Friday, March 25, 2022

Featured on Dan Miller

One speaker-thinker-author I listen to regularly is career coach Dan Miller. His 48 Days to the Work You Love book and workbook have helped me through several adult life transitions. His 48 Days podcast can be heard here, a format where he usually answers questions from listeners.

I was surprised to discover he featured my recent email to him as a part of his broadcast today. Check it out here. My portion begins at 15:45.

And check out my recent article, 18 Benefits of Working Remotely.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Emotional Intelligence - Better than IQ

 “Opportunity lies in the man, not in the job.” – Zig Ziglar

For many years, it was commonly accepted that a person’s IQ (intelligent quotient), which is a measure of a person's reasoning ability, contributed significantly to a person’s level of success in life. The higher their level of education, the “smarter” they were – which usually meant book smart not life or street smart – the higher they would rise.

In recent years, however, much has been explored in an entirely different arena. Leadership groups, businesses, schools, and churches have begun the study of EQ (emotional quotient), the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways as well as read and relate to the people around you in healthy rhythms.

It is possible for a person to be highly educated or gifted in a particular field yet show a very low EQ, commonly known as emotional intelligence. It’s also quite possible for a person to be very educated yet still be in practical terms a fool in many areas of life. Education often shows the amassing of information or knowledge, but it does not necessarily equal the acquiring of understanding and wisdom, the ability to apply that knowledge to life.

According to Jewish wisdom literature, true wisdom finds its root in the fear of the Lord. The biblical canon contains the book of Proverbs, whose purpose, clearly stated, aims not at just acquiring information, but instead, “to know [skillful and godly] wisdom . . . in behavior, righteousness, justice, and integrity, that prudence (good judgment, astute common sense) may be given to the na├»ve or inexperienced [who are easily misled]” (Proverbs 1:2-4 AMP). Today, I’m afraid, we have a lot of educated fools, lacking in true wisdom and common sense, in high places in our society.

Dr. Jim Osterhaus, professor of counseling, writes, “Smart people, people with all kinds of degrees from all the best places, make terrible leaders. Not all of them, but many of them. And the reason this is so, is that these folks, though knowing all kinds of facts about many areas of life, lack any kind of self-awareness that allows them to manage themselves, leading to social awareness and the ability to manage relationships appropriately.”

This is why you can have a Ph.D. yet lack the skills to maintain a healthy marriage, balance your finances, deal with life’s disappointments, overcome addictions, and manage disagreements in a workplace. It’s also why an organization’s linchpin, to use Seth Godin’s popular term, likely may not be the person with the highest GPA or SAT score.

I’m not putting down education. I spent years pursuing bachelor, master, and doctoral degrees. However, in the raising of young adults we need to remember educational achievement is only one piece of the pie to a successful life. Ongoing personal development in several areas of life makes for a well-oiled human: mental, spiritual, emotional, physical, family, financial, personal, and career.

According to the popular book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Bradberry and Greaves, EQ is “the single biggest predictor of performance in the workplace and the strongest driver of leadership and personal excellence.”  They describe your emotional intelligence as “your ability to recognize and understand emotions in yourself and others, and your ability to use this awareness to manage your behavior and relationships.” Thankfully, our EQ, unlike our IQ, can be developed and grown.

EQ covers four areas:

1. Self-awareness: understanding what makes me tick, thinking through both my positive and negative emotions, responses, and motivations

2. Self-management: using my self-awareness to “stay flexible and direct [my] behavior positively.” Bradberry and Greaves write, “Real results come from putting momentary needs on hold to pursue larger, more important goals.”

3. Social awareness: simply put, this means the ability to read other people, listening and observing to what is going on around you emotionally

4. Relationship-management: working toward influence, teamwork, and collaboration, developing others

Our EQ encompasses the whole person and how we relate to people around us. The apostle Paul understood this reality. That’s why much of his New Testament instruction includes practical exhortations aimed at helping people get along with others.

Career-coach Dan Miller shares, “Major companies are moving away from a focus on SATs, GPAs, brand name schools and credentials. Instead, they are looking at how does this person think, solve problems, lead and handle failure. . . . Gone are the days when companies valued credentials more than competence. . . . Your skill in this area [EQ] will allow you to form healthier relationships, achieve greater success at work, and lead a more fulfilling life.”

