Friday, May 31, 2013

Small Choices and Purpose

“Always do your best.”

Don Miguel Ruiz –The Four Agreements

“Life is the sum of all your choices.” 

Albert Camus

“Sometimes it’s the smallest decisions that can change your life forever.”

Keri Russell

On recent radio shows I spoke about the power of small choices and how they can lead to big results. 
Here are some ways that works.
-                Spending a little time every day with my kids can lead to more harmonious relationships, when they get older.
-                Saving 10% from every paycheck can lead several thousand dollars every year.
-                Listening to educational or informational material just 30 minutes a day while going to work adds up to 200 hours of study a year.
-                Taking five minutes to clean one room in the house can create a whole new environment.
-                Waking up 30 minutes earlier every day adds over 500 hours a year.
-                Cleaning out my car every day for five minutes a day can make a huge difference.

The same principle can be approached with a more negative perspective.
-                If I leave for works five minutes later, I will be increasingly stressed with each red light or traffic problem.
-                If I leave work early and/or arrive late just five minutes a day, I will have lost 18 to 36 hours of productivity a year.
-                Two hours of TV, five nights a week, costs over 2000 hours a year with nothing to show for it.

The power of small choices then is sobering.  In the book of Matthew, two faithful servants are rewarded according to their results, but both are rewarded and both are told, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”  The servant who made two wasn’t told, “How come you didn’t make five like the other servant?  What’s wrong with you?  Why don’t you work harder?  Look what the other servant did!”
At the same time, he wasn’t rewarded as highly as the other servant.  There didn’t appear to be any personal judgment or criticism in the reward.  The second servant simply got a reward commensurate with his work.
What happened with the second servant?  Perhaps he didn’t work as hard as the first servant.  Perhaps he had more commitments.  Perhaps he wasn’t as focused.  Perhaps he had ADHD or a family or he was sick.  Perhaps he had less training or experience.
Perhaps the result he got was all he wanted.
All we know is he fairly got what he earned.  He also didn’t seem to express any unhappiness with his supervisor or with his reward. Like the other servant, he doubled his money.
I don’t think it’s important that I am the servant who makes five or two; I think it’s important that I do my best.  I think it’s important to not be the servant who makes nothing.  He got kicked out of the kingdom.  He was not punished for his results, but for his laziness. 
If he had simply put his money in the bank, that would have been enough.  What would it mean to put my money in the bank with regard to effort?  It means that I should at least do the very least I can do.  Perhaps, there would have been a small reward or even no reward at all, but I would have at least had a little something to show for my efforts and I wouldn’t have been kicked out of the kingdom.
The problem with doing the very least is that it leaves me without the respect of others and without self-respect.  It’s acceptable, like getting a C or a D.  I passed, but it didn’t feel very good, especially when I knew I could have gotten an A or even a B.  When I think about my college grades, I am not happy with any C’s or D’s, except for an upper-level chemistry class.  I almost failed that class because I didn’t have enough background in math or science.  I actually got the lowest score in the class on the first test and was kindly told by the professor that I wasn’t ready.  Had I failed I would have had to extend my schooling for at least a half a year.  But doing the best I could, I got a D and saved myself time and money.  I did my best.
Doing my best is all that is required.  Effort is usually more important than results.  Effort is what leads to results.  Now if my efforts are not giving me the desired results, perhaps I’m expending energy in the wrong place or in the wrong way.  That’s another discussion.
For now, I know I need to do by best.  As Don Miguel Ruiz says, our best is different at different times.  The only thing that is consistent is that each time, I have to Get Started and Keep Going.

Monday, May 27, 2013

The In Basket

“Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about.”
Stephen Richards

“I recovered my immense will to live when I realized that the meaning of my life was the one I had chosen for it.”

Paulo Coehlo

“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.”

Led Zeppelin – Going to California

This has all the makings of a bad day.  I feel uncertain about the future.  There are a lot of changes happening in my life and I don’t know where any of them will take me.  Still, at this moment, there’s really nothing wrong.  I’m sitting comfortably, surrounded by my books and a delicious cup of coffee.  I got eight hours sleep, something I haven’t done in a long time.  But there’s always something to think about, to worry about or to do.  Almost always.  The in-basket is never empty.
In Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and It’s All Small Stuff, Richard Carlson says,
The nature of your “in basket” is that it’s meant to have items to be completed in it – it’s not meant to be empty.  In fact, it can be argued that a full “in basket” is essential for success.  It means your time is in demand.

