Keys to Leadership and Success

Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to attend a Leadership Team Development (LTD) business conference in Louisville, Kentucky.  My team and I had the chance to learn leadership and success principles from some of the best in our industry.  For your benefit, I’ve summarized some of our major takeaways from the weekend in the following article.  If you’re interested in how you can join this amazing team and have access to great conferences and leaders like these while you create an additional income stream for yourself, feel free to comment on this post or leave a message on our ThriveMart page.  We’d love to be a part of your journey to the top!

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Common Denominators

My single biggest takeaway from the weekend came from a presentation of the five common denominators of every successful business owner.  The general idea was that even though different people build their businesses differently, they all generally do the following five things consistently.

Harmony

In my mind’s eye, I pictured business as an engine.  If you take action on these five things consistently, your engine stays in step with itself–in harmony.  But if not, the time and energy you spend on one cylinder gets for the most part wasted when one of your other cylinders isn’t firing properly.  I believe that a lack of knowledge of this principle has been one thing that has held our business back from realizing its full potential up to this point.  When I first got into business for myself, I thought, “This is great—I get to be my own boss and set my own schedule” and I think I translated that into, “I need only do the things I find fun; I can avoid the uncomfortable things.”  In reality, the proper way to build a business is to set the time commitment you’re willing to make, and work on each of the five things consistently during the time you’ve made available.

Ok, enough commentary, here are the five things:

  • Consistent sales:  Be sure that you’re using your products personally promoting their benefits to existing and potential customers.
  • Read and listen:  Become a collector of great business books and audio recordings of the best and brightest leaders of today and yesterday.  Incidentally, Zig Ziglar is probably my favorite person to read and listen to.  Make sure you get at least a few hours of reading and at least a few hours of listening each week.
  • Lead others:  Share your business with others who have interest in joining your team.  Once you understand how to do something, you can help another person learn it.  Multiply yourself by training others to learn and do those things which made you successful.
  • Spend time around successful people:  Get around the people who have what you want and are doing what you want to be doing as often as possible.  Attend informal gatherings, team meetings, and conferences as often as they are available.  Make the decision to consistently attend beforehand and work the other demands on your schedule around your business. (Note: never lose sight of your priorities:  God, family, then business.  But work your schedule in advance in order to attend these important opportunities for instruction and encouragement)
  • Communicate with your team: Call, email, and text your mentors as well as those whom you are mentoring.  Good communication increases accountability and helps mentees learn from your actions.

Don’t Stop Short

A final picture of this idea goes like this.  Assuming a soda costs $1, what do you get if you put 95 cents into the machine?  Nothing.  You spent all that effort getting the money in, but because you didn’t get all the way to the full dollar, you end up getting nothing.  Neglecting one of the five areas is like leaving off the last five cents.  Don’t leave your effort in the soda machine or run your car on 3 cylinders:  translate these concepts into your life and get going on your journey to the top!

Small Changes for Big Results

We’re just about to begin the second week of the new year—how are you doing on your goals so far?  If you’re like most of us, this week it will be harder than last week to stick with your new habits.  As the excitement of pursuing a better or healthier life wears off, we all are very tempted to revert back into old ways that are familiar.  How can we head this tendency off at the pass?

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This Is Hard

I find it helpful to recognize that creating a new habit or doing what you’ve never done before is difficult.  Take fitness for example:  it may not seem like a very tall order to work out for 15 minutes for 4 or more days per week, but especially if you’re accustomed to 0 workouts per week normally, the new habit will be a challenge to acquire.

Hard, but Temporarily So

After recognizing that maintaining a new habit it difficult, it’s also important to recognize that it won’t always be so hard to maintain.  After you breech the 30-day mark, you’re essentially built a new routine and continuing with it is much easier.  So, when it’s hard to choose the apple over the slice of cake on day 18, be encouraged by remembering that your good habit of healthy eating will soon be much easier.

Keep Your Eye On What Matters

Thirdly, you’ll do best to focus on being consistent with the habit instead of demanding perfection of yourself every day.  For example, if your new habit is to get fitter, focus on getting to the gym for a workout at least 3 times per week.  Even if you don’t have a killer workout every time, you’re reinforcing the good habit of getting to the gym.  Later, once you own the habit, you can focus on getting the most out of each minute you’re at the gym.

