A Springboard for You

For a better life and a better eternity

Add Years to Your Life by Cutting Some Television

“I just didn’t have time.”

How many times have people not met their goals and this has been the reason they gave? I have no doubt some people say this after having been perfect planners, wonderful time managers and great prioritizers. However, a great many people utter this phrase without actually looking at how they really used their time.

If you have ever said this, let me challenge you with one question. How much time did you spend this week watching television?

Did you watch one hour per night? Two? Three? 

I’m sure when you state it as hours per week, it doesn’t seem like much. However, if you watch merely one hour per night that is 365 hours per year. That’s actually 15 days of tv watching over the year, more than two weeks. What could you do if you added just two weeks to your year? That means if you average two hours per night you could add four weeks to your year by simply cutting out television.

I’m 35. Let’s say my professional life lasts only to 65. I have 30 more years. With 2 hours of television per night, I will spend 912 days of my professional life watching tv. That’s 130 weeks or about 2 1/2 years. What could you get done if you added 2 1/2 years to your life?

I’m sure it is a pipe dream to say we’ll never watch tv or movies again. After all, there is nothing wrong with enjoying some entertainment or recreation. I do, however, simply encourage you before you say you didn’t have time again you first ask how much time you chose to watch tv and see if maybe you couldn’t add a few years to your professional life span by subtracting some time before the plug-in drug.

Just a though.

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November 13, 2008 Posted by | A Springboard for Your Professional Life, Time Management | , , , | Leave a comment

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

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

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

The Farkle Principle: How I Lost Millions because of My Big BUT!

Don’t worry, this isn’t a post about any gross or humorous bodily functions.

I learned how to play Farkle, a dice game, when I was five years old, maybe even earlier. That was way back in 1978. Since then I have taught almost every friend I have how to play. It’s a very simple dice game.

If you want to skip the rules of the game and go straight to the point of the post skip the italicized paragraphs.

The only equipment you need is six dice, a piece of paper and a pencil. Ones equal 100 points. Fives equal 50 points. Three of a kind in one toss of the dice equals 100 times the face value of one of the dice. Thus, three fours is 400 points. If you role four of a kind that doubles. Thus, four fours is 800 points. Five of a kind doubles it again. Thus, five fours equals 1600 points. If you roll six of a kind in one toss, you automatically win. Since a single one is already 100 points, three ones is 1000 points and each additional one doubles it. If you roll a straight with all six dice, that is 1500 points.

You start with six dice and roll. You pull out the point dice you want and keep rolling. If you end up with all six dice having points, you then pick them all up and keep rolling. Before you can actually start recording your score for the first time, you have to get to at least 1000 points. With a 1000 points you can get on the board. Then you can quit at any time. Beware, if you toss the dice and have no points, then you lose all the points you have earned that turn. Once you are on the board and it comes to your turn again, you can then stop at any point you want, whether you have 50 points, 500 points or 5000 points. 

The first player to 10,000 wins. However, once one person crosses the coveted finish line, the dice makes one final pass around the table to see if anyone can surpass your score. So, if folks are close, you want to go out big. If someone goes past you, you don’t get another chance to beat them.

That may sound confusing, but it is really quite simple. It is also extremely fun. I could tell you some great gaming stories about my family and friends playing this game over the years. However, I’m not writing this just to teach you to play a simple but fun game for the whole family. I’m not writing this to share family memories with you. I am writing because for years, I have occasionally thought, “You know, I ought to figure out a way to package and market this game.” But I always came back with, “Yeah, BUT you don’t know anything about breaking into the game market.” Or “Yeah, BUT who would want to spend money on a game that really only needs six dice, some paper and a pencil?” There was always this little nagging part of me that thought I should do something about it, however, I always let my big BUT get in the way.

Just a few weeks ago, while perusing Barnes and Noble, I passed the game table and something incredible caught my eye. A packaged game entitled Farkel. The rules were slightly different and they  spelled it differently than I always had but it was the same game. Search the internet and you will find Official Rules and all kinds of other stuff. Someone even came up with a party version. How cool is that?

SOMEBODY ELSE IS MAKING MY MONEY!

