Three Success Tips From a Cowbird

Three Success Tips From a Cowbird

Or, this article could be titled Three Ways Not to Fail Like a Cowbird.

My husband took this picture in our backyard yesterday. {You know, he’s the one who takes all the bird pictures you see on my sites).

Well, if you’ll notice, the tiny little Brown-Headed Sparrow is feeding the huge juvenile Cowbird. It’s a funny sight, for sure, and makes you wonder why.

Unless you know about Cowbirds.

You see, when a mother Cowbird has an egg to lay, she refuses to take responsibility. So she finds another bird nest – with eggs in it, and lays her egg there. Sometimes, she even knocks an egg out of the nest to make room for hers.

But then she’s off – to no telling where. Free from any responsibility.

In the meantime, the surrogate mother sits on this egg, hatches it, and feeds the young bird until it’s ready to fend for itself.  The baby Cowbird thinks that this is her mother.

Thus, this amazing photo.

When I look at this, I  see an analogy to our online businesses, and I think about the lessons available. Truly we don’t want to live the unfruitful life of a Cowbird, so what can we learn?

Tip #1: Take Responsibility

When we start our online businesses, we usually know very little. We have to learn the tricks. How do we set up our sites, write blog posts, line up our email accounts, and get traffic? And so forth.

There’s a lot to learn, for sure. And it’s easy to stay in that “I just need to learn one more thing” mode.

So we can buy shiny object after shiny object, and listen to webinar after webinar, without ever grabbing the reins of our own business and taking charge.

We somehow are expecting someone else to do it for us.

If we learn enough, it might just happen.

But that’s not how it works.

For us to succeed online – or in any endeavor – we have to take charge of our own business. We own it. We put the training together in our minds as to what will help us fulfill our mission.

We are the captains of our ship. We take responsibility.

When that day comes – the day we take responsibility – things change. We still need to learn and to network, but we have confidence that our own business is going to make it.

And that’s when it begins to happen.

Tip #2  Follow Through

This is a big one.

The Cowbird does come up with the idea of laying the egg, but that’s the end of what she does.

If we want to be successful, we have to follow through with our plans – and not desert them.

Over the time that I have been online, I have seen many deserted plans.

When this first happened, I was shocked. I had just started my business and signed up for a challenge. The leader had lots of promises to us. Well one by one, she dropped the promises. She promised to send her book, and it never came. She promised to participate in a podcast, and didn’t.

The trust element was smashed, and I didn’t do business with that person for a couple of years.

Later I learned that this lady was going through some serious health issues at the time. If only she had explained somewhat, I would have understood. But her actions just led me to believe that she was unreliable.

Since that time, I have encountered many others change plans and redirect their missions. That happens in a growing business.

When those leaders have explained and offered an alternative for what I had expected, their trust level actually increased.

I knew that they were aware of their promises and trying to fulfill them even as they changed directions.

One more importance of following through is that without this practice, you will leave unfinished work. And unfinished work never hits your target.

Unfinished business can never brings results.

So we come to…

Tip #3   Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labor

When you look at the little Sparrow feeding the Cowbird, you can’t help but think of how the real mother is missing out.

After building the nest and sitting on the eggs all of that time, the mother must feel some satisfaction in seeing the offspring develop into an adult.

Certainly, when you have developed an online business which helps others, you must feel some satisfaction in what you are doing. And you should.

A successful online business is one facet of a happy, productive life. Even more success will come your way when you find a plan that you enjoy in a niche you love.

As you develop your plans and bring value to your niche,  you will be amazed at how your business unfolds. Because of your sincere interest in your people and your niche, doors will open and networks will form. Sometimes almost effortlessly.

As you enjoy what you are doing, greater levels of success are easier to achieve.

You remember the saying

When you  love what you do, you never work a day in your life      -Steve Jobs

I have to add: honestly,

When you love what you do, it sometimes seems like work, but your satisfaction will far outweigh the negative…

So there you have them. Three tips from a Cowbird.

Take Responsibility, Follow Through, and Enjoy What You Do.

If you take these three guidelines and run with them, you are headed for a successful endeavor.

Let’s do this!

 

 

I Talk to Myself

I Talk to Myself

Do you talk to yourself?

I hope so. If you don’t talk to yourself, you might wind up in trouble.

Let me explain…

My 9 year old grandson was having trouble focusing on an assignment that he thought was boring. So my daughter tried to help.

