Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doing the Remarkable

by Jim Rohn

When it comes to meeting and conquering the negativity in your life, here is a key question: what can you do, starting today, that will make a difference? What can you do during economic chaos? What can you do when everything has gone wrong? What can you do when you’ve run out of money, when you don’t feel well and it’s all gone sour? What can you do?
Let me give you the broad answer first. You can do the most remarkable things, no matter what happens. People can do incredible things, unbelievable things, despite the most impossible or disastrous circumstances.
Here is why humans can do remarkable things: because they are remarkable. Humans are different than any other creation. When a dog starts with weeds, he winds up with weeds. And the reason is because he’s a dog. But that’s not true with human beings. Humans can turn weeds into gardens.
Humans can turn nothing into something, pennies into fortune, and disaster into success. And the reason they can do such remarkable things is because they are remarkable. Try reaching down inside of yourself; you’ll come up with some more of those remarkable human gifts. They’re there, waiting to be discovered and employed.
With those gifts, you can change anything for yourself that you wish to change. And I challenge you to do that because you can change. If you don’t like how something is going for you, change it. If something isn’t enough, change it. If something doesn’t suit you; change it. If something doesn’t please you, change it. You don’t ever have to be the same after today. If you don’t like your present address, change it—you’re not a tree!
If there is one thing to get excited about, it’s your ability to make yourself do the necessary things, to get a desired result, to turn the negative into success. That’s true excitement.
Reproduced with permission from Your Achievement Ezine. To subscribe, go to www.YourSuccessStore.com All contents Copyright © YourSuccessStore.com except where indicated otherwise. All rights reserved worldwide.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

SABBATH REST AN ANTIDOTE FOR STRESS

By: Linda Riley, LMFT

We live in a very stressful world. The daily news reports often leave us uneasy if not downright frightened. People are starting to feel depressed about world economics and worry about having enough financial resources to take care of themselves and their families. Many of us are either unemployed or concerned about the possibility of job loss. Our significant relationships should offer us an escape from the pressures of living in the modern world; yet, often they too bring stress and conflict into our lives. We seem to frequently miss the joy of the moment because we are either ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. We struggle to keep our priorities in order. We long for a life of peace, security and love.

Do you frequently find yourself saying, “There never seems to be enough time in a day”?
This feeling of lack of time is our convenient excuse for not being able to relax, unwind and enjoy the moment. We need to find time to focus on our most meaningful relationships; first of all our relationship with God, then our partners and children. Let’s remember we should work to live not live to work. We dream about retirement where we fantasize about having the luxury of lots of free time. Yet in reality, we spend our entire lives running from here to there trying to fulfill our emptiness and longings. Often the “to do list” dominates our life and our continuous errands take precedence over the people we love. In addition, the constant stress of our daily demands causes mental and physical health problems such as heart attacks, generalized anxiety and depression. The common complaint of life seems to be “I feel exhausted and burned-out!”

Could taking a Sabbath rest be the medicine we badly need? Did God in his supreme wisdom know that mankind left to his own devices, would run around 7 days a week and never rest? He must have blessed the 7th day for some essential reason, because He only established two institutions: the Sabbath and Marriage. Together they form God’s divine plan for human happiness in the chaotic world we find ourselves living in.

Marriage provides a partner to share life with, both our joys and our sorrows. A happy marriage creates a safe haven from the challenges we face in the world. Scientific research has clearly demonstrated that when people have the benefit of a good marriage they are healthier mentally, emotionally, and physically. They live longer and recover better from serious illnesses like heart disease and cancer. They also perform the duties of life more productively. However, creating a happy marriage requires time spent with our partner, communicating, listening, and connecting on a deep emotional level. It is necessary for happily married partners to play together as well as work together. The whole world seems obsessed with connecting: on line, on cell phones or on text messaging, but the problem of being fully present in the moment remains elusive.

Would our lives change for the positive if we actually took God’s 4th commandment seriously and set a day a week aside to refocus on our real priorities? If you will recall the story of creation, God himself rested following His work of creation and He blessed the Sabbath day. He instructed us to also set aside our normal daily routines one day a week, and focus on our relationship with Him and with our significant others. Sabbath is therefore a memorial to creation and every weekly cycle reminds us that He is our God and we are His people. It is a sign of allegiance to God, and instills a sense of His power, His greatness and His works/ nature. It awakens our spirits and reminds us to pause to worship and be grateful for the life He has given us. The scriptures tell us the Sabbath was made for man not man for the Sabbath. Sabbath is a gift of time that God Himself has set aside for specific use. Keeping Sabbath involves not engaging in business as usual. It provides us the opportunity for intimacy with both God and our wife/husband. It allows us to clear our minds from our worldly cares. It is the perfect antidote for today’s stress and anxiety. If we want the blessing we need to experience the physical and mental rest.

Sabbath gives us a chance to slow down, rest and recharge before returning to life as usual. If we want to be healthier and happier perhaps we should pay attention to this commandment and choose to enter the Sabbath rest.

Paradigm of Performance: A Value system with No Value

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

Where do you find value? How do you know that you’re important in this world? What makes you feel special? Do you even feel valuable?

