Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Einstein's Formula for Success

by Memory Coach, Ron White

Albert Einstein had a formula for success. Can you believe that? One of the greatest minds of all time developed a math formula for success! I suggest you read this carefully—this may be the most important math equation that you will ever see.

Einstein said, “If A equals success, then the formula is: A=X+Y+Z.
X is work.
Y is play.
Z is keep your mouth shut.”

Einstein no doubt had an excellent sense of humor. Let’s look at the three variables in this equation. They are:
1. Work
2. Play
3. Keeping your mouth shut!

1. Work:

Albert Einstein had a tremendous work ethic and because of that gave more to society and modern science than any person in recent times.

2. Play:

Einstein, however, did not work 24 hours a day and made time for fun and relaxation. His idea of fun may have been different than yours, but that doesn’t mean it still wasn’t play.

3. Keeping your mouth shut:

Finally, my favorite part of his success formal is to keep your mouth shut. I genuinely believe that the person who talks the least says the most. A friend of mine complains that the woman he is dating talks too much. I don’t know how to break the news to him: The problem isn’t that she talks too much; it’s simply the fact that he is irritated that he isn’t able to talk. Now, let me just say this is not a generic man and woman statement. I am speaking about a specific person I know. His desire is to constantly talk, and because he likes to talk so much, he will talk in circles. If you let him talk long enough he will repeat the same thing three times and then contradict himself. His desire is not to hear but to be heard.

Albert Einstein, on the other hand, had nothing to prove. He felt no need to be the “Chatty Cathy” he could have been with his knowledge. It wasn’t important to him to talk to everyone he met and talk over their heads to demonstrate his IQ. Instead, he learned the value of quietness and solitude.

Shift your mindset from being a talker to a listener. It has been said that you can make more friends in five minutes by becoming interested in others than you can make in five years of trying to get others interested in you! How do you become interested in others? You ask questions and then keep your mouth shut!

Dale Carnegie wrote a best-selling book titled How to Win Friends and Influence People. One of the key premises of this book was that everyone’s favorite subject is actually themselves and that the sweetest sound to their ears is the sound of their own name. Einstein knew this and realized he could influence others by choosing his spots to speak and validating others by extending them the courtesy of listening.

Reproduced with permission from the Ron White Newsletter. To subscribe to Ron White's Newsletter, go to Copyright 2010 All rights reserved worldwide.

Do You Know Why You Are In a Recession?

By Patrick Morley, PhD
(The following article is adapted from Pat Morley’s book, How to Survive the Economic Meltdown)

John was highly leveraged when the stock market crashed. By Friday morning of Wall Street’s worst week, John’s equity was paper thin.

He said, “If the market goes down another 100 points today, they will call my margin account and I’ll lose everything. On Monday morning, I’ll have to start over.”

As we talked on, John explained, “You know. I think I needed this. I’m only in my early 40s, but I’ve made so much money that I stopped working about a year ago.

“Basically, I’ve been sitting around on the couch watching movies and getting fat. My life was headed nowhere. God has my undivided attention.”

The most difficult lessons to learn are often the ones we already know.

Living By Your Own Ideas

Like John, during good times a lot of people get lax about doing life God’s way. In fact, a lot of people have never really been trained to understand God’s way.

I see this every Friday morning at The Man in the Mirror Men’s Bible Study that I teach here in Orlando. Every week we have four to eight visitors. They sit at a “first timers” table with me.
Invariably, many of them have professed faith in Christ. But they want the best of both worlds. They want the benefits of Christ, but they also want to taste the good things the world has to offer. They want to have their cake and eat it too.

They read the Bible for comfort, but their Forbes for direction. They have been shaped more by the herds of commerce than the footsteps of Christ.

As a result, they have spent the last five, ten, fifteen or more years living by their own ideas. Their lives have not turned out the way they planned. And now they are miserable.

Biblically, these men have let the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of money choke the word and make it unfruitful (Matthew 13:22); they’ve let the yeast of culture work through the whole batch of dough (Galatians 5:9); they’ve done that which is permissible but not beneficial (1 Corinthians 6:12); and they’re high risk for a great crash because they built on sand and not the rock (Matthew 7:24-27).

It’s not as though these men want to struggle or fail. But their capabilities are not equal to their intentions. As Denzel Washington, playing a recovering alcoholic ex-military bodyguard in a Latin American country, said in Man on Fire, “You’re either trained or you’re not trained.” Spiritually, most men are not. As a result, they end up Christian in spirit, but secular in practice.

So what are the root problems? There are two: idols and lies.

An idol is anything of which we say, “I must have this to be happy.”
Every morning you go into a world that all day long tempts you to exchange the glory of God for an idol (Romans 1:23).

I race a vintage Porsche and have used racing as a platform to build relationships with men and share my faith. One day a man who never misses a chance to race asked me quite seriously,
“When does my passion for racing become an idol?” Good question.

All idolatry is rooted in unbelief. This unbelief can take many forms, but at its root is the powerful lie, “Jesus Christ alone is not enough to make me happy. I need something else.”
An idol is something we worship. The issue is looking to anything except Jesus Christ for identity, meaning, and ultimate purpose. An idol is anything that becomes the object of inordinate affection—anything that competes with our full surrender to Christ.
John Calvin said that men are “idol factories.” Perhaps nothing interferes with our faith more than the root problem of making idols—it’s the “next step” after believing a lie (see next section).
We can make idols of almost anything, but common examples today include:

Titles and positions (especially if the job doesn’t generate a large income)
Homes (i.e., attaching personal worth and identity to a dwelling)
Country club memberships (i.e., being part of the “right” crowd)
Ministry titles (e.g., elder, deacon)
Relationships (e.g., idolizing a wife)
Affiliations with important people
Cars, boats, planes, motorcycles
Our bodies (i.e., physical appearance)
Superior intelligence
The praise of men (what C.S. Lewis called “to win worship”1)
Even our own righteousness!

Idols make promises they cannot keep, which is why a man can be on a winning streak and still feel empty.

All of us either live by the truth or a good lie.
Every morning you go into a world where all day long you are tempted to exchange “the truth of God for a lie” (Romans 1:25).

There are two languages in the world: truth and lies.
The first language—the native tongue—of every person is the language of lies. When we receive Christ we become bilingual. We learn a second language—the language of truth. But what happens when we don’t regularly practice speaking a second language? We revert to our native tongue.

How do we fall back into our native language? No one, Christian or otherwise, will choose to live by an obvious lie. Which counterfeit dollar bill is most likely to make it into circulation? It’s the one that looks like the real thing.

In the same way, the only lies that make it into circulation are ones that appear to be true. A good lie is probably only one or two degrees off course. Otherwise it would be rejected.
The problem with a good lie is that it will work—for 10, 20, even 30 years. But ultimately it will fail you, and often at the worst possible moment—like now, during an economic meltdown.
What does a good lie look like?

Two Really Good Lies
I’ve fallen for two really good lies in my lifetime.
The first lie became my worldview when I started in business:

“Money will solve my problems, and
success will make me happy.”

I would set a goal, work real hard, six months would go by, I would meet the goal, experience euphoria, then two weeks would pass, the novelty would wear off, and I would have to do, what?
Set a new goal. And the new goal had to be, what? Bigger, brighter, better, higher, faster, sleeker, shinier, etc.

Then I would work real hard, six months would go by, I would meet the goal, experience euphoria, two weeks would pass, the novelty would wear off, and I would have to set another goal. Again, bigger, better, and so on.

The more I accomplished the more miserable I became.

I was committed to a “set of Christian values.” After all, I grew up in the church and was a moralist. But I was surprised to discover that my wife, Patsy, was committed to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Over time, I too embraced Christ as my Savior.

However, at the time I was a materialist, and no one told me to stop. So I was both a Christian and a materialist, which led to my second error.

Lie #2
The second lie I bought, which also became my worldview, was, “I want the best of both worlds.” I wanted everything Christ had to offer, but I still wanted the best the world had to offer too.
At the ten year mark in my spiritual journey, I realized that my faith was producing a different kind of result than many of my friends.

I called a “time out” that I thought would last a couple of weeks. Instead, I spent the next two and a half years staring at my navel. One day I read Matthew 13:22:
The one who received the seed that fell among the thorns is the man who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke it, making it unfruitful. (Matthew 13:22)

I said, “That’s my life.” I was reading my Bible (the seed), but I had worries piled high trying to cram in as much of the world as I could. And money had choked off much of what I was reading in my Bible.

Once I realized my loyalties were divided, I surrendered and made Jesus “Lord” of my life as well as my “Savior.” Of course, Jesus is always the Lord, whether we acknowledge it or not. But we can live in rebellion against Him, as I had been doing.

Do you know how you got off track?

Solving the Right Problem
What is the fundamental problem you should be trying to solve? If you don’t get this right, you risk prolonging your pain.

Our nation is facing a problem of biblical proportion. As a nation, we have been living beyond our means. We have too much national debt. Many of us have too much personal debt.
As a result, most observers would say we have a financial problem. And we do.
But this “presenting” problem is really the symptom of a deeper problem.

Fundamentally, we have a spiritual problem. It is a problem of the human heart. We have disobeyed God. Moses started talking about this about 1,400 B.C. He said,

"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse—the blessing if you obey the commands of the Lord your God that I am giving you today; the curse if you disobey the commands of the Lord your God and turn from the way that I command you today by following other gods, which you have not known." (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

We see this same sentiment throughout Scripture—Old Testament and New Testament. We are told not to follow the practices of the world, adopt worldly customs, intermingle with the world, make treaties, imitate detestable ways, covet gold and silver, become be engrossed with the things of this world, love money, love the world or anything in the world, or worship other gods (Leviticus 18:3, 20:22; Exodus 34:12,16; Deuteronomy 7:2-4, 7:25, 8:19, 18:9; Joshua 23:12-13; 1 Corinthians 7:31; 1 Timothy 6:9; 1 John 2:15-16).