She said, “Think of your mind as being like a computer. When you have trouble focusing, you have too many tabs open. Just close those other tabs so you can think about this one thing.”

“O.K.” He said…

“But, Mom, sometimes I have all of these pop ups!”

He said it just right, didn’t he? All of us can relate to the “pop-ups.” And usually those pop-ups are not positive thoughts. They are negative ones.

The “what if’s”…

So what do we do? We close the tabs, of course. And we close the pop-ups. We take charge of our thought life.

David in the book of Psalms demonstrates some terrific lessons. He took charge of his thoughts by talking to himself.

He said, Bless the Lord, O my Soul. And all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. (Psalm 103:1)

Then another time he said, Why so downcast, O my soul? Put your trust in God.(Psalm 43:5)

Or what about this: My heart is steadfast, oh my God. My heart is steadfast. I will sing praises to my God. (Psalm 57:7)

If you look through Psalms, you will see many times when David said, I will praise Him. Not I want  to, but I will. He was acting from a spirit of determination. Not from his feelings. He knew how to close those tabs of negativity and replace those thoughts with faith and trust in God.

Right now, when there is so much anger, fear, and sadness in the world, we really need to learn how to do this. To take charge of our thought life, and put our trust in God. He is the answer for everything. Our shield. Our deliverer. Our Savior.

When we replace those negative thoughts with thankfulness, something powerful happens. What happens is that instead of fear and anxiety, true gratitude begins to rise up within us. We begin to thank Him, and even more gratitude rises.

Those negative emotions are replaced with hope.

Regardless of what we are going through, and sometimes it can be terrible… when we allow hope to rise within us, our outlook is different. We know that there will be a brighter future.

Now we are ready to pray. Our prayers won’t come from a heart of hopelessness and desperation. Our prayers will come from a place of faith.

We know that our God hears our prayers and we listen for direction. Then we do what He says. He has the answers, if we will do what He says…

We enter His gates with thanksgiving in our heart. We enter His courts with praise.

As we give thanks and praise God, let’s see ourselves entering His heavenly throne room. He has the answers.

Over the years I have had moments of great disappointment and injustice hurled at me. Just as you have. Everyone has had this happen to one degree or another.

When I would calm my soul through thanksgiving and go before Him, His love and grace would wash over me. There were times when I would just stay there and soak in His presence. There were other times when He would impress upon me some answers – some scriptures – and some steps I needed to take. Then I would take those steps.

One thing is for sure: God always has the answers.

So let’s do what David did. Let’s talk to ourselves and calm our souls.

Then with thankful hearts, let’s run to God for all that we need.

He’s always there waiting for us.

 

Do Your Emotions Rule You?

Do Your Emotions Rule You?

Daniel Goleman is recognized as being one of the foremost thought leaders on brain health and function. His biggest area of research has been in an area known as Emotional Intelligence.

Most of us realize that our emotions have a great deal of influence over us.

From the standpoint of marketing, we know that emotions sell. That’s why, in order to sell you a car, advertisers show you a beautiful woman wanting to ride with you. Or a healthy happy family you are going to keep safe. They may spend a little bit of time showing the engine, but not much time. Expert marketers  know that the emotional image you see will sell you.

The image makes you feel good, and you buy. It’s as simple as that.

But beyond the surface of marketing through your emotions,  I want to take this deeper. When Goleman uses the term: Emotional Intelligence, he identifies it as another aspect of your brain’s dynamic. Like your IQ. It’s another indicator of brain health.

According to Dr. Goleman, your emotions can sometimes be a more important indicator of your success in life than your IQ. Also, when you go through stressful situations – such as what the entire world has gone through recently – your degree of emotional intelligence can determine how well you cope with the crisis.

You can have an extremely high IQ and very low emotional intelligence. And vice versa.

Okay. So what is it exactly?

Continuing with Goleman’s research, there are five basic areas of our Emotional Intelligence. We’ll look quickly at these five.

Self-Awareness

This means you are aware of your emotions  as they happen. Sometimes we can
just feel bad” or sad without knowing why. If we are aware, we will start analyzing so that we can do something about it.

Emotional awareness and self-confidence are essential to being able to understand and control these emotions.

Self Regulation

This is a big one. Self regulation means that we are able to control strong emotions such as anger or anxiety.

When these strong emotions are trying to take over, it’s good to pray. Or take long walks. Or write in a journal, allowing those emotions to be expressed in a healthy way. Not with rages or excesses.

