Extending Grace in the Workplace

dogsIt’s An Attitude

It has been said those who extend grace are weak. Such an attitude embraces a “dog eat dog” world and mindset. You have to look out for number one you know. If you don’t who will. I beg to differ. It is easier to take the “me first and foremost” approach. It takes a much stronger person to keep themselves in control and to offer grace. It’s not natural or usually our first reaction, but it can pay huge dividends, immediately and in the future.

It Happened to Me

pexels-photo-567633.jpeg  I remember one time when I was promoted to a position two levels above where I was currently. Someone higher up the chain believed in me and spoke up for me. I didn’t know this until years after I was promoted. The set up was a little different than I was used to. I have two people I answered to. One was my direct boss, and the other was more of a functional boss. That is, one was local and managed the local business, and the other was corporate and managed the support department that I was now in.

Very early on I found out some things were happening that seemed to be wrong. It fell more into the technical side than the local side. It even appeared like the local administration was privy and allowed the practice. I found out later that this was not true. The corporate boss went around my local boss and told all the local subordinates to desist all work involved until an investigation into the matter was conducted.

I did not know the action the corporate boss was going to do and my local boss was furious. He called me into his office and asked me to close the door. We had a long discussion on how he felt I had “thrown him under the bus.” He asked me why I did not come to him so we could investigate the matter. The truth was, I didn’t know him good enough to trust him at this point. Regardless, I handled it poorly and the disappointment was warranted.

He patiently explained to me that he expected me to come to him in the future if there were any issues. Further, he expected me to be honest with him even if I thought it would make him mad. He said he forgave me for leaving him out of the loop and for the embarrassment. I could tell it hurt him deeply and that he felt betrayed. I think we have all been there. Later I found out that he was the one who had put in a good word for me to get the position. Talk about feeling like a heel.

Our relationship survived those early days, and he has been one of my strongest supporters, and I have gone out of my way to make sure he was not blindsided by anything that had to do with my department. He had every bit of authority to fire me. Maybe not right then, but at other times when I messed up (but not to that degree), he had plenty of opportunities. Instead, he offered grace, and he also gave me advice and encouragement.

What Grace Does

Here’s what a person of grace does, and I believe he did:

  1. They try to understand before being understood. Why did this happen? There are always two sides to a story.
  2. They acknowledge that there was a wrong and extend forgiveness while holding others accountable.
  3. They confront in a non-judgmental way. Grace says, “Hey, you hurt me. You want to tell me about that?”
  4. They remember times when it was extended to them.
  5. They know there will be a time in the future when they will need grace again.
  6. They seek the better outcome for all.
  7. They know that there are times when separation is needed, but they handle it with grace. There are times that the best outcome for all is to let someone go.

Being gracious is not being weak. Ponder this: would you rather work with someone who is gracious, but firm or someone who is ungracious and wishy-washy. Graciousness goes two ways though and even when others are not extending grace we should. We don’t know the story of others. You may be the only one who shows them grace, and that may be just what they need to make it through.

Luck?

My Irish Heritage

I remember growing up and having an interest in my genealogy. My mother would answer my questions of what nationality we came from with this: “You are half German, a quarter Irish and a quarter Mohawk.” Knowing me, that was probably the easiest answer to give. Subsequently, I wanted to visit Germany, Ireland, and the Land of the Mohawk to see where my forefathers had lived and died. Nobel thought, huh? I thought so. We lived in Washington State at the time so I was fortunate to see how the Nisqually lived in that day and to visit the reservations. So I had some idea of how all Native Americans lived.

When I was ten years old, we moved to Florida where my grandparents had moved to several years before. I was excited to finally spend some time with them and get to know them. One day I asked my grandmother about our Irish heritage since she obviously knew more about them. She quickly responded in a heavy New York accent, with “I oughta smack you in the puss.” Several things happened at once. First, I froze as I wasn’t sure what part of my body she was about to smack and second, I wondered what I had said wrong. She explained that we were more Spanish than Irish. It wasn’t that she denied the Irish heritage, it was that she was proud of the Spanish more. Her maiden name was Ricardo. That was something new to me.

