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May 2008

How to Thrive through Economic Jive

"Jive" can be the music of swing or the language nonsense. It is an apt description of the trends and rhetoric that characterize our current economy.

Like the dips, sways, and slides of a "Dancing with the Stars" episode or the meaningless chatter that fills in the blanks, we are caught up in malaise of shifting realities and inconsistent commentary.

We're standing on the beach during a particularly windy change of tide and it is hard to maintain a foothold.

And yet, some people thrive. It has been historically true and is true today.

We can thrive through the economic jive.

First, we must stop listening to the jive of doomsayers and tune in to a different voice - the voice of the THRIVE.

This voice declares that to thrive, one must make six decisions:

1 - The T is for a commitment to TAP into everything that is positive, opportunistic, wholesome, encouraging, and substantive in the moment. Whatever music the band is playing, dance to the most positive rhythms and melodies that are interwoven into the composition of current events. Great ideas are still emerging; great art is being composed; great products are being manufactured; great lives are emerging. You can be a part of the greatness all around. That which others might mean for evil, Joseph of old learned, God might mean for good. TAP into the positive.

2 - The H is for HOLD and the commitment is to HOLD onto ones noblest, purist, and best values. Think on "whatsoever things are" worthy of your thoughts and maintain your commitments in spite of the obstacles. Too often, we sacrifice what is value on the altar of hardship for the sake of expediency. When we do so, we may survive, but we do not thrive. Your arrival at greatness surpasses survival of difficulty. Hold onto truth, goodwill, compassion, love, integrity, and your core mission in life. Hold on to your values. People who emerge from storms with their values intact build a foundation for lasting success and significance.

3 - The R is for RELEASE. Make a commitment to RELEASE the fear in your life into a vast sea of faith. Just let it go. Do not allow it to overcome, hinder, intimidate, or define you. Find what part of your personality is clinging to fear and release your grip. This is easier said than done because fear becomes ingrained. Start by disallowing any new fears to creep in no matter how reputable or respected their sources. "Fear not." Become a person of hope in the midst of the only context where hope is relevant - difficulty.

4 - The next commitment starts with the letter I and it is INVESTMENT. Invest your resources. Some will say that this is not the time to make investments. It may not be the time for foolish or frivolous investments, but it is the time to invest in yourself, your dreams, and your future. Discover the resources of time, money, energy, and influence that you possess which are available to you and, perhaps of greater value now than they were in boom times. INVEST your resources. Give yourself away. Make it a commitment.

5 - The V is for VISUALIZE. Make a commitment to visualize better times - but beyond that, a positive and glorious outcome to your efforts. Take the risk to see, hear, taste, and imagine a future that exists now only in your dreams. Be a visionary and shape that which is to come in your life and your world. This is called faith and it is a God thing. "For that which is seen is temporal, but that which is unseen is eternal."

6 - The E in THRIVE is for EFFORT. Don't kid yourself; there is some work to be done and you must do it if you will thrive in a time when others merely survive and many do not even do that. Discouragement, despondency, hopelessness, and cynicism will sap your faith and, in turn, your strength. You may not feel like putting forth the effort. Do it anyway. Sometimes you are merely choice or an activity away from a breakthrough when you quit. Don't quit. Keep on keeping on.

Whether or not the circumstances of your life change, you can change, and in that change, you can THRIVE.


The Open Road

My friend, Kirk, from MySpace posed this question after yesterday's post:

Well, maybe i missed the point....if that road to success has all those hazards...i would take another road to success, yes roads to success have these things only if we create them. There are super highways in our own souls that can take us to new destinations ,,,,,,much faster just by feeling how it will feel when reach what we are looking for. Because once you can feel that emotion.....the road becomes shorter and not even a road at all.

Good question, Kirk!

No, you didn't miss the point, Kirk, but you made a good one which I neglected to emphasize. If the dream is visionary, clear, and compelling, it can make all of the obstacles that life brings seem lesser and the goal, greater. Potholes, bumps, and curves become part of the grand adventure and, at times, a genuine joy.

You are right to suggest that we must engage ourselves fully - including our emotions - in the process of moving along the super highways of our souls to a destination that is fulfilling and rewarding.

My objective yesterday was to encourage folks not to let the obstacles, difficulties, and necessary efforts become excuses for quitting or becoming discouraged.

Last Sunday I worked with two verses that introduce the Beatitudes out of Matthew 5 (1-2): "Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them ..." (NIV)

In Jesus' ministry, there were multitudes (thousands), crowds (hundreds), smaller crowds of followers (tens and scores), future apostles (12), and an inner circle of 3. When referring to "disciples (learners, followers), Matthew is probably talking about something more than the smaller crowds and less than the crowds. But it may have been an even smaller group.

You see, not everyone wants positive change badly enough to do what it takes to get it.

Matthew said that when it was time to get to the really meaty, life transforming teaching about the "upside-down kingdom" where radical thinking  creates  people who can rejoice in any circumstance and overcome any obstacle, that  Jesus climbed a mountain, assumed the teaching position, and let folks climb to Him who really meant business and wanted the good stuff.

They were the folks who had a glimpse of the vision and imagined the possibilities so vividly that the effort was worth it - in fact, may have seemed like no effort at all. That mountain climb and the time spent listening and learning was an investment in a bright and limitless future.

You have to climb higher to go deeper.

You have to dig deeper to get higher.

Strange, but true.

