According to Dilbert Cartoonist Scott Adams, Morning Habits Are A Key To Financial Abundance

Photo by David Kelly

Photo by David Kelly

[The information shared in this post can be found in Larry’s book in the Amazon Kindle store: Beyond Peace In Christian Finances: Accelerating Past Average With Your Money Plan.]

Dilbert Cartoonist Scott Adams Has Morning Habits

Scott Adams is the creative cartoonist who came up with the “Dilbert” comic strip. He has done many interviews with online magazines and podcasts about his own unique morning routines.

Several years ago, Mr. Adams created a morning routine in which he could manifest his best, most creative work in the early morning hours. Now, he is the first to admit that he isn’t always creative during this time. He structures his morning schedule in such a way, though, to allow himself to get into a creative state if possible. Adams says, “Creativity is not something you can summon on command. The best you can do is set an attractive trap and wait. My mornings are the trap. I wait for the ideas to arrive at their leisure, like a hunter in a duck blind. And in order for the trap to work, I exercise tight control over my physical environment.”

Scott wakes up early each day, anywhere between 3:30 and 5:00 a.m. His first twenty minutes of the day are always the same. He makes it to his home office desk within ten minutes of waking up. He then sits down, eats a protein bar, and drinks a cup of coffee to be energized for the morning.

After eating, he then “primes the creative pump” with positive news. His favorite news source is Business Insider. He claims they have a good mix of business and technology, which is the perfect fit for the “Dilbert” comic strip.

He says that four hours of creative time each morning flies by. He hardly notices the clock, and by 10:00 a.m. he states that he has written “two ‘Dilbert’ comics, a blog post, a few experimental comics posted on Twitter, four clever tweets, a ‘Dilbert’ movie scene, and an email about a new idea for my startup team at CalendarTree.com.

By late morning, Adams finds he has spent his creative energies. As he approaches lunchtime, he prepares to go workout at the gym. He will repeat the same routine the next day.

Photo by Dennis Amith

Photo by Dennis Amith

Do The “Big Rocks” First!

In Stephen Covey’s classic book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Covey gives us the well-known illustration of the glass jar. In this example, you take a large clear container and attempt to fit water, sand, pebbles, rocks, and then several large rocks. In this visual illustration, Covey demonstrates that in order for everything to fit in the jar, it must be put in the jar in descending order: large rocks first, followed by smaller rocks, then pebbles, sand, and water. This illustration is a visual representation of our daily schedules. In order to accomplish the “big rocks” in life (in Covey terminology, the important but not urgent), important items must be scheduled first before all the smaller stuff crowds them out.

In the life of Scott Adams, we see the “big rocks” principle at work. Adams knows exactly what he needs to do in his creative work life to be successful and generate the income he needs to accomplish his goals. He has engineered his entire morning routine to complete all those important tasks before anything else gets done in his day.

Life Circumstances Created My Own Morning Habits

A few years ago, I went through a process of establishing a regular morning routine. My routine came about as a result of going through one of the absolute worst experiences in my entire life.

Professional counselors have ranked divorce as the second most stressful life event. According to the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory it carries a stress level of 73 out of 100. I can testify from personal experience that this statistic is true.

During this challenging time in my life, I dove deep into an early morning routine just to keep my sanity! I would usually wake up around 5:00 am and spend some time reading through my Bible. Then, I would spend time on my knees in prayer, asking God to bring healing to an impossible situation. After that, I would spend time writing a couple of pages in a journal about my problems and personal journey. I would wrap up my morning routine with writing blog posts on my first Christian personal finance blog.

My own experience with establishing a solid morning routine for the last seven years has been nothing but positive. I am more productive and focused in every area of my life, including the spiritual, emotional, physical, relational, and financial. By setting aside time in the early morning hours, I am also working on my major life goals with intentionality and consistency.

