Business Relationships

Welcome back to the N.J.W Blog Where our main focus is to provide value for us. So that our personal life can improve. You always learn something new everyday!

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This week, we focuse on the value and importance of our business relationships. We will give many excellent points and share the core principles involved in creating and maintaining healthy, successful, win-win business relationships.

In keeping with today’s theme, we’ve noticed (and I’m sure you have, too) that while many companies and individuals might be struggling right now, there is also a group of companies and individuals flourishing. We’ve also noticed there are some common characteristics found in these companies and individuals who seem to do well during uncertain times. Here are five characteristics that stand out:

– These companies and individuals operate with a win-win philosophy and inherently value their business relationships with customers, employees and vendors. When you understand and appreciate this principle, it allows you to create and receive value both on a short- and long-term basis, as well as recognize and be available for new opportunities that present themselves.

– These companies and individuals have an entrepreneurial mindset. Although it’s true that when a boom is going on the entrepreneur is often leading the way, I’ve also noticed that when the water is high (things are going well), everything tends to even out and most everyone seems to do well. But when it all starts to go south, it’s then that entrepreneurs can rise more quickly and distinguish themselves. Their ability to take risks, be decisive, recognize and seize opportunity, and to basically “create” allows them to find a way to make things happen.

– These companies and individuals have an excellent work ethic and focus. In sports, dominant athletes, beyond their remarkable ability and talent, often have something more that helps propel them into greatness: their fierce competitiveness and their incredible work ethic. How do you beat the most talented person in the world when they will also outwork you and have a “will to win” that is not to be exceeded? Well, the same is true in business. The top performers do not get complacent. They do not rest on their laurels, and they don’t decide that because they are doing well or are at the top that they are good enough. Their work ethic and drive to be their personal best have allowed previous victories and momentum to carry over into more success, even in difficult times.

– These companies and individuals have made a commitment to succeed, the prerequisite to all successes. As Jim Rohn says, all good things are upstream, but the natural tendency is downstream. Commitment creates the mindset that allows us to face challenges, shut out negative circumstances and discomfort, and then move upstream toward our goals.

– These companies and individuals operate out of faith. Without faith, it is impossible to take risk. Without faith, it is impossible to make investments of time and effort in the present hoping for a future reward. And without faith, it is impossible to make short-term sacrifices on a consistent basis. Faith allows you to be free to give and be your best, knowing the reward will manifest itself sometime in the future. Faith also allows you to find the opportunity often disguised in the form of a problem or challenge. While others are “missing it” or spending their time and energy complaining, the person/company of faith is identifying and seizing new opportunities.

Question: How do you rate yourself in these five areas? Much of where you find yourself today could be directly related to how well you have fared the past few years in regards to the five points. The good news is that today is a new day, a new opportunity.

Remember, now is your time, the time to work on yourself, your relationships, your business, etc., and then to attract all the success outcomes you deserve. While you create the new you, look at every challenge you face as an opportunity to “create” new and better outcomes.

Life is full of opportunities—go for them!

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Part Four—Business Relationships

This month we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships, and are seeking to understand what ingredients make healthy relationships in our lives. We are looking at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics three weeks ago.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We discussed how to have great family and spousal relationships two weeks ago.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We took a deeper look into successful friendships last week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. Today we will look at how to have great business relationships.

To begin, I want to give you three goals of healthy business relationships and then six aspects of healthy business relationships.

First, the three goals of healthy business relationships.

Honor the value of the other party. The primary goal we should have in any relationship, even in business, is to honor the innate value of each person or party involved. Every person has tremendous value, and in the midst of our interactions with them, we should remember that and act with the utmost respect for them, showing them they are valued and important. If our business degrades the value of another human being, it is no longer an honorable business. People are important, no matter who they are, and we should treat as such.

Produce a profit for each party. Business should be good for each party. This doesn’t mean each person should make the same amount—that would be socialism—but we should be capitalistic in our approach and profit, while at the same time being good people who make sure deals are fair, honorable and a win-win for everyone involved. At its core, producing a profit means touching something and leaving it better than you found it. Each party, in a long-lasting business relationship, should be able to take home a profit. We should structure our businesses in such a way that will enable us to sustain long-term business relationships.

Create value for each party and for the consumer. Not only should each person and party understand and know their own value, but the consumer should have an excellent product or service available to them. There is something inherently good about providing goods and services that are excellent. We should never say, “Well, it doesn’t matter if the product is good; they will buy it anyway.” They may buy it, but that doesn’t mean it is right for you to sell it. One of the goals of healthy business relationships is to work together to provide value not only for each party, but for the customer as well.

Now, let’s take a look at what I consider to be six important aspects of business relationships.

