Lessons On Our Journey—Our Shield

Written by Les Dahl on October 13th, 2016. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

abarham-i-am-your-shield

 

“Resist fear…I am your shield…your reward shall be beyond your expectation…”

Genesis 15:1 (paraphrased)

An alliance of four kings rebelled against an oppressive confederation of five kings. They sacked their cities, gathered the loot and headed home with the prisoners. Abram’s nephew Lot was among them. 

Abram mustered his servants—318 trusted Gurkha-like warriors—pursued and conquered the unsuspecting commandos. He returned with ALL the plunder and ALL the prisoners.

Think of it. Three hundred and eighteen servants (not professional soldiers!) out-muscled an allied army of several thousand. That’s sovereign intervention!

On his way home Abram was met by Melchizedek, “king of Salem, priest of God Most High”, who pronounced blessing on him. Abram honored God and acknowledged His servant with a tithe.

Overwhelmed with gratitude, the king of Sodom told Abram, “Just give me the citizens, you keep all the booty.” Instant exorbitant riches—fair compensation for a comprehensive military victory.

But Abram refused. “I’ve made a deal with the Lord, God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth, to not take even a shoelace from anyone—God alone gets credit for my provision and wealth.” That’s a bold statement of faith with a courageous demonstration to back it up.

Profound affirmation after incredible military victory against impossible odds followed by daring proclamation of faith! So why would God tell Abram “Don’t be afraid”?

My guess is that God saw several issues in Abram that stemmed from a root of fear. Interestingly, like Abram, we are most vulnerable to these tentacles of fear immediately after sovereign intervention. They choke the life out of our faith.

Abram probably second-guessed his refusing the king’s offer. That was a lot of plunder, after all, and Abram was as human as you and I.

But weighing even heavier on Abram’s faith was God’s unfulfilled promise. It’d been a long wait with still no sign of a son. Yes, the military victory over the four-king alliance was a miracle, but this was personal.

God spoke to the heart of Abram”s problem. “Shift your focus, Abram. I AM your shield—your protection against fear that cripples your faith and steals your reward.”

Look at the protection God offers:

  • physical: “I will remove or disarm people and structures that stand in the way of your forward movement and answered prayers.”
  • material: “I will take you and keep you out of lack and poverty.”
  • emotional: “I will replace all those feelings that rob you of confidence and hope.”
  • spiritual: “I will empower you against doubt and unbelief.”

With an Iron Dome shield like that, we can hold steady as we move step by step toward promised destiny.

Without hesitation, I certify that this Scripture is true—the Almighty, our Father, is a trustworthy shield against all fear. From our experience, I can testify that the reward of obedient faith is exceedingly great. Resist fear, embrace the Father as your shield, and then let Him surprise you with His faithfulness.

Shalom

What Do You Really Want From Life—Stones, Pebbles, Sand?

Written by Les Dahl on April 19th, 2016. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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This week I’ve been asking myself, what do I really want from life? Simple question, but not so easy to answer. Yet, it has profound impact on our journey.

 

Just to survive

 

The effort required just to surviveeasily consumes our days.

We get up, often dragging ourselves out of bed at the sheer thought of another day of our demanding (unfulfilling) job—it pays the bills, but little more.

We come home after a grueling day to a demanding family—can they not understand what I go through every day, just to put food on the table?

We drop into bed for a fitful night—too exhausted and stressed to get the much-needed rejuvenation sleep is supposed to give.

The question haunts us, “Is this all there is to life?” 

 

No simple, easy answer

 

The answer is not easy nor simple because life is complex.

I like Brendon Burchard’s answer. “At the end of our lives we will all ask, Did I live? Did I love? Did I matter?”

Brendon has made it his life mission to live a “fully charged life” and to help others “feel more alive, engaged, and fulfilled.”

Great. But how?

 

Here’s a riveting story I found that can help us get started on our quest to discover what we really want from life.

 

Of Stones, Pebbles and Sand

 

One day, an old professor of the School of Public Management in France, was invited to lecture on the topic of “Efficient Time Management” in front of a group of 15 executive managers representing the largest, most successful companies in America. The lecture was one in a series of 5 lectures conducted in one day, and the old professor was given 1 hr to lecture.

