Sunday, April 28, 2013

We have the Power of Choice - Use it Wisely

          We've talked about being the change, we've talked about changing from either inspiration or desperation and we last talked about finding our burning platforms. In this post we're going to learn about the diagram below. This is another skill I learned from the late Stephen Covey. It is called the Circle of Influence - Circle of Concern.
           It is based on the idea that each of us are blessed with the power of choice. That means that we are not animals and bound by instinct; but people, born of God and blessed with a mind that can choose between one direction and another. So lets use a simple example. Say you plan an outing with your kids. You've been working hard, haven't done much with them or your spouse and you plan a big hike and camp out and everyone is excited. Friday comes and you hurry home, start packing and the downpour begins. Your spouse comes out and tells you its forecast that its raining and cold all weekend. You have a choice.
            Lets say you just go off. You're mad, the kids are clearing out and your spouse is trying to keep the peace. You decide without talking to your family the trip is off and you'll do it another time. You just let the kids down and lost several points with the spouse. In this example, look down to the bottom left corner, you're that little red circle in the middle. You are highly reactive and have little influence on your family or those around you at work or otherwise. Why? Because when you choose things you have influence over, the red area, you gain more influence in your life. When you choose things in the white area, circle of concern, that means choice in that area are things you're concerned about, the weather, over which you have no influence.
             Now lets see what happens when you take a totally different approach. The same situation happens and you come home, the spouse tells you the miserable forecast and with a smile on your face, you take the crew inside, explain whats happening and right on the spot you facilitate a discussion of other things you could do together, go away to a motel with a pool, they'll figure it out, and everyone is happy and impressed and your stress level is near zero. What's the difference?
          Look to diagram 4 in the bottom right. You become a person who recognizes that you have no influence over the weather, nothing but concern, but you do have influence over making new plans and making your family happy. You'll see that a person operating in diagram 4, bottom right, will continue to make their circle of influence larger and larger as you don't have fits, blame others for your problems or give up. You become a person of influence. You are proactive not reactive.
          The other two diagrams simply illustrate where the majority of people operate. Probably 10% of the people you meet are purely in diagram 3, really reactive. I'm guessing 40% of the people are in diagram 1, with some influence but not much. They are the followers. Then 40% of the people are in diagram 2, have a balance of choosing for themselves and complaining why the cannot get it done.
          If you want a life of less stress and more influence over where you end up, then you work to operate in diagram 4. Become a person of influence. Become a person who chooses their direction and doesn't just sit back and complain. We live in a world of whiners. We live in a world where people want anyone to solve their problems except the person they look at in the mirror everyday. When I learned this principle from Stephen, I went from diagram 1 to diagram 4 over the course of the next year. And I assure nothing changed except me. I will cover that change in detail in my next post in a few days.
           Really take this to heart as you contemplate exactly how you want to change to make America a better place. We can complain all we want about Congress, which had a single digit approval rating in the last election and we voted over 85% of them back into office. Somebody is saying one thing and doing another? If we are to hope to make a difference for America we must be proactive and not reactive. We must become the change we seek in the world.
          The next time you see your school, community or state making a decision that takes us further away from our nations founding fathers and our God centered values that made this country what it was, you need to work in your circle of influence and make a difference, make your voice heard not just by what you say but by how you live and what you do. This simple concept can change your entire life. Ponder it and pray about it and act on it. Become a proactive person. Become the positive change we need in the world.
          For a better tomorrow ...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Starting Right

If you're going to change and you're a believer, all change starts with prayer. We talked about looking in the mirror and being the change you wish to see. To be that change you must acknowledge that God is in charge, not you. It's about knowing He is in charge of this world, not us. Its about perspective. We are told throughout the scriptures to pray often.

Start each day on your knees and don't start by burying the Lord with your needs. Ask how you can be an instrument in His hands to make the world a better place. How might you use the talents for which you are blessed to do good in the world. Its not about getting what you want. Its about becoming all you can in His hands to make His world a better place to live.

