Stop, Collaborate, and Listen!

One day I was just minding my business and this old song popped in my head and then….

-This idea just randomly grabbed ahold of me tightly……

Stop, Collarborate and Listen…turns out that wasn’t just some random advice from the late 80s rapper Vanilla Ice. Uh yes, yes I did….just “bust a rhyme” (I wonder if “kids these days” have any idea what in the world that means? Well then, we will just LOL & SMH about it for good measure;)) And for now I will keep my day job! Because, I’m certainly not here to rap or to engage in apologetics; unless of course we count much needed & anticipated apologies that might would be provoked from the thoughts following this writing. Now, back to our antiquated philosopher friend…Vanilla. No, we are not baking…or rapping…please stay focused…Help a sista out. For focus is obviously not one of my temperament strengths; rather a weakness that I must work on daily. Hmmm…come to think of it…principles of that would fit in nicely here as well. Now, where were we? Ah yes, the philosopher. I mean, the brother totally had a point. Seriously, let’s break this down…

STOP…I mean that’s heavy….and the more we think (dear heavens I know that is a toughy in this day and age) about it we realize how heavy…and deep. In the song, he pauses here for dramatic effect. Noted? STOP….I mean, really, when do we ever? And the times you are examining the back of your eye lids hardly qualifies. We are a society who almost never stops. Forget the roses…have you even smelled yourself or your children lately? What is the “aroma” that we infiltrate those around us with? Are we oozing with overwhelmed-ness & irritation and close to burn out because we just go through our ever chaotic schedules somewhat robotically and never stop? When we are caught off guard daily by the insignificant irritating inconveniences that inevitably cross our path, do we keep charging through, leaving a “piece of our mind” in the aftermath, or do we stop and consider the source of frustration in others that caused it and how we might could help put out the fire instead of heaping more fuel onto it?  Do we have a clue about the state of affairs and the gaping wounds of our family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, & nation? No. Because we never stop to really see. Not look; see. Not judge; see. A great book I read proposed the challenge to “seek first to understand then to be understood.” I love this. It is my desire to live that out and succeed more often at it. I could certainly camp on this first point a while but I would rather you just STOP and contemplate it. The Bible, for thousands of years has been whispering sound advice such as “be still” and “have a day of rest” but it often gets drowned out by the noise and the ever growing pace of our techy world.

Oh how we must STOP and cherish the time. For time is truly our most precious commodity and the only one we can never acquire more of.

COLLABORATE: to work together with someone or a team to accomplish something.

In a world where social media & texting are all the rage, where has the team work and true community gone? At an alarming rate, people are struggling to keep the skills of face to face conversation and communication. Nothing replaces this. For we were not meant to live in isolation; in a pseudo dichotomy where true feelings,aspirations, and dirty laundry are aired on public display and sent into cyber space for some hopes at feelings of relief and justification, maybe a few comments of sympathy, and enough “likes” to feel validated & affirmed in our thoughts and actions. When what we really desire is an empathetic hug and a “live” word of praise or affirmation; people sharpening one another and building each other up. We must collaborate. When minds that think alike, even with some opposing views, come together synergy happens and benefits everyone. It is truly amazing how much can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.

LISTEN. Good grief; to what? There’s so much information and noise out there, the skill of filtration is an absolute necessity. You could scroll for days through social media feed. The struggle is real.

How to Win Friends and Influence People is a very influential book that has been 70 years in print. One skill set discussed in it is the “six ways to make people like you.” At first I thought this to be such a strange title, it sounded to me like manipulative techniques were fast approaching. However, deeper review proved the intention to be the opposite: a brief list of sincere character traits that can be developed to make one a good friend, thus naturally attracting others to like you.  Being a good listener and encouraging people to talk about themselves is one of the six. Not in the way of following some technique, but rather genuine listening. Truly listening is such a beautiful quality to possess. For we all want to be heard and know that our opinion matters. Everyone has a story if we take time to listen to it. The gift that we give to others when we truly listen really is valuable. It’s priceless, and for everything else there’s MasterCard;) You knew something was coming….we were getting way too serious. If we take ourselves too serious in this life, we really get in trouble;) Seriously though.. I once heard a great speaker say “when talking to a friend, dig as if you are mining for gold!”I love this!!! Ask questions sincerely and then listen! For everyone has gold inside of them!;)

