My Top 10 Blog Posts In 2013 According To Pageview Traffic

Photo by sam_churchill

Photo by sam_churchill

Preface

In a blog post earlier in the week, I took a look at My Top 10 Favorite Personal Blog Posts in 2013. In this post, I will list the top 10 blog posts in 2013 on my personal blog, larrywjones.com, according to pageview traffic analytics. Let me qualify this list by saying that some of these posts were written prior to 2013, but they still received a lot of pageviews in this year.

In order to read each post listed below in its entirety, just click on the embedded links. So, without further delay, here are the top ten posts in 2013 according to pageview traffic [drum roll, please]:

Top 10 Blog Posts in 2013 According to Pageview Traffic

10. Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry? In this post, I look at the differences between those church members who only volunteer their time and talents, versus those who sense a deep calling to use their time and talents to advance the Kingdom of God. There is a major attitude and investment difference that’s worth noting.

9. Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan. Several years ago, I went through a period of brokeness in my life. While many people would have probably just given up, thrown in the towel, and chucked the “Christian life” thing, I drew closer to the Lord and grew in my faith. I moved to a new, better place in my life. In this post, I share additional details on how the Lord truly took me from broken to superhuman.

8. 8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile. The truly, engaged professional has a killer LinkedIn profile. The best profiles are similar to online resumes, but on digital steroids! Over the last two years, I’ve become a huge fan of the various tools and features that LinkedIn has to offer professional business people. In this post, I outline the eight characteristics of the very best profiles out there, today.

7. What Should You Do When You’re Waiting On God For Your Next Move? I have received a favorable response from several people telling me how much the post personally spoke to them. I believe this post spoke to others because it reflects some of my one personal frustrations as I circle about in my own circumstantial holding patterns. I can speak from the knowledge of my own personal experience.

6. 7 Tips To Successfully Motivate Volunteers In Your Organization. Whether or not your volunteers feel a sense of calling or simply a spirit of volunteerism, there are practical techniques you as a leader can use to successfully motivate your followers. In this post, I give seven tips that have worked well for me over the last 16 years.

5. How To Organize Your LinkedIn Connections On A Free Account. A free account on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you have to go without practical tools to organize your professional connections. In this post, I use screenshots to walk you through a systematic approach to organize your hundreds of connections.

4. 5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive. This is another one of my posts in which I still receive a very positive response. Here, I list five books I have read in the last few years that continue to have a positive impact on my personal life. I highly recommend them for your library.

3. 5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life. The elegant life is not praised or promoted in our modern era. Why is this? I’m not entirely certain, but society in general continues to degrade into a more crude and rude state. How we dress, talk, eat, and walk does make an impact on those we come in contact with. “Suit up” and check out this post!

2. 14 Practical Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Being An Orchestra Director. I’ve been directing volunteer orchestras now for almost 20 years. During this time, through much trial and error, I’ve picked up several important leadership lessons. In this post, I share what I’ve discovered about leadership along the way. Interestingly enough, this post really “caught fire” in my digital circle of influence, and this post was also featured over on the XPastor.org website: A Recent Post Featured Today Over At XPastor.org | 14 Leadership Lessons.

1. 6 Characteristics Of A Renaissance Man. This post was one of my first, early entries on the blog when I had a slightly different emphasis on Renaissance living. Interestingly enough, due to numerous Google searches on renaissance men, this page receives a ton of traffic. It’s far and away (like 30x more pageviews than the next popular post) my most visited blog post. Even though I shifted my blog emphasis to whole life stewardship, this is still a great blog post, in my humble opinion.

My Top 10 Favorite Personal Blog Posts In 2013

Photo by iabusa

Photo by iabusa

Preface

During this holiday week, I thought I would share some of my favorite blog posts that I have written over the last year here on my personal blog, larrywjones.com. I believe these posts demonstrate some of my best writing and most thought-provoking information that I have shared with my readers. Please note, this list includes my personal favorites, but they do not necessarily reflect the most popular posts according to pageview traffic. I’m saving those for a post next week.

In order to read each post listed below in its entirety, just click on the embedded links. So, without further delay, here are my top ten favorite posts [drum roll, please]:

Larry’s Top 10 Favorite Blog Posts In 2013

10. Stop Blaming Others And Take Ownership Of Every Aspect Of Your Life. I wrote this post after discovering and reading through the book QBQ! The Question Behind The Question. I was so impacted by the philosophy expressed in the writing of John Miller, that I was compelled to write a post about it. Check out the post and get these QBQ! books. They’re excellent!

