Archive | July 2012

Would you use it?

 

Can you remember the days of typing letters, proposals, and forms on a typewriter? Instead of making photocopies, you used carbon paper and onion skin. If you made a mistake, it was a very big deal because not only did the original have to be corrected so well that you could not detect the error, but also  you had to correct each of the copies with the same level of skill. If you could spot the blunder, you had to begin all over. I must say people did learn to type quickly and accurately in order to prevent mistakes. But I digress.

Let’s jump forward to today’s technology when a mistake in a document is no big deal unless you don’t catch an error before you send it. Just delete or undo and only the computer (and possibly your local IT folks) know about it, and they don’t care. Today, if you want to make changes to the default settings, you have only to hit the reset button. You can change it up or reinvent the document with a push of the proverbial button.

That brings me to today’s question. What if you had a button that could reset you? Would you use it? If you could push this button and reinvent yourself into the person you were intended to be – not just one of the beautiful people – would you use it?

Unfortunately, the process is not as fast as today’s technology, but it works just the same. It requires courage and stamina to reinvent yourself because there’s risk involved. You may fall flat on your face, but if you’re not afraid to get up and start again, you’ve got what it takes to reach your potential. You may face disappointments along the way as well. Those you think will understand and support you can sometimes become your biggest critics. (Don’t hold it against them. They don’t understand what’s at stake.) The road isn’t easy, but few things that are worthwhile are.

So if you had such a button, a reset-me button, that would enable you to follow your dream to write, invent, paint, draw, become a missionary or world traveler, would you use it?

Who controls the weather?

We used to get the Vermont news station when we lived in upstate New York. Actually, that was the only station we could get – this was before satellite dishes became popular. That said, the resident meteorologist had a favorite saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait 24 hours and it will change.” Funny thing is that was probably the only thing he got right. Though they are making some strides, have you noticed that few weather forecasters have a high rate of accuracy?

Not only can we not accurately predict the weather 100% of the time, but we can’t control it even a fraction of a percent. Makes you wonder why scientists make such a big deal about their qualifications and predictions. Considering that we can only recognize some weather patterns, do you ever wonder if there is any significance in them? I do.

In the Biblical accounts of God’s dealing with Israel, we see that a drought was a sign that people were disobeying and neglecting God. Rain, in the right amount, was a sign of blessing. Earthquakes, wind and hail were signs of judgment. Yet today, we just look out the window or at the TV’s depiction of the aftermath of a devastating storm and never even consider if there is something that God is trying to say to us.

We do know this. Man cannot control the weather. We take what we get and accept that we cannot change it. So obviously, there’s a higher power in control. Sounds like God to me. I’d love to do a study on this so that I can learn more. For now though, I’m just full of questions.

Say what?

Do you get annoyed when you try to figure out emailed or written instructions that aren’t clear? Or how about when you receive a message requiring action that begs more questions than it answers?  If so, you’re not alone. The real question is, however, are you the one sending these messages?

In an article Ragan Communications posted today entitled Ditch these 5 business writing mistakes, Jenna Britton makes the point that these emails could be doing more than making your message difficult to understand. In fact, they could be punching holes in your credibility.

Clarity in professional writing can be a critical matter that has potential to make or break an organization – depending on the size of the organization and the level of importance of the document. Likely this is one reason so many messages are wordsmithed to death and reviewed by the legal department before they hit the cyber-waves. If you’re the fly in the email ointment, well, let’s not go there. You get the picture. Writing more than other forms of communication is taken more literally and can become a permanent record, so the import of saying it correctly also carries more weight.

Britton offers some valuable tips that may prove beneficial to your career. Try them as a checklist for your next email. Better to review your words one more time before you hit “Send,” lest you tarnish your record. It’s hard to take back the written word.

What’s the purpose?

In this economy, most everyone is watching their quarters. (It used to be pennies.) The job market is still not great and even if you have a job, the likelihood of your remaining in that position could change with little or no notice. Everyone is unsettled.

What do you do when you find yourself looking for another position and you receive rejection notices or nothing at all from your efforts?  Many companies don’t even open letters or read emails anymore, so how do you get your foot in the door?

This was the situation Ken Eldred described in an interview with Dr. James Dobson on today’s Family Talk radio program. (Click the link to listen to the broadcast.) He’d been in that predicament in the past and knew how it felt to look for work and find nothing. He understood what it did to his family and himself. Yet through it, he found God’s unique purpose for his life. I won’t spoil the outcome of his story, but it is well worth listening to if you are searching for a new job or direction in your life. It’s a great interview, but here’s the catch. You have to tune in again tomorrow to hear the second part.

There’s no doubt that each of us is created for a unique purpose. Our skills, talents, personalities and all that make us who we are have a role to play in God’s much larger plan. We do, however, need to ask Him what it is and listen for His answer. Sometimes that’s the difficult part because we want things our way. Nevertheless, it only makes sense that the God who created you knows what is best for you, so who else should you ask to get the right answer?

Then, when you know what it is you should be doing, point others in the right direction because there are a whole lot of other people asking the same questions, “Why am I here? What’s the purpose?”

Do testimonials influence readers?

I heard an interesting conversation today. Someone mentioned he found testimonials distasteful and did not pay any attention to those offered to promote products or services. Rather, this person felt that the company’s reputation, brand name and price were the only important factors. Do you think he is right?

