I’ve missed you all. Last year, when I left commercial real estate for the excitement of food safety, I knew my blog would change. I wasn’t sure what I had to write about. My posts have always flowed from my life.
Photo Credit – iStock.com
Additionally, I wasn’t sure how my new role at a new company would play out. I can tell you that it has been awesome. We are disrupting a $3 billion dollar food safety industry and having a blast doing it.
But I have missed blogging. I’ve missed having a place to clarify my thoughts. I’ve missed engaging with you. So this year is going to be different.
I heard Michael Hyatt say something this week that has stuck in my mind. I can’t shake it. It is the perfect thought to channel through your mind as we start a new year. He said:
You never drift anywhere that is worthwhile.
Think about that. The idea of being at sea with no force of direction. You are just at the behest of the current. The opposite of drifting is being intentional.
Based on the reader’s survey I did last month, I now know that about 80% of my readers are male. For those of you with daughters, I expect you will relate to this post.
Me and my baby girl
My wife and I were married in 2000 – by far one of my best decisions. I have the kind of marriage that has continuously exceeded my expectations. She challenges me to be a better man. She loves me. She completely rocks. I am blessed.
For whatever reason, we’ve never really engaged in Valentine’s Day. I commented earlier tonight that every day is Valentine’s Day being married to her. She promptly rolled her eyes and faked throwing up in her mouth.
But now I have a little girl. I am going to take her on a date for Valentine’s Day because I want her to know four truths.
Her daddy loves her. I tell her all the time, but I want to create memories with her. I want her to be able to look back and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love her.
Her daddy thinks she is beautiful. I’ve heard debate about this. I’ve heard that it isn’t good to let your kids think they are beautiful. I think that is straight from the pit and smells like smoke (as my buddy says). I think a little girl longs to know that her daddy is captivated by her. My little girl is beautiful. I tell her all the time. My favorite time of day is how she screams “daddy” and runs to give me a hug every time I come home – love it! She will never wonder if her daddy thinks she’s beautiful.
Her daddy wants to spend time with her. I naturally do more things with my boys. Tonight I took them to a local college basketball game. I left her at home with her mother. I can’t bear the thought that she could look back and wish we spent more time together. I’m going to tell her with my words that I love her. I’m going to tell her with my time as well.
Her daddy will guard her heart. I want to be a safe place for my little girl to confide in me. I want her to know that I am going to protect and look out for her. I want her to know she can trust me with her heart. One day, some young man is going to come and ask me for the responsibility of holding her heart. Until then, I want her to know that job is mine. I take it seriously. [And Clint from her preschool class – let this be a warning to you, little man!]
So this Valentine’s Day, we are going to go on a date. I’m going to let her see how she puts a sparkle in my eyes. We are going to laugh. We are going eat sushi (at least I will). We will probably go see a movie. I am going to try to make her feel like the queen of the world.
Question: So what are your plans this Valentine’s Day? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
For years, I’ve set New Year’s resolutions. For years, I’ve been frustrated by them. Regardless of when in the year you are reading this post, I challenge you to change the way you think about these resolutions.
photo courtesy of iStock.com
My parents taught me to set goals when I was a kid. I’ve written out my goals in various categories most years since. I set goals in these categories: spiritual, personal development, relational/family, health, career, and social. Every year at about this time, those resolutions have gone by the wayside.
Last week, I launched my first ever reader survey. The purpose is to understand my readers better so I can provide better content for you. If you haven’t already, please take 5 minutes to fill out the survey. It is super easy.
I read a book last month that I highly recommend. It is called The One Thing by Gary Keller. Awesome. He blew up some of the wrong thinking I had about setting goals. I want to distill that information for you.
Myths of Setting Resolutions
Multi-tasking – My wife claims to be great at this. I agree by the way. Most women that I know, in fact, are much better at multi-tasking than I am. However, multi-tasking doesn’t actually exist. Scientific studies now prove that you can’t multi-task. You just interrupt yourself – bouncing back and forth between tasks.