Check out the small, practical book Emotional Intelligence 2.0. It includes an EQ questionnaire and many helps at developing our own emotional quotient.

A healthy, growing EQ is one way we can put into practice one of the most important instructions of all time: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31 NIV).

Pictures used by permission from Pexels


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

One Hundred Years from Now . . .

David Lane of the American Renewal Project offers an excellent commentary this week on the state of world and national affairs . . .

"Last week at the 2022 NCAA women’s 500-yard freestyle swimming championship in Atlanta we finally may have arrived at a bridge too far to cross. During this championship a biological male, who moved from a ranking of #554 in the 200 yd freestyle in men’s swimming to #1 in women’s swimming, won the women’s 500-yard freestyle swimming Championship.5,6

Revelry kicked into high gear throughout the secular state, among its custodians and factotums, and its allies in Big Tech, Big Pharma, Big Media, and Big Government as they worshipped secularism’s golden calf, elated at the successful conversion and induction of the last 3-4 generations of young Americans into their irrational, idolatrous ideology.

America is currently in need of those who can decipher what God is saying to His church and her current moral and spiritual need. According to pastor and ‘modern-day prophet’ A.W. Tozer [1897-1963] this requires 'the ability to appraise the religious scene as viewed from God’s position, and to tell us what is actually going on.'"

Read Lane's entire article here.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay

Friday, March 18, 2022

March Madness: Bracket Mania


I originally posted this article in 2015 . . .

The first year or our marriage, I introduced my wife to madness.  March Madness.

My father was an avid sports fan, and sounds of basketball games filled our house yearly over March weekends.  The first year I took an interest, my freshman year of high school, was 1988.  The Final Four took place in Kansas City, Missouri, with Kansas, Duke, Oklahoma, and Arizona competing.  I can still hear the commercials playing the song, “We’re going to Kansas City, Kansas City here I come.”

My wife and I are not big sports fans.  We never watch the Super Bowl, football hardly interests us, and neither of us know the difference between an outside linebacker, a safety, and a halfback.  And we don’t care to.
However, when March rolls around every year we become basketball crazy.  We anticipate the madness, talk about it for several weeks, and then keep CBS on for hours and hours watching game after game.  Having lived in Kentucky for three years, we experienced first-hand what it means for a state to go crazy over basketball.  I remember the grief that part of the state experienced when Rick Pitino resigned as head coach of UK in 1997 – and the anger that surprised them when he became the head coach of the University of Louisville in 2001.
Through the years my wife and I have slowly and subtly passed on the fever to our children.  My daughter enjoys sitting down beside us on Saturday afternoons and watching a good Kentucky, Duke, or UNC game. 
Wednesday night I printed out our 2015 March Madness NCAA tournament brackets.  Everyone sat down at breakfast on Thursday and studiously entered their guesses for each game.  Then, we taped five sheets to the wall of the kitchen.  From there we can check off the winners and losers during the next three weeks.
Every family needs some rallying points.  We all desire points of commonality.  One of the attractions of gangs for so many tweenagers and teenagers is that it gives them a sense of belonging. 
Wise parents build what some parenting experts call “family identity” into their team.  Interests, passions, habits, and a culture make your family unique and create your own identity.  Reasons to celebrate together.  Experiences that will stand out twenty years from now as your children remember the pictures in their minds.
For years, I have told my children, “You are my favorite people in the whole world.  I would rather be with you and your mom than anybody else.  There is no one I have a better time with than you guys.”
Find specific things to celebrate as a family.  Create fun, meaningful habits.
The Wilson family reads biographies together.  We watch in-order series of good television shows like Andy Griffith, The Waltons, and The Road to Avonlea.  We go to hear the symphony and Broadway shows.  We collect magnets and post cards from places we travel.  On Tuesday nights we pray for “two friends each.”  On Thursdays we practice “Thankful Heart Thursday,” specifically thanking God for blessings.  We play tennis and take bike rides.  In the summer we explore waterfalls.  We eat pizza on Saturday.  We like to eat at California Dreaming on special occasions.  And we become serious basketball fans for one month every March. 

