From birth we began acquiring knowledge: knowledge about our family, our bodies, our lifestyle and any other areas. Our brains are able to hold a great deal of information – far more than we would ever have time to study for. Just learning about how much knowledge our brains can hold is feat enough and would keep us busy with years of study and research.

There is no way we could possible learn everything there is to know about this earth and everything in it. So it is best to accept that fact early on and decide what things we truly want to know about, what things interest us and what things can help us make a difference in this life.

WHICH KNOWLEDGE?

One question to ask is what do we want to know? What do we want to study and become a subject matter expert? Which knowledge path should we take? It all boils down to what we enjoy doing. We should start with gaining knowledge about the things we enjoy doing. We can always improve, learn more and get better at the things we enjoy when we look for ways to gain more knowledge in that area.

WHY NOW?

The real question is “why not now?” If you snooze, you lose. Many things we learn are evolving and changing. We can learn something one day only to find out it has changed and there is a new way, a better product or another opportunity for change. Learning now and taking take to gain knowledge in a certain area not only keeps in the loop of current trends, but it helps us get experience as well. It also gives us more study time to become more knowledgeable about the subject.

HOW DO WE DO IT?

Gaining knowledge comes in many forms. Some easy. Some not so much. There are, of course, books and articles we can read. There are people who we can interview or read about who are already good at what we want to learn. There are training classes and hands on activities. We can teach, we can write, we can listen. And, there is trial and error. Any of these will work. We just have to get started.

My way of gaining knowledge is to research, write, create programs and teach. I have learned that sharing with others what I have learned helps me to remember and helps others as well. Just as I am writing this blog about knowledge, I have learned new things about our brains, knowledge and about how to acquire it.

My encouragement to you is to pick a few ways to gain some knowledge and go for it!

Here is a great site to visit:

https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/22/14-ways-to-acquire-knowledge-james-mangan-1936/

 

We have often heard others remark how talented people are. They mention they are gifted or do really well in a certain area. Talents are different – that is for certain. However, how we use our talents and develop them is pretty much the same. Doing some research on finding and developing our talents led me to these conclusions:

OUR TALENTS COMPLIMENT OUR PURPOSE

We sometimes wonder what our purpose is here on this earth. We may passively mention it to someone at church. We may see others who are working toward their purpose and wish we knew ours. We may even take a few assessments to see what in the world we are good at. One thing is for sure; our talents do compliment and help us complete our purpose. Using our talents will bring meaning to our lives and help to others.

WHERE DO WE GO TO FIND OUT TALENTS?

The answer to this one is not simple. But it is true. We have to dig deep. We have to look within us to see what things we like, what we comes naturally for us and (the tough one) look into our past. Many people say forget the past but they are talking more about forgetting the bad things. However, we do need to look at our past and see what we enjoyed doing as a child. And what we didn’t enjoy. We have to eliminate some things to get to what we think may be our talents. However, we are the ones who have to take time to discover our talents if we truly want to know what they are.

GETTING TO THE BOTTOM OF IT

Once we think we have a good list, we can begin to experiment with the list and do a little volunteer work here and there. We will know pretty much right off the bat what we enjoy the most and what feels more like work. Then we can begin striking off the list the things we have determined are not our talents and keep the ones we enjoy the most.

ON TO DEVELOPING Developing our talents is what we can continue to do for a lifetime. We can start out small and look for ways to use our talents a few times a month or we can jump right in and do something every day. Getting involved in the community using our talents will certainly develop them. Also, getting involved in organizations where people have the same talents will help us sharpen our talents.  And, finally, creating something from scratch where we can use our talents and make a difference will help us to complete our purpose on this earth.

I am ready to get my list together and find my top talents. Are you?

TALENTS, KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

We all have them. We may try to dismiss the fact we have talents, hide our knowledge and dismiss our skills but that doesn’t make them go away. In Marcus Buckingham’s book “Go Put Your Strengths to Work,” he tells us that our strengths are our talents, knowledge and skills. However, taking time to actually think about what ours are is where we seem to be failing. Let’s look at each separately and see if we can’t get busy thinking about what our they really are.

TALENTS

I can remember growing up believing I had no talent whatsoever. I felt like a fish out of water most of the time as I would listen to my friends sing beautifully, dance creatively or do some type of art where they took something ugly and made it beautiful.

Our talents are what comes naturally to us. Our talents are what we enjoy most and seem to talk about a great deal. If we want to know our talents, we can ask a few people at work, school, home, etc. and write down the feedback we get from them. Then we can look at the list and see which ones we enjoy the most and go from there.

KNOWLEDGE

Basically our knowledge is what we have learned in life either through tough lessons or through education. Knowledge can be acquired on a regular basis. We have control of what we want to learn so we have no excuse to say we don’t know. Let’s make a running list of the things we know to get an idea of what knowledge we do have.

From the book “You Can Do Anything!” by James T. Mangan, he give 14 ways to acquire knowledge. Surely we can find 3-5 ways we can more knowledge on some subjects of interest, on our own talents or our skills.

An article about his book is at: https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/04/22/14-ways-to-acquire-knowledge-james-mangan-1936/ Read it and write down some ways you can acquire knowledge this week.

SKILLS

Our skills are the things we have practiced over time combining our talents and knowledge. We have practiced them so much that they almost seem automatic.

There are many skills assessments online we can take to determine our skills; however, I did a little research and found a great site that discusses skills and has some assessments to take at: https://www.careerkey.org/identify-your-skills/index.html

WE CAN DO THIS!

I am starting a book recommended by a new acquaintance. It is called “Let the Elephants Run” by David Usher. It is about creativity. He says stop thinking that everyone was born with a creative mind but yourself. So true. Just as I used to believe I had no talent, no knowledge and no skills, I have since learned I do have some of all of them. And I am creative. I can make things happen. David goes on to say “creativity is 95% work and discipline, and just 5% inspiration.

That is what I had missed. I was lacking the work and discipline part. I expected it to just happen naturally. Wrong. If we want it, we have to work at it. Just like everything in life.

I am ready. Are you?

 

It is so easy for us to stay busy in life without really learning much about ourselves. For many years I pretty much listened to what others thought about me and accepted that as truth. I was told I was shy so I acted shy. I was told I was quiet so I stayed quiet. I was told many other things negative about myself so I began to believe what others said to be true.

One reason people shy away from really getting to know themselves is because they tend to believe what other people think about them as truth. However, that is far from the truth. Others don’t know us as we know ourselves. And, even better, others don’t know us as God does. We and others are blinded by our own biases and perceptions whereas God sees the truth.

So how does this relate to shying away from knowing and developing our strengths? Many reasons but here are a few:

  1. We shy away because we think we are already as good as we are going to get or we are comfortable where we are. We don’t want to change.
  2. We shy away because we don’t think we can be any different or we are afraid we will fail if we try. We don’t want to fail.
  3. We shy away because it requires effort and research to learn more about us and to develop the strengths we have. We don’t want to do the work.

These reasons are legitimate but they are simply excuses. Many of us have experienced these excuses and continue to experience them as we live in our world doing whatever we want without knowing the full capabilities we really have.

Maybe it’s time we took a “real” look at ourselves. Maybe it’s time we did some real digging and soul searching to learn about what we enjoy doing, what we are good at and how we can use that to help others. Maybe it’s time we stop shying away from our strengths and use them to make a difference.

I am ready. Are you?

It’s been over 14 years since I read the book by Marcus Buckingham about developing strengths. Rather than using that 14 years to fine tune my strengths and develop them with a plan an purpose, I have haphazardly done a little here and a little there working on some strengths but no documentation of what worked and didn’t work.

This blog is going to be about what I am doing to purposefully develop my strengths. It doesn’t matter (to you) what my strengths are but what I do want to pass along is what is working and not working so it may be helpful to you and encourage you to discover your strengths and develop them.

Why am I doing this? Because I want to live a life that is fulfilling knowing at the end of my time on earth I have used the skills and talents God gave me to add value and help others.

Why am I sharing this? Because I want to reach out to others to encourage them to follow along, ask questions and join me in this journey of self-improvement. For now it is about developing what we are already good at and enjoy doing.

Let’s work together and make a difference!

First Steps:

Write down what you believe are your strengths and what you are good at.

Find an article on why strengths are important to our development and our purpose in life.

List one thing to do to develop your strength.

 

It’s hard to imagine but even before we were born, there was evil in the world. There were bad business deals. There were crooked politicians. There were even false prophets trying to sway people away from God. Even though we think things have changed a lot with people treating others wrong, things really haven’t changed much at all. Sin is in the world now as much as it was thousands of years ago. However, how we deal with it and react to it is what is important. Because in the end, we will be standing before God and will be accountable for all we do.

Ephesians 5:15-16 “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” (NLT)

Dear Lord, we know these days are evil. We can’t go a day without hearing of a bad business deal, a lying politician or an angry mob. We don’t understand why there has to be so much evil except for the fact that Satan is really playing so many people and getting them to stir things up. We pray today You will give us peace in the midst of all this evil doing. We pray You will help us to be wise. We pray You will help us to make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

There has been sin in this world sin Adam and Eve. How we react to it is important.

Satan wants us to keep things stirred up in this world so people will continue to hate. Let’s not Satan win.

We will all be accountable for our actions when we stand before God on Judgment Day.

We are called to make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.

We are called to let our good deeds shine for all to see so we can give God all the glory.

Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” (NLT)

Focus: Despite the evil in this world, God tells us we can make the most of every opportunity to share His word.

The other day I woke up in pain. It is extremely rare for me to hurt. Until my 50s I rarely had any health problems. However, lately I have been finding myself at the doctor or hospital for various reasons. My finances are not in the best shape either. My relationship could use some work. My job is getting mundane even though I enjoy it, I am thinking about a change. If we were honest with ourselves, we would find many thing to be down about. Sometimes how we feel about a person or a situation can really bring us down.

Enjoying life isn’t always easy for many reasons. There are tough times which bring us down. There are people who hurt us. There is negativity in the news, online and sometimes in our own homes. It has been said we can’t help how we feel but we can help how we think. We can change the patterns of our thoughts by replacing bad thoughts with good ones. Of course there will sometimes be extremely sad times and it is certainly okay to grieve, but we need to move past it at some point. Here are some thoughts on how to change our thinking.

EXAMINE THE REASON

Many times we feel bad but we don’t know why. We feel blah or unhappy. We feel unmotivated to get anything done. Those dang feelings get in the way of us doing what we should be doing. The best way to remedy this is to do something small. It may to go have a positive conversation with a friend…a positive friend. It may be to do a small simple task and finish it. That completion will give us satisfaction and desire to do more. When we look at the reason we are upset and can’t find one, we need to do something – anything – to move forward and get out of our slump.

REPLACE NEGATIVE WITH POSITIVE

One good way to change our thinking is by replacing the bad thoughts with good ones. Sometimes we just don’t feel like doing this so this is something we have to plan ahead for. If we think about what usually brings us down and put it on paper, then we can come up with some alternative solutions about our thinking. An example would be when we are broke. Rather than feeling sad that we have no money, we can look around at what we do have and be grateful for what we have. When we replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, we will soon find life more satisfying.

MEDITATION

Many people like to clear their minds and get things off their minds in order to remove the negative thoughts. Some people sit and meditate. Others kneel and pray. Taking a break from reality and clearing our heads helps us to get those negative thoughts out of our minds. It takes practice and discipline to do this on a regular basis but it is extremely helpful to move past the negativity.

Whatever the reason for our negative thoughts, we need to remember it is possible to control what we think. We can look for ways to replace our negative those with positive ones. We can look at the reasons and step out and do something to move past the negative thought. We can meditate or pray to clear our minds so we can change our thinking. It is possible. And, when we are thinking more clearly and positive again, we will find a solution to whatever bothered us in the first place.

Many people misuse the word friend. They are our friends because we are friends with someone else they like. They are our friends because they need something we have. They are our friends because they have no other friends. When we put ourselves first in any friendship, it is for the wrong reasons. Friendship is about a relationship. It is about understanding and getting to know the other person. It is about what we can do for them. Not what they can do for us.

I have had many friends over the years. Some who lasted for a few months. Others who lasted for a few years. And some for a lifetime. Friendship isn’t easy. The reason some friendships don’t last is because one person gives up. Either because they get busy with other things or they just don’t care to make it work. Either way losing that person as a friend hurts. Being shunned or mistreated by those who were your friends may seem childish but it happens even as we get older. When we are shunned by those who we thought were our friends, here are some things to do.

PRAY

We are so blessed we have a friend in God. Despite what we do He doesn’t hold grudges. He loves us unconditionally and will always be ready to listen to us when we cry out to Him. He is the type of friend we need and the type of friend we should be to others. We can pray to Him to ask us to not have a hard heart toward those who mistreat us but to continue to show love to them.

LOVE

Despite how the other person treats us we should continue to show love. We don’t know what they may be going through. We don’t know what has caused them to shun us. We don’t know why they continue to act the way they do. But we can ask God to help us show them love and ask Him what we can to do to help them.

FORGIVE

Even when the other person may not believe he or she has done anything to hurt us but we feel hurt, we should forgive them. We don’t have to say it verbally to them but we do need to forgive them in our hearts. We can move on once we forgive. When we realize the devil probably has a hold on them to treat us the way they do, it will be easier to forgive them. It will be easier to let go and let God handle things.

