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?

IMPRESSIONS…What is God saying to me?”

What is God saying to me?
What is God saying to me?

When the devil gives us an idea it’s called temptation. When God gives us an idea we call it an impression. An impression is not a feeling, but more like an inner sensing, an inward urging or pressure, an internal breeze of wind rustling the leaves of your spirit, emotions and will, inviting you to listen with your heart to God’s still small voice.  How do you know when it’s God speaking to you?

Like gravity, I can’t see God but I experience the results of His actions. I confess this makes it hard sometimes. I wish I could see God like I see other people. How can we get to a place where we become sensitive enough to know when its God speaking to us? Here’s the reality…

YOU HAVE TO FIGURE IT OUT

Figure it out means think it out. Thankfully, not by yourself. God knew that we humans would struggle with the subjective nature of our relationship with Him. So, not only did God come to earth in human form in Jesus, but He also gave us a book, The Bible, to be an objective source of authority where we can go to find true information about Him.

Figuring it out means going to God’s Word, the Bible, and reading and studying what it says. God will never contradict His Word. God will never tell you to do something that goes against what He’s already told us in The Bible. One way of figuring out if it’s God’s voice I’m hearing is to check my impressions (what I’m sensing on the inside) with the truths of God’s Word. As you do this…

YOU HAVE TO WORK IT OUT

Very often, when Jesus Christ would teach and preach, people failed to understand His message. The Gospel of John records this insight: “Jesus gave this illustration, but they did not understand what He was telling them.” Jesus was teaching and even using stories to make clear the meaning of his message…and still people didn’t get it.

Knowing what Jesus said and what He meant are two different things. What He said is easy enough, but knowing what He meant is the part where we work it out. Paul, the Apostle, instructed first century Christians: “So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence, but now even more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Thankfully, God has given Christ-followers His very own Spirit to live within us and to teach us the truth. Working out your own salvation with fear and trembling means working with God’s Holy Spirit to understand truth. The Apostle John explains this when he says, However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He (God’s Spirit) will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. – John 16:13 (NKJV)

Once we begin figuring it out and working it out…the natural progression of this process means…

YOU HAVE TO LIVE IT OUT

John also connects these spiritual dots for us in his book 1 John 2:27 (NLT):

“But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.”

The third person of the Holy Trinity, The Holy Spirit, lives and dwells inside every true believer empowering us to figure out our own inner impressions, working out our own understanding of what God is saying to us and to live out the faith we possess.

THE IDEAL LEADER…

THE IDEAL LEADER
THE IDEAL LEADER

There is no such thing as ‘The Ideal Leader’, but there are leaders with ideals! Ideals guide our lives like rudders direct ships. The captain chooses which way to turn the rudder (which ideals to live by) and then that rudder (ideal) steers the ship in the set direction. Our ideals are the rudders in our lives. We choose our values, then our values steer us.

While there is no such thing as ‘The Ideal Leader’, there are leaders with ideals. Socrates lived for his ideal of wisdom. The founder of the Protestant Reformation, Martin Luther, lived for his ideal of “justification by faith alone”. Gandhi lived for his ideal of freedom. Martin Luther King lived for his ideal of justice. President Reagan lived for his ideal of a restored America. Billy Graham lives for his ideal of salvation in Jesus for every person in the world.

“The great men and women of history were not great because of what they earned and owned, but rather for what they gave their lives to accomplish.” – Dr. John Maxwell

So, what ideals are you living for? Perhaps when you hear the word ‘ideal’ you’re tempted to blow it off as pie-in-the-sky, ivory tower, only for dreamers kind of non-sense. You’ve heard the label ‘idealist’ thrown around as a criticism against someone and you’ve concluded that ideals just aren’t practical. “There’s the ideal” you say, “and then there’s the real.”

We all have to deal with the gap between what’s real and what’s ideal; with what is and the way we wish things were. Ideals, for some, feel more like wishful thinking.

A practical way for you and I to think about ‘ideals’ is to see them in their solid form, as when water freezes and turns to ice. Ideals (liquid concepts) harden into solid substances the way water turns from liquid to ice. Ideals in liquid form are concepts. But in solid form they become our expectations. For us, the ideal becomes what’s real.

Let me explain. When I was growing up, my mom taught me to hang up my clothes in my closet in a certain way…the hanger was hung in a specific direction. When I got married, my wife hung my clothes in my closet one day in the exact opposite way my mom had showed me. When I mentioned it to her (NOT the ideal thing to do:), she said, “Well, then, you can just do it yourself!”

