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


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Do You Believe in Life After Birth?

Bored-people-at-meetingWatch people at work today.

How often do you see someone look at the clock?

How often does someone say “I wish it was time for lunch?” They mentally check out for an hour and virtually fast-forward to their break.

Or maybe they said I wish it was quitting time? They just mentally discard the second half of their day.

If you offered someone the opportunity to fast forward their life to the weekend, would they do it?

If you offered a child the opportunity to fast forward through a month of their life to get to their birthday, would they?

Two months to get to Christmas?

How many people are squandering away their lives by not living now, but living in the future? Cramming 3 or 4 days of joy into every year?

zombieEvery moment spent being bored, every moment spent wishing time would skip ahead, is a moment where you are not really living. You are one of the walking dead. One of those masses of people living a life of quiet desperation that Emerson wrote about.

What’s the solution? How do you breathe life back into your life?

Purpose.

Purpose will add life to your living. (Tweet that)

If you are living your life towards some purpose, you are living for something greater than yourself.

If you have a purpose, you are focused on big thinking and big ideas rather than on tedium and boring details.

If you are striving towards a purpose, than even the most mundane, trivial job becomes a means to finance your purpose.

If you are on purpose, you are no longer drifting aimlessly and instead are focused on achieving or becoming something greater.

With a life of purpose, you no longer have wasted moments. Every moment is moving you towards your life purpose.

If you are bored, if you are weary, if you are just staring at the clock waiting for the drudgery to end; determine a grand and glorious purpose for your life.

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Let’s Start With Something Easy

purposeIn Napolean Hill’s classic tome, Think and Grow Rich, he lists the thirty major causes of failure. I want to spend a little bit of blog to address just one of those thirty, because I feel it is the one that holds most people back in life (even though it is only listed as #2 on the list).

2. Lack of a well-defined purpose in life. There is no hope of success for the person who does not have a central purpose, or definite goal at which to aim. Ninety-eight out of every hundred of those whom I analyzed, had no such aim.”

I like the word purpose. You can have a purpose-driven life and know that you are achieving a great work. Someone can walk with purpose into a room and you know that they are about to do something important, or possibly violent. It’s also a word that if you read it about a dozen times it starts to sound really funny. Try it.

If you are not living your life with purpose, by default you are living by accident.

And few people become a success accidentally.

Like, about 2%.

If you want to separate yourself from that group labeled as failures, then the first and best thing you can do is determine a purpose for your life. That single change will increase your probability of being a success by 50 times.

And we haven’t talked one bit about work, or talent, or discipline, or character. Someone could have an abundance of each of those, and yet never rise up to any level of success simply because they have no direction, or vision, or purpose.

You may have a great work ethic inherited from your parents, but never have more than a mediocre income because you are content to let someone else call your shots. You may have great talent in art or music and never produce a thing because it was never a dream of yours to have the spotlight. You may have incredible discipline and never use it to achieve something that a lesser man would never be able to accomplish. You could have exemplary character and never leave a lasting impression on a single other soul.

Without having a definite major purpose in your life, you may be wasting not just your own potential but the potential of dozens, hundreds or thousands of others that you could have influenced.

So before you pass through another day, before you spend another twenty four hours investing your life into fulfilling someone else’s purpose (possibly your boss), ask yourself “What is the central purpose of my life?”

If you don’t have an immediate answer, then you have a 98% chance of failing.

The good news is, you can decide in an instant that your life has a purpose. You can determine what your purpose is in the next few minutes, and that will drive you closer to success than any amount of hard work, talent, discipline or character will. I’m not saying you don’t need those things, just that without purpose, they’ll end up being applied towards some other purpose besides yours.

There are people born with incredible gifts that will never achieve anything worthwhile because they never had purpose in their lives.

Question: What’s the central purpose of your life?

Question 2 (if you answered: “I don’t know?): Would you like to have a purpose in your life? (Y/N)

If you answered Y, then leave a comment below and let’s start a conversation on your life’s purpose.


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State of the Vision

ImageIt’s the beginning of the year-well it’s still January at least-so I wanted to come up with a post to address the State of the Vision. Back in 2013 I began the year by rereading Visioneering by Andy Stanley, and coming up with a personal vision and mission statement for my life.

To positively impact one million people financially, relationally, or spiritually.