So faded my affinity to have the Luck of the Irish and to be heavily affiliated with that magical land. I would never have a pot of gold anyway. Not that I believe in luck anyway, especially as I got older and my relationship with Jesus grew.

I don’t believe in luck

I believe in God. I see people who are superstitious with luck charms (not the cereal) hoping and praying for favorable outcomes; while cursing the gods when things go wrong. I see people playing the lottery and gambling hoping to one-day strick it rich. The last ones are really some that I avoid. I play cards and Yahtzee with my wife and consistently kicks my butt. So, no Vegas or Atlantic City for me.

Why gamble when you can be sure?

Like you, I work too hard for my money to just be giving it to the government. They take enough of it without my permission anyway and take more and more each year. Plus, I am not impressed with how they handle what they get now. Why would I want to give any more to them? Yes, we could debate back and forth how several states use the lottery to fund education, and how our state’s money is going to some other state. I could counter with 95% of people who win the lottery are bankrupt and worse off than when they won and could quote statistics from other states who have to pay for the washout of addiction. I think this debate misses the point. When you boil it all down, the question is: what do you believe, or more plainly, where is your heart?

The One Sure Thing

God owns the cattle on a thousand hills the bible says. So, couldn’t this same God give me a million dollars if He really wanted me to have it? Is that what my relationship with Him is all about? It has to go much deeper with Him.

Jesus told us to worship God the Father with our heart, soul, mind, and strength. When He blesses me, what is my reaction? Well, I deserve this. I work harder than most folks. I am more favored. Can’t you tell by how well I am blessed? Or, look at me. I am all that and a bag of fries baby! Supersized at that.

If God chooses to take everything from me, what would my reaction be then? That’s not fair! Hey, I worked hard for all that! Why are you picking on me? Why I am losing all this and those people over there aren’t even working at all and have more than me? Notice these are all heart issues? Many I have had to deal with before and maybe you have to. Would to God I would have the attitude rather of David and Job.

God said David was a man after God’s own heart. Job said after all he had lost, that even if God chose to slay him, He would still be his God. God is a present help not only in times of trouble (thank you, Jesus) but also in times of plenty. How we handle all times is based on how deep our relationship is with Him.

God loves you if you play the lottery and if you don’t. He loves you when you seem to be doing well and when you are not. What He is after is your heart in order to have a deep, meaningful relationship with you. He wants the best for you and to be a vital part of your life.

Are you, like David, after God’s own heart? Put another way, are you seeking what God’s heart seeks. God further said of David that “he will do what I want him to do.” Jesus said, “If you love me, you will obey my commandments” and “where your heart is, there your treasure will be also.” Where your heart is, is where you will spend the most time, talent, effort, energy, and money. On what do you base your future and look to for direction; luck, chance, fate, crossing your fingers, the stars, horoscope? I don’t believe in luck, I believe in God. I still want to go to Ireland and Spain now.

You Are Called

This last week a young man came to me at our church to ask what it would take for him to become a deacon. I smiled and asked why he would want to be a deacon. He said he wanted to be more committed to God and the church. I remembered when I felt called to go deeper in my commitment to Christ. I went to our pastor and asked. I remember our pastor loved me enough to tell me that I was not ready to be in the ministry or even licensed to preach. I was hurt. I thought this was the next steps when God calls you.

Back to the young man. As I was trying to figure out how to answer him without crushing his spirit, I told him he had to be married. I was stalling. “You’re making that up,” he said. I took out my bible and turned to I Timothy 3 and showed him the qualifications of a deacon. “Look, you’re supposed to have children too,” I pointed out. He said, “Well, what does it take to be an usher?” I began to laugh. I told him that I admired his desire and for him to study the passage in the bible and we would talk again.