Always act with integrity. The key to all relationships, including business relationships, is to act with integrity at all times. Don’t pull one over on a client in order to get the sale. Dishonest people may get the first sale, but they don’t get any more after the client figures out they acted without integrity. Those who act with integrity build lifelong clients who help build their businesses.

Create win-win relationships and opportunities. Many people go into business with the sole goal of “getting the sale.” Whatever they need to do, however they need to convince someone, they will do whatever it takes—they want to win! Unfortunately, this is extremely shortsighted. Those who develop long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships are those who win, but they also make sure their business partners win, too. They make sure that in every relationship everyone is satisfied, because when people aren’t satisfied, they will probably back out of the relationship. And what’s powerful is that when you do more than expected and you deliver more than promised, you are making an investment in your future and the future success of that business relationship.

Be loyal beyond price. We live in a world that is increasingly focused on the bottom line. Now, don’t get me wrong, we need to get a good and fair price for what we buy and sell, but there is more to consider than price. Sometimes a business relationship will have to raise prices on you. That’s OK, if it is fair and justified. At this point, many people let the relationship go and look elsewhere, but I have found it’s best to remain loyal as long as you can when you are in a good relationship. Good business relationships are hard to find and they take time to develop, so don’t look just at the bottom line.

Give—don’t take. It is important to be a giver and not a taker. If you are more of a taker than a giver, you aren’t really a part of the network but just a “hanger-on.” If you have the resources or know someone who does, share with others. This makes you a valuable asset in the network, and someone people will want involved and active in the network.

Succeed at what you do. If you are successful in what you do, you will be sought out. Successful people want to connect and do business with other successful people. They will want you in their network. Do the best you can, accomplish as much as you can, and watch your network become all that you want it to be!

Keep records. Keep a list of names, dates, phone numbers and addresses—anything to help you remember people beyond just their business. This way, you can drop them a note on their birthday or when their alma mater wins a big game. This kind of attention to business relationships goes a long way, and nowadays has become a lost art. So, pay attention to the little details that so many people miss and take the opportunity to keep that “personal touch” in your business relationships, and watch your relationships soar to a whole-new level of success!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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F Is For Friends

Welcome back! What a great week we will have!

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Jim writes in The Seasons of Life that spring is a time of resurgence—new beginnings and new opportunities. Similarly, today, regardless of the past, we all have new opportunities to become who we desire in our heart and mind to be—the husband or wife, the parent, the employee or employer, the friend (the focus of today’s edition). We have the opportunity to experience the health and vitality we deserve, to have the boldness and clarity to challenge stagnation or mistakes from the past. In essence, we have the chance to start fresh again today and throughout the year.

It’s hard to believe we are already on Week 20. We trust you are experiencing growth and shifts in your vision, thinking and actions. If you’re behind in the program, that’s OK—just start today with this week’s lesson. Remember, we’re looking for the diamond or thought or concept each week meant uniquely for us and our situation. You’ve already enrolled—made a commitment—and that’s 70 percent of the victory. Now let each week provide an insight or change that will help take you toward your desired outcome.

Life is full of opportunities. You are a winner—go for it!

Part Three—Friendships

This month, we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships and seeking to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics two weeks ago.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We discussed how to have great family and spousal relationships last week.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships this week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. Next week, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

This week we take a closer look at the importance of friendships.

As I mentioned earlier, friendships are the second-most important relationships we have in life, second only to family relationships. We do well to place a high emphasis on friendships and their positive role in our lives.

Here are some important thoughts on finding and developing lifelong friendships.

Choose your friends wisely. Remember, your associations, your friends, have an effect on you. The character flaws that your friends exhibit, if you spend much time with them, will inevitably begin to work their way into your life. An old proverb says, “Do not be misled: Bad company corrupts good character.” Your friends will be the primary influencers of who you are. Understand that there are two parts to influence: influence is powerful and influence is subtle. You might not let your friends push you off course, but you might let them nudge you off course and not even realize it. So pick good ones. It is also true that if we surround ourselves with good friends, we will see their positive aspects rub off on us as well and make us better people because they are in our lives. So surround yourself with people who have something of value to share with you. The impact can be significant.

Commit time to your friendships. One thing I have noticed is that we tend to go through stages in life where the pendulum swings too far in one direction. One example of this is when people get married, they tend to spend very little time with their friends as individuals. Now, of course our families should take priority, but many times we end up neglecting friendships that could and should be meaningful and beneficial to our lives. No matter what your time commitments, whether work or family, be sure to set aside time on a regular basis for your friends. If you are married, both of you should give the other time to spend with friends. Your partner will be better off, as will your marriage. You will also set a good example for children who need to see healthy adult friendships.

