Finishing the Work Assigned

But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Acts 20:24

50 BD

I have reached the stage life where many of my friends are retiring from active work; but they like me are far from retiring from the work of life.  Donna Sapolin the editorial director of Next Avenue, a PBS sponsored website dedicated to delivering good, solid, trustworthy information to help people navigate life over 50.  Has developed a terrific list of traits of those of us over 50 who are successfully finishing the work assigned.   Let’s take a look.

1. Mentoring

They’ve mastered a lot of life lessons and they want to pass them on. So they look for opportunities to teach and mentor others.

2. Donate

They’ve pinpointed a few causes they really care about, work at developing deep insights about them and donate their time and energy to them in the belief that they can help change things for the better. They don’t worry about whether they’re impacting a single individual or the world.

3. Grateful

They are grateful for what they have and take steps to share it.

4. Fully-Engaged

They are seekers and doers who are enthusiastic participants in life — they are fully engaged in work, play and relationships.

5. Learners

They have a hunger to keep learning — information, skills, fresh practices — to foster brain health and become better equipped to stay employed and contribute to society in fresh ways.

6. Nourishing Connections

They have an open heart, build communities around them, forge and cherish connections with people of all ages and help others create nourishing bonds.

7. Resolve Old Scores

They try to learn from their mistakes and take action to heal old wounds, smooth out past relationships and resolve regrets.

8. Insightful

They think about life’s big questions, focus on being open-eyed and taking action to become more emotionally insightful.

9.  Acknowledge Difficulties

They acknowledge difficulty but choose to believe in the possibility of positive outcomes and try to spread the happiness they cultivate.

10. Health Conscious

They respect and take care of themselves. They are conscientious about making healthy food choices, exercising regularly and taking measures to reduce stress. They accept that they have a responsibility to cultivate physical and mental well-being and to protect and honor their bodies. Why? To make the most of their own lives and to ease the prospective future burdens on their loved ones.

The Bottom Line: Finishing Strong   

And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. Hebrews 12:1

Those of us over 50 or soon to be are in the midst of an amazing transition, where we are expected to live longer than any previous generation.  With many years of life ahead we all have a different set of expectations for what we can become during these years as we finish strongly the work assigned.

 

How to Keep Our Faith Hot For The Lord

Light of the World

Recently in this space in a post entitled ‘What is Your Temperature?’ I explored Jesus’s concern about our faith as revealed in Revelation 3:15-16, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” 

At the end of the post I asked the question: “If God takes your temperature, what will it be? “  I am delighted that many of you said that your faith was “hot” for the Lord.  Our faith is the key element in our relationship with God.  While God will remain constant, our part of the relationship will have its ups and downs.  And as much as we may desire it, our sinful nature will not allow for us to be always “hot” for the Lord.

So the question now is: “How do I keep my faith “hot” for the Lord?”

The Greek city of Corinth is the setting for Paul’s two letters to the Corinthians. The city was legendary for its corruption, immorality and pagan religious practices. Against this backdrop Paul addresses the new Corinthian Christians, many of whom have become “lukewarm.”

I recommend the two letters to the Corinthian to you as guidebooks to help us in keeping our faith “hot.” Specifically for this post, I want to point your attention to I Corinthians, 6:9-20, where Paul addresses avoiding sexual sins.

For as Paul admonishes us: “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does.” 1 Corinthians 6:18

I address this subject because frankly for me, as for many Christians, sexual sin is the sin that could be keeping us from being “hot” all of the time in our relationship with God, leaving us “lukewarm.”

At one time, I fell into the classic “lukewarm” trap of seeing Christianity as only a set of rules that restrict the way I eat, the way I act, the way I love and the way I live. In fact, I started to question if willpower was more important to God than faith!  These were the same questions the people in Corinth were asking.

