Tuesday 31 January 2017

Break Free From "I'd Be Happy If..."

Author Srikumar Rao says that it is all well and good to set and achieve goals.  However, break free from the "I'd Be Happy If..." mentality.  Passion comes from within, not without.  "Plug into your hard-wired happiness." Think of your life ten years ago.  You had goals and dreams.  Have you not achieved some or many of those goals?  But are you any happier than you were ten years ago?

About 10 years ago, I wrote a piece for an online writing course I took inspired by the Bare Naked Ladies song "The Old Apartment"(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=quYV9nASs8Q).  It was our first year of marriage.  I was just starting out in my teaching career.  I had a Teacher's College loan as well as a used car loan at a whopping 13%.  My husband Rob was attending university full time to get his Master's.  As newlyweds, we lived in a 900-square foot attic apartment in Hamilton, Ontario.  We brushed our teeth in the kitchen sink.  Mrs. Hunt, a divorcee who had lived in the second floor apartment for 20 years would relay to Rob's Oma, who lived on the first floor, whenever we had a fight.  Oma would phone Rob's Mom who in turn would phone Rob.  One day, Rob put his suitcase in the back of his car and left sans moi.  Mrs. Hunt told Oma that he was leaving me!  It turned out that he was picking me up at the Paris school where I taught and we were going to drive together to my parents' house in Grand Bend.  Believe it or not, I look back fondly on that first year of marriage: we had next to nothing materially but we had each other.

The problem is that the "I'd Be Happy If..." model that we follow is flawed.  Don't waste all your time changing the IF.  Be content in the here and now.  Think about a scene that took your breath away at on time in your life, like a rainbow over a valley.  You took in the scene, took a deep breath and thanked God for the beauty all around you.  You didn't proceed to change the scene:  trim a tree or make the rainbow a little bit higher.  You accepted the universe as is.

You can change your action but you can't change the outcome.  Srikumar Rao mentions a husband who had been neglecting his wife.  He decided to change the situation and bought her a pretty dress for a special occasion.  His wife, however, did not react the way he expected her to:  the dress was the wrong size and the wrong colour.  He received the opposite reaction to what he intended.  Focus, on the action, not the outcome.

Imagine if a 12 month old baby got discouraged every time she fell after taking a few steps.  Imagine if she berated herself over and over again.  Imagine if she needed to go for counselling every time she had a misstep.  She would never learn how to walk.  But she perseveres and she does reach the point of walking without stumbling.  Enjoy the process...and the rest will take care of itself.

Source:  Ted Talk Plug into Your Hard Wired Happiness by Srikumar Rao (https://www.ted.com/talks/srikumar_rao_plug_into_your_hard_wired_happiness).

Monday 30 January 2017

Fall in Love with the Process

I remember my brother, Bill, used to love the Rocky movies when he was growing up.  In Rocky IV, Rocky's good friend Apollo Creed meets up with a formidable opponent from Russia named Drago.  Drago is so muscular, so huge, he doesn't even seem real.  Despite the odds, Apollo Creed rises to the challenge.  He faces Drago in Las Vegas where the Russian is determined to show his Soviet superiority.  Apollo's blows land but don't seem to have any effect on Drago.  Then the Russian attacks the American with such ferocity he knocks him out and kills him.

Determined to avenge his friend's death, Rocky challengers Drago to a match.  But how could anyone defeat the steroid-enhanced Soviet in the ring?  Rocky rises to the challenge.  He doesn't focus on the end result, on the fact that the odds are stacked overwhelming against him.  Instead, he focuses on the process.  He falls in love the process.

This is the part of the movie that Bill loves.  To prepare for the match, Drago exercises with his high tech equipment and pumps himself full of steroids.  However, Rocky takes a completely different approach.  He travels to Siberia where he trains under the most primitive conditions:  lifts and throws heavy logs, chops down trees, pulls an overloaded sleigh in the snow and climbs an icy mountain. What most would consider mundane and boring, he thrives on.  The process becomes Rocky's "raison d'etre".

Through his training, he doesn't just build strength, but resilience.  During the match, its this resilience which helps him go the distance with Drago.  Battered and bloodied, he manages to knock the Russian out and win the match.

What is your goal?  Who or what do you have to face?  Rather than focusing on the formidable opponent who looms over you, focus on the process  Fall in love with it.  It won't seem like work anymore.  You will go the distance.

Sunday 29 January 2017

How Arnold Schwarzenegger Used a Vision to Become Mr. Universe

"I had this fixed idea of growing a body like Reg Park's.  The model was there in my mind.  I only had to grow enough to fill it.  The more I focused in on this image and worked and grew, the more I saw that it was real and possible to be like him." (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Reg Park, Mr. Universe 1951, courtesy http://www.strength-oldschool.com/tag/reg-park/.

Arnold Schwarzenegger had a vision.  One day, he picked up a magazine with Reg Park, the star of Hercules, on the cover.  It hit him:  "He was going to follow in Reg Park's footsteps, become a body building champion and a huge movie star."

Growing up in rural Austria in the 1950's, Arnold's father had other ideas.  He pushed for his son to enter the Army and then become a police officer, as he had done.  His father frowned on bodybuilding which was not popular at the time.  Even so, Arnold began training in earnest to pursue his dream.

At 18, Arnold's father insisted that he join the Austrian Army.  Arnold did so, but still with his vision fixed firmly in his mind.  Each night, when the cadets fell into bed exhausted, Arnold would devote three additional hours to strength training.  Each morning he woke up early to get in his push-ups, sit-ups and chin-ups before the mandatory 5 am run.  The other cadets thought that he was foolish, but Arnold had a vision:  "I had this fixed idea of growing a body like Reg Park's.  The model was there in my mind.  I only had to grow enough to fill it.  The more I focused in on this image and worked and grew, the more I saw that it was real and possible to be like him." (http://www.willpowered.co/learn/arnold-schwarzeneggers-vision)

Arnold's opportunity to prove himself came in the form of the Mr. Junior Europe Championship in Stuttgart, Germany.  He sneaked out of the military base early and hopped a freight train.  Arnold generated huge applause from the audience and captured first prize.  In 1966, Arnold attended the Mr. Universe competition for the first time and impressed one of the judges, Charles Bennett, so much that he offered to coach him (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c7Iaz_r2t-g).  The following year, Arnold clinched the title of Mr. Universe.  "The Mr. Universe title was my ticket to America," explained Arnold. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Schwarzenegger).  