I believe practicing these morning habits on a consistent, daily basis over time will produce amazing results in all areas of life. I can testify that these routines are just as critical to financial success as a well-diversified retirement portfolio.

Having a solid, purposeful morning routine will propel a person on a path to successful living that translates to every area of life.

[The information shared in this post can be found Larry’s book in the Amazon Kindle store: Beyond Peace In Christian Finances: Accelerating Past Average With Your Money Plan.]

5 Ways to Achieve Critical Mass Momentum Like The Kansas City Royals

Photo by Keith Allison

Photo by Keith Allison

Momentum.

It’s one of those aspects of life that is very difficult to quantify.

When an individual or an organization achieves momentum, how in the world are they able to accomplish that?

At the time of my writing this article, my hometown baseball team the 2014 Kansas City Royals have been able to achieve somewhat of a miracle for their franchise. For the first time in 29 years, the Royals have finally been able to make postseason play. The last time they made the playoffs was the year they won the championship in 1985.

The Royals were off to a great start at the beginning of this season but lost their way in June and July when they fell 8 games behind the Detroit Tigers. But since July 22, the Royals have been on a 41-23 tear that landed them a spot in the American League Wildcard game with the Oakland A’s. And now, the rest is history, at least up to the point of my writing this on October 8. The Royals have won their last four postseason games in a row.

So how has a wildcard team, a come from behind team such as the Royals, been able to accomplish great things over the last few months? Simply put, they are riding a tremendous wave of momentum.

But how did this momentum happen? How have the Royals been able to manufacture momentum while other perhaps “better” teams have not been equally successful?

Here are my thoughts on how some teams are able to achieve momentum while others are not.

5 Ways The Royals Have Achieved Momentum

  1. They posses team unity. A few days ago, I was watching the ALDS series with the Royals and Angels, and one of the commentators mentioned that what made the Royals unique was the fact that this ball club is not a collection of superstar players like other teams. The Royals seem to be able to check their egos at the door and do whatever they need to do for their team to win. Sometimes superstar players have a way of making decisions that benefit themselves and not necessarily the team. If you want momentum, focus on the team and less on yourself.
  2. They are focused on their strengths: speed, defense, pitching, and bullpen. These are the core strengths of the KC Royals. They are not big home run hitters. Most of their games have low scores because they are not the best offensive players. But, they also understand if they excel in their strengths, they don’t necessarily need a lot of runs to win ball games.
  3. They are working hard. Left fielder Alex Gordon is somewhat of a legend for his passion, desire, and work ethic. It is well-known that Gordon often arrives to the ballpark before even the coaching staff gets there. He has “heart and hustle” and helps the team every way he possibly can.
  4. They benefited from excellent timing. Many times, momentum builds completely on the “luck” of good timing as has happened with the Royals. But who knows. Perhaps the timing has been right because the team has put in the hard work and focused on their strengths? Maybe it’s more than just “luck.”
  5. They are having fun! You can tell the Royals are really enjoying this season. Royals outfielder Lorenzo Cain recently said, “We’re going to enjoy it, going to have a blast, and hopefully we can just celebrate like this. This is awesome.”

Questions: Have you ever been part of a team that experienced a tremendous surge of momentum? What would you attribute that surge to? Are you a Royals fan? Am I missing any other big reasons why the Royals have done well this season?

Feel free to leave a blog comment for me and join the conversation.

A New Concept In Successful Living

Photo by TheTaxHaven

Photo by TheTaxHaven

A Doctor Reveals The Secret

Turn your head and cough.

Yeah, it was that magical time, once again, with my doctor. A few years ago, I had just turned 40, and I needed to go in for a physical evaluation, just to make sure everything in my body was still up to factory specs.

As he and I were sitting in the examination room going through my medical history, he told me I was a boring patient.

I was like, “Geez, thanks a lot, doc.”

Fortunately, he meant it as a compliment.

He told me that in the medical profession he loves boring patients – individuals who are proactively taking care of themselves physically and not engaging in risky behaviors.

