LOVE

Significance Begins HERE

What a grand emotion love is. Imagine a life without love. Research says a baby’s brain will not develop properly in the absence of love. Wow that is powerful! Love is very powerful. Look at your own life experiences. Can you recall a time when you felt unloved? How did that make you feel? Depressed? Lonely? Anxious?

Imagine a life full of love! Do you have that now? Are you content with the amount of love you have in your life? Are you giving love to others? Are you receiving love? If you aren’t completely happy with your relationships both giving and receiving, then it may be beneficial to learn what options you have to create that life.

Did you know you could sit down right now and begin the process of creating that perfect life you desire? The one full of love and compassion and whatever else you want. I don’t use the word need because what we need and what we want are very different. We all need food, shelter and water and according to research, love. And we want many more things like comfort, warmth, relationships, fulfillment, purpose, and material things.

So let’s focus on love for the moment. To achieve the love you want in your life, begin by talking a piece of paper and I discourage you from using a computer or other device as there is something magical to actually writing down your wants and mapping out your life.

Take the piece of paper and define the perfect scenario or definition for love. What does it mean to you. Take as long as you need and write as much as you can. Describe it in detail. If it means a foot rub every night from your significant other than write that. If it means finishing another’s thoughts then write that. Write whatever comes to mind and keep writing until you are satisfied that you have defined Love.

Now, evaluate your current relationships. Do they match what you define as love? Are you satisfied with the love you are getting and just as importantly are you living up to your definition of love? Are you giving this love to others? It goes both ways.

Know that you can’t change how someone else is but truly look at how you are expressing yourself now. People copy each other – if you give love unconditionally and expect nothing in turn, those closest to you, those who care and love you will reciprocate this love. You will find your relationships will become deeper and more satisfying as you focus more on your giving and less on your receiving.

Love is a wonderful thing – it needs nurtured and developed and now is the perfect time to start.

Generosity

Significance Begins HERE  Generosity is the selfless act of giving with no expectation of anything in return. The beauty of being a generous person is that even though intentions are to receive nothing in return, the giver in fact receives tenfold.

How can that be? Why if being generous is so fruitful more people would engage in this behavior? Simple, in today’s society, we are accustomed to the hear and now – at microwave speed. I give you something and you give me something in return right now – today – this minute. Immediate gratification.

If I donate my time and energy for a cause that is fundraising money to build clean water wells in Haiti, I won’t see the fruit of my labor today and in fact I may never see it in my lifetime. But giving from my heart – giving, knowing that a person who drinks from that well won’t be knocking on my door handing me a couple bucks for my time, but knowing that a person will one day be drinking clean healthy water and living a healthier better life because I took the time is worth more than a couple bucks. I traded my time to help someone better their life.   And we may never meet.

I didn’t need that instant gratification. What I get back is knowing that somewhere, someone in the future is benefiting from something I did today. I give of myself knowing I will not get anything tangible in return. I give from my heart.

We can give of ourselves each and every day by smiling at a stranger, helping an elderly person put groceries in their car, working at a food bank, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, cutting someone’s lawn… that selfless act of paying it forward through generosity. What a beautiful concept.

Flexibility

Significance Begins HERE

The first thing that comes to mind is yoga. When we practice yoga everyday our bodies become flexible and we are able to bend down and touch our toes and scratch that sweet spot on the back we couldn’t get before.  FD2659C3209C01E345DE0A88ED638FBA

How about yoga for the mind? How about stretching and letting go and practicing and breathing and holding poses (thoughts) for periods of time? Mental yoga! What a concept. If you have ever taken a yoga class then you know exactly what I am talking about. And if you haven’t – go take one right now!

Yoga is the practice of stretching and holding poses for periods of time and focusing on your breathing – a movement meditation that grounds you and balances your chakras. It is absolutely relaxing and worth a try.

Now let’s do that with our minds – opening up and letting in all the happiness that we all crave. Isn’t that what everyone says – when asked – what do you want – I want to be happy. Why are so many people unhappy? Are they really unhappy or do they just need to do some mental yoga to open up their minds and welcome in flexibility?