Paul responded by providing an alternative to a life governed by rules and restrictions, rather a life of freedom that surpasses a life of rule keeping. In this exchange from I Corinthians, 6:12 from the Voice translation of the Bible, Paul crystalizes the freedom that our faith gives us: “I can hear some of you saying, “For me, all things are permitted.” But face the facts: all things are not beneficial. So if you say, “For me, all things are permitted,” my response is: “I will not allow anything to control me.”

Sexual sin can easily take control of us; it can ruin our lives, the lives of others and our health. It can take us from being “Hot” for God to being “Lukewarm.”  Because our bodies are a ”temple of the Holy Spirit,” given to us by God and bought with a “high price,” I Corinthians, 6:19, we honor that high price by not allowing sexual excess to take control of our lives. God asks us to live balanced lives – in our sexual practices as well as in other every other aspect of our lives.

The Bottom Line Forgive and Stay Hot

The temptation of sin is always around.  No matter the strength of our faith we are apt to either fall to sin or to suffer because of sins committed against us. However, as Matthew, 6:14-15 tells us, the Father is able to forgive us so we may forgive others and ourselves. “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.”  So remember our bodies are the temples given to us by God.  Avoiding sexual sin is hard. It is hard for me and it may be hard for you, also.  But with prayer, accountability, and forgiveness we can avoid being “Lukewarm” and can stay “Hot.”

 

A Thoughtful Case for Thought Leadership

ericsevareidI grew up informed, fascinated and amazed by the commentary of Eric Sevareid, the legendary elite World War II correspond who’s views of politics, people and places were an important staple of the CBS Evening News.

Sevareid with his mastery of the written word, and the power of his simple straightforward delivery was my first exposure to Thought Leadership. Today, nearly four decades after his last Evening News commentary, the concept of Thought Leadership has been totally unleashed and now anyone with a social media account can – like Sevareid – distribute their views to a worldwide audience.

However, unlike Sevareid, our thought leadership can be broadcast without editorial oversight. While for some this freedom can be seen as the ultimate independence, I see it as the ultimate duty to present thought leadership ideas in ways that are clear, concise, correct and convincing.

What Is Thought Leadership?

Like most buzzwords, thought leadership is an often misused and misunderstood term.  But what is it really? To me, it is simply sharing your knowledge on relevant topics within the field of your expertise.

A Case for Thoughtful Thought Leadership

I believe that everyone is a Thought Leader because we all have a specialty that can be shared with others. The question is will you decide to showcase that knowledge?

My answer is that you should.  But thoughtfully – and with wisdom.

How do you do that?  … Here are some thoughts.

1. Discover Your Audience

Find out the people and groups who are interested in your expertise. For example if your expertise is in the Civil War direct your thought leadership efforts to Civil War aficionados by finding online groups, activities and clubs that will have an interest in your thoughts.

2. Identify and Answer Questions

Thought Leaders show their true value by being the “go to person” for solving problems. Add value by finding the vexing questions of your audience and answer them. For example, many of my LinkedIn Ninja blogs originate from client questions.

3. Spread Your Thoughts Far and Wide

Distribute your ideas across multiple platforms and multiple channels. Today’s social media landscape makes it very easy to take the same content and share it in many ways. In my own case, I share my writings as emails and Tweets. They are on Facebook, LinkedIn and soon on will be on video on YouTube. I also keep a robust speaking schedule, again allowing me to showcase expertise.

4. Create Consistent Content

Now that you have an audience you must “feed the beast” by giving them consistent content.  Because if you don’t, they will turn to someone else who will. For example, I deliver fresh content three days per week, typically posting a LinkedIn/Career/Professional blog on Sunday, A Faith blog on Tuesday and A Commentary blog on Thursdays. While this may seem like a lot of writing and work, it keeps me – and more importantly – my audience engaged in the important thought leadership questions of the day.

