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.


Work-Life Balance Brilliance by Denise R. Green: book summary

Have you ever thought of hiring a life coach? Have you ever wondered what you could achieve if you had an accountability partner? Maybe you’ve tried the novel approach to creating different results than the trajectory you are on right now. If you are self-motivated at all, this book could be the recipe for positive momentum in finding what works for you. One glance at the book cover should clue you in to what the author thinks of work-life balance. In fact, the title of the book is, Work-Life Balance Brilliance and isn’t that really what we want from our lives and from our work?

I usually don’t copy chapter titles into a book summary, but in this case, the chapter titles are like opening the doors and giving you a full spectrum view of why this book functions like a personal coach. Burnout versus Brilliance, Tame Your Thoughts, Reinvent Your Outer Self, Nurture Brilliant Relationships, Manage Your Relationship with “Stuff”, Brilliant Sleep., How Not to Change, How to Choose the Right Goal, How to Change for Good, How to Say No with Grace, Not Guilt. Now you can see why I wanted to reveal the chapter titles before mentioning what is so fascinating and magnetic about this book.  From the outset, I had a feeling there was a meaningful purpose behind the writing of this book that I could identify with and Denise Green described it. “I’m on a mission to help people light the spark within them that may feel like it’s been nearly snuffed out due to the demands of life.” Does that sound anything like your dilemma? Here’s your next book.    Work-Life Balance Brilliance  

This book, with the chapters listed above, can best be described as a tool for knowing yourself and understanding inspirations and aspirations within and how your relationships and interactions are key in creating brilliance. The author identifies the four realms of Whole Life Integrations which she calls Brillance. Then through stories and instructive dialog, she coaches you through the steps to create that work-like brilliance.

I am a huge advocate of being careful with thoughts because thoughts drive actions. I was impressed with the content of the chapter, Tame Your Thoughts. Green doesn’t just rely on dialog to teach the methods of controlling thought. She offers a 6-step upgrade tool that I would call guided self-reflection. Then she offers advice on how to make your release from negative thoughts really stick.

Some strong points of this book are in the toolkits integrated with each chapter. Story is interesting, and case studies are evidence that somewhere along the line the principles taught in the book worked for someone. All you have to do is read through some of the action items to know that, if put into practice, many of your niggling aspirations could become your reality. By implementing some of the basic ideas suggested could bolster your confidence and give you an edge toward balance which you will redefine as brilliance. You don’t have to change everything. The changes will be dictated by what you discover about yourself and about relationships as you work through the pages of the book and guidance received by using the focus-inciting questions.

When I read a book like this one, I have a tendency to choose a favorite chapter. Manage Your Relationship With “Stuff” was a surprise. It is a powerful game-changer. Rarely have I read a book like this one that so aptly presents the tethers that hold us back like our ‘stuff’. Denise Green points out that we have two limitations that are huge. Time – we get 24 hours every day. Period. Physical – we operate with imperfect bodies that need to be taken care of – sleep is one thing most of us need more of. Note: we get 24 hours every day. Period. The author remarks that “This Brilliance realm (relationship with stuff) includes our relationship to our spaces, possessions, technology, and time.”  Certainly, every reader can identify with the components we all deal with every day and how we allow them to affect our world makes this book invaluable to creating a brilliant life. Do you need ideas for managing your time, designing a winning pattern for your day, working productively in your environment, managing technology? How about reducing your exposure to toxic energy? The toolkit consists of worksheets to help you replace those components that are not serving you.

Remember sleep? Some of us are more familiar with the lack of it. The chapter titled Brilliant Sleep is – well – brilliant. Whether you suffer from legitimate insomnia or sleep deprivation brought on by environmental or physical or activity conditions, the best practices for sleep hygiene in this chapter are priceless. Yes, we all know the trick of going to bed at the same time every night and getting up at the same time every day. We know to restrict caffeine in the afternoon. We might, on the advice of a physician, take melatonin. We might invest in a book that sends us to sleep because it provides absolutely no spark of interest. If you want to sleep and have forgotten what it feels like to get adequate sleep, you aren’t alone. The tips in this book are plentiful.

The final chapters of the book are based on putting legs on what you learned in the first part of the book. What do you want to change? What goals do you have? Are they the right goals for how you envision your work-life brilliance future? I remember hearing someone say that we invest ten months planning a two-week vacation and about ten minutes planning our future existence. That’s probably not truly accurate, but isn’t it true that we have goals, but may not know if they are the right goals until we get there and realize they aren’t?

This book, like a life coach, walks through the realms of life and helps you create a vision for your best life, set the right goals, determine how you will get there, and make wise choices of what you will do and what you will not. The author concludes with what I think of as the magic three. I mean if there was a bit of magic in all this.  Green says in her final address to readers, “If I were forced to describe achieving work-life brilliance in a few steps, those steps would include Assess, Choose, Change.”

There is no magic, but if you’re looking for help in reinventing your life, this book can bring magical results.

