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Wisdom for a Winning Personality –Part 1

You could be the most polished or sophisticated person on the planet, however, if people don’t like you, you’ll have fewer and fewer opportunities to interact with them. Some individuals have the kind of personality that brightens up a room while others improve the environment by their departure.
Personality is the visible aspect of your character as it impresses others. Without a pleasing personality, achieving your personal and professional goals will be an uphill battle. This is not about changing who you are or becoming a people pleaser. It is about coming to grips with the fact that whatever you desire in life will be achieved through other people. Consequently, you must be mindful of behaviors and character traits that attract people and those that repel them.
As you read the following tips for a winning personality, consider areas where you need to shore up your interactions with others.

• Smile. Keep it genuine; don’t do it just to show off your new cosmetic veneers or caps (however, if you need them, they’ll be a great investment and will boost your confidence). Let your eyes smile also. A smile reflects your mental attitude and can affect the attitude of others.

• Listen. Be genuinely interested in other people. Limit the number of times you say “I” during your conversations.

• Don’t interrupt—even if the person is long winded. If you need to make a point, raise your index finger slightly as if to ask for permission to speak.

• Respect other people’s opinions. No need to argue about matters that do not affect the quality of your life.

• Be quick to serve. Jesus cautioned his disciples, “The greatest among you must be a servant” (Matthew 23:11 NLT).

• Be generous. Don’t skimp on tips to those who serve you (see Chapter __ on “Tips on Tipping” for guidelines).

• Don’t be a moocher; always pay your share—and then some.

• Be humble. Don’t brag about your position, possessions, people you know, or places you’ve traveled. Humility tops the chart as the most admired character trait; pride and arrogance are the most detestable.

• Don’t succumb to your insecurities. Avoid self-put downs. Know that you are adequate for every task for your sufficiency comes from God (2 Corinthians 3:5). Confidence is a great people magnet.

{STAY TUNED FOR PART 2}

Are You Socially Confident?

Every day as I pursue different objectives, I realize more and more that technical competence is not enough.   Whatever goals you and I set, we are going to need PEOPLE–at every level of the economic spectrum–to bring them to fruition. Perfecting your people skills by becoming what I call “trans-social” is the unwritten rule that will catapult you into the next level in every occupation or endeavor. I remember being told point blank by a certain Fortune 500 executive that I had been advanced over another more experienced employee simply because he was “not as sophisticated”. It sounds unfair, but the reality is that such perceptions are advancing or thwarting personal dreams in companies, churches, and common relationships every day.You may have pooh-poohed social etiquette and professional decorum in the past, but trust me, as the world becomes more competitive, you are going to need this underrated advantage. I’ve written a crash-course book on becoming socially confident entitled Socially Confident in 60 Seconds: Practical Tips for Navigating Any Situation. It is not an exhaustive treatment of the subject of etiquette but rather a discussion of the essentials that you must master if you want to go to the next level of your occupation–or to succeed at a new occupation or endeavor.

Here are a few essentials that I cover in the book: Do you know the guidelines for making personal introductions? Who’s name do you say first when you introduce your boss, pastor, mother, or other? When do you offer your business card at networking events? What do you do with your napkin if you have to leave the table during a meal? What do you say when someone asks you how much money you make? Listen, friend, this book is hot and you need it. My publisher will release it on July 1st; you will be smart to pre-order it and read a generous number of value-added excerpts at: https://amzn.to/1U69cSg. Be sure to share this link with someone you want to help expand their borders.  Now, for a sneak peak at  the book… We all know that people judge your intellect most often by how you speak. Test yourself here and see how you are faring in pronouncing these words:

Commonly Mispronounced Words
The Word Say Don’t Say
pronunciation pro-nun-ciation pro-noun-ciation
library li-brary li-berry
often off-en off-ten
government gov-ern-ment guv-ment
height hite hithe
length leng-th lenth
modern mah-dern mah-der-ren
athlete ath-lete ath-a-lete
diamond di-a-mond di-mond
theater thea-ter the-a-ter
February Feb-ru-ary Feb-u-ary
realtor real-tor real-a-tor
hierarchy higher-archy high-archy
prescription pre-scription per-scription
interesting in-tresting in-ter-resting
recognize rec-og-nize reconize
Alzheimer’s Alz-heimers Alt-timers

See It Differently!

Here’s the deal. To stay at peace,  you must maintain a Divine perspective about the pain, inconveniences, or inequities that come into your life. To do that, you have to read the Word of God because it is HIS perspective. So, read something EVERYDAY. If in doubt about what to read, select a chapter from Proverbs that corresponds with the Date of the month. Today I’m reading Proverbs 3 (it is packed with wisdom that you can start practicing right now!).  Make it a habit of stopping throughout the day for a gratitude break. God is up to something good in your life. Look for it. It’s going to be a great week!

Happy Mothers Day to Me!