Perhaps you have an in basket at work or a to-do list.  But I think we all have an inner in basket as well.  What is in the inner “in basket?”   There are not only tasks to be accomplished, but there are concerns, fears, relationships, questions, things to be thankful for, and choices.  Every item in my inner in basket represents a thought.
The left-brain part of me, the part that likes order and systems, enjoys this analogy.  It helps me to put things in order.  I can take each item and make a decision.
1.     I can pray.  I can pray for peace or the wisdom to make the right choice or for the ability to forgive or to be forgiven.
2.     I can make the right emotional response.  I can grieve or forgive or get mad or laugh or choose peace.
3.     I can take action.  I can write or study or spend time with my kids or take a nap or see a movie or exercise or work on and finish that damn project.
4.     I can ask for help.  This might mean prayer or a conversation or a conflict resolution or some fun with people I love.
5.     I can wait.  I can recognize that there is nothing I can do at this moment about that particular task and I can move on to the next one.  Waiting is good if it is accompanied by acceptance of what is.

There is no one right response to every issue, except to be present in each moment and ask God to be present with me.  But if one of my solutions doesn’t work, I have other choices.  What I don’t have to do is be led by fear or rage or guilt or discouragement.  I have a choice.  And the choice begins in my mind.
One of the best books I’ve ever read on choosing emotional reactions is Loving What Is, by Byron Katie.  She offers a system called The Work, which is a series of four questions and a Turnaround.  These have helped me to take control of my thinking about a problem.
The four questions are these:
1.     Is it (the thing I’m worried, angry, sad, scared about) true?
2.     Do I know for sure that it’s true?
3.     How does that thought make me feel?
4.     Who would I be without that thought?
5.     Turnaround.  Create an opposite or alternate way of looking at the problem.

So, for example, my fear might be, “My friend is mad at me.”
1.              Is it true?  If the answer is, “I don’t know,” then I can skip question #2.  If it is true, then I ask question #2.
2.              Can I be sure that it’s true?  If either yes or no, then go to the next question.
3.              How does this thought make me feel?  Here I might write, “afraid, angry, sad, confused or bitter.”  No answer is wrong.  These are just emotional responses and no emotion or feeling is wrong (though how we act on them can be wrong or our information can be wrong).
4.              Who would I be without that thought?  I might write, “peaceful, happy, free, or calm.”
5.              Finally, there is the Turnaround.  It might be, “My friend is not angry at me.”  “My friend is angry at someone else.”  “My friend is sick.”  “My friend is worried.”  “I am mad at my friend.”  There are many possible solutions. 

And if my friend is actually mad at me, then I can do The Work around that issue.  Either way, I have now dealt with my own emotional work and I can be at peace.  I have used this method many times and it has helped me immensely.  I recommend reading the book because there is more to it than what I wrote here.  The only thing I will add is that it is far more effective to write out these questions and the Turnaround and not just think it or talk about it.  I remember one day being on a long drive and being very upset about something.  So I pulled into the next small town, got out my journal and did The Work.  It completely changed the rest of my trip.
So, what does all this have to do with Purpose?  Everything.  When my mind is clear, I can move forward.  Sometimes I have to move forward when my mind isn’t clear and that clears my mind.  Either way, I have the ability to choose my attitudes and actions.  All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going.

"La realidad es una proyección de sus pensamientos o las cosas que usted piensa habitualmente alrededor."

Stephen Richards

"Recuperé mi inmenso deseo de vivir cuando me di cuenta de que el sentido de mi vida era el que yo había elegido para él."

Paulo Coelho

“Standing on a hill in my mountain of dreams,
Telling myself it's not as hard, hard, hard as it seems.”

Led Zeppelin – Going to California

Esto tiene todos los ingredientes de un mal día. Me siento seguro sobre el futuro. Hay un montón de cambios que suceden en mi vida y no sé si alguna de ellas me llevará. Sin embargo, en este momento, no hay realmente nada de malo. Estoy sentado cómodamente, rodeado de mis libros y una deliciosa taza de café. Tengo ocho horas de sueño, algo que no he hecho en mucho tiempo. Pero siempre hay algo en que pensar, que preocuparse ni hacer. Casi siempre. La in-basket nunca está vacía.
En No Sweat the Small Stuff ... Y todo Small Stuff, Richard Carlson dice:
La naturaleza de su "en la canasta" es que se supone que tienen los elementos para ser completado en él - no está destinado a ser vacía. De hecho, se puede argumentar que un lleno "en la canasta" es esencial para el éxito. Esto significa que su tiempo está en la demanda.

Tal vez usted tiene una en la canasta en el trabajo o una lista de tareas pendientes. Pero yo creo que todos tenemos un interno en la canasta también. Lo que está en el interior "en la canasta?" No son sólo las tareas a llevar a cabo, pero hay preocupaciones, temores, relaciones, preguntas, cosas que agradecer, y las opciones. Cada artículo en mi interior en la canasta representa un pensamiento.
La parte izquierda del cerebro de mí, lo que le gusta el orden y sistemas, disfruta de esta analogía. Me ayuda a poner las cosas en orden. Puedo tomar cada tema y tomar una decisión.
1. Puedo orar. Puedo orar por la paz y la sabiduría para tomar la decisión correcta o de la capacidad de perdonar y ser perdonados.
2. Puedo hacer que la respuesta emocional correcta. No puedo llorar ni perdonar o enojarse o reír o elegir la paz.
3. Puedo tomar medidas. Soy capaz de escribir o estudiar o pasar el tiempo con mis hijos o tomar una siesta o ver una película o hacer ejercicio o trabajar y terminar ese maldito proyecto.
4. Puedo pedir ayuda. Esto podría significar que la oración o de una conversación o una resolución de un conflicto o un buen rato con la gente que quiero.
5. Puedo esperar. Puedo reconocer que no hay nada que puedo hacer en este momento acerca de esa tarea en particular y puedo pasar a la siguiente. La espera es buena si va acompañada de la aceptación de lo que es.

