Friday, October 31, 2008

When Kids Carry their Parent's Pain

The warning signs of children facing complex family crisis

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

A dad loses a job. A family spits up through divorce. A grandparent dies. A drunk driver crashes into a mini-van and a mom is left in a coma. A natural disaster or foreclosure forces a family into the sad situation of having to leave a neighborhood and home behind.

There are dozens of complex situations that affect families every day, yet often the emotional pain lasts for years in the hearts and minds of the kids who go through tough times. When children are exposed to high levels of stress they can struggle in four primary areas which reflect their parent’s pain. Think of the four points of a compass and you can gain a sense of how kids carry their parent’s pain- over-perform, under-perform, blowing up or blowing in. Here’s a quick over-view of these four primary factors to help you identify the warning signs and symptoms, as well as to know when to reach out and seek help for your child.


Over-Performers
This group takes the hidden pain inside and turns it into the competitive need for greater achievement, accomplishment and achievement. A child who deals with their internalized stress this way is often over-looked because it’s socially acceptable and even prized to have a child who is a perfectionist and junior work-a-holic. To want a child to reach their potential is a great goal, but not at the expense of losing the innocence of their childhood by letting them race into the adult world as a performer instead of a real person.


Under-Performers
Some kids exposed to traumatic events don’t fight against it- they do the opposite and just give up. These kids drift through their childhood with no motivation or drive to accomplish anything for any reason. These apathetic kids may get caught up with playing to avoid growing up and taking on responsibility as a way to avoid dealing with anything. Sometimes that can be through excessive use of media, video games, the Internet or music, but it’s all driven by the same root cause, to avoid facing feeling any pain or problems.


Blow Up
This group is easy to spot, because they are full of rebellion and it shows. Drugs, alcohol, sexual acting out, shoplifting, violence, body piercing or inking, academic failure, dressing or acting in aggressive ways to reflect a complete rejection of authority. While these kids may seem tough on the outside, in reality they are full of insecurity on the inside. Sometimes seductive and sometimes sly, but always deeply scared on the inside, especially of being alone, so this group is most likely to travel in packs with other kids who are equally wounded.


Blow In
This final group faces the most dangerous symptoms of all. The quiet kids who have a tendency to stuff everything inside can often end up with significant anxiety, depression, resentment, social phobias, cutting or other self-destructive behavior, including suicidal or homicidal thinking. Kids who carry their parent’s pain and allow it to blow in can end up in very destructive situations, yet because they suffer in silence many parents don’t realize there is a problem until it’s too late. School shooters are rare, but overly shy kids who never reach their potential because they are too afraid to try are in classrooms in every school district in the country.


Visualize these behaviors as the four points of a compass with your child in the middle.

Over-Perform

Blow in X Blow up

Under-Perform

While it’s normal for every child to have mild traits of any one of these four factors, it’s the extremes that a parent needs to be concerned about. The goal of raising healthy kids is to guide them toward their God designed potential, however, if a child has experienced overwhelming stress and it appears they are sliding toward any one of these four extremes, it may be time to take bold action. You can do that in many ways, but my challenge is for every parent reading this to be dedicated to protecting the innocence of their kids by working through adult-sized difficulties away from their children if possible. That way the parents are solving problems of a complex family crisis directly so the kids don’t have to carry the pain.

Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it electronically or in print with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact and do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint.
"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group in Florida. 407-647-7005)"



About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association and partners with media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Samson Syndrome

Why Strong Men Fall into Lustful Addictions

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

Sarah woke up from a deep sleep at 3 AM and realized that her husband wasn’t in bed, so she got up to see if he was okay. She was not prepared for what she saw next. Her husband of 27 years, who she respected as a godly man, was sitting in front of their home computer in some sort of “trance” while looking at the most sexually graphic pictures she had ever seen. “Mark,” she shouted! “What are you doing?” Mark was shocked to see her, but then looked up into the confused eyes of his wife and sobbed out, “I don’t know.”

Sadly this sort of scene is played out every single day in Christian homes across the country. Research shows there are over 1,000 “adult” (pornographic) sites added to the internet every week, which are readily available to anyone surfing the web looking for a quick sexual thrill. Sexual addiction is a huge problem in Christian circles. The Christian Men’s group ‘Promise Keepers’ took a confidential survey and discovered that 62% of men attending their stadium events listed lust as their number one daily life problem. Ministries Today magazine reported that 29 % of men who regularly attend church believe that they have a sexual addiction. This type of struggle is not a new problem.

Thousands of years ago the leader of Israel was a man named Samson. The Bible teaches in Judges 14 that he was physically stronger than any other man who ever lived, yet struggled his whole life with the temptation toward lustful gratification. His rampant sexual behavior with prostitutes eventually led to his being seduced into captivity by the beautiful temptress Delilah. He had seen God work miracles in his life; he had been raised in a godly home by godly parents; he knew the ways of the Lord, and although he was by far the strongest man on the battlefield, he never had any strength or victory over his weakest point, his lustful eyes.

Think of it! The strongest man who ever lived was no match for the sexual temptations of his culture. Could the same reasons that plagued Samson thousands of years ago still be the reasons why so many strong men still fall into this addictive area? Let’s look at some of the main issues that led to Mark’s struggle with on line porn to discover the answers.

The dictionary defines “lust” as sexual desire, often to an intense or unrestrained degree. There is a simple outline to use to see if someone you love is being overwhelmed by lust, with each letter spelling out the behaviors that had slowly taken over Mark’s life leading to his on-line addiction, and may be warning signs for someone in your home as well.

L- LONELY
Men today are more lonely and “disconnected” than ever before. This loneliness leaves them feeling empty as they realize that they are totally alone in the world. You may remember that when God looked down on Adam in the Garden of Eden, He saw that man was alone and it was not good, so He made a help-mate for him named Eve.

The Bible models the need for relationships in countless ways. From Jonathan & David, to the twelve disciples, to the connected relationship of the Holy Trinity that God the Father has with God the Son and with God the Spirit, we see the need to do things together for comfort, strength and unity. Sadly, in Mark and Sarah’s case, he had become isolated and had pulled away from her, so he was alone more and ore of the time, leading to his “middle of the night” ritual with pornography that almost destroyed his marriage.

- Think of the men in your life.
Are they connected into a relationship with you or with other godly men? If you see significant times of isolation, especially if it involves the Internet or cable television, you need to be aware of the possible temptations and dangers of sexual addiction that lonely men often turn to and then are trapped and enslaved by.

U- UNFULFILLED
This letter represents the tremendous levels of being unfulfilled that many men feel in their personal or professional life. They don’t know their purpose or life passion, which can be especially challenging during the middle years of life where there is incredible pressure to be successful and financially secure. If a man begins to question his ability to keep up with the expectations of his culture, or his own personal goals or expectations don’t look like they are going to be realized, he begins to give up inside. It is this lack of fulfillment which leads to the desire for something more than he has in his life. Something bigger or something fun and exciting to fill the deep emptiness of his life.

