Tag Archive | action

History is about to change. Are you ready?

While waiting in a doctor’s office, I picked up a copy of the local newspaper. I’m always interested in people and their viewpoints, so I headed to the “Opinion” column. One person wrote in about a TV ad that obviously went against his candidate. Perhaps you’ve seen it also. This person opined the depiction of a young mom running to vent her frustration at her 2008 vote for Obama’s slogan of “Change.”

Rather than listen to the content of the message, the writer criticized the quality of this mom’s jogging stroller and the clothing of both her running attire and that of her little girl. Has this man never heard of grandparents or eBay? He also noted that he’d watched the ad several times to see if the woman was actually wearing a wedding ring. He carefully noted that he did not detect one meaning that he could not see it, but he did not offer a reason why. Were his eyes too dim? Did she not have one on? And if that was the case was it because she had just finished washing dishes and forgot, she needed to hock it for cash, the financial pressures of her husband being out of work caused a riff in their marriage resulting in divorce; etc.? Were her hands hidden? Was the picture too small to see it even if it were there? We don’t know and neither did he, but you can guess his implication.

Here’s my point. If you have nothing better to do than rip campaign ads to shreds, and you have an analytical or critical spirit, go for it. Right now you’ve got plenty to look at on both sides of the spectrum. But if you’re trying to persuade voters to choose your candidate, you have certainly lost my vote.

Let’s deal with the real issues facing us today and determine if we’re better off before or after the Obama administration.

  • How about our economy?
  • Are you doing better or worse, are you richer or poorer? (Sounds like wedding vows, but we’re not married to Obama.)
  • What do you think about the increase in the national debt?
  • Why are many medical professionals throwing in the towel because of Obamacare?
  • How do the candidates stand on issues that impact your personal values?

Do you know?

I heard about a young man who was not sure if he would vote in this election. This would be his first opportunity. He said he wanted to be an informed voter, and as of the Sunday prior to the election, he did not know where the candidates stood. Fair enough. As we saw from the above comments on TV ads, the sound bites may not be clear. If that’s your stand, then check out FRC Action’s (Family Research Council) voter’s guide. It’s downloadable so that you can share it or carry it with you on Election Day.

History is about to change, but we all need to do our part and vote. Are you ready?

Who’s in your community?

Are you as amazed as I am about the people crossing your path each day? I’m not talking about the people who rain on your parade, but those whose actions make you feel like you’re the next best thing to sliced bread.

These are the people who build you up, encourage you and jump on your bandwagon to give you support. There are a lot of them out there, and yet we tend to recall those who mistreat us instead of those who treat us well.  Why is that? Perhaps if we focused our thoughts more on the warm and caring responses we receive, we’d have more good days than those on the opposite end of the continuum.

Most people live active and busy lives, yet a broad smile and hearty wave go a long way to let you know they notice you’re alive and care enough to greet you. Please note that the wave is hearty and not merely a raising of the hand. Fingers or wrist must move enthusiastically in order to qualify.

Oh, and there’s the store clerk who admires your purse and turns the time you spend in the grocery line into a real conversation – not one about the weather or the color of a starlet’s hair, but matters of importance even in that short time frame. And you can’t forget the huggers. These delightful people are so glad to see you they cannot wait to put their arms around you to say, “Hello.” Even if hugging is not your thing, you can appreciate their effort to let you know you are important to them.

I like “real” people, too. They’re the ones who are themselves regardless of the time or place. They know who they are and don’t put on airs. You can’t help but feel comfortable around them.

The one’s I like best are the listeners. They look you in the eye as they ask you questions – not to be nosey but to help you sort out a problem, figure out a solution or encourage you in your endeavors. They’re hearing what you say without being distracted by the formulation of their own responses or comments. They are not so engrossed in their own problems that they remember you and your situation from a day, month or year before and they ask you about how something turned out or how it’s going.

The world is filled with everyday people who demonstrate kindness, consideration and a helping hand. Perhaps if I focus more on their efforts, I’ll become like them.

Why is it so hard to …

Why is it so hard to …, well you can fill in the blank. It could be dieting, exercising, working around the house or on a fun project. It doesn’t seem to matter that these are really good things especially when they are completed. After all, you do get a good feeling and a sense of accomplishment when they’re done, but for some reason there are times when you just can’t get started or if you’ve started, finished. What’s the deal with this?

A good quote may motivate you. The story about a successful athlete (like those in the Olympics) or a saga about someone who beat overwhelming odds can inspire, but the bottom line is we need to get up and do it. No one will come knocking on our door and offer to do it for us. We’ve got to move ourselves to action. Do we need to realize that our lack of action will bring consequences or do we just wait and hope we don’t reap negative rewards for our lack of effort?

I spoke with a frustrated teacher the other day and after listening, I’d feel that way, too. He was telling me about some students in his class who basically refuse to read – we’re talking English class where that’s the main focus! The problem is these students would prefer to play video games or hang out with their friends rather than read. They are  capable, but because they made other choices when it came to the use of their time, their skills in the area of reading were diminished. When the teacher apprised the parents about the problem (Guess what. The kids were not doing well in the class – surprise, surprise.), their comment reinstated the fact that the kids did not like to read. If the kids don’t care and the parent’s don’t care, it’s a whole lot harder for the teacher – not impossible, just more difficult.