We’ve all seen ads making magnanimous claims like the ones about losing 30 pounds in a ridiculously short stretch of time. Seriously, we know it can’t be for real. But here’s the real question. Do we throw the baby out with the bath water? In other words, are all testimonials fraudulent?

Actually, we’re bombarded by testimonials and are influenced by them all the time. Yes, we’re talking those promoting products or services that we might buy, and we think nothing of it. Have you ever gone to a new restaurant based on a recommendation of a friend of a friend. You know, “My friend, Sam, said it was really a great place to go and the meal was …” Well, you get the idea. What about the TV commercials featuring prominent athletes endorsing a certain athletic shoe or cereal? If Roy Halladay (Philadelphia Phillies) likes it, you want it too. Speaking of likes, what about Facebook? If Aunt Sally from Seattle likes Walmart, you might too, especially if she’s your favorite relative. And what about product ratings based on reviewers we’ve never met? Don’t we appreciate knowing the number of stars a product has garnered especially when shopping online?

Marketers understand that an endorsement from a reliable source may bring a buyer to the tipping point. It may be a way of answering those frequently asked questions without the pain of wading through a lengthy list. There’s no doubt about it, stories sell. Just look at the evening news along with their commercials. The issue likely has less to do with marketers using testimonials, and if we’re honest, more to do with our not wanting to take the time to do our due diligence and evaluate the facts on our own. Isn’t that why we continually buy our favorite brands? We’ve tried them and like them, so now we don’t have to think when we go to the store to restock.

We are influenced everyday by what others recommend. Testimonials do add value, so don’t be turned off. Instead read and evaluate the message. Then come to your own conclusion.

How about some 236 year birthday fun?

For those in the US, we’re celebrating the 236th birthday of our nation. Here’s a quiz to test your 4th of July knowledge.

1. July 4, 1776 is considered the birthday of our nation and recognizes the signing of this document.

  1. Mayflower Compact
  2. Declaration of Human Rights
  3. Constitution
  4. Declaration of Independence

2. How many men signed this renowned document?

  1. 56
  2. 50
  3. 54
  4. 49

3. The signers of this document were

  1. Poor men
  2. Men of means, wealthy landowners
  3. Wild-eyed pirates
  4. All of the above

4. The courageous signers of the document knew the win / loss results could be

  1. Peace / prison
  2. Safety / deportation
  3. Struggling hardships / death
  4. All of the above

5. Less than half of the signers lived through the Revolutionary War to forge our country’s future and the rest were

  1. Tortured to death
  2. Had their homes sacked, looted occupied by the enemy or burned
  3. Lost their own lives or their family members in the war
  4. All of the above

6. This signer new King George’s eyesight was poor and courageously made his signature with large bold letters so the king would not miss it.

  1. Benjamin Franklin
  2. John Hancock
  3. Thomas Jefferson
  4. Benjamin Rush

The signers of this document relied firmly on God’s protection and leadership as evidenced by signing their names to these words:

“And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.”

Our Founding Fathers were men of character, confidence and conviction, yet they looked beyond the comfort of their own lives. They willingly sacrificed all of it for us. Not relying on their own resources or plans, they felt God’s leading and surrendered to it. Though it cost them dearly, they understood the import of their mission and allowed God to lead them to victory. The price of our freedom came at a very high price. We must not forget.

I wonder if we today would be as courageous and bold?

Thanks to all who maintain our freedom and Happy Birthday USA!

Answers: 1 – 4; 2 – 1; 3 – 2; 4 – 3; 5 – 4; 6 – 2 

Peter’s no hero

Who does he think he is, anyway? I’ve absolutely had it with Peter. Sorry to vent, but I just have to tell someone before I scream. I actually caught him in the act, and it made me furious. By the way, Peter is a wild rabbit.

Those who know me well understand my love for gardening and in particular growing my own vegetables. Not only do they taste so much better than grocery store fare, but the garden sure helps the budget. If I can put away some of my fresh produce, I can enjoy the savings throughout the year.

Unfortunately, Peter does not agree, and he has made it his mission to demolish half of my plants. It matters not that my garden incorporates approximately 256 square feet and that directly behind it is over 320,000 square feet of wild land filled with grasses, raspberries and other wild delicacies, all of which, according to the Internet, are actually more beneficial to his health than the plants he’s eating from my patch. They are certainly plentiful and easier to access to satisfy his voracious appetite as well. He does not even have to chew threw a heavy plastic fence to get to them. But no, his only concern is trying to take what he thinks is best at the moment. He has neither logical rationale nor consideration and respect for my efforts, needs and desires. It’s all about his agenda. Maybe he works for the government.

Though this true account is totally frustrating, I suppose the timing of it is appropriate as it makes me begin to think of the 4th of July celebration and our country’s founding fathers. We remember their character, strength and life-giving sacrifices to provide freedom for us. They planted seeds of patriotism and independence providing us a harvest of rights that have proven themselves for over 230 years. Perhaps on this Independence Day, our Declaration of Independence should be renewed in the hearts and minds of every citizen. John Quincy Adams says it well. “Posterity – you will never know how much it has cost my generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” We must remember because if we become lax in our vigilance, others will come in to tear down what we have sown, even undermining the protections we’ve put into place.

As we prepare our barbecues and fireworks, let’s reflect on the yesterdays that made our country great before it is too late. Former President Woodrow Wilson provided this warning. “A nation which does not remember what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, nor what it is trying to do. We are trying to do a futile thing if we do not know where we came from or what we have been about.”

We need to look back and remember in order to foil the victory of those who would like to sabotage our garden of independence.