What does it mean to be flexible? More than willing to meet someone 30 minutes later than scheduled. It means to embrace life, live in the present, be open to change, be willing to accept what is, to be happy that you are breathing and your heart is beating. This is freedom. This mental wellbeing is what flexibility is.

This isn’t to be confused with accepting everything as is and thinking all is good and positive. There is a yin and yang to everything. With good is bad. With cause is effect. But imagine using the entire spectrum of emotions to move you towards those things that you value the most. Family, health, life… whatever is most important to you.

  • Stretch your mental muscles through acceptance, curiosity and commitment.
  • Accept negative emotions as opposed to trying to control or eliminate them. This in turn will help you make better choices and decisions and will reduce anxiety.
  • Curiosity allows you to observe and explore negative reactions without judgments that will cloud and impede the learning process.
  • Freeing your mind from resistance makes committing to actions and behaviors easier and allows you to be more open.

Negative thoughts should be accepted into your mind – then ask yourself why you are thinking that way and what is the outcome you seek by having these negative thoughts – then release them making room for more productive positive thoughts to enter.

Efficiency

Significance Begins HERE

Can you imagine that there may be a better way to doing what you do? Can you accept that idea? Are you open minded enough to ask others for differing opinions? If you are able and willing to look at things through different eyes, read on. bigstock-efficiency-in-the-work-place-a-15768824

How many times have you completed your daily routine without even thinking twice about which shoe went on first, if you brushed your teeth, if you washed your hair?

We are creatures of habit. We do things a certain way because, well, it works! Or that’s how I always did it. Because, I don’t know! Because that is how my mom/dad taught me. Because that is what my big brother did… Hmmmm.

So maybe it’s time to re-examine how you do what you do and why you do it and see if there is a better more efficient way of doing it? Maybe if you stop for a moment and say ok, I am going to consciously take notice of my life, my actions, my choices, you may immediately see that its time for a change.

Awareness is key to moving from a dependent state of doing to an independent state of being. Examine your actions and take responsibility for the outcomes. Now that you are aware of your outcomes and how you got there, examine these outcomes and decide if these need changed as well. By focusing on the end result, you can make the necessary changes early on to better direct your time and energy.

COMMITMENT

Shepherds Advantage Leadership Coaching

Significance Begins HERE

A commitment should be treated as a binding contract with yourself. However many of us break our commitments. We commit to people, banks, work, pets, ourselves… A commitment is something that you have no doubts about. Something you give 100% of your whole self to. Commitment-Quotes-19

Commitment is a fulfilling endeavor that when followed through gives an immense sense of accomplishment. Think about something you have committed to, followed through with to the end, and how you felt at the end knowing you didn’t break it along the way. Weight loss, getting a formal education, going for the big contract and landing it…
Sometimes commitment can be confused with staying with something long after you should. Like a dead end job or a loveless marriage. If you have any of this in your life, let’s look at it for a moment. Ask yourself why you are still in something that you have doubts about or don’t believe in or worse yet, that you give less than all of you to. People pick up on this subtle behavior. To stay committed to something, you have to put effort in and periodically change up what you are doing to keep it alive and fresh.

Commitments are what ground you and keep you active and engaged in life. Being free and having few commitments sounds so refreshing to many who have spouses, children, pets, jobs, mortgages… but for only a fleeting moment when life feels heavy and burdensome. We are social creatures who desire connections and relationships with others; a sense of accomplishment and pride in our contributions to making life better for everyone in our lives including ourselves.

Sometimes we need help with our commitments and we seek out this help through our friends, co-workers, spouses, coaches, mentors… By asking for help, we are strengthening our commitment to ourselves and others; we are fulfilling our obligations contractually with ourselves to follow through to the end, no matter what it takes.

Thanksgiving

Have We Lost Perspective?

