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Hope for the Hopeless

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Have you ever felt helpless, hopeless, or lost? I hope not, but if you answered yes then you know after escaping whatever caused that feeling in your life you don’t want to return.

My hope is that everyone would band together and give hope to those who have no hope today; children in third world countries.

Compassion International is a great group that I work with to help children have hope for their future. I sponsor a beautiful little Maria in Brazil and a handsome little Yosimar in Peru! It is rewarding to read the letters I get from them and empowering to build into them with words of encouragement I send back to them.

I encourage everyone reading this to help a hopeless child today by supporting them here.

With love, Josh

Sharing Your Ambition

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A man watching sunset from an observation post

I get a lot of inspiration in life by reading, listening to podcasts, and conversing with others. Knowledge attainment and application really matter to me. So, as happens often, I was inspired by a recent podcast by Bob Goff, “Dream Big – Always Have a Few Dreams Cooking“.

Goff has become an inspiration to me recently as I’ve read his books Love Does and Everyone Always. Bob has such a way of encouraging and motivating people to do something good for others and strive for your passion.

On the podcast episode above I was introduced to the Dream Big podcast and their mission of getting people to pursue and share their ambitions. By the end of the episode I was excited as I was thinking through my recent ambitions and how I could share them with others.

One of my ambitions is to build into others and see them grow, so one of the first things I wanted to do was write this blog post about ambition to hopefully encourage others!

So what is YOUR ambition? When was the last time you thought about it intentionally and let it engulf your mind?

Next, what SCARES you about your ambition? Will people make fun of you for it if they found it? Will it stretch your skillset to make it happen?

Lastly, who CAN you tell about your ambition? Not everyone should post their ambition online for many reasons. But who CAN you share your ambition with that will listen, encourage you, and give you ideas on how to get there?

While it can be intimidating to share your ambitions with others, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and do it today! You never know how being intentional about chasing your ambition can lead to things you never dreamed of.

Review: The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth

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Personal growth is important in one’s life to achieve the currently unachievable, unreachable, or unattainable. While it may not be possible to grow yourself in every possible way, it is important to have a growth mindset to focus on growing where possible to increase your performance in life.

John Maxwell’s book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth is a great read to challenge one wishing to grow themselves. Below I’ve listed some of my favorite Laws of Growth from the book.

  • Law of Intentionality – I find it fascinating how many people expect to make changes without being intentional about it. Whether you want to change your diet, work habits, or how you go about life you should be intentional about changing the way you think and operate to cause the change to happen and stick.
  • Law of Pain – Pain isn’t always a bad thing. Yes, breaking your arm hurts because it isn’t natural and you should get that fixed, but when it comes to growing you may feel pain as well. You might feel the pain of hunger when starting a diet, the pain of friction in relationships as you change what you accept in life, or pain from your legs as your exercise more. Many changes can cause mental or physical pain that can either keep you stuck or be seen as a natural barrier to break down as you grow.
  • Law of Curiosity – I’ve seen too many professionals become good at their jobs and then they stop being curious. While it’s good to ‘arrive’ in your career and be good at it, it’s always important to remain curious. You never know what changes in your field may do to your chosen role. If you stay where you’re at instead of staying curious and learning new skills you may end up having to go job searching.
  • Law of Modeling – You can only go so far by yourself. Having a mentor or ‘model’ is important when one wants to grow. Why recreate the wheel when you are striving to grow in your job? Find an example of someone who has done what you are trying to accomplish and model that person’s growth yourself!

After reading this book I believe the reader will walk away with a list of items to chew on that will feed into their future growth. While a lot of Maxwell’s books are aimed at the working professional, anyone can use the Laws listed in this book for personal growth as well.

Review: The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace

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I think it’s important in the workplace (if you participate in it) to acknowledge that people work harder and are more motivated when given appreciation.

In the spirit of getting better at showing appreciation to my co-workers I was intrigued by the book, The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace.

Without giving away the whole meat and potatoes of the book I’ll list the 5 Languages with some of my thoughts around them.