What happened here? The way my mother showed me how to hang clothes in my closet had morphed into a solid expectation for me. I came to see the way my mom hung clothes as ‘the ideal’. Without realizing it, I had made my mom’s method ‘ my ideal’ and it had solidified into a solid expectation. The ideal (Brad, here’s how you can hang your clothes in your closet) became my expectation (Here’s how clothes SHOULD be hung in a closet).

NOT ALL IDEALS ARE CREATED EQUAL

I’ve matured since then, and now understand that not all ideals are equally important. I choose my family over my career. I try to choose what’s right over what’s wrong. I value what’s true instead of what’s false. I prefer to honor people rather than dishonor them. I decide to be better not bitter. These are just a few of my ideals. What are some of yours?

 “Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead.” ― Louisa May Alcott

52 MUST-HAVE SKILLS FOR LEADERS…A CHECKLIST

BALANCED LEADERSHIP
LEADERSHIP IS A BALANCING ACT

Leadership is a balancing act! You’re constantly juggling, working on multiple tracks at the same time. How do we stay balanced with so many people, projects and processes to juggle?

BLESSED ARE THE BALANCED!

It all starts with you; where you’re focusing your attention. What’s got your attention ? What are you focusing on?

“What you focus on expands. So focus on what you want, not on what you don’t want.” – Esther Jno-Charles

I offer you a checklist to focus on. Ask yourself these 52 questions and reflect on your current skill level in each. Really go deep inside yourself as a leader while you seek the answers to these 52 questions. You may even want to record your thoughts in a Self-Leadership Journal. From one leader to another…

INNER-SELF CHECKLIST

  1. INTAKE – What images/words/substances am I taking into my mind, spirit and body?
  2. IMPRESSIONS – What is Jesus saying to me?
  3. INSIGHTS – What principles am I observing and learning?
  4. INTENT – What is motivating my feelings and choices at this moment?
  5. INTENTIONALITY – Am I choosing to be proactive or passive?
  6. INSISTENCE – Am I summoning the will to follow through?
  7. IMAGINATION – Am I visualizing success or failure?
  8. INTERNAL COMMITMENTS – What unspoken agreements have I made with myself?
  9. INFORMATION – What’s my system for collecting and managing information?
  10. INJURIES – Am I harboring any resentments? 
  11. INCOMPLETES – What open loops are pulling at my attention?
  12. INTENSITY – Am I balancing the serious with the hilarious?
  13. INTELLECT – Am I challenging my mind?
  14. INTEGRITY – Am I congruent in what I think, feel, say and do?
  15. INTANGIBLES – Am I paying attention to morale?
  16. IMPLICATIONS – Am I asking and answering the “So, what?” question?
  17. IMMATURITY – Am I being defensive or teachable?
  18. IMBALANCE – Are my emotions under control?
  19. INSECURITIES – Am I healing wounds and overcoming fears?
  20. INITIATIVE – Am I making the first move, taking the first step accepting appropriate risk?
  21. INDUSTRIOUS – Have I decided to be productive today?
  22. INFERENCES – Is my “if-then” thinking accurate?
  23. INTERPRETATIONS – What is my paradigm for filtering my experience of reality?
  24. IMPULSES – Am I directing my desires to healthy ends?
  25. IDEALS – What values guide my actions?
  26. IDOLS – Am I putting God first?
  27. INSTINCTS – Is my sense of timing improving?
  28. INTUITION – Am I working from my strengths?
  29. INTERNALIZATIONS – What beliefs am I allowing to take root in my head and heart?
  30. INSPIRATION – How am I keeping my fire burning?
  31. ILLUSTRATIONS – Am I turning today’s experiences into stories I can tell?

OUTER-SELF CHECKLIST

  1. IMAGE – What image am I projecting to the world?
  2. INFLUENCE – What effect am I have on those around me?
  3. INTERACTIONS – Am I reacting to others with grace and truth?
  4. INNER CIRCLE – Am I surrounding myself with loyal, trustworthy, high-caliber people?
  5. INCOME – Am I telling my money where to go or wondering where it went?
  6. INTERCEDING – Am I praying for others’ needs?
  7. INTERESTS – Am I pursuing and enjoying hobbies? 
  8. INNOVATION – Am I finding better ways to do things?
  9. IMPLEMENTATION – What changes am I putting into place?
  10. INTIMACY – Am I emotionally available for my family and friends?
  11. ISOLATION – Am I moving toward relationships or away from them?
  12. INTRODUCTIONS – Who am I meeting and networking with?
  13. INVESTMENT – Who am I mentoring?
  14. INTERRUPTIONS – Am I limiting distractions and focusing on priorities?
  15. INPUT – Am I asking for feedback?
  16. INTERDEPENDENCE – Am I building my team or trying to do it all myself?
  17. INTERVENTIONS – With whom do I need to have a courageous conversation?
  18. INSTRUCTION – What am I teaching my children?
  19. IMPROVISATION – Am I learning to think on my feet?
  20. ISSUES – What challenges am I facing in my life right now?
  21. INTERSECTIONS – What crossroads have I reached and decisions do I need to make?

