Jun 152014
 
(Father's Day edition) - 'Courageous' - 2014 Rascal's Guide to + Movies Series - Two

Just in time for Father’s Day …

… it’s my privilege to post a review, and a very strong recommendation, to watch the movie ‘Courageous‘.

Courageous is a terrific movie filled to the brim with truths in it’s moving, insightful, & heartfelt script. It will tug at your metaphysical heartstrings, and make you really reconsider if you are doing all you can as a man in serving your family.

It is very much the case that not all males are men; a man is created from the crucible of living for far more than a paycheck. He is molded by his culture/society, his local community, his friends, his pastor/spiritual leader, and his family unit. Some men run from their multi-pronged duties, some blame shift, some never mature … and then, there are some that fight back the ‘FLD’ (Five Laws of Decline), and serve their families with honour, with courage, with character, and with a determination to never quit on them.

This latter group is what we see emerge as the movie eventually reaches its plateaus of raw emotion & decision point(s). Without spoilers, the four lead characters each have to come face to face with situations which test their faith (or lack thereof), and put them square in the middle of a moral battlefield. Will each of them make the right decision(s)? Will they buckle under pressure? Will they put the lure of lesser things ahead of the greatness and glory of God?

This movie earns an A+ from this reviewer for multiple reasons – it rings like a tuning fork in the quiet room, for starters. It also is very real; we know these characters don’t exist in real life, yet you can surely see them in the faces & voices of your neighbors. Additionally, the movie doesn’t shy away from tackling difficult issues that may be considered “off limits” by those who don’t understand that one should have thick skin & a soft heart, rather than the reverse.

Who would’ve thought that an independent studio could cobble together the funds to put out such a quality film, one may ask? These folks in Georgia did. This movie doesn’t cut corners and it shows in the high level of acting skill, scenery, and quality of script-writing.

As we celebrate Father’s Day in our land, this is the best way I could show support for all the men in my life who are fathers (and for those who read this blog whom I don’t know!): put up a review of a movie which is a must-see (and must own) to sharpen their saw ( Habit 7 ) and use this movie as a sterling example of what a father should be.

All best!

Mar 282014
 
Praise - human relations skill box - Praise

Praise is powerful food for the human soul.

Why don’t we capture the vibrancy of this truth in our dealings with others far more often?

Consider these words from Mr. Charles Fillmore:

Words of praise, gratitude, or thanksgiving expand, set free, and in every way radiate energy … You can praise a weak body into strength, a fearful heart into peace and trust; shattered nerves into poise and power; a failing business into prosperity and success; want and insufficiency into support and support.

Wow. Tell me that doesn’t hit home with you!  Then again, perhaps it doesn’t … yet. Why could that be?  Our common culture disconnects our heart and soul from our mind and actions, let alone dampens our spirit and desire to be more than average.

Fillmore went on to say:

The whole of creation responds to praise and is glad. Animal trainers pet and reward their charges with delicacies for acts of obedience; children glow with joy and gladness when they are praised. Even vegetation grows better for those who love it.

Two books that stand out on this theme that I highly recommend reading and applying their truth nuggets are here and here.

Make it a great day, evening, or week, wherever you happen to be reading this post. Thank you for investing time in doing so & God Bless.

Nov 042013
 
Why aren't you doing (or have quit doing) something worthy? ...

… There’s a strong likelihood that the reasons are deeply seated, below the surface of your life, and in need of being brought out so you can dedicate your days to something that will leave a mark in our dark world. Being a candle in such a world isn’t the easiest thing you’ll ever embark on doing, however, it will have the most worth — by far.  ( I am living testament to this truth. )

From a fantastic audio recorded from a talk that I had the utmost pleasure to hear and experience in person,  below I’ve recapped the Top 10 reasons ##.  The reasons are fully from the speaker’s vast experiences in working with people for years upon years; the commentary below them is mostly my own, tying to my own ongoing journey taking the road less traveled.

**

10 > Pride

Prideful-ness is a major contributor to many negative traits and decisions. Often, it is connected to crowd-satisfying peer pressure, or negativity of some type. Study ways in which you can learn how to remove pride from your life to the greatest extent.

9 > Besetting sin(s)

In most anyone’s closet, there are skeletons from the past. After all, man is not by nature “good”, he (she) is a fallen sinner. We all have done, or perhaps are still doing, things which are sinful. Many quit something of value to avoid conflict, or to avoid having to confront thing(s) which are unpleasant.

