Are You Chicken?

 

If you've watched any newscast on television in the past week, you have surely seen lots of coverage on the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, and you've most likely  seen stories about the controversy over comments made by Chic-Fil-A President and COO, Dan Cathy.  

Cathy stated his beliefs supporting the biblical definition of marriage (duh, they close on Sunday so employees can go to church), and there was outrage.  As a way to offer support for Chic-Fil-A and their founders, many have dubbed today as "Chic-Fil-A Appreciation Day".

Regardless of your stance on the issue (I happen to agree with him), I'd like to pose three BIG questions:

1)  Do you have strong enough convictions about certain issues that you're willing to take lots of heat or ridicule over them?

I must say that my wife and I have already experienced lots in this area.  We are expecting our fifth child.  Not exactly the results of going with the status quo.  You wouldn't believe some of the things people say (we can hear you…lol) and the stares that we get.  Beyond the ridicule, our focus is on the reward.  I believe Mr. Cathy has the same idea.

2)  Do you know "why" you believe what you believe?

One thing that frustrates me as I see people arguing about politics, religion, Chic-Fil-A, etc, is when people are not clearly able to articulate why they believe in a particular thing.  

My wife and I homeschool our children and the number one question is always "why?" Usually, after answering, the response we get is one of respect whether the person agrees with our decision or not.

3)  Does the possibility of suffering some sort of loss (job, income, friends, Twitter followers, email subscribers) change your beliefs when you're in different settings?

I'm not suggesting that we should all parade around forcing our beliefs on people while we're at work.  That's not the point.  

What I have seen is pastors, business owners, and other leaders who may be interviewed on television and can't give a clear answer about scripture or an issue as boldly as Mr. Cathy did because they fear losing their influence or their TV viewers.  To say the least, it's just weak to me.  

I have had to forego several income opportunities because of a conflict of values and beliefs.  As a business owner, and especially as a Christian, I want my words and deeds to line up with my values and that will allow me to sleep in peace at night.   

This post is meant to spark more self-reflection, but I definitely would not mind if people would like to have civilized discussion around the issues here.  

If you have a few moments, I'd love to get your feedback in the comments section.  Feel free to comment on the Chic-Fil-A issue or anything else related to the post if you'd like.   

Lastly, don't forget to subscribe to my blog using the signup box on the right side of this page.

The Difference in Having the Right Tools

Yesterday was quite a day at my job.  As someone who serves as an administrator for a door access system, part of my job is to do network wiring from time to time.

With two new buildings being prepared to open in a few weeks, it is my responsibility to make sure door access is functional for 66 new doors.  When I started on the first building, which included 35 locations, I had the screwdrivers I needed, but not the right size wire strippers.  

Because I lacked the right tools, I had to use scissors and wire cutters.  I probably snapped more wires off than I actually connected successfully.

I finally went to the store before starting on the final 31 sets of wires and bought two sets of wire strippers.  I probably finished those wires in a fourth the time it took to complete the first group.

As I was heading out to check on one of our buildings, I saw one of our locksmiths adjusting the hinges on a door.  I headed into the building just as he was getting started.  I came out several minutes later and he was already done.

I looked over at him and said, "That was quick".  He responded, "It's easy when you have the right tools".  

All I could think about was the truth that his statement referenced.  It doesn't matter if it is your professional life, your health, your ministry, your family, or any other area, if you have the right tools, you can have great success.

Question:  What significant tools have made a difference in the way you work, live, or interact?

Using Calendars to Stay on Track

For many years now, I have been making to-do lists.  

I make daily to-do lists.  I have made weekly and even monthly to-do lists.

At one point and time, I would make daily mindmaps that covered areas such as phone calls to make, emails to send, and errands to run.

Though these methods of staying on track are fine, I believe using calendars is the best way to stay on track.

I use an Outlook calendar for my full-time job and I store meetings, appointments, and important dates there.  

My most used feature of this calendar is the reminders feature.  I often set multiple reminders so I have plenty of help in knowing what is ahead.

For my personal and business events and happenings, I use Google Calendar.  I really like the color coding options for this calendar and I use it to distinguish between different types of activities.

I sort out educational activities with one color, ministry activities with another, and health related activities in another. 

In most cases, my daily calendar activities have to be flexible due to unexpected meetings or work needs, however, calendars are great for helping me to keep up with what I need to do and who I need to interact with.