I never had kids but I have functioned “maternally” in many people’s lives. (I’ve heard from a few of them this Mother’s Day weekend). While most celebrate the “biological” mom on this special day, I want to applaud the aunties, grandmothers, godmothers, adoptive moms, foster mothers, stepmothers, spiritual moms, neighbors, teachers, and others who have nurtured, mentored, counseled, sent money, supported with their presence, gave advice, taught the ways of God, confronted, corrected, and bridged the gap or void that the birth mom wasn’t able or willing to do. I salute you ALL! Thank all the birth moms who brought these special people into the world and gave us the opportunity to share God’s love with them.

Recognizing Bad Beliefs

In July 2007, Police Officer Christopher Dorner and his partner were called to a public disturbance where a disorderly, mentally challenged man was creating a nuisance. Dorner later reported to department officials that his partner had used excessive force during the arrest, kicking the man in the face while he was handcuffed.  The department investigated the incident and decided that Dorner’s claim was not true. They fired him in 2008 for making a false report.

He chargBAD BELIEFS Image outlineed racism and appealed his case for job reinstatement. He exhausted every level of the police department’s appeals process to no avail. He went on to file a wrongful termination lawsuit through local and state courts; they upheld the department’s decision.

In February 2013, consumed with rage, Dorner decided his only option was to retaliate. He went on a shooting spree from February 2 through February 12 against specific officers and their families. He killed four people, including three police officers, and wounded four other officers. He became the subject of the largest manhunt in the history of the police department. Acting on a tip, the police finally tracked him to a cabin in the mountains. He died there on February 12, 2013, from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head during a standoff with the police. He was 33 years old.

In reading Dorner’s manifesto which he had mailed to the media before starting his shooting spree,  I observed five toxic, erroneous, and overall “bad beliefs” that ultimately derailed his destiny and caused untold heartache for his family and the families of his victims. The truth is that any of us could fall prey to these beliefs. We all behave according to what we believe. Thus, it pays to “audit” our beliefs often to know what is motivating our behavior.

LET GOD EXALT YOU — Don’t Self-Promote!

Nobody likes a braggart–especially God! He resists the proud but gives grace to the humble. So let him exalt you. He can take you to levels of achievement you could never reach through self-effort. In seemingly impossible tasks, He will give you the agility and sure-footedness of a female deer (hind). Psalm 18:33 (AMP) declares, “He makes my feet like hinds’ feet [able to stand firmly and tread safely on paths of testing and trouble]; He sets me [securely] upon my high places.”

So, be on guard against self-promotion. Remember… humility before exaltation. Never, ever forget that whatever you have achieved to date, you did it by His grace alone.

5 Ways to Keep Family Conflict from Driving You Crazy

After this past holiday season and an inordinate level of tension, I did some soul searching and drew a few conclusions about how to keep  family conflict from driving me crazy. Here’re five things BIG FAMILY GATHERING_outdoor-party imageI’m committed to doing going forward. I welcome you to join me:

#1: If you are a Christian (not just in word), lower your expectations. Why expect people with an ungodly,  worldly viewpoint to behave according to the Bible? Your job? Nonstop intercession (“pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion” (Ephesians 6:18))– as well as a little introspection to see where you could exercise more wisdom.

#2: Guard your heart by putting on the WHOLE ARMOR of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) each time you plan to get together and in between time also–so that you will be able to “stand firm against all strategies of the devil”. Don’t let negativity seep into your spirit and impact your attitude and general demeanor.

#3: Limit (not necessarily “eliminate”) your exposure to the negative folks who instigate family conflict.  Don’t buy into what they say about others. Draw you own conclusions about people–and give them space to be human. Remember that the Lord requires us to “love mercy” (Micah 6:8), so let’s extend it freely.

#4: Develop nurturing friendships with folks outside your family circle so that they can be a sounding board and a refuge (yes, God is our ultimate refuge) for when you need a little emotional support.

#5:  Don’t tell a family member ANYTHING in “confidence” about another family member. In the midst of a heated discussion, your confidante will likely reveal the info and its source (that will be you!) to strengthen their argument. Most people don’t have the wisdom or spiritual maturity to be that discreet during an argument so don’t put them in a position to fail.

Commit to these steps and you’ll have a strong likelihood of staying sane during the next inevitable family conflict.

Facing My Truth!

Women covering her eyesI received an email recently from one of my readers who confessed that she is having a problem with “jealousy” in a particular relationship. She wanted to be honest with herself about it. I gave her my input but marveled at God’s timing because, only a few days before, I too had decided to face the TRUTH about a certain issue.

You see, I’ve been on a diet since Jesus ascended into the Heavens (or it seems like it!). Some time ago, I went on an pricey program and lost noticeable weight but when I saw it was creeping back, I went into denial and stopped weighing myself. I just didn’t want to go on another strict plan because it is so inconvenient to our busy lifestyle—and I hate high protein/low carb eating (which really works for me; vegetarian eating makes me gain weight).

Well, I had my annual physical last week. I closed my eyes when the nurse weighed me so that I couldn’t see what the scale registered. I dared her to tell me.

