Are you Envious?
Somebody once said that when you talk to God, it’s called prayer, but that when you hear Him answer back… that’s insanity.
Well, I’ve been a believer in the Most High for over three decades now, and by that standard, I guess that would make me insane. In fact, He spoke to me just yesterday. Does that sound crazy? Maybe. But I believe it would be crazier still to believe in God for as along as I have, and to never have experienced Him in any way. Now, in my book, THAT would be insanity!
Most often, His still small voice speaks to my soul not to reveal grandiose ideas or the next winning loto number – no. Usually it is to show me where I’m not aligned with Him. On most occasions it is to bring me back from my erring or downright sinful path. Which brings me back to yesterday…
I don’t even remember how it happened as I was under the shower. All I know is that I was thinking about a fellow author who had just written his first book. Engagement on his social media posts showed widespread pre-release interest and engagement. This seemed to foretell that he would probably sell more books in two weeks than I had in six months (although the books were on completely different subjects). Yes, I was envious… jealous even. And that’s when it happened. He spoke to me. He said:
“Thou shalt not covet is not just about your neighbors tangible possessions – his house, his car, his wife. It also applies to your neighbor’s intangible possessions: his influence, opportunities, contacts, abilities.”
WHAM! There is nothing like a reproof from the Lord! I was convicted right then and there. He caught me. I admit, I felt less than holy. It’s what I needed. I repented on the spot. This brought me to consider even more times when I had actually been guilty of that sin. The sin of coveting my fellow entrepreneurs’ success. We don’t always see ourselves as we slip down the subtle and slippery slope of envy. When we do slip however, we must repent.
Here are, what I have found, the most subtle ways we can fall for that covetousness trap:
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the right connections… unlike someone else (insert mental image here).
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same opportunities as someone else (insert face here).
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same temperament as someone else (whose face do you see here?)
- When we tell ourselves that we don’t have the same resources as (yeah, you know who you’re picturing by now).
One thing that we must come to grips with is this: We don’t have those same opportunities, connections, or gifts because we are two different individuals, on two different life paths, with two different purposes. God doesn’t want to accomplish the same thing with you that He does with others. God wants to sculpt you, use you, and bless you in completely different ways than others.
This all comes down to the illustration given to us in Scriptures by the apostle Paul, in relation to the members of the Church:
“If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be?” (1 Corinthians 12: 15-19)
Now, I realize that this passage speaks in relation to believers, and that sometimes we are envious or jealous of unbelievers. After all, I know many unbelievers who have much more success than I do. This too can be something we struggle with – perhaps even more so. After all, we reason, “Why does God allow those who have no regard for Him to have more apparent success than those who love Him?” That’s a good question. Asaph, the psalmist, actually wrote about it in Psalm 73. He was frustrated and troubled by this very fact. Read the Psalm, and especially his conclusion. Okay, I’ll save you the trouble. Here is his conclusion:
“Thus my heart was grieved,
And I was vexed in my mind.
I was so foolish and ignorant;
I was like a beast before You.
Nevertheless I am continually with You;
You hold me by my right hand.
You will guide me with Your counsel,
And afterward receive me to glory.
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
But it is good for me to draw near to God;
I have put my trust in the Lord GOD,
That I may declare all Your works.”
– Psalm 73:21-28
Indeed, it is folly to think this way; to be envious and covet, whether in regards to believers or unbelievers. As I mentioned earlier, none of us are on the same path. And the tricky part about a life path is this:
No matter how carefully we plan, prepare, hope, or even pray; only God knows what our next stepping stone will be.
In my business we are often told the following:
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
- Your success is found in your daily routine or agenda.
- You have to set goals, etc.
These are all good things. They have been tried, tested, and they are true. However, here is something that overrides all of it:
“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” – Proverbs 16:9
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
Ultimately, His will overrules our own. His purpose surpasses ours by far. His plans are above our own. Does it mean we should not set goals, plan, or apply ourselves to lead our lives. Of course not. But it does mean we should be able to let go of the things we cannot change. It also means we should focus on our own steps, which are ordained by Him, and stop being envious of where others are going.
Just like Jesus answered Peter when he inquired about his fellow apostle John:
“When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” – John 21: 21-22
And that goes for each of us. Jesus could just as easily have told me:
“If I wish for him to have all the success in the world, what is that to you? YOU must follow me.”
Humbly, and no matter what He has in store for you, or for others… YOU must follow Him. Your steps are ordained and your direction is in his mighty hands. If you covet, it is because deep down, you don’t trust Him adequately. This indicates a serious lack of faith, and it is not the way any of us should take.
