Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Find New Friends

It's time for you to find some new friends.  Not because you need to get rid of the old ones, but because adding new people to your life brings about new thoughts, challenges, opportunities, perspectives, and experiences.

This past year I went hiking, shot pistols, ran a 5k, ate Greek food, started a blog, saw a dog give birth, shot below 100 in golf, ate a vegan meal, visited 5 new cities, saw a volcano, zip lined through the rain forest of Costa Rica, learned origami, shot video with a $7,000 camera, and so much more...all for the first time!  Why? I spent some time with new people.

If you always spend time with the same old people, you will always do the same old stuff. 

Challenge:  Go out of your way to get to know someone better this week.  I guarantee you will learn something!

Learning is a drug.  Get addicted!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Top 10 Annoying Things about Facebook

Social Networking is pretty much  There are so many advantages to having a Facebook/Twitter account and there are even more forms of social networking that I haven't figured out yet.  Amidst the positives, there are a few annoying things about facebook/twitter.

10.  Viruses.  I hate it when you get a message from someone you trust only to figure out it is a scam.
9.  Farmville and the like.
8.  People that take up the news feed with their farmville stats.  Really?
7.  Negative People.  Mix in a positive comment every once in a while.
6.  Play by Play announcers of their life.
5.  People posting unapproved pictures of you.  Follow the golden rule here people.
4.  Gossipers.  If you wouldn't say it in person, don't post it.
3.  Drama. If you're mad at someone, tell them.  Don't make it your status update for all to see.
2.  Poke.  Who does this?  Why?
1.  The creator of Facebook (now 25) made 3 BILLION DOLLARS last year!  Annoying!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The Two Things People Avoid

There are two things that people consistently avoid:  Conflict and going to the Doctor.

It is interesting because conflict is a lot like going to the doctor.  People need it but they avoid it.  People usually only go to the doctor or address conflict when they just can't take the pain any longer.  Like getting a shot, addressing conflict may hurt at the time but it will make you better in the long run. 

People then leave the doctor's office or the conversation with the same thought.  "I wish I would have gone to the doctor/person sooner, so the pain never would have gotten this bad." 

Physically healthy people are proactive.  They exercise, eat healthy foods, and get annual checkups.  Staying healthy and in shape is easier than getting healthy/in shape.  Sure its hard to remain disciplined but once you experience the results, staying healthy is truly life changing.

The same is true with conflict.  Those that are the best at conflict resolution are proactive.  If something begins to bother them, they address it before things get worse.  Sure it is difficult to address conflict but once you experience the results, it is truly life changing.

Waiting until the conflict is unbearable before addressing it is like waiting for your cough/throat/head/back to get worse before you head to the doctor to get medicine.  It is easier but it hurts worse.

Challenge:  Be Pro-Active!  Preventing illness and preventing conflict are much easier and less painful than avoiding it.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Above & Beyond

I have a SPECTACULAR boss!  Do you?  Work is always better when working for someone you like and respect.  Whether we are working for a boss, playing for a coach, or studying for a teacher, most people are more productive for a supportive, encouraging, and respectful leader.  It could also be said that people who enjoy their profession perform better than those lacking occupational bliss.

The opposite is also true.  Most people do not work as hard for bosses, teachers, coaches, and leaders that they do not like or respect.  And those that do not enjoy their jobs typically do not perform as well as those that do.

These observations are far from revolutionary.  The vast majority, regardless of their profession know this to be true....which is the problem. 

Colossians 3:23 says "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men." Notice how it doesn't say "Work at it with all your heart, if you have a boss, teacher, coach, leader that you respect."  Nor does it say, "When doing a job that you enjoy, work with all your heart."  It could be said this way:  "Anytime you do anything, do it to the best of your ability as if it is a personal favor for Jesus."

As Christians, it doesn't matter how good or bad our boss is.  We work for the Lord.  It doesn't matter if we like or don't like our jobs.  Our work is for the Lord.  Lets be thankful we have jobs and do them to the best of our abilities until it is time to do something else.  Every job and occupation is a form of ministry if done for the right reasons and attitude.  Anytime we use our God given gifts and talents as working for the Lord, it is an act of worship.

As Christians it is up to you and I to be leaders that people want to follow and followers that people want to lead.  In order to do so we must go above and beyond in everything that we do, as though it is a personal act of service for Jesus.  Why?  Because it is.

Challenge:  Regardless of how you feel about your boss or job, it is easy to get into a routine and simply go through the motions.  It happens to everyone.  Put a note on your computer, sign on your desk, rubberband around your wrist, or anything to remind you that Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart, as though you are working for the Lord. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Common Denominator

Do you ever feel like everyone is against you?  Are there a lot of people that you don't get along with?  Have you had some sort of issue with all of your bosses?  Do your family members get on your nerves? Do you feel like people are always trying to rip you off?  Do you wonder why your relationships don't work out and you always attract "the wrong" type of people?   

