New Year’s Eve – A Toast

On the eve of the New Year.  A toast:

Here’s to 2011, a year of challenges and triumphs.  Gains and losses.  Joys and sorrows.  But we are here and going into 2012, pumped, eager and brimming with faith and hope.

This is your year:

To grow emotionally, mentally, vocationally, socially, financially and spiritually.

To work for and acquire greater health and fitness.

To have many new, superior experiences.

To travel to places internally and externally that you’ve never been.

To experience life utterly unafraid.

Have a blast.  Enjoy your friends and loved ones.  Celebrate responsibly.  Take a cab or a designated driver if you need.

To 2012 and life!

Crafting A Life

I heard a challenge today.  If you invest 3% of your annual earnings into self-development, your earning potential, if acted upon, can increase exponentially.

It hijacked my attention very quickly.

Story was told of a young man, 23, who begin investing 3% of his annual income in materials that would help him improve in his career.  The first year he went from making $20,000.00 to $30,000.00.  While he began investing 3%, after a few years he began investing 10% of his earnings in self-development.  Books, audio/visual materials, seminars, etc.  After 10 years he was making $1,000,000.00.

A million dollars a year.

If you will take the time and develop your skills, your earning potential will increase.  On average, for every hour Americans spend on education and self-development, they spend 50 hours on entertainment in one form or another.  Begin reversing this ratio and you will upend your life for the better.

Here are some tools that will help you craft a career.  And a life too:

Talent Is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers From Everybody Else (Geoff Colvin) – This book effectively dispels the myth that people like Mozart were born to write music and Tiger Woods to play golf.  Both these luminaries, and others so profiled, got where they were through years of hard work and deliberate practice.

The Success Principles: How To Get From Where You Are To Where You Want to Be (Jack Canfield) – With chapters like “Success Leaves Clues” and “Commit To Constant And Never-Ending Improvement” you won’t go wrong with this read.  Canfield, co-author of the hugely popular Chicken Soup For The Soul series, gets it right every time.  Practical and down-to-earth.

The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz) – A great book.  Dr. Schwartz effectively demonstrates the difference between winners and losers: What one thinks about.  Good thinking will launch you.  Poor thinking will weaken you.

Twelve Pillars (Jim Rohn & Chris Widener) – I read this in an afternoon this past summer.  This is a parable illustrating basic truths, which followed, will improve your career and your life.  Short, but potent.

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You (John Maxwell) – An ace on leadership, this book should be in the library of every leader.  Maxwell, who has written countless books on leadership, boils leadership down effectively to 21 principles.  Buy it.  I had the privilege of seeing John speak on the tour that promoted this book in 1999.  Outstanding.  The chapter on “The Law of Influence” alone is worth the price of the book.

Have at it.  2012 is your year.


Assuming Command

The opening chapter of Jack Canfield’s fantastic book, The Success Principles, has this challenging title: “Take 100% Responsibility For Your Life.”

The chapter is worth the price of the book.  Easy.  It is slowly but surely changing my life.  The concept will radically alter your destiny if you embrace it and practice it.    And great mentors talk about this as the fundamental step that will reinvent your life.  Jack Canfield.  Stephen R. Covey.  Brian Tracy.  All attest the same.

100% responsibility.

Think about it.  Aside from obvious things over which we have no control (planes crashing into our house, forms of disease, tornadoes, and such), we really have the marvelous opportunity and ability to craft a life.

To do this, you must become a good swimmer.  Why?  Because the current of our society flows against personal responsibility.  It has strong undertows of victimization, blame-shifting and an unrealistic sense of entitlement.  And it has kept leaders from emerging.  You must swim against it.  And you are well able to do it.

I heard Brian Tracy say today that assuming complete responsibility for our lives is the mark of adulthood.  It means being a grown-up.  As kids we long for that moment.  Now, we can maximize all the possibilities.

Here are some challenges for the next year:

  • Every day embrace the reality that you have the God-given ability to better your life and circumstances in some wayViktor Frankl learned this in Hitler’s death camps.  He realized that the Nazis had no power whatsoever over his thinking and inner life.  Unless he gave it to them.
  • Every day work to improve your skills of attention, concentration and laser-like focus for whatever task you happen to be doing.  Be all there.  Be fully in the moment.  If it isn’t worth doing with all your being, is it worth doing at all? I did this last night as I walked for two miles in the bone-chilling cold air of winter.  I embraced the frozen air and punishing wind.  And became stronger because of it.  I enjoyed it and improved my physical and mental life as a result.
  • Write down your goals.  There’s something about putting pen to paper that sets a course in motion within you towards the fulfillment of those goals.  Your subconscious mind engineers reasons and plans for achieving what you’ve set as a target.  Dream it, write it and be very specific.  And then work your plan.

2012 is going to be your year.  Hold nothing back.


When Jesus wanted to teach something, he usually told a story.  He used the stuff of everyday life in Israel—a country of shepherds—for his parables.  It’s hard to improve on stories for making a point clear.

The longer I live and think about these stories, the more I am struck by how they favor action and initiative, creative thinking and problem-solving.  In one parable, he commends a dishonest property manager for being creative in making for himself a soft landing place with some old clients when he is fired for incompetence.  He regards his initiative and problem-solving, if not his loose bookkeeping.

In one of his stories, a landowner gives portions of his goods to different people with the command “occupy until I return.”