And what happens if we do? We become ensnared, we turn back, we do what seems right in our own eyes, we form worldly alliances that become a temptation and a trap, our hearts become stubborn, we cling to deceit, we exchange the truth of God for a lie, and we end up worshipping other gods.

Intermingling with the Culture
There are a lot of Scriptures that explain how people get caught up in the world. Psalm 106:35-

36 puts it this way:
"But they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs. They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them."

"You already know that you can’t serve both God and money, right? But that doesn’t stop us from trying, does it?"

The Apostle Paul put it this way: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?” (Galatians 5:7).

Two verses later, he answered his own question. The problem is, “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9).

And that leaves us where we are today. None of us planned to be in a prolonged recession. But here we are.

One of the essential questions you need to answer is, if applicable. “Do you understand how you got off track?”

Is the problem that you have lived by your own ideas? Did you make an idol? Did you believe a lie? Did you adopt worldly customs and get snared? Understanding the problem you need to solve is crucial.

If you are trying to solve the wrong problem, then you can only succeed by accident.

For a comprehensive look at how to solve the right problem—or understand how you got innocently caught up in this mess, go to and download a free PDF copy of How to Survive the Economic Meltdown—my gift to you.

Dr. Patrick MorleyAfter building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, Dr. Patrick Morley founded Man in the Mirror, a non-profit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the bestselling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.

1 C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1962), 15–16.

“Lord, I Want The Adventure…or Do I?”

By Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Recently, I have been in a spiritual funk. I know, the word “funk” is not very technical but it’s hard for me to fully explain what I’m dealing with. After years of drawing closer and closer in my walk with God, I suddenly have come upon a new period of “wilderness,” of testing. I admit this one caught me off-guard. I wasn’t ready for it. I thought that I would just continually move towards knowing the Lord better, praying for Him to make me a warrior for Him and that all would be hunky-dory. So, when suddenly my prayers felt distant and my time in the Word felt hollow; when my finances were less than my bills; when fasting produced little immediate results, I did what any self-respecting “warrior” for God would do: I panicked. I freaked out. I became fearful and began to doubt my ministry, my calling, my heart, my relationship with God, pretty much everything. I began to look for ways to take matters into my own hands. My family needed more finances so, surely, God would want me to look for a 2nd job, right? Hmmm…..maybe….but not if He wanted me to learn more about walking with Him in faith when things aren’t certain. Not if the Enemy began to notice that I’m truly serious about being God’s man and began a more aggressive campaign against me than ever before.

But, I want to be a warrior! Or, do I? I want to be in the adventure, God! Or, do I? I want to forego the mediocre life of religion and follow you into the wild unknown, Father! Or, do I? Do I, really? I think I do until times like this happen and the world seems dark and I cannot hear Him and I’m not sure what’s going to happen in the future and I wonder how I’m going to feed my children or pay the light bill or……(sigh)…until things get hard. I’m quite the warrior, eh?

Every great story has conflict, tension, trouble. Without that, the story wouldn’t be very interesting, would it? I mean, in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, if Frodo could have just marched right up to Mt. Doom, dropped the ring in the lava and went home to the Shire, that would have been far less interesting than the adventures he had. If Rocky could have gotten his title shot against an old, fat, boxer who couldn’t throw a punch anymore instead of the formidable Apollo Creed, there wouldn’t be much to watch, would there? In Les Miserable’s, if Jean Valjean could have just lived a normal life instead of constantly being hounded by Javert, where would the adventure be? The same goes for the story God is writing in our lives. There must be conflict, tension and hardship for the story to be compelling. Author Dan Allender calls these moments “inciting incidents”. I love this line from his book, To Be Told: “And inciting incidents will always intensify our desire to listen to what the story is telling us—unless the inciting incident happens in our own story. Often, when it occurs in our life, we want the story to be resolved and the problem solved—and quickly! We love stories as long as they happen to someone else.”

Isn’t this so true? It is, for me at least. I love the IDEA of being a warrior for God….of being part of a great adventure against the forces of evil that work against all that is good in our world. I WANT to be that man. But, when hardship hits me right where I live, I falter. I shrink back. I waffle. And I hate that about myself. I love a good story, except when I’m in the middle of it. Then, fear rears its ugly head and I struggle.

But, let me tell you something. I’m not going to quit. I am not going to settle for the ho-hum life of pew-sitting religion. I’m not going to stay down under the barrage of spiritual ballistics being sent my way. I’m going to keep praying, keep fasting, keep reading the Word and someday I believe God will mold me into the true warrior I want to be. I believe this because He needs more warriors. He needs more of us who strive with our hearts to face the fears that life throws our way. He needs warriors who hang in there in the face of adversity, believing that He will bring in the cavalry when we need it most, even when all seems lost. He needs men and women like the ones we see at “Helms Deep” in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. The warriors who knew they were outnumbered and were destined to fall to a stronger enemy. Those brave souls who were tempted to lose heart as they saw the battle going against them. Yes, the same warriors who fought anyway. The ones who decided that, if they were going to go down that they might as well go down fighting. But, remember, just as they prepared to swing their swords for the final time…..just as all hope of victory faded before them, the white wizard Gandalf appeared on the mountains above them…and he was not alone. The cavalry had arrived and thousands of soldiers swooped down from the side of the mountain into the fray, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. I LOVE that scene.

But, that would have never happened if the warriors who were holding Helms Deep had given up and surrendered. Had they lost hope and lowered their swords, all would have been lost.

So, I’m going to keep battling. Not because I’m trying to be a hero but because I want to be God’s man, even when I don’t like how that feels. Even when it means hardship and uncertainty. Even when it means facing the unknown and risking failure. I just cannot go back to lukewarm Christianity. My heart won’t allow it. And, so, even when discouragement pulls at my soul like a parasite, stealing my courage and threatening to empty my heart into despair, I must keep fighting and look to the Lord to sweep down off his mountain, with His angels at his side and believe that He will bring victory out of what I feel is a sure defeat.

He has done it before, you know, for all of us…on a lonely hill called Golgotha. On a day when Satan must have believed he had won and that he had condemned the human race to sure destruction. On that fateful Friday when he nailed the hands and feet of the Lord to a tree, he must have thought victory was his. Until the 3rd day….

So, dear reader, I cannot say all is well with me. I cannot say that I will go home and my checking account will suddenly be full. I cannot say I am not afraid. I can only say I’m going to keep fighting and have faith that God will show up. My hope is that you will take up that same banner and stay in the fight. If you have lost heart, I pray you will find the courage to keep going. If you have been wounded in the battle, I pray the Lord will tend your wounds and that you will fight on. And, I implore you, if you believe the fight is done, remember Helms Deep…or, better yet, remember the Cross. Victory will come for those who hold out to the last.

So, Lord….I really do want the adventure, even when it hurts. And, because I do, I’ll keep fighting until you bring in the cavalry, or should I say Calvary?

Laid Off, Propped Up, and Pressing Forward

by Barb Waldron

On December 29, 2009, I received a year end “gift” in the form of a layoff from my employer of 19 years. I was four months shy of my 20th anniversary with the company. On the surface, it was shocking, disarming, and unwelcome, but much deeper below, and higher above, God was working out a greater plan for my life. Now, a few weeks removed, I am better, not bitter, and write this article with the hope that my experience can offer some practical insights to help you, or someone you know, cope with being terminated from a job. This was my second time being laid off and I had once before been fired. Each separation was hard to handle at the time, but they all brought me a “gift” that changed my life.

What about you? Are your hands clenched in fists of anger, torturously cupped over your face in disbelief, or perhaps sorrowfully placed at your side; or are your hands held open to receive this news that allows you to begin a new chapter of your life? Allow yourself to move through the grief process. That is important. Most likely, you will experience shock, denial, anger, bargaining, and will finally arrive at acceptance. Take the time you need for each stage, but be careful to be a “visitor” not a “resident” so you don’t get hung up there. The more energy you place on accepting your layoff, the quicker you will be able to rebuild your life. You will learn not just to survive, but thrive, by implementing some valuable tools and using helpful resources. The strategy I used follows. I hope this information can help you or someone you care about.

One of the best resources you can secure immediately is a downloadable book called “The Layoff Survival Guide,” by Nancy Collamer. Nancy is a career consultant who compiled the resource after her husband was laid off. Go to Be sure to click on “what to do in the first 72 hours.” Everything from filing for unemployment compensation to how to tell your family, Nancy has designed a highly practical, resource-rich volume which will guide you well. Be sure to visit her career coaching blog and sign up for her free e-newsletter at

It is extremely important to create a vision for what you want your new life to look like. Even if it is etched on your mind through tears, come up with an image of yourself doing work you love. Then you can begin working toward that. Focus on your possibilities, not the limitations. Develop confidence in yourself and don’t give in to fear. Surround yourself with people who encourage and believe in you and who can cheer you on. This sets the stage for success. Write down your vision and post it everywhere within eyeshot.

In terms of chronology, the first activity I engaged in after my layoff was physical exercise. I was let go at 5pm and by 7pm I was at the gym at a Pilates class. One of the best decisions you can make after a layoff is to take care of yourself physically – eat well, keep your energy up, and get the exercise and rest you need so you can handle the mental and emotional requirements you are about to undergo.