I said, “Yup, that’s me. I’m about as vanilla as they come.”

Boring Means Successful

The more I have thought about my doctor’s statement, though, the more I have considered the importance of this as a life philosophy.

I also started thinking about successful people and their daily routines and rituals.

The successful people I know are extremely disciplined, proactive, routine-driven, and not given over to “cray cray.”

Yeah, there are a few exceptions to the rule such as successful, business people types who “party like it’s 1999” and can (sort of) keep their life stuff together, but that’s pretty rare.

The Success Habits Of The Boring

The successful boring people out there have several boring habits.

Maybe that’s a big part of why they are successful.

They wake up early. They engage in personal quiet time, prayer, or meditation. They journal. They write down and review their goals on a regular basis. They focus on two or three important tasks a day that only they can accomplish that will move their career or business forward. They work on the hardest projects, first. They fight hard against procrastination.

They delegate additional activities to others in order to stay focused on their vital few. They eat right. They exercise. They stay on top of their personal finances. They and their spouses are on the same page when it comes to business, finances, and their family. They enjoy spending time with their spouses and children.

They invest all of their time and energy into activities and processes that make a difference.

Now, how corny and square are all these activities? The majority of people on planet earth probably laugh at these type of people and call them “nerds.”

To the successful, though, these activities aren’t boring. They’re actually exciting.

So, if boring works so amazingly well, why aren’t more of us this boring?

Questions: Are you boring and successful in life? If so, what boring activities do you engage in that you would give credit for your success?

If You Don’t Get Out Of Debt Now, You’ll Hate Yourself Later

Photo by Dave Lawler

Photo by Dave Lawler

Waiting For Perfect Timing

Perfect timing.

I suspect I’m the king of this elusive time issue. I tend to wait around for the timing to be just about right on most everything such as writing an important article, scheduling the doctor’s appointment, working on a speech, having an important conversation, or making that critical phone call.

The reality of perfect timing is that it is merely a socially acceptable way to procrastinate.

And, I’m sure I’m not alone in this, either. I would guess that most of us like to wait around for the “perfect timing” on almost anything in life.

Yeah, we’re just procrastinating.

So, why do we procrastinate? What are we waiting around for?

Perhaps, taking action will take us out of our comfort zone? It will make us uncomfortable, and we human beings are funny that way. We live for comfort. We don’t like stress. But, we also don’t accomplish what we need to do, either.

If we would just embrace our discomfort and take one small step of action, then we would find that it’s really not as bad as we made it out to be in our mind.

The Perfect Time To Pay Off Debt

Paying off debt is one of these areas that people like to wait around for the right timing.

Perfect timing is a myth. It’s pure hokum.

Yeah, we think we’ll start paying down our debt when we get a higher paying job, when we get our website built that is going to make us a million dollars, when we can finally get moved into our dream house, or when we’re done having kids and the wife goes back to work.

The reality is that there is no such thing as perfect timing. We’re just procrastinating taking action on something that will cause us discomfort. We know that we shouldn’t be carrying the debt load we’re currently carrying, but it’s this big scary monster that we don’t want to deal with.

So, we put it off until tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that. If you’re not working on getting out of debt now, then it’s probably not going to happen later.

But, I can tell you from personal experience that if you face your fear and look at this ugly debt monster in the face, it’s probably not as bad as you think. We always make things bigger in our mind than they are.

Now Is The Time

I don’t care where you’re at, today.

Maybe you’re still in college. You started a new business a few months ago. You just got married. Your wife is about to give birth to your firstborn child.

Wherever you are in life, right now IS, without a doubt, the very best time to embark on your debt-free journey. Your life will not be any easier one year from now. It’s just going to get more complicated and more expensive at some level. Plus, in these uncertain economic times we now find ourselves, you are better off to just deal with your current state than wait on better financial times that may be several years away.

