What Family Should Be Like

Ah, family… If you were fortunate enough to live in a functional one, consider yourself blessed. Most people these days aren’t so fortunate. A culture of dysfunction is prevalent. If you have anyone in your family that is in your corner consider yourself lucky. There aren’t many people in my family that fit the “in your corner” bill, but I have that one cousin that is alway letting me know that he is.  I don’t hear these words from anyone but him: I’m proud of you. And, remember, “family isn’t always blood”.

My cousin Allen and I are about a year apart. Whenever things aren’t going right, I can count on him to be positive and uplifting. Since I’m not especially close to my parents, and have a non existent relationship with my only sibling, it’s nice to know that I have family that cares.  He let’s me know what the rest of the family refuses to tell me: I’m on the right track, that you can always start over, mistakes make you stronger and that someone is in my corner. I know who I can count on, to not put me down during the times I’m struggling.

Then there’s Rachel my “other mom”. She’s actually my best friend’s mother. I can talk to her about anything. Why? She listens, really listens. I don’t have to worry about every mistake I’ve ever made being thrown in my face. We talk about things that are going on in the present, and what I need to do about it. She validates my feelings. I really feel understood and heard when we’re talking.  She’s logical, rational, helps me put things in perspective. And, the best part: she doesn’t try to shut me down when she doesn’t like what I’m saying. She empathizes. She doesn’t justify, make excuses, or try to invalidate my grievances.

I can’t forget Danielle, my “little sister”. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have her as a friend and confidante. As a business partner, she’s awesome. We think just enough alike to work together well, and just enough differently to make a business work. I trust her, and we are able to work through issues with mutual respect and confidence. She makes me laugh, and we’ve shed some tears together. She’s loyal, and loyalty is what I treasure these days the most.

My kids are my lifeline. I can’t say enough about how much I love them. It’s not always easy being a parent, and at any given time there will be problems. They are the reason for me achieving the things that I do. They remind me that they love me the minute I feel like giving up. They show love, gratitude and appreciation for what I do for them. They aren’t perfect, but are loving and care. They’re hard working, and sensitive. They understand that life doesn’t revolve around them, and are discerning. They have integrity, great character, values and morals that make me proud. I love them, and can’t believe that I gave birth to such fantastic people.

Thank goodness for Mark. Everyone should have a friend like this man. He’s positive, accomplished, encouraging, and most importantly willing to help out his friends. Consistently eager to lend a helping hand, with a positive message and actions that follow. This man talks the talk, and walks the walk. He’s smart, well connected, and easy going. Because he’s constantly looking to grow and improve, he’s willing and open to listen to: opinions, ideas, and thoughts that are different from his own. He has his ego in check, his humility and giving, selfless nature are honorable.

And last, but not least: Justine. We are so much alike. I love her laugh, and she’s a kind and giving person. Hardworking mom, with a fantastic singing voice. Who wouldn’t want a friend that you can share with, and understands what you’re going through? She’s smart, knows how to really listen. Wise, and her advice is spot on. Conversations with her are also uplifting, and she really knows how to make you feel welcome when you’re around her. She knows no strangers, and she smiles a lot. You can feel the happiness in her presence.

Most people just don’t know how to love, especially in families. Many are under the false belief that you can mistreat family, and there’s not a thing they can do about it. Nothing could be further from the truth. When you are: disrespectful, condescending, judgmental, critical, harsh, abusive, rejecting and unloving? You don’t deserve a pass just because you are family. In fact, family members are the one set of people who have the right to call you on it. Period. It’s delusional to expect family to accept mistreatment and still want to be around you. Charity begins in the home, if it doesn’t happen there? Then you’ll live a life of seeking it in all the wrong places and people.

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Learned Helplessness

“Learned helplessness, in psychology, a mental state in which an organism forced to bear aversive stimulus, or stimuli that are painful or otherwise unpleasant, becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are “escapable,” presumably because it has learned that it cannot control the situation.” Encyclopedia Britannica

“Emotional intelligence (EI) is the capability of individuals to recognize their own, and other people’s emotions, to discern between different feelings and label them appropriately, to use emotional information to guide thinking and behavior, and to manage and/or adjust emotions to adapt environments or achieve one’s goal(s).” Wikipedia

Are you the type of person that gives up easily? Have you always been this way? The first sign of trouble you lash out, or look for a means of escape? Are you afraid to face things? Even the worst parts of yourself? Do you avoid failure at all costs? Even if means that you can learn from it? Welcome to the wonderful world of learned helplessness. It kills businesses, relationships, and any possible personal growth.

