Making an Impact in 2018

As I was visiting the History website the other day, I noticed an article about the holiday of Kwanzaa, which is celebrated each year at the end of December. While it has ended for this year I thought that the lessons and reasons behind Kwanzaa were something we could start the year off talking about. Let’s take a look:

The Facts:
-It was begun in 1966 to bring African-Americans together as a community.
-“Kwanzaa” is taken from the phrase “matunda ya kwanza” which can be translated as ‘first fruits.’
-During Kwanzaa families gather together for 7 nights of celebrations including singing and dancing.

The 7 Principles of Kwanzaa:
Collective work and responsibility
Cooperative economics

Can you tell why I wanted to talk about Kwanzaa as we start this new year? Because many of the things that make this holiday what it is are things that could have an incredible impact on 2018 if we’re willing to take them on and apply them to our lives and the world we share. Over the past few years we have seen community develop, but we’re still miles away from where we could be. There are also more people than ever working towards a win-win-win world and win-win-win relationships, but there are still tons of people who are self-centered and not open to supporting others or helping them get a leg up in life.

Will this be the year that we really conquer the concept of community? Will this be the year that unity becomes a reality? Will this be the year that we incorporate purpose, creativity, faith and cooperation into all aspects of our lives? What will you make with this new year?


Dream A New Dream

Yes, we’re at the end of a year and beginning of a new year.  I think it’s one of the best decisions that was made many, many years ago to have a yearly calendar because it gives people a fresh start.  It helps us to organize and straighten out our lives and choose to make positive changes in our lives.  It’s also a reminder to each of us to reflect on what the past year of our lives has brought and what we’ve learned and helps us focus on what we need to improve.  If we lived our lives as one day after another we might live more in the present moment but we would miss out on the benefits of having a yearly schedule if you will to follow.

It’s funny because we really do well when we have a semi structured life.  We can’t live lives that are scheduled every minute of every day but with some structure in our lives we’re able to work jobs, spend time with our families and learn how to make each moment count.

But with this new year, and every new year, I’m reminded anew of the blessing that it brings us to be able to make changes in our lives and to dream a new dream.  It’s never too late to start fresh or make changes in your life.  Until, of course the day comes that you’ve run out of time and you’ve used up all your moments.  With this new year I want to encourage you to use your moments to the fullest.  It’s not too late for you to make your dreams come true, or to have new dreams that actually excite you.

I know that dreams get tired, I know that people get tired. Which is why it’s important to evaluate each year where you’ve been and where you’re going.  The awesome thing is you only have to set the goals you want to set.  Set goals for each day, set goals for each month, set goals for this year.  Make it manageable so that your dreams can become a reality.  This year, I challenge you to make this your year.  In addition to whatever words or themes you’re choosing for this year, choose to make this year the year that you become and show yourself to the world.  Take the wheel and make this new year your year.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.” C. S. Lewis

Taking Control of Your Success

Success is something that I think just about everyone wants to have. Everyone’s definition of success may be different, but I think we can all identify with the desire to have success and to feel successful. Today I thought we’d talk about a couple of things that may work to help you be more successful.

Success requires focus. Very few people will find success in life if they don’t have a definition for success and aren’t focused on taking steps to accomplish that success. Maybe you’re at the stage that those steps include researching or asking for help to accomplish that success, or maybe you’re deep into implementing what you believe will help you achieve that success. But if you’re off chasing butterflies or out gallivanting all day and not putting in the necessary time or focus, it will be very difficult to achieve that success quickly or maybe at all.

Success requires discipline. Part of the success journey is being able to take control of your life and the factors that are part of that success you desire. If you can’t be disciplined to structure your life in such a way that you’re devoting time on a consistent basis to working on your success and making room for that which will support your success journey, it probably won’t happen.

So how do we incorporate focus and discipline into our lives without feeling completely depressed that we don’t have all the freedoms that we used to in the past? First, remember what you’re doing this for. Keeping your success goals at the forefront will help keep you motivated. Second, choose to be a responsible adult. This one is a bit difficult because everyone likes feeling and acting like a kid sometimes. But the fact is if you really want success you have to be responsible about taking those steps in your life. On the other side of it if you’re really a responsible adult you’ll choose success goals that will help yourself, your family and your world, not hurt it.

Third, don’t be afraid to set up some boundaries and ask for help. I love how instant communication can be with all our technology, but it gets in the way of getting things done. If you are involved with a lot of high priority communications on a regular basis, set up 2-3 times throughout the day that you check those communications and reply, and then the rest of the day unless there’s a real emergency, you should not be replying to communications. If it’s necessary to do some communicating as part of your success work in between those 2-3 times you can do that, but the goal should be to limit your email/phone/social media time so that you can actually get things done. If you have so many communications throughout the day that you are spending the majority of your time on them and not getting anything else done, it’s time to hire a communication team member and have them deal with the majority of the communications, passing on to you only those that actually need your personal touch. As well, learning how to say no can be difficult for you, I know I like to help people, but the fact remains that there’s only so much time in the day and you have to protect the time you need as well as not take on things that aren’t going to help you accomplish your success.

