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Wednesday, July 04 2012
How to take a class, how to read a paragraph, how to study and learn a discipline. What a great idea for a book series. Drs. Elder and Paul beat me to it though and have put together a series of short books on very practical methodologies for studying and learning called "The Thinkers Guide to - ". Having taught classes on many subjects and for many hours, I always told my students that the only thing worse than sitting in a classroom for 16 weeks, was doing it and not learning anything. Learning of course, being distinguishable from “passing.”
These are practical, well written, and concise guides to how to “get things” out of a paragraph you read or how to identify the “system” of thinking embedded in different subjects. Students will learn if they are interested, and their interest can be stimulated if they feel like they are getting something. Key thoughts from several of the books include;
· All subjects represent a systematic way of thinking.
· Thinking and learning is not driven by answers but by questions.
· All academic fields have their own system of logic or meanings. To learn the field is to learn the system. There is an inherent unity in the subject that ties all the learning together.
My favorite was the Thinker’s Guide on How to Read a Paragraph. Who would have a thought to write a book on that? Anyone who has ever read a paragraph, saw all the words, but was a hundred miles away in their mind should read this. These are short, cheap and will hand out lasting benefits. I have made these part of my “go to” manuals on how to get the most out of the subjects I am studying.
Monday, April 09 2012
Sometimes there is no way out - but there is a way through;
The dawn of the great recession in America for the housing and development industry was July of 2006. I can still remember the eerie feeling that came when the calls for new business literally stopped and existing contracts began melting in value by the millions. By the spring of 2007 I realized that, in comparison to all the past downturns I had seen in 25 years in business, this one was very different. Still I was confident that a turnaround would show up as it always had. By late 2007, on one of my walks around the neighborhood, the realization came to me that there would be no turn around big enough and soon enough. There was no way out of this one.
Our business, though very healthy financial for the last 15 years, was also very complex and tied to everything that the economy was about to regurgitate. In good times it would have taken about 4 years to land the plane and bring the business enterprise to a complete and pleasant stop. In bad times, when suddenly a huge portion of your assets are worth less, and some are even worthless, there is no way to know how much time it will take to unravel it all. You can’t see the end from where you stand. That was five years ago. Here is what I learned.
1. There is no way out of these things, but there is a way through them. We really don’t like pain and hard things. They hurt. We resist them with everything in us. Unfortunately for us, we miss the value they bring when we resist them. The way through is a growing and learning time that will work valuable things in us that cannot be obtained any other way. Trying to get out of them means missing out on the person you can become for going through.
2. Face the fear and make a plan. Make a list of the things you fear. All the bad things you think will happen. Write them down whether they are foreclosure on your house, bankruptcy, embarrassment, lawsuits, angry creditors etc. Then write next to them what you would do in the event that they happen. You will notice that there are solutions and that life will go on. Now put that plan in a drawer and have the confidence that if the worst happens, you have a plan and you can stop worrying about it.
3. Get on offense. You need a new plan to succeed and the excitement that goes with it. Your mind, emotions and attitude need this. Find the new career or start the new business. Be positive and look for positive things. Things are bad and you can’t just forget about them, but every time the fear shows up remember that you have a doomsday plan, and can execute it anytime. Most people run to the bunker and hide there until things get better. That is the best time to take advantage of the job market or an entrepreneurial venture, when the competition is in mental lockdown.
4. Attitude matters. Realize that your worst day as an American or someone in a developed country is still 100 times better than most of the world’s best day. Realize that God has blessed us way beyond anything we could ever deserve. Realize that you have things way more valuable than money and work on being grateful for them. Nothing will cheer you up like encouraging your forlorn friends, helping someone that is destitute, giving more to God and His mission, and spending more time with your family. By the way, your kids are watching and learning how to deal with adversity from you.
5. Learn a lesson about wealth. Wealth is not how much money or net worth you have accumulated, it’s your ability to earn. Check out Deuteronomy 8:18 if you want to know where that ability comes from and why you have it. Losing all your money or possessions but still having the ability to earn is not as scary as you think.
Finally, remember that God is in control of all the events of the life of a Christian and He wants to do more in us than for us. Learn to praise Him and thank Him for every event that comes along knowing that He is working all things together for our good.
Monday, March 26 2012
I was recently discussing some of what I consider to be the keys to discipline and time management with a young man that already shows a proclivity toward that lifestyle. I took about 15 minutes to describe the benefits of rising early and getting a jump on the day and the competition. (competition for your time) Since we don’t have that kind of time here, I will just say get up already! Five benefits that come with rising early.
1. Peace and quiet. Imagine working completely unmolested by coworkers or clients. We need both, but sometimes we just need peace and quiet. If I get to my office by 5:00 or 5:30 a.m. I have almost a half a day to work my own schedule before the first interruption.