These are important…no, essential questions that we must ask ourselves because the answers to these questions will determine how much impact we will make on our world. It’s true…the answers to these questions directly tie into our sense of contentment, joy, motivation, and relationships. Where do you seek value in this life?
For many, and I DO mean many, the answer is that they seek their value in their performance. How much are they DOING? How good is their behavior? How many mistakes are they making? Are they achieving excellence or simply mediocrity? How do others view their performance level? Are they scoring an A or and F on the report card of their lives…maybe a C……oops…..today it’s a D, no... a B….no, an A……oh, I don’t know. Whether it is in the secular world or in the realm of Christianity, much of the focus is on behavior. So many people only feel valuable IF they are doing or achieving or performing ENOUGH.
Yet, those that work the hardest to perform often feel the least amount of value. Ironic? Maybe, but true. If that’s the case then a performance-based value system is a system that really has no value at all, wouldn’t you say? I mean, if this is the road you are on and you are one of the hardest workers on that road, striving to perform constantly; to never make a mistake, never fail, always be “on,” perform daily at a level that garners praise from your peers and family…if THAT is where you find your value, then you are on the road to despair. I’m telling you, you’re doomed for failure. There will come a day, if it hasn’t come already, where you will feel depressed, discouraged, hopeless, and WORN OUT.
Doesn’t this sound strangely familiar to those of us who grew up in the church? Hmmm…….it sounds an awful lot like reading the Old Testament, doesn’t it? You know, when the Law System of salvation was in effect. The Law basically said: “obey the rules and you will live…break the rules and you are doomed.” That’s all about performance, isn’t it? If you live by the commandments, keeping all the rules that God has set up through Moses, then you will be fine. But break even ONE of them, and you have failed and are in deep trouble. Fair enough, right?
So…..as Dr. Phil might say…..how did that work out for them?
Disastrous. The Law paradigm for salvation and feeling value was certainly fair but, because we are flawed human beings, it was a failure from the start. There was simply nobody who could perfectly obey that system. NOBODY could perform. Many in the Old Testament didn’t even try. We read chapter after chapter of kings who didn’t even try to follow God; who turned to other gods who required less performance and offered a lot more immediate gratification. Then….there were those who strived to perform. Men like King David, who really lived for God but fell short just like everyone else. If you read the Psalms you can see how often David confesses how bad he feels about falling short of the Lord’s standards.
The Law system just did not work because nobody could live up to it and, therefore, it was a system of slavery and death. The Apostle Paul speaks about this in the book of Romans. It was simply impossible for anyone to find value through the Law system.
Nothing has changed.
If you are trying to find value in the paradigm of performance, you are on the road to futility, my friend. Let me outline some of the reasons one cannot find real value in a performance-driven model:

• It is usually grounded in unhealthy relationships: Most people who seek their value through their performance do so because of being in relationship with someone who withheld their approval until that person earned it through performance. This is often something we learn in childhood because, many times, parents put a high price tag on their children’s performance. The problem is when kids begin to attach this to their value to the parent. In other words, they think, if I don’t clean my room correctly or mow the lawn perfectly, I will never gain approval from my dad or mom. It’s understandable to expect our kids to do things the right way or to try their best but their VALUE (or sense of approval) should NEVER be wrapped up in that alone.
• Finding value through performance is unrealistic/unachievable: C’mon……in your heads you KNOW this is true: NOBODY can ever perform all the time. None of us can. If you believe you are able to do that you are seriously delusional. And because nobody can perform at a high level 100% of the time people who look for value there will never fully find it; they will discover that their value comes only in fleeting moments that they cannot seem to duplicate often enough. What about when you’re sick? Or when we get older and can’t perform at the same level? What if you just have an “off” day? Does that make us lose value? In the performance paradigm it does and it is doomed for failure.
• The Performance Paradigm is a constant roller-coaster ride: One of the worst parts of following this model is the polarized results it brings to a person’s life. When we look to performance for our value, then our view of self vacillates between arrogance and self-loathing. How can there be any other real alternatives? When we are performing well and people are singing our praises and we feel valuable, how can it NOT become prideful for us? I mean, if our value is based on what WE do, then when we succeed it is natural to feel a little cocky. But what about when we don’t perform? Then we beat ourselves up and feel worthless. We tend to merciless in our self-talk, wondering internally how we could have been so stupid or clumsy or incompetent. Yet, this kind of roller-coaster view of self can change from week-to-week, day-to-day, hour-to-hour. It can change based on our view of our own performance or it can change based on the feedback of others about our performance. We can NEVER find lasting value through performance because our performance fluxuates so much and, consequently, so does our value.
• IT IS NEVER ENOUGH! This is why the Law system is often described by the writers of scriptures as a system of slavery. Finding value in performance shackles us to the behaviors where we seek value, or a mood boost, or a little escape, or to illicit the praise of others. When we base our value on performance we must ask ourselves the question, “When have I performed enough?” The answer is NEVER. When we have to constantly perform to find our sense of value then we jump on the hamster wheel from hell. We become a slave to our performance; to our behavior…and we must repeat those behaviors over and over and over and over and over…….or risk feeling worthless. The pressure is so great to perform and the chances of failure, at some point, are 100% and so this value system actually leads us to addictive behavior: whether addicted to sin or to GOOD behavior for the wrong reasons. Performance-driven value can never be achieved and so the cycle never ends.
The truth is that we can only find lasting, real value by having a right view and a right relationship with Christ. Let me illustrate:

• Find your value in knowing your Maker: Just like the name of an artist drives up the value of a painting, so knowing that God made us just the way He wanted us drives up our value…and it’s NOT based on anything we do or don’t do. Our value is set in stone because of God taking the initiative to create us. I may not like the works of Monet, but the artwork is valuable because Monet is considered a master. Not everyone make like me, find me attractive, funny or even talented. But that doesn’t really matter because I am valuable due to the fact that the Master fashioned me just the way He wanted. HE believes I have value and I trust He is right.
• Lasting value comes from a right relationship with Christ: When we realize we cannot possibly perform up to God’s standards and submit, in faith, to a relationship where we trust Jesus for our salvation and our value, everything changes. Then, when we do not perform or we perform badly (sin) it never affects how valuable we are in the eyes of God. We are covered in Christ, who IS perfect in His performance. God views us through the filter of Jesus and that means our value never wavers because Christ never wavered. We are covered by HIS performance and His blood which paid our debt. Our performance may ever fluctuate but our value never does, thanks to HIM…..not our efforts.
• We are free to perform BECAUSE we have value: When we realize that nothing we do or don’t do affects our value before God, it removes so much pressure from us…..it breaks the chains of performance-based value. This means that all the energy we used in our fruitless attempts to earn value can now go towards drawing near to God and obeying Him without the fear of failure. It is unbelievably freeing to “perform” because we can…not because we have to or we will be worthless.


I write this because I would say most of the clients who come to see me are caught up in the idea that they must perform to be worth anything. As Christians, nothing could be further from the truth. When we realize that our value isn’t up to us, it opens the door to a value system that REALLY works: The grace of God. Amen…and amen.

Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

SMOTHERING MOTHERING: How to undermine the emotional maturity of your son

By: Aaron Welch, LMHC, NCC, CSOTS

The biggest question I face as I write this article is, “how do I tactfully address such a sensitive, yet pertinent, topic?” There is no easy answer to this question and yet the ramifications of a controlling and overprotective style of parenting on the emotional growth of young men absolutely must be addressed.
There are many reasons that mothers emotionally smother their sons:
1. Fear of their sons being hurt
2. Fear that their sons might encounter failure
3. Internal guilt in the mother
4. A strong desire to protect their sons from the world’s evil
5. Overcompensation for an absent or uninvolved father
6. A controlling personality, in general.
Many of these reasons (and others that are unmentioned) are founded in good intentions and based on the love mothers have for their boys. 9 out of 10 mothers do not smother their sons because they have evil intentions or because they are abusive in nature. Most mothers are overprotective simply because….well….they want to protect their children. I get that. I applaud those motives. As a father, I have a strong urge to protect my own children from predators, a worldly and evil culture, and from other people who may harm them at school or in play. We SHOULD protect our children from those things.
The problem comes when mothers resist the process of “letting go” as their sons enter into their middle years of adolescence. Somewhere around the age of 15-16, boys need to experience more and more independence as they develop into young adulthood. Part of this process for young men is that, to enter into the world of “men”, they must begin to separate themselves emotionally from their mother. For many mothers, this is an excruciating move on the part of their sons and they do not handle it well. Some mothers do not fully understand how important this separation is in the development of a young man’s developing masculinity and sense of self. Countless mothers take this movement from their sons very personally even though it actually has far less to do with them, as mothers, and everything to do with the maturity and development of their sons. This emotional separation can manifest itself in several ways; a decline in public displays of affection, a surging interest in more physical sports or activities, the desire for more privacy, dressing in a more individual style…etc. Many times the young man will show interest in hobbies or activities that they know the mother would not like or even approve of. As long as these activities are not immoral or illegal this is actually a healthy pursuit. Young men are simply attempting to forge their own identity, apart from their mothers. It’s not that boys suddenly hate their mothers or want to discard them permanently. It’s just that, for a boy to feel strong and capable, he must start to make his own way, in gradual steps. Mothers who fear this and react harshly to it or grasp for greater control will usually make the situation far worse than it has to be.
I always compare a teenage boy to a bar of soap in this regard. The tighter you grab a bar of soap the more likely it will slip out of your hands. The same is true during this period of development for a young man. If a mother feels threatened by his sudden movement towards independence and tries to tighten her grip on controlling him, the more likely he will work to elude her grasp. It also increases the likelihood of conflict between the two. Again, I’m not talking about letting a teenage boy do whatever he likes. A mother must still set healthy boundaries around behavior that may be immoral or illegal. However, to interfere with a young man’s healthy attempts to be his “own man” will only undermine the relationship a mother has with her son.
The effects of “smothering mothering” on a boy can be very destructive:

1. POOR SELF-ESTEEM: When a young man is not allowed to branch out and test his strength against the world he will begin to doubt that strength and this negatively affects his sense of masculinity and view of self.
2. REBELLIOUS/AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR: If mom resists his desire to establish himself, a son will often resort to extremes in proving to himself and everyone else (including mom) that he WILL be his own person and he is NOT under her thumb anymore. This is when boys often get involved in drugs, promiscuous sex, or aggression; cultural caricatures of masculinity and also behaviors that will shock mom and show her that they are their own person.
3. EXCESSIVE PASSIVITY: This is the other end of the spectrum. Some guys will become overly compliant and become the “perfect” child. Yet, internally they are a mess; not believing in themselves, becoming overly dependent, and will struggle to become motivated and independent in the future. This might appease mom but these guys are often seething with internal anger that comes out as passive-aggression.
4. RESENTMENT TOWARDS MOTHER/HARM TO RELATIONSHIP: If the dynamics between mother and son are not addressed it can lead to severe problems between the two of them that might not be repaired for years. As long as the mother stands between her son and his perception of becoming a man, she becomes his antagonist instead of his inspiration.
5. DELAYED DEVELOPMENT/MATURITY: Boys that are not encouraged to sprout their “wings” are often delayed in their emotional maturity as well as their ability to make good life decisions. If a mother is overprotective and smothering then the young man is delayed in developing the skills he needs for life. Many times the mother enables a young man’s immaturity only to then use this fact against him when she is angry. Young men in this situation often become the classic “underachievers.” Ironically, these mothers often chastise their sons for not being more driven and motivated when they have created an environment for dependence.
6. NARCISSISM: My mentor once told me that if you showed him a boy who was growing up in a home where he was never empowered to do much and, at the same time, was told he deserved everything, that boy would be a budding narcissist. On the outside a narcissist seems arrogant, cocky, and that he believes he can do anything. Internally, however, most narcissists feel very insecure and have a poor self-esteem. They DO feel entitled, however, and this is a bad combination. If a mother never empowers a young man to develop and use his skills; if she tramples his sense of strength and masculinity by smothering him, yet pampers him and dotes on him all the time, she may be setting the stage for narcissistic attitudes to develop.
So moms, be careful. Your son MUST be allowed to take healthy steps towards independence as he hits the 15-20 year range. In fact, as difficult as it will be for you, you must encourage him to reach out and test himself. If he fails then, by all means, be there for him but don’t wound his masculine pride by babying him too much. This stage is perhaps the trickiest for mothers to navigate and yet it is an ultra-important part of a young man’s development.
But because I know this time is excruciating for many moms, here are some words of advice for you:

• Be proactive in developing your own identity: This stage is hard for many moms because much of their own identity has been wrapped up in their sons. When their boys begin pulling away, it feels as if they are losing themselves in the process. Moms…..take this opportunity to allow your own separate identity to evolve. Its okay……really!
• Be the wind beneath his wings: Instead of resisting your son’s move towards independence, embrace it and support him in it. You will have to let go of control but you can remain connected with him by being his biggest cheerleader. Don’t try to control him…but stay a part of his life.
• Respect his need for separation: Kiss him all you want at home but don’t be too hurt if he high-fives you in front of his friends. Remember….IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.
• Don’t be the scapegoat: If you hinder every decisions your son makes because you know it’s a bad one….WHEN HE FAILS (and he will) he will blame it on you for interfering. Don’t play that role. Instead, even when you know he’s making a mistake, give him plenty of rope to hang himself so that, when he does, he is forced to look in the mirror for blame. This is the quickest way for him to mature and to learn how to make better decisions. By shielding him from the pain and sting of mistakes, you actually severely hinder his maturity.
• REMEMBER, IT’S NOT FOREVER: If you handle this right and don’t create a huge chasm in your relationship, your son will draw near to you again in no time. After a few years of proving himself, he won’t feel such a drive to separate from you and will come back around. If you encouraged his move towards independence and supported him even through failures and mistakes, he will come back to you far more quickly than if you fought against him.
Moms, you have the toughest job in the world. You raise your sons, loving them, nurturing them and they love you for it…until this season of their lives, when they begin to push away. Don’t panic. This is normal and healthy for them. It is also normal and healthy for you. If your sons are little, enjoy them, pamper them, nurture them…but be prepared for the years ahead. If your son is a teen, I hope this article helps you to navigate through such dangerous waters.
Remember, smothering mothering backfires on you. Let them breathe…and watch them grow.


Aaron Welch is a licensed mental health counselor, nationally certified counselor and certified sex offender treatment specialist. He strives to fight for the hearts of his clients and empower them to build a legacy that impacts the world. He is part of a team of experts at “The Lifeworks Group, Inc”. For more information about Aaron or Lifeworks, please visit www.lifeworksgroup.org or www.legacycounselingservices.org

Thursday, July 08, 2010

GET A LIFE! FOR REAL.

By Aaron Welch, LMHC

Before I begin with my topic, let me just say that I am fully aware that I am about to sound like my father used to, telling me about how he had to walk several miles to school, in the snow, by foot, with wild packs of dogs chasing him all the way. Okay, he never said the last part but you know what I mean. Anyway, this is my official disclaimer that I realize that I am going to sound somewhat outdated by the reference to my own childhood that I am about to make. (Sigh).......I can’t help it! I’m bothered by this so I have to get it off of my chest. (I know.....get on with it, Aaron).
Here it is.....I remember that, as a young boy in rural Ohio, I would play and play outside until dark and then I would get really upset when I had to go inside. (dramatic pause to let this amazing truth sink in)..................................................................What? You don’t think that is such an interesting fact? Sheesh.........tough crowd. Seriously, we would play wiffle ball, cowboys and Indians (with chaps and everything), army/war, wrestle, super heroes, football, and basically make up other games to play. We would roll around in the grass and pretend that aliens were shooting at us from a hillside across the river. We would run through the woods pretending to be soldiers firing at one another. In the winter, we would construct snow forts and partake in arctic struggles for the salvation of mankind as we knew it. We dreamed. We imagined. We played hard. And our mothers had to force us to come inside.
Now, flash forward to 2007. Our kids have adventures, don’t they? Uh, yeah...........right. Well, they do. It’s true. They shoot alien androids with various weapons. They play strategy/role-playing games with other kids from all over the world. They play football.........Madden, that is. Our kids embark on many adventures. The problem is.........those adventures aren’t real. They are video adventures. They are only games. Sure, they’re exciting. Video games over-stimulate the adrenal system so our kids are definitely showing the signs of stress that an adventure would provoke. Our kids are competitive. They are skilled. And, many of them are lazy, obese, and have no clue how to use their imaginations. They live off of the imaginations of others..........the artists who make the games. Many of our kids now are trading real adventure for pseudo-adventures they find on X-box 360, World of Warcraft, and other systems and games. Look, I’m not against video games. I’m not! I promise. I play them. I like them. I have an X-box (although my wife swears it is not as nice as her Atari was). However, our kids are so out-of-balance that it is crazy! Why would a teen settle for sitting on a couch and using their thumbs to pretend they are a warrior from some other era? Why would he prefer this over experiencing real adventures himself? Perhaps because it is easier. It takes less physical exertion. It doesn’t make him sweat. And, the game adventure may be more creative and stimulating than the one he could find on his own. But..........it’s not real. You can’t smell nature on a game. You cannot learn things about our universe in front of a tv. You can’t exercise your brain when you’re simply reacting to the game play.
I’m not advocating the burning of video games while holding hands and singing Kumbayah. I’m really not trying to stifle anyone’s fun. But I am challenging parents and teens alike to strive for better balance in their lives. Parents, force your kids to balance their time between playing outside and inside. I know they want to stay in the house but it’s not healthy for them. And then we wonder why little Bobby has so much pent-up energy. Well, let’s see..........Bobby rarely exercises, stays in the house most of his free time, and builds up stored adrenaline by playing Halo. Huh??? How come he’s so hyper??? Parents, it’s up to you to be leaders in your home and teach your kids how to be healthier and more balanced. Teens, I know video games are addictive. It was only two years ago that I started playing a game on my computer right after dinner and, suddenly, my wife was asking me if I was ever coming to bed at 3am. I couldn’t believe how long it had been. But, I’m telling you. Get outside. Play with other kids. Ride a bike. Play a game of basketball. Whatever. Then, play some video games. Just balance your time. You’ll be healthier, have more energy, and you might find that you like the REAL adventures you find.
So, guys............girls.............get a REAL life. Why settle for living through a character in a game when there is a world of adventure out there if you just go and find it. Team up with some other teens and do fun things. I’m not saying you NEVER go out. But, I would encourage you to go out more. Balance is a key to life and it always will be. Try to learn it now so that you can.................oh.............hold on...............I hear my mom calling. I guess it’s time to go inside. It’s getting dark. (wink)

Some quick ideas for parents looking for adventure:

-go canoeing
-take your kids camping
-rent a cabin by a lake
-go to the beach regularly
-take horseback riding lessons as a family
-rent some wave runners
-go hiking
-go shark fishing
-have a picnic in your backyard
-invite neighborhood kids to your backyard for a big game of football and then a barbecue.
-for younger kids, build a fort
-set up a tent in your backyard and go camping with your younger children

Be creative and adventurous!

