Foundations

GROWTH

A friend of mine recently wrote a great book.  The publisher he submitted it to thought it was great as well, however they refused to publish it.  The reason?  He doesn’t have a platform in the area of his subject matter – a way to physically spread his message and he isn’t known as an expert in his subject matter.  The publisher’s suggestion?  Start a blog, publish a few magazine articles, garner a few speaking engagements.   He needs to create a foundation on which to establish himself.

You too, need a foundation for your pursuing your purpose.  Depending on your purpose it may or may not include a blog or speaking engagements, but you do need to establish yourself as a “subject matter expert” in your purpose in the minds of other people.  It’s the way you move forward. There’s a really easy way to do it – realize that you are already are (remember, it’s your unique purpose that stems from your very self) and start advertising it.  That means let people know what you’re up to:

  • When people ask, “What’s new?”  Tell them about your purpose.
  • If people are in a conversation that touches on your purpose in even the slightest of ways, say something like “That’s an area I’m expanding into…” and make yourself known.
  • Start discussions about people having purposes, and make sure to interject  yours along the way.
  • Volunteer for an event or organization that involves your purpose – you’ll expand your experiences, make valuable contacts, and feel great expressing your values.
  • Go ahead, be brave, start a blog and share yourself.

Do you have any other suggestions?  Please leave them in the comments section.

EXCELLENCE

When I first started telling people about my purpose (click here: Burn Bright – The Beginning) I got some blank stares and questioning looks. It wasn’t something I was known for.  One person actually laughed and basically told me that I had nothing to offer. It could have brought me down, but it was actually a catalyst. It made me stop and ask myself a question.  “Why am I doing this?”  It wasn’t “what do I have to offer.”  This made a difference.  When “what” is in the equation, it limits you to the availability of resources, and when those don’t appear to exist, you’re done for.  When “why” is in the equation it brings it back to the heart of the matter – your heart.  Your unique calling.  Your individual path. Your passion. Your creativity.  With that your resources never end.

PURPOSE

In the following video clip, Simon Sinek, leadership expert and author, touches on the importance of “why” (it focuses on marketing a product – so think of you and your purpose as the product you are marketing)

BEING INTENTIONAL: Part II

Being intentional is all about keeping your focus.

GROWTH

A friend of mine talks about the need to focus more on the road laid out before us in her blog Neeserisms. Check out Stay in Your Own Lane here.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

EXCELLENCE

Distractions come in many shapes and forms.  Sometimes it is difficult to discern best vs. good, important vs. urgent, delayed vs. instant gratification, what is right vs. what feels good.  The best advice I have to keep your focus is:

  1.  Set your priorities early on and when the distractions come, base your decisions on those pre-determined priorities.
  2. Establish a high standard for the way you think in every area of your life.  How do you do that?  This is the greatest guidance I’ve ever received:

“Summing it all up… I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned … what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” (Apostle Paul in his letter to the Phillippians in the New Testament of The Message version of the Bible)

PURPOSE

“This is your world.  Shape it or somebody else will.”  (Gary Lew)

Being Intentional – Part I

GROWTH

When you make excuses, you deny yourself the opportunity to grow.
 (Tayo Adeyemi)

EXCELLENCE

Are you being intentional about pursuing your purpose, or are you sitting back waiting for everything to come to you?

Just because you know the direction that God is taking you in your life, doesn’t mean that there isn’t going to be some hard work and decision-making involved.  There are going to be many many opportunities come your way. You will not be able to take every single one of them, so you need to position yourself to know which ones you should take advantage of.

One area to be intentional in is building yourself a professional support system. This is different from a personal support system.  Professional means that it has to do directly with implementing and maintaining your purpose and its goals with people with SAME/SIMILAR purpose and goals.

For example, here’s what I do in my life:

  • Meet regularly with a friend who is a speaker, corporate trainer, and author to specifically to talk about business and ministry.  We provide resources to each other, discuss our challenges, help each other set goals, and celebrate our accomplishments.
  • Almost every month I drive about two hours north to attend the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association meeting (http://www.nwchristianwriters.org/). Almost always I dread entering the nation’s 10th worst traffic.  Almost always I wind up in the wrong lane for the exit I need going back home very late at night.  But always I wind up being glad I made the effort to attend.  There is something about the atmosphere when you walk into a room where 50+ people are gathered for the same purpose, who share your values, and who go out of their way to encourage one another without any sort of competitive spirit.
  • Find the industry leaders in my field and subscribe to  their e-mail newsletters, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, LinkedIn profiles, bookmark their websites, and join on-line discussions.

Even if your purpose is not typically classified as professional, you need to do research and find ways of connecting to similar-minded people.  They really are out there. It may take extra effort on your part, but it’s worth it.

PURPOSE

Discover your uniqueness; then discipline yourself to develop it.
(Jim Sundberg)

Reminders About Our Way of Thinking

GROWTH

 “As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to become. Take action on your behaviour. Too many people want to feel, then take action. This never works.”