I will conclude with this admonition from Scripture:
“Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. Because of these things the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience, in which you yourselves once walked when you lived in them.” (Colossians 3:5-7)
May God bless you as you rely on His abundance and plan for you and put away all covetousness.
“Success myths are myths.” – Jeffrey Feldberg
I grew up poor. In fact, I can’t even say I grew up in a poor working class family because my dad wasn’t even working most of the time. That’s how poor we were; welfare, bottom rung, wrong side of the track poor. It also didn’t help that my dad was very verbal about what he thought of successful people (here is a clue: it wasn’t positive). This, of course, affected my thinking about success. The ‘Stinking Thinking’ I grew up surrounded by contributed to me embracing and believing many falsehoods about success when I was growing up.
But I know I’m not alone…
There are at least 10 myths that people tend to believe about success and successful people. And, whether you agree with them or not, I can guarantee that MYTH is what they are.
1- Successful people got lucky. This one is probably the most popular. Think about it… If we believe that successful people got lucky, why bother trying to be successful? It’s really a good way to cop out from even trying, right? And the fact is that the great majority of successful people worked very hard to become successful. Thomas Jefferson put it this way:
“I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.” – Thomas Jefferson
2- Successful people have discovered ‘The Secret’ to success. Success has no ‘secret sauce’. Does it leave clues? Yes, plenty. But the good news about these is that they are duplicatable. The successful possess every day the same 24 hours that you and I do. What they do with their allotted time is what sets them apart. And guess what? What they do, you can do also.
“The secret of success is this: there is no secret of success.” – Elbert Hubbard
3- Successful people took advantage of people. My dad loved this one. He embraced it and taught it to my young and impressionable mind. As a result, it took me years to undo my belief that the successful weren’t evil. The fact is quite the opposite. Most (yes, there are exceptions) highly successful people got there by actually adding value and helping more people than the average Joe. Now, are there some wicked rich people? Yep. But guess what… there are also many wicked poor people (I should know, I grew up in those neighborhoods). You must rise above all that and take this advice to heart:
“Become too busy trying to succeed to worry about people with bad intentions.”
4- Hard work is the key to success. This one is also very popular and adhered to by… the unsuccessful. I don’t want to discourage all the hard workers out there, but hard work alone isn’t the answer. I know plenty of very hard workers who aren’t successful. That’s the sad truth. Is hard work a requirement? Sure. Is it an essential quality? Of course. But smart work will bring you much greater dividends than hard work ever will.
“Hard work alone won’t guarantee success, but without hard work, I’ll guarantee you won’t have success.” – Bruce Pearl
5- Success is linked with an event in one’s life. Some people believe that people who have become successful encountered an event in their life that brought them success. They believe that something good happened on the path of the successful that changed their life forever. Life will bring many circumstances our way; some good, some bad. But the chances that life would bring a circumstance or event that would catapult you to the top of the ladder are very slim. The choices you make are a much greater determinant than this.
“Success does not happen to you, it happens because of you.”
6- Success is for others, but not for me. Some people believe that success is somehow beyond their reach. They believe that it’s for some people, but not for them. They believe it’s for the gifted, blessed, smart, good-looking, educated, charismatic, etc. In short, they believe it’s for those who ‘have it going on.’ Well, the good news is that this is a myth too. You’re welcome.
“The strongest factor in success is self-esteem: believing you can do it, believing you deserve it, and believing you’ll get it.”
7- Success is in the future. Some believe that success is out there yonder, under the rainbow… somewhere out there. I once met a girl at a book signing who told me: “I too am going to write a book. I can see it. It’s in my future.” When I told her that “if she is going to write a book, SHE needs to write it. The book won’t write itself”, she seemed offended. What can I say, I have a way with people. Ahem. And no, she didn’t buy my book…LOL!
“Some people dream about success while other wake up and work hard at it.” – Napoleon Hill
8- Success is achieved through opportunity. Some people are just waiting for their ‘Big Break.’ They just didn’t get it yet. They weren’t given the opportunity for it. They believe that if they were just given that break, they would finally get it. I’ll be honest here: I fell for that on occasion. There were times when, in bouts with self-pity, I thought that life was unfair because I was just not getting a break. Here’s how I overcame these bouts: I kicked myself in the arse and told myself: “Suck it up buttercup… and get back to work.”
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” – Thomas Edison
9- Success is based on a relationship. You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” While having a good network of capable achievers around you sure doesn’t hurt, some take this to the extreme. They believe that it is only through relationships and nothing else that one can achieve success. That’s just not true. Actually, in the beginning, many achiever’s only relationships with the greats are… through their books. They didn’t have the right knowledge, connections, network, or mentors. They had to go out and make those connections and build those relationships; and this is just one part of what they needed to become successful.
