Archive for February, 2010

Are you too old for this….

February 19, 2010

I often have people tell me they think they are “too old” to: learn another language, go back to school, rebuild broken relationships, follow their passions, start a business – and the list goes on and on.  Have you ever used that excuse for not doing something worthwhile?

Here’s a site where you can plug in any age and see some notable things done by others that same age.

Things Other People Accomplished When They Were Your Age:   You’re Not Too Old Just go here, put in your age and prepare to be encouraged – you can do more than you think!

  • At age 99, Teiichi Igarashi climbed Mt. Fuji
  • At age 62, J.R.R. Tolkien published the first volume of his fantasy series, Lord of the Rings.
  • At age 46, Golfer Jack Nicklaus became the oldest man ever to win the Masters.
  • At age 32, penniless and unemployed, Buckminster Fuller decided against suicide, resolving instead to live out the rest of his life as an experiment to see what one person could do to help humanity.
  • At age 19, Henry David Thoreau delivered a Harvard commencement address. Expanding on Emerson’s 1836 essay on “Nature”, he proposed that man should work one day a week and leave six free for the “sublime revelations of nature.”
  • At age 27, Fred Smith founded Federal Express.
  • At age 12, Filmmaker Steven Spielberg got his first movie camera and spent hours writing scripts, drawing storyboards and making movies of subjects such as head-on miniature train crashes and an exploding pressure cooker full of cherries jubilee.
  • At age 17, Artificial heart developer Robert Jarvik began working on his first invention, a surgical stapler.
  • At 26, Napoleon Bonaparte conquered Italy

Okay, so maybe you won’t conquer any country this year, but I’ll bet you could do more than you have planned at this point.

So what have you done today??

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Can you solve this……..

February 16, 2010

Many years ago in an Indian village, a farmer had the misfortune of owing a large sum of money to the village moneylender. The old and ugly moneylender fancied the farmer’s beautiful daughter, so he proposed a bargain. He would forgive the farmer’s debt if he could marry his daughter. Both the farmer and his daughter were horrified by the proposal, but the cunning moneylender suggested that they let providence decide the matter. He told them that he would put a black pebble and a white pebble into an empty money bag. The girl would have to reach in and pick one pebble from the bag. If she picked the black pebble, she would become his wife and her father’s debt would be forgiven. If she picked the white pebble, she need not marry him and her father’s debt would still be forgiven. If she refused to pick a pebble, her father would be thrown into jail until the debt was paid.

They were standing on a pebble-strewn path in the farmer’s field. As they talked, the moneylender bent over to pick up two pebbles. The sharp-eyed girl noticed that he had picked up two black pebbles and put them into the bag. He then asked the girl to pick a pebble. Now, imagine that you were the girl standing in the field. What would you have done? If you had to advise her, what would you have told her?

Careful analysis would produce three possibilities: (1) The girl could refuse to take a pebble—but her father would then be thrown in jail. (2) The girl could pick a black pebble and sacrifice herself in order to save her father from debt and imprisonment. Or (3) The girl could pull out both black pebbles in the bag, expose the moneylender as a cheat, and likely incite his immediate revenge.

Take a moment to think through this story. I’ve used it with the hope that it will help you see alternate solutions beyond the obvious ones. The girl’s dilemma cannot be solved with traditional logical thinking.

You may be in a similar situation. You may be in a job you hate—but the pay is great. You think you have two choices: (1) You can stay in a job you hate. (2) You can leave the job but will then give up the great pay. Are these really all the options? Or you may not have a job right now. So you think either you must “find a job” or continue with no income? Could there maybe be other options?

Here is what the girl did. She put her hand into the money bag and drew out a pebble. Without looking at it, she fumbled and let it fall onto the pebble strewn path, where it immediately became lost among all the other pebbles. “Oh, how clumsy of me,” she said. “But never mind, if you look into the bag for the one that is left, you will be able to tell which pebble I picked.” Since the remaining pebble was black, it would have to be assumed that she had picked the white one. And since the moneylender dared not admit his dishonesty, the girl would have changed what seemed an impossible situation into an extremely advantageous one.

Now, how could you see more creative solutions for your situation? A couple of years ago I coached a very successful media executive who came to me with a dilemma. Because he was so respected, he had been given increasing responsibilities over the years. His current position had squeezed out all his family and community commitments. He was working seventy to eighty hours a week, but he had also become used to the $180,000 in annual pay. He was considering whether to just accept his lot in life or to quit his job, give up his salary, and seek a more balanced life.

