4 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Consider Making

Now that the Christmas rush is over the attention turns to 2016.

In consideration of the goals that you may be looking to set in 2016, l am pleased to suggest four New Year’s resolutions you should consider making.

1.Get More “Social” With Your Social Media.

People ConnectionsSocial Media is a game changer.  It allows us to connect instantly with anyone around the globe.  However, as great of a communication tool that social media in all its forms can be, it can also isolate us from the “person to person” communication so vital to creating the real and lasting connections that can truly help us get things done.

Therefore, resolve with me this year:

  • To make a phone call rather than send a text.
  • To use your mobile devices to create a short video to explain your point rather than to write a post.
  • To acutely meet your LinkedIn connections; discovering how you can be of assistance to them.

2. Never let “I don’t have enough time” be an excuse for not getting things done.

Man looking at the clockWhen the clock turns midnight on January 1st, we will all have the same 525 600 minutes to make our dreams, wishes, goals and accomplishments come true.  So the question is, why will some people get stuff done during those 15,493 hours 20 minutes and many others will not?  Yes, the answer between getting things done or not, often comes down to ability or money.  However, it should never come down to time.  We should be the master of our time instead of having time master us.

Therefore, resolve with me this year:  

  • To account for our time by using a planner to schedule our daily, weekly, monthly and yearly activities.
  • To be responsible for our time by vowing to make our meetings better. Use an agenda to make sure the most important items are covered while being committed to the revolutionary notion of starting and ending our meetings on time.
  • To take advantage of our time by looking for ways to be more efficient. With a dedication to making technology work of us instead of us working for technology. All the while, understanding that multitasking, despite how much technology is designed to give us that advantage, actually creates more inefficiencies.  It actually causes us to use more time than our “multitasking” efforts will achieve.

3. Be willing to mentor and be mentored.

MenatoringKnowledge is the key to becoming better at what we do and how we do it.  Knowledge is best obtained with experience guided by mentors.  A mentor is a person or friend who guides a less experienced person by building trust and modeling positive behaviors. An effective mentor understands that his or her role is to be dependable, engaged, authentic, and tuned into the needs of the mentee.  We need more effective mentoring in our lives.

Therefore, resolve with me this year:  

  • To freely share our knowledge and experiences with others.
  • To become a thought leader by writing blogs on LinkedIn and other social media.
  • To challenge ourselves with an active learning life highlighted by reading articles, books and whitepapers. Also, by attending lectures, seminars and webinars.

4. Set goals instead of making resolutions.

Research from the University of Scranton suggests Set Goals Hand Red Markerthat just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions

So why do so many people fail at these resolutions?  Well the answer is simple. Resolutions are merely wishes, however, setting goals make our wishes a reality.

Therefore, resolve with me this year to set goals that are:  

  • Clear and Simple. Instead of developing a large list of aspirational goals, create a set of small, yet, attainable goals. With the clarity these goals can bring, the accomplishments will come.
  • Set Tangible Goals. If you can’t measure it, you can’t achieve it.
  • Advertise Your Goals. Letting people know what you are up to is a powerful way to gain the support you will need to get things done. Announcing your goals is a great way to build accountability, especially, in the Social Media era.

Final Thoughts

The New Year is filled with hope, opportunity and promise. And despite the ups and downs that will come, I am confident that with vision, perseverance, and hard work we not only reach but exceed our God given potential.

 

Have a happy and productive New Year!!! 

An Unremarkable But Remarkable Birth

In less than 24 hours we will celebrate an unremarkable but remarkable birth.

Unremarkable: Because the baby’s mother was an unwed teenager.

Remarkable: Because the baby’s mother was selected by God and conceived by the Holy Spirit to birth her son as a virgin.

Unremarkable: Because the baby was born away from home, turned down by all and forced to come into this world in a cold, smelly manger.

Remarkable: Because this baby’s birth was prophesized in scripture, lighted by a star and acclaimed by three wise men.

Unremarkable: Because we have taken this day and made it the most materialistic day of the year.  Completely negating for many the true reason for His birth.

