Friday, May 30, 2008

Lessons Learned from the Scratched Ferrari

I volunteer as the Scout Master in our local troop and am currently helping the boys with the Cinematography merit badge. For our script, we needed to film one of the scenes with a luxury car(s), so I arranged with one of my neighbors who has two beautiful Ferraris to film this scene at his home last week.

My five year old son came with me for the filming and was to have a part in the scene as an elf. We were in my neighbor’s garage and he was showing me the pictures on his wall of fame and shame (crashes) of his various vehicles. As we were looking at the pictures, we heard a crash and turned around to see a chair on the front of the red Ferrari. In front of the Ferrari was a raised workbench area with a chair on wheels. My son had accidentally knocked the chair off the workbench platform onto the Ferrari.

Lesson 1
C.S. Lewis taught, “Surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats; it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am.” (C.S Lewis, Mere Christianity, (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996) p.166)

A chair damaging my neighbor’s Ferrari definitely caught both me and my neighbor off guard and would certainly classify as a sudden provocation. My son ran and hid behind one of our friends who was with us, who later told me my son’s heart was beating extremely fast as he waited to see what would happen next. I was quite impressed by my neighbor’s reaction. He remained clam and said to my son, “That is why they make paint; I will be able to have it fixed.” From my interaction with this neighbor at church, my impressions were that he was a wonderful disciple of Christ. To see that his immediate reaction was one of patience, love, and concern for my son illustrated that my neighbor truly was a man who had the attributes of love, caring, and patience to his very core.

Lesson 2
When we arrived home after filming, I told Mitchell that even though it was an accident, he was still responsible for the damage that he had caused and he needed to give all the money he had worked for and had been saving over the last several months to our neighbor to help pay for the repair. Well, my son didn’t like this idea and began to cry saying, “I don’t want to lose all my money. I will have to start all over.” I explained to him that when we damage something that is not ours we have the responsibility and duty to pay to repair the damage. His crying continued as I had him take all the dollars and coins out of his savings jar and put them in an envelope for me to take to our neighbor.

As I write this I am reminded of incidences from the life of Abraham Lincoln, who on multiple occasions repaid debt and met financial obligations under severe distress. One of these incidences occurred in 1837, when Lincoln and others had incurred a large financial obligation. Many of those who owed the obligation were impoverished from The Panic of 1837 and none of the debtors were flourishing. Some sought to be relieved of the burden by seeking a legislative amendment which would have removed the obligation, but Lincoln objected to such action saying, “We have the benefit. Let us stand to our obligations like men.” These were trying times for each of those repaying the debt, and at this time Abraham Lincoln’s financial condition was described as worse than penniless because of the burden of debt upon him. At times he was unable to supply even his most pressing needs. Great sacrifices were made to make the payments and repay the debt, and finally after 8 long years the debt was paid in full. The painfully liquidated note is now framed and displayed in a banking-house at Springfield where all who enter may see. It serves as a memorial to the rectitude of the community during those trying times. (Alonzo Rothschild, Honest Abe, (Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1917) p. 222-224)

Hopefully, this lesson will help my son learn the need to “stand to his obligations like a man.”

Lesson 3
I returned to my neighbor’s home with an envelope containing my son’s money and a blank check payable to him. When he answered the door, I explained my desire to pay to have the Ferrari repaired. I handed him the envelope and told him that my son had emptied his savings and that I had also enclosed a check to cover the cost to repair the damage. My neighbor handed me back the envelope and check and said, “You are a man of honor, but I can’t take this.” I replied, “I am responsible for the damage and I want to pay to fix it. It’s not fair for you to be responsible for it.” My neighbor then explained that he would be able to have it repaired and that I did not need to worry about it. He then said, “I view it as a donation—a gift.”

My neighbor extended grace to me. He agreed to pay for the damage to his Ferrari that I was responsible for as a gift. Likewise, Christ has paid the price for our sins so we do not have to. Through Christ’s grace, we can be freed from paying the penalty for our sins.

One of the principles inborn within each of us is the principle of justice and fairness. If I were to ask you, “At the final judgment, do you want to be judged fairly by Christ?,” what would you say? Many to whom I have posed this question answer yes. The reality, however, is that if we were to be judged fairly, we would all go to hell because each of us has sinned and thus broke the law. As a result, we cannot be saved in heaven if judged fairly. This is where Christ comes in—He is our Savior. He has paid the penalty for our sins and thus can extend to us His grace and mercy. Those who receive Eternal Life do so as a gift from Christ, not because they have earned it or deserve it.