If you aren't praying now you should start. Start with a morning prayer and work towards walking with a prayer of thanks in your heart, a knowledge of God in your head and work for the good of all with your hands.

Monday, April 22, 2013

You Want to Become Better? Discover Your Burning Platform

We've been talking about the need for change, now we need to get serious about it. We just experienced another terrorist attack on our land of America. As I write this post I just heard about the Canadians foiling a plot to blow up a train traveling from Toronto to New York. Is terrorism over as our President proclaims? You be the judge.
We've talked about change coming from inspiration or desperation. We learned that 80% of change comes from desperation. At this point in America's progression we still have a choice. The window of choice is rapidly closing. So what did you decide? What is your reason for change? Let me tell you a story.
The image below is a burning oil platform off the north shore of Europe. I first heard this story in a book by Daryl Conner called Managing at the Speed of Change. He was addressing why people change. As Conner told the story, there was an oil platform fire on the north shore in the dead of winter. When it was all over there was but one survivor.
He was being interviewed from his hospital bed he was asked why he jumped into the icy waters below. As it turns out a rescue boat had arrived but in the smoke and fog the survivor was unaware of its arrival. He thought he was all alone. Yet, he jumped from the burning oil platform to the icy waters below.
In answer to the interviewers question he said, "I looked at the fire and the fog below, knowing the waters were icy and I chose uncertain death (jumping into the fog covered ocean below) over certain death (staying on the burning platform)". Do you understand that choice? He did not know if he'd live by jumping but he knew he'd die by not jumping. He had to change.
We American's who believe in this country and God have to change. We as a society have behaved ourselves into this situation by turning our backs on God and being complacent about our freedoms. We have to change as individuals. We are on a burning platform and many American's don't even know it yet. If we do nothing we are just going to enjoy ourselves into oblivion. History shows us where our behavior takes us.
Decide now what your burning platform is ... we're moving on from here learning to become better people together. We can move on and change if our why is big enough.

For a better tomorrow ...

Friday, April 19, 2013

Choose How Your Day Will Go

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us.
My taxi driver slammed on his brakes, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches! The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us. My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy. And I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'
This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'
He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you. Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people
at work, at home, or on the streets. The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. I don't let people who makes up lies on others bother me.
Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so ... Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't. 

Life is ten percent what you make it and ninety percent how you take it!

Have a garbage-free day!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Someone Who Cares - Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

I had a good friend, an over the road truck driver, who no one would have ever believed, who lived this very thing and for years not only had breakfast, but he went and read to his wife every single day. Click th elink below. He was love as this man is ...
Someone Who Cares

A Personal Example - Inspiration or Desperation?

With this post I want to hit the reason for your change again. Changing requires, well, change. Why do we change. Let me give you a real, live example of how I began to change in life.

In the 5th Grade I did a book report called, 'The Story of the US Marines'. From that time forward all I wanted to be in life was a Marine. In February of my senior year of high school I was sworn in as a United States Marine. They called it the early entry program. Two weeks after high school graduation I found myself in Parris Island, SC and was not happy about my decision.

While I detail this in my book, 'Dead Center - A Marine Snipers Two Year Odyssey in the Vietnam War', I'll share the short version here. I was raised in a small town by essentially four women. My older sister, my Aunt, my Grandmother and my Mother. They did not adequately prepare me for boot camp.

Within two weeks I'd disobeyed an order and wound up in a place at the end of the island called the Special Training Branch or STB. I was a member of the Corrective Custody Platoon, or more affectionately, a Shitbird. The Drill Instructor in charge was maniacal. There were no Officers around so he did what he pleased and it wasn't pleasing to us.

One day I decided to leave, go AWOL. I'd had it. I was apprehended at the main gate by a couple of military police, handcuffed and sure I was heading to the brig. I hadn't eaten in just over three days and drank swamp water the whole time. I had a scorpion bite and was sick. I was also sure I had ruined my young life because of my decisions. I was desperate.

