Beware The Temptation

The Tuesday deadline came and passed.

I had no inspiration, no message.

“It’s no problem!” I assured myself. “What loss or penalty will I experience if I miss a week?”

So, I let the day pass. Oh, I stayed busy! So busy that I could ignore the nagging thoughts that I had somehow ‘let my readers down.’

No one shouted at me, “Beware the temptation to let it slide!”

I planted seeds and tended young plants in my garden.

I made a plant stand for some plant-gifts that I received for my birthday.

I worked along the fence-line that had been ignored for a decade (so it really needed my attention).

I scraped fence, I pressure-washed fence, I painted fence. All worthy work.

Still, no one shouted at me, “Beware the temptation to let it slide!”

Usually I have a burning idea in my mind that bursts out of the keyboard almost spontaneously.

I reviewed my notebooks, looking for an idea from previous notes, that would inspire me and be beneficial to my readers at the same time.

“The 5 Cs of Leadership”

“Turning Your Deficiency Into Sufficiency”

“Routines – Love ‘em; Hate ‘em”

“How To Keep Motivation Motivating”

“You Don’t Know What You Can Until You Try”

“Enemies of Success”

“Discovering Your Expertise”

While each possible topic released some brain waves, not one grabbed me and shook me out of my lethargy.

Wednesday came and went, with me busier than usual. But no words on a page for my blog happened.

I have a safety net for the week’s post on Thursday afternoon.

The teacher inside me kept up the insistence that I do the work. Schedules are important to teachers. Math class starts at a certain time, English class is on a schedule…

What will my students think if I bail on this task?

The teacher in me shouted, “Beware the temptation to let it slide!”

My sense of ‘teacher responsibilities’ has pushed me to perform over and over during my 40+ years in the classroom.

“It doesn’t matter how I feel; Do it for my students!”

I didn’t keep track of the number of times that mantra (“Do it for them!”) pushed me to prepare and to perform.

As the thoughts (revealed above) coursed through my mind this morning, I was forced to take up my pen (really, my computer) and write.

Do It For Them! carries an urgency that I can’t ignore.

The responsibility is mine.

If I don’t do the work, who will?

“Beware the temptation to let it slide!”

The same urgency exists for you and your work. What can you do?

Plant a tree.

I will never sit in its shade, but ‘they’ will.

Write a book.

My life experiences may be just what someone else needs to gather the courage to persist in their life-calling.

Create a poem.

Someone may not read a whole book, but will gather strength from a short poem – a turn of phrase that sticks with him or her, from which they gather strength.

Write a song.

The melody may be the miracle that lifts the clouds from someone’s mind and helps them carry on.

Show up at work and be cheerful.

Your smile, your humming, the twinkle in your eyes may change a co-worker’s gloom to match your cheer.

When these ideas traveled through my thoughts this morning, I turned off the news, I silenced my phone, I entered my writing spot, and I thought of you.

It takes courage to keep doing. Especially when you feel ‘un-’.

There are so many endings for the prefix ‘un-’.

Un-loved; Un-appreciated; Un-motivated; Un-used; Un-sung.

Because it takes courage to keep doing, build your courage with a different set of ‘un-’s.

Un-daunted. Un-afraid. Un-stoppable. Un-equaled. Un-matched.

As for the list of 7 topics that I rejected for this week: I’ll get to them.

That’s another teacher trick I learned: make a list of things you’ve wanted/planned to do – and it becomes an inspiration to get busy – to get the list done.

Do it for them.

Make your list.

Get started.

Now.

“Beware the temptation to let it slide!”

Comments are welcomed.

How To Develop Confidence

My mother knew a lot of Child Psychology. She had no formal degree, but she knew.

When I was about 12 years old she asked me to make a cake. By myself, but she would be in the kitchen with me.
“I’ve tried this recipe a couple times,” she said, “but I can’t get it to come out right.”
All of the ingredients were set out on the counter. The recipe was propped up so I could easily reference it. I began measuring, adding into the bowl, mixing – one line at a time.
The oven was pre-heated.
The raw batter in the cake pan was placed on the middle rack.
The timer was set.
We waited. I don’t remember what I did while waiting. But I checked through the oven glass many times.
The cake was rising just like a good cake should.
Mom also checked, and every time announced, “Looks good. I think you’ve done it!”

Tomato Soup Cake became my specialty.
Every time we had it Mom would repeat, “I don’t know what he does, but I can never get Tomato Soup Cake to turn out right.”
I read recently that it is proclaimed by experts that “Mothers make the difference in establishing confidence in children.”