8 > Lack of character

Resolution 2 from the highly regarded book, ‘Resolved’ includes an equation:  Integrity x courage = character. Do you know someone who quit before the finish line?  Perhaps he/she simply lacked the former, integrity itself. Or, on the other hand, maybe there was a shortage of courage at the root. Either way, character counts, as Os Guinness taught us in his short, and profound book of that name.

7 > Distractions

Broken focus. Ah, what was that you said again?!.  Yes, your focus was just broken. Maybe it was the lure of “lesser things” ( good > great , reversing the order ); or, was it a lack of sorting out your priorities from your urgencies and obligations?  Regardless: Distractions hurt the pursuit of the worth (-y).

6 > Comfort.

Odysseus fell prey to a siren song, did he not?  Have far too many modern day Americans, let alone most of the ‘First World’ citizens done the same as this well known Greek legend? Yes, I say — the verdict is in. Entitlements?  You’re entitled to very very little, except which is transmuted to you via natural laws. Comfort comes in many forms – if you want to join the 2-20% of society that is far ahead of the rest, avoid it! Have lots of fun, and restore yourself — self-care, so to speak, but don’t get comfortable!

5 > Dream is too small

The cure for this at the very root?  Three fantastic books:  ‘The Magic of Thinking Big”, “The Dream Giver”, & “Visioneering”.

You have to dream. And dream often & consistently. Please, though, do not confuse this with fantasy, or wishes, or the ‘SFN’ (Something for Nothing) club. Dreaming is a discipline, a requirement to be successful, and very invigorating to the soul, spirit, and mind. Be sure yours are B-I-G. !

4 > Relational challenges

We all have them, or had them, including me. It’s part of life in many ways – people are … people! And, since the 80-98% don’t study, learn, and practice human relations/people skills as a matter of due course, chances are, they have these challenges more often. To fix this instead of quitting something valuable to your legacy, study conflict resolution first. Best books in this area?  “Courage” & “The Anatomy of Peace”

3 > Personal responsibility

You’re the project. Simple as that. You cannot change others, and never, ever should you blame another person, let alone something inanimate, such as a golf club, for what you alone control. Personal responsibility is a brother to personal growth/change; it is the antithesis to dependence. Jump over independence, and move into the interdependent level of action & thinking to really learn how to get better on this point.

2 > Selfdoubt / low belief

Belief, and its companion faith, are imperative in everyone’s life. Quitting, being the opposite of success, easily can tie into missing the ‘belief’ coin. Let alone letting self-doubt, or being in a valley reflect your day to day living. Doubt is cured by plugging into better information — stopping listening to yourself — and, finding better association. One’s ‘tribe’, community, or platoon/foxhole should be shared with only those who are going to edify, uplift, encourage, and coach/mentor you to greater things. Get your hands on the new in 2013 book, “Confidence of a Champion” as a key add-on. It is stellar!

1 > Lack of mental toughness

A leader armours him/herself – tough skin required. Toughness is an ingredient in large quantities. The best read to counter-act this reason for joining the ‘quitter’s contingent’?  “Toughen Up!” — Mr. Hamilton pushes all the right buttons in this 2013 tome. In a world of correctors, cynics, discouragers, and unhealthy skeptics – many of whom do not read, or grow themselves in any other discerning way, adding layers of toughness, while keeping a soft heart, is the right way to prevent quitting due to this reason.

**

My hope is that this list & the books/tidbits tied to them, added a large measure of value. As always, comments & shares are deeply appreciated & welcomed. Gratitude in abundance is how I live.

**

## – that talk was from Mr. Chris Brady. You’ll find his blog in my blogroll, and numerous books that he authored, or co-authored, reviewed and recommended on my second (Tumblr) blog, also linked in the corner of the main splash page.  All the best to him & his family at all times, as his example is one that I wish to emulate as a lifelong self-directed student.

Aug 032013
 
Mindset -- Thick skin, soft heart > Soft skin, hard heart --

Your mindset is a very large input factor – its impact is much like a rock that ripples the standing, still waters on a lake once a person skips it across the surface.

So, after hearing a talk by a very accomplished business owner/entrepreneur about 6 weeks ago, and re-visiting my notes from her ** talk, I was inspired to blog about some of the contents of her talk, adding some of my own color to her words.  It was a very enlightening perspective!

First >

Being offended.

Have thick skin & a soft heart when it comes to being offended. Our culture is far too close to the soft skin, hard heart than it should be, which causes needless friction in relationships. Let alone, one’s mindset is impacted, as he/she is always either carrying a chip on his/her shoulder(s), or is always being overly concerned about what to say & when to say it. Manners matter, yet having empathy and grace are better.