About the Author: Aaron Welch is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at the LifeWorks Group, Inc. in Winter Park, Florida. He has devoted his life to reaching out and helping people grow and mature through difficult life situations. Whether it has been through clinical counseling, pastoral ministry, youth camps and conventions, public speaking, leadership training, educational instruction, athletic coaching or small group ministry, Aaron has over eighteen years of experience in assisting people through life struggles and personal growth. His genuine love for people and his outgoing personality combine to create a safe and caring environment for putting the pieces of life back together. To learn more about the LifeWorks Group, Inc. please visit, www.LifeWorksGroup.org.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Are you raising Confident kids or “Cling-on’s?”

By Dwight Bain

Every stage of life can be stressful whether you are two or twenty-two. So how can a parent instill greater strength to help their son or daughter move forward through those stages with confidence instead of being needy and insecure? Here is a formula to show you the extremes in behavior of children and why it’s important to see little decisions as great opportunities to grow up strong.



Cling Confidence

Insecure Secure

Peer pressure Individual strength

No direction Focused with direction

Identity from parents desires Identity from God’s design



The last category is the most important to prevent emotional needy or clinging behavior. When a child is over-protected by their parents they often feel safe and comfortable because they don’t have to face any fears. It can feel wonderful to a child, for a while. Then as their peer group moves forward with confidence it leaves a child feeling extremely insecure. Here’s an example. Think about your first day of school – most of us can remember the feelings from leaving our mom or dad on the sidewalk to march into the school bus or school building… alone. Were you scared, or kind of excited? Kids who have been over protected sometimes describe this as one of the worst days of their life which is so sad because it didn’t have to happen.

If a child has been prepared to face the normal changes and challenges of preschool or early elementary, they can anticipate and feel excitement about the process of being a ‘big kid now’. Children want to grow up strong – God has placed inside the heart of every child the desire to mature, that’s why when you ask little kids ‘how old are you?’ that they won’t tell you they are 6… no, they will tell you that they are 6 and ½.

Overprotected children don’t develop early strength and often feel shy or scared of the decisions that they, (or their parents) will one day have to face. Here is a quick parenting formula to build confidence into your son or daughter at any stage of life, which spells out the word, ‘NICE.’

N – Notice

Pay attention to the needs of your child, especially their maturity or ability to manage new tasks. If you want your daughter to successfully attend swimming lessons, then start talking about the benefits, how other kids love to go to swimming lessons, maybe even find a children’s book on the subject to start the discussion, which reduces the stress, (or customize “1 fish, 2 fish, red fish, blue fish” and make it about your children having a grand adventure together swimming).



I – Involve

Keeping kids involved in the normal changes and decisions by asking them questions, showing them pictures, maybe going on short trips to visit places ahead of time, (that’s why ‘meet the teacher’ events are so very important for children. It builds their confidence and emotional strength to leave the safety of being with mom or dad to venture forward past the shyness to feel secure in this gradual growing up process. This works with simple changes children face like getting a ‘big boy bed’ or spending a few special days with grandma. Talking about the process takes away stress.



C- Correct

Wow is this one important. Children need their parents help because they won’t get it right the first time and may take many times to learn new behaviors. Gentle, but loving correction is how kids can learn new skills without feeling like a failure. Don’t yell at a child for making mistakes, rather use your words to instill the belief that you know they can do it, give them the instructions, show them what you expect and then step back and see how they do. Learning to ride a bike is a good example of trial/error but in the end they can zoom forward and yell, “mommy watch me go!” And you will have given them a new skill for a lifetime, instead of the insecurity of having quit before mastering a new ability.



E- Encourage

This is essential for parenting confident children. They need to know that you believe in them. Notice I didn’t say love them. Loving a child is essential for self worth, but love alone won’t give them strength in stressful situations. Your words of affirmation give your child courage to face their fears and insecurities, like sleeping in a room with the lights off. Saying “you can do this” will give your son more strength than just telling him you love him. Just look at the word with a dash inserted… en-courage, which means to build up courage, and your child will need that ability their whole life.



Bottom line – confidence comes from doing things. It’s a step by step process of facing little fears, and if done in little steps it gives a child the inner strength to move forward to whatever the future holds. The good news is that every experience can give new excitement about becoming who they were designed to be. When you follow this process you won’t just be raising a child, you will be raising a confident young adult ready to make this world a better place, and have the time of their life in the process.

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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 managing major change.

THINKING LIKE A FARMER

by Jim Rohn


One of the difficulties we face in our industrialized age is the fact we've lost our sense of seasons. Unlike the farmer whose priorities change with the seasons, we have become impervious to the natural rhythm of life. As a result, we have our priorities out of balance. Let me illustrate what I mean:

For a farmer, springtime is his most active time. It's then when he must work around the clock, up before the sun and still toiling at the stroke of midnight. He must keep his equipment running at full capacity because he has but a small window of time for the planting of his crop. Eventually winter comes when there is less for him to do to keep him busy.

There is a lesson here. Learn to use the seasons of life. Decide when to pour it on and when to ease back, when to take advantage and when to let things ride. It's easy to keep going from nine to five year in and year out and lose a natural sense of priorities and cycles. Don't let one year blend into another in a seemingly endless parade of tasks and responsibilities. Keep your eye on your own seasons, lest you lose sight of value and substance.

Be The One: Serve

In life, it's not what happens to you, but what happens in you and through you that counts. When adversity visits your life, you have two choices: to be a victim or to be a victor. Victims allow life circumstances to get them down, and they spend their lives asking others to redress the grievances life has dealt them. Victims are needy and demand to be served. Victors, on the other hand, rise above the challenges they encounter. They rebound from life's hardships with newfound strength, and they use their strength in service of those around them.

A Train of Tragedy

Juliette Magill Kinzie Gordon was born in 1860 to a wealthy family in Savannah, Georgia. Far from the typical Southern belle, Juliette was willful and tomboyish, always in search of adventure. She was the type of person never to be caught sitting still; she enjoyed trying new things and traveling new places.