Balance fun times with meaningful times. Friendships have a tendency to be centered on entertainment or fun, especially for men—going to sporting events or doing outdoor activities. Those are good, but they also need to be balanced with making sure we have good, challenging and meaningful times, too—good discussions and thoughtful times. This is what rounds out relationships and friendships. Now we know the opposite is sometimes true with marriage relationships—we get so tied up in the mundane or the “important” that we often forget to have fun. So monitor your friendships and make sure you are getting everything you can from them.

Remain loyal. So many times we let friendships go too easily, yet the best relationships are those that last for long periods of time and remain through tough times and good times. Too many people today have a tendency to avoid their friends who are going through hard times, but I believe we become better people by remaining loyal. This is character building at its finest. Now, sometimes your friends will not be loyal to you, but you can remain loyal, because it’s not based on their loyalty, it is simply a decision. Plus, there is something good that happens when you stick it out. Now, obviously, I’m not saying to support harmful or illegal behavior—that is an entirely different subject and would require different guidelines. But, in general, when times are hard, be loyal. When friends aren’t loyal, be loyal.

Let your friends be resources. Our friends are tremendous resources, and they have so much to offer us. They have strengths we don’t have. They have insights we don’t. Too often, we have these tremendous resources around us and we fail to get all that we can from them. Now, make sure this is a reciprocal benefit and that you are bringing your best to the friendship as well. So often we try to do it on our own, when we could have others help us shoulder the load. Go to your friends and ask for their help and insights. Let them help you.

Care for your friends. One of the things that has happened in our highly mobile society is we have lost our ability to care for those around us. In the past, people lived in the same neighborhoods for decades; everyone knew each other and cared for each other and their children. When someone was sick, the neighborhood pitched in and helped out. This falls to families most of the time, but now many families live thousands of miles away from one another. Therefore, friends are the ones who can do such a great service for one another by providing that net of care around each other. Life is tough sometimes, and we need good people around us to help out. This is, as the saying goes, what friends are for.

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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Family And Relationships

This week, we take a closer look at what can be some of the most challenging, yet rewarding, relationships we ever experience in our lives: family, children and spousal relationships.

Like us, most of you tend to be ambitious and motivated individuals. And contrary to many perceptions, this means you are also desirous of having loving and caring relationships—and you usually do. In other words, the qualities you possess related to growing, improving and being your best in business are also great qualities to have in any relationship. Interestingly, a frequent occurrence for the entrepreneurial, self-motivated individual in relationships is the tendency for mates and family members to balance each other out. If you tend to get overly excited or have strong opinions, you might find those closest to you balance that by backing off a bit or being more conservative in their opinions. For example, this might come into play in regards to disciplining your children. When one parent is being especially strict, it might be the other parent’s inclination to feel the need to nurture more. Or if one is having an “anything goes” type of day with the kids, then the other parent may then desire more structure. The same can be true in how it relates to your work. When you really pour it on or are extremely focused, you might be met with less motivation or support from your family. This can be extremely frustrating for both sides—you feel unappreciated and they feel left out. The reality, though, is that you are appreciated and they are not left out, but sometimes things move too far out of balance and a reaction occurs.

So the key point for any of you driven, motivated types in regards to this scenario is to not let things get too far out of balance. Your heart might be at home, but you are at the office. So, in order for your significant relationships to truly be successful, you need to invest your heart, head and time into them. As you do this, you will receive the support and understanding that will help you create the results you are seeking in your business life.

Special Audio Bonus! John Gray, the author of 15 best-selling books, including Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus, goes Beyond Mars and Venus and gives fresh advice for building lasting, loving relationships, and offers ways to effectively manage stress and improve relationships at all stages and ages.

Have a great week and enjoy the journey!

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The N.J.W Blog

Relationships, Part Two—Family and Spousal Relationships

This month, we are exploring the secrets of successful relationships and seeking to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value. We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We covered these basics last week.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We will discuss how to have great family and spousal relationships today.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships next week.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. In two weeks, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

Last week, I gave you some of the basics of healthy relationships. This week, I want to review five of the eight basics and apply them specifically to the relationships we have with our spouses and children. We will take love, a serving heart, honest communication, patience and fun and give you specific examples of how to apply them to these very important relationships.

First, however, a word about relationships. People are not perfect. I am certainly not perfect. As I mentioned in last week’s e-mail, relationships provide both the best times and the hardest times we experience in our lives. With that in mind, as I go through these, understand there is room for growth. If you have had broken relationships in your past, while unfortunate, it is OK. We can move forward. We can experience reconciliation and restoration. Life does not have to end for us. Hopefully what happens is that we learn and grow and make our next relationships healthier and more secure than those before. This week, as we look at these aspects of relationships, keep that in mind. It isn’t how perfect you have been in the past that counts, but how well you can do now and in the future that will provide you with the kind of relationships you are looking for.

