Fear’s Toothless Bite

I was 4 years into a relationship with a wonderful young lady; but she wasn’t meant to be my wonderful young lady. I had an ulcer to prove it…literally.

The source of the ulcer was a complete mystery. I had gone from being perfectly healthy coffeeto experiencing constant pain and not even being able to take a sip of coffee. (I’m sorry. I should have warned you that this was going to get ugly.) The doctors couldn’t figure it out and prescription medications had zero effect.

It ended up taking a three-and-a-half hour flight south of the border to unveil the cause.

I wasn’t even looking forward to this trip, but it had been booked for months and my brother Allen and our friend Adam were going, so backing out wasn’t an option. Little did I know how magical the waters of the Caribbean could be.

A quick aerial leap over the Gulf of Mexico and I went from avoiding milk to being able to comfortably enjoy Mexico’s most famous indigenous bar time beverage. That was the moment I came to understand how devastating stress could be. I also realized how good it could be at building so gradually that you have no idea how stressed you truly are. We are the proverbial frog and stress can heat up so gradually that by the time we come to our senses we are taking a shot of tequila south of the border, wondering where in the world that brutal ulcer went.

It seems odd, but I had no clue my relationship was having that effect on me. But now I knew. And just in case I needed additional evidence, the day before we returned home my unpleasant reminder returned with a vengeance. I was miserable physically and psychologically. And it was completely and totally my fault.

“Once your fear of continuing on as you are is greater than the fear of making the change, then you will do what you need to do,” a very wise friend named Peter Buckland counseled.

Unfortunately the fear of continuing on wasn’t enough for me. I needed three heaping scoops of fear topped with a giant mound of whipped ulcer and the cherry was the fact that I couldn’t even drink coffee!

Around this time a prayer kept coming to my mind. Perhaps it was through my talks with Peter that the thought originated. I’m not sure. But writing about it now, I think it reveals how permanent I believed my decision to end that relationship would be. I felt like it would be the end of all romantic relationships in my life. There would be no second chance. I had been given a relationship with an amazing person and if I broke it off there would never, ever be a Mrs. Phillips.

Here was, in essence, my prayer: “Lord, if you give me another chance, I will pursue the woman you reveal to me, and no matter how much fear I feel during that process, I will act in spite of it. I will act as if I am fearless.”

I wasn’t bargaining with God. It was more like I had come to terms with the ugly fact that fear can keep you from opening a door to a much better life, and that you might never get a chance to go through that door again. I couldn’t bear the thought of a feeling ruining my life or making it less than it could be. It wasn’t a bargain, it was a resolution. I was done letting fear push me around. I was done with fear. Period.

That decision changed my life.

Honeymoon
Your greatest accomplishments will occur on the other side of your fears, and that’s where I found this pretty lady. Her name’s Nicole. 😉

But right then, I was right where fear wanted me. I was a wreck AND willing to stay a wreck because getting out of the wreck would make me wrecked-er…more wrecked?…whatever! See how stupid it seems from a distance? Absurd, isn’t it.

Why don’t you tell me how many decisions in your life right now are being dictated by fear. It’s way more than you want to admit, I guarantee it. How stupid do those fears feel? Your “wrecks” are completely different than mine was aren’t they. Right….

Take one of your fears (you can start with one of the smallest) and in your mind transfer the whole scenario surrounding that fear to a friend you know well. Vividly imagine them explaining it to you. Now tell me how that fear looks. Did it just shift from being very justifiable way closer to the absurd? What would you advise your friend to do in that situation?

Now you know what you should do.

Dog attackYou get to choose the role fear plays in your life. Fear can’t actually do anything to you at all! It is all bark and no bite. It is simply a vague idea that things won’t go in a way that you prefer if you take a particular course of action. And by the time you reach the point where you are willing to kick fear in the teeth, you realize it never had any in the first place. My fear told me I wouldn’t get another chance, and I was dumb enough to believe it.

The point is, fear lies. Fear lies a lot. The things we fear almost never come to pass.

Fear’s real power and influence comes in its ability to alter the course of your life in a negative way. And the more you yield to that fear, the stronger it gets. It feeds on your submission, just like an addiction. And that, my friends, is wonderful news.

