Family Complications and Blessings

There’s a lot that goes on in a home behind closed doors.  We always seem amazed when stories of children who were taken show up years later having been prisoner in a small town for those missing years, yet the stories keep showing up in the news.  Fortunately they don’t show up too often.  More often than not we hear about families who are gifts to the community, those who love the neighborhood kids, lead the sports teams, attend community events and help out in the schools.

Family is as complicated as it has always been though.  Some times we’re thrilled to be with family and have their support, other times we shy away because they aren’t pleased with our decisions (even if they’re not “bad” decisions).  We don’t get a choice in our biological family but have been given a gift with the opportunity to create our own family with a partner and kids if we choose to have or adopt them, and even friends can become closer than biological family members.  Part of the reason family is so complicated is because they know us so well, part is because they think because they’re older/more experienced/more knowledgeable about things, part is because we have this innate desire to please them, part is because they only think they know us, part is because they want what they think is the best for us and the list could go on.  Needless to say, family is complicated, and we add our own quirks to that complication.

But when it comes down to it family should be simple.  Family should be the place we feel safest, the people we turn to and those who turn to us.  It should be a place of hope, growth, challenge, comfort and relaxation.  No, not all moments will be good, but you should never feel upset or anxious about going home.  It’s my hope and prayer that each of our homes would live following this proverb:

“May this home be a place of happiness, health, creativity, kindness and love.  May all who visit and live here know only blessings and peace.”

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Ready to Grow

I’ve been thinking about what it means to grow your business this past week a lot.  Every week I get messages from people who want to start businesses or have businesses and want to grow them, it’s what we all want, right?  So today I thought I’d share some steps to how you can grow your business.

Let’s start with what I don’t recommend you do.  While you may find success using scams, buying fans/followers/likes, overpricing your services or products by a large percentage, using software to shortcut things, or other methods, most of these will get you in more trouble than they’re worth.  I don’t believe that it’s worth it to go viral, get 10 seconds of fame, or scam your way to success, especially in the long run.

So if you’re looking for success and growth where do you start? First, know that everyone starts somewhere, usually somewhere small.  Don’t be discouraged that you’re only so big or making so many sales, everyone started there.

Second, choose to thrive in change.  The sooner you embrace and accept change as part of your life and business, the sooner you’ll be able to start growing.  Make sure that the changes you’re working on aren’t just busywork though, make sure you’re actually accomplishing things with your changes.

Third, make sure that your leadership and employees are fully supporting the vision you have for the growth of the business. If you’re not all on board and fully supporting the changes that will have to happen to grow, you won’t be able to overcome the hurdle.

Fourth, make a plan for growth.  Know who you’re going to contact, know what steps you’ll be taking on social media, know what areas of your business you’re going to grow, know who you need to add to your team to make that happen.

Fifth always look for ways to add value.  If you want to grow and grow fast, look for ways to increase the value you offer to customers, employees, and the community at large.  The more value you add to the world, the more sales you’ll be able to make and quicker you’ll grow.

What’s on your growth list for this year?

Struggling to be Thankful

What do you do when you’re not feeling very thankful? I have a feeling we’ll come back to this question on at least another Monday this year in addition to discussing it today.  Don’t get me wrong, I have tons of reasons to be thankful today, but I don’t feel like being thankful.  For example when big tragedies happen you may not have been personally affected so you’ve still got your house and life and health hopefully and other things to be thankful for, but knowing that someone, maybe even someone you know, was personally impacted by that big tragedy overshadows the things you have to be thankful for.

What if it’s a good thing?  What if it’s good to go through periods of sadness and quiet reflection?  I love being happy and seeing the world in a positive light, but it’s not easy to always be the person who believes in the world.  It’s simply not possible to ignore all that goes on in the world and live in a perpetually happy, positive and thankful bubble.

As a female I’m well aware of the highs and lows that we go through depending on what’s going on in the environment, in our bodies and in those around us.  I know that not everything works out the way we think it will or the way we thought we wanted it to.  It’s OK when things don’t line up in the perfect lines that we thought they would.  What matters is if we can pick ourselves up the next hour, the next day, the next year and start living and hoping again.

So if you’re not feeling very thankful today, if you’re feeling discouraged or disheartened by the things you’re seeing turn up in your life, don’t lose hope.  Remember that you do have good things in your life, ask for support from your close friends and/or family and just do what it takes to get to the next day.

Friends and Enemies

Monday in the US we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  He was a brave man with a big heart and courageous enough to not only pursue his dream but share it with the world and get thousands of people involved.  As I was thinking about his impact as a family guy and someone who cared strongly about others, I found this quote:

In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

We’ve talked many times about how powerful we are, in both words and actions.  As adults we teach (our) kids words to use and things to do, whether good or bad.  They may not copy us but they definitely see what we do and take note of it. Some choose not to follow our example and to follow a different path, but others do follow us, for good or bad.

