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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FROM RULES TO LIMITLESS

By Terry Carter, Editor

I once heard a story of a newly married couple, and the husband was helping his wife cook dinner in the kitchen of their new home. She had purchased a roast, seasoned it, cut off the ends and put it in a large pan. 

While the oven was preheating, the husband asked his new “Why do you cut off the ends of the roast? It seems like a waste of good meat.” She gave him a defensive look and explained, “My mother has always done it this way – and so did her mother.” Several months later, the newlyweds met the whole family for a big holiday meal. The husband promptly asked the bride’s mother why she cut off the ends of the roast before cooking it. She said her mom had always done it that way, and it was tradition.

After some family talk on the subject, the husband asked the grandmother why she had cooked roast that way. Being an honest woman, she went right to the point and revealed a revalation. “I cut off the ends of the roast because my oven at the time was too small to fit the whole roast.” 

She had sacrificed out of the necessity and passed on this cooking tradition to her daughter and granddaughter. And no one realized the reason or that ovens today are big enough for even the largest roast. It was simply a rule of the day because ovens in the 1940s were small.

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Much of our lives today is run by rules we learned young and still follow, even though those rules may have reached their expiration date or are simply not benefiting us. Look around analytically, and you will see that many rules we expect to be universal laws are not always accurate, such as we must have a college education to succeed. I know many men and women who have not college experience, yet they are successful, in my view.

I grew up absorbing the wisdom of my parents, and my father worked for large corporation, averaging 40-50 hours a week on a Monday-Friday schedule. I only recall him working for perhaps three companies in my life, so the mantra of the day seemed confirmed: Get a good education, work 40-50 years for 1-3 major companies and then you can retire early.

Upon earning my bachelor’s degree, I encountered a changing world that destroyed that ideal career scenario. I was laid off three times in five years in my chosen field. As a result of my desire to control my destiny, I have started or co-founded six companies so far while still staying in touch with the consulting or employee side of my life. 

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Most of us live a life of lies because we firmly grasp these rules growing up. Work hard, for example. Reality is: We all work hard, but only a small percentage work smart and employ the creative genius thereby leveraging their time, talents to get ahead. Fewer still actively create a framework that allows them to pocket millions of dollars while traveling the world in opulence.

I have means and end goals currently, but means goals are more common for nearly everyone because of the rules we heard when young. And you have means goals about career earnings, raising a family, retirement, purchasing a special home and working for a great company.

But end goals are probably where we as humans want to go because as we begin achieving the means goals set by society and our culture, many of us wind up NOT happy at all when we are in our 30s, 40s and 50s. We may have a high-paying career, but we are actually stuck in boring, stagnant positions running from home to work, home to work and home to work.

We have less time with our families than we truly want. And because of that, we often find our relationships at home suffering to the point our spouses ignore us, our children don’t want us around and our pet growls or hisses at us. For millions of Americans, it is the literal rat race, and we are the rat being chased, pressured and squeezed by deadlines, bills, work, home, retirement (if we can afford to consider it) and more.

This is a real-world case. Even with a Master’s Degree as a 1-percent earner and at the top of his or her field, the achievers today are not truly happy. Sure, they look good on camera. But many are struggling to get through each day, wondering why they are not happy with their vaults of money, garages of fine vehicles, multiple homes. And somehow, we sit in our 10-year-old Honda, driving to work from an apartment to a deadend job and believe we have all the answers about happiness. 

The truth is less than one percent of us would be content if our income fell 50-70 percent today because it is way beyond our comfort zone. But layoffs happen, and that is often a 100 percent pay cut. Retirement happens too, and many retirees settle for less than half of their full-time career income.

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So how do we get from “living within the cultural rules” to having limitless options for improvement?

We pay attention to movers like Elon Musk, founder of Tesla Motors and numerous other major companies. We learn from Richard Branson and Vishen Lakhiani and Michael Beckwith and Marisa Peer. These people are changing the potential for extraordinary achievement by ordinary folks like you and I. They are telling us how to do what millionaires Musk, Branson and Lakhiani have already done.

Lakhiani founded Mindvalley and transformed the company into a industry-leading personal development mastermind organization that is setting the world of achievers on fire currently. I am re-reading his book, The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, for the second time in seven days. The hardback version has been highlighted beyond belief because it reveals startling, new information. Since I read 40-60 books annually of business, personalities and improvement, I think I can safely say this book is probably the best book I have read in decades. 

Jack Canfield, co-author of the best-selling series Chicken Soup for the Soul, said it bluntly about Lakhiani’s book. And Canfield is an expert on this type of writing: “Vishen Lakhiana’s knowledge base and his ability to present it clearly and to actually put it into practice is above anyone I have ever seen in this field.”

