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Living “The Life” of 100 Years, (Part 1, Learning)

Living “The Life” of 100 Years

Part 1, Learning Years

 

Have you ever considered living a life time of 100 years?  What does it really take to do such a life feat?  What type of planning should be involved?  You may think you will never live that long, but what if you do?  What if the Lord blesses you with long life?  Will you be ready for your golden years, mentally, physically, spiritually, financially?  Have you been applying the knowledge you learned in life to improve your life so far?

100 years is 36,525 days (365.25 days in a year x 100 yrs). Even in today’s terms, that is a long time.  However in an earlier time, a time discussed in detail in the Bible, individuals lived much longer.  In Genesis 5:27, the Bible says, “Altogether, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years, and then he died”; Methuselah, being one of the oldest long lived men on record, if not the oldest.  Can you just imagine the type of planning that would be needed to live that long in today’s time?

Consider also, that God later in Genesis 6:3 mentions man should live to be approximately 120 years old.  Given that information, along with living a healthy lifestyle, consistently working daily at some God pleasing task and being assisted with the correct balance of pharmaceuticals it is very likely we may live close to being 100 if not longer and we should all plan accordingly.  What is your life long plan for your future?

How foolish is the thought of retiring at the age of 65 when you consider possibly living to the age of 100…much less 969.  It is true that many of us do not make it that long, but what if you do?  An article appearing on the Huffington Post website in November, 2013 at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/21/us-life-expectancy-oecd_n_4317367.html  tells today’s story of long life and to what age men and women are living too on average, around the world.  In the USA, women average around 81 years and men around 76 years and increasing year by year.

As I write this article, I have two children that have both completed over ¼ of their 100 year life; they are still in what the life line above shows as the “Learning Years”.  I myself have completed ½ of my 100 year life and am in what the life line above refers to as “Earning Years”.  Both my parents have almost completed ¾’s of their 100 year life and are just entering their “Yearning Years” phase.  Depending to what age we actually will live too, we will move through all phases mentioned above; starting on the far left with learning, then moving right to earning, then still farther right to yearning.

In the “Learning Years” we spend much of our first 30 or so years learning; first from our parents, then from teachers and educational organizations and then on our own.  Our first 10 years of life, our first decade, is spent heavily under our parents constant care. Here our learning starts with very simple life skills and communication and then progresses as fast as our parents and educators will teach us.  In our second decade, from 10 – 20 years, we start our process of moving beyond our parents care and their education and on to others ideas and concepts.  Here we begin to have a glimpse of whom we think we may become.  Our first 20 years of life, although viewed by ourselves as our entire life at that age, is really small and somewhat insignificant when compared to whom we may really be in the world as we age.  We simply may not be aware of this yet and may not fully see our potential for many more years.  By the time we hit our next decade, the 20-30’s, we are young adults and the childishness falls away from “most” of us and the world takes a firm hold of our life.  Many of us are still learning…learning about the opposite sex, serious dating, marriage, owning a home, having children and raising a family, a full time job or career, sharing and balancing our finances and how to handle our many responsibilities;  but still learning.

This learning phase is very important.  An education comes from many areas and not only from schools.  In today’s time, we can literally learn almost anything we would like and have the aptitude for.  The knowledge we learn is important, but applying what we learn is more important and persistence in applying what we learn more important still.  Many of us have failed to learn why we learn in the first place and then how to apply what we did learn.  Failing to apply what we learn, not applying discipline in our lives and not finishing something once we start it will have major impacts as we age and move through the upcoming decades of our 100 year life.  To live a successful life, we simply must have the discipline to apply what we learn and be persistent on obtaining those life goals that matter to us.

Sitting down and constructing a life plan at this point in your life will be very helpful to you and your future.  Continuously working on a life plan from year to year with professionals throughout your life after the age of 25 or so can help you have an even more successful impact.  A life plan and use of professional coaches will help you apply what you learned and provide a more disciplined structure for staying focused as well as persisting when things get difficult.  A disciplined focus and attention to what matters most will help you with your relationships, assist you in building a retirement nest egg and provide balance in all other areas of your life (spiritually, mentally, physically, emotionally), while creating positive memories and joy in your life.

I look at the 100 life line and see where I was 25 years ago (where my children are now – learning) and where I may be 25 years in the future (where my parents are now – yearning) and ponder how best to advise my children, learn from my parents and continue to apply what I have learned so far in my own life.