The Main Question

The main question here would be: is everyone called? I think the answer is yes. Too often we associate our call with some kind of church work or missionary endeavor. I don’t believe the bible shares this point of view. Here’s why. If God only called people to church vocations then who would farm? Who would teach? Who would enforce the law? Who would do any vocation? God is sovereign. The world, though now fallen was created perfectly by Him and He didn’t just walk away afterward.  What did he call the first man and woman to do? To tend the garden. The bible further shows how God called kings as well as prophets. It tells how He set times, peoples, and nations. He is a God of order.

Our Race

pexels-photo-618612.jpeg    In the bible in the book of Hebrews, chapter 12, we are instructed to run our race. That race is different for all of us. The main problem with the world is that mankind thinks they know better than God. Again, look at the Garden of Eden. If we all did what God called us to do then the world would function perfectly. We, mankind, are flawed and subsequently, our ways are also flawed. Still, there is within all of us a calling. Some call it a passion. Either way, it is there.

pexels-photo-696573.jpeg    I had a chance to talk with this young man again on another day. I explained to him that he indeed had a calling. God did not create us first and then think, “Hmm, what could I have him do?” No, God had a purpose in mind when He created each of us. That is our race. God had the race first and then He created someone to run that race. The young man asked me how to find his calling. I asked him what he was passionate about. He told me his dreams. I told him to start there. I also told him that he could do a process of elimination. I.e. did he feel led to farm, police work, or teaching. He said, “No.” Then I said he could rule these out. I told him to try different things and if he failed not to see these are failures, but as learning opportunities to find his purpose.

Are you looking for your purpose? Here are five things you could do, just like I told the young man and others to get going in the right direction:

  1. Know that without a doubt you were created for a purpose and that God wants you to know it. Hebrews 12:1 and following.
  2. Read the bible for examples where God called men and women from all walks of life.
  3. Read The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren and start with the five things that God has called us all to do.
  4. Eliminate what you know for sure you don’t have any interest in doing. I would suggest, if possible by trying it first.
  5. Seek out the things that do interest you and try them. Once you try them, you might find out you really weren’t as interested as you first thought.

 

 

Keep Moving: Seven steps to face the storms of life

I am reminded in my darkest and saddest moments of several Bible scriptures that say “and it came to pass.” To be honest, this phrase is speaking of something that has happened, or of something previously foretold that came true. However, I picked up somewhere that things usually don’t come to “stay,” but they do come to “pass.” In essence, they don’t last. That is true for most of the good, bad, and ugly of life.

Constants

There are only two constants: change and the unchanging God. The temporal and the eternal. I have heard it said several times that all of us are heading into a storm, in a storm, or coming out of a storm. That would mean storms are an intrinsic part of this temporal world. They are a fact of life, and we all have to deal with them. Granted, they come in varying degrees and lengths. Some last for a moment and are intense. Our response is quickly taxed, and our energy quickly spent. Some tend to linger on and slowly drain our energy and reserve.

Our Actions

I have noticed in the business world that there are two kinds of leaders: those that are reactive and those that are proactive. I am sure you have seen both of these. One takes the approach to wait and see what breaks and then we will fix it. They wait until the storm comes and then they react to it. They know the storm is coming, but somehow they hope to dodge it or maybe it won’t be that bad. “Let’s brace ourselves and hope for the best” is their mantra. They bark orders as things start to fall apart.

startup-photos.jpg   Then there are those who know the storm is coming and they prepare. They brace for the storm, true, but they have processes in place that are designed to lessen the damage or better, to face the storm head-on. Their mantra is “We knew this was coming so let’s face this as we practiced.” Will the plan always go as planned? No, but there will be a cohesiveness with the proactive that will not be found with the reactive, especially if the plan has been rehearsed to the point of being second nature. Take, for example, fire or evacuation drills. Those who have been trained in these are more likely to survive because they knew what to do. They have a plan.

