Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Powerful words from leaders about developing the attitude of gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Life isn't just about you. It's about family and friends and giving back. ~ Reese Witherspoon

A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues. ~ Cicero

Individuals and families are feeling pressures of the economy, bad news from television, and a sense of hopelessness and despair that is scary. The coming season can be one of high stress, or one of a newly defined perspective. Despite your circumstances, a shift in focus, a change in thought, and adjustment of perspective can take you and your family to a better place, a place of hope, and yes, even joy. Research validates what you and I already know, that having an attitude of gratitude and thankfulness can go a long way in helping us be healthy and balanced. ~ John Thurman, MA

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was "thank you," that would suffice. ~ Meister Eckhart

These are clearly some of the toughest times our nation has gone through financially. Businesses, churches, ministries, and especially families are in crisis. But in difficult times, we can learn to cling to our most important relationships and not our things. ~ Gary Smalley, PhD


And thanks to my friend Joe Bilello, ChFC, founder of Avanti Wealth Management, www.Avantiwealth.com who shared this history of Thanksgiving to help you understand the incredible significance of this day to all Americans.

Thanksgiving was first celebrated by the settlers at Plymouth in the Massachusetts colony in 1621 under the leadership of Governor William Bradford. Washington and Madison each issued a Thanksgiving proclamation once during their Presidencies. It was not until 1863, however, when Lincoln issued his Thanksgiving Day Proclamation that the holiday was established as a national annual event, occurring on the last Thursday of November. The first observance of the national holiday came one week after the dedication of the Soldiers National Cemetery at Gettysburg while the Civil War was raging on. The language of the proclamation is beautiful, listen.

“It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American people. I do, therefore, invite my fellow-citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens.

And I recommend to them that, while offering up the ascriptions justly due to him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners, or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation, and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United Stated States to be affixed.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Thanksgiving Day comes, by statute, once a year; to the honest man it comes as frequently as the heart of gratitude will allow. ~ Edward Sandford Martin


Finally, here are some encouraging words from my friend Steve Arterburn, founder of New Life Ministries, (www.NewLife.com) about finding a new perspective on Thanksgiving to develop a grateful heart in tough times.

“I was thinking about Thanksgiving the other day and I read something that stopped me. “The pilgrims made seven times more graves than huts … nevertheless, set aside a day of thanksgiving.”

Boy, doesn’t that say a lot! Think about it. Our forefathers—the courageous men and women who came to this country on the Mayflower, had a pretty tough go of things. And in spite of a huge loss of life and incredible hardship they kept their faith and thanked God, when all they had was a sorry place to live and the hope that they would grow or kill enough food to eat. Others had been wiped out before them and they might be next, but they gave thanks anyway. Just think about that for a moment and then think about your life. We’ve all had pain in our lives, and you maybe have experienced hurt and suffering that is beyond what we think anyone should have to go through; yet we are called to pause and give thanks to God for Him and His incredible blessings no matter what our circumstances.

Read what the apostle, Paul, wrote: “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16

Friday, November 21, 2008

Mentors Make the Difference

The benefits of having a leader come alongside to achieve greater results

By Dwight Bain, NCC, Founder of the LifeWorks Group of Counselors & Coaches

Last week I was honored to spend some time with Dr. Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University, and a man who mentored me during graduate school. It was a great experience to catch up with an old friend, made even better because I could introduce him to Sheila and our teenage children. It was a blessing to hear this mentor to so many, sit and spend time talking to our kids about the value of having godly leaders who come alongside to invest in your life. While you may never have met Elmer Towns, so many things I do to help people today, I learned by watching him interact and mentor others back then.

When I met this man over 25 years ago I had no idea how much he would impact my future. There is an old saying I heard once that said, “When the student is ready, the teacher will come.” Often you may not realize the tremendous value brought by the leaders around you, or the great opportunities to learn from them. Yet, if you are motivated and seeking direction, I believe that God will send someone with answers your way. If you have a student mindset to learn more- a mentor will come- you just have to be prayerfully watching. Here are some tips to help you in that process.