Find an Encourager

And finally, seek accountability from winners in your life.  If you’d like to become more regular with your Bible devotions, find a godly friend and ask if he would be willing to meet with you once a week and let you share what you’ve learned in your devotions that week.  The coming meeting will help motivate you to spend time in the Word each day so that you have something to share at the meeting.  A great friend like this can be a great encouragement too in those times when you fall or fail—helping to pick you back up and help you get back on your good track.

Let’s Go Together

Good habits are hard to acquire, but once acquired, they can take us to extraordinary places.  Never underestimate what 20 minutes per day can do to improve your life when it’s toward a valuable purpose and repeated consistently for a lifetime.  Let’s make 2013 the beginning of your thriving life!

Your Body Isn’t Yours

Most of the time, when people hear the word stewardship, they think they’re about to hear a sermon about how the pastor wants them to give more money to the church.  If this is your understanding of this term, prepare to hit the reset button.  Stewardship means to manage well something that’s in our possession, but doesn’t really belong to us.

Stay at My Place!

Think of a time where a friend has let you borrow his car, or spend a weekend at his lakehouse.  How did you treat his stuff?  If you’re a good friend, you took great care to use your friend’s property well, avoided damaging it, and cleaned up when you were finished.

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In much the same way, it is important that we recognize that we are not truly owners of our life, money, or even the body we have.  These and all things are gifts from our Heavenly Father, to be used for His glory (see 1 Corinthians 6:12-20).

Need Motivation?

Understanding the concept of stewardship in regard to our physical body has a radical effect on one’s desire to begin and maintain a fitness regimen.  Instead of sitting on the couch thinking, “which sounds more fun, an intense 20 minute workout or watching another episode of Lost?  Hmm…  I think I’ll just forget the workout today,” a person who understands stewardship feels compelled to care for his body through proper exercise.  Just as you make time to change the oil in your car to avoid engine seizure, you are inherently motivated to maintain your physical body to honor and serve the One who entrusted it to you.

Start Today

Make fitness a priority in your life today by clicking the ThriveFit tab above.  You’ll find recommended workouts for all fitness levels and many other resources to assist you in your fitness journey.  Here’s to a fitter and healthier 2013!!

Get Money, Don’t Let Money Get You

Most of us spend the majority of our waking hours in pursuit of one thing:  money.  Even though money isn’t the only reason we go to work each day, for most people it’s the main reason.  Though money can get a bad rap sometimes (in particular from those who misquote the Bible as saying that money is the root of all evil), spending the day working to acquire it is not a bad thing.  In fact, if you’re like me and you enjoy eating and having a warm bed to sleep in at night, it’s quite a wonderful thing.  But, money makes for a cruel Master, and we must be sure to take certain steps to keep the money we seek from getting us.

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What the Good Book Says

The quote I mentioned earlier that people often get wrong is from 1 Timothy 6:10:  “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  Similarly, Jesus taught in Matthew 6:24 that, “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

A Matter of Priorities

These scriptures, as well as many others throughout the Bible show clearly that money itself isn’t bad, but the way we spend our money tends to reveal where our allegiance lies.  If we are like Christ, our chief desire will be to love and worship God, and money will be a tool or servant under our watch, to be used to glorify God and spread His Gospel.  Conversely, if we seek our own desires first, we will tend to use God as a means toward the end of having more and being more comfortable.  As the wise teacher Hank Haanegraaf says, “instead of loving the Master (Jesus), we only want what is on the Master’s table.”

Fix Your Heart

So, given the understanding that we all tend toward selfishness and are tempted within our own hearts to pursue wealth for the wrong reasons, what can we do to keep money from getting us?  The answer is simple:  give.  All throughout history, God has taught His people to give to Him first.  Though many think that this practice is simply a pragmatic way to fund the church, in fact this has more to do with meeting a need you have than meeting a need the church has.  Here’s why:  God owns everything.  He doesn’t need your money to accomplish His purpose.

Live as You Were Meant To

But what you need is a way to keep your heart from pride, greed, and self-centeredness.  Giving accomplishes this wonderfully, and also comes with the side effects of joy and peace.  When you take the first $100 of your $1,000 paycheck and give it to God, it speaks very clearly to your heart:  “I’m not the most important thing in my life.”  By giving, you recognize that you are simply the manager of God’s money, to use it in accordance with His purposes, and really, what better investment is there?

