Category Archives: Motivation

My Reading List – Fall 2016 & Winter 2017


After more than six months of not having any 5-star reads, I have several amazing reads to share with you. Below are my ratings for the books I read between October 2016 and March 2017, as well as a brief summary of how each could add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with most of the content and found some fantastic nuggets throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
I tend to not be a risk-taker. I like to play it safe, and feel like I have everything under control. Mark helped me to realize that by living from this posture, I am keeping myself from maximizing my God-given potential. This book left me motivated, in ways that no other book has done before, and excited about taking risks.

In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson
Because of my tendency to be risk averse, my motto over the last 4-5 years has been “live with courage”. When I have done so, my life has been richer, more meaningful, and simply more amazing. “But something invaluable and irreplaceable is lost when we cave in to conformity. We lose our personality. We lose our originality…Instead of becoming the one-of-a-kind original we were destined to be, we settle for a carbon copy of someone else.” I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to settle. I want to be courageous.

Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen
I’ve already read this book three times this year, and will probably read it again in the summer months. It is rich, and Jennie’s wisdom fills my soul. She reminded me over and over again to release my grip on life and stop trying to control everything. She reminded me to own my failures and apologize graciously. She reminded me to engage in pain and suffering, and let myself be touched by them rather than trying to run from them or be numb to them. So rich!

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Shauna’s words hit me hard, and were exactly what I needed to get me to face the fact that I had too much going on and needed to cut some things out of my life, and do more practicing of what I preach with my clients of, saying no to the good so you can say yes to the great.

4-Star Reads

Finding Spiritual Whitespace by Bonnie Gray
I have difficulty slowing down. Resting is not something I am good at. I realized that part of the reason why was that I didn’t know what rest actually looked like. Bonnie helped me define rest, as well as recognize that rest is different for each of us. She walked me through a process that left me with pages of notes of what rest means to me and how I am most replenished in body, mind, spirit, and soul.

The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines
I don’t really like Joanna’s decorating style (no offense to you, shiplap lovers), but I love watching she and Chip help people achieve their dream of having not just a house, but a home. Their memoir is a deeper glimpse into who they are and what brought them to where they are today, including some good lessons about money management and marital communication.

Becoming a Coaching Leader by Daniel Harkavy
Every business person needs to read this book. Whether you only manage yourself, or you manage a team of people, Daniel presents tangible and practical disciplines that everyone can benefit from. This is the main book that we, at Building Champions, use with our clients, and there is quantitative data that proves that, when applied, success happens.

Six Thinking Hats by Edward de Bono
We’ve all been in a meeting where a product or service is being evaluated and one person is talking about how they feel about it, another person is talking about how to prove the benefits of it, another person is talking about how horrible everything is with it, and another person is talking about how it can lead to a future product or service. Edward helps us organize, clarify, and specify each of these different perspectives and reduce confusion in communication in a creative way.

3-Star Reads

Chase the Lion by Mark Batterson
I was super amped to read Mark’s latest book, after having loved Wild Goose Chase and In the Pit. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good, and had a lot of the same stories as the other two. But, the principles are still relevant, and his wisdom is just as sound.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
Very helpful insights into how the creator of the comic, Dilbert, got to where he is today. He presents some practical advice of how to set yourself up for success based on his own failures and successes. His suggestion of creating systems is a useful method for creating accountability for yourself.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday
Ryan didn’t necessarily invent fake news, but he certainly took the concept to a whole new level. This book is a fascinating look at this current hot topic, as Ryan exposes his own methods and clues the rest of us non-media folks, into how the media world works.

Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
I’m not Ryan’s intended audience with this book, but I wanted to learn more about growth hacking since it’s clearly something that, as a consumer, affects my life. He did a good job of defining it and using some examples, from his career, of how he’s done it.

Love Lives Here by Maria Goff
Maria takes experiences, both common and difficult, and finds beauty and meaning in them. Her book is a good reminder to take note of situations and circumstances, and look for the deeper learnings in them.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that are on my current reading list. I will post a blog in July that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

And Still She Laughs by Kate Merrick
Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman
Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss
Learning to Lead by Fred Smith
The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier
Business Boutique by Christy Wright
On the Clock by Tim Enochs

What was one of your 5-star books in the Fall and Winter months?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Summer 2016

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Lots of business travel over the summer meant that I didn’t read as much as I wanted to, but there are a few that I’m really excited to share about. Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

None

4-Star Reads

Under New Management by David Burkus
Dr. Burkus presents some fantastic ideas that disrupt the status quo, and prompt us to think about business systems and processes that are basically broken but that we’ve allowed to outstay their welcome. His ideas are backed by case studies of companies that are trying new methods and are seeing some great results. This is a must read for anyone in executive leadership and HR.