For self-regulation, one must be conscientious, trustworthy, innovative, and adaptable. All of these important elements can see you through tough times.

Motivation

When someone is highly motivated, they can more likely overcome difficulties.

We all know people who are usually  positive and those who are usually negative. Given the same set of circumstances, some people always see gloom – or not.

Through self-discipline, we can train ourselves to overcome those negative thoughts which bombard us. We can replace them with positive thoughts.

To have and keep motivation flowing in our lives we need commitment, the drive to achieve, initiative, and a positive mindset.

Empathy

So far we have been thinking inwardly. Now this one – empathy – looks outward.

Instead of self-awareness, empathy is other-awareness.

You’ve heard the phrase, Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in his shoes. That’s what empathy is all about. Understanding others. Their emotions. Their hurts. Their motivations.

This ability to understand and empathize with others is essential to a healthy emotional life.

Empathy helps you to be aware of how your words and actions are affecting others. When you see that you are negatively impacting others, you can change that behavior.

Social Skills

The fifth area of emotional intelligence is how well you work and relate to others.

You can build good quality relationships. You can even help others to grow in their emotional health.

For good social skills you will need to be able to communicate well, work as a team, build rapport, initiate change, and hep resolve conflict.

A good leader has to have good social skills.

So now that we have looked at an overview of what Emotional Intelligence is, let’s see how we can rate ourselves.

There are signs that someone suffers with low emotional intelligence.

  • They frequently complain
  • They show lots of fear and anxiety
  • When they are offended, they aren’t open with the offender, but they gossip and complain secretly.
  • They sulk.
  • They show mood swings.
  • Often they have fits of rage.

Emotionally healthy people act differently.

  • They are positive most of the time.
  • They look for ways to overcome problems.
  • They are open and honest with people.
  • If negative issues arise, they talk to the person – rather than gossip about them.
  • They are kind and understanding in their dealings.
  • They inspire others for greater goals.

Well. I’m sure that most of us can recognize some areas where we  excel – and others where we need to grow.

So how do we grow?

  • We Practice Awareness. We become more aware of our own emotions. We also make an attempt to understand others better. What are their emotional needs? How can we help them?
  • When we have negative emotions, we don’t just brush them aside. We deal with them. We spend some time thinking about why we feel this way, and how we can overcome it. (Hiding our emotions will lead to anger and anxiety).
  • We feed our spirits with good words. As a Christian, I recommend reading the Bible on a daily basis. If you haven’t been doing this, start with Psalms and Proverbs. You will find lots of motivational material there.
  • We take care of our physical health. Our bodies affect our emotions and our positivity. When we eat well, exercise, and get proper rest, it will pay off with our attitude.
  • We should surround ourselves with positive, like-minded people. Other people can pull us up or down. When we choose positive, growing people to surround us, our energy grows. So does our attitude.

On going through these items, I have realized that every area of someone’s life could be impacted by their emotional strength. Their career, their family, their social life, and their own quality of life all hinge on their ability to effectively handle their emotions and relate to others.

It will be worth the time and energy it takes to do a self-evaluation. Then to honestly look at themselves and make the changes needed to grow.

I’m doing this for sure!

 

 

No More Procrastination – Starting Next Monday

No More Procrastination – Starting Next Monday

“One of the greatest labor-saving inventions of today is tomorrow.”

— Vincent T. Foss

There are tons of jokes about procrastination, and for good reason: it’s such a common human frailty. We’ve all heard from our teachers and mentors how important it is not to procrastinate.

Start your work early.

When you see what to do, just do it!!

Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.

Okay! Okay! You say. (And I do too).

So I have that tendency. What’s the big deal?

Well, if you and I want to live our lives with a low level “spinning our wheels” mentality, then it really isn’t such a big deal.

We can just put things off. Make sure that we pay our bills on time so nothing will get turned off or reclaimed. The rest is okay.

Of course, since nothing ever stays the same, there will be a steady decline in the things we are avoiding. If it’s healthy eating or exercise, the pounds will slide up – along with blood pressure.

If we are avoiding tackling those job skills which would bring some increase, then we will notice a downward trend.

If we put off getting with our friends and family, our relationships will suffer.

But it’s our life and it’s our choice.

Now when I think about procrastination in those terms, I realize that I do want to improve in that area. I just have this one life, and I want to live it to the absolute fullest.

