Archive for April, 2009

Think about this — When communicating with others about a problem do you Seek First to Understand, or must you Make Your Point First?

Many years ago I read the book “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey. The book has since gone on to be a bestseller. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Seven_Habits_of_Highly_Effective_People

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People are:

1 – Be Proactive – taking initiative; responsibility for your own life; behavior based on conscious choice, based on values (rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling)

2 – Begin with the End in Mind – start with a clear understanding of your destination, know where you’re going

3 – Put First Things First – putting things that matter most first

4 – Think Win/Win – seek mutual benefit in all human interactions

5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood – emphatic communication

6 – Synergize – cooperation with others

7 – Sharpen the Saw – balanced self-renewal

A couple of the habits really stuck with me, like: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood, Begin with the End in Mind, and Sharpen the Saw. Since reading the book, and as I get older, I find I’ve become more understanding of people/situations. I try to understand why people do what they do. I make a conscious effort to try to see things from the other person’s perspective. I haven’t perfected this skill, but I’m still working at it. That doesn’t mean that I agree with them, or would do things the way they do. It’s just that I sometimes imagine being the other person. For instance, I might say, “If I was fearful, insecure, or whatever, I might behave the same way if I was the other person.” Remember the saying that goes something like, “Don’t judge another man until you’ve walked a mile in his shoes.” It’s taking what you know about that person, trying to get inside their head. Sometimes you just have to believe that “it’s not about you.” We all have people in our lives that are close to us and need our understanding. And we need understanding from others as well. This means you will not immediately jump to conclusions. You will control yourself and not immediately fly off the handle in anger, or pout because your feelings are hurt. Try to really listen to what the other person has to say. Hear them out before you respond. Then state your side, or your point of view. This is especially helpful when dealing with your significant other. Why? Your significant other is the one person who really knows how to push your buttons. This will make for better communication and can help you remain calmer. This is not to say that you will never be angry or upset again — just that maybe you won’t react in a way that you’ll later regret. You’ll think before you speak. You won’t be so reactionary. You won’t be so quick to say or do things you wish you could take back. And you won’t waste your valuable time in some long, drawn out emotional funk. Call it relationship damage control. Take a few moments and think about your communication style. Do you seek first to understand, or to be understood first? Below are some links to videos and other info that talks more in-depth about the seven habits.

Empathic Listening


Intro to Seven Habits


For a more in-depth description of the book/seven habits:



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If you were to describe your life, at this moment, as a particular season, which season would you choose?

Waking up to sunshine for the fourth day in a row after many bouts of rain and cold made me think of the verse in Ecclesiastes — there is a time for every thing.

“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pick up that which is planted; a time to kill and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.” — Ecclesiastes 3

No matter how we try, we cannot control the seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer. Just like the weather, we go through seasons in our lives. I have seen this in my own life. There is a saying…”April showers bring May flowers.” Keep this in mind when thinking of your own life. You will go through seasons. They may not be on the same calendar as the weather, or last the same amount of time, but they will come. And for each person they are different. Do not become discouraged. Whatever you are going through, know that you are not alone. Reach out to others, find the strength to carry on. Seasons change, and the sun shines again. This is is my wish for you……..

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Many of us have been saddened by the loss of our loved ones. We are never ready for it, even if we know it’s coming. A couple years ago I was at the funeral of my co-worker’s mother. I had never seen so many people get up and speak about a person with so much love. It had to be over twenty people who spoke fondly of this 71 year old woman. As I listened to the stories from her life, I was moved not just by the love others felt for her, but by her zest for life. She was truly an example of someone who lived her life to the fullest. I’ve always been one to go after what I want but lately I had been feeling stuck. This was just the extra push I needed to make a change in my life.

There has been a poem going around for years titled “The Dash,” by Linda Ellis. My sister-in-law read this poem at my father-in-law’s funeral. It begins with, “I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend…” And half way through it says, “What matters is how we live and love, and how we spend our dash.”

Read the poem, watch the video and take the time to think about how you are living your dash.

“The Dash” is a copyrighted poem by Linda Ellis. There is a link on Linda’s blog where you can read the poem.

Here is the video version of “The Dash” poem:

You might also like:
What Will They Say At Your Funeral?