A cursory search of the English Standard Version of the Bible  Thanksgiving-Brownscombereveals some 35 references and usages of the word translated “thanksgiving.” At the heart of meaning on this term in the Old Testament, it indicates that a person would open their mouth and utter words of blessing, gratitude, and thanks for obvious blessings and favor upon a person’s life. Intentionality would be a key thought – I choose to express thanks as opposed to when I feel like it. The focus in the Old Testament certainly is Godward. The New Testament takes this term and dramatically imposes upon us the meaning and purposes for Thanksgiving. The term translated “thanksgiving” is derived from the actual term “Eucharist.” The Eucharist embodies the highest form of thanks because it moves from focusing on our stuff to God’s plan – Jesus Christ our Savior by means of the shedding of blood forgives our sins so that we may be adopted into His family as sons and daughters. WOW! Thanksgiving moves our attention away from our stuff to God’s plan for eternity.

With these thoughts as a backdrop, it becomes obvious that thanksgiving has lost true purpose moving from a daily acknowledgement of God’s plan to entitlements. Counselor Craig Lounsbrough from Denver, Colorado makes some interesting observations that are noteworthy.

 A Sense of Entitlement – The true spirit of thanksgiving is contrary to entitlement. Somewhere deep within us our culture grooms and grows us for entitlement. When that is seeded then our attitude moves from gratefulness to entitlement. If I am entitled then where is the need for thanksgiving? If I am owed and it is in fact mine to claim, why thanksgiving? As this spirit grows it becomes not the product of anything that produced it.  It is a product of our entitlement.  This being the case, it should simply be; and if it should be, and in the being it should be ours, why the need for thankfulness?Entitlement-sm

 Our Lost Sense of Privilege – In abundance, we tend to assume abundance.  “Life is just this way,” we think. It’s natural. It just is. What is in actuality a profound blessing is seen as the norm; even the mundane.  Food should always be in abundance on the shelves in the grocery. An endless array of products should adorn the aisles of every store we enter.  Water and electricity should be there at our beck and call; never failing to respond to a turn of the tap or a flip of the switch regardless of the time of day.  Whatever our needs (as complex and multiple as they are) the resources for those needs should be within easy reach or at least easily attainable. What about the other two-thirds of the worlds’ population that has no comprehension of this kind of privilege? What do we say to then? In regaining our sense of privilege we regain our sense of thankfulness!

 Our Sense of Speed – It’s always about the next thing . . . whether it’s our relentless attempts to achieve the next thing or our dreadful fear that the “next thing” will never happen.  Whatever the case might be, we live in a culture that’s programmed for extreme fast-forward.  We move so insanely fast that we often forget where we’ve been and we have trouble keeping track of how far we are from where we want to go.  There is no time for reflection or to put down roots.  Most of our lives move in a wild fury of crazed momentum, flinging and flailing forward, or in some direction. We don’t have time to be thankful.  In the blur of it all, we most often can’t even remember the things or the people or the events that flew by us that we should be thankful for.

 Our Lost Sense of Wonder – We have opted to see life as that which we control and manage, rather than that which moves in mysterious and unexpected ways.  We no longer marvel, rather we manipulate.  As children, we looked wide-eyed at a world brimming with wonders.  Now we analyze, dissect and create action-plans to control it all; sterilizing life into a wondrous oblivion.  In the end we control just enough to give us an illusion that we control it all, or most of it anyway.  In reality, we don’t. So we lose the miraculous because we only pay attention to it to the degree that we can control it.  The truly astounding flows right by us because it’s not something that we made or can control so it doesn’t hit our radar.  The world is brimming with phenomenal wonders that leave plenty of room for a sense of thankfulness if we simply allow the miraculous to be the miraculous.

There are some obvious adjustments that must be made. Start by relinquishing our entitlement mentality. Recapture a sense of wonder and awe. Readjust the speed at which we live our life. Vigorously adjust a sense of privilege. Stir these components together vigorously to recapture true thanksgiving – The Eucharist! Christ paid a debt He did not owe and I owed a debt that I could not pay! Thank you Jesus for my salvation!