So let’s do some digging…

Why Do we Procrastinate?

Confusion and Overwhelm

The number one reason is Confusion. Or overwhelm. We aren’t sure what to do, so we do nothing.

There are so many choices for diets – or business models – or ways to budget, we put off making a decision. How do we know which one is the right one?

My answer for this is to set aside some time and determine to make a decision. You may want to read some articles or books by people who are knowledgeable. Also you want to do some soul searching.

Think hard about what you really desire. What are your skills and how do they match your desires? What other commitments do you have – to family, church, etc? How do these commitments affect your decision?

Then it’s decision time. Make a decision and stick to it. Commit to yourself that you are going to hold firm to this commitment for maybe six months. You might make some adjustments, but don’t throw it out completely  during that time.

For the next six months, block off chunks of the big commitment, and work through those.

Each step will bring you closer to your goal.

Perfectionism

The second reason is perfectionism.

I really hate to be the one to break this news to you, but you are not perfect. That’s the bad news. The good news is that neither is anyone else. So you are not alone.

This is something which I have had to battle. When I am making plans and carrying them out, they never seem to be the perfect plans I envisioned.

My website isn’t perfect. Neither is my writing. Or my graphics. Or my email schedule.

So as I am busily trying to perfect these things, I notice someone to my left who is skidding past me as if they were on an electric sidewalk. And they aren’t perfect either!

As I began to take notice, I realized that the important thing was to start. If we will make a decision on our plans and then begin, we can make adjustments and corrections along the way.

There will be times when we will throw out the whole plan and redirect. But not right away. Give it six months.

Dread

The third reason is dread

Dread of what? Dread of failure…Maybe it’s too hard.

Dread of doing something you don’t enjoy.

Dread of possibly looking foolish.

List the things which you delay on a routine basis. Often those are the very things which are not comfortable.

Starting that eating plan. Cleaning out a closet. Going to the Doctor. Writing that email.

So How Do We Slay this Beast?

Well, just like anything else, your success starts with a decision.

  1. Decide that you won’t allow procrastination to stand in the way of you and success. You are going to subdue this beast.
  2. Then make a list of the things which you have delayed. Analyze why you avoid those particular actions. Was it Overwhelm? Confusion? Perfectionism? Dread?
  3. Whatever the cause, determine that you are going to face the giant. It might not be perfect, but that’s O.K. Remember: an item marked “Done,” is better than an item marked “in process-becoming perfect.”
  4. Put a big sign on your bulletin board that says, “No More Delay.”
  5. Then go down your list, checking off the items.

Oh, that feels good. Doesn’t it?

No more delay.

Let’s get started!

 

I Refuse to Live From the Sidelines

I Refuse to Live From the Sidelines

I can remember, as a child at my piano recital, waiting for my performance to come up on the program. I would sit, supposedly listening to the others, but totally distracted from music being presented. I was waiting for “my time” to come. That’s what I was there for. And when our group went back stage  as “our time” got closer, it would have taken the National Guard to keep us from running and playing as we waited. We were waiting for “our time.”

I’m sure that many who played sports would have similar recollections. We were there to do our part. Of course, we pulled for the team, but we wanted our part.

As children we longed to be in the game… but what happened to us? Maybe put-downs or discouragements, maybe setting goals so high only supermen could have accomplished them, but for some reason, as adults we are different. (more…)

Looking For Hidden Treasure

Looking For Hidden Treasure

Have you ever been on a treasure hunt? It’s a fun adventure.

One year when our son was in elementary school, we organized a treasure hunt for his birthday party. My husband diligently surveyed our yard, making notes about possible landmarks. Then he created a map, which looked like an antique rendition of a pirate’s map, including the many markers which could lead to the treasure. (A chest full of candy and surprises which would interest boys of his age).

The map took them to the Maple tree and then 25 paces to the right where they would find the rock with a red line on it. Then the directions would lead them to turn right and take 19 paces to find the Rose bush, etc., etc. Finally, of course, the directions would lead them to the place where the treasure was hidden.

It was great fun seeing the boys run and jump around the yard, yelling with glee when they found a benchmark… And when they found the treasure, the effort was worth it!

I had a dream recently which reminded me of this moment, though in some ways it was quite different. I saw a bunch of us entering an old barn which was covered with dust and decay. We went in as a group, knowing that we were on a mission to accomplish something. (more…)