Declutter Your Schedule

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If you are anything like me your daily to do list looks a lot like the first draft of the Declaration of Independence: scratch marks, circles, and arrows pointing in every direction; a work of Picasso proportion

The goal of scheduling your day, week, month, and life is to make the most sense of the moments you have; which you always wish you had more of but spend too many on things you wish you hadn’t.

The people over at www.developgoodhabits.com came up with 6 great strategies to make the most of your schedule. I’ve listed them below as well as how they relate to what I presently do. Here they are:

1 – Prioritize your daily priorities. Every morning I write down what I “Need” to do, what I “Should” do, and what I “Could” do. That way I focus on the first list before moving onto the other two.

2 – Purge your commitments. Look at what you plan on doing that week and ask yourself how many of those things can be dropped without affecting much. Look hard for the ‘time wasters’. Those are usually the commitments that benefit others with no real benefit to yourself.

3 – Focus on 3 important daily goals. Ask yourself every day what the three things are that MUST be done. Focus on those first to ensure that what matters most is mattering most.

4 – Build in sacred time. I cannot stress this enough. We need to not talk so much about ‘balance’ in life as much as the ‘rhythm’ of life (I need to write more about this in the future). No one knows your rhythm more than you do. Some cars can go 1000km (625 miles). Others can only go 500km (313 miles). Know when you need to ‘pit stop’, pull over for a few minutes, recharge however you do that best, and then get back at it. You will find that it’s a lot easier to keep going with a full tank of gas than on fumes.

5 – Leave work on time. Technology is making this harder and harder to do (and the stress-related work issues show for it). All I will say is that when you’re working, work. When you are not working, don’t. Sounds simple but we all know that it’s easier said than done. Your mind and focus needs to detach in order to be more intentional and productive when it’s expected. Someone once told me, “Divert Daily. Withdraw Weekly. Abandon Annually.” I still use that model to this day.

6 – Take a digital sabbatical. This is good advice (though you are reading this because you are presently ‘not’ doing it). The key is that the world is now always in your pocket, purse, or hand. Once a week, or whatever rhythm works for you, shut off your devices and breathe. I know one couple that turns off their phones and computers when they get together to watch TV after a long day. Sounds strange and foreign nowadays. Just take the phone off the hook — for all you Boomers and Busters.

If you take the time to make your time matter, you will feel more productive, more fulfilled, and more alive.

Now go make the most of today.

 

C

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New Levels Need A New You

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I grabbed the flip chart during one of our staff meetings recently and started writing on the fresh canvas while the staff looked on.

Every next level of your life will demand a different you.

“Agree or disagree?” I asked.

One of the things I love about our staff is that we are not afraid to colour outside the lines and take things at face value.

Eventually we moved from “agreed” to “we need to modify it”.

We scribbled and moved arrows around and eventually came up with…

Every next level of your life will demand a different version of yourself.

We recognized that what got us here will not necessarily get us there. We agreed that in order to get to where we felt we needed to go we needed to change how we acted, interacted, led, and served in order to accomplish it.

Though we seemed to agree with the statement, we also noted that many people / organizations, though they would also agree, choose not to make the shift. So… we talked about why people (including ourselves) do not change. We came up with two main reasons:

Costs (tangibles)
◊ independence
◊ relationships
◊ time
◊ resources

Resistors (intangibles)
◊ fear
◊ pride
◊ vulnerability
◊ stubbornness
◊ sin
◊ self-deprication
◊ doubt

We concluded that “you don’t need to be a different you… for you already are you.” I am who I am; though it is therefore also true that I am responsible for the version of myself I choose to be.

So what version of yourself are you being today? Are you excited about what today’s version of you will accomplish or do you need to release a different version of yourself? Know today that tomorrow’s version of yourself will depend heavily on the version you choose to be today.

To unleashing greatness in yourself,

 

C

5 Reasons Why You Need Church In Your Life

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We are currently seeing a world shaken on so many levels because of one choice between two people. A country so fractured so deep that you could almost split a line ‘exactly’ down the middle of the vote.

