“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”  Ephesians 4:29

All of us need encouragement.  This is a difficult world to live in.  At some point in our lives, most of us will experience financial struggles.

Relationships are pushed to the limits at times and we wonder if we can save some of them or not.  Doubt sets in when we look at our goals after we hit a stumbling block.

Think about how you have felt when someone said just the right thing at the right time and it lifted your spirits.  This is something that we can do all day long and it does not cost us a thing.  “Words of encouragement cost you nothing, but they have a great value to others.” Thomas Mayberry  Go ahead and tweet that.  Look for the opportunity throughout the day to encourage others.

I have had co-workers that have come to me in desperation because of circumstances beyond their control in their lives.  I have found that the best encouragement that I can give them is to offer to pray for them.  Sometimes they do not give you specifics about the circumstances.  That is fine.  God knows the circumstances.  You just need to lift them up in prayer and God will take it from there.

Giving someone praise for the job well done at work is a form of encouragement.  They will try harder in the future if they know that someone is noticing and they feel appreciated.  We are too fast in offering counseling for the things that people do wrong, but too slow to point out the good things in people.  Take the time over the next week to look for opportunities to point out the strengths of others.  If someone is struggling, offer to help them in the area of their struggles.  Sometimes people’s pride does not let them accept help.  This is where you can pray that they get resolution to their struggles.

Let everything you say be good and helpful.  Do you remember the phrase, “If you do not have anything good to say, do not say anything.”?  It is a good practice to get into.  Stop for a minute every time that you feel like saying something bad about someone.  It will change your attitude and will help your relationship with that person going forward.

Be quiet and listen.  It seems so simple.  Why do so many people not follow this philosophy?  We get so wrapped up in ourselves and what we want to say that we tend to forget to be quiet and just listen to the other person.

This happens both in our personal lives and in the business world.  The person that we are talking with is more important than you are.  It does not matter who they are or who you are.  They are more important.  If you take this approach, you will be more successful.

Here is an example.  A manager calls an employee into their office to discuss a behavior that was observed and gives the employee a written warning for the offense.  Their decision is already made up and nothing that the employee has to say will change their mind.  They are closed minded and unwilling to listen.  How would you approach this differently if you took the approach that the employee was the most important person in the room?

I would suggest bringing the employee into your office to discuss the situation before making the decision to give them the written warning.  Explain to them the situation (as you see it) and give them the opportunity to tell their side of the story.  You then need to be quiet and listen.  Do not think about what your next sentence will be, but just listen.

It is amazing what you can find out just by listening.  It may not make the offense acceptable, but it may make it explainable.  This gives you the opportunity for a coaching moment.  You can teach them how to handle the situation in the future without putting their career in jeopardy.  There may be issues in their department that need to be addressed that you were not even aware that existed.

More times than not, you will probably be able to coach them into being a stronger employee without going down the route of written counseling.  This lets them leave your office with their dignity still intact.  You can help them feel like they are a valuable part of your team.  All of this is possible if you just be quiet and listen.

This same approach can be used in many areas of our lives.  How do you approach the raising of your kids?  Do you take the time to listen?

What other coachable moments can be improved by just being quiet and listening?

I was running ten miles this morning and decided not to listen to music like I normally do.  Today, I decided to reflect on my life.  When was the last time that you did this?

I thought back about all of the events that have taken place over the years.  Some were very happy moments and some were very painful.  There have been so many different path changes along the way.  Every event had it's time and place.  I do not believe in coincidence.  I feel that it is all God's plan.

I imagine my life as being a large puzzle that God is putting together.  I used to put together jigsaw puzzles as a kid.  It might take me a while to put it together, but I always knew what the picture would look like once it was put together.  Our lives, though, are different.  We do not know what God has in store for us.  Everything that happens to us throughout our lives has a purpose.

It all plays a part into the type of person that we become.  Our personalities, our beliefs and how we interact with others.  I am very passionate about the way that I lead others.  Reflecting back on  my career, I can see why.  I did not always have a respectful boss and disagreed with a lot of the practices of my fellow managers.

My third book will be published within the next couple of months.  It will give you guidance in setting and attaining goals in your life.  I have been blessed with this avenue to teach others what I have learned along the way.  This is just one of the blessings that I reflected on today during my run.  I have some very dear friends and a great family.  God has taken care of me through everything that has taken place over the years.

Only God knows what the picture of my life will be when it is completed.  I have confidence that whatever it is, His will is better than mine.  I am excited to find out what He has in store for me.  I know that the best is yet to come.

What have you reflected on today?  Do you trust in God's plan for your life?

I would love to hear your thoughts.

I am heading out of town for vacation next week and plan on getting in some rounds of golf.  One of the courses that I am considering playing has a 747 yard, par 6 hole.

That is one of the longest golf holes in the world.  This made me think about our approach to goal setting.  Picture your long term goal as if you were playing this hole and trying to make it into the cup in 6 shots or less.  In my case, it would be trying for 8 shots or less, since I am not a great golfer.  You have to have shorter goals along the way.