Are you applying what you have learned to improve your own life?  Are you learning from your parent’s successes and mistakes?  Are you still advising your children on suggested paths they can take, or not take?

Next week we continue this three part series, Living “The Life” of 100 years with part two, “Earning Years”.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

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8 Small Business Challenges

 8 Small Business Challenges

Running a small business today takes a lot of determination, stamina and problem solving skills by the owner if they want to even attempt to run a business.  If they intend for it to prosper and grow, they will still be faced with many waves of challenges that may knock them off their feet from time to time.  A small business owner will need to be aware of, understand and will probably have to address each challenge at some point in their business.  Let’s look at eight challenges that may need to be addressed.

  1. The Owner Themselves

An entrepreneur is a special class of person that has something that is driving them to start a business in the first place.  It could be a passion or they may have something to prove, whatever their reasons for starting the business, chances are they will be lacking in certain knowledge and skills.  They may excel in some areas and they may be able to work 22 hours a day to make up for a lack of some knowledge, but at some point time, their fatigue and uncertainty, while trying to do it all alone may get the best of them.  A business that is largely dependent on the owner can only grow to the point of that owner’s ability, willingness and time spent on getting things done.

  1. Lack of Direction, Strategy and Planning

An ability to solve most problems as they come up is another of the entrepreneur’s talents but solving day-to-day problems will only get a business so far.  Time has to be spent by the owner working on the business thinking through possible strategies, coming up with plans and providing direction or vision for the employees.  This planning action, besides being necessary for the business and its growth, helps provide the employees a path to follow and see how they might fit in with the company’s long range future.  It also may help the owner rest a little easier at night.

  1.  Technological Innovation and Information Overload

A small business owner and their team usually are spread pretty thin and wear many hats.  Usually, someone within the company is dealing with someone outside the company to make all the technology work correctly.  Needed improvements or upgrading to a more innovative technology is usually shunned because of the lack of skills or disruption it would cause within the company.  This along with not fully using all the available data being generated within your company to aid in making key decisions puts the small business owner at a huge risk when savvy new competitors enter your market.

  1.  Regulation and Risk Management

Many small business owners may not deal with heavy regulation or have large product liability risks to manage so they may not worry so much about this wave.  But the ocean of business is large and waves are always being created.  The new healthcare mandates may certainly change the need for small business to spend more time focusing in this area to stay in line with regulations as new law is finalized and takes effect.

  1.  Gaining Customers and Their Loyalty

Gaining and keeping loyal customers has always been the name of the game for most small businesses.  In fact, sometimes you have a customer before you have a business.  But once you are in business a marketing plan needs to be created, even if on a very small scale.  The process you go through to develop a marketing plan helps you look at and understand your customers.  What do they purchase?  What are the average sales; total annual sales?  Is one or two of your customers generating a large share of your revenue; your profits?  What type of leverage or risk might they place on you?  What other products can be sold: at what margins?  These are all questions the small business owner needs to be asking to survive and grow.

  1.  Cash and Resource Management

How your cash is generated in your business is a must for each owner to fully understand.  Where is the cash being tied up?  If in inventory, how can it be converted quickly into cash?  If it’s tied up in receivables, how can it be collected?  What type of lending arrangements do you have with your bank?  Most lending to small business has been seen by many bankers as more risky over the past years and is not likely to improve.  What else in your company has value if sold or can generate new revenue?

  1. Hiring and Training The Right People

A small business work environment or culture is made up from the main body of its employees.  A small business owner needs to attract, hire, train and keep motivated its core group of employees.  If one leaves or is not satisfied in the company, it can cause quite a problem.  These are the people that help you attain the lifestyle you are looking for by being a small business owner; a lifestyle that can be had from owning a successful small business.  Find out if you core group is happy, if they are not, make them happy or make a change.

  1. The Right Level of Quality For Growth

Each small business owner should determine what they want their business to be and if they are working through a strategic plan, they should be able to see what the size potential is for their specific business.  They should also understand what level of quality their product needs to be to satisfy their customers.  If the quality is too low, but adequately priced, you may lose customers who want a higher quality product.  If the quality is higher than what your customers are looking for and competitively priced, you may be losing margin.  In either scenario, you should always understand what your quality strategy is, your future growth and profit depend on it.

