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Archive for September, 2009

“Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).

bird-lizardThere are many things at work to keep us from completing our life-missions. Over the years, I’ve debated whether the worst enemy is procrastination or discouragement. If you put off our life missions then it is Procrastination, however if you work towards you life’s mission you will find obstacles that will get in your way that creates discouragement. For most people the fight for what they want is harder than they expect so they will quit altogether. Which is worst not trying or trying and giving up? I believe not trying; I would rather try and not accomplish what I want than to never ever try at all. I never want to ask the question, “What if i had tried, would I get what  I want?”

The apostle Paul teaches that we need to resist discouragement: “So don’t get tired of doing what is good. Don’t get discouraged and give up” (Galatians 6:9 NLT).

Do you ever get tired of trying? I think we all do. Sometimes it seems easier to nothing thing than try for the things you so desire.

When we’re discouraged, we become ineffective. When we’re discouraged, we work against our own belief, faith and desires. Our mind is so powerful if you think you can’t you can’t, if you think you can you can, either way you are going to be right.

Ask yourself these questions:

• How do I handle failure?
• When things don’t go my way, do I get grumpy?
• When things don’t go my way, do I get frustrated?
• When things don’t go my way, do I start complaining?
• Do I finish what I start?
• How would I rate on persistence?

If you’re discouraged, don’t give up without a fight. Nothing worthwhile ever happens without endurance and energy. If it was easy everyone would have the desires they want. I believe that the reason for the fight is to teach us the value of what we just achieved. Without value there is no appreciation of what it took to accomplish the things you so desire.

When an artist starts to create a sculpture, he has to keep chipping away. He doesn’t hit the chisel with the hammer once, and suddenly all the excess stone falls away revealing a beautiful masterpiece. He keeps hitting it and hitting it, chipping away at the stone.

And that’s true of life; you have to keep chipping away on the things you so desire. Nothing really worthwhile ever comes easy in life. You keep hitting it and going after it, and little-by-little you will master the task.

The fact is, great people are really just ordinary people with an extraordinary amount of determination. Great people don’t know how to quit.

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Things change unpredictably in everyone’s world. There is no pattern to many of the changes in our world. Forecasting and long-range planning are high-risk activities. Today we cannot guarantee more of the same of anything. About the only prediction we can safely assume is that things will always change!

caose

 

In this “Age of Unreason,” to use Charles Handy’s term, we must learn to think upside-down, inside-out, and backwards in order to cope with this unpredictable environment. The business writer Tom Peters calls this ability: “Thriving on Chaos.” To succeed, you must do more than cope with change, you must capitalize on it! Every change is an opportunity in disguise. Since you can’t stop change, you must learn to take advantage of it. Here are three suggestions.

 

1. Keep a positive attitude toward change. Although not all changes are good, we do have the freedom to choose our attitude. Change, even when it is negative, can be an ally if you take advantage of it and use it for good

2. Never stop learning. Never think you know it all. Stay humble and you’ll be surprised who you can learn from—friends, neighbors, kids, employees, clients, business associates and competitors, etc.

3. Stay flexible! Before glass bottles were invented, wine was kept in canteens made of animal skins. As they aged, they’d become brittle and crack from new wine that was still fermenting.  Here was his point: When faced with change, we must adjust or we’ll explode!

These are some basic principals to help maintain the chaos in your world

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“We should choose to follow what is right. But first of all we must define among ourselves what is good” (Job 34:4 LB).

values

Everything you do is influenced by your values. Your actions in life are largely determined by the values you hold. Every time you make a decision, you’re relying on your values to tell you what to do.

Unfortunately, some of the values you operate by are counterproductive to your success and a hindrance to your satisfaction in life. You see, many of the unconscious values you live by are ones you didn’t choose; they were imposed on you by parents, peers, and the culture around you. (Today television is the #1 values shaper in our society.) You may be operating on incorrect information and values that don’t stand up under pressure.

Just like the set of the sail determines the direction of a sailboat, your values chart the course for your life. The question is: In what direction are your values leading you? Are they going to deliver what you hope or will you eventually be disappointed?

Here’s another fact about values: they cause a lot of your stress! Stress occurs when what you say you believe and what you actually do don’t line up. For instance:

• When you say, “My family is important to me,” but you’re always too busy or too tired to enjoy them.

• When you say, “I value my health,” but you overwork, overeat, and never exercise.

• When you say, “I’m not materialistic,” but you become so in debt you must worry constantly about finances.

When two of your values conflict, that’s called a dilemma. My experience is that these incongruent values are the #1 cause of emotional tension among believers. What’s the solution?

Identify what is really important in life. “We can choose the sounds we want to listen to; we can choose the taste we want in food, and we should choose to follow what is right. But first of all we must define among ourselves what is good” (Job 34:3–4 LB).