5. The R.O.I. of Thought Leadership

The investment of time and effort involved to produce thought leadership content has a payoff. While it’s not always immediate, thought leaders can expect:

  • Employment offers because of demonstrated expertise
  • Reputation as a professional problem solver because you “wrote the book” on how to solve specific problems
  • Speaking opportunities because everyone wants to hear the expert

The Bottom Line: Great Thoughts Need A Thoughtful Leader

Fat AlbertAnother icon of my youth was the Bill Cosby inspired character Fat Albert said it best. “You know more that you think you know.” The greatest thought leaders of today’s TV and social media landscape, Oprah, Dr. Phil, and Richard Branson all started off just like you and me. Experts on critical topics become thought leaders because they have the courage to share what they know with others.  So hey, hey, hey great thoughts needs a thoughtful leader…and, while you may not become the next Eric Sevareid, you will become the next you.  And that is a thought worth spreading.

What is Your Temperature?

The foliage scenery in New Jersey

In many parts of the country fall is in air. The cooler days and the mild nights serve as a welcome temperature respite from the burning days of summer.

Jesus is concerned about the temperature of our faith. In Revelation 3:15-16 He councils us about having a faith that is “lukewarm” saying, “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!”

Being lukewarm to God is to be spiritually indifferent, to His goodness, His blessings, and His comfort.

Being lukewarm is so disturbing to God that He wants no part of us (or it): “But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!” Revelation 3:16

Being lukewarm is a dangerous place for us. Because when we are lukewarm we may look to the world like “hot” Christians but in reality we are merely picking and choosing which of God’s commandments to follow, often fooling ourselves that we are in right relationship with God.  However, in reality we have no relationship with God because we have been “spat out of His mouth.”

So as the leaves fall, the days get shorter and the nights cooler. The simple question is this: “If God takes your temperature, what will it be? “

 

The 10 Best Places for Career Networking

Regular readers of my posts know the value I place on networking to building your career either while you are working or when in job search mode. Networking in the 21st century can be done on many different platforms, providing a wide range of options to meet people who can help advance your professional and personal goals.

21st Century Networking – Give of Yourself First

kids-sharing-ice-creamRegardless of the networking platform, many people make the same mistake. They start networking when they need something.  Keith Ferrazzi, the best-selling author of the premier networking book Never Eat Alone advises, “The worst time to network is when you are desperate and the best time to network is when you don’t need anything.” Notwithstanding your current need, always network with the idea of being of service to the people with whom you are networking. Ferrazzi councils, “If you give of yourself first you will be amazed by what you will get back for yourself in return.

21st Century Networking – Location, Location, Location 

Just like real estate, networking is all about location, location, location. Why? Because, the best networking plans in the world will not work if you are not meeting in locations online or off  where the people whose needs you can best serve – and vice versa – are hanging out.

Alison Doyle the great career blogger has explored the best places for professionals and job seekers to network. I have augmented her findings with some of my own and ranked our combined ideas into The 10 Best Places for Career Networking.

The 10 Best Places for Career Networking

 10. Panera Bread

Paraná BreadYes.  The coffee is always hot, the bagels are tasty and the “Pick 3” is always divine; but what makes Panera such a great place for networking is its inviting, business friendly atmosphere and free WiFi.  Panera Bread was a pioneer in realizing the value of giving the WiFi away in exchange for the customer traffic and sales it generates. On any given day the café is teaming with business people of all stripes; from large corporations to small firms. I have found the most effective way to network at Panera is to bring my laptop, a project, business cards and an open ear. (Many blogs have been written while eating a wonderful Panera salad.)  Typically, while working, I may overhear a discussion where I may offer a critical bit of information; or strike up a conversation with a person who I saved from losing an important document to a dead computer batter (I usually carry a multi outlet power cord).  At times, someone will engage me out of the blue; because I seem so engrossed in my work. Panera Bread has that comfortable vibe; because the smart networker knows it is a place where business is being done and connections are being made.

9. Chamber of Commerce Events

Chamber of Commerce associations hold a number of events that allow local business people to connect with other professionals and gain insight into business and government best practices. These events can range from social events like mixers and fundraisers to workshops and seminars. Attending these events will connect you with potential employers, clients, suppliers, and business partners.