Some of us bounce back and forth quicker – some more efficiently. Studies now prove that should you focus your entire energy on one task at a time, you will do them all better and faster. I realize that my wife is now thinking that is a luxury she doesn’t have.
If you can, focus on one task or goal at a time. I have been failing at my New Year’s resolutions due to multi-tasking. I try to change too much about my lifestyle at the same time.
Habit Forming – I’ve heard for years that it takes 21 times to form a habit. You’ve probably heard the same thing. That is a lie. Studies now show that it takes about 66 days. This means most of us only focus on forming a new habit – or building a new goal into our lives – for 1/3 of the time it takes.
No wonder this has been a frustration for me.
Priorities?? – What are your priorities? Do you know what the definition of priority means? It means the main thing – the first thing. Do you realize you can’t have more than one first thing? You can’t have two first place finishers. It is impossible.
It is only in the last couple decades that the word “priority” has had the pluraliztion “priorities.” We have watered down the meaning of the word from the first thing to an important thing. But no longer for me. A priority is just one thing.
So here is my method for this year and beyond:
I have chosen the 6 habits (resolutions) that I want to build into my life this year.
One at a time, for two months (66 days), I am focusing all my energy on just one thing.
After the first habit is built into my life, I move on to the next most important one.
Imagine the impact this could have over the span of years. Think of the productivity and greatness you could achieve.
So how do you know which one to start with? Ask this question. Which of these habits will make it easier or unnecessary to accomplish the others?
Question: If you get 6 habits to build into your life in a year, I’d like to know what you would choose. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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One of my favorite movies of all time is Dead Poets Society. My guess is that you have seen it, but if not, it is inspiring. It contains some of the best quotes of all time. My favorite is contained in this clip – see if you can pick it out.
“Sucking the marrow out of life!” This line taken from a Thoreau poem describes a way of thinking. A way of living life.
But it is just a quote. To live like this – to maximize your potential – takes intentionality. It takes discipline. It takes developing habits that will produce the desired outcome – abundant life.
My mentor emailed me recently a link to a Dave Ramsey blog post. In that post, Dave sites 20 habits found in wealthy people. I have included this list below. As you read this list, I want you to ask yourself a couple of questions.
How do you stack up to this list?
How many of these describe you?
How does this actually make you feel?
How could living life this way help you “suck the marrow out of life?”
1. 70% of wealthy eat less than 300 junk food calories per day. 97% of poor people eat more than 300 junk food calories per day. 23% of wealthy gamble. 52% of poor people gamble.
2. 80% of wealthy are focused on accomplishing some single goal. Only 12% of the poor do this.
3. 76% of wealthy exercise aerobically four days a week. 23% of poor do this.
4. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during commute to work vs. 5% of poor people.
5. 81% of wealthy maintain a to-do list vs. 19% of poor.
6. 63% of wealthy parents make their children read two or more non-fiction books a month vs. 3% of poor.
7. 70% of wealthy parents make their children volunteer 10 hours or more a month vs. 3% of poor.
8. 80% of wealthy make Happy Birthday calls vs. 11% of poor.
9. 67% of wealthy write down their goals vs. 17% of poor.
10. 88% of wealthy read 30 minutes or more each day for education or career reasons vs. 2% of poor.
11. 6% of wealthy say what’s on their mind vs. 69% of poor. (This is the one that is most interesting to me.)
12. 79% of wealthy network five hours or more each month vs. 16% of poor.
13. 67% of wealthy watch one hour or less of TV every day vs. 23% of poor.
14. 6% of wealthy watch reality TV vs. 78% of poor.
15. 44% of wealthy wake up three hours before work starts vs. 3% of poor.
16. 74% of wealthy teach good daily success habits to their children vs. 1% of poor.
17. 84% of wealthy believe good habits create opportunity luck vs. 4% of poor.
18. 76% of wealthy believe bad habits create detrimental luck vs. 9% of poor.
19. 86% of wealthy believe in lifelong educational self-improvement vs. 5% of poor.