9. What Should You Do When You’re Waiting On God For Your Next Move? I decided to include this post in the list, because I received a favorable response from several people saying how much the post personally spoke to them. I believe this post spoke to others because it reflects some of my one personal frustrations as I circle about in my own circumstantial holding patterns. I can speak from the knowledge of my own personal experience.

8. Drawing A Line And Taking A Stand On Debt. If you’re ever going to get serious about your financial future as well as achieving financial freedom, you have to address the debt issue in your life. You have to draw the line. You have to declare your debt dependence as completely over and you’re getting out as soon as possible! In this post, I successfully address the “debt thing” head on, and even use a Bible verse to thump people on the head!

7. 8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile. The true, engaged professional has a killer LinkedIn profile. The best profiles are similar to online resumes, but on digital steriods! Over the last two years, I’ve become a huge fan of the various tools and features that LinkedIn has to offer professional business people. In this post, I outline the eight characteristics of the very best profiles out there, today.

6. 17 Strategies To Be Successful In A Continuing Bad Economy. No one really likes the bad economy that has set in over the last 5-6 years here in the United States. But, it’s time to stop whining and complaining about it, and actually get busy doing something about the problem. In this post, I offer up 17 strategies to be successful, even though the economy is still sluggish.

5. 5 Great Leadership Lessons from the Movie Star Trek Into Darkness. I placed this post in the mix of my Top 10 favorites because I love the topic of leadership and I enjoy the Star Trek franchise. I put two great personal tastes together, kind of like peanut butter and chocolate. Doesn’t get much better than that!

4. A Financial Vision For America. Using Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech as a model, I crafted this blog post in an inspiring speech-styled format. Here, I attempt to give a compelling vision of better financial solutions than we are currently pursuing in the United States.

3. What’s Your “Why,” And Why Haven’t You Discovered It Yet. A couple of years ago, I ran across Simon Sinek’s TEDx talk on YouTube called “How Great Leaders Inspire Action?” This is one of those TEDx talks where all the light bulbs go off in your head, but the reality is that Simon is just reminding us of the importance of our “Why” or our purpose in anything we do.

2. 5 Spiritual Lessons On Stuff Management From A Busted iPod. Last year, my daughter dropped her iPod and cracked her glass screen, exactly two weeks after I purchased it for her. Needless to say, I wasn’t too impressed or happy about it, either. So, my solution was for her to earn money to be able to have it repaired. Along the way, I believe we both learned some important spiritiual lessons.

1. 14 Practical Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Being An Orchestra Director. I’ve been directing volunteer orchestras now for almost 20 years. During this time, through much trial and error, I’ve picked up several important leadership lessons. In this post, I share what I’ve discovered about leadership along the way. Interestingly enough, this post really “caught fire” in my digital circle of influence, and this post was also featured over on the XPastor.org website: A Recent Post Featured Today Over At XPastor.org | 14 Leadership Lessons.

The Lost Art Of Pruning: How Cutting Out Dead, Unnecessary Stuff Can Lead To A Better Life

Photo by Pictoscribe

Photo by Pictoscribe

Taking Care Of The Fruit Trees

When I was a kid growing up, my family had a bunch of fruit trees in our yard. We had a few different types including apple, cherry, and even a pear tree. I remember my dad having this old, green tank sprayer which he attached to the back of his riding lawn mower. Then, he would drag that sprayer around and spray the fruit trees a couple of times a year in order to control the various insects that liked these fruit trees.

He not only sprayed the trees, but he also took time to prune the trees back. He owned this really long, telescoping pruning rod with a little saw and limb slicer. I believe he normally did this at least once a year, probably in late fall after the growing season was over.

Why Pruning?

The goal of pruning is to produce strong, healthy, attractive plants. There are a number of reasons to prune your trees:

  • Pruning for safety. An example of this would be pruning back low hanging branches that may injure someone.
  • Pruning for health. An example of this would be pruning out all the dead, deformed, and diseased branches in a tree.
  • Pruning for aesthetics. Sometimes trees grow into strange, uneven shapes. You can use various pruning techniques to make trees more aesthetically pleasing to the eye.

