Back to School Success

If your kids haven’t gone back to school yet, it’s just about here!  Today I thought I would share a few suggestions on how you can make this year their best year yet.

Rest-the summer is often a time when kids get lots of rest and relaxation. Yes, they’ve still got activities and you still go places, but there’s a lot more down time for them.  While schedules do get busier in the fall, it’s important to make sure your kids still have time to rest and recover each day and week.  It’s not easy doing all that learning!

Homework-homework is the education system’s way of making school last just that much longer and stress kids (and parents) that much more, but it’s important that they do grasp and learn the concepts.  Take time to help your kids with their homework or make sure they get the help they need to really learn and understand what they’re being taught.  If you can make it fun or more interesting for them, do so!

Outdoor Time-whether you encourage your kids to get involved in a school or town sport, getting outside just about every day for fresh air is important.  Fresh air helps kids focus and rejuvenate (it’s good for us adults too!).  On weekends plan time outside together especially while the weather is still nice and go on a hike or visit an apple orchard.

Good Food-when you power the body with the right kind of energy it runs better.  Make sure that your kids have some healthy foods with them each day and always encourage them (no matter what their friends say) to eat the healthy foods they like.  If you make the treats that they see their friends having a normal yet minimal part of their weekly routine you’ll get fewer protests over what else you’re feeding them.

Lots of Love-ultimately, no matter how well you try to take care of the external stuff, the most important thing to care for is their hearts.  School is always challenging, people will always say things they didn’t mean and everyone gets stressed once in a while.  No matter how well or poorly your kids do in school your ultimate job is to show them they’re loved no matter how much they do or don’t succeed, not matter if they strive for goals you put before them or they choose.

What will you do to help your kids have their best year yet?

Dreams of Success

If you live in the USA you’ve probably heard the talk over the last two weeks on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his famous “I Have a Dream” speech since August 28th (today) is the 50 year anniversary of the speech and March on Washington.  It’s been 50 years of dreaming, hard work and coming together in ways that hadn’t been imagined before.  It’s impossible to know what would have happened if King hadn’t been killed a few short years later, but he did manage to lay the foundation for people to dream big and work together to create a better future.

As business owners we need to be captured by the same fire that King had burning beneath him.  We need to live and work passionately, committed to our employees and clients and the business we’re creating.  I know it can get tiring very easily, especially if you haven’t built a support network around yourself and your business, don’t take time to rest and try to do too much.

Also, we need to focus on one goal not many.  King didn’t try to free the whole world from all the different kinds of slavery within it, he didn’t try to solve all of world hunger, he focused on a dream of freedom for specifically the African-American people of the USA.  If you’ve set out to be the best accountant, dog walker and pool cleaner, you’d better have a unifying goal in all of them, and financial freedom isn’t appropriate, or you’ll struggle to accomplish them well.

Finally, King shared his passion with others and got them on board.  He gave them something to believe in, supported their dreams and encouraged them to peacefully step boldly forward together.  You can’t be successful if you don’t get others on board with your dreams and passions.  One guitarist may sound OK, but it doesn’t have the impact of a full band.

This week I encourage you to remember the dreams you had when you started your business.  Bring those dreams back to light and let them guide you to success.

Loving in Little Ways

“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”  Mother Teresa

“What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family.”  Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa is known for her charity, her grace, her humility and her love.  She understood things about life and people that most of us wouldn’t grasp in a lifetime.  So many of us want our kids or ourselves to be sports stars, to be rich as sultans, to be famous as big movie stars, and live lives of big dreams.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s healthy to think and dream big.  In fact dreaming is essential to having a fulfilled and enjoyable life.  But there’s something that’s missing when we only focus on the big picture.  Some of us may conquer the world, but all of us have the opportunity to make the lives of those around us that much richer.

When we take the time to love in little ways, to show we care each day, to tell the truth in love, we’re making a difference in a way that may not seem as important as if we were curing AIDS or resolving world hunger, yet to those you’re taking time to love it may be.  To your kids and your partner your love, your attention, your affection means the world.  To your employees, the people under you at work, your patience and generosity means an easier day at a job that may really challenge them.  Your choice to love rather than ignore, love rather than fight, or love rather than distract, creates the opportunity for healthy, happy, thriving relationships.