But Arnold's dream hadn't completely come to fruition.  He frequently told his English coach, Roger C. Field, when he lived in Munich, "I'm going to become the greatest actor."  The vision became a reality when Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in The Terminator (1984) launching his career as the top action film star of the 20th Century.

What is your vision?  What is your "Aha!" moment?  Have you discovered a picture on a magazine cover?  Fix the image in your mind and dwell on it daily.  Ignore the naysayers.  Believe in yourself. Do the "heavy lifting" to make it happen.  You, too, will be standing on top of the podium.  

Arnold Schwarzenegger (right) Mr. Universe 1967 courtesy http://www.getbig.com/boards/index.php?topic=252107.0.

Saturday 28 January 2017

Delayed Gratification Leads to Success

Last year I blogged about delayed gratification and the Marshmallow Experiment conducted by a Stanford professor (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/01/the-marshmallow-experiment-delayed.html).  The professor selected a group of children who each were given a marshmallow.  He told them that he had to complete a small errand and would return shortly.  If they delayed eating the marshmallow until he returned, they would received a second marshmallow.  However, if they ate the marshmallow right away, they would not.  Follow up studies that he conducted showed that those who waited until he returned and received a second marshmallow completed college at higher rates and earned higher incomes.

I did nor realize that the Stanford professor conducted a second study.  This time, he offered the children a marshmallow with the promise of a second one upon his return.  However, he had control groups as well.  Group 1 was to imagine that the marshmallow was like a cloud:  round, white and puffy.  Group 2 was to imagine how sweet and chewy and soft the marshmallows were.  Group 3 was to focus on another tasty treat:  crunchy, salty pretzels.  Picturing the pretzels produced the longest delay in gratification.  The professor concluded that the most effective way to delay gratification is to focus on another pleasure (unavailable at the time).

Regardless of how you delay gratification, the point is that high-delay children lead to happier, more successful adults.  In this instant gratification society, it is difficult to resist the urge to go for the quick fix.  Learn how to control your impulses.  Remember:  "Good things come to those who wait".

Note:  Read The Undefeated Mind by Dr. Lickerman.

Friday 27 January 2017

Live in Harmony with Your Values

"For what [has] a man profited if he shall gain the whole world but lose his soul?" (Mark 8:36)

Brian Tracy says:  "Any attempt to live on the outside in a manner that contradicts the values you hold on the inside will cause you stress, negativity, unhappiness, pessimism, and even anger and frustration."   You must clarify your values before you set out to achieve your goals.  Think of yourself as a mountaineer setting out to climb a mountain.  First, you must collect your array of tools that you must take with you in order to make the summit.  If you go without these tools, you will not make it very far up the mountain.  Similarly, if you don't identify your values, you will not make it very far in your conquest of your goals.

The Bible says:  "For what [has] a man profited if he shall gain the whole world but lose his soul?" (Mark 8:36)  The happiest people are those living in harmony with their beliefs and values; the unhappiest people are those who live in discord with their beliefs and values.  No amount of pills or alcohol or food can make it all right if you are living a lie.  "Your goals must be congruent with your values and your values must be congruent with your goals." 

"You demonstrate your values in your actions, especially your actions under pressure," explains Brian Tracy.  One of my favourite movies, Leap Year, demonstrates this truth.  Amy Adams plays a woman who is torn between two men, an American and an Irishman.  The former, played by Adam Scott, is a successful cardiologist who lives in a beautiful condo in Boston.  The latter, played by Matthew Goode, is a down on his luck tavern owner from Dublin.  On a trip to Ireland, the American finally proposes to Amy.  She returns to Boston to live in the condo with her fiance.  However, shortly after, the fire alarm goes off and Amy's fiance is scrambling to find his laptop.  He doesn't even make sure that Amy is safe.  The cardiologist's actions under pressure reveal his true values.  Amy has her answer and takes the first flight back to Ireland where she gets a proposal from the Irishman (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1216492/).

Thursday 26 January 2017

Great Strides, Great Sacrifices

"Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle..." 
(Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Stride Toward Freedom:  The Montgomery Story)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. knew that if he were to make strides in his cause of Civil Rights, he would have to sacrifice.  His followers knew they would have to sacrifice.  For every gain there is a loss.  When Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus in 1955, her stance sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.  Rosa paid a price:  she spent a night in jail; she received so much scorn that she and her husband moved to Detroit about a year later.  But the boycott worked and in 1956, the busses were desegregated. (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/09/rosa-parks-writes-about-her-arrest.html)

David Richmond, Franklin McCain, Joseph McNeil and Ezell Blair Jr. knew they would have to sacrifice when they took their seats at a Greensboro lunch counter.  What they ordered was a cup of coffee and a donut; what they received was a peppering of hate by the surrounding crowd.  Their dignity was stretched to the limit.  But the Greensboro Four sparked sit ins in 55 other cities in 13 states.  Because of their stance, lunch counters became integrated across the country. (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2016/02/the-greensboro-four.html)

James Peck knew that he would have to sacrifice when he joined the Freedom Riders in 1961.  A radical journalist, Peck was one of the white protesters campaigning for equal rights for blacks.  If racist whites treated blacks poorly, they treated whites even worse since they were considered traitors to their race.  At the Birmingham Trailways Bus Station, Peck and his fellow Freedom Riders were surrounded by an angry mob.  A riot broke out, led by the Ku Klux Klan, and Peck was beaten to within an inch of his life, sustaining severed injuries to his head and face.  Peck waited for an hour for an ambulance willing to take him to the all-white Carraway Methodist Hospital where they refused to treat him.  His price for supporting the Civil Rights cause was 53 stitches which he received at Jefferson Hillman Hospital.  In November of 1961, the interstate bussing laws changed allowing blacks and whites to sit together. (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2016/02/the-freedom-riders.html)

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. paid the price in many ways for his Civil Rights movement.  He spent many nights in jail for his protests.  He paid the ultimate price with his life, gunned down by an assassin in 1968.  "Every step towards the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle..."

Wednesday 25 January 2017

The Fosbury Flop: How You Can Win Gold By Doing Things Differently

"Be clear about your goal, but be flexible about the process of attaining it.' 
(Brian Tracy)

American high jumper Dick Fosbury's dream was to win an Olympic medal.  Fosbury had struggled with the belly roll, the accepted technique used by high jumpers at the time.  He didn't like the scissors technique either.   While his results were mediocre, he wasn't prepared to give up on his dream.