There are many opportunities for different small businesses in America today.  If an entrepreneur uses their talents, skills, abilities and resources effectively, they can prosper and become one of those that can live a lifestyle only dreamed about by most.  That lifestyle is given to those that run a successful small business.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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Building A Team

Building “A Team”

Having a group of individuals come together to successfully accomplish a task is why most of us want to build a team in the first place.  Whether for a short-term project or long-term engagement, team building can take a lot of effort.

There are all kinds of different teams in the world; sports teams, project teams, corporate organizational or business management teams, political teams, family teams and even married couples are a team.  They are all brought together through various ways and motivated to succeed at all kinds of different tasks or events.

Have you ever wanted to be part of a special team? Humans are social people and want to be on a team; it’s human nature to want to be part of something bigger than our self and be part of a group.  What teams are you on or would like to be a part of?

Building “A Team” From Scratch

If you are in charge of building a team you need to focus on several key areas:

First, you need to understand the special talent, skills and abilities needed to accomplish the task (which should be clearly defined).

Second, you need to find individuals that have those special talents, skills and abilities and recruit them into your group.

Third, if none can be found, you need to find those with the aptitude to learn the necessary skills and then train them.

Fourth, you need to motivate or incentivize them to all want to work together to accomplish your task.

Fifth, a leader (captain, champion) needs to step up and take responsibility for the team’s overall success as well as the individual success of the members of the team.  Leadership respect will be given to those that earn it, whether it’s the leader or a team member.

Managing “A Team” You Did Not Build

What if you did not build the team you are managing currently?  How do you know if your team has all the talents, skills and abilities to be successful?  If you are the leader of such a team, you need to address the five key areas we just mentioned above.

On your own, quickly go through each one of the five and determine if the members of your team should in fact be on your team.  Do they possess the talents, skills or abilities your group needs to succeed?  Can they be trained in the areas they are lacking?  Are they properly motivated to work as a part of the team?

Remember, your job as the leader is to accomplish the task, and to know that your group needs to function as a team.  The leader makes sure each team member does their part; that each member is held to the same standards as the other team members, feels part of the group and supports the group effort.  A good leader will praise team members in public and reprimand them in private when appropriate.  A leader leads by example and gains respect by giving it.

Many teams have succeeded and failed because of bad leadership.  Team building takes a leader that understands how a team comes together, works together and succeeds together.  Diligently following the five key areas we discussed above will put your team well on the path to success.

Go Team!

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

 

 

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What Profit Target Are You Hitting?

 $$$  What Profit Target Are You Hitting  $$$

Are you successful at hitting what you are aiming at?  How do you know what target is the one you should be aiming at?  Small businesses have always had a challenge with identifying the proper profit target for their business.  In fact, many new businesses go out of business before they consistently turn a profit, much less worry about attaining a certain targeted profit amount.

Our LifeLongU™ blog today explores ways a small business owner could focus their aim on different targets of profit. You may be reading this and think, “Isn’t that what all business owners focus on.”  I don’t believe they do.  Many I have met think about sales first.  They become sales driven organizations with processes focused on driving up sales, whatever the cost.  They have a philosophy that if we only had more sales, we would make more profits which is very dangerous and can hurt a company as quickly as having no profits can.  This way of thinking can create lots of sales activity, lots of risk, lots of cash being funneled through the business and lots of extra loose spending if proper controls are not in place to protect profit margins.  It can also create a “feeling” of profitability within your business, which might be false.

Are you clear on what profit you or your business is aiming at?  Are you hitting it?  Are you sure that is a good thing for your business?

One way to think about it is shown below; looking at Sales and Profits only.  It is simple and may quickly tell you what you want to know.  But only aiming at top line sales and bottom line profit numbers can get a business owner in trouble.  It simply does not tell you what you need to know about how your business is doing and how to fix what might be wrong.   This is the simple method (Example 1):

Sales – Cost of sales and “All” other expenses = Profit (what’s left over)

Hit_Example_1

Example 1

A more detailed approached is discussed below:

Again we start with Sales, but this time we break out the sales by product type (You may also think of this as different projects).  In our example below, we show three types of product (A – small product, B – large product, C – service, and in your business you may have more).

Next all material costs associated with each individual product type is deducted.  This will leave a profit number we will call “Adjusted Profit Contribution.”

Notice in Example 2 product type C – service has the largest amount of sales and is currently contributing the most profit as well (circled in green).  Keep watching that as we move through our discussion.