I challenge you to look for situations that can be made better if you simply Stop, Collaborate, and listen! I would be willing to bet there’s at least one situation daily that could be made better and put a smile of accomplishment on your face for handling it in such a manner. And hey, you can even rap while you’re doing it if you wanna! Some of you may want to do so silently though;)

Leadership Application:
Positive recognition is one of the most powerful motivators there is. Therefore, if we Stop, check out the situation in our world & arena of influence, Collaborate and work as a team, and Listen to one another more we would be amazed at the results. It is truly amazing the enormity of what can be accomplished when no one cares who gets the credit.


What is Your Love Language?

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According to best-selling author and successful psychologist, Gary Chapman, people give and receive love in different primary love languages. Just as we speak and understand verbal communication in our primary spoken language, we understand love more fluently in our primary love language. Therefore, when a loved one more readily speaks our love language, our “love tank” gets filled. Vice versa, when we speak someone’s primary love language, their “love tank” begins to fill up and they naturally respond in a positive manner because they feel loved. Chapman suggests that the greatest emotional need we have is to be loved; so, discovering your primary love language and those of loved ones may be one of the most valuable investments you can make with your time. The Five Love Languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation: These people communicate love through affirming words. A person who primarily speaks this love language feels the most loved through receiving sincere compliments. To really make their heart leap make the compliment very specific. Mark Twain said he could live two months on a good compliment! Speaking positive words is so powerful in general but to these people it fuels their passion. Put it to the test: If you are married to a words of affirmation guy and you have nagged him for months to do a certain task that is still left undone try praising him for anything and everything that he does do for thirty days and do not mention (don’t breath a single hint of it;)) that specific task and see if it mysteriously gets done!
  • Acts of Service: To these people actions speak louder than words. If your spouse or loved one speaks this primary love language, look for creative ways to serve them and do things for them. Some examples may be cooking a favorite meal of theirs or keeping a clean and peaceful home, or ironing and steaming their business clothes. Acts of service is certainly not limited to domestic actions, and often will be appreciated more when one thinks outside the box and carefully studies that person’s affections to provoke ideas. Acts of Service may be as simple as fixing their plate or coffee, taking their vehicle through the car wash, or filling up the gas tank. You truly learn to love those you serve. In addition, you will learn a lot about them through this journey of searching for meaningful acts of service as well as the observation of their reactions !
  • Quality Time: To these people, your undivided attention is everything. The people who speak “Quality Time” as their primary love language will give it away by always asking you to engage in activities with them that they enjoy. Some examples of loving a person through Quality Time may be taking a walk, going to the movies and discussing it afterwards, playing tennis together, or even going hunting and fishing together. A person who favors this love language feels especially loved when you choose to engage in a favorite activity of theirs, even though you may not particularly enjoy it. It is not always simply the time that speaks volumes, but also quality conversation, and quality interaction and engagement during that time.
  • Giving & Receiving Gifts: These people feel loved through receiving gifts and they show love most prevalently through giving gifts. If you are attempting to love someone through this love language, look for creative ways to fill their love tank with unique gifts. The gifts don’t have to be expensive but should showcase the time, effort, and thought process behind the scenes and should correlate to that person’s affections. Think Win Win….if you discover your love language to be quality time and your husband’s is gifts, surprise him with movie tickets in an envelope sealed with a kiss!
  • Physical Touch: These people communicate love through physical gestures such as hugging, holding hands, sitting in close proximity, or simply tapping or squeezing someone’s shoulder or hand while talking to them. These people feel most loved when these actions are reciprocated. Often when men first learn of the concept of the five love languages they automatically presume themselves to be physical touch for the obvious reason of sex being such an important need in a man’s life. However, this love language is based more on the premise of communicating emotional love through the realm of appropriate touch. On the same token, a man whose primary love language is physical touch may feel the most loved through physical intimacy.

