There sure is a lot of hustle and bustle this time year, isn’t there? Holiday shopping, holiday plans, holiday travel, holiday parties… It’s all too easy to get caught up in the activity and miss out on the things that really matter.
There will always be times in life when we feel like the rope in a tug of war, and it’s not just at Christmas. Often, when this happens, there are two formidable competitors pulling us in opposite directions. On one end are the key people in our lives with whom we have relationships. They want (and deserve) our time and attention, as well as an opportunity to grow with us. On the other end is one tough opponent—the “big three,” namely status, career, and wealth and everything that flows from that. Like most things, these are fine in moderation, but taken to an extreme (as they often are), they can destroy relationships. They can easily consume our time and energy and divert us from our priorities and core values if we’re not careful.
During the past few decades, we’ve witnessed a cultural shift toward accumulating things, rather than emphasizing in-depth relationships. You see it everywhere, especially with retailers and credit card companies that are out to get our last nickel (especially during calendar-shortened holiday seasons!). It’s found in massive consumer debt when people overspend on status-conscious items and live beyond their means. And, you see it in people consumed by their careers and in those increasingly invasive businesses demanding their employees respond to evening emails.
This holiday season, I hope you’ll remember that truly successful people recognize how important they are to others and how important others are to them. Relationships are enduring—things are not. Let’s strive to always reflect this in our priorities and in how we spend our time. We can never get back the time we didn’t spend with our loved ones. That’s a life regret we never want to bear!
Let today, this week, this holiday season, be a time of special focus and renewed commitment to the things that really matter. Merry Christmas, all!
How are you spending the bulk of your time and energy? Are you focusing enough on areas that build stronger relationships with family and friends? Or, are you allowing other things to dominate your priorities? We invite you to share your thoughts and suggestions with us commenting; we’d love to hear from you!
This week I am thankful—not for what I have for myself, but for what I have to give away. Really, life’s greatest joys come not in the getting, but in the giving. Don’t you agree?
I have special admiration for people who commit their lives to serving others. They’re not motivated by fame or fortune, but rather by joyful service. Their qualities of generosity, empathy, compassion, and kindness seem to come naturally to them, and they’re inspiring treasures to us all.
How you eventually impact the world will be driven by what you have to offer and what you choose to offer. What do you uniquely have to offer the world?
This is a profound question, and one that will evolve throughout your lifetime. At any point, though, your personal assets will generally fall into three categories: your time, talent, and treasure.
There are many different avenues that allow you to allocate these resources to serve others. To decide how best to give what you have to benefit others, there are three main questions to consider:
What talents and skills do I have to offer?
What groups or community segments (e.g., youth, elderly, homeless) do I feel most called to help?
What organizations will allow me to use my talents to help those I feel most passionately about?
I encourage you to develop a servant’s heart as a way of life, embodying the qualities of generosity and compassion in your everyday dealings with people. Learn to proactively and instinctively use all three of your “asset” categories when various situations arise to which you contribute—not just money, but also yourself.
Living life with a servant’s heart will bring help and hope to others and immense joy to you in return. You’ll receive far more than what you give. Nothing compares with using your gifts and talents to improve the world around you. This is the true spirit of Thanksgiving!
Have you experienced the deep thankfulness that “giving yourself away” evokes? Looking ahead, what new ways do you envision using your time, talent, and treasure to make the world a better place? Share your responses by commenting below; we’d love to hear your stories and ideas!
Not long ago, I spent a day with high school students at a prestigious prep school. It was technically a “day off” on the school calendar, but over 150 courageous students showed up for this special program focused on tackling difficult life issues. The stories in my group ran the gamut, but they mostly involved a lack of parental love, excessive pressure to perform (coming from parents), and the drive to be popular (with peers). It was gut wrenching at times.
What struck me about this experience was: 1) the willingness and transparency of the students to admit need and be open to the wisdom of the adult mentors, and 2) the humility and commitment of the adults to also be transparent and real, and to invest their time and energy in our younger generation. This was but one small opportunity in a field of millions, and I felt honored to serve.