Not Too Busy to Understand

During this season of the year, there are many delightful traditions and customs that promote joy, togetherness, and fun!  Whether it’s a jolly fellow dressed in a Santa suit greeting children, a neighborhood party, or Christmas carolers going door to door, there are many great experiences to be had and joy to be shared.  And although we should enjoy and embrace these positive times with family and friends, there one very important thing about Christmas we must take care not to overlook.

Look Deeper

In the hustle and bustle of the Christmas season, it can be easy for us to rush from one thing to the next, focusing on the task at hand and missing the beauty around us.  Instead of being sucked into this frantic activity, we’ll do well to pause and remember what Christmas is about.  It is about the love we share with others, but there is a truth deeper than even this lovely sentiment.  That truth is this:  that when we were estranged and distant from our Creator, God came down from heaven to be born a helpless baby in a dirty stable.  Why would the glorious and all-powerful Maker of all things step down from glory to enter the world in such a humiliating way?  Could the One who made the stars and the seas not manage to find a house to be born in?

God’s Gracious Plan

The humility of Christ’s birth was only exceeded by his humility in death, hanging naked on a cross, and these events both took place as they did for the same reason.  That is, Christ came to the earth for us.  He lowered himself to the form of a man so that He could live the perfect life that we never could.  Jesus kept God’s Law perfectly, never transgressing with even a single step.  In the Garden of Gethsemane, he was betrayed into the hands of evil men, suffered torture and an agonizing death, in order to pay your debt and mine.  The punishment he suffered was the punishment we deserved.  But as he takes on our sin, we can, through faith, take on His purity.  Christ’s blood washes us white as snow, if only we will turn from our sin and trust Him exclusively for salvation and cleansing.  Our own good works can never save us, but His perfect life, death, and resurrection will.

Christ Now Lives in Me

This Christmas season, as you enjoy the joy in the air and the wonderful times with family, remember why Christ’s birth is reason to celebrate.  Live not for yourself, but for Him—do what He taught and love what He loves.  Share Him with others who don’t know the peace and joy found in Christ alone, and follow Him as a disciple-making disciple, day by day by day.

Why Do Clean Hands Matter?

Whoever loves Christ has the remarkable privilege of adoption into God’s family.  Since we call God Father, we may inadvertently diminish His great power and His holy wrath toward those who oppose Him.  The following excerpt from Psalm 18 depicts God in his mighty majesty and power, and reminds us that in times when those who pit themselves against God seek to harm us, our Father yet holds the strength and the will to bring down those who lift themselves up.

 

Psalm 18

13The LORD also thundered in the heavens,
And the Most High uttered His voice,
Hailstones and coals of fire.

14He sent out His arrows, and scattered them,
And lightning flashes in abundance, and routed them.

15Then the channels of water appeared,
And the foundations of the world were laid bare
At Your rebuke, O LORD,
At the blast of the breath of Your nostrils.

16He sent from on high, He took me;
He drew me out of many waters.

17He delivered me from my strong enemy,
And from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me.

18They confronted me in the day of my calamity,
But the LORD was my stay.

19He brought me forth also into a broad place;
He rescued me, because He delighted in me.

20The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness;
According to the cleanness of my hands He has recompensed me.

21For I have kept the ways of the LORD,
And have not wickedly departed from my God.

22For all His ordinances were before me,
And I did not put away His statutes from me.

Nature Obeys Him

In verses 13-15 we get a clear picture of the massive strength and power of our Mighty God.  The elements of this earth obey His every word, as he sends forth lightning to scatter groups of men who would oppose Him.

The psalmist remembers past times when the Lord has delivered him from his enemies.  Strength and safety was found in the secure presence of God himself.  This haven was provided to the psalmist because God delighted in him.  He chose righteousness and clean hands, rather than falling to the temptation that undoubtedly surrounded him.

What You Place Before Your Eyes

See in verse 22 how the psalmist continued to keep the ways of the Lord:  by keeping God’s Laws before his eyes.  This is a great example for us to follow—day by day placing the statutes of the Lord in front of us, that we might live in them.

To those who do not understand the ways of God and who He is, it seems silly and pointless to place such restrictions upon ourselves.  For example, why would we choose to “miss out” on all the fun of casual sex or drunken partying?  Many who engage in these things seem to do just fine, and disaster and destruction don’t necessarily rain down on them.  But there is wisdom in the words of this Psalm, and in the example set by the psalmist.  By living God’s way when it seems that we could “get away” with behavior that displeases Him, we are storing up a reward (v20) with Him who holds all things in His Hands.

What Will That Day Be Like?

