15 Minutes

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


A Drought Is Coming

Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty, part 2

cosineAll things in existence go through cycles. Economies rise and fall. Technological innovations come in waves. Relationships and moods go through ups and downs. Your health can be robust and then falter. Your faith can be strong and then waiver. There is abundance, then there is drought and famine.

When you go through the low cycles, the valleys of life, through times of drought; it will either be a mere inconvenience or a life-altering tragedy. It all depends on how prepared you are.

I don’t make promises lightly, but I will promise that some day there will be a drought of some sort in your life. Whether or not that drought leads to lack is dependent on how deep of a well you have already dug. When there is lack in some area of your life it leads to discomfort and pain. Pain leads to conflict because hurting people hurt others. Sometimes it leads to death. desert

There will be an emergency, a disaster, a crisis in some area of your life. How prepared are you? How deep is your well? Do you even have one? Which well have you been spending all your time and effort digging? Is it the important one? Despite what some motivational speakers may tell you, sometimes there is a “too late.”

It is too late to start training for a fight once you step through the ropes (or once you step into the cage for my younger readers). It’s too late to study for the test once you sit down with your blue book and your number two pencil. It’s too late to gather nuts for the winter during the blizzard.

Those are frivolous examples that all of us can relate to but don’t make much of an impact. Think on these situations and see if these strike an emotional chord.

It’s too late to start getting your financial house in order after you’ve been laid off and your family is being evicted from your home.

It’s too late to start exercising and eating right when you are under anesthesia and about to have open heart surgery.

It’s too late to express to your wife how much you love her after she consummates an affair.

It’s too late to share the gospel of Christ with your best friend after he dies of a drug overdose.

Most people live with the naïve conceit that this will never happen to them. Remember that promise I made you?

A drought will come.

It’s the cyclical nature of the universe.

So why am I filling your mind with all of these doom and gloom prophecies? Because I am trying to provoke an emotional response in you, to motivate you to do something beyond just getting by. I am trying to make you aware of the very real nightmare that exists just one drought away. Because if the promise of a carrot – of abundance and health and happiness – is not enough to get you to do something to prepare for your life, then maybe threatening with a stick will work. lateMore next week.

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Dig Your Well(S) Before You’re Thirsty

“Dig your well before you’re thirsty.” digwell

This is a statement that I have heard many times from numerous motivational speakers, business leaders, coaches and salesmen through the years. It is a common sense statement that is not commonly observed—like most common sense. I like the metaphor of digging a well for three reasons.

First, even in our industrialized western civilization we know what a well looks like because we’ve seen them in movies. Wells are deep. Digging a well is hard work and takes a long time. It is a major investment of time and labor to dig a well. You don’t get to take a drink of water from your well at the end of your first day of digging. Or your first week. It takes months of hard work before you get anything at all for your labor. It is a vivid example of the Law of Delayed Gratification.

Second, once a well is dug, it provides water not just for the rest of your life but possibly for generations of people after you. Once the well is dug, you can continue to draw water out of it seemingly indefinitely. It’s not like gathering nuts for the winter where every nut you store equals one future nut you can eat. Each hour spent digging doesn’t provide you with X number of gallons of future drinking water. Digging a well, and completing it, taps into a vast supply of water that can keep you sated without having to keep digging from season to season. It’s a clear example of the Law of Increasing Returns.

Third, water is vital for life. Everyone realizes that if you wait until you are thirsty before you start digging your well, you will die. I don’t think this is indicative of any particular law of success, but it is a reminder of the urgency of preparing now for the future.

Because eventually there will be a drought.

When a speaker or author invokes the Dig Your Well aphorism, it is used most often as a warning to take care of your finances. Save for a rainy day, keep some dollars stashed away for emergencies, contribute to your 401K, buy my success seminar.

This is because most people spend the majority of their lives earning money. There is nothing wrong with being financially secure. In fact there is nothing wrong with being downright wealthy. But don’t be like the Hollywood cliché of the businessman who allows money to become his idol; who pursues it to the exclusion of all else in his life. He may have a deep, flowing financial well but a very shallow life.

I contend that this statement, dig your well before you’re thirsty, is applicable to every area of your life not just your financial statement. That there are many aspects of your life that can and should be insured against disaster. There are other wells that need to be dug before the eventual drought comes.

You have a marriage well. You have a health well. You have a faith well. You have an attitude well. You have a personal development well.

Being able to provide for yourself financially is not an adequate substitute for a deep spiritual well when you have a crisis of faith. It will not help you to salvage an estranged relationship with your spouse if you have allowed the marriage well to run dry. Especially if your focused dedication to chasing after wealth is what caused the rift to begin with. Nearly every wealthy man on his death bed would gladly trade all his riches for another day of health. How many executives do you know who have traded their health for their career? Traded their relationships with their families? Traded their spiritual faith? How many people have dug so long and so hard in their financial well that they no longer have any joy in their life?

thirstThey spent their lives digging a financial well and found themselves unprepared for drought in another area of their lives.

Perhaps some of your other wells have been neglected. Maybe some of them you haven’t even begun to dig. Some of them have been poisoned by your neighbors. The reason there are so many unhappy people, so many marriages ending in divorce, so many people falling out of God’s favor—so much violence, hopelessness and despair—is because there are so many people that are thirsty.

What are you doing today so that you, your family, and your descendants will not be thirsty?

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Instant Gratification Kills Discipline

Regarding my last article on Stanford and Marshmallows, there was a fairly unscientific follow-up study done of the 4 to 6 year old children that were tempted with the promise of marshmallows. Those that demonstrated the ability as a child to defer gratification, later in life were described as “adolescents who were significantly more competent,” and had higher SAT scores.

I doubt this surprises anyone. After all, the ability to delay gratification is indicative of discipline. Short term thinking is the hallmark of a child. Longterm thinking is a sign of maturity and discipline.

Unfortunately, self-discipline is a rare commodity these days. There are several culprits you could blame for Americans being lazy and undisciplined. Certainly our wealth makes us much lazier than the old days when me and my boys would have to trap, shoot, and kill our own food. In this world of instant coffee, spray-on tans, microwave dinners and movies on demand, we have been conditioned to believe that we can have anything that we want right now.

But I think the main factor, not just in making Americans lazy, but also threatening our very freedom is the villain known as credit.

In the old days, when you wanted a new luxury item like a brand new automobile, you would set aside some money on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. Then when you had saved up enough money for that automobile, you would buy it and drive it home.

Enter the world of credit. There was a time when credit was a personal arrangement between a merchant and the customer. Banks commercialized credit making it available to virtually everyone. Suddenly people could play now and pay later. Sure, I can’t afford the car, but I can afford the payment, therefore I can have it now (and instantly lose $10,000 in future earnings).

The reason so many people are struggling with debt and finances is because they are paying today for stuff that they bought months and years ago. We’ve been scarfing down marshmallows without paying the cost (that is a metaphor, although if it were actually the case it would explain why many Americans are fat in addition to lazy).

If you are struggling with finances, here is a helpful video that should help you.


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Money Does So Make You Happy

I know this might rub some folks the wrong way, but it’s true. Those people who say that happiness comes from within are wrong. See, happiness comes from the same root word as the word “happenstance.” Happenstance by definition is a result of chance or fortunate circumstance. Therefore, happiness cannot possibly come from within, since it is based on outside circumstance.

I know, I know, it’s really just a semantic argument, but next time try saying that “joy” comes from within. Or contentment. Or beatitudes. That way you can avoid an argument and focus on explaining what beatitude means to your friend.

But back to the subject of money.

Most marriage arguments are over the subject of money (specifically a lack of money). Jesus talked about money more than any other subjects except the Kingdom of God. While its true that money alone is not the only ingredient to success, happiness, and personal fulfillment; It is an important part.

Not because the things that you buy with money necessarily bring you fulfillment. But because lack of money often causes you stress and discomfort and circumstances that detract from your fortunate feeling (unhappiness).

If you don’t have two dollars in your pocket at this moment and you walk by a hot dog cart while you are hungry, chances are that would make you slightly unhappy. Now, let’s say a millionaire is also at that same hot dog cart and that he happens to have no cash on hand. But he is so hungry, he offers to trade you his Porsche for two dollars to buy a hotdog. I think that you would be extremely unhappy that you don’t have two dollars in your pocket right at that moment.

Maybe it’s true what they mean (not what they say), that money doesn’t make you happy. But would it be fair to say that lack of money sometimes causes unhappiness? Or even that having money will eliminate many of the things in your life that cause unhappiness?

Most people have a poverty mindset when it comes to money. That acts as a barrier to acquiring it and keeping it. Here are some tips about money to help you acquire a prosperity mindset. These are all taken from a great book by Andrew Matthews called Being Happy.

1. Decide to be prosperous and put in the necessary effort.
2. Save first and spend what is left.
3. Observe wealthy people.
6. Spoil yourself occasionally.
9. Always carry some money – for three reasons.
10. Don’t blame your parents, the weather, the economy, the government, your job, your education or your mother-in-law for how you are doing.
12. Recognize that poverty is a mental disease.

“Almost half the list is missing!” I hear you cry. Actually, 99% of the book is missing, and I recommend you read it. (Mental note: Create a recommended reading page). (Mental note 2: Wrap up this blog post, Matt).

Of course, having a prosperity mindset doesn’t generate cash on it’s own, but it will keep your own brain from hindering your ability to get it.

How important is it to first have a prosperity mindset before acquiring wealth?