INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“If someone wrote a book about your life . . . would anyone want to read it?”
~ TV Recruiting Ad (U.S. Navy)
FICTION OR NON-FICTION?
Fast-forward your life 20, 30, even 40 years. Now . . . imagine someone writing a book of your life story. Think of the possibilities. Would it be motivational, a mystery perhaps, or even science fiction? What about reference, a novel, true crime, short story, or an expose? Would it be found in the children’s section of the library, the reference section, or under biographies?
Wow – the possibilities are endless. The good news is – YOU are the lead character, and get to make all the choices! Close your eyes and visualize how it would read. Assume that the author is an unrelated third-party who knows every detail. That’s a scary thought, isn’t it?
If the chapters were written in chronological order, which ones would make the best reading? Undoubtedly, the ones from age 12-20 would provide some interesting material. From 20 to 40 would be excellent transitional chapters with lots of “Ah-ha!”s and course changes. The final chapter may be the most revealing, however. Think how many readers like to skip to the end to see how the book ends.
If you could skip to the end of your own book, how would it read? Summarizing the entire book, would you say it was a thriller, a shocker, a spell-binder, a tragedy, a romance, or an inspiration?
Your life is a book waiting to be written – write it well!
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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“Happiness is like a butterfly. The more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn your attention to other things, it comes softly and sits on your shoulder.”
~ Anonymous
DRAW YOUR OWN MAP!
Imagine you’ve planned the trip of your dreams – say from North Carolina to Colorado. You’ve charted all the roads, have a fist full of maps just in case, and have your priorities straight in your mind. You get started on a beautiful sunny day, and begin enjoying the ride.
Late in the day, as you approach the Mississippi River, you drive straight into a bank of heavy fog. You turn on your lights, but still cannot see 10 feet ahead. Just because the highway is out of sight doesn’t mean you’ve lost your way. Continuing on the path you’ve set for yourself, you soon break out into the sunshine again – still headed in the direction of your dreams.
In perspective, consider that the trip represents your life’s goal – your first priority. Steering your vehicle down the highway hour by hour represents your efforts to reach your goal. The fog bank illustrates the momentary interruptions and obstacles encountered on your journey.
As day #2 begins, you find that you’ve come to an unexpected intersection – one that’s not on your map. Confused, you pull over and examine the map closely. Stay to the right and you’ll end up in Colorado. Take a left and you may arrive at an unanticipated, yet equally wonderful destination.
OK, let’s cut to the chase! Sometimes your priorities change, don’t they? Just as you think your goal is in sight, a new opportunity arises. Remember the saying that “life is a journey – not a destination”? What’s exciting is that YOU are in control of the steering wheel, and whatever destination you choose is OK – so long as it’s YOU who has made the choice.
Happy motoring!
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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“If you take too long in deciding what to do with your life, you’ll find you’ve done it.”
~ George Bernard Shaw
“Before enlightenment – chopping wood, carrying water. After enlightenment – chopping wood, carrying water.”
~ Buddha
FEELING STRESSED?
Oh – the frustration of it all. The first quote for today deals with the importance of having direction – goals – in your life. You know – we’ve all heard it for years – our life will be happier, more prosperous, more meaningful if we have a plan, know where we’re going, and work systematically at getting there.
If you’ve tried to do that, you’ve undoubtedly met with a great deal of frustration along the way. It’s like the expression “Life is what happens to you while you’re planning other things.” No matter how hard you work at your plan, there are those constant interruptions that get in the way, and make it seem so difficult. You are not alone.
As important as the first quote is, think about the second one. A modern paraphrase might go like this: “Before setting and achieving your goals, and having control over your life, your days are filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc. After working your plan and achieving all your dreams and goals – your life is filled with trivia, interruptions, hassles, disappointments, family responsibilities, etc.”
Taking control of your life can result in great personal satisfaction, provided you understand it does not bring you to perfection. Intertwined in our desire to achieve peace, success, and enlightenment, there is still plenty of wood to chop and water to carry. The day-to-day responsibilities of life do not disappear. We simply gain the strength to bear them more readily – and with a smile.
So – carry on with your plans and your dreams. They are vital to a great life. Yet remember the words of Jules Renard, who said, “There are moments when everything goes well; don’t be frightened, it won’t last.”
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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“Men are disturbed not by things that happen, but by their opinions of the things that happen.”
