Tag Archives | faith

Four Key Decisions That Shape Your Character

Charisma may be useful in attracting a following, but it is largely useless when it comes to achieving a long term positive impact on the people and organizations we lead. For this, we need character. Effective leadership is an inside-out job.

The older I get, the more this quote from one of my mentors, Michael Hyatt reveals itself in everyday experience. As leaders (we are all leaders in some area of our lives), our influence is shaped by our character, which, in turn, is formed over time by our daily choices. The fact is, who we become is not a product of the milestone moments in our lives as much as the small, seemingly inconsequential decisions we make every day.

The good news is that, unlike personality, which is fixed at birth, your character can be developed through the intentional decisions you make about how you spend your time. If you are consistent in managing them, these daily decisions become powerful forces that will encourage you to live with more passion, purpose and influence. Here are four to consider:

Decision #1: The content you consume.
How much news do you expose yourself to every day?
What are you reading and how often?
What do you listen to while driving?
How you answer questions like these says a lot about how intentional you are in developing your character. Author and speaker Matthew Kelly tells his audiences, “You show me what you’re reading and I’ll tell you what sort of person you are. If you give me a list of the books you read last year I can tell you what happened in your life. Even better, you give me a list of the books you’re going to read in the next 12 months and I will tell you what will happen in your life in the coming year.”
That’s a bold prediction, but his message rings clear: Your character is shaped by what you allow to occupy your mind every day. I recall a successful entrepreneur telling me that he largely ignores the news because, if he didn’t, he would be too fearful to launch new business ventures. Remember, regardless of which side of the political spectrum you’re on, both Fox News and MSNBC do not exist to deliver news; their goal is to achieve ratings, which means their mission is keeping you glued to the TV. Over time, the negativity, alarmism, and agenda-driven drama affects us, injecting doubt, worry and passivity that, over time, can hijack our dreams and stifle our initiative. While I’m not suggesting we ignore what’s going on in the world, I strongly believe we need to set boundaries not only on the news we watch, but on all the content we consume every day–podcasts, blogs, streaming video, social media, etc.

Decision #2: The friendships you maintain.
Personal development icon Jim Rohn famously said that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Although we are often called through our work and personal lives to minister to many different types of people, those we choose as our closest friends and confidants will have a disproportionate influence on who we become, so we must choose them wisely. If you want to have a great marriage, for example, hang out with people with strong marriages. If you’re looking to become healthy and fit, cultivate friendships with people who practice good nutrition and exercise habits. On the other hand, avoid making close friends with people who exhibit the traits you want to avoid. Remember, birds of a feather really do flock together.

Decision #3: The beliefs you cultivate.
It’s been said that our actions ultimately reflect our beliefs. If you believe, for example, that human life is the result of random, meaningless chance verses the product of a loving, personal God who created you for a purpose, then chances are this belief will, at some point, play out in your life. Your world view–the fundamental beliefs you have about ultimate reality–matters, and every world view attempts to answer these four questions:
>Origin: How did I get here?
>Meaning: What is the ultimate meaning of my life?
>Morality: How should I live? Is there a right and wrong, and what is the difference?
>Destiny: What will happen when I die?
In a culture shaped by superficiality, these questions may seem over-the-top, but your capacity to formulate clear, confident answers to each of these will profoundly influence the breadth and depth of the person you become.

Decision #4: The habits you develop.
In his book, Make Today Count, leadership expert John Maxwell makes a provocative claim. He writes:

If I could come to your house and spend just one day with you, I would be able to tell whether or not you will be successful. You could pick the day. If I got up with you in the morning and went through the day with you, watching you for 24 hours, I could tell in what direction your life is headed.

According to John, when he shares this at conferences, he always gets a strong reaction. Some people are surprised and get defensive because they think he would be making a snap judgment about them. Others, however, are intrigued and want to know why he would make such a statement. As John points out, our character isn’t something that suddenly manifests itself in someone’s life. It is a process; every day is merely preparation for the next, and our habits–the simple, repeatable actions we consistently take over time–ultimately determine who we become. As John famously says, “You will never change anything in your life until you change something you do daily.” So what are your habits preparing you for, and is it aligned with where you truly want to go?