Take action today on moving toward a debt-free life. Don’t procrastinate any longer. The clock is ticking. If you don’t get out of debt now, you’ll hate yourself later.

Questions: Are you waiting around to become debt-free? What are you waiting around for? What one action could you take today to break your cycle of procrastination and move toward financial freedom?






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Learning To Speak The Language In The Land Of Personal Finance

Photo by Jes

Photo by Jes

Language Barriers

I felt like a fish out of water.

A few years ago, I traveled to the nation of Israel on a missions trip.

Yes, there were signs in English. And, yes, there were English-speaking people in Israel. But still, there was enough Hebrew, Arabic, and other European languages being spoken there that I was grasping at what I was hearing, trying to figure out important details about my journey.

The tour hosts and guides gave us some basic Hebrew words and their meanings, but that only took our little missions team so far. We were going to be there for two weeks and then fly home, so probably not very many of us took the Hebrew language very seriously.

We struggled through those language barriers as best we could and then flew back to the States. We were safely back in our English-speaking comfort zone.

What if I made a permanent move to Israel, though? What then? I don’t think faking it through the Hebrew language would do me any good. I would struggle for a very long time. I would be reliant others to translate important information.

The best step I could take would be to learn the language so that there would be no barriers between me and the Israeli people. A wise decision on my part would be to take language classes, listen to audio recording lessons, use computer software, and hire a tutor. Then, I would be completely immersed in that culture. I would not only survive, but I would thrive through knowing the language.

Financial Barriers

Just like a foreign language, personal finance has a “language” all its own.

Many people feel there are way too many barriers to this particular language, so they resort to faking it through their financial journey. They want to stick their fingers in their ears and shout “La, la, la … I can’t hear you” so they don’t have to deal with the foreign land of personal finance.

But, the land of personal finance is not a speedy, two-week trip. Whether we like it or not, our financial lives are the journey of a lifetime. We can choose to win or lose. All it takes is making the choice to win, setting goals, getting help, and learning this language called personal finance.

But, in the end, the majority of us don’t follow this path. We won’t win with our finances.

Lifetime Language Learning

Instead of fighting the language of personal finances, we need to spend a little time and money to learn this language. We need to get in a Crown Financial Bible Study. We need to buy an FPU kit and go through Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. We need to read books such as The Wealthy Barber, The Automatic Millionaire, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, and The Millionaire Mind.

We should know and understand software such as Quicken, and Excel. We should utilize online banking. We should take advantage of websites such as Mint.com. We should automate our finances as much as possible. We should seek out the advice and knowledge of financial professionals.

This is not a “one and done” kind of process, either. Learning the language of personal finance especially in today’s high-tech world needs to become a lifelong learning process. The tips and tricks of finance are constantly evolving. Yes, there are some basic, foundational principles that will never change, but there will be some other important high finance approaches that will change given shifts in the economy.

We all need to embrace the language of personal finance and make the choice to win with money.

Questions: Are you afraid to learn the language of personal finance? Why or why not? What steps are you taking now to stay current in your financial journey?






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Who Else Wants More Out Of Life?

Photo by gfpeck

Photo by gfpeck

Put In. Get Out.

“You get out of it, what you put into it.”

Have you ever heard this little phrase before? A friend reminded me of this saying several weeks ago.

This quote is so true, AND, it’s a truth that applies to just about anything and everything in your life.

The problem I see is that most people want to coast through most things in their life. They want to put in as little as possible. They want everything handed to them on a gold platter because they deserve it, but they aren’t willing to work hard and go after it.

Now, I’m all for achieving maximum results with minimal effort. Working smarter not necessarily harder is my mantra. But there are going to be areas of our life that we’re just going to need to put the time and energy into in order to get anything meaningful in return.

The amazing thing that happens, though, is putting yourself out there doesn’t necessarily mean that all your energy is zapped out of you. Putting yourself out there can actually be an energizing experience.

