A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

5 Keys for Standing Out in the Crowd

Have you ever read the first ten chapters of I Chronicles? Talk about chloroform in action. I generally just scan through them and try to get done with them as quickly as I can. However, stuck smack in the middle of this droning roll call of humanity stands I Chronicles 4:9-10.

Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested” (NKJV).

Apparently, when God got to Jabez’s name, He wanted to call attention to it. It is as if when God was going through this roll call and He got to Jabez, He stopped and said, “Whoa! Wait a minute. You need to know about this guy.” But what was it that made him so special? Why did he stand out in the crowd? As I consider these two verses, I notice five keys in Jabez that will help us also stand out in the crowd.

1. If you want to stand out in the crowd, don’t let the crowd determine where you will stand.

Can you imagine being named “Jabez”? That sounds bad enough for us today just because it is so archaic. But when you recognize that it meant “Causes pain,” you suddenly realize how bad it really is. Every day of his life, just by hearing his name, Jabez was called “causes pain.” Can you imagine hearing day in and day out that you are nothing but a pain to those around you? After a while, you might begin to believe it. Jabez’s mother prophesied his life for him. She told him over and over again that he would be nothing more than a pain. But Jabez refused to listen. He prayed to God that he would not cause pain.

These kinds of prophecies go on all the time. Every day parents, professors and peers prophesy our lives. Some times it is positive. Some times it is negative. Each day some children are told they will be doctors, lawyers and even presidents. Others are told they will be hoodlums, thieves and crooks. Some are called the class star, some the class clown. Some are Daddy’s girls, while others are Momma’s boys. When we hear these message over and over again, we begin to believe them. 

Don’t.

You do not have to be limited by the prophecies of your parents, professors and peers. You, like Jabez, can stand out in the crowd if you will simply throw yourself on God’s mercy and let him help you be all He has planned for you. Don’t let the crowd determine where you will stand.

2. If you want to stand out in the crowd, stop standing still and start going somewhere.

Jabez had goals. He wanted an enlarged territory. Within the context of his mother’s prophecies for him, this is impressive. It demonstrates a great mindset. He wasn’t trapped within his circumstances. He would step out of those and pray that God give him a blessing to help him with his plans. 

What plans do you have? While we are not of this world, we are in this world. God has not demanded that we hole up in monasteries and have no involvement or plans within this world. We are allowed to have goals. We are allowed to have plans. Yes, we must keep them within the confines of God’s will understanding that we will be judged. However, if we just stand still, we will never stand out. No, don’t get bogged down in worries about the future. But look ahead. Plan ahead and ask God’s blessing on your future as well as your present.

3. If you want to stand out in the crowd, stop standing and start kneeling.

Sadly, so many have focused on what Jabez prayed, even turning it into a mantra of sorts to be repeated as if the words themselves are magical that they have missed the real point. We must not so focus on what Jabez prayed that we miss the important point is that Jabez prayed. Jabez was not more honorable because of what he prayed. He was more honorable because he prayed. He was more honorable because the fact that he prayed represented that he relied on God.

When God wanted us to know about Jabez, he didn’t tell us a out his property, his prowess, his predecessors. He told us about his prayer. If God were going to point us out to the world, would He have anything to say about our prayer life? The fact is, we can only stand out if we rely on God.

I think that is why these two verses are even here. In the books of Chronicles, God is going to tell all kinds of stories about all kinds of people. In reality, they are all judged based on how they measure up to Jabez. Do they rely on God or on idols? Do they pray to God or to false gods? That will be the dividing line between those God blesses and God condemns.

If you want to stand out in the crowd, you can’t do it alone. God has to be on your side. So, stop standing and start kneeling.

4. If you want to stand out in the crowd, recognize you aren’t standing on your own two legs but on legs God has given you.

Jabez recognized that he could not enlarge his own borders. From the beginning of God’s dealings with the Israelites, He pointed out that He would be the one to enlarge borders. Jabez grasped that and instead of relying merely on his own strength, he relied on God’s strength.

Too often today, we have a “pull myself up by the bootstraps” mentality that says we don’t need help. We have this idea that we can do things all on our own and only need God for really big things. That just isn’t true.

You realize, of course, that the only reason you are breathing today is because God is letting you, right? You realize, of course, that the only reason you are moving today is because God is letting you, right? You realize, of course, that the only reason you are walking today is because of the legs God has given you, right?

The fact is, apart from God we can do nothing. Therefore, if we want to stand out in the crowd, we must start recognizing any real strength comes from God and not from us. We can’t do this on our own. We have to rely on God.

5. If you want to stand out in the crowd, don’t let Satan cut off your legs.

Jabez understood that committing evil would be contradictory to what he was asking of God. He did not expect, as too many do today, to live however he wanted and still receive God’s blessing. However, he also knew evil was too powerful for him. Therefore, he asked God to keep him from evil so that he would not be a pain to others.