Why?

Because I always let my big BUT get in the way. 

I have now learned the Farkle principle. If it’s a good idea, someone is going to capitalize on it. Might as well be me. Now I just need to have another good idea.

ELC

August 5, 2008 Posted by | Making Mistakes, Our big BUT, regrets, Success | , , , , , | 5 Comments

More Tests Should Be Like an Eye Exam

I took Ethan, my eight year old, for an eye exam today. This whole experience proved how uptight I am. Ethan was sitting behind that crazy contraption hearing, “Which looks better? One or Two?” and “Can you read the smallest line?” I was sitting on a chair in the corner upset because I could see the smallest line projected on the wall and he was getting the questions wrong.

Can you believe it? For a brief moment I was sitting there thinking, “Oh my goodness, my son is going to fail his eye exam.” I know, I have issues.

Very quickly it hit me. You can’t fail an eye exam. Eye exams aren’t about pass and fail. The eye exam doesn’t say, “You can’t read the bottom line? You are a loser and a failure.” Rather, it simply says, “Here is where you are and here is how to get you where you need to be.” 

Getting an accurate assessment of exactly where a person is with this exam is pretty important. In fact, we had to have this exam because the new glasses we just spent hundreds of dollars purchasing didn’t work right because the prescription was too powerful. It made his distance vision extremely clear, but he couldn’t read. With school starting up next week, we had to get that fixed.

Plus, since this exam is not about pass and fail, there is no need to cheat. In fact, cheating is detrimental to the process. Cheating will give us the wrong prescription again. 

It dawned on me. Maybe more tests, even in school, need to be more like an eye exam. Instead of testing in order to determine pass or fail, how about we start testing just to see where everyone is and what they need to work on? Instead of saying someone has failed because they can’t read the same line as someone else, how about we just learn where they need to work and then prescribe a plan of action for them. 

Maybe that approach won’t work at school. I don’t know. After all, it will really be hard for one teacher to tailor the teaching to the 25 different levels on which his/her students find themselves. It is just a lot easier to try to get them all on the same page, fail them if they can’t keep up and then shunt them off to the remedial class. 

I can’t fix schools. But I can work on me. My kids and I would have been spared many heartbreaking nights and altercations if I had been taking this approach every time I helped them with their homework. Instead of viewing them as failures because they didn’t get some principle yet, I should have recognized the homework and tests merely showed where they needed to work. It was actually a good thing to learn about the questions they missed. Then I get an accurate assessment of where they are and then I learn how to help.

It also helps me personally. When I mess up and get something wrong. It doesn’t mean I’m a failure or a loser. It just means I have to do some work on that particular spot. That means I don’t have to cheat to impress anybody. I just need to figure out where I am and work to grow from there.

Let’s work and learn together.

ELC

July 31, 2008 Posted by | Making Mistakes, Success | , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

You can learn a lot from a knee brace

I guess I should have known when I opted not to wear my knee brace while playing Ultimate Frisbee on Sunday that I would be learning a life lesson on Monday.

But “Hey,” I thought, “my knee hasn’t hurt in a really long time. I’m having trouble finding that stupid knee brace and, frankly, I don’t really like wearing it. So why worry about it?” Well, today, my knee hurts. I guess I should have known, but I am an idiot. Wait a minute. No I’m not. I’m just a human that makes mistakes. But I hope I learn from them.

This is so much like the accountability measures and self-discipline habits I put in my life. I have my readings, my prayers, my accountability partners, on and on the list goes with the measures I have put into place to help me stay healthy spiritually, mentally and emotionally. The problem is after a while, I get tired of doing those things. They take too long. They aren’t all that exciting. Some of them are a bit embarrassing. Some are downright hard. Besides I’ve been doing great on whatever the issue is. Perhaps just this once I can get by without them. But every time I do, I fall. Sometimes hard.

Let me encourage you to grab your knee-brace and put it on any time you have an inkling of a thought that you might need it. Let’s think of it this way, it never hurts to wear it. But sometimes it really hurts if you don’t.

ELC

July 8, 2008 Posted by | Being human, Making Mistakes, Success | , , | 1 Comment