(John Maxwell)

EXCELLENCE

In looking at the people I consider to be excellent in pursuing their God-given purpose in life, there is one word that comes to mind for each of them: tenacious.  They have their obstacles and their moments of deep doubt, but they ultimately hold on. Merriam Webster defines tenacious as “1a: not easily pulled apart b: tending to adhere or cling especially to another substance. 2a: persistent in maintaining, adhering to, or seeking something valued or desired.” The “other substance” my tenacious friends hold on to is the substance of faith – they know theirs is a God-given purpose and is not going to be pulled out from under them. They value seeking out that for which they are created.

PURPOSE

Last night I had a dream that I was in some sort of competition and went forward to meet with one of the judges who would tell me if I had progressed to the next stage of the competition.  When he told me I had succeeded and was now a finalist, I began to cry. He asked me why I was crying and I said, “Because I was convinced that I would not make it and I would have to try another way.”  He said, “Well now you know that this is your platform.”  I woke up and thought, “Wow.”

There are two old adages I’ve seemed to survive on the past year: “Rejection is God’s protection” and “Rejection is just redirection.” Both of them are comforting and true when things don’t go as you would like.  But what about when things do go as you like – when things get traction and start to move forward?  What happens when you survive the final cut? What happens when things start to pop and you are accepted and not rejected? What’s the plan then?  Are you prepared to continue through on your purpose?

Always remember, your life’s purpose is not a goal, not an accomplishment. Rather, your purpose is your platform for your accomplishments. Don’t try to figure how to gain success.  You need to be strategic in in how to position yourself to make the most of the success that will come your way because you strive for excellence in pursuing your goal.

Strengths vs. Weaknesses

GROWTH

About ten years ago I began to enjoy the wisdom of Marcus Buckingham, the popular best-selling author and in-demand speaker.  His message is that a person’s unique personal strengths are the key to unlocking their potential (http://www.tmbc.com/home). I got revved up by this important truth; however, I had never really found a way to make it “click” in my life.  It was always in the back of my mind but I applied it pretty much hit-and-miss. I had lots of excuses about not having enough time, not having enough energy, not being in the right environment, etc., but deep down I knew it really was an element of fear that was behind my fully embracing what I knew to be truth.  Once I realized this I began to look at my life and discovered there were many areas that I was holding back in because of fear – in business, in relationships, and in my faith. It didn’t take me long to attribute it all to a fear of failure.  And so I began a quest to overcome it. Books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. helped me to get down and dirty in my fight to overcome my weaknesses.  I finally achieved breakthrough when I had a revelation that doing this was WASTING MY TIME. In my ferocity to clear the path to get to my strengths, I was actually focusing on my weaknesses and diminishing my potential. I was doing the opposite of my goal. I stopped in my tracks and did some serious reassessment of my assumptions. It was then that I discovered that I was not afraid of failure, but I was afraid of success.

Nelson Mandela’s quote of Marianne Williamson’s Our Deepest Fear suddenly went from an admired platitude to a life giving testimony.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world.”

My fear of success had partly to do with the responsibility of sustaining it and the expectations and judgments of others.  This time the books, CDs, DVDs, internet sites, prayer, affirmations, declarations, etc. were focused properly. Instead of overcoming my flaws and limitations, I began to put concentrate on my assets – places I had an advantage – the knowledge, skills, abilities, and spheres of influence in which I was already successful.  As I pour resources and energies into these areas I continue to be amazed at the benefits.  I have more energy, I have a better attitude when things are challenging, I feel less threatened by the opinions of others, I feel less threatened by the success of others in my field, and, in a major bonus, I’ve found that when I focus on strengths that the areas of my limitations have adjusted.  They have either improved (my strengths have absorbed them) or they have totally fallen off my grid of self-assessment (they have no impact).

When you are moving towards your purpose in life, keep in mind that it’s not only important to re-evaluate yourself from time to time and the beliefs that you have about what you can and can’t accomplish, but also WHY you have those beliefs.

EXCELLENCE

“Excellence is not the opposite of failure.”
(Marcus Buckingham)

PURPOSE

“(People) who are making (their purpose) work are ascribing their success to intrinsic causes  rather than extrinsic. They’ve discovered their strengths, they seek their  strong moments, and they apply them with courage and diligence. They trust  themselves beyond anyone else and they take themselves very seriously. They take  a stand for their strengths.”
(Marcus Buckingham)

Rising Out of the Pit and Pressing into Your Purpose

GROWTH

I worked for a couple of hours trying to write a piece about surrounding yourself with people who support you.  Then I discovered that Mark Twain said it much more succinctly than I did in just a few short sentences:

Keep  away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.  When you are seeking to bring big plans to fruition, it is important with whom you regularly assoiate.  Hang out with friends who are like minded and who are also designing purpose-filled lives.  Similarly be that kind of a friend for your friends.