We need to recognize this. We may have all kinds of plans. We may even say we are relying on God and offering all kinds of prayers. However, if we are going from our prayers to simply walk in sin, Satan will cut our legs out from under us and we will not stand out in the crowd. Sin is diametrically opposed to what God wants for us. If we want to stand out in the crowd, we need to turn from our sins.

Keep in mind the last two points, however. We will not overcome sin on our own or by our own power. We will only be able to do that by relying on God. This is not about proving to God how great we are. This is about recognizing how weak we are and just surrendering to Him to help us overcome.

 

What a great example Jabez is. He stood out in a crowd and we can too. But we have to follow these same five steps.

If you would like to read more about this or hear a sermon I have presented on these very same points. Feel free to check out the presentation made to the Franklin Church of Christ at the link below.

Jabez: A Man Who Stood Out in the Crowd

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November 3, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Success | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Getting to Did! (Coming Out in February 2009)

We’re closing in on the publication of my next book. “Getting to Did! How to Get Rid of Your Big BUT and Live a Life without Regret.” Working on getting the cover done and final editing. 

For your reading enjoyment, I am including the introduction below. There will be more information in the weeks to come. Keep your eyes open for pre-publication ordering specials.

Enjoy!

 

Sam’ Crumbling World

Sam’s world was crumbling. Have you been there? Are you there? Are you afraid you are going there? Then you know how Sam felt. Not that his world had ever really been that big or that stable. But it had been his. It had been comfortable. Had been. Now it was collapsing.

Sam was 49. He had been semi-happily married to Susan for 25 of those years. His oldest son, Sam Jr. was 23 and a recent graduate from Sam’s alma mater. Sarah, the lone female, was 20. Scott was 17 and would be starting his senior year in high school in just a few months. The youngest, Sid, was 14 and going into the eighth grade.

Seven months ago, Sam was at the top of his world. A few years earlier, he had been promoted to Vice President of Sales in the company that had pursued him as a salesman when he was 32. He and Susan had finally bought that bigger home. Since Sam had been given a company car, he bought Susan the Lexus she always wanted. Things were good. But then Sam’s company was sold. The buyer wanted to keep several workers in Sam’s company, but wanted to rely on her own management team. Sam no longer fit. She let Sam go the week after Christmas.

He was given a decent severance package, promised a good recommendation and then politely escorted with his box of office paraphernalia off company property, where he called Susan to pick him up because he was no longer allowed to use the company car. She handled the news relatively well. Sam cried for a week.

For months he called it his worst Christmas present ever. However, in years to come he called it his best.

Realizing Susan’s income, supplemented by the severance package and their meager savings, could support their lifestyle for about a year, he started looking for another job.  “Really,” he thought, “I don’t know why I’ve been so depressed. I’m highly qualified. I have a Bachelors degree in business and marketing and a Masters in accounting. I’ve worked for the same company for 17 years. My track record is good. Who wouldn’t want to hire me?”

Sam, however, learned that “overqualified” was the politically correct and lawsuit safe euphemism for “too old.” None of the companies to which he applied wanted 49-year-olds with good track records. They were too busy head hunting 32-year-olds with promising futures.

 Though he was only halfway through his severance package, Sam felt he was at the end of his rope. As he often did when particularly stressed and depressed, he manicured his lawn. Keeping his yard “green and pristine,” as he called it, was about the only joy he had. It gave him time alone to think, provided a sense of accomplishment and, if nothing else, hid from the neighbors the turmoil going on inside the house.

He had just finished and was sitting down on his back deck with a glass of ice water, when his neighbor, Dave, came around the corner of the house and said, “Hey Sam. How’s the job hunt going?”

“Great Dave, just great. You trying to pour salt in the wounds?”

“Still no luck, huh? Keep trying. Something is bound to come up.”

“I hope so, but I’m beginning to doubt it. Right now, however, I’m more ticked at Scott,” Sam unloaded.

“What? I thought Scott was the good kid.”

“He is, but we’ve been fighting a lot lately. He’s going to be a senior this year and I’ve been on him to get his application in to the ols alma mater. But he keeps putting it off. I told him if he keeps waiting, it’ll be too late and he’ll be stuck going to the local community college. Do you know what he said?” Without giving Dave time to answer, Sam continued, “He said, ‘So? I’m not sure I want to go to your alma mater anyway.’” Sam gave an exasperated “you know how dumb kids can be sometimes look” to Dave, but Dave didn’t respond.

Sam simply continued talking, “I told him I was only looking out for his own good. He needed to go to a good school, study hard, make good grades and then he could get a good secure job and provide for his family. You know what he said then?” Sam plunged on, “He said, ‘You mean like you?’ Talk about kicking a guy when he’s down.”

“Well, Sam, he does have a bit of a point. It’s hard to take that kind of advice from a guy whose good secure job has left him so insecure.”

Sam, his eyes wide, spluttered, “Well… yeah, I know. But I just want what’s best for him. My dad went to that school and so did his dad. It’s done all of us well. I mean, didn’t you want Dave Jr. to go to your alma mater?”

“I guess I might have, if I had one. But, I never went to college. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted Dave Jr. to go. I thought that was important, and I told him so. But I didn’t think it was so important he should sacrifice what he thought was important.”

