Archive for November, 2009

Don’t read Dan’s books

November 26, 2009

A reader just commented on the search for finding his passion.  He says, “This has become so frustrating that I wish I had never read Dan’s books….how can he say ‘that even a 10 year old knows what they are passionate about’ when I have absolutely NO CLUE!! Apparently God doesn’t want me to know either because that prayer hasn’t been answered yet.”

Unfortunately we often make God our Santa Claus rather then our Creator. If we keep looking for candy canes to be dropped in our stocking I’m quite sure we’ll be disappointed. If we recognize we are “children of the King” we will see our gifts and put them to use.  I don’t want to heap guilt or anguish on anyone still struggling to find their gifts and passion.  But if we are looking outwardly for that insight we will be disappointed or misdirected.  Look at what God has already revealed to you – in trusting your sense of peace and joy as you recognize what you enjoy.  God is not holding anything back – don’t put Him in the position of having to make pigs fly to get your attention.

Give yourself a raise – today

November 24, 2009

New York City cabdriver Oleg Roitman says his nickname is “The Human Computer.”  He asks his passengers – “Tell me the date of your birth and in less than a second I will tell you which day of the week you were born.”  To prove that his answers are correct, he carries a book with calendars from 1900 to 2020.  He says passengers often pay him double what the meter reads. 

Studies show that waiters can boost their tips from 10 to 100 percent by doing any of the following:

  • Lightly touching the customer
  • Smiling at the customer
  • Squatting next to the table
  • Introducing themselves by name
  • Thanking them for dining there
  • Forecasting good weather
  • Drawing a smiley face on the check

Joanne and I invite my Eagles Club coaching clients to stay at our Sanctuary (pictured) as part of the coaching experience.  We share our morning tea and muffins with them and take them to dinner at some of our favorite restaurants.  It’s enjoyable for us to include them in our lives as the next season of that client’s career is being developed – and that little difference creates a memorable and often life-changing experience. 

What are you doing to create that “little difference” in your work and life?  An advanced degree may do nothing to separate you from the crowd.  But what could you do today to engage your customers, clients or co-workers in a way that they will never forget? 

Could that little difference double your income next year?

Beautiful Mess

November 23, 2009

I just read the book titled Beautiful Mess.  You might recognize the singers of the song by that name – and the authors of this book – Diamond Rio.  In just hearing I Believe, Meet Me in the Middle or One More Day it’s easy to assume the group enjoying the fruits of their success.  And we tend to think that “success” brings trouble-free lives, complete with meaningful work, easy financial rewards and fulfilling relationships.  Beautiful Mess reminds us that what we as observers see as “success” comes with all the usual challenges of life. 

The group members share their physical, emotional and spiritual hardships and the pain of mistakes that cannot be corrected.  They also remind us that fame and fortune are typically preceded by persistence and hard work that ultimately open the door to the “lucky breaks” seen by others. 

If you love country music you’ll enjoy this behind the scenes look at this repeated CMA winner of the Vocal Group of the Year.

Resume “Objectives” and Other Ways to Waste Your Time

November 23, 2009

Here is a recent “Objective” on a resume submitted for my review:

“To support the growth and profitability of an organization that provides challenge, encourages advancement, and rewards achievement with the opportunity to utilize my experience, skills, and proven abilities.”

 Sounds great – would you like to hire this person?  But what do you know about this person?  Is he/she a candidate for flipping hamburgers or for a CEO position?  Does he have skills in supervising, organizing, planning, selling, marketing, etc?  Is she proficient in any computer skills?  We don’t know.  This “Objective” tells us absolutely nothing about the person.  It was a total waste of time on the applicant’s part.

Knowing that most resumes get 30-40 seconds look, you’d better tell the recipient something about yourself that would make them want to see you as a candidate.  IMMEDIATELY!  Begin your resume with a Skills Summary, Profile, or Expertise.  Here’s an example:

Skills Summary:

“Over 14 solid years in technology planning and management.  Experienced in strategic systems, organizing and overseeing projects.  Knowledgeable in R&D, product development, and financial management.  Team player in maintaining company policies and procedures.  Expertise with IT businesses, especially those with complex technical, logistical and implementation challenges.”

