Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The 5 Key Relationships You Must Have

You are the average of the people you spend the most time with.  There are some relationships you’ll need to cultivate, some you’ll need to pull away from and some you’ll need to create.  Whatever your current situation, you cannot attain God’s dream for you alone.  Today, we’ll talk about the five crucial relationships you’ll need in place to see your dream take flight.

1. Experts.  These are people working and living out a dream similar to the dream you are called to.  We all need models and mentors and you may need to do some research to find who some of these experts are.  Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel.  Most of us will need to see and even learn a model before we can adapt it.  As you begin to research who some of these experts are, reach out to them and see how you can learn from afar and even close.  You may be surprised how accessible some people will be if you just ask.  Overall, chemistry is key.  Look for experts and then lean into the relationships with those you feel you click with best.
2. Supporters.  These are people who believe in you, who encourage you and would pray for you if you asked.  Supporters are like a spider web.  The tensile strength of a spider’s silk is greater than that of the same weight of steel.  Further, it has greater elasticity, because of its many points of connection.  Who are the people who will hold you up as you move God’s dream forward for your life?
3. Challengers.  These are the ones who typically tell it like it is.  They are very direct and straight-forward.  We all need these people who will challenge and push us to reach higher and get better.  They will challenge you both by the example of their lives and by the words they speak.  They may not know much about your dream, but they are for you and could play this role if asked.  Caution, these people may threaten you.  You may need some thick skin to gain the valuable perspective a challenger will bring to you.
4. Resourcers.  These will share and sponsor you into their networks and relationships.  Supporters will help you with your dream by providing knowledge, experiences and even financial resources.  Again, chemistry is key, but can you think of some people who deeply care about you and might want to help you pursue your dream by being resourcers?  A word of caution.  These won’t always be the people you would expect most.  Just because they’ve been a supporter does not mean they will become a resourcer.
5. Balancers.  These are the ones who will help you live a healthy and balanced life.  Once you discover God’s dream for your life, it’s easy to pursue it full-throttle, often to the detriment of other vital aspects and people in your life.  We all know people who have burned out doing too much of what they love or have neglected some priorities and have lost valuable parts of their life along the way.  Hear this and hear it well.  You can’t afford to lose your health or relationships that matter most.  Think of people you know that model emotional, physical, relational, intellectual and spiritual health.  Who would push you to take time for leisure activities or hobbies?  You may not know one person who will bring all those traits, but you know some people who can bring some of them.

I hope this list is helpful to you as you pursue God’s dream for your life and try and decide which relationships you need in your life.  You can’t do it alone.  There is no such thing as a completely self-made man or woman.  Don't know where to start?  I’m here to help you discover and establish some of these crucial relationships in your life.  Let’s get started today!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Is Personal Growth and Self-Leadership Even Important?

Most people I know have a desire to do something significant with their lives.  I’ve observed some be energized and motivated by this desire and some be deflated and depressed.  "Maybe", they think, “I’m not cut out to do anything significant.”  My question to those people has always been and always will be, “Why not you?”

I think I’ve found a clue to why some seem to be able to step into big new worlds and others seem to just stay stuck in the same frustrating life they’ve lived in for years.  I believe the difference between the do’s and the do not's is their willingness to take responsibility for their own growth.  Another way to say it is leading yourself.  It’s ironic, and even ridiculous, that some of us desire other people to follow us when we’ve not even made the effort to lead ourselves well.  In fact, I’ve seen this be a repetitive theme in my own life and in the lives of many of the people I’ve worked with over the years.  It seems that seasons of personal breakthrough are usually preceded by seasons of personal growth and good self-leadership.

Unfortunately, for some of us, it’s way too easy to sit around and complain about how everyone else gets the breaks and even how God seems to call everyone else to bigger and better things in life.  But, how likely is it that God just likes those people more than he likes you?  Does that even make sense?  Isn’t it more likely that God is actively looking for people who are already on the right trajectory? 