H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Want to be a better leader? Start with the 20 habits that Brad outlines in this book. None of the habits will surprise you, but they are all ones that, when intentionally implemented, are game changers. Don’t let their simplicity fool you, they will take courage and intentionality.

Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
I’ve never seen an episode of any of the hit shows that Shonda is the writer for, and I didn’t know anything about her before I started her book, but she won me over with her authenticity. She’s hilarious, and surprisingly down to earth and relatable for someone who is famous and a multi-millionaire. I don’t agree with some of her personal beliefs, but the first 2/3 of the book is a must-read for every working mom.

3-Star Reads

Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson
Our culture teaches us that success is only for a lucky few. This perspective causes unnecessary competition, comparison, envy, and jealousy. Sophie’s book is a beautiful reminder for women that we need to come alongside and support one another instead of tearing each other down and telling each other how we should live. She tells us that our “callings complement one another” and that we need to “bless each other.” Amen.

2-Star Reads

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
I am a very organized person and thought I would love this book, but honestly, I found her methodology to be bizarre and bordering on OCD. The one thing that I really did like, and will use personally, and with my clients, is that when the time comes to do some purging of material items, that we go through the process of asking ourselves if each particular item brings us joy, and if we recognize that it doesn’t then take that as the cue that it’s time to let go of that item.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that are on my current reading list. I will post a blog in January that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Do Over by Jon Acuff
The Harvey Girls: Women Who Opened The West by Lesley Poling-Kempes
Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams
Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator by Ryan Holiday
Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday
The Magnolia Story by Chip and Joanna Gaines

What was one of your 5-star books this Summer?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Spring 2016

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Reading List – Spring 2016

I didn’t have any 5-star reads over the spring months (my bar is pretty high to be rated a 5), but there were a couple of really great books that I would highly recommend.

Below are my ratings for them, as well as a brief summary of how each might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

4-Star Reads

The Power of the Other by Henry Cloud
In many senses, Dr. Cloud tells us what we already know, relationships have the power to help us be healthier and more successful. Where he goes beyond this common knowledge is by breaking it down as far as how power is created through specific kinds of connection. I particularly like his perspective on competition and peak performance. He included a great quote from Larry Page that my clients will hear me quote regularly, “Always work hard on something uncomfortably exciting.” This is a must-read for business owners and executives, and is one that most everyone can learn something from.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
I am a firm believer that we are our own worst enemy, and that we often do not reach our potential because we are holding ourselves back in some way for some reason. Holiday believes that outcomes such as these are the result of our ego getting the better of us. In his new book he teaches us how to not let this happen, but instead be “humble in our aspirations”, “gracious in our success”, and “resilient in our failures”. There is something in this book for everyone. You can also read my review of his book The Obstacle is the Way here.

Becoming an Agile Leader by Victoria Swisher
Great book that I will recommend to all of my clients who are managing/leading people. Swisher covers topics that are applicable to every leader: self-awareness, mental agility, people agility, change agility, and results agility. She provides a fantastic overview of what each of those mean, and then provides very tactical ideas of how to sharpen our skills in each of those areas and how to apply them in our business and personal lives.

3-Star Reads

Teach Me to Pray by Andrew Murray
I’ve actually been reading this book for nearly a year and finally finished it. Murray’s words are rich and can only be taken a bite at a time. I started it with the desire to be a more prayerful person and he helped me on that journey, beginning with the beautiful admonition to dwell alone with God, “Let the place of secret prayer become to me the most beloved place on earth.”

Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez
Personal finances are an area that I lack the depth of knowledge and understanding that I desire for myself, so I am constantly trying to learn from those who have seemingly mastered it, rather than allowing it master to them. My favorite section in the book provides ten ways to save, beginning with these: 1) Stop trying to impress people. 2) Don’t go shopping. 3) Live within your means. Overall, I would say that this book has several very helpful areas, but may be a bit too cumbersome for the average person (though worthwhile if you are disciplined to work through the recommended steps).

2-Star Reads

Follow Me by David Platt
I’ve been wanting to read something by Platt for a few years, and I think I either picked the wrong book to start with, or maybe I just don’t resonate with overall his style and philosophy. There were a few ideas and insights that I really appreciated, like his perspective about financial giving and his reminders about God’s desire to be in relationship with us, and I do love this quote, “Our souls long for the presence of God.” I should note that his Amazon rating is a 4.7 with nearly 450 reviews, so I am in the minority on not loving this book.