However, the next morning, I decided to face the Truth—who is always a Friend and Motivator. I looked at my medical visit summary and although I didn’t like what I saw, I kept my joy. I reminded myself of all the blessings and favor I have in my life. I’m active (more than most in my age bracket) and can walk several miles at a good clip. I’m not on ANY medication for ANYTHING. Plus, I’m saved, sane, and a productive member of society, impacting the world with my gift of writing and pointing people to the Word. I have a great, long-term (39-yr) marriage and great relationships with my family (well, MOST of ’em) and in-laws.

NOW ALL THAT IS FINE AND DANDY, BUT I STILL HAVE NOT ACHIEVED FITNESS! UGGGGH!!!!

As a public speaker, I have to live with the reality that people LOOK at women before they LISTEN to them. {Actually, in some environments, a little extra weight makes a woman more “relatable” as the audience identifies with her struggle. Wonderful–but that’s not my goal.}  Now, being a Joy Fanatic and not one to stay in the dumps for more than a few seconds, I asked myself, “What now?” I re-committed to taking practical steps to conquering this giant—without sacrificing too much quality of life. I’m not going to be obsessive, but I’ll continue my fight for fitness. By the grace of God, I will consistently drink 64-80 oz of water per day, engage in some form of exercise 5x a week for 30-45 minutes, eat less, and GET BED AT A DECENT HOUR (the main problem in my case).

So, my friends, if you have been in denial about any aspect of your life, I say decide NOW to make TRUTH your friend. We have the ULTIMATE HELPER—the Holy Spirit who guides us into ALL TRUTH (John 16:13) and empowers us to do what we have to do. STAY IN THE GAME; VICTORY IS OURS.

TEMPTED IN LAS VEGAS!

During our last evening in Las Vegas this past Friday night, we passed a $12 million Jack Pot sign in a casino where we’d just stuffed ourselves at the buffet. For a fleeting moment, I mused about what life would be like ifjack-pot we could indeed win $12 million. Not being gamblers, it wasn’t a BIG temptation; nevertheless, I stood there for a minute and thought, “Does God want me to go for it???  Should I play this machine? The winnings would be put to good use.” For sure we’d pay our tithes, and give a significant amount to various charities and people with genuine needs— but then what? Mind you, I have a list of things that I could use the cash for–not your traditional trappings like fancy cars or designer clothes. I’m talking things that could make life a lot more pleasant/fun for our families–and US–even though we already enjoy significant conveniences.

Okay, to be honest, another reason I desired a huge nest egg is so that I wouldn’t have to  think about whether we will outlive our retirement accounts/royalty checks. What really caused me to pause as a woman of faith is that, when I “peeled the onion” and looked hard at my thinking, I realized that I obviously believed that a big nest egg would eliminate living by faith, depending totally on God. That’s gotta be pretty insulting to HIM who has promised to meet all our needs (Philippians 4:19) and cautioned us to “be anxious for nothing” (Philippians 4:6)!

I’m going to apologize to God right now–for thinking that HE, as our Shepherd, would ever let us lack (Psalm 23:1). I’m apologizing for not recalling that He ALREADY has an awesome track record with us as a Provider–too many blessings to enumerate.

CONCLUSION? I didn’t dare place a cent in that $12 million Jack Pot machine.  I don’t have to live by chance or luck… my blessings are ASSURED (in fact, I never use the word “lucky” when referring to one of my favorable outcomes; everything good is God’s provision). Yes, I paused in front of that Jack Pot machine—but only to take the picture to share with you. The temptation was HISTORY in a moment!

The Physical Rewards of Forgiving

GIVING-TO-OTHERS-WHAT-GOD-GIVES-TO-METhe act of forgiveness can literally take a load off your chest. So says Dr. Fred Luskin, director of the Stanford Forgiveness Project. In his bestselling book, Forgive for Good, A Proven Prescription for Health and Happiness, he reports that several research studies found that just the mere idea of forgiving someone allowed some people to feel better. On the other hand, if the participants in the study imagined themselves as unforgiving, they had negative reactions, such as high blood pressure. Throughout the book, he explains that people who are more forgiving report fewer symptoms of stress and health problems. Failure to forgive may be more significant than hostility as a risk factor for heart disease.

We can go a long way in promoting our general health just by choosing to forgive. Unforgiving people keep themselves in a constant state of tension by thinking often about the situation and people involved in a transgression. Such chronic tension can lead to depression and hopelessness. I know because I’ve seen it manifest in my family and several close acquaintances. Their bitterness and resentment have impacted every corner of their lives.

Why allow offenders to rent free space in our heads and control the quality of our lives by focusing on them? We can choose to avoid the stress and tension associated with reliving the hurtful situation—when we choose to forgive. Decide to disconnect that ball and chain today. Don’t worry about letting the perpetrator off the hook; you will only be disconnecting YOURSELF from the hook. You can do this.  LEARN FROM THE BURN, BUT FORGIVE TO LIVE.