We are fractured as a whole because we are divided. Divided by race. Divided by gender. Divided by a host of different reasons. Matthew 12:25 reminds us that “a house divided against itself will never stand.”

It is interesting to see where the church lands in all of this. Some people seem to think that the church is archaic, out of touch, and obsolete in today’s culture. They see churches scrambling to try to keep attendance up and people interested in church life.

But the Bible is clear that the church won’t disappear… it will last. It has… and it will continue to (Matthew 16:18).

So… what if the push to go to church is not to keep it going… but rather to keep you going?

For fun, let’s imagine that is the reason why you should be going to church… for you. Here is a list of 5 reasons why you should make the effort in a crazy world to get yourself to church. These are not in order of importance, and they are not exhaustive.

1 – YOU need encouragement. Hebrews 10:25 warns us to not give up getting together. You know what it’s like to be off Facebook, Instagram, or not able to see your friends at Starbucks. You hate being disconnected. Life ends when the phone battery dies!!!! Church was intended to keep us together in order to encourage one another. When you are not there, you are stuck trying to encourage yourself. Try giving yourself a massage… you won’t like it.

2 – YOU need community to grow effectively. By now you’re wondering how stupid you will look giving yourself a massage. Well you need to know that you need each another in order to grow. Read Acts 2:42-47 to see what the first Christians did in order to help one another grow in faith. Christianity was never meant to be done alone on an island. It is a family deal.

3 – YOU have something to give. By now you’ve already tried to give yourself a massage and you agree that it did nothing. Read 1Corinthians 12 and you’ll see a pattern that the church body is better because of YOU… and likewise, YOU are better because of the church body. When you don’t bring your gifts to the table (yes, you have them) then the rest of the body has to compensate and that is never what was intended. Yes, you can use a crutch to deal with a broken leg, but the rest of the body is having to adapt and it slows everything down.

4 – It will keep YOU on track. Hebrews 3:12 encourages us to keep each other’s lives in check. I already know that I desire to be better because of the people that I surround myself with. The lower the bar you set, the lower your sense of accomplishment will be. Let those in church help you when you’re down; just like when you help them up when they are down.

5 – It helps YOU put things into perspective. The Bible tells us in Exodus 20 to remember the Sabbath day (God’s day – Sunday for most churches) and keep it holy. Church is the “Home Free” zone you need at least once a week. You know what will happen if you don’t go to church? Something else will drain you even more. Getting away at least once a week helps get you refocused, refuelled, and refreshed to face the next six days.

YOU need church… and the church needs YOU. The sooner YOU see that and go there, the sooner the church will help a world that is trying desperately to find the answer. Remember, we HAVE the Answer.

Get up and go be the church.

 

C

4 Reasons People Don’t Understand You

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I was recently having a conversation with a man I meet with regularly about a situation I was facing. He’s a mentor of mine and a seasoned retired business man who often brings great insight to my world of dealing with people.

I was venting to him that I was so shocked that someone I was dealing with couldn’t seem to see what I was saying. He quickly pointed out that the person was a “Quadrant 4” person. I had no idea what he was talking about.

I’m not sure where this teaching came from but over the next few minutes he opened my mind in understanding how different people respond differently to correction and instruction based on the “quadrants of what they know”.

4-quadrants

1- “I know I know” – These people know that they are in the wrong and therefore choose to either correct their actions or else rebel against the expectations. Here you will get the greatest result of either compliance or confrontation.

2 – “I know I don’t know” – These people are aware that they are missing something in your attempt to correct the situation and are most likely to engage in wanting to understand you better. This is a great opportunity to mentor and guide them.

3 – “I don’t know I know” – These people are in the dark for some reason. Maybe they forgot the email laying out your expectations or the meeting where everything was discussed. Find the right way to smoothly remind them of what they forgot or misplaced and you can get them back on track.