My initial reaction to my neighbor’s gift was that it was not fair for him to pay for something that was my responsibility. Likewise, I think some have a hard time accepting the doctrine of the grace of Christ because it is not fair. It is not fair that we should receive a great reward like Everlasting Life as a gift. In an attempt to make things more fair, some try to earn or work for Eternal Life thinking, “Surely, I must have to earn such a great reward.” The Bible teaches that salvation “. . . is not dependent upon the merits (Romans 3:27), wisdom, or the works of man to any degree; it is given as a free gift to man through God's grace or benevolence.” (Sidney B. Sperry, Paul's Life and Letters, p. 174) The idea of being given eternal life when we haven’t earned it seems to violate the law of justice and fairness and thus is hard for some to accept even though it is true.

A wonderful story from the Old Testament tells of the Lord teaching the Israelites the doctrine of the grace and mercy of Christ. The children of Israel spoke against God and Moses and to chasten the children of Israel “the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it came to pass, that everyone that is bitten when he looketh upon it shall live. And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.” (Number 21:6-9, King James Version)

This story in Numbers is an obvious type of Christ. The biting of the people by the serpents is symbolic of sin. Just as there was no way the Israelites could cure themselves of the bites from the serpents, so we can’t cure ourselves of sin or spiritual death, which we all experience because of the fall. The serpent on the pole or cross is symbolic of the atonement of Christ, while the request to look to the serpent and be healed or saved from the bites of the serpents is symbolic of accepting the Savior and thus allowing Him to save us. All the Israelites had to do was look to the serpent and live. However, there were many of the Israelites who did not look at the serpent because it seemed too simple, too easy. Their task was to look and be saved, but there were many who would not, thus choosing to perish. Today there are many who have not fully accepted the doctrine of the grace and mercy of Christ because it seems too easy. It just isn’t fair and thus they try to work their way to heaven.

“Many people, even some Christians, think about themselves through the eyeglasses of the law. Because these eyeglasses are perfection-oriented, they focus upon and magnify all of one’s failures. When such a person has a week in which everything goes well, then he feels good about himself. But if things are less than perfect, his self-esteem drops. In a fallen world, guess which state is more common! So these people become performance oriented in order to reach up toward perfection. It is a man-centered way to feel good about yourself. Using the “law-eyeglasses” dooms a person to failure every time. Perfection is the standard, performance is the method, and depression is the outcome.

“There is another way to attain a healthy self-esteem. It’s called the gospel of Jesus Christ. Listen to the words of Paul, ‘But not apart from the Law the righteousness of God had been manifested. . . the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all those who believe; for there is no distinction; for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.’ (Romans 3:21-24)

“Because I have accepted and trusted in Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, God now, through grace, sees me as righteous. It’s a whole new pair of glasses to see myself through! Here’s how these “glasses” work. As I put them on, the reality that first impresses me is that I see all men are sinners. Everyone is falling short of the mark. Then I look at myself. All the mistakes, failures, and sins are still there but now, through the eyes of faith, I see that grace has made me acceptable to God. I take a second look just to make sure it’s true. Yes, God in His perfection has accepted me totally apart from the law’s demands and my performance. This is great! Now I don’t have to perform to be accepted. Now I can accept myself. Now I can live with ‘me’ and really get to like me. I have a whole new outlook upon myself. There are Christians who’ve been saved for years but are still wearing the old law-eyeglasses! How regrettable! Let me make a suggestion if you find yourself to be one of these frustrated, performance oriented people. Are you uncomfortable? Go to the doctor and get a new prescription. You will find your new glasses in Romans 3:24. Throw away the old glasses and start living a whole new life! See yourself by faith, the same way God sees you. It will begin to affect you in new and wonderful ways because, as you think in your heart, so are you.” (Ken Radke, But Grace is Enough, (Fort Washington, PA: Christian Literature Crusade, 1991) p. 71-74)

There is no other way to be saved but by grace. As taught the Savior, “I am the away, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6, King James Version)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Top 10 Signs That Your Bag Has Holes

1. Your 31-year-old lives at home and you still give him an allowance.
2. Your investment strategy is “zero interest for 12 months.”
3. When your credit card is stolen, you decide not to report it because the thief is spending less than you did.
4. You keep telling your spouse, “My checking account isn’t overdrawn, it’s underfunded.”
5. Your biggest achievement last year was hooking up your TiVo.
6. You think “Warren Buffet” is an all-you-can-eat restaurant.
7. Your life motto is “Oops, I did it again.”
8. You hope to live off airline and hotel points when you retire.
9. You think “socialism” is something you do at a party.
10. You like to gamble because actually flushing money down a toilet can clog the drain.