Example 2

Example 2

We want to track the adjusted profit contribution for each product type after each expense category is deducted from it.  This will show us problems we may have with our profit in specific expense category and then we can create potential solutions on how to fix them.

We continue to do this with each expense category, the next one being “labor costs” and continue to view the new “Adjusted Profit Contribution” total.  Notice in Example 3 the high labor costs associated with providing product type C – service (circled in green), it no longer is contributing much to our profits.

Example 3

Example 3

Now we deduct all “overhead allocation costs” associated with a product type.  Some products will have larger amounts of overhead (building space, equipment or other costs) associated with it in order to provide that product or service to your customer.  Using this method helps to allocate other expenses within your business to a product type.  If you chose not to sell that product any longer, you should be able to remove that expense from your business without impacting your other sales.

Notice in Example 4 how the adjusted profit contribution by each product type is slowly decreasing (circled in green), as we deduct expense categories that have only the expenses unique to that product type.  You should begin to see what product sales are contributing more profits to your overall business and those are the products we want to aim at selling more of.

Example 4

Example 4

In the world of accounting and financial statement reporting, after we have deducted the expense categories mentioned above, we are left with our gross profit margin, by product type.  This is what we have been working towards by individually breaking apart our sales and costs.  We want to understand how much profit each product we sell contributes to our overall profit or bottom line Net Income (before taxes of course).

In our current example, up to this point, it appears that all products contribute profit to our overall gross margin.  This in itself is a good sign, but we are not done yet.  Let’s continue…

We still have some selling (advertising, marketing, online, literature, etc…) expenses to deduct, by product type.  This area is also very important to track.  If properly tracked, you should be able to see and understand how your marketing budget and the money being spent on various marketing campaigns and activities is impacting your sales by each product type.  Notice in Example 5 the amount of selling costs associated with product type C – service.  Our business is spending approximately $80,000 per year in marketing and advertising dollars to generate $800,000 in sales. Is this a good thing?  At this point, it’s actually absorbing ($18,000) of our cumulative total adjusted profit contribution.

Example 5

Example 5

We have one more main category of expenses to deduct and that is general administrative costs.  Normally this holds more of the administrative type costs associated with running a business and can be very large or very small, depending how well you have allocated all your cost on products or projects.  This could also hold some other large expenses like interest, office rents, depreciation or amortization, insurance, etc… (Some of these should get allocated out by product type and appear in the Overhead Allocation Costs area above, as applicable).

As we look at Example 6 below, you will see that product type C – service also has some cost associated with it in this category.  It now is absorbing a cumulative total ($58,000) of adjusted profit contribution.  To think of this another way, if the company were to get rid of product type C – service and the $800,000 of sales, it would gain $58,000 of profit each year.  But in the real world, it usually does not work so cleanly.  There may be many reasons an owner or business may want to keep those sales within the company.  For instance, the service sales may be generating most of the small product sales from product type A.  A business owner should be aware of why they have sales and expenses at the levels they do, what needs to be changed and how to change it.

Example 6

Example 6

By now you should be able to see why we want to break down our profit and loss statement to show the details of what is really happening within our business.  It is not just a simple task of aiming for a certain budgeted top line sales number or a bottom line profit number.  Even when we hit what we are aiming at, that may not be in the best interest for us or our business.

When breaking out the sales and costs in detail, we can pick other targets for us to aim at, like:

  • Sales dollars by product type
  • Material costs, labor costs and overhead allocation cost, as a percent of sales, by product type
  • Gross margins $ and %
  • Selling costs associated by product type
  • General administrative cost associated by product type
  • and this is just the start…there is much more…

When looking at the bigger picture of our business, we can quickly decide on a new target, adjust our internal processes, take aim and fire.  Then validate the affect our change has made on our business.

Take good aim at the right target!

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

 

 

Are You Producing Customers?

Are You Producing Customers

Are You Producing Customers?

Successful businesses focus on generating new customers in multiple markets while servicing current customers constantly strengthening the value being offered by their product and service.  This enables a business to add additional product offerings to customers and increase the lifetime value of each customer to their business.

Where do your new customers actually come from?  As an owner entrepreneur or business manager, you should have a good handle on how a prospect becomes a customer within your organization.  What type of sales team do you have?  Do they have the correct incentive plan motivating them to convert prospects to customers and generate sales?  Are they properly trained and managed?  Can you use Rep’s to plug some of the holes in your sales territories?  Do you know where the holes are?  Does your product or service have a good presence at area trade shows?  Is your company getting any business from trade shows?  How many new customers do you generate each month?  Again, where did they come from?  What are the average sales per customer?