80/20 Rule

Vilfredo Pareto

Start TodayThe 80/20 rule sounds like a mathematical formula and in some ways it is but don’t fret, this isn’t a lesson on statistics. The rule came from an Italian economist, Vilfredo Pareto, who stated that 80% of the Italian income was earned by 20% of the Italian population. 20140418-095204

What this means is that 80% of your outcomes come from 20% of your inputs. To put this another way, 20% of your activities equate to 80% of your happiness. Instead of focusing on income, we will focus on your overall well being or happiness factor.

To prove this theory, look at the distribution of wealth and lately with the shrinking of the middle class, this is even more apparent that a small portion of the population controls the majority of the economy. Look at business, the top earners are a small percentage of companies and earn the largest portion of income. And if you look at your own habits, you most likely spend most of your income on few things like your mortgage, car payment, food and you probably spend most of your time with a few people each day.

So how can you use the 80/20 rule to maximize your outputs? Let’s look at John Maxwell. He talks about the fact that he is only good at a few things. Therefore, he doesn’t waste his time with those things he cannot do or does not want to do. By focusing on what you are good at – those few things; and not waste time on those things you are not good at, you maximize your efficient self and are able to improve upon and increase your skillset on what you are good at and what you love to do.

Malcolm Gladwell speaks of how to become an expert; the common thread is spending 10,000 hours perfecting one’s craft. If you spread yourself across the board, become a Jack of all trades, master of none, than your efficiency rate decreases and no longer will the 80/20 rule work in your favor.

Take a moment and consider what you love and what you are really good at and then list out those things that cause you to waste time and decrease your efficient self. If you are able, hire someone to do those tasks that fall on that list. Share duties with your children, spouse, roommate, significant other, co-worker, team members etc. Trade your time and skillset for theirs. You will find that focusing on those 20% tasks, the 80% yield will be worthwhile.

What Is A Spiritual Leader?

6 Characteristics

There is a lot of noise about becoming, transforming into, learning about, in need of, and conscious leadership. Go to any bookstore and the shelves are lined with a wide array of topics on leadership. On those shelves is everything from the academic to the bizarre. 9.12.SixCharacterSpiritualLeadership_888420400

Faith-based and for-profit organizations make the same mistakes when it comes to leading. Leadership tends to focus upon the management of programs and strategies that produce outcomes for the bottom line. While we are all conscious about the bottom-line, this type of thinking tends to lend itself in searching for the next “latest and greatest” idea as the motivation for leadership. The trade off is that we manage programs at the expense of leading people! This is not meant to be an indictment, but rather an observation of a distinction.

So what are some characteristics of spiritual leadership? Jesus would be our starting point for this discussion. He was not a manager, but a spiritual leader. It should be noted that not every faith-based organization offers spiritual leadership. Here are six characteristics of Spiritual Leaders that are not only worth examining, but implementing.

Spiritual Leaders…….

  1. Lead others into their own encounter with a living God. Our goal is not solely equipping people with techniques and technology, but encounters with a living God as we move through life.
  2. Lead people to discover their own purpose and identity. Workplace issues and strategic development are nothing more than tools to help followers of Christ Jesus discover who they are in Him. We are to help people to become overcomers of their own obstacles that hinder their forward progress.
  3. Lead people into transformation not just production. Spiritual leaders understand that people function at their peak when they function out of their true identity. Loyalty will be a byproduct of this type of leadership.
  4. Impact their environment. Spiritual leaders can walk into an environment that is tension filled and stressful and immediately bring a different attitude to the table.
  5. Lead people into seeing old things as new ways. I find that people are not really stuck in their circumstances so much as they are stuck in their perspectives and paradigms of life. Changing thought patterns always precedes meaningful change in life.
  6. Gain followers because of who they are and not because of their position. Spiritual leadership is more about influence versus directing. Spiritual leaders are in touch with the notion they are serving something and someone larger than themselves.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment and start a conversation. This list is not exhaustive but meant to provoke thought on a larger body of knowledge and information. I am attempting to advance that discussion for the greater good.

