Friday, 3 January 2014

Change Your Life with One Word in 2014

Happy New Year!

As we make a fresh start in 2014 I want to share with you a life-changing concept that I came across on New Year’s Eve.

It’s something that had been stirring inside me for a while, but this Leadership Freak blog post put it across so clearly.

Rather than make resolutions this year, choose one word. Make that word the theme of your life for the year.

Keep that word at the centre of everything that you do, say and think – every day.

Let me show you what I mean.

My word is stewardship.

A steward is someone entrusted with managing someone else’s property. A steward is someone who has been given the responsibility of taking care of something on behalf of someone else.

In my life, I realize that everything that I have comes from God. Everything that I have – fitness, family, friendships, finances – is a blessing from God.

I am a steward of all that God has blessed me with. He owns everything and has simply loaned it to me. He expects me to take good care of it all. He is trusting me to take good care of it all (Matthew 25:14-30).


So stewardship is the theme running through every decision that I make and every action that I take in 2014. The question that I keep asking myself is: “Am I being a good steward?”

When I make choices about:

     What I eat...

                    How I spend my time... 

                                         How I relate to people...

                                                               How I take care of my body...

                                                                                        How I spend my money...

...Am I being a good steward?

Should I...

Watch TV... or read a book to further my personal growth...?

Snack on fresh fruit... or eat a piece of chocolate...?

Write that blog post... or scroll through Facebook for an hour...?

Stay up late watching a movie... or go to bed early and wake up refreshed to start that new project?

Exercise for 30 minutes... or continue slouching at my computer...?

Buy an extra pair of shoes... or give to the child who doesn't own even one pair of shoes...?

I've only been doing this for a couple of days but I can tell you that it’s already making a huge difference. My perspective is changing. I no longer look at people, possessions or pleasure in the same way.


But what has had the strongest impact on me the past few days is the growing awareness that the only thing I really have is time. The only thing that I am truly a steward of... is time.

...And I don’t know how much time I have.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not guaranteed. All I have is this present moment.

I use my time moment by moment, and it is up to me to use every moment to the max.

Wherever I am, whoever I am with, I have the responsibility to be fully present in that moment.

If I am at my computer writing, then I need to write and not keep on flipping back and forth to see what’s happening with my email or Facebook or all the other tabs that I have open. In fact, I've decided to close all the tabs and switch off all the chimes to avoid any more distractions. I have set aside time after all my work is done to browse through my email and see what else is going on in the world without that hovering sense of guilt convicting me that I'm not doing what I'm supposed to be doing!

If I'm having a conversation with someone, I need to be fully there listening to them – not thinking about what I'm going to say next that will make me look good or sound really clever, or thinking about all the errands that I still need to get done that day, or checking my phone, or looking over their shoulder to see if someone more interesting is approaching, or chasing after a chain of writing ideas sparked off by something they said (maybe I can just quickly jot those down in my notebook?!).

Your turn..

So what about you? What is your word for this year?

Post your comment below!

For a free One Word Action Plan go here

Friday, 12 April 2013

Big Rocks First

For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his soul? Mark 8:36

We buried my niece this week. She was only 23. She died tragically in a car accident in the early hours of Saturday morning, April 6th. A young doctor, she had graduated from medical school just 6 months ago. She seemed to have a full life ahead of her.

Times like these tend to make us pause and think about our lives. Times like these bring a sobering perspective.

What is life all about anyway?

The story is told of Alfred Nobel, the Swedish innovator who invented dynamite. When Alfred’s brother Ludvig died in 1888, a newspaper mistakenly published Alfred’s obituary instead, stating, “The merchant of death, Dr. Alfred Nobel, who became rich by finding ways to kill more people faster than ever before, died yesterday.”

Nobel was shocked. That was not the way he wanted to be remembered. In 1895 he set aside the bulk of his estate and used his fortune to establish a yearly prize in honour of those who excelled in some area of achievement or service to humanity. History no longer remembers Alfred Nobel as the merchant of death, but as the noble patron of the coveted Nobel Prizes.

Dr John C. Maxwell says, “People will summarize your life in one sentence. Pick it now.”