Sexual addictions are often about escaping from inner pain, but equally common is the short-term pleasure associated with these mental fantasies. Whether the on-line searching behavior is driven by pleasure seeking or by escapism or both; the bottom line is that sexual addictions are an attempt to find some relief from pressure. He might feel empty or like a failure over the things that he believes are going wrong in his business, finances, marriage or family so the secretive behavior of on-line porn usage becomes a quick ‘fix’ to cope with the pressures. It doesn’t last and it only makes a man feel more empty and more like a failure inside, further trapping him into an addictive pattern of sexual addiction.

Mark had tried to forget about the pressure that he felt to financially keep his family and business going, while keeping up with the growing expenses of having kids in college and still trying to plan for retirement. These were huge financial goals, and though he was stressed to the limit he was making it financially, yet in the back corner of his mind he thought he was a financial failure and it was this ongoing fear which continued to fuel his escapism into pornography to forget about the pressures of his life for a few minutes.

S- STRESSED
Stress is the next warning symptom that can snare men into sexual addictions. Every man has stress of course, but what happens when you don’t deal with the stress at the source? Answer- it just gets bigger and bigger and that is what happened in Mark’s case. He had learned to cope with the growing stress and financial pressure in his life by just stuffing it inside. He had learned to simply say that ‘it doesn’t bother me’ or ‘no big deal’ but in reality the stress and pressure was eating him alive inside.

Stuffed emotions are a way of life for many men, but eventually those stuffed feelings will come out, sometimes through an explosion of an angry fit of rage, or sometimes through long periods of a moody or depressive type of brooding behavior. Either way, if a man doesn’t deal with the pressures that are eating away at him, he very likely may end up addicted to porn like Mark.

Attempting to use media images and fantasies to avoid the very real fears, doubts, worries and anxieties a man often faces is only a short term escape anyway since nothing is done to actually deal with or resolve the real problems in life. It’s like the classic General Motors commercial about ‘Mr. Goodwrench’ who says ‘pay me now- or pay me later’. The difference being that with stress you have to ‘Deal with it now, or deal with it later,’ because either way, he is going to have to deal with the real issues in his life and the sooner the better because it’s easier to address before it becomes a life dominating addiction.

T- TIRED
This word in the formula is familiar to most men, because Mark was tired, really, really tired. The years of secret, sexual behavior, which were mostly during the night hours had really taken its toll. He had cheated his body out of sleep for too many years and was totally exhausted most of the time. Face it- tired people are really easy to tempt. Think of the chocolate chip ice cream in the freezer when it is late at night and you have starved all day. The more physically fatigued you are, the more likely you are to do and say things that are impulsive as an attempt to find some relief. Mark knew that he was fatigued and that he hated his behavior, but he just didn’t have the energy to say “no” to the temptation anymore so he would cave into to his desires and feel like a failure as a Christian and as a committed husband over and over again.

Put this formula together and you have letters representing the biggest reasons for sexual addiction- L.U.S.T. which represent the symptoms of a lonely, unfulfilled, emotionally stressed and tired man. No wonder Mark was so open to the temptations of his culture and no wonder he became so enslaved to this increasingly common sin.

Not long ago John Stossel, from ABC News hosted a TV special on the growing issue of addiction to pornography. He made this observation at the end of his investigative news report.

“Media images trick us into believing that there are many available, attractive people that want to be with me”.

While we may know that the perfectly airbrushed Hollywood ‘babes’ in porn magazines or Internet websites are not really going to seek out a guy twenty or thirty years older with a big belly and growing bald spot, the need to believe in a deceptive fantasy is often is stronger than simply in facing reality. Perhaps it is better understood to consider Ephesians 4:19 “Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.”

Our culture offers many escapes from facing reality; while God gives us some hard advice about the reality of the danger of lust. Matthew 5:28 says “whoever looks at a women to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”

Thankfully Mark and Sarah sought out some professional help with an experienced licensed therapist and over time, their marriage was able to recover from the betrayal of an addiction to pornography. This is a real couple I personally know, (although the names and situation was dramatically changed to protect their identity), who would want me to share their steps toward a healed relationship. They would want me tell you that you can’t get better by yourself, and to secretly keep stuffing it inside only makes LUST grow bigger. Living with a secret that is eating you and your marriage alive is like a cancer that is killing you a little bit each day. You have to deal with it or it will kill you and your marriage!

This couple would urge you to open your eyes and ears to any odd behavior that may be an indicator that your mate may be addicted to pornography and often is just too weak to stop the behavior without help. They would plead with you to take this seriously before it ruins another home like it almost did theirs. They would challenge you and your family member to seek out a Bible-teaching church that offers practical teaching and accountability groups for addictive behavior. They would tell you that it can and will change, if you get honest, humble your heart and seek some professional help on your road to break free of sexual addiction and rebuild a life of sexual purity as God designed.

Tragically we know that Samson didn’t do that. He had no power over his lustful eyes, and you may remember that when his enemies captured him the first thing they did was to poke out his eyes with a burning hot iron rod. Blinded, and in prison for over a year, Samson repented and came back to his God. As a blind man, he could finally see the truth reflected in Psalms 101:3 “I will set nothing wicked before my eyes”. My prayer is that Christian men would live out that Biblical truth, to walk in sexual wholeness and freedom and then to boldly reach out and help rescue other strong men trapped in the “Samson Syndrome”.
Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact, do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph as you redistribute this resource electronically or in print with our blessings.
"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group eNews, at LifeWorksGroup.org, (Copyright, 2004-2008) About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association who partners with the media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

Hot Monogomy

When The Sizzle Turns To A Fizzle

By
John Wagner
Certified Advanced Imago Relationship Coach

Couples are struggling so much in the area of healthy sexuality. You probably do not know that we are struggling with a sexless epidemic in marriages in America. Couples come to me in so much pain and confusion over this very complex subject and don’t realize it is a common problem. All they know is the sizzle has turned to a fizzle.

There are two basic reasons for a sexual desire discrepancy in a relationship where one in the relationship has a low libido or low sexual desire. One is physiological and the other is psychological. Which one is causing the dilemma is complex and complicated.

A couple arrived at my office years ago with a common problem. This couple had a 12 month old and a 4 year old. The husband was starved for physical affection and had been since their first baby was born. The wife was getting just about as much physical contact as she could stand with nursing the new born and having a clinging toddler.

Sex is only 10% of a marriage but it is the first 10%. The above case is so typical of the kind of couples who come to me for help and is typical of the type of work we do in therapy. Sex therapy is focusing on the intimate zone that is so hard to discuss but so crucial to a relationship. Many couples are heart broken over the issue because it is so difficult and personal to discuss. I find our egos are so fragile over the area of our sexuality and we can be easily hurt and feel incompetent when our partner is just trying to express a need that is not being met.

Gender is not necessarily the problem because there are a certain percentage of men who have low sexual desire. Some men do not even think of sex much less going to all the trouble to have a connection with their partner.

Often times it is life’s routines that can put a damper on your relationships. We also reach a point where we can become relationally lazy and have no life passions to put energy into our relationship.