Amy Morin, author of “13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do” talks about this. Much of her book deals with the things that hold people back. It’s well worth the read. And, if you are suffering from learned helplessness, you can turn things around. You have to be willing to give up your means of escaping reality to do so. How do you know if you’re suffering from it?

Do you use alcohol or drugs when you can’t deal with your situation? Many people say and/or do things drunk or high that they would never say and/or do if they were in control of themselves. Learned helplessness teaches that you can’t do anything on your own, so using alcohol or drugs somehow becomes the equalizer. If you believe this to be true. Ask yourself one vital question:  Why can I only say and/or do something under the influence, when I’m no longer in total control of myself? Most people live to regret decisions, choices and actions made while intoxicated.

Are you using people when you can’t deal with your situation? Bad break up, and you want the other person to lose or suffer? Close friend and/or family member have some issues that refuse to see what they’ve done, making it impossible to talk to them about it? So you turn to someone else? In the end, it creates more problems. Social media, texting, email, etc… are making it possible to cause unending drama. Deal with the issues directly and calmly. It’s amazing how fast they resolve.

* Warning: A person that is combative, abusive and/or belligerent whenever they are hurt and/or challenged is dangerous. They aren’t interested in resolution, only winning at all costs. Their Emotional Intelligence may be low ( name calling [verbal abuse], fixation [the inability to move on from a traumatic event],  cyber bullying and/or other forms of stalking, grudges, and changes in personality when using a substance [alcohol or drugs] are red flags ). Go no contact if any of the above escalates and involve law enforcement if it continues. 

Are you in denial? No one wants to be the bad guy. But, be honest, are you? Learned helplessness can quickly turn into bitterness. The quest for revenge and lashing out becomes the norm, and people will avoid you. Bad energy is toxic, and if not dealt with can destroy your relationships and ultimately your life. Projection, deflection and blame are the tools used to self protect, and it eventually become a fortress of your own making. It then destroys from within. Some of the most miserable people in life refuse to look at themselves as the orchestrator’s of their own misery.

Learn helplessness can be overcome. You have to be willing to admit that it’s a problem. If not? Then you will continue to feel angry, bitter, and uneasy in your own skin. The key to overcoming it? Take action, and face your fears. If you have a substance abuse problem join a group. Stop letting the addiction control you. Can’t let go of a person? See a therapist and get help moving on. Only another person can call you on being in denial. If 3 people tell you you look sick? You look sick. Ask them for help on how to clean up your act. Don’t live in a prison of your making. Life is too short to be miserable, lonely, and isolated.

 

Happiness at Last

When you think of your friends, what’s the first thing you think of? Especially your closest ones? Do they uplift you, or put you down? Do they have your back, or do they throw you under the bus? Can you trust them, or just tolerate their presence? True friends are worth their weight in gold. Really.

My best friend is finally getting remarried. The guy she’s with is a real keeper. I’m happy for her. She had to kiss a lot of toads before finding her frog prince. And, yes, he’s a prince. I love her to death, and hope that this man is the one she gets to spend the rest of her life with. She deserves to be happy. Can’t wait for the wedding.

I have another friend that is getting remarried next summer. He too finally found his princess. He only had to wait about 20 yrs, but what the heck? He’s happy, and I’m going to his wedding too. He’s like my older brother, and his bride to be has passed the friends and parents test. Again, a win/win. I love to see my friends happy.

My other best friend is now blissfully happy with her new live in love. The news keeps getting better and better. Can’t wait to be at her wedding. I’m going to be doing some traveling this year, but it’s going to be great. She looks so much happier since her divorce, and her new love? The sweetest man you will ever meet.

Me, I’m happy to be single. Everyone else wanted to remarry ( all of my friend above are divorced and getting remarried ), not me. At least not for now. I like the new freedom of being on my own. I’m a better mom, more relaxed and I feel like I’m able to be myself again. I like who I am, and my life isn’t all that I want it to be. But, it’s not where it used to be.

My girlfriends keep telling me I’m next. That he’ll be a business man, and I’ll meet him soon. That would be the perfect partner for me. I’m in no hurry. I’m good on my own. I like being accountable only to myself and the most part my kids. Less stress, and more love. Life is hectic, but my kids and I no matter what the circumstances: live in peace. No discord, malice, vindictiveness, ill will, instability, etc… Just good old fashioned peace and harmony.

I have other friends that feel the same way I do. No insecurities about being alone, and definitely like our own company. I guess that’s when you find the right person. When you’re good with being you. Once all of my friends were good with being themselves while being alone? Bam! There was Mr or Ms Right. I guess the second time’s a charm for love, and I think that they’re right. My friends are happy now, and I’m happy for them.

