Small Steps – Character Creates Opportunity®: May 2, 2019

If we are being honest with ourselves, we can all acknowledge some challenges that come about with close relationships in the home, at work, and in the community. Life gets complicated and often messy when it comes to our close relationships.

The bookshelves of the local library, bookstore, and the virtual shelves of Amazon are filled with books containing all sorts of tips and techniques to help us build better relationships with those we care about most. The resources help us have difficult conversations, help us appreciate each other’s differences, and help us find moments of joy in the daily grind we may find ourselves in.

Many times, we over-complicate things.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, we can simplify our approach and take a few small steps each day to make a big, positive difference in the relationships that matter most to each of us.

These small steps don’t require a PhD in psychology, attendance at a weekend conference, or a life-coach to keep us on track. We can handle most of these ourselves.

  1. A simple smile…instead of a frown. Just the casual glance accompanied by a nice smile can consistently lift the spirits of the other person and provide a positive boost to the relationship.
  2. A simple word of encouragement…instead of judgment (from our limited point of view). Comments like “I believe in you” and “you’ve got this” can make a big difference with someone facing a difficult decision.
  3. A simple touch…instead of a cold shoulder. The warmth of a touch on the shoulder or a hug kicks off a wave of biochemical reactions in the body that has been demonstrated to boost our immune system, fight depression, and break down huge relationship barriers that most likely were created by a poor choice of words in the heat of the moment.
  4. Put the phone away and look someone in the eye. No need to explain this further.    

A popular Swedish proverb is a helpful reminder of the importance of being our best with those we care about most: “Shared joy is double joy; Shared sorrow is half a sorrow.”

When we consistently take some small steps to build healthy relationships, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to have a positive impact on those around us.

Unlimited Choices – Character Creates Opportunity®: April 25, 2019

The smorgasbord concept became a part of the American restaurant scene after the Swedish brought this part of their culture to the 1939 New York World’s Fair.  Most baby boomer generation families will remember the original all you can eat concept as the smorgasbord.  Somewhere over the last 30 years or so, the term smorgasbord has been replaced by the All You Can Eat buffet in our current vernacular.  

Regardless of the term we use, the all you can eat buffet concept is still with us today.  What a wonderful blessing.  I can eat all I want of a variety of foods: fruits, vegetables, meats, breads, soups, and of course, desserts, for just one low price.  In addition, the different likes and dislikes of everyone in the group are seamlessly addressed and there are almost no complaints about the choices.

Unfortunately, we all know what often happens at the buffet.  We eat way too much.  We regret the choices we made as we walk out the door and uncomfortably squeeze into the car for the drive home.

In today’s world, we have a virtual smorgasbord in every area of our lives.  The old-school industrial concept of whoever is in power determines what styles are stocked on store shelves, music stores, bookstores, and certainly what we watch on television, has been flattened with the efficiencies of point and click convenience in today’s world.

We all can get what we want, when we want it, often for prices that seem unbelievably low…many times for free.

As we continue to build and strengthen our character, the “all you can eat” lifestyle presents us with some challenges to ensure we don’t overeat in too many areas and to ensure we take full advantage of the opportunities to customize and support our own unique style.

Here are a few ideas to help guide us as we walk up and down the smorgasbord table of today’s reality:

  1. Choices.  The number of options in life has exploded.  We can start our “dream” business overnight with an easy to build website.  We can customize the sneakers we buy.  We can watch our favorite TV show when we want to watch it.  We can go to classes at Harvard online for free.  Now, more than ever, we have to determine priorities and make choices. “Winging it” with all of the opportunities available to us today, will cause most of us to overeat everywhere and regret not making specific choices.
  2. Responsibility.  With choices, comes responsibility.  We can no longer say, “Well, I just did not have the opportunity.”  We are no longer confined to what is on a store shelf to get what best fits our unique style. We are no longer confined to the public library or an expensive degree program to get a formal education.  When we overeat at the dessert table instead of eating some fruits and vegetables, we can’t play the blame game.
  3. Individuality.  Many times in life, our unique talents, gifts, and desires get minimized in the mass production model of our industrialized world.  We picked certain careers based on what we saw around us and some perceived set of expectations.  We wore the clothes that seemed to help us fit into those expectations and through it all, we have minimized our own uniqueness. Today’s “all you can eat” opportunities give us a chance to re-birth our uniqueness in areas of work, family, fashion, and culture. We all should do a little soul searching to make sure we did not lose who we are based on some past confinements.  We should exercise the courage to be ourselves. 
  4. Time.  We all have some uncommitted time. Time when we are not on the job or at school, taking care of critical responsibilities at home, or working in some other area of service. With today’s “all you can eat” entertainment offerings, we run the risk of overeating on entertainment under the concept of just needing some time to chill out, veg out, or honestly admitting to wanting to be a coach potato for the evening.  Our point and click entertainment choices combined with everyone’s personal electronics presents a unique and complex challenge to “family time” being customized to everyone going into their corner of the room with their own entertainment device.  The entertainment industry no longer controls a limited offering of watching Walter Cronkite deliver the evening news or I Love Lucy to make us laugh.  We all need to be vigilant to ensure we use our uncommitted time wisely and keep some family time as “together time.”  