It’s wonderful news because you can stop letting it dictate your decisions right now. You might feel fear, but you can still look at your situation and make a decision that flies in the face of it. Just like a junior high bully, fear backs down when you stand up to it. Stand up to it enough and it pretty much leaves you alone. Fear eventually figures out that you won’t put up with it. Besides, there are plenty of easier targets around.

Easter
12 years in and 2 kids later, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Fear told me to stay put in my misery and if I didn’t my future would be a disaster; but now I have a beautiful wife and Saturday, May 11th was our 12th anniversary. We even have two kids who are 7 and 9, so it’s getting pretty serious! And that prayer I told you about earlier…well it ended up being pretty necessary in order to land Nicole. She wasn’t exactly an “easy catch” as they say. I felt fears, but my decisions weren’t based on them. I learned to act in spite of fear.

I have since applied that same mindset to the other areas of my life. “And what about fear?” you ask. Well, fear’s moved on to the next guy.

 

And Heaven Moves

When you tell a friend who is going through a hard time that your “thought and prayers” are with them, you mean it. But some would say that your attempt to bring comfort amounts to empty words. I have a friend who would strongly disagree with those skeptics. He and I went through the Dale Carnegie Professional Training program together, and with tears in his eyes, and a shaky voice, he finally made it through this story.

His name is Terry.

Terry’s eyes shoot open! By the time he regains consciousness, he realizes that he is Scared in bedsitting up in bed. He’s not just sitting up, but his heart is also pounding in his chest. His breathing is short and quick.

What’s going on?!

He looks around the room and his eyes settle on the blue numbers on his digital clock on the nightstand. It’s 2:33 am.

Somethings wrong.

He doesn’t know how he knows. But he knows. Something is very wrong. But what? How would I even know?…

Ben! It’s Ben! Something’s happened to my son! What can I do?! I don’t even know where he is!

(PRAY.)

The word wasn’t audible, but it might as well have been. There was authority behind it, and it wasn’t a request. It was a command.

Terry threw his covers off, jumped out of his bed and fell to his knees. Then he opened his mouth and said the first words that would come to any loving father’s mind.

“Dear God! Please…please, protect my son.”

(Exactly one minute and thirty seconds earlier.)

Dark windy roadsBen is exhausted as he drives home after working the late shift.

Too much drama. Not enough pay. He thinks as he continues on, trying desperately to stay awake for the 25 minute commute.

His eyes start to droop as he navigates the dark windy roads of Northwest Arkansas.

BAM! He hears a sudden noise and opens his eyes! But it’s too late.

The right side of his car goes off of the steep shoulder and his wheels are turned sharply to the left. The axle holding the right front wheel bends as that tire takes the impact of the rocky ground and sends the mid-sized car flipping down the side of Highway 16.

Ben doesn’t notice the deafening crashing sounds, or the shattering glass that sends tiny shards into his arms and face. He is completely unaware of everything until

I can’t breathe!

He can barely move, but he does his best to groggily asses the situation. The car is upside down. His head and some of his upper body are outside of the car, but the rest is in some weird, twisted position around the steering wheel and dashboard. As the blood starts to fill his right eye, he makes one feeble effort to free himself and absolutely nothing moves. All he feels is the pain.

That’s when he realizes how desperate his situation is. The mangled car has pinned him to the ground and is crushing his chest. To be able to breathe, he would have to lift the entire weight of the car. His lungs slowly start to ache.

(75 miles away at that very moment.)

“Dear God! Please…please, protect my son…….” and the tears and groans of a loving father Dad Prayingbegin to flow.

Just as Ben is starting to lose consciousness he hears a faint sound. As it gets closer, he realizes that it sounds like someone walking on gravel. It seems like a dream, but it keeps getting closer. His will to hang on gets a boost when he sees a shoe less than a foot away from his head.

The steps stop, then he senses the person stooping down. His hand brushes Ben’s shoulder as he grips the edge of the twisted car.

The metal creaks loudly and tiny pieces of glass start falling like jagged drops of rain as the side of the 3,400 pound Camry is lifted completely off of the ground.

Inhale!

The oxygen burns as it enters his lungs and for a few moments he doesn’t notice the pain as the euphoria of being able to breathe sweeps over him.

As his breathing starts to slow, the pain returns. He doesn’t even try to locate the source because it feels like it’s coming from everywhere, and it is more pain than he has ever felt in his entire life.

As if his very welcome guest could sense his panic, he speaks.