I found that happiness is a choice, and I’m glad I made it. I was once told that once I make up my mind, I stick to it. I’m unstoppable that way. I’m not quitter. So, chose to be happy. It takes less energy than anger, and it doesn’t age you. In fact, you’ll gain years on your life. Happiness is contagious. Are you spreading this disease?

 

 

 

Edification

Edification ( definition ): Intellectual, moral, or spiritual improvement.

Edification is important to any relationship, no matter what it is. If you want an amazing marriage? Edify. If you want to want kids that are confident and achievers? Edify. Close connections with your inner circle? Edify. Raving fans customers and clients? Edify. There are several training courses that will teach you this skill set. And, it is a skill set. Edification will help you to help others reach their full potential. Improvement helps any situation become better. Growth is the goal.

Edification is a form of gratitude and appreciation. Ungrateful people take others for granted. Seeing something from the other person’s point of view is paramount. People want to be praised and appreciated for their efforts. Feeling valued is important. They want to know that they matter. This builds meaningful connections.

Edification helps you become more aware of others. Let’s face it, self absorbed people only think about themselves. There’s no room in their world for anyone but them. They just don’t believe that other people are as important as they are. Therefore they treat them as such. When you are the most important person in your world you miss out on amazing opportunities. When you look for the good in others, it returns.

Edification is a skill that anyone can learn. When you focus on what’s right, you get more of it. When you focus on what’s wrong, you can create more problems. It takes more energy to be negative than it does staying positive. Positive people help others, negative people only help themselves. How much does a compliment cost? Nothing. But, the results are amazing. Tell others good things about themselves, and see the transformation that it can create.

When you edify others, you open up a new world. Others become their best version of themselves. They are more likely to say, “yes” to requests. It breeds no resentment,  and endears you to others. Invest in others. Bring them up, not down. Let them feel special and like they are someone worth being around. Honoring others is important. Dishonor them, and you may well have a life long enemy.

 

 

Building Something That Lasts

It takes vision, planning, a strategy and a solid foundation to make anything last. It doesn’t matter what it is. Whether it’s a business or a marriage, you have to build it on a solid rock. People who don’t plan, don’t understand that failure doesn’t come from a lack of effort: it comes from poor planning. Poor planners learn the hard way, that you need a real back up plan. Or as we call it in business: and escape plan. Jumping in with both feet is not only foolish, but crazy in many cases. Revenue lost is very hard to replace when you don’t have a plan. They don’t call it “the school of hard knocks” for nothing.

Failure to plan is planning to fail. Before I started homeschooling my kids, I took 5 years to research and plan it out. Why? Because my oldest was going into middle school when I started, and I didn’t want to ruin her future. Had I just made a snap decision? She wouldn’t be carving out a bright future as a make up artist today. The same with my middle and youngest daughters. Not only do they know what they want to do, but they are on track to make it happen.

Strategy is everything. What will you do if things don’t work out? Do you have a viable back up plan? If not, stop and get one in place. After years of working in other businesses with other people, and going to countless seminars. Taking endless webinars, teleseminars and on line training. I was ready to start the business venture of my dreams. I choose my business partner Danielle carefully due to her past experience as well. She has a proven track record, and really knows what she’s doing. I trust her, and know that if we need to change direction at any time? She can shift gears. We are building a strong business with years of past experience to back it up.

Your team will either make or break you. Just like in a marriage when one spouse undermines, disrespects, and refuses to be influenced by the other; a team that has no cohesion will fail. Many a business has been started by partners with ideas and no real experience. This is what’s called “the blind leading the blind.” What starts out as fun can be your worst nightmare. Business can be fun, but if you don’t run it like a business? Then tell the truth: it’s a hobby. A business is a livelihood, and therefore needs to be treated with all the respect and seriousness of any other vocation. That means you have to work. Period. Once the business is established and successful then you can have fun.

It’s going to take up a lot of time and effort. This one is really hard for some people to understand. When you set up shop it’s a commitment. Just like a marriage, you’re supposed to be in it for the long haul.  Just like your spouse expects you to be there through thick and thin: so does your business partner and the rest of the team. If you don’t want to put in long hours, work weekends and/or when the weather is nice, or when everyone else is asleep, etc…? You don’t really want to be in business, or to be successful. Successful people understand that the only thing that comes before business is family. Period.