Remarkable: Because, in spite of the materialism and the hype; the message of the birth, life and death of Jesus rings true in the hearts of all of us who follow His teachings:

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” 

Luke 2:11-14 King James Version

Holiday Tips For Alzheimer’s Caregivers

Some 5 million Americans have Alzheimer’s, and more than 13 million family members care for them. Families in every town, in every state across the country that are dealing with the realities of Alzheimer’s disease during holiday season.  And my family is one of them as we care for our Mother, during this most wonderful time of the year.

Alzheimer's Map

Caregiving is plenty trying at any time however, the holidays can bring extra emotions with family celebrations, holiday parties and the hoopla that the end of year can bring.

alzheimersawarenessFormed in 1980, the Alzheimer’s Association advances research to end Alzheimer’s and dementia while enhancing care for those living with the disease.  From the association’s research and the personal experience of our family here are some caregiving tips to make the holidays more manageable.

1.Set Realistic Expectations About Your Relatives’ Current Condition

Feeding Alzheimer'sIt may have been awhile since relatives and friends have seen the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.  During that time changes could have taken place in the person’s cognitive abilities.

Alert visitors in a phone call or email prior to the visit so they will know what to expect.   Ask for their patience in not interrupting or correcting; giving the person with the condition time to finish his or her thoughts.

2.Involve The Person With Alzheimer’s or Dementia

Understand the delicate balance between involvement and overload for the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Family

For my mother, with the exception of church, large groups with lots of conversation are difficult for her to follow.  However, what we have found that music in the singing and playing of holiday songs both old and new brings her great comfort.

Research has also found that keeping a normal routine for the person is good.  While that may be impossible during the rush of the holidays, our family has found that planning breaks for Mother with a quiet time and place for her to get away from the action of the party and all of those people and conversations works best.

3.Encourage Smart Gift Giving

Gifts2By all means, the person with Alzheimer’s or dementia should share in the magic of receiving a gift during the holiday season.

Recommended gifts include: An identification bracelet (available through MedicAlert® + Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®), comfortable clothing, audiotapes of favorite music, videos and photo albums.

For the caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, I can suggest no better gift than the gift of respite care.  Consider giving a gift certificate to the nail salon where both the caregiver and the loved one can be pampered at the same time.  Or give a gift certificate for a house cleaning, providing needed relief from household chores. Last year, a trusted family friend offered to look after my mother for one afternoon each month, giving my sister an opportunity for much needed rest and relaxation.

4.Tips For Loved Ones Living In A Care Facility

While our family has not made the difficult decision of placing our mother in a care facility, I have friends in the Alzheimer’s – Dementia community who have.  They share these holiday care tips: 

alzheimers-frontpage

  • Never forget the holidays are still to be celebrated regardless of the location.
  • Join your loved one at facility-planned holiday activities
  • Bring the person a favorite holiday food to share
  • Visit your loved one on Christmas Day and other holidays

Final Thoughts –You Are Not Alone

Alzheimer's in the windIn the midst of the festive frenzy of people, the holidays can be lonely for the caregiver of a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia.

The Alzheimer’s Association and the millions of us who have the honor of caring for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia understand your loneness and we pledge to help you.

Go to Alzheimer’s Association webpage alz.org  Or call the 24/7 Alzheimer’s / Dementia Helpline at 800.272.3900 for help.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and thanks for all you do for your loved ones.

3 Things We Can Learn From Steve Harvey’s Universal Mistake

The crowning of a new queen; it is the pinnacle of any beauty pageant. And Sunday night with nearly 10 million people watching Live Host Steve Harvey botched it.

Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez (L) stands by as Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega places the sash on Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach during the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

When he announced Miss Colombia instead of Miss Philippines as the winner of the Miss Universe Pageant, Steve Harvey made arguably one of the biggest mistakes in the history of televised beauty pageants.

While our mistakes are not as legendary as Steve Harvey’s universal blunder, we will all make them.  However, the key is how and what did we learn from those mistakes.

With the social media world still ablaze with the events of Sunday, it is not too early to find that there are ton of things that we can learn from Steve Harvey’s “universal mistake.”  I am proud to use the space in this post to examine three things that we can learn.

1.Own Our Mistakes

“Mistakes are always forgivable, if one has the courage to admit them.” – Bruce Lee

Steve Harvey moved quickly; first on stage, when he said: OK folks … I have to apologize. Let me just take control of this. This is exactly what’s on the card. I will take responsibility for this. It was my mistake. It was on the card.”

