Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Trump Won. Here's What You Should Do Next.


Trump won. There are a great many people celebrating this as an obvious victory for pro-life Christianity and little people everywhere. I remain unconvinced of that fact, but I've set aside my personal feelings on that matter and have decided to do what is best for everyone involved. Here is my advice on what we should be doing next.

1. Pray Daily

I don't care if you like Donald Trump or if you hate him. Pray for him. He has been put in a very powerful position, and he's going to need every ounce of courage he can muster to fight for what is right. Love is what will give him that courage. Every time you pray, you send a little bit of your love his way. If he's covered in an avalanche of love, he will become the kind of man he needs to be to lead people in the right direction. People who are loved open up, flourish, and become their best selves.

If, by contrast, he's starved of love he'll do the exact kinds of things you fear most because a heart deprived of love becomes fearful, anxious, worried about everything, and cowardly. A heart that's hungry for love will feed that void with every vice and bad habit imaginable, will become whomever they feel they need to become in order to get that love.

2. Serve Others Daily

I've said it from February forward, but it bears repeating. If you will simply seek to serve one person a day, each and every day, no matter what Trump does, the world will become a better place. It only takes changing one person's life for the better to change the entire course of human history, and if you've changed 365 people's lives, in a year from now each of those 365 people will be making positive changes in the world around you, too.

If we all commit to doing this, well, imagine 300,000,000 people making a positive difference in the lives of 300,000,000 other people each and every day for 365 days. That's 109 billion positive changes made to the world - and that WILL make America - and the world itself - great again with or without Donald.

3. Resist the Urge to Blame

Blame stops you from being part of the solution. It makes you a victim and takes away your power to make changes happen by blinding you to the part you play in the situation. It also stops you from being able to reach across the aisle and learn from someone who has achieved something you haven't or who knows something you don't. If you're blaming someone else, you're conceding your personal power to them and you're preventing yourself from learning the things they could potentially teach you.

Instead, when you find yourself tempted to blame anyone else ask yourself, "What can I do to take control of this situation and how can I personally make it better?" Expect yourself to be the solution. Expect yourself to be capable of making that positive change you want to see. Ask questions of people who are where you want to be. Listen to them and learn from them.

4. Be Prepared.

Trump is going to issue in change whether you like that fact or not. You have no control over what he does. You can only control what you do in response to it. Be prepared for your country to change quite radically. Be prepared for things to be uncomfortable for you for a long time. 

Why? Because destruction must take place before construction of anything new can begin. You are going to see a lot of destruction. The economy may be destroyed. Jobs may be lost. Our entire country's geography may change. Countries may align themselves against us and it may look dark for a long time.

This isn't cause for fear, it's cause for celebration. If the destruction is happening, it's only to prepare the way for something bigger, better, stronger, and much healthier to be built. Something that will last longer because it will be infused with love and love never dies.

5. Don't Give Up Hope

Never, ever lose your hope for the future. No matter how dark things get, no matter how bad things seem, remember that dawn always follows the darkness, and spring always follows on the heels of even the worst winter. The trees will eventually bloom again and life will go on.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Selling God: Creating the Comparison


In the last post on entering their world, I told you I would help give you guidelines for how to create the comparison that shows them what is possible for their lives if they adopt your solution.

You’ve aligned with your past and you have painted the picture of what was taking place in your life at that point. It’s time to create the “after” picture. This is a demonstration of the solution at work. It’s your proof that what you have to offer really works.

Where are you in your life after having applied the solution? How has the solution helped you to overcome the biggest challenge you were facing back then? How did it help you to resolve your worries, your concerns, and the frustrations arising from that situation? What did you discover that your real problem was and how did this solution help you to find and eliminate the true source of your problems?

How does it feel to live the lifestyle you do now? What is the best part about being where you are now compared to where you were then? How do you feel about yourself as a result of the changes you’ve made? How has it impacted your relationships with other people?

How do you see yourself differently than you did then? How do you see the people who are where you were back then? Do you still want to be like them? Why not? What has changed about how you see things? How do you see the people who are where you are now? What changed your perspective?

What things matter most to you in life now? What do you spend most of your free time doing? Why? What matters least to you? Why don’t you care about those things anymore? Why don’t you think they matter? How do you feel about the difference between your priorities now and your priorities then?

What are your greatest hopes and ambitions now? Why do you want those things? What do you think it will do to change your life if you get them? When you compare your hopes and dreams now with the hopes and dreams you had then, how does that make you feel about yourself and your future?
What do you know about the solution you offer that you didn’t know then? What experiences have you had since those days that have changed how you view the solution now?

