15 Minutes

Financial, Relationship and Spiritual Growth. Personal Development. Leadership.


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Put The Man Back Together

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I’ve heard this story several times in several variations:

An executive is busy working in his home office when his 6-year-old son comes in and starts asking him to play. After much persistence followed by much frustration, the exec pulls out a magazine and opens it to a large fold-out map of the world. Pulling out the map, he cuts it into hundreds of tiny pieces and gives them to his son. “here, son, after you put together this map of the world, then I’ll play with you.” Knowing that a 6-year-old has no idea what a map of the world looks like, he assumed that this task should keep his son busy for at least a couple hours. But ten minutes later his son came back into the office and said “All done, daddy.” The executive thought his son was exaggerating, but upon going into the living room, the entire map was perfectly assembled. “Son, how on Earth did you figure out how to do this so quickly?” “It was easy, Daddy.” the boy began turning over the pieces one at a time, and as he did, his father saw that on the other side of the world map was a photograph of a man. “You see, Daddy. When you put the man together the whole world falls into place.” (that’s profound, you should totally tweet that).

I have a vision to positively impact peoples lives. To help “put the man back together,” so that the world falls into place. Well, women too, but let’s face it men need more work.

I’m not passionate about much, but I am passionate about personal growth. I’m a firm believer in changing the world through changing the individual. But the only individual that I have complete responsibility and control over is myself.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

To be the person I want to be requires progressive, persistent, personal growth. I want to make sure that I am prepared when an opportunity arises to positively impact someone. The only way for me to be prepared is to be always preparing and learning.

I read every day to grow myself, so that I can also write every day and hopefully lift up others. I also hope that in my day to day meanderings through life that I can uplift those around me. I also encourage others to begin their own journey of personal growth.

Always be learning.

Always be growing.

An unwillingness to learn and grow does not equal “stasis” it equals “deterioration.”

Even Leonardo da Vinci, probably the single most talented human ever (if that is indeed what he was) was continually learning new skills, new fields, new methods. He wrote “Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”

If you are not moving forward, you are falling backwards. Physically, mentally, spiritually, relationally. It’s not your fault, it’s the universal law of entropy working against you.

There comes a time in every parents life when they can no longer help their kids with homework. Here’s a news flash for you: That’s only partially because the child is progressing.

Invest 15 minutes into improving yourself every day in some way. In some way that is in line with your personal vision for yourself or your family.

What is something specific in your life that you would like to improve upon?

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Set Your Mental Filters

mentalfilterThe human mind is an incredible thing. So is a DVR (“digital video recorder” for the cavemen subscribed to my blog). But if the mind is not being utilized to its potential, then it is about as amazing as a DVR being used only to record every episode of Jersey Shore. Our mind is constantly processing information and thoughts; and most of that processing power is being used on random, unproductive thoughts.

A vision causes us to focus our thoughts. It sets our mental filters to capture any opportunity, any information, any news which affects our vision.

Our senses are constantly bombarded with images, sounds, smells, and the other two senses. Because we cannot consciously perceive everything at all times, our brains have filters that only allow us to perceive what is important to us immediately. For example, when the driver in the car in front of you steps on its brakes, you immediately perceive the three red lights on the back all turned on at once–but as you slow down and prepare to stop, you probably didn’t notice whether or not his safety check was current (it wasn’t).

Ever thought about buying a new Ford Focus? If you have, then the next time you go driving, every time you pass a Ford Focus on the road you’ll notice it and realize that there are suddenly a lot more Ford Focuses (Foci?) on the road than you thought. Even though you were not consciously looking for Ford Focuses on the road, since it was something that your thoughts were recently focused on, you suddenly become more aware of Ford Focuses.

So, how do we use this to our advantage? Remember all those new years resolutions you just made? Did you think about them since you wrote them? Can you see them now? If they’re written in a journal, then re-write them onto some 3×5 index cards and post them somewhere that you see them all the time–on your bathroom mirror, on your planner, on your refrigerator, on the dashboard of your brand new Ford Focus… That way you are thinking about them on a regular basis. And if you are thinking about them, then your subconscious filters will stop blocking information regarding your vision. Then any information that is relevant and helpful to you in attaining your vision will become clear to you.