One day he decided to shake things up.  The 6 foot 4 inch athlete approached the bar, and then turned his back to it, vaulting over the bar and arching his back, and landing on his neck and shoulders.  While the high jumper touched new heights, his unconventional technique met with much criticism.  The Medford Mail-Tribune ran a photo with the caption:  "Fosbury Flops over Bar".   Another newspaper claimed that Fosbury resembled "a fishing flopping in a boat".  A third called him the "world's laziest jumper".  Even Fosbury's coach told him to use the technique only as Plan B.

However, the Fosbury Flop had been born.  With his new form, Fosbury reached 6 foot 10 inches, and broke the school record.  He went on to win the NCAA championship.  In 1968, he wasn't the favourite heading into the Olympic Games in Mexico City; in fact, he was the last to be picked for the team.  On game day, Fosbury used his flop and vaulted over the bar at 7.35 feet, earning him an Olympic record and a place at the top of the podium.  (http://www.hindustantimes.com/other-sports/olympic-legends-fosbury-the-man-who-changed-high-jump/story-x3cSJiS2Dcd11wBoY2uR6K.html)

Dick Fosbury never gave up on his dream.  He simply tweaked the process.  Are you trying to achieve a goal?  Try coming at it from another angle.  You, too, might invent a Fosbury Flop.

Dick Fosbury wins gold in Mexico City Olympics circa 1968 courtesy https://thesportsmarketingplaybook.files.wordpress.com/2016/08/dick-fosbury.jpg.

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Momentum: Taking Action Leaves Procrastination in the Dust

"Use momentum to overcome procrastination.  Taking action leaves procrastination in the dust." 

Brian Tracy says that some people never reach their goals because they take a vacation to "Some Day I'll".  They have good intentions, but they never launch.  If that is you, vote yourself off of the island and push the start button.  "Start moving and keep moving at a steady rate."

"Momentum is the principle that the linear momentum of a system has constant magnitude and direction if the system is subject to no external force." (Law of Physics)  For instance, if you let a snowball roll down the hill, it gathers momentum and size as it goes; however, if someone stops the snowball on the way down, it loses momentum.  "We don't always need to launch into action like a rocket, but we do need to start moving so we can build some momentum." (http://advancedlifeskills.com/blog/the-power-of-momentum-2/)

I think about when I put together a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  At first, I struggle to assemble all of the flat sided pieces to construct the frame.  It's slow going work.  I am tempted to gather up the pieces and put them back in the box.  Then I concentrate on a corner.  It's still tedious work.  However, as I find more and more pieces, the puzzle becomes easier to figure out.  The work starts to move faster and more easily.  There's no turning back.  Before I know it, I've completed the puzzle.

Look at the list of goals you have written for 2017.  Have you launched your goal?  If so, are you working on your goal daily?  Or have you stopped halfway down the hill?  Are you looking at the edges of a puzzle?  "Use momentum to overcome procrastination.  Taking action leaves procrastination in the dust.  If you do something every day that moves you towards your goals, you'll be too busy to think about making excuses."

Lunch Atop a Skyscraper jigsaw puzzle courtesy 

Monday 23 January 2017

Curiosity Won't Kill You But It Will Make You Smarter

"I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.  Life was meant to be lived.  Curiosity must be kept alive.  One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life." (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Dr. Matthew Gruber conducted a University of California in which he posed a series of trivia questions to his test cases.  Each question was followed by a 14 second delay and then he showed the test cases a neutral, unrelated picture of a face.  Later he gave each test case a recognition test of the trivia as well as the faces.  During the study, the test cases' brains were scanned.  The results revealed that:

1.  For those test cases who were highly curious, they retained more trivia and showed more face recognition.

2.  When their curiosity was stimulated, their brain circuits showed increased activity related to the reward area of the brain. The study showed that intrinsic motivation recruits the same areas of the brain as extrinsic motivation.

3.  Curiosity motivated learning increased activity in the hippocampus, the small part of the brain that looks like a seahorse (the French word is "hippocampe").  The interaction between the brain's rewards system and the hippocampus puts the brain in an alert state.

Dr. Gruber concluded:  "Curiosity may put the brain in a state that allows it to learn and retain any kind of information like a vortex that sucks in what you are motivated to learn and also everything around it." (http://theantimedia.org/curiosity-fix-enhancing-memory-intellect/)

A healthy curiosity sets the stage for lifelong learning and learning can bring us closer to our goals. Eleanor Roosevelt was a champion of learning.  While many First Ladies were content to sit back and let their husbands take centre stage, Eleanor Roosevelt was heavily involved in political life.  She held her own press conferences.  A champion of literacy, for almost three decades she contributed to a daily (except Sundays) newspaper column called "My Day" on weighty issues like Prohibition, World War II and race relations.  She worked tirelessly for various charities.  Eleanor explained: 

"I could not, at any age, be content to take my place by the fireside and simply look on.  Life was meant to be lived.  Curiosity must be kept alive.  One must never, for whatever reason, turn his back on life." (http://www.ineedmotivation.com/blog/2008/04/22-great-quotes-on-curiosity/)

One of Eleanor Roosevelt's goals was to draft a Charter on Human Rights, a goal which she met in 1948 when she served as the United States Delegate to the United Nations.

Note:  Read "Ten Ways to Foster A Culture of Creativity in Your Learning Organization" at http://etale.org/main/2015/06/22/10-ways-to-foster-a-culture-of-curiosity-in-your-learning-organization/.

Sunday 22 January 2017

What Gets Measured Gets Done

"What gets measured gets done." (Peter Drucker)

If you want to learn how to learn how to measure your success on the way to achieving your goals, visit http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2015/01/measure-your-success.html.  One strategy you can use to measure your success is to join an online group.  Such a group may keep you accountable for the steps you have promised to take to achieve your goals.

43 Things (https://43things.com/until_the_ny.php) offers dozens of goal setting suggestions with a space to write your own personal goals ex. In 2017, I want to _____________.  The site offers a small reward each time you reach a milestone ex. if you achieve 15 goals, you have your name mentioned in the credits.

Another site is StickK (https://www.stickk.com/tour).  StickK is a free goal setting platform which presents you with the statement I commit to _________ (enter goal here).  You are asked to sign a commitment contract with yourself.  If you wish, you can receive notification e-mails to help you stick to your goals.  Created by a Yale Economics professor, this website raises the ante by saying that if you don't reach your goal, you pay so much money to a charity.

