IT’S HUMPDAY…AND. YOU. LOVE. THE. GAME! (Thanks Taylor Swift:)

ARE YOU WINNING?
ARE YOU WINNING?

Life has been compared to a game; “The Game of Life” we sometimes call it. At times, we may refer to office politics we’re facing at work as “playing a chess game” with our co-workers or bosses. Game analogies abound. When we really do well on a presentation or make that sell we may exclaim, “I knocked it out of the park!” or “Touchdown!”. However you choose to look at it, games are often helpful metaphors to make sense of what we experience in our lives.

I want to share three suggestions with you to help you “win the game of life” that you’re playing this week, even today, this moment. Keep these thoughts in mind:

BRING YOUR “A” GAME…BE PREPARED!

Whether you are launching a new project at work, interviewing for a new job, writing a routine report, raising kids, or just trying to maintain a packed schedule of life demands: bring your “A” game! What do I mean? I mean, do your best. Always. Make the effort. Go all in! How? Focus your reason, emotions and actions onto the task in front of you.

1. Use Your Reason. God has given you a good mind. Do your best and work with your mind. Plan. Project. Ask questions. Figure stuff out. Think! Speak up when you see something. Stand up for what is right. Don’t wait for others to do your thinking for you and don’t be afraid of making mistakes. As Immanuel Kant said:

“Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own intelligence.”

2. Program Your Emotions. Be like Hans and Franz from Saturday Night Live and let your own positive words “pump you up!” By telling yourself what you can do, your emotions will follow through. Speak affirmations such as:

  • I can do it and I know I can!
  • I’ve got it and everyday I get more it!
  • I am winning at the game of life!

3.  Plan Your Actions. Bringing your “A” game means starting out with “a game plan”. In real estate, it’s all about “location, location, location.” But in the game of life, it’s all about “preparation, preparation, preparation.” A person with a plan is a person with power! So, make one and then take action on it. Discipline yourself so others won’t have to.

LET THE GAME COME TO YOU…BE PATIENT!

As you are “working your plan”, be patient with the process. In sports, coaches often tell a player who’s not playing very well to “let the game come to them.” In other words, don’t undo your own success by “trying too hard”. As David Allen has taught, “Your ability to generate power is directly proportional to your ability to relax.”

So, relax. Be patient. The world will unfold and release its treasures only to the patient person. All things can be mastered by one willing to submit to a process of disciplined-waiting. Adopt Arnold H. Glasow’s philosophy: “The key to everything is patience. You get the chicken by hatching the egg, not by smashing it.”

WIN OR LOSE, PLAY THE GAME WITH HONOR…BE PRINCIPLED!

Author Stephen Covey wrote, “…there are principles that govern human effectiveness — natural laws in the human dimension that are just as real, just as unchanging and unarguably “there” as laws such as gravity are in the physical dimension.” He went on to say:

“Principles are like lighthouses. They are natural laws that cannot be broken.”

You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game that matters most.” In other words, don’t lose yourself in the pursuit of success. Maintain your personal standards. Keep your integrity. Remain honest. Show respect. Don’t lie, cheat or steal. You know…all the stuff your mom taught you:)

Friend, this is how you bring your “A” game, every day in every way. At least this is how I try to do it. I often fail. In those moments I try to remember that even when I give a “F” performance, at least I can give a “A” effort!

 

INDUSTRIOUS…Am I getting things done?

INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE
INDUSTRIOUS PEOPLE GET THINGS DONE

Someone once told me “Brad, you get out of something what you put into it.” Now that I’m 41, I can’t say I agree 100%. Sometimes, I actually can’t control “what I get out of something”.

In our fallen world, everything’s broken. Nothing works right, at least not for very long. My car stalls out. My heater breaks. My microwave fizzles. 1+1 doesn’t always = 2. Does that make sense?

For example, If you’re a person who works in the sales industry, you can usually control what you personally “put in” to a relationship with a new client, in terms of caring, time, expertise and helpfulness. But you can’t control whether that client will “buy” from you or your company in a way that “equals” your sacrificial input. Sometimes, 4+1= 2. It can be frustrating to say the least.