Get things started by reconnecting with these strategies:
Make a date – Time with your spouse is crucial for rekindling romance, especially for women, who often need emotional foreplay to get to the physical foreplay.
Snuggle up – Nonsexual touching triggers the release of the hormone oxytocin, which has a calming effect and increases bonding with your partner.
Get help – Call on friends, family, or professionals to help lighten your load, whether it’s from childcare, housework, or overwhelming emotions.
Rule out physiological areas by checking with an urologist or gynecologist.

John Wagner is author, speaker, life coach, family business consultant, and psychotherapist. He has written the Love Can Build A Bridge workbook, How Do You Keep The Music Playing For Couples, and Getting Off The Parenting Merry Go Round. He is a National Certified Counselor, a Certified Advanced Clinician in Imago Relationship Therapy, an ordained minister, licensed in the state of Florida as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He has spoken in churches and organizations all over the country on healing relationships and reaching your dreams in life. He has been on television talk shows and had a radio show on spiritual warfare. His web site is www.johnwagnertherapy.com and can be reached through the Life Works Group at 407-295-2442 in Winter Park, Florida

How to build your influence through community speaking

By Dwight Bain

One of the fastest ways to become established as a regional expert is through the process of offering community workshops and seminars. After speaking to hundreds of these type of groups through the years I've made some wonderful friends, as well as experienced some remarkable opportunities by volunteering time to add value to others. Yes, I said volunteer, since you don’t get paid in dollars to give a community speech, but you can be well paid in other ways. How? Through influence, network, multiple referrals into your business, opportunities to give full fee presentations to other groups and wider media exposure, especially on the Internet.

Still, there’s another huge benefit to you- free advertising. Consider how much you would be willing to pay in advertising dollars to be featured as an expert in front of a group of key decision makers, successful business people or community leaders? I suspect a lot because of the incredible return on investment of being in front of key people who have the capacity to hire you or refer you to other key people in the community who can. Treat these opportunities like a public audition that features you in front of 15-30 people who can meet you to learn more of your desire to help in your area of expertise. And the best news is that you don’t have to pay to be in front of these community leaders, but you do have to be strategic.

There are opportunities to give community presentations every day in your backyard if you know where to look. These events often take place during a breakfast or lunch time on a weekday all over your town. Consider the following as a sample of the type of groups in your area that need communicators to get your thinking started about targeting the key groups looking for you right now to line up as the speaker at their next event.

___Business groups such as a chamber of commerce or industry
___Service or Civic Clubs, like Rotary, Sertoma, Lions, or Kiawana's
___Medical groups, like nurses, interns, residents or hospital committees
___Networking groups, like BNI, Focus International or Babblebee
___Faith based groups, like churches, ministries or the retreats they sponsor
___Health groups, such as the American Heart Association, Hospice or Red Cross
___Political or Political Action Committees, (PAC’s) focused on issues
___Emergency Services, like police, fire, EMS groups or safety committees
___Professional Women’s groups like American Business Women’s Association
___Women’s Clubs or community groups like the Junior League or Curves
___Athletic groups like master swimmers, soccer clubs or hunting groups
___Education groups like parent/teacher organizations or school volunteers
___Fraternal Orders, like the Elks, Eagles, Moose, or Fraternal Order of Police
___Senior’s groups, usually found at senior centers or retirement centers
___Youth groups, sponsored by churches, Youth for Christ or Jr. Achievement
___Parenting groups, especially young parents or those with a child in distress
___Trade Associations- which requires a longer explanation, since there are over 22,000 professional trade associations in the United States.

Most of these trade associations have a national, state and local chapter pushing the number of professional associations into the multiple thousands in every region of the country! Each level has to have a speaker at every event and writers for their monthly newsletters and websites.

This creates a HUGE opportunity for communicators to make a positive difference. If your background is in education, look for teachers associations. If it’s in real estate, look for realtors or brokers associations. If it’s in giving care for the elderly, look for agencies on aging or the professional associations that care for the aged.

You don’t have enough time to speak for every group, but you will have the time of your life if you can get in front of the right trade association and knock their socks off with a great presentation. Plus, at the local level these are always going to be free talks, but if you can ‘wow’ your audience, you can often be suggested to speak at the national trade association’s annual meeting and they do pay speakers at that level. So it pays to always speak as if you were giving the most important talk of your life. Excellence always comes back to bless you after it blesses your audience.

These groups need your input, they need your expertise and you need to help. It’s a perfect fit, so begin searching now to find the groups where you can make the biggest impact and once you have identified your key target groups, then make some calls to see who’s in charge of scheduling speakers to begin the process.

How do you find them? Search out your local newspapers under community events, do web searches on specific topics, or ask around to see who belongs to community groups, which are always looking for effective communicators.

Here are a few important principles to keep in mind as you begin to reach out to make a positive difference using the strategy of community seminars that serve others while positioning you as an expert.

1) It’s not about marketing- it’s about the message
The goal isn’t to market you, your book or your services… it’s about the message to help answer people’s questions, solve their problems and basically give information to help make their day or week go a little better. You want to give as much user-friendly content away in your presentation as possible. If it ‘smells’ like selling- it won’t work. You have to really care about your audience and helping make their lives work better. To quote motivational speaker Zig Ziglar, “You can get anything you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” If you have a book, you could use it as a door prize. If you have business cards, you can leave them in the back, or another technique is to offer a special report via email in exchange for a business card or email opt-in. This rapid follow up builds your e-list, (which should NEVER be shared or rented in my opinion to respect the privacy of those who trust you), while showing that you are a professional who believes in giving as much away as possible to build value into every presentation you give. You can build in a very mild marketing follow up, but only after giving a ‘killer’ presentation that adds greater value to each member of the audience. Remember, if you ‘wow’ them, they will find a way to find you for their future events. Mostly give a great speech and somewhere have a business card, or memorable way to share your website with the audience and then let the power of your presentation plant the seeds that will grow into them remembering you for their next paid event.

2) Build on your communication strengths
If you are passionate about a particular subject, then this is your place to shine, however, if you aren’t really strong on a given topic, then stay away from it. Talk about how to solve problems in the areas where you can make the greatest difference. Usually this will come out of your existing career, or an avocation that you really enjoy discussing. If you are building on a strength the writing and speaking will come easy, and your sincerity will come through to show your audience that you are an expert they can trust to add value to their lives. If you love to tell stories, then build on that strength, if your style is more instructional, then create an interactive hand-out to make it a training time of greater learning.

3) Focus on creative topics to catch your audience
Avoiding financial ruin, getting out of a bad relationship, secrets of living to be 100, fast ways to regain health and wellness, prevention of disease, how to stay out of therapy, when to kick your kids out for good, how speed reading creates lasting wealth, recession proofing your business, how to gain a #1 ranking on Google… basically use a great title to excite your audience that it’s going to be a fun time of learning. Another technique I like to use is a title/sub-title process to capture the right and left hemispheres of the brain, (logical/rational vs. emotional/creative).

For instance, title- “Relationship Renewal” (right hemisphere), sub-title- “How to recover, rebuild and renew with the people you care about most.” (left hemisphere, which is often about a lengthier description of ‘how to’ do what it is you have described in your main title). This way you catch the attention of a much wider audience and your specific topic keeps your own thoughts in line for a more powerful presentation. Remember, you can often give the exact same speech, since you will be going from club to club and group to group, so you can strengthen it every time you give it.

