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On Sowing

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Too Well Off Not to Give

“Americans are too rich to be broke.”
— Dave Ramsey

 

We’re also too well off to not give. 

Roughly 50% of the world’s population lives on less than $2.50 a day. That’s $75 per month or $900 per year. Contrast that with $44,600 for the average American.

In the flurry of day-to-day living, it's easy to lose sight of how well off we are. But when we look at the data, it's clear—we have so much to give.

Perhaps our spending habits need to change to make room for charity. Nevertheless, we should always reserve a line item in our budget for giving. It's the best kind of insurance from the grip of greed.

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Planting Seeds

“Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant.”
— Robert Louis Stevenson

In harvest time the rewards are external. At last, the crop is fully grown. Matured, you can pick it, eat your fill, and be satisfied. During planting season, however, the rewards are internal. The seed, inconsequential in size, is sown, covered up, and remains hidden for months. Although you can't see it, growth is happening beneath the soil.

Planting seeds, although a small act, is always how something big must begin. While at the start, you don’t have much to show, trust that the labor you’re putting in will matter and mean something in the end.

Don’t shun the small things. Plant your seeds. Do that and you’ll reap your harvest.

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Investing in Others is Investing in Yourself

Growing isn’t just about reading a book, taking a class, learning a new skill or practicing a new discipline. It’s also about investing in the life of another.

“But won’t I waste precious time if I stop and invest in others?” Not at all.

In fact, my experience has shown that investing my time in others is one of the best ways to invest in myself.

It’s important for us to travel with someone on our journey of growth. Could it be your wife, best friend or sibling? You obviously can’t take someone who doesn’t want to go, but most people want to grow. Discern the right traveling companion and get started.

One way to secure a companion is to discover her goals and get involved in her success. When you exert energy on her behalf, don’t be surprised to see her reciprocating concerning yours.

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The Upside of a Disciplined Life

“No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest… for those who have been trained by it.”
– Hebrews 12:11

 

It’s easy to dwell on the downside of discipline. In the moment, discipline is dreadful. It hurts. It strains. It taxes us in mind and body and isn't fun. That is why, I believe, so many people steer clear of it. 

While discipline repels at first brush, it rewards the one who sticks with it. Here are a handful of rewards I've received whenever I have managed to stick with a discipline.

• Joy
• Growth
• Satisfaction  
• Self-Respect  
• Confidence

The next time you find yourself in the valley of decision regarding whether to follow through on a discipline or not, don’t forget to think about the upside

Yep, it’s going to be hard. And you’re right, it’s going to be drudgery at times. But, upon completion, you will surely reap a satisfying harvest.

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Win Small Every Day

If you’re like me, it’s easy to look at where you are in life and wonder how you’ll ever get to where you want to be. 

The distance can be so vast that it paralyzes us. I call this the gap trap. 

The gap trap says people give up when they fixate on how far they have to go. Instead of focusing on what they can do today to get themselves one step closer to their goal, they let the distance overwhelm them. 

My advice to any person who wants to accomplish something big is this: win small every day.  Winning small isn't that hard. It's just you taking one step in the right direction. Anyone can do that. The challenge, of course, is every day.  

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Feed Your Soul

Your body will only last about a week without food & water. After 7 days (give or take) you die. How about your soul? How long can it last before it dies? 

I believe a soul never dies. The soul continues on long after the body gives out because the soul is that eternal part of who we are. But just because the soul cannot die, doesn’t mean it cannot be starved.

Just as you need three square meals a day, so also you need to cultivate soul-nourishing moments daily. You feed your soul when you:

  • Love another & allow yourself to be loved
  • Sacrifice for someone else
  • Read books that expand your mind
  • Reflect on your thoughts, words, and deeds
  • Stretch yourself in ways that make you uncomfortable
  • Lead a disciplined life
  • Open yourself up to a Higher Power

 

This kind of nourishment doesn't just keep you alive, it's what causes you to thrive. If you have a choice between skipping a meal or a moment to nourish your soul, do your eternal self a favor, skip the former.

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Sweet Fruit is Often the Result of Bitter Sowing

Growth comes with both sweet and bitter moments. No true growth experience ever was achieved without episodes of bitter sowing. The laws of nature and common sense dictate: you can’t have one without the other. 

If growth were all sweet all the time, everyone would be on board. If it were all bitter, there would be few takers, if any. 

You can’t avoid the bitter parts; you can only choose when you want to experience them. 

Wisdom says bitter moments are best experienced at the outset (Think sowing), whereas the sweet rewards are best reserved for the end (Think harvest).

