Putting In Your Time and Paces

31 07 2014

Putting In Your PacesJim Rohn is one of my favorite self-development teachers.  I’ve been mentored by him over the past few years through his writings and recorded seminars.  I have never met him.  He died in 2009 after a full life.

Some time ago, I heard him dispense this nugget, worthy of wrapping one’s head around:

“Make rest a necessity, not an objective.”

Now that’s a new and powerful way of highlighting the importance of working hard.

Rest is something we earn.  This sounds foreign to American ears.  We are used to the “standard” of a forty-hour work week.  But forty hours of labor over a seven day period—as enough to get ahead–is distinctly Western and recent.  Our grandparents didn’t think like this.

I’ve heard it said that if you’re only working forty hours a week, it’s not likely you’ll get ahead–certainly not as far ahead as your dreams, goals, and ambitions.

Even God worked six days out of seven when He created the cosmos.  He wasn’t done on Friday afternoon at 5:00.

I have family members who are doctors, attorneys, investment bankers, hedge fund managers, Federal officials, and much more.  They’ve all gotten where they’re at the old-fashioned way:  They worked their tails off.  Nobody handed any of them anything.

Here are just a few benefits that will return to you with greater effort and longer hours, as you create a life:

  • You will certainly grow in your chosen fields of vocation and avocation.
  • Your sense of accomplishment will increase as you tackle and master more skills and meet goals.
  • You will run far ahead of the pack simply because many, if not most, are content to put their expected time in, satisfied with “working their forty hours.”
  • Your earning potential will undoubtedly increase, especially if the extra effort is focused and you strive for greater levels of excellence at all to which you put your hands to.

This isn’t a paean of praise to workaholism, far from it.  But in a culture that lives for the weekend, for partying, for good times and leisure, one tends to get an unrealistic picture of what it takes to win at life and realize your full potential.  It’s simply a matter of adjusting your perspective to accord with reality.

So my advice is this:  See work and labor not as a curse, but as a blessing.  Some of the most successful people in recent memory got that way, in sizeable measure, because they love working:  Donald Trump, Gene Simmons, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.  Look for lots of increases in many different ways as you likewise work harder toward fulfilling your destiny.

And, when you have striven and exerted and are tired, then rest.

You’ve earned it.

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Your Environment and Success

7 07 2014

Your Environment and SuccessWise mentors tell us that to be successful in life and meet our goals, it is supremely important that we prepare our environment in a way that maximizes our potential to succeed. Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” The Bible tells us, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20).   Pretty important, therefore, to choose carefully those who inhabit your orbit.

Both positive and negative mindsets tend to be contagious. I’ve observed that the tendency toward being negative, defeatist and pessimistic is a little more “natural” than the opposite tendency—that is, towards finding the good in life. This is a by-product of living in a fallen world. But it does not have to be that way. It just takes effort. And it is worth it.

Choose wisely what and with whom you associate. “Like attracts like.” This I’ve found to be true. If I’m angry, sullen, mad at the world and depressed, I tend to attract people just like me—without even trying! My anger somehow validates them. And of course such anger is usually cloaked in righteous sounding garb. But it is a downward spiral and simply has never worked.

I’ve discovered that as my thinking is positive, loving, cheerful and optimistic, I attract people with similar thinking and outlook. And I’ve noticed that what appeals to the optimistic and cheerful tends to repel the pessimistic and angry. Want to find out something really interesting? Look at those who were drawn to Jesus and those who were repelled by him. Invariably, those who were repelled by Jesus were angry, punctilious, religious people whose view of God was ultimately evil. If you are ultimately more focused on evil than on good, you are demonstrating what one author calls “practical atheism”—that is, you have more faith in the supremacy of the power of evil than the power of good. Hmm….