20. 86% of wealthy love to read vs. 26% of poor.
This list inspires me. It reminds me of what I know I should be doing. It encourages me to do better.
I shared this list for another reason beyond to encourage you to weigh your habits against these. When Dave Ramsey posted this list, there was an explosion of reaction. As a result of both the positive and negative reaction he received, he edited his post to include his commentary. I challenge you to read what he has communicated there – click here to do so.
Question: So how do you stack up to this list? As we finish the last days of this year, what would you most like to change about your habits for 2014? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
When I was in the 6th grade, I earned a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I was determined to be the Karate Kid. By the way, do you remember the little guy who was the smallest kid in your class. That was me.
I had yet to learn anything about physics, however. I did not know that regardless of unfounded arrogance, the big guy wins 9 times out of 10. I started running my mouth to a 10th grader stuck in a 7th grader’s body.
What happened next was over in 15 seconds. The 7th grader tried to throw me into my locker. I bounced off the locker next to mine right back at him. He hit me twice, and I laid on the ground looking up at him while everyone in the hall encircled us. All of this happened because I couldn’t control my tongue. Words have power – for good or for bad.
My dad had me write the 3rd chapter of the book of James 10 times. I think I still have some of it memorized. That chapter details the immense power of tongue. This chapter calls the tongue a fire – a restless evil full of deadly poison.
You have heard the saying, “You will eat your words.” That phrase stems from the book of Proverbs – chapter 18. Verse 20 and 21 say this,
From the fruit of their mouth a person’s stomach is filled; with the harvest of their lips they are satisfied. The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.
Words have the power of life and death. The way you use them will have a profound impact on the climate of your life.
5 Suggestions for Using Your Words Wisely
Words can define the culture and tone of your family, business, etc. – Do you affirm the behavior that you want to see more of? Do you praise your kids? Does your wife know how beautiful she is to you? Or do you criticize and tear down? The words you use will absolutely set the tone of your business or family. Don’t be the guy who complains all the time and wonders why his company has a negative culture.
Gossip is a cancer – Gossip ruins culture. It is a sign of cowardice. It disrespects everyone involved. Don’t allow it – period.
Beware of joking and teasing – This is a sensitive subject for me as I have wounded many people by what I believed was innocent teasing. Teasing destroys trust and breaks down communication. It can strike at the insecurities of a person’s heart. I grew up pretending like teasing didn’t bother me. It did. As a result, I kept everyone at a distance. This wound impacted my relationship with my friends, my parents, and even my marriage. It is something I’ve had to work through. Be very careful with innocent teasing.
Be intentional with your words – Some of us are naturally very thoughtful with our words. Some of us are not. I encourage you to understand the truth that King Solomon wrote about in the proverb above. Words have the power of life and death. Think about the good you can do with your words. If you don’t, your words will control you. And you will reap what you sow. Use your words to bless and encourage. Speak the truth in love.
Silence – This is my challenge to you. Build times of silence into your day. We are bombarded with so much noise all day long that it is difficult to think. A friend of mine said this morning, “The person who doesn’t know how to be silent doesn’t know who to speak.” Those in my life that give life with their words are thoughtful. They have these times in their day when they are silent. Try it.
Question: How can you improve the life of someone you love with your words today? How can the power of your words change your company’s culture and effectiveness? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
If you have never had to deliver bad news, you will. There are good ways and bad ways to deliver this news. I have proven over time that I am good at the bad ways. More than anything, I’m writing this post to myself.
Photo courtesy of iStockPhoto.com
I fired my first team member. I asked a friend if he was having an affair. I told a friend that a decision didn’t go his way. All of this in the last 18 months. My default style – and I blame the Marine Corps for this – is very direct. It is blunt. I like to tell them the headline right up front. Then I explain.
This does not tend to go well. They hear the bad news, and then don’t hear anything else I say. Looking back, I’m better at blind-siding people than giving them the best opportunity to receive the news well and with grace.