“In the end success is not about who you know, but about you know who.” – Robert Breault
10- Success is for the money-hungry. This is another one that I used to believe. I spoke about it in more detail in another blog post (Riches Are No Vice, Poverty is No Virtue). Those who believe that only the money-hungry will achieve success usually don’t bother even trying to gain success for themselves. Why? Because they reason, “I am virtuous. I am not a shallow, money-hungry, materialistic jerk.” It is ironic though, that those who pride themselves in this limited belief are actually not living up to their full potential and limiting the positive impact they would have otherwise. Here is what they fail to understand: Many successful and wealthy people became that way without money on their radar at first. They just followed their passion and calling and became world-class at whatever they did. The money came as a by-product of using their gift to add value to people.
“Success is not the result of making money; earning money is the result of success – and success is in direct proportion to our service.” Earl Nightingale
Are there more myths related to success not on this list? Probably. And I could maybe find more myself. But I found ten to be a nice, round number. In any case, I want to close this post by giving you a solid rule of thumb to follow in order to actually become successful. And rest assured, this is no myth. Here it is:
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C. Maxwell
Easy? No. And yet so simple, isn’t it? Yes, definitely simple. You see, we often over complicate the recipe to success when in fact, it doesn’t have to be rocket science. The proof is also in the pudding. I mean, most high achievers’ lives testify to this rule of thumb. They all possessed a high degree of discipline, consistency, and work ethic. I always recommend that people make up a list of four, five, or six things that they are committed to doing every-single-day no-matter-what. These activities need to be related to the achievement of your ultimate goal. Over time, as you will soon experience… the positive results will begin to show. It worked for all the greats in any field and for all time; it works for me, and trust me… it’ll work for you too.
Not only that, but by sowing those positive habits every day in your life, you will eventually reap a success that you once only believed was a myth.
May God bless you as you decide to put those success myths to rest in your life and as you keep working towards your vision.
Did You Find Your True Calling?
This post will be different from those I write usually. I will not give you a leadership teaching, business tips, or personal growth recommendations. This post will be what some of you might call a ‘religious’ post, although I usually tend to shy away from anything deemed religious. So, if you are offended by that, you may just want move on to something else. If not, then by all means keep reading…
You see, I’m an entrepreneur, author, leadership trainer, and coach in the personal development industry – that’s my occupation. But I’m first a foremost a believer in and a child of the most High God. That’s my true identity at the deepest part of myself’.
In recent years, in my profession, I’ve pretty much seen it all as far as B.S. (Belief Systems) is concerned. Yes, B.S. stands for belief systems. What did you think I meant? Ahem, but I digress…
I’ve seen what motivates people, what drives them, and especially what they believe. Here is the short list of the types of people I’ve identified in personal development related businesses (Speakers, Multi-Level Marketing, Sales, Coaching, Entrepreneurship, etc.):
- The money driven: Those who are into personal development related businesses mainly because they want more ca$h. Think Materialism.
- The hype driven: Those who are into personal development businesses mainly because they like the hype, events, and feeling excited. Think Adrenalin Junkies.
- The fluffers: Those who are into personal development businesses mainly because it makes them feel good. They like ‘the Universe’ (whatever the heck that means), fluffy thoughts, unicorns, purple hearts, and feel-good mumbo-jumbo. Think New Age.
- The people driven: Those who are into personal development related businesses because they love people and want to help them by adding value to them. Think Humanism.
Pretty much everybody falls into one or more of those categories, with the inevitable combinations that may come from it. Some are money and hype driven. Some are fluffers who love to help people, etc. Most of these people are ignited and highly motivated. They believe in their business and the thought-system they work with. Which is more, most of them sincerely believe they have found their purpose, their higher calling, their bliss.
There is just one tiny problem though… ego. No, I don’t mean a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance. I’m talking about the ego that spells E.G.O., which means, Edging God Out.
T.D. Jakes put it this way, and I could’t have said it better:
“Success is irrelevant to purpose. You can be successfully wrong.” – T.D. Jakes
You see, for all the good that I’ve witnessed in personal development related businesses, I have also seen how these ventures have become, in the lives of many, an idol.
