What Matters Most

Each day we get up and live our lives the best way we know how.  Sometimes we don’t do such a good job and other times we don’t try at all.  The days that we do our best and feel the most satisfied are days where we live our purpose, treat others right and are blessed with little surprises along the way.  As a family, it’s important to know what matters most to the people in your lives so you can properly support each other.  So what should matter most, no matter who you are?

Fun: Yes, you need fun in your life!  Maybe that’s kids for you, maybe watching football, or maybe eating with friends.  Whatever is fun to you is important.  Something our bodies need is to have fun, relax and enjoy life.  I’m not talking about going overboard and being in a club or at a dinner party every night, I’m talking about knowing how to have at least a little fun each day, both by yourself and with others.

People: You can’t survive in this world without people.  Well, I suppose you could live on a mountain all by yourself in a hut made from fallen tree branches, but that wouldn’t really be living.  True living begins when you surround yourself with people who are fun, like-minded, interesting and occasionally a challenge.  Other people are here to play an important role in our journey and for us to do the same for them.  If you don’t think people matter to you, or if you’ve put people low on your list of important things, you’ll want to reconsider.

Love: I’m talking about all kinds of love here: romantic, pet, kid and parents, business partners, and the way you feel about things in your life.  Fun is an important aspect of life, it’s kind of like the icing on the cake.  But when you add love to the mix, your life experience has the potential to become 100 times richer.

What about you?  What matters in your life?  Do you take the time to show that it matters or are you so busy just trying to get by?

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The Arrival of Authenticity

If you’ve been keeping up with business lately, you’ve probably heard forms of the word “authentic” thrown around quite a bit.  Today I thought we’d take some time to consider the benefits, drawbacks and situations surrounding this term.

Let’s start with the reason I’m excited that authenticity is becoming a buzz word.  In the world we’ve dealt with a lot of liars, cheaters, scammers and people trying to make a quick buck.   With the turn towards businesses, and people, being more authentic, more honest and open if you will, hopefully some of the trust that has been lost over the past many years will start to return.

Of course, one of the drawbacks to it becoming a buzz word is that people may not take it seriously anymore.  If a business on every street corner says they’re “authentic”, how will you know who to believe and who not to believe?

The benefit and challenge of authenticity becoming more than a buzz word and an oft-used term is that businesses and people will be set up against a more serious standard than they may have been in the past.  Personally, I welcome this challenge.  If the little extra effort that will be required to stay authentic and live up to the standards that word sets will mean that the business world, or even the world as a whole, will be a better place, I’m all for it.

So, let’s say that being authentic does stick around for a while.  What can we do to take advantage of this time?  First, make sure you’re set up in your business to be open and honest with your clients.  Second, if you weren’t very real in your business in the past, tell your clients things are changing, but only if you really mean it.  Third, if you’re not planning on being authentic in business, don’t ruin it for the rest of us. Fourth, when you run across businesses who say they’re authentic, things should click and feel right to you.  From your interaction with them, you should see and know that they’re not hiding anything from you or making claims that would be very hard to support.

The way I see it, being authentic is an option.  If you don’t want to be authentic, no one can force you to be authentic. But I guarantee that being authentic is a better feeling, better resulting way to do business and live your life.  What about you?  What are your thoughts on authenticity in business?

Change is Coming

If you read the title and are expecting something mystical, no, I don’t have any Mayan, or otherwise, prophesies to share with you today.  What I do have is the unshakeable knowledge that the only things certain in life are death, taxes and change.  Change is the reason we have divorce, broken families, unhappy marriages, healthy families and successful people.  Yes,  all of those things are a direct result of change.  So what’s the difference between those who divorce well, those who are happy and those who are broken and unhappy?

Their ability to work with, respond to, prepare for and accept change.

Don’t get me wrong, the people who do well with change don’t always like change any more than the rest of us do.  They’ve just learned that change is as much a part of life as is having a baby or growing old.   You can be forced to change, like if they change the tax rate or do construction on a road you take to work, but you have a choice on how you approach the change.  It also should be noted that not all changes are good, but many happen anyway.