Our kids need a winning team.  Dads and moms, we are the coaches.  What are we doing to build family identity and make them want to be a part of the team?

18 Benefits of Working Remotely: the first six weeks

It's called "The Great Resignation,” and it’s affecting the North American workplace. For many American knowledge workers, the 2020 COVID-19 lockdown showed us we could fulfill 100% of our work responsibilities without leaving the comfort of our dens.

In December 2021, 4.3 million American workers resigned from their jobs. Yes, some of those are due to freeloaders who choose to get a “government check,” and others result from people leaving their jobs due to vaccine mandates. However, many of these resignations result from people seeking remote opportunities that better fit their lives.

CBS' Sixty Minutes recently reported that remote work has gone from 1 of 67 jobs to 1 of 7. One author shares, "We are rapidly moving toward the time when only 50% of the American workforce will be 'employees.' The rest will be independent contractors, temps, consultants, contingency workers, freelancers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and more."

Online job sites advertising remote jobs keep increasing, like, which recently shared on their site, “The landscape of remote work will be permanently changed as a result of COVID-19. Instead of ad hoc use, we've seen the full deployment of remote work across many organizations. Most surveys find that companies are organizing remote work as a long-term strategy. 69% of large-company CEOs plan to downsize their office space. And about 80%of CEOs say they expect a more widespread remote workforce as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.”

For three years, I drove 500+ miles a week commuting to and from my office job. Writing for a large organization, I enjoyed my creative co-workers and the excitement of working for a multi-million dollar institution. Though I admired the organization, I greatly disliked being tied to a cubicle. I found the cubicle environment to be terribly draining rather than life-giving. For the first time in my working career, someone else told me when to sign in and sign out (which inevitably means telling me when to get up and go to bed), how many weeks to take off a year, and faithfulness to the job was at least in part tied being paid for time and not just productivity.

Our organization sent us home during 2020 for a couple of months. I lost weight, ate healthier, slept more, enjoyed face-to-face time with my family, and got all of my work done for my fulltime job. No commute. No eating out. No cubicle.

About a year ago, I intentionally began investigating, analyzing, and delving into remote job possibilities. I absorbed podcasts, articles, and books from career coaches like Dan Miller and the Ziglar Corporation. I read Freelance to Freedom by  Vincent Pugliese, Richard Bolles’ What Color is Your Parachute?, and other motivational positive materials. Many of those materials helped me begin thinking differently about work, shifting from a traditional view of work to a modern one. Actually, modern job writers like Seth Godin argue that our "traditional" view of work did not come into being until Henry Ford and the Ford motor company. What we are seeing today, a return to being paid for productivity, not time, is a return to a real "traditional" work model.

I thought and prayed a lot, and I created a plan. That plan included creating several streams of income and learning to think very non-traditionally about work, employment, and income.

In January, I made the leap with the full support of my wife, resigned from my “secure” position and came home, leaving my cubicle and moving into my private office at home. In the past six weeks, here are benefits I am experiencing:

1. Enjoying lunches with my 16-year-old son. I can text my son, “You want to grab lunch?” and run out for a face-to-face meal. We’ve done it five or six times since I came home. We are currently reading Dan Miller’s 48 Days to the Work You Love together.

2. Sleeping 7-8 hours every night. Sometimes more! Waking up without an alarm clock. Marvelous.

3. No traffic stress. Commute is less than 0.1 miles. Sometimes I even walk! Ha.

4. A private office with a door that closes. I wholeheartedly agree with writer mentors like Stephen King and Eva Shaw, who say the most important tool a writer needs to succeed is an office with a door that closes. Writing in a cubicle with people walking back and forth regularly and engaging in conversations all around me was a stressful way for me to work. My mind is much clearer and more productive in an isolated, quiet space.

5. I can have a creative space to work that I create. I enjoy color and lots of mementos around me reminding me of things I like. My first two days of independent working, I created a great working space in my church office, complete with an electric desk that I can raise to stand or lower to sit, lots of pictures, wall hangings, and memorabilia, and plenty of books lining the walls.

6. Not worn out at night/weekends. The commuting life left me exhausted by 5pm Friday and worn out most of the weekend. Now, I’m enjoying much more energy and alertness over the weekend.

