Archives For Personal Enrichment

Life Overload

Are you over-scheduled? Over-committed? Over-programmed? I know for sure that I am. In fact, I’m one of the worst offenders of piling on more things to my “to-do” list and feeling like I’ve only had a good day if I’ve accomplished something significant.

But you know what?

It’s not really meant to be that way. I think we all do better when we have regular periods of “Down time.”

Further, continuing to “pile on” to your schedule will quickly lead to problems in almost every area of your life.

So what do we do about it?

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One thing about me is that I have something of a creative streak. It’s not necessarily always there or always active (is it for anyone?) but every so often I just feel the “urge” to get creative. When this happens, sometimes I’ll break out one of my sketchbooks (I probably should consolidate to using one at a time so I can actually finish one.) At other times, I’ll open a creative app like Photoshop, Sketchbook Pro, or Illustrator and just start drawing. 

If you ever get that “creative urge,” I highly recommend getting yourself a sketchbook. You don’t need any training. Just draw. Draw what you see. Draw what you can imagine. It really doesn’t matter. Don’t be critical of your drawings. There is no place for criticism in your sketchbook. It’s just a creative outlet. And you never know what may come of it. The criticism will only serve to keep you from exercising your creativity. Fear of criticism will do the same, so don’t let that stand in your way. It’s not about being perfect or professional. It’s about “getting it out.”

Remember, sketching is for you. It helps the creative process, getting ideas down on paper can help them develop into something bigger, cooler, or better. Sketch anything you think about. Ideas. Things you see. Dreams. Designs. Over time you’ll develop a style. Just have fun with it!

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Doctrine: What Christians Should BelieveDoctrine: What Christians Should Believe by Mark Driscoll
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sadly, most Christians rarely, if ever, put a second’s thought into the doctrines of Christianity. Many may even find the title (Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe) to be offensive or controversial. Many, if not most, self-professing Christians may not even know what “doctrines” are or where they stand on the important doctrines that make up the Christian faith. All the more reason that every Christian should read this book (or listen to the audio version). No, not all Christians believe the same thing.
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What really stands between you and your goal with your business? Is the business too hard? Too much competition? Is the product just too hard to sell? Not enough time to get it all done?

No. It’s not that.

It’s your fear that’s holding you back.

Fear tells you it’s too hard.

Fear tells you you don’t have enough time.

Fear tells you that you’ll be embarrassed.

Fear tells you you’re not good enough.

Fear tells you that you don’t deserve it.

Fear tells you that you can’t do it.

Fear tells you that you’ll fail.

Fear speaks to your inner self and beats down you excitement, your confidence, your skill. Eventually it beats you down from the core, knowing your every weakness and insecurity. Fear will force you into a corner that you can’t escape.

Bottom of the Bunnyslope

Seems like a pretty peaceful picture, right? Actually, this is the bottom of the bunny slope in Vail. The first time I saw it. Seemed pretty intimidating and downright scary at the time.

Don’t let fear take control of your future!

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This might just be the closest I get to a medically related post.

Living in a household with 7 kids, you learn that sooner or later you’re going to have an accident. Mostly sooner. With all of us in the house, we number 9 plus one 90+ lb. chocolate lab (Eli). It’s a pretty regular occurrence that someone falls, slips, trips or has some other sort of accident around the house requiring some sort of “medical intervention.” So then starts the scramble to find whatever is needed to remedy the situation.

First Aid Kits 
So I’ve decided to put my medical knowledge to use for one series of posts:

Family Medical Kits (From a Doctor’s Perspective)

1. The Home Family Medical Kit

2. The Car Family Medical Kit

3. Medical Kits – Other Considerations

After doing a fair amount of research for my own family’s medical kit(s), I’m going to try to break it down for you. What do you really need? What’s out there? Can you make your own kit for cheaper than you can buy the separate parts? Do you need a 326-piece kit? At home? In your car? What if you go on a hike?

If you have any specific questions about what you’ll need, feel free to ask away!

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Once you get past the college-years, one of the biggest things that “changes” is that for some reason time actually becomes a finite resource. Every year after that, it gets more and more scarce, and consequently more valuable. Once you get in your 40′s, it actually starts to get scary how fast time flies by.

Somewhere along the way (the earlier the better), it’s a good idea to learn some time management skills, techniques, and habits. The earlier you start with it, the earlier you’ll reap the benefits. And you’ll get better at it the longer you practice your time management skills and you’ll be able to use it in so many areas of your life. 

Remember, as a business owner, you want to be spending your time wisely and productively. Spending a little bit of time each day organizing your thoughts and prioritizing where you spend the rest of your time is an extremely keen investment. So how does one learn to use their time efficiently?

Getting Things Done

That’s what it’s all about, right? Getting things done. It’s also the appropriately titled book by David Allen which is, in my opinion, the absolute best place to start when it comes to time management. There are tons of other books out there on the subject, and I’ve read several. But I can honestly say that for almost anybody getting started with time management, this is the only book you need. And for those who have different degrees of exposure to time management principles, this will be a concise refresher and you’ll probably pick up something new along the way. 