To tell you the truth it kind of irritated me that I had worked hard just to find the same thing written decades ago. Unfortunately I’ve noticed a new tendency to get more than reasonably irritated over things having to do with my purpose and vision.  To be completely transparent, it’s one of the reasons I haven’t been blogging the last couple of months.  Other than the  Twain incident above, I’ve faced the following:

  • I’ve been trying to piece together a possible book and in doing research I picked up the new book by one of my mentors (I’ve never met him, but I consider him a mentor) and every chapter was a chapter I had been brainstorming through for my book – and, naturally, done far better than I could even dream.
  • An acqaintance of mine who was sharing a similar path to mine – roadblocks and setbacks and lots of hopes and prayers – suddenly found breakthrough into her dream job that sort of fell into her lap.  Jealousy settled in on me. I wanted to give up.  It was never going to happen for me…

Getting that down in writing and reading through them, it’s easy to see now that it was ridiculous for those circumstances to hold me back from my entire future.  But when you’re in the midst of them and they are frustrating you and chipping away at your confidence, it’s not so easy to see the big picture.

The only reason I began to crawl out of the pit I was in was when I read about how other people climbed out of their holes, reading my own journals about circumstances I’ve conquered in the past, and – most important of all – setting aside time for serious prayer and asking God to help me change my way of thinking.

One of the things that He showed me was that I was spending way too much time with people who didn’t support me.  They didn’t come right out and say that, but when I would share about things that were starting to happen they would caution me about getting too excited.  Or comments would be made about the time I was spending pursuing my vision vs. the “real” responsibilities of life.  Or they would tell about how their other friends’ dreams fell through and now they were flipping burgers at age sixty.

It only took one 30-minute visit with a friend full of encouragement and optimism to start me back on the road to my goals.  Since then I’ve been looking for advocates who will stand beside me – and they’ve been coming out of the woodwork.  They are people who are also chasing a purpose-filled life and are facing the same set of emotions I am.  And I plan on becoming their biggest advocate as well.

The naysayers are still there – but my percentage of time with them is going to decrease.  I am also going to be careful in what I share with them.  I’ll give them generalities, not specifics, and it will mostly be successes already achieved rather than hopes that are still blooming.

EXCELLENCE

Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical, and expecting more than others think is possible.  (Ronnie Oldham)

…and I would add that it is pressing in harder than YOU think is wise, safe, practical, possible.

PURPOSE

This is a reminder to myself – but you can use it for yourself if you find yourself needing it:

Struggles may arise, but they are defeated.  Distractions, temptations and plots against you become irrelevant .  You become like Nehemiah, who said to his enemies, “I am doing a great work and cannot come down…” Purpose creates not arrogance but vtality, focus, courage.  (Stephen DeSilva)

My purpose is set by God – and He remains faithful to me and His plan for me, even when I do not.

“God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and nothing he creates is insignificant.” (Me)

GROWTH

“My great concern is not whether you have failed, but whether you are content with your failure.”  (Abraham Lincoln)

EXCELLENCE

My friends had been talking about it for over a year, so I knew that I was a bit behind the curve, but when I finally started playing Angry Birds,  I liked it.  I liked it being broken down into levels and sub-levels that you can quickly work, that it’s challenging but not overly confidence eroding, because it requires strategic thinking, and because it has a sense of humor.  I also liked it because I completed every level, to some degree of success, within 48 hours (but no, I didn’t play it for two days straight).

So here’s the thing:  about six of the games got incredibly frustrating.  I kept trying over and over and over again – examining the structures where the pigs were hiding and trying to get the slingshot at just the right angle to send those aviary missles and obliterate the porkers.  If only I could just get that stupid bird to hit that corner board just perfectly…

Suddenly a popular phrase came to mind, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”  My first response was, “But this should work!”  and continued on. And continued to fail. Eventually I sat back and took a big breath and decided to take a couple of potshots, not trying to hit anything, but just seeing how high I could launch a bird or what would happen if I didn’t release an egg bomb.  Surprise surprise surprise.  Unexpected destruction ensued.  Frustration ended.  Fun returned.  When I got stuck again, I pursued that modern miracle – the internet –  for clues on attack angles and timing.  Success again.  Now I don’t know how successful it might look if I compared it with other peoples results, but I feel pretty good about it.

Will you be at all surprised when I suggest the same strategy when you get frustrated with your temporary lack of success?  Go ahead and take a couple of potshots – things you know won’t help, things that might not make sense, things that go against your normal line of thinking.  It could very well open the way for seeing it all differently.  And go ahead and browse the internet or ask people involved in the same area of expertise or do other research to find out how others broke through troublesome times.  There’s no rule that says you have to figure it all out without any help.

PURPOSE

While researching some possible ideas for this blog, I came across a website that purported itself to be an expert on self-improvement.  It loudly proclaimed several suggestions for reaching success.  Suggestions like “you really don’t have much time to do what you want to do since you’re making a beeline for death – so you better hurry up and get with it.”  And one about forgetting about helping other people along the way.  It was a totally serious site.  But the one that really irritated me?  They said it was a total myth that you are important, reminding the reader how “remarkably insignificant you are” in the vastness of the universe.  Fortunately several commenters on the site were as appalled as I was.

It is not possible to emphasize deeply enough that YOU are a remarkable person. Not because of anything you can do, but simply because there is no one exactly like you, with your experiences, your set of skills, and your view of life.  God created you on purpose, for a purpose – and nothing he creates is insignificant.  The world is waiting for you to influence it. You may do it loudly and for many.  You may do it quietly for a few.  But you are never insignificant.

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