Standing in front of this group of elite managers, who were willing to write down every word that would come out of the famous professor’s mouth, the professor slowly met eyes with each manager, one by one, and finally said, “We are going to conduct an experiment”.

Stones

From under the table that stood between the professor and the listeners, the professor pulled out a big glass jar and gently placed it in front of him. Next, he pulled out from under the table a bag of stones, each the size of a tennis ball, and placed the stones one by one in the jar. He did so until there was no room to add another stone in the jar.

Lifting his gaze to the managers, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?”

The managers replied, “Yes”.

The professor paused for a moment, and replied, “Really?”

Pebbles

Once again, he reached under the table and pulled out a bag full of pebbles. Carefully, the professor poured the pebbles in and slightly rattled the jar, allowing the pebbles to slip through the larger stones, until they settled at the bottom.

Again, the professor lifted his gaze to his audience and asked, “Is the jar full?”

At this point, the managers began to understand his intentions. One replied, “Apparently not!”

Sand

Correct”, replied the old professor, now pulling out a bag of sand from under the table. Cautiously, the professor poured the sand into the jar. The sand filled up the spaces between the stones and the pebbles.

Yet again, the professor asked, “Is the jar full?”

Without hesitation, the entire group of students replied in unison, “NO!”

Correct”, replied the professor. And as was expected by the students, the professor reached for the pitcher of water that was on the table, and poured water in the jar until it was absolutely full. The professor now lifted his gaze once again and asked, “What great truth can we surmise from this experiment?”

With his thoughts on the lecture topic, one manager quickly replied, “We learn that as full as our schedules may appear, if we only increase our effort, it is always possible to add more meetings and tasks.”

The Lesson

“No”, replied the professor. “The great truth that we can conclude from this experiment is:

If we don’t put all the larger stones in the jar first, we will never be able to fit all of them later.”

The auditorium fell silent, as every manager processed the significance of the professor’s words in their entirety.

The old professor continued, “What are the large stones in your life? Health? Family? Friends? Your goals? Doing what you love? Fighting for a Cause? Taking time for yourself?

What we must remember is that it is most important to include the larger stones in our lives, because if we don’t do so, we are likely to miss out on life altogether. If we give priority to the smaller things in life (pebbles & sand), our lives will be filled up with less important things, leaving little or no time for the things in our lives that are most important to us.

Because of this, never forget to ask yourself, What are the Large Stones in your Life? And once you identify them, be sure to put them first in your Jar of Life.”

With a warm wave of his hand, the professor bid farewell to the managers, and slowly walked out of the room.

 

What are the large stones in your jar?

 

Shalom

 

Source: Of Stones, Pebbles and Sand

Image courtesy Bill Longshaw / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

On A Success Scale of 1 – 10, How Do You Rate?

Written by Les Dahl on March 21st, 2016. Posted in Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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Everyone wants to be successful. It is part of our DNA. We are created to be successful.

 

But is success something that is achieved? How do you know when you’ve achieved it? Is success a destination? How do you know when you’ve arrived?

 

Merriam-Webster reads, “success: the fact of getting or achieving wealth, respect or fame.”

 

Wealth, power and prestige.

 

But that definition doesn’t sit well with me. I’ve seen too many wealthy, powerful and famous people whose lives are less than desirable and certainly not inspiring.

 

Three characteristics are common in the definitions proposed by prominent leaders today.

  • success is more a process and a mindset than a destination or achievement
  • success is measured by the value contributed to the well-being of others
  • -the reward of success is a satisfying feeling of having lived well far beyond wealth, power or fame.

 

Here is my pick of the 10 definitions of success

that best describe my own.

 

1. Success means having the courage, the determination, and the will to become the person you believe you were meant to be.”

(George Sheehan)

 

2. “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of knowing you did your best to become the best you are capable of becoming.”

(John Wooden, the winningest coach in college basketball history with 620 victories and 10 national titles at UCLA.)

 

3.Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be. Success is overcoming fear. F-E-A-R has two meanings: (1) Forget Everything And Run; or, (2) Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours.”

