Character Creates Opportunity® – Making Progress: Thursday, December 31, 2015

We are all familiar with New Year’s resolutions.  As we prepare for a new year, there is a general trend of many of us to set new goals or make resolutions to achieve in the coming year.  The concept of setting goals, building a plan to achieve those goals and using the new year to help jump start the process is a healthy and often convenient one to initiate needed change in our lives.

Based on our personal experience and the data from some academics who study this kind of information, the data would reveal that the vast majority of us will abandon, or just plain forget, our goals quickly as we move into a new year.  Today’s writing is not about rallying around some collective motivation or new process to more effectively achieve our goals.  There is already plenty of information out there to help us all get a little more motivated to achieve our goals.

Today’s writing is about the importance of recognizing progress along the way in order to keep the momentum going.  The “world” (feel free to insert your own relevant term) judges or highlights the finish line.  Most often it will be us alone in the quiet of the journey that will be in a position to celebrate making progress in the right direction.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, a helpful discipline we alone can exercise is the personal “high five” we can give ourselves for making progress on the journey to reach our goals. Making Progress on the Journey

There will be a great deal written about the steps to achieving the common goals of losing weight, exercising, reading more or some professional career milestone.

However, the real need to celebrate making progress towards often our most challenging goals, which is rarely written or talked about, is in having a positive impact on those closet to us in our homes and families.  Acknowledging the small steps of progress we make in:

  1. Breaking the cycle of a painful past to bring healing to an important relationship
  2. Judging less and encouraging more
  3. Experiencing the lasting joy of serving and giving instead of the short term pleasure of getting our way
  4. Effectively confronting an important issue rather than avoiding it
  5. Courageously acknowledging our fears and insecurities while minimizing our concern of judgement or shame

The “world” will celebrate the big achievements in business, politics, entertainment, etc.  As we choose to celebrate making progress in the home and with the ones closest to us, we will build the foundation to achieve great things in the marketplace, the community, and our world.

As we make the choice to personally celebrate the small steps of progress we make in close relationships, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to bring health into critical relationships in our home and with those closet to us.

As we continue to set goals for ourselves, do not forget that “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” (Lao Tzu).  Congratulations, in advance, for the steps of progress you will make.

Character Creates Opportunity® – A Step Towards Growth: Thursday, December 24, 2015

As our world continues to grow in complexity, uncertainty, and intensity we are often challenged with the reality that it is hard to keep pace with the changes and still make a positive impact.

One of the more efficient tools we employ to manage the complexity around us is by putting up a few filters on the things we see, read, and experience.  A current and practical example of using filters on how we deal with complexity is how we all navigate the internet.  Our smart phones, tablets, and computers are all preset to our favorite websites, we follow the people we like or agree with on social media, and we watch videos based on our own preferences.

Filtering certainly makes us more efficient.  With a world that is continually evolving, we risk taking a step back in our growth when we use too many convenient filters.  Over time, filters may become blinders as we are most often exposed to ideas and points of view that we already understand and agree with and we remove the real challenge of trying to fully understand another perspective.

Systematically and continually restricting ourselves with filters is certainly not a path to sustainable personal growth nor is it a path to understanding differences.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, expanding our perspective to see beyond our narrow filters will better equip all of us to make a positive impact in an ever-changing world around us.

Beyond the filters on our electronic devices, most likely, we hang out with people like us, we remain in our part of town, we consume points of view from the same sources on television, and we often miss the start of change around us because of our filters.

Complete unfiltered activity is not a healthy path either, so here are a few considerations to enhance our growth and expand our ability to understand:Crowed of Diversity People Friendship Happiness Concept

  1. Make an effort to listen to another generation. Listen with a genuine intent to understand, not change a person’s thinking.  Generational experience is foundational to our personal point of view.  Just take a quick review of someone who was a teenager and young adult in the 60s versus the 80s versus the 2000s to see some drastically different perspectives.
  2. Occasionally gather information on current events from a different website or channel on television. This step does not mean we have to agree, it just means we are putting forth our own personal effort to understand. In a world that has become so polarized and filtered to the extremes, we risk expanding the wedge of difference rather than strengthening our efforts around things we hold in common.
  3. Visit a different place beyond our routine. Whether it is a different coffee shop, restaurant, place of worship, part of town, or a different shopping mall. The experience will help us expand our perspective and understanding of our world that is not “just like us.”
  4. During this holiday season, many of us will be visiting with family. As we enjoy the interactions, the food, and some good sporting events, intentionally reach out and listen to a family member that we may have previously “tuned out” because of a past difference. Our families will grow stronger with more understanding rather than more judgment.