Handling Storms

In life, we too can have a plan. Simply put, keep moving. Let’s break it down:

  • Be realistic. What is the worst thing that could happen? Uh, you could die. True, but it hasn’t happened yet and what is the likelihood of it happening today. It could, but the probability is that it won’t. So keep moving.
  • Don’t panic. Panic is not a sound, workable plan. Look around you. What are the facts? Have you survived worse than what is happening to you now? Will you survive this? More than likely. It’s not the end of the world. Well, if it is, worrying won’t change anything. Keep moving.
  • pexels-photo-210182.jpegChange your speed. My wife was with me on a trip as I traveled through Atlanta. I won’t say it was rush hour because I think it always is. Once we hit I-85 north from the south side of Atlanta, I turned my music up and merged (sped) into traffic. My wife began to complain more than usual about my driving. I told her to please remain calm and let me drive. The fast-paced, seemingly erratic nature of my driving and those around us unnerved her. I told her that here “you either run or get runned over” Do you need to speed up or slow down? Either way, keep moving.
  • Face it head-on. Like the traffic of Atlanta or where you might live, face it head-on. I have seen my share of accidents, several while wearing an EMS uniform. I tend to believe the squeamish, overly cautious driver is as bad as or even worse than the aggressive driver. I have taken both offensive and defensive driving courses. I drive offensively and defensively as the situation dictates. Either way, I keep moving.
  • Know where you are going. If you have a destination in mind, then you have a purpose in your movement. Any dead fish can float downstream. Watch the salmon on the Columbia River as they swim upstream to their breeding grounds. They are determined to make it. They have a goal, a destiny, and a passion. Let the setbacks come. With passion, keep moving.
  • pexels-photo-901236.jpegModerate your self-talk. Listen, read, and watch positive messages. There is a difference in what you feel and what you know. Tell yourself what you know. Speak the facts, not the emotions. Have you ever watched athletes as they are walking the tunnel to the field? Many of them are wearing headsets or earphones. Why? Watch the fans of the opposing teams in the tunnel as they taunt and jeer at the athletes. The athletes can’t hear them because they are listening to a different voice. That voice is telling them how they are a winner, a champion, to ignore the detractors, and to keep moving.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded. Find a mentor or two that will challenge you when you are slipping and who will applaud you when you are succeeding. Read, listen, and watch people who have succeeded before you. Hear their stories and learn from their lives. They are rich in knowledge and experience. Let them motivate you to keep moving.

Summary

The storms are going to come to all of us, but they don’t have to stop us. If you get knocked down, don’t just lay there. If you can’t get right back up, then crawl until you can. You can’t keep a good man or woman down. Prepare for the storms so when they come you will be ready.

Busy or Productive?

The Busy Day

The day has ended, and you look back at it only to see that you cannot name one major thing that you have accomplished. You worked hard bouncing from one task to another. Often, there were some tasks that you could not finish because there were several tasks that had to be done first. Almost like a domino effect:  “I can’t finish that task until I do this and I can’t finish this until I do that, etc.” And don’t forget there were several that could not be completed because you are still waiting for someone else to complete theirs first. “I have been busy all day, but can’t see where I have accomplished anything,” you sigh. So, have you been productive or just “busy all day?”

The Problems

My biggest problem is distractions. I get bored of the task, or it becomes laborious, and I get distracted. I want to move onto something more interesting, challenging, and entertaining. The second biggest problem is that I get the task/time frame wrong. I over commit or estimate wrong. Many times I have more task than I do time. I will begin the task and then run out of time, and then that task sits idle until I think I have enough time to finish it. Often I have committed to another task that now has screamed for my attention. This leads to busyness, but not productivity. There is a simple solution.