7. Eating healthier and losing weight. I said goodbye to fast food breakfasts eaten in the car and big lunches, which were often a stress release. Working from home, I’m able to eat healthier with smaller portions several times a day. So far, in six weeks I’ve lost five pounds.

8. Exercising 3-4 times a week. It’s easy working from home to incorporate a brisk 20-minute walk inside or outside or a push-up and sit-up routine in the middle of my day.

9. Able to be more present with my wife. Priceless.

10. Can work, stop, and restart as I choose. I can work best at my natural cycles of productivity. And I can break during the in-betweens. That means I can use that time to run to the post office, pick up groceries, take a walk through the woods, do a house chore, or go get some gas for the car.

11. Uninterrupted time with the Lord and positive input at the rudder of the day. I can spend unhurried time in prayer and Bible meditation as the day begins. And I'm taking career coach Dan Miller’s advice: “Years ago I made it a practice to spend at least two hours daily listening to, or reading, positive materials. That practice has given me access to the greatest thinkers in the world and an ongoing education that is current, practical, and profitable.”

12. Spending less money on gas and eating out. Not commuting and eating out daily, according to gas prices in 2021, saves me between $4000-$5000 a year.

13. More mental energy to focus, plan, and set goals. I purchased the Ziglar Corporation’s Performance Planner and spent about fifteen hours the first two weeks I came home thinking through life goals. I recorded forty-eight short-term, intermediate, and long-term goals and am using the planner to help me stay on track. I’ve already completed three of them, including finally submitting my completed first book manuscript to a publisher.

14. Time for productivity. Since coming home, I’ve completed my own book, was almost immediately hired by another organization as their part-time, remote, writer, have begun work on two different book projects as a ghost, and am talking with another party about a completely different book editing project. I'm also working on redoing my own freelance writing and ghostwriting promotional materials. And I’m just getting started.

15. More time for education and instruction. I’ve completed one copywriting online class, started another one, and started a ghostwriting one in the past six weeks.

16. Am able to take days or vacation time off when needed, not according to a benefits scale. Entering my last job at age 46, I received two weeks off the first two years. With three teenagers and one in college, only taking two weeks off a year was quite challenging. Now, I can take off what I need and want, assuming that I’m hustling enough when I am working to make the income we need. This also offers more time to visit my now two children in college and my octogenarian mother. And it puts me in the driver's seat.

17. I’m learning to plan my life first and then my work to fit that life. I wish someone had drilled that into my head thirty years ago. The traditional American concept of work is to choose your work and then plan your life. However, modern wisdom shares, “To have real success you must understand yourself and plan your life first, then plan your work to embrace the life you want” (Miller).

18. In essence, and somewhat as a summary benefit, I’m much better able to order my world from the inside-out rather than playing catchup from the outside in.

Gordon MacDonald, in his excellent book Ordering Your Private World (which I am re-reading for the sixth time since 2002), writes, "Those who brought their lives into discipline or . . . intentionality would, more than likely, go on to long-term lives of fruitfulness, and their best years would be in the last half of their lives when discipline and depth paid off. . . . The ordering of my private world is an inside-out matter, not an outside-in matter."

Wayne Muller writes, “The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or even to know that the sun set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single mindful breath, this has become the model of a successful life.”

And Dan Miller writes, “Henry Ford once said he didn’t want executives who had to work all the time. He insisted that those who were always in a flurry of activity at their desks were not being the most productive. He wanted people who could clear their desks, prop their feet up and dream some fresh dreams. His philosophy was that only he who has the luxury of time can originate a creative thought.

Wow! When was the last time your boss told you to quit working and do more dreaming? Unfortunately, our culture glamorizes being under time pressure. Having too much to do with little time is a badge of ‘success.’ Or is it? . . .

Andrew Carnegie would go into an empty room for hours at a time – not allowing any interruptions – as he was ‘sitting for ideas.’ Thomas Edison would go down to the water’s edge each morning, throw out his line – with no bait – and then watch the bobber for an hour until he was ready to think for the day. . . .

If you are feeling stuck, your solution may not be in doing more, but in taking a break from the ‘busyness’ of life. Want to be more productive – try doing less. Go ‘sit’ somewhere for a while!”

Today's changing landscape presents multiple opportunities for those who will seize them.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay.