15 Minutes

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


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The Guy in the Glass

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I had always thought that this poem was called “The Man in the Glass” or “Man in the Mirror.” Until I found this page dedicated to the author, maintained by his son and daughter. So here is a re-print of a timeless classic entitled…

The Guy in the Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self,
And the world makes you King for a day,
Then go to the mirror and look at yourself,
And see what that guy has to say.

For it isn’t your Father, or Mother, or Wife,
Who judgement upon you must pass.
The feller whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the guy staring back from the glass.

He’s the feller to please, never mind all the rest,
For he’s with you clear up to the end,
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the guy in the glass is your friend.

You may be like Jack Horner and “chisel” a plum,
And think you’re a wonderful guy,
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

You can fool the whole world down the pathway of years,
And get pats on the back as you pass,
But your final reward will be heartaches and tears
If you’ve cheated the guy in the glass.

Dale Wimbrow 1895-1954

Brief words of wisdom for the day.


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Look at me! Look at me! Look, over here! Look! Look!

distractionI talk frequently about setting your dream and vision in front of you. Make sure it is clearly written out, clearly imagined, clearly visible every day. A second important step is to eliminate distractions from your vision.

Distractions take your focus off of your vision and cause you to focus on something that is unimportant. Some distractions may be urgent, but they are rarely important. If they are not part of your long-term vision then they should be given about as much attention as a speed bump. Unfortunately some people live their lives by stopping their car every time they hit a speed bump. Then they get out of their car to yell at the speed bump. Then complain to their friends and family about how unfair the speed bump is. Then forget where they were going before they hit the speed bump.

Anyway, here are some distractions that can steal focus away from your vision:

Clutter. Okay, I’m guilty of this one. In my bedroom/office there are piles of stuff¬† that I don’t use often. I have drawers full of electrical cords that I don’t know what they are for (but which I can’t throw away because I might need them someday). I typically have stacks of papers, books, and unfolded clean laundry all over the place. Despite this, I am a firm believer that physical clutter transforms into mental clutter, and having a disorganized desk, room, or car translates into a disorganized mind in which your vision can be lost. I’d upload photos if I could find my camera….

Negative Influences. Some people are emotional sinkholes. The longer you can sustain a positive attitude, the easier it is for you to achieve in any area of life. Sometimes you need to surround yourself with people who replenish you, not people who deplete you. Take an emotional inventory sometime and determine which of your relationships are replenishing and which are depleting. Leadership guru John Maxwell says that the person you will become in the next five years will be determined by two things: the books you read and the people you associate with. Associate with people who share your vision or encourage your vision, not with small-minded people that would like to extinguish your light to make themselves shine brighter.

Habitual Activities. Some activities may relax you, and you may enjoy them, but they may take a lot of time away from your vision. Television is the first culprit that I always single out. I think most families would be closer if they would just kill their TVs. Internet games is new on my list of activities that will keep you from accomplishing anything of significance. Any time spent staring at a screen is usually time where your brain is virtually inactive (the one exception is reading highly informative and inspirational blogs…)

Overcoming the Past. There are two things that keep people from moving forward. One is past failures. Some people get slapped down once and never try again. The other is more insidious and that is past success. Some people try a few times, achieve moderate success, then sing their own praises to the detriment of any new success (Anybody remember Al Bundy from the hit show that I recommend nobody watch–Married With Children–where he always talks about the time he scored four touchdowns in one high school football game? Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. Yes, you sound just like him when you talk about that one big moment of yours). The past is gone, the future is promised to no one, all you have is the present–so use it to move in the direction of your vision.

This is not an exhaustive list, but more a testimony of the major distractions in my life that I sometimes struggle with. Identify your own distractions and bad habits, then create a plan to cut them out of your life. What’s left behind is what’s truly important in your life.

What are your distractions? What would you be willing to eliminate from your life in order to live a more fulfilling life?