That climb was one round of their road to success. It was worth it and, thankfully, some folks listened  carefully enough to have preserved what was taught that day so that those of us who want it badly enough can climb high enough and put forth the effort to "get it."

Success is worth the extra effort for those who desire it. But for those who both desire and envision it, the effort seems far less troubling than for those who have only a foggy vision and passing desire for the destination.

That is true of every good thing in life.

- Tom Sims
(c) copyright, 2008, Tom Sims
Visit me at The Dream Factory


Cliches Old and New on the Road to Success

Tonight, I will give a brief talk to a group of ladies on the road to success.

There is actually a road to Success in Central California. Traveling west from Porterville on highway 190, you will soon see signs indicating that you are, in fact, on the road to Success whether you knew it or not.

Life can be like that.

But know these things:

#1 - The road to success is paved with the cobblestones of failure, defeat, disappointment, and loss. We recently rented and viewed, "We Are Marshall." There is a poignant moment in this film set in 1971 about a team, a university, and a city coming back from the loss of an entire football team and many community leaders in one fatal airplane crash. The question arises about whether or not winning is everything and the coach muses that he has always felt that way and will feel that way again in the future. However, in that moment, what counted was getting the team on the field, showing up, risking loss, and playing the game. Once they had achieved that, they could begin to win somewhere down the road. You will never reach your destination if you don't get on the road. Take the risk.

#2 - The road to success has some sharp and unexpected turns. You can't anticipate all of them, but you better be flexible enough to turn with them or you will find yourself stuck in a field or gully or worse. Pay attention to the signs and to the road. Anticipate what you can, but don't rely on predictability. The thing about this road is that it can change in a moment and you need to be ready for change, crisis, and opportunity.

#3 - The road to success has some pit stops. Take them. There used to be only one stop on the West Virginia Turnpike between Princeton and Charleston. If you didn't take it, a little time card would show whether or not you had been speeding. There was no point. People would stop to kill time to cover up their haste. On the road of life you must stop to rest, refresh, and renew. You could press on past the rest places, but you do so to your detriment and the detriment of your cause. You will not be your best. You will not be as productive and efficient in your use of energy. Take the rest stops along the way.

#4 - There are narrow places, slow downs, road blocks, and other forms of frustration along the way that call for attention and intention that may not come naturally to you, but will be necessary to get through to success. You may believe that sitting in stop and go traffic is the most wasteful, useless, and infuriating thing you could ever be doing, but the Designer of the Road who is the Master of All Traffic and the Source, Force, and Course of your dreams and goals knows better. Develop techniques for stilling your restless soul and channeling your energy toward alternate tasks so that no time is lost. There can be and is purpose in every moment.

#5 - There are inclines and declines on the road to success. Sometimes it takes all your power to climb and sometimes you coast. It is all one road and one destination. Just as it is never always easy, it will not always be hard. Keep on keeping on through the difficulties.

#6 - There will be switchbacks - especially if your goals are as lofty as a high mountain peak. In mountain driving, which I love, there are 180 degree reversals - sometimes 360 degree turns around a hill. If you are watching a compass, it can be very confusing. You get the impression you are going away from your goal even though you are making progress. Switchbacks in driving and setbacks in life are part of the process. You can't get there "as the crow flies." You have to follow the flow of the road and it is determined by the topography of your times and circumstances. Keep your map and compass handy, watch the signs, and keep on keeping on.

#6 - There will be speed limits, sped bumps, warning signs, and arbitrary rules along the way. Honor them. They are purposeful. Someone who knows the road far better than you put them there. The Engineer of the Universe knows the science because He invented it and has called you to your purpose. None of these "hindrances" are designed to prevent your ultimate success.

#7 - The road will end or merge with another. I remember riding country roads with my dad at night on vacations and other times knowing that he was lost, but not flustered. He quoted his father with words that made little sense to me at the time. "Son," he said, "my daddy always said that all roads lead somewhere." And he was right. Another old boy just scratched his head when asked for directions at the country filling station, finally muttering, "Mister, you can't get there from here."

But you can. It may take some course corrections, more time than you allotted, more energy, a lot of patience, repairs on your vehicle, multiple vehicles, and change in your own life, but YOU CAN GET THERE.

You are on the road to success, whether or not you know it.

Stay with it and see you there!


MIG MAG

It has been a while and I am back.

Thanks to all who missed me and told me.

Thanks to those who did and didn't.

Life gets "up in a heaval" (upheaval) and we lose our tracking and must find new centers for our daily disciplines.

I wish to honor the old categories of this blog, but I will also introduce a new format category - the MIG MAG (as in Magazine) It will stand for MAKING IDEAS GROW and MAKING ADVANCES GRADUALLY.

It occurred to me just this morning that gradual is not "synonymous" with "slow." It comes from the concept of gradations, " proceeding by steps or degrees."

Quickly or slowly, the analogical world with its digital precision is comprised of component parts and grades. Fast steps and slow steps have this in common: they are steps.

Our ideas must geminate and develop. Our advances may seem like marathon events over a lifetime, but they are, in facts, multiple series of sprints, pulsating, intensifying, resting, reenergizing, and moving with purpose toward unspoken goals or default destinations depending upon the levels of our intention and attention.

For me, there are some key categories of ideas that I am inclined and equipped to address with competence or curiosity. One is entrepreneurship (and I am so happy I can spell it). Another is biblical principles for business, especially from Proverbs. Networking, personal and spiritual development, health, nutrition, web marketing, web trends, and ministry are all areas of seeking in my life.

All shall be included.