A quick note on the physical impact of a layoff - take your time as you move through your daily activities. You may feel awkward and uncoordinated physically. Your mind all of a sudden has shifted into a panic/fear-type of overdrive. The body reacts to that stress. My complexion broke out in painful acne and I even stumbled sometimes while I walked. I was disoriented! Breathe deeply, think positively, and allow yourself to recover. Hold a simple statement in your mind which eases your thoughts, such as “keep things simple,” “what’s good about today?” “what’s possible now?” “discard the unnecessary” - whatever works for you! A good resource to help you is a “Choice Map” created by Dr. Marilee Adams, author of “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life.” Look it up at

Keeping a daily routine is important – otherwise you could get lodged in depression. I found myself sleeping more than usual, but I had been sleep-deprived for several months. Working a full time job while doing a counseling internship, going to night school, and serving in ministry at my church all required time and energy. While all of these activities were important, I was exhausted. The layoff afforded me time to rest. Be sure you get up in the morning, create a new routine while you look for work, and get to sleep at night. You may have heard it said, “Finding your new job, is now your full-time job.” It’s true! Use your time well. I started my job search by visiting local companies in the same office building where I worked. This may not be right for everyone, but it was comforting to me in a way. I enjoyed finding out about local businesses who had been my “neighbors” for so many years while I didn’t even realize it. Get out there and meet people! Research companies online and even consult the phone book to find companies that do work you believe in. Ask if they are hiring. You never know what possibilities lay beyond the “traditional” job search methods. Join local networking groups. I became active in New Beginnings which meets the 2nd and 4th Monday of each month at Deer Run Country Club (look up New Beginnings CFL on Facebook), and the Christian Chamber of Commerce ( Find organizations which share your values and can help promote your career.

Another good book to help you is “Get The Job You Want, Even When No One’s Hiring: Take Charge of Your Career, Find a Job You Love, and Earn What You Deserve” by Ford R. Myers. If you look this up on, you will find a short video by Mr. Myers with 5 valuable job search tips. I also came across a book entitled, “The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks” by Dr. Al Siebert. Check it out!

There are numerous FREE online career assessments to help you discover your strengths. Some of these include;;; Some of these offer free e-newsletters which may help you with your job search.

If you are considering starting your own business………….check out Florida Barter (

Connect with your new leaders. What circle are you in, or do you aspire to be a part of? As a graduate student intern at The LifeWorks Group, contacting the founder of our agency, Dwight Bain, was a critical first step in my first day of unemployment. Dwight met with me, offered valuable advice, a heartfelt prayer, and a promise of his support. It was like a “changing of the guards” in my life. Out with the old (12/29/09), in with the new (12/30/09 and beyond). What leaders do you need to get in touch with, or mentors would it be valuable to connect with? If you have no one, this is a time to find someone! Make that a priority for your first week. It will set the tone for your future.

Re-discover what brings you pleasure. Most of us expend a great deal of personal and psychological energy at work and don’t realize how drained we are. Fill up again! What do you enjoy? Sports, music, baking, cooking, hunting, target practice, reading, taking a class? Even taking a drive to somewhere you’ve never been, or going for a walk and really noticing nature and breathing in the fresh air, can be rewarding.

Check out your conversations with your loved ones. My husband was immensely supportive during this transition. But I found myself misinterpreting certain things he said, due to my own fears. For instance, he said something about taking a couple of days off, then moving ahead. I zoned in on the “move ahead” piece and did not think he trusted me to get back to work fast enough. Foolish me! He was emphasizing the need for me to take a couple of days to really experience this loss. Do yourself a favor and keep clear communication with your loved ones.

One of the greatest and simplest tools to help you bounce back and begin creating your new life is to write! Start journaling. Write about anything! There is a therapeutic benefit of release when we write. If you’re not sure where to begin, write about what you learned and contributed at your last job and where you envision yourself going from here. Just write!

Identify what you are missing and/or mourning. For me, it was the loss of influence. I was a trusted employee who inspired others to give their best each day, and demonstrated an interest in employees’ families and lives outside of work. Fortunately, simultaneous to this career in corporate America, I was also doing a counseling internship at The LifeWorks Group. Therefore, I was able to continue being an influence in other people’s lives. Give yourself an avenue to continue giving what you do best. If your self-image is broken, find a book to build you back up and put your life back together. When I was fired from a job in North Carolina in 1987, after moving to Florida with my husband’s job relocation, my supervisor at The Orlando Sentinel gave each of the employees in the classified advertising department an abridged version of “The Power of Positive Thinking,” by Norman Vincent Peale. I would cling to those pages each morning and literally “read back into my being” my self-worth and self-esteem. I still carry a copy of it in my purse, and share this resource with clients often.

One of the greatest and kindest things you can do for yourself is to watch a few funny movies. Whether you rent, already own, or borrow from a friend or the library, get a hold of at least 3 good, funny movies the week you are laid off. It will clear your head of saturating self-thoughts.

Find new ways to shop. In early December, we donated a TV to Goodwill. I now shop there. I also started clipping coupons immediately. Look for coupons online! There are tons of ways to save money. ALDI is a new discount grocery store in our area. Shop for needs, not your wants. This downshifting can actually be quite liberating. Try bartering with your friends and neighbors. How can you help each other? Get creative! You will save money and build relationships in the process. You can even hold a garage sale and make some extra money.

Your thought life. This is where the battle is won or lost for your future. If you wake up in the morning and your mind is flooded with emotions and thoughts, such as “I could have done,” “I should have said,” (I did this for a while) - you are focusing on regrets. Allow yourself to shift into some possibility thinking, such as, “Today I will do….see….become….discover….etc.” You fill in the blank. Keep it present and future-focused. With my layoff the truth was, my time was up. In the words of a gracious associate at our local Cracker Barrell who explained how she got through her divorce: “Why fight something that isn’t there?” I cannot emphasize enough: limit your negative thoughts and condemning self-talk inside your head. Notice how much time you spend in the “negative thought zone.” What percentage of your day? If it is 50%, cut that down to 25%, and concentrate it all at one time, saturating your mind by dwelling only on the negative. The other 75% of your day is dedicated to positive. Cut that 25% down gradually to 20%, 15%, etc. Turn over the greater percentage of your day to focusing on what’s possible and/or what’s positive in your life. Intentionally replace negative thoughts with positive ones and reprogram your mind to work FOR you, not against you! Caution: it is crucial to evaluate the influence of people around you in your life, especially at a time like this. Are they mostly negative and berating, or are they uplifting and encouraging? Are they naysayers or overcomers? I heard it said one time, if you want to know what your life will look like in 5 years, just take a look at the people you associate with. Your life will become what theirs is now. Think about it!

Hold at bay any bitterness toward your employer. Business decisions are made. You now have the power to make new decisions for your life. Focus on that! Intentionally keep yourself from commiserating with or socializing with employees from your former company who have a negative attitude. That is destructive. My layoff came during the holiday season, a tremendous time of giving and forgiving. I chose to view the decision makers in my termination as “change agents” helping me launch a new future. Those leaders were my “flight crew” at one time. That flight arrived at its destination at 4:58pm on 12/29/09 and I disembarked. There is another adventure in the making and a new career taking flight. Let go of the past, make peace with your present, and embrace your new destination (even if you are still, so to speak, in the airport terminal, wondering which flight to board and discovering where your next connecting flight will take you!)

Develop a network of future connections. Based on your areas of interest or job search criteria, find out what networks are available to you. The photographer who did my professional portrait for counseling referred me to New Beginnings, a bi-monthly business building luncheon. Get out there and meet people whom you can help and who can also help you.

Look for meaning in the messages coming your way. We still had a trickle of Christmas cards and thank you notes for gifts received coming to our mailbox the first couple of weeks I was newly unemployed. Those positive messages were all-the-more treasured and significant to me. A group of friends from work wanted to have lunch with me. Eight of them came and I was thrilled. They circulated a farewell card at the office so I had numerous employees’ contact information to stay in touch.

Harvard professor and social psychologist Dan Gilbert created a 6 hour miniseries for PBS called “This Emotional Life” which discusses what helps us find happiness. The overwhelming conclusion is: social connections – having people to share life with makes us happy. Get in touch with people who matter to you.

Most companies have a mission statement, vision, and core values. You left behind a belief system at your employer. Wake up with a new personal creed resonating in your mind and carry that thought throughout the day and into this next chapter of your life. Start with some keywords such as: “I believe…I stand for…I will fight for…”

Take a step back – what is this layoff affording you to do? For me, it became a time of focus, strengthening, studying, connecting with leaders, business owners and community members, and learning how to be successful as a counselor. I am deepening my relationships with my husband and family. I am getting closer to God through prayer and reading the Bible in a year (3-4 chapters daily). I am changing! This is priceless. The layoff is enabling me to exercise more, go outdoors during the day, do teleseminars during the week, attend business-building lunches and make connections with people who can help me launch my new career. This is prep work, pure and simple. We all need it. Think of your layoff and losses that come with it as training for your future.

My employer laid me off, friends and family propped me up, and now I am able to press forward into a new life of possibilities and adventure.

Tomorrow is my one month anniversary of the layoff. I plan to celebrate by having dinner with my husband and another couple we enjoy spending time with, followed by going to Phantom of the Opera at our local theater. It’s important to savor time and make new memories. Find a way to celebrate this new life of yours – even if it’s a simple peanut butter and jelly picnic while enjoying a free concert. It’s all what you make it. Make the best of it, and you will have no regrets.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

13 Tools for Resolving Conflict in the Workplace and in Life

by Lee Jay Berman, Mediator

Conflict happens. It is inevitable. It is going to happen whenever you have people with different expectations. This makes conflict management critical, whether avoiding arguments, disputes, lasting conflict or ultimately, litigation. Conflict can be avoided if steps are taken early in a discussion to diffuse anger and facilitate communication, and it can be resolved by applying a series of thoughtfully applied steps. As a full-time mediator and trainer in the fields of negotiation and conflict resolution, I see conflict in its final stages - full blown litigation or on the verge of it in pre-litigation mode. What I have learned in seeing these disputes for 10 years is that most of them could have been resolved in the earliest stages if the people involved applied some of the skills that mediators use to resolve conflict. And wouldn't it be great if companies could resolve these disputes before each side spent hundreds of thousands in litigation costs, before the employee was terminated or before the customer or working relationship was gone forever? Here are some tools for avoiding and resolving disputes in the early stages, before they become full-blown conflicts:

1. Stay Calm.

Thomas Jefferson said, "Nothing gives one so much advantage over another as to remain always cool and unruffled under all circumstances." The thing that leads to conflict is escalation. What starts people escalating is their anger. Most of us stop listening to understand as we get angry. Instead, we start listening in order to argue back. Remaining calm is essential for performing these tools. To remain calm, it helps to look at the big picture. If you think about it, most every dispute gets resolved eventually. So when conflict inevitably happens, it is helpful to stop and think that, chances are, it is going to be resolved eventually. As such, why not begin problem solving now? Finally, it is a fact that in our busy lives with rush hour traffic, cell phones, PDAs, overfilled e-mail boxes, too many clients and not enough support, that we are all a little more stressed than we would like to be. When a conflict arises, one of the most beneficial things you can do is to ask yourself, "What might I be bringing to the dispute?" We can usually look at another person and figure that maybe he/she had a conflict at home or that he/she has been under tremendous pressure. However, we are not usually self-aware enough to ask ourselves what we might have going on. It is important in avoiding later embarrassment by checking in with our own personal boiling point before responding.