Who could be a mentor?
Mentors can come from many places- coaches, teachers, pastors, employers, grandparents or coworkers. I’ve benefited from the personal mentoring of men like Jerry Falwell, Steve Brown, Pat Williams, Dave Hurd, John Maxwell, Joe Christiano and Elmer Towns. However, you can also be mentored through a process I call, ‘mentoring one step removed,’ where you regularly study the teaching of a leader through books, audio, video or podcasted messages. Media can give you a lot of value from a mentor, and is a good start, yet it misses the importance of face to face contacts and accountability to stay focused. Mentors are committed to helping you grow into the person you were designed to be, so it’s a combination of teaching, guiding, challenging, role modeling and coaching to draw out your best, all within the framework of a relationship with honest accountability.

Mentors can make a huge difference, yet how do you go about finding one? Here are some key factors to get you started on your journey to grow faster and maximize your potential from reaching out to find a mentor.

Look for leaders with a lot of experience. Mentors are people who have ‘been there- and- done that’. They have a proven track record of knowing what to do because they have learned from their failures and leveraged their successes to achieve greater results. Nothing replaces experience in a master teacher or mentor, so anticipate that they will be older than you and often quite older.

Look for leaders who know what they believe. A mentor is a person who has strong convictions and has gone well beyond talking about their values to earnestly living them. If someone is wishy-washy about their core values and purpose in life they won’t have much to add to your journey, and may even become a roadblock by creating more doubt than personal discipline and strength. If they don’t believe in something they can talk it, but won’t be consistent in living it, and a good mentor is rock solid about matching their beliefs to their behavior.

Look for leaders who are inspired to help others. A mentor is motivated to make a difference, so be alert for people around you who want to do more with their life. You may not find a mentor who is a best-selling author or national television personality, yet is making a huge contribution in your local community. Don’t be distracted by the lack of formal education either. Some of the greatest role models didn’t have the advantages of advanced degrees, but they had earned their PhD from the school of hard knocks and know how to guide you away from taking wrong roads. So watch to see who really cares about people and you will find that they often will take time out to invest into the lives of those around them. Just ask.

Basic mentoring requires structure to grow strong
In a formal mentoring relationship there is a clearly defined structure of times to meet, clear goals, well defined expectations and accountability to keep you on a path of positive growth and change. In a less structured mentoring relationship there are times of teaching, encouraging and equipping, yet you have to be watching more closely because these training times come fast and often leave just as fast. Mentoring can be maximized by follow up calls, emails, text messages or hand written notes to challenge and inspire you to press on to reach your potential.

Remember that a successful mentoring process is closely tied to your hopes, dreams, goals, values and personality. If you are a quiet person of prayer, it is likely that you will connect best to a mentor with those personality traits. If you are a people person who is highly verbal, your mentor will likely have similar traits. I believe that God will send the right person to mentor you at different stages based on your progress and development. Sometimes well meaning parents will try to force an unmotivated son or daughter into the presence of a master teacher, yet it usually ends up being a complete waste of time. Bottom line- stay ready to grow and you will meet the most amazing people along the way, yet usually when you least expect to find them. And if you aren’t growing you won’t meet mentors because they will walk on by to invest in someone who wants to make the world a better place- instead of just taking up space.

Elmer Towns was a tremendous mentor who made a huge impact on my life. Here are a few of the key success principles I learned from this master teacher who made a positive difference in my life, which I hope will add greater value to your life as well.

1) Have a vision and keep moving forward, no matter what
Elmer Towns partnered with Jerry Falwell in 1971 to build one of the fastest growing universities in the country. These men faced impossible odds together and often stood up to incredible challenges, yet always with courage and faith. I never saw either of these men discouraged, at work, at the university or at home. You and I can benefit by knowing the vision for our life and then press on, no matter what comes against us. To know where you are going and press on with perseverance is a key to lasting success.

2) Continually be training the next generation of young leaders
Dr. Towns has always been passionate about training young people. This positive empowering of younger leaders modeled the style of Socrates, Plato and of course, the teaching style Jesus Christ used with the twelve disciples. Clearly, no one lives on this planet forever, so it is essential to be equipping others to carry on the work if you want to make a positive and lasting difference in the world. This is a timeless principle of discipleship seen in the Bible, as well as in the greatest thinkers throughout history and it’s a principle that you and I can put into practice with the younger people in our lives today. Everyone can learn something and everyone can share something they have learned with another.