Various software is available to help you set and commit to your goals.  Goals on Track (http://www.goalsontrack.com/) offers a seven step template, also available as an app, to lead you to your goals:

  • Set Goals
  • Take Action
  • Visualize
  • Track Time
  • Success Habits
  • Goal Journal
  • Review & Restart

Saturday 21 January 2017

Awaken the Greatness Within: Surround Yourself with Winners

"You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." (Jim Rohn)

If you want to be successful, surround yourself with winners.  When I first started writing for the Christian Courier, a fellow writer suggested that I join Facebook.  I had resisted, thinking about the petty teenage infighting that can be a part of social media.  However, I did relent.  Now I have dozens of writer friends whom I learn from online.  It was on Facebook that I learned about the CANSCAIP Writing for Children Contest 2016.  While I did not win, I did make it to the second round and received valuable feedback about my manuscript.

In surrounding yourself with who you want to be, you do two things:  First, you learn more about your profession or skill.  Second, you see yourself in that role.  Years ago, when I was teaching Core French in a Paris (Ontario) elementary school, I remember talking to other Core French teachers.  I had always seen myself as a Core French teacher, not a French Immersion teacher.  The consensus was that in order to be an Immersion teacher, you had to speak with a flawless French accent. However, one of my fellow Core teachers dared to apply for an Immersion position, and she got it.  I thought:  If she can do it, so can I.  The following year, I applied for a Grade 1 class, and got the job. See yourself as who you want to be.

While it is important to seek out successful people on the road to success, don't forget to discriminate.  Avoid the backstabbers.  Look for those who will build you up, who celebrate your successes, not just their own.

"Surround yourself with those who want to become more, those who are striving to achieve something great, those who empower you and push you to be better, those who make you raise your standards to a higher level, and those who make you believe in yourself that you can achieve greatness." (http://awakenthegreatnesswithin.com/surround-yourself-with-winners/).

Chad Lewis, author of Surround Yourself with Greatness, wrote in his childhood journal:  "My goal and quest is to surround myself with greatness...only greatness will penetrate the walls of my heart." He went on to a successful nine year career in the NFL.  All of his blessings he attributes to his family and his faith (https://www.amazon.com/Surround-Yourself-Greatness-Chad-Lewis/dp/1629722626).

Friday 20 January 2017

The War of Art

"Hitler wanted to be an artist.  Ever seen one of his paintings?  Neither have I.  Resistance beat him...It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas." (Steven Pressfield)

There is nothing more intimidating than a blank canvas to an artist or a blank sheet of paper to a writer.  Author Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, tells us how to overcome "creative block".  He maintains that everyone has a calling.  However, in pursuing your calling, you are often sabotaged by others, or more commonly, by yourself.  

Hitler wanted to be an artist.  He took his inheritance and moved to Vienna where he applied to The Academy of Fine Arts and later the School of Architecture.  Failing to get in to either school, he eventually gave up on his dream.  "Resistance beat him...It was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas." (https://www.amazon.ca/War-Art-Through-Creative-Battles/dp/1936891026)

"Resistance is the almost supernatural force which seeks to keep us from finding our true calling." (https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20141027155445-38407885-the-resistance-how-steven-pressfield-helped-me-to-drop-the-term-writer-s-block)  The closer we are to finding our true calling, the fiercer the resistance becomes.  You could also define resistance as your "inner critic".  As a writer, you might be familiar with this mantra put forward by Matthew Webb:  "You're not really a writer.  You'll never finish this book.  You're not exceptional at anything."

The Resistance focusses on the enormity of the task that you have before you rather than dividing it up into manageable steps.  "Small victories over ourselves and over Resistance, have an accelerating effect."  For instance, after a few weeks, a 20 minute workout one day can form a daily habit.  Forming a good habit is a victory, but so too is breaking a bad habit.  Matthew Webber compares it to standing up to the classroom bully:  "the perception was far worse than the reality".  The more we conquer our bad habits, the more energy we have to tackle Resistance.

It is easy to be motivated about a new project.  However, it isn't always easy to stay motivated.  Before you know it, that list of chapters that you drafted for your new book is just collecting dust.  Matthew Webber suggests ways to get "re-motivated":

  • keep visual reminders near your desk (ex. family photos, religious art, reminders of past victories)
  • mark a wall calendar with your progress and milestones
  • build a YouTube playlist with motivational stories
  • start a visual log of your progress

Thursday 19 January 2017

Let the Holy Spirit Lead You to that "Aha!" Moment

"It doesn't seem so much a question of whether or not God is still speaking as it is whether or not we are listening." (Susan Rohrer)

Where do you get your inspiration?  Who or what guides you on your road to success?  I believe it's the Holy Spirit or what non-believers call the Superconsious mind.  Brian Tracy, author of Goals: How to Get Everything You Want -- Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible, says that when you access your Superconscious:

  • you receive an answer to your problem
  • it's like a blinding flash of light
  • it's an "Aha!" moment
To be inspired literally means to be "breathed into".  I believe that the Holy Spirit can "breathe into" you.  He can give you the idea that you have been searching for.  He can help you write that book, paint that painting or compose that song.  He can help you overcome that obstacle.  How do you get filled with the Holy Spirit -- by faith and faith alone (https://www.cru.org/train-and-grow/transferable-concepts/be-filled-with-the-holy-spirit.7.html).

My brother Bill used to have a karate instructor who asked all of his students to throw all of their problems in a basket as they entered the front door of the karate studio.  He knew that way, they would be able to focus on the task at hand.  "Be still and know that I am God." (Psalm 46:10)  In order to receive the Holy Spirit, you need to be calm and relaxed and clear minded. Give your problems over to God. Surrender to Him.  Be patient. You will experience that "Aha!" moment.  

Read The Holy Spirit:  Amazing Power for Everyday People by Susan Rohrer http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/12364962-the-holy-spirit.

Wednesday 18 January 2017

Obstacles Are Those Frightful Things You See When You Take Your Eyes Off Your Goal

"If you can find a path that has no obstacles, it probably doesn't lead anywhere." (Frank Clark)

Glenn Cunningham, the Kansas Flyer, courtesy http://www.wanttoknow.info/050702powerofdetermination.