4) Be professional and be prepared
Arrive early, know that frequently you may not get the full time you were allotted due to other business the club may be taking care of, so be flexible. The more prepared you are ahead of time, the easier you can ‘edit’ on the fly to end on time, (which is important since people on a tight schedule will actually get up and leave in order to stay on their schedules. You must finish on time, no matter when you get started). Have a printed introduction in large print to give to the meeting planner that outlines your credentials as an expert and encourage them to read it aloud ahead of time to get comfortable sharing this important information to let the audience know of your background and expertise. Hand-outs are a great way to reinforce your message, as well as add your contact information at the bottom of the sheet. (I’ve found that people will keep these for years if you 3- hole punch them or print on pre-drilled paper, which adds greater value to the sheet by suggesting that it’s important enough to take home and put into a notebook). If you have professional marketing material at a back table, that’s great, but in this communication setting the main strategy is to give an amazing talk first and foremost. Dress one level above your audience and be as polished as you can be for maximum impact since you really don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

5) Give a great talk and get a lot of great PR
Once you are comfortable with the process and are giving great presentations on a regular basis you can leverage your talks several ways that bring in new opportunities by taking your message to new audiences. Ask to professionally record or video tape your presentation. This can be turned into a new CD, podcast, DVD or online webinar. These can become bonus items to add greater value to your website, or stand alone products that you can add to your shopping cart of online resources for purchase by other groups.

Get quoted by the media, (especially if you send out press releases ahead of time which can be done with online services that offer free press releases), since your local newspapers and television stations have to fill news time and a clever topic given in a public seminar can often lead to media quotes which are quite valuable in establishing you as a regional expert. And don’t forget to ask that someone takes your picture with a digital camera while you are talking, so that you have some ‘action shots’ to use on your website, or with your blog of recent presentations.

The more you think ahead on how to leverage your community talk into a great community event, the more likely you will receive positive public relations and on-going referrals into your ‘day business’. Community workshops add value to everyone involved. To you, to your audience and to those who will meet you in the future because they heard about someone who cared enough to take their message to the marketplace to share with others. Do that long enough and you’ll be the busiest professional in your region… and it all started with a free speech.

I dare you to be the one who adds the greatest value in your regions by sharing the message entrusted to you with the most people possible. And then I look forward to hearing the success stories of how free speeches turned into fee for services because you cared enough to tell your story to some people looking for answers. Get to it!


Reprint Permission- If this article helped you, you are invited to share it with your own list at work or church, forward it to friends and family or post it on your own site or blog. Just leave it intact, do not alter it in any way. Any links must remain in the article. Please include the following paragraph as you redistribute this resource electronically or in print with our blessings.
"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group eNews, at LifeWorksGroup.org, (Copyright, 2004-2008) About the author- Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. He is a member of the National Speakers Association who partners with the media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture. Access more counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by visiting his counseling blog with over 150 complimentary articles and special reports at www.LifeWorksGroup.org

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Warning Signs of Dangerous Stress Exposure

Below are the warning signs and symptoms that become noticeable in an individual who has been negatively impacted by dangerous levels of psychological stress. This is most commonly seen after they experience a high stress situation at work, in their personal life, or after intensified or concentrated exposure to high conflict, elevated tension or repetitive and stressful situations, which could include media overload from viewing crisis events.


PHYSICAL
Fatigue
Sweating
Shortness of breath
Loss or increase of appetite
Nausea or Diarrhea
Elevated blood pressure
Tightness in chest or chest pain
Muscle fatigue or weakness
Insomnia or Hyper-somnia
Increased cold or flu symptoms
Pacing
Heart Palpitations
Shallow breathing
Fainting
Abdominal pain

EMOTIONAL
Anger
Stress
Anxiety
Tension
Apathy
Fear
Panic
Guilt
Uneasiness
Alarm
Numb inside
Impatience
Depression
Shame
Nervousness
Grief
Loss
Irritability
Apprehension
Overwhelmed

BEHAVIORAL
Restlessness
Impulsive
Avoidance
Edgy
Rapid speech
Tense muscles/neck
Easily startled or jumpy
Hyper-vigilance
Withdrawal from others
Accident proneness
Anti-social acts
Inability to rest
Intensified pacing
Increased use of alcohol
Increased use of caffeine

COGNITIVE
Easily Distracted
Poor concentration
Forgetfulness
Errors in judgment
Mental Fog
Decreased decision making
Reduced creativity or mental focus
Diminished productivity
Loss of objectivity
Self-consciousness
Confusion
Fear of losing control
Frightening visual images
Fear of injury, death, pain
Flashbacks-nightmares

The more warning indicators that are identified in a single category or across multiple categories, the more that person may be over-exposed to dangerous levels of psychological distress. Some of these stress-related conditions are quite common, so if only one or two symptoms are present, it is not usually a cause for alarm. However, when in doubt it’s best to review any symptoms that concern you or someone you care about with an experienced mental health professional at the LifeWorks Group. 407-647-7005.

Facing Financial Fears with Faith

By: W.R. Stephens, written after the stock market crash of October 1987

Through the 200 years of American history, this country has been constantly besieged by bad news. If the early settlers had believed things were as bad as they sounded they would have given up the fight to settle the new world and sailed back to England, and the dream of freedom would have perished.

From that day to the present the people of this nation have listened to the bad news for a while, then they turned their backs on that which was bad, placed their faith in God and faced toward that which was good.

Down through the years, through a tragic Civil War, two worldwide wars, a series of small conflicts, recession and the great depression of the 1930’s, we have heard again and again the words of citizen Tom Paine, “ These are times that try men’s souls.” In every case the people rejected the bad news and overcame whatever obstacle was facing them at that time.

Once again, we are put to the test. Everything we hear is bad. We are smothered with a never-ending succession of newspaper, radio and television reports on ... drug abuse, crime in the streets, decadent morals and lack of honest and competent leadership. If citizen Tom Paine were alive today, he could well utter again his famous quotation.

It is impossible to lock your door against the invasion of the news media into every nook of your home and office. They don’t make the news, they merely report it. Tell it as it is. We have the option of acceptance or rejection. We can bemoan what is happening in our world, wring our hands and cover our heads, or we can reject the bad and look about us to the good.

When I was a boy on a small farm in Grant County, Arkansas, news wasn’t as quickly available as it is today and reached us mainly by word of mouth. A “drummer” would come by or one of our neighbors returned from a trip to Little Rock or Memphis and we saw the news through their eyes. Mostly it was about what was bad in big cities or throughout the country.
After listening a while, my father would say, “That’s enough bad news for one day. Let’s go to work.” America has heard enough bad news for a while. Now is the time to go to work. Turn your back on the bad news and look around you at what is good. You don’t need to look far. Your family, your children, your friends and neighbors, they are good.

We live today in the greatest country the world has ever known, filled with opportunities which never existed before. The highest standards of living, more leisure time, better health services, better schools, more jobs, finer homes and freedom to enjoy these wonders.

This is indeed the time to turn our backs on the bad news and face the future with thankfulness.