In each of the following, I will make specific comments for both healthy relationships with your spouse and your children. My assumption for the sake of this lesson will be for children under 18 years of age. Later in this edition, though, I do have a note for those of you with adult children about how to make the most of those relationships. Now, let’s get started.

Love
Spouse—You have probably heard the old joke about the man whose wife says to him, “Honey, how come you don’t tell me you love me anymore?” And he answers, “I told you I loved you when we got married and that has never changed.” Well, it doesn’t work that way! We can’t assume that our spouse knows—or feels—that we love them. Part of marriage is making sure we are continually expressing love to our spouse. Several years ago, a best-selling book discussed the idea that we all have our own unique “love” language. That is, people are more able to interpret your love better when you “speak” their love language. For example, your spouse may respond best when told verbally that you love him or her. Verbal affirmation may be their primary love language. Another love language is time spent with the other person. You may tell your spouse that you love her, but what she really wants is for you to spend time with her. I would encourage you to pursue this idea more. The book I’m referring to above is The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. I would encourage you to pick it up and read it.

Children—Love is the greatest gift you can give your children. This world we live in can be so mixed up at times, and with the tenuousness it often gives off, our children need the absolute, unconditional love of their parents. So much of what children grow up to become is based on the love they feel and experience from their parents. The love of a parent is foundational for developing healthy, well-rounded children who grow up to be healthy, well-rounded adults and productive members of society.

A Serving Heart
Spouse—As I begin to approach the later stages of life and look back not only on my own life but also at the lives of others with whom I am involved, I see more and more the need for a serving heart to be central in the life of anyone who is or is going to be married. Unfortunately, all too many people marry with the idea that the other person exists to make them happy. In reality, when we get married, we are making a commitment to serve the other person. Our hearts must be selflessly devoted to that principle if we are to make it work. Imagine what a powerful marriage it would be if each person made it their first commitment to serve the other. Now this only works if both make that commitment, otherwise one person feels taken advantage of. But when both people come from the perspective that they are going to devote their life to the other, watch out!

Now let me give you a word of caution here. When I say each person devotes their life to the other, I don’t mean that a person should lose their identity or compromise the essence of who they are to the other person for the “sake” of the relationship. We must each bring our wholeness, our talents, our uniqueness of personality and giftings, because that is vital to a healthy, successful relationship. You’ve heard me say , I’ll take care of me for you and you take care of you for me. It’s the subtle balance of respecting and loving myself enough to take care of me for the betterment of a relationship. When I’m a healthy individual, how much more can I bring to and invest in a relationship than if, as I said earlier, I am wrongly looking for someone else to make me happy? So take the time to invest in caring for yourself and bringing the best of you to a relationship so that you can pour all your joy, caring and uniqueness into the other person. What a miraculous process to engage in, and what an incredible gift to give to not only the other person, but also to yourself!

Children—One of the best examples we can give to our children is one of service. Are we willing to serve our children? When they are very young, the choice is an easy one—we feed them, change their diapers, etc., because they are completely dependent upon us. As they get older, though, imagine the impact we can have on them and the example we set for them when we are willing to serve them and look out for their needs. Now, here again, when I say serve them, I don’t mean that you should do everything for them, thus fostering helplessness in them. But when they ask for our help or the opportunity presents itself for us to selflessly serve them in ways that teach them to serve others, we should capitalize on these moments. You heard me say it last week, but I strongly believe that one person caring for another represents one of life’s greatest values.

Honest Communication
Spouse—If you are married, you know how difficult communication can be (even if you aren’t married, you know this!). Life can get pretty busy, especially when you have children. Soon your communication is reduced to things like, “What’s for dinner?” and “Who’s picking the kids up from soccer?” If we aren’t careful, that becomes the bulk of our communication. In fact, the deepest conversation you may end up having is, “We should really sit down and communicate sometime.” No, a couple must make it a habit and a practice to spend time together regularly to communicate on a deeper level. Some good ideas I have seen work well include a “date night” where the couple gets a sitter if necessary and they go out every week—or two weeks, etc., it doesn’t matter as long as it is a regular occurrence. The key here is to schedule time when you can open up to your spouse and talk about all of the meaningful things that would otherwise slip away in a busy schedule. This is so important! Don’t neglect to connect with the person you love and invest the valuable time to continue cultivating potentially one of the most rewarding relationships in your life.