What do all of those things have in common?  YOU!!!  It astonishes me to hear people complain about one thing after another and act like they have no idea how they keep getting into negative situations.  They feel as though they have bad luck or can't catch a break.  Newsflash:  It is difficult to catch a break when you have a negative attitude, complain all the time, and talk about people behind their back!!  This kind of negative behavior rarely breeds positive outcomes.

Pardon me for sounding harsh but too often people forget to look in the mirror.  They can so easily see faults in others but fail to see faults of their own. 

When you feel as though everything is going wrong there has to be a point where you step back and ask yourself, "How can I improve myself, in order to improve my circumstances?"  It is amazing how better your outlook becomes when you are making a conscious effort to be positive.  Until you make this self realization, you will continue down the path of negativity.

If reading this made you upset then consider it another clue that you need to do some self-reflection.  Take some time ASAP to find ways to improve yourself, in order to improve your circumstances.  Start by keeping all negative comments to yourself.  You'll be amazed at how much your attitude and circumstances will improve. 

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Save The Day!!

Like most of you, I live a busy life.  I don't get to relax as much as I would like.  Yet I still don't get everything accomplished.  This doesn't make sense. It should be an either-or.  Either I didn't get to accomplish everything but I got to relax.  Or, I didn't get to relax but it was worth it since I got everything accomplished.

John Maxwell, Stephen Covey, and Robert Kyiosaki all stress the importance of making lists and schedules.  A list is simply a visual reminder of the things that you need/want to accomplish.  It keeps you focused.

I always thought if I made a list I would never be able to accomplish everything and wouldn't have time to rest.  These time management gurus are also advocates of putting RELAX on the to do list.  This way you can relax and feel accomplished at the same time!  Brilliant!

I have learned that if I don't make a list and don't schedule my time wisely, I don't feel accomplished and I don't feel rested.  Bad combination.  This is especially true on weekends, random days off, and snow days. (You educators know what I'm talking about!)

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.  What is scheduled gets done.
Don't waste time.  Make a schedule and/or list and SAVE THE DAY!

Challenge:  Make a list of things you need to do for this week and don't forget to put relax or some form of recreation.  Reward yourself when you complete everything!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Like, You Know?

This is like, one of my all time favorite YouTube clips, you know?  It is true, funny, and challenging.  I think you will agree?

Speak With Conviction (CLICK HERE)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Why I Love Social Networking

Here are the top ten reasons why I like Facebook, Twitter and other forms of Social Networking.

10.   Social Networking makes me watch less TV.
9.  News can be spread quicker and you can choose the people/organizations you want to hear from.
8.  It's like having a bunch of Pen-Pals.
7.  You can be "friends" with famous and influential people.
6.  You can see how dozens of people are doing online in the same amount of time as it takes catch up with one person face-to-face.
5.  You can encourage or thank someone quicker than with a traditional card.  (still good practice)
4.  It is free and "green".
3.  It gives seasoned adults a desire to learn how to use computers.
2.  You can trash-talk your friends when your team defeats theirs. 
1.  You never forget birthdays and more people remember yours!!!

What do you like about Social Networking?

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

What If Dreams Don't Come True?

I am a baseball player at heart.  I played in my back yard, anytime the field was open, summer-ball, fall-ball, winter-ball, and of course in the spring.  My passion for baseball paid my way through college and introduced me to a lot of people, experiences, places, and stories.  I was even named after hall of famer George Brett.  Needless to say, ever since I could remember I wanted to be a professional baseball player and I paid my dues in order to get there.

Then it happened.  I'm not sure if it happened gradually or instantly but it happened.

I had a self realization that I was not going to make it as a professional baseball player.  I either needed to double my efforts or find a new dream.  All of my time and hard work was not wasted but it was clear that I was not going to make it to the Majors.  I didn't cry.  I wasn't depressed.  I wasn't angry.  I was confused.  What do you do when you realize that your dream can't come true?  My plan A didn't work and I really hadn't even thought about plan B.  I didn't want to give up but I also didn't want to be that guy that plays independent ball or in the minors (JV for the majors) for years when I could be starting something new.  I needed something else to focus on, something to put this new time and energy into.

Then it happened.  I'm not sure if it happened gradually or instantly but it happened. 

I had a self realization that I was going to make it as a big time _________________.  My 4 seasons would be filled with _______________ instead of baseball and I would focus all of my time and energy on being the best _____________ that I could be.  People would know me as a _____________ instead of a baseball player. (You fill in the blanks for you.)

You could re-read this post and substitute your dreams in place of baseball and it would sound familiar. 