Of all the forces shaping the quality and impact of your life, your character stands alone. No one wants to reach the end of their life and feel regret over squandered opportunities and broken relationships, yet sadly, it will be the destination of choice for so many. The difference between experiencing regret verses a deep satisfaction with life, I believe, lies in the importance you attach to each of these life-shaping, character-defining decisions.

Question: Which of these decision areas do you feel confident you have made? Which ones have challenged you? What do you plan to do about it? I’d love to hear your comments!

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Be a Hospitalian To Present the Best Version of YOU

In his popular TED Talk, “Be a Hospitalian,” Bobby Stuckey, owner of the renowned Frasca restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, shares a humorous holiday story of trying to please one of his relatives while hosting Thanksgiving dinner:

 

Bobby’s talk highlights the critical difference between service (“What you do for someone”) and hospitality (“Changing how they feel”). His point: From serving customers in a 5-Star restaurant to hosting your neighbors for a backyard barbecue — while excellent service is important, authentic hospitality is the real difference-maker.

As many of us prepare to spend the Easter holidays with family, Bobby’s message serves as a great reminder. There’s bound to be someone you’ll encounter who rubs you the wrong way…  be it that crazy uncle, know-it-all brother-in-law, or your sister’s boyfriend who drives you nuts. Being a “hospitalian” means presenting the best version of yourself, or, as Bobby says, “looking out instead of looking in.” It’s thinking of yourself less and putting others first, even those who irritate us.

So during this Easter holiday, take a cue from Bobby: Before the craziness begins, put aside your need for affirmation and gratitude and commit to becoming a “hospitalian.”

And if, at any point over the holidays, you’re tempted to slip back into the lesser version of yourself, get out your Bible, take a deep breath and let the true message of Easter inspire you:

Then He said to them, “Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And you are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:46-48)

What was your experience celebrating Easter with family growing up? Was there tension or peace? How has that affected your approach to the celebrating holidays and family functions? How can Bobby Stuckey’s message of hospitality help you enjoy the coming days?

This post has been adapted from my previous post for the Christmas holiday.

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Be the Best Version of YOU this Christmas

In his popular TED Talk, “Be a Hospitalian,” Bobby Stuckey, owner of the renowned Frasca restaurant in Boulder, Colorado, shares a humorous holiday story of trying to please one of his relatives while hosting Thanksgiving dinner:

Bobby’s talk highlights the critical difference between service (“What you do for someone”) and hospitality (“Changing how they feel”). His point: From serving customers in a 5-Star restaurant to hosting your neighbors for a backyard barbecue — while excellent service is important, authentic hospitality is the real difference-maker.

As many of us prepare to spend the holidays with family, Bobby’s message serves as a great reminder. There’s bound to be someone you’ll encounter this Christmas who rubs you the wrong way…  be it that crazy uncle, know-it-all brother-in-law, or your sister’s boyfriend who drives you nuts. Being a “hospitalian” means presenting the best version of yourself, or, as Bobby says, “looking out instead of looking in.” It’s thinking of yourself less and putting others first, even those who irritate us.

So this Christmas, take a cue from Bobby: Before the craziness begins, put aside your need for affirmation and gratitude and commit to becoming a “hospitalian.”

And if, at any point over the holidays, you’re tempted to slip back into the lesser version of yourself, get out your Bible, take a deep breath and let the true message of Christmas, the true story of God’s intervention into our world that brought new life, hope and unprecedented access to the Creator of the Universe, soften you:

“For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

What was your experience celebrating Christmas with family growing up? Was there tension or peace? How has that affected your approach to the celebrating holidays and family functions? How can Bobby Stuckey’s message of hospitality help you enjoy the coming days?