The parable paints a picture of the kingdom of God.  And his command is to occupy—do business, be industrious, generate a return on investment.  Those who lazed about and did nothing got it in spades when the master returned.

There is a time to pray and a time to act.  That’s axiomatic.  But there are moments when to be on a prie-dieu is to miss the mark entirely.  When you are supposed to be hitting the pavement and drumming up business, your act of “occupying until I come” becomes an act of worship, even prayer.  I often wonder if God isn’t waiting for us to be the answer to a lot of our prayers.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I being passive in the pursuit of my goals?  Do you wait around for God and people to do for you what you are really supposed to do for yourself?  As one has said, you can’t hire another to do your pushups for you.
  • Am I quick to give up when I encounter resistance in the pursuit of my goals? Sometimes we flag and cave, thinking that “it wasn’t meant to be” simply because the goal we pursue doesn’t come easy.  Stuff that is valuable costs time, effort, money…blood, sweat and tears.
  • What would happen if I gave another hour or two a day to the pursuit of my goals?  We tend to plateau in our skills and objectives for lots of reasons.  But one is simply that we don’t give that extra effort to really master a thing.  It is the difference between dilettantes and professionals.  Professionals stay at it until they own it.

Now occupy!

Adjusting for Sanity

Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”


Christmas is over and the New Year will be upon us in four days.  Many of us are laying out our goals for the next year and beyond.

One of the most important things one can do is take an honest inventory of one’s life and determine what works and what doesn’t.  What sorts of things are you doing, what kind of company are you keeping, what kinds of attitudes do you wear like clothes that may be bringing you closer to your goals in life?  Or are steering you farther away from hitting your potential as a human being, created in God’s image with a purpose?

Doing this takes courage because it usually means making adjustments, sometimes radical changes to keep the ship from the shoals.

I saw an old friend today while shopping.  We’d not seen each other in the past four or five years.  And we talked about this important matter of facing what doesn’t work.  And changing.

Some of the organizations and movements we’d once been identified with were not producing health in their adherents over the long haul.  Instead of nurturing well-adjusted people within their orbits, they produced sorrow, disappointment and frustration.  Time for a change.

Here are some tough and practical questions you must  wrestle with if you desire sanity and growth:

  • With whom do you spend your discretionary time?  Companions can either make or mar a life.  We cannot stress strongly enough the importance of choosing friends carefully.  The best friends you have are those who have the effect of bringing you to a higher level by their presence.  Cultivate these.  And you must limit your involvements with pessimists, dream-killers and critics.  Their influence is hurting you.  It just is.
  • Are you using your gifts and abilities to their full potential?  This may be the year for a career change.  Some of us are bound by the “golden handcuffs” of a large salary and benefits package.  You really need to ask yourself if the pay and benefits outweigh that uneasy sense of not doing what you are best prepared to do.  Is earning a lot of money worth the feeling that you may be falling short of your ultimate design and purpose?  Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, when courting PepsiCo chairman John Sculley in 1983 asked the famous question “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want to change the world?”
  • Are you a lifelong learner?  My wife gave me a Kindle Fire® reader for Christmas and I am using it to my advantage in this important area.  There are so many free books out there!  Are you seeking to learn something new every single day, to advance and to grow?  Or will you settle for mediocrity, falling short of the great call upon your life.

Here’s to growth, to change, to doing things differently this year.  To sanity.  Cheers!

Encouragement and Tipping Points

How many times have you heard the sentence “it was the straw that broke the camel’s back?”  We use these words when someone has reached an emotional breaking point.  Usually some relatively little thing pushes a person under duress to the brink.  They snap, blow up, break down.  It’s left to others to pick up the wreckage.

Such a moment may be called a tipping point.  Someone holds up against relentless pressure and circumstances until some minor thing causes them to collapse.  A straw.

A tipping point is an event in a defining moment that changes things in a big way.  In a life.  Sometimes in an entire culture.  The end of the Roman gladiatorial games in the Colosseum as a result of Telemachus’s protest comes to mind.   Or the  public 1964 murder of Kitty Genovese in New York City in which her neighborhood witnesses did nothing to intervene and protect her.  This tragedy highlighted a culture of indifference and non-involvement.

I’d like to suggest that there are also such tipping points that result from continual encouragement.

There is always room in our world for another voice saying things like “you’re the man”; “you are beautiful”; “you have what it takes”; “you can do this.”  It often takes repeated positive affirmations to reach a tipping point in a life.   The point at which the recipient of the encouragement begins to believe it and act.

There are many broken homes in our land.  Families fractured and alienated.  Usually, the most potent fallout from a disintegrated family lands on the children.  This is not to say that fathers and mothers who’ve divorced one another do not encourage their kids.  Far from it.  But the absence of one of the parents and an intact family certainly has a devastating effect.

Young men need to be told they have what it takes to compete and win in the marketplace and in life.  Young women need to know they are protected, valuable and beautiful.

Continually encouraging human beings, especially the young, will no doubt cause such marvelous tipping points.  The point at which a person begins to see within themselves what God and others have known all along.  But it takes positive affirmation, repeated over time, to crest that watershed.

I challenge you to make it your goal to bring as many people, through your words, to a making point (as opposed to a breaking point).  Use your tongue as the creative instrument God intended it to be.  And watch as the light dawns in someone’s eyes as they realize that they are valuable, loved and eternally matter.