2. Listen to Understand.

Now, picture a dispute in which you were recently involved. Maybe it was this morning leaving the house, with a co-worker or client or even with a family member. As you replay that experience, ask yourself how much listening was going on. My bet is that any listening was only being done to formulate an argument back to prove your point. When most of us get into a dispute, the first thing we do is stop listening. The only way to settle a dispute or solve any kind of a problem is to listen carefully to what the other person is saying. Perhaps they will surprise you with reason, or their point is actually true. In the mediations that I do, I often learn what people's underlying interests are by letting them go on and on telling their perspective of an issue until they give me the one thing that is standing in the way of them resolving it. They may start out by degrading the product and personalizing it by saying those of us who delivered it are all incompetent, but I find that this is little more than their anger speaking. What they really want is their product fixed, not to insult us personally.

Psychologists tell us that anger is a secondary emotion and that it is usually triggered as a defense mechanism to cover up hurt or fear. When someone is angry, there is usually some hurt or fear that he/she is embarrassed about, or perhaps even unaware of because the anger is so all consuming. In order to diffuse people's anger, you must listen to them. Hear them out. Let them go until they have run out of gas. Let them vent as long as they can until they begin to calm down. You then will see a person start to slow down some, and begin to feel safe enough to finally tell you that what frustrated him or her so much was that the salesperson never returned any phone calls, and/or the customer service person kept trying to place blame elsewhere, rather than taking responsibility and apologizing for the product being unacceptable.

The best thing you can do to get people to the point where they are willing to show some vulnerability and trust you with some of the real reasons why they are upset is to engage in "Active Listening." Active listening means giving them active physical and verbal signs that you are with them and understand what they are saying. Simple things like nodding and saying, "Uh huh" or "OK, go on" can make the speaker feel as if his/her story is welcomed by you and that you want to continue. On the phone, people hear dead silence and cannot read your reaction to their complaints and thoughts. Given that we all sometimes fear the worst, people tend to shut down and stop feeling it is safe to continue telling their story.

My friend and colleague Jim Melamed, a divorce mediator and trainer based in Eugene, Ore., said: "You cannot effectively move toward conflict resolution until each participant experiences him/herself to be fully heard with regard to their perspective - what they want and why." That means, if someone says that the product he/she bought from you is unacceptable, and they are interrupted and asked what would be acceptable before they have finished telling all about the problem, that person gets the message that all you want to do is fix the problem. The impression is that you do not care about them or the problem you had with your product, and that can feel a little like being swept under the carpet. A good customer service person in a situation like this would let the client finish before asking if there were any other problems. This may seem counter-intuitive because it might bring on even more of the same, but this is what you want. People build trust as they are listened to. If they had another problem with the delivery timing or any other facet of the transaction, this is when you need to hear it - at the outset, not later once you feel as if you have met all of their original concerns. The only way to solve a problem is to get all of the broken pieces on the table at once before you begin trying to "glue it back together."

The most useful phrases in this part of the process (what mediators call the "Opening Statement") are questions such as, "Can I ask you - what about that bothered you so much?" or "What about that was so important to you?" These invite people to go deeper into the problem and tell you what the "real" problem is. Usually, this is where you hear that their boss is upset and they are afraid for their job or some underlying concern. This is a problem that might be handled with something as simple as a letter of apology, from you, the salesman or the president of your company, addressed to them with a copy to their boss, taking full responsibility and apologizing for the problem. Then, you will have a customer you might be able to keep.

3. Accentuate the Positive.

It is important to find some commonalities, or create them, between you and the person on the other end. It is helpful and empathetic to say, "Oh boy, I know what you are going through. I've had a similar situation just recently. Let me see what I can do about this." This serves to normalize the situation. It tells someone that he/she is not the only one who has gone through this and that his or her reaction to it is normal. That calms people right away.

4. State Your Case Tactfully.

The key here is to help people understand your perspective on things without making them defensive. To the extent you can disarm them, they will be more able to hear what you are really saying. A couple of tips are to own what is yours - apologize for what you or your team did wrong and do it first. This enables them to hear what you have to say next. Also, try not to state issues of difference as fact. Leave a little benefit of the doubt. Rather than insisting something arrived on schedule, it is better to acknowledge any room for doubt by acknowledging, "My information shows them arriving on schedule. I'll have to take a closer look into this." While you may still be right, clearly you have to gather more information to convince them of that, and if you are not right, then you do not have to apologize for misstating things. It also is helpful to state your position along with your interests. What that means is that instead of maintaining that there is nothing wrong with your product, which is purely argumentative and does not offer any support for your position, it is better to offer something helpful, such as providing another perspective by sending someone over to inspect the product in person. That way, the customer can show and describe exactly why the product is not working as necessary. Your position is the bottom line of what you are willing to do. Your interests are the reasons behind that decision. For example, it might be your position that you cannot take any product back or rescind the contract. However, your reason for that - your interest - may be that your bonus is tied directly to your returns, and that you have every incentive in the world to solve this problem another way. You may also offer what some of those things are, so that you are not just taking away something from them or denying their request, but offering positive alternatives in its place.

One way to do this is to use "I Messages." An "I" message sounds like, "When you didn't come home last night, your father and I got really worried. What we would like you to do next time is call if you're going to be late, so that we know you're OK because we love you and care about you." That is how most of our parents were when we were teenagers, right? Seriously, can you imagine how we would have reacted if they had put it this way instead of the scenario we remember of being grounded for life while stomping off to bed? "I" messages are important because they describe the experience through the speaker's eyes, rather than simply the position (in this case the punishment). That disarms the person you are speaking to, and it takes the fight out of their next statement back to you.

5. Attack the Problem, Not the Person.

Your points will be heard more clearly if you can depersonalize your comments and point only at the issue. Rather than accusing people of "always messing things up," it is better to say, "We'll have to take a closer look at why this keeps happening." In most statements that we make in a dispute, we are fighting with our own anger and are tempted to put a zinger into the point we are trying to get across. You will be heard better and improve your chances of resolving the issue the way you want if you can catch yourself and take the zinger out. Obviously, this is easier with e-mail and requires great concentration when in a face-to-face disagreement.

6. Avoid the Blame Game.

Assigning blame is only helpful in one instance in problem solving - if you assign it to yourself. Generally speaking, figuring out whose fault something is does not do any good if the goal is to fix a problem. It is a diversion and sometimes a costly one because if a person feels blamed, he/she often checks out of a conversation. The trick to resolving clashes is to focus on problem solving, rather than pointing fingers. Focus on what you and the others can do to solve a problem and make it better, and it will be behind you before you know it.

7. Focus on the Future, Not the Past.

In the past tense, we have the purchase order, the contract, the agreement and the deal as it was understood by all involved. The present and future tenses are where the solution ends. Rather than focusing on what went wrong or who should have done what, the secret to dispute resolution is to treat it like problem solving and focus on what can be done to resolve the problem. Once that is done, companies can look to the past tense to analyze what went wrong and how to improve quality control and efficiency. However, when there is a problem that has an angry customer or a disgruntled employee, the solution is all that anyone is interested in.

8. Ask the Right Kind of Questions.

Questions such as "Why is that?" or "What did you think it would be?" make a person who you are talking to defensive. They inherently question the person's judgment or opinion, as well as coming off as curt. More often that not, people ask these short, direct questions, the type that can sound like a police officer's interrogation or a lawyer's cross-examination. These questions are designed to get just what you want from someone, rather than to permit them to tell you what they want you to know about something.If you want someone to answer you with real information, rather than just arguing back, it is best to give them a little information first. For example, "Since I don't have a copy of the P.O. in front of me, it would help me to investigate this if you could tell me more about how the colors on your order are described." Telling them why you are asking, puts your intent first, so they don't have to guess it. This questioning style tells a person that you are trying to do your job and to figure out some facts to get to reach a solution. By delivering your request in a poised and attentive tone, , it makes the person you are asking less defensive and gets you more of what you want. The other type of question that is especially helpful when you are trying to gather information is an open-ended question. These are the opposite of directive questions, and they invite the other person to tell you what he or she thinks is important about the situation. "Can you tell me what happened from the beginning?" or "Sounds as if this was really frustrating for you" can give you information that you might later use to problem solve.

9. Pick Your Battles.

It is also important when asking questions to remember to Pick Your Battles. Human nature makes us want to be right, even to the point of being defensive or arguing points that do not matter in the big picture. It is even fair game to ask the other person, "On a scale of one-to-10, how important is this issue to you?" If an issue is a five to you and a nine to the person you are talking to, it is best to give that point up and use the same scale when an item is really important to you. After all, business relations are, like my brother's future father-in-law once told him about marriage, a "60-60 proposition." Most people think it is supposed to be 50-50, but the truth is, when adjusted for each person's perspective on how much they givevs. how much they receive, it really is a 60-60 proposition. Another marital proposition is also helpful here, do you want to be right, or do you want to be happy?

10. Link Offers.

Car salesmen do this all the time. They ask you what you want your monthly payment to be and then set the price of the car and the interest rate on the loan or lease so that they can match your monthly payment. Essentially, it's a way of saying, "I can either do this or that, which would be better for you?" It really is just sales skills - giving people the choice between two positives, so that they feel as if you are trying to help.

