Five Keys to Realizing Your Potential

There is no heavier burden than an unfulfilled potential Charles Schulz

When I was growing up, we had a framed piece of wisdom that hung on a wall:

Don’t regret growing old. It is a privilege denied to many.

As I celebrate my birthday this week, that piece of wisdom is one of many that continues to inspire me.

I’d like to share with you just a few more lessons that may be just what you need to hear right now. There is nothing new under the sun, as King Solomon once said, but every now and then, we need to be reminded of what we already know.

1. You are here for a reason.
If you are alive, there is a purpose for your life. Your purpose answers this simple question: “How is a person’s life better because they crossed your path?” Your purpose may be to bring joy to others, provoke thought, educate, inspire, teach, or connect people with one another. Whatever it is, it uses your natural gifts, talents, passions, and experiences (both painful and joyful) to make a positive impact on the world.

2. People can change (but you can’t change them).
We all have the capacity to change, but lasting change comes from within. External pressure may affect a temporary shift, but true transformation occurs from the inside out. Out of the heart flows the issues of life. Until one’s heart changes, transformation is impossible. It requires a personal commitment to facing truth and walking through fear in order to step out of habits and behaviors inside your comfort zone. So don’t waste your time trying to change others. Focus on changing yourself and praying for others.

3. Change is a process.
Occasionally, change happens “suddenly.” There’s the cigarette smoker who stops cold turkey or the person who becomes fed up and makes a major life-changing decision. But most of the time, change does not happen overnight. Give yourself permission to fail, learn from mistakes, and try again. Eventually, just as you learned to ride a bicycle or read, change will take root and won’t take as much concentrated effort. Adjust your expectations so that you give yourself the space to improve over time.

4. Fear is inevitable.
Expect it and keep moving forward. As you may have read in my book What’s Really Holding You Back? Fear is the emotion that threatens to keep us from our dreams – if we allow it. One of the keys is answering your “what if?” questions: “What if I fail?” “What if I’m wrong?” “What if they say ‘no’?” “What if I’m not good enough?” Answer the questions that conjure up fear and you’ll begin pushing through your greatest fears.

5. Baby steps will get you to the finish line.
Getting stuck is a vicious cycle. Fear keeps you from taking action. Not taking action leads to poor results. Poor results convince you that you cannot succeed.

Consider your vision for this year and identify a simple step you can take this week to move you closer to it.

Lastly, I’ve learned that happiness is a choice. Abraham Lincoln once said, “Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” Studies have even shown that when people attain the things they believed would bring them happiness, their level of happiness increases only temporarily, then falls back to their previous level. Having more money, getting married, having a baby, landing your dream job – these are all wonderful milestones, but they are not the key to happiness. You hold that key. It is your choice to acknowledge your blessings, love fully, conquer your fears, maintain perspective, nurture relationships, and live your divinely-appointed purpose that brings happiness.

My challenge to you this week:

Embrace the change you are trying to make in your life as a process. Don’t beat yourself up for not changing perfectly, succumbing to your fears, or taking baby steps. Allow it to be a process – with ups and downs – until you get to your finish line.

Journaling assignment:

How is a person’s life better because they crossed your path? With regards to a change you want to make in your life, what is your biggest fear? What baby step could you take forward despite your fear?

Today’s article was written by Valerie Burton and is shared from the following website: http://www1.cbn.com/finance/five-keys-to-realizing-your-potential

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The Gift of Prayer…

I believe that prayer is a critical and irreplaceable tool in our "life toolbox". The more I have utilized prayer in my life, the more amazed I have become by its profound power. I am truly humbled to be a recipient of such an amazing gift from God.

I believe that prayer is a critical and irreplaceable tool in our “life toolbox”. The more I have utilized prayer in my life, the more amazed I have become by its profound power. I am truly humbled to be a recipient of such an amazing gift from God.

In my life, prayer has turned into a personal conversation with my father. I know the Father of my soul – I have seen him. I think it is because of my near-death experience that prayer has become so personal to me.

I know of no mortal that is as loving and merciful as the God of my soul. However, I also know my creator to be a being of law.

I understand that in order for my prayers to be heard – I must make my pleas. In order for my prayers to be answered – I must do my part. Nothing will be done for me that I can (and should) do for myself.

I have experienced more miracles, as a result of prayer, than I can count.