Glenn Cunningham used to light the pot-bellied stove in the one room schoolhouse every day.  One day the teacher arrived to find the schoolhouse engulfed in flames.  She managed to pull Glenn out but he was unconscious.  Glenn languished in a coma for weeks.  The doctor told his mother that he likely wouldn't survive.  She refused to believe the prognosis and talked to her son everyday to bring him out of the coma.  Slowly, he did wake up.  However, then the doctor said that, because of his scarred legs, he would likely never walk again, but Glenn's mother refused to believe him.  She massaged his legs daily.

Glenn eventually went home.  One day his mother took him outside for some fresh air.  Glenn decided to get out of his wheelchair, drag himself across the grass and up on to the picket fence, and "walk" along the fence.  Eventually, he mastered the fence and started walking on his own.  Next, he decided to walk the periphery of the yard.  Then, he decided to run.  Eventually, he ran all the way to school where he tried out for the track team.  In college, he earned the nickname the "Kansas Flyer".  Would you believe, the young man who was not expected to live ran the world's fastest indoor mile at Madison Square Gardens in February of 1934?  Dr. Glenn Cunningham lived until his 80th year.

"Inspiration kept [Glenn] going even when obstacles got in the way" (http://sohp.com/success-learned-napoleon-hill-i/).  It appeared as if everything was against him.  The doctor had given up hope.  But Glenn's mother hadn't, and neither had Glenn.  He learned form his adversity.  He refused to let the obstacles he faced deter him.  Glenn exhibited great patience on his journey to success.  He took it one hurdle at a time.  First, he conquered the wheelchair by standing, then the fence by walking, then the distance from home to school by running, then the clock by training.  Each time, he set a more difficult goal.  

Henry Ford said:  "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." Glenn Cunningham never took his eyes off his goal.

Note:  Read Everything I Know About Success I Learned From Napoleon Hill by Don M. Green (https://www.amazon.ca/Everything-About-Success-Learned-Napoleon/dp/0071810064).

Tuesday 17 January 2017

Self-Discipline: Not an Innate Characteristic But a Learned Skill

"Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts.  If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do.  Simply, discipline enables you to think first and act afterward." 
(Napoleon Hill)

Brian Tracy defines self-discipline as "the ability to do what you know you should do when you don't feel like doing it." He explains that the two biggest enemies of self-discipline are taking the path of least resistance (ex. a get rich quick scheme) and instant gratification.  Don't always act on impulse but weigh the possibilities first.

According to Napoleon Hill, "Self-discipline begins with the mastery of your thoughts.  If you don't control what you think, you can't control what you do.  Simply, discipline enables you to think first and act afterward."  President Theodore Roosevelt had an incredible ability to master his thoughts.  While delivering a political speech in the early 1900's, he was shot in the chest by a would be assassin.  Bleeding through his shirt, he still insisted on speaking for a solid hour.  Finally, he let the Secret Service men take him to the hospital.  It turned out that his spectacles case and his speech, both inside his breast pocket, had slowed the bullet down enough to save his life.

It may appear that some people have self-discipline and others don't.  However, self-discipline is not an innate characteristic but a learned skill.  Anyone can learn it.  Forbes contributor Amy Morin suggests six ways to develop the habit (http://www.forbes.com/sites/amymorin/2014/10/03/6-ways-to-develop-the-self-discipline-necessary-to-reach-your-goals/#55a471b14fdb):

1.  Acknowledge Your Weaknesses

Have you ever heard a smoker say "I could quit if I wanted to."  More likely they are simply not admitting that they can't quit.

2.  Develop a Plan

Outline the steps to reach your goal.

3.  Remove the Temptations

If you can't resist spending, leave the credit card at home when you go to the mall.

4.  Practice Tolerating Emotional Discomfort

We all have to experience emotional discomfort at some point.  Learn to tolerate boredom, frustration, loneliness and sadness.  

5.  Visualize the Long Term Rewards

Jack Canfield, while he was writing Chicken Soup for the Soul, visualized the title at the top of the bestseller list.  Despite 144 rejections by publishers, he persevered.

6.  Recover from Mistakes Effectively

Acknowledge your mistakes and move on with resolve to do better next time.

Monday 16 January 2017

Affirmations: Our Mental Vitamins

"Affirmations are our mental vitamins providing the supplementary positive thoughts we need to balance the barrage of negative events we experience daily." (Tia Walker)

Edwene Gaines, author of Four Spiritual Laws of Prosperity, recommends that if you want to conquer your goals, you take the 21-Day Affirmation Challenge (http://ourprosperouslife.com/21-day-affirmation-challenge/2014/03/31). Make a list of goals, then make a list of positive, life-affirming statements to support each goal.  (If you are a Christian, you can make a list of 21 Bible verses.) Write them down on index cards.  For example, "I am happily vacationing two months of the year in a tropical paradise and working just four days a week on my own business." (http://jackcanfield.com/visualize-and-affirm-your-desired-outcomes-a-step-by-step-guide/)  After 21 days, the aim is for the statements to have passed from your conscious into your subconscious mind.

As Jack Canfield says, "Visualization and affirmations allow you to change your beliefs, assumptions and opinions about the most important person in your life -- YOU!"  If you set aside a day to add up how much self-talk you do, you would be amazed at how much time you spend in the process.  It is too easy to get bogged down in negative self-talk, to beat yourself up about what has gone wrong in your life.  Unlearn the habit of negative self-talk; it will uplift your spirit.

As a writer, I appreciate stories of authors who overcome rejection and go on to publish their books..  Jack Canfield, co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul, was rejected 144 times for his manuscript "Anthologies don't sell," was the standard response he received.  Jack Canfield employed visualization and affirmation to overcome the repeated rejections.

