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.








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.



't quit image


It’s always a challenge not to quit on the new you.  It’s so easy to start, and so hard to finish.  Ideas come into our heads and we dream new dreams.  We get excited and immediately begin transforming our lives to meet our new lifestyle goals.  Maybe we join a gym, sign up for classes at a college, or start a business from our home.  We are pumped, we are fired up, and we charge into the new work with energy and passion.  We have seen the person we can become and it is almost intoxicating.  And then, we run into a problem.  There is always a problem.  We take a financial loss.  Someone criticizes us.  We fail the first exam in school.  We become discouraged.  We thought we had turned a new corner. We thought we had finally found the path for our life that would work for us.  But once again we run again into problems and we are tempted to quit on our dream.  How do you keep going when you have quit so many times in the past?  Don’t quit, there’s someone out there waiting for you to become the new you.  They need you.

Four powerful strategies can help you embrace the new you:

  • Embrace the game changing attitude of refusing to quit on the new you.

Determine that no matter what you’re facing you’re going to stay in your new mindset.  Resolve that you are not going back to the person you used to be.

  • See your world through the eyes of faith.

You will see that the challenging visions God birthed in your heart while you were praying, or while you were traveling on a mission trip were not a passing dream.  Instead, they are a natural response to the reality of who you now are.  As you have become a new person God has put new dreams in your heart. Don’t go back.  Don’t give up.

  • Commit to continue thinking, dreaming, and planning for success.

Don’t let anyone steer you away from your goals and dreams. God has started you on a path, and He has the power to enable you to complete it.

  • Decide that you are never going back.

I have had detours in my life.  I’ve had times when criticism or weariness led me to take some weaker paths.  However, I could never stay in those defeated states for long.  I picked myself up and dusted myself off and I got back to my dreams as quickly as I could. You have to look at the world through what God is doing in your life right now and you have to determine that you will never go back and live the old life.

Adopt this mantra and repeat it over and over till you get moving again.

I am not the same. I don’t see things the same. I am not seen the same way. 

If you try to live where you once were, you will be miserable.  To live a powerful life, you must move forward. No turning back.  Don’t quit on the new you.

(This is an excerpt from my soon to published new book,  Game Changers, the people, places, and ideas, that change your life)


Breaking Up Is Hard To Do


Cue the music…. Enter the sweet tenor voice of Neil Sedaka  1967

Down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Comma, comma, down dooby doo down down
Breaking up is hard to do

Don’t take your love away from me
Don’t you leave my heart in misery
If you go then I’ll be blue
‘Cause breaking up is hard to do

This blog is not about romance or a trip down memory lane to my misspent youth, it’s about making difficult choices about successful disciplines.   A surprising trap for goal oriented people is getting stuck in disciplines that are no longer productive.   Have you had this experience?  You set a goal to lose some weight, and then you start a particular exercise routine.  You spend some money and get some excellent support and direction and it works for you.  You lose the weight and shape up and so you continue the program.  But, time creeps on and you find yourself a couple of years later and for varied reasons the discipline is no longer working for you, but you just keep following and paying for it.   New ideas catch your attention and you think about trying them, but you just can’t bring yourself to break up with your old discipline.  What’s going on?

Some of the very strengths that make you successful in life can cause you to get stuck in routines:

  • Successful people are loyal
  • Successful people are not quitters
  • Successful people know the value of positive habits

But let’s look at those traits again and apply them realistically to an unproductive discipline:

  • Loyalty should be to your ultimate goal, not the current technique you are following
  • Quitting can be a wise choice if you are merely switching techniques or programs
  • Habits are only valuable when they are positive, and they are only positive when you are getting results.

Breaking up is hard to do.   But, it can be productive and in many cases it will lead to greater success.  If you find yourself stuck in a routine, reexamine your ultimate goal and make the choices that will bring you success rather than pander to your habits.  Never underestimate the jumpstart that a new beginning can bring to your goals.  A new workout program, a new career coach or accountability partner, or a new morning routine could breathe fresh life into your career and personal success.   So go ahead, break up…. After all, you’re not Neil Sedaka and it’s not 1967.