4 – “I don’t know I don’t know” – These people are the most likely to become contentious and combative as their resistance is based on either their pride to concede or their incapablility of allowing themselves to be open to correction. Either way, you are probably going to hit a wall here. Either evaluate if you need to remove the ‘problem’ (let it go), the ‘process’ (find a different way to explain where they are not getting it), or the ‘person’ (wrong person for the reponsibility) in order to move forward.

Ask these four questions when hitting the wall.

1 – Are they the type of person to be resistent? Is this pride or is it lack of understanding?

2 – Where is this breaking down? Can it easily able to be put back on track?

3 – Am I communicating my expectations in a way that perhaps they are unable to understand? How does my message need to change?

4 – Is this person the right person for the expectation? Are they incapable of understanding what is desired?

If you don’t figure out quickly which quadrant they are in, you will expend unnecessary energy trying to get results from people who aren’t on the same page (quadrant) as you.

Onward… to knowing better.

3 Keys to Financial Freedom

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I find it interesting that in looking for a graphic for ‘financial freedom’ all that seemed to come up were pictures of chairs facing the water. C’mon… is THAT what we are really longing for in our financial freedom?

If you are like me, facing a lake for the rest of my life is NOT why I want to seek financial freedom. I want financial freedom to give myself the ability to CHOOSE what I want to do with my resources; not the prospect of doing nothing for the rest of my life.

That said, if you are like many other people, you are restricted on what you can do and where you can spend your money.

So, in order to save time, brain cells, and discussions on the cacophony of financial counsel, I’m going to boil it down to three SIMPLE rules of what to do with your money to make the biggest difference in how you get to choose how to live your life.

SAVE more than you SPEND – I know that it doesn’t take much calculus to put this together but… if your income is always greater than your expenses, you will SAVE MONEY. It seems trite… but this common sense is unfortunately not so common with people’s current spending habits. Credit cards, pay it later, impulse buyers, ‘sales’ (don’t get me started on THAT fallacy) all breed into the desire to forego keeping spending within one’s means. Keep your spending aligned with your income and you will launch ahead of the pack like Usain Bolt!

OWN more than you OWE – This needs to be looked at as a sliding scale. Understandably there are mortgages, car payments, etc. that can mix up someone’s “net worth” but to dumb this down for this blog, what I am getting at is that every month you should have less debt, and more assets (including cash, savings, emergency money… yada yada yada – I’m trying to keep this simple for ‘this’ version of the blog). If you have less bills, less overdue payments, less overdraft… and/or more savings, more RRSP’s (401K’s for the ‘Mericans who read this), more cash on hand, then you are getting ahead of the game. Make a goal to make each month (or pay) less indebted to others and more financially prosperous for yourself (yourselves) and you will feel the stress roll off your shoulders.

BLESS more than you BURDEN – This is the power of charity. Financial freedom is not designed to make you more charitable… as much as it is designed to make you more available to BE charitable. How many times are you ‘wanting’ to support a cause yet ‘unable’ to simply because of your financial bondage. The quicker that you free up your finances, the quicker you will experience the joy of being able to come alongside a cause and support it without the pain of wondering what you are going to have to cut out of your spending. Charity truly builds character.

Follow these three rules of financial freedom and I cannot promise you two Adirondack chairs at the end of a dock… but I can assure you that your future will look a whole lot better than it will if you continue to be shackled by spending too much, owing beyond your limit, and scraping by to take care of yourself, instead of the possibility of blessing others.

Onward… to thicker wallets and bigger hearts.

Smothering Toxic Relationships

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There are three ways to put out a fire. Remove the fuel. Remove the heat. Or remove the oxygen. Simple as that.

Toxic relationships continue when you choose to keep the fire going. Sometimes you are not able to remove yourself from the actual person (fuel). They may be a family member or a co-worker. You may not be able to remove the ‘heat’ either due to proximity. Whenever you are around each other, your feelings ‘fire’ up without any ability to exert self-control.