With today’s “all you can eat” lifestyle, if we don’t guide our thoughts, decisions, and actions with principles like moderation, self-control, and discipline, we will soon realize that we can’t make pants or belts big enough to contain our habits.  When we effectively leverage these principles, combined with cultivating our own uniqueness, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity for us to learn, grow, and have a positive impact on those around us.

Hold Loosely – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, April 18, 2019

We all acquire stuff. Whether it is a memento of a fond family memory, some special award, a dream car, or some piece of furniture. For most of us, we are not going ultra-minimalist and move into a modern “tiny house” anytime soon, and we would prefer to not be featured on the next prime time episode of “Hoarders.” Most of us land somewhere in the middle of those extremes. We have some items we may quietly consider personal treasures and the pile of stuff is not going away.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, being intentional and thoughtful about how we hold loosely to our possessions is important in maintaining our emotional health over the years.

The reality around us is that many times we get initially “sized-up” by our possessions. Whether it is the size of our house, the car we drive, or the items piled up on shelves in our homes and offices. If we call our bank, insurance agent, or credit card company, they have plenty of information on their screen to size us up quickly and determine a certain level of service.

For most of us who have been around the block a few times in this life, we realize that possessions can come and go very quickly with the uncertainty of tomorrow. This week’s tragedy at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is another reminder of how quickly things can vanish from our fingertips.

We all can appreciate the fact that possessions should not define us. The life we live, the relationships we develop and the legacy we leave behind are what matters most, but the fact remains that we all possess and enjoy some “stuff” as we journey along in this life.

Here are a few reminders of the importance of holding loosely to the things we possess in this world:

  1. There is no guarantee that we will have them tomorrow. Enjoy the thoughts and feelings they bring about today but holding on with a death-like grip to our possessions will be very unhealthy for us and those around us when they unexpectedly disappear.
  2. Sharing our possessions is the best way to increase our positive impact on others. Keeping things for our own enjoyment limits the usefulness of our “stuff.” We should look to share and give away our possessions in order to expand the blessing they can bring to others.
  3. We must always be on guard to ensure we don’t solidify our sense of worth based on our “stuff.” It is so very tempting given the world we live in to focus on possessing certain things to fill some cracks in our emotional health. Purpose, not possessions, will help fill the cracks we all have in our emotional health over the long-term.  

As we hold loosely to our possessions in this world and focus on strengthening our grip on what matters most, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to have a positive impact on those around us.

A New Way Out – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, April 11, 2019

We make decisions with limited information all the time. We never have all the facts. We end up with what we feel is enough information, we may reflect on our experience, and then we make the decision.

With today’s information age, we are in a much better spot when we buy a car, some fancy new smoothie blender, or even decide on a place to work or hiring a new employee. We have access to a world of information nowadays to make a more informed decision, but the information is never complete. We decide it is good enough and we make the call.

If we bring these decisions closer to home, many times we have a spirited debate (or some may say an intense argument) based on limited information and before we know it, it is “game on” around the kitchen table. We don’t yet have the ability to mind-read and in most homes, we still have some barriers like scars from prior judgments and shame that impeded the sharing of all available information which brings some well-documented challenges to building healthy relationships in the home.   

The tough part comes when we have new information that highlights, we made a poor choice.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, effectively addressing the challenge of “digging in” or changing course when we have new information is another important decision we need to make in order to be our best for those we care about most.