As the owner entrepreneur or business manager, you should have the answers to these questions.  Cash is King, but without sales, there is no cash.  Every business should be generating new customers and trying to increase the average sales per customer.

How are you spending your advertising dollars?  What market segments are you targeting?  Are you hitting those targets?  How do you know? Metrics should be in place to determine how successful each advertising campaign is doing.  How much is spent and on what type of campaign?  How are the prospects being handled when they come into contact with your company representatives?  Is each prospect contact being documented, presented with the correct response to their inquiry and then later followed up on with additional information, offers for product or service or personal sales call scheduled to close a sale?

Today’s businesses cannot allow themselves to sit idle and wait for sales to come to them.  If they do, aggressive competitors correctly going after business will find your customers as their prospects and convert them to their own customers.  They will gain one new customer and you will lose one valuable customer; how many times can you afford to have that happen?

With today’s social media and online presence, it is very fast, easy and inexpensive for savvy small business competitors to show up almost daily and begin to chip at your customer base potentially weakening the market position you worked so hard and long to create.

Here is a “Must Research & Do List” to help you prospect, convert, grow and retain your customer base:

Prospect

  • Identify who your customer is
  • Learn where that customer can be found or where they do their business
  • Define what their needs are (from your product or service perspective)
  • Ask prospects what products or services they currently are not able to get adequately

 

Convert

  • Learn the different ways to approach your prospect
  • Develop a sales training program and train your sales team
  • Present your value offering with three ways to become a customer
  • Close one of your three ways during your sales cycle

 

Grow

  • Analyze what your customers are buying, their average sales and quantity of sales
  • Find out what they are not buying and why
  • Research your customers and find out what they may need or have trouble getting
  • Provide new products or services to fill customer’s needs
  • Add new customers
  • Incentivize your sales team
  • Manage your sales team

 

Retain

  • Deliver an acceptable quality product or service quickly for a fair price
  • Provide great communication often and customer service promptly
  • Take care of any problems customers have with your product or service quickly

 

The growth, prosperity and longevity of your business depends on how well you fine tune your prospecting and customer conversion process.  Make sure you are producing customers that want to purchase more and more from you.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

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Can You Be A Philanthropist?

Philanthropy_Blog_pic_3

Can You Be A Philanthropist?

Many of us may think of philanthropy as something done by billionaires like John D Rockefeller, Henry Ford, Andrew Carnegie, Warren Buffet or Bill Gates who may have initially, set up foundations to outlast themselves.  That certainly is philanthropy working on a large scale and very helpful.   But in reality, philanthropy is practiced every day by thousands of people.  People giving their excess to a needy situation that will help right now and is very satisfying to them and their recipient today.

Some of the very large foundations being created or in existence today have a new business model, one where the foundation may not outlast its founder; one that more closely follows an individual’s day-to-day model. They want to be in control of how their excess gets re-distributed, not leave it to someone to do it later. The Lord blessed them with excess and with that comes a certain level of stewardship and responsibility to help those in need (Note:  not those with less, but those in need) (Read, “An Unconventional Billionaire is Revolutionizing Philanthropy by Closing His Foundation)  Many people like to give and many more people would like to have a say in where that gift gets placed or maybe even how it is used, right away.  Understanding where the donation went, who it helped and what impact on the needy did it have is a large key to attracting donations.

There are many occasions in the world that requires another’s consideration.  This attention can come in many forms and most of us think of this as a donation.  The donations of your time, of your things, of your knowledge and of your money are all needed by others.  The National Center for Charitable Statistics says there were 1,429,801 tax-exempt organizations (966,599 public charities, 96,584 private foundations, 366,618 other types) in the United States alone as of June, 2014. With that many charities around, matching a donation with the right recipient or the right organization can be a challenge.

Making the donations in an area you feel needs help is also a challenge.  Do people always come first?  What about the animals that are in need?  Surely the people come before the animals, right?  What about the environment?  Where does that fit in?

In Genesis 1:28, the Bible states, “God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”  Then again in Genesis 2:15 the Bible further says, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”.

Clearly, it is our responsibility to take care of the animals, the environment and each other.