Too Late

It’s maybe too late for the readers of this blog to depend on their mothers for this miracle.
Does that mean there’s no hope?
Can you at your age do something to develop more confidence?

Yes! You definitely can increase your self-confidence!
Self esteem is a related term.

If you are a parent, or a grandparent, of young children, you have a strong influence on the self esteem that is developed in them.

Confidence-Building Activities

No matter your present level of self-confidence or self esteem, you can take action to increase to a higher level – without becoming conceited or obnoxious.

Confidence is what you want, and change is required in a few areas of your life to achieve it.

1. Change Your Appearance
2. Take Inventory of Yourself
3. Talk To Yourself
4. Set Goals
5. Polish Your Interpersonal Skills

The Details – How-To

1. Appearance
What people see as ‘you’ includes your Clothing, Grooming, and Movements.
Start with the inexpensive areas if you have a limited budget for a new wardrobe.
Grooming: Hair style, hair cut, hair color, beard – your general grooming – is a good place to start. Get some input from trusted friends and advisors.
Movements: The way you stand says a lot about your confidence. Stand tall, shoulders back, head up. Say, “Yes, this is me!” with your posture.
Walking: Confident people walk faster than others. Pick your feet up, don’t slide; take confident steps, which tend to be a little longer than hesitant steps.
Sitting: Don’t slouch. Sit up tall. Always have reading and writing materials with you – and use it while you’re waiting.
Working: Stay busy. Keep the materials out that you need to get your job done. Organized for easy access.
Clothing: Observe what your bosses are wearing. Dress like them.
At Home: If you complete some or all of your work at home, you need an organized work space – an office if you have the space. Avoid clutter. “A place for everything, and everything in its place.”

2. Self Inventory
Make two lists
A. Your Strengths
B. Your Accomplishments
Get a friend to help you with this step.
Keep the list where you will read it daily.

3. Self Care; Self Talk
Treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Tell yourself the good words that will encourage you to keep going.
Exercise, diet, recreation, friendships, worship – some of the ways that we can take care of our selves.
Take up some new activities: painting, music, writing – artistic expressions.

4. Set Goals
Change takes time. Be realistic. You might need some advice from a trusted friend or advisor.
Be patient as you put your plans into action.

Ultimately, confidence is built on what you can see that you’ve accomplished.
Every day you need to see that you have reached, or at least, moved closer to a personal goal. Set your goals accordingly.

5. Interpersonal Behaviors
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Be an Encourager, a Friend. Sound like you have confidence in others as they do their work. Find ways to compliment others. Speak as if you have achieved your goals.
Eliminate complaining and whining.

When possible, avoid places, people, and activities that make you feel bad about yourself – at least until you are stronger, more confident.

In the words of Lao Tzu: Confidence is the greatest friend.
Make that friend.

Comments are welcomed.

What To Do With The Voices In Your Head

(I draw on personal experiences in this post to establish that I understand what I’m writing about. I do NOT have any angst toward my father. He did the best he could do. The three illustrations presented here are simply history.)

I was twelve. My father had rigged up a system in our garage so that he could balance the tires without paying for it. “Come help me!” he called.

I obeyed. He gave a quick explanation of what he wanted me to do.

My first attempt to comply failed. “I told you to do this!” he exploded, and quickly demonstrated again.

My second attempt was no more successful.

“You’re useless!” he exclaimed. “You’ll never amount to anything!”

I have a voice in my head that repeats those words when the work I have to do is complex or difficult.

In December when I was twenty-five my then-wife said to me, “I have filed for divorce.” Understood in that brief statement was, “You’re no good at being a husband.”

A different voice in my head reminds me at odd times of that fact.

The principal called me into his office one afternoon. “I’m recommending to the board that you will not be re-hired for next school year.”

Another voice reminds me that it can be capriciously decided by anyone that I am less than what is needed for the job.

We all have voices in our heads that speak up for many reasons.

They tend to remind us of some failures or fears or inabilities that have happened to us.

Some may call them by other names: Thoughts, Dreams, Plans, maybe even demons.

It is my observation that it is impossible to get rid of the voices.

I have tried to drown out the voices that remind me of my poor past. Since I am able to remember enough to write this post, you can tell that drowning is not very successful.

But, we can influence them, we can train the voices to help us rather than defeat us.

A Plan

Step 1: Take Control

When one of the voices speaks about the past, I speak right back to it just like it was a real person speaking negativity to me about me.

Example dialogue.

“That happened, true. But the threat that I would never amount to anything is untrue! I successfully worked as a teacher for almost 50 years.”