2. Focus. You can safely turn off your email and cell phone because nobody is going to call you. The ability to focus on one item and put all your concentrative energies into it is a proven method to create more high quality work, faster. Multitasking means portioning one little sliver of yourself on 6 things at once. That just insures that all six get done in a mediocre fashion.
3. You are alert while others are still waking up. If I had a wasps nest to take out, it was always an early morning job. I wanted to be fully alert while they were still asleep. There is an advantage to being prepared for any meeting. There is a bonus for being awake and alert.
4. Do important things at the top end of your performance curve. The more stuff you heap on the brain during a day, the more it drains the reserves. The mental and emotional reserves for any given day have only so much capacity. It’s the P and PC of Covey’s seven habits. You run out of emotional or mental reserve and you are toast for the day. In the morning is when my performance capability is at its highest.
5. Info up. Get a quick Wall Street Journal fix or whatever information sources serve your industry. Be up on the important stuff. This would not include facebook updates or tweets about who had what for supper last night.
Many have mounted a good argument that they can create the same zone late in the evenings and get up at the crack of noon. Maybe so, but the boost that comes from the combination of the rest, the shower and the venti bold roast is a powerful tonic that the evening just can’t duplicate. I prioritize the steps to my goals and the most important tasks of the day for the first four hours. They deserve me at my best.
One more thing - go to bed already.
Monday, March 05 2012
My first pastor gave me some advice way back in the second or third year of my Christian life that has proven to be some of the best counsel I have ever received. It went like this.
Ninety-five percent of your Christian life is just determination.
We are seekers of the mystical powers of those that work 18 hour days seemingly without tiring and accomplish their mission. When the truth is that most of the time it’s not a mystical power that gets the heavy lifting done, rather it is the bland, unspectacular, anti-climactic hard work driven by a determined individual.
Persistence is why the water wins the battle with the rock. Consistency is the best type of character capital. Diligence produces work that is sound and solid. Reliability makes a man valuable. All these things boil down to determination.
Desire is not enough. Passion is an overused, tired word.
Determination is the collection of all a man’s willpower to finish a task. It is what pushes to the goal on the days where there is no desire, no passion and no mystical power.
Ninety-five percent determination means the determined man will finish what the genius may never start.
Saturday, February 04 2012
Better yet, what are you doing to raise your value in the market place? It doesn’t matter if you are an employee, a self employed contractor or a business person, these personal investment strategies will raise your market value.
1. Understand that the playing field is not level and that the judges are not fair. Fairness is not a particularly desirable playing field anyway. Those who decide to excel are held back by the fairness shown to those who never desire to do more than the minimum, but expect equal rewards. People that don’t worry about fair – worth more.
2. Share the credit for good things you did, but with help. Spread the credit around and take those along with you that contribute to the win. Don’t hog the credit and don’t believe you did it single handedly. Nobody gets anywhere all by themselves. You had help. Those who forget that are one day forgotten also. People that share the credit – worth more.
3. Become a good listener and learn to understand what the other person wants. It may or may not be something we can provide but mostly we never know because we don’t listen. We spend most of our listening time formulating our responses, readying our credentials or thinking about someone else we just saw walk into the room. People that listen – worth more.
4. Become solution oriented. Every career, country or age has its share of problems. Anyone can find them and be critical of things. Leaders are solution oriented and bring positive, thoughtful solutions when they point out problems. Problem solvers – worth a lot
5. Last but not least, take responsibility for your work, and most especially, mistakes. People are usually willing to forgive you for mistakes of the head. Those are mistakes you make where you just messed up and did something wrong. Others are not so willing to forgive mistakes of the heart. The ones where you try to cover up your mistake or blame someone else. People that don’t take responsibility – worth less.
Employers will tell you that even at what we deem to be a high unemployment rate of 8.5%, high worth individuals like the ones described in these five points are difficult to find.
When they are found, they get hired.
Monday, January 30 2012
What if you had no affirmation? What if there was no one around to tell you that you are doing a good job? Nobody to compliment you.
Would you know if you were doing it right?
Would you have enough confidence in your preparation to know you were on mission? Would you know what results you were looking for from the work you were doing?
Would the fruits of your efforts testify that you were doing a good job?
The place you go to put all your training to work is oftentimes not the same place you train. Because of that, you may find yourself without the comforting words of affirmation from those that care about you or have trained you. Best to have a clear understanding of what results you seek and what are the true indicators of success.
The work carries its own rewards and affirmations but you have to learn to see them, understand them and know how they came to be. More importantly, you have to be honest with yourself when neither affirmation nor results are coming from your efforts.
Too often we seek affirmation when results don’t exist. We look for comfort in the fact that our best efforts, albeit weak or misguided, are the same as results. The message of no-results may just be that your best efforts might be best suited for some other field or occupation. Something less challenging.
Go for results. Affirmation will tag along.
