Monthly Archives: April 2012

“You are a Writer” is Not JUST for Writers!

The new economy of leadership and professional growth is to give it away. Whatever it is, you will actually become more successful, grow more professionally, and reach your greatest potential by generously giving it away…

Sounds crazy, right?

In his new book, “You are a Writer,” Jeff Goins demonstrates how this new economy is shaping his own personal and professional success, and how it can do the same for you.

Goins spent years working to become an “overnight” success. His vocation is writing, and in the last year, he has become one of the central voices in the blogosphere for how to develop a platform and become a successful writer.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to become an Amway salesman or buy a timeshare in the Poconos to learn these techniques. By reading this short, yet information packed book, you will have already grown. And if you put a little bit of elbow grease into it, you, too, can realize more success and reach more people in ways that you might never have imagined.

We live in a world where we can share our thoughts with anyone at any time and at any place in the world. And no matter what your interest or passion is, there is somebody (or a group of somebodies) somewhere around the globe who share your interest. They are a tribe, and most tribes are looking for a leader. This book will help you finds that tribe and become a leader.

The great thing about his new book is that the ideas contained within are not limited solely to writing…they can be applied to any area of your life in which you are seeking to succeed. Admittedly, the second half of the book, in which he outlines examples of letters to publishers and so forth, is much more geared to helping writers get published, but this is still a book that I encourage anyone to read if they are looking for a way to develop a platform and reach others.

The three central chapters of the book can be applied to most any avocation. Whether you are a writer, a carpenter, a teacher, or a salesman, you will find these chapters useful in your pursuit of professional and personal satisfaction.

They are:

  • Building a platform
  • Establishing a brand
  • Channels of connection

Each of these chapters supplies simple, common sense steps to assist you in your effirts to connect with others and become a respected voice in your area of passion.

This is a short book, so it is easy to read in one sitting. However, I have found myself going back through it frequently to pull out some of the finer points and shape them for use in my own writing.

I often find myself struggling to finish a blog, because it doesn’t seem like it’s good enough to publish. Recently, Jeff posted a blog titled “One Sure Sign You’re a Professional.” In it, he made one of the most affirming statements I have ever read, and it has encouraged me as a writer. He said:

“Art is not perfect; it never was supposed to be. Art is what happens when you extract something true and good from the mess of life.”

Whether you are that writer, carpenter, teacher, or salesman, what you create is art. It will not be perfect. But it CAN be good. And this book can help you to refine your art.


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Are My Dreams Weird?

This might end up being the stupidest blog ever…

Or I might just find out that I am not as weird as I think I am…

Or that you’re all as weird as I am.

I’ll let you decide.

Have you ever awakened in a really foul mood because you are mad at someone for something that they did to you…in your dream?

It happened to me this morning. One of my very best friends did me wrong in a dream I had last night…and now I’m really ticked off at him…

What’s really interesting is that this “very best friend” of mine is someone I haven’t seen in 10 years…this is someone that I was very close to in high school. We have kept in touch sporadically over the last several years, but I haven’t seen him since my 20th reunion.

But oh, he did me wrong in my dream last night.

You see, in my dream, he went with me to the funeral of one of my relatives in Minnesota. This was a dream, so the relative in the coffin was someone I have never actually seen before. But in my dream, we were very close. Anyway, my uncle is a pastor (that part is true) and he was performing the ceremony for my deceased relative. Of course, I was devastated over the loss of this person (who doesn’t REALLY exist), and so I was grateful to have my friend (let’s call him Harry) to support me.

Now Harry is ex-military (which is true) and he came to the funeral in his dress blues to pay respect to my dear departed relative (who isn’t real). It seems that my relative left me a large inheritance of some sort (which is how I KNOW this was a dream, because my family doesn’t have LARGE inheritances to leave to anyone), and my uncle (the pastor) was the executor of the estate. As soon as the funeral was over, I introduced my uncle to my friend Harry, who was all duded up in his Army dress uniform. My uncle was so impressed that my friend was a veteran that he decided to give my inheritance to Harry…who TOOK it! My friend took the inheritance (that doesn’t exist) that was given to him by my uncle (who DOES exist) from my dead relative (who doesn’t exist).