You need to come up with a personal definition of success, not someone else’s definition but your own. Remember this: “Success is the feeling I get when I live out my values.” It’s not a destination. You can be successful at any stage of your life, based on your own personal values and goals. Begin by making a list of what you value most in life. Ask yourself “What is going to last?”

Begin eliminating those things that really aren’t important. “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. “

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“If you become angry, do not let your anger lead you. ”

There are helpful ways and harmful ways to release your anger. For instance, sometimes we’d rather remain angry than admit to our anger.anger-management

Keep in mind: anger is not necessarily wrong. It only becomes wrong if we release it in a way that is inappropriate or destructive. My experience is that most of us learned to express our anger when we were two or three years old, and we’re still expressing our anger in the same way as adults. Needless to say, this simply doesn’t work.

Most people express their anger in such a way that they end up farther away from their goal than they were before they became angry. Anger, expressed inappropriately, has the opposite effect of producing the intended results.

Blowing up at people never produces lasting change; it only produces more anger and alienation. We know that but we still do it. It doesn’t produce lasting change.

Something to keep in mind is that anger is never really the root problem. It is usually a symptom that reveals one of three things that is happening: hurt, fear, frustration. These are the three things that make us angry, and this is why we should always stop and cool down. It allows us to think:

– Am I hurt?
– Am I afraid? Perhaps feeling threatened, or that I’m going to lose something of value?
– Or, am I frustrated?

Understanding the source of your anger will help you respond in an appropriate manner, so that your anger does not “lead you”.

“A rebel shouts in anger; a wise man holds his temper in and cools it” (Proverbs 29:11 TLB).

When you’re angry, don’t respond impulsively. Delay is a great tool in controlling anger. I’m not saying delay indefinitely, or even beyond a day; the Bible says don’t go to sleep when you’re angry. I’m talking about delaying it for five minutes.

When you start to get ticked off, you take ‘time out’ for a few minutes. Give yourself some time to stop, reflect and think it through. If you don’t stop and think, you are likely to do the wrong thing. You need to reflect before you respond.

When we get angry, we need to get in the habit of stepping back, waiting a few minutes, and looking at the situation from God’s point of view. Notice the Bible says a wise man lets his anger cool down (Proverbs 29:11). So ‘cool it’ is a Biblical term! A modern translation might be: “The wise man waits and chills out.” Thomas Jefferson, the author of the U.S. Declaration of Independence, said, “When angry, count to ten before you speak. If very angry, count to one hundred.”

While you’re cooling down, ask yourself three questions to help you understand why you are angry:

– Why am I angry?
– What do I really want?
– How can I get it?
– What will being angery do for me?

Understanding the reason for your anger will give you greater patience and, perhaps, even the ability to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).

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For decades, every summer, welcoming his scholarship players, Alabama coaching legend, Paul “Bear” Bryant, asked: “Have you called your folks to thank them?  No one ever got to this level of excellence in football without the help of others.”

conversationsBryant didn’t just appreciate the importance of other people in the development of a young athlete; he wanted the athletes to appreciate it too.  Such appreciation is also a lesson in leadership.  Nobody becomes a successful leader unless others want you to be; you need help; and part of your growth as a leader is to recognize and show appreciation for that help. 

But you’ll give your leadership and ultimately your career a real boost by extending your appreciation not just to the people you like and who are on your side but also to the people you may dislike: the difficult people in your life, those people who for right or wrong reasons cause you grief. 

One of the most effective ways of dealing with them is to appreciate them.  I mean truly appreciate them.  When you do, you may find that you are dealing with them in surprisingly productive ways. 

The word “appreciation” comes from a Latin root meaning “to apprehend the value.”  In other words, your appreciation of difficult people must be centered on your genuine understanding of the value they offer  you and your organization.

You are not just understanding their point of view.  You are actually appreciating it; and you are using that appreciation as a tool to get more results, more results than if the difficult people had not entered your life. Otherwise, your appreciation, at least as far as leadership is concerned, is a waste of time.

Here’s a four step process to make appreciation a results-generator.

(1) Team up.  To get appreciation rolling, know that you must be a team, you and the difficult person, in the development of it.  Mind you, you’re not trying to get the difficult person to appreciate you. You have little control over the other’s appreciation.  You do, however, have control over yours.  So, focus on cultivating yours.  That cultivation happens only in a relationship — a team relationship with the other person, not necessarily a personal relationship.  In a team-relationship, you don’t have to like the other person.  You simply have to work with them — actively and wholeheartedly, irrespective of personal feelings.  And the goal of your team is to forge out of the difficulties you’re having with one another a leadership process that achieves results.  