Creating this comparison for them allows them to see a potential outcome that they may never have imagined was possible. It also gets them to question their assumptions about the source of the problems and what the potential solutions are to their problem.

If you’ve never spent the time to really think about what the solution has done for you or changed for your life, this can be a really eye-opening experience. It will certainly deepen your appreciation for it.
When you’re selling a product that you didn’t create, your personal testimonial is the absolute best proof you can offer because it’s third party verification of what the product can do for someone. As long as your testimony is authentic and genuine, it’s not being paid for by someone else, your intentions are sincere, and you’re transparent about it, this is a powerful way to reach past your prospect’s defenses.

If it is your product and you developed it, or you are being compensated to promote it, you’ll need additional testimonials from people who aren’t paid, who have direct experience with what your product can do for them, and who are willing to share that information with your prospect in order to provide that same level of confidence.

Next Post: Share the Lessons

You have shown them where you were and compared it to where you are now. It's time to open up and share the lessons you learned to get there so they can follow along with your journey.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

Holding on to Faith in the Face of Mesothelioma



Heather Von St. James is a 10 year Mesothelioma survivor. Mesothelioma is extremely aggressive and has a long latency period. It usually goes undetected until it is in an advanced stage, one of the reasons that most patients only make it a year or two past the diagnosis. This is Heather's story.

I was a busy salon owner and stylist in a salon/day spa. Married to the love of my life for six years, we finally decided it was time to start a family.

I was 35 when we decided to start a family, and we were fortunate, it only took a few months of trying before we were successful. I had been on birth control pills for part of the 6 years, but started to use the rhythm method.

I had just become a new mom when I was diagnosed with mesothelioma. I first suspected something was wrong because I only gained 5 pounds throughout the whole pregnancy.

Lily was a healthy 8 lbs 14 oz. Perfectly perfect.  My doctor was not concerned about my lack of weight gain because I was heavy to begin with. I weighed 230 lbs when I had her, so my doctor just chalked up the lack of weight gain to eating better and keeping active.

After I had Lily, I started losing weight. A lot of weight. 5 pounds a week. I started having issues with my breathing. I was short of breath all the time. It felt like a truck parked on my chest, and my energy level was extremely low. I could hardly get out of bed in the morning.

I chalked much of this up to postpartum issues, but when I started having a low grade fever every day, I knew there was something more going on. I was one of the lucky ones. My doctor knew something was amiss and would not give up until he had answers.

I got my official diagnosis just two weeks after the first initial appointment with him. I knew diagnosis took time, and I had no choice but to wait.

My family was with me and I kept busy with Lily.  My biggest fear was dying and leaving Lily.  Not raising her. Her not knowing who her mom was… that scared me the most.

After the diagnosis, I had to quit my job and sell my portion of the salon that I co-owned. My life went from being full of happy thoughts about the future and full of innocence to the foundation being torn out beneath me. Nothing was certain anymore.

I will always have to deal with the idea of the cancer coming back. Everything had to be rethought. Things that used to matter didn’t matter as much anymore. What I thought my future would be like crumbled.

I am happy to say that I’ve survived more than 10 years since that diagnosis. I made mesothelioma awareness and patient advocacy a priority in my life, and am so very blessed to lead the life I lead. I may not have my salon career anymore, but I’m making a difference in people’s lives.

The diagnosis completely changed my priorities. I don’t sweat the small things anymore. I will choose doing something fun with my kid over housework or anything else. I live in the moment because, frankly, I don’t know how long I will be around.

My approach to relationships has changed as well. I no longer have trouble cutting toxic people out of my life. It is a matter of health for me. I learned to say no to people who used me and learned to take care of myself.

My faith life has become more real. God is a partner in my life, not some big omnipotent being that holds the puppet strings. He is with me in this life to support and love me. That is what I’ve come to know.

My family is much closer, and we depend on one another for many things. I could not have made it through those first years without them. My immediate family of Cams, Lily, and me is great. I love it. We are working through this crazy life together, and we both approach raising Lily differently now. She is turning into an amazing kid.

Before the cancer, our relationship was good, but after it gave us a new urgency to spend time together.  We don’t take each other for granted anymore.