I’ve chosen sweet first and bitter last more times than I’d like to admit. Remember; you can’t avoid the bitter in life. Everyone has to go through it. The only decision you get to make is when. First or last? Beginning or end? The choice is yours. 

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Develop Yourself for Our Sakes

The reason we need you to develop yourself to the best of your ability is because the value you create will be the value we consume. Skip a day of creating value, and the world won't skip a beat. Skip a decade and you'll make us all poorer. 

The point is, we need you to become all you can be. The value you create is your gift to us. And the value you create will inspire and incite us to do the same. Certainly, develop yourself for your sake, but do it also for ours.  

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Pouring Out Never Leaves You Empty

When we grow, we acquire new skills and broaden our knowledge. We gain new ways of seeing and thinking. And our experiences in life become richer. In short, we fill up. While filling up is a great reason to pursue growth, it's the act of pouring out that, I believe, is the best reason. 

When you pour out (i.e. mentoring, serving, sharing, teaching, sacrificing, giving), you enrich the lives of others. That enriching, I've found, somehow, someway fills you back up. It's a sweet irony. Pouring out never leaves you empty. It only makes the world a more full place.

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Toiling Upward in the Night

“The heights by great men reached and kept,
Were not attained by sudden flight.
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.”
— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I first came across Longfellow's quote on the last few pages of the book, The Essential Wooden. It was a favorite of Coach John Wooden's (I think it’s one of my favorite now too).

The essential message is this: reaching the heights is grueling work. There is no fast track. Toiling is the name of the game. If you run from it, you're running away from the very thing that has the power to get you where you want to go.  

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Your Opportunity Clock

“You will find the key to success under the alarm clock.”
— Benjamin Franklin

If I had to pick one technological device that has made the biggest impact on my growth and success, it would easily be my alarm clock.

The reason is simple. My alarm clock is the doorway to that dedicated time each morning. It performs its customary duty every weekday at 5am. As long as I heed its call, I know I will spend a few hours of my morning in growth mode, and that growth will make a disproportionate contribution to my overall success.

You hear some say that you should be passionate enough to wake up without the aid of buzzers or jingles. Well, in my experience, passion doesn’t last. In fact, the only thing consistent about passion is that it comes and goes. No, I need the help of my trusty technological companion—my opportunity clock. 

Remember, that god-awful sound your alarm clock makes in the wee hours of the morning is the sound of opportunity.

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Deeper Roots

Worthy endeavors. We all want one. We’re all looking to make our mark, to make a difference, to make a dent in the universe. To do this, you’ll need roots that go deep.

Think about it: The deeper you go, the higher you’ll reach. That's the paradox of growth.

Deep roots guarantee strength. Being shallow rooted is dangerous. You're much more susceptible to adverse conditions. Deeper roots increase your odds of persevering through all the challenges headed your way. 

Deep roots ensure health. On the contrary, shallow rooted people are at the mercy of unhealthy influences. For example, it’s natural to want approval from others; but, often, this desire degenerates into a craving and becomes inordinate. Deeper roots solves the problem because they naturally yield maturity and self-confidence. 

You can make your mark. You can make a difference. You can make your dent, but only by going deep. 

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What Your Gifts are For

We all have some ability that just comes naturally to us. This natural ability makes us, well… naturally good at something. We call it a gift or talent, and most believe it is something God-given.

While the gift is given to us, its benefits are meant for others. Yes, it’s true; we do receive significant benefits also. All gifts and talents, however, come with an obligation or duty to utilize them for the good of our neighbor. 

Are you a natural born leader? Naturally charismatic? Smart as a whip? Uncommonly disciplined? Strong? Quick? Creative? Persuasive? Persistent?

Congratulations: the gift is a great benefit.
Warning: the gift is also a great responsibility.

As the Proverbs suggest, if you work on your gifts, they will make a place for you. It's true...a man’s gift does make room for him—as long as he stewards it for others.

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The More You Learn, the More You Earn

If you’re not satisfied with what you’re earning, then try these 2 things:

1. Starting Learning

I’m lucky to have been my own boss for the last ten years. When it came time to consider salary raises for my employees, a key factor I always looked at was their growth. I always asked myself, “Did I see this person growing this year?" If the answer to that question was, “yes,” I was eager to bump their pay. But it was really more than just learning.

2. Implement What You’re Learning

I wanted to see them take their learnings and implement them to the benefit of the company. When that happened, they were sure to see a raise in salary.

Pick up a book. Take a course online. Learn something new and then implement it at work. You’ll be surprised at what happens.

Yes, it’s a cliché, but it is true: “Learning leads to earning.” Actually, it’s: “Learning and implementing leads to earning,” but that doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well.

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