Some suggestions:

  • Read and listen well. There are all sorts of helpful resources in the digital universe, as well as library and bookstore shelves, that can help you on your way.  Avail yourself.  I’ve been particularly helped by books, video and audio by people like Brian Tracy, Malcolm Gladwell, and Jack Canfield.
  • Choose friends carefully. You must approach friendships aware that those whom you surround yourself with will affect you for good or ill. Both optimism and pessimism are contagious. Some friends will feel threatened when you become healthy.       Become healthy anyway. Love them but understand you may have to, for both your sakes, limit your involvements.
  • Look for good in every situation. You generally find what you’re looking for.

Now go succeed!

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Do The Math

8 09 2013

You-Do-the-Math-560x374There’s a common saying in self-development that goes like this: “If you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.”

Axiomatic.  But it doesn’t always register.

My wife and I are currently laying out our long-term goals—as individuals, as a couple, as two people created by God with certain bents, acuities, desires, and abilities.

Oh, and destinies.

After a year of unsuccessfully trying to sell our home, we’ve chosen to settle in the region we’ve occupied for most of our marriage (over twenty-five years).  We have business plans, educational paths to chart, places we want to visit, new experiences we want to enjoy, new relationships we wish to cultivate and proven friendships we want to nurture and enjoy.

One of the phrases we’ve used in recent years is “do the math.”  We’ve used this on ourselves.  We’ve employed it when guiding our children.  We’ve shared it with friends.

If you are passive; if you don’t have goals; if you don’t expend the effort to find out what your purpose in life is, you will then spend your life working for those who do.  They have plans of their own.  And they are working to see them realized.  If you don’t chart your own course, you will spend your life fulfilling the plans of people who’ve charted theirs.  They will even let you!  And what do they have planned for you?  Not much (as Jim Rohn has said). Passivity exacts a terrible price.

Sorry, but that’s just the way it is.

Doing the math means taking an honest appraisal of things—what you’re currently doing with your God-given skills, who you work for, the relationships you have, and then summoning the courage to see that, without being proactive, things will stay as they’ve always been, the status quo blissfully undisturbed.

Specifically:

  • Girls, if a guy’s a bum now when you’re dating him—lazy, abusive, possessive—he’s not going to change if you marry him.  You’re better than that.  Move on.
  • If your company keeps you at low pay even after repeated promises of wage increase, you’re probably not going to get the raise.  Or if you do, it will be modest.  Update your resumé, pound the pavement and find something better.  Or go into business for yourself.
  • If the people you run with are pessimistic, complacent, and perennial comfort zone inhabitants or whiners, they are affecting you.  If you spend a lot of time with them, you will become like them.  That is a law as certain as gravity. Modify your circle.

We’re excited to say the least.  There’s so much more ahead of us.  We are doing our dead-level best to own up to this reality: If we’re in the same spot in our growth in 5 years, we have only ourselves to blame.  Not God.  Not friends.  Not the economy.  Not the President.  Not our employers.

Challenge:  Write down at least 10 very specific goals for the next year as well as 5 years down the line.  I double-dare you.  Include a definite process for attaining them.

Then go!

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Sharpen Your Tools…and Avoid Injury

4 09 2013

Sharpen Your ToolsIn early Autumn, 1994, I hired on as an apprentice carpenter for a company that built staircases and hung trim.  Thus began, for me, a lifelong enjoyment for working with wood, especially hardwoods like red oak and poplar.  I was privileged to learn how to build curved staircases and these now fill quite a few houses in lower Michigan, where we lived at the time.

A carpenter learns very quickly that it is critical to keep his tools in good repair in order to do fine woodwork.  Chiefly, this means sharpening cutting implements regularly.  You may be surprised to find that dull tools—saws, chisels, router bits, etc.—not only do inferior work, marring the wood, but they are also dangerous.  You risk injury using chisels with dull blades.  A sharp saw does the work quickly, effectively, and safely.