Instead of thinking yourself as a battery being drained of power, think of yourself more in terms of an alternator or generator. Energy is put in and energy is released. It’s a win/win all around.

Areas To Put In

Do you want to have a deep walk with the Lord? You’re going to need to spend a lot of time in Bible reading and prayer. You need to be actively involved in your local church. You need to have a missions mindset.

Do you want to have a great relationship with your spouse and children? You’re going to need to put a lot of time and energy into those relationships. You need to get home in time to have family dinner around the table. You need to schedule date nights with your spouse. You need to love and nurture your kids.

Do you want to be a superstar employee in your workplace? You’re going to have to put in a little extra time and energy into your position. You need to grow in your leadership skills. You need to take on some projects that will take you and your organization to the next level.

You get out of anything in life, what you put into it.

I’ve Decided To Put More In

I can confidently proclaim this truth, because I’m learning it through firsthand experience in another organization outside of the four walls of my current church position. You see, almost a year ago, I joined a volunteer group in my community to learn and grow in the areas of leadership and communication. Yes, I’m putting quite a bit of time and energy into this group, but I’m also getting a TON out of it, too. I was even voted on (probably more like drafted!) to become an officer in the group. Being a part of this organization has been a real blessing in my life. Has it been easy? No, not really. Has it been worth it? Most definitely!

So, what do you want out of life? Do you want to just coast along and go with the flow? Or, do you want to really dig in and grow spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically, and musically? For me, personally, I pick growth, every time.

You get out of life what you put into it.

Question: What are you willing to put into your life in 2014?






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Get Out There And Find Yourself Some Wise, Rich Friends

Photo by MCFlainez

Photo by MCFlainez

Huh?

You’re joking, right Larry? The title on this post seems a little over the top.

Yes, I meant the title to be a bit of shocker, but I’m really only half-joking around about it. Check out the following quote:

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

While there have been no scientific studies done to substantiate this quote (to my knowledge), I don’t think there can be much dispute on the influence of others on our life. We become like the people with whom we hang out and do life with.

If we spend a lot of time with rebellious, worldly, marginal “Christians” (I’m using this label, loosely), then there’s a good chance we’re going to end up worldly and rebellious.

If we hang out with people who are challenged with a poor work ethic and a poverty mindset, then we’re probably going to adopt that same attitude with our work and finances.

If we spend time with selfish, me-centered people, then there’s a great possibility we’re going to become toxic people and self-centered in our personalities.

But …

If we hang out with people who have a deep walk with the Lord and are engaged in a passionate pursuit of the Kingdom of God, then there’s a great possibility that we will become mature in our own walk with the Lord.

If we spend time with hard workers, abundance thinkers, and people who are rocking their career niche, then we’re probably going to start growing in our own area of expertise.

If we spend time with people who live debt free lives with attitudes of contentment and generosity, then there’s a great chance we’re going to pursue this type of financial mindset and lifestyle as well.

What Scripture Tells Us About Friendship

God’s Word is clear that the people we hang around with do have an influence on our lives, for good and for bad. Check out these verses from Scripture about the importance of our personal relationships:

  • Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Proverbs 13:20).
  • Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare (Proverbs 22:24-25).
  • Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
  • Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety (Proverbs 11:14).
  • Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future (Proverbs 19:20).
  • Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another (Proverbs 27:17).

Our Friends Will Make Us Or Break Us

The people we hang around with will truly make us or break us. Our friends have the power, the ability to build us up or to tear us down. They can encourage us or discourage us to make great life choices or bad ones. They can give us wise, Biblical advice on how to manage God’s money, or they can advise us to live wealthy lifestyles with no consideration for God’s Kingdom work.

Does this mean we dump all of our current friends in favor of “better” friends?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I would simply do a friend audit. If you have a group of friends that impact you negatively, then yeah, it’s time to drop them in favor of more positive influences in your life. On the other hand, if your friends have perhaps a mostly neutral influence in your life, then you can hold on to them. Over time, though, seek out Godly, positive, wise, hard-working friends who can help you move up to that next level in your life.