Como puede ver, no hay una sola respuesta correcta a cada emisión, a menos de estar presente en cada momento y permitir que esté presente conmigo. Pero si uno de mis soluciones no funciona, tengo otras opciones. Lo que no tengo que hacer es ser llevado por el miedo o la rabia o culpa o el desaliento. No tengo otra opción. Y la elección comienza en la mente.
Uno de los mejores libros que he leído sobre la elección de las reacciones emocionales es amar lo que es, por Byron Katie. Ella ofrece un sistema llamado El Trabajo, que es una serie de cuatro preguntas y Turnaround. Estos han ayudado a tomar el control de mi forma de pensar acerca de un problema.
Las cuatro preguntas son las siguientes:
1. ¿Es (lo que estoy preocupado, enojado, triste, asustado por) cierto?
2. ¿Sé a ciencia cierta que es verdad?
3. ¿De qué manera ese pensamiento me hace sentir?
4. ¿Quién sería yo sin ese pensamiento?
5. Turnaround. Crear una forma opuestas o alternas de ver el problema.

Así, por ejemplo, el miedo puede ser: "Mi amigo está enojado conmigo."
1. ¿Es cierto? Si la respuesta es "no sé", entonces puedo saltarme la pregunta # 2. Si es verdad, entonces yo pido la pregunta # 2.
2. ¿Puedo estar seguro de que es verdad? Si sí o no, y luego ir a la siguiente pregunta.
3. ¿Cómo funciona este pensamiento me hace sentir? Aquí yo podría escribir, "asustado, enojado, triste, confundido o amargo." No respuesta es incorrecta. Estas son sólo las respuestas emocionales y ninguna emoción o sentimiento que está mal (aunque nuestra forma de actuar en ellos puede estar equivocado o nuestra información puede estar equivocado).
4. ¿Quién sería yo sin ese pensamiento? Yo podría escribir, "pacífica, feliz, libre, o la calma."
5. Por último, está el Turnaround. Podría ser, "Mi amigo no está enojado conmigo." "Mi amigo está enojado con alguien más." "Mi amigo está enfermo." "Mi amigo está preocupado." "Estoy enojado con mi amigo." Hay muchos posibles soluciones.

Y si mi amigo está realmente enojado conmigo, entonces puedo hacer el trabajo en torno a esta cuestión. De cualquier manera, ahora se han ocupado de mi trabajo emocional y puedo estar en paz. He utilizado este método muchas veces y me ha ayudado inmensamente. Recomiendo leer el libro porque no hay más que lo que he escrito aquí. La única cosa que me gustaría añadir es que es mucho más eficaz para escribir estas preguntas y el cambio de tendencia y no sólo pensar o hablar de ello. Recuerdo que un día estar en un largo viaje en coche y está muy molesto por algo. Así que me metí en el próximo pueblo, saqué mi diario y hacían la obra. Cambió por completo el resto de mi viaje.
Entonces, ¿qué tiene todo esto que ver con el propósito? Todo. Cuando mi mente está clara, puedo seguir adelante. A veces tengo que seguir adelante cuando mi mente no está clara y que despeja mi mente. De cualquier manera, tengo la posibilidad de elegir mis actitudes y acciones. Todo lo que tengo que hacer es Comenzar y Seguir Adelante.

Saturday, May 25, 2013


“Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.”

“For a small piece of paper, it carries a lot of weight.”
The O’Jays – For the Love of Money
“Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.”
Okay, Take 2.  I started a blog and then my computer did something weird and I lost everything I had written which, fortunately wasn’t very much, but I had to start over; so here I am doing a quick write until I figure out what I want to write today.  Sometimes the Enemy hits me with apathy.  Today it is hitting me with a complete blank.  That is, I have no idea what to say.  I just know I need to be here.
I’m trying to make some changes in my life.  I want more money, a lot more.  Now before anyone panics and says how bad money is and how it’s the root of all evil, allow me to quote the scripture correctly:
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