Saturday, January 21 2012
Do you say this? “I don’t want other people to think that. . .” then you fill in the blank.
Let me give you some relief.
You can’t control what other people think, so just relieve yourself the anguish of thinking you can.
You can’t even get them to tell you what they are really thinking if they don’t want to.
They will probably tell you something other than what they really think, because they don’t want you to think they are mean or critical.
To think they are thinking about you that much is really to have a little too high of an opinion of yourself and of the amount of time they actually spend thinking about you. Don’t you think?
The real relief though is to choose things in life that matter and that make a difference then focus your thoughts and energies on them. Choose things that have real value and do them with the confidence that they are worth spending your (one) life on no matter what anyone else thinks.
Finally, since I have been unsuccessful in controlling all of my own thoughts I have decided to give up on trying to control what others think. How goes it with your own thoughts?
Here’s a thought
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and do it openly. A small group of people around you just may think you have figured it out and want to know what you did.
Others will just think you are crazy.
We covered that.
Sunday, January 15 2012
If you have been to London and had a chance to ride the tubes, you are familiar with the phrase “mind the gap.” The gap is the space between the platform and the train. Mind the gap means to pay attention to it and don’t trip or get your foot stuck in it. If you see and hear the warning before you get a chance to see the gap, you get the idea that it’s a man-eating canyon between the train and platform and real danger is imminent.
The gap is really pretty small, but the perception is, it’s big.
The other place this gap phenomenon occurs is in church. By phenomenon I mean that there is the perception of a big gap between the work of the preachers, pastors and missionaries and what everyone else gets to do.
The Bible says that God has made all Christians able ministers of the New Testament (II Corinthians 3:6), given to us the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18) and committed the Word of Reconciliation to us (II Corinthians 5:19). This is not reserved to preachers, pastors and missionaries but has been given to all Christians. No ministry gap.
The highest of church offices and their qualifications are described in I Timothy chapter 3, where the office of pastor and deacon are detailed. The office of a bishop or pastor is without a doubt a preacher position, while a deacon is usually served by non-preachers, but can be both. The list of the qualifications of each of these offices is basically the same, and all men in the church should reach for one or the other of these.
So no ministry gap and no qualification gap (ok, a little one) so where is the gap? Unfortunately its all perception that has been engrained in us that ministers (preachers) do the ministering and the rest of us show up, sing, pray, write a check and go home. That gap does not exist in the Bible, just in our heads.
You have been authorized, empowered and commissioned to minister.
So, never mind the gap and get on with the work.
Check out www.bcwe.org
Friday, January 13 2012
That is my own term that I use when someone makes an announcement of a new plan or program that advertises big but never gets out of the starting block. Not that it’s a bad plan or that they are bad people, but the plan dies because the announcer lacks the discipline to execute. It’s like a new year’s resolution, (that you don’t keep) that you can make any day of the year.
One of my favorite examples of announcement death is when someone says, I am going to blog three times a week, and the blog that makes the announcement is the last one – dated late 2010. I am not a disciplined blogger so there will be no such announcement coming here.
If you are a “completer” (not a real word, but you know what it means) or if you get motivated by throwing your hat over the wall so you have to climb the wall to get it, there is some value in announcing. If you are not a completer though, you should consider not being an announcer either. If the real issue is you lose interest quickly or don’t have the discipline to finish then don’t announce.
There is hope for people that announce and don’t complete though. The trick is that you have to learn to do, without announcing, and then let people come to the conclusion that you are a doer and actually get things done. Watch it improve both your doing and your sphere of influence.
If you announce and don’t do, your announcements will become inaudible over time.
If you learn to consistently complete the things you start, others will take care of the announcing for you.
Check out www.bcwe.org
Monday, January 09 2012
It’s easy to confuse a really good computer calendar or organizer program that assembles all your to-dos, appointments, tasks and contacts in the latest formats with actual work.
It’s great when you can link a document or graphic right into your schedule or journal so that all your undone work is safely archived. The greatest part is when all of your electronic devices sync all your wishful thinking together into a perfect mosaic of well planned wasted time.
You have to do the work. You have to start the work, concentrate on the work, finish the work and review the work to make sure it’s done right. You have to work all the time you work so that you can play all the time you play.
Electronic scheduling and archiving have become a form of techno-entertainment and have somehow become a substitute for actually doing the work. To do the work you need to have a system that is simple and effective. I have watched people get more done using a yellow pad and pencil than those who have the latest gadgetry and software. The secret is - you have to do the work.
The schedule is not the work.
Sunday, January 08 2012
That doesn’t mean that everything is about you and your plan, but it does mean that you plan your time around the prioritization of steps to reach your goals.
Most will finish life like they finish a day – with lots of potential. Potential being loosely defined by me as unutilized ability. Lost utility for the day. Wasted resources.