Children—Communication is key for children, too. Unfortunately, the status quo is often a caricature of a busy dad hiding behind his paper as his son asks to spend time with him. Kids need to talk. They need someone to listen. They need our time. They need honest communication. They need adults who will tell them the truth about life and how it works. Kids will learn about life one way or another. The question parents need to ask themselves is whether they want their kids to learn about life from them or from someone else. We need to do more than prepare our enterprises for the challenges of the future. More important, we need to equip our children to face the challenges of their future. If you talk to your children, you can help them keep their lives together. But even better than that, if you talk to them skillfully, you can help them build their future dreams. Taking the time to communicate with your kids is key, especially communicating love to them. Never underestimate this powerful foundation.

Patience
Spouse—As I mentioned in my opening comments, people are not perfect. They make mistakes; they blow it. Sometimes they might purposefully do wrong things. I don’t know why this is, but it happens. This is why we must have patience with people. If we can’t have patience with people, we are bound to be less able to develop long-lasting and healthy relationships. This is especially true with those in our families. Think about it. If a friend starts getting on your nerves, you would probably just wait until he goes home. But not so with your spouse! You live with them! This is why patience, combined with communication and love, is so important.

Children—As we all know, we need a lot of patience with children! They start out knowing virtually nothing about the world or how to do anything in it, and as parents, we are given the task of teaching them s-l-o-w-l-y, it seems, how to do things! Kids can ask a million questions, and just when you think they are through, they ask a million more. And the funny thing is, once they learn how to do things, all of a sudden, they act as though they were born with the knowledge and they don’t need us anymore. Yes, it requires a lot of patience, but let me assure you they are worth every ounce we can give them. They bring so much joy into our lives, and, yes, eventually they come to realize they aren’t smarter than us after all—though they don’t realize it until about age 25. So be patient, and know that all of your hard work will indeed pay off in the end.

Fun
Spouse—Do you remember how much fun you had when you were dating? Lots, wasn’t it? Then life happened—work to do, mortgages to pay, children to raise. It is easy to forget to have fun with your life partner, but this is so important! We should spend and create some fun times with our spouse in the midst of the work. One specific way I would encourage you, especially the men who read this, is to make your fun times just that—fun times. When you go on vacation, leave work at home. Make it fun. Spend time with your spouse and family. Have fun and relax. Enjoy yourself. Then, when you get back to work, you can work as hard as you want/need to.

Children—Kids are all about fun, aren’t they? They always want to play, or wrestle or do something fun. Unfortunately, sometimes we adults take ourselves too seriously, let the cares of the world weigh us down and find it hard to play with our children—to “let our hair down,” as the saying goes. Well, let me encourage you to spend some time just having fun with your children. There are times you must teach, and there are times you must discipline, but there is equal need for you to have some good old-fashioned fun with them as well. They will remember and cherish those memories for a long time.

A note for those of you with adult children: Here is my best advice for keeping your relationships with them healthy.

Don’t support them financially. You can support them emotionally, and you should, but eventually they need to go support themselves. The root of most dysfunction is often over-dependence on others. When someone is 28 years old, they should already have at least a few years on their own. Anything less, and you hinder their development as healthy, self-sustaining people.

Keep your nose out of their business unless asked. That’s right. They are adults now. They aren’t children. If you did your job right while they were growing up, they should be fully capable of living life out of the wisdom, knowledge and skills you taught them. It is their life to live. If they ask you for advice, then tender it in humility. The worst thing you can do in your relationships with your grown children is to try and control them and second-guess their decisions.

Love them and treat them as you would adult friends. They aren’t children anymore. They are not 8 years old. Your relationship has evolved. You should interact with them the same way you would with your best friends now. Yes, they are still your children, but the way we interact changes as they get older.

Reach out to help them with their children. You remember how hard it was raising kids, don’t you? Well, now you can not only help them, but you can involve yourself with your grandchildren and make a significant impact in their lives as well! Be a proactive grandparent. I guarantee that if you call your children and offer to watch their kids while they go away for the weekend, they will take you up on it. They will think you are the hero, and you will have another cherished opportunity with your grandkids!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

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Basics Of A Healthy Relationship

Welcome to Week 18 of  N.J.W Blog! We hope you are having a great week and are ready for this week’s journey.

This week, we begin our new topic—Relationships, which is obviously one of the most vital, yet complex, areas of human life.

The amazing thing is that most of the changes, skills, habits, thoughts, beliefs, etc., that we’re being encouraged and reminded of during our one-year journey fall under the “free” and “easy” category that we have always taught and we have touched on the past several weeks.

How free and easy is it to:

Smile at others?
Listen better?
Be friendly?
Be encouraging?
Not judge?

