Five Things – Part Two

Father-Daughter

As I blogged last week about the five things every person in every profession needs from their boss, it got me to thinking. Although w-o-r-k is a four-letter word that can convey joy, frustration, satisfaction, and anxiety, it does not necessarily define us. In spite of how much time and attention work might demand of us, something else shapes us more dramatically – family.

The formative years we spend at home are what aligns our moral compass and sets us up for the journey of life. How we dream, handle adversity and disappointment, our sense of empathy and understanding – they all start at home.

Accordingly, here are five things everyone in our family needs to hear frequently:

  1. I love you
  2. I forgive you
  3. I’m sorry
  4. I’m here for you
  5. I’m proud of you

There are others to be sure, such as “thank you” and “I believe in you,” but regardless of which words you say, they must come from a place of sincerity. Lip service becomes obvious – especially to those who know us best. What is absolutely critical is that the words are backed up and supported by consistent action. Say them and demonstrate them to those that you love, and you’ll set them up for a successful journey.

 

5 Things – Part One

encouragement

I love public speaking. I really do. There’s a burning passion inside me for it. Now, whether that’s a call for therapy or medication might be a discussion for another time, but standing before a large audience and helping them realize their potential and giving them tools to be more successful has become a calling for me.

This week I’m speaking at a conference in Austin for two days on The Art of Professionalism and Leading a Multi-Generational Team. Preparing for my remarks got me to thinking about what the audience needed to hear. This led me to five things.

There are five things that everyone needs to hear from their boss, manager, supervisor, or director. These five things cut across professions and generations, and they’re essential to maximizing people’s effectiveness in the workplace. Everyone, regardless of their job duties or where they align on the org chart, need the following:

  1. Clear expectations
  2. Opportunities to contribute
  3. Guidance and correction when needed
  4. Feedback on their workplace relationships
  5. Praise and recognition

If you’re not providing these to your staff, start now. If you are, by all means please continue. But above all, these five things have to come from a place of sincerity and authenticity. Providing them from a selfish motive of simply increasing productivity will eventually ring hollow. Provide these five things because you genuinely care about your people. Do that and watch them maximize their potential.

New Year’s Day Gift: False Light Excerpt

False LightAs a way to start off the new year, I offer you a glimpse into a thrilling scene from False Light, Book Two of The Sunrise Trilogy. Enjoy!

 

The heaviness in her chest, followed by the wheezing of breath, roused Marie from the dark slumber. Heavy eyelids refused to budge, but the ever-increasing difficulty to breath forced them open.

Blurred vision revealed the interior of Parker’s car. Whoever the assailant had been, he’d left her in the driver’s seat of the vehicle.

Marie blinked several times, hoping her eyes would adjust, but the distorted view confirmed the presence of the plastic bag that billowed and retracted further into her mouth with each labored breath.

Her body jolted from the danger, and she grabbed the transparent cover from her head.

An acute pain raced from her forehead, sending shockwaves of discomfort into every limb as she gasped for air.

Wincing from the sudden ache made taking in oxygen that much more of a struggle. She kept her eyes closed for a moment, waiting for the pain to subside and her body to relax.

A few deep breaths helped ease the tension from her muscles, but the tenderness in her forehead remained. With some reluctance, she opened her eyes again and probed for the source of the wound.

Her fingers found the edges of paper. Thin but firm, the object felt of crisp stationary – a texture that had become all too familiar.

She tried to remove it. Searing pain raced from her forehead again, and she cried out, writhing in agony.

Although it shifted slightly when she’d tugged at it, the note remained fixed to her skin.

The bridge of her nose tickled from something warm dripping underneath the paper. An examination by her fingers revealed a liquid she assumed to be her blood, something not seen in decades.

Opening the car door triggered the interior lamp. Glossy silver smudged her fingertips, the viscous internal fluid oozing into the palm of her hand. She straightened up and adjusted the rearview mirror for a closer look at her face.

Her lips parted suddenly as she took in a quick breath. The image reflected back to her could not have been anticipated.

A large hook lay flat against her skin and jutted below the piece of stationary, which rested in the curve of the sharp instrument. The shank of the fishhook pierced the note, affixing it to the meat of her forehead.

She shuddered and closed her eyes for a moment, hoping that perhaps the trauma of the assault and the lack of oxygen had produced a hallucination.

A coyote howled in the distance, its lonely cry fading into the moonless night.

Peering into the mirror once more confirmed the same ghastly image.

Getting hurt was not a new experience. She’d been burned by angel fire a dozen times, even suffered the stabbing from an angelic sword. Protecting humans from demons invariably led to combat with the enemy.

But this was different. This was… sadistic.

She took a few deep breaths and steeled herself for what she had to do next. Grimacing with pain, she slid the note down the shank and around the bend, barb, and point of the hook until the paper came free from its hold.

Tears streamed down her cheeks and dripped onto her shirt, creating small dark circles of salty wetness.

Her threshold for pain had always been high, but this excruciating experience pushed her to the limit. Hopefully, removing the fishhook would be easier.