I was taken to the brig, then surprisingly, after the MP's made some phone calls, I was put back in the truck and driven back to STB, at the end of the island. They were taking me back to my maniacal Drill Instructor. I was sure he would kill me on the spot.

He did take me before the others at STB and humiliate me, said I was a bright and shining example of what you look like when you try and get off 'his' island. He also had me confirm for everyone that Parris Island is indeed an 'island'. Which it is, I can confirm first hand. I had yet to learn to swim so thats how I ended up trying to do an end run around the main gate.

Them something strange happened. My crazy Drill Instructor took me into his office and threw me on the floor. As I sat in the corner facing him he said, "What the f___ is wrong with you kid?" Before I could answer he said, "You haven't eaten in three days. You lived off swamp water. Hell, I'm a Force Recon Marine and I don't do that!" He then became human.

He went on to tell me that I could do anything and he would show me how. If I would walk out that door and commit to following every single order he gave me he would stand up for me and I wouldn't go to the brig. In my despair I was inspired to change. Now I was also scared out of my mind by this guy, but he was the first guy who I felt cared about me in my life. It ignited a flame that burns to this day. I could do it. And I did. I went on to become a great Marine and lead scout-sniper teams for two years in the Vietnam War. I used everything I learned from my maniacal DI throughout my life.

I changed because of desperation. I saw my young life slipping down a dirty drain. Then events like the one I described changed me and ignited a fire in my that drives me to this day. As we look at America, at our relationship with God and for those who believe, Jesus Christ, what is our reason for change?

Throughout the coming week you think about what got us here and how you need to change. This step is critical ... none of us are perfect. We all need to repent daily. Then we need to recommit and go forth stronger than ever. What is your reason for change?

For a better tomorrow ...

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Whats Your Reason for Becoming Better?

Last post we talked about becoming the change we wish to see in the world. In this post lets assume you want to change, you want to become better. That's great! Whats your reason for becoming better? All change is driven by a reason, whats yours?

There are only two reasons people or organizations change. One is inspiration, the other is desperation. You're either inspired to make changes in your life or, you're driven to change your life by the circumstances around you. The illustration above is a graphic of what I'm talking about. In image 1 on the left you see inspiration. In image 2 on the right you see desperation.

The dictionary says inspiration is a divine influence directly and immediately exerted upon the mind or soul. Our founding fathers were inspired when they created America. There is much written on that subject. The sad thing today, based on my lifetime of changing and leading change in organizations, is that less than 20% of change is by inspiration.

The dictionary says desperation is the state of being desperate or of having the recklessness of despair. Have you ever felt despair or seen someone in a state of despair? Recklessness is a good word for how people act in the midst of desperation. Most personal change happens around events. Events like birth, death, divorce, weddings, new jobs and the list goes on. The event either wakes us up to the need for change, or forces us to change.

In America today, we are witnessing the implementation of someone else's vision that is very different from that of our founding fathers. Their vision has been permeating our society for many years. It has simply gained momentum in the past few years. It is also a vision that does not include God.

The reason someone else's vision is taking over is because you and I and millions of other Americans have been asleep at the wheel of freedom. Speaking personally, I've been off enjoying the American dream all the while it was being taken from me. How about you? Remember what I said in the last post. Look in the mirror and be honest. What can you do differently? If America turned its back on God, what role did you and I play? The answer for me is sobering.

If we're going to be ready for the New America coming or even hope to change it, we have to change. Before we can change we have to know why we are changing. I've heard it said, if the 'why' is big enough the 'how' is easy. Thats true. But I can tell you that the 'how' this time is not going to be easy, but we can be ready and make a difference, if our 'why' is big enough.

Right now someone else's vision of America has become our desperation. But in our desperation we'll find the seeds of change. We'll find those seeds in our commitment to this great Nation,  or perhaps our God, or even His Son, Jesus Christ, or all three. One of these three, or even better, all of these three, must be the fuel of your inspiration or you won't sustain your interest in becoming better.