Speaking of not judging, strategic coach Jim Sharp says to stay as neutral as possible when it comes to relating to others, especially when communicating. He says to never make it personal or take it personally, which is solid advice for achieving good, clear communication. Like Jim says, “Attack the problem, not the person.” Obviously, as with everything, there are exceptions. But by following this rule, you can eliminate much of the negativity that can be created or experienced in relationships, which often starts over seemingly trivial comments or events.

For many of you, the “free” and “easy” list above might come easily, or you may have already mastered it. But for others of us, we will continue to try and make this area of our lives a much-needed priority and place to improve.

There’s a powerful month lined up for you that will cover the four parts of relationships.

Basics of Healthy Relationships
Family and Spousal Relationships
Friendships
Business Relationships

Let’s embrace the process of change and improvement in our relationships. The results are immediate in many instances, and the long-term fruit is inevitable.

Enjoy the journey!

N.J.W Blog

Relationships, Part One—Basics of Healthy Relationships

I’ve come to the realization that everything we do is based on relationships. Relationships make the world go ‘round. We buy out of relationships, wars are fought over broken relationships, we have children because of relationships—every single thing that takes place on this planet is an extension of and is driven by relationships. In relationships, we can experience the peaks of ecstasy and the valleys of agony. They have the greatest potential to give us joy, cause us to grow and become more, if we choose.

This month, we will explore the secrets of successful relationships and seek to understand what the ingredients to healthy relationships are. Ultimately, one person caring about another represents life’s greatest value.

We will look at four main areas:

Basics of Healthy Relationships. There are certain fundamentals that, if mastered, will take you down the road of healthy relationships. The key to understanding relationships is that relationships involve people. And while every person is different, there are general principles that make most people tick. If we understand these basics or fundamentals and operate accordingly, we can make our bad relationships good and our good relationships great. We will cover these basics in this edition.

Family and Spousal Relationships. The primary relationships most people have are with their family. Yes, that wonderful enigma we call family, those deep and meaningful relationships that can bring the highlights—and the lowlights—of life. That group of people, many of whom we didn’t even get to choose, who will walk through this life with us. Your family relationships must be cultivated like a garden. Time, effort and imagination must be summoned constantly to keep any relationship growing and flourishing. We will discuss how to have great family and spousal relationships in next week’s edition.

Friendships. Second to family, friends are the most important relationships we have. Friendships are unique because they are the relationships we have that are almost entirely voluntary. You don’t get to choose your parents or your siblings, but you do get to choose your friends. So many times, we find these relationships provide matchless dynamics not found in our other relationships. These can, in their own special way, enhance our other relationships, making these friendships especially unique. We will take a deeper look into successful friendships in two weeks.

Business Relationships. Many people don’t understand how powerful relationships are in business. You’ve heard me say it before, but you cannot succeed by yourself. It is hard to find a rich hermit. So many times, we underestimate this unique dynamic and the potential it has to take us to new levels in our businesses. We may understand that family and friends are about relationships, but mistakenly think “business is business.” The fact is, even in business, relationships rule. Think for a moment about two salespeople: one is a friend and one you’ve never met. When it comes right down to it, you are most likely to buy from the one you know. That is the foundation of relationships. In three weeks, we will look at how to have great business relationships.

The Basics of Healthy Relationships

Nothing can bring more joy to life than beautifully fulfilling relationships. The depth of meaning, understanding and appreciation these kinds of relationships bring is almost unfathomable. And, of course, as many people find out, nothing can bring so much pain as a broken relationship with someone dear to you.

Yes, relationships make the world go ‘round, for better or for worse. But the exciting thing is that we can do much to increase our chances of having terrific relationships, relationships that are fulfilling and exciting, rich with meaning, joy and love.

There are basics that govern most human relationships, and these basics are what I want to cover below. So, here is my list of the eight essentials that I believe make up the basics of healthy relationships.

Love. Now, this all depends on your definition of love. Most people think that love is a feeling, but I would strongly debate this point. Actually, the concept of “like” is really about feelings. When you say you like someone, you are talking about how you feel. But when you say you love someone, you are not necessarily talking about how you feel about them. Love is much deeper than a feeling. Love is a commitment we make to someone to always treat them right and honorably. Yes, for those we become especially close to, we will have feelings of love, but I believe it is time for us to reexamine what we mean by love. We must expand our definition of what love means by including the commitment aspect of love. For healthy relationships, we must love people. We may not like them based on how we feel about them, but we should love them based on our definition of love, which, in turn, determines how we act toward them. This is the basis of all healthy relationships.

Serving Heart. Zig Ziglar frequently says, “You can have everything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want out of life.” He is talking about the concept of having a heart and life focused on serving other people. The Bible says to consider others’ interests as more important than your own. This is also fundamental to healthy relationships.