-W.R. “Witt” Stephens, founder of Stephens, Inc., an investment firm in Little Rock, Arkansas wrote this memo after the stock markets fell on “Black Friday” in October 1987. Witt Stephens has since passed away, but the firm thought it was appropriate to revive his 21 year old memo, saying, “His wisdom and good advice lives on.”

Business Tips for Living and Selling in Tough Times

By Eric Albertson, Corporate Coach

Surprise
Most people will keep their jobs, most people will keep their homes, and most people will have worried for absolutely nothing, during these economic times. Even during the great depression, a huge number of people came through it just fine.

Will it be me?
Life is certainly unpredictable. It can be better or worse than you expect. How can you know? My method is simply to take stock of what is true in my life, and in my clients' lives, by writing out as many of the objective facts as I can. Try not to put a spin on it; neither to the positive nor the negative. As Nike says, "Just Do It."

Given history
This is a powerful concept: Given history, things are as they should be. You got where you are through your action, inaction, choices, and your intersection with life's uncertainties. After taking stock of your situation, you might be relieved, or deeply concerned. The key is to know and be honest about your current situation; save the blame or congratulations. Both are distractions.

It all depends
If you are in great shape, you could be in a position to maintain yourself, and help others. If you are in tough shape, it could be time to get real about prioritizing your actions, and then by getting busy and taking action.

The first stall point
It's easy to get outcomes confused with actions. For example, getting a new job is an outcome, while sending a resume is an action. An action is a step you can take on your own (sending a resume) while getting a job is dependent upon the actions of another (being offered a new job). You can't fully control outcomes, but you can control actions. Take action.

Getting real
Are your actions the most logical and appropriate for what must be done today? If you just take care of the next five minutes, the next hour, and the next day, you can take care of your life. Don't dither. No action will be perfect. Trust that you will learn as you go. Consider taking God's lead and forgive yourself. Pursuit of perfection is one of the most destructive default modes humans can get into.

Possibly missing
So now, you know where you are. Next, jot down where you want to be. Then, start jotting down what is possibly missing to get from where you are to where you want to be. Try not to judge; just jot. Finally, choose from the list of possibly missing items, one that looks like an opportunity for action. It doesn't have to be perfect. Just take the action.

The fog blows away
The route from the fear of the moment to the future you desire will likely not be clear at first. Through taking one small step, your next action will likely become clear. I believe that God and life remove the fog, in part, through our willingness to take one action at a time, with each new action lighting the way to the next. In my experience, clarity comes through innovative action.

Victim
My definition of being a victim is waiting for others to disclose the future. Being responsible for your life, I believe, is all about taking innovative action to close the gap between today and the desired future. As my mother used to say, "My extremity is God's opportunity."

Responsible
Know where you are today. Get clear on where you want to go. List the possible missing items and fill the gap between the two. Discern your opportunities for action. Take the action. Learn and act again. This is being responsible for your life.

Choices
Operating from a perspective of choice is critical in tough times. "No choice," is the catch phrase of the victim. Nobody promised that you would like the choices, but you always have them. The top choice, in my opinion, is, "Am I going to be a victim? Or am I going to be responsible (read that response-able) for my future"?

Top six things today
So chart out the top six things that you must do to bring about the future you desire. Start with number one. If you have a different approach for coping with challenging times, please send them to me at http://emailer.stadis.net/go2.shtml?D2oH3wQN5ToBwNnB/6d1d7ecfca314fd7/bb2a3d28b047684d/dwightbain@aol.com

Reprinted with permission from Eric Albertson's succeedinginbusiness.com. Newsletter (Copyright, 1998-2008, Eric Albertson, SucceedingInBusiness.com.)

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

10 Ways to Stay a Good Parent during a Bad Time

Deedra B. Hunter, M.S., LMHC

Getting a divorce is a hard decision and creates a tremendous amount of stress for everyone involved especially your children. Here are 10 tips to help you maintain a loving relationship with them at this time.

1. Tell you children in age appropriate language the divorce is about you and your spouse not about them.

2. Reassure your children that the love that you and your spouse have for them can never and will never go away.

3. Never turn your children into “little friends” using them to take care of your needs and emotions during the divorce.

4. Never tell your oldest male child he is now “the man in the family” and never tell your oldest female child she is now the “little mother” in the family.

5. Never make your children feel they must choose between you and your spouse.

6. Encourage the children to spend time and call the non-residential parent.

7. Never ever tell the children terrible things about your former spouse.

8. Tell your children this is a sad time and allow them to grieve.

9. Encourage your children to talk to their friends about the divorce.

10. Remind them often how much you love them and how much you and your spouse are working together for their best interest.

Are you really ready for Divorce?

The 8 Questions you need to ask
By Bruce Derman, PhD & Wendy Gregson, LMFT


Your marriage is in question and you're facing a real dilemma. You may be the one who is deciding should you stay or should you go.

"I feel like I need to get a divorce and end this so called marriage. Yet how can I be sure? Some days I feel more confident of my decision than others. A part of me still loves him or at least I care for him. I don't think I am in love with him, but what if I make a mistake. A lot of people will be affected by what I decide. Maybe I should not rush ahead with this. That's amusing since I have been thinking about it for three years. This whole thing wouldn't even be an issue and I could forget about this divorce, if he would just change his behavior."

Or you may be the one who has just heard that your spouse wants a divorce.
"Divorce? Where did that come from? Two weeks ago we were talking about a vacation in the mountains. I had no idea our marriage was this awful? I am shocked and devastated. I have got to find a way to put a stop to this. Maybe this is all a dream and when I wake up things will be back to normal."

Most books and articles on divorce are written based on the assumption that once a couple says they want a divorce that they are ready for divorce. It is our experience as therapists and divorce coaches, who have helped many people through this process that this is in fact not the case. Usually when couples begin the divorce process, either one but more often than not, both, are not really ready for the divorce.

Divorce professionals such as therapists, mediators and attorneys often believe that statements such as, "I've had it with him." or "My feelings have died for her," are indicators that the marriage is over. Attorney's often equate being hired for their services as an indicator that the couple is ready to divorce. This is not so.

Most couples who begin a divorce are unprepared and are often not even on the same page when they begin. It is this lack of preparedness and readiness for a divorce that either causes marriages to end prematurely or divorces to deteriorate into competitive contests. The decision to obtain a divorce is one of the most crucial decisions a person can make with consequences that last for years or a lifetime. A decision this important requires much greater attention than it is usually given by both couples and professionals. It is a process in and of itself. Once a couple is prepared and ready, they will sooner be able to begin their divorce by both being on the same page and this will eliminate most of the emotional and financial struggles that cause divorces to become adversarial and ruthless.

The reason many people do not even think about getting ready for a divorce is because they operate under the assumption that the sooner you can get out of a stressful situation the better. So there is a natural tendency for people who are in difficult marriages to want to get the divorce over with as quickly as possible in order to move on with their lives. Family and friends often encourage this as well. They hurt for the family and so also prescribe to the myth that the quicker the divorce is over, the sooner everything will return to normal. But unfortunately in most cases just the opposite happens.