Some people’s lives are so empty before they find personal development ventures, that they put all their eggs in this basket once they find it. They sincerely believe that the hole in their heart and life has been filled through it. They cling to it as if their life depends on it. They go all in and are proud of it. And if you try to hint, ever so subtly, that they made an idol for themselves, you will have it coming! Ironically, you will be thought of as (or called) a (take your pick): unbeliever, negative person, someone who ‘doesn’t get it’, small minded, etc. Yes, those who make their personal development related biz into an idol may treat level-minded people the same way as those who are in a cult do when they are confronted about it. Scary!
If the living God is not a part of your life, then your purpose is just based on feelings. It has no firm foundation but self, and although you may think you have found your purpose, it’s only half the story.
There, I said it. No matter how dry, uncharitable, or closed-minded I may sound, I said it.
If you believe you have found your calling, but you are edging God out, you are only living half of your story; because there is no calling without a caller.
To illustrate, let me take the example of the man we have come to know as the apostle Paul. Before he was Paul, he was Saul. Saul believed he had found his purpose and calling. He was prominent in his field among the religious elite of the day. He was highly respected in the community. He had followed all the right courses and trainings at the feet of Gamaliel (think religious Tony Robbins-type superstar teacher of the day). He was, for all intents and purposes, and in the eyes of the people back in the day – the equivalent of a guy who, by today’s standards, was ‘Crushing It’.
So Paul, who was highly motivated and sincerely believed he was following his true calling, was ‘crushing it’ by pursuing and killing Christians. Yes, that was pretty extreme, but stay with me here.
Paul, like so many others today, was following his calling, without the approval of the Caller. It is only when Paul met the Caller that he began fulfilling his true calling.
The Experiencing God devotional, by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby put it this way:
“Before the apostle Paul’s conversion experience on the road to Damascus, Jesus already knew Paul and had a specific assignment for him. But Jesus only revealed this assignment after Paul’s conversion (Acts 9:15). So misguided was Paul that in his sincere efforts to serve God, he had actually been waging war against Christians! Although God knew what He wanted for Paul, He waited to reveal it to him until he gained his attention and became his Lord.
Our Lord does not come to us to discover what we would like to accomplish for Him. He encounters us in order to reveal His activity and invite us to become involved in His work. An encounter with God requires us to adjust ourselves to the activity of God that has been revealed. God never communicates with us merely to give us a warm devotional thought for that day. He never speaks to us simply to increase our (Biblical) knowledge. Our Lord has far more significant things to reveal to us than that! When God shows us what He is doing, He invites us to join Him in the work He is doing.”
Do you see where I’m going with this?
I don’t want to be misunderstood here. There is nothing wrong with loving your biz, your products, your company, or even personal development. As a coach, I actually encourage people to pursue personal development intensively and to have a personal growth plan. There is nothing wrong with that. Also, there is great fulfillment in doing something you are passionate about for a living. I get it, I really do.
My concern, my deepest concern is simply this: People who believe they have found their purpose without God. As a life-coach and believer, this is what grieves me the most. Why? Because if there is one thing that I have understood on this earth-based adventure that we call life, it is that purpose that edges God out is only half the story. Just as Paul knew the Scriptures by heart before His conversion, they only made complete sense to Him after his encounter with the Living Lord.
For all I know, maybe the venture your are hustling in now is part of your purpose – maybe it is linked to what you were born to do. Nevertheless, I can guarantee this: If God is not part of your life at a deep and personal level, this purpose of yours is only half your story – I don’t care how much success you may have had.
Now, if you want the full picture; If you want to live in the fullness of your purpose. If you want to stop edging God out and you want to make Him the center of your life. If you want a solid foundation that will remain no matter what happens in your business and life, I urge you to change your mind and trust Him to become the Lord of your life. Seek Him and ask Him to reveal the vision HE has for your life. What you’re currently doing can become even bigger with Him giving you a clear vision of how you can reach your fullest potential for His Kingdom.
That’s the only way you will enter into the fullness of your calling. Because there is, indeed, no calling without a caller. So, if you hear His call today, do not turn a deaf ear.
May you be Blessed in your biz, and even more so as you enter into the fullness of your calling.
How is Personal Development going to improve
my business ?
“Men are anxious to improve their circumstances, but are unwilling to improve themselves; they therefore remain bound.” – James Allen
I began my journey into what is called ‘personal growth’ about three years ago. It has changed my life in incredible ways. Mind you, before that, for the previous twenty years, my reading, which was extensive, centered around christian living and theology. I must surmise, this too was transforming in more ways than one – obviously.
So, I did have a solid base on which to build. However, my mindset was wrong. The result was that I suffered with profound bouts of depression and was always pursuing that ever so elusive ‘Joy, joy, joy, down in my heart.’