On this blog, I have integrated a calendar plugin that allows me to plan out my blog posts.  It has been a great addition and it has helped me to blog consistently during the past few weeks.

If you're not using a calendar, you're probably not being as productive as you could be, so give it a try!

Question:  Do you use calendars to help you stay on track?  If so, how?  If not, why don't you use them?

 

5 Lessons I Learned From Doing a Back Flip

When I first started kindergarten, I wasn't sure what I was getting into.  I had only been to preschool and that was all I knew.  I wondered what a new school would be like and I wondered what I would be able to learn there.

Only a few months into the school year, I learned that one of the things young kids did on the playground was imitate what other kids were doing.

One day, several kids decided to stack up 4 old tractor tires that were on the playground.  Shortly after this, one of the kids climbed up to the top and did a back flip down to the ground.  

Another boy followed up the first one and did a flip as well.  I realized that I was up next and I climbed up and did what I saw them do with just a little hesitation.  I had no previous gymnastics or tumbling experience, but it went better than I expected and I landed on my feet.

This experience taught me 5 life lessons:

1)  Sometimes seeing others succeed is all the motivation you need – Had I not seen the other kids doing their flips, I would have likely never done a back flip in my life.  It seemed scary and until I witnessed them do it, I didn't realize it was possible for me as well.

2)  Friends can encourage you in doing things you didn't realize you could do – when I got to the top of the tire stack, I looked around for a few seconds and realized that I was pretty high (especially since I was only 4 years old).  Very quickly, the other guys shouted "come on, just do it".  I didn't have much time for doubt to set in.  I had to leap.

3)  The feeling of success at something new is refreshing – Once I landed from that first back flip, I was on cloud nine.  I was ready for another, and another, and another.  I had done something new and I was good at it.

4)  Taking the first step can lead to even more action – Not only did we do a flip off 4 tires that day, we eventually added another tire to increase the thrill.  Since I had taken action on 4 stacked tires, I believed that I could do the same with 5.  It was a piece of cake!

5)  Positive steps today can benefit you for years to come – Doing a back flip in kindergarten led to me taking gymnastics throughout middle school.  As evidenced by the video at the top of this post (shot a few months ago), I can still do a back flip at 29 years old.

Question:  What is a talent that you discovered by taking action or heeding the advice of friends or acquaintances?

Do You Know Why?

Some decisions we make in life are very easy and they are understood by most people.  Other decisions involve deeper thought and we tend to focus on "what" we actually plan to do or "what" we need to do.

The usual step after deciding what we want to do is to give thought to "how" we will actually pull it off.  

Instead of placing so much attention on "how" we should do things, I believe greater focus should be placed on "why" we do things.

My wife and I have strong convictions regarding our family life and several other areas. Because this is the case, we are often asked "why" we decided to take those steps and "why" we continue, even in opposition.

The truth is, if you stand for anything, you should have solid answers why you do it.  It's not that you have to answer to anyone, but you should have confidence in the reasons you have chosen your actions.

When people find that you have strong beliefs about anything, such as marriage, children, spirituality, politics, or education they will inevitably want to know why.

If you are able to articulate your "why" to them, you may not convince them to believe or think similarly, but you may earn their respect for at least knowing "why" and lining up your actions with your beliefs.

Question:  What is something that you believe very strongly about?  Do you have a response for when someone asks you why?

Eventually

Sometimes, we may do things for days, months, or years and not know if we have accomplished very much.

It may involve our family relationships, our educational experiences, or even our careers.  

You can make efforts to give all you have and then wonder if you've made a difference.

I have seen this play out in my own life with mentoring.

Several years ago, I mentored several high school juniors and seniors.  During the course of the year, I went to the school twice a week before heading into my job.  There were originally 5 young men, but by the end, there were only 2.

At the end of the year, I found out that one of my 2 remaining students had earned the title of Valedictorian.  I attended their graduation ceremony and he even thanked me by name for the things I tried to teach them during our time together.  

It was a great feeling.  It was exciting to be a blessing to someone else and to see the work come to fruition for him.

A few days ago, I got a call from a young man who had attended a bible study that I facilitated 5 or 6 years ago.

He thanked me for taking the time to mentor the group of guys and he said that many of the things I said back then stuck with him.

Now that he is older and wiser, he is starting to recognize what I was trying to teach.

I did not know what effect any of these things I did or said would have on these other people at the time.  

Many times, we have to take action with the best intentions and hope that some good will come out of it eventually.