Days of struggle and even oppression by the unrighteous occur in the lives of Christians more often than we’d like to think about.  When these days come for you, how will you face them?  Will you confidently rest in the comforting protection of your Father God, or will you look back in regret at all the times you broke and disregarded the statutes of the One who stands in power over all things?

In our culture, it can be so easy to push the Laws of God into the back corners of our mind—to focus on so many things which fill our schedules, until there’s no time for reading God’s Word or talking with Him.  Let’s encourage each other to adopt some new habits of placing the statutes of God ever before our eyes.  Let’s work as a group to grow in righteousness and love of our Lord Jesus Christ, that we may face our enemies and disasters with clean hands and a pure heart, watching what our Mighty God will do in defense of His children!

Have You Any Excuses?

One of my major missions is to spend time around people who are living well.  I want to be around people who inspire me, who are succeeding in areas of life I’ve yet to master, and who thrive in all aspects of their lives.  When I meet and talk to people like this, I always notice that they’re all lacking one thing:  excuses.

Obstacles yes, excuses no

What’s even more significant than their lack of excuses is the fact that in many cases, they had huge obstacles in their way when they began, and often at many points along the way.  Sometimes, they’re facing a trial currently, but somehow still succeed despite it.

What I’ve realized is that these men and women are not exempt from the difficulties that you and I face from day to day; rather, they have adopted the attitude of an overcomer.  Instead of trying to accomplish things, and then giving up when it gets hard, these people just keep working.  They’ll try one idea to improve their life (health, marriage, career, etc.), and if that idea didn’t work, they’ll seek another solution.  Whatever roadblocks come up are seen by them as temporary—just problems to be solved.

Don’t Be Normal

During the time when normal people, who have given up after the first few tries didn’t work, are loudly broadcasting all their excuses for why they couldn’t win, overcomers are still working.  They know what they want, they’re willing to reach out to mentors for advice, and above all they keep trying until they attain the result they set out for.

What area of your life do you desire new success in?  Will you be willing to take on the attitude of an overcomer and pursue a thriving life?  The resources to reach your potential are all at your fingertips, and the only question that remains is what you will do!

You Need a Smaller Vocabulary

Do you know why you only achieve small victories in your life?  Why you may hope or wish for a grand success, but make only meager progress?  Why you’ve always dreamed of making a big impact on the world but can’t seem to turn those dreams into reality?  The answer is in your vocabulary.  You see, you’re letting the word, “impossible” spoil your mind.

But Don’t Jump Off a Building

Don’t misunderstand—there are certain rules of the world we live in which are not to be toyed with; gravity for instance.  I’m not saying that you can fly if you just start with a great mental attitude.  But I am saying that we are all apt to grossly underestimate our capabilities.  When we make up our mind that our dream cannot be done, we have ensured that it will not.

Garbage In, Garbage Out

Your mind is an incredible and powerful machine, and in many ways it is programmed by what you pour into it.  When you repeat to yourself that a certain goal or dream is impossible, your mind goes to work to find all the ways that the thing is impossible.  If you surround yourself with negative programming (most TV shows) and negative people, you’re programming your mind to bring you failure.  On the other hand, if you toss the word, “impossible” out of your vocabulary, you do the opposite—you begin programming your mind to find the ways to achieve the goal you’ve set before it.

A Lesson from the Master

When your goals are in line with God’s plan and you’re programming your mind to seek ways to fulfill your vision, you are in a wonderful place indeed.  I believe that this is the concept which Jesus was teaching in this passage in Matthew 17:

14When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus, falling on his knees before Him and saying, 15“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill; for he often falls into the fire and often into the water. 16“I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.” 17And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him here to Me.” 18And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him, and the boy was cured at once.

19Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” 20And He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith; for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you.

Trying Hard Isn’t Enough

Jesus tells the disciples that their lack of faith was the root cause of their inability.  Although it appears that the disciples were trying hard to drive out the demon, nevertheless they failed because they did not believe.  In order to succeed in that which is difficult, we must first choose to believe that that which we seek is possible.  Once we can see the goal clearly and accept that we will be able to reach it, our minds can go to work figuring out how to make it happen.  Oftentimes, God will give us ideas along the way that lead us in the right direction.  And finally, we must use our minds, passion, and resources to take action toward reaching the goal.