A Solution

pexels-photo-268351.jpeg   I would love to take credit for this but I can’t. It’s not my idea. However, I can tell you without a doubt I have used it to my advantage many times and still do. I won’t recount the whole story here, but I think you can get the gist of it. During the grand railroad building and iron boom of the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was business advisor/consultant named Ivy Lee. He went to see a very successful Charles M. Schwab (not the investor). He promised Schwab that he could help him increase productivity. Schwab told Lee that he only had twenty-five minutes before he had to catch a train and that he needed more “doing” and less “knowing.” Lee took out a 3×5 card and handed it to Schwab. He further gave him directions. Here they are modified to some degree as I have used this method: (You can also find the whole story on the internet)

  1. At the end of the day write down ten (10) things that you have to accomplish the next day. If ten is too much, start with five.
  2. Rearrange these in the order of importance with the most important thing you have to get accomplished at the top and the next and so on down the list.
  3. The next day work on the number one item as much as you can. I mean work that puppy for all its worth either until it is complete or you can do no more on it. Then move on to number two and so on.
  4. At the end of the day sit down and rewrite your list on another 3×5 card just like number one above and the next day repeat steps 1-4.

Go For It

All this may sound too simple. That is what Schwab thought too until he tried it and then had all his managers try it too. It took Lee about twenty-five minutes to explain all this to Schwab. He then told Schwab to pay him whatever he felt the information was worth to him. Several weeks later Schwab sent Lee a check for $25,000. A $1000 a minute is what Schwab felt the information was worth. What’s it worth to you? Try it for a week and then share with me how it has worked for you.

The God Principle

Quantum Mechanics?

pexels-photo-197293.jpegI have looked casually into what is the study of quantum mechanics or physics. From what I could find it is where scientist study beyond the atom. That is, we know the atom makes up all matter and then there is the matter of anti-matter, but what makes up the atom. If you remember from some of your high school science days, the atom contains three notable parts: the nucleus (the thing in the middle everything revolves around), the protons, and electrons. The protons and electrons revolve around the nucleus much like a planet revolves around the sun. However, what holds the electrons and protons in orbit like the planets around the sun? It’s not gravity. It is an invisible force that scientists have yet to identify. The study of that force is what quantum mechanics is about (in a simplified definition).

The God Particle

You may have heard the term “God particle” before.  It would take way too long to explain this, but in a nutshell, it is what gives matter mass. It includes photons, protons, etc. and was given the name due to the long drawn out process to find out how atoms (unseen) make up matter (the seen). Way too short of a description as to what it is.  Okay, you say, so what is the God particle? Believe it or not, there are sub-atomic particles. These are particles that exist before the atom; further down beyond the atom. The God particle is sub-atomic, smaller than the atom.

Sub-atomic

nuclear-weapons-test-nuclear-weapon-weapons-test-explosion-73909.jpegQuantum mechanics studies the sub-atomic. It asks questions like what holds the atoms together? What is beyond the atom? What are the forces at play at this level? Generally speaking, it is metaphysical or do I dare say supernatural. All on our side of the atom is physical things. For the most part, we can see it (even if with a microscope), touch it, taste it, smell it. Everything beyond the atom is not physical because atoms are what make up the physical. So it is non-physical or metaphysical. It is not what we would call part of the natural world, but supernatural.

Here is the God Principle

What holds all that we know together has been a conjecture of man for ages. As is so common, the answer is right where it has always been. The problem comes where many say the answer is unacceptable or too simplistic. The answer is in the Bible. Specifically:

“And He is before all things, and in Him, all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17 NSV

Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 says that God/ Jesus created all things. He spoke them into existence. Before the atoms knew what to do and before the creation of even atoms, there was God who is supernatural or spirit. What is the force holding the sub-atomic particles and atomic particles in place? It is Jesus. “And in Him, all things hold together.” He is the force holding it all together. He is the force that holds the electrons and protons in orbit around the nucleus. He is the one who, at the speaking of His word can also let it all go.

earth-planet-front-side-back-41950.jpegSince God is the Creator and Sustainer through Jesus, then He is also the One who knows how it all works and is supposed to work. One day this world as we know it will end. That is when Jesus will set all things right. Peter says of that day “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”  2 Peter 3:10. On that day all the elements will be rearranged and put back in the correct order. One translation of the Bible says there will be a “fervent heat.” Nuclear fusion. The Book of Revelation says there will be a new order, new heaven, and a new earth. The same Jesus who holds all the atoms and matter together, who can and will rearrange those atoms, is also the same Jesus who can hold your life together. Even when it seems it is all out of control and you don’t understand it, you can know that the Creator God of the Universe also can hold you and rearrange your life. But He will not force that upon you. You have to ask. He is more than willing to start today.