Mostly it happens because we have learned to entertain ourselves first, serve our needs second, do meaningless “busy tasks” next until we have run out of time, energy or interest to do the really important things.
The dictionary definition of potential is “Latent qualities or abilities that may be developed and lead to future success or usefulness.”
Its gas in a can, stored somewhere safe, never used.
Strategic thinking is planning ahead to get the full utility out of the day and to reverse the trend of amusing ourselves first then trying to squeeze in some work at the last.
Strategic thinkers have a much easier time making decisions as they are heading to their compass point (their goals) and not just waiting on a clock to tell them its quitting time. When you are moving in a definite direction, making a decision about a major detour is simple. You see the wasted gas and time. If you are merely trying to fill in the work hours of the day, then its just as easy to fill it with one worthless task as another.
Today is a goner but tomorrow is a strategic weapon of mass destruction to get to your goals - if used properly.
Make a plan
Also, check out www.bcwe.org
Saturday, January 07 2012
One of the primary reasons people don’t achieve their goals in life is that they never write them down, think about their importance (or unimportance) and figure out how to pursue them. Goals have to be written down to become targetable.
Goals define the outcome you want. They are at the top of your decision making hierarchy. They should not be confused with strategies or tactics which are the methods used to reach goals. Strategies and tactics are the new to-dos on the daily to do list of a person who has written down their goals and makes an incremental, daily move toward them. Every day they move toward them.
Goals are the things you want to have happen or the current things you want to stop happening. Goals objective, measurable and has some sort of time element or deadline to it. Goals are compass points in the distance that set your course and define your direction. The serendipitous result of creating life momentum toward goals is all the extra, unplanned benefits that show up in a life that moves, and moves in the right direction.
Setting goals is fun exercise because the sky is the limit. You can list and set as many goals as you can think of then prioritize and select the ones that you think are most important and most readily attainable.
Goals should fit into at least four major categories but as with the goals, so with the categories, so the sky is the limit. I put mine into spiritual, financial, physical and self improvement. If I can hit at least one of each of three goals in four categories it will be a fantastic experience and a noticeable outcome.
So, paper, pen, quiet room, coffee, 30 uninterrupted minutes, (nothing electronic).
Get to it.
Also, be sure to check out www.bcwe.org
Saturday, October 08 2011
Spanish is among the world’s most used languages. Around 329 million people speak it as their native language and geographically it is spoken in 44 countries. Here in America, the chance that you will run into a Spanish speaking person is high. If you live in the Southeast or Southwest, it is likely that you will interact with a native Spanish speaker or bilingual (Spanish/English) person daily. Here are some reasons to learn Spanish.
· A large part of the world opens up to you both geographically and culturally. Travel to Latin America is as fun as it gets. Traveling there and understanding the language and culture makes it that much better.
· Companies pay more for bilingual employees that are proficient in the language. You want to jump way ahead of the herd that is after the job you want. Put “bilingual English/Spanish” on your resume. Trust me on that one.
· You will learn more about your native language (which I presume is English) and how to communicate well by learning Spanish than you ever thought possible.
How is the best way to learn Spanish? Go to www.Spanishpower.com
and review the website. Select the course orientation tab and follow the instructions. Spanish Power is a course that will give you the best grammatical training so that you speak well and know you are speaking well. The best part about the training is that it involves a personal native speaking tutor that you will never meet in person, but speak with on the phone each week. This is essential to learning the language well enough to use with proficiency. Skip over any program on the internet you see that says learn Spanish in 10 days, or anything that does not include interaction with a human, native speaker. Recordings or videos are not the same. After you develop a level of proficiency, then find ways to put it to use so you can develop your abilities.
Saturday, July 23 2011
To live in Atlanta (or most major cities) is to spend a considerable portion of your time in the car. If you drive the speed limit like me you spend even more time in the car. Thirty minutes to work daily means 260 hours per year or just shy of 11 days in your car. Since you are not texting (in GA that would be illegal unless you speed while you text in which case that would be a double negative – positive) or doing other worthless things, here are some ideas on how to redeem that time.
Make your car a mini university.
· Get some books on audio and learn things.
· Listen to the free podcasts on subjects in your field.
· Discover your Kindle’s best kept secret. It will read to you through earphones or out loud. Plus there are so many free kindle books – especially classics
· Get the Bible on audio and listen to James Earl Jones (or the other guy) read the Word of God to you.
· Buy a cheap voice recorder and make plans and notes for yourself.
· Look around and become aware of what is going on in your area.
· Take different routes to work and learn your community.
Leave extra early for work and find a Starbucks close by your office to do your morning newspaper reading or answer personal email. Its free internet and their medium coffee is only $.35 more than McDonalds. Plus you make it to work early and don’t have to spend the first 30 minutes “warming up.”
Tell me what you do while you drive that others can benefit from
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