11. Be Creative.

Brainstorm. Remember that everything is negotiable. Feel free to think outside of the box in order to expand the pie. Make it so that no idea is too far fetched. Being creative with resolutions takes longer, but can yield a true win-win solution. The best solution to a dispute is to get more business out of it. As such, one common problem-solving technique is to propose that instead of a cash refund, giving clients a deep discount on future orders in order to show what a good job you are capable of doing for them. Many of the lawsuits I settle come away with win-win solutions, where instead of just compromising, we actually collaborate to reach a solution that benefits everyone. This requires listening when asking the open-ended questions and gathering morsels of good information that you will later use to formulate proposals that meet their interests. For example, you might learn about particulars that affected an order. From here, you can propose creative solutions that replace things such as broken items, or instead of using the money to re-do the entire order, you can use less money to ship a few dozen shirts with their logo on them so that your counterpart can look like a hero in front of the boss. These kinds of fixes make clients look good and keep them loyal to you, even after an initial dispute.

12. Be Confident.

You can do this! Many people are afraid of confrontation and shy away from it. I have taught everyone, from housewives and high school grads to named senior partners in law firms and CEOs, how to do these simple steps. The process works. All you have to do is follow the steps.

Furthermore, you must do this. Now that you have these tools, it is imperative that you do something about it. You owe it to your customers and your co-workers.

13. Celebrate Agreement!

This kind of negotiation is a hard process. It requires two people to remain in an uncomfortable, potentially confrontational position for a long time to rebuild trust and be creative while trying to figure out the best, rather than the fastest, solution. Once it is accomplished, both you and the person you are talking to deserve a good pat on the back. There is nothing wrong with going to lunch or dinner to celebrate the resolution of a dispute that could have been destructive, but that ended with a win-win solution where everyone was satisfied. This is an important process for avoiding more serious disputes such as lawsuits and losing hard-earned customers. Congratulate yourself and your partner in this solution. After all, nothing is more important than your company and its survival. Nothing is better for your company's survival than learning to make peace and resolve the inevitable disputes that will arise. Learn to cultivate peace with customers, suppliers, employees, labor and management.

Utilizing these tools takes patience and generally requires changing old behaviors. However, if people on the front lines, in human resources, customer service and client relations, use simple tools such as these, they would resolve most disputes at that level, keeping them out of the legal department and out of the mediator's office.

Mediation resource reposted with permission from:

Mean Girls- Understanding the psychological issues behind Mother/Daughter Conflict

By: Dwight Bain, Nationally Certified Counselor & Certified Life Coach

Moms & daughters. Why is it that sometimes they can’t stand to be apart- and other times they can’t stand each other? One of the most complex, challenging, confusing as well as rewarding and meaningful relationships in life can be found between mothers and their daughters. This psychological tension could occur early as early as childhood or be delayed until the teen years, and in extreme cases create problems for decades. At its worst, the friction and fights generated by these conflicts can destroy a relationship for good and even ripple into serious damage that could break a family apart.

Understanding what is causing the conflict in a home is the beginning of solving the problem. When a young woman is engaged in a battle with her mother over power and control their home can become a war-zone.

The five most common conflict styles that surface during the journey from girl to young woman are listed below. Once you identify the traits that seem to describe the tension in your home, skip down to use the parenting strategies as well as what to do to directly cope with conflict and bring peace back to your home.

1) KIA- Know it all's
Method: Showing disrespect through continual arguments to degrade and discredit their mother as an authority on anything, especially being a parent.

Mood: Bossy, harsh, critical, aloof and continual verbal conflict. (Mood worsens as Mom attempts to confront her behavior).
Message: "I'm in control of my life, you can't tell me what to do- so don't even try. Wake up and smell the coffee Mom- you’re an idiot."
Motivation: (Arrogance from self-Authority)

2) Drama Queens
Method: Dressing like a fully "grown up" woman with sophistication on the outside; while underneath acting like a spoiled little girl with self-serving behavior. (Princess)
Mood: Changes instantly with no predictability. Weepy and screaming one minute, then brooding or giggly the next. Loud with continual demands for more!
Message: "I want to look like I just stepped out of a clothing catalog, but really I’m scared to death inside. Watch out! Next mood swing- two minutes!"
Motivation: (Approval through Adult Acting)

3) Tough Chicks
Method: Attacking mom with aggression and meanness, this pushes her away, but also continually punishes mom as the one closest person in her life.

Mood: Dark, evil, hateful, spiteful, bitter or extreme. Use of gutter talk and lifestyle are common ways to add to the hurt directed to Mom. This often includes the lifestyle of “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll”, Gothic, or whatever will tick their mom's off the most.
Message: "Get the *#*&%* out of my way you sorry *#%&*. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you! Please don't ever leave me!"
Motivation: (Attacking to prove Acceptance)

4) Lost Girls

Method: Driven for acceptance, particularly from young men, while over reaching for relationship with mom. (Note- this behavior is often tied to the absent father syndrome that occurs in homes where the dad leaves after divorce, or is gone all the time at work).

(Lonely & Longing)

Mood: Nice, naughty, needy or seductive, passive-aggressive, codependent, compliant, fearful, clingy, chameleon in all settings, but never the real person inside because she doesn’t know who she really is.

Message: "I'll do whatever a guy wants me to do or be whoever he wants me to be, as long as he doesn't let go!"

Motivation: (Acceptance from Anyone who cares)

5) Good Girls
Method: Dodging mom with busy activity and lots of "yes ma'am" talk but never letting mom get close enough to see what’s really going on.

(Yes Mom…)
Mood: Distant, casual, deception, socially acceptable- perhaps even friendly at times- but you are never allowed inside to see the heart. Or the hurt she hides.
Message: "I'll play by the rules to keep the peace, but cannot wait to get out of this house and be away from you witch!"
Motivation: (Avoidance through Activity)

► Frequently asked questions about mother/daughter conflict:

When do these mother/daughter conflicts show up and when are they the hardest to deal with?

(The patterns can be identified in late childhood, around age 7-8, but are definitely the worst at age 15-16 when things can become completely chaotic and out of control. Sadly as an older teen, dangerous and impulsive choices can occur that result in permanent damage or death, like some of the tragic car accidents you hear about in the news when a teen girl breaks all the rules of safe driving and it seriously injures her or even sometimes may cost her life).

Is it possible to have more than one of these mother/daughter conflict styles going at the same time?

(Sadly, yes and the more conflict dynamics going at the same time, the harder it is to stabilize and treat to bring stability back to the home).

Why do daughters do these terrible things to their Mom?

(Lots of factors seem to complicate and influence this hurtful behavior from daughters to their mothers; however the biggest issues are listed below).

- Negative peer pressure from other girls and especially from the influence of older guys who seem to have unusual power over impressionable girls who are younger.

- Experimentation with drugs, alcohol or other forms of substance abuse, which can cause a child to act totally differently toward family members. Remember, parental denial is a subconscious reaction to prevent the parent from feeling the pain of discovery, but research shows that teens are actually into substances 6 times more often than their parents believe. Secrets, lies, cover-ups and sudden changes in behavior are warning signs of dangerous behavior changes that may require immediate attention.

- Cultural and society pressure to be "perfectly" beautiful or thin, and the often dramatic shift in a girls behavior because of the secretive life that comes from Anorexia, Bulimia or compulsive overeating disorders.

- Media pressures to act like a thirty year old female in charge of her life and new found sexuality instead of a teenaged girl. (e.g. television shows like “Sex and the City”, “Friends”, and many "chick flick" films portray this message as well, which is easily misinterpreted by teens who are confused as to how a grown up woman should act).

- The need to feel in control of one's life as part of discovering one's identity in adolescence. This is normal, but really complicated in broken, blended or dysfunctional families where the girl doesn't feel connected, or feels lost and unattached to her family.

Can Mom's make a difficult situation like the ones you have described worse and not even know it?

(Mom's are often the closest human connection to a teen, who is trying to figure out how to be an adult. The girl part of her wants to take control of her future by experimenting with new feelings and attitudes, which is a normal and healthy emotion in young women on the journey to adulthood. However, if a Mom steps in with a parenting style that feels "smothering" to the teen, Rebellion is worsened if a Mom isn't tuned into her daughter’s changes and reacts with the appropriate parenting style. This is seriously complicated when a dad is absent; either through divorce, workaholism or addiction to sports or TV; as well as the number of other children that Mom may be parenting or number of other jobs she works!)

Can’t do it alone!

Mom's have an IMPOSSIBLE job! I believe that God never designed for a mom to parent alone, so if the dad isn't involved, one of the first steps is to actively try and draw in a girls father to then reach out to protect and guide his daughter. Mom's can never replace a dad, nor should they try. That's why it’s so important for girls to see healthy role models and have access to other safe adults, especially a trusted woman like a relative, teacher or coach during these years when it may be really difficult sometimes to connect to their own Mom.

So what can we do to begin to rebuild and restore mothers and daughters?

Take positive action now to address the issues that you may have identified in this special report. Don't wait another minute to reach out to rebuild this lifelong relationship!

► Mother/Daughter Conflict Strategy:

To connect a daughter into healthy family relationships and guide her to become a strong young woman, she needs to receive the five elements of becoming a confident young woman. These are the areas for both mothers and fathers to focus on giving to their daughter in her journey to become successful as an adult.

1) Acceptance- From the people closest to her, no matter what she may have said or done in the past. There are always consequences for behavior, which can always be connected to the unconditional love from her family.

2) Approval- In spite of all of her teen insecurities, imperfections, fears and failures, which she feels like she is drowning in sometimes.

3) Affection- Gentle, tender, kindness and love from safe people in her family and life. She needs healthy touch during these years more than ever!

4) Authority- Giving up control to accept the leading of her parents, mentors, coaches and teachers as safe places of guidance, love and support.

5) Accountable- Following the logical consequences of her actions with responsible attitudes to develop strength and character.