I was reminded recently that if we want a better future we have to do something in the present.  The future isn’t shaped  by the future, but by the past.  If we want our grandchildren to grow up in a better world, we have to do something about it now.  I don’t know about you, but I want to do my best to make sure that my kids and grandchildren will grow up confident in themselves and believing that the world isn’t all bad but rather a place for them to learn, love and grow.

Who will you love today?

Hope for Leadership

We continue our month long discussion on why I have hope for the business world today as we talk about leadership.  The simple fact is our businesses will be made or broken depending on the leadership abilities of the people who run them.  It’s unfortunate how many poor leaders are still in positions of power, ruining lives, hurting people and wasting valuable resources.  But the good news is that the people who have chosen to be good leaders are stepping up and coming forward to truly lead people.    Let’s take a look at what some leaders are doing today.

Leaders are taking action.  You’ve got people like Richard Branson stepping up in soup kitchens, countless businesses financially supporting veteran organizations and others joining Habitat for Humanity projects to help those in need.  Not to mention leaders being more proactive in their businesses and with their employees.

Leaders are being more honest and open.  We talked about this topic recently, but it bears mentioning again that true leaders are more willing than ever to be honest and open.  For example, Robin Sharma shared about having a victim-free company and Tad Hargrave discussed his financial situation.  You can’t win people’s trust if you’re not honest about who you are, what’s going on and what you believe.

Employees are demanding more responsible leaders, and leaders are responding.  This is one of the most important things because it indicates that the leaders we have today are willing to listen to their people.  If they aren’t, they’re quickly learning that their valued (or not so valued) employees will leave them in search of leaders who will encourage and value them.

So what can you do to be a better leader?  You can act visibly and smartly within your company, treat your employees and customers like humans (not mindless checker pieces), and you can create a healthy and open atmosphere within your business.  Your leadership title isn’t like the piece of paper you got even though you graduated college by the skin of your teeth.  It’s a privilege and responsibility you’ve accepted to the people who will follow you.  Make sure you’re living up to that gift.

Shining Bright

One of the things I remember most about my childhood was all the traveling we did and the beautiful places I was fortunate enough to see.  While we never left US soil, what I saw opened my eyes to the people and places that live around the world.  It’s probably one reason I love learning about culture and helping families and businesses establish healthier cultures.

One part of life, culture and history that never ceases to amaze me are lighthouses.  They’re these beautiful works of art, creations of man in a time when technology wasn’t what we have today yet they knew they needed the presence, and so they made it happen.  They’re very symbolic and practical at the same time.   I’m so intrigued by them that I share one from around the world each week on Google+.

So what’s the point of talking about lighthouses and what do they have to do with families?

1-they’re an important part of history.  Many lives would have been lost if not for the light of lighthouses.  In history we do often just focus on the battles and the death, but history only exists because people lived and worked, not because they died.

2-they represent safety, something that it’s essential for a child to learn, a family to create, and a relationship to sustain.  Despite our immersion in change and fast things, we still seek safety.  It’s part of who we are and not something we should ever try to leave behind, even though we need change in our lives.

3-they symbolically shine a light in the dark places.  You probably don’t have to go far to uncover some darkness in the world, whether it’s child prostitution, murder, stealing or hate speech.  As parents you’re not responsible to shelter your kids from every bad thing in this world, but rather to help them understand what they’re seeing when the light shines on the darkness.

Just like the lighthouses we’ve got the ability to shine brightly into the lives and hearts of others.  We can share our perspective with them helping to open their perspective and expose them to the amazing things that happen in the past and present.  What parts of history and culture amaze you?