“Many of my students attribute their success to my efforts in their education and training.”

“I have succeeded at several occupations in my life, with accclaimed success.”

I even quote my now-wife as she has spoken with superlatives about my husband skills.

The point here is that my present voice IRL is more powerful than the history voice that erupts from time-to-time.

Step 2: Teach It What To Say

It may sound crazy, but as Sheldon says, “I’m not crazy! My mom had me tested.”

Don’t let negative be the last word. Beat it down with current facts.

I tell the head voice to repeat my positive statements (facts) back to me. In my father’s voice, or ex-wife’s or ex-principal’s. It’s kind of satisfying to hear.

Step 3: Create Change

This is an extension of Step 2.

Teach the brain what to say in order to give you power to do.

Consistent Rejection of everything negative

Persistent Repetition of positive messages (that you create)

I have taught the voices to focus on the positives in my life – the accomplishments, the acccolades, the victories, the successes of my students.

Positivity has enabled me to take on challenges that I might never have attempted in my younger years.

>In retirement I decided to expand my photography skills repertoire and began working as a Wedding Photographer. In that arena you can’t make a mistake or miss a shot. High Pressure equals High Praise when the product is excellent.

>I wrote and published a young adult novel which is available on Amazon. I began writing when I was twelve, and dreamed for years (decades) of being a published author.

>I decided to illustrate a children’s story that I had written, so I began meeting with a master water color artist to learn that medium. My wife says I’m getting pretty good. And that satisfies me.

Most of the time in my life now I no longer hear the accusatory statements referenced above. The negative statements have been replaced with acknowledgements of a live well-lived.

Caution

Our inner voices are directly fed by what goes into our brains through our eyes, ears, and senses. Movies, TV shows, videos, games, where you go, your friends, the books and magazines you read feed our brain voices.

What you encourage your brain to spend time on, what you repeatedly send into your brain, feeds the voices for either positive or negative.

You get to decide. No one else can make the decision for you.

Change the input to change the output.

You are free to choose; you are not empowered to avoid the results of your choices.

Your choice will always result in a consequence.

Cause and Effect will happen.

Comments are welcomed.

How To Make A Difference

I had planned to become a teacher.
I felt called to teach at the high school level: History, English, Spanish.
I would leave college with seccondary certification.

During my last semester of my senior year I was hired to teach in Florida.
Dream job. Or so I thought.
May came and I was informed of the teaching position I would fill.
A one-room school in Boynton Beach. Probably 8 students.
In grades 1-8.

I think I was a rather typical 21-year-old. Rather self-absorbed.

Something happened to me early in the first semester of that first year of teaching.
I discovered that my students mattered to me.
My mother had cared for other people’s children all of my growing up years. She treated them like they were her own. Give to meet their needs with little regard for her own needs.
Something she had instilled in me through her example took root in my spirit and began to grow.

I don’t recall a growing-of-the-tree named Teacher. It was like it exploded into my self, full-grown.

Forty-eight years later I left the classroom as my daily life.

Difference

What does it take to make a difference?
To meet the needs of others as a priority in my personal needs?

What if you didn’t have a mother like my mother?
What if, like me now, you are not 20-something?
What if you are not just starting out into the world?
I am now in my 70s. With another birthday this month.

I think there are some principles of making-a-difference that can be applied no matter your age.

1. Answer this question, in writing: What do you believe in? Create a list.

2. Look for a need outside yourself.
There are so many needs around us, right in our own neighborhoods.
Right in our own churches and schools.
Finding a need may result in overload.
The problem soon becomes, which one do I choose?

3. Get involved with an already-in-place opportunity.
State Farm Insurance has a program called Neighborhood Of Good.
One of their opportunities will likely fit you.

4. Be the person you wish to see in your world.
Begin where you are: You.
Set an example.

5. One Person Cared-for.
I was walking from the Garden Shop in Home Depot to the plumbing department. I had a question for an expert.
An elderly man in a motorized cart blocked my way. He was going full speed, which was a slow walk for me. I fell in behind him. He turned, saw me, and attempted to move to the side. There was no room for that.
I laughed and said, “Don’t worry! I’m in no hurry!”
We traveled that way until we came to an open area. He stopped. I came up beside him.
(Those of you who know me understand that I am not out-going.)
He remarked that items in his basket were marked one price, but the register in the garden shop had rung them up at a higher price. He was looking for a supervisor.
“My wife always hangs two fern baskets on either side of the fountain in our front yard,” he commented. He then kind of choked up and ducked his head. “Always hung,” he corrected himself. “She died in December. I just need to continue her legacy,” he said quietly.