Honest Communication. In any good relationship, you will find open and honest communication. Communication is so important because it is the vehicle that allows us to verbalize what is inside us and enables us to connect with another person. Isn’t communication amazing? One person is feeling one thing, and through communication, another person can understand and feel it, too—amazing. This is a vital goal in good relationships—to communicate, to tell each other what we are thinking and what we are feeling. It enables us to make a connection. Sometimes we are the one speaking; other times, we are listening. Either way, the central tenet is communication for the sake of building the relationship and making it stronger. If we just communicate, we can get by; if we communicate skillfully, we can work miracles!

Friendliness. Put simply, relationships just work better when we are friendly with others. Being friendly can cushion the bumpy ride we sometimes experience in our relationships. Cheerfulness goes a long way toward building lasting relationships. I mean, nobody wants to be around a grump, do they? The fact is the friendlier you are, the more you will have people who want to pursue longer-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with you. So, cheer up, put on a smile, have kind words to say to others, treat people with a great deal of friendliness, and you will see your relationships improve.

Patience. People being people, we have an awful lot of time for practice in the area of patience. People are not perfect and will constantly fail us. Conversely, we will fail other people. So while we try to have more patience for others, we need their patience as well. So often, I think relationships break down because people give up and lose patience. I am talking about all kinds of friendships, marriages, business relationships, etc. Recent research has shown those marriages that go through major turmoil and make it through are even stronger after the fact. Patience wins out. Those who give up on relationships too early or because the other person isn’t perfect often forget that their next friend, their next spouse or business partner will not be perfect, either! So, we would do well to cultivate this skill and learn to have more patience.

Loyalty. Loyalty is a commitment to another person. Sadly, loyalty is often a missing element in many relationships today. Society as a whole has forgotten what it means to be loyal. Our consumer mentality has affected this to some degree. People are no longer loyal to a product. And, unfortunately, many companies are not loyal to their clients or patrons. Regrettably, this has spilled over into our relationships. It is one thing to switch brands of dishwashing detergent, but it is another thing altogether to switch friends. Sometimes, we just need to commit to being loyal and let the relationship move forward. We need a higher level of stick-to-it-iveness! This kind of loyalty will take our relationships to a much deeper level. What a powerful and secure feeling it is knowing you have a relationship with someone who is loyal to you and you to them, that neither of you are going anywhere, even when things get tough. Wow—how powerful!

A Common Purpose. One of the basics of healthy relationships is to have a common purpose, and oftentimes this is a component initially overlooked. But for a long-term, long-lasting relationship, it is vital. Think about how many friends you have met through the years while working on a common purpose. Maybe it was someone you met while participating in sports, while working on a political campaign, attending church, at your office or anything that brought you together to work on a common purpose. You had that strong common bond of purpose that brought you together and held you together. Working together, building together, failing and succeeding together, all while pursuing a common purpose—that is what relationships are made of. Find people who share your purposes, sow the seeds of great relationships, and you will reap long-lasting benefits.

Fun. All good relationships have some element of fun. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean, loud, raucous fun, though that is appropriate for some relationships. But even in business relationships, there should be some fun. It should be fun doing business with those who you are going to have a long-term business relationship with. Fun brings enjoyment to the relationship, and that is important. I think, oftentimes, this key element can be easily forgotten or neglected in our family and spousal relationships. The fun things we did initially in a new relationship can be taken for granted, or simply fall by the wayside after a while, and we stop creating the fun and joy. So remember to consciously craft fun situations and moments, because these are the glue that hold our memories together and make our lives sweet.

There are so many key ingredients to making and maintaining great, long-lasting relationships. Each of the eight components we discussed brings unique dynamics and rewards to your relationships. Let’s begin to focus on improving our relationships in these areas and see what miracles occur!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

N.J.W Blog

Supplemental Notes

Here’s a good way to remember some of the basics of what Jim just talked about. There’s an acronym that can keep your mind on three important elements of relationships in your own life. It is the acronym ZIP. Here are some thoughts on how to put a little ZIP into your relationships!

Imagine there are three core elements of successful relationships. These are things that, when done over time, begin to create for you the kind of relationships you truly desire. They are the kind of relationships you have always dreamed of.

The key to remembering these three items is the ZIP acronym. ZIP stands for three things you can do—and begin to do immediately—to improve any and all of your relationships. They are:

Put some Zest into your relationships.
Cultivate more Intimacy in your relationships.
Develop a Purpose in your relationships.
Let’s take a closer look at each of these three:

Put some ZEST into your relationships.
By “zest,” we mean fun. Relationships were meant to be fun! We wouldn’t have this capacity to have fun if relationships weren’t supposed to have a little zest in them!