 Don’t waste your time with generic lead-ins that get you sent to the bottom of the pile.  Use your 30 seconds to convey your “unique value.”

From Chapter 6 – 48 Days to the Work You Love

Fake Success?

November 17, 2009

Last week a Palm Springs, CA man who was never in the military was charged with wearing the Navy’s highest honor.  Federal prosecutors in Los Angeles say 39-year-old Steven Burton was photographed wearing the Navy Cross along with the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart and other medals.

This guy made his grand entrance at his high school reunion.  I guess being a bank teller wasn’t the image he wanted to share with his former classmates.  Unfortunately for Burton, another classmate was a real Navy commander and after a few questions decided to contact the FBI.  Authorities say Burton could face up to a year in federal prison if convicted.

Are we really caught up in that much pressure to appear “successful?”  Is it embarrassing to be a faithful and happy family man who drives a UPS truck, or grows organic vegetables, or works on an assembly line?  Or a woman who has chosen to be a stay-at-home mom rather than climb the corporate ladder?  Would being a marriage counselor or a grade-school teacher be viewed as adequate success? 

What parts of our lives do we want our old classmates to know about?  Are good health, spiritual vitality and loving relationships enough to be proud of as a life well lived? 

For years I have borrowed this definition of success:  “Success = the progressive realization of worthwhile goals.”  That allows success for a college sophomore who is learning to learn, or for the person who chooses to teach reading in the ghetto, or for the artist who create beautiful works, or for the individual who delivers the mail – and a smile. 

Stories of faking success are not new.  Frank Abagnale, Jr. (inspiration for the movie Catch Me if You Can) successfully impersonated an airline pilot, a doctor, a prison inspector and a lawyer – and passed $2.5 million in fake bills – all before he was 21 years old.  In the movie, the pursuing FBI agent observed that “sometimes it’s easier living the lie.”  I suspect that’s true for many people.

Does your definition of success match where you are in life?  Or do you find it necessary to fake success at your high school reunion?  If you could write your life as a movie script, what changes would you make?

Can you teach a horse to fly?

November 17, 2009

The sultan of Persia had sentenced two men to death.  One of them, knowing how much the sultan loved his stallion, offered to teach the horse to fly within a year in return for his life.  The sultan, fancying himself as the rider of the only flying horse in the world, agreed.

The other prisoner looked at his friend in disbelief.  “You know horses don’t fly.  What made you come up with a crazy idea like that?  You’re only postponing the inevitable.”  “Not so,” said the first prisoner.  “I have actually given myself four chances for freedom.  First, the sultan might die during the year.  Second, I might die.  Third, the horse might die.  And fourth…I might teach the horse to fly.”  Source:  The Craft of Power, R.G.H. Siu, 1979

Wow – I like this guy’s thinking.  Rather than giving in to victim mentality, with one creative suggestion, he creates four possible outcomes other than just being put to death.

So let’s imagine you’ve just been told your job is being eliminated?  Can you propose a solution that would benefit both you and your employer? 

 We will award the 48 Days Fresh Start Package to two people with the most creative answers by Thanksgiving Day.

Success too early?

November 13, 2009

What happens if you hit your dream too early?  For years I’ve watched this phenomenon play out in 21-yr-old NFL players who sabotage their early success.  The stories of drug abuse and personal failure as child actors become adults are legend.  Most lottery winners destroy their unexpected success within three years.  Last year I spoke at the White House to a group of mostly 30-somethings who knew they would be moved out with the next administration.  Where do you go after having had a White House assignment so early in your career?  