Now the problem wasn’t Christianity, the Bible, and definitely not Christ. The problem was me; my mindset, my outlook, my understanding of how I am wired.
Studying the masters of personal growth such as James Allen (quoted above), Jim Rohn, Les Brown, and John C. Maxwell literally unbound me. It unchained my potential to a degree that I can hardly fathom. Get this, in the last three years, since I began studying personal growth, I got certified in The John Maxwell Team… founded my own business alongside my wife “Thriving on Purpose”, and I wrote two books! Now, I am not saying this to toot my own horn. I am just trying to stress the immense benefit that can come from personal growth.
It is vital to all human beings to grow. Like John Henry Newman said:
“Growth is the only evidence of life.”
However, it has grieved me to witness how few people see the value of growing themselves. The majority of people choose to remain bound, as James Allen would say. I have pondered this phenomena to try to unravel what makes one embrace personal growth while another might shun it. Here is what I have found:
- Personal growth requires a deep desire for change in one’s life. It requires much intentionality to start.
- Personal growth requires humility. When you embrace personal growth, you are in fact saying: I am not all that I can be. I have much to learn.
- Personal growth requires a lot of work. Jim Rohn summed it up well when he admonished: “Work harder on yourself than you do at your job.”
Those three ingredients: desire, humility, and hard work are not as common as we think. In fact, they are quite a rare combination. Most people choose to remain bound, for becoming free requires desire and, yes, work.
As Darren Hardy, owner of Success Magazine once put it:
“Success is hard friggin work.”
Truer words are seldom heard in today’s “If you believe it you can achieve it”, wishy-washy, fluffy social mindset. Personal growth which leads to great success in indeed quite arduous. Nevertheless, like the great Jim Rohn once put it, “Success is something you attract, not something you pursue.” And you attract it by the person you become. Furthermore, the person you become will be determined by the level of personal growth you invest in. Personal growth is indeed vital to all, and yet attractive to few.
I encourage you to begin your growth journey today and make your mark on the world!
I recommend you read this book to start your Personal Growth journey;
Maximize your Potential in 9 Steps
Back in 1997, I was 23 years old; I had just been dumped by a girl I really liked, I had a 12 hour/week job in an auto parts dealership, and I lived with my single mom. I drove a twelve-year-old grey Buick Skyhawk station wagon. Yes, I was, by all intents and purposes, a loser.
So, back in 1997, to take my mind off my problems, I went to see the new Disney movie Hercules – alone, obviously. It was a fun, albeit not very accurate take on the demi-god. Nevertheless, the movie was inspiring as it really portrayed the Hero’s Journey of the young son of Zeus. What stood out even more was the soundtrack of the movie, with Michael Bolton who was at the zenith of his career back then, hired to sing ‘Go the Distance’. Another song on the album was a catchy song called ‘Zero to Hero’. It was an adequate descriptive of the awkward kid at the beginning of the movie who was to become Greece’s mightiest champion by the time we reached the end credits of the story.
Yes, I admit it, as a geek, I found the movie inspiring, even if it was a cartoon. Back in the day, I also found other heroes inspiring. You see, I was an avid comic book fan. It had all started a few years back when Superman had died at the hands of Doomsday in the comics. That’s when I began buying and reading comics. And, oddly enough, I can say in hindsight that it’s also when I began my own hero’s quest.
To be fair, we don’t go from zero to hero in ‘no time flat’, like the song in the movie says. It takes, time, dedication, and a belief that we are meant for something more to become the hero of our own story. It actually took me years of spiritual and personal development to grow from zero to superhero of my own story. From the get-go, it took for me to believe that I was meant for more than a 12-hour job in an auto-parts warehouse – which wasn’t that hard to imagine.
So, did superheroes inspire me on my journey? Absolutely!
Here is what I’ve noticed during my years of comic book reading, personal growth, and now as a husband, father or three, author, coach, and entrepreneur: Superheroes are popular because people need to be inspired. Period.
And, interestingly, the people who like them the most are the people who need them the most. These are the people who find themselves most in need of feeling inspired and empowered.
Like aunt May said in Spider-Man 2 (by director Sam Raimi): “ Lord knows, kids like Henry need a hero. Courageous, self-sacrificing people. Setting examples for all of us. Everybody loves a hero. People line up for them, cheer them, scream their names. And years later, they’ll tell how they stood in the rain for hours just to get a glimpse of the one who taught them how to hold on a second longer. I believe there’s a hero in all of us, that keeps us honest, gives us strength, makes us noble, and finally allows us to die with pride, even though sometimes we have to be steady, and give up the thing we want the most. Even our dreams.”