You can know the Creator of the Universe today. Click on the link below to find out more.

To Be Born Again. 

You Do What You Believe

Survey Says…

survey-opinion-research-voting-fill-159353.jpeg   Read just about any survey where the respondents said something was important to them versus whether they do it. Everyone has an opinion as to what is important. Question is: is it important enough to do it? Take any Family Feud type question for example. One hundred American men surveyed said this is the most important thing to them. The top six answers are on the board. There seems to be this pat answer in the politically correct order. Can’t you see the top answers as the bell dings when the board flips? GOD! The contestant yells. “Good answer, good answer,” his family claps and cheers. Ding! God/church/religion. Number one. We’ll play Steve, and the game goes on. Spouse. Good answer. Ding! Family/children. Ding! Country. Job. Ding! Ding! Entertainment/ pleasure. Ding!

Priorities

What if we stopped the game right here? Cblack-and-white-people-bar-men.jpgontestants, where do you spend most of your time, energy, and money? If I were a betting man, I would say you could probably flip the list upside down. There’s a saying that goes like this: “What you do speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.” If there is a disparity between what we say and what we do, it begs the question: why? Any problem can be boiled down to the cause by asking “why” at least five times. Usually, it doesn’t take all five “whys.” So let’s take the number one New Years’ resolution: to lose weight. Followed by exercising more so we will take both together. People will join gyms like crazy in January, and then the attendance drops off shortly around February.

The Five “Whys”

Number one: Why do people make these resolutions? Normally, it is because they have guilt or remorse. Some want to do better.

Number two: Why does the attendance drop off in February? People quit their resolutions.

Number three: Why do people quit their resolutions? Too hard, peer pressure, it hurts, I can’t look like that, no really cares, lack of discipline, really not that important. They have tried it in the past and didn’t make it. Certainly not going to make it now, etc.

Number four: Why do people think these things? Because that is the script that is going on inside their head.

Number five: Why do they have this script? The reasons will be as varied as the people themselves. I believe it comes down to this: they have lied to themselves over and over, year after year. They don’t believe the resolutions and therefore do not do what they say to themselves. And you’re saying “Huh?”

The Ant and the Elephant

Vince Poscente has a short, but powerful little book called The Ant and the Elephant. I highly recommend it. In short, the ant is your conscious mind. The elephant is your subconscious mind. The ant tells the elephant that we are going to lose weight and exercise. The elephant laughs at the thought because it has heard it so many times before and knows the ant is lying. Again. So the elephant lumbers on as it did before according to the script as written. We believe something is the truth because we have heard it over and over again. We have ingrained it in our script. We have to change the script to change what we believe which in turn changes what we do. Don’t miss this.

Hit the Target

darts-target-bull-s-eye-delivering-37604.jpeg    Case in point, in an earlier article this year I laid out several lofty goals. I will hit these goals. You how I know? I have hit them before and will do it again. My elephant knows I can, so I will. I am no more special than you or anyone else. How did I do it before? I changed my script. I chose to. Was it easy? Heck no! Was it worth it? Absolutely and you can do it too. Here is how I did it and will continue to do it.

  • Lead. First off, know that you can lead your elephant. You can school the mind, soul, and body. You can change your script. It starts with the “want to.”
  • Feed. Change what you feed your elephant. Your elephant feeds on what you give it. What is the daily diet of your elephant? Is it healthy or hurtful? It is fed through what and who you watch, listen to, and read. If your daily elephant diet is soap operas what do you think your life will be like?
  • Speed. Too many resolutions fail because people want instant success. Know that it takes time to change the script. Know that it takes some work as well. Start small and keep track.
  • Read. Be selective. You should read more than you watch or listen. Listening is important, but a different part of the brain is engaged when you read. Again start small. Start with “The Ant and the Elephant.”
  • Weed. You are what you think, and you are only as successful as you think. Pluck the negative thoughts as if they are weeds. Replace them with positive thoughts. Keep doing this. A perfect example was given to me by a friend about my garden. He said when you till the garden you bring inactive weed seeds to the surface, and they sprout. Kill those weeds and then till the soil again. Then kill the new weeds. It may take many times of this process to kill the weeds, but they will always come back, but not as strong.