Sam sat in stunned silence for a moment. Dave the most successful men he knew didn’t even go to college? How could that happen? He owned several restaurants and a few apartment buildings. In fact, it had always amazed Sam that Dave lived in his neighborhood, when surely he could have afforded something much more. Dave and his wife Deborah always looked happy. In fact, despite their having been married over 40 years, Sam always had the impression they were newlyweds. He chalked that up to no longer having kids at home. On top of that, he had heard Dave’s kids were also pretty successful.

“You never went to college?” Sam questioned, words tumbling out in gusts. “How on earth have you done so well? Did you get a big inheritance? I could sure use one.” Sam slouched back in his chair.

Dave smiled slightly. “I guess you might say I got a big inheritance, but not the kind you’re thinking of. I consider my dad one of the most successful men to have ever lived, but he never had much money. There were some things he always DID however. He always DID his best. He always DID what he enjoyed. And he always DID take care of us. He died while I was still in high school.” Dave paused, looked up and smiled again as though he had just relived some great moment. Then he continued, “He DID leave me a legacy of knowing how to get things done. That’s why I’m successful. That’s why I was able to start my first restaurant when I was 25 and then invest in several franchises over the years. That’s why I was able to get into real estate investing. That’s why I was able to quit working for money in my 40s.”

“Yeah, I coulda started my own business, but I was newly married and I needed the benefits, you know what I mean?”

“Sure, I know,” Dave responded. He continued after a brief pause, “Exactly what are those benefits doing for you now, Sam?”

“Well, I shoulda handled my money more wisely, but my wife and kids were always wanting more and I wanted to give them the best. You know, I wanted them to have what I never got.”

“How much longer are you going to be able to do that, Sam?”

“Come on, Dave, I woulda got a job by now, but all those companies want young guys. I feel like I’m in my prime. Fifty is the new thirty, you know, but they think I should be put out to pasture. I wish I had done things differently, but hindsight is 20/20. I’ll just have to live with my regrets. Right now I just need a job.”

Dave fixed Sam with a hard gaze. He paused for a moment as if measuring the words in his mind before letting them slip out of his mouth. “Sam, if you want my advice, you need to get rid of your big BUT.”

“What?!” Sam squawked nearly spilling his drink as he jumped forward in his chair. “You…you think my weight is holding me back?”

“Wrong ‘butt,’ pal. You’re filled with COULDAS, SHOULDAS and WOULDAS. Then you cap them all off with a big BUT. That’s why you’ve got so many regrets. You need to turn those into CANS, SHALLS, WILLS and DID. That was the inheritance my dad left me. He taught me to get rid of my big BUT, to reach my potential, getting past COULDA, SHOULDA and WOULDA and get things done. Or as I call it, GET TO DID. That’s what’s helped me be successful. That’s what’s helped me live a life without regrets.”

“Wow…I think,” Sam said, scratching his head. “I don’t have any idea what you’re talking about. Sounds like some kind of crazy PMA stuff we used to get from the home office.”

Dave responded, “No, it’s not just PMA and you probably do know what I’m talking about. You just don’t realize it. You can’t possibly have been as successful at sales as you have been without following some of the principles I like to share with people. You just don’t realize how they apply to everything in life, even trying to make ends meet after losing your job. Somebody told me that Plato said all learning is really remembering. I don’t really know what he meant by that. But I’ve found that when someone passes on a true principle to me, I really already knew it in my gut, I just needed someone to formulate it into words to give it power in my life.

“I’ve been watching you and hurting for you, Sam. I normally wait until someone asks me for advice to give it, but we’ve been friends for a while and I’d like to ask you to trust me and let me give you some real help. In the end, if you think it’s crazy and my friends and I are just flukes or flakes, you can go back to hunting for a job your way.”

Sam crossed his arms and cocked his head to one side. “So you think you could help me by GETTING TO…what was it you said?”

GETTING TO DID. No, I COULD not. I steer clear of the COULDAS. Rather, I CAN, I SHALL and I WILL. In fact, consider it DID.”

Sam’s face said it all; he didn’t get it. “Dave, what you just said didn’t make a lick of sense to me.”

“Of course not. You don’t know the tools yet. But if you’ll let me give you just a few opportunities to talk with my YES MEN and me, you’ll understand all of it.”

YES MEN? I already don’t like the sound of this. I’ve never liked those kind of people.”

“That’s because you’re thinking about a completely different kind of YES MEN than I am. But again, that’ll be something you learn  when you talk with my friends. How ‘bout it?”

“Alright, Dave. This sounds crazy, but I think you must know what you’re talking about. I mean, I guess it can’t hurt,” Sam gave a weak laugh, “When do we start? I only have about six months to get things on track or it’s foreclosure and dog food time.”

“Let’s start in the morning. I’m already having coffee with one of my advisors then. I call him my TRAINER. I’ve stayed in touch with him for years because he helps me turn my COULDA into CAN. I’ll let him know you’re coming. I CAN get him to clear some time for you and let him teach you the first step on the journey to DID. Meet me in my driveway at 5:45.”