This book summary was first published at BizCatalyst360.com.  https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/work-life-brilliance/ 

Beyond Books: BKPedia digital subscription

What’s your favorite part of going to a Chinese restaurant? Right. The fortune cookie that sort of ties up the meal when the tiny paper message is pulled from its cracked shell. Whoever is gathered around the table reads their fortune and everyone gets to decide if it fits or if that cookie belonged on someone else’s table. Recently, my fortune was tailor made for me. “Treat yourself to a good book for a needed rest and escape.” I have the perfect solution, instant gratification, because I have a BKPedia subscription.  This means I have hundreds or books available to read anytime, anyplace.  Berrett-Koehler publishers has collections of their own publications as well as content from The Center for Creative Leadership and AMACOM available to read electronically or as a printable PDF. BKPedia is the mecca for avid readers.

The very first thing I noticed when I scrolled down the page on the website [http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/] was the collection of authors I have already come to admire through their books. Here are just a few whose books I can rave about honestly because I read their book and liked it enough to write a book report. See if any of these names stand out: Ken Blanchard, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Peter Block, Cheryl Bachelder, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Marshall Goldsmith, Devora Zack, Fred Miller Chip Bell, and too many others to list. Believe me – this digital subscription is valuable.Capture

Besides books there are also articles and case studies written by experts in the business, economics, and leadership communities. Here’s something you don’t see often. Along with each book, there are observations and thoughts to apply more of what the author is teaching. Many of the authors can be contacted by email to discuss subjects from their book in more detail. I’ve read books where the author provides contact information in their book and have taken advantage of that offer many times in the past. The advantages of dialog with an expert in a field I’m passionate about is something I appreciate.

If you visit BKPedia at http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/ you can sign up for a trial subscription and if you love top selling books on leadership, organizational development, team building, and management this is an opportunity to try risk free. That’s what I did. I have access to two collections adding up to over 300 titles, Advances in Leadership and Management and Organizational Change and Innovation, so there is no way I’ll run out of excellent books to fill my quiver. The first book I laid eyes on in the very long list of titles was A Peacock in the Land of Penguins. That has been on my reading list for over a year and I was able to access the book in a matter of seconds.

Start with a free trial to see how easy it is to find books, read on your computer, tablet, or phone. I don’t know if all books are downloadable as PDFs but the ones I looked at have that feature. BKPedia is a valuable resource with instant access to feed my addiction to lifelong learning. Something for everyone who leads or follows in organizations or at home.

Here’s the link to the BKPedia website to sign up for your free trial. http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/

My Mother, My Mentor – Pamela F. Lenehan

I believe all mothers are mentors. Whether they see themselves that way, whether they work at a job they get paid for or whether they stay home and work without a paycheck, every mom sends a message to her children; she is always teaching.

In her book, the author blends in-depth research of other families and her own personal experiences, to pull together data that seeks to answer the question, “Does being a working mom have an impact on my children?” The answer is, “Of course.” Was it negative or positive? This book doesn’t say kids turn out better or worse if their moms work outside the home. What this book does is brings out the role of moms as mentors and brings in every aspect of mothering I could think of. There are a number of charts and graphs used to illustrate findings of interviews and surveys from mothers, sons, and daughters, but that’s all I’m going to say about the collected data. This book was a lot more interesting than the numbers as you will see when reading this book review.  http://bizcatalyst360.com/my-mother-my-mentor-what-grown-children-of-working-mothers-want-you-to-know/

To get the full story you really need to read the book.


Beyond Procrastination: How to Stop Postponing your Life (Book Review)

What is holding you back? Is it possible you’re delaying the greatness in your life because of hurdles and barriers?  This book, Beyond Procrastination, can help you. Your path might not be clear, but your future is waiting. Let’s get started NOW!  http://bizcatalyst360.com/beyond-procrastination-how-to-stop-postponing-your-life/

beyond procrastination book cover

Who’s your hero?

I’ve been working on a training course that helps students of an organization develop theirSuccess Ideas Teamwork Plans Signpost Showing Business Plans And Organization personal mission statement. Naturally, as I work, I’m also researching and learning. One of the suggestions for designing your own vision is to think of people who have had a positive impact on your life. Interesting concept and certainly an easy exercise that I had experienced recently.  I remember listening to a broadcast when the speaker asked his listeners to think of 3 heroes in their lives. My first thought was what would it take to be a hero? I mean from my estimation.  Would it be the character who enters a phone booth as a mild mannered young man and bursts forth as Superman, able to leap tall buildings with a single bound? Or would it be a woman who is highly successful and respected around the globe? Or would it be an aging man who has brought millions to at least hear the gospel, who has written books about being totally sold out to God, and who has lived a quiet life, above reproach? More likely, my hero would be someone I know personally, respect for their wisdom, look up to for guidance, and seek their counsel.

When we have a hero, what is our ambition?  To become like them. We covet their approval.  We pursue their advice. We pay attention to their advice and try to emulate their best characteristics. We can’t wait for the time to come when we can get together and have girl talk (or guy talk) And we love them with unconditional love.  I have several heroes, people I look up to, respect, would model my life after – at least to some extent, but they are human. While these people have all the characteristics of strong Christian faith and unblemished moral character, they have the vulnerabilities of being human. It’s getting close to the Easter season and there have been more ads for God-focused movies. This all makes me wonder who is my hero?

