Choices: Wise or Foolish?

It’s funny to me how when all is said and done, life’s outcomes are a function of the choices we make. As soon as your feet hit the floor each morning, every new day becomes a series of choices. Most of the selections we can make have little or no significance (e.g. what clothes to wear, what food to eat, etc.). But in the normal course of our daily routines, we often are faced with choices that can have far reaching consequences. All areas of our life; relationships, finances, health, legal, moral, and spiritual are effected by these choices.

Further, these choices can prove to be simply either wise or foolish. There’s really not a middle ground or grey area. When you stack up a series of life’s choices, you start to paint a picture of becoming either foolish or wise. While the things that prove to be foolish ideas may be costly at the time and might have permanent consequences, you can move to become “wise” by trying to learn form the wrong choices.

If we learn something from a foolish choice and adjust our thinking for the next time we get to make a choice, then we become wise.

You have a choice: wise or foolish? Both can be seen 20/20 in the rear view mirror.

Happy Thanksgiving

As we rapidly approach the Thanksgiving celebration, families are already on the road or in the air traveling to various rendezvous points. Some times these gatherings represent long lost relationships being restored or they may just be a good time to meet again. Food, football, fun, and joyous excitement can abound.

For some though, the holidays represent a sad time. These days become a solemn reflection on loved ones gone forever, or of broken relationships that seemingly never will mend. For others, these days, especially 2009, means a reminder of what once was, but is now gone due to job loss or other economic trouble.

But to all I challenge you to consider setting aside some time to truly celebrate. Celebrate those you love who ARE near. Celebrate the blessings you DO have, however small they might be this year. Celebrate the victories that HAVE come true. Think not about what is not, but think about what IS.

Above all, thank God for who He is. You may not understand or agree with the circumstance you find yourself enduring right now, but you can celebrate a living and loving God who wants only the best for you and yours.

Psalms 95.

This is a Football…

 The story is now legend of Vince Lombardi’s first practice session after his team suffered a significant loss. Players and coaches were wondering what area of their team would become the focus of the practice. Would it be the defense, the offense, running, passing or kicking? No, Lombardi said they were going to focus on the basics. He held a ball in his hand and said “gentlemen, this is a football”.

Sometimes we need to think about the basics that drive the circumstances surrounding us. It is often too easy to tinker with one particular aspect rather than getting back to basics. I believe that avoiding the basics is likely a habit we develop so that we can ignore the real cause and effect. While the effect is the outcome we now question, the cause is more difficult to find.

The good news is that we can get back to basics simply by taking a pause. Stop the frenzy of the day and reflect on how we got here. No need to over-analyze, but do peel back the layers of detail that might otherwise cloud our thinking. Get down to basics.

Is it a relationship issue? Could it be a problem with a perception or value judgment? Am I responsible? All tough questions; yet ones we must consider so that we can overcome the circumstance that has happened.

Power Networking Ideas

This month at JMS we are going to be focusing on networking and relationship building. Feedback I routinely receive says that most people struggle with the basics of getting out and doing effective networking.

During November, we are going to:

  • Hear from several great speakers about their tried and proven methods of building a better networking experience.
  • Look at effective tactics for handling various individual or group situations.
  • Try to reduce the “oh my gosh” factor.
  • Help you be more comfortable with networking.
  • Beef up the ways to identify better networking targets.

In preparation for this, I want to clarify some information about the classic “elevator pitch”. If you have been at JMS for a while, you have heard me say I hate the 10-30 second “elevator pitch”. I have been campaigning all over my LinkedIn network recently to both spread this word and entertain feedback.

Here’s the result.

  1. Most respondents agree totally with my claim that the “pitch” needs to be killed, especially when speaking one-on-one. I’ve received an overwhelming consensus that – “ding dong, the pitch is dead!”.
  2. However, there is room to consider what you will say when asked to stand in front of the group and say SOMETHING. Here is where a great two line statement comes in with a BANG! We’ve been talking about personal branding. If you can say your value proposition in two sentences, you will dazzle any small group.

So, all of that said, here is a revision to the JMS “policy” on elevator pitches.

  1. When engaged in person with another networking person, i.e. one-on-one (or OK, two-on-one), try to build rapport with simple dialogue. Ask questions. Let the spotlight land on the other person(s). Just offer small bits of your story; enough to prompt further dialogue. Let them ask you questions. The goal is to make a connection; relate to the person. Offer help and ideas. Demonstrate your worth with content of discussion, not boilerplate junk.
  2. Work to prepare a solid two sentence message that speaks of the solution you will bring, not the case history of the road you have travelled. Leave the listeners wanting to know more. Be memorable, but be brief and to the point.

Finding True North

Ask a room full of people to close their eyes and point North. When everyone opens their eyes, fingers are pointing all over the place. (Try this some time; it’s a great ice breaker).

The message is that “north”, while being geographically available for specific identification and location using the right equipment, can conjure various meanings depending on one’s perception. 

During life changing moments our perception of our own true north can be equally confusing. For people who find themselves in career transition, I coach and teach the concept of resetting your true north. Perhaps re-set is not the perfect term, but what I mean is that you should get back in touch with that center of your being. Revisit the core values, goals, and beliefs you once held dear. Allow time to rekindle a fire that might have burned low or even worse, burned out. 

When you find that true north again, any decisions you make about the next chapter of your life will have far more meaning and purpose.

LinkedIn HandsOn Workshop

Today was the first edition of my newest workshop format, live laboratory experience using your personal LinkedIn account for training and learning. The outline still followed my book “12.5 Ways to Get Ahead on LinkedIn”. The workshop used that outline to make each attendee’s profile stronger and more effective. The good folks at Houston’s campus of BelhavenCollege were our hosts. We used their computer resources to allow attendees live access to LinkedIn.

This very informative and interactive format will be available as a weekly series beginning October 15 from 9:00AM to 11:30AM. For more details, visit www.askJMS.com, then click “shop JMS”. Hope to see you there.

If the Phone Doesn’t Ring It’s Me

Jimmy Buffet wrote some great lyrics with this theme. While he was trying to entertain, there is a more divine message here for those who look to God and trust in His ways. Often we struggle each day for direction, purpose, and meaning. Things happening around us do not always make much sense. In the storm we reach out and ask God ‘why’? Yet so many times, He seems like He’s not there because we do not sense a specific answer to our pleas.

However, the thing we may count as a lack of response is merely God watching and waiting. You see, He is always there. He knows every ounce of trouble you sense and feel. He allows those moments to be used for greater good. He is refining us in these times of challenge and trial. We are promised He will never allow more than we can handle. He knows each one of us and faithfully protects us even when we cannot hear His response.

If you are one who has cried out recently, just know and imagine God’s loving voice saying “if the phone doesn’t ring, it’s Me.”

Are you pregnant?

When you hear the question “are you pregnant?”, what comes to mind? The key word might be expectation. I recently shared this topic with my group at JMS. The concept and question is one I credit to Tony Evans. Getting ‘pregnant’ creates a certain kind of expectation. What will it be? How is my life going to change? Etc. etc.

For those in job transition, there is a kind of pregnancy happening. Male or female does not matter. You cannot help but start to wonder about the expectation of what is to come. People need to grab a firm vision of this next chapter of life. The best approach is to establish a good, solid vision of the outcome you hope to achieve. Instead of letting events and circumstances swirl around you, take the time to do a little vision mapping. Create a mental picture of the outcome you want. Then start performing your work.

Professional athletes do this as part of a regular regimen. Why shouldn’t you? Oh, by the way…congratulations on getting pregnant!