In the most recent case, my pastor was with me. His comment to me when we were done – “You weren’t awesome.” Frankly, I want to be awesome at this. I want the words gentle, sensitive, and empathetic to apply as much as firm, decisive, and fair. So that got me hunting. I have researched some best practices and distilled them for you in the list that follows.
9 Next Practices in Delivering Bad News
In person – This should be a no-brainer, but if you are conflict-averse, it will be very difficult. Delivering bad news is very emotional and your non-verbal communication has a huge impact. Not over the phone. Definitely not by email. Do it in person.
ASAP – Bad news is not like wine. It does not get better with age. We too often stall, delay, or hesitate because it is hard. Deliver bad news as soon as appropriate.
Sandwich – You may have heard of the sandwich method. I’ve heard this taught numerous different times. I’ve even coached my wife on how to use it. But I have failed to use it. The sandwich method is Positive – Negative – Positive. In other words, you sandwich the bad news between positive statements or good news. This is what I should have done in the case where my pastor remarked “not awesome.”
Decisive – Being decisive is hugely important when delivering bad news. The one receiving the news needs to know that the decision has been made – period. That may sound harsh, but it is not. The alternative is to allow for wiggle room. Wiggle room gives false hope, and that is truly harsh. When it is time to deliver the news, look the person in the eye and give a straight-forward and decisive delivery.
Empathy – Empathy is the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and feel what they are feeling. I almost completely lack this skill. Would that CVS had a pill for this. I would buy it. This was the advice given me by one of my confidants. Try to anticipate how the other person will feel.
Surprise – Rather, don’t surprise. I do this to people too often. I don’t want them to know ahead of time that there could be bad news, so I surprise them. This is mean. Give people a head’s up about what’s coming. It allows them to prepare themselves emotionally. It can take shock out of their reaction. Warning them is compassionate.
Truthful and Concrete – This is the part that I’m good at. Don’t beat around the bush. Tell them why. Give them the truth. But give it to them with as much love as possible. I’ve heard the quote: “Truth without Love is brutality. Love without Truth is sentimentality.” I think it applies here. Speak the truth in love.
Silver Lining – I hesitated putting this one on the list because it could sound like spin. However, there is almost always a silver lining. I think it can be positive to point it out. If not for them to consider when their emotions come back down to earth.
Dignity and Respect – Should you do the first 8 on the list, the result should be that the person hearing the bad news will feel treated with dignity and respect. That is your goal. A goal that I have repeatedly failed at.
Question: What have you found to be the best way to deliver bad news? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
This week I had the privilege of traveling to Salisbury, MD to visit SVN Miller Commercial. This group is the Sperry Van Ness 2012 Firm of the Year. They are a study in how to build a team with incredible culture. They like each other. They have tradition. They have camaraderie. They absolutely dominate their market.
I had the pleasure of training their entire company primarily on prospecting. At the end of our afternoon together, Brent Miller played this video. I was so moved that I wanted to share it with you.
Enjoy! And attack next week as if you cannot be stopped! What are you going to accomplish this week?
I was putting the boys to bed last night, and they asked me to tell them a story. There is just something about stories. They suck you in. A good story-teller can take you into their world. They can transport you into another place.
My beautiful wife and 2 youngest
I shared with my boys a story from boot camp. I had about a dozen guys from Puerto Rico in my platoon. While we were at the tropical paradise of Parris Island, a hurricane hit Puerto Rico. The guys in my platoon were concerned – as you would imagine. However, they made a mistake. They went to a Puerto Rican Senior Drill Instructor for information – from another platoon. Going outside our platoon brought serious consequences.
The next afternoon, my platoon was practicing drill on the parade deck with that other platoon. Before I know it, the Puerto Rican guys in my platoon – and me! – are kicked out of my platoon and sent to the other platoon. Imagine what this looked like. A dozen Puerto Ricans and a white boy from Kentucky walk across a large parade deck with all of our gear and our rifles. When we get there, that Senior Drill Instructor looks at us and sends us back. When we get back to our platoon, we are told to go back to other platoon. For an hour, we bounce back and forth like a dozen ping-pong balls.
