The decisions we make today shape our tomorrows and all of our yesterdays.
How true that statement is. Everything I am today – the way I look, the way I think, the way I speak, the way I talk, the way I lead my family and employees – is all a result of either the good or bad that I have put into my life. It is true that we ‘reap what we sow.’ Our minds and our hearts are like computers. If we put junk in, we will get junk out; if we put good and positive messages in, the positive will come out. I sometimes feel like we truly do not understand the power of our choices. The choices that we make today will determine not only our future, but the future of those around us.
There are several questions that I often ask myself to gauge my effectiveness in leading people.
I am sure that there are many other questions, but I have found these to be helpful in evaluating my effectiveness today.
One of the secrets to truly having a lasting positive effect on people is to first value yourself. It has been said that you cannot give what you do not have, and that is definitely true. In order for us to properly lead and love people, we must first love and value ourselves. This can be difficult at times, however, it is essential to have a healthy self image before we can effectively help others. For me, the realization that God loves me, values me & has a purpose for me thrusts me forward in the desire to help others. God doesn’t make junk and therefore, I am not junk. My mind, body and spirit need to be cared for because they are precious. The same is true for others around us. Do we treat others as junk or as the precious gift that they are?
You see, true success is not determined by how much money or material things we have accumulated in this life. To me, success is being able to put my head on the pillow, have a clear conscience and get a restful night’s sleep. This peace can only be found when we have made the determination that today we will make a difference. Today I will keep my priorities straight. Today I will serve others instead of myself. Today I will operate with integrity and ethics and lead others by example. Today I will love and lead my family. Today is the best day that has ever been, and I will make the best of it.
There have been many days that I haven’t followed these principals and sure enough the day left me wanting. Fortunately, I have been able to change a lot of my bad habits into good ones. I realized that all of the bad habits that I have had and still have can never be gotten rid of. We are creatures of habit whether we like it or not. Therefore, these bad habits needed to be REPLACED with good ones.
When I first determined I would change my life and focus on the right priorities, it was an overwhelming task. I knew all of my faults, and there were many. The very thought of changing all of my bad habits deterred me from changing even one of them. Quite simply, there were too many. However, a very wise woman (my mom) told me a secret that I will never forget. She said, “Do you remember when I used to ask you to clean up your room when you where a teenager?”
I said, “Of course; it was torture.”
She then went on to say, “You were always afraid that the task was too great and you would be stuck forever cleaning.” She then went on, “Remember, what we did?”
I said, “No, not really.”
She said, “We use to take one corner of the room at a time, and we wouldn’t stop working on that corner until it was clean. Before you knew it that corner was clean, and then we would move on to the next and then to the next. Not too much later the entire room was clean. That is exactly what God wants you to do with all of your problems. Take one at a time and focus on it until it is fixed and then move on to the next.” Sure enough, she was right. Although I am not perfect and I am still in this process, my life has progressively gotten better as I continue to seek becoming the best man that I can be. Bad habits die hard, but so do good ones. I have also found that there is only one way to change, and that is through the choice to change. Then, discipline is necessary to implement those changes over time, consistently and daily.
Let me give you a practical example of how a simple choice can affect those around us in a positive way. I heard a story once, and it goes like this:
I was the type of person who worked so many hours and became a professional fireman at work. I was a problem solver, and man, there were many problems to solve. The unfortunate thing was that I used to take my problems home with me, and they would become my family’s problems a well. I was never truly able to give my family what they needed because my troubles came home with me. One day a light bulb went off in my head. I had this beautiful tree in the front of my house that I used to love to look at as I walked into my home. One day I decided that this was going to become my “trouble tree.” This tree became the place where I would leave my troubles for the day at, and therefore I could focus on my family, trouble free. In the morning when I left for work, I would pick up my troubles and begin to work on them again. It took me years to realize that problems were usually there regardless of whether or not I focused on them at home. Therefore, since they would be there anyway, I decided to just pick them up in the morning. The change that happened in my home was priceless, and I actually became more effective at work and at home by placing my priorities in the order.
Being a driven person myself, I can completely relate to this story.
You see, today is all we have. Yesterday is gone, and tomorrow has not yet come. Therefore, we need to make the right choices today for ourselves and for those around us. In his new book, Today Matters, John C. Maxwell said, “Successful people make right decisions early and manage those decisions daily.”
Remember, the decisions we make today shape our tomorrows and all of our yesterdays. Choose wisely.
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