15 Minutes

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


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Actions Trump Intentions

“You don’t have to be a “person of influence” to be influential. In fact, the most influential people in my life are probably not even aware of the things they’ve taught me.” ~Scott Adams

All of us influence someone in our lives. Our friends, our families, strangers that cross our paths. According to one study, even the most introverted person, will influence as many as 10,000 people in his lifetime. So if I were to ask if you were a good influence or a bad influence, how would you answer? 99% of people would answer: good.

Then you would think for a while and realize that 99% of people in the world are not positive influences. In fact, I run into negative people all the time that irritate me and they are definitely a bad influence. Yet everyone thinks that they are good.

Universally most people think of themselves as good. Even bank robbers think that they are pretty good people compared to murderers. And murderers can justify their need to kill and take solace in the fact that at least they didn’t torture their victims first. So not one of us, right down to Charles Manson, thinks that we might be a bad influence on someone.

But very often we are.

In fact, it usually takes something dramatic to bring to light our own shortcomings; to allow us to see what we are doing from outside of that box that we normally live in. Alcoholics call it a moment of clarity.

One successful corporate husband, running along with his wife on a management fast track, one day overheard his daughters as they were “playing executive” in the den. The elder daughter carrying his briefcase said to the younger, “I’m going to be working late tonight. This is company business and company is more important than family.”

That was a wake up call. To outside appearances his family was doing well, living in an affluent neighborhood, climbing the corporate ladder, daughters in private school. But the influence that he was having on his daughters–through his absence–was that his daughters thought they were not as important a part of his life as his boss, his title, his paycheck. All things that a young child could care less about.

People only judge themselves by their intentions. Every one else, they can only judge by their actions. So his daughter saw all the best days of the best years of his life going to a faceless “company.” How could she not think that company is more important than family?

Which is more important, your child or a television? Have you ever yelled at your child to be quiet because you couldn’t hear the television? Just wanted to throw that out there to show that I’m not picking on the corporate guys only.

If we want to influence people positively, we need to do it through actions. And we need to make sure that we are conveying the right message through our actions.

You cannot influence someone for the better through good intentions only.

There is a happy ending to that story about corporate couple X. They left the rat race and started their own business. Even though the hours were equally grueling, this was a family business. Since the husband and wife were now on one track rather than two individual tracks, their efforts became synergistic and before long, she was able to carve enough time out of their schedule that she could home-school their daughters (and have a third one along the way). They were willing to take drastic actions to prove that family is more important than “the company.”

To all you working class folks who want to demonstrate the same thing through your actions, turn off the television in the middle of a program when your child starts telling you a story.

Who has been influential in your life? Do they know it?

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Jesus Spoke in Parables, Aesop Wrote Fables, I Use Classified Ads

Lost kitten. Gray and black tabby about 6 months old. Tends to attack feet when you walk by. Will bite you if you try to pick her up or pet her. Likes to sleep on computer keyboards and laptops. She chews shoelaces, paper, and clothing. She is not litter-box trained and will pee or poop on beds…
You know what, keep the freaking cat.

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So what is the moral of this ad?

I wrote in my first book about the power of association. Specifically, about how many of us are just one or two relationships away from being able to move ourselves into a successful position in life. Except that sometimes they are one or two relationships that we need to end.

One of the perks of blogging is that it allows you organize your thoughts in writing. It also forces you to review your past experiences sometimes from a different and more objective point of view. Your perspective changes to that of an outside observer, that of your reader (I mean beloved reader of course). Sometimes that new perspective allows you to see things clearly for once.

If you are in a toxic relationship, sometimes all it takes to realize it is a few moments of reflection and summarizing your relationship in a brief paragraph.

When we are too close, we lose the ability to make sound judgements. The fictional cat owner above thought that he loved his cat because she was just so darn fluffy. But fluffy can sometimes be evil.

If you want to grow as a person, be discerning about those people that are closest to you and that you spend the most time with. To be positive, get around positive people. To achieve, get around winners. Make a point of spending time with them.

Limit the amount of time you spend with neutral people. The ones that are neither positive or negative, they simply are. Certainly make the effort to be around positive more than neutral.

And what about the negative people? People that push you toward sin and laziness? People that constantly deplete and demoralize you? People that belittle your beliefs and dreams? It doesn’t matter how fluffy the kitty, evil is evil. Sometimes, you just have to say, “You know what, keep the freaking cat.”

Have you ever been forced to end a relationship with someone because they were a caustic influence in your life?


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Attack of the Crab People

crabsI’ve heard many different speakers and authors describe the phenomenon of crabs in a basket. If you put one crab into a basket, it will climb out. If you throw several crabs into a basket, then none of them are able to climb out. Because as one crab starts to climb, the other crabs grab hold of it and drag it back down to their level. A lot of us have social environments that are full of crab people.

My last post was about “mental inertia,” so let’s talk a little bit about “social inertia” (I thought I might have actually coined that phrase but as it turns out it already has a definition at reference.com).

You will rise or fall to about the same level as the people you spend the most time associating with. Your closest friends have the same hobbies, same level of education, probably close to the same incomes. So, you attempting to change any of these things may cause them to get crabby and drag you back down to their level. You are breaking habits when instead of going to watch a movie, you invite them all to a motivational seminar. You are defying tradition by going to night classes on financial planning, rather than going bowling with them on Thursday nights. And they might actually turn negative on you if you start making more money than everyone else.

Your friends might be thrilled to see you driving a brand new Mazda that you financed, but turn their noses up in disgust at your brand new Ferrari.

Not every peer group is like this, but I’m guessing this sounds familiar to a lot of people. The world is predominantly negative, so it stands to reason that most of your friends will be negative, too. Just be prepared, if you have a goal to grow and change your current circumstances, there is the possibility that you will have to separate yourself from the crab people.