Pay now so you can have fun later. This is a concept that I’m teaching my kids. If you have fun while you’re young it’s fine. Just don’t jeopardize your future in the process. You only have so much time in life to accomplish anything. Do it while your young, and when you’re old you won’t have anything to worry about. Too often people live for today, and find themselves old and broke. If you think kids are expensive? The elderly pay a king’s ransom for medical care and other services. And, what’s worse? When most people retire, they live on half the salary they had when they were working. If that’s not enough, most never really prepared for the lifestyle change. And, still spend like they have the same amount of money to fall back on. With virtually no savings. So much for chasing happiness.

You only really have 2 choices: build your life on sand, or build it on a firm foundation. People who chose sand, watch what they build slide away with the first storm. But, those who build on a solid foundation will be able to reap the rewards that come with doing it right the first time. They won’t lose it all wondering what or how it happened. They’ll also keep their reputations intact, the respect of their peers, the admiration of their friends and family. And, more importantly, retain their  dignity, self respect, and love what they see in the mirror each day.

 

 

 

 

 

Inspiration vs Motivation

Are you inspired or motivated? Do you even know the difference? Inspiration is an internal process, motivation relies on the external. If you’re able to get yourself going without anyone to: approve of, support, validate or pay attention to you. Then you are able to stay inspired. It’s better to be inspired than motivated. Motivation is temporary because it relies on an outside source. Once that source is no longer present, you could be in big trouble.

Inspiration can be activated by negative motivation. There’s nothing better to get me going than to have to deal with someone that is causing me grief. It doesn’t deter me, it does quite the opposite: it spurs me to take action in a positive way. What do I mean? When someone is trying to make my life difficult, I shift the focus from what they are doing, to what I need to do. By shifting the focus off of them, I take away their perceived power and control.  Once I refocus, stay the course, and remind myself that I have better things to worry about? Then everything falls back into place again.

Motivation can take you to dark places. Ever have a person break up with you? You were the problem, had all these issues, they had to end things. But, once you starting moving on, they tried to stop you? That’s when they start doing things to try to get your attention. The ego is a fragile thing, and most people don’t want to admit that you can get over them, and no one wants to be the bad guy. Once they see that they aren’t even on your radar? Be prepared to see some dark motivation: Jealous insecurity, cyberstalking, mobbing, smear campaigns, control tactics, unwanted contact, negative cycling, ect… Motivation isn’t always positive, and it can inspire some very negative things.

Inspiration can come from simply wanting to be a better person. People who are inspired change the world. They aren’t focused on self. Understanding you can make a positive difference that actually helps others, not hurts them. Motivation can be helpful, but has be feed in doses almost daily. Inspiration rises up. Punishment can motivate a person to do the right thing, It can also be used as a weapon by someone that shifts blame, runs from responsibility, and refuses to be held accountable for their own actions. They are motivated to protect themselves. Inspired people want to help protect others.

Motivation is often based on others ability to lift you up, not your own. Now let’s be honest, if you need other people to pump you up on a regular basis: you’re just being lazy. Not in the sense that you’re a lazy person, you’re just not doing the work. If you don’t do the work, then it’s not your fault when things go wrong, right? Wrong. Too often people look to others to do for them, what they should be doing for themselves. Period. Yes, it’s nice to have someone that sings your praises, and believes in you. It just becomes a crutch when you can’t do it for yourself.

Motivation isn’t a bad thing. In fact it can be good, when you need a pick me up. The issue is: it’s external, and temporary. Being inspired starts on the inside, and if protected, nurtured and cultivated? Can grow into something extraordinary.  Motivation if received well, can turn into inspiration. But beware: many a person has been motivated and inspired to do the wrong thing. Be careful who you listen to: beware the man with sugar coated lips, his words can lead to destruction.

 

 

Business Partners

The right business partner will either make or break your business. You need a team, and the first person you should start with, is the first person that you lock on board. My business partner Danielle is literally a gift from God. Her strengths are my weaknesses, and my strengths are her weaknesses. We work well together and value each others’: opinions, input, decisions, and ideas. Most of all, we both know how to agree to disagree. A must if you want to have a successful business relationship. She’s also one of my best and closest friends. How do you know if you have an amazing business partner?

Business partners aren’t “yes” men or women. Nothing will kill a business faster,  than poor choices and bad decisions. They don’t vanish just because you’re business partner agrees with you. In fact, a person that agrees with everything that you’re doing is not a business partner: they’re a groupie. They won’t let you know that something is wrong, or not going to work. They’ll watch you fail with a smile. Losing money is nothing to sneeze at. If they don’t want to make waves, your business is not going to make it.