Remember, whatever steps you take to build a better relationship with your daughter is worth it for now and forever! No matter how mean she might appear to be today, don’t lose sight of the importance of keeping a connected relationship at home, and if that seems impossible, then know there are dozens of people available to help your daughter move from the stress of being a mean girl to becoming a young woman who makes meaningful choices out of her God given strength.

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 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, (Copyright, 2004-2010), To subscribe to this valuable counseling and coaching resource visit or call 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.

We Have to Talk: A Step-By-Step Checklist for Difficult Conversations

by Judy Ringer

Think of a conversation you’ve been putting off. Got it? Great. Then let’s go.
There are dozens of books on the topic of difficult, crucial, challenging, important (you get the idea) kinds of conversations. Those times when you know you should talk to someone, but you don’t. Maybe you’ve tried before and it went badly. Or maybe you fear that talking will only make the situation worse. Still, there’s a feeling of being stuck, and you’d like to free up that stuck energy for more useful purposes. There are many well-written and informative books on how to have these important, crucial, and difficult conversations. At the end of the article, I list them. Get at least one and read it. They’re all great.

What you have here is a brief synopsis of best practice strategies: a checklist of action items to think about before going into the conversation; some useful concepts to practice during the conversation; and some tips and suggestions to help you’re energy stay focused and flowing, including possible conversational openings.

You’ll notice one key theme throughout: you have more power than you think.

Working on yourself: How to prepare for the conversation Before going into the conversation, ask yourself some questions:

1. What is your purpose for having the conversation? What do you hope to accomplish? What would be an ideal outcome?

You may think you have honorable goals, like educating an employee or increasing connection with your teen, only to notice that your language is excessively critical or condescending. You think you want to support, but you end up punishing. Some purposes are more useful than others. Work on yourself so that you enter the conversation with a supportive purpose.

2. What assumptions are you making about this person’s intentions? You may feel intimidated, belittled, ignored, disrespected, or marginalized, but be cautious about assuming that that was their intention. Impact does not necessarily equal intent.

3. What “buttons” of yours are being pushed? Are you more emotional than the situation warrants? Take a look at your “backstory,” as they say in the movies. What personal history is being triggered? You may still have the conversation, but you’ll go into it knowing that some of the heightened emotional state has to do with you.

4. How is your attitude toward the conversation influencing your perception of it? If you think this is going to be horribly difficult, it probably will be. If you truly believe that whatever happens, some good will come of it, that will likely be the case. Try to adjust your attitude for maximum effectiveness.

5. Who is the opponent? What might they be thinking about this situation? Are they aware of the problem? If so, how do you think they perceive it? What are their needs and fears? What solution do you think they would suggest? Begin to reframe the opponent as partner.

6. What are your needs and fears? Are there any common concerns? Could there be?

7. How have you contributed to the problem? How have they?

4 Steps to a Successful Outcome

The majority of the work in any conflict conversation is work you do on yourself. No matter how well the conversation begins, you’ll need to stay in charge of yourself, your purpose and your emotional energy.

Breathe, center, and continue to notice when you become off-center – and choose to return again.This is where your power lies. By choosing the calm, centered state, you’ll help your opponent/partner to be more centered, too.

Centering is not a step; centering is how you are as you take the steps. (For more on Centering, see the Resource section at the end of the article.)

Step #1:Inquiry

Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity. Pretend you don’t know anything (you really don’t), and try to learn as much as possible about your opponent/partner and their point of view. Pretend you’re entertaining a visitor from another planet, and find out how things look on that planet, how certain events affect them, and what the values and priorities are there.

If they really were from another planet, you’d be watching their body language and listening for the unspoken energy as well. Do that here. What do they really want? What are they not saying?

Let them talk until they’re finished. Don’t interrupt except to acknowledge. Whatever you hear, don’t take it personally. It’s not really about you. Try to learn as much as you can in this phase of the conversation. You’ll get your turn, but don’t rush it.

Step #2:Acknowledgment

Acknowledgment means to show that you’ve heard and understood. Try to understand them so well you can make their argument for them. Then do it. Explain back to them what you think they’re really going for. Guess at their hopes and honor their position. They won’t change unless they see that you see where they stand. Then they might. No guarantees.

Acknowledge whatever you can, including your own defensiveness if it comes up. It’s fine; it just is. You can decide later how to address it.

For example, in an argument with a friend I said: “I notice I’m becoming defensive, and I think it’s because your voice just got louder and sounded angry. I just want to talk about this topic. I’m not trying to persuade you in either direction.” The acknowledgment helped him (and me) to recenter.

Acknowledgment can be difficult if we associate it with agreement. Keep them separate. My saying, “this sounds really important to you,” doesn’t mean I’m going to go along with your decision.

Step #3:Advocacy

When you sense that they’ve expressed all their energy on the topic, it’s your turn. What can you see from your perspective that they’ve missed? Help clarify your position without minimizing theirs.

For example: “From what you’ve told me, I can see how you came to the conclusion that I’m not a team player. And I think I am. When I introduce problems with a project, I’m thinking about its long-term success. I don’t mean to be a critic, though perhaps I sound like one. Maybe we can talk about how to address these issues so that my intention is clear.”

Step #4:Problem-Solving

Now you’re ready to begin building solutions. Brainstorming is useful, and continued inquiry. Ask your opponent/partner what they think would work. Whatever they say, find something that you like and build on it.

If the conversation becomes adversarial, go back to inquiry. Asking for the other’s point of view usually creates safety, and they’ll be more willing to engage.

If you’ve been successful in centering, adjusting your attitude, and in engaging with inquiry and useful purpose, building sustainable solutions will be easy.

Practice, practice, practice! The art of conversation is like any art – with continued practice you acquire skill and ease.

You, too, can create better working and family relationships, ease communication problems and improve the quality of your work and home environment. You’re on the way, and here are some additional hints:

Tips and suggestions

•A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.
•Acknowledge emotional energy – yours and theirs – and direct it towards a useful purpose.
•Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments.
•Don’t take verbal attacks personally. Help your opponent/partner come back to center.
•Don’t assume they can see things from your point of view.
•Practice the conversation with a friend before holding the real one.
•Mentally practice the conversation. See various possibilities and visualize yourself handling them with ease. Envision the outcome you’re hoping for.
How do I begin?

Opening the conversation In my workshops, a common question is How do I begin the conversation? Here are a few conversation openers I’ve picked up over the years – and used many times!

"I have something I’d like to discuss with you that I think will help us work together more effectively.

"I’d like to talk about ____________ with you, but first I’d like to get your point of view."

"I need your help with what just happened. Do you have a few minutes to talk?"

"I need your help with something. Can we talk about it (soon)?" If they say, "Sure, let me get back to you," follow up with them.

"I think we have different perceptions about _____________________. I’d like to hear your thinking on this."

"I’d like to talk about ___________________. I think we may have different ideas on how to _____________________."

"I’d like to see if we might reach a better understanding about ___________. I really want to hear your feelings about this and share my perspective as well."

Write a possible opening for your conversation here:




The Magic of Conflict, by Thomas F. Crum ( ).

Difficult Conversations, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen Crucial Conversations, by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler ( )

FAQs about Conflict, by Judy Ringer. This article can be found on the Free Articles page at .

© 2005 Judy Ringer, Power & Presence Training, reprinted from used with permission.


About the author: Judy Ringer is a conflict and communcation skills trainer, black belt in aikido, and sole owner of Power & Presence Training.
Judy Ringer provides conflict and communication skills training and facilitation, team building and coaching throughout the United States and Canada. Her interest in conflict and communication began in the early 1980's. As a successful business owner, she saw a real need to improve the quality of life in the workplace. Since 1984, Judy has studied with Thomas Crum, author and internationally-known teacher of The Magic of Conflict, and in 1993 she became a certified trainer in The Magic of Conflict approach.

Judy is a black belt in aikido and founder and chief instructor of Portsmouth Aikido, Portsmouth, NH. In addition, her background includes courses with the Harvard/MIT Program on Negotiation and ongoing work and study in Process Work and World Work, developed by Arnold Mindell. With expertise in several best practice communication models, she brings to life key concepts such as self-management under pressure and appreciation of other viewpoints.

Judy is also a professional singer and voice coach. In all aspects of life, she is interested in creating more power with less effort and in studying how individuals and groups give and receive energy to create their environments. These interests, combined with her technical skills in singing and aikido, encouraged her to create workshops in The Powerful Voice and Powerful Presentations.

She is a frequently requested trainer in corporate, business, health, and educational circles. Clients include The National Institutes of Health, BAE Systems, Bose Corporation, UnumProvident Insurance Corp., Maine Medical Center, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, The American Red Cross, The National Rehabilitation Association, The National Education Association, and the States of New Hampshire and Vermont. Find more conflict resource articles at

Thursday, April 15, 2010

7 Things You Must Give to Others If You Want to Achieve Success!

by Chris Widener, Author and Coach

A major part of the process of achieving success and living the kind of life that you dream of is to give. Many people think that to get what you want you have to take it. There is a universal truth though that the true path to get what you want is to give. When you give, you get. What you sow, you shall reap. If this is true, then what is it we must give? I’ll show you the way...

Give Others Your Honesty
The world we live in has a simple rule that most follow: Lie when you have to. Unfortunately, this may make some people wealthy but it makes us humans poor. To achieve success is to become wealthy not only in money, but in character. To be successful, truly successful, is to be able to attain your goals and keep your character at the same time!

“Honesty is the single most important factor having a direct bearing on the final success of an individual, corporation or product.” —Ed McMahon

Mr. McMahon is right, though others will tell you otherwise. Some people will say, “You have to bend the truth to get ahead.” Not true. Some of the most successful people who have ever lived were honest people.

How about you? Are you honest in all things? The problem with little lies is they become big ones. Lies spin out of control. You get caught in one lie and you lie to get out of it, etc.

In all things and at all times, give others your honesty.

Give Others Your Respect
Most of the time, we give people respect based on what they have done or what they have accomplished. We gauge whether or not they are “worthy” of it based on what we know of what they have achieved or who they know or are related to.