Canadian Living defined toxic relationships as any relationship “that makes you feel consistently bad about yourself.” It goes on to write that these relationships leave “you feeling anxious, unrewarded and unaccepted.

Know anyone that fits that definition? Have any of those people in your life?

I like how Kris Carr (@Kris_Carr) said it when she tweeted that “we get to decide who we allow into our inner sanctum. Not everyone deserves an all-access pass.” For some reason we can feel obligated to keep people around us who are depleting us, not completing us.

So I would suggest to you that if you can’t get rid of the fuel or the heat, get rid of the ‘oxygen’.

You alone decide whether you are going to allow this person [these people] to ‘breathe’ into your life. Believe it or not, much of the toxicity of the relationship is based on the proximity of that person to ‘your’ sense of security, well-being, and happiness. They affect you because they affect ‘you’.

If it were people that didn’t matter to you (or never mattered to you) then their place in your life wouldn’t be an issue; you wouldn’t give them any ‘breath’. Where things go south is when you continue to let them matter to you. It is in those times that they end up taking your ‘breath away’.

So smother them (not literally… though sometimes you may have to squelch those thoughts). Don’t allow them to breathe into or over your life ending up taking away the joy and happiness that you long for.

Toxic relationships damage you. You don’t have the time, the desire, or the purpose to be damaged. Surround yourself with those who will better you. You will quickly discover how great it is to ‘breathe’ again.

Bring on the fresh air!

5 Must Have Leadership Books

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I have no idea how big your library is. I have a few ‘libraries’ when you think of the one in my office, the one in my house, and the one that is piled in boxes after several moves.

But of all the books that I have, there are five books that very often get cracked open for insight, wisdom, and guidance. I thought I would let you get a bit of a feel of the books that have meant the most to me as it pertains to “Leadership”.

Let’s dive in.

1 – Leadership – Rudolph Guliani. Hands down one of the best books I’ve ever read on leadership. For those who do not know who the author is, he was the mayor of New York City during 9/11. The book was already being written during the terrorist attack. It was changed to show how his leadership principles  and resolve that transformed the city prior to 9/11 came into play again after the attack. Ugh. A great book!

2 – Leadership and Self-Deception – Arbinger Institute. This is a fable about interpersonal conflict resolution and is a must have if you are responsible for a group of employees. I make all of our staff read it prior to working. We use the lingo. It helps us understand one another as well as ourselves so that we diffuse many situations before they ever amount to anything monumental. Its success within a staff is a great morale booster.

3 – The Path – Laurie Beth Jones. Rather than mention Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits book I thought I would show that I prefer Laurie Beth Jones’ take on mission statements / personal life goals better. She doesn’t start with the end in mind. Instead, she looks deeper… at why you are who you are and then builds the mission out from within. Great book. Have a number that I give away in counselling. Never had a complaint.

4 – Onward – Howard Schultz. I don’t hide that I like Starbucks. Check out my tagline on my other blog here. That said, I like how the company thinks about its mission and its connection with others more than I like the coffee. They seem to ‘get’ what is lacking and the book is great for anyone who is trying to rebuild in the midst of hardship. The CEO writes about how Starbucks flew right into the recession of ’08 and how they turned things around when everyone else thought they would fail. Very inspiring read.

5 – Tale of Three Kings – Gene Edwards. If you are in leadership and report to people and have people reporting to you then you will enjoy this book. It is a poetic look at the life of King David of Israel in relation to two other people: the previous King Saul who knew that David was to succeed him as king and David’s son Absalom who wanted to take the kingdom away from him once David became king. There are those who you need to learn how to work under while others are nipping at your heels. Great read.

I will no doubt end up doing similar posts for different areas. If you have any suggestions of a “Top 5” in another category, feel free to comment on it and I’ll see what I can do. Let me know if there are books in ‘your’ top 5 leadership category so that we can keep the conversation going.

Keep reading. Keep learning. Keep leading.