How Long Will You Be Limited by Your Past?

How long do we have to be limited by our past?

Are we ever safe from our failures?   Is there a shelf-life on our mistakes?  Can we overcome painful memories?

Far too often, we suffer internally because of things we remember that we did wrong or past embarrassments.

Memories shape our lives. If they are negative or painful, they become a prison of self-limitation.  The most interesting thing about memories is that they are unreliable.   The longer we have a memory, the more we embellish and color it with nostalgia.

I occasionally visit a home I lived in over 50 years ago.  I love to go by and see where I played as a boy with brothers and friends.  I am always amused by how small everything is compared to my memory.   A small shed still stands that we used to jump off of as boys.   In my memory it was 20 or more feet high.  In reality, it is only about 5 feet and most people would have to stoop down to walk under its low hanging roof.  The discrepancy in my memory is because I was only about four-feet-tall, when I made my daring leaps off its tin roof.   Everything looks different to me now from my current six-feet height.

We also tend to add details to our memories that were not really there.  The more you tell a story, including the more you tell it to yourself, the easier it is to incrementally add to the tale.   This is why your father’s memory of walking to school when he was a child morphs from a couple of city blocks to a couple of country miles. It’s also why his exploits on the baseball and football field become tales of legendary skill and success, when in reality, they were just stories of an average kid making an average team.

The truth is our memories are flawed.  What you remember so vividly probably did not happen exactly as your picture it.

It is time to take the sting out of your painful memories.  When they show up to limit you or shame you, remember they are being blown out of proportion.  When they give you that familiar unpleasantness, remember that you are remembering from who you were, not who you are today.  You wouldn’t make that mistake today.  You wouldn’t choose that bad decision as the person you are today. Don’t let a flawed and exaggerated remembrance trouble your peace of mind.

Good coaches teach us that though the past is always with us, its ability to hurt is a personal choice. Decide today that your memories from years ago are out of date and toss them into the trash.  Move forward, focused on who you are becoming, not limited by who you were.

Make your personal mantra: I’m not who I ought to be, I’m not who I’m going to be, but thank God, I’m not who I was, and quit allowing yourself to be shamed by an out of date past.

ARE YOU AS LOVEABLE AS DANNY?

TO CLAIM THE REAL YOU – ELIMINATE NEGATIVE SELF-TALK

 

To allow yourself to step forward and claim your worth in the world, you need to overcome lingering beliefs about your self-worth.  How can you boldly put yourself in the public eye if you are being slammed by critical statements within your mind?   Do you have doubts about being worthy of God’s blessings?  Do you fear that you are not good enough, smart enough, talented enough to achieve your goals?  Even worse, do you constantly tell yourself these things?

This negative self-talk has to stop because:

  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made.
  • You are the only person exactly like you in the entire universe.
  • You were put here with unique gifts and talents with which to bless the world.
  • You are just as worthy of success as anyone else.

For a primer in self-esteem study, let’s look at the career of actor, Danny DeVito. DeVito’s short stature is the result of a rare genetic disorder that affects bone growth in those afflicted.  This diminutive actor has won the hearts and minds of millions in spite of his unorthodox appearance.  If Danny can refuse limiting beliefs about his success, so can you.

Realize that how you feel about yourself could be putting a “lid” on your success.   Search your mind for any trace of poor self-esteem and commit to purging it from your life.

Things to remember to overcome poor self-esteem:Remember everyone is a jerk sometimes.

  • Remember that your past does not have to predict your future.
  • Remember that you are a work in process and cut yourself some slack.
  • Remember that if you disqualify yourself, someone who needs your gifts will miss out.
  • Remember that mistakes and failures are part of life.

Past mistakes and failures are not disqualifiers for success.  In fact, they are usually a prerequisite for real impact in the world.  Do a quick study of some of the game changing leaders from history and you will see that all of them overcame something on their path to success.

Decide today that you are going to boldly go after your dreams.  Refuse to allow any false beliefs to limit your success.  Danny DeVito has legions of fans.  Why don’t you put yourself out there and see how many people will love you, too?