In her mid-twenties, the first of a series of misfortunes struck Juliette. Suffering from chronic earaches, she sought medical care, but doctors mistreated her. As a consequence, Juliette lost the majority of her hearing in one ear. The following year, Juliette was married, but as she and the groom exited the ceremony a grain of rice, tossed by a well-wisher, lodged in her good ear. While attempting to remove the grain, a doctor punctured her eardrum, and Juliette lost hearing in her second ear.

For someone who enjoyed an active lifestyle, deafness could have been devastating, but Juliette persevered. She moved to her husband's estate in England where she became a favorite in social circles. Her humor and vivacity made her a sought-after guest and celebrated hostess.

However, Juliette soon crossed paths with tragedy again. Her husband's alcohol abuse and infidelity contributed to the gradual decline of their relationship, and in the middle of divorce proceedings, Juliette's husband died from a stroke. To make matters worse, he bequeathed his substantial estate to his mistress rather than giving it to Juliette.

Choosing to Get Up Rather Than Give Up

Having lost her hearing, her husband, and her home, you would have expected Juliette to feel bitter and victimized. However, at this very point in her life, she chose to serve. Somehow, she moved past her own tragic circumstances to see the good she could do for others.

Having befriended Sir Robin Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, Juliette became intrigued by the Girl Guides, Britain's sister organization to the Boy Scouts. The Girl Guides program awakened passion in Juliette, reminding her of youthful adventures from days gone by. With the help of Sir Baden-Powell, Juliette returned to the United States with a notion to launch the Girl Scouts.

Over the next 15 years, Juliette devoted her life to pioneering the Girl Scouts of the USA. She founded its inaugural troop, authored its bylaws and handbooks, and solicited its startup funds. Thanks to her tireless recruiting and relentless campaigning, the Girl Scouts program blossomed. The organization was such a source of joy for Juliette that, when diagnosed with cancer, she hid the illness as long as possible in order to continue advancing the scouting movement. While she never had children of her own, by the time of her death Juliette had an "adopted family" of more than 160,000 girl scouts. Her legacy lives on today in the 3.4 million young ladies who belong to local Girl Scout troops in America.

Questions for Reflection

Where do you focus the majority of your time, on self or on service? When the hardships of life show up at your door, do you back down or rise to the challenge? On your journey through life, will you allow yourself to be victimized, or will you be the one who claims victory over adversity and serves others out of your strength?

About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.

Be the One: Change

By John C. Maxwell

Change. Politicians promise it when they run for office, but seldom are the pledges made from campaign podiums matched by real, measurable results after an election. In fairness to our politicians, initiating change and carrying it through to completion is a monumental challenge. Attempts to bring about change encounter fierce opposition and entrenched resistance.

Although most leaders perceive a need for change, few leaders can convince others to believe in change, and fewer still can actually achieve change. In this edition of Leadership Wired, we'll look at what it takes to be a leader who not only talks about change but also is able to make it happen.

Nine Qualities of a Leader Who Achieves Change...

1) Considers Conditions

Just because a change could be made doesn't mean it should be made. Sometimes an organization lacks the people, resources, or energy to successfully implement change. Leaders have to be sensitive to the rhythm of the organization in order to understand when the time is ripe to shift gears. Similarly, leaders have to monitor the pace of change. Too much at once can dishearten and overwhelm a team. While people must be prodded to make changes, they also should be allowed space to adjust themselves to new ways of doing things.

2) Builds a Coalition

The responsibility to lead change rests squarely on your shoulders, but the burden shouldn't be carried alone. In fact, unless you convince key stakeholders to join your cause, then your attempt at change most likely is doomed. Before you initiate change, make every effort to win over the prominent influencers around you.

3) Communicates Urgency

As John Kotter warns, "By far the biggest mistake people make when trying to change organizations is to plunge ahead without establishing a high enough sense of urgency in fellow managers and employees."

People naturally resist changes, so they must be incentivized to make them. In talking to your team about change, underscore the impending dangers of complacency. Light a fire under your people by giving them a glimpse of the regret and discomfort they will experience if they avoid doing things differently. They need to know what's at stake before they will be motivated to alter their behavior.

4) Champions Rewards

Early in my leadership years I mistakenly thought that "my people" were there to help me achieve my vision and my goals. Over time, I came to understand that the purpose of my leadership was to serve others in meeting their needs and attaining their goals. To drive change, I had to appeal to people based upon their desires instead of mine. I had to spell out clearly, and personalize individually, the benefits and rewards of change for each member of my team.

5) Risks Failure

Inherent in the quest for change is the chance that you may muck it up and make things worse. However, you can't let the possibility of failure override your commitment to drive change. Every leader who ever accomplished greatness incurred risk. Aspiring for a better future requires us to let go of the security we have today.

6) Initiates Action

As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "You must be the change you want to see in the world." Leaders must go first and give the most. Only after a leader demonstrates his or her commitment will the team be persuaded to follow. Decisive action on the part of a leader inspires confidence in the people.

7) Endures Criticism

People grow accustomed to routine, and they resent anyone who threatens to disrupt how they work. As President Woodrow Wilson observed, "If you want to make enemies, try to change something." Every time you attempt to implement a change, you're going to be unpopular with somebody. However, if you try to appease people by disregarding changes, then eventually your organization will suffer. When that happens, the people who once resisted change will now complain that you failed to initiate it! Either way, you'll face criticism, so you might as well endure it in the short term to do what's best for your organization in the long run.

8) Celebrates Wins

Undergoing change takes a toll on everyone involved. For the benefit of morale, be sure to celebrate victories along the way. Doing so replenishes the energy reserves of your team and keeps people motivated to continue submitting themselves to the process of change.

9) Puts Setbacks in Perspective

In the course of making changes to your organization, inevitably you will bump up against a roadblock or experience defeat. When you do, be vocal in helping your team to interpret what happened and put it in perspective. Mishaps foster doubt and cause people to second-guess leadership. In these moments, it's imperative to reassert the necessity of change, and to refocus everyone on the next step rather than allowing them to wallow in the recent setback.