(Zig Ziglar)

 

4. “I define success as living my true purpose and having a positive impact on the lives of people by uplifting them and inspiring them to think and act in ways that they may not have considered before.”

(Raj Sisodia, co-founder of Conscious Capitalism and professor at Babson College)

 

5. “To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!”

(Ralph Waldo Emerson)

 

6. “Success, for me, has always been in providing a great quality of life for my family, for those who work for me, and to my community.”

(Jeremy Young CEO of Tanga)

 

7. “To me, success means creating a business that empowers customers, employees, and community in equal measure. We want to add positive value to people’s lives, from a personal and professional standpoint.”

(Dan Kurzius, co-founder and COO of Mailchimp)

 

8. “I define success as having a job that you enjoy and enables you financially, a spouse and family that loves and cares for you, children that make you proud by who they are and what they do, having the freedom to worship a loving God, and being able to contribute to the betterment of your fellow man. I am so blessed!”

(E.N Garnett Jr., Certified Crop Advisor, Southern States)

 

9. “I feel that my life is successful if I can live each day with a positive outlook, have a feeling of contentment with my circumstances, have balance in all the important areas of my life, and have the time and resources to pursue what I am passionate about.”

(Marcia Becker, PhD, senior director of Adult Rehabilitative and Rural Services)

 

10. Success is doing ordinary things extraordinarily well.”

Jim Rohn

 

Rather powerful definitions of success, wouldn’t you agree?

 

These quotes brought on a smile.

God gave us two ends: one to sit on and one to think with. Success depends on which one you use. Heads you win; tails, you lose.”

(Anonymous)

 

Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”

(Woody Allen)

 

And finally, some good advice.

An Unfailing Success Plan: At each day’s end write down the six most important things to do tomorrow; number them in order of importance, and then do them.”

(Anonymous)

 

Act as though it is impossible to fail.”

(Dorothea Brande:)

 

What is YOUR definition of success—the mindset and process that keeps you moving on track each day?

 

Shalom

Minimalism—Trendy Fad or Urgent Necessity?

Written by Les Dahl on March 7th, 2016. Posted in Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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I’ve come across the word, as you probably have, more than a few times recently. Sounds kinda trendy—like a term someone in-the-know, up-to-date and on-the-cutting-edge would use.

I like to be that ‘someone’, but I’ve learned from experience to check the meaning and appropriate context of a term before acting like its part of my every-day vocabulary. Presumption is dangerous and embarrassment, which usually follows, can be a harsh teacher.

 

What is a minimalist?

 

A minimalist is born either out of an aha moment or necessity.

There comes a moment of realization that the true essence of life—joy, worth, relationship, growth, purpose, health and significance—is NOT found in possessions nor money.

(Remember the Beatles’ “Can’t buy me love”?)

 

A minimalist determines what is really important, removes what is not necessary (the clutter) to give place to only that which adds value to the true essence of life.

 

A minimalist asks, “Do I really need this? Does this add value to my life?”

  • If the answer is yes: a minimalist keeps it and builds a meaningful life with it—for him/her-self and for others. (A minimalist tends to be a giver not a taker.)
  • If the answer is no: a minimalist simply does without it—it just isn’t necessary for a meaningful life. It doesn’t add value.

 

Is minimalism really necessary?

 

Well…that depends.

You don’t have to look far nor wide to see that a major component of life today is stress. It rears its ugly face every which way you turn.

 

Look at these statistics.

At least 40% of office workers in America say they are stressed at work. Twenty-five percent identify work as the biggest source of stress in their lives.

It used to be that work was meaningful, satisfying and rewarding.

No more.

 

Next to work, relationships are the second major cause of stress.

Really not hard to understand, is it.

You’re bombarded all day at work.

You manage—with some difficulty—to keep the pressure in check.

Home at last. 

Finally, a respite from stress.

 

You step through the door—

     the kids are yelling and fighting…

     the house is in chaos…

And where is your spouse?

     on the computer…

     totally oblivious to what’s going on!

(How stress-free is that relationship?)

 

Words are spoken…

     and then regretted.

Feelings are hurt…

     apologies are made, and accepted.

But the pain remains.

 

Not far down the list, the fifth major cause of stress is ‘trash talk’.

