Think it … Act it … Believe it

Have you ever been through a major life change? Well – maybe not even major, but some change that prompt friends to ask, “How did it go?” I’ve been asked that by many of my friends. When a major change takes place in life, friends you’ve confided in want to know “How did it go?” and what else can we say except, “It’s different.” That’s a good place to start. I saw a book once titled, Change is Good.  You Go First. That about describes it.  Sometimes change is forced on us and in those times, change doesn’t seem all that great. Right? Other times we make a decision that changes the landscape of our lives and we think this change is good, we hope this change is good, then we wonder … it’s different.  No matter which description fits the situation, the one thing we can control is our attitude. Chuck Swindoll has a famous quote about attitude and in it he says, ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”  So how did it go? It’s different, but it’s good, the possibilities are ahead, as are the consequences. So right now our best choice is to have joy and remember – we are never on the path alone.  – God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5  

When change comes, we have to accept it, because it’s our new normal. It’s reality. We could fret over what we no longer have or we can begin the rebuilding process and start the remanufacture of our life from a different vantage point. When I was in my early twenties, someone wisely convinced me that change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different. It took awhile for that to sink in, but it’s become my survival mechanism. Here’s a little free advice. “Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you can’t.” I know it works.Psalm 30 11-12

Are you going through changes now that are exciting and you anticipate better days ahead? Or do you approach each day, tenuously out of dread or even fear for what lies ahead? Either way, when change comes, it means adjustment … day-by-day, moment-by-moment.  Ask yourself how can I get through these moments and come out the victor instead of the victim? You might not want t to hear this, but it starts with Attitude.  You might come to the starting line kicking and screaming, toting a long list of disadvantages and (gasp) even grievances. Acknowledgement is good. Bring that list along because this is where making adjustments begins. First in attitude, then in thoughts, then in actions, and finally in acceptance. Change is neither good nor bad, it’s only different.  ´I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.”

We might not be happy, but we can have joy. Happiness comes from the external; those situations that we perceive as good give us happiness. But happiness can be shattered in an instant, or it can fade when circumstances are less than optimistic. Joy on the other hand comes from the inside and is unaffected by the beating we take by those things that cause us despair.  I was having a bad spell in my life a while ago and on one of my ‘least optimistic days’  someone said to me that I was the happiest person she knew. Well huh! Mission accomplished then, because at that moment, I was anything but happy.  It must work then . . . We can fake happiness by choosing to be joyful. In that moment, when she said I was the happiest person, I prayed right then and thanked God for masking the unhappiness I was feeling at that time, so that happiness looked real.

What can we all do today, regardless of our circumstances, to make a big production of our joy? Think it, act it, believe it!

Psalm 30:5 [God’s] favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may stay for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

Psalm 30:11-12 You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.

Psalm 16:11 You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Ecclesiastes 8:15  So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun.

The truth is … You Are Enough

I’ve been thinking …

Have you ever seen a skywriter pulling a banner that says “Trending now … this way to a better life. Be more!”? If we could jump up and hitch a ride on that flight, we wouldn’t have to wonder if we are heading in the right direction. OK so that basically isn’t going to happen, but when do we get to stop asking, “Am I doing enough?” Better yet, “Am I doing the right things? And is it enough?”

I struggle with that.  When is it OK to be content? Is it OK to be satisfied with where we are?  I think it is OK to acknowledge being in a comfortable place, life isn’t perfect, but life is good. I don’t think that God intends that we stop growing, stop learning, stop caring, or stop improving. When God created life, he included an interesting feature. Life is made to divide, multiply, regenerate, grow …. if it’s not doing that – well, it’s over. Does that mean we are never enough though? 

Let’s talk about the danger of the ‘never enough’ trend. The one that assumes we are all living deficient lives. I love listening to the energy of the speakers and am motivated by reading articles where I’m encouraged to grow beyond the boundaries of my comfort level. It’s exhausting though to hear a steady beating in my ears that I need to do more, be more, have more. Those perpetual thoughts make me more drained than more filled.

