The Bright Side of Adversity

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”

Frank A. Clark

I can’t recall when I first realized that life isn’t always fair. Compared to most, I had cruised through life by the time I was 18. The tragic death of my two-year old nephew in a car accident was a devastating loss to our family, but most of my other challenges were relatively minor—mostly girlfriends breaking up with me! All in all, I’ve had much to be thankful for.
Whether you’ve had a “smooth sailing” life or have already experienced major trials, adversity is a fact of life. It comes in many forms such as personal loss, disappointments, mistakes, bad luck, and mistreatment. It can affect us physically or mentally or both. In some cases we’re prepared for it, but in other situations it comes out of the blue when we least expect it.
Repeat after me: “Adversity happens to everyone—always has and always will.”
Now, take these words to heart. In order to succeed in life, you must be able to accept adversity as part of your journey and remember that you’re not alone when it happens! If you don’t, you’ll not only be badly mistaken but you’ll also find it hard to deal with when it comes. Your adversity isn’t some “payback” for something you’ve previously done. It just happens to everyone as a part of life.
For example, sometimes our best isn’t good enough to win. Sometimes bad things happen to good people (my nephew’s accident and my brother’s untimely death at age 50 being classic examples). Sometimes our partner decides to throw in the towel. Sometimes we lose our job after 25 years of service. Although sometimes our adversity is self-inflicted, it often arises from circumstances beyond our control.
One of life’s greatest adventures is seeing what becomes of our trials. At our bleakest hour, it’s hard to fathom that something good might come of our troubles. Often, though, this is precisely what happens!


“You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth

may be the best thing in the world for you.”

Walt Disney

Are you one who accepts that adversity is a part of life? How do you handle it when it comes? Remember, you’re NOT alone when it’s your turn.

Happy Fathers Day – Joe’s Story

My friend Joe is a highly successful financial manager with an 18-year-old daughter, Julie. 
As last summer approached and Julie was preparing to leave for her first year of college the following September, Joe wondered if he had done everything he could to prepare her for life on her own.  He knew that as a freshman living away from home for the first time, Julie would encounter a whole new world of challenges, decisions, and opportunities.
And then something unexpected happened that would change their lives and their relationship…

A friend gave Joe a copy of my book, What I Wish I Knew at 18.
Even though Joe had a positive relationship with Julie, he quickly realized by perusing the book’s life success pointers that he hadn’t covered all the bases. He suggested to Julie that they go through it together. With two months left before her departure, they decided to review a chapter each Friday at their favorite breakfast place.
Joe shared with me that this was one of the best things he ever did with his daughter. They discussed important issues—some of them for the first time. They became closer and more connected as father and daughter than ever before.  They could discuss any topic openly, without concern, because of the new level of trust they developed. Not only did they enjoy sharing the book’s wisdom, Joe said, but they also they developed a deeper understanding of each other. Each week they talked for hours and hours, building special memories along the way.
The result?  When Julie left for college last September, Joe knew that he had prepared her well for the world of adventures she would experience as a freshman.  He says he’s grateful for the role that What I Wish I Knew at 18 (and their special breakfasts) played in preparing them for Julie’s new life chapter.
As I write this post, Father’s Day is fast approaching.  If you know a Dad – or if you are a Dad – who wants to explore new levels of relationship with his son or daughter, I hope Joe’s story is an encouragement.
Preparing sons and daughters for a thriving adulthood is the mission of LifeSmart Publishing–and we believe fatherhood is a special role. If you’re a dad, we honor you for the important position you hold, the sacrifices you make, and the influence you have on the next generation.
Happy Father’s Day, Dads!
Whom do you know who would appreciate a copy of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead?  Click here to order now!

Why You Need an Emergency Savings Fund

Sometimes the unexpected happens. You lose your job. You have to take a pay cut when your employer faces a business downturn. Your car just died. You just got in a wreck and will be out of work for months. Your roof leaked (or, in our case, our septic system backed up!) while you were on a long vacation. What will you do?

Hopefully you’ve planned for emergencies.