So why was I included with my Puerto Rican brothers? I have no clue. My boys were so enthralled about the past of their daddy, they have been asking me all day what I did. They were enthralled by power of a story.
The previous post shared the first four ideas: love your spouse, become a student of your children, pursue the hearts of your kids, and develop your family culture. Here are the second four ideas for being a better parent.
In conjunction with developing your family culture, stories are a great way to communicate and strengthen the values of your family. Share with your children stories of your past when you endured. Tell a story about how you paid a price for doing the right thing – and why it was worth it. Stories knit together hearts. Stories demonstrate how values and principles play out in real life. They are powerful.
Me and the Beast
There is nothing more effective, in my opinion, then apologizing to our children. I spoke about pursuing the hearts of our children before. The truth is, we are going to make mistakes as parents. We are going to act in anger. We are going to have a bad day and dump on our kids. These mistakes break the trust we are trying to build and strengthen with our children. When we apologize for these mistakes, apologize, and seek the forgiveness of our children, we can restore this trust. This also allows our children to see what they should do when they make mistakes. Don’t be too proud or act like you never make any mistakes. Humble yourselves and apologize.
Be Intentional About the Relationships with Your Children
I have two great friends that do this so well. One has 5 children and one is expecting their 7th. Each of these world-class dad’s have a special night with each child each month. This practice seriously helps becoming a student of your children and pursuing their hearts. I need to do better here. Know your children. If I spend a special evening with each of my children once a month, I need to do what they like. I can take my oldest son to play basketball, and he is in heaven. If I do the same with my middle son, I am going to miss his sweet spot.
Dads are especially not good at this. It is in our nature to provide. We naturally see our role in the family as protecting and giving our family what they need – and want. We too often find our identities in our work. Our children equate time with love. Don’t believe the lie that says, “You are a good dad because you just provide.” Our children need us to be with them.
So here is some food for thought on how we can be better parents. What would you add? Let us know in the comments below!
Recently, I was able to connect with one of my closest friends while driving home from a trip to Chicago. This guy is the kind of friend that everyone needs. He was in my wedding. I was in his. We were fraternity brothers at Murray State University. He was the quarterback. I was the receiver. We even dated the same beautiful Southern girl (not at the same time) who I now get to call my wife.
iStockPhoto via jodijacobson
He is the kind of friend when you haven’t spoken for a year, it is like it was yesterday. Everyone needs at least one friend like this. I am blessed to have a couple.
My friend was sharing with me an opportunity he has to leave the corporate world and start a business. He has created something special that could be incredibly valuable to his customers and himself. However, he told me that he doesn’t think he’ll do anything because he doesn’t have a clue about starting or running a business.
Fifteen minutes later I had brain-dumped all this information on him. Now, I have started a business (that failed), and I have owned a business that I sold. But the stuff that I was telling him surprised me. How did I know this stuff?
Then it occurred to me that I was repeating a lot of great information that I had learned through listening to some incredible podcasts from businesses leaders across the United States (actually, most of them are in Nashville).
If you are not familiar with a Podcast, it is literally someone recording themselves speaking about some subject. It is much like a radio show. However, you can download these podcasts on your iPod, iPhone, or other smart-phone or mp3 player. You simply subscribe through iTunes – for free – and they automatically download whenever a new episode is published.
Before I share with you which ones I love and recommend, let me share with you how I consume this information:
While working out – I can kill two birds with one stone when I engage my mind and my body at the same time.
While driving – great content is so much more effective than coffee at keeping me alert. Not only that, but I can transform my car into a classroom and make the most of every moment.
On a plane – I’m actually on a plane as I write this somewhere between Nashville and Atlanta. Were I not writing, I guarantee that I would be listening to one of the following podcasts.
48Days Online Radio Show by Dan Miller – Dan Miller rocks. A mentor of mine suggested that I connect with him last year. I ended up hiring him as a career coach. He is also a bestselling author of 48 Days to the Work You Love and other books. His podcast centers around careers, business plans, business models, and other career related info. You can’t listen to him and not get fired up about what is possible.