Second >

Credentialism.

If someone has more credentials, certifications, or other ‘flair’ than the person next to you, please don’t have the mindset that this individual is more intelligent, smarter, or more impactful to society. There’s nothing at all amiss about pursuing these as you go after what you want ( ‘Define’ step ), however, your mindset must be centered on the value of people as far more than their career/occupation/job. The latter is just a small part of our lives. Let alone, the fact that self-directed (liber/leadership) education doesn’t bring with it any of these “tokens”, however, this path is just as valuable,and unquestionably so.

Third >

Being an employee & lacking understanding of being an owner/entrepreneur.

As with the second, neither of these pathways are “wrong”, however, oft-times, with the last century having been a force-shift culture rather than the previous 125 years, there is a mindset that someone who is an owner has to put their entire life on the line by signing a stack of papers, or having a name on a building. Let alone that entrepreneurship is ‘risky’, or requires a ton of time to get ahead versus a 40 hour employee’s average week. Not the case!  Here, again, mindset makes all the difference. Have thick skin if you are an owner facing questions like this; have a soft heart if you are dealing with an owner who is chasing his/her dream of freedom

Fourth >

The desire to always win an argument.

Dale Carnegie taught us all about four score years ago that one never really wins an argument. Sage wisdom from the past, as usual, is timeless. However, when your skin is not thick, you may be far more defensive, less humble, et al., so I can clearly can tell why she included this in her talk about mindset.  Instead of winning an argument, and losing the battle, let alone the’ ‘war’, how about digging into people skills books, audios, and surround yourself with those whom will make you better?

Fifth >

Image.

One possible way to approach image is to compare it to one’s reputation, as opposed to what one truly is, inside-out. A person is far more than how he looks on the surface, how much schooling/education she has, etc. Being materialistic, judgmental of someone’s choice of clothing without knowing details, critiquing his way of talking; all of these are image-conscious. It’s far more valuable to re-focus your mindset on something that will edify and glorify others.

and, lastly, Sixth >

Excuses.

We’ve all made them; in fact, Dr. David Schwartz, in his landmark book, ‘The Magic of Thinking Big’, dedicated a whole chapter to ‘Excuse-itis’!  So, let’s not reflexively judge others, nor beat ourselves up if we’ve come up with excuses. These are signs of the latter from this blog’s subject – a hard heart and thin skin. Rather, turn the excuses into reasons! And, have a thick skin and grace when it comes to dealing with others who have not yet reshaped their mindset to one of solutions, rather than problems.

_________

** – all credit for the outline/core themes from this post to Mrs. Terri Brady. Her talks are always a value add to my life. Visit her blog @ http://terribradyblog.com for an excellent dose of success, wealth, and interpersonal development thinking.

Jul 242013
 
The Three Most Important Q's you will ever ask yourself

Who am I?

+ Do you know what drives your economic engine?  Your faith/spiritual walk?  Do you embrace liberty & know the meanings of freedom?  Do you have a family that means the world to you?  What is your WHY? +

Where did I come from?

+ What are your roots & even more to the point, do you know WHY you believe WHAT you believe?  Be an independent thinker at all times; let no media, PR/advertising, or other outside influence sway you without heart, spirit, and mind being engaged through your own research. +

Where am I going?

+ Do you see your future clearly, whether over present day obstacles/challenges, or clear as the blue sky above?  Do you have a 1,3,5, 10 year vision?  Is your subconscious mind pulling your conscious mind along for the ride to your dreams?  Do not plan more for your wedding, vacation, or your ‘weekend’ more so than your life. The latter is far too important to drift through w/o focus, hard/smart work, & chasing something far bigger than your present reality. +

 

Jun 292013
 
Earl Nightingale's timeless wisdom ... on criticism

Earl Nightingale was a terrific inspiration to many before my time, however, his wisdom lives on ad infinitum due to the power of the internet, through those who are still alive from his generation, and via various sources of ‘off’line media ( books, audios ).

It is from the middle of these that I heard this information, and it was so valuable, it is forming the fundamental core of this post.