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Is there something you’re procrastinating on doing today? Or any day for that matter. One of the things that has been on my “To Do” list for a couple of days is to create an editorial calendar for my blog posts. It’s part of an assignment for the 31 Day Build a Better Blog challenge (sponsored by ProBlogger http://www.problogger.net) that I’m participating in with my blogging buddies — Delicacte Flower http://delicacies.wordpress.com and Digital Citizen http://digitalcitizen.ca . How timely that I should receive an email this morning about procrastination. The catchy title caught my attention. The email was about a book on procrastination titled “Eat That Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time,” by Brian Tracy.

There’s an old saying that says…”If the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning is eat a live frog, then nothing worse can happen for the rest of the day!” Well, I can still think of a few worse things…but you get the point.

Brian Tracy says that your “frog” should be the most difficult item on your things to do list, the one you’re most likely to procrastinate on; because, if you eat that first, it’ll give you energy and momentum for the rest of the day. But, if you don’t…and let him sit there on the plate and stare at you while you do a hundred unimportant things, it can drain your energy and you won’t even know it. Hmmm, maybe some of us have too many frogs on our plate at one time and that’s why we’re feeling overwhelmed. Check out the cute video and then read the book excerpt below the video:


Here’s an excerpt from “Eat That Frog!” that I received from Simple Truths http://simpletruths.com. It’s a small sampling in Brian’s chapter titled: Apply the 80/20 Rule to Everything. Enjoy!

The 80/20 Rule is one of the most helpful of all concepts of time and life management. It is also called the “Pareto Principle” after its founder, the Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto, who first wrote about it in 1895. Pareto noticed that people in his society seemed to divide naturally into what he called the “vital few”, the top 20 percent in terms of money and influence, and the “trivial many”, the bottom 80 percent.

He later discovered that virtually all economic activity was subject to this principle as well. For example, this principle says that 20 percent of your activities will account for 80 percent of your results, 20 percent of your customers will account for 80 percent of your sales, 20 percent of your products or services will account for 80 percent of your profits, 20 percent of your tasks will account for 80 percent of the value of what you do, and so on. This means that if you have a list of ten items to do, two of those items will turn out to be worth five or ten times or more than the other eight items put together.

Number of Tasks versus Importance of Tasks
Here is an interesting discovery. Each of the ten tasks may take the same amount of time to accomplish. But one or two of those tasks will contribute five or ten times the value of any of the others. Often, one item on a list of ten tasks that you have to do can be worth more than all the other nine items put together. This task is invariably the frog that you should eat first.

Focus on Activities, Not Accomplishments
The most valuable tasks you can do each day are often the hardest and most complex. But the payoff and rewards for completing these tasks efficiently can be tremendous. For this reason, you must adamantly refuse to work on tasks in the bottom 80 percent while you still have tasks in the top 20 percent left to be done.

Before you begin work, always ask yourself, “Is this task in the top 20 percent of my activities or in the bottom 80 percent?” The hardest part of any important task is getting started on it in the first place. Once you actually begin work on a valuable task, you will be naturally motivated to continue. A part of your mind loves to be busy working on significant tasks that can really make a difference. Your job is to feed this part of your mind continually.

Motivate Yourself
Just thinking about starting and finishing an important task motivates you and helps you to overcome procrastination. Time management is really life management, personal management. It is really taking control of the sequence of events. Time management is having control over what you do next. And you are always free to choose the task that you will do next. Your ability to choose between the important and the unimportant is the key determinant of your success in life and work.

Effective, productive people discipline themselves to start on the most important task that is before them. They force themselves to eat that frog, whatever it is. As a result, they accomplish vastly more than the average person and are much happier as a result. This should be your way of working as well.

Other good links for Eat That Frog!:

To see all 21 ways to stop procrastinating here is a good summary:

Eat That Frog! book excerpt from amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Eat-That-Frog-Great-Procrastinating/dp/1576751988#

Brian Tracy website: http://www.briantracy.com/

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“And the time came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” –Anais Nin

Do you feel like things are out of balance in your world? Do you feel like something is not quite right? Many of us have felt that same way. The deep down in your soul knowing that something’s got to give, something has to change. It is time for something new. Time to re-evaluate our lives — what’s important to us, what are the keepers, what do we leave behind, what needs to change? The answer is different for us all. When you feel that call, know that it is time for you to stop and listen to your inner voice. (I’m not talking about the inner voice of negative, get-you-in-trouble self talk). For some it may mean you need to find your inner voice and to go on a journey of rediscovery — of yourself. You may have spent years always putting others needs first, catering to others, working in an area you no longer find fulfilling — or perhaps you never did. Maybe it’s time to ask yourself, “What do I really, really, really want?”