So I woke up, and now I’m mad at my friend Harry (whom I haven’t seen in 10 years) and my uncle (whom I dearly love).

What’s the point of this little anecdote?

The point is this: I really WAS grouchy this morning, because of this stupid dream! I allowed something non-existent to dictate my mood…it was only after a hot shower and some quiet, reflective time that I was able to focus my mind on the day ahead with a modicum of anticipation.

Do you ever find yourself in this situation? Maybe it isn’t something as innocuous as a dream. Perhaps it’s the guy who cuts you off in traffic, or maybe it was the neighbor’s dog that left a present on your back patio this morning. Could it possibly be that co-worker who is perpetually negative and has decided to target you as their object of derision today? Or perhaps it’s the student who has decided with two weeks left in the semester that it’s now time to start attending your class and expects you to allow her to make up all of the homework that she has not turned in for the last 14 weeks…

What is that thing (or who is that one person) over which you have no control that has dictated your mood for the day?

Or for the week?

If you’re like me, you allow the frustrations from early in the week to carry you through until Friday. And then, when you look back, you find that your week has been generally unproductive, because you have spent the better part of your mental energy all week being mad at the world about something over which you had no control. And this lack of productivity keeps you grouchy through the weekend.

Silly, huh? Yet all too real…

So what are you going to do about it?

Personally I am through allowing that which I cannot control to control ME. Our attitude is a choice. What we think about is a choice. The Bible tells us that we are to take every thought captive. I choose to do this. This will take some practice, and I will fail along the way. But I will be happier and more productive along the way.

I think I need to give Harry a call…ten years is far too long.

Hey, I feel better already.


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Living on Purpose

“You did that on purpose!”

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yes, you did!”

“Did not!”

“Did too! Mom!!!”

Have you ever heard this argument? Or have you ever been a PART of this argument? As a kid, one of the worst things was to be accused of doing something “on purpose.” You could run over your sister’s Barbie doll with the lawn mower, but if you didn’t do it “on purpose,” you wouldn’t get in as much trouble…you might even just get a “good talking to.”

Even as adults, we still cringe when someone accuses us of doing something “on purpose.” As a mischievous lad, I was frequently called to the principal’s office, and, I must confess, it was often because I had done something-you guessed it-“on purpose.”

This whole idea of doing something “on purpose” has gotten a bad rap. In 2002, Rick Warren wrote his NYT best-selling book, “The Purpose Driven Life,” and finally, it seemed that doing something on purpose was not necessarily a bad thing. I read Warren’s book, and I liked it pretty well. But I must confess that I never really made a serious attempt to apply some of the wisdom in the book to my life. While I wanted my life to be meaningful, I wasn’t really living a life of purpose; I didn’t have a plan for my life; that is, until recently.

I subscribe to Michael Hyatt’s blog. Hyatt is the chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, the world’s largest publisher of inspirational and spiritual books. More than 200,000 people subscribe to his daily blog, and it is a must read for anyone in leadership at any level.

I have lived a reactionary life, bouncing from one extreme to another like a ball in a pinball machine-allowing my life to “happen” to me, instead of me “happening” to my life. I have allowed others to dictate my mood and my attitude by the way that they have treated me. As an emotional person, this has been demoralizing for me, and it has led me to accomplish far less than I was made for. This has got to stop.

Hyatt has written a powerful blog called “Creating Your Personal Life Plan.” He is also giving away a free e-book called “Creating Your Personal Life Plan.” It is an easy to read, straightforward little book that has finally motivated me to live my life “on purpose.”

I am working on writing my life plan. This is not a quick and easy task…no one-shot deal. Once I have completed it, I will need to review and revise it regularly, building in measurables along the way that help me to assess my progress. Hyatt reviews his plan on a weekly basis and schedules regular quarterly reviews where he can get away from the office and assess his progress over an extended period of time. Leadership expert John Maxwell takes the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day to review the previous year and look forward to the year ahead. Steven Covey, author of “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People,” uses the example of putting “the big rocks in the jar first” as a metaphor for mapping out your life plan.

