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When I was a child, my parents measured my growth by marking my height on the door frame of one of the rooms in our house. I could see growth happening, because my mark kept getting higher on the wall. I eventually passed my mother. Then I passed my father. And eventually, my mark on the wall was over 6’5″ above the floor.
When it comes to my height, I stopped growing many years ago. But this doesn’t mean I stopped growing. I still pride myself on my appetite for personal growth. I read books. I listen to podcasts. I watch educational videos. And I hang out with smart people. I participate in these activities to make sure I keep growing.
Personal growth doesn’t happen by accident. If you want to grow (or STRETCH as I like to say), you have to be intentional.
Today, I’m excited to announce the release of Dan Black’s new eBook, The Little Book of Personal Growth.
In the short book, Dan unpacks the meaning of personal growth, and he provides a road map for helping readers create their own plan for personal growth. The book outlines the five stages of personal growth. Then Dan unveils the ten core benefits of engaging in regular personal growth. He discusses the components necessary for personal growth.
Dan does a great job recognizing that we have different learning styles. He describes nine methods readers can use for their own personal growth. And finally, he walks readers through a simple step-by-step process for developing a personal growth plan that will take you to higher heights on your personal growth chart.
(Please note: I received a preview copy of The Little Book of Personal Growth for free as a gift from Dan Black in exchange for my pre-purchase of his new eBook and for my agreement to participate on his launch team for this book. I was not required to provide a favorable review. I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life and your personal growth.
Also to note: There are affiliate links in this post. Should you purchase The Little Book of Personal Growth by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase. These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala. Thank you!)
I talk to young engineers and professionals all the time. They want to know my story, and they want to know what they need to do to get to the next level. It’s important for everyone to have a plan and goals for their career. For many, this means they are looking for the next promotion.
What do I have to do to get promoted?
It’s a fair question everyone must ask themselves, their co-workers, and their management, if they want to achieve their career ambitions. Over my 20+ year career, I have moved from an engineer to a project manager to an operations manager. Each step on the journey has required patience, persistence, and plenty of planned actions.
Today, I will help you identify six actions you should be taking today if you want to move closer to the promotion you desire.
Did you sign up for the 7 Week Stretch Challenge yet? Sign up below!
I took time to read this book between Christmas and New Years, and it provided a few great insights and ideas for me to pursue as I seek to clarify my beliefs, values, and priorities.
While I’m still wrestling with Smith’s assertion that the pursuit of personal inner peace is the ultimate goal of man. I deeply agree with the thought that we can make a big difference in our lives and in the lives of those around us by clarifying our beliefs, by confirming our governing values, and by intentionally managing our time.
The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference?is a quick read that will challenge readers to fill the gaps they may have in their beliefs, values, and time. Personally, I was challenged after reading The 3 Gaps to write my own personal constitution, to define my governing values, and to practice the discipline of daily planning. If you are looking for a book with practical advice to help you stretch, you should consider picking up a copy of this book.
(Please note: I received a copy of The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? for free as a gift from Becky Robinson at Weaving Influence. I was not required to provide a favorable review. I believe this book can be a helpful tool for being more intentional with your life.
Also to note: There are affiliate links in this post. Should you purchase The 3 Gaps: Are You Making a Difference? by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase. These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala. Thank you!)
I have a lot on my list of things to do, and it seems like my schedule is packed.
How will I get it all done?
I had the privilege of meeting with a coach last week, and we talked about the challenge of trying to fit it all into the time I have this year.
We all have the same amount of time. We have 24 hours in a day. We have 168 hours in a week. We have 52 weeks in a year. And this is the same for everyone. President Obama has this amount of time. Bill Gates has this amount of time. You have this amount of time. And I have this amount of time.
With this time we have choices to make. How will we use the time? What will stay in our schedules? What will we remove from our schedules?
Reaching your targets for 2016 requires you to make choices.
And this is true for me.
As I said before, I have big plans for 2016, and this means I have some choices to make.
For most of last year, I posted here 5 days a week. I felt like I needed to be consistent by posting every day Monday through Friday. This was good, but I only have a limited amount of time to write (and to do other things). Writing has become an important part of my life. I have some specific goals related to my writing that I want to achieve this year, but I won’t be able to meet these targets without making some changes.
With this in mind, you may see some changes to my posting patterns over the next few months. I will still post here regularly, but I will also be using some of my writing time to go after some other things (more on that to follow).
I’m learning that sometimes less is required for more. And maybe this is what you need to come to terms with this year.
Earlier this summer, I was elected to be president of my Toastmasters International club. It was an honor to be selected for this position, but it also comes with a lot of work. I have to kick-off and close our club’s bi-weekly meetings. I have to plan and lead our club’s executive committee meetings. And I have to interface with fellow officers, club members, and guests.
One of my responsibilities as the club president and member of the club executive committee is to create a Club Success Plan. Essentially, this is a document to record the club’s current status, challenges, and goals for the coming term. And the Club Success Plan provides a place to write down a plan for overcoming obstacles and achieving our goals.
This week spent time completing the Club Success Plan, and I’m excited for the results when we look back at the plan throughout the term and at the end of the term in June.
As I was working on the plan, I reflected on the importance of writing a success plan for other areas of our lives.
What do you want to accomplish this year? What goals do you want to achieve?
Do you have a plan to get there?
Typically, we talk about goals at the beginning of the year. Everyone gets hyped up on New Year’s Resolutions. The enthusiasm lasts for a few weeks or even a few months before we settle back into our normal existence trying to survive the pushes and pulls of our busy lives.
By the time we get to this time of year, our resolutions and goals are long forgotten, and we are trying to make it to the next weekend.
