Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Increase Your Peace

My Mother and I had a really good conversation the other day. We discussed how as you get older, your life should become more peaceful, and you should have far more grace when it comes to the way in which you handle situations. It may seem that the opposite is the case with the way reality TV glorifies grown folks fighting, but it still rings true that as your age increases, so should your peace and grace.

This year I’ve made an intentional effort to improve the quality of my life. Just last week I was sitting in my loft and I thought to myself, “My life is really peaceful. I am happy.”  There was a time in the past where I wouldn’t have been honestly able to say that.

There were certain things in my life that I had to change, replace, add or take away on my personal journey to peace and grace.  The first step was being brutally honest…with myself.

I know that I do well under pressure, which is fine every now and then, but overall I had to replace procrastination with planning.   My lack of advanced planning often led me to be reactive to situations, so I had to replace that with being proactive.   Being reactive often came with a lot of emotion. I had to replace the emotion with logic. Emotion usually leads to drama, so once I got rid of that, the drama decreased and I became ready to increase my peace. Increased peace leads to grace. When you are peaceful and happy, you handle situations far more gracefully.

I was reading one of my favorite authors, Robert T. Kyosaki, the other day and he said that in order for him to make meaningful and lasting change, certain parts of him had to die. For example, in order for him to be rich…the poor man in him had to die. In order for him to be healthy, the fat and lazy man in him had to die…

What part of us needs to die, so that the new and improved version can be born?

This week I challenge you to think about the habits and behaviors in your life that you can replace, change or eliminate in order to increase your peace and grace. Take it one day at a time…and take it from me, the end result is well worth the work.

Monday, August 15, 2011


The word rehabilitation is often given a bad reputation in that it is associated with the process by which someone goes through detox, therapy and behavior modification to help them recover from an addiction to drugs or alcohol. Very rarely do we look at it as the positive thing that it is meant to be. If we looked at the bright side of it we would see that it is a way for people to restore and rebuild their lives.

Let's look at it in terms of real estate. When you buy an investment property it may be distressed or in need of repair. Investing in the rehabilitation that the house needs will substantially increase its value. Even something as simple as painting the walls can make the property worth more than you acquired it for thus making it more marketable and in higher demand once you present it to the world.

I want you to think of yourself or your life as that house. What projects need to be done to increase your value? What investment do you need to make in yourself to increase your worth? Perhaps you need to strengthen or reinforce your foundation by continuing your academic or financial education. Or maybe the improvements are structural in that you need to commit or re-commit to fitness. You might need new windows which represents your vision or the way that you look at things. Are you looking at life from a point of view that is broken or damaged? A new storm door represents security…do you need to work on being more secure in who you are, especially in the face of a storm or adversity.  Whether the changes are large or small they can all increase your net worth in a major way.

Today I challenge you to do your due diligence and conduct a thorough inspection of yourself.  Make a list of the projects that need attention, in order of priority, and begin your process of rehabilitation with the most pressing one.  In the end you will find yourself in a better place with more confidence and self-assurance because you put in the work needed to increase your value and your worth.

Let the rehabilitation begin!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Help IS The Way

 There’s a song that goes, “Hold on, Help is on the way!”  If you have faith, you know that this is a statement that is very true, but what we usually fail to even consider is that help IS THE WAY to speed up the process. 

We often believe that we've exhausted every option when it comes to trying to improve a situation, solve a problem, or reach a goal in our lives. There's one secret key that we always forget about.  That secret key is asking how we can be of assistance to someone else. The saying “Give to Get” doesn't just apply to money. We can give our time, wisdom, experience or advice to those in need.  And keep in mind that when I say “those in need” I don’t just mean the “needy.”  Successful people are often the one’s that need the most help and there is a lot to be learned and gained just from being in their presence.  Let's cut right to the chase and look at a few concrete examples of how helping others has a high return on the investment of your time…

Years ago I worked at an after school program where the teens would often ask about employment opportunities. I'd built a relationship with them, so they trusted me when I told them that there weren't currently any opportunities, but they should volunteer in the meantime. Sure enough, after a few months we were awarded grant money to pay teen staff and since those particular young people had been diligently volunteering, they were first in line to get hired.  How can you apply this example to your life? Are you seeking employment? You’re never too young or too old to be an intern and you can work your way up.  Most major executives started out this way.