Claiming The Real You

HOW TO FIND THE COURAGE TO BE THE REAL YOU

The advertising campaign “Be All You Can Be,” promoting recruitment for the US Army, was one of the most successful in advertising history. It ran for 20 years.  It motivated enlistment with the idea of joining the armed forces in order to become a better you.

Here’s another good idea; simply allow yourself to be.

I wrote my last blog about not being afraid to be yourself.  Now, I want to give you four ideas in finding the courage to be yourself. The first is to value your uniqueness.

Self-improvement is important, but it can become an addiction.  While we are busy getting better, we should also enjoy being who we are.

How can we allow ourselves to just be?

Remember that today’s you, may be one of the best versions of yourself you ever produce.

This is true in the fitness arena.  I used to whine and groan about being fat.  All through my thirties and forties I was constantly disappointed in my body. But, I sure do miss that body today. If I could just turn back the clock, I’d never criticize myself again.  The body I had then was in some ways the best one I’ll ever have. The reality is that age brings deterioration, so today’s you may be one the best versions ever.

Remember you are a work in progress and cut yourself some slack.

Memorize this code: PBPWMGINFWMY   It will reduce the stress in your life.It means: “Please be patient with me, God is not finished with me yet.”Everyone has flaws. Most would like to be a better version of ourselves, but masterpieces      are not created overnight.  Don’t miss the glory of this day, because you are disappointed in how your diet is going or some other frustration on your goal list. Be gentle with yourself. You will get better.

Step one on claiming the real you is to accept yourself with all your “warts and weaknesses,” as being part of a human race that is flawed and broken.   Keep working at your goals, but enjoy today.

Other people love you. Love yourself and you’ll be better able to love other people.

Claim the real you, because the real you is pretty fantastic right now.

QUIT BEING AFRAID TO BE YOU

Quit being afraid to be you. If you want to create something that has power and lasts, then you have to be the authentic you, no matter who that annoys or makes angry.

A copy has no power to inspire.  A cheap knockoff has limited appeal.  People want to see and hear something that is real, and they get pumped when they encounter leaders who are irrepressibly themselves.

Why do we fear being ourselves?

  • We fear we are not good enough.
  • We buy into the lie that other leaders have it all together, all the time.
  • We have the tendency to overemphasize our failures and downplay our successes.
  • We feel arrogant to assert our ideas and opinions.
  • We wonder why people would want to hear what we have to say.

But, you are the only you in the universe.  You have life experiences that no one else has.  You see things in your own unique viewpoint and that viewpoint might just set someone free.

In the biographical movie “Walk The Line,”the young singer, Johnny Cash tries to get a record deal by singing a gospel song that has been recorded by Jimmy Davis.  The producer Sam Phillips stops his performance and says “this is awful.” Then he asks this question.

If you was hit by a truck and you were lying out in a gutter and you had time to sing one song—one song that people would remember before you’re dirt, one song that would let God know what you felt about your time here on earth, one song that would sum you up—are you telling me that’s the one song you’d sing?  That same Jimmy Davis tune that we hear on the radio all day about your peace within and how it’s all real and how you’re gonna shout it.  

Or would you sing something different, something real, something you felt?  ‘Cause I’m telling you right now, that’s the kind of song people want to hear.  That’s the kind of song that truly saves people.  It ain’t got nothing to do with believing in God, Mr. Cash, it has everything to do with believing in yourself!”

I don’t agree with Sam’s theology, but I agree with his plea for authenticity, and so did Johnny Cash. He put away his props and sang for the producer a song he had written called “Folsom Prison Blues.”  The rest as they say “is history” and a new star was born.

I ask you, what are you meant to say, sing, do, or produce?  Will you continue to spin out weak copies of other people’s work and ideas? Or will you start singing the song you were put on this earth to sing?

Quit being afraid to be you. If you want to create something that has power and lasts, then you have to be the authentic you, no matter who that annoys or makes angry.

 

 

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.

 

 

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.