And then on Twitter:

Harvey Tweet

To own his mistake.

2.Forgive The Mistake

“When you initially forgive, it is like letting go of a hot iron. There is initial pain and the scars will show, but you can start living again.” – Stephen Richards

The naming of the wrong Miss Universe has caused a lot of pain, Miss Columbiahumiliation and rage. However, from all indications, Miss Columbia, Ariadna Gutierrez, who was wrongly crowned, has taken Harvey’s universal mistake with class and in her quick forgiveness has opened up a universe of new opportunities for herself.

3.Don’t Repeat The Mistake 

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

Steve Harvey, is a veteran personality hosting thousands of hours of television from gameshows, to talk shows, to specials.  In addition he does3 a daily four hour live morning radio show.

It seems, from pictures of the card that Steve Harvey was asked to read, and the account to what was on the teleprompter.  The pinnacle moment of the telecast,  the crowning of a new Miss Universe, was not practiced enough to ensure that a mistake would not take place.

Stever Harvey Ms. Univeser

Mistakes are often byproducts of our own carelessness and lack of attention to the details.  Therefore, we can all be assured that if he were to ever be chosen again to host Miss Universe,  Steve Harvey will be flawless in crowning the new queen.

Bringing It All Together

In this excellent post, 10 Mistakes Smart People Never Make Twice, Travis Bradberry, the author of the best-selling book Emotional Intelligence 2.0 and the cofounder of TalentSmart, a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies said this:

Emotionally intelligent people are successful because they never stop learning. They learn from their mistakes, they learn from their successes, and they’re always changing themselves for the better.”

I am certain Miss Columbia, Ariadna Gutierrez, and the new Miss Universe, Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, the contestant from the Philippines, and the host, Steve Harvey, have a great deal of emotional intelligence.

Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach waves after winning the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus
Miss Philippines Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach waves after winning the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant in Las Vegas, Nevada, December 20, 2015. REUTERS/Steve Marcus

And, like the rest of us, they have learned and will continue to learn from all of their mistakes, including this most universal of mistakes.

What To Say When A Friend Dies: The Faith of Brenda Dixon

The notification of the voice mail appeared when I powered up the phone after the plane landed.  I smiled as I saw the message was from my good friend fellow church member and prayer partner Brenda Dixon.

As I walked to baggage claim, I played the message.  And to my surprise, the voice of Brenda’s daughter came on delivering news I could have never been prepared to hear.  As she simply said: “Mom passed away last night, call me when you can.”

Dumbfounded, I staggered to the luggage carousel. Deep in thought about the return call that I must make and what to say when a friend dies.

In her book, I Can’t Believe You Said That: Thirty Things Not to Say To The Bereaved, Dr. Francine Jennings writes:  “On occasions of personal loss, although I may have gone through a similar experience, I will acknowledge the impossibility of knowing another individual’s feelings.”

As I reflected on those words, and the words that I would say to Brenda’s daughter, my thoughts turned to what Jesus said when a friend died.

In John 11:1-43 Jesus dealt with the death of his friend Lazarus.  When Jesus went to comfort Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, He specifically told Martha, “Your brother will rise again.” 

Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Brenda Dixon is a friend, a fellow church member and a steadfast prayer partner who “lived by believing in God”. Her faith in God was strong in thought, word and deed.

Brenda lived her life by actively living out the Great Commission as described in Matthew 28:19-20.

She lived making disciples of many people and, until the very end of her earthly life, she obeyed the Father; teaching, praying and living a life pleasing to God.

Therefore, knowing all I know about the life and faith of Brenda Dixon. I now know what to say when a friend dies.

Because of her faith I can say to Brenda’s daughter the same words that Jesus told Martha: “Your Mother will rise again.” 

 

Otis Redding: The Day The Music Lived

I grew up in a mystical, magical place that I lovingly call “The Georgia Outback”.

Jones County and its county seat of Gray is located in center of Georgia fifteen minutes from Macon and about a two hour drive from downtown Atlanta.

Over the years this community, expansive in land but small in population, has produced its share of people who have gained fame on the global stage.  However, I would submit that none of them had a bigger impact on this world than Otis Redding, whose body is buried in the soil of our beloved county.