Ok, I Get It

A simple concept, huh?  As with most things, this idea is not difficult to understand.  Yet, how hard it is to practice!  It is a great challenge to believe a thing possible when circumstances seem to indicate otherwise, and all one’s loser friends surround the idea with negativity and discouragement.  But of how sweet the reward is for those who will believe their dreams and take action to achieve them.

How about you?  What do you dream of becoming or achieving?  Are you handicapping yourself by repeating, “it’s impossible,” whenever the dream pops back into your mind?  Release yourself from the self-imposed bondage and take action today toward the goal set before you.  You have nothing to lose but mediocrity!

Follow Your Heart?

In many of today’s movies and TV shows, the lesson is put forth that we should follow our hearts above all else.  From Disney cartoons to adult-rated dramas, the idea that what is best for us is to look deep within ourselves and do that which we inwardly desire.  But will this philosophy really bring blessing to our lives?

Hidden Assumptions

Oftentimes, ideas that seem pleasant on their surface carry along with them disastrous and erroneous assumptions which are not readily apparent.  When we are not vigilant to test the truth claims of the society around us, we can mistakenly believe some of these pleasant-sounding lies, right along with the errors contained in them.

In this case, the assumption that lies within the “follow your heart” advice is this:  your inner self is perfect and righteous.  This claim lies in stark opposition to Scripture, which teaches us the following:

The heart is more deceitful than all else
And is desperately sick;
Who can understand it?
(Jeremiah 17:9)

 I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members.
(Romans 7:21-22)

The Corruption of Our Wills

We know that God created us in His image, and that our earthly father Adam was initially without sin.  Yet when Adam rebelled against God in the Garden, he shattered the perfect nature he was given.  Because of his sin, we, his children, have been born corrupted, bent away from the will of God and inclined toward selfishness and self-centered living.

When we look to our inner selves for direction and purpose, we will find nothing but emptiness and ruin.  How many men have abandoned their wives and families because their hearts told them to pursue a fling with a woman at the office?  How many youths have traded their bright future for a life of addiction because their first hit felt like heaven?  Perhaps your own experiences have been less drastic than these examples, but have they not left you empty and unsatisfied?

The Way to Life

There is a better way to live.  Jesus came to give us life, and that abundantly—His atoning death on the cross bought us peace on this earth and with our Father in heaven.  Because He died to take the penalty of your sin and mine, we can be washed clean by placing our faith in Him as Savior and Lord.  He rose from the grave to demonstrate His power over death, and sits now at the right hand of God the Father.

As Christians, we live not to follow our own inner desires, but rather to serve our Lord and Giver of Life.  Living each day to bring God glory will not only fill the emptiness in a way “following your heart” never could, but your life will bring a smile to the face of the Lord Jesus Christ—on the day He welcomes you into His paradise with those wonderful words, “well done, my good and faithful servant!”

 

The Secret to Riches

Ever wish you could get a hefty raise?  Want to enjoy some of the finer things in life as you climb to the top?  Read on to find the secret to advancement and wealth that many don’t know and even fewer practice.

Work harder than everyone around you.

Too Simple?

After reading such simple advice, you’re probably thinking to yourself, “yeah right!  I work hard and I never get promoted!  The way I see it, I’m stuck being paid basically what my salary is now, so I may as well coast through the day as best I can to at least enjoy myself a little.”  Don’t let this lie get you—instead, follow the sage advice of Scripture:

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.  (Colossians 3:23-24)

Good Work, Not More Work

Note that the verse says “with all your heart.”  We should not misconstrue hard work with excessive time spent at the office, rather, there should be a focus on productivity and enthusiasm, behaving as if you were doing work personally for a king, not just a client or a boss.

This kind of excellence in your work will get you rewarded.  It may take time, and it may not be from within your current company or industry, but as God promises, He will see to your reward.  Not only this, but there is a very practical benefit that comes with pouring yourself into the work at hand and doing your very best:  you learn things.  As you accomplish work in one week that your neighbor would streach out to two, you’ve effectively gained one week of experience over him.  You are more seasoned and capable, and as this pattern continues over time, you’ll become the “go-to guy” in many areas of your business.  Your neighbor thought he was getting a better deal by taking the same salary as you while doing less work, but long-term, he’s actually been cheating himself.

Don’t Believe It?

As usual, I challenge you to test these claims in your everyday life.  While this is a simple and easily-understood principle, a person who’ll put it in practice is quite a rarity in today’s workplace.  Besides, you’ve got nothing to lose but inexperience and a low salary!  😉