40 SECRETS TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME

TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME...
TURNING 40 HAS TAUGHT ME..

1. I can FINALLY grow a beard:)..sort of

2. In 3 to 5 years I’ll be considered smart (My dad told me this:)

3. The world is bigger than our perceptions of it (Thks to Thoreau)

4. Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purposes that prevail. – Proverbs 19:21

5. Control is an illusion; people are largely self-directed.

6. I’ll always need my mom.

7. Beliefs, and the behaviors that follow from them, should be based on strong reasons not just strong emotions.

8. Some people walk around on the outside but live in emotional wheelchairs on the inside…Accept that fact and show mercy.

9. I can’t fix something on the inside using something from the outside.

10. I CAN fix and repair mechanical things (Thks. M. Scott Peck)

11. I can’t talk my way out of problems I behaved my way into (Thks Stephen Covey)

12. I am stronger than the doubts that linger.

13. Love. Period.

14. In relationships efficiency is not very effective…take time.

15. Honor given by me to others and to me from others is power.

16. I always have a choice.

17. Our happiness begins with the identifying of true and false things.

18. What I eat in private I wear in public (ouch!)

19. It’s easier to get into something than it is to get out.

20. If anything can be misunderstood, it will be misunderstood…so OVER-communicate if I need to.

21. When it comes to raising children…the days are long but the years are short.

22. I can connect what I’m learning with what I already know to create foundational knowledge.

23. Personal growth can make me feel foolish as I admit my ignorance, but that’s the price of admission to the school of success.

24. Success has many definitions.

25. Money does have its uses…and abuses.

26. People grow by “decision-managing” more than “decision-making”.

27. Life expands or contracts in proportion to my willingness to act courageously.

28. I can make my point without making an enemy.

29. There’s more than my way of doing things.

30. God does exist and Jesus is God.

31. It’s more emotionally fulfilling to serve than to have someone serve me.

32. Thinking is hard work.

33. Wealthy people have large libraries not just big tv’s (Thks Jim Rohn)

34. Doing what’s taboo isn’t as much fun as it looks.

35. Faithfulness is worth fighting for in faith and relationships.

36. Finding mentors to help coach me to go to the next level has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

37. This present pain is temporary.

38. I know how hard it is to beat addiction.

39. Thoughts cause emotions. Control your thoughts and you direct your emotions.

40. Heaven exists.

AND ONE BONUS SECRET…

41. He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord. – Proverbs 18:22

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LEADERSHIP AND THE LAW OF INSISTENCE

THE LAW OF INSISTENCE
THE LAW OF INSISTENCE

Warren Bennis states:“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” But what does it take to bridge that gap; the gap between the ideal and the real? I believe it requires leaders to memorize and repeat often two vital words: I INSIST!

It’s a principle I call THE LAW OF INSISTENCE. The Law of Insistence says:

“A Leader Must Insist On What He Wants To Exist.”

Whatever it is that you want to bring into existence, will only be brought  into existence at the leader’s insistence. As a result, there are three times when every leader must use insistence as a tool of his or her leadership.

1. Leaders Must Insist When They Want Something To Exist!

Jesus, the greatest leader and spiritual teacher who ever lived, was destined to fulfill His vision. What was his vision? Matthew 16:21-23 tells us:

“From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” – Matthew 16:21 (NKJV)

Jesus’ purpose was to die for the sins of all people and then to resurrect from the dead to reign as the one true God.  Jesus insisted on this vision! How do we know? Because Matthew tells us, “Jesus began to show His disciples that He must…”. That word ‘must’ is a word of insistence. I MUST do this! I HAVE to do this! THIS MATTERS!

As a leader of people, if you want a certain something to exist, then you’re going to have to insist on it, strengthen your resolve, and make it happen.

2. Leaders Must Insist Even When Followers Resist!

Notice what happens after Jesus declares His purpose and vision.