So why do still see so many in need in the world, so many opportunities to give, to donate?  Well first, the charities listed above represent only those in the United States, not the world and the US only represents about 5% of the world’s population. But even in the US, with all those charitable organizations, we still have many opportunities and more occasions to give of our abundant excess.

In Deuteronomy 15:11, the Bible states, “There will always be poor people in the land”, and in Matthew 26:11 Jesus says, “The poor you will always have with you.”

It is clear; we will always have those in need.  It is our responsibility to try and fill those needs as best we can.  Most of us have been in need at one time or another in our lives and maybe that time will come again for some of us.  A “Good Samaritan” may be needed, and hopefully, one will show up.  Hopefully, you will be one of them for someone else.

Several years ago, I volunteered at a local food distribution charity where we broke down large bins of food into small family sized portions that got re-distributed out to those in need.  This seemed to me to be a worthy cause and I was excited to do my share.  After about an hour of working with a group of others and feeling comfortable and happy doing a good thing, I began to notice that we could be running much more efficiently and get much more accomplished.  I wondered why some basic automation had not taken over the jobs almost all our group was doing, so I asked the lead person who worked at this organization that very question.  They stated bluntly, that we have so many people that want to volunteer here, that doing everything by hand gives them something to do and makes them all happy, so we don’t automate these processes.  That answer really made me feel that what I was doing was not helping at all, only making myself feel good about me.

The point I would like to make here is to make sure you understand why you are practicing philanthropy and how are you practicing it.  If you truly want to help, make sure that the wants of the needy are the focus of your generous donation, whatever that is, and you are not simply just out to make yourself feel good.

What do you have to give?  Time?   Money?   Knowledge?   Things?

Give wisely, but give!  It is one of the secrets to true happiness!

 

Here are four very helpful websites where you can quickly learn more about many charities around the world.

American Institute of Philanthropy

The 50 Largest US Charities

List of Charitable Foundations

Charity Vault

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

Filter Your Senses

Filter Your Senses At An Early Age

How many times a day are your five main senses engaged with an offensive attack on your beliefs or convictions?  What have you seen today where the image has left a negative or damaging impression in your mind?  What touched you today that made your skin crawl?  What sounds have you heard that really are noise and have caused you to lose focus, distracted you from what matters in life?  Have you smelled or tasted anything that made your stomach turn or simply made you sick? Our five senses are being overly engaged to get our attention…what can we do about it if we don’t want to give our attention?

Our presence in today’s “civilized” world is full of life, some of it good, and some of it not so good.  In fact, some of it is bad, really bad.  As a person that holds themselves to a higher standard, we should try to filter out as much as we can of the things that try to draw us away from our beliefs and convictions.  If we continue to allow ourselves, our five senses, to be subjected to a barrage of stimuli that goes against our belief system, we will in time become desensitized.  Our convictions will slowly erode and we will find what once bothered us no longer is as much of an issue today.  Is this a good thing?

Our belief system is what it is…we are all somewhat of a product of our upbringing and those surroundings we grew up in.  We were all imprinted, first by God, as a cherished innocent new born.  Next our surroundings, as a child, start to overwrite our original imprint changing it to one of a “go along, to get along” mentality.  Our surroundings, those things that imprint on us daily, blend us all together into groupings of like minded individuals.  Some groups are very very large, in fact, in the hundreds of millions.  As we “mature”, we become a collection of all that we have learned (whether we wanted to learn it or not) and all that we have come into contact with.  Maybe positive, maybe negative; maybe good, maybe bad, but all contact has left some sort of an imprint on us, through one of our senses.    

In any case, a life filter is very necessary at a young age.  What we allow our children to come into contact with today, will imprint on them and make them part of who they will be tomorrow and in the near distant future.  Likewise, what we as adults subject ourselves to daily also has an impact on us.  Just look at how both men and woman treat each other today.  Also, how men treat other men and how women treat other women.  Compare that to several hundred years ago.  And make no mistake; the past was not perfect either.  But our surroundings today have imprinted on us in ways that make our lives much more challenging than they were at one time in the not so distant past. 

So what are we to do? One suggestion would be for you to place more filters on your life and on the lives of you children and loved ones.  Put some restrictions on what can be seen, heard, touched, tasted and smelled.  Just because others do it does not make it okay to do or mean you will not be harmed in some way.   Be a leader, not a follower!