In the bible, in Proverbs 29:18 it reads, "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he". God made it clear we should be people of vision. People of vision lead their own lives, they don't follow others. They become the change they wish to see in the world. Our challenge right now is to decide how big of a problem we were in getting us to this state; then commit to be the change we wish to see and become part of the solution in getting ready.

For a better tomorrow ...   

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

My goal with this post is simple. To share the idea that the reason for the problems in America can be found by looking in the mirror. We are all responsible for the demise of our great country. We will therefore find the solution starts with the person we find in the mirror.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, "We must be the change we wish to see in the world". Never has that statement been more true than it is for us living in America today. As we look around we see an America most of us aren't happy with and don't recognize. And if you're like me, you've spent a lot of time complaining about what 'they' are doing to my country.

Here's the big news ... there are no 'they' only each of us. We say God has been taken from America, He is no longer allowed in our schools and court rooms and public places. We have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves where we were while that was happening? Were we being the change we say we want in our country? Were we protecting that which we say is so important to us? Were we walking our talk or were we just talking the talk?

As we start this journey towards becoming better people we need to know that the only one responsible for our actions is the person looking back at us in the mirror. If we're going to become better people and follow God and help our great nation it begins with each of us, as individuals. It begins with us 'being' the world we wish to see.

Look in the mirror and ask yourself, if you believe in God, are you the change God would want to see? The proof is in our behavior, not our words. Look in the mirror and ask yourself, if you are an American patriot, are you a walking example of patriotism and loyalty to our great country? Remember, the proof is in our behavior.

When we are upset with our Congress, remember we elected them, for years in most cases. When we are upset with our local school board we elected them. If you didn't vote through the years then look in the mirror. If we go to church for the social aspect and say we get nothing out of it, look in the mirror. The late Stephen Covey taught a powerful principle. He said, 'you cannot talk yourself out of a problem you behaved yourself into'. We must behave ourselves out of this problem. As we become better people, living and standing for common values, we will have a better country.

When Gandhi said, "Be the change you wish to see in the world" I think he was talking about behavior. Because anytime you think the problem is out 'there', that very thought is the problem. Gandhi did not say 'they' are causing the problem. He was a man who lived what he said and ended up giving his life for what he believed. He was committed. Our founding fathers and pioneers were committed. If we are going to be the positive change America needs we will have to be committed to 'being' the change we say we want to see in the world. There is no other way.

For a better tomorrow ...

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Becoming Better

Hi Everyone

My new blog is called, Becoming Better. No politics here. No whining. No preaching a particular religion. Just a singular focus on the person in the mirror. How might you and I become better people. The world needs more people who live by the commandments of God and the message and gifts of Jesus Christ. My hope is that we can learn together.

We need to place our power in the eternal laws of He who sent us. God does not change His standards to fit in, be popular or politically correct. As a result, we live in a world that no longer believes in Him. We live in a world that is educating, spending and texting itself out of existence. We live in a world where money is more valuable than people and power more important than principle. There is only one answer, God. We need to do a better job of living like we know it.

The battle in life is to overcome ourselves. The battle in life is for each of us to fulfill the potential placed in us by the God who sent us. The battle we face can be won by learning and following God. The battle in life comes down to one key question. The question is not, am I a better than you? The question has always been, am I better than I was yesterday? Better is in relation to keeping the commandments of God. As we do, the rest will take care of itself.

We must realize that each of us are spiritual children of a loving Heavenly Father. We must realize we were created in His image. We must realize that each and every one of us are unique individuals. In all of time there is no one like you. There never will any like you. We're all on a journey and each step of that journey we have choices to make. We get better by making choices that get us one step closer to God.

So come along for the ride as we share thoughts on becoming better people. I don't know where this all may lead but I do know its a journey I must take a this point in my life and I know it will be worth it if I can help but one person along their journey of life. I'd love your feedback and your support in helping more and more people find a better way.

I close this first post with one thought ... What we do everyday is what we believe. All the rest is just talk. What does your behavior say you believe? Mine says I need lots of work.

For a better tomorrow ...