They bring something to the table. Your ideas are great: to you. But, many times, your business partner has better ones. Two heads really are better than one. If you both think exactly alike: someone is unnecessary. A fresh perspective and new ideas flow from other sources. If your ego can’t handle someone disagreeing with you, then get a job, don’t own a business. People on jobs are forced to work with people they don’t like, entrepreneurs are in the position to pick and choose.

They think of things you may have missed. This one is a no-brainer. They can see your blind spots and around corners, and vice versa. Everyone gets inspired when they are allowed to flourish. If you’re an insecure control freak, good luck finding success. Fear is a great killer of success. Being insecure, jealous, envious, difficult to work with and/or for, controlling, ungrateful, obstinate, and all around unpleasant, will undermine anything that you build. If your partner is only allowed to work according to your comfort level, close up shop and do something else, you don’t play well with others.

They’re individuals.  Boy, is this one important. If you need your mirror image working with you? Man, are you shallow. Shallow people are easy to spot: they’d rather look good than be good. Your business partner is someone that should help enhance your business, not you. The business is what should be the focus, not how they make you feel about yourself. When your business hits a wall, and it will: Who would you rather have work with you? The person that makes you feel good, or the person that helps you make money? Unless you’re an non-profit organization, you need to consider this one carefully.

They can run the show without you constantly being around. Nothing is worse than working with a person that micromanages. If you don’t trust your business partner when you’re sick, on vacation, or otherwise indisposed: then you have major insecurity issues. The strongest business relationships are built on trust. You should be able to trust your business partner with the entire business. Not just the parts you feel comfortable with. They’re your partner not your employee, never forget that.

A business partner can be the difference between years of toil, misery and frustration without moving forward. Or, years of inspiration, innovation, growth, prosperity, and fulfillment. It really is your choice. If you want to go fast, go by yourself. If you want to go far, take a team. That’s based on an old african proverb. Crashing and burning are par for the course when you have the wrong business partner, and the wrong attitude. Your business is not all about you. When you are the issue, you are the cause of it’s demise.

Success Favors the Brave

Its really important to do the things that scare you. You can’t be a wimp and be successful, it’s just not going to happen. Success comes from being able to stick it out, even when things look bleak. When things are the hardest, and the most distressing, that’s when you have the breakthrough. Most people quit before they get to the good part. Why quit when you’re “3 feet from gold”?

I love taking risks. Why? Because, even when I fail: I learn something. The learning curve of failure teaches perseverance and tenacity. Fail fast is what I was told constantly in every business venture that I’ve ever tried. And, now? I’ve learned what not to do. I think it was Edison that said the same thing. No one would ever call him a coward. He proved that failure isn’t fatal, and comes with the territory.

Great things don’t happen overnight, and you have to be willing to look foolish. You also have to risk being embarrassed to be respected. Part of being brave is, letting others put you down while you’re trying to achieve something. Not many people can handle that. These are all a part of risk. Saving face, isn’t part of the deal when just starting out. You have to be able to look your naysayers in the eye with your head held high, and say: You don’t define me.

I challenge anyone to show me a successful person that didn’t fail at some point in their lives. You won’t find one. But, you will find many wannabes. I wannabe a business person, if I don’t have to sell. I wannabe be married, as long as I can get my way all the time. I wannabe a parent, as long as I can still do what I want to. I wannabe be successful, as long as someone else does it all for me. See a pattern here? Wannabes are people that are too afraid to: change, take responsibility or be held accountable, give up something, or compromise. In other words: unsuccessful people are just wannabes.

Risk also involves dealing with jealous and envious people trying to get in your way. That’s just par for the course. They really can’t do much to a steadfast determined person. Determination and grit will outlast these types of people. Why? Because it’s just another challenge to overcome. And, overcoming is what successful people do. They will run out of steam long before you do. Once you make up your mind, and take the risk? It’s all over for anyone that stands in your way. Making up your mind is powerful, and will take you far.

Risk also helps you leave your comfort zone. Nothing happens there. If you want to achieve something amazing? You’ll have to leave it often. I’ve found that negative circumstances can go one of  2 ways: you either choose to grow stronger, or get squashed. Choosing the latter, you can’t go wrong. Growth and change are scary, but not as scary as being stuck. Being stuck will keep you from achieving, and living up to your potential. Positive people help you to keep it moving, negative people keep you standing still.

When it comes to risk, I leave you with Dale Carnegie’s Solution:

  1. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst that can possibly happen?”
  2. Be prepared to accept the worst.
  3. Try to improve on the worst.
  4. Don’t fuss about the trifles ( don’t sweat the small stuff )
  5. Cooperate with the inevitable

Sound advice, wouldn’t you say.