3) Teach and reinforce the message
A master teacher will keep sharing the same life application principles to reinforce the message until you ‘get it’. They don’t’ get mad at you when you don’t understand, they just look for a better way to communicate the message of truth to you in a way you can hear. I’m grateful to God for having the opportunity to have listened to countless messages from a world-class leader who was completely dedicated to the success of his students and honor him by teaching and mentoring others.

This brings up the final lesson I learned from my mentor so many decades ago.

Do things now that will live on after you are gone

This is the power of building a positive legacy, and it lives on in the lives of the over 200,000 students who have attended Liberty University. I was blessed to have a mentor early in life who believed in me. I do things today that my mentor taught me to do over a quarter century ago. I’m a better person and more effective leader because of the few years of working around and sitting under the teaching of Dr. Elmer Towns and I honor him and his legacy today because of his investment into my life to equip me to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

Who do you look to for leadership?
The question I leave with you today is an important one. Who is your mentor? If you don’t know the answer because you don’t have one, start looking today for men and women who are boldly working for positive change in their part of the world and find a way to get to them. You need a mentor you can believe in, and when you find them, plug in to the value that they can add to your life. Once you find them, the process is simple. Listen all you can, learn all you can and then eventually lead others in what your mentor trained you to do… make a positive difference. That legacy that never dies, because it is carried on throughout the generations in the hearts and actions of people who were blessed to know why mentoring matters.

What names of master mentors are on your list and what positive changes are you working toward because of the influence of your mentors? If you need a safe place to get started, send me an email because I’m here to teach and coach you with what I learned at the feet of some godly men. I’ll hold the door open for you because someone taught me how to invest in others. Mentoring matters because it changes you today, so that you can work for a better world tomorrow.

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful 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 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 weekly eNews. To subscribe go to www.LifeWorksGroup.org (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

STOP! Don't Invest in the stock market Invest in yourself

Deedra Hunter, M.S., LMHC


I sat in the closet clutching 3 scared small children as we listened to the winds of hurricane Andrew greedily chewing up every material possession in our soon to be completely destroyed house. I had no idea, at that moment, the most frequently asked question about that night would be “what were you thinking?”

I sat by my big tree in the backyard of our Miami lake house and sobbed as I had never sobbed before in my life. I had just made the decision to get a divorce. The beautiful solid tree that my little children had swung from, that wonderful tree I thought I would grow old under, was now going to grow old without me. Everything I thought was certain was not. And again, I had no idea the most frequently asked question about that day would be” what were you thinking?”

My answer was the same in both separate instances and it is the same answer I have when people ask what am I thinking about todays financial distress the country is in: “ I was thinking “thank God, literally I had the foresight to invest in myself and get a masters degree.”
Are you shocked? Do you think it should have been more philosophical, more romantic, more altruistic?

The reality of both those life altering situations is that everything I had worked to accumulate financially was either destroyed or at risk. But no one, no government, no outside unseen force could destroy what I had invested in myself.

If you can contain your fear and muster the courage from deep inside yourself now is exactly the most wonderful opportune time to forget investing in the stock market and invest in you. Perhaps it is time to invest in those extra courses preparing you to be that one person with extra knowledge and skills in your company leading yourself and co-workers back into the good times ahead. It may be the perfect time to go into therapy and understand the deeper parts of your personality so you don’t panic and run away when it is darkest just before you are about to enjoy a glorious new dawn. Another investment to make may be in a life coach or business coach who could guide you to levels of success you had only secretly thought you would do “some day when the time was right” .Well “some day” has come. Stop investing in the things outside yourself that you can’t control. I would like to invite you to realize the only worthwhile investment to make today is an investment totally in your control -the investment in you.

I think you will be fortunate indeed if you can answer the question “what were you thinking when our economy looked so bleak back in 2008” with “I took full advantage of what everyone else thought was a bad time and made it a good time by making the one investment I will always have. I invested in me!”