I wish I could look up at that skywriter and see a banner that says – Trending now … You are Enough.  

Maybe I don’t need that skywriter after all. I look ahead and see a jungle of opportunity. I look back and see pools of experience, all of them defining who I’ve become. When I examine my roots and remember from childhood what I thought would make me successful and happy, I realize what I loved then, still follows me around today like a pet that’s become part of  my anatomy. 

Of all the things in life I want to do, I’m not great at any of them. But I have found that somehow when God handed out gifts he made me a helper, encourager, and friend. Try to find those on an org chart or specified in a salary table. In fact, God has no salary table. He only asks that I use my gifts because that’s why he gave them to me. I am touched by this verse in Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…It is the Lord you are serving.”

I know my first love is encouraging and supporting people. I write, because when I don’t part of me is missing. Pretty simple. Do you have an intimate view of what makes you who you are? I wonder who wants to live a productive life and finish strong, knowing that they made a difference? I don’t have to wonder – I know if you are reading this, you want to leave a legacy that says “I made a difference.”

Here’s a thought. Are you content with your life and thankful for all the threads of experience? Those events have been valuable in shaping who you are and my guess is that you are still growing from them. Do you see the benefits of allowing yourself to coast a little, reflect, and understand that who you are at your core is enough?  Does your heart desire to make a difference in the world? Sometimes the most insignificant act of kindness is all it takes to change the world for someone.

Trending now …. You are enough! You can know that for sure without the sky writer.

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking.

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance – Book Summary

The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance

By Dr. Christian Marcolli     

Before diving into the content of this book, I want to compliment the author and publisher on the format of the book pages. I read about 15 business books every year and most of them have a traditional textbook look and feel. You know what that does to inspired reading – well, this book is not at all like reading a textbook. It’s more on the order of attractively designed help pages with white space and clean font. I know. Normally that aspect doesn’t find its way into a book review, but I was impressed and am giving credit where it’s deserved.

This book title is cleverly relevant today. The Melting Point: How to Stay Cool and Sustain World-class Business Performance by Dr. Christian Marcolli, recognizes the volatility of workplaces, teams, groups, and communities today. Dr. Marcolli said, “We have reached the Melting Point when we no longer fully control our thinking, our emotions, and our behaviors, in a positive and impactful way.”  The final words of that sentence, at least to me, are the theme of this book. We all reach the point of meltdown but can we somehow transform the potentially negative into a positive and impactful outcome?

Becoming First Class

Life is not going to slow down, demands are not likely to either. Projects are never assigned with the expectation that you will do the minimum to just get by. No, expectations are geared toward high-performance today and high-performance tomorrow, even if there are obstacles and encumbering circumstances. That’s where this book comes in. You will learn to apply the most important factors when the heat is on: staying cool, raising your Melting Point

The author clearly understands the process of building a career and the pattern that unfolds as executive capacity is developed. He says, “Top performers have three recognizable traits – passion, adaptability, and coolness. But top performers also make key transitions as they develop.“ 

If you are an emerging leader on the trajectory of rising to your calling, this book is like spending time with a life coach, business mentor, career advisor, and professional counselor. In fact, Dr. Marcolli says, “We need to understand why life has become so tough for business leaders in today’s challenging workplace.” Then he coaches you through it.

Feeling the Heat

Who doesn’t feel the heat in today’s environment? Be it at work or home, the pace is red hot. We can blame it on relentless change, advancing technology, omnipresent globalization, but blame is a negative word and we are after positive transformation here. Instead look into the factors contributing to rising pressure and learn what can be done to face the challenges in a positive, influential way. Marcolli states it in plain language,” The intense workplace isn’t going to go away, and leaders need to understand the impact of this – on themselves, on their teams, and on their organizations.” Through the pages of this book, the author coaches leaders through the process of growing into their roles and experiencing an executive performance transformation. He says there are four stages of Executive Performance Transformation. 1) Drawn in, 2) Obsessed, 3) Ready for Success, 4) Playful

To grow through these stages, you need to be exposed to challenges and stress. I’m guessing, you will have no trouble identifying with the challenges and stress part. When you read this book, you will be guided through the stages of how you arrive at playfulness where you are responsible for yourself and individuals on your team, and the key operative words here are that you are ‘enjoying it’.