Truly, the Lord has given us a priceless gift! No high-tech device, no mortal, and no earthly means can be devised that provides the comfort, instruction, or blessings of prayer!

 

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You Can Do More Than You Think

There is no man living who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can do Henry Ford

“If you’re going to doubt something, doubt your own limits.” -Don Ward

There’s a Saturday Night Live sketch that features Kenan Thompson as a middle school student with a broken knee. Scarlett Johansson and his other classmates repeatedly convince him to attempt walking, quoting a teacher who frequently lectures on the power of positive thinking. Despite their promises that anything is possible, he repeatedly falls flat on his face.

I loved this sketch, not because of some schadenfreude-induced need to see children crying. I love it because it reminds me of the many times I’ve seen comments on blog posts about possibilities, where people cite things that are obviously not possible.

While we can do a lot in life, running on a leg that you just broke is not (currently) medically possible. Flapping your arms and flying like a bird is just not possible. Turning your horse into a unicorn is just not possible. And switching bodies with your best friend, though commonly seen in movies, is just not possible.

Now that we got that out of the way, we can focus on the many difficult things that are, in fact, possible, despite what people once thought.

It is possible to run a 4-minute mile. It is possible to fly a heavier-than-air plane. It is possible for a person to walk on the moon. It is possible to perform a full-face transplant. It is possible for an African American man to become the President of the United States.

People do “impossible” things every day. If we believe in ourselves and take smart risks, we can, too.

You might not be able to leave your job tomorrow, but you can discover your passion and start a business. You may not be able to win a Webby Award tomorrow, but you can create a site that makes a difference in the world. You might not be able to change that you have a physical limitation, but you can find a way to empower yourself because of it, not in spite of it.

Today if you find yourself dwelling on what’s possible, remind yourself: You can do more than you think if you’re willing to stop making excuses and start testing your limits.

Today’s article was written by Lori Deschene. Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Today’s article was shared from the following website: https://tinybuddha.com/quotes/tiny-wisdom-you-can-do-more-than-you-think/

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The Importance of Forgiveness

An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness is part of the process of healing and letting go of the past.

When two people are angry with each other, each side feels hurt by the other and would like to receive an apology. Unfortunately, many people believe that they “lose” by admitting they hurt the other person. So neither side apologizes and the mutual resentment continues indefinitely. It’s important to remember that you do not lose by apologizing and admitting that you have been hurting the other person. You win and so does the other person.

So what exactly is forgiveness? We have a lot of misconceptions about it. For example, that it means being weak, not demanding justice, excusing the reprehensible behavior, or letting oneself be treated badly. It’s not any of those things! Forgiveness means to cease to feel resentment against someone or something. It is very empowering to know that you can regain your sense of self. You can wake up each day without reliving the past, even though you won’t forget it.

Four myths about forgiveness

  1. Forgiving means forgetting. False! Your brain doesn’t stop remembering. Instead of dwelling on the past, you are now free to protect yourself and move on.
  2. Forgiving means you’re a pushover. Absolutely not! Forgiving puts you in a position of strength. You can still hold people accountable, but you take away that person’s power to hurt you anymore.
  3. Forgiving means you can’t get angry. Not true! You don’t excuse unkind, inconsiderate, selfish behavior nor minimize your own pain. You can’t change the past or predict the future, but you don’t have to suffer forever either.
  4. Forgiving means reconciliation. Not always! It just gives you emotional space to make decisions that are best for you. It helps you decide, with strength and confidence, what’s best for you. You can decide if you want to work things out, or just walk away or do something else.

Why should we forgive?

The Stanford Forgiveness Project has shown that learning to forgive lessens the amount of hurt, anger, stress, and depression that people experience. People who forgive also become more hopeful, optimistic and compassionate and have enhanced conflict resolution skills. This research also found that people who forgive report significantly fewer physical symptoms of stress such as a backache, muscle tension, dizziness, headaches, and upset stomachs. The act of forgiveness also increases energy and overall well-being.