(2) Identify.  When you’re dealing with a difficult person, you’re often entangled in strong emotions.  The first thing to do is, with the person’s help in a face-to-face meeting, get at the precise causes of the difficulties.  Try to remove yourself from your emotional entanglements. “Break down” what’s happening the way football coaches break down the plays of opposing teams studying game films.  This breaking down is a collaborative process, and it should go like this: First, have the person describe the exact moments when you were having trouble with each other.  It’s important to keep focused simply on the physical facts of those moments. What were the specific actions and words that triggered the emotions? When the person gives h/her side of the story then and only then can you give yours.  Only when both of you are clear as to those moments and agree on what took place can you start to talk with each other about your feelings connected to those moments of physical action.

For instance, that person may contend you are not listening to what h/she says to you.  Have the person describe the exact moment when you were not listening.  Where were you?  What was being said?  Precisely, what gave that person that impression?   

(3) Agree.  You and the person must agree on what is important in regard to the difficulties you are having.  A gap between what you think is important and what the other person thinks must be closed.  The test in closing it is results.  Does the difficulty you are having with the person go right to the heart of the results you need to achieve?

The person says you don’t listen.  Do you agree?  Is that person’s perception important?  Until you can come to agreement as to whether you were or were not listening and the importance of that, you’ll continue to have difficulties.  Which means you won’t be able to go to the next, and most important, step.

(4)Transform.  Transform the specific into a results process, a process that will get you increases in results. Without such a process, the previous steps are useless.  For instance, let’s say you both come to an agreement that you need to be more attentive when the person is speaking.  Then, you might develop a “listening process.”  Such a process may involve applying “continuers.” This is a process taught in medical schools to help overbearing doctors be more empathetic with their patients.  When interacting with patients, the doctors are taught to say, “uh huh” three times when the other person is talking before saying a word.  

Of course, “continuers” are one of many listening processes you can draw on. And clearly, “not listening” is one of many problems one might have with the people you lead.  Whatever process you come upon in whatever difficulty you are having with people, that process must achieve specific increases in results — more results than if you had not used the process. 

As for the “not listening” example: You may pick out one actionable item from what was being said that can lead to results increases. I worked with a leader who did this.  Several people he led accused him of ignoring them, and consequently those people were bucking his leadership.  They all sat down around a conference table and went through this four-step process.  They developed a process to actively and systematically listen to one another and come to agreement on what was spoken and what was heard.  Then they selected actionable particulars that came out of their communication.  They made sure they followed through on implementing those particulars to achieve increases in hard, measured results.

Like the poor, the people who cause us difficulties will always be with us. No matter how experienced and successful you are as a leader, difficult people will always be lined up outside your door, wanting into your life.  Moreover, there are probably a lot of them inside the door too, trying to cut you down to size, thwart your plans, besmirch your reputation.

Instead of clashing with them or avoiding them, try appreciating them.  When you use this process, you may find that they’re not liabilities but assets.

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Who would forget the ever-famous line of Peter Parker’s grandfather, “With great power comes great responsibility.” The society expects Spiderman, a comic book, TV, and movie superhero, to be responsible for saving his town, or even the world, in some instances, from evil because he has super powers.

From all the episodes he appeared in, he never let us down. With the power he possesses, he makes sure to be responsible in using it for the good of the people around him.abc of leadership

Leadership is not at all different from being superheroes. Yes, you may not have super powers like Superman and Spiderman, but you have the authority to lead other people towards success. This is so much greater and stronger since it is a power that can be used by real people in this real world.

Hence, being a leader requires great sense of responsibility, the second quality a successful leader should attain.

The power to lead your people towards aiming your vision comes with responsibilities like making sure they are on the right direction, being aware of each and everyone’s tasks and mistakes, and putting them back on the right track when they get lost.

Who said it is easy to be a leader? Well, it is not…It comes with tons of responsibilities. True leaders are willing to accept them all.

There are instances where sometimes it makes us feel better to blame somebody or something else when something goes wrong in a task. However, this should not be practiced, especially by a good leader!

A leader should take full responsibility of a task – not just before he accepts to take it, but also after it has been accomplished. As much as he is responsible for his team’s success, he should also be responsible for any failure. He represents the whole team so whatever happens to it, he is the one responsible.

Making excuses and blaming something or someone else for failed jobs is not a quality of a good leader. What he should do, instead, is to accept the fact that something went wrong with the organization, even if it is not his fault. It is normal to make mistakes. In fact, mistakes are opportunities to learn something better. As a leader, he must ensure that the team members learn from these mistakes and that these errors will not be repeated next time.

You may not have full control over other people and are not expected to have full control over their actions, but you have full control of your own reactions. Knowing what to do over unexpected and unpredictable situations will make you responsible, hence giving you the feeling of power.

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