     Negative self-talk, regrets,

     deteriorating self-confidence,

     unrealistic expectations

     add to the already crushing burden.

 

You want to take your mind off the pressure so you sit down to watch a little T.V.

Annoying in-your-face advertising won’t let you relax.

  • In 1960, a 1-hour program contained a mere 9 minutes of commercials—just enough time to run to the bathroom and grab a quick snack on the way back.
  • Today, a 1-hour program has on average 22 minutes of advertising. Late night talk shows run 14 minutes of commercials and anything after that has up to 30 minutes per hour—49% on average!

More stress.

 

What fuels this stress juggernaut?

 

In one word…consumerism.

 

Consumerism is the real life version of the PacMan video game.

Everyone is racing down the money trail gobbling up as many gold coins as possible before the credit monster eats you.

  • It is the pursuit of ‘the good life’ defined by money and possessions (consumables).

 

The endgame?

  • Success measured by the accumulation of wealth and things.

 

Paul James claims that second only to concern about global warming,

the pursuit of the ‘good life’ through practices of what is known as ‘consumerism’ has become one of the dominant global social forces, cutting across differences of religion, class, gender, ethnicity and nationality.”  (Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: Global-Local Consumption. London: Sage Publications)

 

The consumerism juggernaut is global.

It’s huge.

It’s unstoppable.

And it consumes (pun intended) everyone in its way.

 

Is there no escape?

 

Actually, there is.

     If you are willing to face reality

     and make some tough decisions

     with intentional action.

 

You will also need the heart of a salmon.

 

Salmon have a singular purpose

  • to successfully complete their own life cycle and
  • give birth to a following generation of salmon
  • that will honor the integrity and mission of salmon.

 

After 4 or 5 years at sea, salmon swim against ocean tides to find their niche, the stream where they were born.

With a strange mixture of urgency and patience, salmon wait at the river’s mouth while their bodies embrace the massive change which will allow them to survive in fresh water.

When the change is fully embraced, salmon swim upstream against the current until they reach their destination.

Along the way, they encounter and overcome indomitable barriers and obstacles with courage and instinct that can only be described as supernatural.

 

For some, the decision to become minimalist will be relatively easy.

For others, it will be similar to the journey of the salmon.

For all, it will eventually become necessary.

 

Shalom!

 

Image attributed to Dmitry Azovtsev (http://www.daphoto.info)

Takers and Givers — 5 Simple Ways To Empower

Written by Les Dahl on February 21st, 2016. Posted in Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

 

FREINDS-Givers & Takers copy

 

Two kinds of people will cross your path—takers and givers.

 

Takers want something from you.

With little or no regard for you or your property—takers poach.

It may be money, something you possess, or your time—takers leech.

 

Give them an inch, they take a yard.

Whether material, intellectual, emotional, your energy or your labor—they sponge.

 

Takers are annoying, burdensome.

You can’t avoid them. 

These pirates are everywhere.

And in the end they sap the life out of your soul.

 

Givers are a different breed altogether.

Givers are busy, productive—movers and shakers.

 

But they are not always visible.

Many givers fly under the radar and are happy to do so.

Givers want nothing from you except to see you succeed.

 

They are fully engaged in their own business,

     yet intuitively aware of others’ needs.

 

They passionately pursue their own success and prosperity,

     yet always have time to empower others to achieve theirs.

 

They readily give a listening ear, a helping hand, and a shoulder to lean on.

 

How do they do it?

 

Givers give in little ways, until giving is a habit.

Givers persist until giving becomes their nature.

 

Givers would have it no other way—giving is their lifestyle.

Givers simply love to give.

 

5 Simple Ways To Give That Empower People

 

1. Give worth

 

Address people by their name.

When you speak to people by name, you send a message

   that resonates deep in their psyche.

You are not a faceless, generic, taken-for-granted human robot.

You are a name-brand individual with personality and significance.

I acknowledge the name that identifies who you are.”

Who is not empowered by such an affirmation.

 

Affirm human worth by using each person’s name correctly.

 

 

2. Give dignity

 

Learn to compliment people sincerely and for no personal gain.

Compliment appearance—everyone wants to look good.

Compliment performance—everyone wants to be recognized for their effort.