How to forgive

  • Acknowledge the pain you feel and recognize who is responsible for causing that pain.
  • Express your emotions in healthy ways.
  • Release any expectations you have of righting the wrong that was done to you.
  • Be mindful of or restore your boundaries so that this doesn’t happen again. Remind yourself that people cannot give you what they don’t have. Remember what to expect of others.
  • Find new ways to get your needs met in the future.
  • Don’t say things like, “I’m sorry you feel that way.” This is not an apology, but a criticism.
  • Don’t make your apology conditional on the other person’s apology. “I’ll admit I was wrong if you admit you were wrong.” Just apologize for what you did wrong. If the other person wants to apologize back, it is their choice, but do not expect it.
  • Learning to forgive requires acceptance by acknowledging that what happened really happened, instead of wishing it were different.
  • Release the unhealthy attachment you previously maintained concerning how the other person behaves.
  • Reframe your life story and find meaning in the broken places. Redefine, recreate and restructure your life.

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Building Character

The final forming of a person’s character lies in their own hands. Anne Frank

The dirty chores at home on the farm were always “character-building.” My dad always used to say that shoveling out the hog barn “builds character.” What I knew at the time is that the only thing it built was a healthy smell that lingered way too long.

No different than you, just different activities at different times. Those words of “it builds character” echo through our lives. When we get dumped or ignored by someone we think we love, we hear the whisper of “it builds character.” When we are way behind on writing a term paper or preparing for a test, we hear the chant of “it builds character.” When we have the horrible boss experience again, we cling to the words of “it builds character.”

It builds character.

“It” is really just a fill-in-the-blank space to add in:

  • Conflict
  • Hard workbuilds character
  • Civil debate
  • Solving problems
  • Parenting
  • Managing
  • Leading

Each builds character. Just plug it in.

What Is Character?

Character. We know it when we see it. Maybe more importantly, we know it when it is missing.

Headlines fill us in with the individuals lacking character. The headlines feature more than the common criminals. Politicians and business leaders make the front page with many counts of bad character. Bad character knows no boundaries.

The good news is good character knows no boundaries, too. Good character is exemplified every day and too often goes unnoticed. Media attention gets attracted to the obvious places too often.

But character is more than visual. Character is engraved within us. The engraving isn’t always planned and clean. The word “character” comes from the Greek kharakter that means “engraved mark.” The character trace goes back to another definition of “to scrape or scratch.” For me, the combination of engrave, scrape, and scratch fit well with what character really means. Here are my thoughts on why:

  • Engrave – An active art of determining what builds our character – honesty, courage, and the like.
  • Scrape – Learning from the challenges that come our way (or those we create) and then proving what we learned by doing much better than before.
  • Scratch – The act of working our way back when we fall down and gaining strength of integrity from what we experience.

Character is all the good traits we think it is. However, character is much more. Character is a verb, demonstrated in what we do, how we do it, and why we do it. Character is also how we recover.

Character Over Time

Character builds over time. Character is additive. We cannot waste our youth pursuing things that neuter or subtract from our character. Equally true, we cannot spend our older years tearing down the character we built. In both cases, we are wasting time and, most importantly, damaging relationships. Legacy and trust carry a high lifetime value.

Each choice and action we take adds or detracts from our character. Any given day, we should have more positive character choices and actions than negative ones. Getting character right is not a balance exercise. Not even close. We should build character through our good choices and actions as often as we can. We are imperfect. How we respond in our imperfect choices and actions can add to or subtract from our character. This is the choice of our character.

No matter our age, we should never dig a big hole in our character in which we spend a lifetime trying to recover. The younger we are, the longer the lifetime of recovering. And this is why trying to make the best choices possible and take the most appropriate actions as often as possible early in our lives can make a very big difference in the quality of our overall life.

Time-Tested Character

Time matters. Time tests. Character erodes or grows.

Our character is developed through time. More accurately, our character is developed through our experiences and what we choose to learn and do from them. Trials and tribulations are tough. We all have them in some way. We can mask them, pretending they are not really there. We can tackle them, risking relationships and results. What I know is we cannot ignore them, and we must face them.

Character in many ways is a combination of our mind, soul, and backbone.

Character in many ways is a combination of our mind, soul, and backbone. We need to work through our thoughts and pick the ones that matter. We need to understand how the trials are impacting our soul and take the necessary steps to protect and grow. We need to know when to stand up, move on, or protect. Character is tested. How we respond and learn will determine the legacy of our character.

In times of success and prosperity, our character is at risk as well. Just because everything seems to be going very well and we are rich in what we have in our abilities and worth, too often character falters in these good times. Laziness creeps in. Thinking we are above what is normal and right invades our actions. Character loses our attention because we think we have it all.