Put yourself to the test: think about which act of love would speak louder to your heart:

  • I spent time with a loved one while engaging in an activity I enjoy
  • I receive a positive loving note or text for no special reason
  • I came home from Saturday grocery shopping and the laundry was done
  • During my lunch break I discover my favorite candy bar in my purse
  • On the way to the football game we hold hands in the car

These examples represent a few examples of the Five Love Languages. Often people discover that they have a primary and a secondary love language. Certainly, it is beneficial to become fluent in all of the love languages.  To find out your love language, the love languages of your loved ones, and to have more success in your personal relationships using these principles check out the Five Love Languages books:

Having relationships and building relationships with specifc intent and purpose are two totally different concepts. We will always feel more fulfilled and joyful when we are working to increase the value of the relationships in our life. I encourage you to discover your love language and the love language of others and embark on your own journey of being bi-lingual in the world of love.

The Road to Success is Paved With Positive Thinking

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A guy was walking past a tattoo parlor in China as he noticed some pictures of tattoos in the window. His eyes fell on the one that read “born to lose.” He just had to know. So, he walked into the parlor and asked the tattoo artist “do people really pay to have that tattooed on their body??” The man responded: “before tattooed on body; tattooed on mind.” Wow! That is a powerful little story of a really big truth. You’ve heard it said that our thoughts become our words which become our actions and our actions become our habits. Your habits will make you and will be one of the most crucial determinants of your success.  So, if our habits in seed form are our thoughts, we need to get control of our thoughts and have as many positive ones as possible! The great news is that we get to choose our thoughts!

Here are some great habits to create to get on the positive thinking road to success:

  • Don’t think about what you’re going through; think about what you are going to! Everything worth doing comes with some kind of price, sacrifice, trial, and frustration. However, focus on where you are going, the goal or prize at the end, the end result, and the why behind the what! This will always get you there quicker and with a better attitude, better results, and energy to pursue the next goal!
  • Get your but out of the way and put it where it belongs!
  • Stop saying “I would, BUT” and start saying “I can because”

Instead of giving yourself reasons (excuses) why you can’t, look for and find ways that you can! ~Wally Amos

  • Every time you have a negative thought that provokes you to complain, put your but where it belongs! Ex: Negative thought: I hate all this traffic on the way to work, BUT I am grateful I have a job. Ex: I hate that I feel out of shape, BUT I am going to fix that by exercising and eating better.
  • Pattern Interrupt: When you notice that certain things trigger negative thoughts and complaining, stop and ask yourself why. Then, determine if this trigger is something that is avoidable or if you need to choose different thinking towards it.
  • Choose, Choose, Choose: Choose to think on things that are lovely and praise worthy. Choose positive thoughts. Choose a good attitude; it affects everything in your life. Wherever you go, there you are!
  • Write out Some Positive Affirmations: Chances are most of your negative thinking comes from lack of belief in yourself or your self-esteem and self-image could use some improvement.  Writing out positive affirmations about yourself where you can frequently review them is a success principle that is highly under-rated!
  • Flip it For Real: I could have titled this article: The Road to Failure is Paved with Negative Thinking. BUT, I didn’t because we are talking about positive thinking here. What thoughts or phrases in your life can you flip?

Remember our childhood friend, The Little Engine? What did he think? Turns out those stories aren’t just for children. When his thinking was poor and negative he was stuck in a rut and didn’t have the belief to accomplish his goals and dreams. Belief is huge. When he began to think positively, he began to believe, when he started to believe, he started to perform. Then little by little, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can” turned into “I know I can, I know I can, I know I can. And, he did! And so can you!