I stayed there and talked with him (mostly listened) for a long time. “Tommy,” he introduced himself. He was lonely. After 50+ years of marriage he was unaccustomed to the condition of lonely.

I have his name and I will call him.

6. Each One Reach One.
Someone once said to me that if each person helped just one person we could reach every person in the world in a few months.
That detail is suspect.
Start with one. Look for an opportunity to make a difference in one person’t day.
Pay It Forward at the drive-thru, or the toll booth, or the coffee shop.

7. One Person Inspired
Your action may well inspire the one that you took care of to Be a Difference, too.
At work, at church, at the grocery or department store, at the restaurant, at home.
Especially At Home. Make a difference in the day of a family member. Maybe this could become a Family Adventure.

Caution: Don’t do any of this as a way to be recognized and thanked.

An Adventure like this will result in a Settled Peace within yourself. No fireworks. No applause. No awards or recognition plaques. Peace.

Is there a better reward?

Challenge

#Go.Now.Do.
#BestYou

Comments are appreciated.

How to Build a Legacy

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”Ralph Waldo Emerson

Small things often yield big results.

The story is told of a woman whose husband had died and she had no children.

Despite the ignominy of being a widow, and barren, an apparent statement by God that she was undeserving of His bounty;

Despite the pains of hunger and being shunned by her community;

She loved God and desired to give Him a gift, the best gift she could. Only the best gift would satisfy her longing to show God how much she loved Him.

With great difficulty she went without essentials of life and over time managed to save 2 mites.

Two of the smallest coin denominations in the country. $0.02 in today’s currency.

She would take her offering to the church, she resolved. That, she had been taught, was the most direct way to give to God.

But, what could a large church possibly do with two cents?

Nothing in the services or maintenance of the church could be paid for with that pittance.

But her act of sneaking those two coins into the offering plate was noticed.

Jesus noted that “no one has given more” and made sure her legacy of devotion to God and of unselfish benevolence was preserved for all future generations.

From this story we can learn a lot about legacy. It shows us that we should:

Use what you have to quietly give joyfully, in small opportunities,

because you desire to make a difference.

The dictionary would define Legacy as a gift or a bequest, that is handed down, endowed or conveyed from one personto another. It is something that one comes into possession of that is transmitted, inherited, or received from a predecessor. It could be a memory or a family history.

Common examples of legacy are:

  • She left us a legacy of a million dollars.
  • He left his children a legacy of love and respect.
  • The war left a legacy of pain and suffering.
  • The legacy of his example shows us what is most important in life.
  • Her artistic legacy lives on through her children.

Know What Matters

To start purposefully working on your legacy, use the following questions. Think about and answer them honestly to discover a legacy that matters and endures.

1) What is the most important need that my family has right now?

2) What is the most important need that my business has right now?

3) What am I doing when I am the happiest or most content?

4) If I could snap my fingers and acquire a strength or talent, it would be ___________ because ___________ .

5) Twenty-five years after my death, what will I be remembered for? By my family? By others?

6) If I were required to give everything I own to a cause (not a person), what cause would that be?

These questions may sound simple, but each question should be given much thought. You might have to think about them for days before really knowing the answers.

Building a Positive Legacy

5 Steps to Building a Positive Legacy

1) Be Joyful in What You Can Do

2) Focus Your Efforts in Your Known Talents, Strengths

3) Drill Down to What Matters Now

4) Look for Small Opportunities to Do

5) Make a Difference Through Service

Comments on the 5 Steps

1) Joyful is contagious. Those you are serving will be positively affected just by your Joy. Since Joy is somewhat rare, you will be memorable.

2) Applying the talents and strengths that you already have means you can start now to build your legacy – or modify the one that you accidentally began. You are more likely to follow through in your efforts when doing what comes easily.

3) Be sure that your efforts are centered in What Matters Now. Your family deserves your best you. Zero in on Now, not ten years from now.

4) Small opportunities are often overlooked or considered unimportant. But small opportunities well done open the way for more and bigger.

5) Helping others builds them up, and there is no better difference you can make than that. In the eyes of those you serve you will be a hero, and your legacy will be secure.

Stumbling Blocks to a Positive Legacy

Being Unsure of what you want to accomplish scatters your efforts.

Trying to please others focusing on what matters to them.

Bitterness will overwhelm Joy.

Everyone leaves a legacy.

The important questions to ask are:

1. Will my legacy be intentional or accidental?

2. Will my legacy be positive or negative?

Respond

Comments are welcome – even invited.