10 More Signs That Your Bag Has Holes

1. Donald Trump is your hairstylist and example of success.
2. To have your finances “fixed,” you contact a veterinarian.
3. Your retirement plan is centered on finding the end of a rainbow.
4. Your gospels include Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Oprah.
5. Your best business idea is teaching your goose to lay golden eggs.
6. You found your financial advisors through a psychic hotline.
7. You schedule a U-haul for your funeral so you can “take it with you.”
8. Your idea of a balanced portfolio is lottery tickets and casino gambling.
9. You wish there was a luxury version of macaroni and cheese so you could out do the Joneses.
10. You will be able to retire once your children qualify for Social Security.

Friday, May 23, 2008

If You Want to Succeed, You Need to Read

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body: as by the one, health is preserved, strengthened, and invigorated; by the other, virtue (which is the health of the mind) is kept alive, cherished, and confirmed.” (Joseph Addison, The Works of Joseph Addison, Volume III, (New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers, 1864) p. 42) “When we read inspired, thought-provoking books, we grow richer in all phases of our lives. In short, reading has the power to transform us from what we are right now to what we could be in the future.” (Burke Hedges, Read & Grow Rich, (Tampa, FL, INTI Publishing, 2000) p. 3)

Reading is a shortcut to success. The Greek philosopher Socrates taught, “Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.” A book provides a powerful way to learn in a few hours what others have learned in a lifetime.

Block out time each day to read positive, inspiring books. In 2006, the average American watched 4 hours and 45 minutes of television a day and read 18 minutes a day from books. (Publisher Weekly, September 18, 2006, p. 4) The libraries of the world are full of knowledge free for the taking. In the words of Mark Twain, “The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read.”

I read books frequently and have built a nice personal library. I have read well over 1,000 books during the last 14 years when I first developed a passion for reading. I am often asked what my favorite books are so I went through my library and wrote down the books that have had a significant impact on me. Most of the book on this lists I have read multiple times. They are in alphabetical order by title.

1. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
A wonderful novel on the principles of capitalism and the effects of government interference. If you don’t want to read it’s 1200 pages, I would highly recommend the abridged audio book, which has a very entertaining reader. Quote from the book, “Physical labor as such can extend no further than the range of the moment. The man who does no more than physical labor, consumes the material value-equivalent of his own contribution to the process of production, and leaves no further value, neither for himself nor others. But the man who produces an idea . . . is the permanent benefactor of humanity. . . It is only the value of an idea that can be shared with unlimited numbers of men, making all sharers richer at no one’s sacrifice or loss, raising the productive capacity of whatever labor they perform.”

2. But Grace is Enough by Ken Radke
This book greatly helped me understand and apply the doctrine of grace to my life. Quote from the book, “Have you ever felt the need for a second chance? Have you ever wanted to erase the last several days and start over with a clean slate? If so, what you are really longing for is grace. It’s more than a theological concept. It’s the most powerful life-changing force in the world today.”

3. Does Your Bag Have Holes? 24 Truths That Lead to Financial and Spiritual Freedom by Cameron C. Taylor
Even though I am the author, I still regularly read this book for inspiration and to continually reinforce the principles that are taught.

4. God Wants You to Be Rich by Paul Zane Pilzer
Paul Zane Pilzer shares the following story at the beginning of the book:
“Professor Pilzer!” the women exclaimed, following me into the elevator after my speech. “I must tell you how much your work has changed my life!” “In what way?” I asked. “All my life I wanted to be rich,” she replied. “But I always believed that I could only succeed in business at the expense of someone else, and as a good Christian I could never do that. Reading your book and hearing you speak has shown me how wrong I was!” The women explained that two years ago, at age fifty-five, she had gone into her own business, and that she was now making three times more money than she had earned after working thirty-two years for someone else. “How does your new financial success relate to your religious beliefs?” I inquired. “That’s the real tragedy of my life,” she replied. “For fifty-five years, I believed that God didn’t want me to have money, that the economy was always heading downhill, and that the only way to climb to the top was by stepping on someone else. But I was wrong! Now I realize that these views were just excuses for my lack of initiative, and that the one thing God wants me to do most as a good Christian is to be rich. That’s why he created a world where the more successful I am, the more wealth there is for everyone else to share.”

5. Good to Great by Jim Collins
Jim Collins and his team of researchers began their quest by sorting through a list of 1,435 companies, looking for those that made substantial improvements in their performance over time. They finally settled on 11—including Fannie Mae, Gillette, Walgreens, and Wells Fargo—and discovered common traits that challenged many of the conventional notions of corporate success.

6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
Quote from the book, “Investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.”

7. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
This memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival. Between 1942 and 1945 Frankl labored in four different camps, including Auschwitz, while his parents, brother, and pregnant wife perished. Based on his own experience and the experiences of those he treated in his practice, Frankl argues that we cannot avoid suffering but we can choose how to cope with it, find meaning in it, and move forward with renewed purpose.

8. Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
C.S. Lewis is a brilliant writer. I have read most of his non-fiction writings and this book is my favorite.

9. More Than a Hobby by David Green
A fantastic book by the founder and CEO of Hobby Lobby on how he expanded his $600 start-up into a $1.3 billion per-year enterprise. Provides great examples of how he has applied the principles of the Bible in his business. Quote from the book, “There is a God, and He’s not averse to business. He’s not just a ‘Sunday deity.’ He understands margins and spreadsheets, competition and profits. I appreciate the open door to discuss all those things with Him.”

10. Sam Walton by Sam Walton
I have read numerous biographies and this is one of my favorites. Quote from the book, “There’s absolutely no limit to what plain, ordinary working people can accomplish if they’re given the opportunity and the encouragement.”

11. The 10 Natural Laws of Successful Time and Life Management by Hyrum W. Smith
The creator of the Franklin Day Planner shares powerful laws on life and time management.

12. The Cash Flow Quadrant by Robert Kiyosaki
This book explains four ways to make money: employee, self-employed, business owner, and investor. This book helped me take the leap of faith into the world of entrepreneurship.

13. The Choice by Og Mandino
Og Mandino has a wonderful way of weaving principles of success into stories. I think I particularly liked this story because the main character is an author.

14. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
The authors performed an extensive study to find the ideas, beliefs, and behaviors that enabled millionaires to build and maintain their fortunes.

15. The New Testament (Bible)
This book changed my life in an instant. My brother was listening to the Sermon on the Mount while I was in the car, and I was filled with the Spirit of God so strongly that I went from a declared atheist on a path of sin to a believer in God with a strong desire to be a disciple of Christ.

16. The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson
A little book with some great insights on prayer and becoming a good receiver. Quote from the book, “When Christian executives ask me, ‘Is it right for me to ask God for more business?’ My response is, ‘Absolutely!’ If you’re doing your business God’s way, it’s not only right to ask for more, but He is waiting for you to ask. Your business is the territory God has entrusted to you.”

17. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
The seven habits are: 1. Be Proactive, 2. Begin with the End in Mind, 3. Put First Things First, 4. Think Win/Win, 5. Seek First to Understand, Than to Be Understood, 6. Synergize, 7. Sharpen the Saw.

18. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
Think and Grow Rich is the distilled wisdom of distinguished men of great wealth and achievement. This book is the result of over 20 years of research in the lives of hundreds of successful people including: Henry Ford, John Rockefeller, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Edison, and Alexander Graham Bell.

19. Washington's God by Michael and Jana Novak
George Washington was a wise and noble man inspired by the Almighty God. I have read numerous books about Washington; unfortunately many of them secularize their writing with no mention of God. This book helps illuminate the faith of Washington, which was the center of his life and success.

20. Where Jesus Walked by Ken Duncan
If you have been longing to make a visit to the Holy Land so you can see the places associated with Jesus and His ministry, this book is one way you can go, without leaving home. Ken Duncan's photos are glorious and inspirational. Surrounding the pictures are insightful passages from familiar Christian authors.

21. Winners Never Cheat by Jon M. Huntsman
From the book’s forward by Larry King, “Jon M. Huntsman may well be the most remarkable billionaire most of America has never heard of. Legendary in petrochemical circles, he operates around the globe in a quiet, determined, respected, and caring manner.”

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Goals and The World's Fastest Man

In 1974, there was a track meet held in Tennessee with some of the greatest athletes of the day. Because of the caliber of the athletes, everyone was hoping that a new world record would be set in the 100-yard dash. One of the runners was Ivory Crockett. Before the race, the television cameras filmed Ivory Crockett folding up a little piece of paper and sticking it in his shoe. Everybody wondered what Ivory Crockett had put in his shoe. A buzz went through the crowd. Everyone was discussing why he had stuck a piece of paper in his shoe.