When you walk up to the tee box, you are trying to hit the ball with your driver and keep it straight down the fairway.  It will take you a few shots before you get to the green on this hole.  You have to stay focused on the goal to keep it straight down the fairway.  One miss hit and you end up in trouble to the right or left.

When you are achieving your goals in life, there are sometimes that things do not go as planned.  In golf, it may be a ball that is hit in between some trees.  At that point you need to adjust your short term goal.  There is nothing wrong with that.  As long as you remember your long term goal, you can adjust the short term ones to get you back on track.

In the game of golf, you will need to hit a short shot back into the fairway and then you can aim for the green again.  If you have ever played golf, you are aware of what happens when you look up to see where the ball is going before you actually hit it.  You do not hit it squarely and it barely rolls forward.  This adds more shots to your score to get to the hole.

Sometimes when we are pursuing goals, we get ahead of ourselves and try to accomplish the end result before we accomplish the steps along the way.  We normally are not successful in doing this.  Do not skip the needed steps along the way to your goals.  They are important.

Keep focused on the importance of the ultimate goal, but accomplish it by concentrating on achieving the steps along the way.  If you break down the goal into a series of smaller goals, it will improve your success rate.

What are some of the goals that you are pursuing and how are you breaking them down into smaller steps?

What goals are you currently working on?  Are you making progress towards achieving them?  I used to set a lot of goals and then put them aside and tended to forget about them.

It is not uncommon for people, especially with their new years resolutions to start new goals and not follow through with them until completion. 

I have noticed that there are 5 main reasons that this happens.
  1. You do not write them down.  I have the same problem at work.  There are so many things going on that if someone comes into my office and needs something, I have to write it down.  If I don't, by the time I go back to whatever project that I was working on, I tend to forget that they had a request.
  2. You do not plan the action steps required to reach the goal.  Let's say that I want to lose 10 pounds in the next two months.  It sounds great, but how am I going to achieve it?  I need to decide if it will require diet and/or exercise and how I will monitor it.
  3. The goal does not have any motivational benefit to you.  Is the motivation driven by others, or is it something that you really want to do?  "How badly you want something dictates how much you are willing to give up to get it."  @thomasamayberry  You can tweet that if you would like. 
  4. There is no due date.  As what happens at work to many of us, if a project is put on our desk and there is not a due date, we work the priorities that we have around it.  It is not really procrastinating, but the end result is the same.  You need to make your goals a priority.  Setting a due date helps to accomplish this.
  5. You have too many goals.  If you stretch your efforts to too many things, you cannot give them as much attention.  If you are spending time addressing one goal, it is taking time away from another one.  I would limit yourself to just a few goals that hit maybe three different areas of your life.  That may be health, personal relationships and spiritual growth.

Keep pursuing your goals.  It is a great way to grow personally and professionally.  Think about these five things the next time you analyze your goals.  It will make a difference in your success rate.

I would love to hear what your current goals consist of.  You can leave your comments below.

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Have you given very much thought about your thumb print?  Most people do not.  Our finger prints distinguish us from anyone else.  It is an identifying feature of our body.

When we touch something, we leave a mark.  You may not be able to see it in some circumstances, but it is still there.  The same thing can be said about projects at work or in different groups that we associate with in our personal life.

We make our mark on anything that we get involved in.  It may be our personal approach to the situation that is different than how someone else would have handled it.  We need to be aware of how we affect others.  What is our priority on the project?  Who will it affect and how will it affect them?

Another issue that I see too often is people not accepting responsibility.  They may know what the problem is, but are waiting for someone else to fix it.  You need to step up and take ownership of the situation.  Leave your mark.  That is what leaders do.  They take ownership.

Does this mean that they will get it right everytime?  Definitely not, but that is alright.  At least they did something.  Too often, everyone leaves a meeting with numerous good ideas and then a few weeks later they wonder why nothing was implemented.  It is because no one "owned" the project.  No one wanted the responsibility to take charge of the initiatives and put a plan in place to get the results that are needed.

This is where your leadership style leaves your mark on the project.  I will leave you with one thought to ponder the next time you look at your thumbprint.  What does your leadership style say about you?  What kind of mark are you leaving behind?

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It is the start of spring.  It is an exciting time in nature.  It is the start of new life.  It is the sign of change.  New buds appear on the trees and bushes.  They have been dormant through the winter.

We see these changes in our lives as well.  They may not follow closely to the seasons of nature, but we still have seasons.  Have you attended a seminar and walked away motivated to change a part of your life or an approach to something at work? 

How many of you have decided that now is the time to eat healthier and get your bodies in better shape for a trip to the beach this summer?  You have been dormant during the winter and it is now time to get some new life.  I relate it to trying to put the bad parts of the past season behind us.  I am glad that the cold winter weather is gone. 

Think about some of the bad habits that you have and you want to shed.  Now is a good time to concentrate on developing better habits.  How have you treated your co-workers lately?  Do you treat them with respect?  Do you lend a helping hand when needed or an ear during times of struggle?  Now would be the perfect time to change the season in our relationships with our teammates.

In the third chapter of Ecclesiastes it says "To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven."  We can look to God for direction in our lives.  Where does He want us to change?  What are His expectations in the next season?