SUMMARY

By no means is this a comprehensive list of the qualities needed to be an agent of change, but these traits are essential for any influencer interested in transforming his or her organization. The one constant in leadership is change. Learn to drive it rather than merely trying to survive it, and you'll have a much more enjoyable leadership journey.


About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.

Lessons from the Life of a Trustworthy Coach

On June 4th, the nation mourned the death of legendary UCLA Bruins coach John Wooden, a man revered as much for his off-court character as his on-court genius.

On the court, Wooden's exploits were unmatched. His teams captured seven straight titles, won 88 consecutive games, and had a perfect 10-0 record in championship contests. Overall, Wooden compiled a 664-162 record, a winning percentage of over 80%.

Away from the spotlight, Coach Wooden earned the admiration and devotion of his players because he was trustworthy. He was a principled man and could be counted upon to live out his values. As sportswriter Eric Neel observed, Wooden displayed rare and refreshing fidelity, "The man is simply, steadily faithful, to his God, to his principles, to his family and his friends, to the creed in his pocket, the poem in his den and the shrine on his bed." John Wooden lived authentically, and his commitment to his ideals left behind a legacy of greatness.

Trustworthy to Give His Best Effort

Himself an All-American at Purdue University, John Wooden could be depended upon to give his best effort on the court. He was a fierce competitor and inspiring team captain. His hard-nosed style earned him the nickname "the Rubber Man," because he was constantly diving on the floor after loose balls and then quickly bounding to his feet to continue play.

Trustworthy to Listen to His Conscience

Despite growing up in a part of the Hoosier state where the Ku Klux Klan maintained an active presence, John Wooden demonstrated a progressive attitude toward race. While coaching at Indiana State, Coach Wooden boycotted the 1946 NAIA tournament because it refused to allow black players to participate. The following season, he defied social norms by playing an African-American on his team.

Trustworthy to Honor His Commitments

Once, several schools were jockeying to hire Wooden as their head coach. His preference was to go to University of Minnesota. After several discussions, officials from Minnesota set a deadline of 6pm to let John Wooden know whether or not he would be offered the job. Six o'clock came and went with no phone call from Minnesota, so Wooden accepted a position at UCLA. Later in the evening, a call finally did come through from Minnesota. Apparently, a blizzard had made travel difficult and prevented them from phoning earlier in the day. Although Wooden coveted the Minnesota job, he turned it down. He had already given his word to UCLA, and he refused to renege on his commitment.

Trustworthy to Enforce His Standards

Coaching during the 60s and 70s, the bespectacled John Wooden appeared as a throwback to an earlier era. At a time when self-expression and personal freedom were flourishing, Wooden fastidiously taught his players the proper way to wear their socks and required them to be clean-shaven. In 1972 star player Bill Walton, sporting flowing red hair and a beard, arrived at the team picture and asserted his right to keep his facial hair. After listening patiently to Walton's argument, Coach Wooden calmly replied, "Bill, I appreciate that. And we'll miss you." Minutes later Walton returned for the picture with a freshly shaven face.

Trustworthy Words from a Trustworthy Man

When John Wooden finished elementary school, his father, Joshua, passed along a few words of advice to him. John Wooden took the sayings to heart and made them his lifelong philosophy. Perhaps we would be wise to heed them as well.

Be true to yourself.
Make each day your masterpiece.
Help others.
Drink deeply from good books, especially the Bible.
Make friendship a fine art.
Build a shelter against a rainy day.
Pray for guidance.
Count and give thanks for your blessings every day.

About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.

Cross-examining Credibility

By John C. Maxwell

In a criminal trial, the outcome hinges on the credibility of the witnesses called upon by the prosecution and the defense. Throughout the trial, jurors scrutinize each person who takes the stand, attempting to discern whether or not their words can be trusted. As they decide the case, jurors weigh heavily the statements given by believable witnesses, but they discard the testimony of anyone they deem to be incredible.

As a leader, you're on the witness stand. Those you lead are like jurors, inspecting your behavior and dissecting your words. They expect you to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you lose your credibility with them, they will tune out when you speak. However, if you prove yourself to be credible then they will hang on every word you say.

Your credibility as a leader rests upon three pillars:

1) RELIABILITY

First and foremost, reliability is a matter of character. Jurors carefully consider the prior conduct of a witness when determining how much faith to place in his or her words. They look at the witness' track record of truthtelling with friends and family to gauge whether the witness is an honest person.

Reliability also depends upon consistency. When jurors hear eyewitness testimony, they pay close attention to the person's recollections. For an eyewitness to be deemed believable, his or her facts must align, and the timeline of events recounted must be plausible. Any contradictions or inconsistencies severely damage the credibility of the witness.

In a leadership context, your followers are asking, "Do I trust you?" and trying to determine whether or not you're reliable. They are hoping the values you profess are an extension of your behavior rather than an exception to how you live. They want to know that you're going to do what you promise to do consistently over time.

COMPETENCE

Jurors must question whether or not a witness is competent to give testimony. For eyewitnesses, perspective is key. Did they have an unobstructed view of the incident? How clearly do they recall the faces they saw? If an eyewitness is found to have had a poor vantage point then the credibility of their story weakens.

Sometimes during a case, a specialist takes the stand to testify. A forensics expert may be called upon to comment on crime scene evidence, or a psychologist may be summoned to assess the fitness of the defendant to stand trial. In these instances, jurors look at the credentials of the so-called expert to decide how much confidence to place in his or her testimony.

When evaluating you as a leader, your followers are wondering: "Can you help me?" They're appraising your competence to determine whether or not you have a clear view of where you want to go and if you know how to get there. People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. They have to respect your decision-making ability and intelligence before they will lend you their support.

MOTIVE

A shrewd juror examines the motives of witnesses, considering what they stand to gain or lose based upon the verdict. In particular, the jury must take into account financial incentives that are hanging in the balance when it weighs the credibility of a witness. Given what's at stake, people who testify may be tempted to embellish the facts to gain personal advantage.

