Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Click Refresh...

One of my favorite functions on the computer is the refresh button. According to Google, the refresh button allows a static page to update information that has been changed. As Winter has folded into Spring and March gives way to April it's due time to click the refresh button on our lives.

Think about the things that happen when you click the refresh button on the computer...

The current page will reload and the browser will look for an updated version of the page...

New things appear and old things are gone. Sometimes we get in such a stagnant place in our lives, that we only see that static page. We only see what is in front of us as it is, even if it's not the correct or most up to date information. Let's take a long term relationship for example.

You met your mate in high school or college and they were good looking, charming, popular and had all of the potential in the world. Fast forward ten or twenty years. You are still looking at what they were, when in reality, that potential was never realized and they are still living in and on their past fame and acclaim. Do you want to see who you are really with and whether the two of you are on one accord? Click refresh...

Sometimes images don't load until you click the refresh button...

Have you ever gotten to a page that should be full of colorful images, but all you see are empty spaces and red X's? Well, when you click refresh, all of the images become visible and show clearly and vibrantly. Let's liken this to our outlook, perception and mental health. When you are depressed or caught up in that stinking thinking you step outside and you see trash, graffiti, dirt, bums, and litter.

When you change your mindset and mood to a more positive one, you see a beautiful clear blue sky, a bright shining sun, and opportunity to help or minister to a person in need, and a city that despite the odds, remains resilient and has a plethora of hidden gems. Do you want to see these wondrous things? Click Refresh...

Sometimes you can't transmit information properly until you click refresh...

Have you ever been trying to send an email or a tweet and no matter how many times you hit the send button, it just won't go through?

Sometimes when we're under stress or duress it directly affects our ability to communicate effectively. How many times have you been having a bad day, or someone in particular got under your skin, then you go and speak to the next person you encounter in an unkind way?

Sadly, often times it's the people that we love the most that get the negative talk, complaints and argumentative dialogue. We need to dump that old information or situation that upset us, take a deep breath and treat every present and future situation as a new one. Do you want to communicate with kindness and love no matter what? Click refresh...

Do you feel that it's time for a positive change in your life?

Click Refresh!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Walking in Your Purpose Saves Lives

We were all placed on this earth for a purpose. Unfortunately many of us have no clue what that purpose is. Out of the small number of people that do know what it is, fewer still are actually walking in their purpose. I was inspired to contemplate these concepts when I heard a wise man say something to this effect,

"Our purpose really isn't about us at all. It is about all of the other people that are supposed to be blessed by our gift."

He then went on to say something so powerful that I don't even think he realized the impact of what he said until he witnessed the explosive reaction of those that were listening. He said,

"Someone died yesterday because I wasn't doing what I know I was supposed to be doing last week."

Let that marinate for a minute...

My friend that experienced the insight alongside me altered it even further by saying,

"Someone died TODAY because we didn't do what we knew we were supposed to be doing yesterday."

Think about it. Because you didn't write that book, or say that speech, or create that invention, or operate in whatever it is that your calling is, no matter how simple or complex...someone died.

What a way to think of things. Imagine what life would be like if Cleveland inventor Garret Morgan had never created the gas mask or the traffic signal. Think about how many lives have been saved by the powerful words of pastors, motivational speakers, and crisis hot line workers.

Some time ago I remember receiving a chain letter email about a young man that was on his way to commit suicide when an unaware stranger showed him some basic loving kindness that prompted him to change his mind. It's that simple. Your purpose may be to encourage people, spread love and let them know that they are not alone.

This week I encourage you to take some time to do some internal reflection. Reflect on that thing that you know you are meant to do. Reflect on the joy and fulfillment that it will bring you, but also reflect on the positive impact that it will have on the lives that you touch.

Pursue your passion. Live your dream. Walk in your purpose. Save lives.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Be The Change You Want to See

"Be The Change You Want to See in the World"

I'm not sure where I heard that quote, but it has always stuck with me. In relationships, whether they be romantic, platonic, or with family, we have a tendency to try to change people into what or who we think they should be or what we want them to be. I'm sure that we've all learned by now that we cannot change people. What we do have the power to do is to change ourselves.

Think about how you feel when someone tells you what you need to or should be doing. Even when they say it nicely, my first reaction is often to rebel and do the exact opposite of what they are telling me to do. Constructive feedback is one thing, but lecturing someone on how they need to change is totally differently and rarely well received.

As a result I've found that the best way to see change is to be the change that you want to see.