But I believe we should have a higher standard. We respect people not for what they have done, or for who they are related to, or for what they can do for us. Instead, we respect people for simply being.

What would happen in our world, in our company, and yes, even in our families, if we started with respect for everyone else rather than making them earn it? I think we would see that most people would live up to the respect that we give them!

Give Others Your Vulnerability
We are taught to “be strong.” And yes, we should be strong. But we have also embraced something that I think keeps us from having the kind of life that we long for. It is an attitude that keeps us from experiencing the kind of relationships that would bring deep meaning to us. It is our attitude about vulnerability.

“Make yourself vulnerable and people will step all over you!” It is true that this will happen. But I have also seen that most people will be drawn to you. They will help you. They will open up to you. You see, we are all broken people inside. We all have secrets. Yet everyone plays the poser. When one lets down his veil, others soon follow—and we all win.

Give Others Your Care
Too many people are running around this old earth not caring about others. The days of “Look Out for Number One” and “Winning through Intimidation” are over! Let’s bring about a new day when we can care about others AND succeed!

Take the time to show people you care. Listen to them. Empathize with them. Love them. Now, I don’t mean that you have to go around hugging everyone—that probably wouldn’t fly in corporate America anyway—but we can take some time to step back from business and be human! And I have found that when we do so, our business succeeds as well!

Give Others Your Passion
There is nothing this world needs more than passionate people. And people need passionate people. Living in this day and age can be tiring. The hustle and bustle of it all can wear you down and tire you out. Give your passion to others and fire them up.

Don’t just be humdrum. Be excited. Give people all the energy you can muster. And you will find that energy reciprocal. They will get energized and passionate. This in turn will fire you up more when you are already charged and get you going when you don’t feel like moving at all!

Give Others Your Experience
We all have areas that we excel in and they are usually areas that we have experience in. One of the things we can do to make our lives more meaningful and be of utmost help to others is to show them the way through the experiences we have.

Sometimes it will be what they should do: Shortcuts to take, people to meet, etc. Sometimes it will be what they should not do: Shortcuts not to take and people to stay away from! Whatever it is, we can be of service to others by giving them our experience and ultimately it will make us all better!

Give Others Your Help
All in all, what we want to do is to help others. Zig Ziglar says that if we will “help others get what they want, we will in turn get what we want.” If we want to be successful, we should consider ourselves servants of other people. What can we do to help them and make them better? This is the true path to greatness and success, not only in business but in life!

If you want to live the life you have always dreamed of, ask yourself if you:

- Give Others Your Honesty
- Give Others Your Respect
- Give Others Your Vulnerability
- Give Others Your Care
- Give Others Your Passion
- Give Others Your Experience
- Give Others Your Help

Reproduced with permission from Jim Rohn's Weekly Newsletter. To subscribe, go to All contents Copyright © except where indicated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide.

What Separates Leaders from Followers? DESIRE

By John Maxwell, in the “Maxwell Leadership Bible”

Good leaders seem to know what steps to take into a bright future. But what enables them to know what to do? How do they differ from followers? Proverbs 2 tells us the key difference may be desire. We all must answer three great questions in life:

1. What do we want?

2. Why do we want it?

3. How badly do we want it?

Consider the phrases Proverbs 2:1-4 uses to talk about the passionate search for wisdom as a leader.

Proverbs 2 1) My son, if you receive my words, And treasure my commands within you, 2) So that you incline your ear to wisdom, And apply your heart to understanding; 3) Yes, if you cry out for discernment, And lift up your voice for understanding, 4) If you seek her as silver, And search for her as for hidden treasures;

· Receive my words, (v. 1)

· Reassure my commands, (v. 1)

· Incline your ear to wisdom, ( v. 2)

· Apply your heart to understanding, (v. 2)

· Cry out for discernment, (v. 3)

· Lift up your voice for understanding, (v. 3)

· Seek her as sliver, (v. 4)

· Search for her as for hidden treasure, (v. 4)

Good leaders hunt for wisdom as though it were diamonds and rubies. So – what are you searching for today?

About the author

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies. Find out more at

Putting the Best with the Best

by Dr. John C. Maxwell, New York Best-selling author

Imagine that you get a call from a nationally respected headhunter. She represents a company that wants to hire you. In fact, she’s offering a signing bonus and a 20 percent pay increase. Your authority would increase, and you would get an ownership stake in the company. It’s a job you know you could handle, with responsibilities you know you would enjoy.

The drawback? You would work on a team with a reputation for mediocre work. It is known in the industry for doing no more than what it takes to get by, and there’s no indication that the leadership at the company plans to change that. Mediocrity is so much the rule at that company, in fact, that you’re a little concerned that they would want you. Do they really think you’d fit into that culture?

Despite the material benefits, many of us would turn down such an opportunity, rightly recognizing that it fails to satisfy one of our most basic needs—the desire to work with people who share our commitment to excellence.

The best want to work with the best. In fact, just one weak link can dramatically influence an otherwise strong team—ultimately leading to turnover among the best producers. So if we want to recruit and keep the best people for our teams, we have to recognize the importance of a strong weakest link.

We can demonstrate the impact of the weakest link with some basic math. If you have a five-person team and all five people are “10s,” then you might add that up and say your team is a “50.” But what if one of those people goes into a funk and becomes a 5. Now your team is a 45, and its effectiveness drops by 10 percent.

That’s a pretty big impact, but it still falls short of reality. In the real world, synergy exists, so our impact on a team is more like multiplication than addition. One and two doesn’t equal three in teamwork; with synergy, one and two can equal ten.

Consider the previous example but with multiplication. 10 times 10 times 10 times 10 times 10 equal 100,000. But 10 times 10 times 10 times 10 times five equal only 50,000. One weak link reduces the team’s effectiveness by a whopping 50 percent.

Clearly, the way to keep good people is to keep them around other good people. When good people find themselves working with people who are not carrying their share of the load, dissatisfaction creeps in. Pretty soon, the productivity of the really good people begins to fall off too. They lose motivation for excellence or they just get worn out from carrying someone else’s share of the work. Eventually, the best leave for greener pastures.

Everyone on a team needs to add excellence, which means leaders first need to place people in roles that make the most of their gifts and talents. But a person with the right skills and the wrong attitude is still like the proverbial bad apple that spoils the whole batch. So if you want a team that experiences low turnover and high success, fill it with people who are both capable and committed to doing great work.

About the author

John C. Maxwell is an internationally recognized leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold over 16 million books. His organizations have trained more than 2 million leaders worldwide. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP and INJOY Stewardship Services. Every year he speaks to Fortune 500 companies, international government leaders, and audiences as diverse as the United States Military Academy at West Point, the National Football League, and ambassadors at the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell was named the World's Top Leadership Guru by He was also one of only 25 authors and artists named to's 10th Anniversary Hall of Fame. Three of his books, The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader have each sold over a million copies. Find out more at

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Day job? – or – Dream Job?: A career mapping strategy to create positive change

By Dwight Bain, Certified Life Coach and Nationally Certified Counselor

Most people don’t realize that we actually spend more hours of our life working than any other single activity. That’s why it’s more important than ever to know where you fit in your career, because if you are drifting and feel lost in your career, you literally are drifting and letting life slip through your fingers. I believe in a process where you can map out your ‘DAY JOB’ (responsibly working to meet your obligations), on the way to your ‘DREAM JOB’ (doing what you were born to do).

Day jobs pay the bills, and dream jobs fulfill the deep desires of the heart to live out your purpose. And since most of us won’t start in a ‘dream’ job, it’s important to know how to strategically move forward with career direction to leverage your ‘day jobs’ into living out our destiny, by working at activities that are so meaningful and fulfilling that it almost doesn’t seem like work. Is this possible? Yes it is. You see, I believe God designed you with a greater purpose than you may be experiencing right now. Guiding you forward in living out that purpose is one of the passions of my heart because I love to see people move from career stress to experience career satisfaction.

The loss of satisfaction in work isn’t news; in fact the majority of people going to work today aren’t happy about it. It’s sort of like the bumper sticker I saw once that said, “I pretend to work and they pretend to pay me.” A recent survey reported that almost 8 out of ten US workers go to jobs every day that they don’t like or don’t feel well equipped to do. I suspect that one area of frustration fuels dissatisfaction in the other.

Moving past this frustration is important for your health too. Research published by the Gallup Management Journal found that almost 80% of workers felt stress on the job, and nearly half say they need help in learning how to manage stress. 26% of workers said they were 'often or very often burned out or stressed by their work'. Could this massive work-related stress stem from being in the wrong job? I believe it is a leading factor in why so many people are stressed or burned out. (And this stress eventually affects both physical and mental health).

When you don’t know where you fit at work then you are set-up for tremendous stress and disappointment which ripple into every other area of life. Conversely, if you know where you fit, you life just got better and it will show in the joy on your face when it’s time to get up and go to a job that you love. When you know where you fit on your career path, you enjoy life more and worry less. So how can you tell if you are in the wrong job or the right one? One way is to take the checklist below to review the key career areas to see if you have more job fulfillment or just a lot of job frustration as you begin your search for answers.

Career Roadblocks-

___Weak or wimpy managers ___Little or no chance of career advancement

___Low or no company benefits ___Continual job stress
___Continually forced overtime ___Boring work

___Feeling burned out ___Continually feeling overwhelmed by work

___Too long of a daily commute ___Career is out of balance with rest of life
___Not trusted by leadership ___Others are passing you by

___Not empowered or equipped ___Forced to do meaningless tasks
___Low pay, low benefits ___Constant complaining about money

___Given too much responsibility ___Absent leaders who don’t lead
___Mean or abusive managers ___Hostile work environment- bad bosses
___Low or no employee morale ___Lone wolf syndrome vs. team approach

___No validation of progress ___No job stability or security

There is great power in having a road map to understand how to reach your ‘dream job’. Think about how valuable it would be to have a detailed chart that maps out the combination of your unique life experiences with your education and skill set. Once you know your personal strengths, interests, motivations in combination with your personal career journey then you are literally set up to win at work; while experiencing positive change and growth on your way to a new level of career success. This information is valuable for students and seasoned professionals since it protects the limited resources of time and money in how to focus on the job to achieve fulfillment in life.