To make the trek from ‘Drawn in’ to ‘Playful’ requires that you have an intimate understanding of your Melting Point. 

“The key success factor for business leaders, executives, and corporate performers to sustainably deliver world-class performance is the ability to raise their Melting Point.” 

When you understand it and the factors interacting to determine your melting point your reaction can go from panic to peace. The author describes how these three factors are interrelated and how they affect your Melting Point.

1)      Mental and emotional constitution – how much we can take before we melt down

2)     Situational pressures – what is happening in your world over a short timeframe that causes you intense stress

3)     Constant pressures – then there is the constant pressure which is characteristic of your role

What creates heat for you? Dr. Marcolli gives us 15 examples of what might create heat for each of us, some of which may be relevant to you, but not to someone else. Examples of the fifteen are: Long hours, Office politics, Travel, Executive isolation, Career moves, Family crisis, Health issues, and here’s one for every person reading this – Always “ON”.

“When top performers reach their Melting Point, it is never simply the result of situational and constant pressures. It is compounded by the elements mentioned above combined with their basic psychological constitution.”

Our culture seems to turn up the heat and create environments of volatility in consistent repetition. There is rarely time to cool off before another heated occurrence confronts us. Raising Your Melting Point takes all the symptoms, causes, elements, experiences, and boils them down into recommendations for raising your Melting Point. In the final chapter of his book, Dr. Marcolli presents the six Ps of Personal Leadership Excellence which leads to raising your Melting Point. Passion, Precision, Perception, Peace, Presence, and Persistence

He also discusses the ten specific behavioral patterns needed to raise your Melting Point. When you read the book, don’t skip the chapters leading up to this one and be sure to read the real-life case studies that are serious eye openers of how executives have learned to raise their Melting Point.  I am putting in a plug for the last chapter that walks you through those important ‘10 key behavioral patterns’ to raise your melting point. Dr. Christian Marcolli has written a solid guide that’s transparent and easily understood so you can raise your melting point, not overnight, but through practice and progress.

https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/the-melting-point-how-to-stay-cool-and-sustain-world-class-business-performance/

Worry & Happy don’t play well together.

A few days ago, I heard a song I hadn’t heard for a few years. It had me smiling on the outside and skipping on the inside. “Happy” 

A few minutes later, I heard another song, “Don’t worry. Be happy.” 

I didn’t get the worry gene and believe me, I have thanked God many times that he bypassed me with that one! But reading the news, listening to the talk, watching even short clips of current events, one could worry. Views of what is, opinions of what should be, fear of what happens next?It all creates the perfect environment for unrest and worry. Don’t do it. Don’t worry. 

Matthew 6 spells out in detail why we shouldn’t worry, but in verse 34 it downright tells us it’s just plain futile. “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Besides worry makes you old. 

I read Psalm 33 today – more than once. Here’s just a tiny bit of hope for you today. If you really believe God is who he says he is – If you really believe His word is truth – if you really trust him …. Stop worrying! It is not serving you.