 

October 23, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, My Books, Success | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Get a Real Dream and Pursue It with Passion

I was recently listening to one Dan Miller’s excellent podcasts in which someone chastised him for telling folks they could reach their dreams even in troubled financial times. Of course, Miller, using his own life experience, gave an excellent and helpful reply. However, as I was listening to the letter berating him and then heard his first illustration, a thought solidified in my mind. 

The letter had been talking about just how hard it can be to achieve early retirement or financial prosperity in difficult economic times. It then said Miller shouldn’t turn a blind eye to the present economic climate and tell folks they can all just achieve their dreams. Miller’s first illustration was Michael Phelps who won eight gold medals at the most recent olympics. 

Wait a minute. Winning eight gold medals isn’t about finances. Granted, receiving those medals has given Phelps the inside track on some major endorsement deals I’m sure. But what Miller used as his illustration wasn’t really what the writer was talking about. 

Then it hit me. This letter writer doesn’t have the right dream. His dream is about having lots of money. This demonstrates a problem for many today. If your dream is lots of money, you probably won’t ever get it. Of course, even if you have lots of money by other people’s standards, you will always view yourself as falling short. 

Financial success will rarely come by dreaming of financial success. If all you dream about is financial success, you will wander around aimlessly trying to latch on to the next scheme that might make you some money.On occasion you may end up with some money in your bank account, but it will all be used up and you will be right back where you were, wandering aimlessly looking for the next cash cow. Real financial success comes from a dream that you follow passionately. That passion will set you apart in whatever field your dream causes you to pursue, which will then cause you to find the financial success. Your dream may be helping folks with cancer. It may be helping folks overcome addiction. It may be playing baseball. It may be manicuring lawns. It may be swimming. It may be making people laugh. It may be any number of things.

Here is the very interesting thing. When your dream is properly aligned, the guy who is only dreaming of financial success may not see you as having achieved financial success. You may not reach Trump status when you pursue your dream. However, because your dream is not about making money the fact that your dream is supporting you at all causes you to be satisfied and fulfilled by your dream. 

Let me ask you, do you think if Michael Phelps was not getting endorsement deals that he would be upset about the eight gold medals feeling like it was all a waste? Of course not. He achieved his dream even through tough circumstances. Because his dream was aligned properly, he would probably wonder, what on earth do you mean we can’t achieve our dreams in an economic slump. Sadly, too many people equate achieving their dreams with being rich. They rarely end up rich and they never get their dreams whether the nation is in an economic slump or not.

The economic slump only keeps you from achieving your dreams if they are only about money. The fact is, if your dream is only about money, it’s not a dream worth having. Get a real dream and pursue it with passion.

ELC

P.S. For more great professional advice and some practical tools, click the Dan Miller link above.

October 16, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Dreams, goals, Money, Success | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amputation (an excerpt)

The Gospel of the Kingdom: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

 

Check out the book today!

Check out the book today!

 

from Chapter 13, “Morality and Marriage: Matthew 5:27-32”

 

Amputation

On April 26, 2003, Aron Ralston was trapped between a rock and a hard place. Hiking and rock climbing alone in Easter Utah, his right hand was crushed between a shifting boulder and the rock wall o the gorge he was navigating. Over a period of five days he made various attempts to free himself. He chipped away at the boulder. He tried to construct a pulley with his ropes to move the boulder. Nothing worked. When he ran out of his water supply, he was certain of death. Since no one knew where he was and they would not find him any time soon, he tried one final desperate plan. He broke both bones in his forearm. Then, using what was left of his dulled cutting tool, he amputated his own right arm. He repelled into the canyon and hiked out to meet searchers. Nobody wants to lose an arm. However, when the choice is lose an arm or lose a life, the arm is not so bad.

If we would take such drastic measures to extend our temporal life a few years, how much more ought we do them to preserve our eternal life? Jesus said if our eye or hand makes us stumble, we should amputate and throw them from us. It is better to lose a body part than our soul. Many who struggle day to day to lead pure lives would find immense success in spiritual growth if we would employ spiritual amputation.

To be sure, this is about spiritual amputation and not physical. Hands and eyes do not really make us stumble. The part of our body with the biggest problem regarding purity is the brain. If we take Matthew 5:29-30 at its most literal regarding the body part with the biggest problem, well…you see where that leads.

Consider what these verses teach us to do. When we sin, we must not simply confess our sin, but consider what led to it. How did the fall begin? Do we see a pattern? Because jesus made this statement in the context of sexual morality, I will keep my illustrations there; but the point applies to all sin–from outbursts of anger to lying to gossip to stealing.

When you have fallen into sexual immorality, whether physically or mentally, ask how you got there? Where did it begin? Did it begin with a magazine ad? did it begin with a song on the radio? did it begin with unlimited access to the internet? did it begin with a character on a tv show? did it begin with an emotional relationship at work? What led to the sin?