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the bestseller “Eat, Pray, Love,” found herself at that point in her life when she knew it was time for a change. So she set out on a year long journey of self-discovery which took her to Italy, India, and Indonesia. I’m not saying anyone should mimic her journey. I think we must all find our own way and walk our own path.

More on Eat, Pray, Love

For more info on the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

UPDATE (3/18/10): Eat, Pray, Love has been made into a movie starring Julia Roberts. It will be released in theaters on 13 August 2010. Here’s the movie trailer:

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When is the last time you had a really good laugh? Since it’s Friday, I figured it was time to lighten up and not be so serious. It’s time to laugh! It is in that spirit that I’m sharing this bit of humor with you that someone sent to me. Hope it makes you laugh!

Don’t Fart in Bed

This is a story about a couple who had been happily married for years.

The only friction in their marriage was the husband’s habit of farting loudly every morning when he awoke.

The noise would wake his wife and the smell would make her eyes water and make her gasp for air.

Every morning she would plead with him to stop ripping them off because it was making her sick. He told her he couldn’t stop it and that it was perfectly natural. She told him to see a doctor; she was concerned that one day he would blow his guts out.

The years went by and he continued to blast them out!

Then one Thanksgiving morning as she was preparing the turkey for dinner and he was upstairs sound asleep, she looked at the bowl where she had put the turkey innards and neck, gizzard, liver and all the spare parts and a malicious thought came to her.

She took the bowl and went upstairs where her husband was sound asleep and, gently pulling back the bed covers, she pulled back the elastic waistband of his underpants and emptied the bowl of turkey guts into his shorts.

Some time later she heard her husband waken with his usual trumpeting which was followed by a blood curdling scream and the sound of frantic footsteps as he ran into the bathroom.

The wife could hardly control herself as she rolled on the floor laughing, tears in her eyes!

After years of torture she reckoned she had got him back pretty good.

About twenty minutes later, her husband came downstairs in his bloodstained underpants with a look of horror on his face. She bit her lip as she asked him what was the matter.

He said, ‘Honey, you were right.’ ‘All these years you have warned me and I didn’t listen to you.’

‘What do you mean?’ asked his wife.

‘Well, you always told me that one day I would end up Farting my guts out, and today it finally happened.

But by the grace of God, some Vaseline, and two fingers, I think I got most of them back in.

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“When it comes down to it, it isn’t the major choices we make in life – career, marriage, etc. – that count the most. It is the everyday, minor decisions that make life work for us.” –Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D.

Have you ever stopped to think about the impact your choices have had, or are having, on your life? When I was thinking about a topic for the next blog post the word “choices” came to mind. Occasionally I hear people say, “I have/had no choice.” And I couldn’t understand why they felt that way. See, they had a choice, they just didn’t like the choices. I guess you can say it was a choice between the “lesser of two evils.” Or they felt they were not able to make the choice they really wanted. Well my feeling was….if you can’t do it now, then plan for it so you can do it at some future date. Just come up with a plan, take action, and stick to it until you achieve whatever it is you want. Nobody said it would be easy, however, it can be done. That’s just my two cents worth.

In his book “Choices,” Dr. Shad Helmstetter came up with a list of the 100 Most Important Choices in your life. Before we get to the list, here’s a little of what Shad Helmstetter had to say about making choices:

“When we begin to take a careful look at the choices we make, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that the most important choices are the choices that guide and direct the major areas of our life.

It is easy to think that if we make good choices about our career, marriage, education, income, family, etc., we should be able to do just fine.
But what about the other choices – the thousands of almost unnoticed choices that all of us make (or do not make), day in and day out? How important are those “little” choices?

They are exceptionally important. It may be the big choices in life that set the direction for where we’re going, but it is the little choices that get us there.

Our loftiest goals become nothing more than unfulfilled dreams in life that fall by the wayside if we do not just as carefully make, and act on the smaller choices along the way. What do the little choices look like? I’ll give you some examples.