1 Timothy 6:10

So money is not the root of all evil; the love of money is.  And the love of money is not the root of all evil, but of all kinds of evil.  This means various kinds of evil, not every evil.  If Germany had had more money in the 1920’s and 1930’s, then World War II and the Holocaust probably wouldn’t have happened.  If people hadn’t tried to get money so quickly, without really working for it and not borrowing it, then the Great Depression and the recent housing crash might not have happened.  Without the love of money, prisons might be emptier and the reasons that caused people to believe they needed to commit crimes would have vanished.  Granted, there are other issues such as laziness, fear and racism, and no amount of money can fix these things.  This is why the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, but there are other kinds of evil that have nothing to do with money.  Still, the love of money and the lack of money can lead to many problems.
In this case, I define love as a preoccupation with something or someone combined with the belief that it will meet or override all one’s needs, including the emotional, physical and spiritual. 
This is what I understand about money, its uses and its limitations:
1.     Having money won’t solve everything. 
2.     Having money will give me more choices and more opportunities, but only if I have the courage to take them.
3.     Having money will also increase my responsibility to use it generously if I choose to be a man of character.
4.     Having money will not solve most of my relationship problems, except perhaps the ones around money and those issues are not around money, but around trust.
5.     Having money will not automatically teach me how to manage and keep money.
6.     Having money will be fun and a relief.
7.     Having money that lasts and outlasts me will be even more of a relief.

Make no mistake.  I want money and I want a lot of it.  I know it won’t solve all my problems, but it will give me opportunities I don’t have now.  One of the goals I have written on my 3x5 cards states, “I have enough money to provide for my children and grandchildren.”
So I want to provide for the next two generations.  I also want to provide for those less fortunate, though I’m still not sure how.  I want to travel.  I want to buy a small house in a beach community.  I want to make the world a better place.  In some ways, my lifestyle will not change significantly when I have more money. 
I don’t love money, but I respect it.  I respect the power and choices and freedom it offers.  But until I get the power, choices and freedom I desire, I have to use the power, freedom and choices I have now.  This is why I study, and write blogs and do radio shows and try to get better at my job.  I have to make use of what I’ve been given.  As Stan Lee wrote, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  And with small power, comes great responsibility.  The book of Luke says, “Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.'”
I may not get ten cities, but I know that the man who can rule himself can rule a kingdom. 
At the beginning of this blog entry, I wrote that I was being hit with a complete blank.  I’m still not sure if I’m saying anything useful and even money won’t solve that problem.   All I can do is sit here, write and do my best.  By using my time well, perhaps I am practicing using my money well.    In this way, I also continue moving towards my Purpose. 
It’s time to start acting like a king.  All I have to do is Get Started and Keep Going.

Friday, May 24, 2013


“I wish we could do more. Maybe tomorrow we will be in the wrong place at the right time, and have the chance to do our part.”
“The key question to keep asking is, 'Are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.' ”

Yesterday a friend told me of a friend of hers who had died unexpectedly.  Chris, the man who died, was 49 years old and he died of heart failure while sleeping.  As ways to go, that is probably the one of the best one.  It’s not the first time I’ve heard of that happening.  I knew a guy whom this happened to and he was in his 30’s.  Unfortunately, he left behind a wife and young child.
But this got me thinking.  I’ve always had this romantic notion that none of us will die before our time.  I have always believed that we each have assignments to complete here on earth and when we are done, then God will call us home.  Conversely, I’ve believed that if I am still alive, then there is a reason for that and I still have things I can do to make the my world and the world better. 
I still believe the second idea.  I’m not so sure about the first one.  To take the most extreme example, I doubt that all 7,000,000 million men, women and children who were murdered in the Holocaust had fulfilled their purpose in their lives.  I’m pretty sure that people who die from cancer, starvation, or because of the negligence of drunk drivers, or from ordinary or freak accidents had finished all they wanted to do.  This is an unjust and evil world.  Things are not fair.
Here is a fantasy for my life.  I live until I’m 100.  I am robust and healthy and I get a lot done.  Then one night, like Chris, I die in my sleep.  What a perfect life!  But life is not perfect.  I could die tomorrow.  Or tonight.  Or right now while I’m typing away.  My heart could give out with no warning.
Here’s how my friend described Chris.  He was:
“a very peaceful fun loving guy, single guy, a storm chaser, who lived in Boston, never married, no kids, a great chef, could spin a great story, loved the Red Sox. He had Asperger's and he was painfully shy around women so some of them used him.  He really never saw the bad in anyone.  He called himself a "Peace Monk, He was born on the 4th of July.  He was hoping to get his own TV show storm chasing.  He was a nut about that stuff.”

            This does not sound like a man who was finished with his work.  So what does this mean?  I don’t know.  But it seems that many people, maybe all of us, might die without all of our dreams or purposes being filled.  The optimist in me would like to believe otherwise, but I have to look at the evidence.  It’s very possible that I won’t finish everything I was designed to do. 
Yet, rather than de-motivating or discouraging me, this understanding actually does the opposite.  It puts me under a little bit of pressure, but in a good way.  It helps me to realize that I don’t have an infinite amount of time.  As Brian Tracy says, I am motivated to “eat that frog,” to do the things I need to do rather than orient my life around relaxation and ease.  This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy life or relax.  What it does mean is that I should be aware of every moment to see if I am in Purpose. 
This motivates me to do the following:
-   Spend more time with the people I love.
-   Write every day.
-   Be kinder.
-   Work more diligently.
-   Wait before I get angry.
-   Laugh more.
-   Be more patient.
-   Honor my commitments to myself and to others.
-   Work towards my goals more consistently.
-   Let go of things that are holding me back.