My Next Review

Below are some of the books that I am currently reading. I will post a blog in October that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Under New Management by David Burkus
Do Over by Jon Acuff
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick

What was one of your 5-star books this Spring?
What are you currently reading?

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Fall 2015

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Below are the books I read in Q4, with my rating and a brief summary of what I learned, as well as how I think it might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

I didn’t have any 5-star reads in my Fall reading, but the best book of 2015 for me was Essentialism by Gary McKeown. Every single one of us would like to have more time in our lives, and Gary does an exceptional job of walking through how to make that happen.

4-Star Reads

For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
Life is difficult, and Jen gets real with her readers making sure that we know it’s ok to let our real lives show, and to not get caught in the trap of trying to make our lives appear perfect and easy. She is hilariously funny and her message will resonate with everyone who has ever tried to make their life look like it’s straight off of Pinterest.

The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst
Akin to Greg McKeown’s book, Lysa’s overall goal and intent is to help us determine where our time is best spent and how to say no without disappointing people. She presents us with practical filters to use for our decision-making. I found much wisdom in her easy-to follow, and implement, approach.

People over Profit by Dale Partridge
Our economic, and general societal, well-being is still recovering from the effects of people in the finance world sacrificing their convictions for greed. Dale does a great job of showing us what leads to poor decision-making in organizations, and provides us with seven core beliefs that, when acted upon, will bring health, vitality, and sustainability. One of my favorite quotes is, “Fire others the way you would want to be fired.”

3-Star Reads

QBQ! The Question Behind The Question by John G. Miller
Through some simple questions and disciplines, John teaches us how to take personal accountability. He reminds us, “We can’t change other people. We often can’t control circumstances and events. The only things we have any real control over are our own thoughts and actions.”

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero
“There will never be anyone exactly like you. You were given special gifts and talents to share with the world, and even though everybody has special gifts and talents, nobody will use theirs quite the same way you do.” If you need some inspiration and reminders that you are strong and capable, this book will definitely provide you with that pick-me-up.

The Prince of the Marshes by Rory Stewart
A fascinating look at life in Iraq during the years following the ousting of Saddam Hussein. Rory, a British diplomat, shares his story about the time he spends in Iraq trying to help the country unite and re-build with its own government and culture. I preferred Rory’s book, The Places In Between, about his year in Afghanistan over this one.

2-Star Reads

Money by Tony Robbins
I had high hopes that a multi-multi-millionaire would bring some great insights in regard to personal finances, but I was pretty let down. The book is nearly 700 pages, but was extremely repetitive; it could have been 200 and retained the few valuable elements. The section about 401k investments was helpful, but overall I’ve learned far better financial wisdom from Dave Ramsey and my uncle.

1-Star Reads

Disarming the Narcissist by Wendy Behary
This is the only book I read in 2015 that I would say is not worth reading. From my research on this topic, there are more helpful articles on the internet. Bummer!

My Next Review Will Include

Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over the next few months. I will post a blog in April that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

Do Over by Jon Acuff
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp
Living Forward by Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt
H3 Leadership by Brad Lomenick
Deep Change by Robert Quinn
Scary Close by Donald Miller
The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

What was one of your 5-star books this Fall?
What is on your reading list this Winter?

(Here are the links to my other 2015 reading lists: winter 2015 and spring & summer 2015.)

PS: Rather than doing affiliate links to Amazon and putting cash in my personal pocket if you purchase a book from my reading lists, my Amazon links provide a portion of the sale to be donated to one of my favorite non-profit organizations, The Cupcake Girls. I appreciate you making the purchase through my link to support the incredible work they are doing.

My Reading List – Spring & Summer 2015

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I needed a break from business books, so most of what I read over the last six months was light reading. Below are the ones I read in Q2 and Q3, with my rating and a brief summary of what I learned, as well as how I think it might add value to your life.

My Rating Scale

5 – Simply Amazing: Loved the style and the content; added significant value to me, and will be one I re-read.
4 – Very Good: Engaged with the majority of the content and found some fantastic nuggets all throughout.
3 – Good: Had a great chapter or two; overall was average.
2 – Ok: Had one or two things that I resonated with or found helpful; as a whole was just so-so.
1 – Pass: My time was better spent elsewhere.