Couples who make rushed decisions to leave the marriage have had no time to evaluate their feelings, thoughts or options. As a result they are unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions, the complicated legal system and the many life changing decisions that they need to make. Quite often they make agreements which they cannot sustain, and instead of the situation getting better, they often find that they have just traded one set of problems for another. So it is no wonder that they often get tangled up in lengthy court cases and the very thing they hoped for, a quick divorce, often takes years.

This article outlines what couples need to do in order to face the numerous dilemmas that are inherent in divorce. A dilemma implies that you are torn between two choices, each of which have undesirable fearful elements. If people have not resolved their dilemmas before the divorce, they go through the process trying to manage their fear in different ways by hiding their doubt, responsibility; vulnerability, or dependency.

Whether a couple is starting the divorce process or even just contemplating a divorce, they need to first identify with the following divorce dilemmas.

The Three Divorce Dilemmas

Couples who are facing the possibility of a divorce face one of three dilemmas:

1. I want the divorce, but I am not sure if it is the right decision.
Since going through a divorce impacts the lives of your children, as well as your lifestyle, economics, and marital investment, the pressure to make the "perfectly correct" decision is enormous. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees. The best case scenario is to make a decision that is not emotionally based, nor driven by your ego.

2. I do not want the divorce, my spouse does.
Being in this reactive place will leave you feeling out of control and a helpless victim. You will experience intense emotional devastation, as your life will be changing before your eyes without you having any say in the outcome. In addressing this dilemma you need to ask yourself if you are clinging to staying on familiar, safe ground and to a marriage based on illusions. It is not easy to acknowledge and confront the problems in a marriage, when you are feeling so hurt by your partner.

3. I only want this divorce because my marriage is not working.

If this is your dilemma, then you will want to avoid responsibility at all costs by seeing your partner to blame for the demise of the marriage. There will be tremendous preoccupation and anger about how your partner caused you to make this decision. The amount of noise generated from this blaming will be in direct proportion to your unwillingness to risk expressing any of your own fears and sadness. If this doesn't occur, the divorce proceedings to follow will be riddled with tension and conflict, and a continuation of the blaming.

The common element in all three dilemmas is fear. In the first group there is a fear of making a mistake and being incorrect, the second will hide from it by denying that there are any problems or admitting their attachment to the familiar and the third group will fear any accountability and softness. The result in all three circumstances will be dragging, combative, and back and forth divorces.

For divorce to be a collaborative and respectful process, the couple must be prepared and ready to separate their lives on all levels; legally, practically and emotionally. To do this each person must face their divorce dilemma by answering the following 8 questions.

The 8 Questions

1. Do you still have feelings for your partner?

Many people who say they want a divorce still have strong feelings for their partner, but due to an ongoing power struggle in the relationship there is a lack of intimacy and closeness. If this is you, it is best that you work on your relationship prior to deciding to divorce otherwise your feelings of loss will overwhelm you and you may find yourself worse off after the divorce than you are now.

Celine had been married for seven years to a man she loved, who she considered to be a real sweet, gentle guy. However, she was very unhappy about their financial arrangement. She was the responsible one who paid all the expenses, while he seemed to be forever getting them further into debt. She was very stressed and miserable and saw divorce as her only way out of the financial strain she was under. But because of her feelings for him she was not able to support such a decision or even set a clear boundary, for fear of losing the relationship. With the help of her therapist, Celine recognized that she either needed to either set a clear boundary and be willing to lose the relationship, or else accept that all her hassling was a waste of time.
2. Were you ever really married?

To be really married a couple must have created a relationship that included an "us" or a "we." Many people who are considering a divorce have never had a marriage that was anything more than two individuals meeting their own needs. They may have raised children and shared a home but they participated in those activities from a competitive rather than unified position. They would ask -- "Do I want to do this or that", rather than ask "Is this good for us?" If you have not developed a genuine "we" in your relationship this would be the time to either commit to learning how to do that or to admit that you have never really had a marriage.

Even as a therapist who works in the area of divorce, I had a very difficult time admitting that my own marriage of fourteen years was in fact in name only, regardless of the years that we lived under the label of husband and wife. Our pattern was to threaten to break up every few months, and we had a daily ritual of fighting, and agreements that rarely lasted more than a week. I used to joke to my wife that she needed to keep her bags packed just in case she needed to leave quickly. This pattern remained despite the numerous counseling offices we attended. It was not until I was able to acknowledge to myself that I was neither single nor married, that I was in fact nowhere, did any real change occur. We started the real divorce process two months later.

3. Are you truly ready for divorce or are you just threatening?

Divorce is often threatened, especially in heated marital arguments for the following reasons;
• Out of anger and frustration.
• To gain power and control over the other person, to get them to see things your way.
• To finally be taken seriously that you want real change.
• As a wake-up call that the marriage is faltering.

People who consistently threaten divorce lose credibility with themselves and their partner. If the person is not merely threatening, but is genuinely ready for a divorce, they can sustain the following thought in their own mind, "That I wish to close a chapter of my life, because I am at peace with the fact that there is no more that I can do or give to this relationship." They will discuss this appropriately with their spouse without any blame.

4. Is this a sincere decision based on self awareness or is it an emotionally reactive decision?
To be ready to divorce your partner means being able to make a clear, unemotional decision that you can support over time. Divorce means being able to let go of all strong emotional attachments to the other person, the loving ones as well as the hostile and hurtful ones. Emotionally charged decisions do not last and if acted on do not resolve the underlying problem. People who divorce out of anger stay angry even after the divorce is over.

A woman came to see me as her divorce coach after she had been divorced for five years because she was still struggling with the effects of her divorce. Her problem was that she was still feeling rage toward her ex husband and found her self hating him on a weekly basis. I said to her, "It sounds like you are still married." She insisted that this was incorrect due to the hatred she had for him. I responded that the hate she was experiencing essentially reflected a great passion toward him despite her hateful label, which I doubted any current man could match. I stated that only someone who is married could have such a passion. From that moment on she began to emotionally detach from her ex husband and work towards, with the help of the coaching, a real divorce.

A statement that would indicate that you are making a sincere, rather than an emotionally reactive decision is, "I acknowledge that you are a person in your own right with your own personality, hopes and dreams, I can respect you for that, but I no longer want to be married to you."

To be ready for divorce is to have a lower emotional attachment to the person you are separating from, other wise, the divorce process itself will be roller coaster of intense feelings, including anger, distrust and hurt.

5. What is your intent in wanting a divorce?

Any agenda, other than ending the marriage, is an indication that you are not ready to divorce. If you are hoping that through the divorce the other person will change and start treating you better, realize how much they have lost or pay for how much they have hurt you, you are getting a divorce for the wrong reason. Divorce has no power to right wrongs nor change people's hearts and minds. Divorce can only do one thing, end a marriage, and in so doing free each person to make new attachments to new people.

6. Have you resolved your internal conflict over the divorce?

Everyone who goes through a divorce is conflicted. People can feel guilty at the same time as they are sure that they want to end the relationship. Or they can feel betrayed and at the same time recognize that their life will be better once they are out of the relationship. Recognizing the conflict and owning that different parts of you will be struggling with the impact of divorce, at different times, is part of the process of getting ready for divorce.

