A Path, A Guide, A Life

I’ve been thinking …

Life is complicated. We learn from each other how to navigate this thing called life. We first learned from parents, then from teachers, coaches and for those fortunate enough to partner up with one, a mentor who articulates important life-enhancing behaviors. We glean knowledge from listening and from watching others. The common thread in how we learn is guidance woven through every aspect.

We need guides to teach us things we may never understand without the wisdom of people willing to share from their experiences. We need guides to pour into us from their wisdom.     

To look forward and not back;
to look inward before stepping outward;
to grieve a little for what is lost but be thankful more for what is still here;
to plant seeds of encouragement in the dirt that is sometimes dark and heavy;
to be grateful for what is before presuming the best of life is yet to be experienced;
to be careful how you live your moments because they become your memories.

Do you wonder how to get from where you are to where you want to be? Seek a guide who has already forged the path and found success.

Anyway … That’s what I was thinking.

This vignette is written for Five Minute Friday. The prompt is GUIDE. The rules are to write for five minutes without overthinking, without editing, and let the words come from your soul.

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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 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/

Choose joy . . . It’s the better deal

How ’bout those Tigers, huh? I could hear explosions of great joy all over the net last night. Yeh, that!  I’m sure it was not explosions of grief for the Marlins – although with a close 7-5 score. Well . . . and let’s just leave it right there.  All I can say is Bring It! So is it OK to be thankful for a sports team winning? I’m saying yes! (my apologies to Marlin fans) What I’m most thankful for is the hype, the enthusiasm, the sheer positive expressions of happy fans, and the contagious nature all of that exudes. Can we grab onto that for today? Longer than a day?  Just for fun. Yes!

Sometimes we need a little reminder that joy is kindled from a whole variety of sources, sometimes even a game….lots of times from games. I think often about the Apostle Paul and his analogies often portraying athletes and their endurance in the game of life. Like the Tigers last night – they were in it to win it. And in this life, no matter what it brings, we are in it to win it. Bring it!

We might start this day filled with great anticipation only to encounter little earthquakes that shake us up. Before we let them get to our core we have to fight back. Here’s the path to overcoming the enemy of defeat. Don’t worry. It changes nothing.  Remember God is by your side. Ask Him to be your guide and protector. Start reminding yourself of what is good, lovely, honorable, and brings you joy. Write it down … I am thankful for … and make a list.  You will feel a lot better after you read it.

Here’s my joy jar so far:

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There is no such thing as perfect. Perfect is just a word, it’s not a state of being. So let’s not expect perfect but let’s expect to be so persuasive in our thoughts that our hearts and attitudes catch up with our will. You know will, don’t you.  I WILL do this. I WILL find the joy in this.

What we think eventually gets to our emotions. We choose.  Better or bitter.  Sunny or cloudy.  Peace or conflict. Joy or ….. choose joy.  It’s the better deal.

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

And I choose this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tezG4LRNzw&feature=g-vrec

Ma(g,n)ic Monday … You Choose

It’s here everybody.  Monday, Monday!  Will yours be MaGic or MaNic?  I choose G over N.  It occurred to me last week that we have an enemy on the prowl and it has laser vision, sensitive radar and unparalleled sonar. This enemy is on a mission to destroy anything we have that’s good and brings us joy. Take a few seconds right now and think of those things in your life that mean the most to you. If ties were severed, you would feel a demoralizing loss.  A friendship, your family, a fulfilling hobby, a job that fills an important part of your life; these are like magnets to the enemy of your soul and they are where you are most vulnerable to defeat.

When sports teams get on the field to play, they’ve done their homework. They’ve been watching their opponents play this same game on another field with a different team. Why? So they learn where they are weak; where they are most likely to fail. God warns us in 1Peter 5:8 “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” We aren’t playing a sport against an opposing team. We are on a playing field though and our enemy the devil is looking for ways to steal our joy and bring us to defeat.

Last week a friend was heartbroken when a family member suddenly turned on her with unashamed fury and deliberately hurt her with unkind words. My friend is diligent in Bible study and is a witness for the Lord. Her real enemy wasn’t her beloved family member. Her real enemy was that roaring lion in 1 Peter.  When she told me the story my first thought was that Satan had discovered one of her weakest links – her family.  If there is one way to rob a person of their joy, sever a relationship.  The Message translation explains it well in Ephesians 6:13-14 “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words.”

Be prepared Ephesians 6 - Tyler in color guard

We are up against far more than we can handle on our own. I like the way that translation lets us know that God knows all about what we are going to experience today and tomorrow.  One of my favorite verses that I recall often is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” And Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”  We don’t know what waits for us today. We know that life is uncertain but we also know that nothing touches us without first passing through the filters of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent God.