I proposed another choice. Since he was valued, why not approach his superiors with a new solution? Delegate much of his workload to allow him to contribute in his strongest areas of competence. They readily agreed. He was able to go back to a forty-hour workweek with no decrease in compensation. He began playing the cello professionally again, volunteering in his son’s school, playing in occasional golf tournaments, and managing his church bookstore. Simply by asking for a less than obvious solution, he was able to move into a new season of true success.

Moral of the story: Most complex problems have multiple solutions, if only we attempt to think beyond the obvious choices. Practice coming up with 4 or 5 possibilities for any situation you’re facing and you will begin experiencing success that few people discover.

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This story and others are found in No More Mondays – with lots of new solutions to work issues. Use this coupon – NMMSPECIAL — for a $10.00 discount right now – we’ll send you the hardback book and also give you an immediate electronic copy. ($13 total)

Look rich – die broke

February 14, 2010

While driving through Tampa, Florida recently I saw a cool car accessories shop – obviously a place to trick out your car – with this sign out front:

“Rent your wheels and tires here.”

Now I know we have places to rent furniture, clothes and appliances.  But I always suspect that these businesses are preying on poor people – or at least people who don’t plan very well.  So here we go – if you can’t afford new 22” rims with low profile tires why should you be deprived of looking super cool anyway.  Just rent them.  Who cares if you’ll pay six times what the tires are worth in the course of a year?  You can look slick tonight – it’s the American way.

This is an example of what Thomas Stanley talks about in his latest book – Stop Acting Rich.  I’ve highly recommended his previous books – The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind. In this newest one he reveals the surprising practices of the really rich. They eat at modest restaurants, buy modest cars, and live in modest houses. The average dinner cost for the truly rich is $19.59 and very few ever spend over $10 on a bottle of wine. Guess who’s flashing the $250 bottles and putting $300 dinners on their American Express – yep, it’s the pretenders – those who want to impress others.

It’s pretty eye-opening to realize how much marketing is directed at those who want to “act rich.” This book may help you see real wealth in new ways. Bring rich doesn’t mean you have to waste money.

What are you gonna be?

February 9, 2010

When you get to heaven God is not going to ask you why you weren’t more like Mother Teresa, Billy Graham or Bono.  He’s likely to ask you why you weren’t more like you.  Your responsibility and source of real freedom and success is to discover who you are. Lead with your own unique talents and personality. Be authentically you and let God use you.

Remember the classic movie,  Forrest Gump.  At one part, Jenny asks, “What are you gonna be when you grow up?” and Forrest says, “Why can’t I be me?”

Theologian Frederick Buechner once told a graduating class:  “The voice we should listen to most as we choose a vocation is the voice that we might think we should listen to least, and that is the voice of our own gladness.  What can we do that makes us the gladdest, what can we do that leaves us with the strongest sense of sailing true north…?  Is it making things with our hands out of wood or stone or paint or canvas?”  Or is it making something we hope like truth out of words”  Or is it making people laugh or weep in a way that cleanses their spirit?  I believe that if it is a thing that makes us truly glad, then it is a good thing and it is our thing and it is the calling voice that we were made to answer with our lives.”

Can you trust what makes you “glad?”  Could that really be the voice of your “calling?”

“A tree gives glory to God by being a tree. For in being what God means it to be it is obeying Him….  The more a tree is like itself, the more it is like Him….” – Thomas Merton

Are you living beneath your dignity?

February 1, 2010

Yes, I know times are tough.  I spoke at a conference recently and had the opportunity to talk to people who are wondering if there is any reason to be cheerful or optimistic.

As a Russian priest (1829 – 1908), Father John Sergiev first thought he wanted to be a monk in the remote areas of Siberia – but after a vision, he realized God wanted him to be a missionary right where he was – in the hustle and bustle of the big urban city of St. Petersburg.  While most priests remained in the safe confines of their cathedrals, Father John would go out into the noisy, dirty, crime-ridden slums and back alleys of the city.

He would find someone down and out in the gutter, sleeping off the effects of the previous night’s drink and activities.  Father John would cup his chin; look him in the eyes and say, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.” Wherever he went, people found new hope and optimism because they discovered, or were reminded, of who they were.  Seeing ourselves in the light of who God made us to be is both exciting and contagious.

So, are you expressing the fullness of God today?  If you are full of despair and hopelessness because of the current economic situation, I doubt there is room for much else.  If you are angry and resentful because your stocks crashed, your house dropped in value or you lost your job, I suspect that is what people will first hear about you.

Can you remember what you were created for?  When I hear people complain about how bad their lives are I’m going to start saying, “This is beneath your dignity.  You were created to house the fullness of God.”

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This is your life, are you who you want to be? – Switchfoot