Here is a list of 100 choices. Some of them seem important; others seem so insignificant that we might wonder how they could be important at all. But each of them makes up some part of what we call “life.”

As you read through this list, notice that any one of the choices, no matter how seemingly insignificant, affects something about us; what we do, how we spend our time, what we think and how we think, how we feel, what we like or dislike, what works for us and what does not.

Each of us makes tens of thousands of choices in a lifetime.” A few of them are mentioned below. This book looks like it was written in 1989, so keep that in mind when wondering why you don’t see references to email, computer games, the internet, or social networking sites. Remember, these are just some choices. Emphasis on the word some.

Your 100 Most Important Choices:

1 – Who you spend most of your time with

2 – How you comb your hair

3 – What your favorite foods are

4 – What you eat most often

5 – How often you call home

6 – The books you read

7 – Your posture

8 – How much or how little you smile

9 – What you watch on television and how much you watch

10 – Your hobbies

11 – How much you exercise

12 – Whether you argue more than you should

13 – The style and color clothes you wear

14 – Who you invite to a party

15 – Whether you write letters

16 – Which telephone calls you return

17 – The appearance of your home

18 – How long something stays broken before you fix it

19 – How late you stay up at night

20 – What time you get up in the morning

21 – How well you listen to others

22 – Whether you smoke

23 – Whether you gossip

24 – How well you are able to concentrate

25 – The political candidates you vote for

26 – Whether you like or fear computers

27 – How fast you drive

28 – How much risk you are willing to take

29 – Whether you save money

30 – Whether you are a leader or a follower

31 – The amount of time you spend with your kids

32 – How organized you are

33 – Whether you go to church

34 – Whether you belong to a social or service organization

35 – How often you change shoes

36 – Who you admire most

37 – How often you are late for something

38 – What you do about a traffic ticket

39 – Who pays the bills in your household

40 – Who decides what to have for dinner

41 – How much time you give yourself to get ready in the morning

42 – What you do at the end of the day

43 – What you drink, if, and how much

44 – Where you buy your groceries, and why

45 – How calm you are

46 – Whose opinions you ask for

47 – How you handle problems at work

48 – Whether you attend concerts or cultural events

49 – How often you eat out

50 – How interested you are in other people

51 – How you show your emotions

52 – What newspapers or magazines you read

53 – Whether you give free advice

54 – What kind of car you drive, and what shape it’s in

55 – How you react to negative attitudes or opinions from others

56 – What sports you participate in

57 – How you spend your holidays

58 – How important it is for you to follow the trend

59 – How much time you spend talking to your spouse or mate

60 – How important you feel you are

61 – How you use credit cards

62 – How you look at problems in the past

63– How you treat or relate to members of the opposite sex

64 – How often you feel sorry for yourself

65 – Who upsets you the most

66 – Whether you like a challenge

67 – Who controls the conversation

68 – How you feel about world problems

69 – What you think about while you’re getting ready in the morning

70 – How much you worry

71 – How much patience you have

72 – How many compliments you give

73 – What gets you angry

74 – How often you almost run out of gas in the car

75 – What you do when you don’t get your way

76 – How much you spend, and on what

77 – How often you criticize

78– How happy you are

79 – How you feel about what other people think of you

80 – How often you do not tell the truth, and why

81 – How you take care of yourself

82 – How much you respect yourself

83 – How often you complain

84 – How often you have to be reminded of something

85 – Who you talk to when you have a problem

86 – How you leave your desk or work space at the end of the day

87 – What movies you attend

88 – How often you get a haircut

89 – How often you have friends visit

90 – How much encouragement you give to others

91 – How polite you are

92 – When you do your Christmas shopping

93 – What you think about, when you have time to think

94 – How much time you take to sell your ideas

95 – Whether you eat breakfast

96 – How you feel when you come home from work

97 – What you do when you’ve made a mistake

98 – What you do when someone else has made a mistake

99 – How you react to being stuck in a traffic jam

100 – What you think about just before you go to sleep at night

Dr. Shad Helmstetter’s website is: http://www.shadhelmstetter.com

You might also like: The 3 Decisions that Control Your Destiny
26 Quotes on Choices

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I came across a poem the other day that said there are two kinds of people. I half expected that it would say the two kinds of people are — the givers and the takers. But this poem had a different twist. It made me think about friendships and relationships in general. Do you have any friends who always cry on your shoulder, who come to you for emotional support, yet when you need support they’ve got nothing? Then you may be one of the rare kinds of people mentioned in the poem. I don’t want to give anything away here by saying too much. Just thought the poem was worth sharing with you.