Many times, we feel the need to keep digging in and defending our initial decision because it is tough to admit we were wrong. Those who study the psychology on all of this would say that stubbornness and pride built on a foundation of some underlying fear are the most likely drivers that keep us from processing new information and re-visiting a decision.

Before we allow things to continue to come off the rails and get worse, new information gives us a new way out. The acknowledgment that we were making a decision with limited information is an effective way to re-visit things; “I am now making a more informed, more effective decision to move things forward rather than digging in for what typically becomes a lose-lose battle.” New information provides us with a way out to help overcome the typical resistance we all have to saying, “I was wrong.”

Here are a few thoughts to encourage all of us to continue to seek information and alternative points of view when we realize we initially made a poor choice:

  1. Life is a research project. As Einstein once said, “If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research.” Sure, we have some principles to guide our way (making decisions based on timeless, universal principles is what this blog is all about), but we are still moving through uncharted waters as our world continues to change rapidly.
  2. We will make mistakes. As Thomas Edison once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” We don’t have things all figured out. When things don’t work, we can apply those learning to make improvements for the next time.
  3. We set a great example. When we can process new information, openly admit to learning something new, and when needed, change course based on those learnings, we set a wonderful example for others to follow. Demonstrating to others that we have an open mind, we can process new information in a healthy way, and we are focused on learning and growth vs. digging in and remaining stuck, we encourage others to do the same.   

As we process new information in a healthy way and have the courage to re-visit a decision or a certain initial point of view, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to be our best for those we care about most.

The Steps of Resilience (Part II) – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, April 4, 2019

We covered the first step in being resilient last week with a call to action to refocus on our Purpose after we experience a setback or disappointment. Whether that purpose is to be a loving parent, a committed spouse, a hard-worker, a loyal friend, an intentional servant where there is a need, etc., taking the important first step to refocus on our purpose is critical to harness the strength to rise and get back into the fight.

Unfortunately, since last week’s message, the world has not changed much so we still need to possess the principle of resilience in our quiver to effectively handle the challenges we will face.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, resilience is one of those principles we need to be our best for those we care about most. This blog post is the second part of the message to bring some practical, proven steps to strengthen our resilience as a key dimension of our character.

From last week, we described resilience simply as the mental, emotional, and physical strength to continue after a difficult setback or failure. If you read last week’s blog you will remember that we all experience our share of disappoint, despair, failure, and a few other unpleasant experiences in our roles in the home, work, and community. In addition, we are all nursing a few wounds even as we continue to attend our daily costume party with those around us.  

For Part II of this message, the second important step to be resilient after a setback is to take small, routine steps daily in order to get some forward motion and momentum building again.

As we mentioned last week, a major setback in life can literally take our breadth away and cause us to be somewhat unstable and on shaky ground. The first step of refocusing on our Purpose helps us get steady again and ready for the next step. By taking this next step, basically small routine steps daily, we accomplish several things in the context of being resilient:

  1. We get moving again. Just through muscle memory with little thought or emotion, we just begin to get activity going in a purposeful direction. At home, we clean the dishes, cook a meal, clean the garage, cut the grass etc., that helps get practical, simple routine tasks done to get life back in us after a major setback. At work, we process payroll, update employees, call customers, clean out some email, etc. and get back doing the typically daily tasks of the business.
  2. We regain a sense of worth. By doing routine, practical tasks we begin to regain our sense of worth which can be quite damaged after a significant disappointment or journey through despair. We don’t need to immediately charge the hill or climb the mountain, we just need to get moving on some simple tasks to get our life back on the rails toward the long-term purpose for our lives.
  3. We build momentum and confidence. As we complete the small, simple tasks, we start to get our strength back and our confidence builds to keep moving forward. Just like blood rushing into muscles and our brain after a crushing blow, movement through routine tasks gets our mind out of the fog of despair and we begin to see more clearly a future that is slowly becoming brighter with each passing day.
  4. Time begins to pass. Time is often our best counselor. As we move forward with small tasks daily, we begin to create distance between the immediate sting after a disappointment and the eventual path to health that we desire.   

As we take the steps to refocus on our purpose and complete small, routine tasks after experiencing a setback or disappointment, we will take the necessary steps to be resilient which will help us build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to be our best for those we care about most.