I looked at the weather forecast for next week and it calls for another chance for snow.  Even though we are in a new season, sometimes part of the past season comes back temporarily.  This happens in our lives as well.  We start into the new season and then something from the past comes back to discourage us.  Stay positive.  Just like spring time, there will be more pleasant days than cold ones.

What are you doing this spring to make a positive change in your life?  Leave your comments below so we can learn from each other. 

    I experienced an injury this past weekend while running a half marathon.  When I went to the doctor, he recommended a chiropractor because he said that my hips looked like they were out of alignment.
    X-rays that were taken confirmed this and I am now under chiropractic care.  It made me think about my life in general.  I have talked about the fact that we should be pursuing God's will, not ours.  Do we need an adjustment in our lives to achieve this?
    My hips and spine did not get out of alignment by not doing anything.  It either was caused because of an event, like a fall, or over time by doing the wrong things.  This same concept can be applied to where we stand in doing God's will in our lives.
    What starts out as bad habits or hanging out with the wrong crowds slowly pulls us away from God.  What starts as a small sin (in our eyes) becomes a habit that we no longer consider a sin.  Peer pressure takes us further down that path.  What would we see if we could take an x-ray of our lives and compare it to what God wants from us?  What would we do to change, or would we?
    It is not too late to do that self evaluation.  I believe that all of our experiences in our lives are there to prepare us for further service to God.  I had a bout of depression a number of years back so I could be a better counselor for a friend that more recently went through the same experience.
  I was not the best husband that I could have been and it took me a long time to realize that.  I can use that experience to educate my sons so that they do not go down that same path.
    Let me know what you found out in your self evaluation that you are working towards adjusting in your life.  It may help someone else that is reading this.

Are you dedicated to achieving your goals or easily swayed away from them?  There are decision points along the way to your goal that will test your determination.  I had one of those points this weekend.

I am participating in a training program to prepare myself to run a full marathon at the end of April.  Every Saturday, we have a long run (10 or more miles) that we run as a group.  We are grouped with other at our same run pace.  This weekend, we were scheduled for 15 miles.

The temperature for these runs lately has been in the 20s at the start of the run.  This run was forecasted as 26 degrees and a chance of snow flurries.  Friday evening, I dropped off my car at a shop to get some work done on Saturday while I was on my run.  I was planning on taking my truck to the run.  I got out to warm up the truck and it was sleeting.  The truck would not start.

The thought of going back to bed and doing the run later in the day, on my own, crossed my mind.  My son just happened to be home for the night and would go into work after lunch.  After trying to jump start the truck, I figured out that it was not a battery problem and it was not going anywhere.  I decided that I wanted to still get my run in, regardless of the weather.  I borrowed his car.

When I got to the meeting place for the run, I was met by the training leader and informed that the run was cancelled.  I quickly thought about going back home.  He told me that one of my running partners was there and she and a few others were planning on running anyway.  My mind was made up.  I was going to run.  There were about a dozen runners that started down the road in the cold and windy weather.  The snow had stopped with just a dusting.  We accomplished our goal of 15 miles.

There are two main points to my story in regards to accomplishing your goals.

1.  What is your level of commitment?  Are you easily swayed from what needs to be done to reach your goals?

2.  Have people around you that will hold you accountable.  Seeing my running partner there convinced me that I needed to run that morning.  She told me afterwards that if I had not stayed and ran; she probably would not have run the full 15 miles.

What decision points have you had in your pursuit of your goals?  What decision did you make?  Share your comments below to help others with their own motivation.  This Bible verse comes to mind.

2 Timothy 4:7 (ESV)  I have fought the good fight, I finished the race, I have kept the faith.

Have you made some new resolutions for 2014?  Are they the same ones that you made in 2013?  I have read one study that said that 45% of Americans made resolutions this year.  It also said that only 8% of the resolutions made are kept.

Here are a few resolutions to consider adding to your list for 2014.

Be Thankful
Psalm 37:4 

Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

I have found that the more thanks that I give God for blessings that I have, the more blessings that He gives me.  This year make a conscious effort to acknowledge your blessings and give Him thanks.  The more that you are aware of your blessings gives you a more optimistic outlook.  It always helps to have a positive outlook when it comes to goal achievement.

Have Patience
Proverbs 21:5 

The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.

Have patience with your goals.  Do not expect to change habits overnight.  If weight loss is your goal, realize that it took a while to put on the weight and it will take a while to get it back off.  You will not develop new habits in just a couple of weeks.  Keep your focus and do not give up.  You may have some set backs, but keep the goal in mind and get back on track.  You will eventually be successful.

Trust in God
Phillipeans 4:13

can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

As long as your goals are not against God's will, He can help you along the way towards achieving them.  Ask a lot of your Christian friends about the power of prayer.  There are examples of miracles that are happening around us.  I am not saying that it will take a miracle to reach your goals, but it just shows that anything is possible.

I hope you have a blessed and prosperous 2014!  Keep the focus on God.  He is the key to your success. Let me know what your goals are for this year.  I would love to be able to help you achieve them.