If you are uncertain of your beliefs and maybe unsure that your upbringing or child surroundings where not all they should have been.  I would suggest you take a Bible and read…there is no other instruction on earth that will re-imprint in your heart, mind, body and soul what is right and wrong in your life.  Further, since the Bible is a very large book and our lack of filters in our life may cause us to seek a fast path to success… I would suggest you start with the book of Proverbs (Old Testament), and then move to 1st & 2nd Corinthians (New Testament), then read Matthew, Mark, Luke or John (New Testament).  After that, go back and start with Genesis (Old Testament) and really start from the beginning and read it all to the end.

Why should you read these first…because they will provide proper guidance for applying filters in your life right away, (Although the entire Bible is a must read).

Proverbs was written by King Solomon, said to be one of the wisest men who ever lived and tells us how we should focus and live our lives. 

1st & 2nd Corinthians was written by Paul, who in spite of his surroundings and past life imprints, made a major change in his life (with the help of God) and also provides us guidance on how to live. 

Matthew, Mark, Luke & John all tell the story of Jesus Christ and include many of Jesus’ actual teachings and lessons on what we should believe and how to live our life.  Who better to listen to than the Son of God!

Genesis, where the greatest story ever told, all begins; written by Moses and who if you recall, received the 10 commandments by God, himself.

Control whom you become by filtering the impact your surroundings have on your senses.  You may gain better control of the path you choose and it also may be far less complicated moving forward.

 

Gary J Kiecker

LifeLongU™

 

 

12 Attributes of a Good Friend

12 Attributes of a Good Friend

 

Just how many contacts do you have in your LinkedIn account?  How many friends on your FaceBook page?  How many followers on your Twitter account?  How many people are in your Google+ circles?  Are they all your friends?  Is what a friend has become or is this simply a competition to build a high number of connections, followers and friends started by each of these respective companies, to build their businesses?  I believe we may be degrading our personal friendships by spending so much time with friend quantity, rather than quality.

Has the meaning of the word friend taken on new meaning?

Dictionary.com defines Friend as “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard”, at least that is its first definition.  It also has, “a person who gives assistance; patron; supporter”, “a person who is on good terms with another; a person who is not hostile”, “A member of the same nation, party, etc”, “a person associated with another as a contact on a social-networking website”.  Accurate definitions, but which is your definition?  

If everyone you come into contact with in person or digitally is now a friend, what do you call those friend relationships really close to you?  Maybe they are still simply referred to as “a good friend” or “one of my best friends”?  After all, the Bible tells us to love they neighbor (that does not mean only the people living next to you), so we can probably say that everyone we come into contact with is our neighbor, our friend, or at least could/should be, at some level.  Any of which, at some time in the future, could become a good or best friend.

How much time do you spend working your friendships?  Why not spend time developing a relationship with a few quality friends rather than a high quantity of connections?  You only have so much time each day.  A while back, I wrote a blog on leisure time (http://lifelongu.com/2014/09/work-time-leisure-toil/) and how you choose to spend it.  If you use some of your discretionary leisure (free) time daily with a few friends, you more than likely will only have a few very close friends, because of a lack of time and that is ok.

To have “good friends” or “best friends”, you both need to spend time on your friendship together…and there are only so many hours in a day and so many days in the week.  Choose your time and the time spent with others wisely and then put in time towards building that friendship.

If you find a person and your friendship shows many of the following 12 attributes, you may have found yourself a very good friend, make sure you hold up your end of the friendship and be a “good friend”, maybe even a “best friend”:

  1. A person you feel some attachment or closeness to;
  2. A person you can trust and openly talk with;
  3. Someone who gives you good advice and tells you the honest truth from their perspective;
  4. They stick up for you when you’re not around;
  5. You mutually enjoy spending time together as companions;
  6. You  can usually count on them to help if you need it;
  7. Communication between you is frequent and comes in multiple forms (visits, phone calls, emails, texts and even letters);
  8. If you don’t communicate for some time, you can pick right up where you left off;
  9. Is someone that forgives you for doing dumb things, over & over again;
  10. They pick you up when you are down;
  11. They like you for who you truly are and know who you really are;
  12. Your relationship with them is very rare compared to your other acquaintances;

If you are very lucky, you may have found all these in one very special someone to you and you can spend most of your time with that person, and they may be all the friends you need.

What does “friend” mean to you?

Gary Kiecker

LifeLongU™