The only time we have it all is when our character remains intact and grows in strength.

In good times, we need to continue to add to our character by what we say and do. We need to pass on our lessons learned and share our wealth of experience along with whatever else we give. People will remember your stories of character, and these stories deliver much more meaning than a name on a building. Legacy of character carries forward like folklore.

What Builds Character?

Each year, we begin with a ritual with little lasting impact: Resolution-making. Instead of making resolutions, maybe we should do things to build our character every day. Imagine what a year’s worth of character-building could produce.

We should never ignore our habits, though. Habits effect character. Eating right. Exercising frequently. Reading often. All these elements provide the nutrients for a clear mind, activating spirit, and strong backbone. Good habits feed our inner goodness.

With this disclaimer now complete, we return to what can build character every day. I have thought about my own life work experiences, and these seven character activities came to mind:

1 – Work hard to build, create, survive, and excel (in purpose).

Laziness achieves nothing. Work for work’s sake creates little. Whatever our responsibilities, we need to do the work. Whatever our purpose, we need to do our important work. Getting our tempo right will take time. Through doing the work, our time will rise up, and our character will show its strength in purpose. Keep focused on your purpose horizon and do the work.

2 – Engage in tough conversations with empathy and action (don’t put them off).

The easy thing is to sidestep the tough conversations. We need to take deep breaths and determine how to engage in meaningful conversations that make a difference in what we say and what happens next. We cannot control what may happen next, but our character will be stronger if we interact with empathy.

3 – Nurture relationships that matter through good and challenging times (staying power, the power of love).

Too often, the first thing to go when times get challenging are our relationships. They have become almost disposable. Relationships that are damaging physically or psychologically are different. In those, safely leaving is the first step, and these times take strong character as well. Absent the damaging relationships, we need to try hard to make them work, no matter the place. Whether in our homes, neighborhoods, or workplaces, we need to nurture our relationships and find better paths forward.

4 – Exhibit humility in achievement and success (giving credit, giving back).

Be humble in all you do and say. Humility is not permission to be run over. Quite the opposite. See number 2. Humility is knowing we are stronger together than apart. Humility is giving all we have and doing it again.

5 – Be nice when everything tempts you not to be nice.

Being nice is not permission to be run over either. A quiet strength of character exists in being humble and nice. Build this character strength. One of the best professors I had was one of the nicest, kindest guys, but you did not want to skip the work. Being nice doesn’t mean low expectations. Too often, we want to play to the crowd and say outrageous things to incite or fit into one. Instead, we need to stand out by saying and doing things that are helpful.

6 – Always get up, no matter what, to create something better than the day before.

We will get knocked down and stepped on. Two things to remember. First, there is an old political adage that says “what goes around, comes around.” If someone is stepping on us, holding us back, or ignoring us, nature has a way of dealing with this, so focus on what you can do and do so with a strong sense of character. Second, keep getting up and creating what you are meant to do. After all, this is the only way your purpose will take root and begin to bloom.

7 – No task is too small and no person is too ordinary or extraordinary to extend a hand and help.

Never think or do things that make others feel small. Always pitch in no matter the task. Our hands are meant to be extended in a helpful way; it is why we have arms and elbows! We are designed to do the work, hug each other, and extend a helpful hand.

These are the things I know will build character. Each come from my experiences on the farm, school, college, work in politics and business, and family. How you build character may differ, which is okay. The point is to understand what builds your character and go do those things as often as you can.

David Brooks wrote an important book, The Road to Character, and I recommend it highly. I like this telling statistic and point he made in this NPR interview:

“My favorite statistic about this is that in 1950 the Gallup organization asked high school seniors: Are you a very important person? And in 1950, 12 percent said yes. They asked again in 2005 and it was 80 percent who said they were a very important person. So we live in a culture that encourages us to be big about ourselves, and I think the starting point of trying to build inner goodness is to be a little bit smaller about yourself.”

We need to remember to be big in our character and reduce the size of our personality. Personal brand chatter focuses too much on superficial things and too much on self-importance. If you want to build a sustainable personal brand, focus on your personal character early and often. Determine what will stand.

Today’s article was written by Jon Mertz and has been shared from the following website: https://www.thindifference.com/2016/01/what-builds-character/

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