"When we were writing the very first Chicken Soup for the Soul book, we took a copy of the New York Times bestseller list, scanned it into our computer, and using the same font as the newspaper, typed Chicken Soup for the Soul into the number one position in the "Paperback Advice, How To and Miscellaneous" category.  We printed several copies and hung them around the office.  Less than two years later, our book was the number one book in that category and stayed there for over a year!"(http://jackcanfield.com/visualize-and-affirm-your-desired-outcomes-a-step-by-step-guide/)

Sunday 15 January 2017

The Pursuit of Lifelong Knowledge

"Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business or profession. Those who are not successful usually make the mistake of believing that the knowledge acquiring period ends when one finishes high school." (Napoleon Hill)

Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think, studied 1200 of the world's wealthiest people and discovered that most have "a crazy appetite for reading".  Atlanta businessman J. B. Fuqua, while he did not have much of a formal education, borrowed books from Duke University regularly.  He was so grateful for how the institution had helped him that he became its biggest benefactor.  The Starbucks CEO wakes up at 5 am every morning and reads the Seattle Times, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.  Oprah Winfrey credits reading with helping her move from childhood poverty to affluence.  "Books were my path to personal freedom.  I learned to read at age 3 and soon discovered there was a whole world to conquer that went beyond our farm in Mississippi."(http://www.inc.com/james-paine/5-billionaires-who-credit-their-success-to-reading.html)

Successful people don't always have a lot of formal education, but they do believe in educating themselves.  They read books and magazines and newspapers to acquire specialized knowledge in their subject area.  "Walk into a wealthy person's home and one of the first things you'll see is an extensive library of books they've used to educate themselves on how to become more successful."(http://www.businessinsider.com/rich-people-formal-education-2015-8)

1.  Always have a book.

2.  We all have a to-do list.  Keep a "to-learn" list as well.

3.  Surround yourself with Intellectual Friends.

4.  Practice Guided (Critical) Thinking

5.  Put your knowledge into practice.  Don't simply study painting, pick up a brush.

6.  Teach others.  Mentor someone or start a blog.

7.  Clean Input 

8.  Learn in groups (workshops, etc)

9.  Unlearn assumptions.  Challenge your worldview.

10.  Find jobs that encourage learning.

11.  Start a project.

12.  Follow your intuition.

13.  Morning Fifteen.  Devote the first fifteen minutes of the day to education.

14.  Reap the rewards

15.  Mark learning a priority.

Saturday 14 January 2017

Gandhi's First Act of Civil Disobedience Sparks Vision

"Where there is no vision, the people perish." (Proverbs 29:18)

Mahatma Ghandi was raised by a middle class family in India.  He suffered from low self-esteem as a child. One day, he was riding on a train in South Africa.  The porter told him that because of his dark skin, he would have to move to a freight car.  Ghandi refused and was ejected from the train. (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/gandhis-first-act-of-civil-disobedience).  From that day on he had a purpose:  to help others overcome discrimination.  His self-esteem blossomed and he went on to be one of the most beloved leaders of the 20th Century (http://www.selfgrowth.com/articles/two-ways-to-unlock-your-potential).  

Dorothea Lange grew up in a poor family.  Her father deserted the family when she was 12.  A bout with polio left her one leg permanently damaged.  Embarrassed, she just wanted to disappear.  During the Great Depression, she picked up a camera, and started photographing the homeless, the jobless, the hungry:  she had found her purpose.  In 1940, her photograph collection was displayed at the Modern Museum of Art.  The following year she received a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship.  Her most famous photograph, Migrant Mother, opened the eyes of the public and government to the plight of Americans during the Great Depression.  As a result the government sent 100,000 pounds of food to the camp where the "migrant mother" was living (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qx36c7wAY0Y).

Dorothy Lange doing what she loved best courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorothea_Lange.

Unlock your potential.  Discover your vision or purpose.  It will change your life.

Note:  Read Brian Tracy's Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life:  How to Unlock Your Full Potential for Success and Achievement (https://www.amazon.ca/Change-Your-Thinking-Life-Achievement/dp/0471735388).

Friday 13 January 2017

The Law of Attraction

"You will attract into your life -- whether wanted or unwanted -- whatever you give your energy, focus and attention to." (Jack Canfield)

My husband's friend John used to tell the story of how his uncle took 17 tries to get his driver's licence.  Finally, the tester, tired of seeing the same face over and over again, made a deal with John's uncle:  If you can park in this parking spot beside this car correctly, I'll pass you.  John's uncle desperately tried to maneuver his vehicle into the parking space, but he crashed right into the other car!  

"You will attract into your life -- whether wanted or unwanted -- whatever you give your energy, focus and attention to." (http://jackcanfield.com/utilizing-the-law-of-attraction/)  John's uncle saw himself as a failure as a driver and despite his best efforts, he couldn't shake that belief.  Some individuals, however, have turned it around, despite the odds being stacked against them.

In 1957, a young Homer Hickam was growing up in Virginia where all the boys became coal miners. His father fully expected him to follow in his footsteps as did most of his teachers.  However, Homer, spurred on by Sputnik, had a dream:  to build a rocket.  He and his three friends would toil for hours in his basement working on their creation.  One day, a wayward rocket demolished Homer's mother's fence.  The "rocket boys" were banished from the house.  Another wayward rocket ended up on the property of the coal mine.  Homer's dad banished the boys from company property.

Homer held on to his dream inspired by his hero Werner von Braun.  There was one teacher who believed in him.  She encouraged her student to enter the science fair.  Homer took his rocket to first the school, the state and the national science fairs, winning every time.  When the first man landed on the moon, Homer was part of the experience, working for NASA.  Homer invited the right people into his life with his positive attitude.  

Note:  For more information on Homer Hickam and the Rocket Boys, visit:  

2.  Watch the film October Sky (1999)

Homer Hickam (Jake Gyllenhaal) sets off a rocket in October Sky courtesy http://www.pluggedin.ca/movie-reviews/octobersky/.

Thursday 12 January 2017

Make Your Own Luck

"Even a tortoise will arrive at its destination if it's moving."
(Isaac C. Mwiya)

My husband's great Aunt Doris had an idea.  "Let's take a walk and go house hunting," she said to her husband, Uncle Ernst.  He did not want to budge, however.  As a German immigrant, he was trying to find work at Stelco, but to no avail.  But Doris persisted until Ernst finally relented.  They set out on their walk in downtown Hamilton and came upon Liberty Street.  As luck would have it, one of the houses was for sale.  The owner happened to be out front.  He and Uncle Ernst struck up a conversation.  It turned out he was quitting his job at Stelco and moving back to Scotland.  Ernst explained how he had been trying to get a job there but had no luck.  The Scottish man promised to put in the good word at Stelco for Ernst.  All he had to do was show up on Monday.  Sure enough, on Monday Ernst went to Stelco where he got a job.  He and Doris bought the house on Liberty Street.  

What would have happened if Ernst had have stayed on the couch that day?  They say that successful people make their own luck.  They don't wait for things to happen.  They make a decision and act.  Business Insider outlines five characteristics about good luck (http://www.businessinsider.com/how-rich-people-make-their-own-luck-2016-2):

1.  Luck hides outside comfort zones.

An open mind and a curious mind is more receptive to possibilities.  