How do you want to be remembered? What do you want people to say about you when you are gone? What legacy are you leaving behind?

What is really important?

As the saying goes, “No one ever said on his death bed, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.’”
In life there will always be countless priorities clamouring for our attention.

The late Steven Covey used the Big Rocks illustration to demonstrate the need for us to keep First things First in our lives. He tells the story of a professor who was teaching a group of students. You can read it in the excerpt below.

One day a teacher was speaking to a group of students. He pulled out an extremely large jar and set it on a table. Then he produced some large rocks and placed them, one at a time, into the jar.
When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” 
Everyone said, “Yes.” 

“Really?” he asked. “Let’s see.” He pulled out some gravel and dumped it in. He shook the jar, causing the pieces to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. He asked the students again, “Is the jar full?” 

His class was catching on quickly. “Probably not,” one of them answered. 

“Very good!” he replied. He then brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the gravel. When he was finished he asked again, “Is this jar full?” 

“No!” the class shouted. 

“Excellent!” he replied. Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and poured it into the jar until it was filled to the brim. 

The teacher then looked up at the students and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” 

One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard, you can always fit some more things into it !”

“No,” the wise teacher replied, “that's not it. The main lesson is this: If you don't put the big rocks in first, you'll never get them all in.” 

"If you want to fit the big rocks into your life, you need to make sure to get them in first.  If you don't get the big rocks in first, you might not get them in at all!"  

In the demands of life we often take the important things for granted. We assume that our family and friends will always be there. We take no notice of our health unless something goes wrong. We think there will be time later in life to make things right with God.

Take time today to determine the Big Rocks in your life. 

The Big Rocks represent the important things in life – faith, family, health, using your gifts, developing your potential. The gravel and sand represent the less important things in life that tend to keep us busy and fill up our days– meetings, phone calls, emails, errands.

Decide what is important to you and determine to keep these as priorities in your life. Find some rocks, label them and keep them in a jar on your desk, your bedside table, the top of the fridge or wherever you will see them and be reminded to keep First Things First every day.

Plan your day to day life around the Big Rocks. You can always tell what is really important to you by your date book and your cheque book – how you spend your time and your money.

You only get one chance to live this life – make it count.

And remember, life is completely meaningless unless it is built on the Rock – Jesus Christ.

“That Rock was Christ.” 1 Corinthians 10:4

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Money, money, money!

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. Proverbs 23:7

Life doesn't give you what you want – it gives you who you are.
You have to grow and become the person who can occupy your destiny.

Evelyn Adams of New Jersey, USA, could be considered a very lucky lady. She won the New Jersey lottery not once, but twice – first netting $3.9 million in October 1985 and then, incredibly, another $1.4 million four months later. 27 years down the line however, Evelyn is broke and lives in a trailer park.

Evelyn’s is not an isolated case. There is also the story of William "Bud" Post who won $16.2 million in the Pennsylvania lottery in 1988 but now lives on Social Security and food stamps. Suzanne Mullins won $4.2 million in the Virginia lottery in 1993 and is now deeply in debt. Michael Carroll, a 19-year-old British garbage man, won £9.7 million (more than $15.5 million) in 2002. Nearly eight years later, he was broke and back to working as a garbage man. 16 year old Callie Rogers won £1.9 million ($3 million) in July 2003. In 2009, she was facing bankruptcy. To make ends meet, she started working three cleaning jobs and moved in with her mother.

And the list goes on and on.

On the other hand, we hear of stories of people like Walt Disney, the man who faced failure, repeated setbacks, disappointment and eventually went bankrupt only to turn it all around and create an annual $35 billion dollar company, Disneyland.  Donald Trump, who was 10 million dollars in debt and filed bankruptcy in 1997, turned it all around to become a billionaire and star of the hit Television series “The Apprentice”. Bill Bartmann, who lost $3.5 billion in paper wealth and his status as one of the richest people in the USA when his debt-collection company, Commercial Financial Services, collapsed in scandal 12 years ago, but is climbing back. The 2011 revenue of his current company was $15.4 million.

What makes the difference?

What makes the difference between a millionaire who makes a comeback and a lottery winner who descends back into their poverty, or worse?