In Joshua are implored to be strong and courageous but we are also told to realize where our power comes from. Paul was an amazing, powerful Christian man, but even he had vulnerabilities that could have defeated him.  He gave it all to God.  2Corinthians 12:9-10 “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

Life is a contact sport, my friends. It’s Monday. Do you have your armor on? Is this the g day or the n day.  Ma(g,n)ic Monday.  Let’s remember where our strength comes from.  2Thessalonians 3:3 “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

God is on your side:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_35gB76xV_Y

From Crisis to Calling: Finding Your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions – Book Summary

As I sat down to write about this book, From Crisis to Calling: Finding your Moral Center in the Toughest Decisions by Sasha Chanoff and David Chanoff, an online article in the Huff Post grabbed my attention proclaiming Afghan Refugee Crisis Worsens. It seems the news is dominated by more and more crises related to refugees who are suffering greatly in violence–torn regions. This book would have been much more uncomfortable to read had it not been for the authors’ presentation of the storyline through the moral compass of each person involved in the refugee evacuation. In the second half of the book, the five principles of moral decision making are conveyed through stories about corporate heroes of today.

Here are the 5-steps to moral decision making which are in the book called The Five Principles – building blocks to making moral decisions.

  1. Be prepared
  2. Open your eyes
  3. Confront yourself
  4. Know yourself
  5. Take courage

The subject of this book, From Crisis to Calling is about developing authentic leaders who make decisions based on deep personal values that positively affect their lives and the lives of their organizations. Leaders of this deep moral character will build cultures of trust, fairness, equitability, and ethical leadership. One final thought from the authors, “Empathy is the essential need of great leaders who are intentional about building their organizations and communities.” Whether leaders or lay people, life’s tough choices need to be infused with moral sense – empathy, compassion, altruism.

CSLews - Book Cover - From Crisis to Calling

 

 

Read the full book summary published on the BizCatalyst360 network.

http://bizcatalyst360.com/from-crisis-to-calling-finding-your-moral-center-in-the-toughest-decisions/

Faith like a parachute

It’s Monday everyone. A new day. A new week. What will it bring? Every day is new, but isn’t there something about Monday that just seems different? Some of us love Monday and enthusiastically run into the day with the joyful anticipation of a sky diving adventure. Others plod toward it with resistance like wearing a parachute that’s all burden and no adventure. Most of the time, I’m in camp #1. I look forward to Monday, even though it means leaving the freedom of the weekend behind. Other times my anticipation gets a little tarnished and it takes a lot more effort to polish my attitude before I jump into the unknown. Why is that?file0001754310068

If today is one of those days for you and you enter tentatively, even fearfully, remember this word: faith. We don’t have to walk through this day alone and in the dark. I started preparing for this Monday on Saturday and Sunday. It’s like packing my parachute for adventure.  I took a faith walk through some of the Psalms and revisited some promises in Isaiah and gave my mind an overdose of positive thoughts in Philippians 4.  Today has arrived and I’m ready.

God told us not to worry about the future.  We can make the best choices, and do everything right, but still we are promised this moment and the future is out of our control. I’m not making that up. It’s all true. Anticipating the future can be exciting. Ask someone whose hobby is skydiving. They will tell you, you’re up there in a plane with nothing but you and your parachute. You know it will open on the way down; that’s the faith part.  But there’s still that leap into the unknown, the adrenaline rush, the experience. Whether we approach our day with excitement or dread, it’s faith coupled with hope that carries us.   That’s what we need to do with this day. Let our faith carry us into a day that becomes our joy because we have our faith on and our radar tuned to God’s best.

This morning I was reading a devotional and noticed how  many of the references were in Psalm 119. It’s a long Psalm so it shouldn’t surprise me that there is so much encouragement in there, but I chose these to share with you today – Monday – the day after a weekend – the day after a holiday. I hope you don’t mind if I don’t identify the verses. These are from the Voice translation:  I have pursued You with my whole heart; do not let me stray from Your commands. I will chase after Your commandments because You will expand my understanding. Deep within me I have hidden Your word so that I will never sin against You. Guide me to walk in the way You commanded because I take joy in it. The earth is filled with Your unfailing love, O Eternal One; teach me to observe what You require. Help me to learn good judgment and knowledge because I believe Your commandments. Before I had trouble, I strayed from the true path, the path of righteousness, but now I live according to Your word. You are truly good, and Your acts are too; teach me what You require. According to Your unfailing love, spare my life so that I can live according to the decrees of Your mouth. Your word is a lamp for my steps; it lights the path before me. I long for Your salvation, O Eternal One. Meanwhile, Your teaching brings me great joy. Let my soul live on so that I may praise You, and let Your precepts guide me.

No fear OK?  Eyes, ears, heart wide open like a parachute. Take the giant leap of faith – like Francesca Battistelli sings here in – I’m Letting Go.
Ready team? Let’s get out there! Treat yourself to joy every day!