2.  Luck hides inside positivity.

You must see opportunities in order to embrace them.  Problem solving requires creativity and insight.  "Positivity is the fertilizer in which good luck grows."

3.  Luck hides behind courage.

You must take risks.  'Courage is not the absence of fear but the pursuit of something while in the throes of it."  Cultivate the habit of taking educated risks.

4.  Luck hides inside new relationships.  

In order to meet the right person at the right time, you must go out and find him or her.

5.  Luck hides inside intuition.

Intuition is when your subconscious communicates with your conscious.  

Wednesday 11 January 2017

Self-Made Millionaire Knew the Value of Hard Work

"The man who does more than he is paid for will soon be paid for more than he does." 
(Napoleon Hill)

A few years after we bought our house, Rob and I had a small hole developping in the backyard.  It turned out the soil was eroding due to the eavestrough drain.  We hired someone to lengthen the eavestrough pipe and bury it underground.  On the appointed day, it was drizzling rain.  At the appointed time, the man never showed up.  Rob phoned him to inquire and his response was:  "You don't expect me to work in the rain!"  

Nothing replaces hard work.  Self-made millionaire Andrew Carnegie knew that.  The Scotsman immigrated to America in 1848 almost penniless.  By 1901. he was the richest man in the world.  How did he establish his empire?  

As a teenager, Carnegie worked at a textile mill. Later, he worked as a telegrapher.  At 18, he became a personal secretary of a top manager of the railroad.  At 30, he was already the head of the Pittsburgh railroad.  In 1861, Carnegie invested in oil.  By 1873, he helped build the the steel business.  By 1900, he was making $40 million dollars in profits.  In the Gospel of Wealth (1889) Carnegie had written: "The man who dies thus rich dies disgraced."  Keeping to his word, he donated $350 million of his profits to worthy causes, including $60 million to build 3000 libraries across North America and the United Kingdom.

Tuesday 10 January 2017

Embrace Failure Until You Succeed

"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up." (Thomas Edison)

  • Einstein's teachers said he would "never amount to anything."
  • Scientist John Gurdon was told by a teacher that it would be "ridiculous" for him to go into science.
  • J. K. Rowling received 12 rejections for her Harry Potter manuscript before it was accepted.
  • Basketball legend Michael Jordan was cut from his high school varsity basketball team.
  • Walt Disney was fired from his job at the Kansas City Star due to "lack of creativity".
  • The inventor of the Xerox (photocopier) machine was rejected 20 times.
  • Peanuts creator Charles Schulz's cartoons were all rejected by his high school yearbook.
  • Thomas Edison failed at least 1000 times when creating inventions.
  • Colonel Sanders was rejected dozens of times for his fried chicken recipe.  He didn't sell one franchise until the age of 65 when he was on Social Security.
  • Fred Astaire was told:  "Can't sing.  Can't act.  Balding.  Can dance a little."  

If any one of these individuals had given up on their goals after failing, we wouldn't recognize their names today.  Too many people see failure as completely bad.  But failure is part of the process.  It's something we encounter on the road to success.    

It's all about perspective.  I have blogged a lot about authors and how they were finally discovered.  One author, rather than seeing her rejection letters as embarrassing, rather than seeing them as something to throw out, saves them all in a manila enveloppe marked "Tickets to the Game".  While she might not have a "yes" yet, she is still much further ahead than the author who doesn't stick her neck out at all.  At least she's in the game (http://alinefromlinda.blogspot.ca/2014/11/tickets-to-game.html).

The concept works in the field of science as well.  When Thomas Edison finally invented the lightbulb, someone asked him how he felt about failing 1000 times.  His response was:  "I never failed 1000 times.  The light bulb was an invention with 1000 steps."  Edison didn't apologize for his many failures.  He didn't make excuses.  He simply refused to give up.  He learned from his mistakes. "Failure is one of life's greatest teachers" (http://www.success.com/article/why-failure-is-good-for-success).

Look at the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union.  Sadly, Apollo 1 never made it off the launch pad and its crew died in a deadly fire.  Apollo 13 made it out into space but as it approached the moon it had a major mechanical failure and had to circle the moon and return home.  But Apollo 11 did reach the moon, making the Americans the winners of the Space Race, and later of the Cold War.  The Space program involved great risk, but it also reaped great rewards.

Author John Maxwell wrote Failing Forward:  Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones to Success (https://www.amazon.ca/Failing-Forward-Turning-Mistakes-Stepping/dp/1491513136).  He reminds his readers that "great success depends on great risk".  He recommends to his readers to "confidently look the prospect of failure in the eye...to stop failing backwards and start failing forwards."  While society doesn't reward defeat, it does recognize those who turned their mistakes into stepping stones to success, like an author and her rejection slips or Thomas Edison and his lightbulb or the Space Race and its rockets.

Don't shy away from failure.  Embrace it...until you succeed.

Monday 9 January 2017

Think & Grow Rich: Words of Wisdom for All

"Desire, faith and persistence can propel one to great heights if one an suppress negative thoughts and focus on long term goals." (Napoleon Hill)

Entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie challenged a young Napoleon Hill to interview 500 self-made millionaires (Thomas Edison, Henry Ford) to find out what their secret to success was.  The purpose of the assignment was not so much to find out how these successful businessmen made their money, but what made them tick.  The result was Think and Grow Rich, the entrepreneur's bible, a book which sold 5000 copies in the first six weeks and over 100 million copies as of 2015.  

Here are the principles outlined by Napoleon Hill that all 500 self made millionaires exhibited, summarized  at http://www.businessinsider.com/napoleon-hill-think-and-grow-rich-2015-7:

1.  Burning Desire:  You have to want to achieve your goal more than anything else.

"Wishing will not bring wishes, but desiring wishes with a state of mind that brings an obsession, then planning ways and means to acquire riches, and backing those plans with persistence which does not recognize failure, will bring riches."

When my husband and I decided to adopt a baby, I was on a mission.  Nobody could stop me.  I put blinders on.  I blocked out all of the horror stories I had heard about couples not getting babies and I focussed on the success stories.  I prepared myself by attending workshops and retreats and reading books about the subject.  After seven months on Beginnings Adoption Agency list, we had a bouncing baby boy.  

2.  Faith:  Believe in yourself!

"Riches begin in the form of thought.  The amount is limited only by the person in whose mind the thought is put into motion.  Faith removes limitations!"