Questions: Have you done a friend audit, lately? If you did one, what kind of grades would your current group of friends receive? Passing, failing, or excellent? Is it time for you to get out there and find some more positive, influential friends?

17 Strategies To Be Successful In A Continuing Bad Economy

Reality Sinks In

Photo by Newbirth35

Photo by Newbirth35

I believe reality is finally sinking in for many of us that we are looking at several more difficult years of the “New Economy.” With the re-election of Mr. Obama, we will have at least at four more years of bad federal fiscal policy for any real economic growth.

We will continue to have rising gas prices and, in turn, a rising cost of goods and services. High unemployment will continue to drag on. The national debt will soar higher and higher. And, of course, we will have additional higher taxes in every area imaginable – income, estate, fuel, utilities, and healthcare. This will impact all of us, not just the super rich.

I don’t want to be Mr. Doom and Gloom here, but if you’re just hoping things are going to turn around financially and we’re going to be back in the “good old days” (financially speaking) of Reagan, Clinton, and the Bushes, then keep on dreaming.

If you want financial change, then you’re going to need to become the change you desire. You’re going to need to be way more proactive about money than you probably want to be. You’re going to need to work harder and smarter than ever to provide for your family. The sad reality is that the folks in Washington appear to want a bunch of mediocre wage earners. They have no real desire for you to become high achievers. Excellence and success are definitely not words in their vocabulary. In fact, they are punishing achievers more than helping them.

17 Strategies For A Bad Economy

As I wrestle with the reality of the New Economy in regard to my own family finances, here are some thoughts on becoming successful in spite of the insanity:

  1. Take personal responsibility. Resist the urge to just give up and jump on the dole. The unfortunate goal of a bunch of politicians today is for you to take advantage of every available free money handout from the government. They want you hooked for life, and then they want you to vote for them because of their benevolence. I say, dare to be different and take personal responsibility. Avoid the handouts. In the end, you’ll be better off for it. It’s about character building, not easy street.
  2. Get out of debt ASAP. Definitely do not emulate the federal government in regard to debt! Start working your debt snowball, immediately. Unloading the burden of debt will free up your resources. You will be able to focus all your available resources on what truly matters as we continue in the new economy.
  3. Build up your emergency fund. In the new economy, this will be more critical than ever. Once you get of debt, be sure to build up an emergency fund of at least 3-6 months worth of living expense money. Having this stash available will help your family through any unexpected job loss or downturns.
  4. Grow in your generosity. Even in difficult economic times, we need to maintain lifestyles of giving. This will enable an attitude of gratitude. I’ve seen it in so many people. A generous life unleashes greatness and, of course, God’s hand of blessing.
  5. Brand yourself. No, I’m not talking about making marks on your body with a hot piece of metal. In the job market of the new economy, you have to stand out. You must be unique. So, what will make your name rise to the top of a stack of resumes? What qualities or characteristics do you possess that people want and need in their workplace? What niche do you cover better than anyone else? Once you figure out what makes you unique from everyone else, then you have to sell that uniqueness in anything that has your name attached to it.
  6. Create a platform. Related to #5, once you have figured out your personal brand, then you need to release your brand out to the world. You accomplish that through some type of platform. This could be a personally branded website (such as larrywjones.com), a blog, a book, podcast, or series of YouTube videos. The best book about creating a platform is Michael Hyatt‘s Platform: Get Noticed In A Noisy World.
  7. Create multiple streams of income. In the new economy, you must think multiple streams of income, so that if one dries up in these challenging economic times, you will have other sources of cashflow to get you through. Long gone are the days of one solitary income sustaining an entire family. Consider ways you can create residual income streams on the side in addition to the income from your day job. Check out this awesome resource from Pat Flynn: smartpassiveincome.com.
  8. Find a mentor. The fastest way to get where you want to go is to find someone else that has already been there. If you want to be debt free, then find a debt free family and pick their brain about how they accomplished that. If you want to brand yourself through a personal platform, then find someone who has done this and emulate what they are doing.
  9. Network. In today’s world, we have various ways to maintain and even expand our network. We can go out to lunch with friends and acquaintances. We can attend networking events, such as our local chamber of commerce. We can network through the various social media channels: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. The overall goal, of course, is to maintain a group of social connections that will help you long-term with business and job opportunities.
  10. Become a life-longer learner. In today’s ever-expanding Information Age, it’s critical to always be reading and learning. Paper books, ebooks, white papers, blogs, and more. Be well-rounded and think “generalist.” Know a little something about everything. This can make you a more valuable employee over the long haul. The best leaders are actually generalists surrounded by specialists.
  11. Short and long-term financial planning. More than ever, you need some type of monthly cashflow plan during these turbulent times. You also need to be thinking out ahead for the next several years. Got goals? Do your current plans line up with those goals?
  12. Hire financial experts with the heart of a teacher. Related to #11, an excellent financial expert can help you navigate both short-term and long-term money issues. Also, there is much confusion with all the new laws coming out of Washington, especially with the massive changes in healthcare taking place, today. It’s better to get help from people who understand these new laws than to figure it all out on your own!
  13. Embrace simplicity. The simple life is way underrated. Get rid of all the extra junk in your life. Have a massive garage sale. Give away all the leftovers to your favorite charity. Keep your life and your stuff as simplistic, clean, and organized as possible.
  14. Bargain hunting. Paying full price for stuff anymore is not very bright. Learn how to find great deals at great prices. Learn how to negotiate. Be a cheap skate, but always consider the quality of the product before purchasing.
  15. Discover ways to save in the areas of fuel costs. Due to current political policies, these costs are only going to continue to rise. Does that mean go out and buy a hybrid vehicle? Probably not, because the cost of a brand new hybrid vehicle still outweighs the cost of fuel long-term. In regard to gasoline, consider less driving. Make as few driving trips as you possibly can. In regard to home utility expenses, do an energy audit and see where you can make some reasonable home improvements in order to save on those bills long-term.
  16. Pursue a healthier lifestyle. With the Affordable Care Act going into full force over the next few years, here’s another area that will continue to grow financially out of control. If you aren’t healthy, you will end up paying higher costs, fees, and taxes in order to get healthy. Pay the price on the front end with a better diet, exercise, and clean living. If you don’t do it on the front end, you’ll end up paying through the nose on the back-end.
  17. Pray. Although I have listed this last, it really should be at the top of this list! As a believer in Christ, I believe in God’s protection and provision. I know that He owns all things. I know that He is crazy in love with me. He can and will provide for me during difficult times.

Question: So, has it sunk into your brain that our current economic climate is going to persist for a while? What long-term strategies are you employing in order to survive and thrive going forward? Do you have additional suggestions to this list of 17 strategies?

The Importance of Daily Rituals In The Pursuit Of Excellence

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Photo by theimpulsivebuy

Our Instant World

We live in an instant world. Quick mp3 downloads from iTunes. Instant oatmeal. Movies on demand. Kindle book downloads from Amazon. Instant cup of soup.

In our instant everything world, it’s hard to have patience for much of anything, anymore. The challenge for us is that the things which have true meaning and lasting value in our lives, take time to develop.

If we want to have a growing spiritual life with our Lord, then we have to spend time in His Word and in prayer. If we want to have meaningful relationships, then we need to carve out quality and quantity time to make those happen. If we want financial peace in our lives, we need to spend time doing a budget and working on a solid financial plan.

Excellence Is A Marathon, Not A Sprint

Photo by r0sss

Photo by r0sss

The same is true with the principle of excellence. If you want to excel at anything, then you have to set aside regular, consistent time to work on whatever you’re trying to be excellent at.