5-Star Reads

Love Does by Bob Goff
I had the opportunity to hear Bob speak last month and he is as loving, funny, inspiring, and authentic as I expected him to be. After hearing him speak, I knew I needed to read his book again; it’s that good. I love this quote; “There is only one invitation it would kill me to refuse, yet I’m tempted to turn it down all the time. I get the invitation every morning when I wake up to actually live a life of complete engagement, a life of whimsy, a life where love does.”

The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
Ryan’s writing is masterful, and his beliefs about our ability to choose how we respond to trials and adversity are spot on. His words buoyed me more than a few times while I was training for a race and had moments of wondering what the heck I had gotten myself into. These words of his hit me like a ton of bricks, “We spend a lot of time thinking about how things are supposed to be, or what the rules say we should do. Trying to get it all perfect. We tell ourselves that we’ll get started once the conditions are right, or once we’re sure we can trust this or that. When, really, it’d be better to focus on making due with what we’ve got. On focusing on results instead of pretty methods.” Ouch! You can watch an interview of Ryan talking about the book and his philosophy with one of the founders of Quest Nutrition here.

4-Star Reads

Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas
“There is great freedom in how we can meet with and enjoy God. This is by His design and according to His good pleasure.” I’ve wrestled for years with not encountering God in seemingly normal ways. Gary’s Nine Pathways To God showed me that I was created to commune with God in a unique way, as are each of us. Truly very freeing.

Not Fade Away by Rebecca Alexander and Sascha Alper
This beautiful memoir was one that I simply could not put down. Rebecca’s story is heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. We could all learn from her resilience and positive attitude.

Big Burn by Timothy Egan
Timothy weaves together two fascinating true stories to create a history lesson that feels like an old western tale. His awe-inspiring research brought facts to light that had been hidden for over 100 years, and caused me to be even more grateful for our national parks.

Chess Not Checkers by Mark Miller
Mark outlines a simple, straightforward methodology for being a strategic thinker in the workplace. He articulates how business really is a sport where winning results from good decision-making, “High performance is not a matter of circumstances, luck, or DNA. High performance is about choices.”

Values, Inc. by Dina Dwyer-Owens
It’s pretty evident that our culture is no longer going to put up with companies that aren’t living by values and ethics. In fact, Dina asserts that lasting success comes from having values that are shared by the entire company, meaning that every employee is not only aware of them but is measured against them in performance reviews.

3-Star Reads

Siren’s Fury by Mary Weber
This is the second is Mary’s trilogy. Candidly, these books are meant for teenagers, but since I enjoy a good fantasy book every now and then, I’ve enjoyed escaping to her made-up world with its fanciful characters and elaborate landscapes.

2-Star Reads

The Code by Shaun Tomson
A good book of principles to live by; it’s a must read for every teenage boy.

My Next Review Will Include

It was an enjoyable season of light reading, but I’m ready for some good meaty books this Fall. Below are some of the books that I am reading or re-reading over the next few months. I will post a blog in early January that provides my ratings and reviews for everything that I read between now and then.

People over Profit by Dale Partridge
Do Over by Jon Acuff
For The Love by Jen Hatmaker
Secrets of Dynamic Communication by Ken Davis
Time Traps by Todd Duncan

What was one of your 5-star books this Summer?
What is on your reading list this Fall?

(Here are the links to my summer 2014, fall 2014, and winter 2015 reading lists.)

Finally…Good Reasons For Valuing Accountability

Earlier this week I joined the monthly Champion’s Edge webinar by Building Champions. One of their executive coaches, Dan Foster, led us through six steps of accountability with the ultimate goal of learning how to harness the power of accountability.

I have to admit, I joined the webinar wondering if I was going to come to the end of the 30 minutes and feel like I had wasted my time. Not because of Dan, he is an exceptionally experienced coach and a pretty smart guy, and I knew he’d share some practical and meaningful thoughts. But, because of the topic.

I mean seriously, when have you ever gotten excited about being told that you need to be more accountable or have more accountability in your life? Accountability has become something of a four-letter word. Take a look at the definition of accountable, “required to explain actions or decisions.” Wow! Isn’t that frightening? Sounds like something you’re super excited to sign-up for, right?!

Well, I spent the 30 minutes listening to what Dan had to say and as I’d hoped, he did not disappoint, and my time was anything but wasted.