How many Christians have returned again and again to an affair with a co-worker after repeatedly repenting, mourning and committing themselves to sexual purity? What needs to happen? A spiritual amputation. They need to quit the job. “But Edwin,” someone will say, “I need the money. I won’t be able to find another job that pays as well. And I have to eat. I have to have a roof over my head. If I give up this job, I will lose my house.” This job is your hand caught between a boulder and a rock wall. It is killing you and destroying your eternal life. It is better for you to lose your house and even miss a few meals than to be thrown into hell.

How many Christian men, even preachers, have returned again and again to the sinful world of internet pornography after repeatedly repenting, mourning and committing themselves to purity? What is needed here? A spiritual amputation. At the very least they need to limit their internet access with strict filters and accountability parameters. They might even need to get rid of internet access entirely. “But Edwin,” some will say, “there is a lot of good stuff on the internet. Plus, when I use those filters, there are some good sites I can’t access. After all, Biblical research and finding pictures for my PowerPoint presentations are so much easier with full internet access.” But the internet is killing you and destroying your eternal life. It is better for you to lose access to the decent stuff, it is better for you to have to research the old fashioned way, it is better for you to have boring PowerPoint presentations than for you to be thrown into hell. 

How many Christians have returned to lustful passions because of magazines, movies, tv shows or particular songs on the radio after repeatedly repenting, mourning and committing themselves to mental purity? What is needed here? A spiritual amputation. They need to discontinue their subscription to the magazine. They need to avoid those kinds of movies or stop watching that show. They need to quit listening to that song (perhaps even the entire cd or radio station). “But Edwin,” some will say, “this is just entertainment. I can’t live in a box. I have to live a little and have some fun. Aside from that, everybody is reading, watching and listening to these things. If I quit, I will be behind the times and look like an oddball.” These things are killing you and destroying your eternal life. It is better for you to look like a behind-the-times oddball who can’t join in on the conversations about the latest music, movies or magazines than for you be thrown into hell.

Please notice the little word beginning both of the verses under consideration. jesus began both statements with “IF.” IF your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out. IF your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off. Jesus did not command everyone to tear out their eyes or cut off their hands. Aron Ralston cut off his right arm to survive. That doesn’t mean all rock climbers must.

In our efforts to lead morally pure lives, we all have different struggles. I may have to spiritually amputate something you don’t and vice versa. Just because my eye causes me to stumble doesn’t mean everyone has to tear out their eye, nor should I try to make them.

Allow me to illustrate. When I first watched CSI, I became addicted. I loved the mystery. I loved the detective work. I loved watching how they figured out who was guilty. It was great. Then came CSI: Miami. It was awesome too. However, at some point I realized the repeated sexual themes were impacting my mind. Many times, i was no longer entertained by the detective work but defiled by the immodestly dressed characters  and caused to stumble in my mind because of the sexual scenes. Eventually, I had to excise CSI and CSI: Miami from my life. Does CSI cause everyone to stumble? Probably not. Can I say that because it made me stumble everyone has to amputate it? Of course not. However, if it causes you to stumble, get rid of it.

We must be honest. It would have been pointless for Ralston to say, “I don’t think the problem is my arm caught between these rocks. I’m not going to amputate.” In the same way, it is eternally pointless for us to hang on to the very things that make us stumble.

When we think about Ralston’s story, most of us wonder if we could do what he did. “I just don’t think I could cut off my own right arm,” many of us say. Sadly, there are too many Christians saying the same thing when faced with Jesus’ words. Let’s buck up. Jesus will give us strength. Let’s amputate what will destroy our eternal life.

October 13, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Christian living, Overcoming Sin, Spiritual Growth, Success | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Keeping the Main Thing People

I remember reading in one of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad books that the rich dad knew what business he was really in. He then used Ray Kroc as an example of remembering that he wasn’t in the restaurant business, he was in the land business. Now, I have no doubt in some sense that is true. For those wanting to be millionaires and branching into franchising, real estate is where the business lies. But I think we need to remember that even more fundamentally, we are all in the people business.

I bring this up only because I’m weak in this area and just this week I have received a strong reminder from some folks who have my best interests at heart that I need to work on this. I’m a choleric, task-oriented person. I usually focus on getting something done, moving from project to project and when I’m behaving most naturally I relate to people only as they are involved in helping complete the same tasks. When you understand that, you can understand why I can walk past 20 people, never say a word and not even realize I passed them. I’m on a mission to get a job done, to check to make sure something was done or to make sure something is going to get done. But while in that mode, I’m failing to get my most important job done. I’m failing to forge those relationships that will really help me and provide the most fulfillment for me and those around me.

Here is the major down side of this natural tendency. Folks see me as arrogant, cliquish, proud, haughty and just in general a jerk. Let me tell you, that persona does absolutely nothing for helping me accomplish the tasks I need to get done and I need to encourage others to do. That persona won’t help you a bit either.

The solution? I have to remember what business I’m really in. I have to remember to keep the main thing the main thing. I have to remember to keep the main thing people. 

Here is what you need to understand. You can produce like nobody’s business. You can have your time management down to a science and an art. You can excel at every aspect of your job. But if you don’t make people your main business, you will still lose business. If people can’t say, “I’m better because I bumped into _______ today,” you will never achieve your potential.