The Steps of Resilience (Part I) – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, March 28, 2019

As we all continue to wrestle with a world that grows more complex, intense, and uncertain, we often hear from the world’s foremost thinkers, doers, and motivators…and occasionally from the well-meaning, kitchen table coach within our inner circle, that we just need to be more resilient to reach our hopes and dreams in this world. While I am sure we all agree that resilience, sometimes referred to as grit, is a critical component to reaching our full potential, we are many times left wondering how to deliver on it after the pump-up speech has ended.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, resilience is one of those principles we need to have in our quiver to be our best for those we care about most. The next two blog posts will be about bringing some practical, proven steps to strengthen our resilience as a key dimension of our character.

There are several ways to describe resilience and for brevity’s sake we will just simply define it as the mental, emotional, and physical strength to continue on after a difficult setback or failure. If we lived more than a few years in this world, we have encountered what probably seems like to us more than our fair share of disappointment, despair, failure, and a few other unpleasant experiences in our roles in the home, work, and community. We are all still nursing a few wounds despite the costume party we still attend on most days.

For Part I on this message, the first important step to be resilient after a setback is to refocus on Purpose.

Similar to a boxer after getting knocked down and feeling a bit dizzy, when we experience a tough setback it can literally take our breath away and cause us to be somewhat unstable and on shaky ground. The purpose of that boxer is to catch his breath, get back to his feet, and refocus on the Purpose of winning the fight.

When we can take our first step and re-focus on our Purpose (being a loving parent, a committed spouse, a hard-worker, a loyal friend, an intentional servant where there is a need, etc.) we accomplish several things in the context of being resilient:

  • Purpose helps us take the long-term view. When we can refocus on the long-term goal, we are more emotionally effective in handling the near-term obstacles that come our way.
  • Purpose has a palpable rallying cry that helps us muster our internal strength to rise up and get back into the fight. We all possess the capacity to fight the good fit when we have a purposeful life. When we can refocus on purpose, we tap into an inner reserve of strength.
  • Purpose provides us focus to channel what energy we have left to carry on. Without a clear purpose, we wander aimlessly and burn up a great deal of energy inefficiently. Purpose harnesses our limited energy to get back into the fight.   

As we refocus on our Purpose after experiencing a setback or disappointment, we will take the first step in becoming resilient which will help us build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to be our best for those we care about most.

In Part II next week, we will touch on the second step in becoming resilient to more effectively handle the challenges we face in our lives.

Proceed with Caution – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, March 21, 2019

There has been a great deal of discussion around the world recently over the benefits and challenges of our transparent, instant communications via social media. It is quite typical in the natural evolution of new technologies to have questions raised and some words of caution expressed. As we all remain actively engaged in our online social networks with no apparent indication of slowing down, there is the occasional need for a few reminders of the guardrails that can keep us out of harm’s way.

The world of marketing, current events, sports, and entertainment have all captured the trend and most of our information gathering is done online. The average person spends a significant amount of time on social media every day. Rather than pounding out the traditional hourly statistics (which do vary quite a bit), suffice to say our appetite for online activity is not going to slow down any time soon. 

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, our online activities, specifically our activities via social media, need to proceed with caution to ensure we remain connected and safe with those we care about most.

With 2+ billion people being relatively active on social media every day around the world, there is huge leverage to being connected in order to remain relevant, timely, and current on the events in our world, neighborhoods, and family and friends. The instantaneous sharing of information is a great draw for efficient learning and growth. However, researchers would say there are also a few reminders that are needed to ensure we don’t slip off the road and end up in the ditch with some poor social media habits.

Below are a few guardrails to help us proceed with caution and continue to enjoy the benefits of our connected world:

  • Everything is Perfect.

Most updates we see from family, friends, and those in our community are positive and upbeat. We love to share some great family events, a night out on the town, some wonderful celebration with friends, etc. It is important that we don’t get caught up playing the comparison game and in some personal moment of feeling down, add fuel to the fire by perhaps thinking our life is not as fun, cool, and satisfying as everyone else.

Very few people post a nice video update of the time they lost their temper, slammed a door, and said something they regretted. However, we all still do those things even though they don’t make our social media feed. It is important that we remain grounded in the fact that we only see a certain side of life online and we should avoid playing the comparison game in our heads.

  • Scrolling with Anger.