There are probably others, but those are the ones that come to mind immediately.  Time is short.  It gets shorter every day.  I already waste and have wasted too much time. And as I, and many others, have said, money can be replaced, but time cannot.
While writing this, I have been dealing with time issues.  I was supposed to start my radio show, but I left my phone at home.  By the time I realized this, it was time to start my show.  So I rushed home, but of course, I hit every red light possible and the lights were made longer because of pedestrians.  There seems to be some sort of correlation between being late and encountering more-than-normal delays creating more lateness.  (Then, when I got home, I couldn’t find my phone so I can’t do today’s radio show.  I’m not happy about that, but there’s nothing else to do but to focus on another goal.) 
I am grateful for the time I have been given.  I am sorry for the time I have misused.  I am committing to using my time differently.  No matter what I gain or achieve in this life, time is the only thing I really have left.  Fortunately, there’s still enough time to Get Started and Keep Going.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Two Choices Only

“It is our choices ... that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”


“I choo-choo-choose you!”

Ralph Wiggams – The Simpsons

“You drown not by falling into a river, but by staying submerged in it.”

Paulo Coehlo

I’m in a bit of a crisis mode today.  Things are potentially difficult and I’m not sure what’s going to happen.  At the same time, things are potentially good and I’m not sure what’s going to happen.  I feel like a fireman or a soldier who is on high-alert status.  As I always say, the details don’t matter.  All that matters is how I handle the details.
It’s important as I go through my day, that I remember the following:
            I always have access to God.
            Gratitude is a powerful tool for fighting fear.
It is, at this time especially, important to keep my goals physically and literally in front of me.

Fear is normal in uncertain times, but I don’t want to spend too much thinking about fear. 

It is important to do the things I have chosen to do, such as write my blog, do my job, and take care of the people and responsibilities in my life.

And there it is.  There is the word I need.  There is the idea. 

Before I tell you what word I am referring to, I want to share, what just happened here on this very page.
Often when I write, I come to the keyboard with absolutely no idea about what I’m going to say.  Yet I come here as an act of worship, as an offering of love to God, the world, my friends and family, and myself.  I also come here as an act of self-discipline. 
I am not the most self-disciplined person in the world.  Doing this blog, especially when there seem to be few benefits requires more self-discipline than I am used to exercising.  But I don’t always come here with an urgent message or a sense of passion or any prompting from the Muse.  I simply come here because it is something I have chosen to do.
And that, as they say, is the word of the day – chosen.  I have chosen to do this blog and I have chosen to write every day.   Now I know that I don’t write every day.  But it is still what I have chosen to do.  It is still my expression of love and gratitude to God and the world, to my friends and family and to myself.  Yes, I know I already said that, but it bears repeating. 
Writing is one of my gifts, but it is a gift I am obligated to share with the world.  It is a gift I give back to God by being here every day.  It is a gift I share with people I know and don’t know.  And it is a gift to myself, not only as I am writing, but also afterwards, when I feel peaceful and strangely good about myself and I don’t know why.  It is “the gift that keeps on giving.”  One of the ways that it keeps on giving is when I look at some of my previous writing and I genuinely enjoy my work.  This is not vanity.  This is just recognition and acknowledgement of this gift. 
It’s important to remember that this gift was given to me so there’s no point in bragging that I’m a good writer.  The ability was given, which means it came from another source greater than me.  I can claim nothing.  Paradoxically, I’m still responsible to use, strengthen and develop this gift.  That is the only thing I can take credit for – the work that I do.  Everything else, before and after, are just gifts.
So let me go back to that word – chosen.  I have chosen to do this.  I could choose a number of different things.  Some of those choices might even be good, but sitting here and writing seems like the only, truly wise choice.
This is really what life is about – the choices we make.  And the choices we make often determine our destiny and our happiness. 
For better our worse, I have learned that there are only two things I can choose – my actions and my attitudes. 
The actions I choose will determine my future.  If I choose to work, to plan, to save, to love, to get up a little earlier, to study, then I am determining tomorrow, next week, next year and the rest of my life. 
The attitude I choose will determine my present.  If I choose to be peaceful, to pray, to smile, to pay attention to others, to listen, to be kind, to forgive, to take action, then I am determining (and living in) this very moment.
I can choose nothing else.  I can’t choose the weather, politics, other people or traffic.  I can only choose to be here now.  That, along with my actions, is the only thing I have ever really had any choice over.  But what great choices they are.  How much power they give me!  How much strength!  And how grateful I am for the ability to make these two choices.  By choosing the right attitudes and action, I am creating a more loving and harmonious world.  I am creating more happiness and self-confidence, for myself and those around me.
That’s all for now.  I have a lot to do, but only two choices.  Now it’s time to Get Started and to Keep Going.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Two More Secrets to Success

“You are the designer of your destiny; you are the author of your story.”