How about we both work on keeping people our main business. We can do it with baby steps. I’m going to take a bit of advice from John Maxwell’s Winning with People and walk slowly through the crowd. I’m going to make sure that my task stuff is done before I am with people so when I’m around them, I can keep them my main focus.

Give me some feedback on this. What have you done to help make sure you keep the main thing people?

October 9, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Being human, People, Relationships, Success | , , , , , | 16 Comments

6 Keys for Making Goals Work

Everyone and his dog knows if you want to accomplish anything you need to have some goals. You can just walk through the self-help section of the bookstore and you pick up on this. However, there is more to setting goals than just saying we are going to set some goals. We need to do some very practical things to make goals actually work for us. 

  1. Set goals, not wishes
  2. Set goals that are attainable
  3. Set goals that stretch your limits
  4. Write them down
  5. Review them daily
  6. Attach a plan to your goals

1. Set goals, not wishes
Some people think they have goals when actually all they have are wishes. “I want to travel more” is not a goal, it’s a wish. “I want to take my kids to all 50 states over the next 5 years” is a goal. It is a goal because it is measurable. You know when you have achieved it. It also has a deadline. 

2. Set goals that are attainable
If you are like me, you need to set some goals that you can attain. They give you a sense of accomplishment. They give you something to celebrate. They give you a boost to keep going with your other goals. However, don’t only set attainable goals. That leads us to #3.
 
3. Set goals that stretch your limits
At a lunch with Dan Miller, he encouraged me to set goals I wasn’t sure I could accomplish. After all, if I only ever set goals I can easily accomplish, then I never find my limits. More importantly, I never stretch my limits. If I reach for the stars, I may not actually touch one, but I will definitely reach new heights. If I only ever reach for the street lights, I won’t get very far.
 
4. Write them down
Writing goals down makes them real. There is something about having thought through the goal and then putting it on a piece of paper that really brings it home. In fact, I would suggest, for most people, until you have goals written down, you don’t really have goals at all.  
 
5. Review them daily
Don’t write them down and then drop them in a drawer somewhere. Look at them every day. Measure your progress. Ask yourself what you did to move yourself closer to these goals today. What do you have planned to move yourself closer to your goals tomorrow.
 
6. Attach a plan to your goals
Most goals worth having are not merely a one step process. Take the goal mentioned above about traveling to all 50 states. If that were actually a goal of mine, I would need to set out a time line. To meet this goal I could travel to 10 states each year. I need to consider finances and plan how to underwrite these travels. This is going to mandate some smaller goals like savings goals. Let’s say I determine this will cost me $5,000/year. I will have to establish a plan for coming up with those funds. You see the point. I can’t just say, “I’m going to take my kids to all 50 states over the next five years” without developing a plan. This gets us back to the daily review. I need to consider each day if I have followed the plan and measure how well I’m doing at attaining the goal. 
 
Why We Struggle with Goals
If you’re like me at all, you may have some problems with goals. You like to think about them. You like to say you have them, but you keep putting of the 6 keys above. Why? Usually it is an unreasonable fear of failure. If we never actually set a goal, then we never have to admit it if we didn’t attain the goal. Let’s fix this mindset for a moment. As you can see from key #3, the goal of goals is not necessarily to make sure you succeed at accomplishing all your goals. 
 
The goal of goals is to push you to do your absolute best. Someone may set a goal to lose 50 lbs over the next two years. At the end of two years, they may have only lost 40 lbs. Are they a failure? Absolutely not. Okay, they didn’t actually achieve their goal. However, if they hadn’t set the goal and worked hard to attain it, do you think they would have lost 40 lbs? Of course not. This goal accomplished its purpose. It made them work at losing weight. 
 
So, don’t look at goals as merely about accomplishing those goals. Look at goals as a means to drive your farther than you would have gone. Therefore, the only time we actually fail is when we don’t make any goals at all and therefore don’t make any progress.
 
What are your goals?

October 2, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, goals, Success | , , , , | Leave a comment

How To Be Ready For Your Lucky Break

Who hasn’t seen this video?

Some think, “Lucky Paul Potts. I wish I could get a lucky break like that.” No doubt, Paul did not climb and claw his way up the music industry. However, this is hardly a lucky break. Potts didn’t get a voice like that by luck of the draw. He practiced. He worked hard. He prepared. Then he actually went after it when given the opportunity.

The fact is each and every one of us probably have a hundred lucky breaks a year. However, few of us are actually ready to take advantage of the lucky break and so it passes us by. If you want to take advantage of your lucky breaks, here are ten keys.

 

  1. Practice
  2. Practice
  3. Practice
  4. Work Hard
  5. Work Hard
  6. Work Hard
  7. Keep Your Eyes Open
  8. Keep Your Eyes Open
  9. Keep Your Eyes Open
  10. When You See Your Break Act Based Upon Your Practice and Hard Work
If you do this, then you may end up with your own video like these:
 

 

 
ELC

September 25, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Success | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Four Most Important Choices You Ever Make Every Day

I’m reading Lessons from the Classroom: 20 Things Good Teachers Do, by Hal Urban. I don’t teach in schools, but this book is helping me immensely. It has some great advice. In fact, the lesson I just finished has some of the best advice you will ever here as a springboard for your professional life.