Intimacy between my husband and I started to suffer even before the diagnosis. During pregnancy, I could not stand to be touched. Then after surgery it got even worse. Going through extensive surgery, then chemo, followed by radiation, totally killed any semblance of a sex life. It was a rough year or two, but slowly but surely, things got better. 

I would say we still had intimacy, but not the sexual kind. it was deeper than that.  Through the cancer, we were able to connect on a totally deeper level. Everything had been stripped away and we had to rely on one another. It wasn’t easy, but we were able to communicate and talk through a lot. Things are still not 100%, but it’s something we always work at.

The hardest part about the fight against cancer was losing the people I thought were my friends. The very people I thought would be by my side through thick and thin were nowhere when I got my diagnosis. They deserted me, as if cancer were contagious and they would get it by being around me.

When I would call or reach out to them, I was treated with such coldness and scorn. It was devastating. Sadly, this has happened to almost every cancer patient I know.

I didn’t join a support group during my actual treatment phase. Mesothelioma is so rare that finding a group was hard. Patients are spread out all across the world.

A few years into my survivorship journey, I found out about The Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation and their support groups. Throughout the last few years, with the introduction of Facebook and social media, there are now online support groups. But I act in more of the advocate role than the patient now. Heather can be reached at heathervsj@mesothelioma.com

To someone who has just been diagnosed, I would say:
1)    Don’t be afraid to ask for another opinion.
2)    Find a medical team you trust and can work with and a specialist for your type of cancer or disease. It can mean the difference between life and death.
3)    Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You need your family and support system more than ever.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Problem with Religion


Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. — Edward Gibbon
Religion gets a bad reputation all the time. People blame it for divisions, wars, and every evil in humanity. And, to be honest, if you look at history, it's not hard to see why. Religious wars happened. People fight and die for religion, and they will kill for it, too.

The Problem Isn't Religion. It's What's Missing From Religion.

But that actually isn't a problem with religion. That's a problem with what religion becomes when the key ingredients to living it right are removed. Without love, guidance, education, and nurturing, religion becomes nothing more than a series of rigid expectations and legalistic indoctrination haunted by growing inconsistencies and overbearing nosiness.

That's because once you remove those four ingredients, you've removed God right out of the picture and you've turned your religion into something that's based on human wisdom and understanding, which is as infinitely subject to misunderstanding and failure as those who direct it.

Religion Is About Relationships

The focus of religion is about relationships, and how to have a healthy relationships with God and with your neighbor. That's why you see common elements among all religions: rules about how to speak to one another, teachings about the importance of forgiveness, and how to live in family with one another. It's also why almost all religions have their believers gather together frequently. That gathering together cements the relationships and keeps them going.

Why Love Matters

Love is the nature of God, so if Love is missing from the religion, so is God. To the degree that love is present in the religion, God is present. Once you remove love, the focus becomes controlling behavior. Someone who loves others doesn't need to be told not to hurt them. They don't want to hurt them. But for one who doesn't know how to live in love, they have to be told what not to do so they don't hurt other people.

Why Education Matters

We are all limited human beings, and we see things from a limited point of view. The more educated a person is, the broader their perspective is on life and the better able they are to see things from someone else's point of view. The more educated we become, the more point of views we encounter and the better able we are to discern what is the truth from what is not. The truth is a core ingredient in love because without the truth, there can be no trust and without trust there can be no relationship.

Why Guidance Matters

Having other people to guide you when you encounter relationship troubles or struggles in life is essential. You need to know that you're not the only one going through this, and you need to hear from them what they did. That's why we are given parents and aren't dropped off on planet earth with no connections or support. We're placed in families so we can get the guidance in relationships that we need to get started, but eventually our families run out of experience to offer us. We need more than what they can give and that is what religion provides.

Why Nurturing Matters

If you don't feel comfortable turning to someone else to ask for help, you won't admit when you need help. Nurturing provides that environment that makes it safe for people to speak up and admit when they are struggling. It lets them know that it's okay to come forth with their needs and to see the guidance that they need in any area of life. Religion that doesn't provide that nurturing support turns into judgmental nosiness that tells people how they should be living without giving them the help they need to overcome the hurdles that are stopping them from living that way.

Do You Need Religion?

I don't think that's the right question. I think the right question is: do you need help with relationships? I think, if you're honest with yourself, you're going to find that question is always "Yes." The truth is that we're surrounded by people and we physically need to live in relationship with them. That's a need that's built into our very DNA. 