8. Facebook

Yes, Virginia, you can use the social network Facebook for professional networking. You can “friend” professional contacts and post content relevant to your job search or career. You can also “like” groups, including company pages or groups related to your industry or interests. This will allow you to connect with an even larger network. However, be aware of how much personal information you include on your profile – if you decide to network professionally on Facebook, make sure to only include information in your profile that you would want business contacts to see. For professional job searching through Facebook, job seekers can also use Monster’s Facebook app Beknown.

7. Job Fairs

job fairJob fairs (also known as career fairs) are ideal places to meet employers and recruiters from a variety of companies. Whether it is an in-person event or an online job fair, the event will give you a chance to demonstrate your skills and experience to a number of employers, and learn about job opportunities at their companies. You can also network with the job seekers around you at a job fair. Share your contact information with people you connect with; you might be able to help each other find jobs or contacts in the future.

6. Corporate Alumni Networks

Corporate Alumni Networks are online networks for former (and sometimes current) employees in an organization. Some networks are provided by companies, but others are hosted by Facebook or LinkedIn. Staying in touch with your former coworkers gives you a large pool of people who can refer you to new jobs and even give you referrals. You can also use the network to talk with people about educational opportunities, industry trends and the latest best practices.

5. College Networking Events

Graduation 2013Colleges often sponsor networking events for college students and/or alumni. These events range from cocktail parties to workshops to alumni information panels to athletic events. (Don’t overlook the networking power of Homecoming.) The goal of these events is to network with alumni and employers who might be able to help you develop your career or improve your job search. These events are often run by your college career services office or your alumni office.

4. Professional Associations

A professional association is a group of people with similar careers or career interests (finance, education, recent graduates, etc.). Joining an association allows you to make a number of professional contacts within your industry. These contacts can give you professional advice as well as potential job leads. Professional associations typically hold events such as conferences, seminars, and job fairs; which allow you to look for jobs and develop professionally.

3. Trade Shows

Trade shows (also known as trade fairs or trade expos) are exhibitions in which companies in a specific industry showcase their products and services, and learn about the latest market trends. Whether you are actively looking for a job at a new company or simply hoping to learn more about current industry trends, trade shows are great places to meet industry insiders from any number of companies.

2. Volunteer Associations/Community Service Groups

Volunteering is a great way to not only work for a good cause; but, also, meet and network with like-minded people. Fundraisers and other volunteer events can connect you with people from a variety of industries. When you connect with someone at a volunteer event, you have already demonstrated your charitable interests and cast yourself in a positive light. You can network with people through participating in individual volunteer events or by joining a community service/social group like the Rotary Club.

1. LinkedIn

LinkedIn BlueOn LinkedIn, the number one professional networking site, you can connect with a number of people from a variety of companies and industries. When applying for a job, use your LinkedIn connections for advice and/or referrals. You can also join LinkedIn groups that relate to your industry, alma mater – or even your favorite hobbies – as a way to connect with people with similar interests and skills.

 Honorable Mention:

 Diversity Groups

There are a number of diversity groups based on gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation (for example, the National Association of Professional Women). Sometimes, these groups are also focused on people in a particular industry (ex., Women’s Council of Realtors). These groups typically hold a number of networking events that allow members to connect with people in their industry. Group seminars, lectures, and social events are also great networking opportunities.

Not Quite in the Top 10:

 Google+, Job Clubs, Holiday Parties, Religious Groups, College Career Fairs, Meetup.com, Classes and  Twitter

The Bottom Line:

 To Network is to Serve

Networking is no longer a luxury confined to those professionals who have the time or are in a job search. Networking is necessary for any professional who wants to get ahead and stay ahead. Lucky for all of us there has never been a better environment for turning networking into a way of life. Why? Because, not only are their wonderful social media tools and face to face interaction opportunities available; but, as humans, we were created to serve. To network is to serve; because you put the needs of others before your own.

Now Go Forth And Network!!!