distant and unplug.   What the long terms effect of these changes will have on us remains to be seen, but the people who thrive in life will adapt to these technological realities.

Grade your adaptability by checking how many of these technologies you use:

  • Electronic deposit and other evolving banking technologies
  • Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest
  • Navigation apps on your phone or in your car for directions
  • E-mail and texting
  • Streaming for television viewing

I am not promoting any of these technologies.  I am simply acknowledging that in an incredibly short amount of time they have become a standard part of most people’s lives.

Change is coming.  If you are going thrive you must learn to adapt.

In my next blog, I will share principles for helping you develop this needed survival skill.

Take a minute to post the most challenging area where you have had to adapt in your career and life in the comment section.  I’d love to hear your story.

 

 

Get Refocused and Reach Your Goals

Get Refocused and Reach
Your Goals

Sometimes we are surprised at how quickly some things get past us. It’s amazing how quickly thirty days can go by when you have to make another car payment. It’s catches us off guard how quickly a semester can go by when you have a term paper due. And it’s absolutely terrifying how quickly your sweet little infant becomes a college bound teenager. Things move fast in life and it can take our breath away how quickly the months of a year go by. This year is no different.

January is gone. One month out the twelve we had in front of us when we started the year is now past. That means that if you are a goal setter you only have eleven months left to get them done. This is why you have to review your goals at least once a week.

How do we make sure we realize our ambitions and complete our goal list?

” Review your list to test if you really want to accomplish all the things you put down
” Review your list to see if any of the goals are not possible due to events out of your control
” Review your list to test your commitment to the goals you set one month ago

One of the most powerful techniques to keep your goal list heading toward success is to review your “why.” When your “why” is strong enough the “how” takes care of itself.

Supposed you were asked to run a half mile while carrying a 50-pound sack of sand in 100 degree heat. Could you do it? Would your attitude stink? Would you do anything you could to get out of it? But, what if that 50-pound weight was your six-year-old daughter who was seriously injured, and you were running to get her to a doctor in time to save her life? Most people realize that having that kind of “why” would allow them to access strength and resolve that would make a task that seemed out of reach possible.

Review your “why” for your goals and get back on track. You still have 11 months left. Get after those goals and end the year strong.

P.S.  Do me a favor and put your most powerful “why” in the comments list and I will answer with mine.

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.