World Changers Are Servants

World Changers

Once upon a time, I was a relatively well-known blogger in a particular niche, but never really found the large audience or success I wanted. I worked at writing posts, tweeting about them, sharing them all around social media, and participated in discussions on other blogs all in the hopes of building my tribe. But no matter what I did, my blog just never took off.

I remember one time complaining that I might as well quit tweeting stuff about my blog because the return-on-investment (meaning my time) was so low. My disappointment soared as I watched other blogs in my niche grow exponentially. Some of these bloggers found new and “better” jobs as a result. As usual, comparison became the thief of joy and I sunk deeper and deeper into verdant envy. I was stuck doing the same old job, wondering why no one was reading my awesome blog and giving me the recognition I truly deserved.

What a jerk.

I read a quote recently from Patrick Lencioni where he said, “Most people don’t really want to change the world, they only want to be known as the person who changed the world.”

Ouch…talk about getting it right between the eyes.

Back when my wife and I attended financial counselor training, I have a vivid memory of Dave Ramsey stating, “If you focus on helping people, you don’t have to worry about where the money is going to come from.” He was referencing the great success he and his organization have experienced over the last 20+ years of teaching his financial principles.

That’s why my sole focus on this blog has been to always think about how to serve someone with each post I write. It’s my prayer that people will stumble across these words and find something that will help them take the steps necessary to make their lives better.

Do I want my blog to get huge? Absolutely! But I hope to stay humble and always do everything from a position of service.

Do I hope to make money from all this? Honestly, yes, I do. I’m running ads, searching for paid speaking gigs, and creating products to sell. Why? Because it’s my hope to be able to earn enough money from this venture that I’ll be able to do it full time and give all my vocational time and attention to helping whoever I can.

Do I want to change the world? Yes, but I’m no longer all that concerned about being known as the one who initiated the change. This story is about the people whose lives are made better, not about me.

That’s my hope.

Thanks for reading.

The Six V’s of Life Change

The Six V's of Life Change

Changing your life for the better can be hard, and it’s made harder with so much competing and contradictory information available today. Everyone—including me—has an opinion about the steps you should take to get you from where you are to where you want to be. In the end, many people simply give up because they’re confused and overwhelmed.

The reality is that understanding how to change your life for the better isn’t all that difficult. What’s truly hard about life change is doing the work necessary to build a better tomorrow. Knowing may be half the battle, but doing is the hardest part.

So how can we simplify both making plans to change and taking the steps necessary to enact that change? I think there are some core principles we can keep in mind to help us gain and maintain a grip on what’s needed to implement lasting life change.

The Six V’s of Life Change

Visualization: Getting a clear view of what your goals are is crucial. Too many times we fall short of reaching our goals because they’re vague or far too broad. Visualization means having a clear picture of where you want to end up. If you don’t know the final destination, how can you effectively take the action steps necessary to get you there?

Verbalization: There is power in putting your vision into words—whether on paper, on screen, or verbally. Something happens in the mind and will when you see your goal written out. The act of making your inner thoughts tangible suddenly makes your goals and dreams seem realistic and attainable. When you go a step further and share you goals with others, it helps refine your vision, makes you accountable to the people you tell, and forces you to begin persuading others to buy into that vision.

Valiancy: Perseverance and grit are crucial to keeping on when you’re tired and worn. This is where having a clear vision of where you’re headed become so important because there will be days when the best you can do is just put one foot in front of the other and forge ahead. Being valiant is about not giving in to fear and doubt, and not letting the naysayers get you down.

Virtue: Do the right thing no matter what. Don’t compromise on what you know is right by taking shortcuts toward your goals. A vision brought to pass unethically or immorally is a dream corrupted and not worth achieving. Recognize that ultimately you are not defined by what you say you will do, but by what you actually do.

Vigilance: Work daily to continually pay attention to where you are, where you’ve come from, and where you’re going. Learn to always be on the lookout for whatever might trip you up or hold you back. Stay aware of your situation and circumstances so that you’re not often surprised, and diligently study to make wise decisions.

Victory: Achieving your goals through diligence, faith, and hard work is a victory in anyone’s book—but it’s not the end. Being victorious is the dual-realization of knowing you can achieve what you set out to do as well as knowing life is a journey, not a destination. True visionaries have already foreseen and mapped out the next steps for their lives, and they don’t rest on their current and past achievements.

Again, these core principles are crucial, but they cannot and will not do the work for you. Nowhere in any of this will you find any sort of positive thinking, universal attraction, or manifestation psychobabble. Neither is this “name-it claim-it” mumbo jumbo.

You’ve heard it over and over, but remember that the difference between a wish and a hope is action. Each and every one of the six Vs above are something you do, even the visualization stage.

Life change cannot happen apart from action.