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Carefully Plot Your Inspiration

inspireWhat inspires you? It’s different for everyone. Even though I am an artist I am very much a left-brain thinker (logical, literal). Music doesn’t do a thing for me. It does not touch me emotionally like it does with some people. Same with most artwork. I can appreciate art for it’s technical mastery, but looking at a painting has never caused me to react emotionally.

Since I think logically and tend to intellectualize things, I am inspired by the written word. Posters with phrases to motivate and inspire; those work on me. A really good tweet will inspire me. A story, an epic quest, a victory against all odds.¬† Movies inspire me, if they have a good message and end with victory (that’s why I can’t stand Chinese Kung-Fu Tragedies).

Why am I talking about inspiration today? Because we can be intentional about inspiring ourselves. Since we know the things that inspire us to be more or do more, why don’t we surround ourselves with inspiration?

I’m currently writing a chapter on Environment (your personal environment, not the rainforests), and thinking about what you can do to create an environment that is conducive to success. Motivation is something that can come from within. Inspiration by definition comes from another source.

But if we want to create an environment that instills us with confidence and inspiration, all we have to do us surround ourselves with inspiring things.

So let me ask you once again: what inspires you?

If you are inspired by a photo, a phrase, a quote, or a movie poster, do you have one in your bedroom? Bathroom? Kitchen? Cubicle?

If you are inspired by a song, have you changed your ringtone to it yet? Do you wake up in the morning to that song as your alarm? (if you don’t know how to do that with your phone, find a kid to do it for you).

If you are inspired by the color blue, then paint your house blue. Get blue-tinted sunglasses so that the whole world is shades of blue.

By changing your environment, you can be purposeful about being inspired. Develop an environment that emotionally drives you in the direction you want to go. Rather than wait for inspiration to sneak up and bite you, go get your inspiration; immerse yourself in it, smear it all over your life so you cannot escape it.

So one last time: What inspires you? And if I walked into your home, would I be able to tell?


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My Wife Is…

wife

My wife is loving.

She is strong in those areas that I am weak.

She is outgoing, affectionate and compassionate.

She is playful, with a contagious enthusiasm for life.

She loves to make people smile.

She loves to hug and cuddle.

She loves to play and laugh.

She is energetic and active.

She is loyal and giving.

She is a natural lover of people.

She wants to be an incredible mom and pour her blessings upon her children.

She loves God and loves to bless other people.

She is generous with her time, her money and her praise.

She sees good in everyone and sees every person as a wonderful child of God.

And I cannot wait to meet her.


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When Writing, Get Dirty

digging

When you are a writer, you want to produce highly polished gems to show off to your friends, peers, and beloved audience. Do you know where gems are found? In the dirt. Gold also is something that is highly valued. Gold is found in dirt. Pirates bury their treasure. It seems like everything of value involves dirt. (One exception is ambergris and frankly I would rather get dirt on my hands…).

Writing involves strictly metaphorical dirt. For us, digging in the dirt is the daily grind. The writing that nobody reads; that you never bother to post or publish. The stuff that you cut and throw out. The first draft that is horrible. The second draft that is nothing like your first and is even worse. The day or week that you spend digging and have no gems to show off for your effort.

Some days you don’t feel like you’re mining for gems and gold, some days you feel like you’re just digging a ditch; or a grave.

What is the point of all these dirt references? The point is: I had nothing to write about today. Nada. Usually I’m always reading a book or two, and I’ll spin a blog post off of a subject from whatever I happen to be reading. It just so happens the chapters I’m currently reading are all about subjects I’ve covered recently in my blog, or in my book, or in that infomercial I did for that one particular product you’ve never heard of (because it’s fictional).

So I did what you should do if you’re ever facing an imminent deadline and you’re not sure what to do or what to write about. It’s a two part process:
1. Start
2. Continue

So, I just started writing. I didn’t bother to worry about the content or the final result or the subject matter. I just started writing, looking for some ore that I could maybe polish up later. If you just start digging, sometimes the mechanical process of writing puts you into a creative mindset and allows you to come up with a gem.