We have possibly all had a friend who has done something to hurt us. Intentionally or unintentionally, it still hurts. Rather than let it build up inside us and take over our lives, we need to let it go. We can’t make people like us. We can’t make people treat us like they treat their real friends. However, we can be the friend to others we want to see in them and not worry about the rest. The Golden Rule works. When we live by it, God will take care of the rest.

 

Throughout my marriage I spent my time trying to please my spouse. I did whatever he asked. I went wherever he wanted to go. I cooked what he wanted. But sometimes that just wasn’t enough. I was making myself miserable by only being happy when I was able to please him. Looking back I now see the problem. It wasn’t him. It was me. I was trying to be who he wanted me to be rather than who God wanted me to be. When we try to please others, we will never be happy. However, when we live to please God, we will always be content and have joy.

If you are living a life where you are trying to please man, or woman, and you are finding you just can’t do it, know it’s time for a change. Whether it be at work, at home, with a friend, etc. Know that it’s time to change and focus on pleasing God by living in obedience to Him. When you decide to make that change, you will find many rewards. Here’s how:

GOODBYE OLD

It’s time to clean house. This doesn’t necessary mean the things where you live but the things in your mind. What old thoughts keep bringing you back to where you feel bad about yourself? What old ways do you need to turn from? Remember God is all about helping and renewing us but we have to be willing to get rid of the old. Ask God to help you change your thoughts.

HELLO NEW

Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to the things of the world but to let God transform us into new people by changing the way we think. Then we will know God’s perfect will for us. Only God can give us the right things to think and do. His will is perfect and He will help us by transforming us into the people He created us to be. Go to Him and submit your life to Him.

MAKE IT STICK

Changing our thought patterns is not a one-time process. To make a change that sticks, we have to be committed to that change. Commitment comes with new habits, new thoughts and new ways. To live a life pleasing to God and not man we need to get into God’s word, read it daily and talk to Him all day long. He is our new best friend. He wants us to live by His commands because they are good for us. To make our new ways stick, we need God every day.

Thinking back on my marriage, there were a lot of things I could have done differently that would have made it a better marriage. However, through my mistakes I learned much. Because I failed at so many things, I succeed now. If you struggle with something in life, don’t look at it as a failure. Look at it as a learning opportunity and thank God for what He is teaching you.

Growing up I was always quiet and shy. I had a hard time making friends. I think it was because I moved around a lot since my dad was in the service. So when we finally settled in one place after he retired, I had to learn the skill of friendship around age 12. It was rough. Kids were mean. I was shy. Every day someone poked fun at me or ignored me. That went on through high school as well which didn’t help my self-esteem at all. I decided I would watch what I said to others because I didn’t want anyone to feel like I had felt growing up.

Many times we don’t even realize when we are treating someone wrong. We may not intentionally ignore someone. We may just be focused on what we are doing or thinking. We may not realize the look we have on our face that is serious or sour. But those around us do see it. What they see is an unhappy person. What they see is someone who doesn’t seem to care about them. That is why we need to be sure when we are with others, we are thinking about them and showing them we care. Here are some ways to do that:

BE AWARE

So many times we are wrapped up in our own world. We are thinking about what we have to do. We are looking ahead at tomorrow and what all is going on. We aren’t focusing at all on the moment we are in right now. We can change though. We can be in the moment. We can notice our family is in the room with us and put the phone down. We can observe someone who is standing next to us in line at the store and speak and smile at them. We can think about someone who is going through a hard time and give them a call or visit them. When we are more aware of the needs of others and take action, they will know we care.

LISTEN

We are people who tend to talk more than listen. Usually when the other person is talking we are thinking about what we are going to say next. Listening is a skill. It requires effort. Listening to others means to take the focus off of us and put it on them. When we listen to someone, we can get to know them, their needs and determine how we can help. When others are talking, let them finish. Then ask questions that help them open up so we can determine what they really need.

PRAY

I have recently learned that if I want to remember people’s names and make friends, I need to pray for them. This helps me focus more on them and their needs and helps me show a more caring attitude toward them. Praying for others is something we can do that doesn’t take long but pays out big dividends. When we pray for someone, we are showing God we care about them and want to help them.

There are people in need everywhere we go. When we are more aware of those around us, when we listen to them and when we pray for them, God is going to help us know how to best help them. We should make a list of people who we know and begin to pray for a better relationship with them trusting God to answer and show us what we need to do next.