Ray Edwards Podcast – Ray probably has my favorite podcast. He is very transparent and genuine, and he basically let’s you in on his life. He is a productivity freak (I mean that in a good way). His podcast is broken up into segments which I love. He has a main message of each podcast, but also has a tech tip of the week, a spiritual foundations segment, and a segment with Stu McLaren who is great. Ray is also a marketing genius.
Entreleadership Podcast – I can’t believe that this is 4th on my list, but the others are just that good. This is the podcast from Dave Ramsey and his main man Chris LoCurto. Every show has a short message from Dave that sets the theme, but then they move to a guest interview. The guests are amazing and are a who’s who when it comes to business. You can’t get this kind of access to this kind of wisdom and experience anywhere else I’m aware.
Podcast Answer Man with Cliff Ravenscraft – This podcast is obviously a little more technical. I include it because at least the first three podcasts listed above are a result of Cliff’s expertise. He is the expert when it comes to podcasting. I hope to introduce my own podcast this year so I have been studying up. Cliff is also a Kentucky boy like myself!
In one sentence, these podcasts are like being able to sit at the feet of these guys and learn from their wisdom. And it’s free!
So who do you listen to that I don’t? Who would crack your top 5? Let us know in the comment section below!
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post on what I’d learned from my 12 years of marriage. At that point, it was my most read post. That was a pleasant surprise. However, when my kids saw the picture of their mom on my blog, they asked me to write a post where I could use their pictures. So this post is for them.
I remember when my wife told me that we were pregnant for the first time. I was so excited. I was also terrified. I instantly realized that my child needed me to be a better man than I was at that moment. This was an absolute defining moment for me. It changed me. I became dedicated to becoming that kind of dad. I became serious about my faith. Everything changed.
I’m certainly no expert in parenting, but I have learned some things. Here are the first 4 keys to being a rock star parent.
Love Your Wife
I don’t think there is anything greater you can do for your kids then to give them the security of knowing their parents have a strong marriage. Enough said on this one.
Become a Student of Your Children
“Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” ~ Prov 22:6
I’ve heard this verse quoted by many parents with wayward children trusting that this verse means they will come back to the faith. I’m not sure that is what this verse is talking about. I don’t think the bible teaches that parents have the ability to parent in such a way that guarantees the salvation of their children.
I think this means that parents have the responsibility to help their children reach their potential. This means that parents must be students of their children. What are their natural abilities? What are their passions? It is like a great puzzle. I ask my boys all the time what they love doing.
If your kid is creative, champion that in them. My oldest is very competitive, so I play sports with him all the time. Do whatever you can to help your kids grow towards their potential. This does not mean making them into what you are passionate about. This is not about you.
Pursue the Hearts of Your Children
This idea is nebulous, but you want access to your children’s hearts. Are you a safe place for them to really share what is going on with them at a heart level? I want to suggest that you only get a few chances when your kids will open up the windows of their hearts and give you access. If you are a safe place for them, they will give you the key to their hearts forever.
Two things can revoke this access quicker than anything: anger and teasing. If your child shares a heart-level secret with you and you get angry – access revoked. If your son shares with you his feelings for a young lady, and you tease him, he’ll never share it with you again.
Pursue their hearts. Gain and treasure that access. Protect it! Be that safe place.
Develop Your Family Culture
Developing a family culture gives your kids an identity. Here are some things that we do together as family:
We eat together almost every night.
We pray together every night – rotating between the 3 kids’ rooms.
We share and reinforce the same values – honesty, a strong work ethic, risk-taking, caring for each other.
We play together – sports, coloring, building Lego’s, hanging out together on the couch watching The Biggest Loser, etc…
Later this week or maybe next, I’ll share with you the next four ideas. In the meantime, share with us a great idea from your experience as a child or a parent. What is your favorite memory with your parents? What would you add to this list? Comment below!