The starter said, “Runners, to your marks. Get set,” and shot the gun. Ivory Crockett came out low with his legs churning. He had a perfect start and ran a perfect race. He pulled ahead of the pack and came across the finish line in first place. The race went so quickly that everyone was excited to see what the time would be. Had Ivory Crockett set a new world record? The official time had Ivory Crockett at 9.0—a new world record. Ivory Crockett had just run the fastest 100-yard dash in the history of the world. The crowd went wild and the press ran down to Ivory Crockett, congratulating him on the new world record. He was now "the world's fastest man." The question everybody wanted to know was what was in his shoe? Ivory Crockett sat down, unlaced his track shoes and he pulled out of his shoe a little piece of paper. He unfolded it to the camera. It very simply read: “9.0” The Los Angeles Times described the event with the headline "Immortality in 9 Seconds Flat." Crockett said of setting the record, "It was a real good feeling to do something no one else had done before [and] be among the other athletes like Bob Hayes [world recorder holder at 9.1 seconds for 11 years] who I had revered all my life."

There is great power in goals and dreams. “A study was done on Yale University’s graduating class. It asked seniors a long list of questions about themselves, and three questions had to do with goals. They were, “Do you set goals?” “Do you write them down?” and “Do you have an action plan to accomplish them?” Only three percent of the class answered yes to those questions. Twenty years later, a follow-up study was done. It turned out that the three percent who had said yes to goals reported that they were more happily married, were more successful in the careers they had chosen, had a more satisfactory family life, and had better health. And listen to this. Ninety-seven percent of the net worth of that graduating class was in the hands of that three percent!” (Lou Tice, Personal Coaching for Results, (Nashville: Nelson, 1997) p. 93)

You have to have dreams and goals to make progress and achieve greatness. “Your progress toward success begins with a fundamental question: Where are you going? Definiteness of purpose is the starting point of all achievement, and its lack is the stumbling block for ninety-eight out of every hundred people simply because they never really define their goals and start toward them. Study every person you think of who has achieved lasting success, and you will find that each one has had a definite purpose. Each had a plan for reaching that goal, and each devoted the greatest part of his or her thoughts and efforts to that end.” (Napoleon Hill, Keys to Success, (New York: Penguin, 1994) p. 1)

Many people live life backwards. They take what life gives them. You should define your ideal life and then go out and get it. Dreams and goals inspire us to achieve our full potential. Defining your goals and dreams will help you discover and live the purposeful, joyful, abundant life God created you to enjoy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

22 Principles of Successful Relationships

“The most important single ingredient to the formula of success
is knowing how to get along with people.” –Teddy Roosevelt

Studies reveal that the principles of getting along with and influencing people contribute greatly to achieving success. In his book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie states, “Investigations revealed that even in such technical lines as engineering, about 15 percent of one’s financial success is due to one’s technical knowledge and about 85 percent is due to skill in human engineering – to personality and the ability to lead people.” He continues, “One can, for example, hire mere technical ability in engineering, accountancy, architecture or any other profession at nominal salaries. But the person who has technical knowledge plus the ability to express ideas, to assume leadership, and to arouse enthusiasm among people – that person is headed for higher earning power. In the heyday of his activity, John D. Rockefeller said that ‘the ability to deal with people is as purchasable a commodity as sugar or coffee.’ And I will pay more for that ability,’ said John D., ‘than for any other under the sun.’”

The ability to get along with and influence people is vital to our success in all aspects of life and yet schools and universities focus little if any attention on developing interpersonal and leadership skills. Since our educational systems spend little time developing students’ abilities to influence people, the wise individual will find the resources and spend the time necessary to develop these abilities. Below are 22 principles that will help you cultivate your relationships.

1. Be a Person of Integrity
Keeping commitments is vital to having a successful relationship. There is nothing more damaging to a relationship than to make a promise that is important to someone and then to not keep that promise. Breaking commitments destroys trust and reliability. To be successful with people, you must adopt a philosophy of never making a promise you cannot or will not keep. Occasionally, despite all our best efforts, the unexpected does come up, creating a situation where it would be unwise or impossible to keep a promise. In this case, you should either keep the promise anyway or explain the situation to the person you committed to and then ask to be released from the promise. You should never tell the person you can’t keep the promise. You should ask to be released from your commitment. If they will not release you from your commitment, then you should follow through. Consider your word as a sacred bond not to be broken.

2. Personal Success Precedes Success with Others
Most of our success with others results from whom we are—our character. Therefore, a more permanent and powerful means of learning to succeed with people is changing ourselves rather than learning tactics of human influence. The true source of virtually all of our failures with people actually resides within us. When we find the flaw inside ourselves that damages how we deal with people, we not only resolve the problem facing us at the moment, but we also prevent future problems of the same nature from happening again.