“The Have’s and Have Not’s”

Having Enough of Everything

How many times do we hear if only I had more time or if only I had more finances, I could… or If only the sun would shine. I could write many other illustrations, 9d2c34f554f92c2eeb82baee76b7be19but I think that you get the point. We have been raised from childhood to believe there are have’s and have not’s in life Generally speaking the conclusion has been to work harder and longer to achieve so that we do not become a “have not.”

Under the surface the real issue is one of scarcity – there is not enough to go around, so I have to be there first to get mine! Author Lynn Twist in the book The Soul of Money writes; “This mantra of not enough carries the day and becomes a kind of default setting for our thinking about everything…it grows into the great justification for an unfulfilled life. It becomes the reason we can’t have what we want or become the person we would like to be…”

Author Twist writes about three toxic myths of scarcity. First of all there is the notion that there is never enough. This leads to a fear that drives us to do whatever is necessary to make sure that we are not the one without. Second of all there is the conclusion that more is better. Pitrium Sorokim, a Soviet dissident from the 1930 wrote about societies that move away from God tend to their lives with more and more things. Bigger, more of it, and more often seems to be modern day mantra. Thirdly is an attitude of hopelessness, helplessness, and being unequal in a world that will never change. In other words we do not lead our life we simply accept our life and call it FATE! The third area is one of the hardest to overcome. The less willing that we are to question beliefs about scarcity the more entrenched we become within a culture of scarcity.

The unraveling of a scarcity belief begins as soon as we adopt a different reference point. Our focus so many times is limited to our immediate circle of acquaintances and workmates. We measure ourselves against the grid and rhythm of life within that circle. However, when we view life from of a global perspective then we realize how abundantly blessed and how much excess we have. When we change our viewpoint to one of sufficiency – we believe that we have enough of everything.

Sufficiency is not an amount! It is not comparative at all. Instead sufficiency is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration knowing there is enough and that I am enough!

Ancient Wisdom – Modern Times

19 Earmarks of Depraved Influencers

Bible: 2 Timothy 3:1-9 quote-Ariel-Durant-a-great-civilization-is-not-conquered-from-within_thumb[1]

Leadership is influence, nothing more and nothing less. After a cursory reading of these scriptures, Paul’s instruction to his young protégé, there is a word that comes to mind – “SAVAGE.” This word represents a cumulative summation of negative influence of these earmarks of depravity. The Apostle Paul pointedly states to Timothy, avoid people characterized by these earmarks. I am listing these 19 earmarks of depravity below, followed by 4 observations. Keep in mind these earmarks were wrote about in the first century, but they are relevant to today’s world.

Lovers of self – Selfishness

Lovers of money – Materialistic

Boastful – Ancient “con artist” implied

Arrogant

Revilers – Blasphemer

Disobedient to Parents

Ungrateful

Unholy

Unloving

Irreconcilable

Malicious Gossips

Without Self Control

Brutal

Haters of Good

Treacherous – “Traitor” implied

Reckless – Falling forward into trouble

Conceited

Lovers of Pleasure Rather Than Lovers of God

Form of Godliness Minus The Power of Demonstrating The Reality

Any single or combination of these influencers can exhibit a brand of leadership that is savage and brutal! As you read the wisdom of Paul you realize in the first century and today the influence of evil will intersect our lives at multiple points. Paul warns to avoid people who exhibit these earmarks. A warning has been issued! How do we prepare? Here are 4 observations.

  1. Difficulty will come in life as evil attempts to destroy good – accept this reality. Nonprofit work in a depraved world will be difficult – embrace it!
  2. Deceivers will present themselves as ambassadors of truth – reject their message. False influencers are TOXIC – reject them!
  3. Evil resides in places of power that cannot easily be overthrown – endure difficult times. Evil is temporary! Reject evil when you can and endure when you must!
  4. The primary weapon of evil is deception – reveal truth. Evil cannot stand in the light of truth – Shine the LIGHT!

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The genesis of this article originated in a commentary article by Charles R. Swindoll