As we enter a new month tomorrow I encourage you to really think about how you want these last 4 months of the year to go. What will you do differently?

Haunted House Success

With Halloween just a few days away I thought today we’d talk about haunted attractions and what we can learn from them as business owners. To be clear we’re talking about the places that get set up every October with decorations and inspired by spooky myths and legends that people visit. I’m not talking about places that are reported or known to be haunted like Eastern State Penitentiary or Winchester Mystery House. Haunted attractions are very successful despite or maybe because they are only open for a short time. Let’s take a look at what we can learn from them.

Haunted attractions have one goal: to scare people. I’ve met more than one business owner who really has no clue why they’re offering what they’re offering in their business. If you don’t have a purpose how can you know what you’re working towards, and why would people choose you over others offering similar things with a goal?

Haunted attractions have lots of moving parts behind the scenes. Any good business has support systems set up to make it successful. This includes the marketing, financial, customer/client management, and product/service creation/selling/management. The best haunted attractions are those that have great moving parts, and those moving parts work seamlessly with the attraction, they don’t detract from or remind you that you’re at a haunted attraction that’s all fake.

Haunted attractions have a great team. Just about every haunted attraction has people involved, whether just a ticket taker or actors and actresses throughout the attraction who interact with and scare guests. If the attraction is any good when the guests leave they have lots of positive things to say about the “people” they interacted with, which is how it should be for every business.

Haunted attractions take creativity. Business isn’t easy and isn’t straightforward. I don’t know too many businesses that don’t take a little creativity to run, whether in dealing with customer requests and coming up with what to offer, not to mention the marketing!

So as you visit haunted attractions with family and friends this year, see what you can learn and apply to your business from them, and share your ideas and insights in the comments below.

Reasons for Relationships

As we finish off the blog month today I wanted to take time to talk about relationships and purpose. I believe that relationships (of all kinds, not just romantic) exist for many reasons, some are good reasons and others are not so good reasons. But I do believe that all relationships have a reason for existing. Some relationships exist because one person has chosen to pick on or bully another, some relationships exist because two or more people have come together in support of a mutual goal or cause, some relationships exist because people have been put in proximity with each other, some relationships exist because kids have been created, and some relationships exist because two people have fallen in love.

The relationship we’re talking about today of course is one of romantic reasons. There was a reason that you two came together. That reason may not be something you are both in agreement with today, but there had to be a reason that you partnered up in the first place. To get back the passion and life in your relationship it may be as simple as refocusing on the reason(s) you started the relationship in the first place.

Each of us have a purpose in a relationship as well, a job if you will. You’re not in the relationship just for what the other person can give you, otherwise it’s not a true partnership. If you’re not living up to your purpose in the relationship, the relationship can’t last, or it will be a very unhealthy one if it does, one with lots of jealousy, anger, frustration and avoidance. What reason do you have for being in your current relationship? Are they reasons that you’re proud of and can sustain the relationship, or are they not applicable anymore or are they of selfish intent? If you want your relationship to last it’s time to take a look at the reason behind it, the reasons that keep it alive and the reasons you’re in it and what you’re contributing to it.

What are your reasons for being in your romantic relationship?

Thankful For Purpose

With this the last week of April today we’ll be taking look at our monthly topic, that of purpose.  I’m thankful for having made the time this month to think and talk about purpose.  It’s not an easy topic to talk about because so many of us struggle with our purpose, struggle with accepting our purpose, struggle with discovering our purpose and/or struggle with living our purpose along side all our other responsibilities in life.  I get that.  It’s not easy to keep all of the balls of your life up in the air and moving at the same time.

But for me purpose is one of those things that I need in my life because without it I’d be lost.  I’ve struggled with depression in the past, add to that not being a morning person and it can make starting the day difficult.  Having some insight into the purpose I’m here to fulfill and the goals I have for my life are part of the motivation that gets me out of bed each day.

I don’t know about you but I want to be a better person. Chances are good if you’re reading this blog so do you.  You have a desire to grow and improve yourself, you’re not interested in backtracking or staying/getting stagnant in your life.  Living your life intentionally and working towards accomplishing the purpose you feel you have been put on earth for are two ways to make sure that your life means something when you stare down death.

As we think about reaching the end of yet another month in our lives how are you feeling? Are you frustrated by what you’ve not accomplished in your life?  If so decide that starting today you’re going to do a better job of living on purpose, celebrating life and making the most of every opportunity.