3. Value Differences
To succeed with people you must value the mental, emotional, and psychological differences that exist among people. The key to valuing differences is to realize that people do not see the world as it is, but as they are. A person who is truly effective with people has the humility to recognize his own perceptual limitations and to appreciate the rich resources available through interaction with the hearts and minds of other people. Others add to your knowledge and to your understanding of reality. Is it possible for two people to disagree and both be right? Yes. For example, in a room the temperature may be 70 degrees and one individual will say it is cold while the other will say it is hot. Is the room hot or is the room cold? Which of these two individuals is right? Does one have to be right and one wrong? No, both are right from their perspective. It would be silly for the individual that was hot to tell the person who was cold that he was wrong or stupid since he thought it was cold. Until we value the differences in our perceptions and give credence to the possibility that we’re both right, we will struggle in our relationships.

4. Don’t Gossip
There is a tendency for people to say negative comments about those around them and to gossip about the faults of others. Don't be a part of it. If you say negative things about individuals not present, you are sending a message to those who are present that you would do the same to them. The way to gain the respect and loyalty of those present is to be respectful and loyal to those who are not present.

If constructive criticism is necessary for a specific person, it should be done in private with love and with the intent of helping the individual. Don't correct a person in front of others. Also, while giving feedback, talk about what the person does well, what you like about them, and even talk about your own mistakes before correcting theirs.

5. Give Sincere Compliments
People need and want to be complimented. Compliments bring out the best efforts in people by uplifting and motivating them. Even if people make mistakes, focus on their successful efforts, and compliment them on those items. The natural tendency is to tell people what they did wrong. This will result in a decrease of motivation and performance. Encouragement and compliments are a much more effective teaching device than criticism, so always look for opportunities to compliment those around you.

6. Edify Others
The tongue is a powerful tool for good or evil. Your words can be used to build or to destroy others. Choose to build those around you.

I watch them tearing a building down,
A gang of men in a busy town,
With a ho heave ho and a lusty yell,
They swung a beam and a side wall fell
And I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled,
The men he’d hire if he had to build?”
He gave a laugh and said, “No indeed,
Just common labor’s all I need.
I can easily wreak in a day or two
What builders have taken a year to do.”
I asked myself as I went my way,
Which of these roles have I tried to play.
Am I builder who works with care,
Measuring life with a rule and square?
Or am I wrecker who walks the town,
Content with the labor of tearing down.
-Author Unknown

7. Smile
Actions speak louder than words and a smile says, “I like you. You make me happy. I'm glad to see you.” People who smile tend to manage and teach more effectively.

8. Remember Names
Remembering a person’s name and using it regularly is a subtle and very effective compliment. Forget or misspell a name and you have placed yourself at a sharp disadvantage. Take the time and effort to memorize the names of each person with whom you associate. When someone tells you their name, make sure you heard it correctly. Then memorize it by repeating it in your mind, associating it with something, and when possible, write it down. (Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People, New York: Pocket Books, 1982, p. 75-83)

9. If Offended, Take the Initiative
Often when we are offended, our tendency is to wait for the offender to offer an apology or to at least acknowledge that he or she has wronged us. If the apology does not come, we allow our wounds to fester, and bitterness and resentment spread through our souls like poison. We then not only have a strained relationship, but a bitter soul as well. Nelson Mandela taught, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.” Often times if you take the initiative to clear things up, the issue can be resolved quickly.

10. Return Good for Evil
We have a natural tendency to treat others as they treat us. If someone is mean to us, we are mean to them in return. If someone is nice to us, we are nice to them. If someone hates us, we hate them. If someone shows us love, we love them. If someone helps us, we want to help them. The Savior teaches us not to respond in the natural way of returning good for good and evil for evil. He instead teaches us to always respond to others with goodness. The Savior taught, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if a man sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” (Matthew 5:38-40, 43, 44, King James Version)

My wife, Paula, is one of the most loving, friendly, outgoing people I know. A couple of years ago, my wife was in a car accident. She was stopped at a traffic light when a person three cars back failed to stop causing a four-car accident. My wife did not have her insurance information with her. When I arrived with the insurance information, the police were taking statements and information. The drivers of the other damaged cars were upset and angry, but Paula was happy and making friends. Paula went up to the driver responsible for the accident and gave her a hug and said, “You need a present.” My wife then gave her two tickets to a local college football game taking place on the upcoming Saturday. The girl said in shock, “I damaged your car and caused you and your baby a great deal of stress, and you’re giving me a present?” Driving can only cause us frustration and anger if we choose to respond that way.

11. Follow the Golden Rule
“Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.” (Matthew 7:12, King James Version)

12. Sacrifice for the Person
Sacrifice is a demonstration of love. When we are willing to forego something we have, want or could have for another person’s benefit, we increase in love for that person.