Now let's take a look at my writing career. In college I studied elementary education and then social work. I'd never taken a writing class. But I knew that I wanted to write and publish a book...so as soon as I moved back to Detroit I immediately began volunteering for the Motown Writers Network. I basically latched myself on to the founder, Sylvia Hubbard, and volunteered to help her in any way that I could. Now over ten years and five books later, any time she comes across an awesome opportunity for a book signing, speaking engagement, publishing opportunity or whatever, guess who the first person that she calls is? So as if all of the valuable information that I’ve learned by helping her over the years wasn’t reward enough, I also get ongoing perks that continue to help me to grow my business and my brand.  If it wasn't for my giving there is NO way that I'd be as far along as I am today.  Is there an industry that you would like to learn more about?  If you volunteer for some of that industry’s major events you can forgo the registration costs but still learn all of the valuable information while you are helping.

When some people hear the concept of doing something for free it sounds foreign to them or even absurd, but what they fail to realize is that when you give, you benefit as much or more than the person that you are helping.

Think about it like this. Let’s say you charge $30 per hour for consulting and you help someone with what they are dealing with for two hours. Your profit will end at that $60 if you even get the contract. Now if you volunteer to help someone the rewards and benefits you get are often infinite.  It may lead to referrals for more contracts, paid speaking engagements, or free access to things that you might have otherwise had to pay for equaling thousands in profit or money saved.  Your helping for free just keeps on giving in ways that hold far more value than that mere $60. Now I’m not suggesting that you not know your worth and charge accordingly for it, I’m just making sure that you are aware of the powerful impact and benefit of simply offering your free gift of help.

This week I challenge you to reach out and help someone.  Simply ask, “How can I help or support you?”  Pick someone who has successfully achieved some of the goals that you hope to achieve. Think Big! Target the top 5 people that you have been watching and hoping to someday achieve what they have. I’ll be tackling this challenge by trying to meet a millionaire mentor. In the midst of my helping them, I can pick their brain to see how they got to where I want to be.   

After you’ve done all you can, try a new approach. Help IS the way.

TAG! You're It!

Think of the game called Tag that we used to play when we were children. You run for your life from the person that's “It” like getting caught by them is the worst thing in the world...the worst thing that could possibly happen.  We don’t stop to think about what happens when we get caught. The reality is that the outcome is not that bad at all.  When you get caught YOU become “It” and now you have the power.

Now think about how this parallels with our lives. We often run from our problems, namely bill collectors or facing hard choices and decisions that we must make.

Take your power back! Stop running from your fears and problems and turn around and start chasing and pursuing them. I’ve been doing this for the first half of this year and it’s not only been far less painful than I thought it would be, but it’s actually been quite liberating.  Set up payment arrangements, see if there are opportunities for settlements, talk to people about how you feel, make those hard decisions and stick to them... When you face your problems and your fears head on, they are nowhere near as frightening as they seemed when you were running and hiding.

It’s time to take responsibility for the fact that our fears are often our fault. Yes, bill collectors may be a little rude and snippy at times, but hey, they’re just doing their job.  We are the ones that did not keep our word, or pay our bill, or who bought something we knew we really couldn’t afford. 

Fear only has the power that you give it.  Just like a car, it can’t go anywhere or do anything unless you give it the fuel.  So this week I challenge you to stop running, turn around and chase your fear right back.  These days, as I work diligently to repair my credit, the bill collectors are my friends, not my enemies.  I call them regularly to see what type of deals I can work out with them and I even go as far as joking with them while I’m on the phone with them. I keep it pleasant and positive and they often have no other choice but to reciprocate those delightful behaviors.

What are you running from?  Take your power back TODAY….TAG! You’re IT!