To preface:  Critics are everywhere, most especially when you are doing something that makes him/her/them uncomfortable, something they do not understand (or wish to), or due to some base negative emotion – jealousy, envy, fear, greed, or revenge.  Now, why would you, as someone who is striking out on a journey to do something un-average, something that blesses lives, something that is significant in its impact on your family, friends, culture, or the nation in which you live, ever listen to a critic?   Quite likely, its due to the concept of ‘peer pressure’ — there’s something inside of each of us that wants to drive us to conform, to gain or curry favor from those whom we know, to “fit in” with the crowd. Herein lies the problem at its root; those who do the greatest acts often are criticized, sometimes completely without provocation, with very little merit. Many historical examples spring to mind: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, Lincoln, Washington, Mother Teresa, Jesus Christ, Pythagoras, Mandela, … the list goes on and on.

So, you’re not nearly as well known as those men & women?  Neither were they at one point or many points in their lives. They stepped out. They became public figures. They strived to effect change and be part of the solution(s) to problems. How many critics do you know who have done great and lasting things?  Exactly. I bet you said ‘none’.  🙂

Let’s now dive into Mr. Nightingale’s list of nine/9 traits of a critic.  See which one(s) strike the most as you are on your journey; if you are on one, or are considering stepping out from the herd, you’ll quite likely experience one or more of these. Here’s hoping they help you reframe, and re-set your mindset. Never let a critic infilitrate your subsconscious mind- those four billion neurons per second are far too valuable real estate to sell to someone(s) who do not have your best interests at heart, in mind, and in spirit.

— . — . —

No. 1 – A critic only thinks of him/herself.

No. 2 – Critics only talk of themselves.

No. 3 – Critics sulk if people aren’t grateful for what they’ve done.

No. 4 – Critics never forget a service that’s been rendered by them.

No. 5 – A critic expects to be appreciated.

No. 6 – Critics are suspicious of everyone.

No. 7 – Critics are sensitive to slight(s).

No. 8 – Critics are jealous and envious.

No. 9 – Critics don’t trust anyone but themselves.

— . — . —

He also added that these all make a critic’s life miserable, so they tend towards being loveless, and can often be non-providers.

After letting the above sink in, think long, hard, and in depth:  Do you really want someone with even one of these traits helping you make a decision of any size?  Offering you an opinion?

Always positively associate with those who have vision, defined/detected purpose, anchored to their priorities, and whom have your back in all situations.

Hope this helps you. As always, feedback is welcomed & encouraged. Many blessings & well wishes!

May 032013
 
Service > self

Service.

Self.

Two distinct words.

Yet, how often do we put them in order of what we want vs. what others could benefit by?

Far too often — especially if you live your days in the mass media/consumerist culture.

Changing this at its roots requires heart, mind, and will, all fused together. Can it be done? Absolutely; I am living proof that it can transform a life.

How did I do it?  Or, better phrased: How am I continuing to get better at it?

The answer is that I am purposeful in what I allow to enter my mind. Your thinking is the lever of your life; if you let your thinking go south, let alone take your own advice, or the advice/opinions of those who don’t have the results/success which you strive for, you’ve lost a battle. Does this mean that the war is lost too?  Not in the least!  Just go back to your “trip point“, which is the information. Information changes lives. Undoubtedly.

Service can be defined so many ways; one way that it can be framed is in the context of servant leadership. When you understand leadership as equaling influence, you know that by being a servant, and putting service ahead of self, you’ve blessed someone else. Ego must be subservient to excellence, just in the same way as service > self.

Self -focus is caused by a society/culture which glorifies success in a mis-defined manner:  By the love of money ( as money is not the root of all evil; the love of it is); by characterizing success as financial (“being rich“) only; by what the celebrities & sports stars are doing; or even by encouraging competition ahead of community/interdependent ( ‘Law of the Inner Circle‘ , ‘Level 4‘ thinking.)

Going back to the information as the root source leading to the lever going up (service) or down (self) — it does require humility/humble-ness, hone-ability, a lack of self-deception, and courage to want to take steps to change the information flow. Here in the connected/internet/info age, information is beyond plentiful; it is all encompassing!  It surrounds us like a cocoon, and if we aren’t perceptive, it can impact our thinking in mere seconds. Think of how your mood changes by listening to a negative source, such as the TV news; why would you constantly shovel snow ONTO your grass when you could use your snow blower to REMOVE it?  This is analagous to letting bad/un-edifying/uplifting info into your head when you could turn it off.

Be a blessing to others by serving them. Think of how you felt when you volunteered at a charitable event, or when you donated monies, or when you helped at your church , or when you stepped up to help a neighbor in need. That’s obviously putting service before self, and doing this consistently can be encouraged by starting at the information ‘step’, and observing the changes in your thinking over time.

Thank you for reading, and all the very best in the days ahead!