When we have the occasional disagreement or fallout with a friend or family member, it can be tempting to spend time alone scrolling over some activity to continue to stir the pot on our frustration. In the quiet of our scrolling, we can run the risk of getting into a negative place with our thoughts of others. It would not be a healthy choice to swirl in anger online. We would be wise to just simply cancel a connection with someone or close down the feed and walk away. Nothing good comes from anger expressed on line.

  • Physical Presence.

With all the upside on staying connected online, there is a degree of empathy and the benefits of physical presence that are lost when most of our social interaction is done via social media. It is important we remember to get engaged face to face and touch those we care about most from time to time to keep life real and connected. There is a genuine risk that as our world becomes more connected online, we become more disconnected and we lose the critical benefits of face to face communication and physical touch that is needed to keep our close relationships healthy and secure. 

One additional note to keep us all a bit restrained and to ensure we proceed with caution with our online activity. Unlike generations before, our online personal activity stays around forever. Everyone has access to our activity if they want to search hard enough. Someone is always watching, and it can always be easily traced directly back to us. Proceed with caution.

As we continue to enjoy the benefits of our interconnected world online and we proceed with caution with a few solid guardrails, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to be a great example for those we care about most.

Taking a Shortcut – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, March 14, 2019

“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”  

As things like technology continue to transform our lives in so many ways, we are still hindered by some of the basic human tendencies to look for a shortcut in the important and very challenging situations in our lives. Here are a few recent examples:

  • Another college admissions scandal where people were trying to find a shortcut to get into some of the best schools in the nation.
  • Politicians who pitch sound-bite ideas to solve some of the most complex, multi-generational challenges of our nation.
  • A dizzying amount of relationship quick fixes that bring the false-hope of making conflict and despair quickly disappear from our closest relationships.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, it is important that we swallow an adult dose of reality and fully appreciate that there are no shortcuts to making a sustained difference in the important things in life.

Let’s face it, we all would like a shortcut to solving some challenges. “There has to be an easier way” is a recurring theme when we face a difficult challenge. There may well be a few efficiencies or techniques that can help, but there is no “easy” way to address the more challenging events in our lives.

Here are a few reminders of truth as we tackle challenges in our lives:

  1. It is getting close to springtime in many parts of the country. The spring season reminds us of the one basic natural law that directly translates into a relevant, practical, and universal truth necessary to accomplish our hopes and dreams: The Law of the Harvest; simply, you reap what you sow. There is no short cut to an abundant harvest. We must prepare the ground and plant the seed in spring and cultivate the crops throughout the summer growing season in order to reap an abundant harvest. Achieving the important things in life adhere to this same simple truth…with no exception.
  2. Universal principles like persistence, courage, compassion and hope are needed to guide us to achieving the important things in life. A quick-fix has never been shown to have a sustained impact over the long haul.  A few helpful techniques do come about over time, but it is time-tested principles that form the foundation to eventually bring about the results we are desiring to achieve. 
  3. Extending the opportunity to others for a second chance, especially those closest to us, is important to the long-term health of close relationships. If we are self-aware enough and take an honest look at our own personal history, we probably have made some decisions to find a shortcut or we took the bait for a seemingly cheap, easy way to accomplish some major goals. Our poor choices may not have made the national news (which I am sure we are all thankful for) so we should guard against getting too personally judgmental on those that did have the spotlight shine on them and simply let the scales of justice handle the process.  Perhaps extending the opportunity for a second chance will help them in their time of need. I am sure we would appreciate some support if we found ourselves in a similar situation.  

As we all move into springtime, let’s use the reminder of the law of the harvest to guide us to principle-based decisions and actions in facing our challenges, both big and small. As we avoid some troublesome shortcut, we will build and strengthen our character, and Character Creates Opportunity to achieve our goals no matter how difficult they may seem in our present situation.

Carefree driving on an empty road at sunset

Feeling Stupid – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, March 7, 2019

It has been said that discontent with our current situation is the first step in driving change. When things get bad and the pain of continuing our current path is greater than the perceived pain to change, then we begin the journey to change. When we get so sick and tired of our current situation then we make the effort to change. 

As we reflect on our own experience, we would probably see a similar pattern of delay until we reach the end of our rope and then we rally the strength and courage to change our ways.

After we overcome the first step and decide to change, it is often the second step that derails our efforts. When we change and try something new, the next step in the process is that we feel stupid (or incompetent, inadequate, or foolish). 