“You’re going to be okay, Ben. Just don’t move.”

The words are confident….calm…loving…

A wave of peace flows over Ben as he drifts off into oblivion.

Emergency VehiclesHe opens his eyes when he hears the scream of sirens and all he can see is emergency lights flashing all around him. As his eyes adjust, he looks around him and thankfully takes a breath when he sees the same shoes right next to his head. He then looks at his chest where the car was crushing him. He takes a deep breath and winces as pain shoots through his ribs. Then he notices the car, still suspended 6 inches above his broken and bruised body.

How long have I been here?! he wonders to himself.

About thirty minutes. But you’ll be out soon.

Ben tries to move to see the man’s face, but he is leaning over and it is blocked by the car. As his clarity of thought starts to return, it occurs to him how crazy this all is.

“Sir, what is your….”

The emergency personnel quickly surround Ben, checking his vitals, telling him not to move. Soon the Jaws of Life come out and within minutes, Ben is on a stretcher being wheeled towards the waiting ambulance.

“Where is the man who helped me?” Ben asks, immediately realizing there is no way the EMT heart him over all of the noise.

“The man! Where is he?!”

The closest paramedic hears him. “Who’s that, son?”

“The one who helped me. I couldn’t breathe. He lifted the car.” His thoughts are still a little jumbled.

“He sure did, son!”

“Who is he?!”

“We don’t know. None of us have ever seen him before.”

“Well…where did he go?!” Ben asks, desperate to thank the man who kept him from suffocating.

“I’m not sure, son. He just started walking that way,” he said and pointed.

Right before they load him into the ambulance, Ben looks off in the direction the man isDark road pointing and sees a nothing but a dark, windy road. He squints and strains his eyes until they hurt, and when he is totally convinced that there is absolutely nobody else on that deserted Arkansas road, he slowly turns his eyes towards the heavens.

 

A True Warrior’s Motivation

My brother-in-law set aside his life as a successful entrepreneur to serve the people and the country he loves. Make sure that whatever you are fighting for is inspired by love. It is the only drive that is inexhaustible and results in a truly fulfilling life.

Anger, resentment and revenge are motivators that burn hot. But they also burn out fast and take you with them. But when love is acted on, it is refueled by the responses of others and your own internal response. As far as motivators go, it is the only renewable resource.

Jordan Meme

Transform Your Sales Career by Casting a Vision

I have been a salesman, and I never enjoyed it. What I really love to do is bless others and improve their lives. But recently, as I was reflecting on many of the things I am currently doing, I realized that in every endeavor, goods, services or money was changing hands.

“Wait a minute,” I thought. “I am a salesman. It just doesn’t feel like it. What’s going on

Typical Salesman
If you see this salesman and you think, “Hey! That guy looks like me!” you might want to hire an image consultant.

here?” For the next few weeks, I let my mind explore this scenario. What I saw in each context, whether it was one of our businesses, ministry I was doing, or a combination of both, was this: I have a compelling vision for what I want to accomplish; it is something I am very passionate about; and I share that vision with other people. Voila!

If you have gone through the Dale Carnegie professional development course (I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to grow) you learn something very important about enthusiasm. It’s awfully contagious! When I explain my vision, I am very enthusiastic, because it’s something I am very passionate about. People I talk to like the vision, the enthusiasm would be “caught”, and often without even asking, they want to “come along”, which meant I would get a “sale” or “partner”.

This was fascinating, but when it really got exciting was the day I realized I could transfer these principles to other people in different industries. Here is how this came about:

VIsion Casting
You need a very clear idea of your vision before anyone else can get excited about it.

One of my best friends is in wealth management. He loves the industry, but he was hitting a wall when it came to getting new clients. I then realized that he was having the exact same issue I did when I was a salesman about 15 years ago. I know his life story quite well, so I decided to try to craft a “vision” based on his life and what I knew he could accomplish in other people’s lives. I did this early one morning and was so excited that I had to tell him before he went to work.

Rather than just try to “sell his services”, I asked what he thought about taking a different approach, using actual events from his life.

“I know what it is like to grow up poor. I wore second-hand clothes from the thrift store Inspire Memeto school, had worn out shoes, and every month my family struggled to pay the bills. It was not fun, and I missed out on a lot of opportunities because of it. Most people have gotten financial help from their parents, but I have had to help mine out over the years. I have spent the past few years learning the world of investing from some of the best in the industry. Becoming a millionaire, something I used to think was almost impossible, is quite an attainable goal for most. It is my personal mission to help as many people as possible avoid the hardships that I faced, and in the next two years, I want to put 100 people on the path to becoming millionaires.”