Making Mountains and Hills Sing

Psalm 34:5 “Those who look to Him for help will be radiant with Joy.”
It’s pretty easy to see radiance on the face of someone who has just received good news. It’s like they have been whitewashed with pure joy. Recently the beams of light were unmistakable as a friend almost sang the words, “God said yes!”
Do you use any euphemisms to describe acts of prayer? In our family we talk about “dragging out our prayer rugs” and sometimes we don’t roll them up for weeks. We ‘PUSH’ Pray Until Something Happens until we are road weary from effort. Then when God is ready to answer, sometimes He says yes! Remember my friend, full of joy because God said yes? There’s more to the story. We had been praying for a yes answer for more than a year. God said yes.  
But what about when God says no? Do we then react in anger or try to bargain with God or full out argue? Or do we accept His sovereign choice for us and use this situation to strengthen our faith? If we love God and genuinely seek his will, we will rise above this circumstance and focus on what can be learned from it. Last night I watched the movie Soul Surfer. I know. I know. Old movie – but I had never seen it. As I agonized with Bethany Hamilton and her parents over the tragic loss of Bethany’s arm I saw in them iron clad trust in their faithful God.
I know there was more of the story than could be revealed in a 2-hour movie, but I was barely breathing in some of the scenes where it was obvious that only faith could turn tragedy to triumph. I’m sure family and friends prayed relentlessly through months of recovery. In those times, I wonder how they handled the silence of God?
When silence is all we hear, then what? It’s so hard to accept the opposite of what we want. It’s difficult to wait when the complications of life present challenges and there is no discernable answer. We wait and question and seek direction. Waiting – it’s like driving down a crowded street, seeing emergency vehicles behind and hearing the scream of sirens all around with no clear direction of where to go. Go straight? Turn left …or maybe right? Argh! You can’t just stop. Sound familiar? The joy in this experience is to finally find a way out and know that we at least on the right path and in the right zone.
When God is silent, while we wait, remember these words in Psalm 62:11-12 “One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love.” Maybe you’re living through a period of silence right now. Maybe you read, as I have read scripture like, Psalm 119:105 and asked God to aim the light a little better on that path he wants you to follow. I’ve reminded him that his word is the light on my path – the path I’m trying to follow and he says, “That’s good. The path is there, read a little more of my word, and keep the light shining. I have not forgotten you.”
This would be a good time to remember how people in David’s day reacted to God. Psalm 44:17-18 : “All this has happened though we have not forgotten you. Our hearts have not deserted you. We have not strayed from your path”. We experience joy when our hearts have not turned from God when trials come; instead we strengthen our faith and keep trusting even though we may be tempted to ditch God and run.
Can we have joy and peace whether God says yes, no, or wait? It’s a choice and one that requires unshakable faith. Isaiah 55:12 says ” Indeed you will go out with joy; you will be led along in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song, and the trees of the field will clap their hands!”
I’m not expecting to hear mountains and hills sing, but I expect to be guided by the God who is love and who is light as I choose JOY in my circumstances. We have to look for the joy because it won’t come find us.

Transformers in Real Life

Yesterday, I attended a women’s conference geared toward spiritual growth. The speaker, Pam Farrel, worked through some insightful scriptures and life applications, then left us with an outline for putting thoughts into action. One of the worksheets starts with adopting a favorite word for the year. I’ve been doing that for about six years, so that seemed to be a good starting place. My word for this year is joy. Do you have favorite words? I guess that might sound strange now that I think about it, how do you feel about the word transform…. you know what? I like that word. I’ve added it to a list of other favorite words like integrity, faith, discernment, wisdom, peace, contentment ….

Have you ever seen those kid toys that look like a vehicle and with a few twists of parts, becomes a super hero? Transforming our minds so we have a right view of the world is a lot like that – although let me tell you, it’s not so easy as just turning a wheel to become an arm, leg, or protective helmet. Transforming our mind is the first step to transforming our behavior and seeing the world through a different lens. So, while we live in the world, we don’t let it ‘squeeze us into its mold’. There are many reasons why I love the word transform, but one of them is because it gives me hope. Renewing my mind is where it starts because what is stored in my mind eventually cascades into actions which then become habits.

To form a good habit, or get rid of a bad one takes more than performing the act over and over. I’ve heard it takes 21 days to form a new habit. I’ve tried the 21 days. I must be a slow learner because on day 22, I am just as likely to fall back into an old pattern as I was on day 3! Why is that? For me, it’s because while I train myself to repeat an act over and over, I haven’t renewed my mind. Yesterday I mentioned the idea of an 11th commandment and after the conference, this verse came to mind. What if Romans 12:2 became the 11th commandment? “Do not allow this world to mold you in its own image. Instead, be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind. As a result, you will be able to discern what God wills and whatever God finds good, pleasing, and complete.”