You can either double your efforts on your current dream or direct all the time and energy into another one.  It is good to chase your dreams.  However, there has to be that day/moment/time of self realization when it is time to hang it up and start afresh.  When one dream ends, another begins.

Where are you in the pursuit of your dreams?  Do you need to double your efforts or start afresh?  What are you going to fill your blanks with?

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Life Lessons From Plumbing

I was laying some tile with a buddy today when something unexpected happened.  As he pulled up the old linoleum the floor was damp by the shower, tub, and sink.  We also noticed there was a square in the concrete where some previous plumbing work had been done.  So instead of laying tile, my friend wisely chose to fix a leaky toilet and shower.  If we would have laid the tile, we would just have been covering up a major problem that would have eventually surfaced again. 

The same is true for life.  If you cover up the things your dealing with, it doesn't make them go away.  You must have a solid interior before you can improve your exterior.  You must take care of your needs before your desires.  If you don't have necessities, you don't need luxuries.  You must pull the weed up by its roots or it will grow back.  Taking the time to do the right thing is always faster in the long run than the quick fix.  Solving the problem is always better than treating a symptom. 

How is your plumbing?  What is necessary for you to fix before you can make the improvements you desire?  Whatever it is, take your time and do it right.  The stronger your foundation, the bigger you can build.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

7 Steps for Dealing with Irate People

How do you get an unruly parent, student, coworker, stranger, or random person to calm down?  Great question!  Let me give you a hypothetical example to use as a case study.

A parent starts to loudly, yet indirectly, cuss out coaches because their child is not performing well in a particular sport.  The coach simply ignores the parent and continues to praise the child for their improving performance.  The parent begins to cuss louder and with more frequency.  No one responds, they drop their final "F" bomb and leave.  Child is embarrassed, people are shocked, and bystanders wonder what happened.

What the hypothetical coach would have liked to do in this hypothetical situation is calmly explain to the irate parent that their child chose to participate in that area/position and all coach has done is encourage their child to get better at the sport they have chosen.  However, this probably would have urinated this parent off even more, increasing the size of the scene that was being made.

Arguing back or making a sarcastic remark certainly would have added fuel to the parent's fire.  Basically any statement made to this parent would have been like dropping Mentos into a diet coke.

So what is the right thing to do?  Here are 7 ways to deal with unruly and irate people.

1.  Be cool.  Someone has to be calm in that situation and that person should be you.

2.  Assess the situation.  Do you know this person?  Are you ever going to see them again?  Are they harming someone?  How many people are their actions affecting?  Are you responsible for their behavior?  You may handle the situation differently depending on these factors.

3.  Speak softly yet strongly.  Have you ever noticed that when one person is whispering on the phone the other person naturally does too?  Make sure to get their attention but speak quietly as to not embarrass them in front of a crowd.  They are doing perfectly fine with that on their own.  If you embarrass them, they will feel the need to show you up.  At the same time, speak with purpose.  In other words, speak softly like a protective lion rather than quietly like a mouse.

4.  Be brief.  Irate and unruly people are not in a mental state to have a civil conversation.  Don't bother.

5.  Do whats best for everyone involved.  If the scene is being made in front of a crowd simply ask the unruly person to leave.  If they do and drop a few more "f" bombs on the way, be thankful its over.  If they don't, call security or the police to have them escorted off the premises.

6.  Follow up.  If you know the person, contact them the next day when they have had time to sleep on it.  Explain to them the inappropriateness of their behavior and let them know that it will not be tolerated. 

7.  Follow through.  If you said it will not be tolerated and it happens again, make sure there are consequences so they know that you make promises and not just threats.

How do you deal with unruly and irate people?  Very carefully!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Feedback & Boogers

Everyone has boogers.  It is always discouraging when you are at work/a party/church/anywhere and you go to the bathroom and look in the mirror only to realize that you have a booger.  You immediately begin to wonder, "How long have I had this?" "Did anyone notice?" and "Why didn't anyone tell me I had a booger?"

Giving feedback is like telling someone they have a booger.  People usually don't like to give feedback unless it is positive because it may hurt someone's feelings and they are leery to ask for feedback for the same reasons.  The truth is, giving and receiving honest feedback is one of the most important tools for personal growth.  Here are a few reason why.

1.  Asking for feedback is a quick way to get better at anything.  Do you ever wonder how you are doing as a spouse, friend, sibling, son, daughter, parent, teacher, etc?  Just ask those that are close to you for some honest feedback and you will soon find out.  Most likely they will start with positive things as to not hurt your feelings but if they truly care for you they will tell you some ways that you can improve.  It is like asking "Do I have a booger?  Because I feel like I do and I want to look my best and having a booger will not let that happen." 