Two Kinds of People

There are two kinds of people on earth today,
Just two kinds of people, no more, I say,
Not the good and the bad, for ’tis well understood
The good are half bad and the bad are half good.

Not the happy and sad, for the swift flying years
Bring each man his laughter and each man his tears.
Not the rich and the poor, for to count a man’s wealth
You must first know the state of his conscience and health.

Not the humble and proud, for in life’s busy span
Who puts on vain airs is not counted a man.
No! The two kinds of people on earth I mean
Are the people who lift, and the people who lean.

Wherever you go you will find the world’s masses
Are ever divided in just these two classes.
And, strangely enough, you will find, too, I wean,
There is only one lifter for twenty who lean.

This one question I ask. Are you easing the load
Of overtaxed lifters who toil down the road?
Or are you a leaner who lets others bear
Your portion of worry and labor and care?

–Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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It’s Friday and I just couldn’t resist this Easter cheer.

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“We must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language if we are to be effective communicators of love.” –Gary Chapman, Ph.D.

Have you ever wondered why you and your spouse aren’t feeling the love anymore?

Gary Chapman may have the answer to your question. He explains it all in detail in his book “The Five Love Languages – How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate.” In the book Chapman says, “My conclusion after twenty years of marriage counseling is that there are basically five emotional love languages – five ways that people speak and understand emotional love.” He goes on to say that seldom does a husband and wife have the same primary emotional love language, and in order to be effective communicators of love, we must be willing to learn our spouse’s primary love language.

In short, here’s how Gary Chapman describes the Five Love Languages:

#1 — Words of Affirmation: Giving verbal compliments, encouraging words, using kind words expressed in a tender and kind tone of voice; love makes requests, not demands.

#2 — Quality Time: Giving someone your undivided attention — this does not mean sitting on the couch watching television together. Spend time with your spouse doing things that you know your spouse would like you to do with him/her. Engage in quality conversation — sympathetic dialogue where two individuals are sharing their experiences, thoughts, feelings, and desires in a friendly uninterrupted context. If I’m sharing my love for you by means of quality time and we are going to spend that time in conversation, it means I will focus on drawing you out, listening sympathetically to what you have to say. I will ask questions, not in a badgering manner but with a genuine desire to understand your thoughts, feelings, and desires. If your spouse’s primary love language is quality time, such dialogue is crucial to his or her emotional sense of being loved.

#3 — Receiving Gifts: Gifts are visual symbols of love. The gift of self or the gift of presence speaks loudly in times of crisis. Visual symbols of love are more important to some than to others. Gifts can be purchased, found or made. Without gifts as visual symbols, I may question your love.

#4 — Acts of Service: Doing things you know your spouse would like you to do. You seek to please him or her by serving him/her, to express your love for him/her by doing things for him/her. If done with a positive spirit, they are indeed expressions of love. Requests give direction to love, but demands stop the flow of love.

#5 — Physical Touch: Is also a powerful vehicle for communicating marital love. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emotional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.

Chapman also says:

“What we do for each other before marriage is no indication of what we will do after marriage. Before marriage, we are carried along by the force of the in-love obsession. After marriage, we revert to being the people we were before we “fell in love.” Our actions are influenced by the model of our parents, our own personality, our perceptions of love, our emotions, needs, and desires. Only one thing is certain about our behavior: it will not be the same behavior we exhibited when we were caught up being ‘in love.’”

“I am convinced that keeping the emotional love tank full is as important to a marriage as maintaining the proper oil level in an automobile. Running your marriage on an empty “love tank” may cost you even more than trying to drive your car without oil.”

“When your spouse’s emotional love tank is full and he feels secure in your love, the whole world looks bright and your spouse will move out to reach his highest potential in life. But when the love tank is empty and he feels used but not loved, the whole world looks dark and he will likely never reach his potential for good in the world.”

Have you figured out which one is your primary love language? The book is worth reading. For more info go to:
http://fivelovelanguages.com/ or http://garychapman.org/

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