In 1862 President Abraham Lincoln became frustrated with his commander of the Army of the Potomac, when he kept putting off attacking the confederate forces in Virginia.  The army had been idle in Washington for over eight months. General George McClellan had built it into one of the largest and best trained armies in U.S. history.  Yet, he kept refusing to move out against the south, claiming his army was not yet ready.

On January 10, Lincoln met with top generals (McClellan did not attend) and directed them to formulate a plan of attack, expressing his exasperation with General McClellan with the following remark: “If General McClellan does not want to use the army, I would like to borrow it for a time.”

There were undoubtedly many forces that shaped McClellan’s reluctance to move, but one of them may have been an addiction to planning.

Stop excessive planning and start taking action.

Planning is important and planning can be fun.  Planning can be exciting.  Planning is always safe, because it remains in the realm of theory.  No one is proved right or wrong until action is taken.  The bigger the endeavor, the greater the risk, and the more you will be tempted to remain too long in planning mode. At some point, you have to take action or your opportunity will be seized by others and your success in life will be limited.

How can you break out of the excessive planning mode?

  • Recognize the payoffs that may be tempting you to hesitate.
  • Check your self-esteem. If you are feeling insecure, it will tempt you to delay action.
  • Set a deadline. Make the commitment that by a particular date you have to do something.
  • Quit searching for the perfect plan. Accept that every action entails a risk of failure.
  • Comfort yourself with the knowledge that every plan requires adjustments once it has begun and have confidence in your ability to adapt.

Historians continue to debate whether or not George McClellen’s hesitancy to move, lengthened the war. Some theorize, that had he taken action sooner, many thousands of lives could have been saved.

There is no debate however, about the fact that excessive planning will limit your success in life.  No advancement in financial, career, or family success, is ever gained in the world of the imagination.  You have to take action.  You have to make the best plan you can and then boldly begin its execution. At some point you have to stop planning and take action.

“If he wasn’t going to use his life, I’d like to have borrowed it for a while,” would be a terrible epitaph to have etched on your gravestone.




For far too many people, far too often, their mind is the tantrum-throwing toddler of their personal lives. I admit to being one of them at times.

We manage our money. We manage our time, and we even manage our calories. Why don’t we manage our mind?

Why do act as if our mind is its own boss, free to do as it pleases?   We let it run out of control and create complications for our lives. We pretend that we can’t help it if we get depressed, moody, or irritated. We hide behind helplessness when our mind uses its creative powers to hurt the people we love and make emotional messes in our lives. Bad News— It’s not true! There is a level of control that we can possess with our rational thoughts. We may find managing our minds extremely difficult, but it can be done.

Here’s a mind hack for you:

What if you just assumed you could manage your mind?

What would you do differently?

  • Would you stop negative thoughts?
  • Would you refuse irrational fears?
  • Would you focus your attention rather than surfing your imagination?
  • Would you manage your mouth rather than let it spew like a volcano?

We actually have some experience with this mind management thing. It’s called dating. How much did you hold back when you were courting that beautiful girl or handsome man? Did you let your mouth run wild out of control?   Got ya, didn’t I?

If you could manage your mind when dating, then you can manage it now. It will take work and persistence, but hey, that’s how you managed to get married right?

Steps to managing our minds:

  • Admit you have power to do so
  • Change locations to change thoughts
  • Capture your “tantrums” on a time log to look for patterns
  • Enlist a friend to hold you accountable for bad mental habits.

Your mind can be educated into a well-behaved child instead of a sugar-crazed toddler if you have the courage and patience to tackle the task.


Combatting the Power of a Negative Comment

I recently watched Morgan Spurlock’s disturbing new documentary, “Rats.” The most unsettling part of the film was not the videos of hundreds of rats scurrying around or even the view of a man drinking out a pan of milk that rats had been drinking from and crawling around in, but the worst part was Spurlock’s evidence of the almost indestructible nature of the species.   He made a strong case for how rats as a species might still be flourishing when man has long vanished from the earth. The resiliency of the furry and almost universally disgusting creatures reminded me of the potency of negative comments in our lives.

Most us have had the weird experience of having one negative comment outweigh dozens of positive ones in our lives. It could be a comment about a new article of clothing you purchased, some creative piece of work you put out in the world, or some new direction where you led your organization.   You have dozens of affirming statements about your work and then you receive a single negative e-mail or phone call. In an amazing quirk of human nature, most people will begin to focus on the single negative comment and almost ignore the larger number of positive statements.

The behavior makes no sense:

  • Why don’t we embrace the sheer weight of numbers and focus on the positive?
  • Why would we let one statement carry more weight than dozens of others?
  • Why do we care so much about complaints that often come from strangers?
  • How in the world did rats and negative comments become so resilient?

I’m not saying people who disagree with our art or work are rats. I am lamenting the fact that negative comments have an amazing ability to survive the counterattacks of our rational minds and our most balanced analysis.

I have a few guesses as to why and one observation for moving forward.


  • We are wired to be sensitive to the negative, hence the famous news media policy, “if it bleeds it leads.”
  • We are usually so in love with our ideas, “after all we birthed them,” that we naively assume everyone else will love them too, hence the “every baby is beautiful” fallacy.
  • We are spoiled to people’s polite silence about our ideas and taste. Hence the shock when someone tells us our amazingly cute new shoes are ugly.
  • We are not wired to consider the negative. Differing opinions are a natural part of the environment and hence they should not surprise us like a rat bounding out of an alley.


If you want to live a bold and creative life you will be noticed and draw comments. Not all of them are going to be positive. Treat them like the rats of the comment world. Don’t be shocked by them. Don’t think that they are out of the ordinary, because they are not. They just usually remain hidden. Work to put their limited appearance in perspective against the overriding positive support you receive. Most of all, keep working and creating.

Mr. Spurlock, I disagree, rats will never rule the world.

The Failure Is The Success



I failed. For the first time in a long time, a plan made was a flop.   A project that I orchestrated, managed, promoted, and even prayed about, crashed and burned.   It was disconcerting to say the least. To be honest, I’ve been on a pretty good run. I know this won’t sound modest or humble, but I have been succeeded on pretty much everything I’ve been working on.   So you can imagine my chagrin when I failed. I spent a couple of days licking my wounds and enjoying an elaborately staged “pity party,” and then I got back to work. As I analyzed my crash, I was pleased to discover, (with the help of my wise coach) that my failure was actually the success.

Here’s why:

  • I regained a large amount of time that I’d been investing in the project
  • I helped the my clients to recognize why something wouldn’t work
  • I learned a lesson about securing resources before I take on a project
  • I took one more step in clarifying the key areas where I can make an impact
  • I gained this opportunity to model the skill of “failing forward”

The cliché is, “if you’re not failing, you’re not trying hard enough.”   I am proud to say that thanks to my recent past, I’m trying hard enough.   It is good to know that even our disappointments contain value if we look at them carefully enough. Thanks to the lessons learned, my failure was the success!

Goals- Taking Aim


Years ago, as a young man, I loved to hunt quail. There is nothing more exhilarating than to be walking through the brush and have a covey of birds, take off almost right under your feet. Sometimes, there will be six or more birds come up with a sound that really gets your adrenalin going. You raise your gun to shoot and the sky seems filled with birds and you feel like you can’t possibly miss. This is where I learned a valuable lesson about life from hunting quail.   If you just shoot into the group, you probably won’t bring down a single bird. I know I made this mistake several times. What you have to do is carefully target just one bird before you shoot. Your chances of success go up by a huge margin and you might have time to focus on one more before they are out of range. But, the point is… you have to choose a particular target.

This is the success secret behind setting goals. Life is full of opportunity and as you enter this New Year your “sky” may be filled with “birds” of every kind.   If you don’t take the time to target what you really want, you will have only mediocre success. You must choose what you want and aim carefully to attain it.

Every year, I set about sixty goals in five different areas of my life. I set goals for finances, relationships, my job, my family, and my spiritual life.   I write these goals down and I review them at least once a week. Some of the goals I review daily. Lately, I have been recording key goals and listening to them every day.   I write down the progress I make on my goals during the year and I check off the goals I’ve completed. I believe my productivity is 1000% greater in all areas of my life than if I hadn’t learned the power of setting goals.

  • Goals provide directions to your efforts.
  • Goals allow you to eliminate time wasters
  • Goals provide you criteria for determining what is important
  • Goals activate the power of the subconscious mind
  • Goals demand accountability
  • Goals increase your productivity exponentially

It’s a new year. It’s full of opportunity. It’s time to take careful aim and set the goals that will transform your life.