Rick was having the hardest time deciding what to do about his marriage. For the longest time he claimed that he was confused, conflicted, and torn. He couldn't seem to feel at peace being in the marriage or in leaving. His wife was verbally beating him up over his indecisiveness, often calling him a wimp. As his therapist, I asked to speak to the part of him who wanted out and I told him I didn't want to hear from any other part. He started to speak quite clearly about feeling no passion for his wife, but within a minute he began to hedge this voice with statements like "She is a good mother or she is dependable."

Each time he would attempt to dilute in this way, I would have to say that I only wanted to hear from the voice that wants "out." As the wanting "out" voice became more and more expressive, he began to visibly sweat. I asked "What is happening?" Finally, he said, "I am feeling guilty."

Where is that coming from?," I asked He said, "I made a promise that I would never follow the path of my father who left my mother." With this opposing voice sorted out and clarified, he was no longer confused. He was able to see that this old promise to himself was in conflict with his present desire to end his marriage. As he continued to work through those two opposing parts of himself he was finally able to make a decision that he felt at peace with and three months later he began the divorce proceedings.

7. Can you handle the unpleasant consequences of divorce?

Divorce brings change and grief because it is the loss of the "happy family" dream. Hurts , disappointments, loneliness, failure, rejection, inadequacy can all take hold of the psyche when we are in this extremely vulnerable passage. To be ready for the ups and downs of divorce it is necessary to have a support system of family and friends who will be there to help you emotionally and practically when needed.

One of the hardest consequences of divorce is needing to face another person's pain, be it your children's, your family or friends because divorce affects so many people's lives. If you are the one choosing they divorce you will have to hold on to your decision and the ending of your marriage in the face of all these people and circumstances. If you are the one who does not want the divorce, but your spouse wants to proceed, you will still need to get ready to accept the following consequences of a failed marriage. To know if you are ready, ask yourself if you are prepared for the following changes;

• If you don't want changes to your finances, lifestyle or traditions then you are not ready for divorce;
• If you cannot accept your children's sadness and anger then you are not ready for divorce
• If you cannot acceptance times of insecurity, fear and the unknown then you are not ready for divorce
• If you are not willing to let go of your spouse mentally, emotionally and spiritually then you are not ready for divorce.

I recall one woman who was totally bored with her one dimensional passive husband and she expressed what seemed like a very strong desire to leave him after 20 years of marriage. Each time she would tell me that she was going to tell him she wanted to separate, she would back off long before she got home. To help her recognize her own struggle we made a list of the consequences of divorce, and the one thing she said she could never accept was the fact that her kids would hate her for leaving their father. She said she could not risk that, no matter how bored she was. Once she owned that this unpleasant consequence of her divorcing him would be more than she could stand, she was able to think of other ways to resolve the problem of being bored in her marriage. Over time she became more independent and started to travel and develop interests of her own.

8. Are you willing to take control of your life in a responsible and mature way?

Whether you are the one who wants the divorce or the one who is having to respond to your spouse wanting the divorce both situations have one thing in common, the marriage is ending. How people respond to this fact determines the type of divorce and future they will have. They can come from a position of bitterness, revenge or helplessness or they can negotiate for their future from a position of strength, understanding and respect.. The attitude you choose will determine the type of divorce you have. Your options are as follows: You can make Agreements that:

Protect your rights only or Respect your spouse's rights too

Are only good for you or Are good for everyone

Give your spouse less or Give your spouse what is rightfully theirs

Do not inconvenience you or Work well for everyone

Need frequent court hearings to enforce or Need no court hearings to enforce

It is our experience that people who prepare themselves by first addressing all 8 questions are more likely to have a collaborative divorce. By starting the process in this way they are much better able to make lasting agreements with each other, resolve their difficulties and develop parenting plans that both supports the children and respects each other's rights.


Bruce Derman Ph.D. and Wendy Gregson LMFT have extensive experience in helping couples obtain a Better Divorce through preparation, collaboration, and effective negotiation. This article is provided by Mediate.com, the most visited dispute resolution site on the Web. Mediate.com offers over 2,000 Free Articles, See www.Mediate.com

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Frozen by the Fear of Wrong Decisions

A coaching process to guide you toward greater results

by Dwight Bain, Certified Life Coach & Nationally Certified Counselor

One of my favorite sayings to share with people facing a major decision is "you always have options." Yet in challenging times people are often so frozen by fear from making a wrong decision that they don't make a decision at all and life passes them by. Think of how many events in life are complicated or missed completely because of the roadblock of being afraid to fail by making a decision and then making that decision work...

-Marriages that didn't happen because of a shy guy with cold feet
-Promotions that never occurred because of the fear of asking for it
-Scholarships left on a table somewhere because someone was afraid to fill out the paperwork
-Trips to exotic places that were always talked about, but never taken because no one sat down to schedule it
-Relationships that failed because someone didn't decide to work on issues and quietly let things 'slip, slide away'
-Forgiveness that was never granted because someone never got past the fear of saying that they were sorry


I've noticed that people will fit into one of the following levels when facing a major decision. Think about where you are in the process.

Level 1- Go Numb- and do nothing
This level is where an individual is so paralyzed by fear that they can't take action and may experience major signs or symptoms of distress. When someone feels numb inside, they often describe their life as being in a 'fog' and often crash in the process. This may be the most dangerous level of all.

Level 2- Passive Pleasing
This level is about pleasing others in a very non-assertive way. The people pleaser personality is passively trying to avoid a conflict, yet often their quietness of not dealing with issues is covering up an emotional explosion that can erupt at any time. This person looks quiet and pleasant on the outside, yet often is irritated and frustrated on the inside.

Level 3- Mediocrity in the Middle of the Road
When people are trying to be politically correct they often will just sit in the middle of the road on an issue. Are they conservative or liberal, do they see things as white or black? You never know because this person refuses to take a stand- often because they either don't care about the situation to have an opinion about it, or are afraid to say it. The risk of sitting in the middle of the road is that you will eventually be run over by a more direct personality who knows where they are going.

Level 4- Active & Assertive Expression
If you know what you believe and are able to express it then you are in a situation of active and assertive expression. People know where you stand because you tell them, instead of trying to hint around for them to read your mind. This level may lead to some hurt feelings on occasion, but those are soon forgotten because positive action eventually leads to positive results.

Level 5- Energetic- Do it all with Enthusiasm
This level is a joy to watch develop in a person's life when facing a major decision. They KNOW that it's the right person to marry, or the right college to attend, or the best time to move on to a better career. There is such a degree of personal power in energetic decision makers that people just want to be around them to gain insight and strength to face the decisions they need to make in their own lives with more confidence. Everyone loves to be around level 5 decision makers because even if the things that need to change aren't pleasant, this individual is able to communicate in such a way that it is just natural to follow their lead.


As you think through the 5 levels of decision making, I hope you saw most of your personal or professional life in either level 4 or 5, because that is where the action is. You can't get results if you are frozen by the fear of being indecisive. Life is changing fast and you must be focused on how to rapidly change with it if you want to be more successful.