The difference is in who they are.

A millionaire is a millionaire because that is who they are.

They think like a millionaire, they act like a millionaire.

A poor person is poor because that is who they are.

They think and behave in ways that perpetuate their poverty.

We see it in the lives of wealthy families where there is an inadequate succession plan. The patriarch of the family dies – the founder of the company, the one who worked hard to amass the wealth. The children or other family members take over and within a short while the company folds and all the fortune is gone.

The patriarch established the company because of who they were. The process of building up the company contributed to making them who they were. It shaped them into the type of person who could initiate, run, sustain and grow a company.

Many of us fantasize about winning the lottery or somehow getting a huge windfall of money. We believe that having more money would solve all our problems. All our troubles would be over! We would be happy, successful, fulfilled.

This however is very untrue. When the above lottery winners were interviewed, they said that winning the lottery was the worst thing that had ever happened to them. They said that having money had caused more problems than it had solved.

This is because there are no shortcuts in life.

Life does not give you what you want – it gives you who you are. You have to grow to become the person who can occupy your destiny.

If you want to be a millionaire, you have to grow in your knowledge about finances and how money works. If you want to move forward in your career, you have to advance in the skills, expertise and experience that are relevant to your field. If you want to have a great marriage and good friendships, you have to grow in your understanding of people and relationships. You have to take the time. You have to make the effort.

You have to invest in your personal growth.

What is your dream?
What areas in your life do you want to experience better results?
Are you willing to do what it takes to make your dream become a reality?

Learn more about growing to occupy your destiny in the next post.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Maximize Your Potential

But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

Human beings have amazing potential since we are created in the image of God.

However, we have to place a demand on our potential in order to develop it and benefit from it.

The human brain consists of approximately 100 billion neurons, or brain cells – that is as many brain cells as there are stars in our galaxy.

Each neuron has somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000 synapses (connections between brain cells), equaling about 1 quadrillion synapses. If all the neurons in the human brain were lined up, they would stretch 600 miles.

Almost ¾ of the brain develops outside the womb in response to the physical and social environment.
Connections are created between brain cells in response to sensory experiences – hearing, seeing, smelling, touching, tasting.

For instance, when a mother speaks frequently to her infant, by the age of 2 her child knows about 300 more words than other children whose mothers rarely speak to them. And children who learn more than one language before the age of 5 have denser gray matter when they are adults.

A 3-year-old’s brain is 2 and ½ times more active than an adult’s brain. In a child’s brain, every new experience and thought creates a connection between neurons. A child’s brain remains super-dense with synaptic connections until the age of about 10 – 11 years, when the brain begins to rapidly prune connections.

The connections that remain are the ones used most often.

Those that are not used are lost.

The remaining pathways are more powerful and efficient.

As an adult, one of the simplest ways to maximize your potential is to keep on learning.

Learning boosts your brain function. The size and structure of your neurons and the connections between them actually change as you learn.

So make personal growth and learning a key area of focus in 2013.

Learning is about more than reading a book. Learn how to play a musical instrument, or speak a foreign language, or take a course in motor vehicle mechanics and learn the basics about maintaining your car. Expand your mind with activities such as travelling or participating in social and community activities.

Challenge your brain with cross word puzzles, Sudoku, or board games that get you thinking. Memorize Bible verses. Make up games to play with the kids on those long road trips in the car, such as thinking of famous people whose first names begin with the letter A and go all the way through the alphabet!

I will be conducting coaching and training programs to help you maximize your potential in 2013 so get in touch through my websites here and here and keep challenging your brain!

Wishing you every success in life and work in 2013 and beyond. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

The Purpose of Christmas

I first posted this during Christmas last year. It still has as much relevance today.

God bless you and yours as we commemorate Jesus - the reason for the season.

Purpose /ˈpəːpəs/ noun (Oxford Dictionary)
  •     the reason for which something is done, or created, or for which something exists

"I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full." John 10:10

Purpose is the reason why you exist.

I would say that makes discovering what your purpose is pretty important.

Fortunately, the Oxford dictionary definition above also gives us the key to discovering purpose.

Purpose is the reason for which something is created.

Your purpose is the reason why you were created.

