Something I learned from IMPROV—–join in!

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Not too long ago, I was at a company-wide outing where we learned what IMPROV was all about.  It was really an enjoyable time, passing imaginary objects to one another, learning the value of keeping things positive, the importance of really focusing on another person, and so much more.  One of the group exercises was in creating a story, where one person says a phrase and then the next person adds to the story with another phrase, and so on.  It was fascinating to see how the story progressed and the unexpected surprises along the way as different people added their creativity.

Well, for roughly the next month, I would like to do a social media -group project as an experiment.  I think it will be fun and am curious where it ends up.  I am going to start a story and I would like to ask you all, the readers of this post to add to the story.  Please keep your contribution to under 250 words.  After you contribute your piece (by clicking on this live link: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CaQQO5P7SK9a10i9PnT-rqD4Db14OeZNWAEVp_gA4NI/edit?usp=sharing ) please give someone else an opportunity to add in something, but then you are more than welcome to once again add in another piece of writing.  I think it will be fun and very interesting, so here goes:

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                                                                                                     Chapter 1
Slowly, ever so slowly the man’s eyelids began to open up. With increasing clarity, awareness of it being a new day came to his mind.

It was Friday morning, and the thought of having to endure just one more day at work brought the middle-aged man hope and energy.  Then, he would have the weekend to sort through all the craziness that was happening in his family with his wife, Rhonda, and twins, 17 year-olds, Andrew and Laura.
Patrick O’Brien was a good man, however recently he felt like his world was crashing in all around him. He wondered to himself, “how much longer could he carry the weight of all the pressures he was experiencing?”
After putting on his “casual-day” Friday clothes for work, he made his way down to the kitchen where his wife was cooking breakfast.
Rhonda was a beautiful, confident, and quiet woman, however, as soon as  Patrick saw her, he noticed that she had been crying.. With very deliberate steps, he moved closer to her, not quite sure how to convey his concern.
“honey, are you alright?  what’s going on?”, Patrick asked.
She looked back at Patrick, as her tears began again to flow, and said, “
Now, its your turn, Keep the story moving.   Please try to add your thoughts to this story (keeping your word count at 250 words or less). You can add to the story as many times as you want, but please let someone write their next contribution, then you can go ahead again and offer another contribution to the story.   The goal of this project is to see how consistent to details and flow,  a story can be produced with many different writers.  Have fun with this and contribute often.     We will keep this project going for only one month, before a new potential story is developed.

A dieting tip to try…..are you ready to start lifting?

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Some times an idea pops in my head and I say to myself, “yeah, it sounds a bit crazy, but I think it could work”.   Do you ever think like that?

This time of year many of us will make New Year’s resolutions we want to accomplish, but unfortunately we end up not succeeding in most of them.

I wonder if it’s because of a lack of tangible motivation that keeps us going and striving to put in the effort need to accomplish our goals.

Let’s get really practical and take dieting for example, which tends to be one of the most common New Year’s resolutions.  For me, I want to lose 11 pounds this year. Now, there are many helpful dieting programs available, but what motivation is there that will make accomplishing my goal “etched in my mind”.   How can I make that weight-loss goal a burning passion?  I have an idea.

My plan is to wake up each morning and actually pick up the pounds I want to lose.  In my case, I want to lose  11 pounds.  So, I found a can of paint that just so happens to weigh 11.5 pounds.  11-pounds

So, I have started to pick that paint can up first thing in the morning.  It’s an object lesson of the amount of weight I’m carrying around that is totally undesirable.

Hopefully, I will soon be replacing that can of weight for some other object in the house that weighs 10 pounds, then 9, then 8, etc.

I like very tangible things to motivate me and I believe this idea will help.  I’ll keep you posted (no pun intended).

How about you?  If you were to do this same idea, what object around the house would you be lifting up each morning?

Migrating birds and New Year’s Resolutions

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Like the yearly migration of birds flying south for the winter, so it is at the end of December with people making their New Year’s Resolutions.  It’s going to happen!  People can envision their lives turning out different in their future.migrating-geese

 

However, although so many people have good intentions, the reality is that most will not experience success in meeting their resolutions.  The adjustments necessary to accomplish their goals are just too hard to overcome making a  change in their habits.

Well, recently, I’ve gotten an approval from Apple on an APP that I believe can help you this year.

First of all, it allows you to record your own long-term resolutions AND the short-term goals necessary to experience success.  Then, using the colorful Dashboard screen you can easily monitor your progress.

In addition, rarely is success ever achieved by just an individual’s own efforts–people need support from others.   With your progress in mind,  on the Dashboard screen, you can text your results to a friend for encouragement, accountability, and support,  so that you will have a better chance of accomplishing those resolutions that are most meaningful to you.

There is a minimal $2.99 cost to the app, but please keep in mind, for less than one fancy coffee drink or hamburger sandwich, you can find positive help.

You can visit  either the App Store (for IPhones)     Foundations Life Management app for Iphone devices
https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.i

or go to the Google Play Store (for Android devices) https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.FoundationsLifeCoach.Foundations&hl=en 

 

This year, take charge of your life: get the app, find a friend to come along side you, and experience a year of fulfilling your New Year’s Resolutions!