  • Words of Affirmation – Some people are very driven by verbal recognition of their work, efforts, and attitude. It can be a struggle for me to remember to encourage others in this way, but I think it’s important to do so, if for no other reason than to lift someone’s spirits.
  • Quality Time – Some people desperately crave time with their boss, co-worker, or others in the office to connect, think through ideas, or just catch up on what’s going on in the office. While this can obviously be abused by people who don’t want to do their job and rather socialize on the clock, it’s important to give people who need quality time the attention they need to feel valued and do their job well.
  • Acts of Service – Some people appreciate being helped with tasks at work, it shows you care for them. It’s important to remember that people who appreciate acts of service may still want the tasks at hand you assist with done their way, not yours. Helping in a different way than they’re used to, or at the wrong time may actually put the person behind schedule if they have to redo your work.
  • Tangible Gifts – Some people appreciate gifts that speak to them. Making sure you give an appropriate gift that the person would actually use and appreciate is a gift, a man may not appreciate tickets to a woman’s talk show for example. While gifts are appreciated don’t go overboard, or you could alienate people not receiving them at the time.
  • Physical Touch – This one is a ‘touchy’ subject, as going too far could land you in trouble. Some people do appreciate a high five, fist bump, pat on the back, or other subtle gesture showing you appreciate them, are excited to be with them, or are worried about them. Just be careful you don’t go too afar, or worse yet, use physical touch if you’re not sure how the person will take it.

Overall, I think this book is a great read for those who want to show appreciation to others in the workplace and want to understand ways people different from themselves expect to receive appreciation.

Can Gratitude Be Taught?

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When left unchecked my default behaviour is to become focused on all the substandard things in life that can be made better. While this may not always be a bad thing, it does cause me to quite frequently forget about the blessings in my life and become negative.

Gratitude isn’t something that comes naturally to me, and if you would have asked me a few years ago I would have said gratitude can’t be taught. Over the last six months I’ve been forced to embrace gratitude as a way to help me through some health issues. While I was depressed and mentally thrashing myself, I was encouraged to start a gratitude journal by my friend Patty.

I initially resisted, “Why would I want to write down what I’m thankful for?” I didn’t feel thankful for much at that moment in time, but was encouraged to write down even simple things to start with. My first day of gratitude items included:

  • Breathing exercise to relax
  • Salvation delivered by Jesus
  • Patty help
  • Anxiety meds

I was struggling to get through the days without anxiety attacks because of my health issues, and this list didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I kept going though, and soon saw that I was becoming more positive as I focused on what I was grateful for. As I’ve recovered from my health issues I’m grateful that I kept track of my gratitude items daily. It’s a good reminder to myself each day when I journal that even if I have bad days good things still happen to me.

In addition to being more positive, there’s other good reasons to learn to be grateful:

I encourage everyone to start a gratitude journal if they don’t already practice it. It could be with blog posts, thank notes to others, or a paper notebook. Regardless of how you express the gratitude, doing it in a repeatable format daily forces one to focus on positive things in their life. You’d be surprised how any grumpy gus can become more positive over time, just by changing their focus.

Where Do You Think Best?

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Some background on this post, I was on Medium reading articles about becoming a better writer ( I’m trying to get better, ok?) and an article about Where to Think Big Like a CEO popped up. I’m always striving to get better with strategic thinking, and part of me still misses building businesses (I’m sure I’ll have another startup someday) so I read the article.

The article was pretty cool as it shows some top CEO’s and where they think best for big/new ideas. A couple of the CEO’s though mentioned it’s not always a place that helps them think big, but a time. I know from personal expereince thinking up a big idea at 4 AM isn’t all that strange to startup owners who struggle sleeping.

After I read the part of the article discussing having big ideas during a time and not necessarily a place it got me thinking to where/when I think big best. As I thought through places that I feel inspired and times of the day that work best for my big thinking I realized it’s neither of those things, it’s a cultural attitude that helps me think big.

I started a new position around the end of September and was excited to expand my creativity and ability to think bigger in this role. While I’m doing just, that I’ve noticed I’m not very happy. After reading the Medium article above it hit me like turning on a light bulb, I’m not happy because I can’t do the things that help me think big. So how do I think big? I discuss the pros/cons of decisions with people, get ideas from others through discussion, and read between the lines of stakeholders and customers. I’ve had a hard time lately because the important people don’t have a lot of time for me in my new role. We’ve been missing a level of vital leadership (open positions) and everyone has been picking up the slack. This has made it very hard to get answers, let alone actually have meaningful and deep conversations that I’m use to that enables me to think big.

