You don’t have to be better than anyone else at anything, but you can be better than who you were yesterday.
How can you be the best that you can be?
First off, know yourself. Know who you are and what your strengths and weaknesses are. By knowing this you will know where to focus your attention and make every effort to grow in these areas.
Sometimes what we want to do and what we are good at may not line up, what do we do then? It’s great to have many aspirations, but knowing your strengths and weaknesses will help you to focus more on where you are gifted and maybe make the things that you would like to do but are not a strength more of a hobby than a career (so to speak)
For instance, I love writing, I love music, and I love cooking. I also love art but I’m really not good at it at all (but my sister is amazing at it). There is nothing wrong with me pursuing art for fun, as long as I am self aware enough to know that that isn’t a strength of mine I can enjoy it as a hobby. My strengths are more in the field of writing and music, so I focus more of my attention there. I do not have to strive to be just as good at art as my sister is because that is not my strength. Like I said, we don’t have to be better than anyone else, just better than who we were yesterday.
Our quest to be better than who we were yesterday requires a real self-awareness. Who am I, really? By having this self-awareness we know where we can grow in who we are to become a better person.
It’s not always going to be in an area of career or gifting that we may need to improve. Maybe we can afford to be a little kinder, thoughtful, empathetic, maybe that’s where we have room to grow. Maybe stepping out of our comfort zones to be a little more adventurous, or maybe growing in our personal relationships. There are so many areas that each of us can expand in our daily lives, and while only you will truly know where that is for you, others around you may recognize gifts, strengths and talents that you don’t, and sometimes even shortcomings. Be okay with trusted friends and family speaking honestly into your life if there is something that you aren't seeing (notice I said trusted friends and family).
A helpful tip in personal growth is who you are surrounded by. I love this quote by Mike Murdock, “go where you are celebrated, not where you are tolerated”. This is not to say you should surround yourself with yes men, you need to surround yourself with people who will celebrate your growth and not be intimidated by it, but that they can be honest enough with you to speak words of wisdom at any necessary time as well. If someone is negative and can only point out your faults/failures but cannot see the potential in you, then you might want to minimize time spent with this person. Some people are stuck in their own muck, and seeing someone else achieve their life goals only amplifies where they stopped growing, and this might cause them to want you to stay where they are at. Recognize the relationships in your life.
There is wisdom in the quote about judging the fish for it’s ability to climb a tree (see image below). it reminds me to acknowledge and accept the gifts that are in me, and don’t try to be someone that I am not.
When it comes to gossip, there are a few rules that need to be followed
Furthermore, if you happen to hear something about someone resist the urge to share it with anyone.
Ask yourself, why would I share this info with anyone? Is it encouraging, uplifting, does it paint that person in a good light? Is it good news? If it is good news, is it yours to share? If it’s not or it doesn’t, then what is the motivation?
Be mindful of the gossip that comes in the backdoor disguised as ‘concern’. An example of this might be “I’m worried about so and so, have you heard?” Or, “have you heard about Johnny? We should pray for him.”
Also, if you hear something about someone, and it doesn’t line up with who you know them to be, trust your gut, suspend judgement, you don’t have to believe everything that anyone tells you. I’ve had things said about me that weren’t true, and all I could do at the time was hope that the people who heard it really knew me and would form their own opinions about what they had heard, or even better still, they would defend me.
When we engage in gossip, we are helping others to form opinions about people they may not even know yet. Whether that is the intention or not, that is typically what happens.
Let every word that comes out of your mouth be positive words of encouragement and be quick to stop gossip in its tracks.
THE MOST POWERFUL FORCE ON EARTH
When you think of some of the most powerful forces that we face in the world today, what are some things that come to mind?
Some might say nuclear weapons
Some might say mother nature with her tornados, tsunami’s and such
I’m sure that there are many thoughts and opinions out there regarding this, but in my opinion, one of the most powerful forces out there is grossly underestimated and often overlooked for its immense power and impact, and that is…
Yes, you heard right, words.