“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”

Today has been a good day; in fact, it’s been a great day.  I went to the Speak and Write to Make Millions conference featuring Lisa Nichols.  Lisa was featured prominently in the book and video, The Secret and has her own book, No Matter What.  She is a dynamic speaker and so were the other speakers who spoke with her.  I felt inspired, but I also felt overwhelmed because I am not in the place where Lisa or the other speakers are.  I could be and I should be, but I’m not.  I knew I needed someone who is “ten steps ahead of me” to show me what I was and wasn’t doing that was preventing me from reaching my goals.
Today, the last day of the conference, I spoke to Allyson, one of the featured speakers.  I told her my story and she listened patiently (though justly admonishing me to stay on point).  When I finished, she told me to go with her.  She signed me up for a program to help me with goals.  I won’t say how kind she was, with regard to the price she gave me, but it was amazing!  Then she handed me to another staff person, Margaret, and she offered me even more.  I more than got what I needed.
Now why did this happen?  The short answer is, “the grace of God.”  The longer answer is a two-part answer.
<!--[if !supportLists]-->1.     <!--[endif]-->I was doing what I was supposed to be doing; and
<!--[if !supportLists]-->2.     <!--[endif]-->I said what I wanted.

First, I was doing what I was supposed to be doing.  How do I know?  Because when I look at my 3x5 cards I see that one of them says, “I bless as many people as possible with my writing, speaking and teaching.”  Being at a conference that promised to help me develop those skills fit within that agenda.   Now it’s possible, because I have seven 3x5 cards, each with a different goal written on them, that I could have been working on one of the other goals, but this was the one where the opportunity presented itself.
Interestingly, I almost didn’t go today.  I knew I was only going to be there for a couple of hours and I didn’t think I would get much out of it in only two hours.  But then I remembered Brian Tracy’s story about the dentist from San Diego who went to a conference in Hong Kong.  From one class he learned something that gave him national prominence as a dentist and allowed him to retire within a few years.  So with that story in my head, I decided to go hoping I would get at least one good idea. 
I’ve mentioned my 3x5 cards and how I can use any of them at any time to see if I’m on Purpose.  This is why I have more than one.  I can’t pursue the same goal every moment, but I can pursue any one of a number of goals every moment.   This reduces my stress level in two ways.  I can focus on what I’m supposed to be doing and I can turn away from things that I don’t need to be doing.  This saves me a lot of time.   Having written goals is one of the reasons I rarely watch TV; watching TV doesn’t align with my goals.  But being at a conference that would help me prosper while achieving my goals, did align with my Purpose, so the decision wasn’t hard.  I also knew I wanted to talk to Allyson, so I had to go. 
Talking to Allyson was the second part of the equation.  I told her what I needed.  Now I am fortunate that she is a decision maker who could help me in the way she did.  But the principle applies no matter who I am talking to.  I need to tell people what I want or need.
Now this does not give me a license to tell everyone my troubles.   It also doesn’t mean that I am allowed to babble on.  Lisa gave us the concept of the Super Networking Accelerated Pace (S.N.A.P.), a 22-second-long statement that is “clear, concise, powerful, and quick” and tells people what I offer, what I need or want and what the benefits are for the listener.   I did not S.N.A.P. with Allyson.  As I said, she had to keep me on topic.  But I was still able to tell her what I needed.  More accurately, she knew what I needed.  I “didn’t even know what I didn’t know,” as Lisa said this weekend.
Had I not been there and had I not asked for what I needed, I would have missed this opportunity.   Those are two secrets to success.  Another secret, one I will have to implement soon to get the most out of these programs, is to have a bias for action.  Lisa said, “Action is the antidote for despair.”
I would add, disagreeing with Woody Allen, “Ninety per cent of success is not showing up, but buckling down.”
I’ve been given an amazing opportunity.  Now it is time to Get Started and to Keep Going.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Decision Making and Purpose

“Each indecision brings its own delays and days are lost lamenting over lost days... What you can do or think you can do, begin it. For boldness has magic, power, and genius in it.”

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” 

Auguste Rodin

It is good to be alive this morning.  It is good to be alive every morning, but this morning it feels especially good.  Every day is a new chance at life, but you have to take that chance.  Today is already especially busy, but I really want to do some writing before I start my day.  I feel like I’ve lost a bit of momentum with my blogging due to the excessive activity of this week and the only way to regain my momentum is to start moving again.
In a recent radio show, I spoke about making changes in life and so I’m going to write about changes I’ve made, mostly bad, in my own life and how to approach the decision-making process. This is not an advice column.  I cannot advise you how to make changes because everyone has to make his or her own way.  What I can do, however, is share my own experiences, mostly mistakes, and hope that this will help you make better decisions more quickly.
When it comes to decision-making, I have often followed one of two patterns.
1.              I make changes suddenly and impulsively without thinking or planning. 
2.              I take days, weeks, months and even years to make changes because I am waiting for all the factors to be perfect.

