The Secret Formula for Incremental Change

The Secret Formula The Secret Formula for Incremental Change

My wife and I are coordinating Financial Peace University again this semester, and this week’s lesson was the one for which Dave Ramsey is most known. It’s all about getting out of debt using the Debt Snowball method. Dave gets so fired up in the lesson that it gets me excited every time I watch it.

One of the parts of the lesson that has always most resonated with me is his formula for achieving success with his plan. He doesn’t call it a formula, but it has always seemed like a nice, succinct formulaic statement. I can attest that the formula works because it’s exactly how our family got out of debt.

I’ve modified it a bit for clarity’s sake, but it goes like this:

(P + T) x S = R

Your Level of Passion over Time multiplied by your Depth of Sacrifice equals Results.

As you can see, this isn’t a magic formula. Implicit here are dedication, hard work, and sacrifice. This formula doesn’t offer an easy road.

Each component of this formula is crucial for achieving the change you desire in your life. You must be passionate about your goal—you’ve got to want it! You must understand that change takes time—incremental change is a marathon, not a sprint. And you must be willing to sacrifice, knowing that the deeper you’re willing to sacrifice, the faster you’ll reach your goal.

This is the secret to incremental change. Get fired up about who you want to become and dedicate yourself to implementing change over the long haul. Be willing to sacrifice deeply and you’ll begin to see amazing changes happen in your life.

6 Ways to Foster Creativity by Encouraging Different Perspectives

6 Ways to Foster Creativity Different Perspectives 6 Ways to Foster Creativity by Encouraging Different Perspectives

I remember a teachable moment with our son many years ago, back when he was still in single digits. He and our oldest daughter would often ride along in the car and stare up at the clouds, imagining what shapes they made. You’ve done it too. I’m sure you’ve seen fish, dragons, lions, spaceships, and a whole host of other shapes fired from your imagination.

Most of the time, our two children would look up at the same cloud and say they saw something completely different. That’s very common occurrence with any two children, but what was interesting is that for a long time our son would unequivocally state that there was no way she could see something different from the shape he saw. We simply chalked it up to age and maturity and encouraged our children to not argue.

One day a similar argument ensued and we intervened. My wife and I both interjected what we each imagined we saw in the cloud, which was completely different from either of the children. I’ll never forget the look of surprise on my son’s face as he said, “You mean people really do see different things in the same cloud?”

That moment was a paradigm shift in my son’s thinking. Yes, much of it was a natural part of him growing up and beginning to move from concrete to abstract thinking, but it was also a lesson in learning that not everyone sees things the same way. In his black and white world it was hard to comprehend that someone else’s brain might work differently, that someone else’s imagination could conceive of an idea other than his own. There are times when the “gray areas” of life are not about right vs. wrong, but really a difference of perspective.

If you’re leading a team of people—especially creative and innovative people—you have to be careful that you don’t get locked into the same sort of thinking. Sometimes leaders have tunnel vision, or a vision so clear that it’s hard for them to conceive of a different plan of action. Even though they logically understand that others can have a different perspective—indeed it’s why they hired some of the people on their team—they become so married to their own ideas that they believe no one else could possibly come up with something better.

Make a conscious determination to not only be open to different ideas, but to also become a leader who fosters creativity by encouraging different perspectives. Here are six ideas to get you started:

  1. Listen to any and all ideas, no matter how crazy they might seem at first blush.
  2. Encourage the introverts on your team to communicate and share their ideas in the way they feel most comfortable. Don’t listen to only the loudest, most passionate voices.
  3. Don’t automatically dismiss a perspective that is significantly different from your own, even if it’s the complete antithesis of yours. It might just spur your team to conceive of something new and brilliant.
  4. Reward all team members for their hard work in submitting creative ideas, not only those whose ideas are the “winners.”
  5. Become a facilitator of discussion and innovation, someone who encourages the team to bring their best ideas to the table.
  6. Ask if there’s anyone on the team who thinks you’re moving in the wrong direction, and ask why they believe that’s so.

One of the hardest parts about letting go of our own ideas in favor of someone else’s is our own pride. As leaders, we need to make sure that we’re not stamping employees out on an assembly line to be little robots who do our bidding. Our ultimate goal is their success, because when they succeed, so do we. That means the best ideas, the most visionary perspective, and the team’s collaboration are what we’re working towards.