Today, what if Jesus were your hero? Here is his resume.

Jeremiah 31:3 ““Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with loving-kindness I have drawn you.”

Isaiah 53:4 “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.

Exodus 20:24 ”Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you.”

John 14:18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.”

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.”

Philippians 4: 9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Psalm 119:2 “Blessed are those who keep his statutes and seek him with all their heart—

Jesus said in John 14:6 “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is my hero.  He lives in heaven, but he also lives in my heart.  My prayer is that Jesus is your hero too. He is the unchangeable, miraculous, constant companion, we can look up to, emulate, and love.  Jesus deserves our ultimate hero worship.


The fallacy of loss

Before you start reading this, I have to give you an easy out. It’s going to be a long and complicated post. Fair warning …

Are you recovering from loss? We experience loss in a heartbeat, but the recovery period is what takes time.  In the past year my concentration has been on living joyfully through this practice: “Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.” It’s proven true, at least in my life, that where my thoughts are focused, my actions form. I’m sure when Proverbs 4:23 was written, God knew that loss would cause us distressing grief. “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Sometimes the toughest challenge in our day is not in the act, but in the thought before it. What we think, becomes our act.

This is why allowing our thought life to be obsessively tangled in what we’ve lost or what we can’t do has treacherous outcomes.  Look how it’s so clearly defined in Proverbs 15:28 “The heart of the righteous weighs its answers, but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.” I’m not saying that loss always causes us to become wicked, but when there is no constraint over demoralizing thoughts, we can follow regret on its descent into despair. We can stay there in the pit or we can find our way out.

But what about all I’ve lost? That’s my reality. I’ve lost something I need.  True.

The problem with loss is that it’s now in the past where nothing can change it. We don’t get a do-over. What we get is a chance to go on. Proverbs 12:25  expresses it well “Anxiety in a person’s heart causes depression, but an encouraging word brings him joy.” I’m not all that fond of the book of Lamentations. Even the meaning of the word settles around me like gray dissonance. But every now and then, out of the grieving comes a promise like this one in Lamentations 3:22-23 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Today, let this be your encouragement – just a small spark of hope in your search for what you have left, while you accept what you have lost. In Hebrews 10:24-25 the writer describes “Let us consider how to inspire each other to greater love and to righteous deeds, to gather together, and encourage each other.” How many friends do you have? How many of them would you support in their loss? How many of them would support you in yours?

You know? I love reading the books written by the Apostle Paul. He was the bull in the China shop, the fighter, the athlete, the eternal optimist. Wasn’t he? One thing I’ve learned from Paul – there are no losers in life. Huh, then what did he mean when he wrote this verse in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.”  I think Paul was acknowledging that there are competitions and there are games and athletic events that can be used as analogy for life. In sports, there is loss because someone’s keeping score. There are no scorekeepers in real life. God is not keeping score.

I believe Paul meant we all must keep focusing on the goal ahead of us – not what we had in the past.  In fact, he writes it out for us not once but twice in Philippians. “I press on toward the goal to win the prize …” Philippians 3:12 and 3:14 He also told us to “Forget what is behind and strain toward what is ahead.” It’s impossible to be a loser when we ““Focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.”

In 2 Timothy 4:7 Paul writes as a mentor to Timothy “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I wish I could mentor everyone who needs encouragement like Paul did. What a hero he would be by today’s standards. Faithful warrior for truth, leader, mentor, challenger, athlete, friend – The Apostle Paul

If you’re struggling with loss and need encouragement while you get your footing and drag yourself into your new normal, I pray that you will remember to focus on what you have, not on what you’ve lost and capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot. Remember the same God who protected and lead David makes the same offer to you.  Psalm 139:5 “You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me.”

Bonus thought to contemplate

Have you ever wondered why there isn’t a book of Paul? He wrote many of the books in the New Testament and may have been the ghost writer of the book of Hebrews. I’m no *Bible scholar, but I think God didn’t give Paul permission to have a book named for him because he struggled with pride.  OK so I have not justification for that, but remember when Paul said he was given a thorn in his flesh?   2 Corinthians 12:7 “Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me.”  I’ve heard people say the thorn was having to deal with certain irritating people sent to serve with him and others have said it was poor eyesight. I’m taking creative license and saying – what if it was his proclivity to thinking that he was the poster child for gifted, talented, and handsome? What if God didn’t title any of his books The Book of Paul because it would have made him prideful and useless in God’s kingdom?

Prayer: Lord protect my thoughts, put a shield around my heart, help me accept what I have lost and reach out for what I can do with what I have left. Keep my attitude one of gratitude and give me a new appreciation for your provision in my life. Empty my mind of negative thoughts and replace them with your promises. I love you Lord. Be first in my life. Amen

*Footnote: If it weren’t for my trusty study Bibles and the efficient look up available at BibleGateway, I wouldn’t be able to share the number of scriptures that I do. I remember scripture from past hours of reading and memorization, but the address, where to find it, requires the help of a concordance or online keyword look-ups.

If you want to read this in a different venue, these posts are available 24/7 at http://talkkindnesstome.com