Merry Christmas!

by Brigitte Tohm | pexels.com

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Guest Blog Post: Remembering the WHY with Stephen Twomey

I’ve written several posts about the importance of getting started — specifically, getting started with the development of habits in order to help us reach our lifelong goals — and the importance of keeping in mind your initial motivation: why you got started in the first place. This week, I’m featuring a guest blogger: Stephen Twomey, local Traverse City business owner, husband, father and fellow fitness enthusiast. Read on as Stephen explores the ways in which getting in touch and staying in touch with the WHY that fires us up can help us press through the WHAT and the HOW when times are tough.

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Consistency is the key to achieving anything in life. We have heard our parents, our teachers and self-help gurus state, “It is not about how you start but how you finish that counts.” And to finish well requires consistency. And while I agree with that axiom, it is with one significant caveat: To finish well, you must actually start. Far too many people plan and plan and theorize without ever applying their learning to the actual task. Information without implementation accomplishes nothing.

In the entrepreneurial world we call them “Couch CEO’s.” They are equivalent to NFL couch quarterbacks or social media critics who scream at players and refs, or spew out venom and what they consider to be sage advise, but never actually do anything.

So at the risk of stating the obvious: In order to finish well, you must first start. But this post is not about starting. It is to encourage and inspire those who have started to endure, and to not give up when tests and tribulations come your way. Whatever your goals are, you need to remember them. Remember the reason why you started in the first place.

Ever since I was in 7th grade, I dreamed of owning my own company. It started when I was playing paintball with my friends. The problem was that paintballs are expensive, especially when you have a rapid-fire paintball gun! So I did some research and discovered that I could buy large quantities of high quality paintballs online, package them into bags of 100, and sell them to my friends locally that not only saved them money but allowed me to play for free. It was the old “buy low, sell high” plan, and it lit a fuse in me to one day be a business owner.

That early experience led me into several career paths that eventually evolved into my own business. There was a season of learning, of data gathering, of gaining expertise. But eventually you have to take a first step. You have to launch. And once that happens, so does adversity (broken promises, deals that don’t go through, etc). And this is where perseverance comes in. This is where remembering the dream—WHY you started in the first place.

A huge motivator for me is my family. I have an amazing wife and two precious sons who mean the world to me. I press through the challenges of owning a business in large part for my family—not only to provide well for them, but also to have the flexibility to be with them as husband, father, coach, mentor, tear-dryer, counselor, referee, and human play mat.

via Steve Twomey

What about you? When you are facing struggles and you are tempted to quit, what keeps you going? What gets you out of bed, or keeps you awake at night? Getting in touch and staying in touch with the WHY that fires you up will help you press through the WHAT and the HOW when times are tough.

What keeps me going is faith, family and friends. I want to honor God in every area of my life, be a great husband and father, and a faithful friend. But to do that requires me to do some things that don’t come natural to me… as in getting up five days a week at 5 a.m. to work out. My physical fitness is directly tied to my mental and emotional state, which impacts my work day, my family, etc. When I connect the discipline of regular rigorous exercise to wanting to live a God-honoring, well balanced life, that’s the motivation I need to press on rather than roll over and hit the snooze button.

So to all you starters, keep going! Don’t quit! Yes, there is adversity. Sometimes life can kick us in the stomach and leave us breathless. It’s one of the reasons that having great friends to support you when those times come is so important. But I am a firm believer that the only way to fail is to simply give up. As long as you do not admit defeat — you instead get up the next morning and put one foot in front of the other, and you stay with it — you will succeed.

In conclusion, a blog post from me would not be complete without a movie reference. In the movie The Dark Knight, Alfred asks Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale), “Why do we fall, sir? So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Bruce Wayne responds, “You still haven’t given up on me.” To that Alfred states, “Never.”

Well my friends, as long as we do not give up on ourselves, we learn to pick ourselves up (and each other from time to time), and we keep moving forward, we will be a success. Here’s to the journey!

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Stephen Twomey is a resident of Traverse City, Michigan. He is married to his beautiful wife, Jane, and they have two young sons. Stephen is the owner of SEOTraverseCity and MasterMindSEO. When he is not working, he enjoys spending time with his family, snowboarding, weight training and hiking.

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