~ Epictetus (55-135)
LIGHTEN UP!
Ever feel yourself getting perturbed by something that happens during your day? Ever have the urge to say something about it, when silence might be the best approach? Perhaps you feel the need to make a judgment about each situation that arises.
Maybe it’s time to slow down a bit. As the song says, “Don’t worry – be happy!” The truth is – none of us have the right to judge others, nor their actions. We can control only one thing – our own actions. If there is something to be judged, it would be our reaction to things that happen, not the events themselves.
In Stephen Covey’s “Seven Habits,” Habit #5 says, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In explaining, Covey states that “People do not see the world as it is; they see it as they are – or as they have been conditioned to be.” He goes on to make the simple statement that “When you understand, you don’t judge.”
Once you take the time to understand each situation, there is no longer a need to judge. Interestingly, when others realize that you no longer make those judgments, you will find that they no longer judge you either.
Want to free yourself from being disturbed about the events of the day? Just follow the advice of Epictetus, who said, “When considering the future, remember that all situations unfold as they do regardless of how we feel about them. Our hopes and fears sway us, not events themselves.”
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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“There is a law in psychology that if you form a picture in your mind of what you would like to be, and you keep and hold that picture there long enough, you will soon become exactly as you have been thinking.”
~ William James (1842-1910)
YOU CAN’T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS!
Walk into a totally dark room. What do you see? “Absolutely nothing,” you say. Now, turn on the light. Where did the darkness go? Really – where is it now? Hopefully you will agree that darkness cannot exist in the face of light.
During a lifetime, we experience many types of “darkness.” It may appear in the form of discouragement, fear, hopelessness, grief, ignorance, or poverty. Yet, in every case, there is a “light” in which such darkness cannot exist.
Fear, for example, cannot exist in the face of courage. Education denies ignorance any chance of survival. Grief disappears in the presence of peace-of-mind. Discouragement ceases when hope prevails. Wealth denies poverty its chance.
No matter what form darkness takes, it cannot exist when faced with its opposite. That also means we have the ability to send darkness on its way at any point in time. No matter how overwhelming the darkness appears, it is our thoughts and our minds that ultimately control the outcome. How powerful is that?
In the words of several favorite authors: “Think you can, think you can’t, either way you’re right.” “Your life is what your thoughts make of it.” “We are what we think about all day long.” Finally, in the words of Tom Bodett, from one of his Motel 6 commercials: “We’ll leave the light on for you!”
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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”
~ Albert Einstein
A WEALTH OF CHARACTER!
A couple of years back, there was a terrific “rags to riches” story that ran on the newscasts, and it still remains in memory. A gentleman won a $220 million jackpot in Idaho, although that fact is not what is so extraordinary. It’s what he planned to do with his winnings – invest for the future.
Most folks would allow themselves to go a little crazy if they became instant millionaires. After all, you could spend – say, oh two million bucks – and still have plenty left over for the future, right?
Well, this fellow’s plans were to “build a billion-dollar empire to take care of my family and to give opportunities to the people who have given me opportunities.” Taking his one-time lump payment of $125 million ($85 million after taxes), he wanted to amass a one billion dollar portfolio within fifteen years. Immediately, a team of attorneys, public relations gurus and financial advisers began working to help him achieve his goals of investing in business and donating to charitable organizations.
Not wishing to bask in the limelight or expose his family to the compulsory media frenzy, he tried to remain anonymous, but discovered that was in violation of the lottery’s regulations. Telling two family members when he won, he broke the news to the rest of the family during a special meeting where they expected to hear of a terminal illness, wedding engagement, or marketing scheme.
The sports enthusiast’s “big splurge” was a professional racing bicycle – no yachts, luxury cars, or vacation homes. He simply wanted to continue enjoying the things he always had, and to remain the person he always has been.
It’s clear that regardless of winning the lottery, he is the type of person who would still have done everything in his power to improve his life, the lives of those around him, and the lives of those in need. He shows that character is not measured by one’s success, but by one’s value. One wonders how he’s faring today, and how we increase the net worth of our own “character portfolios.”

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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“Gardner’s Law: Eighty-seven percent of all people in all professions are incompetent.”
~ John Gardner
PERSONALITY TEST!