But we can't read their minds and we don't always know how to behave in ways that gets them to open up to us and let us in. We get hurt and we don't know how to get past it. Without guidance, education, nurturing, and love, our interactions are destined for failure. And that is where religion comes in to help us. It passes on the collective wisdom and knowledge of centuries of human beings, combined with the instructions from the One who created us all.

Choosing the Right Religion

Since there are a great many religions out there to follow, it can be a tough call to figure out which religion is the right one. I won't tell you what to do. I will simply quote the words my husband spoke to me months before he converted to the Catholic faith from being an avid atheist:

"Every other religion out there is Catholic minus something they didn't agree with. I don't want to be minus something. I want to go with the religion that gives me everything."

Selling God: Enter Their World


For you to be able to speak to your audience in a way that makes sense to them, you need to enter their world. You need to put yourself in their shoes and remind yourself of what it was like to be there. And this, again, goes back to your story.

Think about where you were when you first encountered the situation that eventually led you to the solution. What was the biggest challenge you faced at that point in your life? What were your worries, your concerns, and your frustrations with the situation? What did you think you needed in order to resolve the problems? What did you see as the source of your problems?

This takes effort. It’s not easy to go back and remember all of the things you were thinking and feeling in that past moment. Honestly, most of us get past the moment, push it to the back of our minds, and lock it away so we don’t HAVE to feel it again. But if you want to reach out to your prospect and connect with them, you have to go right back to where it all began for you and remember what that was like.

And, moreover, you need to do it from the perspective of where you are now. You need to look at the situation objectively, and re-examine every detail based on what you know today. Take a look at the people in your life and how you behaved toward them, the way you reacted and responded to things that happened to you, and how you made decisions.

Your prospect isn’t going to be exactly like you, but they are going to be enough like you that when you start sharing your story with them, it’s going to feel authentic and they will easily be able to see themselves in that story. The feelings you had back then are a good starting point to understanding the feelings they are having right now. Experience will help you fine tune your message.

Take a look in the mirror at that stage of your journey. How did you see yourself? How did you see people who are where you are now? Did you want to be where they were? If you did, what did you think it took to get there? If you didn’t, what was it about them that made you not want to be part of them?

What were the things that mattered most to you in life at that stage? What did you spend most of your free time doing? Why? What mattered least to you? Why did you not care about those things? Why didn’t you think they mattered?

What were your greatest hopes and ambitions? Why did you want those things? What did you think it would change about your life if you achieved them?

What beliefs did you have about the solution you offer back then? Did it exist and did you know it existed? Had you tried it before and found it lacking? Did you know anyone using that solution? 

What was your experience with those people and how did that impact your views on the solution?

All of this is relevant. All of this paints a before picture very clearly in the mind of your prospect and sets them up for the next stage: creating the comparison.

Tomorrow's Post: Create the Comparison

Now that you have given them validation and shown them that you understand where they are, it's time to show them where they can go. Come back tomorrow for the next lesson in selling God: creating the comparison.

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Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Selling God: Find Your Message


In yesterday's post on selling God, I explained that your mess would help you identify the audience that your message would appeal to and showed you the process I use to do that. Today, I'm going to help you find your message in the middle of all that mess.

Why You Want to Share

Your message is the reason why you want to share your product, your service, or your faith with the other person. It’s the reason why you care enough about your prospect’s future to step out and face the risk of rejection so that you can share it with them.

An Invitation to Join You On Your Journey

This is an invitation to your prospect walk with you on your journey so they can see it through your eyes and judge for themselves whether or not they would like to take the steps you did to get where you are. You are not trying to force them to do anything. You are inviting them to come with you.

Open Their Eyes to Possibilities

Your message, and the authenticity of it, allows the other party to see what can be possible for them if they are willing to follow the path you walked. It lets them know that you understand what they’ve been through and where they are because you’ve been through it and you’ve been there, too. It builds the empathy between the two of you that will get them interested in hearing more.

Answer Their Unspoken Questions

A well-crafted message is designed to answer the prospect’s often unspoken questions. Some people will be bold enough to straight out ask you. Many won’t think to ask because they won’t know enough to ask. Others won’t ask because they think it’s impolite or rude. Those questions, however, will remain obstacles until they are addressed even if the prospect hasn’t spoken them.

What Can I Expect To Receive?

The first question the message answers for them is what they can expect to receive if they adopt the solution you are presenting to them. They want to know what comes with the package, both good and bad, everything they will receive, and they like for those details to be as specific as possible.

What Challenges and Obstacles Will I Face?