  • How did you feel when you first tried to snowboard?
  • How did you feel when you first tried to do yoga?
  • How do you feel each time your phone gets an upgrade with some new software?
  • How do you feel when you try to make a difference in your home and try something new?

As we try something new, we often feel stupid and sense a difficult road ahead with the new endeavor and we back off from effectively making the change.

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, finding ways to effectively deal with this second step in making a change will be critical for us to reach our full potential.

Our world continues to change at a rapid pace. If we are unwilling to learn new skills and adjust our behavior from time to time to be more effective, then we will soon find ourselves falling behind and not being our best for those we care about most.

Here are a few thoughts on helping all of us move more effectively through the second step of the change process, the sense of feeling stupid:

  1. Safety in numbers. Everyone feels stupid when they begin a new task…they may not show it as much as we feel it, but the truth is, everyone feels a bit inadequate from time to time.
  2. No pain, no gain. Ok, it is an overused phrase, but it is truth. Just like starting a new exercise routine, we know we are going to feel a bit sore as we work muscles in some new ways. Our experience would tell us that we do feel better in the end.
  3. Take baby steps. There is no need to take huge leaps into change. Small steps can build massive momentum over time. Just keep stepping forward and we will get better at the new task.
  4. Stay humble. Stumbling through new areas to learn and grow keeps us humble. Maintaining our humility is a good thing for ourselves and the example we set for others. Even is the best of times when we appear to be crushing it in this world, we don’t want to get too proud of ourselves…it can be super painful when we fall from a high place.  

As we become more intentional about working through the feeling of being stupid when we try new things, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to reach our full potential and be our best for those we care about most.

Beautiful elderly woman looking at a smartphone

Addressing Resistance – Character Creates Opportunity®: Thursday, February 28, 2019

There was a recruiting campaign that the US Army developed in the 1980s called “Be All You Can Be.”  Even though the US Army has launched several effective themes since (“Army of One” and “Army Strong”), the “Be All You Can Be” theme continues to resonate in popular culture as it speaks to reaching our individual potential.

Even when we genuinely care about making progress towards being our best for those we care about most, there is always some level of resistance to keep moving forward.  Whether it is our own experiences, the opinions of others, or the unfortunate “poor timing” of our last effort to make a change, we begin to question what we are trying to do and the probability of success in making a difference.

Leonardo da Vinci said it best when he said, “It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”

Some of the typical barriers we run into when thinking about making a change are:

  • We amplify typical/normal worries with comments like “This is probably our last shot to make it work.” “If we mess this up, there is no recovery.”
  • We work through a series of questions in our mind like “What will they think?” and “What will I tell them?”
  • We prepare ourselves for lower expectations with thoughts like “It probably won’t work anyway.” “It doesn’t really matter.” 

As we continue on our journey to build and strengthen our character, we all need a steady flow of reinforcement to effectively address the typical barriers to making ongoing progress in reaching our full potential and being our best for those we care about most.

Here are a few reminders to help overcome the typical resistance to keep moving forward:

  • Fear: We need courage to face the truth that below these typical barriers is our own fear. Fear of failing, fear of what others will think, or fear of disappointing someone is often part of our thought pattern. Fear is a reality that most of us face, but in the long run, it is not a healthy driver of our decisions on the journey to reach our full potential. The alternative is hope. Hope creates some positive momentum based on the fact that we have overcome challenges before and can build a bit more confidence to go forward.
  • Opinions: We need to acknowledge that somewhere inside of us, we do care about the opinions of others. It is not an effective strategy to say we just don’t care about what others think. The reality is we do care. The greatest desire after taking care of our basic necessities of life is that we all want to feel a connection with others and that we belong. We just need to put the opinions of others in proper context with a reminder that principles like courage, commitment, and loyalty are driving our desire to take action.
  • Choice: The choice is always ours to make. As opposed to letting these typical barriers become STOP signs to making a change, we should leverage them to refine our thinking and clarify our intentions. This step will help us strengthen the decision we are making and solidify our resolve to move forward with the change no matter what we face.

As we develop the habits to more effectively address these typical areas of resistance to change, we will build and strengthen our character and Character Creates Opportunity to reach our full potential and be our best for those we care about most.

A beautiful woman with long blond hair sitting at a table in a restaurant, drinking a cup of coffee in a white mug. She is a young adult, in her 20s, fashionably dressed, looking away with a serious expression, chin resting on her hand.