But while we can’t always control what we get out of something, we can always control what we put into it. Here’s the good news: although we can’t always directly control outcomes, there are three elements of our work that we can control. You can decide to be industrious no matter what. For example, YOU CAN CONTROL…

1. Your Work Ethic…How you view and feel about the work you do.

You can “take this job and love it” or you can “take this job and shove it”! It’s up to you! And your boss, eventually:) How do you feel about your work? Do you like it? Loathe it? What?

Your work ethic is what you believe about work itself. An “ethic” is another word for your basic philosophy or belief system. Your view of “work” will determine your behavior in relation to it. For example, is work a blessing or a curse to you? Is it something you avoid at all costs or dive into as often as possible? A second element you can control is…

2. Your Work Habits…When and how you discipline yourself to do your work.

I’m always fascinated to learn the daily routines and schedules of famous people. The book Daily Rituals by Mason Currey, for example, examines the daily work habits of 161 of history’s most famous creatives: men like Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway, Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Edison; along with women such as Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keefe and Sylvia Plath. In this book he writes about their work habits. He asks and answers questions such as: What time did they get up in the morning? Where did they do their work? When did they sleep? How many breaks did they take?

What we learn is that different people had different levels of discipline. “Discipline” says Bob Proctor, “is the ability to give yourself a command and then follow it.” Each of us has daily rituals that constitute our work habits. For the most part, these are under our control. We also have a certain level of self-discipline with which we carry out our tasks. We decide these things. We get to choose. And each of us can choose to be industrious every day. You can also choose to control…

3. Your Work Rate…How much effort you give to doing your work.

We’ve all heard the cliché’, “Work smarter not harder”. It’s catchy, but not totally accurate. No matter how “smart” you work, effort is still required of you to accomplish goals and plans. It may or may not be “manual labor” but it’s almost always “mental labor”.

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, NY Times best-selling author of Eat To Live and Super Immunity reminds us: “Things that have huge value require effort…great success means a significant effort is usually required.” 

Unfortunately, the word “effort” itself gets a bad rap. For many, it connotes “blood, tears, toil and sweat”, all things unpleasant to give at times. Gandhi saw it another way: “Satisfaction” he wrote“lies in the effort, not in the attainment. Full effort is full victory.” 

“Never let effort be the issue” says former NY Jets coach, Herman Edwards. Exert yourself. Leave a piece of yourself in your work. Even if you are afraid of failing, remember these words from philosopher Francis Bacon:

“There is no comparison between that which is lost by not succeeding and that which is lost by not trying.”

FINDING HAPPINESS…WHAT REALLY WORKS AND WHAT DOESN’T

HAPPY YOU YEAR

Dr. Phil often counsels people in conflict by asking, “Do you wanna be right or do you wanna be happy?”. He’s assuming, of course, that as humans we get to choose; that our own happiness is largely under our personal control. Know what I’m learning?

Happiness isn’t so much about the position you’re in but the disposition in you!

Just like Hugh Downs once quipped, “A happy person is not a person in a certain set of circumstances, but rather a person with a certain set of attitudes.” 

Jesus once taught on how people can truly find lasting happiness. He gave 8 hints about happiness. I want to share in my next 8 blog posts what these hints are. The only question is…can you and I take the hint? Let’s see if we can…

HINT #1: “Blessed (HAPPY) are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:3

To be ‘poor in spirit’ means to be humble. Happy are the humble, Jesus says! Why? For 2 reasons:

HUMBLE PEOPLE ARE HAPPY BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY CONFESS!

Some people give testimonies, others give bragimonies! You know what I mean. They’re annoying. You know one or two, I’m sure. I’m referring to people who boast, brag and basically carry on about their life dramas and accomplishments in a “better-than-you” tone.

Humble people don’t behave this way. It’s not that humble people are losers and proud people are winners. As C.S. Lewis taught, It isn’t that humble people think less of themselves…they just think of themselves less!  Humble people don’t over-estimate their own goodness or importance.

