THE CHOICE FOR LIFE

By Terry Carter, Editor

When you were a child, what inspired and powered you each day? Why did you fly out of bed each morning?

Were you:

A) Filled with energy 24 hours a day, always chasing the next game, party or thrilling ride because of the fun? If so, you may have played sports or joined dance, band/orchestra or theater classes as soon as possible.

B) The curious one who liked to read, study, get ahead of homework and evaluate opportunities/situations? If so, you were a strong student and enjoyed learning new hobbies, skills.

C) Did you join the events already organized or started by family and friends and let others show the way? If so, you may also have been the peacemaker in your family. You were the glue for your family.

D) Or did you play leader of the pack as a child with all of your friends trying to keep up with you and the trends you established? If this was your natural strength, you made the bold choices without regret and adjusted strategy to win games, contests and really just control the room.

Nearly all of us have two of these four characteristics as a personal strength, and they work together as a team to make us the person our friends and family loved when we were young. Trouble is, not all of us find a career with our born strengths. We often have to learn new skills like organization, promptness, setting an alarm clock and being nice to co-workers to earn and keep a job.

Still some skills feel like a cage that boxes us in, so we cannot grow to our potential. If you had those characteristics as a child/student, you probably don’t feel tied down by your gifts.

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With your answers in mind, now consider: Are you using that personal strengths in your current life and career that helped you grow into a valuable adult? Odds are that nearly half of you are not using your natural strengths.

About two decades ago, I was recruited to work at a technical support call center in Las Vegas, Nevada. It was a significant change from my journalism career and customer service background. I entered the job with a natural strength combo that was fun-loving and ready to lead a team.

Call center work, however, focuses on analysis, deductive reasoning and troubleshooting with great customer service. I could have failed at that position because it didn’t suit my natural strengths. But I was looking for a new opportunity at the time — ALERT: fun-loving people get bored easily, and leaders leave jobs if they are not given growth opportunities — was eager to learn something new.

So I sat at a desk and took incoming calls on computer problems, but my fun-loving side got to play Nerf basketball and video games while solving major hardware/software issues. In retrospect, I can attest that my analytical skills are now among my best skills that I can draw on in any situation. It was semi built-in like my base characteristics because I have always been very good with numbers.

Conclusion: If you are working and using your childhood strengths at full force, congratulations. You probably have good self-esteem and knew your advantages in life before you picked a college and career path.

If you have switched away from your natural strengths, you have two options: Enjoy the journey and learn all you can from this new opportunity.

Or investigate the true strengths in your childhood and reconnect with those super powers. If you were a follower, you can become a leader again without departing a quality employer or partner. Keep your eyes open for a chance to plug-in one of your dormant powers. The world will thank you.

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My advice to 98 percent of adults is to remember your childhood and the happiest times. Whatever you did on those days will still bring you joy today. So do the homework and chase personal happiness over career happiness.

We all know a lot of unhappy coworkers or bosses who never seem to smile or enjoy the moment. That attitude sucks, friend. It hurts that person’s health and the attitude — if not the health — of everyone they come in contact with.

Since you are likely interest in living your best life and not a miserable waste of time, I suggest we all actively pursue happiness at home, when we look in the mirror, when we drive and at work.

Let your smile come out and play. Studies are showing that happy people are more productive, even if they spend extra time playing on the Wii or meditating. And a happy office — hey boss, this is in your hands too — not only works better together, but the employees are more loyal and they go out of their way to help coworkers.

Let the leaders lead. Let the peacemakers lead too because they are not confrontational; it is a sweet change to the Type-A hot head.

Bottom Line: We are all magnificently made with unique and wonderful talents. Don’t hide your glory. Let it shine and share your perspective, wisdom and skills with those around you. This is another way to improve our little blue planet.

 

 

 

 

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HOW BAD IS HEARTBREAK?

By Terry Carter

When we are young, many of us think we are invincible. Then we suffer heartbreak and slowly begin to realize we are not quite bulletproof.

I remember being paralyzed while enduring a traumatic breakup years ago. It was among the lowest moments in my life. I felt helpless, always angry and desperate for a solution. Every day was a “Don’t bother me” nightmare.

If you are there now, know that time soothes most, but not all, pain. Lessons are learned from being in pain, particularly long-term pain like a lost love.

I once thought that my heartbreak would last forever. However I worked on my mindset, my vulnerability, my frustration and my healing until I was ready to test the dating world again. As with most painful events, personal determination to play the long game was the redeeming quality that helped the most.

That and God’s grace to ease my pain.

And somewhere around November 1984, I met a beautiful, petite blonde with a strong, spunky personality. She was kind, considerate and playful. She has changed my world for the better for about 33 years. Without the my future spouse taking my hand, I don’t think I would be where I am today.

She has been a huge blessing in so many ways.

Have we always been blessed with good fortune and amazing gifts from heaven? In the short term, the answer often appears to be no as people always disagree. We are all human after all.

But step back from my latest squabble with a human being, and I can see that Suzie is a lifetime blessing. She has managed to deal with me for three decades, and I have grown exponentially at certain times in mental and philosophical ways. So that can be hard to deal with.

Plus I began working out consistently and learning to run again after an injury some six years ago. Surgery, rehab, changing diets, diabetes, work schedules and 100 other things pull us in opposite directions.

Yet I love Suzie, and she still lets me take her to dinner. That’s pretty good when boredom, restlessness and worse are exceptionally common among a lot of people our age.

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For those of you hoping to keep your relations alive for the long term, cry when your loved one is sad. Cheer when they are happy. And share love every change you get (verbal approval or a hug or a sympathetic ear may be all they need for the moment).

Stay in moment and really try to hear what your loved one says to you. You likely don’t have all the answers, and you shouldn’t. But be willing to give 100 percent to search for the lost screwdriver or finger nail polish if you are asked. It makes an impression on the heart of the person you love the most.

I sincerely recommend you don’t take advantage of or manipulate your loved one as these things leave long-lasting emotional scars. That’s a Type-A or immature maneuver that sinks boats — and relationships — pretty quick.

I am a firm believer in hope, faith and prayer to solve the toughest problems — and to thank the Lord for his daily miracles. Recently meditation, which still gets curious looks from even friends, neighbors and my loving spouse, helps me to focus on what is truly important in life.

It is my way of discarding stress that accumulates daily and allows free radicals to damage our health, our best thinking and creativity.

While heartbreak cannot always avoided, I recommend that your prayers or meditation can often conclude by asking God to allow the Holy Spirit (aka fate) to rule the day for the greater good.

If a breakup today benefits you moving from LA to New York and eventually meeting the person you marry, don’t wait 10 years to say thank you for the breakup and the move. Try acknowledging God’s path even when its purpose is totally bewildering to you today.

By accepting life’s oddities as God’s move to benefit us or people we care about, the future can often look more worthwhile both today and in the future. What happens will happen. How you respond determines whether the happening was a victory or a defeat in your mind.