Both ways have often led to disastrous results.
In regard to the first method, I struggled with this when I was younger, especially in my 20’s.  I would see an opportunity and without thought, counsel or planning I would impulsively make a decision that would affect my life, often for months or years. 
I once changed jobs on a whim.  I was working at a 7-11, but I didn’t have a car, so transportation was always a problem.  One day as I was walking to school, I saw a Help-Wanted sign in the window of another 7-11, closer to home.  Without thinking I walked in, applied for the job and got it.  The owner of the store called my now-former employer and it was done.  I thought this decision would make my life easier.  It didn’t.  The job turned out to be bad for me and for many of the customers who had to deal with me.  Worse, I didn’t consider how it would affect my first employer, a man who had been nothing but kind and patient with me.   I hadn’t considered the affect on him.
Another time, again without thinking, I moved out of the best place I ever lived in because I found a place that was free.  Unfortunately, expectations weren’t clarified beforehand and this caused problems.  He expected me to be there all day and all night.  Unfortunately, I had school, work, church service and a social life.  This upset him.  Although I would take him shopping or to doctor’s appointments, it wasn’t enough.  Eventually I moved out (or he asked me to move out).  I hadn’t considered the affect this would have on me.
Even though they seemed like good ideas at the time, both these decisions, and similar ones, often affected my life for months and sometimes years.  As I got older I made fewer impulsive decisions.  Instead, I went to the opposite extreme and would take months and sometimes even years to make important decisions.  I stayed in a job that clearly was not my best career choice.  Interestingly, around my fourth year I decided to leave.  When I made this decision, I felt an incredible amount of peace.  I began reading and exercising again.  Unfortunately, I changed my mind and stayed in another five years.  I missed or ignored the clues that my heart was giving me when I felt so peaceful.  When I made the decision again, five years later, the same peace returned.  Again, I hadn’t considered the affect this was having on me.
So, obviously, there’s a balance between impulsivity and paralysis.  The following methods have helped me make major and sometimes even minor decisions.
1.     It helps me to talk to someone I trust.
2.     It helps me to trust my own heart.
3.     It helps me to pray.
4.     It helps me to make a decision, any decision sometimes, but not an impulsive one.
5.     It helps me to stop thinking and fretting about it.  Often the answer comes when I am not thinking about it.

By the way, sometimes I have done all these things and the decision still didn’t work out.  This, too, has been a valuable lesson.  Life is life and life is not perfect.  All I could do is the best with what I knew at the time.  Sometimes I didn’t have enough information, although I thought I did.  At other times, something unexpected happened and this made a seemingly good decision not so good.  Sometimes I just didn’t have enough life experience or maturity.  The best decision to make then was to move on.
I have also learned that sometimes either one of two decisions would be good.  When looking back on certain decisions I’ve made, I realize had I made the other choice, things would have been different, not better or worse, just different.  I just have to choose and accept the good with the bad.
What does all of this have to do with Purpose?  Simply this:  As I have a greater understanding of the power of Purpose, decisions are far easier to make.  I simply ask myself, “Is this decision in alignment with my Purpose or will it detract me from my Purpose?” 
And though, sometimes, even then it’s not always easy to know, staying within my Purpose usually makes decisions simpler, if not easier.
Not all decisions are permanently life changing.   In fact, most aren’t.  Either way, I have to Get Started and Keep Going.

"Cada indecisión conlleva sus propios retrasos y se pierden días lamentando los días perdidos ... Lo que puede hacer o pensar que puede hacer, comenzarlo. Para audacia tiene la magia, el poder, y el genio en él ".

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"Nada es una pérdida de tiempo si utilizas la experiencia sabiamente."
Auguste Rodin

Es bueno estar vivo esta mañana. Es bueno estar vivo todos los días, pero esta mañana se siente especialmente bueno. Cada día es una nueva oportunidad en la vida, pero hay que correr ese riesgo. Hoy ya está todo ocupado, pero tengo muchas ganas de escribir algo antes de empezar mi día. Me siento como si hubiera perdido un poco de impulso con mi blog debido a la actividad excesiva de esta semana y la única manera de recuperar mi ritmo es empezar a moverse de nuevo.
En un reciente programa de radio, hablé acerca de hacer cambios en la vida y por lo que voy a escribir acerca de los cambios que he hecho, sobre todo mal, en mi propia vida y la forma de abordar el proceso de toma de decisiones. Esto no es una columna de consejos. No puedo aconsejarle cómo hacer cambios porque todo el mundo tiene que hacer su propio camino. Lo que puedo hacer, sin embargo, es compartir mis propias experiencias, sobre todo los errores, y espero que esto le ayudará a tomar mejores decisiones de forma más rápida.
Cuando se trata de la toma de decisiones, a menudo he seguido uno de los dos patrones.
1. Hago cambios de repente y de manera impulsiva, sin pensar o planear.
2. Tomo días, semanas, meses e incluso años para hacer cambios, porque estoy esperando a todos los factores que ser perfecto.