I was one of those ‘kids’. I can honestly say that, aside from my faith in God, good books, and a few good men, superheroes were the greatest inspiration in my life. While this may sound silly, they inspired me to always improve myself and made me feel empowered to do so. So, what am I getting at? Simply this: the demographics of those who dig comics point to a large portion of people who didn’t grow up surrounded by success – like me. The medium itself beckons those who need one of two things in their life: an escape, or a compass. I once mentioned in a podcast interview that ‘jocks and prom queens don’t usually read comic books.’ By that I meant that underdogs usually love superheroes more than those who seem to have it all together.
So, how can we grow from ‘zero to superhero’? What steps do the Clark Kents of this world have to take in order to become the Superman of their own stories? I have found the superhero’s path that can make anyone go from awkward, unsure, and broke to confident, successful, and inspiring. Here are those steps…
- Become Self-Aware. Superheroes know themselves inside and out. They understand that “if you don’t go within you will go without.” They have dared to face their own inner demons before they tackled super-villains. They know their superpowers, but they also know their Kryptonite. So, to quote Socrates, “Know Thyself.”
- Dare to dream. James Allen, author of the classic As a Man Thinketh, wrote: “Dreamers are the saviors of the world.” So, yes, if you want to be a superhero and ‘save the world’ you must first believe that you can. Steve Jobs put it this way: “Those who are crazy enough to think they can change the world usually do.” It takes guts to be a dreamer in a cynical world. You will get punched in the face quite a few times for doing so… but get back in the fight and don’t give up. Optimus Prime, one of my favourite childhood characters, said: “Hang on to your dreams. The future is built on dreams. Hang on.”
- Plan Appropriately. Superheroes, especially when working as a team, always have a solid game plan. You don’t just go barging in the villain’s hideout and start taking prisoners. Usually, you need to strategize. The same goes with your life. Plan it ahead. What are your goals for the next month? Year? Five years? A good life-plan with precise goals highly increases your chance of success. Write it down today!
- Be Positive. One thing superheroes do well is think positive, even in the face of overwhelming odds. I venture to say that they wouldn’t be able to accomplish anything they do without the right mindset (and superpowers of course). Superman, who oozes confidence, usually just flies in and tells the villains exactly what he’s gonna do: “It’s over. You broke the law. I’m taking you in.” His words are just an extension of his self-confidence. You need a positive mindset to go from zero to superhero. Negativity will never make you fly.
- Never give up. On your way up, you will have setbacks… many of them. It’s part of the hero’s journey. Superman once said: “On my soul, I swear… until my dream of a world where dignity, honor, and justice becomes the reality we all share – I’ll never stop fighting.” Trust me, you will feel like giving up on your quest for betterment many, many times. Don’t stop fighting. Take Winston Churchill’s words at heart: “Never, never, never give up.”
- Join the Fantastic Five. Jim Rohn, the late business philosopher and speaker said: “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Knowing this, you should make every effort to build rapport and surround yourself with great people – five at least. The Avengers, The Fantastic Four, The Justice League – they are great because the individuals on the team sharpen and challenge each other. They are great because mediocrity is never tolerated on their team. Surround yourself with people who hate to lose, and you will start winning.
- Pursue Personal Growth. Learn, grow, study, think, implement. These words may not be sexy, but boy are they necessary! Consider the words of Mr. Fantastic (the leader of the Fantastic Four): “I stayed inside and studied, like a good little nerd. And fifteen years later, I’m one of the greatest minds of the 21st century, I’m engaged to the hottest girl on the planet, and the big jock who played quarterback in high school? Well he’s standing right in front of me asking me for my help.” There is a universal law which says: “If you do what is easy, your life will be hard. If you do what is hard, your life will be easy.” Personal development requires time, study, and effort. Do it anyway. It’s more than worth it.
- Develop a strong character. Captain America, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman – they are no pushovers. They have integrity, morals, and a strong character. You wanna be the hero? Start by doing what you say, and stand by it. If you don’t stand for anything, you will fall for everything. Like the Captain said to Spider-Man in Civil War (the comic): “… We stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, YOU move.”
- Give back. The better you become, the more you can give to others. It is our duty to give back once we have been greatly blessed. Someone who achieves success, or wisdom, or knowledge, or financial riches can help others do the same. Don’t be a reservoir; rather be a river through which good things will flow to and through you. Be generous! Live fully and die empty! If you want what heaven has, you have to be what heaven gives. Become the man or woman you needed growing up.
So, to grow from zero to superhero, you must first build yourself up, and then build others up in the same fashion, by inspiring them to be the best possible version of themselves. If a guy like me could do it, you better believe that you can too! Get started today.
