Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The gift of choice...

One of the things that I don't do is debate religion with people. I am solid enough in my faith to know what I believe, and respect others that don't agree with me. I do not apologize for my faith, and nor would I ask anyone else to... but the one thing that I think all faiths and beliefs don't pay enough attention to (in general) is the gift of CHOICE.

Since the beginning of time, man has had opportunities to exercise the gift of choice. I remember telling a friend of mine not too long ago "We are God's people, not God's puppets." In other words, we have choices that we make that help mold and shape our destiny. There are forks in the rode... pick a path. There are decisions to make... so decide. Not all choices are good ones, but the worst choice of all is the choice that never took place at all.

Life throws you curve balls, my advice to you is SWING! We all will make mistakes. Hopefully we all learn from them. The most important thing is not the mistake itself, but what we take from it and how we move forward. Christian scripture reads "Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind." If we were puppets, why would our minds even matter? They matter because we have the ability to select our paths.

Will you be tested along the way? Of course! No great man or woman was ever created in easy times. Islamic scripture reads "Is it enough to say you believe without being tried, when those before you have been tried?" So you will have to fight your way through some things. But you do have the choice in how you respond to your circumstances.

How we act has a lot to do with what happens to us... Even the Buddhist teachings say something like:

1. Act with Loving-kindness;
2. Be open hearted and generous;
3. Practice stillness, simplicity and contentment;
4. Speak with truth, clarity and peace;
5. Live with mindfulness.

The funny thing is, all three religious practices mentioned above have the same concepts in their writings or teachings... the parallel each other in many respects. What they cal God differs, but we understand that many of the principles are the same. So people pick their religion (not here to make a judgement call, that's God's job).

Ultimately though, we do have some say so in how our life turns out. If you don't get up and go to work, you will lose your job or business. If you do not eat, your body will perish. You can make good choices or bad choices. You can have a direct effect on how your life turns out. Don't just sit by and wait for some huge hand to emerge from the heavens and do for you what you can do for yourself. I'm not taking away from the power of miracles. There are plenty of things that I can't explain how they happen... I believe that it's God's doing! But I also know that He created me in his own image, and gave me power while I am here, so I intend to use it to not only help myself, but also to help mankind! I hope that you will do the same.

Suggested Reading:
The Gift of Love by Joel Goldsmith
The Moses Code by James F. Twyman
The Pursuit of Happyness by John Gardner

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Middle Stage...

I just got back from Mexico on a wonderful vacation. I'm fully refreshed and ready to rock and roll! Today, I want to share with you an experience I had before I left though. I have a friend who is a Locktician... meaning that she locks peoples hair (also known as Dread Locks)... and she recently opened her own salon here in Chicago. The only way that I can support her business is by sending her customers because I have no plans on altering my hair style to locks, but I was joking around with her and here is how the conversation went:

Mel: You know what, I think I'll grow my hair out so you can lock it.
Alma: Boy, quit playing! We both know you won't do that.
Mel: I thought about it before, but I don't want to go through the middle stage of growing it out.
Alma: Middle stage?
Mel: You know, when it doesn't look exactly how you want it to look because you are growing into the process.
Alma: Mel, what have you ever been successful in where you didn't have to go through the middle stage? I'm willing to bet that every process has
that middle stage if you really want what you say you want...

I'll stop there. Again, I was only joking about my hair. What is so powerful though is that her reference was right on point! There is no way to avoid the middle stage! You have to go through... or better yet GROW THROUGH whatever it is you are dealing with. The light at the end of the tunnel is not a train heading in your direction! The light is the destination that you are trying to reach, and you can do so by dealing with whatever adversity comes your way and getting through that middle stage!

Suggested reading: Good to Great by Jim Collins

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Leave it on the field...

So my oldest daughter is getting ready to graduate high school June 2010. I was at an awards ceremony at her school in late May, and I was totally impressed at the fact that she got "The Principals Award" for her overall activities and academic performance (following in her dad's footsteps). I was also inspired by all the other award winners in various categories that chose to make their high school experience as powerful as it could be. Athletic, academics, and activities... there were students who "Left it on the field" so to speak.

That phrase is often used by football coaches around the world. It means to leave everything you have (talent, drive, heart, tenacity, passion, courage, etc.) on the field. Play the game as if everything in the world was going to be determined by what you do in this game at this moment. Though the term is used in sports, the meaning behind it applies to our everyday lives. The successful people in the world are those who "leave it on the field" in whatever area of human endeavor that they embark on. They go hard, or they go home!

I'm far from a Lakers fan! I don't hop on the wagon like others do when it comes to them, but I do respect Kobe Bryant as a player. Is is the Michael Jordan of the new basketball era in the sense that he "leaves it on the field" whenever he plays. He steps up to take the big shots needed to win the game. He doesn't always succeed, but he gives it all that he has. Donald Trump is the same way in the business world. Oprah is that way in the media world, and T.D. Jakes and Louis Farrakhan are like that in their respected ministries.

So I guess my question to you is do you leave it all on the field? What are the areas of your life where you are playing small? Where can you put in greater effort to get greater results? What do you let hold you back from taking the game winning shot, or getting in the game at all for that matter? Yes, I know that that there is a possibility for failure if you take chances... but understand that there is NO POSSIBILITY for success if you don't! Leaving it on the field is not just about getting in the game though. It's about getting in the game and giving it the best that you have to offer. This pertains to life, life, business, family, ministry, and whatever else you can think of that is worth your focused effort! You have the power to do great things, but only if you leave it on the the field when you play the game of life!

Suggested reading: Action Had No Season my Michael Roberts

Monday, March 15, 2010

Internal Integrity

I was talking to myself the other day and I said "Self, why is it that you always keep your word with other people, but you don't always keep your word with me?" At that moment, I realized that it was an integrity issue. There are many ways to look at integrity, but for the sake of this conversation integrity is doing what you said you would do when you said you would do it even if nobody is checking to make sure you did it. In Landmark Education, we learn that integrity has a lot to do with keeping your word.

So here I am, a somewhat successful person in a few different industries, realizing that my full potential has not come into fruition because of what I like to call "Internal Integrity." Many times in life, people will do more for others than they will do for themselves. I'm not sure why it's like that, and I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with it. What I am saying is that we all deserve a level of success and prosperity (in every area of life, not just finances) that can only be attained if we hold ourselves accountable for the things that we say we will do for ourselves.

Let me give you an example:
I've been in the process of writing another book (besides the one I co-authored which is an amazon.com best seller already The Queens Legacy) for about two and a half years now. The outline is done, the concepts are solid, but I just have not finished the book. I've given myself several deadlines, and have missed them all. For those of you that know me, I'm not a heavy drinker. I do enjoy a good glass of wine from time to time. I frequent wine tastings and social gatherings that are centered around wine. So in an effort to somewhat punish myself, I have given up any form of alcohol until I finish writing my current project. Since then, I have been at dinner with friends, social outings, and even mourned the loss of a loved one without participating in any alcohol consumption. Every time I thought about it, I just would tell myself "Keep your internal integrity in tact Mel."

What are the areas in your life where you told yourself you would do something, but you didn't keep your word? Is there some project that you really want to get done, but you are not holding yourself to the standards that you should? How would you rate your own Internal Integrity? Life can be so much better if we just set goals, and REALLY hold ourselves accountable. Think about it like this... A sinking ship does not call out an S.O.S. to another sinking ship. If you really want to be a source of inspiration and a good example for others, do it for yourself first! The world as you know it will change when your Internal Integrity is in tact!

Suggested Readings:
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Developing the Leader Within You by John C. Maxwell
The Power of Focus by Jack Canfield