All of these individuals have something in common-they did not accidentally stumble into leadership success…it didn’t just happen for them. They made a plan and followed it…on purpose.

I have frequently been inspired by the success of those I admire to change direction and try to live a more focused life. These efforts have largely dwindled away, usually because I just “don’t feel like it” anymore. And as I look back on my life, I see the places where I could have achieved so much more had I just been a bit more persistent in my efforts.

As I close in on weight-loss and fitness goals that I never seriously believed I could reach, I realize that this is my last (and best) chance to make a difference in the lives of people around me. And even though I am closing in on 50, I now know that it is never too late to develop a plan for the rest of my life.

So I challenge you to ask yourself the following three questions:

1. Do I have a plan for my life?
2. If the answer is yes, have I evaluated my progress recently? If the answer is no, what’s holding me back?
3. What one thing can I do today (on purpose) to move a little bit closer to one of your goals?

So the next time someone says, “You did that on purpose!” you can proudly say, “Yes I did, ain’t it great?”


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Winning a Battle with God

Happy Easter, everybody!  On this Resurrection Sunday, I feel compelled today to share with you a recent entry from my personal journal.

“I had a fight with God yesterday…a real argument. I was mad, yelling, in tears…I had a real temper tantrum. In the end I won. 🙂

No, I didn’t get my way…that would not be winning. In the end, God listened to my human frustration, calmed my selfish spirit, and comforted me. Nothing feels better than to be comforted by God. That’s why I won.

I didn’t get what I wanted. I got what God wanted. I grew a little more. I came to rely on him a little more. And I was reminded again how He is in control and wants what’s best for me.

I won…by losing. I lost my anger…I lost my fear…I lost my self-centered pride…

Thank You God, for letting me win, by losing…and by showing me a glimpse of your glory. I love you, Lord.”

Are you fighting with God today? Are you angry? Frustrated? He’s big enough to handle ALL of your emotions. And if you come to him honestly, pouring your heart out to him, he promises to give you peace.

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

-Matthew 11:29-30



Catastrophic hardware failure…

Not the words you want to have pop up on your screen when you are in the middle of writing a report for work..or paying bills online…

Or…playing Facebook scrabble…

Ok, YES, I was playing Facebook scrabble when those three words appeared in the middle of a blue box…in the middle of my screen…while the rest of the screen went blank. I sensed immediately that something was wrong…I have a college degree, so I’m pretty good at making logical connections.

For example, after several moments, I determined that the words “catastrophic hardware failure” and the inability to access anything on my hard drive were probably connected somehow.

I was right…

Google told me so.

Google also told me that this is likely not a hard drive issue, but rather, a larger issue in which the computer has converted itself into a rather large paperweight.

I have been nursing this computer along for a few years now…it will be six in August (I wonder how old that is in “people years?”). Anyway, I’m hopeful that I can salvage the hard drive, as I haven’t backed it up in about a month. On the other hand, I haven’t done TOO much important stuff in the last month that I might be missing…

Other than my taxes…

I’m sure the state of Indiana will understand if I don’t send them their payment…I’ll tell them that my computer had a catastrophic hardware failure. Everyone in today’s age of technology knows what that means. And I will also explain to them that I need the money I was going to send to them to purchase a new computer.

Since I use my computer to make money, if I do not have a computer I cannot make money. Therefore, if I buy a new computer, I will make more money, which means I will owe the state more money and they will end up coming out ahead in the long run…

Doesn’t that make sense?

Yeah, I don’t think they’ll buy it either.

Oh well, I have learned something valuable about social networking. I have had so many of my Facebook friends, even people I have not talked to in years, send me suggestions for ways to get great deals on computers. One person offered me a friends and family discount…another one recommended a site where I can get an educational discount since I am an educator. And others have sent me links to refurbished computer sites where I can get great deals on almost new machines.

I feel very blessed.

Much better actually than I did last night…

When my computer told me that I had a catastrophic hardware failure.

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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Society, Uncategorized