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful 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 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 weekly eNews. To subscribe go to www.LifeWorksGroup.org (Copyright © 2004-2008 by the LifeWorks Group in Florida 407-647-7005)"

Thursday, November 13, 2008

An Undisputed Advantage

by Ron White, Coach & Best-Selling Author

Sometimes success in life is a result of setting yourself apart from your competition or simply everyone else. There is one behavior that, without a doubt, will give you an advantage over those around you. I will allow Thomas Jefferson to share what that is. He once said, "Nothing gives one person so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances."

Have you ever been in a stressful situation or in a storm of life in which you were not able to maintain your cool? It happens to all of us. Billy Joel puts it this way in his hit song "Pressure":

But you will come to a placeWhere the only thing you feelAre loaded guns in your faceAnd you'll have to deal withPressure

Jefferson and Joel are in agreement that you will have to handle pressure. Jefferson suggests that how you respond to that pressure can give you a distinct advantage over those around you.

Accepting the fact that you will encounter adverse situations, how do you prepare yourself to always remain cool?

You must run through this checklist before the moment of truth arrives, because under pressure this list is clouded and feels miles away.

Remind yourself that your life has seen many challenges and you worked through each one and are still standing today.

Remind yourself that you are not the first to encounter obstacles and others have made it—so can you.

Unless you are being attacked in a physical manner, never allow yourself to respond without knowing all the facts.

Again, unless being attacked in a physical manner, practice the rule of five, and that is slowly counting to yourself to five before you respond.

Do not fear walking away from the table as you allow the issue to cool. Do not shirk from asking for help. A team is always stronger than an individual. The question is not, will you encounter struggles in life. The question is how will you respond? For a distinct advantage over others, remember the words of our third president and keep your head.

Reproduced with permission from the Ron White Ezine. To subscribe to Ron White's Ezine, go to http://www.MemoryInAMonth.com Copyright 2008 All rights reserved worldwide.

When should you get help for your marriage?

A LifeWorks Group Counseling Checklist

These are the most common factors that can lead to marital crisis. As you read through this list, think about your relationship or the relationship of your friends and co-workers and then focus on the importance of working through issues now to find peace and connection instead of growing distance and eventual divorce.

___When children become the exclusive focus of the marriage

___When one marriage partner dominates or controls the other

___When blaming, shouting, sarcasm or threats become commonplace

___When drugs or alcohol abuse is an issue

___When physical or sexual abuse occurs

___When sexual or financial issues are ignored or are a constant battleground

___When trust is violated over money, morality or unexplained absences

___When affection and kindness to each other ceases

___When outside factors (job stress, child issues, financial crisis) increase

___When it is easier to discuss feelings with someone of the opposite sex other than your marriage partner

If you see three or more of the above factors, then it may be time to call a professional to prevent greater problems. You can talk to a LifeWorks Group counselor on the phone now at 407.647.7005. There is no cost for a brief consult to discuss your situation and everything is completely confidential.

What are the psychological dynamics behind women and worry?

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Women worry about many different topics, from men to body image to relationships to their mother's approval; yet the same psychological drive is fueling this stressful emotion no matter what triggers it. I believe the real source behind the worry most women feel is control.

Not control in the sense of being a manipulative monster, (like Jane Fonda's character in the film “Monster in Law), rather it's the need to know what's happening around her so she can feel empowered and in control of her emotions and environment.

Think of it this way. When control goes up, worry goes down because the more a woman can understand the more she will automatically feel a sense of security and confidence inside.

However, as a situation begins to feel out of control, worry dramatically increases, leading to more serious conditions like Social Phobia, Generalized Anxiety Disorders or even Panic Attacks if left untreated.

Women process information verbally which is why they need to talk through so many issues to feel comfortable. When a woman feels connected through communication she feels confident and alive, instead of afraid.

Guys would do well to figure out that they could make rapid improvement in their relationships simply by listening, instead of lecturing the women in their life.