Let’s hope today’s “inspiration” isn’t actually true, although we’ve all probably felt that way at one time or another. Regardless of the percentage, however, it cannot be denied that incompetence really does exist in every profession, even those like physicians, attorneys, school bus drivers and stock brokers.
Some people do a great job no matter what it is they do, while others can’t seem to succeed even after trying several careers. Sometimes it’s not really a matter of competence so much as matching a job to specific abilities, interests and personality. An introvert who enjoys working alone probably shouldn’t pursue a career in communications, while a creative person who enjoys the outdoors likely wouldn’t be happy in accounting. No matter how hard you try, you just can’t force yourself to love brussels sprouts!
How much of the “incompetence” that we encounter is simply the result of a person who is mismatched for their job? We all have certain skills and personality traits that better suit certain types of careers, but we often start down that path before we’ve ever gotten to really develop and know ourselves. We believe our parents, guidance counselors, and spouses more than we do ourselves sometimes.
Realizing your true personality is challenging. Applying that knowledge to your choice of career is even more difficult, but absolutely necessary if you want to be happy in your choice. If you’re feeling dissatisfied, try to find at least some small aspect of your job that you find enjoyable, and aggressively apply your personality to it to produce more satisfying results.
If that’s not working for you, perhaps it’s time to take a long hard look at where you’ve been and where you are and why you don’t like it there. Matthew Arnold said, “Resolve to be thyself; and know that he who finds himself, loses his misery.” You’ve probably learned a lot about other people in your lifetime. Aren’t you ready to know yourself?

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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“Until one is committed there is hesitancy, a chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless dreams and splendid plans. That the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
THE RICH GET RICHER!
In “Rich Dad’s Guide to Investing,” the author talks about taking risks. As an example, “Rich Dad” says, “There is risk driving a car. But driving the car with your hands off the steering wheel is really risky.” With regard to driving a car, his point is easily understood.
His real message, however, goes a little deeper. He’s really speaking of the risks people associate with investing. While there are inherent risks in any investment (just as there are in driving to the grocery store), if you don’t take control of the risks (as in keeping your hands on the wheel), the risks can quickly overwhelm you. Rich Dad goes on to say that, “It is not necessarily investing that is risky, it is the investor who is risky.”
Whether you are investing in yourself, your business, real estate, or a stock portfolio, Rich Dad advises that you first gain control over yourself. This is accomplished in two steps: first by creating a written financial plan, and second through intensive study. Both make it possible to get a firm grip on your investment wheel. The written plan is your road map to successful investing, while study provides the knowledge level needed to invest wisely. Collectively, they put you in the driver’s seat, giving you control over your investing direction.
If the idea of investing your way to wealth appeals to you, you must first commit to pay the price in time. You do not necessarily have to “have money to make money.” Like any successful endeavor, however, you must be willing to invest your time, and we all realize just how valuable that can be!

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INSPIRATION FOR TODAY:

“First of all, you must find the right track, So you can start right away and not be held back. But which track is yours? Well, that all depends On which way it’s going, and where it might end.”
~ Craig Dorfman in “I Knew I Could!”
THINK YOU CAN?
Regardless of your age, you were probably introduced as a child to a wonderful book entitled “The Little Engine That Could.” If you will recall, it was the story of a small red locomotive personality who believed it was possible to pull a very heavy load uphill – a task that was shunned by other larger locomotives. The little engine huffed and puffed up the hill, all the while repeating the mantra, “I think I can! I think I can! I think I can!”
It was a cute story that contained a very powerful message about persistence and the ability to overcome adversity. Now there’s a sequel entitled “I Knew I Could!” A quick ten-minute read, it clearly outlines our ability to make our own choices in life. Using illustrations of train tracks and those cute little locomotives, you are easily led to the understanding that we choose the life “tracks” upon which we travel.
The book suggests that before picking one of those tracks, we should determine the direction it might take us, and the destination we might reach by so choosing. Sounds like real life, doesn’t it? How many times, and in how many ways, must we be taught this lesson? If we fail to make our choices wisely, we have consciously made the choice to live at the mercy of happenstance – as did Alice in the following excerpt from “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”:
“Cheshire-Puss…,” said Alice, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?” “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat. “I don’t much care where -” said Alice. “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat. “… so long as I get somewhere,” Alice added as an explanation. “Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Life – it’s your choice. Toot! Toot!