Summary

You can do this. It helps if you have someone to partner with you and challenge you. If you are one of the fortunate ones that can find a mentor you will be miles ahead. You also can sign up for several self-directed education courses. I would be glad to recommend books and audios for you. You can see the books I have read and are reading at Goodreads.com. I also have several blogs where I recommend books. As always I welcome your comments and questions. You can reach out to me at thesaltyeclectic@gmail.com.

For Such a Time as This

Let’s Define It

Significant.  Miriam-Webster online has the following definitions with examples:

“1 : having meaning; especially : suggestive a significant glance

2 a : having or likely to have influence or effect : important a significant piece of legislation; also : of a noticeably or measurably large amount a significant number of layoffs producing significant profits

b : probably caused by something other than mere chance statistically significant correlation between vitamin deficiency and disease”

Your Life

pexels-photo-730547.jpeg   But what does it mean to you? Ben Franklin said, “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”  I try to do both. Did he live a life of significance? I think we will all agree that he did. If you ask the average American to name something about Ben Franklin you would get a varied response. You might hear such as he created the potbellied stove; he created the bifocals; he was struck by lightning when flying a kite in a storm, or more likely, he is on a $100.00 bill. But was he more significant today than he was in his generation?

Based on the above definitions, are you more significant today than you will be in future generations? Does your life have meaning? Do you have influence or effect? Do you make things happen rather than wait for a mere chance? The choice rests with you and no one else. I believe you, and I are alive, right now, at this time to be significant. It wasn’t chance. It was God-ordained.

A Biblical/ Historical Example

pexels-photo-783952.jpeg   If you have ever read the book of Esther you know, it reads like a soap opera. A king who lorded over his wife and a wife who disrespected her husband and lost her head in the process. Then the king throws a beauty pageant to pick the next queen. Beautiful Esther wins. It isn’t clear if she wanted to be there, but now she is the new queen. Meanwhile, her cousin Mordechai foils a plot to kill the king (and isn’t even thanked for his involvement).  Throw in a murderous, narcissistic prime minister in the king’s court named Haman, who hates Mordechai because he won’t bow down as Haman passes by. All this time the king’s court does not know that both Esther and Mordechai are related and are Jews.

One thing leads to another and Haman convinces the king to open up hunting season on Jews. Haman builds a gallows to hang Mordechai when the season opens up personally. Mordechai goes to Esther on behalf of their people and tells her she needs to convince the king to spare them. She hesitates. Sidebar: during this period, if someone came to the court of the king without being summoned and the king did not extend his scepter toward them in favor, then they were killed. The king had already chopped off one queen’s head. Mordechai’s response is timeless. He asked Esther if she thinks just because she is the queen that she and her family will be spared.  “Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?” he adds.

Be the Change

Who knows why you are where you are in life today? Who knows why you were born to the family in which you were? Who knows how significant your life is to those around you? Who knows why you have had the struggles in life that you have had? God does. He intended for you to be significant in this generation and to those around you. You are not here by mere chance without meaning. You are here to influence and effect/affect your generation. I love the Gandhi quote where he instructs us to “be the change in the world that you want to see.” Your time is now. Your time is here. God formed you and placed you here in this time and generation on purpose, for a purpose. You are here “for such a time as this.” What are you going to do about it?

 

 

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2018: A Significant Year in Six Simple Steps

How’s your year?

Have you ever had a day or week even, where you have felt like you just muddled through it? How about a year or a series of years? Some might say that this is indicative of their whole life. Or have you just felt like your life is not one of significance? My favorite saying for most issues is that “it’s a choice.” Rather simple and uneventful. Simple, yes, but not always easy. The significance is a choice. But how can I choose to make 2018 a year of significance? Here are six practical steps to head you (and me) in the right direction.

