Why Your Story Matters to the World

creativity is Intelligence having fun

You’ve been knocked down a time or two in life, haven’t you? What made you get back up? What is the most crushing blow you’ve ever received? Bad news about your health? Someone walk out on you? Your best friend betray you? A trusted employee take all your money?

How did you stand back up after you were blind-sided? Was it your faith? The love of someone close? Grit?

You’ve gone through a rough time and came out the other side stronger and better and we want to know how you did it. We all have those rough times in our lives and, as we struggle through them, we want to know how people like you handled your own crisis.

We’re not nosy; we’re looking for guidance. Life is a contest and we are designed to win.

Your story matters to the world because you are a winner and we want to know how you did it

We love stories of people who win. In a few months, all eyes will be focused on the Olympics for one reason; we want to see who wins.

If you walk through the inspirational section of your local book store, you will see row after row of biographies and autobiographies of people who have won. I read them, not looking for another hero, but for the lessons they learned that made them win.

Spend a couple of minutes right now doing this exercise:

  1. Write down your most difficult time in your life.
  2. Jot down three things that helped you through it.
  3. Jot down one way you become better because of that.

Now you have a simple outline of a story the world wants to hear.

We’re listening.

Farmers: People who Make America Great

farmer

America was founded by farmers and I vote we turn it back over to them as soon as possible. I’d be happy to vote for a guy or gal in Levi’s and a Stetson or bib overalls compared to a greasy politician.

The vast majority of the new arrivals to early America were farmers who brought with them agriculture practices from the various countries of their origins. America became great because of those farmer’s ability to go from subsistence farming – growing enough for one’s own family – to growing enough to export it to other countries.

Although I grew up in the country surrounded by farmers and working on farms, I was never a farmer. I honestly don’t think I have the courage to be a farmer. I know of no other business that requires such great business risks, such hard work, such a massive attack on an industry from misinformed city-slickers, or such dependency on forces beyond their control (Mother Nature) as that of a farmer.

Today, I toast the American Farmer and celebrate them for making America great. Here are just a few reasons why:

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A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way

Give the gift of Kindness

By the way two dozen people started wailing and gnashing their teeth, you would have thought they just discovered they were left out of rich Uncle Smedley’s will.

I was standing in line at the Regan National Airport in DC watching a thunderstorm broil outside when the gate agent informed people that all the fights to Timbuktu and Kalamazoo had been cancelled.

Hell hath no fury like irate airlines passengers recently informed they will spend the night at their own expense in a strange city. Airlines won’t comp you a hotel if the weather causes a delay.

The crowd grew surly as people hurled insults at the gate agents.

I was tired, too. I wanted to go home, too.  I had been working hard the past few days and sleeping poorly in a noisy hotel at night.

Then an old Glenn Campbell song started rattling around in my head:

You’ve got to try a little kindness, just show a little kindness, just shine your light for everyone to see. For if you try a little kindness, then you’ll overlook the blindness, of a narrow minded people on the narrow minded streets.

I stood in line behind a young hipster who whined incessantly that his world was coming to end because his flight was canceled. No, she told him, I can’t get you out of DC at all on any other flights tonight.

I approached the same agent with a smile on my face and told her she was doing a good job, that I felt sorry for her, and hoped she received hazard pay.

Well, lookey  there, if I didn’t mind waiting there was a flight leaving later she could put me on.

And it just happened that she could give me an upgrade to first class for free.

I wonder what that hipster would have received had he just been nice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 Easy Ways to Give the Gift of Celebration

Give someone a reason to celebrate (1)

The best presents at a party are not the ones wrapped up in paper, but people you can wrap in a  hug.

The U.S. is low on the totem pole of countries with celebrations. Having traveled to Central America and several African countries, I discovered they find any reason to celebrate and spend at least a week doing it.

I’ll never forget arriving in Pacora, Colombia, South America on a Thursday afternoon at 2 o’clock! and they were having a parade to celebrate the arrival of food we had shipped down for disaster relief. My son, Isaac, led the parade!

Recently, my children threw a surprise party to celebrate the release of my first novel, Voices on the Prairie. It was about the best day I had all year.

My wife asked me to make a list for my birthday; my list was full of people, not things.  And that thing Facebook does for  your birthday is FANTASTIC! I felt like a little kid again opening the presents  from people who paused long enough in their busy day to wish me well.

Is the best gift we can give someone is the gift of celebration? Here’s a list of ways to give the gift of celebration.

  • Look for a reason to celebrate with a person (this is the most important one)
  • Wish them well on social media (that helps engage others in the party!)
  • Send them a card or email acknowledging a milestone or accomplishment (these are usually the best gifts)
  • Throw a party for them to celebrate an achievement
  • Throw a party for them to support them in a rough time
  • Nominate them for an honor or award
  • Involve others in your circle of friends, family, or workplace

The best part of giving a gift of celebration is that is the gift a person will most remember. I often forget what was given to me, but I never forget the party.

How do you give the gift of celebration?


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The Power of Listening Well

friend

If you want to know the difference between listening and hearing, ask a married couple or parents of teenagers. In their top-ten list of oft-used phrases, you’re not listening to a word I’m saying is number five. There is a difference between hearing and listening.

I learned the lesson of listening well several years ago visiting a grief-stricken family in the church I pastored. They were suffering the tragic loss of their son and I stopped by to check on them. I sat down at seven in the evening and left around eleven and, in that four hours, barely pieced a sentence together. Seriously, other than a brief prayer at the end of the evening for them, I barely said more than ten words in four hours.

As I was leaving, the man said, “Young man, everything you said tonight helped us far more than you will ever know. We will cherish every word you spoke.”

I drove away befuddled; I never said anything of substance. However, the evening spent with them taught me more about the power of lisening well than any book I’ve ever read.

Driving home, I reflected on the conversation to understand what I did to encourage them. Nearly twenty years later, I have observed those who listen well and here are my conclusions:

  • People who listen well:
    • Listen to what is not being said
    • Make eye contact
    • Repeat words they hear the other person speak
    • Ask meaningful questions
    • Probe for further detail when appropriate
    • Empathize with body language (folded arms are a no-no)
    • Act like they care
    • Lean in towards the speaker, instead of leaning away
    • Communicate with facial expressions
    • Pick up on the body language of the speaker
    • Build trust
    • Don’t judge
    • Don’t offer advice unless it’s asked for

The most powerful lesson is this: if you listen well enough, you will help people discover solutions to their own problems.

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