Objectivity is the core issue with respect to motives. Jurors must remember that witnesses, depending on their connection to the parties in the case, may not be impartial. When forming their opinions, the jury has to strain out the biases of those who give testimony.

Subconsciously people constantly are asking their leaders, "Do you care for me?" If they sense that a leader is motivated by self-advancement, then they will withhold maximum effort. However, if they sense the leader has their best interests in mind, followers will give everything within them to support the team.

Summary

Credibility takes time to build, and there are no shortcuts to developing it. Leaders gain the trust of others by proving their reliability, demonstrating competence, and authentically expressing concern for the interests of those they lead. At the end of the day, the best proof of your credibility comes when those who are the closest to you and know you the best, love and respect you the most.

My Definition of Success:
"Those who are the closest to you and know you the best, love and respect you the most."

About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.

The Three Stages of Equipping

By John C. Maxwell

Good leaders deliberately seek out and find potential leaders. Great leaders not only find them, but also equip them to be great leaders.

Three Stages of Equipping

Stage One: Position Gives You a Platform

Adding value is the essence of equipping others, and you can add value in any direction: to your superiors, peers, or followers. Obviously, you have the most authority when you're the boss. However, even if you aren't in charge, you have immense capacity to equip others through the ideas and resources you share. When it comes to equipping, proximity matters just as much hierarchy. You'll naturally influence those closest to you: whether you're above or below them on the organizational chart.

Stage Two: Respect Gives You Permission

People naturally follow leaders stronger than themselves. That's the Law of Respect. Consequently, people will dismiss your attempts to equip them until they're able to assess whether or not they respect you. Respect is earned over time by demonstrating integrity with people and effectiveness in delivering results.

Integrity with people involves a harmony of beliefs, values, and actions. As others observe you to be hard-working, honest, and consistent, they begin to appreciate your strength of character. While they may not like you or have a connection to you at this point, at least they respect you.

Your reputation for delivering results develops daily as you carry out the assignments that come your way. If your performance is uneven-you do some tasks well, but others poorly-then others will lose respect for you. However, if you repeatedly work with excellence then your co-workers and managers will take note and begin looking to you for leadership.

Stage Three: Likeability Gives You Persuasiveness

All good equipping relationships are founded on a personal relationship. As your people get to know and like you, their desire to follow your direction grows. If they dislike you, they will not want to learn from you, and the equipping process can slow down or even stop.

To gain the goodwill your coworkers, show genuine concern for their wellbeing. People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care. Be intentional about taking an active interest in those around you at work, and add value to them in whatever ways you can. Focus on their needs and their aspirations before seeking to advance your own interests.

One of the best ways to get to know people is to see them outside of the world where you lead them. People are usually on their guard at work. They try to be what others want them to be. By getting to know them in other settings, you can get a glimpse of who they really are. Ask questions about their life story and try to discern what motivates them. If you connect with someone's heart, they'll be glad to offer you their hand.




About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.

5 Ways to Equip Your People During a Downturn

In his bestselling book, Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell draws attention to the "summer vacation achievement gap" a phenomenon explaining why the academic performance of low-income children tends to lag behind their peers. Studies have shown that students of all income levels make comparable progress during the school year. However, during the summer months, the academic development of kids from affluent households far outpaces that of children from low-income homes.

What makes the difference? Kids from wealthy families are equipped with resources and opportunities to further their education during summer vacation. They participate in summer camps and reading programs, frequent the local library and are surrounded by books at home. On the other hand, students from poorer backgrounds often have no reading material at home and do not have access to educational opportunities in their community. As a result of being ill-equipped during summertime, students from impoverished neighborhoods slip farther and farther behind their classmates each year.

What is true for schoolchildren holds true for employees. Access to the right relationships, resources, and opportunities can make a world of difference in their development. As a leader, it's your duty to enrich and empower your people by fully equipping them to excel on the job.

5 Ways to Equip Your People During a Downturn

Certainly, we'd send our people to the industry's leading conferences and furnish them with the finest technologies if we had the budget to do so. However, in these challenging economic times, equipping our people isn't a responsibility at which we can simply throw money. We have to find more creative ways to equip them as leaders. Here are five to consider:

1) Turn the Tables

To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "Ask not what your employees can do for you; ask what you can do for your employees." Serve your people before they serve you. Discover their needs before asking them to take care of yours.

2) Teach by Listening, Not by Telling

Many leaders are quick to impart what they know, and slow to learn about the strengths their people have to offer. Reverse the process by first studying and observing the strong suits of your teammates. Then, lead by listening. As John Holt said, "The biggest enemy to learning is the talking teacher." Ask questions that prompt people to come up with their own solutions and guide them as they design their own systems for getting the job done.

3) Empower Decision-Makers

If you want to equip your people, then you must empower them. Instead of creating an environment in which two or three decision-makers oversee dozens of decision-doers, invite more voices into the decision-making process. Train leaders at all levels of the organization to weigh the options and initiate the best course of action without waiting for a higher-up to tell them what to do.

4) Adjust Your Pace

At first, training others drags down productivity. To bring another person up to speed, you have to slow down. Wise leaders sacrifice accomplishing tasks in the short-term to properly equip their people for the long-term.

5) Widen the Circle

As a leader, it can be humbling to admit that someone on your team has skills that surpass your own abilities. However, it's natural for students eventually to outperform their teachers in certain areas. When you sense that someone on your team has passed you by, be proactive in searching for outside help to mentor him or her. When you do, your talented teammate will be grateful, and your organization will reap the benefits of his or her growth.

About
John C. Maxwell is an internationally respected leadership expert, speaker, and author who has sold more than 18 million books. Dr. Maxwell is the founder of EQUIP, a non-profit organization that has trained more than 5 million leaders in 126 countries worldwide. Each year he speaks to the leaders of diverse organizations, such as Fortune 500 companies, foreign governments, the National Football League, the United States Military Academy at West Point, and the United Nations. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week best-selling author, Maxwell has written three books that have sold more than a million copies: The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, Developing the Leader Within You, and The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. His blog can be read at www.JohnMaxwellOnLeadership.com.