Everything is created for a purpose.

Christmas is here, with lots of excitement surrounding the exchanging of gifts. High on many people’s gift lists (especially the young people) are electronic gadgets of one kind or another. I know my daughter would be thrilled to open her presents on Christmas morning and discover anything Apple!

If you’re still catching up with technology like me, you can sometimes find these gadgets slightly mystifying. I have an iPod touch that I basically only use to listen to my audio Bible and my favourite music. However, I’ve been reliably informed that I can download all sorts of ‘apps’ and get my iPod to do all kinds of amazing things. “There’s an app for just about anything you can think of”. (Having a teenager in the house helps if you want to keep up with rapidly changing technology!)

Nevertheless, there are some aspects of the iPod touch that even my techno savvy teen doesn’t know. That’s when I have to turn to the glossy little brochure with pictures that show me what my gadget can do, or the accompanying booklet, the Product information Guide, that’s crammed with information printed in the tiniest font. For more complete instructions and important safety information, I’m advised to visit the online manuals at Apple Support – the User Guide and Important Product Information Guide.

You are more complex than anything that even a creative genius like Steve Jobs could ever imagine.

You are a unique creation. There is no one else in the world like you. No one else has your unique blend of gifts, talents, skills, abilities, interests, goals, passions, dreams, values, personality, achievements, education, or experiences. You are one of a kind.

Your Creator has also supplied you with a User’s Guide, an Important Product Information Manual, containing all the information you need to ensure you make full use of all the capabilities He fashioned you with.

You see, Christmas is not about Santa Claus, Christmas trees, or pretty flashing lights. It’s not about shopping sprees, piles of gifts, or unlimited alcohol, chocolates and sweets.  It’s not even about a cute little baby born in a manger 2000 years ago.

Christmas is about purpose.

Christmas is about the reason you were created.

Christmas is about God reconnecting you to your purpose.

Jesus’ birth in that manger in Bethlehem 2000 years ago was just the first step in God’s plan of enabling you to enter into the fullness of all that He created you to be.

This Christmas, open up the User’s Guide – the Bible – and find out what your Creator has to say about you. The Gospel of John is a good place to start.

Wishing you all a purpose-full Christmas!

Tuesday, 13 November 2012


In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Creativity is the essence of great leadership.

Great leaders are visionaries – they see what other people do not see.

Great leaders do not see what is, they see what can be.

Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jnr., Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa. They all saw a better future for their communities, and through their leadership they created that better reality.

We all have innate creativity because we are created in the image of the Creator of the universe.

However, for your creativity to be released, a demand usually has to be placed on it.

We've all heard the saying ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.

Every invention that was ever made was created in response to a need.

Inventions are solutions to problems.

So, if you want to be a great leader, get creative.

Start looking at the world around you with different eyes. Look through the lens of wanting to add value to others. What needs do you see around you? What talents and abilities did God give you that you can use to serve and benefit a fellow human being?

The world is waiting for you to liberate your creativity.

Friday, 9 November 2012

A Week Of Fridays!

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom 

(Psalm 90:12)

It’s Friday today and I know that the phrase ‘Thank God It’s Friday!’ is on many people’s lips.

The work week is over and everyone is looking forward to the weekend.

Fridays are always so full of hope and expectation. Everyone is busy making plans – where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do, who they’re going to see.

People come to life on Friday.

It’s a tragic fact that for too many people life begins on Friday and ends on Monday. Too many of us simply exist during the work week.  We feel locked up in jobs that we hate, working for people we don’t particularly like, and performing tasks we can hardly bear.


What if every day of your week could be like a Friday?

What if you woke up every day full of hope and excitement about what was ahead of you that day?

What if every week was a week of Fridays?

Well, it can be.

Not literally of course!

But you can live your life in such a way that you look forward to each day and live life to the fullest – rather than simply killing time.

You can live life with passion.

My post on Passion produced an overwhelming response.

I guess there are a lot of us out there looking for more to life.

To help you further along your journey from ordinary to extraordinary living, I’m making available to you my worksheet ‘Passion: Discovering What You Love to Do Most.’

You can access it by clicking here.

Learn more about empowered living in the next post.