 

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This year: the Giver or the gift ?

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Recently, I was sitting on the beach in Ft. Myers, Florida enjoying a beautiful sunny day.  I was admiring the vastness of the gulf in front of me, the splendor of the sandy beach, and feeling the warmth of the sun’s rays upon me.  It was really breathtaking.  My awareness of this awesome scene in front of me led me right away to giving thanks to Almighty God. His creations are truly awe-inspiring.florida-beach

What was interesting about this experience was that as I was marveling at all the sites around me, I looked at many people walking on the beach, many with their heads down.  I thought to myself, “I wonder how many people right now are really enjoying all that is around them.”  I also thought  “I wonder how many are expressing gratitude to a living and loving God who made this all?”

I also got to thinking (I think alot), “what would God be thinking of us, who so often are so unaware and unappreciative for all the good gifts He provides?”

It was a very convicting thought as I recognized how much more grateful I could be toward the Giver of all good gifts.

Shortly after all these thoughts, I got to thinking about Christmas-time and purposed in my heart that beyond any gifts that I might receive, I want to be much more focused on the giver behind those gifts.

Let me encourage you (as I need to be reminded) to not assume you deserve anything in life, let alone during these holidays.  Make the frequent effort to be grateful for all you have and the generosity of others (and God) for all that is bestowed upon you.

Enjoy the holiday season.

Oh, and if I haven’t communicated to you yet about this:  I am really grateful for the completion of a new Life Management APP (and for those who helped in its development):

I think it will be helpful for a lot of people. There is a $2.99 cost to it, but please keep in mind, there is also a cost we pay when we neglect being intentional about striving for excellence in all areas of our responsibilities. Check it out when you can. You can visit either the App Store– Foundations Life Management app for Iphone devices https://appsto.re/us/ejC7fb.i or go to the Google Play Store (for Android devices in the Health & Fitness category) to find Foundations Life Management and look for the Foundations logo

Are you a parent of a Teenager? If yes, benefit from this advice…

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For those of us who are parents, we understand what a tough job it is to parent well, especially as our children enter or are already in their teenage years.

Considering the perfect storm of changing hormones, media indulgence, peer pressures, and a growing desire for independence–it can be tough, really tough.

As I was reading Dr. Henry Cloud’s excellent book, “The Power of the Other”,  I came across this excellent talk he had with his two teenage daughters–it is worth the read:

“Girls, you’re becoming  teenagers. It is an exciting time. One of the reasons is that you will  be getting more and more independence.   That means that you get to do a lot more stuff on your own, and you’re going to want the freedom  to do those things.  So I want you to understand something.

My deepest desire  is to give you as much  freedom as you want. I have no plans to control you on some short leash.  In fact,  I want the opposite . I want you to be  in control of yourself and have as much freedom as you can.   So here is how it works.  It’s a formula.  The amount of freedom that you will have will be equal to the amount of responsibility  that you take  when you have it,  and that responsibility  should be measured in love.   The choices you make , that you will be responsible for, are to be loving.   They must be good for others and for yourself. Your choices should not hurt anyone in any way- you or anyone else. That is your guide to responsibility.

If you are not responsible with the freedom that I give you, if you do things  that are not good  for yourself or  others, things that are not loving, then your freedom  will be limited to that  same degree. It is totally up to you how much freedom  you will get in the teen years.  Show me that you can be responsible with it, and you will get it. That will make my life and yours a lot of fun! ”

 

Is that awesome advice or what!

 

Tips on talking to others

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Recently, I had two conversations with people, one was a young man, late teens, and the other person was a middle-aged adult.  Both of them had expressed concerns over being able to talk with people.  Where do you start? What can you talk about? etc.

To those who have followed this blog, you’ll recognize this slide (My Balance Sheet). My Balance Sheet Sometimes I feel like George Washington Carver and his discoveries of over 300 uses for the peanut.  I don’t know how many applications and insights I have come to understand from this slide, but here is one more:  as a guide to helping a person have conversations.

So, here are a couple of suggestions:

  • begin your conversation with “superficial/non-threatening topics of conversation, such as FAMILY (are you married? for how long? do you have children? what are their names? are they involved with many activities?, etc.), STEWARDSHIP (think material possessions (cars, houses, golf clubs, cell phones, etc.), and WORK (where do you work? for how long? what do you do?, etc.)
  • please keep in mind you are not gathering information, but trying to better understand the person you are talking with.
  • depending on the level of transparency, you might be staying on these three topics for some time, going deeper and deeper in the things that are being shared, but depending on how the conversation goes, you…
  • might also begin to talk about other matters, such as VOLUNTEERING activities, or what is done in their LEISURE time.—–again, the point is to continue developing deepening relationship and points of connection
  • another direction the conversation might go is in the way of PERSONAL HEALTH (what do you do for exercise, dieting, mutual friendships, etc.) and lastly, DEVOTION TO GOD (when I say “lastly” it is not because this area of responsibility is the least important (I think this is the most important of all areas of responsibility), but because this area is so personal, and so important that at least, generally, you will not want to go there real quick without developing some kind of basis of trust, where you can freely discuss this vital area.