Business on Purpose

Today we’re going to take a look at 3 aspects to the purpose of a business, since we’ve been talking about purpose this month. If you’re running your own business I know there’s a lot that goes on that you’re trying to keep all things moving and it becomes very challenging. So to trying to keep the concept of purpose alive and well is often a challenge that you don’t think you have time for. But more often than not it’s the businesses that remember their purpose and share it with their customers and potential customers who make a lasting, positive impression.

You’re in business for the purpose of helping people: That’s the really general perspective on purpose. Each and every business is in existence to help people in one way or another. How we help people can be different, and the people we help can be different as well. Some businesses offer the same type of thing, for example creating websites, but one company may make websites for realtors and another websites for companies in developing nations. But regardless of what you offer you’re in the business of helping people, that is your purpose for being in business.

The purpose of a business is to make money: If you’re not making money on what you’re doing it’s not a business, it’s a hobby. Even if you’re a non-profit the funds have to come from somewhere, whether you take donations or have investors, there has to be money involved, because even if you offer your services for free you still have to have the money to get the products/services you offer or pay your salary and that of those who work for/with you. No, you may not always break even (although you should!), but money should be flowing in and out of your business.

The purpose of the business should be personal to you: I believe that each and every business should mean something to the person or people who start it. I don’t see a point in starting a vet business if you hate dogs. I don’t see the point in selling software for business building if you have no interest in business. Yes, there are some really great opportunities out there in which you could make lots of money; doctors or plumbers for example. But that’s not for everyone (I can put on a band-aid but that’s about it and I go nowhere near pipes). You don’t have to do everything and if you’re truly passionate about what you do you’ll have a much better chance of being successful.

So what’s the purpose behind your business? Are you helping people? Do people know what the purpose and passion is behind your business? Are you still excited by the business you’re in or have your interests changed and it’s time to move on to the next part of your journey?

The Purpose We All Have

We’ve reached a new month, the month of April!  I know you’re probably exhausted after dealing with April Fool’s Jokes today so I wanted to talk about something more uplifting today, and this month as well.  This month we’ll be taking a look at the topic of purpose.  It’s a topic lots of us are interested in because we all want to feel like we’re doing something in and with our lives.  We don’t like the feeling of floundering through life, we want to make our lives not only feel like they count, but see the results too.

As adults it’s our job to teach the children of the world how to find and live their purpose and when we’re not living ours, or when we’re actively resisting ours for whatever reason, they question if there’s a reason to live their purpose, they don’t understand the value in living their purpose, and they make decisions based on how we make our decisions: without thought to whether it’s in line with their purpose or maybe even their best interests.

But before we dive into our own specific purpose in other posts this month, I want to share with you a quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 

It comes down to the fact that even if you don’t know your specific purpose you still have a very important purpose: make a difference in the world.  Even if life throws you curve balls that make it feel like living your specific purpose is out of reach you’re still able to make a difference in the world and care for others.  What will you do this weekend to make a difference in the world?

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?

Are You Wasting Your Mind?

Your mind is one of the most powerful, complicated, confusing, frustrating, gifted aspects of you.  Even if your physical body isn’t as capable as it used to be your mind can be super sharp and able to make connections and make a difference in the world.  One of the most damaging conditions are Alzheimers and dementia because it slowly ravages you from the inside out in ways that cancer usually never touches.  Having been through the different stages of Alzheimers before and going through it again with a second grandmother it amazes me how her mind has turned her from a fun, capable human into a record becoming more broken with each story I hear.  It’s something I hope you never experience because they have no sense of what’s going on anymore and while even a kid can tell you what hurts or how they’re feeling when dealing with most diseases or conditions, there’s no way to get people with Alzheimers or dementia to communicate to you what’s going on, they don’t have the brain power anymore.  I’m thankful for all of the work that doctors and researchers are doing to help us understand these diseases, it’s some measure of peace that there are some answers or at least some test results that give some insights into something we have so much trouble understanding.

But in this month on health I don’t share this to dwell on all that can go wrong with our health but to remind you to celebrate and use it while you have it.  Life is such a gift; one that most of us accept as standard and just the way things are.  But when I see things from people like Stephen Hawkings or Sean Stephenson I’m reminded how powerful we are and what’s possible if we choose to make it happen.

Whether you’re in business for yourself, you have a job you love or hate, you’re a stay-at-home parent, you have kids or not, I hope you have big dreams and you’re determined to see some of them come to fruition.  I have to admit, I’ve gotten distracted from some of the dreams I have.  Life can get complicated and sometimes take things over and pull you away from your dreams for a time.  If that’s you too, know it’s OK. But it’s time that you take a step back and remember those dreams.

Dreams are powerful and not for the faint of heart. But dreams help bring a spark to our lives that would be missing otherwise.  I encourage you to unleash the power of your mind on your life and dreams this week.  Don’t be afraid to make some tough decisions about the direction your life is heading in to better align with your goals and dreams.