Something so invisible and unassuming as a word can either be a mighty force to build up or a mighty force to tear down.
Something to think about right?
I want you to think for a moment, how you have used this force in the last week, or maybe even over the course of your whole life, what kind of words are a regular part of your vocabulary?
Do you take every opportunity to build people up by speaking words of encouragement or hope, or are you someone who feels the need to point out every flaw and negative thing you might see in an individual?
If words were comic strips, good, kind encouraging words would be superheroes and negative hurtful words would be the villains. .
Lately this has been a struggle of mine and I am challenging myself to focus on what is good, kind, lovely and of a good report. I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying “if you can’t say something nice about someone then don’t say anything at all”, but I’d like to take it a step further and actually try to find something nice to say about everyone.
I’d like to offer up the same challenge to each of you reading this. In your encounters with people in the upcoming weeks, focus on the positive and even go a step further and speak out encouraging and uplifting words, you might be surprised at how it can change a person’s demeanor, and you may even be surprised to see what it does in your own heart as well.
Let’s take this one step further, let’s be mindful of our words in every situation, not only in reference to individuals, but how about we apply positive words to life situations in general?
It can’t hurt
Some people value their independence. They defend it fiercely and are proud to say they don’t need anybody’s help.
Others remain dependant on others their whole life.
But then there is that beautiful balance of the two, interdependence where we recognize that we all need each other.
It’s not failure to ask for help, in fact it is a sign of strength
Have you planted your garden yet? I have – here’s hoping, lol
Anyone who knows me knows that when it comes to plants, vegi’s, flowers or whatever, there’s about a 10% survival rate if they are in my garden.
Thankfully there are more than just garden seeds we can plant, and I have a much better chance at success when I plant these seeds
These seeds that I am referring to are not physical seeds, but rather seeds that can’t be seen. Seeds such as kindness, compassion, gratitude, empathy and other such seeds.
Often these seeds come in the form of words spoken, other times these seeds resemble actions taken, either way, we can all plant these seeds.
Sometimes it takes an effort to plant these seeds and other times it takes no effort at all, either way it is worth planting these seeds.
Let’s start with words. How much effort does it take to speak a kind word of encouragement? I know in my own personal life there have been many times that I have (or almost have) held back on such positive encouragement, not because I don’t want to offer words of encouragement, but maybe I’ve convinced myself that they don’t need to hear them, ‘oh, they already know they are good at this, it’s obvious, so I don’t need to say anything’. Maybe I take for granted what they do and feel that don’t need to hear any more from me. How about a boss with their employee? What does it cost to say “great job”? I can tell you that would go a long way in boosting their productivity. Or how about a husband appreciating all that his wife does and letting her know (and vice versa).
All these are seeds planted.
Or, has there ever been a time that you have felt nudged to say something to a total stranger and you try to talk yourself out of it (or is this only me that this happens to, lol). I was in a supermarket one time when a lady walked past me. She was a rather large lady in a beautiful colorful dress, and as she walked past me I thought to myself, ‘wow, she looks fantastic in that dress, that color looks awesome on her. Here is where I felt that little nudge inside me saying ‘so tell her’. Yikes…you want me to go up to a perfect stranger and tell her that she looks beautiful in that dress? Yes! came the answer from within. So I mustered up my courage (I’m actually rather shy and this was definitely stepping out of my comfort zone) and I went up to her and said “excuse me, I just want to say that you look amazing in that dress”. She looked stunned (probably so did I lol) and she thanked me very much and went on her way. I have to think that if the roles were reversed, that would have made my day, and it cost me nothing.
Then there are actions.