What can you do differently to reduce or eliminate the undesirable behavior that your loved one exhibits without being manipulative?

Here are a few practical examples...

Let's say that your loved one has a smoking habit that you do not care for. Physically removing yourself when they smoke will let them know how you feel about it without you telling them that they need to quit. Telling them that they should stop does not encourage them to do so, but perhaps the absence of your presence may help them to give the idea some thought.

I've noticed that people only do what you allow them to. The cigarette smokers in my life know that I do not like smoke, but since I don't set any clear boundaries, I am still subject to this undesired behavior. But I've noticed that there are certain people that they do not smoke around. This means that the people that they do not smoke around have set some clear boundaries. Know what you want as well as what you will and will not accept and be firm in that.

Perhaps your issue is that you and your loved one argue all of the time. You can be the change that you want to see by making an effort to be more positive. If you find yourself being negative or reacting to their negativity, take a step back. Either counter their negativity with positivity, or simply do not respond or react to their negativity at all.

I watched the film "Fireproof" a few months ago and in the movie, the husband was reading the book, The Love Dare. The love dare is a forty day process based on biblical principles where couples are given a different challenge each day. One day the husband was given the challenge of not being negative. Even if his wife was negative he had to be silent and not reciprocate her actions. Give that a try. A person can only fuss, rant and rave all by themselves for so long before they begin to feel foolish.

These are but a few examples, but I encourage you to examine the stressful situations in your relationships and think about how changing yourself can benefit the union.

**This message was taken from my Relationship Rescue Series which is not just limited to romantic relationships; these are principles that can apply to any relationship whether it be family, friends, or co-workers. Relationships are what keep us alive so it is important to nurture them and put in the time and effort that it takes to make them work.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Faith Based Plan

Employee or Entrepreneur: Who Are You? Who Do You Want To Be?

I'll never forget the day when a friend of mine learned that I did not have a "real" job. He jokingly said, "What are you on, the faith based plan?" He was laughing, but the more that I thought about it, the more that it made sense. I am on a Faith Based Plan because I don't have to know where my next check is coming from to feel a peace beyond all understanding.

When I made the somewhat impromptu decision to leave my job, my employer at the time could not fathom how I could possibly survive. "What will you do for health insurance?" he asked. My response was, "I didn't even need health insurance before I started working here." That's what we often fail to realize, we jeopardize our mental and physical health more by being in environments that are not fulfilling because stress will make you sick, literally.

Now I don't encourage anyone to just up and quit without a plan. First and foremost you must have faith, but you must be creative in how you bring in income because whether you have a job or not, the bills still need to get paid. I have been without full time employment for over two years now and I have yet to be homeless or hungry. Sadly there is no longer any such thing as a safe or secure job. I feel that I am in a better position than most because my livelihood in not in the hands of another human being. If you are contemplating taking a leap of faith like I did, let me recommend a few basic principles that I practice.

Planning, Patience and Persistence

I am not the type to plan years in advance, but I try to plan at least a month in advance to make sure that I am able to cover my monthly living expenses like rent, car payment, and communication (home phone, cell phone and internet). I also make sure that a certain amount of money is set aside every month for self -care, Investing in my vision, and entertainment.

While living on the edge like this is fulfilling beyond measure, notice that I did not say it was easy. I saw financial expert, Catherine Eagan speak last year and she said something that really resonated with me... "Where you are right now is not necessarily representative of where you are going." You are going to be everything that you hoped and dreamed to be if you see it and you believe it, but it may not happen overnight so patience is an absolute must.

There will be times when you can't eat what you want, there will be times when your work is rejected or criticized, there will be many roadblocks along the way, but never ever stop. That is a mantra that I tell myself constantly. Never stop. No one who is anyone ever got anywhere without being persistent. Did you know that Walt Disney filed for bankruptcy? You may not have known that, but you do know that he never gave up because even in his absence his legacy lives on.

Believe In You

If you don't believe in yourself and what you do, no one else will. Why should they? You train people how to treat you so if you believe that your dream is the best thing since sliced bread then trust and believe that the world will too. Make yourself a HUGE DEAL. People often think that I spend thousands of dollars on marketing and promotions, or that I have some marketing or publicity guru behind me...the truth is that I just spend a whole lot of time believing in me. I constantly and consistently put it out into the world that I AM a HUGE DEAL, and wouldn't you know, other people started believing it too.