Wednesday night Taylor Swift described her emotions upon winning the CMA Entertainer of the Year – that industry’s highest honor.  She said she was dumbfounded at winning the award of her dreams at only 19 years old.  She added that she always likes a challenge and she wasn’t sure now what new challenge she would be working toward. 

Is it a good thing or a curse to “win” too early in life?  Is success sweeter if it comes only after years of hard work?  Are you ready to handle success? 

Cervantes said, “The road is better than the inn.”  In my own experience I know I’ve frequently enjoyed the challenge of success more than the end result I had in mind. 

Have you ever seen a dog that actually catches a car?   While the chasing seemed to be a thrilling adventure, reaching it usually produces a state of “What now?”  It seems that attaining success often confuses people as well.


“Profitable Servant”

November 12, 2009

A client recently stated that she wanted to be a “profitable servant.”  What a wonderful term – and no, that’s not an oxymoron.  The words profit and servant do go together like a hand in a glove.  In Thou Shall Prosper, Rabbi Daniel Lapin addresses the question: “Does God want you to be rich?”  He says, “God wants you to be obsessively preoccupied with the needs of others.”  And guess what, if you do that, wealth will just show up.  When you are alone, you will starve to death.  When you find ways to serve others, you open the door financially. 

For years the motto of the Rotary International organization was simply – “He Profits Most Who Serves Best.”  Sounds like a plan to me.

Talent is nothing to God – oh really?

November 9, 2009

Okay, here’s a sticky theological question from a reader:

Dan, I love to share my faith with others and I seem to have many natural talents, skills and abilities suited for a minister. Many people have even suggested I enter the Ministry. However, I believe that no matter how suited someone may be for ministry they must be called of God in order to be a Minister. Talent is nothing to God. He rather wants a fully surrendered and obedient individual. I suppose my question is how do I know whether I’m called to be a minister or just an entrepreneur with an idea I’m passionate about? – John

How does God “call” us except through giving us skills and abilities, personality traits and passions that draw us in a particular direction?  To think that God will ask a “fully surrendered and obedient individual” to something where there is no alignment with natural talents opens the door to heartache and misery. 

Let’s just play out John’s thinking here.  How would you like to attend a church where the pastor has no talent, skill or passion for that position – but he was just “willing and obedient?”  How long would you attend that church?

Apply this thinking to any work.  Would you want a doctor who had no skill but thought he was “called” to the medical profession?  How about a teacher who had a passion for being an artist but was convinced through well-meaning family that she was “called” to be a teacher? 

I’ve met with too many pastors, missionaries, and teachers who were obedient and willing, but whose natural skills did not line up with what their attempts to do something “Godly.”  Many confused “calling” with the family tradition or the expectations of others.  And their work was frustrating, spiritually depleting and ultimately led to a crisis that required change.

When there is an alignment of our skills, abilities, talents, personality traits and passions we will recognize God’s “call.”  We will experience work that is fulfilling, meaningful, purposeful – and profitable. 


“The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Frederick Buechner

Don’t look at the white elephant

November 5, 2009

Boy, talk about calling a spade a spade.  Joanne and I were driving through the mountains in east Tennessee this weekend and passed this real church sign.  I cranked a u-turn and went back for this picture. 

 Church sign



And then yesterday morning I was pulled aside by a long time friend who wanted my opinion on how his church is asking for money.  He feels like they are begging and using guilt to get people to “give sacrificially.”  Yes I know churches are struggling with the economic downturn as well, but should they resort to the same tactics as a street panhandler? 


Here’s the first of nine steps on How to Panhandle from wikiHow:

Swallow your pride. Most people find it difficult to quietly beg for money from friends or relatives; it’s even harder to beg from complete strangers where everybody can see you. Still, you’re going to have to suck it up and be humble.

Or if you’re uncomfortable facing the people you are asking for money, here’s a site that will help you set up your own website to cyberbeg:  And there is a “success” story there where a lady raised $20K to pay off her credit cards.

Personally, I think there are more honorable ways to generate money, whether you’re a church or an individual.