Jesus wasn’t saying that you and I don’t have enough goodness in our lives, He was saying we don’t have any without God helping us. Humble people are happy because they’ve come to terms with the fact that they themselves are not the center of the universe and God is. That’s their happy place.

HUMBLE PEOPLE ARE HAPPY BECAUSE OF WHAT THEY POSSESS!

Jesus says that ‘the poor in spirit’ receive as their possession the ‘kingdom of heaven’, a.k.a. Eternal Salvation!

The door to God’s kingdom hangs low and stands narrow and those people whose heads get too big can’t fit through it. “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” Saint Peter taught us.

To be happy or blessed, you have to become humble enough to admit to God that you need Him. Most people’s prayers revolve around their greeds not their needs. We may want that shiny new car…but what our soul really needs is God’s presence to fill it and give it joy.

If you can take the hint and humble yourself before Him, then you can be happy!

Will you take the hint?

IMITATION…Who are you following?

 

Who Do You Look Up To?
WHO ARE YOU FOLLOWING?

I asked my 7-yr. old daughter, “Emma, who do you want to be like when you grow up?” She answered, “Gabby Douglas; and mommy. And you a little bit”:)

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my short leadership journey so far, it’s this:

EVERYONE FOLLOWS SOMEONE!

Regardless of who you are, I believe every individual looks for and finds a person to help inspire them toward growth and achievement. For some, it’s their parents. For others it’s a favorite athlete or musician. Still, for a few, it’s a teacher or a coach. Everyone needs someone to follow!

Paul, a 1st century terrorist-turned-Christian evangelist, once made this statement to a group of Christ-followers living in the ancient city of Corinth:

“And you should imitate me, just as I imitate Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NLT)

It’s been said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. I also believe it is the truest form of growing. After all…

A true leader isn’t looking to be flattered but to be followed.

It’s the nature of leaders to gather followers. But did you know that even leaders need someone to lead them?

John Maxwell has a great quote which says, “It’s hard to lead if you only have yourself to follow.” For example, every great player needs an equally great coach. Michael Jordan needed Phil Jackson. Tom Brady needs Bill Belichick. And Ben needed Jerry:) Every great leader, or ice cream maker, needs other leaders to follow.

Since everyone follows someone, it’s important to make sure that the person you’ve linked up with is worthy of your following. What qualifies a person to serve as your model for patterning your life after?

Ask yourself these 3 questions and see if your hero passes the test!

1. Is their lifestyle worth emulating?

Does the person you are attempting to “be like” make choices that command your respect? I’m really thankful my daughter said she wanted to be like Gabrielle Douglas and not Marilyn Manson. Both are famous. Both are looked up to by a certain group of people. But both do not necessarily make equally good life decisions.

2. Is their message worth sharing?

Everyone has a message they’re sharing whether they know it or not. Each of us is communicating constantly through verbal and non-verbal cues, gestures, postures and movements. So, what message is the person you’re trying to imitate sending by his or her words and actions? Some messages are more worthy than others. All ideas are not created equal. You’ve got to discern and decide which ones are healthy, true and worthy of your attention.

3. Is their legacy worth remembering?

Each of us is leaving behind a ripple effect, a wake in the water of our existence, that will be remembered for good or bad. Is this person that you are trying to “be like” living for values that you share deep down? I’m talking about values that last far beyond the grave, that last far longer than our short earthly life. Shared values makes for a powerful Leader-Follower connection.

As you seek out mentors, leaders, and sponsors to help show you the way…ask yourself these 3 questions to make sure you’re following a worthy leader.

IMBALANCE…Am I maintaining a balanced perspective?

DO YOU HAVE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE?
DO YOU HAVE A BALANCED PERSPECTIVE?

I’ve discovered that the greatest danger to a balanced perspective is perfectionism. You know what perfectionism is, right? It’s that little invisible cloud hovering above your head called “Never good enough”. It hides the sunshine and keeps the light from getting in. It rains on your parade and stifles your enthusiasm. Even when you earn a hard-won victory it’s negativity seems to overshadow the good things in your life.