That, my friends, makes me want to become a financial adviser! Helping 100 people become millionaires is something that would get almost anybody excited and if someone is not currently on that path, I bet you they want to get onto it as quickly as possible.

Here are the steps to help you create your own, unique vision to change the lives of others.

1.  Be “other-centered”, rather than self-centered
The story above was largely about my friend, but his mission was completely about Focus on othershelping other people. Will he benefit from helping them? Absolutely! But it is the by-product, and not the focus, of his mission.

2.  Craft a story and vision that gets YOU excited!
Whatever product or service you offer meets a need. How can it have a dramatic impact on others? If you can accomplish anything you want using what you offer to help others, what would that be?

Big dreams inspire others, so don’t hold back! You will know you are onto something when an idea makes your heart start beating faster. Follow that thread, and the excitement will start to grow. As soon as you have something you really like, you will have trouble keeping it to yourself.

3.  Make your vision better
Write your vision and story down and refine it. Once you have it where you want it, tell it to some of your close friends and family and allow them to tell you how it affects them. Listen to their feedback and make more improvements

4. Say “good bye” to the awkward world of traditional sales

Paper Trash
Don’t memorize a dry sales script. Listen with empathy, refine your story and speak from the heart.

You can now throw your dry “sales pitches” in the trash, because you are now casting a vision for a better future! You are showing other people how their lives can be improved and equipping them with a message that is memorable and easy to pass on. When people truly catch your vision and hear your enthusiasm, they will be excited to join you on the journey!

Let me know how you apply this approach and the effects it has on your business. If you need help crafting your own vision, I am here to help. And if you are not currently on the path to becoming a millionaire, and you want to be, I can absolutely connect you to the man who can lead you there!

(Like learning about business, personal development, and how to use your life to make a difference? Enter your email in the “Subscribe” field on the right and you’ll get my concise, helpful and very entertaining posts in your email as soon as I write a new one! 🙂  )

The Lemonade Stand

Have you ever heard of a child that was afraid to set up a lemonade stand because she might not sell enough lemonade? Me neither.

But as adults, probably the number one reason that men and women don’t start businesses and become entrepreneurs is fear.

“…for most people, entrepreneurship ends in childhood. Why? Because as we get older, it

Lemonade Stand Book
This book is short, fun and insanely practical! Every aspiring entrepreneur should read it.

gets riskier.”  Ara Bagdasarian and Nick Gustavsson write in The Lemonade Stand: What Every Entrepreneur Should Know to Succeed in Starting and Running Any Business.

For a child, setting up a lemonade stand is fun! We enjoy the possibility of making some extra money, offering something refreshing to people on a hot day, and engaging with people when they stop by. It is an adventure with untold possibilities. I believe that entrepreneurship for an adult is even more exciting, and the fear most people have of it is largely due to misconceptions.

Here are some common misconceptions related to starting your own business along with my thoughts on how to correct them:

1. I have to take out a second mortgage on my home, or find millions in venture capital

CORRECTION: “Entrepreneurship” should be seen as a synonym for “problem solving”. If you see a problem that has not been solved, that is a potential opportunity for you to step in and solve it. And now with things like 3-D printing, the days of spending $30,000 to create a prototype are largely gone.

Lemonade-StandI am currently working on “solving a problem” and have a local 18 year old who knows CAD, owns a 3-D printer and is charging me $15 an hour to create my prototype! Once I have my prototype, I will take that to the company I want to distribute it and I will sell the item from the prototype, then have it produced. The whole process will cost me next to nothing.

2. I have to quit my day job, and then what happens if my idea doesn’t work?!

CORRECTION: There’s a reason “Don’t quit your day job.” is so common that it has become a saying. That’s because it’s very clear that it’s a dumb idea! Almost all ideas can be worked on late in the evening, early in the morning and on the weekends. As your idea gains momentum and starts producing revenue, maybe you can negotiate one day off a week from your normal job.

Once it consistently generates the same amount of income as you get from your “day job”, feel free to quit! But don’t do it too soon. Many jump ship prematurely, and endure  hardships unnecessarily. It is much better to build a business gradually in your spare time and never risk your family’s financial future, than to put yourself in a position where if it doesn’t pan out quickly you’re ruined.