Step One: Define Significance.

As Stephen Covey has said, start with the end in mind. At this time next year what would have to of occurred for you to say that the last twelve months were significant? What does that look like? What would you have to be or, where would you have to be, and what would you have to accomplish? The term significance in of itself is too broad. Set specific goals. This is foundational. Don’t gloss over this. If you get this right then you are on the right track. It is worth your time to really work hard on this first step. Some call it defining the “why”.

Step Two: Plan.

Break it down. Step one is broad in nature. Now you have to break it down into smaller attainable chunks. Can you break the goal down into twelve steps where you can accomplish one each month? Let’s say your goal is to save $1200.00 this year. Some may laugh at that. The average American family won’t save even $200.00 each year. Did you save $1200.00 last year? $200.00? So, that’s our goal. Can you find a way to save $100.00 a month? Or let’s say you want to increase your knowledge on any given subject and you decide to read books that would help you accomplish this. Could you read a book a month or a book every two months? You get the idea.

Step Three: Focus.

Keep the goals you have outlined in front of you. Out of sight, out of pexels-photo-370659.jpegmind is a true maxim. Never underestimate the value of a 3×5 card. List your goals on several and strategically place them so you see that list every day, several times a day. Put one on your bathroom mirror so you can see it in the morning when you get up and before you go to bed. Put one on your refrigerator, one on the dashboard of your car, one on your desk, in your lunch box and so on. Keep your mind focused on your goals.

Step Four: Evaluate.

eye-female-funny-glass-41558.jpeg  You have a goal, and you have a plan. Now you have to measure the plan. There are several ways to do this, monthly, quarterly, biannually, and annually. In some cases, depending on the goal, you may have to measure and review weekly or daily.  For you to save $1200.00 a year, you will have to save around $23.08 a week or $46.15 every two weeks. What if you get paid every two weeks, and you rounded it up to $50.00 a pay period? At the halfway point of the year, you would have $650.00. You would be $50.00 ahead of your goal for that timeframe.

For most of my adult life, I have reviewed how my life was going every six months. I would do these reviews around Christmas and my birthday in June. I have asked myself these questions: am I where I want to be in life? Is my life heading in the direction I wanted it to be? Have I accomplished what I wanted? What am I going to do differently to get myself back on course?

Step Five: Adjust.

What course corrections do you need to make to keep on course? The worst thing you can do here is beat yourself up for not meeting your intended goals and mile markers. Now don’t get me wrong. I agree with you if you are disappointed. If you are not disappointed, then you have other issues. If life has dealt you a heavy blow and has knocked you way off course, then it may take some time and effort to get back to it. I am not talking about that. Pick yourself back up. We all get there, but if you are just plain lazy and making excuses then I have no sympathy for you, and you really weren’t committed to your goals. Too harsh? Not if you want it.

Step Six: Complete it. Repeat it.

So let’s say you weren’t able to meet your goal of $1200.00, but you were able to save $700.00. How much more do you have than the average American? Were you successful? YES! You are now further along than you were before. So you were trying to read twelve books but only finished ten. Success! Your year was significant. Now, let’s do it again. From month to month and year to year, you will create a life of significance. Question is: what is significance? You may have to redefine the answer to that question each year.

P.S. Let’s make it more personal. Here are my goals for 2018 and how I have them broke down.

  • Fifty-two blogs. That’s one a week. I have fifty-one to go.
  • Twenty-six podcasts. That’s one every two weeks.
  • Record four audio books. One a quarter.
  • Read twelve books. One a month.
  • Upload twelve videos to my YouTube Channel. One a month.
  • Publish one book.
  • Increase my prayer life. Spend five mornings a week in prayer. Keep a journal.
  • Reduce my debt by 25%. I’ll discuss this in another blog.
  • Increase my savings by $1200.00 this year. Sounded like a good goal. I have set up a monthly transfer of $100.00 from checking into savings.

 

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