I still remember when I first discovered personal growth.  It was the second half of 2007 when I discovered two growth tools that seemed almost magical to me – blogging and podcasts.  I wrote my first blogs on my account.  Remember MySpace?  Those were the days.  I launched my current blog in December 2010.  It was hardly a launch, really.  I just started writing because I liked writing and it gave me a great outlet to process the growth happening inside me.  Prior to this time, I had listened to a few podcasts, but I thought they were just a tool for struggling bands to get their music out to a new audience.  I had not realized what rich content there was for the taking – for free!  Only once someone introduced me to the Catalyst Podcast, did I realize the growth potential.  For months, my mind was blown by the guests I heard interviewed.  This was the time I was introduced to Donald Miller, Rob Bell, Craig Groeschel, Andy Stanley, Dave Ramsey, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson and dozens of other great leaders I’d never been exposed to before.  I can still hear that introduction by Andy Stanley . . .  “Leadership is a stewardship.  It is temporary . . . and you’re accountable.”  That literally sent chills up and down my spine every time I heard it.  I was hooked on leadership.  I was hooked on growth.  Not surprisingly, as this growth was taking place, I was seeing and walking into all kinds of new opportunities in the world.

Now, that’s my story.  But what’s yours?  Do you value growth and self-leadership or is that just for the self-help gurus to talk about so they can sell books?  I’ll tell you the truth.  If you value yourself, you’ll value personal growth.  You’re either growing or you’re dying.  There is no such thing as a plateau.  That’s the term we use to comfort ourselves when we know we’re dying a slow death.  

Now it’s time for you to take a step.  What is one new piece you will introduce into your life to foster growth?  This could be some kind of career training, beginning a new reading plan, solitary times of prayer and meditation, listening to podcasts or any number of other avenues. I can’t define this for you.  It’s your life.  It’s your responsibility to find what works for you.

The final piece (for now) is accountability.  Who is one trusted friend you can share your plan with?  You will not only give this person permission, but you will charge them with the responsibility to hold you accountable on this new growth mechanism you’ve decided to introduce into your life.  Choose wisely.  This must be someone who loves you completely and has no hint of an ulterior motive.  Depending on your situation, your pastor, a co-worker, and even your spouse may or may not be the best choice.

Choose wisely.  Choose to begin a life of personal growth.  Choose to lead yourself well.



Friday, January 26, 2018

If You Can Answer 5 Questions, This Will Be Your Most Productive Year Yet!

In our last post, we talked about the idea of changing your mindset in order to imagine new possibilities.  If you didn’t get to read it, take a look.  Now, let’s take that a step further.  Let’s say you have yourself in a place where you’re operating primarily in a growth mindset.  Mindsets are great, but there have been many great thoughts that have languished in the minds of individuals who have never gone to the next step.  That next step is a growth plan.  You wouldn’t build a house without a set of plans that were meticulously followed.  Why try and build your life any other way?  

If you want to get someplace significant and see your dreams become reality in 2018, an effective and simple step is to write down and keep up with your growth plan.  The importance of writing it down and keeping up with it cannot be overstated.  Ideas in your head give you a general direction, but they will not get you to where you imagine you want to be.  In fact, over time, being guided by an idea will create frustration and you will begin to despise the very idea that began as an inspiring vision for your life. It’s not the idea’s fault.  It’s yours.  But, you can fix the problem.  You can start by answering these five questions.
  1. How are things now?  This question speaks to the need for assessment.  You’re not just closing your eyes and picking at random or spinning a wheel to choose areas of growth.  Set aside some time and really think this through.  Chances are, you know some key areas in which you need to grow.  
  2. How do I want things to be?  This is the question of vision.  While it's essential to assess the current state, the next step is declaring what you want the new reality to be.  Only you can paint a picture of what you want your future to look like.  But pictures don't paint themselves.  They require your effort.
  3. What will things look like this time next year?  Vision is a picture of the future and it's essential.  But vision is not specific.  This is the point where you have to set specific goals.  Oh, and make sure they are SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, time-bound).  Most of us set silly goals because we don't put them through the SMART filter.
  4. What do I have to do right now?  You can’t do everything you want to do, but you can do anything you want to do.  This question speaks to the need to narrow your focus and choose small, concrete steps.  If you did a good job answering the questions above, chances are you have a good list of areas in which you want to see growth.  Well, the next question narrows that down to specifics.  If you want to reach a goal by the end of the year, what step do you need to take by the end of the month?
  5. Who will help me get there? This is probably the biggest missing piece from most growth plans.  If you’re the kind of motivated and growth-minded individual who would actually go through the steps to create a personal growth plan, you probably believe you can execute and complete it on your own.  You are wrong.  No man (or woman) is an island. You need to invite others into the process with you and give them permission to keep you accountable.  People who care about you will help you this way if you just ask.

Remember, the answers to all these questions need to be written down and you’ve got to keep up with it.  Keep these answers close to you.  See them often.  Schedule times to assess your progress.  If you have a good plan and you’re intentional about following that plan, you absolutely will see the growth you desire.  You can do it!