It’s hard to see the bad that’s done in the world, especially since there’s so much of it, or at least that’s how it seems since that’s what most of the news is about.  And those people who do bad are remembered like Hitler and Jack the Ripper.  We too usually can remember the people who bullied us as kids and those who attack our children too.  They’re memorable because they had such a negative impact on our lives and/or our world.

There are also people who we think are generally good, our friends and family for example.  Which is why when they do things that hurt us or our kids it makes it more shocking and worse than seeing the evil in the world as done by “bad” people.  So what’s my advice in following the wisdom of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr?  Simply to choose your friends wisely and teach your kids how to respect and treat others well.

Lessons in Loss

I’ve been thinking a lot about why people leave lately, whether we’re talking about leaving a relationship, no longer using a product or brand, not watching a TV show, moving, or leaving a job.  People stop doing things, stop buying things or leave for many reasons.  Sometimes they’re real reasons like something has changed in another aspect of their life like their health or goals, other times it’s not really anything in particular that encourages the change.  Today I want to highlight 4 reasons you may lose customers, as inspired by an article from Thom Rainer.

1-innacuracies

We’re not perfect and sometimes we do make mistakes, mistakes that are usually caught and sometimes become big issues.  Sometimes we fudge things a little to make extra money or win extra customers, other times the inaccuracy is made unintentionally.  Do your best to check for obvious mistakes, and have someone else check things over too (and don’t do too much fudging).

2-no support

Customers can be challenging, and it can be easy to blame them fully for the failure (especially when it is their fault!).  But, if your customers don’t feel valued, or don’t feel like you’re supporting them in getting the most out of your product/service, it’s very easy to lose them.  This is a relatively easy one to fix.  Make sure to include detailed and complete instructions with the product or service.  Make sure it’s clear what is and isn’t included.  Make sure to let them know how they can get help or resolve issues.  Train your customer service people to actually help customers.  Listen for feedback and make improvements.

3-something changed

In part this is something you can influence, but to a large part it’s not.  You can’t force someone to need or like a product or service, they either do or don’t.  If it’s a money thing and you’ve recently skyrocketed prices like we’ve heard about some medicines, strongly reconsider unless you’re OK only being able to sell to a few people.  You may be the only company that offers that product or service, but that’s no reason to price it as though you’re expecting someone’s first born child as payment.  Don’t penalize people for the changes that happen in their lives, figure out if there’s a way you can support them in that change.

4-you forget what you’re really doing
Finally, something I mention frequently: your customers are human and it’s your utmost job to help them.  When you see them as only a dollar sign or drop in your bucket you’re missing out on tons of ways to better connect with them, better support them and keep them as customers.  Remember that they’re thinking about family, money, health, work, friends and thousands of other things that make them the people who they are, not just about products or services you offer.  They don’t exist only to be your bank account filler, so don’t treat them as such.

This week I encourage you to consider if you have made or need to make changes to keep your customers more engaged and in turn make your business more successful.

Thankful for Heroes

Today in the USA is Martin Luther King Jr. Day. It’s the day each year we take time to celebrate this brave man who led a charge for better civil rights for everyone and awareness of how poorly people were treated on basis on things like race. Why do we set aside time each year to honor some people but other people don’t get as much recognition? Is it because they didn’t make as big of a contribution or weren’t as revolutionary?  I don’t think that’s the case, and I think we should keep trying to make an impact regardless of whether we get a holiday in our honor or not.

First, everyone has value and can contribute to the world. That’s not to say that we all do. Some of us don’t tap into our courage or aren’t willing to do the work necessary to make the kind of contribution to the world like Dr. King did. You too can transform the world, and you can start today.

Second, just because you’re not a celebrity or included in the history books doesn’t mean you didn’t make an impact. Sometimes you’re only known for your contributions within your immediate community, whether it’s the community where you physically live or your online community. And just because you’re not a celebrity it’s not to say you’re not making a big impact.  Big is a matter of perspective. If you help one person step back from a ledge or get over a mountain you’ve done something amazing. Don’t try to make a difference for the purpose of being recognized.

Finally, I do want to take time to recognize the work of Dr. King. He stood for what he believed in, led with courage, inspired others and started a movement that transformed a nation. He should be recognized not only for what he stood for but for his ability to finally rally people around the injustice of judging on basis of color.

I’m thankful for people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who are willing to stand up for what they believe. What are you standing up for?

Having Faith

This week I’ve been thinking about the topic of faith. It’s a topic that impacts all areas of your life, whether you’re religious or not. Do you have faith in your romantic partner? Do you have faith in your country? Do you have faith in your neighbors? Do you have faith in your abilities? Do you have faith in something Greater? Do you have faith in your kids? Do you have faith in the businesses you patronize and products/services you purchase? To some extent we have to have faith in many of these, or we would be hermits in the hills with no contact with the greater world.

So what can I say about faith to help with the lack of faith that so many of us struggle with for various reasons? First, know that some struggle is normal. There will be times in your life when your whole world gets turned upside-down and your beliefs and values come into question. This is an opportunity for you to confirm and strengthen your beliefs and values or a chance for you to grow and discover new (or new to you) truths about your world and/or yourself.