Here is a LifeWorks Group exercise designed to coach you through the decision process. Hopefully you can use it today to rapidly sort through your options to come up with a rock solid decision and build a better future. So take out your legal pad, or map it out in an email to review with a coach, mentor or friend as you move from being frozen by fear to growing forward in greater faith because you have mastered the secrets to making right decisions.

STRATEGIC COACHING DECISION MAKING PROCESS

-Define a particular problem, question or choice you are currently struggling with

-List your options for resolving the question or choice

-Write the possible outcomes for each option, both short term and long term

-Write the benefits or risks of each option

-Determine which option corresponds most closely with your overall values and goals

-Determine which option is the healthiest choice for all involved

-Is this a decision you can commit to for a specified period of time, and if so how long?

-Talk with a supportive/trusted people about the options and write down useful suggestions: (it may be tempting to skip this step, but this is one of the most valuable parts of gaining an objective perspective and to 'test' your ideas before you put them into practice).

NOTE: you can freely redistribute this resource, electronically or in print to help others at work, school, church or in your family, just by leaving the authors information intact below.About the Author:Dwight Bain is dedicated to helping people achieve greater results. He is a Nationally Certified Counselor, Certified Life Coach and Certified Family Law Mediator in practice since 1984 with a primary focus on solving crisis events and managing major change. Trainer for over 1,500 business groups on the topic of making strategic change to overcome major stress- both personally & professionally; Dwight is a member of the National Speakers Association who partners with the media, major corporations and non-profit organizations to make a positive difference in our culture.

Access over 150 counseling and coaching resources designed to save you time by solving stressful situations by receiving the weekly eNews from the LifeWorks Group team of counseling & coaching experts. Simply visit our website and sign up for this valuable electronic resource as our gift since we are dedicated to make life work better for you. http://www.lifeworksgroup.org/

MAKING GOOD DECISIONS BETTER

Leadership insights from Dr. John C. Maxwell

Inability to make decisions is one of the principal reasons executives fail. Deficiency in decision-making ranks much higher than lack of specific knowledge or technical know-how as an indicator of leadership failure.Successful people make the right decisions early and manage them daily. In this edition of Leadership Wired, we’ll break down those components by exploring the criteria for making solid decisions and by reinforcing the need to properly manage them day by
day.

Making Good Decisions:
As a leader, multiple decisions swirl around you and each clamors for time and attention. The first step in successful decision-making is to prioritize the many decisions in front of you. Give yourself time to brainstorm and make a list of each decision you presently face. When you have identified an exhaustive list of decisions, take the following steps to separate the big decisions from the minor ones

Compare Payoff:
Ask yourself, “Which decisions on your list will produce the highest payoff?” Evaluate each in terms of your investment in time, resources, and energy. On a scale of 1 to 3, rate each item on your list as follows:

1 = Most important
2 = Somewhat important
3 = Least important

Consider Your Goals:
Ask yourself, “Which decisions are essential to my goals?” To answer this question, you may need to review your primary job responsibilities and remind yourself of the critical success factors driving your performance. Applying the same 1-to-3 scale, rate each decision based on its relevance to your goals.

Delegate:
At this point, every item in your log should have two rankings—one for potential payoff and one for alignment with your goals. Add the numbers together. Highlight all entries totaling 2 or 3. These matters clearly require attention.Focus on the remaining decisions and ask yourself, “Which of these issues must be handled by me and no one else?” More than likely, you’ll determine that many of them can be delegated to others to lighten your load.

Decision Making Traps:
Too often, leaders fall into traps causing them to make faulty decisions. They are blind to flaws in their methodology or gaps in their thinking. Here are specific pitfalls that can sabotage your efforts to express yourself wisely and decisively.

Procrastinating:
If you dread the finality of taking a stand or calling the shots, you may be tempted to put off the decision. You can fall prey to dozens of avoidance mechanisms to rationalize your unwillingness to decide, including:

Absence of urgency. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Uncertainty. “It could go either way. Since I’m not sure, I’ll reflect on it for a while.”

Emotional difficulty. “It’s a lose-lose proposition, and someone will be hurt regardless of the decision. Why not postpone the damage as long as possible?” If any of these comments sound familiar, your challenge is to condense the time frame in which you make your decision. Although you may successfully con yourself into believing that “it can wait,” a cloud of worry will drift over you until you take the initiative to remove it.

Surrendering:
Exceptionally hard decisions can deplete your energy to the point at which you finally cave in. If you mentally crumble and degenerate into negative thinking, you’ll magnify the problem to the point where it can haunt you. Rather than surrender, break a big decision into its components. Isolate particular aspects of the issue, and address the segments bit by bit.

Hiding Behind Information:
Many managers with exacting standards tend to crave unending stacks of data before rendering a decision. The more facts and figures they accumulate, the more they require before feeling ready to decide. Be willing to forge ahead when the results of the decision will be positive—even if they won’t be perfect.

The DNA of Good Decision-Making

Evidence - Specific facts that can be independently verified.

Search for new information or insight which may affect the decision.

Probe the basis of your belief. -We make decisions based upon our assumptions, but those assumptions are oftentimes at variance with reality.

Take a hard look at your areas of expertise, and honestly assess the boundaries of your knowledge. Watch for overconfidence in yourself and others when you venture outside those limits.

Test your opinions by looking for information that challenges your beliefs rather than looking for information that supports your opinions.

Observation - Direct experience or understanding of an issue.

Conceptualize. Before deciding, picture the expected outcomes of your decision and mentally track the ramifications of your chosen course of action.

Search for examples. Locate organizations that have faced a similar decision. Evaluate their experiences to better prepare for your own decision.

Do a test-run. When time allows, launch and assess a pilot project before fully committing yourself.

Feedback - Impressions gleaned from asking others for input about a decision.The most effective decisions flow from your ability to ask the right person the right question at the right time. As long as you know where to search for the relevant information - and can verify the accuracy of what you learn - you will be well positioned to see all sides of an issue and make a sensible judgment.

Managing Good Decisions
The first ingredient of success—making good decisions—has no real value without the second, which is practicing daily discipline. Look at our society. Everyone wants to be thin, but nobody wants to diet. Everyone wants to live long, but few will exercise. Everybody wants money, yet seldom will anyone budget or control their spending.

Most people want to avoid pain, and discipline is usually painful. What we fail to understand is that there are two kinds of pain: the pain of self-discipline and the pain of regret. We avoid the pain of self-discipline because we confront it every day. Meanwhile, the pain of regret goes unnoticed for days, months, and years, but when it comes, it marks us with the profoundest disappointment.

Successful people conquer their feelings of instant gratification and form habits of daily discipline. They realize that the pain of self-discipline is momentary, while its payoff yields long-lasting rewards.
Good Decisions – Daily Discipline = A Plan without a Payoff
Daily Discipline – Good Decisions = Regimentation without Reward
Good Decisions + Daily Discipline = A Masterpiece of Potential

John C. Maxwell is ranked by Harvard University as America's #1 Leadership Expert and is the best selling author of over 30 books. Experience Dr. Maxwell's personal development and leadership strategies at no cost by subscribing to his E-newsletters, which go out to over 300,000 leaders world-wide at http://www.maximumimpact.com