Original photo credit: Benjamin Stäudinger

The Shortest Motivational Speech—Life Balance is About Priorities

The Shortest Motivational Speech

Have you ever heard of the speech sometimes called the 30-Second Motivational Speech? This little speech has floated around the internet as an email forward or motivational graphic for a few years now.

If you’re unfamiliar with this speech, it was given by Bryan Dyson, the former CEO of Coca Cola, as a commencement address at Georgia Tech in 1996. Unfortunately, many of the emails and graphics you see online are truncated versions of the speech, and most contain words that were not actually part of the original address.

Below is the best I’ve managed to track down as the true text of Mr. Dyson’s original address. Though more than 30 seconds in length, I’m sure you’ll find it inspiring nonetheless.

Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them—work, family, health, friends and spirit…and you’re keeping all of these in the air.

You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls—family, health, friends and spirit—are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.

How?

Don’t undermine your worth by comparing yourself with others. It is because we are different that each of us is special.

Don’t set your goals by what other people deem important. Only you know what is best for you.

Don’t take for granted the things closest to your heart. Cling to them as you would your life, for without them, life is meaningless.

Don’t let your life slip through your fingers by living in the past or for the future. By living your life one day at a time, you live all the days of your life.

Don’t give up when you still have something to give. Nothing is really over until the moment you stop trying.

Don’t be afraid to admit that you are less than perfect. It is this fragile thread that binds us to each together.

Don’t be afraid to encounter risks. It is by taking chances that we learn how to be pave.

Don’t shut love out of your life by saying it’s impossible to find time. The quickest way to receive love is to give; the fastest way to lose love is to hold it too tightly; and the best way to keep love is to give it wings!

Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve been, but also where you are going.

Don’t forget, a person’s greatest emotional need is to feel appreciated.

Don’t be afraid to learn. Knowledge is weightless, a treasure you can always carry easily.

Don’t use time or words carelessly. Neither can be retrieved. Life is not a race, but a journey to be savored each step of the way.

You can see that Mr. Dyson’s point is that to have proper life balance we must get our priorities in order. There’s a realization that work, while an important and necessary facet of life, should never take priority of family, health, relationship, and faith.

Ultimately, work should care for and enhance, not detract from, all these other areas of life.

Stop Letting First-World “Needs” Keep You From Your Financial Goals—5 No-Brainer Cuts for Your Budget

5-no-brainer-cuts

I’ll confess, this post is written somewhat from a feeling of frustration. I’ve read a few posts lately—on some really great financial sites that I enjoy and admire—about how people can make a deep sacrifice and cut their eating out in order to find some wiggle room in their budget.

Since when did eating out become a necessity rather than a bonus? How is cutting eating out a sacrifice?

Now, for the record, I don’t consider running through a drive-through and getting two or three things from the dollar menu “eating out” as long as you’ve got the money in your budget somewhere. To me, eating out is when you’re spending unnecessary money for a meal that would be far less expensive to eat at home, or when you choose to go out when you could have eaten at home.

I’ll ask again. When did eating out become a necessity rather than a convenience or special treat?

We shouldn’t feel guilty for the great blessings we’ve been given, but when you’re working toward a goal like getting rid of debt it might help to keep a broader perspective. There are people in this world who truly struggle just to meet their basic needs, so let’s not call cutting a few first-world privileges a sacrifice.

Let’s look at five first-world luxuries that should no-brainers to cut from your budget when you’re working toward a greater financial goal.

5 No-Brainer Cuts for Your Budget

  1. Eating out—eat at home, carry lunch to work, and keep some protein bars or snacks handy for when you’re away from the house and get hungry.
  2. Movies and other entertainment—you can still have fun but in a frugal way like renting a movie from Redbox or an online streaming service like MGo or Vudu ($2-5 total rather than $8-12 per person).
  3. Cable or satellite subscriptions—cut the cord and find streaming alternatives or figure out something better to do with your time instead of sitting in front of the TV for several hours per week.
  4. Deal Shopping—don’t fall prey to buying something just because it’s on sale. Determine if you really need it, and then budget it for it.
  5. Name brands—whether clothing or food, think twice about the real value of a name brand over a store or generic alternative.

There are dozens of other luxuries we could talk about cutting, from cell phone contracts to high car payments.  As you can see from the list above, even if we cut common purchases from our budget we’re still living a relatively luxurious life. Don’t make the mistake of labeling conveniences as needs.

Don’t misunderstand me. This isn’t some sort of complaint about the “evils of becoming rich.” I want you to be rich, just don’t try to live like it when you’re not!

I’m a pretty firm believer in the idea of splurging on a regular basis as a reward for good behavior—but even then you should make sure you’re covering that splurge in your budget.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with spending money to eat out or do fun things, but please let’s stop acting like cutting these things from our budget is a sacrifice.