He did a great job of articulating the steps of accountability, as taught through the Building Champions methodology, and how it all starts with being accountable to yourself. But, what I love about what he shared, even though he didn’t specifically itemize them or draw special attention to them, was that he gave a really solid argument for why be accountable; why is accountability valuable; what do we stand to gain by being accountable. And, hallelujah, his reasons weren’t the typical cliché ones that I’ve heard my whole life about keeping you honest, or making you trustworthy, or teaching you responsibility. Not that those aren’t important, they are very important; they’re table stakes. But, for once I heard arguments for the value of accountability that actually got me excited to be accountable. Finally, I was given reason to be motivated beyond duty and obligation. Here is what Dan shared, in his words, more or less:
1) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more purposeful.
2) Being accountable to yourself and others enables you to be more intentional.
3) Being accountable to yourself and others provides added motivation.
4) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be challenged and stretched.
5) Being accountable to yourself and others provides an opportunity for you to be encouraged.
6) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to learn more about yourself and discover your unique purpose and contribution.
7) Being accountable to yourself and others equips you to build your vision for who you want to be and where you want to go.
8) Being accountable to yourself and others allows you to live within your sweet spot, thus enabling you to do what Daniel Harkavy says, “Say no to the good so you can say yes to the great.”
9) Being accountable to yourself and others causes you to respect yourself more, believe in yourself more, and be more self-confident.
10)Being accountable to yourself and others shows others that you can be counted on, which increases their respect for you, which increases the likelihood that they’ll catch your vision and follow your lead.

What I love about this is that it becomes the flywheel that Jim Collins describes in Good to Great. You work through the steps of accountability, which you can go and listen to at buildingchampions.com, and as you work through them the momentum starts increasing, your actions are made on purpose, you say no in a way that shows respect for your plan and your intentions, you see others take note, you notice the difference being made, and as Collins says, “The momentum of the thing kicks in in your favor, hurling the flywheel forward, turn after turn…whoosh!…Each turn of the flywheel builds upon work done earlier, compounding your investment of effort.” It’s not just doing one of the steps that causes all of this value to be created, it is all of the steps. As Collins says, “It was all of them added together in an overall accumulation of effort applied in a consistent direction.”

So, accountability that produces purpose, intention, motivation, challenge, discovery, vision, focus, self-respect, self-confidence, influence, action, respect, and accolades?? Sign me up! I’m in!

How about you, what would cause you to value accountability?

Why I Failed To Meet The 31-Day 500-Word Challenge

Last month I joined with a group of over 1,500 people who sought to meet a challenge, issued by author and entrepreneur, Jeff Goins, to write at least 500 words each of the 31 days of January. The first 22 days were a success, and then the 23rd of January arrived, and I didn’t write again for the rest of the month.

I was upset with myself and actually cried about not completing the challenge, which is an unusual response for me. My pride was wounded as I thought about not wanting to be labeled as a quitter or as someone who didn’t finish something she started. I thought about the excuses that I could give for why I didn’t finish and then I thought about ignoring it altogether and not even drawing attention to the fact that I had failed to meet the challenge. But, over the last two weeks I have come face to face with the real reason why I failed and realized that if I don’t share it, that I will not just be failing myself but I will be failing you as well.

In the Old Testament of the Bible we are introduced to Samson, who rules as a judge over Israel for over twenty years. We are told, even before he is conceived, that Samson will be used by God, that his life is committed unto God. Judges 13:24-25 tell us that Samson is blessed by God and that the Spirit of the Lord is moving on his life. Throughout his early adulthood years, we are shown several instances where the Spirit of the Lord comes upon Samson. It becomes clear, at least to us as the reader, that Samson’s strength comes from the Lord, that it is a gift from God to him. It is not until Samson tells Delilah his secret about his hair never having been cut, and she deceives him and has his hair cut and hands him over to the Philistines, that he too learns that his strength was really from the Lord and was not his own.

In not completing the 31-day writing challenge, I was brought face to face with my own strength and its source, just as Samson was. I’m in no way claiming that I have been blessed by God in the way that Samson was, but I have realized that when I tried to write through my own strength, through my own power, that I failed miserably.

During the writing challenge I started by committing each writing session to God and really seeking His direction and guidance as to what to write about. Then, somewhere in the process I started to try and write through my own strength based on my own thoughts, ideas, and observations, and on January 23rd I fell flat on my face. It took about a week for me to even be able to recognize that this was the real reason for my failure. I moved from a place of depending on God for strength and for the words to write, to depending on my own strength and writing based on what I felt like I wanted to write, and that is how I failed. I allowed pride and arrogance to drive me and failed to acknowledge God as my source.

I imagine (and hope) that I’m not the only one who has ever been the cause of her failure; how have you done so in your life?