So, how am I doing?
I am still on course and have no desire to quit or amend my vision.
(I hope no one was expecting me to say mission accomplished after a year).

I spent a bit of time reflecting on 2013, trying to figure out how to progress into 2014. Here’s a brief strategic outline for the rest of this year:

Writing. Writing is the best way I know of to reach large numbers of people at a time. I hope that I can add value to people’s lives in some way through either my books or my blog. When I first launched this blog I said that I wanted to write at least three more books. So far I’ve written one but now have plans to write six more. I will also continue to blog once a week to have an avenue to reach readers more often than the once a year that I publish a book.

Entrepreneurship. I’ll be focusing a lot more this year on my previously neglected work as a small business consultant. Firstly because I could use the income. Secondly, because this is a venue where I can work with people on a face to face basis, to truly contact and connect with them and help them to achieve their financial goals. Expect some blog posts about the economy, about entrepreneurship, and about developing exit strategies for replacing employed income with self-employed income.

Non-Profiteering. This is new for me. I’m working with a couple of friends of mine to launch a non-profit organization here in Hawaii with the hopes of it spreading virally to the entire world. I’ll post additional details as they become available but it is an exciting idea with the potential to fulfill my vision on its own.

Acting? I’ll also be spending some extra time acting this year. In addition to my glorious contributions as a background extra on Hawaii 5-0, and being part of the cast for a local comedy TV show, my old theater producer from my Theatricus days is launching an all-new, all-audio storytelling theater. I don’t think acting necessarily has anything to do with advancing my vision, but it’s fun. Well that and it’s another channel to build a larger platform to reach more people. The more people I reach, the greater the opportunity to influence them positively.

Devotion. Fun fact: if you read the bible for 15 minutes every day you can complete it in a year (give or take a few minutes). I’ve actually done this twice. In 2011 and 2012. Kind of slacked off in 2013. Re-engaging for 2014. I want to make sure that I am keeping on a true north heading. Every day I’ll read to increase my belief and faith, to stay humble and grateful, to let God empower my words and actions.

Seeking. I’m also looking for a wife if anyone has a single friend…

So, to sum up the plates I’ll be spinning this year:

  • Self-employed business consultant
  • Writing books at a leisurely pace of one a year
  • Blogging once a week
  • Acting
  • Voice acting
  • Oh, did I mention I also have a full time job in addition to all this?

I wanted to launch a webcomic, too, but that’s not high on my priority list right now. I didn’t realize it until I itemized my 2014 schedule but… I might be busy this year. This year as in right now. It doesn’t seem like I’m overwhelmed with work though, despite averaging five hours of sleep a night. Here’s why: (and I think I’ve said this before) when you are passionate about your work you may get tired but you will never grow weary.

Tune in next year for the next State of the Vision Address.

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Halftime Report: How Are Your New Year’s Resolutions Going?

clockIt’s July 1st! The perfect time to take an assessment of how we are doing on our New Year’s resolutions. Did you make any at all? If you did, you have already separated yourself from 25% of the population. Do you still remember what they were? If so, you are probably ahead of another 25% of the population. If you can tell me today what your New Year’s resolution was for 2013, then you are ahead of the average person in the US even if you haven’t even started on them yet.

Before you pat yourself on the back too hard though, keep in mind:

  1. 51% is still a failing grade, and
  2. I just made up those numbers anyway

A lot of authors and speakers talk about looking forward towards your goals (I’m one of them). But we should also take some time to reflect on our past and on our journey. We can often get caught up in the busy-ness of being busy. When that happens we can get off-track and realize that our habits are no longer moving us towards our goal.

A personal trainer friend of mine became so focused on exercise that he neglected proper rest and recovery time. He would push himself to the point of injury (sprain, pulled muscle, stress fracture, etc…), then not allow proper time to heal before pushing himself again. He broke out of that habit when he realized that he had lost sight of his goal in the pursuit of the process. His goal was not to exercise, his goal was good physical health.

There is a young start-up company that I’ve been following on Twitter for quite a while now called Cirion Group. Here is a very simple tweet that they posted that made me stop and think:

“What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned this month?”