We take a step towards personal growth when we intentionally remove a few filters in our life.  As we continue to grow our understanding instead of judgment, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® for us to have a positive impact on those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – Looking Back: Thursday, December 17, 2015

We all have a past.  We may not speak much about it.  Many of those close to us in our lives may know us well, but they probably don’t know all of our past.  Especially some of the deep valleys of our journey and more importantly, how those experiences have shaped our mindset and our perception of reality today.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, we can generate energy from looking back on our past as an opportunity to learn and grow as we move forward, or we can create burdens from looking back that limit our potential.  The choice is ours to make.Looking Back

We have all made mistakes throughout many phases of our lives.  Even though we may grow in wisdom to handle things more effectively in the coming years, life brings new experiences regardless of our age.  With new experiences, we will inevitably stumble from time to time as we navigate the journey of life.

We build and strengthen our character when we view our past as an opportunity to learn and grow instead of carrying the burden of regret and shame.

Looking back and labeling experiences as regrets creates a huge burden on our future growth. Regrets often keep us from taking chances in the future and paralyzes us in the face of new opportunities.  We often choose not to do things if, in some small way, it reminds us of the pain of the past.

Looking back and viewing our experiences as an opportunity to learn and grow creates an energy source to reach our full potential.  We have renewed self-confidence that we have survived past challenges with a little bit more “street smarts” to apply to the challenges of the future and we move about getting after our full potential.  “I will do better next time” is a helpful reminder to all of us that life’s experiences can be applied to improve our impact tomorrow.

In addition to viewing our own experiences as opportunities to grow instead of regrets and feelings of shame, we can use that same mindset to have a positive impact on others close to us.  Instead of being quick to pass judgment on someone close to us who obviously made a poor choice, we can speak to them in terms of learning and growing through the experience instead of adding to their burden of regret and shame.  We could all help one another to stand a little taller in this life by encouraging growth through mistakes as opposed to adding a burden or regret or shame…especially to those closest to us.

As we turn the page on another year, looking back on our experiences as opportunities to learn and grow instead of burdens of regret and shame will help us continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to reach our full potential and have a positive impact on those around us.

Character Creates Opportunity® – A Most Needed Gift: Thursday, December 10, 2015

The hustle of the holiday season is in full swing along with the stress of finding the right gift for friends and family. The barrage of special deals, discounts, free shipping, and “gotta have it” gift items is at a mind numbing pace.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, there is a principle that is at the heart of one of the most needed gifts we can provide those around us.  The principle of encouragement can help to bolster the positive impact we desire to have on others.  Encouragement is a most needed gift that we can readily give to those around us.

There has been a great deal of research done on the importance of the principle of encouragement.  We can probably all remember a time when someone, a close family member, friend, teacher, coach, or boss shared a word of encouragement when “quit” looked good and we were in a dark valley wondering how things were going to turn out.  Encouragement is a most needed gift.

As today’s world continues to grow in complexity and uncertainty, the principle of encouragement can go a long way to assist those around us to keep moving forward in pursuit of their hopes and dreams despite the challenges they face.

A word of encouragement provides several benefits to an individual:Teenage Sister Helping Stressed Younger Brother With Studies At Desk In Bedroom In Evening

  • Encouragement helps to meet an important need in all of us; the need to know we belong. It reminds us that someone is interested in us and our present situation.
  • Encouragement demonstrates that someone believes in our potential. In a world with a natural bent toward the negative, encouragement helps all of us refocus on a positive point of view which consistently proves to be the differentiator between people achieving goals and those that fall short….a positive mindset.
  • Encouragement reminds us that we should have high expectations. Many times we can let self-doubt and fear steal our potential to do great things.  Encouragement helps us fix our eyes on the unlimited potential we have to make a difference in this world.

An important role we can all play is in helping others reach their full potential.  As we become more intentional about using the principle of encouragement, we will continue to build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity® to help others more effectively face the inevitable challenges in life and keep them moving forward along the path to reach their hopes and dreams.