The “how” of accomplishing your vision is much less important than having the vision in the first place. Create your vision, think about it all the time, let your brain know what it’s supposed to be looking for, then stop thinking about Jersey Shore.

This week’s blog has been sponsored by the new Ford Focus.

What other simple trick or tool can you use to keep your mind focused daily on your vision?


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Visioneering, Part III: Pour the Foundation

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I have horrible eyesight. Without my contact lenses I can’t read the giant “E” on the chart. Seriously. Fortunately even terribly near-sighted people can still have incredible vision in the sense of  “a vivid, imaginative conception or anticipation: visions of wealth and glory.” (dictionary.com, definition 5).

Helen Keller (whose eyesight was considerably worse than mine) said that what is worse than being blind is having sight but having no vision. People are attracted to visionaries. Walt Disney was as successful and popular before Mickey Mouse was created as he was after Disneyland was built–because he saw the vision long before it was reality. When Disneyworld was being built, someone remarked to his widow, “If only Walt could have seen this before he died.” To which she answered, “He did.”

Why is vision important? Your vision is the foundation of your future. By having a vision in mind, you ensure that your daily actions and habits are in harmony with your long-range goals. If you have a vision to be a professional athlete (long-term vision) then that will influence your decision on whether or not to smoke that pack of cigarettes, chug a bottle of vodka, and eat a dozen bear claws (short-term pleasure).

Unfortunately most people do not have a personal vision in their lives. They meander through life without any meaning or purpose, and frankly get not only what they deserve, but exactly what they asked for from life. Ben Franklin said that most men die at age 25, sadly they are not buried until forty years later.

So develop a vision for your life and keep it constantly in your thoughts. How do you do this?

1. First of all, write it down.

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Hey, it’s January. This is the time that most people make their New Week’s resolutions (yes, I meant to say new week not new year–“new weak” also would have been applicable to most). But most people never write them down, so writing down your personal vision for your life will put you one up over the competition.

2. Second, keep it somewhere that you see it every day. Whether it’s on your bathroom mirror (not good for me because first thing in the morning before I put my contact lenses in I can’t see a darn thing), on the refrigerator door (better), or on the home page of someone’s Facebook page that you’re obsessed with (no comment).

3. Third, talk about it all the time. Frankly this is the hardest one to do. Because most people do not have many positive people in their lives to share a vision with. If your friends and family try to squash your dreams and visions under the pretense of “keeping you grounded,”  then share with them how important your vision is. If they are flat-out negative and ridicule your vision, then the best (and hardest) thing for you to do, is to change your association and find people who are uplifting and encouraging and willing to share in your vision. They are not as hard to find as you might think. After all, people are attracted to visionaries. And if there’s nobody in your life right now that you can talk to; you talk to yourself and you talk to God.

With a vision constantly in your mind, it becomes clearer and more vivid each day. Your vision will energize you, keep you focused, and stabilize your emotions against setbacks. So have one; and if you don’t have one, get one! Otherwise some other person may have a vision for you to be a destitute, hopeless, failure for the rest of your life–and without a vision of your own, you get stuck with their vision for you.

Do you have a vision for your life, for your marriage, for your children? Would you like one?


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Slaying the Modern Day Hydra

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Sir Edmund Hillary failed to reach the summit of Mount Everest on his first attempt. One member of his expedition died and his group was forced to turn back, and supposedly he made this proclamation to the mountain: “You defeated me! But you won’t defeat me again! Because you have grown all you can grow… but I am still growing!”

That is why I always teach people that they need to get out of debt. Unlike Everest, debt continues to grow. It is like the modern day hydra. Cut off one head, it will grow back, sometimes with an extra head. You need to kill it off completely otherwise it will eventually overwhelm you.