Even though I consider myself a lifelong student of personal growth, I didn’t have an answer to that question. That month I had read five books, listened to and attended several lectures. But that simple question stymied me and I told them as much. Here’s the rest of that exchange:

@ciriongroup To be honest, I’m a little disappointed I don’t have an answer to this off the top of my head…

@Matt_S_Law it’s an easy thing to overlook. It’s a great question to add to your calendar/reminder each month

The human creature is designed to achieve, the brain is designed as a goal-seeking mechanism, and we are happiest when we are in the process of fulfilling a worthwhile purpose. But it is easy to forget the “Why” of our activities when we get too focused on the “How.”

So I’m calling a brief time-out for everyone at the halfway point of this year to ask: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

If you never made one, make one now.
If you haven’t started, then start now.
If you’ve kicked at it on occasion, make a definite commitment of time and energy towards achieving it now.
If you are that rare person that has been striving towards it non-stop since January 1st, then take a day off and ask yourself a few questions:

  • How is my progress? Am I seeing results or am I just doing a lot of activity that is not actually accomplishing anything?
  • How is my motivation? Am I still visualizing my goal on a daily basis? Is my daily activity drudgery or is it inspiration for me?
  • How is my life? Am I neglecting an important part of my life? My business, my family, my health?

Whatever your vision, goals and habit that you have or have not incorporated into your life prior to today, pause for a moment. Take some time to reflect. Take some time to replenish. Take some time to refocus. Do not lose sight of your vision amidst your daily activity; whether that is activity relevant to your goal or activity that is irrelevant to your goal.

So, one more time: How are your New Year’s resolutions going?


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Patience – Preparation – Prayer

Leadership 2011 040

At the beginning of the year I posted several posts on vision and my own visioneering project. You may remember I announced my vision right before reading the chapter on not announcing your vision prematurely. Predominantly because the early stage of your vision is when it is most susceptible to ridicule from your peers. Fortunately, none of my friends and family read my blog, so I was safe from that.

Remember, a vision requires patience. It is just important to remember that patience does not equate to standing by idly waiting for God to fulfill your vision. Proper patience involves preparation and prayer.

So I’ve changed my daily habits over the last few months in order to prepare myself. I’ve added several books by John C. Maxwell to my daily reading queue. John Maxwell is the world renowned expert in the field of leadership. When I donate money to charities, Maxwell’s Equip Ministries is one that I wholeheartedly support. Too often, charities waste money on overhead and expenses and not enough toward the cause they supposedly support. Several well-advertised charities employing C-list celebrities sometimes give less than 20 cents out of every dollar towards those starving children or abused puppies. Equip Ministries applies 100% of it’s donated funds toward supplying biblical resources and material to help train leaders worldwide. When he recruited his board of directors, he shared his vision, then told them that they were paying for all the operating expenses for the ministry. Not only do I incredibly respect John’s accomplishments, but I want to learn what he teaches. Because my vision to positively influence one million people is something he accomplishes literally on a monthly basis.

So I recently finished Talent is Never Enough (because to be honest, I think I skated through life relying more on talent than perseverance). Next on my list from John are Developing the Leader Within You and Developing the Leaders Around You. I never thought of myself as a leader in the past. However, one of John’s most repeated quotes is “Leadership is influence. Nothing more. Nothing less.” If you want to influence people, you need to be a leader. I think I may have some natural talent in that regard, because most of the jobs I’ve had over the last ten years I’ve been promoted to a lead or management position quickly. But managing a coffee shop is orders of magnitude different from influencing a million people. So to elevate my game, I can’t just rely on talent. (see the strategic path I’m taking with my reading schedule). Also in the queue is Dare to Discipline Yourself by Dale E. Galloway, because I know me and I know I could use more discipline in my life.

So that’s some small changes in my reading habit designed to prepare me to be an influencer. I also plan to start looking for some more venues for public speaking, just because after reviewing my radio interview, I realized I say “uh” a lot more than I would have guessed.

And on the prayer front, I also made a small change before I do any writing for the day. Before I start, I say a short prayer. I ask for the right words to positively impact my readers. Then before I start writing on my subject I first write “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all good things will follow.” Because I want to make sure that my motives remain pure; And God plus me is a much better writer than just me.

Also, if anyone has a recommendation on a great book on the subject of self-discipline, please, shout it out.


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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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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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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

v2013_3

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.

v2013_3a

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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Your Fuzzy Vision Creates Foggy Followers

clarity

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).