As Benjamin Franklin said, many of us fail to achieve our goals because we fail to create a plan for getting where we want to go.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t like to fail. I like to succeed. I like to achieve. I like to make progress towards my goals.
Writing a personal success plan doesn’t have to take forever. You can write a success plan for yourself using these simple steps:
I made a decision to shrink my garden this year. I am just way too busy in this season of my life to keep up with my normally ambitious garden. This year my garden will be about one-third the size of last year. I will be using the square-foot gardening method to make the most of the space which now consists of four four-by-eight foot garden beds. One of the beds is dedicated to asparagus, and a quarter of another bed is dedicated to horseradish. This means I have approximately eighty square feet of garden space to plant.
Last night, Leanne and I planted two kinds of lettuce, spinach, swiss chard, and kale. I’ll do another planting in 10 to 14 days. Around Mother’s Day, I will plant tomatoes, peppers, beans, and a few other vegetables that require warmer temperatures.
I like the work that goes into a productive garden. And I like the produce that eventually comes as the temperatures get warmer (as long as I keep the deer and groundhogs out of the garden). Produce will not happen unless I put the effort in to plant the seeds. A productive garden does not happen by accident.
This is true for many things in life.
My kids will not automatically turn out respectful and well-adjusted unless my wife and I put the work into them planting seeds that point them in the right direction.
My career will not just move in a desired direction unless I put the effort into it and take time to learn the skills and embrace the experience required to take me there.
My faith will not grow unless I take time to feed my soul with God’s Word and unless I plug into other believers who will spur me on to greater heights.
In all areas of our life, growth does not happen without hard work, without planting the right things into our lives, and without stretching ourselves.
Besides taking several days off between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, I get to spend more time with my family. We’ll be traveling out to Western PA to celebrate with my wife’s family. I also like this time, because it gives me time to reflect on the past year and to look forward to the year ahead.
I’m a big goal setting person. It helps me to stay on task with stretching towards things that keep me growing and learning.
For example, my 2014 goal list included exercising 250 days, running 1500 miles, and writing a book about track and field. Today, I will hit my 250th day of exercise. I am just 10 miles shy of my mileage goal, so I should surpass that later this week. And I wrote and self-published my first book, On Track: Life Lessons from the Track & Field in April.
There were a few goals I didn’t reach, and I’m okay with this.
I’ll be reviewing my list, and making new ones in the next week and a half.
I think it’s good to have goals, but it’s also good to frame them from the right mindset.
I want my goals to be in-line with bringing glory to God. I think he wants us to stretch and grow personally, and I think he wants to draw us closer to Him.
As we approach the year ahead, this is a great time to sit down, reflect, and revision the year ahead.
Be intentional about the year ahead. Live your life on purpose. Set goals, and go after them!
We all have hopes and dreams. We all want to accomplish great things in our lifetime. We all have important things to attend to on a daily basis.
And we all get distracted.
Distractions sidetrack us from achieving our hopes and dreams. Distractions derail us from the things in life that really need our attention.
The world is full of distraction, and I am guilty of falling into the traps of distraction. This is not my intention, but it is the predicament I find myself in more often than I care to admit.
What can I do to get rid of distractions in my life?
It’s time we make a change. It’s time we deal with the distractions that derail us from doing great things. Here are some ideas to get you started:
At some point, the leaders in your company, church, or organization will step down. They will retire. They will leave the organization. And they will leave a vacancy in leadership.
Who will step up and fill the leadership void?
Maybe it’s you!
I’m excited to announce the release of a new book by Jonathan Pearson. Next Up: 8 Shifts Great Young Leaders Make provides insight and advice for those who will fill the leadership gaps left by those who have gone before us.
I read Next Up with a keen interest. The book was an encouragement for me as I consider my own future opportunities to move further up the leadership ranks in my own endeavors. And it was also an encouragement as I consider how to encourage the future leaders of my organization.
In Next Up, Pearson provides 8 key shifts that every person must make to advance in their leadership mindsets. For example, he talks about the importance of shifting from unreliable to consistent and from passive to passionate.
(Please note: I received a copy of Next Up for free as part of a giveaway during the launch of this book. I was not required to provide a favorable review. I truly believe this book can be a helpful reminder to any reader in helping them to take steps to become better leaders – at work, in the community, at church, and at home.
Also to note: There are affiliate links in this post. Should you purchase Next Up by clicking one of these links, I receive a small percentage of the purchase. These funds are used to support The Stretched Blog and to extend ministry and missions to Guatemala. Thank you!)
Yesterday for our Easter celebration brunch, I decided to make cinnamon rolls. My Mom is the queen of cinnamon rolls, and I figured it was time I give it a try for my family. I have such great memories of smelling and tasting Mom’s famous cinnamon rolls when I was growing up. Living so far away now, it has been a long time since I indulged in this delicacy.
I started out by following the recipe in one of our cookbooks. I combined flour and yeast. Then I added warm milk, sugar, and butter. I mixed the dough for a few minutes before adding more flour. I then proceeded to knead the dough for several more minutes. I was started to dream of the smell and flavor of the cinnamon rolls.
Then my plans started to unravel.
I set the dough aside for an hour to let the yeast do its work. According to the recipe, the dough should have doubled in the hour. When I came back to check on the roll dough, I was disappointed to discover that the dough did not rise.
The yeast was bad.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus warns his disciples to be aware of bad yeast.
“Be careful,” Jesus said to them. “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Matthew 16:6
It’s a great reminder. We need to be careful about how we fill our minds and hearts. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:
I ended up making the cinnamon rolls anyway. They actually tasted pretty good, but they just weren’t the same as the ones my Mom makes. Time to throw away the bad yeast in our refrigerator, and time to get new yeast – good yeast!