Recommended Reading to help you on that Journey:
Click on the Image….
What is The Jesus Effect?
We’ve all heard of the butterfly effect. You know, that “metaphorical example of the details of a hurricane (exact time of formation, exact path taken) being influenced by minor perturbations such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier.” (Wikipedia). But today I want to talk to you about something I have coined “The Jesus Effect.” Don’t worry, this is not going to be a religious blog post, and no, not a Theological exposition either. In fact, many non-religious people have experienced the Jesus Effect in their lives without even knowing what was going on. Let me explain what the Jesus effect is.
Most of us are somewhat familiar with the life and teachings of Jesus to one degree or another. But, most of us are not aware of how Jesus’ own acquaintances and family perceived Him once he began his teaching ministry. Here are a couple of passages from the Good Book to put you in context:
“When He had come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, “Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses,Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they were offended at Him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” Now He did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.” (Matthew 13: 54-58)
So, that’s how Jesus was perceived by his own town folks from Nazareth. And because they didn’t buy into what he was telling them, He did not do many miracles there. They just couldn’t fathom that this ‘carpenter’s son’ could actually teach them a thing or two. In another passage we read about how his own family perceived him:
“Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat.And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”” (Mark 3: 20-21)
So, on top of having no credibility with people from his hometown, his own family (perhaps Mary and his brothers and sisters even) wanted to seize him and take Him away from there before he would embarrass himself (or them) any further. That, my friends, is in a nutshell what I coined The Jesus Effect. Shakespeare had another name for it when he described it as “familiarity breeds contempt.” Jesus of Nazareth began feeling the ripples of His impactful mission early on. His acquaintances didn’t want any part in what He offered and He obliged them. He performed no miracles and taught very little in Nazareth. He didn’t give His pearls to swine.
My friends, all this to say that The Jesus Effect will manifest itself in your life the moment you begin doing different things than what others have come to know from you. When you begin a self-discovery journey and you start changing, they will resist that change vehemently. You have to expect that. When you start aiming in becoming more, you will see it. When you begin pursuing your dreams with passion, you definitely will feel its sting. When you begin shifting your mindset towards greater ideals and goals, the Jesus effect will manifest through your entourage as they try to drag you back down. You see, people’s perception of us is part of what they call their ‘reality’. When we evolve and begin changing, we affect their ‘reality’ and it makes them feel very uneasy. That’s why they feel they have to halt it or ‘knock some sense into you’. It’s not their fault really, they just don’t want their paradigm to change – and you are a part of it. It’s their unconscious defense mechanism. Some call it cognitive dissonance. I have noticed the following in my own life:
Mediocre people want you to be Mediocre
Average people want you to be Average
Great people want you to be Great
That, by the way, is why I became intentional about surrounding myself with great people. And by great I just mean those who don’t settle – those who have a growth mindset and are always wanting to learn more and become more.
So, in closing, I will ask you a simple question. Have you ever experienced The Jesus Effect in your own life? If you haven’t, maybe this means it’s time you began your own journey towards your own calling or purpose. Maybe this means you have been living an ordinary life devoid of dreams that would enable you to discover your greatness. If you haven’t experienced The Jesus Effect in your own life, I can easily conclude that you are merely alive, but not really living. Like Jesus, only those who embrace their greatness will create that effect around them. So what are you waiting for? Begin pursuing your life’s purpose and make The Jesus Effect a reality in your own life!
Is poverty a virtue?
I had a christian upbringing. At a very young age, I was taught to be humble and kind. I was taught to follow the fine example of Jesus and his apostles. I was taught not to love money – because this was the root of all evil (the LOVE of money). I read many times in the Holy Writ that we cannot serve two masters, i.e.: God and money; for we would learn to love one and hate the other. I also read that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. All these principles were repeated to me from youth – over, and over again. And so, I came to believe it very strongly. In fact, I believed it so strongly that I did like the Pharisees of old and I twisted its meaning and application in order to make myself appear greater in my own eyes. In order to feel like an ultra-spiritual and virtuous man, I began believing the lie that there is virtue in poverty. Conversely, I also believed for the longest time that riches made men wicked and full of vice. The fact that my dad, who was poor, repeatedly called them names (which I shall not repeat here) didn’t help. Therefore, in my eyes, rich people were pretty much doomed to be vicious, ungodly rats or snakes, while poor people were virtuous and victims of unfortunate circumstance. I equated poverty with humility and grace, and riches with greed and evil.