Lakhiani has many unconventional suggestions. But when it comes to finding the end goals that lead you to your desired destination in life, he mentions these:

  1. What experiences do you want to have in this lifetime?
  2. How do you want to grow?
  3. How do you want to contribute?

(More on this topic soon)

WHAT MAKES YOU BETTER

By Terry Carter, Editor

Personality tests are fun games to play on the Internet. They appear meaningless. Most of us don’t take them seriously. However we all have strengths, tendencies, preferences and weaknesses that affect us each day of our lives. 

Knowing your personality or style is a major step forward in improving your skills, relationships and ultimately your future. Likewise as you understand personality traits, you will begin to comprehend your micro-managing boss not as a monster, but as a detail-oriented leader. By simply crossing your Ts and double checking your match, you will improve his view of you.

At home, it’s a good bet that 1-in-4 children gives you fits because they are nearly a mirror image of your personality, and two strong leaders will clash in the same household until they learn to respect each other and co-exist. In my family, stubbornness and leadership are strengths — and potential weaknesses — of each child. Each reminds me of a certain grandmother who most certainly would have bent any personality profile to a new setting on personal strength and a go-getter attitude.

Let me explain that I love each of my children with every breath in my body, and I would gladly sacrifice myself for them. Each is massively blessed with gifts and wisdom that would make every parent proud. All three will change the world as they remember to dream big dreams and to chase them because that is why God placed them on this Earth.

The oldest child is a natural leader, and she has flourished as an adult because she also is dependable and cares. She does not quit and is blessed with a natural ability to troubleshoot many issues. Her future is extremely bright in any industry, and she has now tied the knot with a hard-working young man. I admire her take-charge skills, her fix-it-now mentality and her potential.

The middle child is gifted as an artist, and he possesses the wisdom of a philosopher. He prefers to choose his own path and his own hours. And he bravely chose his unique path by moving to Hawaii for several years. It is a move I may have made after high school if the opportunity had beckoned. I admire his independence, his creativity and his enthusiasm.

The youngest child is the peace keeper from her childhood. Athletically gifted, she has been graced with a maturity that is equal to or even beyond her psychology-trained father. She has learned so much through trial-and-error that she now shares her wisdom with people to assist them in their daily lives. She is an inspiration to those younger and older. It is my assessment that her writing and speaking skills, among many others, will help her reach out to many more people in the future. I admire her growth and stability each day she improves her life.

This talented threesome are all unique and motivated by different forces. Yet their love for each other has never been as strong as it is now. It is all we as parents could hope for after watching the bickering, arguing and fussing among three young children.

As far as your personality goes, all of us have four behavioral tendencies, but in differing intensities. The names used vary greatly, but their meanings are similar. Most have two strengths that complement each other, such as a strong leader with detailed tendencies or a mellow person who likes attending parties, but not organizing them. Please keep in mind, all of the traits described below are neither good nor bad. They can truly be huge advantages.

Leadership Traits: Whether you call it choleric, dominance or power, this is the ability to lead, to take charge, to conquer in pursuit of a goal. Leaders lead, right? Not true. Leaders all have areas where they lead best. And as leaders mature and surround themselves with other talented leaders, they learn that it is not always necessary to lead from sunrise to sunset. Delegating becomes the better decision.

Peace Maker Traits: The opposite of a leader is a peace keeper, the individual who builds and keeps teams together. Normally this person is quiet and goes along with the leader’s decisions. They don’t rock the boat, but they are key to keeping the boat afloat in their own, subtle way.

Spontaneous Traits: The spontaneous one works on the fly and makes constant adjustments. They work better without a micro-managed plan. Give them a few genera guidelines, aim them at a goal and launch them away. This individual persuades with fun or entertainment. 

Planner Traits: Given a chance, planners plan everything, including their clothing, their route to work, their meals, the number of steps to their desk — everything. While great plans can lead to great success. Time constraints minimize planning.

Now here is your first test: Which of these general descriptions fits you best? Which is second? Third? Fourth? Most of you have two strong characteristics because they are like four points on the compass, N, E, S, W. You cannot really go east and west simultaneously, can you?

Apparently it can be done by a small minority of people — about two percent of the population. The DISC Behavior Profile focuses on dominance, influence, steadiness and conscientiousness. I took this test in 2013 and scored above a dominant 5.0 on 3-of-4 behavioral patterns. Based on natural traits, I should have scored that strong in only two areas. But I improved my results through years of intentional focused training in planning/organizational traits. 

You control your destiny. And when you understand how people around you think and respond to situations, you will be much better able to win in the game of life day in and day out. Best of luck out there.