All around us there are people and causes that would benefit from our time, our energy, our input, our investment. Are you paying attention to the ones that would benefit from you? In What I Wish I Knew at 18, I encourage my readers to take some time to evaluate what “causes” inspire them and provide some guidelines for discovering what those are. You can also find those guidelines in my recent blog, “Know Your Purpose, Live Your Passion.”
Which opportunities will you take today to invest in others and help make life a little (or a lot!) better for someone else? Strike while the iron is hot and build a living legacy. Someone out there needs exactly you!
Don’t wait to change the world!
What are some examples in your life where you experienced pure joy and fulfillment? Or, where you had a significant impact on something or someone? Share your thoughts and experiences by commenting below; we’d love to know how YOU’RE changing the world!
Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve talked about purpose and significance. So, let’s say you do discover your “life purpose.” How will you know you’ve achieved it—by how much money you make? By the status symbols you’ve acquired or a particular title you’ve earned?
Really, how will you know when you’ve achieved “success” in your lifetime?
Our culture tends to define success in terms of wealth, possessions, and power. We’re bombarded by “get rich quick” schemes and star glamour. Forget the fact that some of history’s most miserable people have amassed great fortunes; WEALTH is easily the most common barometer of success.
Don’t believe it. Money does not buy happiness.
Consider the following quote first penned in the Lincoln Sentinel on November 30, 1905 by Bessie Stanley: “He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction.”
Rather than basing your definition of success on monetary wealth, consider a more comprehensive definition, including how you applied your gifts to the betterment of others, the quality of your relationships with others, and the strength of your character. If you focus on these elements, rather than on wealth, power, and possessions, you’ll be much more likely to fulfill your life purpose and feel a genuine sense of satisfaction and success.
Whom do you consider to be the most successful people and why? Looking ahead, how will you define success in your life? Share this blog with the young adults in your life and ask them these questions; they make for great conversations! Then comment below and share your experiences and ideas with our online community; we’d love to hear from you!
Last week we talked about how a defining purpose inspires a life of passion. Unfortunately, for some, that’s easier said than done.
Take teenagers who receive no expressions of love or healthy modeling from home: it doesn’t take long for that deficit to show up in academics, motivation, and demeanor. In acts of desperation, they join gangs or get pregnant or drop out of school. It’s a tragic cycle that has become all too common, with one unhappy ending after another.
During the past year, I’ve had many opportunities to speak with teens and young adults who are, in one form or another, facing a crisis of relevance. They see school as irrelevant, and worse yet, themselves as irrelevant. Some of their questions:
“What am I worth when my parents never tell me they love me?”
“What’s the point of staying in school? I’ll never use this stuff anyway.”
“What can I do to convince my father to let me live my dream?”
“I’m not that smart in academics. Can I still become a great leader?”
These conversations can be heart wrenching. But, interestingly, these are the kids who are most engaged in my talks on leadership! They ask the most questions and ask to share in private. They’re searching—for hope, relevance, and worth—even though it may not appear that way on the surface.
We’ve got to give it to them. All of them! Until young people see the relevance and value of their lives, there’s simply no way they’ll reach their full potential.
Here are some ways adults can help:
Recognize that no one (especially a young person) has a complete and accurate perspective on all he or she has to offer—whether character qualities or skills. They need the perspectives of others who can offer a more complete picture of their worth.
Parents can ensure each of their children understands his or her unique value, and avoid showing favoritism toward siblings through words or attention.
Educators can offer opportunities for skills/aptitude assessments and programs where friends, relatives, and mentors honor each student with expressions of value. For example, some innovative schools hold special retreats where students receive letters collected from important people in their lives—life changing keepsake experiences.
Look for opportunities to “speak life” into young people and encourage them to do the same.
Remember, relevance breeds hope and hope breeds motivation and direction. It’s a vital gift to give the young people in your life. Give generously.
Are you aware of the need for the young people around you to feel a sense of significance–and how much it means to to their ability to succeed in life? In what ways do you “speak life” into them, to make a difference that can last a lifetime? “Share” this blog with a friend, and let us know your thoughts and suggestions by commenting below!