Character Creates Opportunity® – A More Effective Question: June 25, 2015

“Did you close the sale?”  “Did you pass the test?”  “Did you win the game?” “Did you complete the project?” “Did you make any money on this idea?”

These are all practical and meaningful questions commonly asked in the home, business, and community.

When our children were younger we would at some point over dinner or before bedtime ask them, “What did you learn today?” When they were young, the answers were filled with new observations of the world, facts from school, and insights from friends.  For some reason, asking that to our now teenagers and college students gets a glare like we have two heads or something.

However, one of the more thoughtful, caring, and effective questions we can ask ourselves and others is, “What did you learn?”

As we look to continue to build and strengthen our character, reinforcing the importance of individual and shared learning will enable all of us to continue along a path to reach our full potential.

There is no doubt that the task needs to be completed, money needs to be made, the student needs to pass the test, and winning leads to championships.

By reprioritizing our discussion to first ask about learning and second ask about the specific result, we accomplish several critical elements to ensure we remain on a productive path to reach our full potential.  Emphasizing learning before accomplishment helps to:Points of View

  • Reinforce personal growth and continual, personal growth is the foundation for building a brighter future for us as individuals and for our family, business, and community.
  • Lessen the risk of getting arrogant with great accomplishments while bolstering our ability to remain humble…we always have more to learn, no matter how accomplished we have become.
  • Demonstrate to others we care more about them than the awards on their wall. Ensuring others know that we care far more about them than what they have accomplished, we will keep the door open to genuine, healthy, and meaningful relationships.
  • Encourage others to pursue their dreams rather than live in a box defined by the expectations of others. Moving out from under the expectations of others will enable all of us to take greater responsibility for our choices, more fully realize our strengths and weaknesses, develop clarity around our true purpose, and live a life with fewer regrets in the end.

As we continue to place an emphasis on learning, we will build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to continue to grow and reach our full potential and be an encouraging voice to those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Prevention: June 18, 2015

We have all heard of the guidance provided by Ben Franklin with the saying, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

The clarity and truth brought forth in that simple statement can be applied to various areas of our lives such as our health, relationships, work, and community.

As we look to continue to build and strengthen our character, an important area to consider is not only that we understand the concept of prevention, but that we have very practical steps to take to ensure we are dedicating a significant amount of effort on the side of prevention.

The relatively easy approach to prevention can most certainly be found in regards to our health:  Eat a well-balanced diet, get regular exercise, sleep 7-8 hours a day, schedule annual wellness check-ups with a physician, and proceed with the rule of thumb around moderation in all areas.  The basic tenets of maintaining physical health have been relatively unchanged over the years.  Actually executing on a preventative health program is another story, but the basic plan is straight-forward.

The more challenging area in prevention is taking the practical steps necessary to maintain health in our relationships.Graduation Photo

Life, despite its complexity, is still predominately about relationship to others.  Whether those relationships are with family, friends, community, or the workplace, we are in relationship with others.

What does an “ounce of prevention” look like in maintaining health in relationship?

Here are just a few suggestions:

  • Keep Commitments: Actually doing what we say we are going to do, is a simple, but massive step forward in maintaining health in relationships. “I will be there on time” “I will clean up this mess” “I will support you no matter what.” When we fall short too many times on our promises, we will need more than a pound of cure to re-establish health again.
  • Focus on Serving: Serving the needs of others on a consistent basis has been shown throughout recorded history as being one of the most critical elements to maintaining health in relationships.  Our personal intent to serve others rather than waiting to be served will keep us on the most effective path toward healthy relationships.
  • Sacrifice: Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy.  Sacrificing our selfish instincts in favor of supporting others, demonstrates to others that we recognize life is not all about us.  Setting a personal example of sacrifice is contagious and helps to form a strong foundation of health in relationships.
  • Physical Connection – Touch: There has been a significant amount of research done on the positive impact that a simple physical touch can have on maintaining health in a relationship. The physical connection made with the touch on a shoulder, the holding of a hand, or a genuine hug builds health into relationships.

Life is continuing to grow in complexity and intensity.  In order to be able to sustain our efforts for the long haul, using “ounces of prevention” instead of “pounds of cure” will help us stretch our limited resources to ensure we have optimal impact.

As we make choices to focus daily effort on prevention to maintain health, we will build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to sustain optimal physical health, to build healthy relationships, and to head down a path to build a legacy with few, if any, regrets.