Born in nearby Dawson and raised in Macon, Otis Redding was inspired toward music by his father, Otis  Redding, Sr. (who was a minister as well as a gospel singer) and his mother, Fannie Mae Redding.

Influenced by fellow Macon native Little Richard, young Otis was “discovered” in 1958 while performing on disc jockey Hamp Swain’s “The Teenage Party,” a talent contest held in Macon at the Roxy and Douglass theatres.

Inked by the legendary Stax Records, Redding became a mainstay of the star studded label writing, recording such classics as “These Arms of Mine”, “Mr. Pitiful”, “Respect”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Try A Little Tenderness”, and “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”.

However, Otis Redding was more than the local boy done good. Redding used his fame and good fortune to help others, not only in central Georgia, but around the world.  One of the community projects that was closest to his heart was the Stax Stay in School Program.

Otis’ music has been a force for good. While Redding’s song “Respect” is about a romantic relationship, the tenor of the song (as performed by both Otis and Aretha Franklin) has become an anthem of the American Civil Rights moment as well as liberation movements worldwide.

Otis’ lifetime of good work continues with the activities of the Otis Redding Foundation, where his daughter Karla serves as its executive director. The annual Otis Redding Music Camp  supports the foundation’s mission to assist in the growth and development of young musicians.

Singer Don McLean in his classic song American Pie called the day that singers Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) were killed in a plane crash February 3, 1959 as “the day the music died”

However, I call the day that Otis Redding was killed in a plane cash December 10, 1967 as the day that the music lived!

In the days, weeks and years after his untimely death, Otis Redding’s music gained a greater status, as disk jockeys played it more, music critics understood it more and we, the fans, wanted it more.

While on today on December 10, 2015 there is no new more music from Otis Redding those of us who are devoted fans treasure and keep alive the music he left for us.

The test of time has proven that the songs he wrote and the music he performed still touches our hearts, moves our feet and energizes our souls.

In September of 2015, nearly a thousand people, including folks who knew him and those who did not, gathered in the center of my hometown, Gray, Georgia, to dedicate a monument in honor of Otis Redding.

However, instead of the normal grey brick or stone marker, this monument has color pictures, inspiring words and something more… the music of Otis Redding.

Visitors can simply push a button and experience Otis singing many of his hits like “These Arms of Mine”, “Mr. Pitiful”, “Respect”, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, “Try A Little Tenderness”, and “Sitting On The Dock Of The Bay”.

It’s a fitting tribute to a “King of Soul” because in the “Georgia Outback”, and around the world, the music of Otis Redding lives on.

 

It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Yesterday, December 6th we celebrated the second Sunday in the Christian season of Advent.

In Latin, Advent means “coming”.  We Christians view the days of Advent as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the “coming” birth of Jesus on December 25th 

This season of waiting and expecting; celebration and merriments have been called by many “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

However, we know, for many, the days of Advent are anything but merry.

For many, the days of Advent are filled with pressure, pain and panic.

Pressure

To do all the shopping, partying, cooking and other duties associated with the holidays.

Pain

For the holidays more intensely remind many of the loss of loved ones.

Panic

Because of commercialism with Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other manner of sales, the holidays has become all about the material gift instead of the gift of Jesus.

This race for the “gift” will cause many to spend money they do not have, in order to impress and make people “happy” who don’t deserve it.

While people will panic during Advent to buy the gift however, the real panic will come in January when the bills are due.

God’s Solution for Pressure, Pain and Panic

Clearly God does not want us to suffer with pressure, pain and panic.  Not only during Advent, but anytime.  So God gave us His Holy Spirit enabling us to do God’s will even in the pressure, pain and panic, of “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”

The Guidance of the Holy Spirit

Paul in Galatians 5:16-26 urges us to allow the Holy Spirit to guide our lives. Paul reminds us that the Holy Spirit will block our sinful nature which leads to pressure, pain and panic.

Listen to what Paul says in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

This Holiday let the Holy Spirit Dwell

Therefore, in this season of Advent, my prayer for you is that you stay prayed up so that the Holy Spirit will dwell in your life. This will bring you the fruits of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

The Most Wonderful Days of Advent  

Instead of pressure, pain and panic; these days of Advent leading up to the “coming” birth of our savior, can truly be “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”