Using Kleenex from the glovebox, she wiped up the thin stream of angelic blood between her eyes and gently swabbed around the wound.

With each of the previous notes, the delivery of the messages had been benign. But now?

The wanton violence associated with the present note had to mean something. An escalation, a turning point in this psychopath’s sick game.

Marie’s stomach churned at the thought of what message the note contained.

With trembling hands, she turned over the paper and read the neatly typed script:

Squeeze. Pressure. Intensity.

The fight to breathe is the hardest fight you’ll know.

Fear. Panic. Gasp.

The end is coming, Marie – make your last breath count.

 

Sunrise Re-Release: Sneak Peek

false light pic 3In anticipation of the re-release of Sunrise by my awesome new publisher, Black Opal Books, here’s a sneak peek at some of the new bonus material that’s included. Enjoy!

 

Uriel took another bite of the apple. He chewed for a moment and then swallowed. Holding the half-eaten fruit aloft in front of Markus, he said, “Taking risks when one should heed what she’s been told…we’ve seen that story before. And it didn’t end well, did it?”

With so much at stake, the point was well taken. The current operation would be tough on any guardian – it had already resulted in the death of Yaris – but it might be too much for Marie. Even if she did proceed in the manner they anticipated, she may not be the same when it was over.

“If things progress the way we think, and if we move forward like we’ve planned, it will take a toll on her. A heavy one.”

“The end game is much bigger than her, Markus.”

“I just don’t want to see her hurt and confused. Even if she makes it through this, she’s not going to understand.”

Uriel tilted his head slightly, eyes narrowing to probe for hesitancy, maybe even regret. “Do you want to call it off?” he asked quietly.

Whether Uriel would really cancel the operation wasn’t clear. Without her knowing it, five hundred years of preparation had been invested in Marie just for this one assignment. And if another opportunity did present itself, when would that be? Another millennium or two? With Lucifer’s ranks growing with each passing century, the time to strike was now, despite having to thrust Marie blindly into harm’s way.

“No.”

Uriel tossed the apple aside. “Then do what needs to be done.” He clasped his hands behind his back and continued his walk alone.

Running the Race – Part One

starting line

When will you be successful? Think about it for a moment. If you’re like most people, what comes to mind is someday—somewhere off in the future, when you’ll suddenly wake up and think, “I made it! I’m a success!” That’s how most unsuccessful people see success: as something to strive for and hope to reach “someday.”

At one time, I viewed success as a place where I would “arrive” – a destination to reach. This lead to “destination disease” – the belief that if I just arrive somewhere (e.g. attain a position, accomplish a goal, earn a certain income, own the right house), I’d be successful.

But after viewing my novel on the shelf at Barnes and Noble with my kids (and it was a cool moment to point at “Daddy’s book”), I was consumed by the urge to keep writing … and writing … and writing. I realize now that success is never about reaching a destination. Rather, it’s a never-ending journey of finding a purpose, growing to reach your maximum potential, and helping others. It’s a marathon that will test and strengthen your character, not a quick sprint to a dead-end winner’s circle.

Yet, in this success marathon so many people never get out of the starting blocks. Why? Because a procrastinating spirit overtakes us. Procrastination is caused by our perception that doing a certain task will cause some kind of discomfort. We generally procrastinate for the following reasons:

  • Fear of failure –  afraid that we’ll fall flat on our face, we never summon the courage to start.
  • Fear of success – afraid that once we achieve something, we’ll have no other purpose to drive or fulfill us.
  • Difficulty of the task – the complexity of the process to achieve the goal overwhelms us.
  • Monotony or boredom – the tasks associated with starting seem mundane.
  • Time demands – competing interests prevent us from sacrificing time to get started.

Here are nine techniques to help overcome procrastination:

  1. Break large tasks down into smaller ones.
  2. Set deadlines and stick to them.
  3. Share your goals with a friend who will hold you accountable.
  4. Reward yourself for completing the task.
  5. Use scheduling to set specific times for unpleasant tasks.
  6. Make a game of the task.
  7. Focus on the benefits of completing the task.
  8. Pick a simple task to begin.
  9. Just do it! (don’t wait for motivation)

Before anyone can ever say, “well done,” you have to “well do.” Don’t wait for the starter’s pistol (or any other authority) to signal that it’s okay to start running. Remember, the first two letters of “goal” are … GO!

Just start running.

Fear vs. Dare

John Maxwell said, “The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” Fear can be an excellent motivator at times, especially on the battlefield, that can propel us forward in a flash through tough moments. In daily living, however, it does the exact opposite. Fear can limit our potential growth, handicap our successes, and question our character.

The only way to expand our comfort zone is to be daring enough to step outside of it. When we dare to dream, love, and forgive more than others think is practical, wise, or even justified – that’s when we find success in life and tap into our God-given potential.

So, are you living in fear, or are you daring to live? Are you safely cocooned inside your comfort zone, or are you embracing the risk of the unknown?