13. Make Time for People
Perhaps time is the greatest thing we have to give someone we love. Spending time with people gives us the opportunity to cultivate and express our love for others. Many times expressions of genuine love come following time spent together. When we share experiences, joys, sorrows, struggles, and challenge together, we grow closer together. When we demonstrate our willingness to make time available for others, we say to them “I am willing to give you the most precious thing I have – my time. I do this because I love you and you are important to me.”

14. Accept the Person as He or She Is
We will never fully love a person until we can accept the individual as he or she is. This doesn’t mean we agree with nor accept the person’s behavior but it does mean that our love for them in not conditional on performance or behaviors. As we increase in ability to accept the person as he or she is and genuinely communicate that acceptance to him or her, we will increase in love for that person.

15. Tell the Individual, “I Love You!”
When we genuinely communicate verbally to another person, “I love you!” there is an emotional reaction heart to heart which causes each person to realize that love exists. The act is complete when the person responds genuinely back, “I love you too.” We increase in our ability to love through verbal expression.

16. Serve Others
All you have to do is help other people obtain their goals and you will obtain your goals. Learn to be a servant, and you will learn to be successful. It was the birthday of a mother of several children. The children one by one began to present the gifts to their mother. It was now the youngest boy’s turn. He had been given a silver platter to give to his mother. He begins to approach his mother with his gift when he realized that the platter was empty. He then set the platter in front of his mother and stood upon it and said, “I give you me.” Give the greatest gift you can. Give yourself.

17. Listen and Be Understanding
What would happen if right now all the air was taken out of the room you are currently in? What would happen to your interest in this book? Air is a fundamental physical need, and until that need is met you will not be interested in anything else. However, once you have fulfilled the need for air, your interests can shift to other things. What is the emotional and psychological equivalent of air? It is the need to be understood. Why? Because when you understand another, you fulfill many basic human needs. When you understand a person, you have accepted them. When you listen to understand a person, you are saying, “You are important and I care about you. You are a person worth listening to; a person of significance; a person that matters.”

A study was done to see what people desired in a potential partner. Understanding was the number one characteristic desired by women and the number two characteristic desired by men. If you desire to communicate effectively with another, you must first understand them. How do we understand another? By listening. “He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and shame unto him.” (Proverbs 18:13, King James Version) Many of your problems with people with disappear and your relationships will be greatly strengthened if you will learn the simple skill of listening. As Gandhi once said, “Three-fourths of the miseries and misunderstanding in the world will disappear if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their standpoint.”

18. Inspire Teamwork
Napoleon Hill taught, “There is no record of anyone ever having made a great contribution to civilization without cooperation of others.” (Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success, New York: Plume, 1997, p. 154) In order to inspire teamwork, you must be filled with enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious. “Infect others with your enthusiasm, and teamwork will be the inevitable result.” (Napoleon Hill, Napoleon Hill’s Keys to Success, New York: Plume, 1997, p. 155)

19. See People with an Eye of Faith
Don’t treat people in terms of their behavior, but rather in terms of their potential—in terms of what they can become. Goethe put it this way, “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is; treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”

20. Be Teachable
“If we operate with the assumption that we do not have all the answers or insights, we allow ourselves to value the different viewpoints, judgments, and experiences others may bring. When we approach others with open minds, and are willing to be taught, we learn that the key to influence is to allow ourselves to be influenced.” (Blain Lee, The Power Principle, New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997, p. 132)

21. Give Hugs
“Hugging is healthy. It helps the immune system, cures depression, reduces stress and induces sleep. It’s invigorating, rejuvenating and has no unpleasant side effects. Hugging is nothing less than a miracle drug. Hugging is an underutilized resource with magical powers.” (Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen, Chicken Soup for the Soul, Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1993, p. 17-18)

22. Be a Friend
Success with people can be summarized in one word—friendship. Successful people cultivate strong, loving friendships. They are not masters or dictators. They are friends and servants to those around them. They make sure that others’ needs are their highest priority. Christ was a friend to those he worked with. In speaking to the New Testament disciples, Jesus said, “Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends.” (John 15:15, King James Version)

The most successful people are those who are friends to others. It is not surprising to see children who are more influenced by their friends than by their parents. It is not surprising to see employees who are more influenced by their friends at work than by their bosses. It’s not surprising to see church members who are more influenced by their friends than by their leaders. If parents, bosses, and church leaders desire to influence others, they must first cultivate friendships.