Here’s your first Career Coaching Goal to move from a ‘day job’ to a ‘dream job’

Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the key elements listed in this coaching resource onto a legal pad as you put together the pieces that can become a successful career for a lifetime. Each category in this coaching exercise will help shape your thinking as you do the final assignment to discover your ‘core’ career focus during the final coaching exercise featured in this article, the “Career Kaleidoscope”. When completed, simply review the results with a family member, pastor, co-worker, trusted friend or life-coach. Once you have the results in front of you, coupled with some honest feedback, it will help to insure that you are on track in developing a personalized career GPS or “Global Positioning System” of your greatest skills to move forward in your strength zone. These results will become your career map of a strategic path of greater success in living out your destiny in a ‘dream job’, designed for you by a Creator God who desires your best!

Finally, don’t get discouraged if you can’t answer every question in every section. Think through each stage of your career journey and honestly share from your life experiences in the categories listed. Your life has meaning, and your career path will reflect major themes or patterns, which are the clues to building the life you were designed to live.

► Directions

Customize the categories below by listing out information from your own career journey. Place in facts, names, dates or a brief description of events as you give the details that describe your strengths learned through educational or life experiences. There are no wrong answers, and some categories will be longer than others, so add or adjust space as necessary to give an accurate description of your career development.

The more detail you give, the more clearly you can uncover and discover your career strengths and where you can focus to achieve maximum results. This is the story of your journey, and it is an important one. Be honest with your successes, failures, wins and losses. If you won an award- bring it up, or if you were fired for poor performance, comment on what you learned from it. Most business people doing this exercise have strengths they don’t give themselves credit for, so just by listing out and then thinking through these topics should open your eyes to better see where you fit in your career. Answer these questions with an open mind to discover a new view of yourself and where you best fit in the world of work.

Find your “Fit” by mapping out and blending the following key elements onto a legal pad or the career Kalediscope exercise attached. Then sit down with a trusted mentor or coach to review the results as you develop a personalized “GPS” tracking system of positioning your skills and strengths onto a strategic career map leading to success.

“Be direct with change and you will take charge of your life”. - Dwight Bain

† Personality (e.g. introvert/extrovert, people person/loner, loud/quiet, sanguine, melancholic, choleric, phlegmatic or D.I.S.C., Meyers-Briggs, 5 Love Languages or other scores from personality profiles you may have taken)

† Energy level in personal & professional life (high, moderate, low)

† Organizational skills in personal & professional life (perfectionist, slob, motivated, disciplined, detailed, efficient, focused, timely, etc.)

†Career Stage (e.g. just starting, starting over, leader, novice, expert, etc.)

† Age, gender & birth order in family (or placement through adoption)

† Family background (e.g. traditional nuclear family, middle class, urban, suburbs, Army “brat”, single-parent, large/small family, raised by grand-parents, blended family, and so on.)

† Cultural background (Anglo, Asian, Black, Hispanic, first generation American, as well as the region of United States you grew up in.)

† Education & school background (loved school, barely passed, sports, extra-curricular activities or leadership, GED, military, public/private, went away to a state-university or stayed home for community college, etc.)

† Current roles & relationships (include both personal and professional roles like; student, employee, share-holder, CEO, vice-president, sales manager, as well as the relationship factors of single, married, divorced, husband, wife, mother, father, senior adult caregiver, dating, loner, committed or etc.)

† Mentors & role models (include the family members, teachers, pastors, authors or leaders who shaped your thinking with their influence and indicate how much time and energy they spent with you personally or how much you were influenced through their writing or speaking. In either case, try to rank who was the most influential in your life at different stages of your life, especially before age 30.)

† Individual life experiences (travel, meeting a well-known leader or celebrity, internships, moving out on your own, rebuilding after a crisis event- like the death of a friend or a DUI, winning an award for a sport or hobby, charity work- like Habitat for Humanity or the United Way, golfing with a sports star, being featured on TV, etc.)

† Group life experiences (being on a winning team, trips with family or friends, being affected by disasters like Hurricane Andrew or the terrorist attacks of 9/11, or helping accident victims after a wreck, being in the Navy reserve during wartime, driving cross-country to a concert, etc.)

† Stressful or Traumatic Experiences (any crisis events you may have experienced or lived through, such as a major accident, living through a natural disaster like a hurricane or tornado, as well as any man-made disasters like the terrorist attacks of 9/11. This might include the break-up of a family through a highly contested divorce, a business failure, personal bankruptcy or a health crisis like battling against cancer. Note- these life altering events could have happened to you, or perhaps to someone else who experienced the trauma and you were their primary support through the crisis event.)

† Work Experiences (your first job, your worst job, your favorite job, being fired or having to fire a friend at work, going through a down-sizing or lay-off, being bought out by a competitor and being restructured with new owners, businesses you started or sold, etc.)

† Physical Values & Beliefs (your commitment to exercise, diet, sleep, fitness and use of healthy substances-while avoiding unhealthy ones, and the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)

† Spiritual Values & Beliefs (your commitment to personal character development and integrity through disciplined meditation, worship and religious involvement, as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)

† Emotional Values & Beliefs (your commitment to develop personal maturity and self-control in managing the feelings of stress, worry, anger, fear, sadness, depression or anxiety, while displaying consistency with personal peace, kindness for others, impulse control and mental harmony as well as the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area.)

† Financial Values & Beliefs (your commitment to wise use of finances- both now and in the future, including budgeting to prevent impulse spending, buying or renting, cost analysis prior to major purchases, charitable giving, saving for future emergencies or investments, preventing debt, or managing current debt service and responsibility to taxes, insurances, retirement, and future expenses. Include a description of the respect you have for others who have strengths or weaknesses in this area)

† Skills & training (e.g. languages spoken, typing speed & accuracy, workshops or specialized training you have received, self-improvement groups you have participated in- like Toastmasters or Dale Carnegie, lessons taken, usage of special equipment or tools, computer programs or skills mastered, specialty products you have knowledge of, etc.)

† Certifications, licenses or earned degrees (e.g. CPA, MD, PhD, JD, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, lifeguard, CPR, certified product specialist, RN, or Reverend. Include any career training programs that you started but may have not completed and those you may have previously held at any level, including local, state, national or international. It is helpful to also note any professional goals that you may have that require future certifications or license requirements.

† Knowledge & information sources (types of books you seek out, favorite authors, primary media sources- like Internet, television, radio, newspaper or magazines. Comment on your choice of fiction/non-fiction or reality/happy ending themes, and why you choose your favorite entertainment, news, sit-coms, documentaries, how-to it to learn, relax, laugh, experience with others or escape daily life? As you list out this information be sure to indicate how much time or money you invest into your favorite information sources- for instance, “I read two books a month from the library, but spend $140 a month on cable television and high-speed Internet.)

† Talent, Natural Ability & Gifting (Honestly point out your strengths if you know them, since false humility gets in the way of this important exercise. Are you a ‘natural’ at leading others, does everyone find it easy to talk to you, or it is easy for you to stand up to give a speech? Do you love to do research, organize, or discover the hidden source of problems in people or organizations? Think about how you appear to others and describe any areas that you may have been praised for in your life; like natural physical size or strength, high intelligence or creativity, musical or athletic ability, an attractive or fit body, a great smile, expressive eyes, pretty hair, perfect teeth or a soothing or broadcast quality voice. Be sure to comment on the areas that come so easy to you, but seem to always draw admiration from others, such as; the ability to match colors in clothes, people or furnishings. Having the artistic ability to create or reproduce images with video, film, or photography or with the use of drawing, painting, sculpting or designing. Repairing things or skillfully working with your hands on any type of material, machine or equipment. Assess your ability to put anyone at ease, work with children or the elderly, wake up feeling friendly or positive in your mood, automatically reaching out to others in need, being a great team player, eager to learn new things, always active and eager to move forward, being quick at solving puzzles, games or people problems or being called the “fix-it” person. You have these qualities- but you do have to carefully look to really see them because what comes natural to you isn’t really noticed by you. Since our society doesn’t teach us to pay much attention to natural gifting, you may find this exercise the hardest of all, so ask a trusted friend if you get stuck.)

Now that you have completed the Career Map… it’s time to move forward into the major themes of your career journey in guiding you forward toward your ‘dream job.’

Career Kaleidoscope Exercise:

Spend less than a minute per category and go with your first response as you consider your life and career in the following areas to discover your career ‘fit’

Design or natural talent and ability, (people always say you are good at this)

Work that is highly Interesting to you, (never boring, you can’t wait to do it)

Important or valuable work to you, (issues or causes you deeply believe in)

Areas you are highly skilled or experienced in, (been there- done that well)

Areas you are educated or credentialed in, (degrees, licenses, certifications)

Your current career development plan, (audio learning, DVD’s, night school)

Marketplace and industry options available, (location, costs, age/stage, gender)

Groups or industries already looking for people with your background to improve the strength and depth of their team, (esp. networking organizations)

Next: What logical career conclusions fit into the Kaleidoscope “core” today?

Finally: What steps can you take today to make a positive career change? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Putting the pieces together is how you narrow down from something you might like to do, or that sounds interesting; to really focus on the exact skills that you were born with. You were put on this planet to make a positive difference. I hope and pray that you will take this information and move forward in strength as you use the stability of your ‘day job’ on your way to experience your ‘dream job.’ Oh, when you achieve that new level of career success, make sure to send me an email to tell of your adventure because I love to share career success stories with others to encourage them on their journey to living a better life by God’s grace.

► Suggested resource:

Visit and check out the “Career Direct” career assessment profile. It is a highly detailed resource to help students and working professionals find their exact career with dozens of pages of resources personalized just to you and your specific personality and career strength. (Note: students tend to benefit from the educational version, which includes school choices as you map out your career for lasting success.)

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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.