Hope for Business

This month our conversation is centered around the topic of hope.  I know that there is a lot of bad stuff in the world.  I know that there are more rude, ridiculous, and even evil, people than I would rather believe.  I’ve been blessed to not meet too many of them, but when I do I’m always amazed at how unfulfilled they must really feel with life if they have to be that nasty.  Even more unfortunately is the number of those people who are running businesses, small and large, around the world.  The stories of bad bosses are rampant.  And yet I have hope that this can be changed.  No, we will never rid the world of bad bosses, but there is hope yet.

1-people are coming up with new and creative ways to make the world a better place.  Everything from mosquito proof shirts, to a better way to feed the homeless, not just bad MLM schemes and scams.

2-for every rude person/business I meet, 10 others who are really trying to do a service to the world.  Visit your favorite social network and you’ll easily be able to find someone who is trying to make a difference in the world and do their part to help people live more fulfilled, enriched, happy lives.

3-there are people and businesses who are taking a stand against those who would run the world with nastiness and cruelty every day.  Two really simple examples are the Humane Society and local food pantries. They aren’t just providing a service, they’re doing their part to bring hope in difficult situations.

4-most inventions and businesses are based on how to make the world a better place, not how to torture others.  Torture may be an extreme word choice, but it describes how people feel when they’ve been taken in by a scammer or someone who sells far inferior products.  Most people want to invent things that will make life easier, improve technology, or make the world a safer place.

5-every day more businesses decide to run more open and honest.  We’ve talked about this recently, but it bears mentioning that people don’t like to be deceived, and will always prefer to do business with those who don’t creep them out, make them feel weird, or may be scamming them.

What about you?  I invite you to share businesses and individuals who you’ve met who are doing their part to make the world, both personal and business, a better place in the comments.  And if you’re one of those bosses, employees or individuals doing your part to make the world a better place, I’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and share what you’re doing with my people.

Let’s Relax

We all live busy lives, which means it’s more important now than ever to schedule in (if necessary) time to relax and unwind.  So I thought today I’d give you some simple ways to relax alone, with your partner and your family.

-playdough (good to work out the frustration)

-painting (soothes the nerves)

-chalk on the driveway (you’re out in nature and getting creative)

-partners massage (who doesn’t like a good massage?!)

-bath or shower with candles (alone time was never so good)

-book quiet time for everyone (a book is a great way to relax and maybe learn something too)

-movie night (no scary stuff, remember we’re relaxing)

-get takeout for a picnic at a nearby park (nature, food and good company)

-candles/scents (our senses pick up on our surroundings and impact us)

-plants (help make fresh air and cheer up the space)

-sunlight (get outside and work on that tan!)

What are your favorite ways to relax?

Hope and Honesty

If there’s one thing I dislike, and most people hate as well, it’s businesses (and people) who aren’t honest.  When it’s clearly evident that you’re either lying or not telling the truth, people wonder what or why you’re hiding and how the lack of honesty they’ve glimpsed impacts the rest of the business.  The most obvious are statements like “we care for our customers” when customers or potential customers get treated like dirt and aren’t treated as valuable humans, and beyond that customers.  Your lack of honesty. whether intentional or accidental, breaks the trust that a customer has in you, and damages the relationship you were trying to create or had created.

With the thousands of choices we make each day and the dozens of options for each choice we have it’s easy to find a new option when one breaks our trust.  The biggest shame in that is the business that is willing to say “eh who needs them, we’ve got others.”  Ouch.  I certainly don’t like being treated as second best, or second string, and many businesses know how to do just that.

By being honest and upfront (or at least not denying), about your not so great customer service, your average products, your slow response time, or owning up to issues that happen you’re creating an opportunity to rebuild the trust that could be so easily lost.  Without trust you won’t create a repeat customer relationship, in fact you could easily create an enemy who goes and trashes your business online and around town to their friends.

When you’re willing to be honest about who you are and what you offer, you show the customer that you recognize your flaws and give them hope that the best is yet to come.  Most people I know are willing to accept works in progress, even ones with lots of faults.  But if you’re not acknowledging the faults, and certainly not doing anything about them, most people steer clear.

Who needs to hear honesty from you today?  I encourage you to approach that person or those people and be honest with them.