The thing is, these kids illustrate some of my own struggles and maybe some of yours. I don’t like to diet and exercise and so I have to really push myself to do it if I want to lose weight. Sometimes I’m successful and other times, I’m not much different from those kids. At least I know that I have no one to blame but myself if my clothes don’t fit. Those kids and their parents probably won’t look into the mirror to find their culprit.

What’s so great about the Comfort Zone?

Have you ever spoken with a person who was miserable in his job? He hated to get up in the morning and face the onslaught of meetings, messages and minutia. He lived for the weekend reprieve, yet if you tried to pin him down on what he’d rather do, he had no answer. He’d bought into the old adage that the bird in the hand is worth more than two in the bush. Although the proverb warns against greed, it can also imply being satisfied with the status quo. In other words, it’s easier to exist in what you know and are comfortable with rather than try to improve yourself and grow to experience more. You know where he lived? Right in the eye of the Comfort Zone.

I’m not going to pick on that individual because if truth be told, we’ve all lived there at one time or another, but for the life of me, I cannot figure out why. What’s so great about enduring and tolerating unpleasant situations, behaviors and habits when they do nothing for us? Do they help us develop new skills, meet new people, see new places? Will we experience greater focus, commitment or self-discipline and better health? Are we truly better off? We need to ask ourselves these and some other important questions especially when we find ourselves in difficult or stressful situations. Our friend may not be able to quit his day job just yet, but he can begin to make changes to reinvent himself so that he can fulfill his dreams, goals and purpose.

Like him, I have areas of my life that I want to see changed. While one of TV’s total makeovers would be nice, it is not reality because lasting change requires commitment, action and time. I believe it also requires God’s power, and I am enlisting His wisdom and strength to do it because, frankly, I see nothing great in the Comfort Zone.

Do we have a date?

Dave Ramsey is one of my favorites in both business and the financial world. Based on Scriptural principles, he takes a no-nonsense approach to finance, leadership and life (just ask his kids). He draws a line in the sand and strives (nobody’s perfect) to walk what he talks, and it works! I took advantage of some travel time in the car on the way to a meeting and listened to one of his CD’s on leadership. The concept he shared about making decisions proved simple, but profound.

Many decisions in life are easy to make – what to have for lunch, which container of milk to buy, how to subscribe to an e-zine, or whatever other similar choices affect your life. Hence, you needn’t spend a lot of time on the process of making your decision. On the other hand, if you have saved for a long time to buy a new car, you want to ensure you spend adequate time to make the right selection.  Your choice will be with you for a long while, hopefully.  In other words, small impact decisions require less thought than their weightier counterparts because they have a greater long-term impact. The amount of time you take to make your decision should be proportionate to its impact.

As one of those people with a million ideas, I can get bogged down in the process which sometimes leads to procrastination, a sense of being overwhelmed or a good idea falling through the proverbial cracks. Ramsey suggests when you have to make one of the heavier decisions or if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, grab your calendar and set a date to decide. Don’t drag it out. Weigh the pros and cons, decide and move on. Setting a date relieves the stress because, if nothing else, there is an end in sight.

Your date may reflect a deadline that is either real or self-imposed. Either way, you’ll need to evaluate the facts, opportunities and challenges and then act. Based on your decision, you can adjust if the results are not immediately satisfactory. Whether you’re purchasing a new home, a piece of equipment or determining if you should open or close the doors on a business, Ramsey’s method has worked for him and countless others. I think I’ll give it a try. What do you think? Do we have a date?

Words on the page

Random words on a page do little to make the world a better place, but when you put them together in an orderly way, they have power for both good and evil. They can bring comfort or destruction, clarity or confusion, direction or uncertainty and humor or pain.   

Some people have a special knack for putting words together that when delivered, they inspire and motivate others to positive action. They edify the listener or reader. You can attribute this, in part, to the testimony of the person speaking, but the words themselves often contain power beyond their original intent. Such words can pierce to the very core of the human heart challenging perspectives and providing opportunities. It is these words, we often continue to quote, attaching the credentials of the man or woman who first penned them and sharing them to encourage or exhort others. Consider these examples:

“Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.”

~ Martin Luther King

“A people that value its privileges above its principles will soon lose both.”

~ Dwight Eisenhower 

Walk the Talk has compiled a short movie clip of some leadership quotes. Maybe you’ll enjoy them as much as I did. Too busy to check them out right now? Then you’ll like these words of wisdom from Abraham Lincoln: 

“The best thing about the future is it comes one day at a time.”

Savings on email

Do you get overwhelmed over the volume of email you get each day? 

If you work in a business office, you’re bombarded throughout the day with electronic messages. Did you know that it takes an average of 2 minutes to open read and close an email? This means if you send and receive 50 emails per day – I realize this is likely a low estimate, you spend 100 minutes per day just on email. Let’s see, based on 260 days per year that works out to about 18 days you’re dedicating to email alone. All of this does not include any action or follow up the email may generate nor does it count texting or IM. You do your own math based on your volume. 

Several years ago, I read the Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress, which offered several strategies to reduce the time spent on dealing with email. They claim to save you 20% on your time. Their methods do work, though I never actually measured my results. 

One of the ways they suggest to lessen the load is to use the ABC approach for messages you write:

Action Summary – one sentence specifying action, purpose or your key point

Background – body of message using bullet points and white space whenever you can

Close – niceties, next steps, and auto signature (this really saves you time). 

You might identify with their hamster analogy if you expend a lot of energy handling messages while your real work piles up on the desk. Throw in frequent meetings, and you’re loading your brief case to take the work home. Not good. To establish more work/life balance, try different strategies to lighten the load.