Get Your Legal Hustle On

When you don't know when or how you next check is coming, creativity is key. Tap into all of your talents and skills because there may be times when it feels like your true dream is not bringing in the cash that you desire. Let me give you a few examples. Over the years I have taught myself to do hair and nails. It's not something that I am head over heels in love with doing, but best believe it gave me tons of extra money during my college years. In addition to writing I also teach dance and kickboxing. I am still operating in my purpose of adding value to the lives of others while making some extra dollars. The possibilities are endless...dog walking, landscaping, selling your books or artwork, freelance writing, rent parties, selling plates of food...shall I go on, or do you get the picture? When you are creative, there are tons of things that you can do to supplement your income without engaging in any questionable or illegal activity. And in most cases you have a ton of fun while you are at it.

Invest in Personal Growth and Development

I have been able to operate so many legal hustles because I always invest in my own personal growth and development. While it may be challenging, it's never too late to invest in a new skill. Many classes and resources are free and readily available; we just don't take the time to do our research in order to realize that these opportunities exist.

Learning gives you the time and space to think and grow which in turn allows you to realize your true potential. So I encourage you to take the money that you spend on the club, or eating out, and enroll in a life coaching session or a class at a local college or university that will help you to hone your craft. I personally plan to set aside some money to take a creative writing course at UCLA this spring or summer.

Downsize to Maximize

Sometimes in order to get ahead, you have to leave some things behind. Do you really need four different gym memberships when you barely attend any of them? That was me. I had a membership at three different gyms until I decided to start teaching fitness classes which not only brought in extra money, but it also came with a free gym membership. As a result, I ended up saving at least $150 per month. Now that is an extra $150 that I can use to order my books to sell, or for that personal growth and development that I spoke of.

How can you downsize your life to maximize your dream? Can you move into a cheaper residence? Can you do your own hair and nails instead of going to the salon? Could you host a Girls Night In instead of going to a Girls Night Out? Think about it and adjust accordingly.

Sacrifice for Success

With success comes sacrifice. During your time of building, you may not be able to live the lifestyle that you are accustomed to. For instance, I have discovered several delicious options that I can prepare with a bag of potatoes.It goes back to being creative. You may not be able to eat how you like to eat, dress how you want to dress, or party like you want to right now, but the benefits in the not so far away future are well worth it.

Sacrifice doesn't always mean giving things up. It just means adjusting the way that you do things so that it helps you to build your vision. For instance, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to travel. So I have incorporated that into my business. When I want to visit a city, I set up some speaking engagements, consulting work, book signings and book club appearances so that I am still bringing in income and working toward my dream, while having fun at the same time. They say don't mix business with pleasure, but why not? I work hard, so I like to play hard and as long as business is getting handled, I don't see the harm in that.

In conclusion, I want you to ponder few pertinent questions. Are you en employee, or an entrepreneur? Are working to make someone else rich, while you make ends meet, or are you working to build your own empire? Where are you now? Where do you want to be?

Take it from me, living your dreams is possible. It just takes believing in you and what you do...faith and work. The Faith Based Plan is a package that has infinite perks and benefits. Let me know when you are ready to sign up.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Coat

Coats are designed with the purpose of protecting us from the elements of wind, rain and snow. They also serve the function of keeping us warm. Our coats may get wet, or even dirty, but those things that come against them never destroy them or cause them to disintegrate. Our coats brave each element and continue to serve their purpose.

While our coats serve a powerful purpose, we can't expect them to do all of the work. There are some things that we must add to supplement the work that they do. We must add gloves, hats, scarves, boots, and of course we most certainly should be wearing warm clothing underneath.

Think of your coat as your faith. The elements are the daily things that come against you. The rain is financial hardship, the whipping wind is stress, the falling snow is frustration, the debilitating cold is disappointment. Our coats or our faith will protect us from most of those things, most of the time, but if we do not add those supplements mentioned above, those elements will find their way in to affect us.

Those supplements represent the work that must go along with our faith. The gloves represent the helping hands that we must use to give to others. The hat represents the wisdom and knowledge we must seek and the research and study that we must do. The boots represent the foundation that our feet must be firmly planted in and the ground upon which we must stand tall and strong, not allowing any of the elements to knock us down. The scarf is a representation of protection and preservation of the voice which we must use to speak out against injustice, to inspire and encourage others and to share our testimonies and the good news. Our clothing gives us the opportunity to add a touch of style to all that we do because we must live and lead by example, modeling that true faith, supported by work is real and when coupled together, they produce amazing results.

So put on your clothes, hat, boots, gloves, scarf and coat and go out to take on the world knowing that no matter what you come up against, or what comes at you, your faith and works will protect you.