Second, I believe that faith is a good thing. I believe it’s one of those things that empowers us, blesses us, strengthens us, gives us something to hold onto and makes our lives much richer. I believe it is part of the magic in our families and what has helped keep the family unit together since the beginning of time.

Faith is a choice. We don’t have to believe in ourselves, our world and each other. We can exist in cynicism, doubt and distrust. However, I’ve met enough of these people to know that it’s not a way of life I want. I’d much rather live with the belief that we all have a part to play in making this world a better, more fulfilling, happier, healthier, more awesome place.

Stop Blocking Your Success

One of the things I see all too often with business owners is that they struggle to achieve success.  So today I thought I’d share a few thoughts on how you can break through this struggle and finally achieve success.

First you have to take the time to learn. There’s so much going on in the world that it’s hard to keep up with it all.  I talk with too many clients who have no clue what they’re getting into.  This is because people don’t take the time to do their research and figure out what they need to know and what isn’t relevant.  Yes, you can hire out for just about everything, but hiring out means someone has to make sure that those who are hired are doing their work which means you have to have at least minimal knowledge of what you’ve delegated.  It’s not hard to learn most things can be learned with a few clicks or a quick phone call, so there’s no reason why you’re not taking the time to learn.

Second, you have to figure out where you’re really getting stuck.  Once you’ve got the basic knowledge you’re able to figure out what you don’t know and need to know.  Sometimes it’s a basic Google search that brings the answer, sometimes you have to chat with a coach or consultant to get help in understanding what you don’t understand and what is holding you back.

Third, make a plan for getting unstuck.  This involves 2 things: knowing the necessary steps to take and taking the steps.  Goal setting can be annoying and hard to keep up with.  Know how you work and how well you deal with stress so that you’ll be able to structure the goal process in such a way that you can achieve it.  Talk with a coach or consultant if you can’t figure out the necessary steps for accomplishing your goals, or how to structure them to be best for you.

Finally, expect the struggle.  There will always be some feelings of fear, stress, procrastination and frustration as you work through life and especially your business.  If you expect the struggle you will be better equipped to deal with it when it happens.

What things are you struggling with and what is blocking your success?

Thankful to Wait

Today I want to talk about a funny topic: being thankful for having to wait.  I know, this sounds like it belongs on my Friday “Reality Reflection” blog posts, and maybe in the future it will be a topic there.  But today I wanted to share about being thankful for the times we have to wait.  Waiting isn’t easy and it’s not always fun. More often than not we have to wait when we think that things should move much quicker than they are.  But waiting has a purpose that in our impatience and fast-living society we forget about or ignore.

We wait because food doesn’t grow instantly.  We wait because we can’t all have green lights.  We wait because we can’t all check out at the store at the same time.  We wait because a baby isn’t instantly fully formed.  We wait because if we had everything all at once we’d have a lot of expense and no reason to keep living.  We wait because trust isn’t instantly built.  We wait because if we were just handed everything we wouldn’t learn how to do things for ourselves.

Waiting can teach us lots of great things if we’re open to learning, but most of us get so frustrated with the waiting that we miss out on the lessons.   Waiting teaches us how to do things, it teaches us patience, it gives us the chance to cultivate relationships and it gives us the chance to enjoy life.  But when we get so wrapped up in being frustrated or thinking that we have to wait to get anything waiting turns from a tool and resource to something we trip over and try to avoid.

So today, yes, I’m thankful because waiting gives me time to get perspective and take a step back from barreling through or into situations I’m not ready for.   I try to take advantage of the waiting time that is inevitable whether in being productive or just enjoying being alive.  The next time you have to wait for something try to stop yourself from panicking or rushing and find something to be thankful for.

The Support of Family

Most people start off the year with high hopes for what they can do with the gift of a new year, you’re probably no different, I know I have hopes and dreams for this year.  So what can we do to make this year different than other ones?  This year as we talk about the topic of being thankful one of the big things that often comes to mind are the people in our lives.  If we really want to accomplish our dreams and goals for this year I believe that one of the keys will be our willingness to ask for and be open to getting support.

Our lives aren’t easy, we face challenges on a daily basis that we struggle with or feel frustrated by.  One of the best ways to not only feel better about the challenges but to resolve them is to talk them over and work through them with someone else, or even several other people.  Having a team of people, whether coworkers, friends or family, in your life that you know will support you through all challenges is an essential tool to making your life all it can be, and happy too.

There is no replacement for being willing to work hard and pull your own weight in life.  But there is no rule book that says it has to be just you and you have to do it all alone.  If you really want the to have the best, happiest, healthiest and strongest year you’ve ever had and for your family too, the only way to get that is to work together to make it happen.  When we each do our chores, or at the very least bring something to the table like an encouraging spirit, it’s then that we’re able to not dread coming home at night or worry about the future of our family.

Will this be the year you’ll ask for the help you need and be open to being the help and hope that those in your life need? Or will it be a repeat of previous years when your only focus is being #1?