But coming back to family and relationship change, some things are inevitable: the kids will grow up, you and your partner will grow old, you will all change in many ways over the years.  In the cases of broken families and unhappy marriages, the choice has been made to either not accept change, not accept the type of changes that have happened, or not be willing to discuss what changes have actually happened.  Some people get divorced or separate because they realize that they no longer work as they did before, and staying together will only cause more problems, instead of building new, supporting relationships and lives that are healthy for kids to grow up in and learn from.  Is there unhappiness in families and relationships from a lack of communication?  Often I would suspect that if people discussed things before it all got completely out of hand, many relationships and families would not end up in the disarray they are in.

So then, what’s the answer?  I think it begins with accepting that people change, and remembering that you’re going through changes too.  What can you do to better approach change?

Grateful in Business

It’s not Thanksgiving yet, but I can’t help but think about gratitude, especially with World Gratitude Day on the 21st.  As business owners we have many reasons to be thankful.

The first that comes to most of our minds is that we’re free to choose how, when and on what we work.  We don’t always get to do just what we love, but we are quickly reminded that even those less-than-perfect tasks all help us lead the life we want to live, and many of us choose to hire-out for those needs.

Second, we get to choose who we work with.  We’re not stuck in an office or on a job working for people who complicate our job and make us dread Monday morning, we’re able to choose our employees, as well as the people we work for to a great extent.

But what it really means, is that we need to show our gratitude to those we work with.  I know how fortunate I am to have been able to start my own business, and I always try to reflect that back to my clients.  It’s not about going above and beyond what I’ve agreed to do all the time, it’s about showing the clients that I value and appreciate their trust.  There are tons of ways besides time, discounts and money, like remembering their name and preferences, that you can, specific to your business, brand and personality, let your clients know you value them.

What it comes down to is choices.  You’ve made the choice to be in business, and each day you’ve got more choices and opportunities to share that gratitude with everyone that comes in contact with your business. What are you grateful for about your business, and what can you do to show the people who matter how appreciative you are?

To the Breakfast Table!

With school starting back up and work in full swing, I thought it would be good to talk about some of the things that make breakfast great.  Personally I love breakfast, I’m not sure I’d call it the most important meal of the day, but I do have to eat something to get my mind going usually.  The thing to remember about breakfast and any meal, is that you have to eat what powers your body.  There are lots of options so don’t feel like you’re stuck having oatmeal or pancakes every morning, although if they fill you up, good for you!  Here are some healthy options for the whole family for breakfast.

Drinks

Peach pie smoothie

Blueberry breakfast shake

Tropical smoothie

Eggs

Breakfast burrito wraps

Southwestern breakfast wrap

Bacon and spinach quiche

Hash brown quiche

Tex-mex burrito omelet

Egg white omelet

Baked gruyere and sausage omelet

Scrambled eggs with smoked salmon

Breads and Grains

Oatmeal pancakes

Peanut butter pancakes

Maple pecan scones

Pear and granola muffins

Apple surprise rolls

Cranberry cream cheese pinwheels

Raspberry and cream cheese cake

Hawaiian sunrise granola

No-bake chewy granola bars

Vegetables and more

Salmon breakfast croquettes

English muffin pizzas

Breakfast parfait

Some of my other favorites, and simple choices include fruit, peanut butter, whole grain cereal and yogurt.  What do you like to eat for breakfast?

The Choices of Change

In business we sometimes get lucky and get it totally right the first time.  More often than not though, we have to try and try again to find success and learn what works best for our businesses.  It’s not always easy to know what the “right” change is, and sometimes it’s more than one change that’s needed.  So what are some changes that can be made to dramatically help or hurt your business?

The biggest and most important thing to look at first is the mission, purpose and vision of the business.  If you’ve unknowingly made a change to any of these things, your business could be sinking or deflecting customers who feel that something doesn’t line up.  One thing to check when you’re considering change is how that change lines up with the business you’ve created and if it feels right with your mission and purpose for the business.