In life, we have tools that we use to mold our lives and become effective and reach our potential.  Like planes and gouges, they must be kept sharp to be effective.  Here are a few:

  • Vocational Skills – What talents and acuities do you have that you can sharpen now and in the days ahead?  I work in Information Technology and am a musician.  I try to read up on the latest technological innovations as well as become more proficient with the software apps I use in my work.  And with my instruments, I practice and learn new stuff.  Do you have a plan for skills development?
  • Relationships – “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” (Jim Rohn)  What kinds of relationships do you cultivate to 1) add value to others and 2) help in your own development?  If you walk with wise and ambitious people, you fuel your passion to grow and develop.  But if you make a practice of hanging with people who are pessimistic and complacent, like it or not, it will affect you.  Enthusiasm is contagious.  So is discouragement and criticism.  Choose wisely.
  • Reading ­– That readers are leaders is axiomatic.  And you are called to lead.  What kinds of books do you plan on reading or listening over the next year?  Here’s a good place to start: The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz); How To Read A Book (Mortimer Adler & Charles Van Doren); Spiritual Leadership (J. Oswald Sanders); Emotional Intelligence (Daniel Goleman); Talent Is Overrated (Geoff Colvin).  Possibilities are endless, but whatever you do, develop a reading plan for the next year.
  • Physical Fitness – Your effectiveness is charged or limited by your physical fitness—or lack of it.  Regular cardiovascular exercise 1) improves your focus, 2) makes you feel better because of endorphins and 3) increases your longevity.  Also, there are numerous other benefits to staying fit, fighting the national epidemic of obesity.  Your career and its growth are one of these. As some have said, “Your shape will shape your future.”

Now go sharpen your tools and build.  You will be astounded at what they produce.

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“You Can’t Outsmart the Work”

25 08 2013

You Cant Outsmart the WorkJim Rohn is one of my favorite self-development teachers.  I’ve been mentored by him over the past few years through his writings and recorded seminars.  I have never met him.  He died in 2009 after a full life.

Some time ago, I heard him dispense this nugget, worthy of wrapping one’s head around:

“Make rest a necessity, not an objective.”

Now that’s a new and powerful way of highlighting the importance of working hard.

Rest is something we earn.  This sounds foreign to American ears.  We are used to the “standard” of a forty-hour work week.  But forty hours of labor over a seven day period—as enough to get ahead–is distinctly Western and recent.  Our grandparents didn’t think like this.

I’ve heard it said that if you’re only working forty hours a week, it’s not likely you’ll get ahead–certainly not as far ahead as your dreams, goals, and ambitions.

Even God worked six days out of seven when He created the cosmos.  He wasn’t done on Friday afternoon at 5:00.

I have family members who are doctors, attorneys, investment bankers, hedge fund managers, Federal officials, and much more.  They’ve all gotten where they’re at the old-fashioned way:  They worked their tails off.  Nobody handed any of them anything.

Here are just a few benefits that will return to you with greater effort and longer hours, as you create a life:

  • You will certainly grow in your chosen fields of vocation and avocation.
  • Your sense of accomplishment will increase as you tackle and master more skills and meet goals.
  • You will run far ahead of the pack simply because many, if not most, are content to put their expected time in, satisfied with “working their forty hours.”
  • Your earning potential will undoubtedly increase, especially if the extra effort is focused and you strive for greater levels of excellence at all to which you put your hands to.

This isn’t a paean of praise to workaholism, far from it.  But in a culture that lives for the weekend, for partying, for good times and leisure, one tends to get an unrealistic picture of what it takes to win at life and realize your full potential.  It’s simply a matter of adjusting your perspective to accord with reality.

So my advice is this:  See work and labor not as a curse, but as a blessing.  Some of the most successful people in recent memory got that way, in sizeable measure, because they love working:  Donald Trump, Gene Simmons, Jack Welch, Bill Gates, and Oprah Winfrey.  Look for lots of increases in many different ways as you likewise work harder toward fulfilling your destiny.

And, when you have striven and exerted and are tired, then rest.

You’ve earned it.

Image Credit





A Fruitful Environment (You Can Design It)

15 07 2013

Creative EnvironmentsWise mentors tell us that to be successful in life and meet our goals, it is supremely important that we prepare our environment in a way that maximizes our potential to succeed.  Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”  The Bible tells us, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (Proverbs 13:20).   Pretty important, therefore, to choose carefully those who inhabit your orbit.