 

Affirm self-respect by complimenting appearance and performance.

 

 

3. Give confidence

 

Like a tree, everyone has roots and branches.

Show genuinely interest in who they are and in their family (i.e. roots).

Show unfeigned enthusiasm for what they do and for their passions and dreams (i.e. branches).

When people reflect on their personal journey and the future they hope for, they gain confidence to keep pressing on.

 

Affirm strength by acknowledging past successes and future possibilities.

 

 

4. Give motivation

 

People enjoy talking about themselves.

Ask questions they will enjoy answering.

Pay attention to details.

Be sympathetic to their ideas and passions without judgement.

Recalling their story to a willing listener inevitably inspires the teller to greater achievements.

 

Affirm aspirations and inspire greater achievements by engaged listening.

 

 

5. Give purpose

 

Assign tasks, require responsibility and demand accountability.

The power of delegation is that it feeds the deep human desire to feel important and to do something purposeful and significant.

This is facilitated by establishing clarity:

  • easily understood instructions
  • clear, achievable expectations
  • precise, reasonable time frame

Everyone desires a high regard for themselves.

Challenging tasks with distinct parameters appeal to the nobler motives of human nature.

 

Affirm the sense of significance by assigning purposeful work.

 

 

We are familiar with the adage,

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for life.”

I say,

“Affirm a man’s worth, dignity, confidence, motivation and purpose, and you have empowered him for life.” 

 

Shalom!

 

Question: How will you give to empower someone today?

 

 

A Profitable Asset Too Few Invest

Written by Les Dahl on February 1st, 2016. Posted in Peace, Prosperity, Sage's Scroll

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Everyone has an unlimited supply of this asset.

Investment opportunities abound.

The R.O.I. is phenomenal.

 

What am I talking about?

A smile!

 

It’s no joke.

The numbers back up my claim.

After evaluating 3,000 participants from 79 countries, Jessica Pryce-Jones and her team of researchers compiled the following figures. Pryce-Jones is the author of Happiness at Work and CEO of iOpener.

The happiest employees are 180% more energized than their less content colleagues, 155% happier with their jobs, 150% happier with life, 108% more engaged and 50% more motivated. Most staggeringly, they are 50% more productive too.”

The researchers found that unhappy workers spent only 40% of their week actually ‘doing their job’, while happy workers were engaged in work-related 80% of their week.

Says Pryce-Jones,

This means they are putting in only two days a week of real [work], while their happiest colleagues are doing four.”

And, the happiest workers took 66% less sick leave.

 

But I don’t feel like smiling,” you say.

Just do it.

 

It is easier to control your actions than your feelings. Actions are the result or consequence of choice. You act on what you choose.

So, if you choose to smile, a smile will appear on your face, regardless of how you feel.

And if you practice long enough, smiling becomes a habit. You become an expert at it, and you reap its rewards.

Abraham Lincoln remarked, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

 

“But what’s that got to do with business?” you ask.

A Chinese proverb gives the answer: “A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

 

7 Reasons to Smile

  1. Your smile is the messenger of your goodwill—it brightens the lives of all who see it.
  2. To someone who has seen a dozen people frown, scowl and turn their faces away, your smile is like the sun breaking through the clouds.
  3. When someone is under pressure at work, at home or in the supermarket, your smile helps them realize that all is not hopeless—there is joy in the world.
  4. Your smile enriches those who receive it, without impoverishing you who give it—it costs nothing, but creates much.
  5. Your smile is rest to the weary, daylight to the discouraged, sunshine to the sad and Nature’s best antidote for trouble.
  6. A smile cannot be bought, begged, borrowed or stolen, for it is of no earthly good to anybody until it is given away.
  7. Nobody needs your smile as much as those who have none left to give—be generous.

       (Adapted from How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie)

 

I am determined to be successful and prosperous.

Seeing the ROI on a smile, I’m on a mission.

I am collecting as many smiles as I can every day.

How?

With a cheery smile, a friendly greeting, a sincere compliment, some light-hearted humor.

The response is delightful, the reward immeasurable.

Shalom.

Challenge: Make it your mission to give away and collect as many smiles as you can every day.