Often we try to improve our relationships by learning new tactics of influence, or we use new methods of interacting with people, many of which are needed and helpful. However, I would suggest that if you know how to be a true friend, you know how to succeed with people.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Integrity Pays

“The LORD detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful.”
Proverbs 12:22, New International Version

In the past several years, we have seen the devastating effects of dishonest business leaders at Enron, WorldCom, Xerox, Qwest, Tyco, ImClone, Anderson, and others. They fraudulently gained short-term profits but in the end lost everything, with many going to prison. A phrase from the Shinto religion states, “If you plot and connive to deceive men, you may fool them for a while, and profit thereby, but you will without fail be visited by divine punishment. To be utterly honest may have the appearance of inflexibility and self-righteousness, but in the end, such a person will receive the blessings.” Honesty is key to long-term success. David Green, founder of the billion-dollar Hobby Lobby stores, wrote, “It’s all part of our corporate commitment to follow biblical principles in everything we do. Some businesspeople think that’s a noble claim but that it ties one hand behind your back. I disagree. Nothing taught in the Bible is harmful to business. Doing things God’s way pays dividends—maybe not immediately, but in the long run.”

Jay Van Andel and Rich DeVos, founders of Amway, ran their company according to Bible principles. Jay Van Andel wrote in his biography, “Rich and I sought to run our . . . organization according to biblical principles of integrity, faithfulness, and truthfulness. . . Knowing that we were dependent upon God for the ability to do what was right, we bathed our activities in private prayer. All of our corporate meetings were opened with prayer. . . A business without integrity will be penalized in the marketplace. If a business’s products don't meet the claims of its advertisers, or if product quality is inconsistent, the business will lose customers to its competitors. Skilled employees, frustrated with internal policies, depart for other jobs. On the other hand, a firm known for its integrity will be rewarded by increased demand for its products and greater customer and employee loyalty.” Kevin Rollins, Former President/CEO of Dell said, “Part of the genius of an open free market system is that integrity pays. . . In the end, customers, employees, and shareholders gravitate toward companies with stable leadership—those that are credible and have integrity.”

Does your loyalty lie with God or with man? When faced with decisions that involve social pressure, we need to decide if we are going to follow the commands of the Lord or the counsel of men. Often we seek to please those around us or participate in actions we know to be wrong because we don't want to offend or displease those around us. Are we like the accountant who, when asked by a CEO, “Tell me, what is two plus two?” replies, “What do you want it to be?” Or are we like the apostle Peter when he stood with boldness and strength before magistrates and rulers who could imprison him, flog him, and even take his life. On one occasion when brought before the high priest to be questioned why he had violated their command not to preach, “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29, King James Version)

When is Success a Failure?
When God’s commandments are violated in the pursuit of profits, success is a failure. One of Gandhi’s seven sins that destroy society is “commerce without morality.” It represents a moral end (commerce) achieved by an immoral means (without morality). Immoral means corrupt a worthy end into a dishonorable achievement. You cannot achieve a moral end by immoral means. Financial ends never justify unethical means.

The son of a business executive, Robert Gay, shared this story: “I grew up in a brutal business environment. My father worked as the chief executive for one of the richest men in the world, Howard Hughes, and that world turned many lives upside down. I witnessed firsthand greed, deception, power struggles, and destruction of souls all for the sake of money. But perhaps what influenced me most is what I had seen in Mr. Hughes himself. For many years on Christmas Eve or Easter Sunday, this annual ritual was not what it appeared to be; Mr. Hughes invited my father to his home. When my father arrived, Mr. Hughes would simply say, ‘Bill, I just wanted to talk.’ Then after a couple of hours of friendly conversation he would say, ‘It’s Christmas. You better get back to your family.’ And I remember thinking to myself: ‘With all the money, with all the power, all the accomplishments, and even all the good he has done, he is both lonely and alone.’”

A dear friend and business associate of mine, G. Kent Mangelson, shared will me the following: “After nearly thirty years in the financial business and having associated with thousands of wealthy individuals, I have developed a firm philosophy about people and money. If an individual does not clearly establish personal values and goals before making financial goals, then wealth and the accumulation thereof will begin to take on a life of its own. Without clearly established values to keep the individual’s direction in focus, money tends to distract the person, gradually moving him or her away from everything in life that means the most. Sadly, and all too often, when it is too late to repair the damage, the person discovers that he or she has lost those things that meant the most and that all the money in the world cannot buy nor replace that which is gone.”

While fudging the numbers, using deceptive tactics, profiting from immoral products, and exploiting employees may be the industry standard, there is a minority who have chosen to rise above the industry standard and adhere to religious and moral principles in their business affairs. Our challenge is to join this minority. The business world is full of deceit and immorality, but it will only get worse unless each of us becomes an example in our work of integrity and living the Lord’s standard. Give heed to the words of the apostle Paul who taught, “Continue to have faith and do what you know is right.” (1 Timothy 1:19, New Century Version)