As a side note, I confess to having 3 physical copies of the book as well as the audiobook of this. (A hard copy for me & one for my wife, plus one that we got because she had misplaced her original copy at one point). I also noticed there are half a dozen summaries of the book available on Amazon, which is crazy since the book is a quick-reading 259 pages (with lots of diagrams and wide spacing to make it flow quickly). I find that I’ll refresh my memory by re-reading GTD ever 2 years or so. I always find something new in it that didn’t stick out previously

The book is broken into 3 key parts:

The Art of Getting Things Done (which covers mastering workflow and project planning)

Practicing Stress-Free Productivity (which covers putting the stuff from part one into functional practice)

The Power of the Key Principles (which cover 3 key principles: The Collection Habit, The Next-Action, and Outcome Focusing)

There’s no way I’m going to summarize the book here as that would provide quite a disservice to my readers. Every small business owner is going to take away different things from GTD that will help them become more productive.

For me, much of it is distilled into the key principles that Allen discusses in the 3rd part of the book.

The Collection Habit

Essentially this means you want to create a system that you can unload your thoughts, ideas, inspirations, to-do items, and projects. Usually this is going to take the form of several lists that you use to get it all written down before you either forget about it (consciously) or forget to do it. It also multiplies your brain power because the lists can be quite detailed and large. That’s how life and business are. But the brain has a tendency to get bogged down or overwhelmed by all those little things floating around in there. Putting it down on paper allows you to tackle lists one item at a time.

What’s The Next Action?

Once you get all those to-do’s and ideas out of the randomness of your brain, you can make a decision on what’s the very next action you should take. This may be a baby step in light of the whole project. But these are the things that move you towards the completion of a project or goal. My wife often gets bogged down with the colossal size of projects we come up with. When she looks at the whole thing, she ends up DOING nothing. It just seems to big to accomplish. But when you refocus on “What’s the Next Action?” usually, it’s just a single thing. You don’t have to finish the project in one sitting. Or even a day. But it will never finish without completing the next action.

Think of it like this: My project is to create a coffee table. The steps are to: design the coffee table, making plans for it. Figure out how much wood it will take to build it. Figure out what other items may be necessary. Buy the wood. Buy the tools or hardware. Then I’ll make one piece of the table at a time. Then assembly. Then staining. Then finishing and air-dry. The same thing goes for putting together a record month in direct sales. Design flyers. Print flyers. Book parties one-at-a-time. Book fund-raisers. You get the idea.

The Power of Outcome Focusing

If you have a goal in mind, it goes without saying that spending more of your time and effort directed towards achieving that goal will get you there quicker. That’s much easier said than done in real life. Are you actually choosing the best Next Action to get you where you want to be? Facebook may be a great tool for the direct sales industry, but is what you’re spending your time on actually moving you towards your desired outcome? (Or are you just delaying your real next action step?)

Finally, almost everything about this book is also applicable to the going paperless topic I covered in my last few posts. That’s what started me thinking about the topic. You can combine going paperless and becoming more efficient and effective with your time at the same time and multiply your efficiency.

Question:

How do you currently manage your time and decide what you will do next? 

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Raising a Modern Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic ManhoodRaising a Modern Day Knight: A Father’s Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic Manhood by Robert Lewis

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a good book, overall. I think the topic is timely and this is a reasonably proper Biblical basis to the book. The key factor here is the focus on pomp and ceremony.

The real take-home meat of this book is in the first few chapters – defining “authentic manhood” in a way that we can both aspire to as fathers and aspire to raise our sons to that same standard. In a way, I think it’s a bit short on helpful suggestions. But then again, maybe it’s more of a “call to arms” than a “battle plan” so to speak. Not a lot wrong with that. i’ve been going through the video series with some local guys as well and that helps flesh it out quite a bit.

The positives are good Biblical referencing for the sections that discuss manhood definitions and the importance of active, intentional fatherhood to provide your son(s) with the right direction to their lives.

The negatives, however, are pretty significant. There is a lot of emphasis on ceremony, which may (or may not) be useful in each son’s particular case. There is literal emphasis on the importance of the ceremony to be “expensive,” which to me is somewhat offensive. There is also emphasis on the family crest which promotes pride for the family, which may or may not be useful in years to come. Though it could certainly benefit the father-son relationship by giving a common creative activity. There is not much Biblical basis for these activities, however, so again, be aware of this fact.

Overall, I think that if you take this book as a call to arms, toward setting a higher standard for our sons in both their character and relationship with the Lord, I think this book is a reasonable start. If you are truly looking for something deeper, I think you may need to look elsewhere, but Raising a Modern-Day Knight is a short, easy read so it may be worth looking into regardless.

Read with discernment and try to keep your focus on creating a heart for Christ in your sons, being an active and intentional father, and modeling in your own life the positive characteristics you want for your son.

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Financial Peace RevisitedFinancial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an absolutely fabulous book for anyone who wants to transform their financial situation from a nightmare into an absolute dream! My wife and I are currently going through Financial Peace University and this book is almost exactly the same information. It is indispensible.

Financial Peace Revisited is essentially the book form of Financial Peace University and is actually a part of that curriculum as you are asked to read certain chapters in association with a given week’s topic.

The book has chapters and subsections. Chapters cover really everything you need to know about money, starting with the basics, then expanding into topics that will help you understand the spiritual aspects of money (yes there are some) the emotional aspects of handling money, lifestyles (and lifestyle management). And of course they cover budgets and the famous Debt Snowball.

Basically everything is geared toward educating you not only to understand money but also to understand why you are tempted to do the things that end up causing people to end up in money trouble. More likely than not, if you’re reading this book you have experienced some financial trouble, or are pretty deeply in trouble. It’s not enough to blindly follow somebody’s advice on how to get out of it. If you do that, you’ll simply end up in the same trouble again in the future. On the other hand, if you learn the pitfall(s) that lead to your trouble in the first place you are really learning how to avoid falling into the same trap(s) in the future.

This book isn’t just for people who know nothing about money. Later chapters discuss building strong emergency funds (and why you should), retirement funds (and educates you on the most common solid options there), insurance coverage, and even charitable giving. There are chapters on teaching your children about money and also on how to handle money issues with family and friends (which can be touchy and very dangerous if you don’t think about it logically.

Overall, this is an absolutely fantastic book. I can’t say enough about it. Almost everyone out there could likely learn some things in this book that can substantially change their financial future, or at least has the potential to do so. Those lease likely to benefit are people who are deeply involved with wealth management already (perhaps professionally). And we all know people who constantly tell people the right thing to do, yet fail to follow their own advice.

You can of course buy Financial Peace Revisited
at Amazon (I get a small referral fee if you use this link).

Also, check out all of the resources available to you on Dave Ramsey’s website and his My Total Money Makeover Site.

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Leading From Within

JasonC —  September 27, 2012 — Leave a comment

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So here I was, planning to do a blog post on keeping your taxes straight with your direct sales business. Pretty important stuff. But for some reason I got sidetracked with this other thought…

Are you doing all that you need to do as a leader in your own house?

It’s a common enough story, right? You have a guy who has the best of intentions to help his wife with her business, but what she sees him doing around the house isn’t exactly inspiring. Let’s face it, we all can probably do a better job in leadership in almost every aspect of our lives. And it all starts in your own house. And one thing I’m fairly certain is true: wives appreciate it and respect it tremendously when their husband decides to take an active leadership role within the home.

That’s what we are called to do in 1 Timothy 3: 4-5:

He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?

The part about managing his own household is pretty significant. What does that mean? It implies that one who doesn’t manage the home also isn’t likely to be able to care for the Church, either. The same could be said about managing or caring for your wife’s direct sales business, too.

Suggestions for Leading From Within Your Own Home:

Be intentional about leading your household.

No matter what you’re doing at work, the impact that you have at home is more significant and is definitely affecting people who are more significant in your life. Being present and consistent for your wife and children is going to have a huge impact on their foundation for life. Keeping that solid lets them venture out into the uncertainty of the world easier and more effectively.

Be intentional about maintaining your marriage.

The relationship you have with your wife is the most important relationship you have in your life! Without question! We’re supposed to put her and her needs before our own needs (and wants!). Spend time with her (dating shouldn’t stop just because you got married). Show her that you love her in the way(s) she needs. If this doesn’t come easy to you, check out The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts. The title may be a little cheesy, but this is a fantastic book that can help your relationship.

Make good choices about home

So often guys get in the habit of sacrificing time at home in order to get ahead at work. Or to spend extra time with buddies hunting, fishing, golfing, etc. I’m not suggesting you never do any of that. But that shouldn’t be the choice you make every time. That sends a clear message to your wife and family of where they stand in the priority list.

Make good choices at home

Some guys think of home as a place they can just “let it all hang out.” I guess it can be. But if that means you lose control of your temper on a regular basis, you’re probably not actually having much success in “leading” your family. Same is true if you have a tendency to drink too much at home or curse all the time. I don’t want to come across as preachy here. But think about how other people would see your actions if they were a fly on the wall and try to make sure your actions tend more towards the “inspiring” than the “scary” side.

Lead sacrificially

This is probably the hardest one, but maybe the most important one. Sacrificial leaders put others before themselves. It may mean calling on the way home to see if you can pick up something on the way. It may mean missing “the game” so you can help with something important to someone in your house. But mainly it means putting the people you’re leading higher up on the priority list on a regular basis. Believe me, they’ll notice every time you do it.

When you’ve got your act together in your household, your relationships are going to be better there. That alone will go a long way toward helping her business. You’ll be taking a ton of stuff off her “worry list” just by being the guy she probably wants you to be. How much more likely is she going to be to want you to help her with her business when you’re doing a great job in the areas she sees every day?

Questions:

Girls: What do you think about this? Am I way off track?
Guys: Are you doing as good a job in your home as you are at work?

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Take 15 minutes at the end of your work day to perform a “brain dump.” 15 minutes to create a to-do list for tomorrow’s activity. This will set you up for success tomorrow and make you more efficient in the long run.