We’ve filled some of the leadership positions we were missing, and I’m hopefully as we continue to fill these roles and solidify our teams I’ll be able to spend the time I want/need to think big without feeling like I have to pull teeth. So for me, thinking big requires time with people to have actual dialogue, not just get directives and assume I know vital context and proprietary thoughts in people’s head they didn’t share.

What about you Mr. or Mrs. reader? What place, time, or thing helps you think big?

Life Isn’t That Bad

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#NewYearNewYou – Let’s make an effort this year to focus on the positive in life, instead of all the negative.

If you’re reading this post I implore you to find ways to disengage from traditional media and Social Media from time to time and realize how good your life really is. I know, I know, bad things happen to everyone in life, but can we all just unplug for a bit and realize the blessings we have in life?

Don’t fear, the bad people, horrible events, and sad news will always be available if/when you return to watching the news or start following people again on Social Media!

Just think, instead of comparing yourself to others on Social Media you enjoyed your life. If bad things happen in your life, deal with them. Instead of reading/watching the same sad news stories, imagine having fun in your life and realizing most of the news doesn’t affect your day to day much anyway.

Do you really fear missing out on all the bad things you’ll miss by not following the news? Why do you want to follow the news so that they can ‘pee in your cereal’ and put you in a bad mood? #IChooseToEnjoyLife What about you?

I’ve Been Kicking the Can Down the Road for a Year

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On January 10th 2018 I finally made the push to ….. stop drinking soda (or pop if you incorrectly call it that). It was a tough journey to build up enough confidence in myself to drop the empty calorie habit, but worthwhile.

My friend Jason ultimately helped the most in discussing with me that it’s not so hard to drop soda if you can get past the first few weeks. In my health journey I’ve found that doing lots of dieting, cutting out everything at once doesn’t work for me. It’s been easier to drop something for a month or two, then I can move onto dropping another item from my diet when I’m ready to take on that additional challenge.

So I’ll continue to kick the soda can down the road for another year and enjoy shielding myself from riding the sugary energy roller coaster.

Writing Inspiration

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In the past I’ve been hesitant to write blog posts, as I thought people would roll their eyes, give mean feedback, or not care what I had to say. While all the above still apply, I’ve changed my stance on writing posts. No longer should I care about the negative outcomes, but focus on the positives:

  • Who might benefit from my posts?
  • What discussions can be started by my ideas?
  • How can I push for positive change by writing?

The final straw of my encouragement to write more was the conviction that hit me yesterday while reading the Bible. The Bible is God’s word, but he didn’t write any of it. Normal human-beings wrote the Bible detailing what they experienced Jesus do, documenting facts, or sharing prophecies under God’s direction.

If God trusted human beings to write His Word in the Bible, then by all means I can trust myself to write posts to encourage, nudge, and educate others. Here’s to a great year!

2019 Is My Jesus Year

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Celebrating a birthday is something we cherish in our day and age. You’ve gained another year of experiences, lessons, heartache, and progress. It’s human nature for many of us to look back after our birthdays and measure the growth we’ve made in the last year and evaluate what we want to change for the next year.

As I look back at my thirty second year on earth I hesitate to deeply analyze the last year as it was a year of personal growth, pain, and journeys. While I could pat myself on the back for my accomplishments, I could also beat myself up for my pitfalls and health issues. Through the last year I treasure my continued faith walk and how God has shaped me during my weaknesses.

As i look ahead to my thirty third year on earth I realize that I’m in my ‘Jesus Year’. Jesus was thirty three years old when he was crucified for the sin of man, and he did mighty works while he walked the earth. While I’ll never live up to Jesus’s greatness while on earth (no one can), it’s humbling to make comparisons between what Jesus did during his last year on earth and what I may be able to do during the next year.

In my Jesus Year I intend to continually measure myself against Jesus. I have no confidence I’ll ever match Jesus’s grace, love, or mercy in my lifetime or my Jesus Year, but I have hope. I have hope that continuing to compare myself to Jesus will remind me of how far short I fall of his example and help me to regularly live by his standard.