2.  Giving feedback shows you care.  Providing someone with ways they can improve is difficult because it can highlight faults.  However, as long as the feedback is given in a positive manner with the sole purpose of making the individual a better person it will be appreciated.  It is always appreciative to be around people that have the guts to say, "I know telling you that you have a booger is awkward but it would be so much worse for you if I just let you walk around with that thing in your nose all day long."  Have the courage to help some people out by giving feedback and they will appreciate you for it.  Remember, the entire world benefits when one person becomes better.

3.  Use feedback wisely.  Although most feedback is good, there are always those people that take it to the extreme.  They believe that pointing out faults at every opportunity is helpful.  ITS NOT!  Don't listen to or become one of these people.  In other words, don't go searching for boogers and be leery of those that do.  They probably lack social skills.

Challenge:  Find an appropriate time this week to ask for and give feedback.  You and/or someone else will become a better person.

Public Praise

Today I learned that public praise is a good thing.  As I sit in a meeting with 50 or so people giving praises to colleagues I could not help but wish that people would save their praises for another time so we could get out early.  I mean really.  We are all teachers but not from the same school so we are at most acquaintances.  We can tell our colleagues this privately tomorrow so lets just cut the crap and go home.
Then someone decided to praise me publicly and all of the sudden I had the urge to wait a little bit longer.  Kind words are always nice to hear, especially in front of a group.  I realized that it is possible that this setting would be the only time that someone would feel comfortable giving a colleague praise since it can sometimes be awkward one on one.

Now I realize that there are those of you out there that claim to hate being praised publicly because it embarrasses you.  I used to be one of those people but have grown to enjoy the feeling of kind words in front of an audience.

Challenge:  Look for good things about someone that you can brag on them about in your next group setting.  You will enjoy it as much as they will.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Do You Have It?

          There is something mysterious in the world today. Something elusive. Something desired yet undesirable. Something attainable yet unreachable. Do you know what it is?
          There is something available to everyone but possessed by only a few. Most believe it is negative but it couldn’t be more positive. Any guesses?
It takes extra time yet speeds things up. It takes extra work yet makes the work easier. It is difficult and enjoyable, unattractive and sexy. Is that your final answer? I'm sorry the correct answer is Discipline.
In schools and homes across America (and possibly the world) discipline is extremely underrated. Very few people have, show, practice, use, promote, or enjoy discipline. Most prefer to avoid, ignore, delegate, despise, and downplay discipline. But why?
Discipline helped Michael Phelps win 8 Olympic Gold medals. Discipline helped Michael Jordan make the high school team from which he was cut, only to become the greatest basketball player of all time. Discipline turns garage bands into headliners, bloggers into bestsellers, and privates into generals. Discipline helps people lose weight, stop smoking, and get into shape. Discipline can help protect nations, marriages, and bank accounts. Discipline helps people run businesses, classrooms, and marathons. Discipline is the difference between A and a B students, 1st and 2nd place, superior and excellent ratings. Discipline separates the good from the better, the walkers from the talkers, and the doers from the dreamers.

Do you have it?

If the common denominator for all of these great things is discipline, then why is it so rare?

Why You Can't Get Started

As I'm trying to figure out this whole blogging thing, there are a few aspects that have hindered my productivity.

First, I wanted to come up with a good blog title. Not just a good one, the best blog title. Something catchy. Something intriguing. Something deep. Something that I would be proud of and that people will one day be proud to say that they read.

Second, I want to make sure my blog layout was just right. The background should be appealing but not so much so that it takes away from the reading. The layout should be easy to follow so readers will not get confused. When guests visit my page I want them to feel comfortable and excited.

Both of these things are important. However, the problem is they are mere details and I didn't decide to blog because I wanted people to know that I can create a catchy title and an organized layout. I decided to blog to improve my writing skills and share the knowledge that has impacted my life so that it may impact the lives of others.

Many people have the same problem of getting caught up in the details of their own lives. They want to start a business but focus too much on the right name, accountant, and lawyer and lose their entrepreneurial spirit. People want to lose weight and get into shape but can't find the perfect gym or diet plan. People want to serve others but can't find the perfect church or organization to do so. People want to have a successful marriage but instead focus on an exceptional wedding. The list is endless.

A sermon by Scott Williams* at reminded me to stop trying to figure out all of the details and just take the next step*. I'm not going to automatically be an excellent blogger with thousands of "followers" if I focus more on titles and layout. I just need to take the next step, create a blog and start writing.

What is it that you have been wanting to do? Focus on Why you want to do it, take the next step, and the What, Where, & How will follow. Don't put it off any longer. Take the next step today!

*side notes*
Taking a step of Faith always makes me think of Indian Jones and the Last Crusade when Harrison Ford just steps out into thin air and a bridge starts to form under his feet with each step.

*Thank you to Scott Williams for your encouragement. Your example is even more powerful than your words.