Ambas formas se han llevado a menudo a resultados desastrosos.
En lo que respecta al primer método, tuve problemas con esto cuando era más joven, sobre todo en mis años 20. Me gustaría ver una oportunidad y sin pensarlo, el abogado o la planificación me impulsivamente tomar una decisión que afectaría a mi vida, a menudo durante meses o años.
Una vez cambiado de trabajo en un capricho. Yo estaba trabajando en un 7-11, pero yo no tengo coche, así que el transporte era siempre un problema. Un día, mientras caminaba a la escuela, vi un letrero Help-quieren en la ventana de otro 7-11, más cerca de casa. Sin pensarlo entré, apliqué para el trabajo y lo consiguió. El propietario de la tienda llamó a mi ahora ex empleador y así se hizo. Pensé que esta decisión sería hacer mi vida más fácil. No lo hizo. El trabajo resultó ser malo para mí y para muchos de los clientes que tuvieron que vérselas conmigo. Peor aún, no me considero cómo afectaría mi primer empleador, un hombre que había sido más que amable y paciente conmigo. No había pensado en el efecto sobre él.
Otra vez, de nuevo sin pensarlo, se mudó de los mejores lugares que he vivido en porque he encontrado un lugar que estaba libre. Desafortunadamente, las expectativas no eran explícitos y esto causó problemas. Él esperaba que yo estuviera allí todo el día y toda la noche. Por desgracia, tuve la escuela, el trabajo, culto y la vida social. Esto le molesta. Aunque yo le lleve de compras o para citas con el médico, que no era suficiente. Con el tiempo me mudé (o él me pidió para salir). No había pensado en el efecto que esto tendría en mí.
A pesar de que parecía una buena idea en el momento, estas dos decisiones, y otras similares, a menudo afectado mi vida durante meses ya veces años. A medida que fui creciendo me hice menos decisiones impulsivas. En cambio, me fui al extremo opuesto y tomaría meses ya veces hasta años para tomar decisiones importantes. Me alojé en un trabajo que claramente no era mi mejor opción de la carrera. Curiosamente, alrededor de mi cuarto año me decidí a salir. Cuando tomé esta decisión, sentí una cantidad increíble de paz. Empecé a leer y hacer ejercicio de nuevo. Por desgracia, he cambiado de opinión y me quedé en otros cinco años. Echaba de menos o ignorado las pistas que mi corazón me daba cuando me sentía tan tranquilo. Cuando tomé la decisión de nuevo, cinco años después, la misma paz volvió. Una vez más, no había considerado la afecta esto estaba teniendo en mí.
Así que, obviamente, hay un equilibrio entre la impulsividad y la parálisis. Los siguientes métodos han ayudado a tomar decisiones importantes y, a veces incluso menor.
1. Ayuda a que hable con alguien de confianza.
2. Me ayuda a confiar en mi propio corazón.
3. Me ayuda a orar.
4. Me ayuda a tomar una decisión, la decisión a veces, pero no una impulsiva.
5. Me ayuda a dejar de pensar y preocupándose por él. A menudo, la respuesta llega cuando no estoy pensando en eso.

Por cierto, a veces me he hecho todas estas cosas, y la decisión seguía sin funcionar. Esto, también, ha sido una lección valiosa. La vida es vida y la vida no es perfecta. Lo único que pude hacer es lo mejor con lo que sabía en ese momento. A veces yo no tenía suficiente información, aunque creo que lo hice. En otras ocasiones, algo inesperado sucedió y esto hizo una aparentemente buena decisión no es tan bueno. A veces simplemente no tenía suficiente experiencia de la vida o la madurez. La mejor decisión de hacer a continuación era seguir adelante.
También he aprendido que a veces uno de los dos decisiones sería bueno. Al mirar hacia atrás en algunas decisiones que he hecho, me doy cuenta de que había hecho la otra opción, las cosas habrían sido diferentes, ni mejor ni peor, simplemente diferente. Sólo tengo que elegir y aceptar lo bueno y lo malo.
¿Qué tiene todo esto que ver con el propósito? Simplemente esto: Como tengo una mayor comprensión de la fuerza de propósito, las decisiones son mucho más fáciles de hacer. Simplemente me pregunto a mí mismo: "¿Es esta decisión en consonancia con mi propósito o me va a distraer de mi propósito?"
Y aunque, a veces, incluso entonces no siempre es fácil saber, permaneciendo dentro de mi Propósito general toma decisiones más simple, si no más fácil.
No todas las decisiones están permanentemente cambiando la vida. De hecho, la mayoría no lo son. De cualquier manera, tengo que Empezar y Seguir Adelante.