Thursday, December 18, 2014

Changes Next Exit

If you're not careful, you may miss your next exit.  I'm at the point in the year where I'm reviewing the highlights from the previous twelve months.  This gives me the feedback I need to make adjustments and adapt to the changing world around me.  Among the highlights are the good, the bad and the ugly.  I believe I learn the most important lessons from the bad and the ugly because my biggest motivation is to avoid making the same mistake twice.

I visited a pet store yesterday.  My wife asked me to take a look at two mice who were fighting over the same spinning toy.  One would jump on and accelerate.  Suddenly, the other one would jump on and bring the ride to a screeching halt.  The two took turns fighting over a silly little dish.  I reflected for a moment and told my wife, "That looks like my old life in California."  She laughed.  It wasn't the ha ha laugh but more of the aha laugh.  I mean, aha, you're so right.  "And why did it take you so long to figure this out?"

It's too bad these two mice are trapped in a cage with no way out.  They don't have the opportunity to step back and review the last twelve months.  Instead, they fight over a toy which leads to nowhere.  There's no exit.  They will never change.  I'm glad I'm not a mouse.  I'm thankful I can look at my life and determine where changes are needed so I can continue to grow.  I see the exit ahead.  I'm taking it.  How about you?  Are there any changes planned for the next twelve months?  Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Winning Habits

Go ahead.  Call me competitive.  It won't hurt my feelings.  In fact, I consider it a compliment.  We discovered our youngest son has a natural ability for bowling.  Our games have been really close.  He smokes me in the first game and I usually find a way to edge him out in game #2.  The rubber match is the most interesting.  My approach to every series we play is the same approach I use for life.  It all comes down to winning habits.  Here are some points for your consideration.
  1. Trial Runs Set Up Future Victories.  Our youngest son uses his power and his athletic ability to knock a lot of pins down when we face off in the bowling alley.  I see the first game in the series as the practice round.  Each frame gives me the feedback I need to make all the necessary adjustments.  The lanes are different at each bowling alley and the conditions always vary.  The same thing is true in life.  I know I need to keep fine tuning until I reach the desired outcome – a strike.  Every day is an opportunity to practice until I get it right.
  2. Study the Champions.  This is true in any endeavor.  There are successful people in all walks of life.  You don't need to re-invent the wheel.  Simply follow the best people in your area of interest and mimic their behavior.
  3. Practice, Practice, Practice.  Winning is a habit.  So is losing.  Winners practice.  Losers don't.  Games are won in the off-season when no one is watching.
  4. See the End Game in Your Mind.  I played on a competitive tennis team in Southern California.  We decided to enter some tennis tournaments to get stronger in our league play.  I asked, "what do we need to do to win a national championship?"  Our captain responded, "we need to win a local tournament first.  Then, we are eligible to play in a regional qualifier.  If we can take first place in a regional qualifier, we advance to nationals with seven other teams."  For us, the end game was a national championship.  We won our first tournament and advanced to the Las Vegas National Qualifier tournament.  We took first place out of 32 teams by a single point and went to nationals.  We fell short of a national championship but still managed to take 5th place in the country.   Seeing the end game in our minds helped us reach bold goals.
  5. Divine Inspiration.  This is your secret weapon.  When you pray, you are connecting with the Creator of the universe.  He has a plan for you.  When you align yourself with God's plan for your life, you become unstoppable.  You see every day in your life as a trial run.  You feel inspired to study all the role models around you.  You get a burning desire in your heart to practice daily so you can be your best.  You see the end game in your mind.  It's God's battle plans.  And you feel God's presence everywhere you go.
When game three of the rubber match is about to begin, I look at our youngest son and smile.  He asks, "are you going to bowl strikes again in the 10th frame?"  I answer, "What do you think?"  My wife shouts, "Don't let him get in your head."

My direct parenting days are coming to a conclusion.  My hope is that all three of our children raise the bar and reach their full potential.  I pray that the limited time I had with them will help them develop their own winning habits.  And I pray that my daily stories help you in the game of life.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unexplored Territory

I'm feeling giddy.  There it is on the horizon.  Not a soul on this planet has ever experienced it.  It's a new year.  2015.  It's unexplored territory.  I'm planning on embracing every precious moment.  Alan Alda offers the perfect introduction to all the opportunity the new year brings.  I like what Alda says in the above quote, "Don't leave any of yourself safely on shore."  Share this message with your loved ones.  I'm passing this quote along to all three of our adult children who inherited my boldness gene.  Our youngest son is one of the bravest people I've ever met.  For him, 2015 is a new beginning.  He won't leave any of himself safely on shore when he departs for boot camp the first week in January.  Our daughter will complete her college education in 2015.  And our oldest son will head to South America as he expands his world vision.  I will publish two books in 2015 and another 365 blog stories.  Yes, this is going to be an amazing year.

Come sail away with me.  Don't be afraid.  Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory.  Laugh at yourself but never doubt yourself.  You are here for a reason.  Maybe 2015 will be the year you discover your inner passion.  You won't find it on yesterday's shores.  You will find it in the sunrises, the sunsets, and everything in between.  2015 is your date with destiny.  Make sure your passport is in order and fill up every page inside of it.  All aboard.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Are you ready for the next chapter?