How Is Your Footing?

A friend of mine made the decision to leave the company she works for, but she was struggling with the timing of giving her notice because she still had a number of commitments that she had made to the organization and didn’t know if she needed to wait to give her notice until she had completed the work for those commitments. Though she was ready to move on, she felt in her heart that the testimony and witness she would leave without completing those commitments would be a bad one and that it would likely damage or un-do any seeds that had been successfully planted during her tenure with the company. She felt that completing the commitments would prove her integrity and credibility and thus strengthen her witness of the love of God and the faithfulness of God’s people. She was fearful about the potential effects of the decision; she didn’t want the delay in giving her notice to interfere with interviews and other opportunities that might present themselves in the coming days. She knew that her fears had some legitimacy but she also knew that since it was a God-led decision to leave her company that she could trust God to orchestrate the timing perfectly with what He had as the next step for her.

Psalm 37:23 tells us that God is not only walking with us in our decisions but that we can trust Him to order and establish our footholds, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (NIV).

The words from this scripture come from King David, who knew all too well a situation similar to my friend’s. When King David was just an adolescent, somewhere between 11-15 years old, he learned that he was to become king, but immediately after receiving that information he went back to being a shepherd for his father’s flock, and then he spent years in the king’s palace and was hunted by King Saul because Saul wanted to bring death upon the one who was to take over his throne. It was not until David was about 30 years old that he actually became king and fulfilled the anointing that was spoken of him at least 15 years prior.

A similar situation can be found in the life of Mary. Mary, a teenage young woman who had never known a man, accepted God’s call upon her life that she was to be the one woman chosen from all of womankind to give birth to, and raise, the Messiah. Certainly she accepted the charge as any of us hope that we would have, but think about all that she didn’t know at the time of her affirmative response. She didn’t know that her own family and community would not believe that Christ was who He claimed to be and would turn against Him. She didn’t know that He would be mocked and spat upon and that she would watch Him die a criminal’s death. Though scripture doesn’t say specifically, we can safely assume that during the 40 days that Jesus spent on earth between the resurrection and the ascension that Mary actually spent time with Jesus. When she told Gabriel, “May it be as you have said”, she probably never thought she would walk and talk with her son as the Risen and Living Son of God.

Just as Mary and David did, my friend chose to believe that God has a firm hold on her future, even if she can’t see the end result quite yet.

If you believed the words of Psalm 37:23 to be true for your own life, how might you live differently?

The Motivation That Endures

Despite having a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership and Human Resource Development, and spending time studying Maslow, Herzberg, Alderfer, and Machiavelli, I must admit that I am not an expert in the theories of motivation.

Yet, every day I am struck by the apparent motivations that I witness in those around me, and just how different they are from one another and how they create such differences in behavior from one person to another.

Let me give you a couple of examples.

Recently an article was being passed around on Facebook about the differences between the habits of the poor and the rich. As I read through the list I couldn’t help but read between the lines to the motivations underlying the habits. One habit says, “6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.” As I read this I thought about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, his psychological theory concerning motivation. In the hierarchy there are five levels, with the top level being what he terms as Self-actualization, which refers to the full potential of a person and the actualization or realization of that potential. Though my mind pondered on the theory, my heart grew quiet, wondering if it meant that those 78% would never see beyond the meeting of their basic needs to a place of realizing their potential, of truly living life to the full. Would they never know being “fully alive” as Saint Irenaeus says is “the glory of God”?

Then, today while having coffee with a friend she remarked about how many people join the Department of Human Services, which she was a part of for 30 years, because they truly care about people and desire to make a difference in peoples’ lives and help to better the world as a whole. This led me to think about something I heard author and speaker, Stasi Eldredge, say a couple of months ago. She said, “Love is the only motivation that will endure.”

I’ve thought about that quote on a number of occasions because I want to believe she’s right and I want to be seen as someone who loves and not as a means to something else, but simply as the end. I Love. I Love because He first Loved me. I Love. I am motivated by Love, by His Love.

Yet, when I think about this, it makes me go back to Maslow and his theory. Because in his theory, love is the middle level, above our needs for air, water, food, safety, and security, but below our needs for respect (from others and from self) and self-actualization. And, of course, this makes me wonder if Maslow had it wrong or if I just don’t understand his theory.

But, when I think about what motivates me day-in and day-out, what causes me to get up in the morning; some days it’s because I like to eat, several days it’s because I like living in a warm house, many days it’s because I like feeling good about myself and achieving my potential, but every day it’s because I Love.