Some people wonder why I live a relatively stress-free life. I am not wealthy by any stretch of the imagination. But I have no long-term debt. I am not an indentured servant to a bank. I can’t lose my car for missing a payment because I paid cash for it. I don’t buy things I cannot afford.

When someone advises me to buy something on credit or layaway or to “leverage” something; I interpret that very simply as “Get something now that you do not deserve to have yet.” that mentality always always always hurts someone. In the case of debt, that person is you.

Compound interest has been called the eighth wonder of the world. Unfortunately, for the vast majority of people it is a force working against them. Earning interest keeps wealthy people wealthy. Paying interest keeps poor people poor. Stop paying interest on depreciating items.

Get out of debt. As long as you are in debt, you are not working for yourself and your family. You are not working towards your own dreams and goals. You are just staving off the hydra.


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Your Fuzzy Vision Creates Foggy Followers

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Last post I announced very publicly my vision to positively impact one million people. Still flush with resolve and excitement about pursuing this vision, I continued on to the next chapter of Visioneering entitled “Taking Inventory,” which is filled with important and vital steps that you should take before announcing your vision.

Huh.

In fact the next two chapters were about HOW to publicly announcing your vision and why you should wait.

Oh well.

So maybe I’m not the greatest student. Still, I haven’t given up and I’m not taking my vision back (although you may recall I did reserve the right to revise it later). But I will be taking the time and care to make sure that I am crafting a vision that is clear and focused.

According to Stanley, all effective visions have four components:

  • The problem
  • The solution
  • The reason something must be done
  • The reason something must be done now

It is also important to ask yourself the question “why?” not just once but many, many times through the course of refining your vision. From Chapter 8 “Going Public, Part II:”

Repeatedly asking why forces the dialog to move from the realm of circumstance to one focused on values.

Try it. This actually works with any subject not just divine visions. Start off with the question “Why are you feeding your dog now?” and after enough why‘s you eventually will enter into the subject of compassion and responsibility and nurturing.

I actually have a lot of why material. In fact I have an entire book addressing the issue of why that I was planning to write for my fourth book (but maybe I’ll move it up in the queue to #3 now). But an effective vision statement needs to be concise enough to be compressed into a single sentence. Or a brief paragraph. An “elevator pitch” if you will. Being a part of someone’s vision shouldn’t involve reading his book first; that’s a pretty imposing barrier to visioncasting.

So even though I may have jumped the gun (see my post on Leap Before You Look), 2013 is still my year of Visioneering. I’ll still be posting vision updates here; I’ll still be moving forward; planning and praying and preparing. I will just be spending less time trumpeting and more time revising, refining and redefining. But when I do post on my vision, I’ll try to make sure that my message is clear, concise and (insert another adjective that starts with C here).


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Visioneering 2013, part 2: Creative Destruction

ImageAndrew Carnegie did something unusual in the steel business. Every time a new invention, discovery or innovation was introduced into the industry, he would destroy and rebuild his factories. Understand, this is a steel plant. It’s not the same as upgrading your laptop’s version of Windows. This was millions of dollars of construction every time. But after several rounds of “creative destruction,” he was the world leader in the steel industry.

Bear with me, this relates to my Visioneering project for 2013. I’ve been rereading Andy Stanley’s incredible book Visioneering; going through it at a leisurely rate, just a chapter a day. But I’m actually taking the time to stop and do the exercises at the end of each chapter, which I’ll admit, I never do (and I bet most of you don’t either).

  • How do I envision my career and finances in the future? Retired, financially independent, travel around the world. I’ll also write books
  • Family? God will provide me with a blessed wife; she will complete me and be my partner in life, business and ministry
  • Together we will raise children that will see and live a life of unlimited possibilities; they will be champions, visionaries and world-changers

So far, so good. But most of that has to do with a personal vision. It’s all about me, my family, my career, my accomplishments. Not that that is necessarily bad, but should I be thinking bigger?

