Tag Archives: personal growth

7 Steps to Building a Great Business and a Great Life

Where is my life going?I think about my purpose in life with some regularity, but particularly when I’m starting something new. “Am I doing the right thing, going the right direction?” is a question that comes up regularly when I’m on a new path. I think about those questions on my own, ask God to give me guidance and wisdom, and ask other people questions about purpose and direction to get their thoughts.

I was having some of those conversations last week. The question came up “Can you be great in the world if you’re not trying to be, if you’re not focused on trying to do great things?” On the one hand was the valid argument that your thoughts do a huge amount to guide what actually happens in your life, positively or negatively. On the other hand were all the stories of great men and women from a variety of circumstances across time who ended up doing something amazing without trying to BE amazing.

My question became: do I have to visualize being a great teacher and speaker and writer in order to be one, or might I find when my life is over that God used me in amazing ways that I couldn’t have orchestrated on my own anyway?

The answer to both questions – to a degree – is yes. Visualizing the accomplishment of concrete goals often opens up your subconscious to seeing things you hadn’t seen before that will get you to your goal faster with better results. Researchers have found that the brain uses muscle memory as much as any other muscle in the body.

But we all can think of times in our lives when things worked out in a way we didn’t expect and couldn’t have forced to happen by force of our will and actions. Sometimes it’s absolutely divine intervention. Sometimes the unexpected happens because of dozens of tiny actions (driven by your beliefs) over the course of time. If you hadn’t been visualizing your goal, you wouldn’t have noticed the opportunity that led you to the circumstance that suddenly gave way unexpectedly to something amazing.

Nevertheless, in my experience pursuing greatness as a goal will almost never lead you there. Pursuing money seems to be the same. And if that worked for you – great. But I have tried pursuing both and ended up farther away from them than when I started. Who knows? Maybe that’s divine intervention, too, so I won’t get distracted my actual purpose for my life. πŸ™‚

What I do know is this. I talked to several people in the last week or two about whether you have to believe you’ll have an amazing impact for good on the world, or if just focusing on doing what you believe you should be doing is enough to end up at the same place. In the end last Sunday, I decided I would bring the conversation back to God and ask him to help me figure out how/where to focus.

Bible 1 Peter 5 picThe next morning the Bible app on my phone blinked the verse of the day. This time I felt like opening my actual Bible rather than the app. And I got my answer.

In 1 Peter 5, I had highlighted verses 2-4 and written in the margin, “My writing career! πŸ™‚ Nov 12, 2010.” In 2012, I’d underlined part of verse 2 and wrote “June 12, 2012” in the margin.

I read and re-read the first eleven verses. With a little bit of thought, and without taking things out of context but trying to apply the intention to my own situation, I saw a prescription for building aΒ great business there.

1. Serve not because you must but because you are willing.

2. Don’t be greedy for money, but be eager to serve.

3. Listen to those with more life experience.

4. Be humble before God and men, and God will reward you in time.

5. Cast all your anxiety on God to free yourself from that wasted negative energy.

6. Be self-controlled and alert.

7. Understand there will be hard times, but God will give you strength.

I could go into each of those steps in greater detail, showing you how exactly I’m implementing them in my business. But I don’t want this post to be longer than you want to read. πŸ™‚ And you might get more out of it by thinking about how you can use these steps to build your life and business.

This passage in my Bible now has a new notation in the margin. “Reiterated Aug 3, 15.” I can’t wait to see what great things happen next!

What About Me? Searching Outside Myself

woman typing on keyboardMy entire life seems to revolve around my career.

Vacations are planned around conferences. Movies and dinners are delayed because I’m not done working yet. Calendars are filled almost entirely with writing or teaching related events and deadlines. Podcasts and writing workshops fill the space between my ears when walking, driving, or doing laundry.

And there, with strangers giving me advice on how to be more successful, I hear again that I need to get more involved with “other” communities, online or in person, and talk about something else. Because people want to get to know you as a person, not as a writer trying to sell them a book. Not as a real estate agent trying to sell them a house. Not as an Internet marketer trying to sell them “the next thing.”

And it finally occurred to me…what do I like to talk about besides writing and stories? Movies? (Those are stories.) Books? (Those are stories, even the nonfiction ones to some degree.) The practical effects of a life based on faith in Jesus Christ? (We kind of talk about that in Bible study and church.)

Have I forgotten what interests me outside of writing?

After a little thinking, I realize the answer is no. But in the struggle the last few years to just keep up with bills (and sometimes fall under that weight), a lot of what I do is less and less for love and more to just keep our heads above the water line.

And that’s not horrible.

But it is something to be aware of. Much as I wish I had time to get back to playing guitar and piano, that’s going to have to continue to wait a bit longer. Much as I enjoyed spending a couple hours a month building scrapbooks with friends, that is not in the cards right now. I’m trying to get back into running, but that isn’t a topic for extended and interesting conversations – you are running or you aren’t.

What about you? Have you gotten ensnared by your day-to-day responsibilities to the point where you don’t remember when was the last time you talked about something really interesting? If you’ve been able to keep up with a forum or blog on something you’re really interested in – that doesn’t revolve around your career – let me know. Every Facebook group I’m a part of has to do with my career. I don’t even know anymore how to find places to go online to chat with like-minded people about things that interest meΒ that have nothing to do with writing or teaching.

But I’d like to find a couple places. Much as I love superheroes, I am woefully ignorant about the broad universe of comic books. Is there a good place people are chatting about it where I won’t be outcast as a newb? (This is pressing entirely too close to being about my career, but I really am interested in learning more because it’s cool.)

Is there a place where people are talking about Christian theology and philosophy in an interesting way that hits on ways to make it practical?

Question mark imageIf you’ve talked to me about topics that I seem to have found interesting, let me know! I seem to be hitting a wall when it comes to remembering what I’m interested in enough to chat with strangers about it.

And if you’ve started to notice this about yourself as well, that you are so engrossed in daily life that you don’t even remember what else you’re interested in, let me know in the comments what you’re going to do about it.

I don’t have a lot of time to spend outside of working and the things I already do. (My first priority after work is hanging out with John, which is where all the TV and movie watching comes in. πŸ™‚ ) But maybe I do need to add a little more balance to my life. I have no idea where I’m going to find the time, but it seems like I need to at least try.

Ideas?

P.S. Let me know if you’ve enjoyed these “Sunday Devotionals” the last few weeks. I’m trying something new on my blog – writing every Sunday about things that interest me from a spiritual growth standpoint. πŸ™‚