Lesson #14: Good teachers help their students discover the power of choice.

Urban teaches all his students the four greatest choices they will ever make are choices they make every day. If only all our schools would teach us these. If they did, we would all be much better off in our careers and professional lives.

 

  1. Your Attitude
  2. How You Treat Others
  3. How Hard You Work
  4. How Honest You Are

 

Do you see how much better we would be if we made wise choices every day in these four areas?

Attitude

The issue is not what is happening to you, but how you respond to it. Each of us chooses our attitude. We all choose whether we will see obstacles as roadblocks or opportunities to grow. We all choose whether we see others as people to use or people to serve. We all choose whether today is a day to grow or a day to stagnate. We all choose our attitude for today.

How You Treat Others

Sadly, many folks have a scarcity mindset thinking there is only so much out there and the only way to make sure I get mine is to make sure you don’t get yours. They see all of life as a competition to prove we are better than others. If on the other hand we recognize life is filled with plenty of respect, honor and glory for everyone, we can feel free to give it away to others without thinking we will lose ours. 

Obviously, the great rule for treating others properly is The Golden Rule. Treat others the way we want to be treated. Please, don’t think anyone has come up with anything new as they talk about the Platinum Rule being better. Clearly, we all want others to consider what we want before they determine how to treat us. Thus, following the Golden Rule means we will consider what others want and need before we treat them. Before you make any choice in your treatment of others, ask yourself if this is what you would want them to do to you in the same circumstance.

How Hard You Work

“Work” is not a four-letter word. Well, it is, but you get the picture. The fact is, there is simply no success without hard work. Folks who rely on the lottery for financial success usually have lost it all in a short time even if they win. Success comes through work. Only you decide how much you will work on your job, your education, your marriage, in your church, on your life and in improving yourself. But understand this, if you don’t work, no one else will work for you.

How Honest You Are

There is so much dishonesty highlighted in the news, we begin to think no one is honest anymore. The fact is, there are many honest people. There are many successful honest people. Nothing will destroy your success long term than taking shortcuts and lying about it. You may get ahead in the short run by cheating, lying and covering up. Sooner or later though, it all comes out. If you lie, you will lose the confidence of everyone around you. Trust me, sooner or later, folks will find out and you will have a hefty bill to pay. It will likely be more than you can afford. So, make sure you choose honesty today.

Maybe you didn’t hear these lessons in high school. Maybe you have made terrible choices in these areas up until now. Don’t worry. You can start making wise choices today. Do it now.

ELC

September 18, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Get to Work, Honesty, Relationships, Success | , , , , , | Leave a comment

What You Can Do With Your Meager Talents?

I can imagine it now. The apostles can sense the crowds are getting restless. They are hungry and have nothing to eat. It seems only one little boy gave any thought to preparation. He had five loaves and two fish, but there were 5000 men, not counting many of their wives and children. When Jesus told them, “You feed the crowds,” they were stunned. John 5:9 contains the important question:

“There is a boy her who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?”

Have you ever looked at the overwhelming crowds: maybe you are looking at people you need to help, maybe you are looking at temptations you need to overcome, maybe you are looking at goals you need to accomplish. Whatever you are looking at, you feel paralyzed. You see all this work but feel like the one talent man. Perhaps not even one talent, maybe you feel like only half of a talent. You wonder, “What is my talent for so many?”

Notice what Jesus did in John 5. He sat the people down. Blessed the meager meal and then passed it out. When the meal was done, the apostles gathered in 12 baskets of scraps and leftovers. They had more leftovers than they had original meal. 

Let’s face it, if the only people present that day were the crowds, the boy and the apostles, folks would have gone hungry. That little meal couldn’t feed many, probably just the boy. But Jesus was present. When Jesus is present, He can make the littlest go a long way.

Let’s face it, if the only people present in your life are the crowds, your family and you, folks are going to be in trouble. You can’t possibly have enough talents to do much good. But if Jesus is present, He can take even your smallest gift and use it in extraordinary ways.

This is the heart of Ephesians 3:20. “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…” If we try to go it alone, we will accomplish nothing…nothing of real value anyway. With Jesus running the helm, He can use our meager talents to accomplish more than we could ask or think.

So, step out with your five loaves and two fish and get to work.

ELC

September 15, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Spiritual Life, Get to Work, Success | , , | Leave a comment

Yes, Sam, You Need Some YES MEN

 

In Getting to Did: How to Lose Your Big “But” and Live a Life without Regret, my upcoming book, Sam’s world craters, leaving him unemployed and foundering as he tries to find a job. Enter Dave, Sam’s successful neighbor. Dave introduces Sam to three friends who help him get rid of his big “but” and turn his couldas into cans, his shouldas into shalls and his wouldas into wills. Check out what Dave’s COACH taught Sam about Making the PLAY and how you just can’t do that without “Yes Men.” I know, sounds odd. But check out this excerpt and let me know what you think.