When you’re letting them know what to expect, total transparency matters because they also want to know what challenges and obstacles might be in their way when trying to adopt this new solution. They want to know about those things, and they want to know what you’ve done to handle them or what you recommend.

What Else Is Out There?

The next question they need you to answer is about the alternative solutions and competitors in your field. Be prepared to let them know what alternative solutions you tried, what your results were, and why you ultimately abandoned those solutions to adopt your current solution.

They will have their own experiences with alternative solutions and they will be comparing notes to see if your experiences match their own, or if you had different experiences they need to know about and understand.

What Was Your Experience?

They want to know about how your life changed after you found the solution you’re currently employing and what your results have been, and how long you’ve been employing this solution. It matters to them to see a transformation, a picture of your before and after experience, because your transformation is what will ultimately get them to accept your solution.

Why Does This Matter To You?

You need to be prepared to explain why you care about their decision and what you are willing to do to continue supporting them in their efforts to find a solution that works for them, even if that solution isn’t the one you’re currently using. After all, if helping them change their life is your goal, any progress they make toward that goal is one you should be supporting.

Trust your solution enough to know that they will eventually figure out the defects of alternative solutions for themselves if you keep presenting benefits that are superior to what they are receiving. That’s why the relationship is key. They need to be able to collect enough data points to notice the differences for themselves.

What Will This Cost Me?


Finally, your message should include an explanation of the costs of your solution, why you feel it is worth every penny they will pay to achieve the results your solution promises to provide, and what steps they must take in order to adopt that solution for themselves. 

Tomorrow's Post: Enter Their World

You have found the message in your mess, now it's time to take that message and figure out how to use it to appeal to them. It's time to enter their world and see what it is that they need to hear from you.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Selling God: Identify Your Audience


A few weeks ago, I wrote that God is a tough sell. In another article, I reminded you that tough doesn't mean impossible, and that the key to selling God is to be willing to share your personal faith story with them so that they can see God working in your life and open up to the possibility of letting Him work in theirs.

However, not every person in the world will find your story appealing. You need to choose the stories you include based on the audience to whom you are speaking. In your story is the clue to the audiences that you will very naturally appeal to. It is all the various identities you have held at every age and stage of your journey.

For example, in my own past, I have been a struggling entrepreneur, an aspiring author, a pregnant teenager, an empty nest mother, a small business owner, and many other things as well. Each of those audiences has distinct needs and a different pool of experiences to draw from so when I speak to them, I need to use a message that is tailored to where they are in life. The audience you choose dictates the message you use.

A struggling entrepreneur cares about building their business. They may or may not have children at home and they may or may not be married. So I’m not going to pull out the stories that are relevant to parents and spouses. I’m not likely to share my story of being homeless as a pregnant teenager. I’m going to speak to them in their language, discussing my own struggles to build a business, and what the solution I am offering them did to help me.

An aspiring author cares about becoming a published author and probably dreams of becoming a New York Times Best Seller. They are most likely not interested in building a business because they do not see their book as a product. They see it as art. They may or may not have children and may or may not have spouses. 

I am not going to pull out the stories that are relevant to business owners, parents, or spouses. I’m going to speak to them about writing, about my own journeys and struggles in getting my book published and achieving my aspirations with those books. I’m going to focus on the aspiring author’s most immediate need: knowledge and preparation for the future. and what the solution I am offering did to help me get where I wanted to go.

A pregnant teenager is worried about her future. She’s wondering how she’s going to provide for herself and her child. She may be interested in building a business, but only if she’s confident that she can do the work. She may or may not have a spouse or boyfriend. She may or may not be living at home with her parents and have to factor in their wants and desires into what she chooses to do. She may or may not be attending school.

I am not going to pull out my stories about being an empty nest mother. She won’t relate to them. I’m not going to talk about my writing, or my work to get published, unless she indicates to me that this is an avenue she’s interested in exploring. I’m going to focus on her most immediate need: reassurance and hope for her future. 

I’m going to share with her how the solution I’m offering her will offer her hope for a better future and reassure her that she has a great, if challenging, future ahead of her.

Until you’ve identified your audience, you won’t know exactly what message to use because their needs won’t be clear to you. Until you’ve gotten in touch with your mess, you won’t know which stories to use in crafting your message.

Tomorrow's Post: Finding Your Message

Two days ago, I explained that it is in the middle of your mess that you will find your message, the one that you and only you have to offer the world. Tomorrow I'll help you figure out how to find the message in the middle of all that mess.

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