Well, as you probably know, it will be done to us as we believe. So, because of my firmly held belief that riches equated with ungodliness, I was never rich. For most of my life, I was always left with too much month at the end of my money – if you know what I mean. I basically sabotaged myself through my own dysfunctional B.S. (belief system) about money.
My whole beliefs about money, wealth, virtue, and vice, were completely turned around when, in financial dire straits, I began praying to God for… yes, money. It was difficult for me to resort to what, at the time, seemed like a prayer unbefitting a Christian. However, I was so troubled by my lack of financial ease and my debts, that I chanced it – even if it meant a possible rebuke from God. And that’s when The Father decided to school me in the area of money and wealth. No, I didn’t get sudden checks in the mail or win the lotto. Instead of giving me a fish, God taught me to fish (and it’s still ongoing).
My first lesson happened in a bookstore. I was browsing at my local Indigo bookstore and, I erred into unfamiliar territory: the finance section. There, I saw a book on the shelf that caught my attention. Actually, it was more than that. I felt pulled towards the book and compelled to buy it. This book would serve to completely re-educate me and re-forge my beliefs. Most of the time, we choose our books, this time however, the book chose me. The book was Think And Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.
After reading Think and Grow Rich, I began to fully grasp that the admonitions of Scripture that it is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle is greatly misunderstood. Basically, it all has to do with not only a person’s sense of priorities in life; i.e.: God or Money, but also with what the person grew acquainted with FIRST. For example, if a man grew up in wealth but knows not God, it is very likely that he will not seek God. His wealth will keep him from the greater good because it does satisfy his earthly needs. However, if a man knows God and honors him and his fellow man, even if he becomes wealthy later on, chances are he will retain his morals and faith. I actually know a good number of wealthy men of faith who actually do much good with their money – who are virtuous. Besides, the Scriptures are full of wealthy men who were virtuous and honorable: Abraham, Joseph, Job, David, Solomon, to name just a few. Surely they found a happy place after they died.
So no, riches do not equate vice or immorality, nor does poverty equate with virtue and felicity. As someone who grew up among poor people I can definitely attest that many of them are far from the side of the angels. Some of them actually had many vices and were quite corrupt morally.
While we must remain aware that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness (purpose and significance do that), I can guarantee that it brings more happiness than poverty ever has. You can definitely take that to the bank – pun intended.
A mindset which glorifies lack cannot possibly prosper. A growth mindset aimed towards prospering as your soul prospers will not only prosper a man in virtue, but in financial wealth as well – and guess what: there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! It’s all good. A friend of mine once said: if you really want to help others, it is better done by getting rich first. But before we begin to grow rich, we must first THINK, and grow rich. We must correct our thoughts towards money and wealth before we become wealthy AND virtuous.
In the coming new year, I hope you all will prosper as your soul prospers. I hope you will do away with beliefs that are damaging to your growth and success.
Great Books to read;
Think and Grow Rich: Napoleon Hill
The Richest Man Who Ever Lived: King Solomon’s Secrets to Success, Wealth, and Happiness
Do you have a Dream but?…
Do you have a dream, but…? I asked this fairly misconstruing question to a lady acquaintance of mine. I had been working with Marsha for a few weeks and we had developed a friendly relationship. However, I noticed she seemed very depressed on most days. She was very melancholy and made it no secret that she hated her job.
I had tried many times to explain to her that we do not become happy because of what we have (job, money, car), but because of who we become. I told her that stagnation fosters depression and that forward motion and growth fosters happiness. I told her she needed to work on building herself and her life up. It was to no avail.
So, that’s when I asked her the seemingly inappropriate question: “Do you have a dream, but…?” Of course, her initial response was skepticism and uncertainty… so she made me repeat – and again I uttered, “Do you have a dream, but…?”; intentionally pausing between dream and but, just for emphasis this time. She got it. She smiled. Then, she lowered her gaze, and sheepishly said, “I used to. But then life happened, and here I am.”
Many of us can identify with Marsha’s response. Many of us used to have hopes and dreams, BUT then life happened – and here we are. We end up accepting our lives instead of leading our lives. Like the kid who learns to ride a bike and falls down. Frustrated, he kicks his bike when he gets back up and screams “lousy bike!” The bike is not the problem – he is, or rather, his lack of self awareness, self-control, and experience. Many times, we likewise fall off our dreams because of trials, failures, and disappointments. We get back up and scream at life. Instead, we need to get back on our dreams and give it another go.
So, do YOU have a dream, BUT…? If you do, make sure you are not acting like a perfect ass in the process (pun intended).
Dare to dream again, no ‘if’, ‘and’ or ‘BUT’s about it!