Both positive and negative mindsets tend to be contagious.  I’ve observed that the tendency toward being negative, defeatist and pessimistic is a little more “natural” than the opposite tendency—that is, towards finding the good in life.  This is a by-product of living in a fallen world.  But it does not have to be that way.  It just takes effort.  And it is worth it.

Choose wisely what and whom you associate with.  “Like attracts like.”  This I’ve found to be true.  If I’m angry, sullen, mad at the world and depressed, I tend to attract people just like me—without even trying!  My anger somehow validates them.  And of course such anger usually sounds reasonable, even logical.  Most of the time, it’s simply a cloak hiding some unhealed pain or disappointment.  The anger is just a symptom.  And being angry with the world is a downward spiral and just doesn’t work.  I’ve learned this the hard way.

I’ve found that when my disposition is positive, loving, cheerful and optimistic, I attract people with similar thinking and outlook.

Vineyard owners will tell you that every year or so, they must prune back their vines to ensure a fruitful harvest in the coming season.  This pruning is both painful but necessary.

In our lives and associations we must, at times, prune activities and relationships to be the best we can be.  I don’t mean by this cutting people off but we must be wise about what and whom we give our time to.  Some times we cultivate associations.  Other times we limit them.  It depends on what is ultimately the healthiest thing for both parties.

Newly pruned vines don’t look especially appealing to the eye.   But it is this pruning that brings full, mature and healthy grapes.  And the finest wine.  So it is with us!

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Increased Vocabulary = Influence

7 04 2013

Increase Your Inluence

Self-development expert Jim Rohn once made the important point that “all of life is sales.”   Throughout each day of our life journeys, we are all involved in some form of communication, seeking to win a hearing and persuade others for mutual benefit.

I’ve listened to some older success audio by the late Earl Nightingale over the past year.  One of the points Earl made was the fact that people in very powerful and influential positions in business are characterized by their expansive vocabularies.  A large and varied command of language carries with it the potential for advancement and increased income for its possessor.

I love words.  Just ask my wife.  And I get bored easily with clichés.  Aren’t you tired of hearing things like “awesome,” “been there, done that” and “just sayin'”?  I’m sure others are too.  The use of a cliché often betrays laziness if nothing else.  We all need color and freshness of expression.  It enriches life in a profound way.

It’s been said that the difference between a sparse versus a rich vocabulary is a mere 3500 words.  Ponder that for a moment.  By taking time to learn new words and fresh expressions, you can elevate your powers of persuasion, influence and earning.

Here are some tips to grow your vocabulary and your station:

  • Read widely.  One public figure whose stunningly rich vocabulary sets him apart from the rank-and-file is political commentator George Will.  One might not always agree with a position Will espouses but listening to him articulate it is a treat—candy for the ear.  As well, read novelists who’ve distinguished themselves as wordsmiths.  Ralph McInerny and Daniel Silva are favorites of mine.  As well fine writers like Morris West and Eugene Peterson.
  • Read with a dictionary close by.  Corollary to the above bullet point. I have a Kindle Fire® reader.  It has the advantage of a built-in dictionary–the New Oxford American Dictionary– that activates when you highlight a word in your downloaded books.  If a word is unfamiliar to you, look it up.  Then begin using it in your own speaking and writing.
  • Use new words in speech as appropriate.  The rule is to prefer the shorter word if it conveys the precision and color you are looking for.  But using just the right word trumps all.  Take a little time before speaking and seek to say something in a new and winsome way.
  • Learn foreign languages.  My own studies of French, Russian, Hebrew and Greek have all helped me to understand my own English and to communicate more vigorously.  President Richard Nixon once commended the study of Latin because 1) it is the most orderly of all languages and 2) it is foundational for much of our own language.

One of the goals we should each strive for is to give those with whom we interact a superior experience to that which they are currently enjoying or loathing.  New words bring color and freshness.  And everyone thrives on that.  Be the source.

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