Chapter 5, “Faith, The Essential Ingredient” convicted me. In the exercises at the end of the chapter (that I usually skip over) there was this sentence: “I think it is safe to assume that most Christians are not attempting anything that requires God’s intervention.” Which caused me to stop and evaluate my existing vision.

He calls faith the essential ingredient in a vision. And the greater the vision, the greater the faith required. Looking back, here are some of the sentences that I highlighted in the first half of the chapter:

  • Faith is confidence that God is who he says he is…
  • It is simply an expression of confidence in the person and character of God.
  • Pursuing a divine vision is really an act of worship.

Thinking small is a sign of lack of faith in God’s ability to provide. I believe that God wants us to be prosperous and blessed. I believe that God is looking for visionaries to propel the world forward. I believe that God uses people not based on their ability, but based on their willingness. So, I would rather attempt something great and fail than attempt something mediocre and succeed.

So I’m creatively destroying my vision for my life and rebuilding it from scratch. And setting the dial on my vision to 11. So, here’s a new attempt at a personal vision (this is just a first draft so I reserve the right to revise it later).

I want to reach one million people in the world. What do I want to do with those people? I want to touch them in a significant way, to teach them to improve their financial, family or spiritual lives all for the glory of God. I will travel around the world to teach and train people on the principles of success, entrepreneurship, motivation and inspiration. I will be an exemplar of lifestyle evangelism, and live my life as a model for others to follow.

Taking a look at my current book sales and online followers, it becomes apparent that I have a ways to go. But that’s kind of the point. If it’s easy to reach, if it’s possible for me to accomplish on my own, then my vision is only for my glory not God’s glory. Time for me to stop trying to control everything and have some faith.

And while I’m placing everything into God’s hands, I’d also like my wife to be a mega-hottie.

Casting out a net to every mind reading this, what should I do–or begin to do–to achieve my vision of positively impacting one million people?


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Visioneering in 2013

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Let’s talk about Dreams, Goals and Visions. These tend to be used interchangeably by many folks. Just like morality, character and integrity. Or want, need, and desire. Or liar, charlatan, and politician (sorry for you honest politicians out there. Both of you).

These are not hard definitions, but this is how I draw distinction between the three.

A dream is a fuzzy, indistinct picture of where you would like to be at some time in the future. Usually it is a purely emotional feeling. Sometime it is just a wish, something that would be great and awesome and fulfilling but with no real plan for ever achieving it. Kids have lots of dreams. To be an astronaut, a cowboy, an Olympian (athlete, not a Greek deity). Most dreams eventually fade as unrealistic.

A goal involves some intellectual involvement. Some people have called a goal a “dream with a deadline.” while a dream is usually non-specific, such as “get in shape” a goal has specific parameters to it, like “lose 10 pounds by July. A goal sometimes lacks the same emotional component as a dream. I have a goal to file my income tax returns by March 1st, but that will not bring me any great personal satisfaction. Especially since I’ve never hit that goal.

A dream often never progresses to a goal because once it has specific numbers and deadlines attached to it, then it becomes possible to fail. A dream is so indistinct, and usually only set for a target date of “someday,” so it’s impossible to ever fail to achieve it.

A vision is a matter of life and death. a vision gives you purpose in your life and/or gives your life purpose. Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish…” A vision requires passion, commitment. Visions can change the world. And I hate to say it, but you cannot fulfill a vision on a 15-minute a day work habit.

Too few people today ever develop a vision for their lives, for their families, or for their countries and communities. If you do not have a vision of your own that you are working to fulfill then you are probably working towards fulfilling someone else’s vision, as a cog in a larger machine than you can see. And chances are that that vision is something that is diametrically opposed to your own character, integrity and morality.

My recommendation for 2013, is to develop a personal vision for your life. I would suggest the book Visioneering by Andy Stanley as a great way to start off the new year (check it out in my recommended reading list). I’ll be rereading it starting today.

Well, alright, maybe some kids have a dream of becoming a deity on Mount Olympus.

Do you have a vision for your life? If you’re not sure, what does that tell you?