The new calendar year is almost here.  It's an opportunity for a new chapter in your life.  There's only one problem.  That sack of grudges you've been carrying around isn't getting any lighter.  I've been there.  You don't want to turn the page because you want the whole world to know just how terrible that person is who wronged you.  Santa Claus has an easier time carrying his sack of toys because every stop he makes the bag gets lighter.  Not yours.  As a matter of fact, you're probably adding to your bag of grudges because you just can't let go.  The hurt is too big.  You believe that if you show the world what a martyr you are by hauling all these grudges with you everywhere you go that maybe they will rush to your aid.  They won't.  And the person who gave you these grudges is probably living a guilt-free life.  Maybe it's time for a new chapter.

I'm ready for some new lessons.  I look forward to the next chapter of my life.  In fact, life without grudges is amazing.  I never really knew how much it cost me to travel with all those grudges in my suitcases.  The airlines would have made a small fortune charging me for all those extra bags.  Not anymore.  I travel light.  My secret is in three words:  "I forgive you."  How about you?  Are you ready for the next chapter?

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Your Happy Quote for the Day

The quote above by Gandhi is inspiring.  It represents how I feel about my life.  Ask yourself this question:  is what you do consistent with what you say and what you think?  The follow-up question is, "Are you happy?"  If the answer to both questions is yes, congratulations.  Share the quote with someone who may be struggling.  And if the answer to either question is no, please examine your thoughts, your words and your actions.  Find the inconsistencies and invest some personal time making positive changes in your life.  Have a great day.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Beware of the Personal Space Invaders

They come in all shapes and sizes.  Some of them are people and some of them are ideas and attitudes.  I'm referring to anything or anyone who invades your personal space.  Your own negative thoughts can seep inside and destroy your peace.  I have a new name for my own personal bubble.  I call it the "Zen Zone."  Here's my secret for keeping the personal space invaders out of my place of solitude...
  1. Don't answer unidentified phone calls.  This is a big one.  If someone important is calling and I don't recognize their number, they will leave a message and I can call them back.  These people are breaking the law by disrespecting the "do not call" list.   Why should I grant these personal space invaders access? 
  2. Allow ample time to get to your appointments.  This is another big one.  The biggest zen zone violator is bad clock management.  Stop rushing.  Plan your time.  Give yourself an extra fifteen minutes to get to your destination.
  3. Mute the negative people.  Pretend they have a volume button.  When they are standing in front of you ranting out of control, hit the mute button.  Let them spew but don't let their words get past the Great Barrier Reef around your zen zone.  Nod your head to encourage them to keep vomiting until they are done.  Then, let them walk away.  They feel better now.  There venting is over.  And you still feel great because you did not allow them to transfer their negative energy to your zen zone.
  4. Counter-attack your negative thoughts.  Every time you hear that negative voice inside your head say, "No you can't," tell yourself, "Yes I can."  Support your counter-attack with statements such as, "I am uniquely qualified for this task because I'm a child of God."
  5. Allocate time for fun activities and stick to your schedule.  Your personal time is more important than the space invader's time.  If you give it up, you lose.  Your family loses.  Your zen zone evaporates.  Learn to say no.  Your family will appreciate you.
Your personal space invaders can attack at any time.  Be alert.  Should a break-in occur, fortify your defenses and learn from the situation.  Your personal space is one of your most valuable assets.  Protect it.  Peace be with you.  Have a great day.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Do You See What I See?

The other day I heard someone complaining about the stock market dropping.  I asked her, "are you buying or selling?"

She replied, "I'm buying."

I told her, "Congratulations.  Everything you're buying is on sale.  The lower the stock market goes, the more you will be able to buy."  She paused for a moment and then the light bulb went off.  She got it. 

Our oldest son told me about an entrepreneur he met while visiting Ireland.  The gentleman shared how he became a business owner during the last recession.  "The prices got so low that I had to buy the place.  It was such a great deal.  I can't wait for the next recession so I can expand,"  the man told my son.

I remember my grandmother sharing how they paid cash for a home during the Great Depression.  "We were savers.  It paid off.  When times got tough, your Grandpa and I decided it was time to pay cash for our home because we were the only people around who saved for a rainy day," she said.

In my opinion, the biggest challenge the world faces these days is debt.  Government leaders of all feathers, Republican, Democrat and Independent, see a world where debt is the norm.  Families are spending money they don't have to buy things they can't afford.  History is repeating itself.  Very few are willing to turn around and see the world from a different perspective.   I find it interesting to see everything when it's flipped upside down or rotated 180ยบ.  That's why I'm sharing my life lessons about debt when I publish my third book, Break the Chains of Debt Bondage, on the 4th of July, 2015.  I believe a new perspective is needed.  How about you?  Do you see the same thing everyone else sees or are you the rare bird who chooses to turn around and change your perspective?  Give it a try.  Please share what you see from your point of view.  Have a great day.