What tips do you have to help foster creativity by encouraging different perspectives in your team? Please share in the comments.

What’s So Great About Frugality?

Whats So Great About Whats So Great About Frugality?

I remember watching PBS quite a bit when I was young, enjoying all the usual shows like Sesame Street, The Electric Company, and other kid-oriented shows. As I got older and my interests changed, I began watching different shows of all kinds, including cooking shows. One of the shows that would come on was called The Frugal Gourmet, a show which I would almost always turn off immediately.

Why? Well it had nothing to do with the cooking and everything to do with the word “frugal.” For some reason the word held a negative meaning in my young mind, though to this day I don’t fully understand why. I think it was a visceral reaction based on a false belief that the word frugal meant poor, or perhaps miserly. In my youth I didn’t understand the wisdom living a frugal lifestyle has to offer. Now I understand just how wrong I was.

Frugality is simply choosing to live beneath your means and making intentional choices with your money. 

Frugality is opportunity cost in action. It’s choosing between different alternatives with your limited resources, realizing that if you choose one, you lose the ability to choose the others and that’s not a bad thing. Frugality is not miserly, it’s exercising good stewardship of your money.

Consider just a few of the benefits of frugality:

  • Frugality gives you the freedom to use your income for what you really value, not just for paying bills and buying stuff.
  • Frugality gives you the freedom to do more things you enjoy by keeping you from descending into debt.
  • Frugality gives you the freedom to take advantage of the best opportunities as they come along.
  • Frugality gives you the freedom to plan and save for the future.
  • Frugality gives you the freedom to be better prepared for emergencies and unexpected expenses.
  • Frugality gives you the freedom to bless others when you discover their needs.

Don’t buy into the lie that being frugal is boring or stressful—it’s actually very much the opposite. You’ll be challenged to be creative day after day, and have the satisfaction of knowing that you’ve counted the cost and made the wisest decisions you could with the resources you had on hand.

Have you chosen to live a frugal lifestyle? Tell us about the positive benefits you’ve experienced in the comments.

Note: I’m aware that Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet, may have had other problems plaguing his life far beyond frugality.

Priorities Should (and Will) Shift Over Time

5 Questions to Ask Priorities Should (and Will) Shift Over Time

As you work to be more intentional about how you live your life, and as you take the time to ask yourself “who do I want to become”, you will often find that the answer to the question changes over time. Your priorities will shift as you grow and mature. Just as your interests change, so will your ultimate goals.

Dreams have a way of changing, don’t they? When you were a kid, did you have one of those “Who do you want to be when you grow up” assignments? You might remember the cute answers—such as astronaut, ballerina, and president—but would you have answered that question the same way as a high school senior? Of course not. You changed. You grew. You matured. And so your dreams changed as well.

How many people buy their dream home in their 30’s or 40’s only to later downsize and sell that home when they become empty nesters? How many friends and colleagues do you know who are working in a field completely unrelated to their college degree, or who have gone back to school for training for a new venture?

Shifting your priorities may be more of a practical matter than anything else. Maybe you’ve learned during your goal setting process that your values haven’t changed, but that the way you lived your life didn’t show it. You now see that your priorities—those practices in your life you give the most weight—must change in order to take you forward toward your goals. Unless you wrote down goals that were achievable through the steps you were already taking in day-to-day life, it’s certain you’ll discover the need to shift priorities.

One of the things you’ll learn to be true about leadership is that, if you’re truly an effective leader, you become an instigator of change and innovation. Otherwise, why would you need to be a leader? (If your focus is to keep the status quo, then you’re just a manager, not a leader.) If you’re a leader, you’re always striving to be better and encouraging those around you to go further today than they did yesterday. Change is inherent if you want to avoid stagnation.

Here are 5 Questions to Ask to Discover if You Should Shift Priorities

  1. Do my shifting priorities match my core values?
  2. Will my shifting priorities help me achieve my goals?
  3. Have my ultimate goals and dreams truly changed, or am I giving up?
  4. How will shifting my priorities affect those around me, especially those whose care I’m responsible for?
  5. Am I shifting my priorities due to greed, envy, laziness, or due to mature growth on my part?

How do you deal with shifting priorities in your life? How have your priorities changed as you’ve grown and matured as a person? Please share in the comments.