 

 

          Sam said, “Okay, I get the PASSION, LOOKING TO THE FUTURE, and ACCEPTING NO EXCUSES. But what is up with this YES MEN thing? I’ve always hated that.”

         The COACH responded, “Yeah, Dave told me you were already upset about that one. The normal connotation of YES MEN is dreadful. We don’t want people who just always say, ‘Yes,’ even when they disagree in order to get on our good side. That, however, is not what I mean by YES MEN. We want people who will challenge our thinking and expand our vision.

         “These YES MEN are people with whom you surround yourself to encourage you and hold you accountable. They are the people who tell you, ‘YES, you CAN,’ when you are thinking, ‘No, I can’t.’ They tell you, ‘YES, you SHALL,’ when you are thinking, ‘No, I shall not.’ They tell you, ‘YES, you WILL,’ when you are thinking, ‘No, I won’t.’

         “Your YES MEN are your accountability partners. Dave and I get together regularly along with the TRAINER and the PROFESSOR to act as each other’s YES MEN. Further, we get together with many of the other people we have helped along the way.

         “I hope you don’t think it’ll be a cake walk from this point on. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve had this conversation with who end up settling for mediocrity in their lives. They don’t step up to the plate. When you talk to them today, they’ve just grown their big ol’ BUTS back again. Without fail, each one started back into their old habits of COULDA, SHOULDA and WOULDA by neglecting their relationship with their YES MEN.

         “As you pick out your YES MEN, don’t pick out the ones we often think of as YES MEN, the ones afraid to state their convictions and disagree when it’s necessary. They won’t help you. Pick the ones who’ll push you. Pick the ones who’ll force you to get up when you have fallen. Pick the ones who’ll question you and make you clarify your vision and your course of action. Pick the ones who’ll ACCEPT NO EXCUSES. But make sure to pick out YES MEN who are willing to say ‘YES, you CAN,’ even when no one else has before.

         “When you have established your council of YES MEN, be completely open and honest with them. Let them know your plans, dreams and visions. Let them know the obstacles you see and the struggles you face. Let them know your fears. Then listen respectfully to their advice. Remember, it’s just that, advice. You SHOULD still be you and you must make your final choices. Good YES MEN will ACCEPT NO EXCUSES from you, not even, ‘I did what you YES MEN said I SHOULD.’

         “Here are the benefits of YES MEN. First, two heads are better than one. Even with all of your INSIGHT into your work and life, it’s still hard to read the label when you’re inside the bottle. It’s always good to get advice and counsel from others with differing perspectives.

         “Second, you’ll be surprised how often your network of YES MEN can actually help you with your projects in practical ways by connecting you with others or with needed resources. For instance, when I first started working with this high school, you may remember the team had maintained a losing record for several years. The school board had cut the budget. We were in desperate need of new equipment and didn’t have the funds.”

         “Oh yeah, I remember that,” Sam said. “I remember little Sam complaining about some of the outdated and dilapidated equipment. One of the local sporting goods stores stepped in and made some donations didn’t it?”

         “That’s right. What you don’t know is those donations came because I laid out my troubles to my YES MEN council. The TRAINER had a connection with the upper crust at that store. Dave had an accountant friend who explained the tax advantages of making such a donation. Voilà, our equipment issues were resolved.

         “The third benefit from YES MEN is they help pick you up when you fall down. Before I moved here, I had an experience so devastating I was ready to throw in the towel. I had made a few mistakes in my first head coaching job. Instead of letting me learn from them and grow, one of my assistant coaches, a man I thought was a friend, went behind my back to get me ousted so he could have the job. It was my introduction to another aspect I hate about this job—school politics. I was down and the ref had counted to 9. That was when Dave really came into my life. He had been my landlord for a few years. One day he was just checking out his property and struck up a conversation with me. I guess I needed someone to talk to because I just opened up to him like he was my best friend. He taught me about GETTING TO DID and ever since he has acted as my YES MAN, picked me up and helped me move on. I’m just going to tell you, you can’t replace that or manufacture it on your own.

         “Fourth, maybe I think this because I’m such a people person, but life is just more fun when you’re sharing it with others. Your council of YES MEN gives you people to laugh and cry with. It gives you people to support and people who support you. It gives you people who will pat you on your back when you do well and kick you in the backside when you slack off. It just makes life more interesting and more fun.

         “Finally, when it’s time to do battle and go toe to toe with the ones who’ll try to knock you down and keep you from reaching your goals, your YES MEN provide you with support and strength you WILL never have alone.

         “My game is a game of YES MEN. I have yet to see the one man football team. No PLAY in my game is ever made by a single player. I never let my team forget that. We have to support each other, defend each other and bust heads for each other. In the end, I’m convinced there’ve been some games we won simply because we ‘YES we CANned’ each other through it.

August 20, 2008 Posted by | My Books, Success | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment