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.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

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.