Excellence is not a “one and done” proposition. Excellence takes time. There are no shortcuts.

The best analogy I can come up with is playing a musical instrument (I’m a trumpet player). If you’ve ever played an instrument, then you know what I’m talking about. You can’t just practice your instrument one time and be done with it. If you truly want to excel at that musical instrument, then you have to develop a regular practice routine (such as an hour a day) and stick with it.

Here’s another life example of growing in excellence and appropriate rituals.

If you want to be in excellent health, then you will need to put an exercise regimen in your daily schedule. You will need to schedule regular doctor check-ups to monitor your overall health. You will need to determine a healthy meal menu and shop at the grocery store, accordingly.

Daily rituals are the best way to grow in excellence in any area.

Got Rituals?

How about you? Do you have regular routines or rituals that you practice on a regular basis in order to be excellent in specific areas of your life?

If not, here’s my recommendation. Pick just one area of your life that you want to be excellent at. Focus on that one area for several months. Establish 2-3 rituals in that area. Make these rituals a regular habit in your life. Get this one “plate” spinning really well.

Once you feel like you have the rituals firmly established in that area, then consider another area of your life in which you would like to excel. Follow the exact same pattern.

Before you know it, you will have several “plates” spinning, a number of rituals established in your life, and you will be growing in your personal excellence.

Question: If you had to pick a specific area that you need to focus on excellence in your life, what would it be? What rituals do you need to establish in order to get growing in excellence in this particular area?

7 Keys To Establish A Culture Of Excellence

Photo by Quasimondo

Photo by Quasimondo

The Priority Of Excellence

When I consider great people, organizations, and companies that exist today, I am impressed with their commitment to excellence. They have a passionate desire and drive to put excellent work out into the world.

Apple, Inc. creates beautiful products that challenge the status quo. Fox News is communicating fair and balanced news in a powerful way. Andy Stanley is “communicating for change” in the world of preaching, teaching, and writing. Michael Hyatt is creating a Platform empire!

The work that these people and companies create didn’t happen by accident, either. Their work has been the best of the best. They have been committed to a path of excellence in all that they do.

Because of that commitment to excellence, they are at the top of their field.

7 Keys To Excellence

As I look at excellent companies, organizations, and people, I observe seven keys to excellence that are practiced religiously:

  1. Excellence is a decision. Excellence doesn’t happen by accident. Excellent people and organizations have made conscious decisions that they will put excellence into everything they do.
  2. Excellence requires strong leadership. If you want to establish a culture of excellence, then you must recruit and train excellent leaders. The best organizations don’t just have one strong head leader. There is at least one additional layer (and usually more) of quality leaders that are heralding the vision of the CEO.
  3. Excellence is communicated regularly in a variety of ways. Try putting excellence quotes in your blogs and newsletters. Pepper everyday conversations with thoughts on excellence. Establish a culture where excellence is expected at every level – from the bathroom to the board room!
  4. Excellence requires enthusiastic energy! People are drawn to energy. If you and your team are energized by what you do, then people will follow you. They will buy into you. They will be peak performers for you. They will give you excellent work.
  5. Excellence is hard work. Achieving excellence in anything won’t be easy. You’re going to have to put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into all that you do. The more hard work you can put in on the front end, the bigger the payoff for you and your organization on the back-end.
  6. Excellence is detailed oriented. If you desire to achieve excellence, then you’re going to have to take out the magnifying glass and really dig into the details of your projects, products, and organizational structure.
  7. Excellence in anything must be practiced consistently over time. You can’t have a “one and done” seminar on excellence. You must constantly communicate and practice excellence in everything you do. You must become a quasi-religious zealot and inspire everyone in your sphere of influence toward this subjective destination of excellence every day.

Other Keys To Excellence?

How about you? Are you an excellent person? Are you a leader within an excellent organization? What do you think of my list of seven keys to excellence? Do you have additional keys that you would like to share?

If so, please leave me a comment below. Thanks!