According to a 2011 survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, 64% of Americans don’t have enough cash on-hand to handle a $1,000 emergency. This means that if a crisis strikes, big or small, and you DON’T have money put away for emergencies—you could be in for some real stress and heartache.

An “emergency fund” is an account set aside with money earmarked solely for high impact situations that could substantially affect your wellbeing or quality of life. As a rule of thumb, a fund that contains four to six months worth of average monthly expenses (invested in safe, short-term investments) will help serve as a buffer in these unfortunate situations. During periods when the economy is weak and your job may be in jeopardy, it’s sensible to build a six to twelve-month emergency to give you an extra cushion. Establishing an emergency fund should be your first financial priority once you begin your career.

To determine how much you should have in your emergency fund, you should first identify what constitutes six months’ worth of expenses for you. Add up what you spend each month on normal household budget items and multiply by six. Make sure you include what you pay for your mortgage, utilities, loans, insurance, gas, groceries, and other essential expenses, allowing a small amount for incidentals and entertainment, etc.  
Then, to avoid being tempted to spend the money you need to use to build your emergency fund, it may be helpful to set up automatic account transfers (or automatic deposits from your paycheck if your employer offers this). You’ll also need to be disciplined and NOT give into the temptation to withdraw from your emergency fund for vacations, high tech toys you think you can’t live without, or for any other non-emergency expenses or indulgences.

Ultimately, what an emergency fund buys you is peace of mind. If something comes up, you won’t have to scramble to come up with the money you need and you won’t have to turn to credit cards or other debt. It’s like an insurance policy that you’ll be glad you have when life throws you a big fat lemon!

How have you created an emergency fund? It’s never to soon or too late to start. Share your ideas, experiences, and questions with our online community; we’d be glad to hear from you. And pass our site along to a friend and suggest they subscribe; they might be thankful for it!

Meeting New People: Be All Ears and Less Mouth

Are you the kind of person who thrives on meeting new people, or one whose palms break into a sweat at the very thought? Whether we like it, love it, or hate it, it’s something we all need to do—and the more comfortable we become with it, the better.
Being skilled at getting to know new people isn’t about winning a popularity contest, being good-looking or smart, or even about being remarkably interesting.  Here’s the scoop: to be well-received (and liked) when meeting new people, your best bet is simply to ask questions and be a good listener.
My mother-in-law Lea likes to talk about the parties she attended with her rocket scientist husband, Dale. She was far less educated than her husband’s “high tech” peers. Theoretically, these should have been intimidating situations but, for Lea, they were a piece of cake. Her Dale would receive one compliment after another about his wife’s graciousness and intelligence!
That’s because Lea had a secret when meeting new people. She figured she couldn’t compete with their smarts, so she listened intently and asked them lots of questions. Lea instinctively knew that if they did most of the talking (which most people like to do!) her encounters would be a success. And, that’s exactly what happened, time and again.
When you meet new people (especially in college!) or are in a social setting where you don’t know the others very well, take a page from Lea’s playbook. Take the pressure off yourself by letting them do most of the talking. (Note that this works especially well if you’re shy by nature.) 

Here are some tips to help you be on the winning end of the people-meeting game:

  1. Put the other person at ease by your friendly smile and relaxed, open body posture.
  2. Make and maintain eye contact.
  3. Give them your full attention. Don’t let your eyes wander to the TV, out the window, or worse yet, to your cell phone.  NO TEXTING.
  4. Don’t be too quick to disagree, criticize, or argue. Let the other person share his point of view without interrupting or trying to make a counter point.
  5. Ask lots of questions.
  6. Don’t talk too much yourself. Listen, nod, make affirmative comments, and ask for clarity when needed so she knows you’re engaged in what she’s saying.
  7. Show a keen interest in the other person. You’ll be amazed at how they respond to your responsiveness!

When you’re in situations where you don’t know many others, do you take the initiative to talk to strangers? Do you mostly talk about yourself or inquire about them?  Share your ideas for learning to be a good people-meeter—or for helping your teens develop this skill—by leaving us a comment. And, as always, please pass this along to a friend by email, Facebook, or Twitter!