3. I can’t possibly compete with WalMart! 

CORRECTION: You’re right! You would have a very hard time assembling that many people in one place who know basically nothing about what they are doing.

WalMart sells lots of basic stuff at a low price. You’re not going to do that. You’re going to solve a problem that has not yet been solved. The second you do that (and do that exceptionally well) you have differentiated yourself from EVERY business out there. If you don’t stop there, but keep iterating (creating newer, better versions of your product or service) even if someone does try to compete with you, they won’t be able to keep up.

There are risks associated with starting your own business. But if you’re wise about it, those risks can be minimized. Setting up a lemonade stand as a child was a blast, and opening a business and solving problems as an adult is even more fun. You are no longer just quenching someone’s thirst, you are making people’s lives better! Now get out there and solve some problems!

(Like learning about business, personal development, and how to use your life to make a difference? Enter your email in the “Subscribe” field on the right and you’ll get my concise, helpful and very entertaining posts in your email Monday thru Friday when I write a new one! 🙂  )

The Power of Routine

Your daily routine will ultimately determine your destination. W.H. Auden, the playwright, poet and author said, “Routine, in an intelligent man (or woman, of course) is a sign of ambition..”

Most of your major achievements in life will not be made in giant leaps. Rather, they will be accomplished little by little as you make tiny steps in the right direction. You do not get in good shape by going out and impulsively running a marathon, and you do not become an expert by spending all day reading a single book on a topic. Routine Collage

The more positive aspects you include in your regular routine will allow you to make consistent progress in the areas you prioritize. I am, unfortunately, a rather slow reader. But I do not let this stop me. I always have a book with me and I read very regularly, typically in the morning and evening, but also when I get stuck in a waiting room or in line. As a result, since I have been keeping track, I have now read over 600 books on all different topics, from cover to cover.

To harness the power of routine, take a little time each day to begin with something inspiring, regularly exercise, and crack open a book on a topic of interest or related to your work. Keep at it for a while, and before you know it you will get in better shape, people will start asking you what you think on various topics, and you will in general become a better person. Such small but very consistent steps are how legends are made.

A Life Lesson from Zorro….?

If you saw him performing with his lifelong friend Lenny Kravitz, you would assume he Zoro and Lennywas just like any other world class rock star….and boy would you be wrong!

Zoro the Drummer is an anomaly, an outlier, an exception. You get the point. And his story is nothing short of phenomenal! Growing up in abject poverty to a single Christian mother, he discovered his passion for drumming at the age of 6. He then spent his life pursuing his passion relentlessly, while never leaving his Christian roots behind.

Zoro“Your days are limited, but your good deeds are not,” Zoro said in an interview with Ken Coleman, the host of the Entreleadership podcast. He not only knows that truth, but he lives it everywhere he goes. Zoro orders inspirational books by the thousands and gives them away, along with extra autographed drumsticks he keeps on hand, to fans everywhere he goes. He is also an author, (his most recent book Soar: 9 Proven Keys for Unlocking Your Limitless Potential will soon be in my library) speaker, fearless evangelist and has his own ministry (http://www.zoroministries.org/).

“What is your point?!” you ask.

It is simply this (and I think Zoro would agree). Whatever gifts or talents you possess were not given to you for your enjoyment. They were given to you to provide a platform unique only to you, so that you can use them to bless and encourage others.

For years, I have been an entrepreneur, starting many different kinds of businesses. But

Worthshop Gang
This is a crew of workers at a recycling facility I helped start to provide jobs for the homeless.

making money never has been enough for me. It is only in the last few years that I have pinpointed my sweet spot, that place where I love what I am doing and have the greatest impact. I use the business gifts God has given me and I have worked to develop to help non-profits and ministries to develop entrepreneurial ventures to fund themselves and provide jobs, especially for the homeless. I also love teaching what I learn to others, which is why I started writing consistently.

Where you are and what you can do are not incidental. They are both a part of God’s plan for your life, and as soon as you recognize that and start looking for opportunities to bless others, your work and your life will take on a new level of meaning and fulfillment!

*You can meet Zoro and hear his amazing story here: https://www.entreleadership.com/podcasts/207-zoro-the-drummerwhy-the-world-nee