Remember this while you’re digging in the dirt:

  1. Every scoop of dirt you cast aside, is one less scoop between you and the gem. Time is on your side, provided you do not start and quit. Remember, step 2.
  2. The deeper you dig, the more precious the gem. That’s why the best part of any movie is the “training montage.” Because you get to see the effort that goes into the reward.
  3. Have faith that the gem is there. I believe every person has a book within them waiting to be written, or a story waiting to be told. I, for example, just finished telling you a gem of a story about dirt.

One final dirty metaphor: If you throw enough mud at a wall, eventually some of it will stick.

How do you coax, encourage, or force yourself to keep digging through the dirt?


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Fixing The Man, cont.

ImageLast post I told the story about Fixing the World by Putting the Man Back Together (I’ll wait while you click on that link or scroll down to refresh your memory).

While a six year old may know instinctively how to put together a photo of a man, most men don’t know how to put themselves back together. So, how do you do it? Perhaps there is an answer in that same story. I’ll propose an alternative moral, which is: “to put the man back together, sometimes you need a map.”

First, what do I mean by being “broken?”

Henry David Thoreau said “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Ben Franklin said “Some people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75.” I think living only a third of your life counts as being “broken.”

Second, how do men get broken?

When there is a disconnect between what we want and what we have, there is discomfort. Discomfort is fine. We can live with discomfort. But, when we begin to lose hope over ever achieving those things that we want, discomfort often becomes despair. Enough despair can lead to death.

What we want varies greatly from person to person. Small things like security, a good job, a decent softball team to be part of. Important things like a fulfilling marriage and a growing family. Great things like Olympic aspirations or Nobel prizes.

All of us start with dreams. Many of us give them up, surrendering them to the nightmare. Once we lose hope, we stop truly living. We’re just marking days on a calendar and rushing towards death. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick…” (Pro 13:12)

Let’s map out a path to put yourself back together.

1. Recognize that you are lost.

You can’t fix a problem unless you admit there is a problem. Men are quick to deny problems, to justify their current state, to deny, deny, deny. Once we lose hope, we no longer look forward or upward. Our only option is to make excuses and hope that after enough repetition we believe them ourselves. If you have the courage to admit that you are living in quiet desperation, then you can begin to pick up the pieces.

2. Find out where you are.

If you are currently suffering from discomfort or despair or depression, take the time to figure out the source. Most of the time it will be from unfulfilled dreams or from lack of any goals to begin with. This may be hard to recognize, because men tend to place the blame for their own disappointments on the people around them. When a man loses hope of ever achieving some aspiration, his wife will be the first one to suffer for it. Often she will become a source of blame; not for preventing him from reaching his goals, but because she is convenient. A man without any hope for a brighter future will be quick to blame his unhappiness on his wife’s inability to cook, clean, or gratify him sexually. Man up. 95% of your problems are caused by you.

3. Know where you want to go.

Most people are familiar with this exchange of dialogue from Alice in Wonderland:

Alice: Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?
Cheshire Cat: That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.
Alice: I don’t much care where–
Cheshire Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go

ImageReassess your life’s direction. Develop some worthwhile purpose or pursuit for your life. Once you can do this, you are already on a path to healing. One definition of success that is shared by many authors of success principle books is “the progressive realization of a worthwhile dream or goal.” Notice, you do not become a success upon the attainment of a dream or goal, you become a success through progression; by simply beginning the journey and continuing the journey.

4. Find a guide.

The easiest way to achieve anything is to find someone that has already done it, then ask them to show you how. A friend that has overcome a marriage problem can coach you on your relationship. A friend that is out of debt can help you to work out a budget and financial plan. But when searching for a guide, be sure not to fall into this trap:

5. Don’t get directions from people that are lost.

You may notice that it is always broke, divorced people that are the quickest to offer their opinions on some of the above topics. Always check the fruit on the tree.

Full disclosure: I am not married, so don’t ask me for specific advice on relationships. But while I’m on the subject, what are your strengths? In what area, would you be able to act as a guide for someone else?