PERFECTIONISM IS CAUSED BY EXTREMISM

Whenever I feel myself obsessing over perfectionism, I often hear words like, “Never! Always! Everything! Nothing!” As in…

  • I NEVER get it right!
  • He/She ALWAYS messes things up!
  • EVERYTHING is horrible right now!
  • NOTHING ever turns out good for me!

These are extreme words. Extremism is one of the causes of perfectionism. Extremism is “All-or-Nothing” thinking. Extremism looks at things from an unbalanced perspective. Such as, “If everything isn’t perfect, then nothing is going well.” Or, “If this doesn’t go right, then nothing else will either.” A little extreme, wouldn’t you agree?

These extreme kinds of thoughts matter. Proverbs says, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Extreme thoughts lead to extreme emotions which cause extreme (unbalanced) perspectives.

PERFECTIONISM CAN LEAD TO ESCAPISM

What is escapism? Escapism is the desire to retreat into a fantasy world of stimulation: pornography, narcotics, alcoholism, sleeping too much, staring at the t.v., endless all-night video game playing, and gambling can all be forms of escapism.

Personally, I believe that perfectionism causes much of this. If I tell myself that I must succeed or I must not fail, then if I fail, it follows that I might just stop trying altogether, give up and back-peddle into a shadow world of sensory stimulation hoping to forget about my own imperfections.

Escapism is really just the desire to stop feeling pain. Failure is painful. Even the prospects of failure can be painful. So, to avoid facing that pain, people are often tempted to do anything to numb it, even indulging in things that are at worst, harmful to them, and at the very least, counter-productive to their goals and desires.

PERFECTIONISM IS CURED BY ESSENTIALISM

Greg McKeown, in his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, says that the answer to breaking through to the next level in our lives is the disciplined pursuit of less, but better.

Perfectionism can quite literally cause us to try to “be perfect” in so many areas of our lives that we experience “brain-fry”. Our emotional system gets fried and breaks down, in much the same way that a robot’s system shuts down when it’s wire-system gets overloaded.

Michael Hyatt, in his article The Paradigm Shift That Helped Me Defeat Perfectionism Once And For All, agrees:

“Perfect is the enemy of the good, but so is distraction. If you have too many irons in the fire, you’ll get burned out. It’s better to focus on what matters now and see it through. Then you can turn to the next thing.” – Michael Hyatt

He encourages us to narrow our focus in order to defeat the perfectionism trap. As you focus on “the essential”, you more easily maintain a balanced perspective; something each of us needs to stay healthy emotionally.

 

INFLUENCE…How am I impacting people around me?

 

INFLUENCE

“Each of us is surrounded by people who look to us, count on us, and depend on us to make a difference.” – Blaine Lee


It’s like breathing air. It’s the most personal and the most universal human experience. What am I talking about? Influence.

Every day we’re surrounded by forces trying to influence us. We breathe it in (Marketing, Media, TV, Radio, Friends, Books, Magazines, Tablets, Smartphones ), opening ourselves up to be influenced by others; and then we exhale it out (Parenting, Leading, Managing, Socializing), attempting to wield our own influence-powers. Push, pull. In, out. Give and take. We influence others and are influenced by others.

When measuring our own influence, I’ve found that most people fall into 1 of 3 categories:

1.  MANY PEOPLE UNDER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

We see it in others. It glares at us.  We recognize influence in others, but do we see it in ourselves? John Maxwell relates that according to some sociologists, even the most introverted person will influence 10,000 people in their lifetime.

All day today, you’re carrying around two kinds of influence: Active and Potential. Typically, people who underestimate their own influence do not value their own potential. They doubt their ability to make a difference. So, they hold back, stay in the shadows, sell themselves short. They don’t flex their influence muscles.

2. SOME PEOPLE OVER-ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

David and Heather Kopp, along with Larry Wilson, define an influencer as “a living person whose life and work has far-reaching impact–whether for good or ill–in today’s world”. We also refer to these people as “World-Changers”. And who doesn’t want to be considered a world-changer?