We don't know how long eventually may take to get here, but often it will — so don't give up.  Keep doing the hard work.  Keep serving.  Keep believing that YOU can offer something to the world.  Eventually may happen while you're on this Earth, or it may happen long after you're gone.

Question:  Have you had any EVENTUALLY experiences?  Was there a time when something you did paid off and you were told about it or given credit unexpectedly?

Asking For Help

I have a confession to make.  I often find it hard to ask for help.

Ok.  It's out there. 

And the church said, "Amen".

I believe this is a challenge for millions of people around the world.  It is especially something that is a problem at times for men. 

We are known for getting lost on a road trip and not asking for directions.  It has happened to me quite a few times (thank God for a wife).

Sometimes, we have to recognize that there is only so much that we know and there is only so much we can do.

When we get to that point, we need to reach out to people who are around us and who may potentially be able to help us out.

This does not mean that we shouldn't take responsibility for our actions or take steps to better our situation, but it does mean that there are sometimes when we simply need help.

I am making an effort to better recognize these times and to be more open to asking.

I know this is not an easy lesson, but life is not easy.

Question:  Do you find it difficult to ask for help?  Why do you think that is the case?

The Importance of a Platform

Though I have been learning and experimenting online for nearly a decade, one thing I have neglected to do in that space is build a platform.

I have developed professional relationships with people online.  I have learned from people online.  I have also had the opportunity to share some of what I know with people via the web.

None of this provides any real value if I am unable to reach out to people with whom I have influence.

When I first started, I didn't know much about capturing email addresses or getting people to assemble together virtually.

Recently, I bought a book from Michael Hyatt, the president and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Because he was in a position where he had to constantly turn down authors due to them not having an established following, he wrote a book about it entitled Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

I believe it is a great resource and now I am making an effort to build a following that I can lead and teach.

When I wrote my book a few months ago, I learned just how important having a platform can be.  People who already have an email list of substantial size can notify their subscribers about a new project such as a book, but when I released my book, I really had limited family and friends that I could contact about the project.

There is no better time for me to start than right now, so that 's what I plan to do.

For my next project, I plan to launch from an already-established platform in cooperation with other leaders.  I have learned my lesson and I hope to help others build their platforms as well.

Question:  What are some ways that you are building your online platform?

Take a Few Steps

For the longest time, I suffered from Analysis Paralysis.  

I'm not sure why I would spend so much time researching, reading, and doing more research, but it was definitely what I did all of the time.

At some point earlier this year, I decided that I needed to focus on action.  I read a phrase on something from Bob Jenkins at www.AskBobTheTeacher.com that said Take Action, Revise Later.  Although I had been reading success stories and learning from other people who had "arrived", it never struck me that my work didn't have to be perfect (at least not at first). 

Once I changed my mindset, my focus became on taking steps toward my goals. 

When I wanted to write a book, I broke the whole process down into actionable steps and got it done.  

When I wanted to start up my piano lessons again, I didn't worry about what I didn't know or have, I launched out using what I had.

It is very important to me to be professional and to do my best, but at the end of the day, completion has to be the goal.

In my case, with creating products, selling 20% of something makes more money than selling 100% of nothing.

Today, I'm planning how I will take steps toward my next few goals.  Tomorrow will involve a few steps that will move me closer to the finish line on them.  

I'm writing this post to myself and to anyone who may ever read it.  I encourage you to take a few steps toward your dreams.  Even if you fail, try again.  Life is too short to procrastinate.  

Question:  What are a few steps you can be taking to move toward reaching your goals?  What has been holding you back?

If It Is Important, Write It Down

Nearly every day, I make some sort of checklist.  I make a list of goals.  I make to-do lists.

There is just something about writing down the things I need to do and checking them off the list.

I have discovered that if I forget to write things down, I usually forget about them or I remember them much later than I would like to.

When I refer to writing lists, I am referring to writing them down on actual pen and paper, using email tools, creating mindmaps, or using software programs such as Google Drive and Evernote.  

Here are some of the items that I write down and maybe you should consider writing down:

1)  Names of people I need to call

2)  Names of people I need to email

3)  Financial tasks

4)  Grocery lists

5)  Errands

6)  Goals for the day

7)  Notes from/about meetings and important conversations (like talking to my wife)

I guarantee if you use one or some of these methods to write down important items, you'll forget less and accomplish more.

I'm still not the expert on it, but I'm making an effort to improve.  

 

Question:  What are some ways you remember important information?