If a friend calls and is really needing a shoulder to lean on, and you have a million things on your to do list, but you stop and take the time to listen to a hurting friend, that is a seed of kindness and compassion planted. How about if you know a friend or neighbour is a little short of cash this month and you show up with a bag of groceries? That is a seed of kindness as well. There are many ways we can use our actions to plant seeds in others lives. Even paying for the guy behind you in the drive thru line’s coffee – it’s random but imagine how that would brighten their day, and maybe it would inspire them to do the same and pass it on. A seed planted.
There are so many ways we could plant seeds in the lives of those around us, we just need to be intentional about thinking of others.
Maybe, as you begin your day, you make a plan to intentionally plant some of these seeds today…and tomorrow…and the next day…and so on and so on.
Don’t hold back good from those who are worthy of it.
Don’t hold it back when you can help
What exactly does that mean?
There are a few other ways to say this. For instance, ‘give them the benefit of a doubt; or ‘walk a mile in someone else’s shoes’, or maybe you need to consider a paradigm shift. All these things basically mean the same thing.
Sometimes we need to step out of our own mind, put ourselves in another person’s shoes, and consider a new perspective for a moment.
I’ve had many opportunities in my life to put this ‘suspending judgement’ into practice, and one thing I learned is it’s not easy. First off you have to admit that you may not be right and that isn’t easy. Or maybe you are both right but are seeing things from different perspectives (paradigm shift) either way it involves stepping back from the conversation/situation and having the ability to consider another person’s perspective.
Sometimes what we see with our eyes convinces our brains that there is only one reason this could be happening, and so we jump to a conclusion and if we fail to explore anymore, we may miss the actual reason for the circumstance or attitude.
Stephen R. Covey gives a perfect example of this in his book 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People. He gives a scenario of a man entering a bus with his children early one morning, he proceeds to find a seat, and ultimately gets lost in his thoughts as his children wreak havoc on the bus, disturbing other riders in the meantime. After several minutes of the kids running loose and annoying the patrons some of the commuters’ come to the conclusion that this man is not a very good dad and that he has no control over his children and worse yet, no concern to even try to settle them down. Finally, a woman sitting behind the man taps him on the shoulder and quietly says to the absent minded father “sir, your kids are disturbing some of the riders, you might want to talk to them”. The man seems to snap out of a trance, looks around, and gently reigns his children in. He then turns to the woman who brought this to his attention and thanked her and apologized. “We just came from the hospital where my wife just died this morning”. With that brief explanation, the woman, and any rider within ear shot immediately changes their paradigm, and now, rather than being annoyed, they are filled with sympathy and compassion for this man.
Sometimes we have to get out of our head and consider that there may be another reason for someone’s behavior and sometimes the situation is exactly as it seems, but if we suspend judgement we at least give them the benefit of a doubt before passing judgement.
This is how it is with Hobbledy Gobbledy. The kids all assume that Hobbledy is cranky and mean, and so they are afraid to approach him and ultimately it means that Hobbledy gets left out of playing with them, until Joopy makes a bold move and steps out of the crowd and asks him the question, “are you really cranky and want us to leave you alone?” Yay for Joopy’s boldness, because if he hadn’t asked the question they may never have found out the real reason for Hobbledy’s behavior, and nothing would have changed.
Sometimes it takes a boldness to step out and get to the bottom of things, not with an attitude of judgement or arrogance, but rather with genuine interest in the person…there is definitely a difference.
If we really care about people we will want to understand them rather than judge them.
There are many circumstances in the world today where division is rampant and people feel self righteous in their own choices and actions, but if we all take a step back and just consider for a moment why the other person/persons are acting, thinking or behaving the way that they are, we might just experience a paradigm shift of our own. This requires good listening skills.
This also means opening ourselves up to the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we got it wrong.
I am a wife, a mom, a nana, a daughter, a sister, an aunt a niece and a friend. Family, friendships and faith are things I place a high value on, in other words, relationships. I am looking forward to reaching out and connecting with you through this blog, and it is my hope that I can bring a glimmer of encouragement and hope as we embark on this journey together