Don't Quit

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,When the funds are low and the debts are high,And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,When care is pressing you down a bit,Rest if you must; but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns,As everyone of us sometimes learns,And many a failure turns aboutWhen he might have won had he stuck it out;Don't give up, though the pace seems slow;You might succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer thanIt seems to a faint and faltering man,Often the struggler has given upWhen he might have captured the victor's cup.And he learned too late, when the night slipped down,How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out;

The silver tint of the clouds of doubt;And you never can tell how close you are,It may be near when it seems afar;So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit;It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Understanding the psychology of Post-Election Stress Syndrome

By Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor

A major election leads to major change- psychologically that is. No matter who wins an election, the unexpected emotional let down or explosive reaction after the ballots are counted can be overwhelming to many, especially the aged or over-involved who can be set up for crushing amounts of what I call Post-Election Stress Syndrome.

This election has likely been the most stressful of any during our lifetime because of numbing news fatigue and continual media over-exposure, yet the real problems are yet to come. Personal anxiety, professional panic and poorly thought out decisions are on the horizon regardless of your political persuasion.

Why such a gloomy projection?

It’s based on how this election process has been so overwhelming much of the time with months of negative news, never ending data to process and confusing choices to make on complex issues while partisan experts are shouting every half-hour on news/talk stations that we are all doomed if their candidate doesn’t win. Not to mention the huge challenge on who is trust-worthy, since you often don’t know who will say something inappropriate on YouTube and crash their credibility, leaving you feeling very alone to make some major decisions without leaders who lacked the strength of character to stand on their convictions instead of popular opinion polls.

Mountain top experiences guarantee the next step is always the valley

Think of a major campaign like climbing a major mountain range. You prepare for years and climb for months to finally reach the top. Once there the view is great. You take some pictures, but you can’t stay on a mountain top, so no matter which way you head, it’s down in any direction. After the mountain top comes the valley, which is a normal part of life. The danger is that for many people the downward slide is so unexpected. Most actual mountain climbing accidents happen on the way down, and I project that there will be millions of people who are unprepared for the emotional upheaval they are about to experience after the election is over.

Everyone will feel some degree of emotional let down once the issues have been decided and the acceptance speeches are given. That’s normal, however for some the removal of posters, signs, balloons and banners will lead to a free fall of depressing emotions. If someone has been a ‘news junkie’ the last few months it will be especially stressful. Those feelings of distress will come out in one of two ways.

Two possible reactions to post-election stress

1) Anger
Which can lead to violence and impulsive decisions. People who feel violated by the election process will often turn to dumping volcanic levels of anger at someone or something to find relief for the pressure inside. This can lead to devastating decisions, impulsive rage or using the wrong words in front of the wrong people and losing credibility or worse a job. This can happen in men or women, young or old, but is most commonly seen in more extroverted personalities and it tends to blow up and blow out fast.

2) Apathy -This is a more dangerous reaction, since it can lead from distress to the early stages of depression. Stuffing emotions inside is like burying them alive and they just keep building up, yet instead of blowing up and out, they blow in. This leads a person to feel emotionally numb, and often can cause an individual to commit a series of very quiet, yet very harmful self-destructive acts. Eating for comfort, drinking to numb the pain, hooking up with the wrong partner to try and forget about the election or just refusing to answer the phone, closing the mini-blinds and checking out on life like a hermit hiding in a dark cave.

The best choice after an election is completed is Acceptance.

It’s over and now it’s time to move on with whatever leaders and issues the majority of voters selected. You can’t change the outcome of an election, but you can freak yourself out with fears about the future apocalypse predicted by many. Don’t do that! Life will go on, and your world will continue. God is bigger than any politician and isn't in a panic, so trust in heaven's agenda and not that of Washington and you'll immediately find a deeper level of peace.

What happens in your house is way more important than what happens in the White House since you can’t control what political leaders do, but you can control you. Let this journey off of the political ‘mountain’ be one of a growing sense of perspective as you remember that after the valley there will be another mountain to climb. There will be another day to vote on national issues and when the dust settles your life will usually be about as good as you choose to make it. This approach takes the power to control your mood away from the politicians or the media, so you can build a better life without losing sleep or energy from the dangers of post-election stress syndrome.

Reprint Permission- If this article was helpful 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. Please include the following paragraph in your reprint and thanks for helping us to help others to stay calm during this season of change.

"Reprinted with permission from the LifeWorks Group, www.LifeWorksGroup.org eNews (Copyright, 2004-2008, by the LifeWorks Group)" 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