Marketing is one of the things that people automatically think of when they think about changing things in the business.  Often, it is a good idea to check and change your marketing frequently to make sure it’s fresh and still serving the purpose you want it too.  Marketing isn’t as simple as just getting people to buy stuff anymore, it’s about bringing people into a bigger conversation which includes how you can help them.

Finally, check what you’re offering.  Maybe what you’re offering isn’t of value or need anymore, like cassette tapes, or maybe you’re just in need of some new services or products to better compliment the business, give you more flexibility and accessibility, or help your business go in a new direction.

If you’re thinking about change, make sure you’ve thought about whether it will help or hurt your business before making serious steps in that direction. Weigh the pros and cons, and consider all your options too (not just the ones you like). Change isn’t bad, in fact, change is helpful, especially when it’s done with consideration.

Grateful for Grandparents

Why am I grateful?  Well, I’ve been blessed to know 3 of my grandparents, these 3 people have made a profound impact on who I am as a person and who I want to raise my kids to be.  As we celebrate National Grandparent’s Day on Sunday, I thought I’d share a few lessons from them.

Enjoy life.  Each of my grandparents enjoyed life differently. My grandfather enjoyed books, my grandma gardening and my other grandmother cooking.  They’ve all passed on their joys to me in different ways, and have shown me that even when life is tough the treasures that we find in each day make life worth living.

Laugh.  All of my grandparents, even the one grandfather I never knew, taught me the value of laughter.  One of the few pictures I have of that grandfather is laughing with my grandma.  Whether any of my grandparents were laughing with friends and family, watching something funny on TV, telling stories about their day or adventures, I always knew they could cheer me up.

Silence is golden. My grandfather was a quiet man, but he was sharp.  He knew how to have a good time, how to carry on a conversation, and how to just observe what was going on.  I felt that his silence spoke volumes about his strength and character, and at the same time I wish he had shared some of his life stories before passing away a few years ago.

Enjoy each other.  While the last few years of my grandfather’s life wasn’t easy on their relationship, he and my grandmother taught me a lot about how a relationship evolves over time.  They had plenty in common yet enjoyed their separate activities.  Yes, I witnessed a few arguments, I still laugh when I think of the face my grandmother would get when they were disagreeing over something, yet through their 50 plus years together they made it work.

Every generation has something to teach the next, but it’s up to us to decide how we’re going to impact the next generation.  It’s almost guaranteed that your relatives will talk about you after you’re gone, what will they say, how will they react and what will you do to make those memories good ones?

Starting with Success

This week marks the beginning of school for many, and creates a great opportunity for not just kids but adults to take a look at their success thus far.  Success isn’t something that just happens typically, it takes years of hard work to reach success.

I believe success starts with a great attitude.  Not a “life’s perfect and everything will work out” attitude, but one that can find hope while accepting the realities of the situation.  The right attitude takes responsibility and hard work, it’s much easier to be depressed and put out by the rest of the world than it is to do something about it.

Second, you need a goal.  All kids have the goal of getting through another year of school with as few fights, parental arguments and “f’s” as possible.  For adults the easiest thing is to not settle on a goal, but rather let their life be led and focus dictated by what’s going on in other people’s lives.  If you really want success you have to have your own goals and dreams.

Third, you need a good team.  Whether you’re actually paying your “team” or not, it’s important to have a good group of people around you.  It’s been said countless times that you’ll turn into the people that you spend the most time with, and I believe that’s true.
So what about the family that’s around you, you can’t “remove” your kids from your life, so what do you do?  You should do the best you can to get everyone on board with the goals you have, and get on board with their goals as well.  Remember, it’s a team effort.

Finally, you need to keep learning.  Success today looks different than it did 100 years ago, and looks different than it will 100 years from now.  If you don’t want your success to be a fleeting thing you need to be responsible to stay successful by taking the time to learn from others who are successful and listen to what wise people have to say.  Not everything you see, hear or read will apply to your situation and success, but you should always look for the lesson you can learn.

What are your thoughts about success?  What have you done that has helped you be successful? Share your thoughts below.