“Then Peter took Him (Jesus) aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You’!” – Matthew 16:22 (NKJV)

Peter meant well. But Peter was wrong. He had good intentions but he didn’t know he was resisting the plan of God. Jesus loved Peter. Jesus knew Peter meant well. But Jesus also knew that He Himself “must” fulfill His God-given vision. So, what does Jesus do? He insists! Watch Jesus’ passion…

“But He (Jesus) turned and said to Peter, ‘Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” – Matthew 16:23 (NKJV)

Whoa! Strong words, wouldn’t you say? But Jesus wasn’t angry at Peter, He was passionate about His purpose and vision. Jesus insisted like the leader He is; with compassion for Peter’s misunderstanding and passion for God’s plan for His life.  Sometimes, as a leader, you’ve just got to insist on it!

I’m not talking about being rude or acting like a bully, but about the fine art of insisting kindly but firmly.

“The challenge of leadership is to be strong, but not rude; be kind, but not weak; be bold, but not bully; be thoughtful, but not lazy; be humble, but not timid; be proud, but not arrogant; have humor, but without folly.” — Jim Rohn

3. Leaders Must Insist Until People Assist

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, ‘If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” – Matthew 16:24 (NKJV)

You may have to stand by yourself for a while, at least until someone decides to roll up their sleeves and start helping you accomplish your vision. Great leaders are always willing to stand alone if that’s what it takes!

“A true leader has the confidence to stand alone.” – General Douglas MacArthur

To sum it up: As a leader you’ve got to insist, even when people resist, and persist so your vision will exist:) It’s just that simple. Are you willing?

WHAT WE MEAN WHEN WE TALK ABOUT ‘PERSONAL GROWTH’

GROWING AS A PERSON
GROWING AS A PERSON

What do we mean when we talk about ‘personal growth’? You hear those words all the time: Personal Growth. Each of us has heard how we need to grow, to improve, to become better than we are; indeed, become more than we are right now. But where do we begin? And for that matter, what are all of the motivational speakers, authors and gurus talking about when they tell us we need to keep growing? I’ll break it down for you (with help from Blaine Lee).

THE CORE FOUR OF PERSONAL GROWTH

1. SKILLS – What You Can Do In the Present

“When you encounter a new situation, you’ve got a certain skill set…the skills you have enable you to do the job. Your skills are the things you can do right now in the present.” – Dr. Blaine Lee

We’re referring to things like LEADERSHIP SKILLS, the ability to energize and mobilize a group of people around a common vision, goal or purpose. TECHNICAL SKILLS refer to the ability to perform and complete a specific task; and PEOPLE SKILLS include the ability to connect with and relate to others in pleasing ways. Personal growth usually means becoming proficient in performing a function or task.

2. CAPACITY – What You Can Do In The Future 

“In addition to the skills you have, you have a capacity to develop and acquire new talents and gifts. Your capacity has to do with the skills you will have in the future.” – Blaine Lee

What’s your potential? How far can you go? How high can you soar? Your potential refers to your capacity. Personal growth means expanding our capacity to learn and acquire new talents and abilities. Stretching, like a rubber band, to reach new goals increases capacity.

3. HISTORY – What You Have Done In The Past

“You have a history. Your history is a record of where you have been and what you have done. You have dealt with people in certain ways, ways that have resulted in various outcomes with them in the past.” – Dr. Blaine Lee

Much personal growth focuses on helping us move forward in our emotional and relational lives. We’re encouraged to move beyond the pain from our past. Personal growth usually means addressing issues such as regret, guilt, shame, and bitterness, and dealing with them in the present. Thankfully, most “growth” experts will tell us that our history does not have to determine our destiny! We CAN get past our past!

4. CHARACTER – What You Are 

“In addition to our history, we also have character. Character is what you are. You have an internal set of beliefs, motivations, desires and principles that are manifested by your behavior. Together they comprise your character.” – Dr. Blaine Lee

Your character is a combination of your heart, your habits, and your hang-ups. If you want to see what you’re really made of…look at your character. Pay attention to things like your inner desires, your true motives, your hidden prejudices, and your assumptions.

Carl Rogers has stated, “That which is most personal is most general.” These four areas, The Core Four Of Personal Growth, are general. They are general because they are universal; meaning they apply to every human being. Every person has skills of some kind. Every person has potential. Every person has a past. And every person has character…or should I say…IS a character:)  It is for that reason that they are also personal.

‘Personal growth’ usually refers to one of these four areas in our lives.