I don ‘t know how many habits I’ve tried to break in my past or even how many should be in process now. I know that unless I transform my thinking, any chance to stop whatever it is, will fail. Note to self: To be transformed, you’ve got to renew your mind. Only then will those repetitive acts become authentically infused into your character.

Every act was once a thought. If I am going to live the way that pleases God, which is what I am called to do (Romans 12:1) it starts with renewing my mind. This means I have to capture every thought and before it takes root in my heart, make sure it aligns with what God says is right.

I have miles to go before I get it right. But scripture gives me hope.  I can live transformed because my journey is not complete until I take my last breath on Earth. While I am here, I pray as David did in Psalm 51:10 Create a pure heart in me, Lord and renew my spirit and keep me strong so I can shine for you.

Ready to transform your life? It isn’t a magic act. Presto and your life changes. It’s the little things you do day after day, the actions moment to moment that change your life. It starts with ‘the thought’ ….

A Skywriter . . . That would be AweMazing!

I’ve been thinking. Sometimes I wish for an 11th commandment.
Have you ever considered that we have instant heart attacks, instant strokes, and in an instant we can break a bone or have an accident?  But rarely do we  have instant happiness.  Have you ever wondered why we have to work at everything that matters and why we can’t just coast our way to achievement of some goal? We have to put a lot of effort into making anything better – from organizing a closet, to organizing a life.  Right?  When there’s a task at hand, we can’t wish it done.
I get this blank look on my face every time I hear the cliché if you can dream it you can do it. I find it far easier to dream of things to do than to actually do them. Anyone else with me on that? It’s easy to dream, but it takes hard work to turn the dream into reality. Notice I didn’t say impossible, but the facts are – to progress toward a dream, it takes a lot of demanding work. And while working toward turning dreams into reality, there are choices to make – and therein lies the dilemma. In the cafeteria of life there are so many choices and every decision has a consequence and every decision makes an impact … all along the way. It’s not like one wrong decision will lead to disaster or destruction, but once we start, we want to stay on the right path and see progress. We don’t like to be derailed. We have this crazy notion that if we have a setback, it’s a stayback. 
In these moments or maybe seasons of derailment that feel more like a train wreck, this is where it would be great if God had given us the 11th commandment.  Maybe it could say Thou shalt …. And then have a floating, interchangeable ending that would fit the occasion. Here’s you answer. This is what you should do when this happens.
But we know, life doesn’t work that way. We are overwhelmed with choices to decide; do we go left or right?  Is this the time to move forward, or should I step back? Should I say yes because it’s meant for good? Or is that committing to something that’s good, but not what God wants for me at this time? I’ve been thinking about that and found myself wishing for an 11th commandment. Just because something is good, does not mean best. When I pray “Lord change me – whatever your plan is for me, give me insight and a willing spirit to do what is best.” there is no skywriter to put God’s answer in front of my eyes. A skywriter . . .  That would be AWEMazing!
Sometimes it takes days, weeks, months or longer for answers to come. God is not in a hurry. He is never late, never early, but is right on time – His time. God says to be patient in Romans 12:12. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” He also says to ask for wisdom.  James 1:5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”  And he also promises to be faithful in answering when we call on him to take the lead. 1Thessalonians 5:24 “The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.”
I’ve been thinking about an 11th commandment, just to help us navigate the murky waters life throws on us.
The 11th commandment – Thou shalt seek the light John 8:12 “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
Or the 11th commandment – Thou shalt seek joy Psalm 86:4 “Bring joy to your servant, Lord, for I put my trust in you.
Or the 111th commandment – Thou shalt trust Psalm 13:5 ” I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me.”
Or the 11th commandment – Thou shalt …. what will the ending be when you pray “Lord take all of me. Change me into the person you created me to be.”
Anyway, that’s what I was thinking.