The 5 questions you should ask yourself every Monday morning

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I can’t think of anyone who doesn’t wish they could be a bit more productive.  Well, this  article by Tyler Becker offers some practical, and helpful advice.

I realize its only Thursday, but I thought I would give you a chance to mull over it in preparation for next Monday.

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The 5 questions you should ask yourself every Monday morning

“At the beginning of each week, you have the opportunity to start your five-day sprint with positive energy and momentum going forward. Rather than plop yourself down at your desk on Monday and respond to emails, you should kick things off with a more retrospective, self-fulfilling brainstorm session.

Use the first 10 or 15 minutes of your week to reflect on what went well last week, what was unexpected, what could have been better, and how you’ll make this week more productive than the last. While some projects that come up are out of your control, the way that you respond to others and manage your workload is entirely up to you, and by asking the right questions, you will learn new ways to schedule your day and tackle responsibilities each week.

  1. “Was I productive last week? What came up that I didn’t plan for?”

At the beginning of each week, you should schedule your responsibilities and goals day-by-day, hour-by-hour. You can literally put your work on your calendar to better track your progress and estimate how long each will take. If you do this and are unsuccessful, it will give you a better idea of why things did not work as you planned.

It might be because a colleague asked you to help on a new project that took up half a day. Or, perhaps you under-estimated the amount of time a specific task of yours required. The other possible reason is your productivity, and not focusing on each each block of time on your calendar. Regardless of the reason, thinking about last week’s productivity, and why or why not things got done, will tell you more about how to plan each week.

  1. “What needs to get done this week in order to reach my goals?”

Identify your weekly responsibilities, both short-term and long-term ones, and plan your week accordingly. If you have daily or weekly responsibilities that are completed consistently, such as measuring weekly website traffic or metrics on your company’s newsletter, add that to your weekly goals. If you are working on projects that span several weeks or months, you should set a goal for the next five days that will help you get closer to the end result.

This is a “swiss cheese” method, or “crawling before you walk” creates bite-sized milestones for your larger tasks. For example, if you need to hire an Account Executive by the end of next quarter, you can establish this week’s goal as, “contact 10 local universities to create job listings for their career center” in order to get you one step closer to making the actual hire. Asking yourself “what needs to get done” does not require a 360-degree approach, but rather, identify the best, first step you can take that will help put the pieces in place to get you closer to the end.

  1. “What is my role in the organization, and how can I amplify my impact?”

Understanding why you matter within your company, and how your contributions make a difference allows you to clearly see the relationship between you, your work, and the company’s success. Of course, you already know why you’re there, but if you think about it on a micro-level, and why each project you’re working on is an important use of your time, you’ll approach things differently and with a greater responsibility to give 110%.

So much about the day-to-day grind is attitude and mindset, and if you don’t believe your work and role within the business is important, that negative mentality will shine through your work and productivity. You should understand why your work is important, and once you do, it can help you tackle problems in new ways that are exciting, innovative, and truly impactful.

  1. “Is there something new I can A/B test this week to be more productive?”

A/B testing is one of the easiest ways to learn something new. For example, checking your email at the beginning of the day versus the end of the day, or taking more, shorter breaks versus fewer, longer ones. Testing different things throughout your week might reveal hidden answers to the way you work, allowing you to become a smarter employee or business owner with each experiment you try.

A/B testing on yourself might inspire the rest of the company to implement something you discover from personal experimentation. On Monday, you can think of a project that can be A/B tested, or adjust your schedule to see if you can learn anything new about how you work most efficiently. You might even realize different ways to A/B test with your work, such as sending the same email with different subject lines to determine a better CTR, or reach out to prospective clients with a short and sweet note, compared to a longer one with more, concrete details.

  1. “Am I truly passionate about my work, and if not, what would get me to that point?”

It’s important for employees to be passionate about their role and the company’s overall mission. Without passion and curiosity, work will suffer and represent the lack of devotion. If you’re not satisfied with your role, think about what it is that you want, and whether or not your department or company even has the potential to meet your needs and wishes.

If you can confidently answer “Yes!” to this question week after week, you know that your work and role is on the right path. You might have some days that get you down, but if you can pick yourself up after those times, and still feel confident and proud of the work you’re doing, it allows you to maintain a clear mind and vision for doing more of what you love, and ultimately becoming a better employee for your organization, and the people you work with.

Mondays are the clean slate that everyone can take advantage of with the right mindset and extra effort of planning. Many employees only brainstorm ideas in a collaborative setting, but Monday morning is one of the few times where internal brainstorming can make you a more productive individual for the rest of the week, and throughout the year.

Perhaps you have other questions to ask yourself too. You can replace one of these five with your own, or add onto this list. Whichever questions you ask yourself, all that matters is that you’re taking the steps to work better, smarter, and make a greater impact.”