As Henry Ford once said:  "Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're right."  If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will.  When we were waiting for a baby, I saw successful adoptive couples and said:  "If they can do it, so can we!"

3.  Auto-suggestion:  Use affirmations to reach your goal.

"Your ability to use the principle of auto-suggestion will depend, very largely, upon your capacity to concentrate upon a given desire until that desire becomes a burning obsession."

Send your subconscious mind phrases which support your goal.  Repeat aloud positive mantras.  In an effort to find a baby to adopt, I handed out over 400 business cards.  My networking led me to an elderly man at the local pool.  Every time I saw him, he would say:  "Linda, I'm going to show up at your door on Christmas Eve with a bundle of joy in my arms."  That was a daily affirmation.  I'm sure it helped my confidence.  The man at the pool proved to be a prophet:  two days before Christmas Eve, we brought home our baby boy.

4.  Specialized Knowledge:  Gain experience and continue learning.

"Successful men, in all callings, never stop acquiring specialized knowledge related to their major purpose, business or profession.  Those who are not successful usually make the mistake of believing that the knowledge acquiring period ends when one finishes school."

Signing the adoption papers was not the end of our adoption journey.  Rob and I take it one year at a time.  There is no manual about open adoption to follow.  As a baby, Thomas heard the world "adopted".  As a five year old, we told him who his birthparents were.  As a high school graduate, his birthparents came to his ceremony.  Thomas will always have a relationship with his birthparents.

5.  Come up with ideas and visualize your success.

"Whoever you are, wherever you may live, whatever occupation you may be engaged in, just remember in the future, every time you see the words 'Coca-Cola', that its vast empire of wealth and influence grew out of a single idea."

I used to visualize myself holding a baby.  

6.  Organized Planning:  Take Action

"Opportunity has spread its wares before you.  Step up to the front, select what you want, create your plan, put your plan into action, and follow through with persistence."

Friends from our old church were given a baby boy to adopt, only to have the baby taken away after 3 or 4 days once the birthmother changed her mind.  They were devastated.  But they got right back on the horse and soon after adopted a healthy baby girl.

7.  Decision:  Defeat procrastination with decisiveness

"People who fail to accumulate money, without exception, have the habit of reaching decisions, if at all, very slowly, and of changing these decisions very often."

It took me nine months to potty train Thomas.  He was forever in pull ups.  I wasn't messing around with my second child.  Jacqueline went right into underwear and was potty trained within a week.  

8.  Persistence:  Don't stop until you get what you want.
"Riches do not respond to wishes.  They respond only to definite plans. backed by definite desires, through constant persistence."

My sister was required to run a mile in 8 minutes as part of getting a Physed degree at McMaster University.  She was in top physical condition, working at Lady Fitness at the time, but she couldn't run against a clock.  She tried for three years, but failed, and was kicked out of the program.  Two years later, she was offered re-entry into the program if she succeeded.  She trained for six months with a trainer and made the run in 7 minutes, 50 seconds.  Today, she has her B.A. and B.Ed.

9.  Power of the mastermind:  Surround yourself with the best.

"A group of brains, co-ordinated in a spirit of harmony, will provide more thought energy than a single brain, just as a group of electric batteries will provide more energy than a single battery."  

You tend to become like those you surround yourself with.  

10.  The Mystery of Sex Transmutation:  Choose a compatible partner.

"Sex desire is the most powerful of all human desires.  When driven by this desire, men develop keenness of imagination, courage, willpower, persistence and creative ability unknown to them at other times."

Behind every good man is a good woman.

11.  The Subconscious Mind:  Master positivity and dismiss negative emotions

"Positive and negative emotions cannot occupy the mind at the same time.  One or the other must dominate.  It is your responsibility to make sure that positive emotions constitute the dominating influence of your mind."

Read the bestseller The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

12.  The Brain:  Associate with other smart people and learn from them

"Every human brain is capable of picking up vibrations of thought which are being released by other brains."

13.  The Sixth Sense:  Trust your gut.

"No matter who you are, or what your purpose is in reading this book, you can profit by it without understanding the principle described in this chapter."

Always trust your instincts.  They are usually right.

Think and Grow Rich (1937) has sold over 100 million copies courtesy https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Think_and_Grow_Rich.

Sunday 8 January 2017

The Purpose Driven Life

"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about discovering who God created you to be."
(Evan Carmichael)

It sat on the New York Times Bestseller List for over 90 weeks.  It sold 30 million copies in its first five years.  NFL legend Ray Lewis gave it to Michael Phelps to read when he entered rehab.  It became and remains the bestselling non-fiction hardcover book of all time.  Why?  According to its author Rick Warren, it speaks to people, to their "spiritual emptiness".

The Purpose Driven Life poses the $64,000 question "What on earth am I here for?"  Rick Warren says that you are not an accident.  That God put you here for a purpose.  It's not a self-serving purpose.  Warren starts his book with the simple phrase:  "It's not about you."  No, it's about your "stewardship of influence".  For example, one of Rick Warren's stewardship of influences is his commitment to care for the environment, to leave this planet a little bit better for his children and grandchildren.  

The author, also a pastor of an affluent church in California, made a substantial amount of money on his book.  It would have been easy to start living the good life.  However, Rick Warren and his wife, who used to tithe, decided to start re-tithing.  Rather than giving 10% of their income to charity, they now give 90% of their income to charity.  He also set up numerous foundations to help those in need around the world.  He explains:  "Every time I give, it breaks the grip of materialism on my life.  Living the good life means being good, doing good."

In The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren says that everyone has a world view.  It governs our behaviour, our relationship, every area of our lives.  Our world view is only truly tested when we go through the valleys, not when we're on the mountaintop.  God calls us to look after the widows and the orphans.  

The pastor mentions the story of Moses and his staff, which God turns into a snake and then returns it to its original form.  Moses staff was everything to him:  it represented his identity (a shepherd), his assets (his job) and his influence (his status in society).  Moses' staff was similar to an NBA player's basketball; again, it represented his whole world.  Rick Warren's question to you is:  "What are you going to do with your "staff"?  What are you going to do with what God has given you?  You don't have to be rich.  You don't have to be powerful.  God rejoices when he sees you do what he wired you to do.  Are you going to fulfill your God-given purpose?

Note:  To watch Rick Warren's TED talk about The Purpose Driven Life, visit https://www.ted.com/talks/rick_warren_on_a_life_of_purpose.