The pruning practices for tree growth can just as easily apply to our own lives as well.

Pruning Principles For Life Growth

As time moves forward each day, month, and year, we grow in our personal lives. Stuff gets added into our home schedules. Work responsibilities increase. We may even add more children to our families. Our kids add-on more extra-curricular activities. Our churches add more ministries and associated events.

For some reason, our society seems to think that more is better. So, more and more stuff gets loaded on our plates, or we just plain get handed more plates to spin.

We start looking like gnarly, unhealthy, odd-shaped trees!

The safety, health, and aesthetics of our lives are now in jeopardy. We are life accidents waiting to happen. These increasingly busier lives are completely unsustainable. Something has to and will give at some point.

We get sick so that we’re forced to rest. A project at work that normally would be a slam dunk falls apart, and our job is now in question. We receive a bad report from the doctor so that we’re forced to slow down and examine our lives. Our children begin rebelling because we never get to spend quality and quantity time with them because everyone has way too much going on.

So, then what happens? Everything comes to a complete standstill – our lives, families, work, and church engagement – as we deal with the crisis.

We stop. We fix the problem (or, so we believe, anyway). We resume all the activity all over again. Nothing really changes, though.

An emergency crisis takes place next year, and we begin the cycle all over again.

Something has to change. We need to take out our pruning shears and saws and cut out the dead and unnecessary stuff in our lives. For our own health, safety, and maybe even aesthetics, we sometimes need to cut back to the bare essentials to have a life that works. The end result is a life that has been properly maintained and prepared for stronger growth in the future.

Assuming you have some downtime this holiday season, I would encourage you to take some time to examine and prune your life for a better year in 2014. We have the potential to grow stronger, faster as a result of the trimming back.

Questions: Is your life out of control? Are you spinning way too many full plates right now? Have you taken the time to fully assess where you are? What needs to be pruned out of our life? What are the core essentials that need to stay in place?

3 Secrets To Successfully Talk To Yourself

Photo by marsmet543

Photo by marsmet543

You Are A Mental Chatterbox

When you woke up this morning, what were you thinking about? Were you thinking about what you needed to do to get yourself ready to go into work? Were you thinking about your kids’ school activities? Were you planning out your to-do list for work?

If so, then you were talking to yourself. We all do it, and we do it constantly.

We are regularly asking ourselves various questions inside our minds. Some of us are really good at this process. We ask quality questions and seek out positive solutions to those quality questions.

Many of us, though, are challenged in this area. We ask horrible questions and receive even worse answers to our questions.

Top performers and high achievers understand this important principle, and certainly you can too with a little help!

3 Secrets To Better Self-Talk

  1. Ask Better Questions. The foundation for asking better questions of yourself is staying positive. As soon as we turn negative, we start asking all the wrong questions in a negative manner and we shoot ourselves in the foot. We can also end up asking ourselves bad questions that don’t even really have an answer. These type of questions put us in a negativity loop instead of positive solutions. Let me give you an example. “Why is this happening to me?” I used to ask this question a lot during difficult days and circumstances. While asking this question may reveal a deep-rooted problem that needs to be addressed, most of the time this question is not very constructive. Outside negative circumstances will impact our lives occasionally, and there’s really not much we can do about it. In this moment, we can attempt to redirect our subconscious mind to start asking better questions such as, “What I can be thankful for in spite of these circumstances?” Or, “What can I learn through this difficulty?” Or, “How can I use this situation to grow physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually?” There’s always a better question to be asked of ourselves.
  2. Seek Better Answers. Let’s go back to my “Why is this happening to me?” example. As I just mentioned, from time to time, we will be impacted by negative, undesired circumstances. There won’t be much we can do about external forces outside of our control. So, we need to flip this around and start asking better questions, such as the examples I gave above. Then, we allow these questions to lead us to better answers. “I can use this difficulty to grow in my faith with Christ,” “I can use these challenging circumstances to get emotionally healthy,” and so on.
  3. Continuously Monitor and Change. This step is where it gets difficult. Most of the time, we are blissfully unaware of these mental conversations we are having with ourselves. We are running on autopilot. We have default conversations that are not constructive. We need to be proactive in monitoring these conversations as well as reprogramming our default modes. Knowing that these conversations are taking place in our minds is half the battle. Once you realize you’re asking negative questions and receiving negative answers, then you can attempt to move your mental discussion to a more positive level.