Character Creates Opportunity® – Baby Steps: June 11, 2015

We have all experienced that feeling of being overwhelmed when we see a huge task in front of us like an unexpected termination of employment, a deep break in a once trusting relationship, a financial shortfall that came on quickly, a sudden change in health, or probably the most challenging, when we sense that still small voice that says, “This is your purpose and passion, now change direction and go for it.”

Psychologists would tell us that most of us, at that initial point in time of feeling overwhelmed, take a quick turn toward the negative with thoughts like: “This is going to hurt.” “Why does this always happen to me?” “I am a little too old for another change.”  “I am not sure I can handle this.”

First stepsMany of us have had the thrill of watching a baby walk for the first time. It is a time of massive change for the child from crawling to now walking.  There is excitement, cheering from a crowd of onlookers, and that sparkle of accomplishment in the eyes of a child when they stumble through those first few steps.  Very little fear, there is mostly wonder and excitement of the new found mobility.

As we look to continue to build and strengthen our character, an important area to consider is how we deal with that seemingly overwhelming task we now face.  When fear and self-doubt creep in, what do we do?

It would not be a gross overstatement to say there is never an immediate removal of self-doubt or worry from any difficult situation.  However, it has been proven that starting small habits, baby steps if you will, are more powerful than any fear we have in dealing with change. Moving consistently, in some small way, toward our desired direction is an incredibly powerful tool to overcome.

If we have a struggling personal conflict that is building a wall between us and another person, start with a smile (or at least remove the frown)…every day, little by little, and then bring forth the courage to break the silence.

If we are afraid of a career change to finally do something we are passionate about, start with quietly building a small plan, take baby steps with the plan, every day, little by little to build confidence that our dream can come true.

If we are afraid to take a stand on an important issue and speak up, start with writing a small “note to self,” and then speak up a little to someone we trust, little by little to then speak each and every time the opportunity arises.

Our baby steps are powerful enough to overcome any fear.

As we choose to take some baby steps in the right direction, we will build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to overcome our fears and reach our full potential.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Are We There Yet? June 4, 2015

Are we there yet?  We are all very familiar with the question that comes at some point during a long drive.  Depending on how long the drive or how much stress has been injected into the preparations for the drive, there will be a wide array of follow-on responses to that simple question.

So often we attribute that question to a young child on a road trip.  However, many of us as adults may find ourselves asking a similar question on our journey of life.

When will we be happily married?

When will our children be able to stand on their own?

When will I be in a stable and fruitful career?

When will we finally have peace in our home and community?

When will I finally be done with getting an education?

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, how we cope with the adult version of the question “are we there yet?” will help us grow our joy and peace as we journey along to reach our full potential.

We all celebrate the accomplishment of significant milestones.  The awarding of a graduation diploma, the winning of a championship, the anniversary of a relationship milestone like 25 years of marriage, 30 years of dedicated employment, and the list could go on.  At the time of crossing the threshold of accomplishment, there is joy, celebration, and some peaceful relief in knowing we finally made it.

As time inevitably marches quickly through the threshold of any specific accomplishment, many times we forget the graduation speech, we misplace the thoughtful anniversary card, and we forget the leftover cake in the company lunchroom.

The reality about what remains with us after the accomplishment and brief celebration pass, is not the celebration, it is the memories and lessons learned along the journey that remain.

We remember the courage and strength it took to study all night for numerous exams to ensure we passed that tough course.  Those memories act as a rallying cry to strengthen our character to ensure we can rise above again when we are faced with another challenge down the road.

We remember the pain and the joy of years spent in a close relationship like marriage and those reminders help give us perspective when the next jolt to the foundation of a close relationship comes in the future…and it will come in the future.  It is that perspective which will help to carry us through the inevitable dark time in our committed relationships.

We remember the business lessons learned from good and bad decisions we made in the marketplace.  It is the memory of these lessons that gives us confidence to re-enter the marketplace and attempt to grow a business again.

Setting clear goals to be accomplished is a critical part of reaching our full potential.  However, we need to ensure we maintain the perspective that goals are simply milestones to gauge our progress on the long journey.  We will inevitably pass through those goals and will need to continue to set further milestones down the road.Driving on an empty road towards the setting sun

The energy needed to reach our full potential in a long and fruitful life does not simply come from accomplishing goals.  The renewable energy for life is in leveraging the memories and lessons learned along the journey.  This renewable energy will ensure we consistently raise the bar on our ability to positively impact those around us.

As we continue to maintain our perspective when answering the adult version of “are we there yet?” and we focus on learning along our journey, we will build and strengthen our character and our Character Creates Opportunity® to accomplish the next big goal or milestone.