Sadly, this desire to be thought of as important and powerful leads some people to over-reach in their attempts to exert influence on others. They’re not so much confident as arrogant. They reek of ambition and sweat forcefulness out of every pore. Unfortunately, they tend to rub their nasty sweat all over everyone else around them. And it stinks!

We’ve all known people like this. Perhaps, at times, we have been people like this. I know I have. One of the best ways to discover if you’re behaving this way is simply to ask your family, friends and co-workers for feedback. Ask them:

  • Am I overbearing?
  • Do I give advice when you don’t really want me to?
  • Do I come across as too forceful?
  • Am I tactful or too direct?
  • Do you feel respected by me?
  • How do I make you feel?

Takes courage…but it’s the quickest way to learn whether you’re overestimating your own influence.

3. A FEW PEOPLE RIGHTLY ESTIMATE THEIR INFLUENCE.

The Apostle Paul taught, “…I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one.” 

What’s he saying? He’s saying properly estimate your own influence. Don’t over-reach and don’t under-reach. When you stand in front of the mirror, don’t ask it, “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” Just go to the mirror and be honest; be willing to see yourself as objectively as you can. Warts and all!

Then go out and activate your properly estimated influence to change the world!

 

 

THE UPTAKE ON INTAKE…What are you putting into your mind, spirit and body?

What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?
What are you allowing into your mind, body and spirit?

The law of gravity says, “What goes up must come down.” The Law of Intake states, “What goes in must comes out.”

INTAKE IS A DISCIPLINE OF SELF-LEADERSHIP

When I say intake, I’m referring to what and who you expose yourself to; the images you see, the words and noises you hear, the tactile surfaces you touch and feel, the aromas and odors you smell, the food and objects you taste, and the people you spend time with.  Anything and everything you take in, according to the law of intake, will eventually come out.

WHAT’S AT STAKE WITH INTAKE IS WHO YOU WILL BECOME

Jim Rohn once quipped, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He meant, of course, that we catch attitudes from people like we catch colds.  We rub off on each other. Artist Austin Kleon puts it more plainly:

“You are, in fact, a mashup of everything you choose to let into your life.”

Jesus taught, “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light.” What he meant is that what your eyes look at “goes into” your body and your being. If you’re viewing good things (light), then good things will “go into” your body and being.

GUARD WHAT YOU TAKE INTO YOUR LIFE

An ancient proverb says, “Guard your heart with all diligence for out of it flow the issues of life.” How do I apply this? A few examples…

  • Pornagraphy is a poor choice. It causes men to objectify women and women to degrade men. It ruins relationships.  Don’t take in porn.
  • Some drugs, the illegal kind, are poison. It steals your awareness and diminishes your capacities. Stop putting poison in your body.
  • Gossip magazines are less intellectually nourishing than novels. Read People less and Tolstoy more. It’s about intake; what you’re taking into your self, your being.
  • Positive thoughts feel better than negative thoughts. Take in more positive and less negative.
  • Swallow your pride and you’ll sweat humility out of your emotional pores. This is a good thing. Humble people go far with others.
  • Should kids play violent video games? Studies go both ways. It’s worth examining.
  • Does a child raised by an abuser necessarily become one, too?Intake matters to all of us, regardless of age.

INTAKE SPELLS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PREPARING OR REPAIRING

“If you are preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow.” – Dr. John Maxwell

A good tomorrow starts with a good today. What I will be tomorrow I am becoming now. Therefore, I will either be spending tomorrow reaping the benefits of the good things I did today or repairing the damage from the bad things I did today.

Let me conclude by sharing what I believe healthy intake looks like. Healthy intake for leaders usually means…

  1. Serving the right God
  2. Having the right priorities
  3. Thinking the right thoughts
  4. Saying the right words
  5. Praying the right prayers
  6. Making the right choices
  7. Reading the right books
  8. Learning the right lessons
  9. Listening to the right people
  10. Attending the right events