Questions: Have you ever considered the impact your mental conversations have on your personal performance? What do you need to do to move your personal self-talk to a more positive, high performance level.

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

Photo by jonathanpercy

Photo by jonathanpercy

Big Buildings Require Massive Foundations

One World Trade Center, the primary building that is replacing the twin towers that were destroyed in the attacks on 9/11, has been under construction since 2004. The architectural planning started well before that.

This new 104-story super-tall skyscraper is now the tallest building in the United States and Western Hemisphere as well as the fourth-tallest skyscraper in the world by pinnacle height. Its spire reaches a symbolic height of 1,776 feet as tribute to the year of the United States Declaration of Independence. This is one massive skyscraper.

Get this, though. The foundation for this huge building took several years to complete.

The foundation for One World Trade Center is some 70 feet below street level and required dynamite blasting down into solid bedrock.

The symbolic cornerstone of One World Trade Center was laid down in a ceremony on July 4, 2004, but further construction of the tower was stalled until 2006. Then, on November 18, 2006, 400 cubic yards of concrete were poured onto the foundation of the One World Trade Center, carried by as many as 40 trucks. The first steel beam was welded on to the building’s base on December 19, 2006.

On January 9, 2007, a second set of beams was welded to the top of the first set. Later in that year, the construction company completed a row of steel columns at the perimeter of the construction site. Two tower crane bases were erected, and by the end of 2007, the tower’s footings and foundations were nearly complete [Source: Wikipedia].

Before the beautiful steel and glass structure could rise high in the New York City skyline, a solid foundation for this large of building had to be created to support it. It took a lot of time, energy, resources, and money to build it. This was a carefully executed piece of the building plan. In no way did it happen on accident.

The foundation is the most critical component for building anything of importance, including a financial plan for your family. Get this part right, and a magnificent financial legacy can be created to give financial life to your family for generations into the future.

7 Components For A Solid Financial Foundation

  1. Commit to a plan that you will build something amazing! When the City and State of New York, the developer, and the architect decided to build a new skyscraper, they just didn’t start digging a hole in the ground, lay some concrete and steel beams, and put a building up. No, they spent years creating various architectural designs, drawings, and models. They created the plan, first, before anything else took place. Then, they committed the time, energy, and resources necessary to execute an amazing plan. The same is true for a financial plan. You and your family need to spend time and energy creating a vision of what you ultimately desire before anything else takes place.
  2. Resolve that you will do rich people stuff. Assuming you desire to create an awesome financial legacy that will last several years into the future, then you need to plan the way wealthy people do. You need to do rich people stuff. Rich people make several wise financial decisions. They have cash reserves on hand for emergencies. They avoid debt. They do monthly budget planning. They ask questions like “how much?” not “how much per month?” and so on.
  3. Put your estate planning in place. None of us know when we will pass away, and it would be foolish to set this piece of planning off to the side until we have the rest of our financial plan is in place. This layer of the foundation is critical and needs to be one of the first parts completed. For the sake of your family, please, please, please, don’t delay doing this part. Hire an attorney and get a state specific will completed, signed, and notarized as soon as possible.
  4. Give strategically. Giving is a part of any healthy financial plan. As a Christian, I believe that God should automatically receive my first 10% that goes to my local church. After you have laid a solid foundation for your financial plan, then you and your family can discuss giving beyond the tithe and where that additional giving should go.
  5. Build up an emergency cash reserve. An emergency fund of 3-6 months of expense cash is your “insurance policy” of sorts that will help you through life’s financial up and downs, such as illness, accidents, unanticipated large repairs, and job layoffs.
  6. Pay off your debt ASAP. The majority of wealthy people do not do debt, especially revolving lines of credit. Commit to getting out of debt as soon as possible in order to give your family an amazing financial legacy.
  7. Invest in your retirement savings. The sooner you can begin investing in your 401(k) and Roth IRA’s, the longer these accounts will have to grow through the magic of compound interest. Get moving!

Questions: How’s you financial foundation? Are you being strategic in laying a great one? Have you even given it that much thought? Is your current foundation strong enough to create and support an amazing financial structure in the near future?