Think about it: Don’t you usually start out most healthy relationships with a lot of fun times? Whether it is going out to dinner or a ballgame, or spending time playing a game, or even just a lively talk, you usually have fun as a major part of the relationship. Fun is some of the glue that bonds the relationship.

However, as life goes on, specifically in a marriage, but potentially in most relationships, really, the fun starts to go by the wayside. More and more, the relationship becomes about getting the job done, whatever the job may be.

To restore the relationship, to put a little zip into it, we need to reintroduce the idea of “zest.”

What about you? Have you lost the zest? What can you do to get it back? Think of a specific relationship you have: What were the fun things you did at the beginning of the relationship that acted as the glue that bonded you together? Now, commit to doing those again, and see if your relationship doesn’t begin to soar again! If you can, develop new fun things to do together so that you can both start an adventure of fun together!

Cultivate more INTIMACY in your relationships.
First, a couple of clarifications: One, we don’t just mean intimacy in the common term of sexual intimacy. For all intents and purposes, we mean taking your relationship to a deeper level. Second, we don’t mean that you have to start doing group hugs with your workmates or having revelation sessions where the tissues flow freely.

Every mutually satisfying relationship has a level of depth to it that provides meaning. This is really what the search is for in our relationships: meaning.

Remember when you started your relationship, whether with your spouse or friend. All that time was spent opening up, telling who you are, where you were from, and talking about your likes and dislikes. There was a deep sense of satisfaction with the relationship; that is why it continued. You liked who they were and you enjoyed being known by them.

Then something happens. We get to a certain level, and the pursuit of depth ends. We stop sharing feelings, likes and dislikes. We stop sharing joys and dreams and fears. Instead, we settle into routines. The daily grind takes over, and we stop knowing one another and simply exist together. Now, don’t get us wrong, every time you get together doesn’t have to be deep. But there is a need for regular times of intimate connection where we go deeper with others.

Truly meaningful relationships come when we are loved and accepted for who we are at our core, not simply for acting in such a way to keep the other person in the relationship.

Think about the relationships you would like to see improve. Take some time in the coming weeks and months to spend time just talking and getting to a deeper level in your relationships. Specifically, let the other person deeper into your world. You can’t force the other person to be more intimate, and you certainly can’t say, “Let’s get together and have an intimate conversation,” because that would be too contrived. But you can make a decision for yourself to let others into your world. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for them doing the same.

You can either guard yourself from intimacy and not go much deeper and feel a longing in your heart for more, or you can begin the deepening process and see your relationships change for the better.

Develop a PURPOSE in your relationships.
The most meaningful relationships we have are those held together by a common purpose and vision for what the relationship can accomplish, not only for those involved, but also for a greater good.

Let’s face it: When people have a common purpose, they feel like they are part of a team and they feel bound together in that relationship. Even when people experience disappointment in the people they are in relationship with, if they have a purpose, such as raising children, they are much more likely to stick it out. Purpose creates bonds.

So what happens if we are proactively involved in seeking out a common purpose with those we want a relationship with or those with whom we already have a relationship, but would like to see it go to a deeper level? Well, it gets better and stronger.

Think about your strongest relationships. Aren’t they centered around at least one area of purpose or a common goal?

What about a relationship that has cooled? Think back and see if perhaps you used to have a common purpose that has gone by the wayside.

What of your desire to see a relationship grow? Take some time to begin cultivating a common purpose. Sit down with that person and tell them you would like to have some common goals, some purposes that you can pursue together. As you develop these, you will see your relationship strengthen in ways you never imagined!

Let’s recap: You want your relationships to show a little “zip”? Then put a little ZIP in them:

Put some Zest into your relationships.
Cultivate more Intimacy in your relationships.
Develop a Purpose in your relationships.

Giving Is Important As Saving

Welcome back! Here a some questions that we will ask ourselves today.

What small but steady activities can you do today that will lead to big, long-term results over a long period of time?

Conversely, are you neglecting any of the easy, very doable basic activities that will make a major difference in your future?

These are two great questions to ask every day.

Also, we encourage you to celebrate the fact that you are part of a small group of people, percentage-wise, who have actually made a plan, a process, a blueprint and a commitment to inspect and improve their lives. Great health, wealth, relationships and overall success and abundance are upstream. But where else would we want to be or go? Pat yourself on the back for making that decision.

Also, continue to be thankful that you are in the place to make such a decision. Look into the future at the person you desire to become. Keep putting one foot in front of the other, making Smart decisions that will create compounding results on a daily basis.

You are doing great!

-N.J.W Blog

Finances, Part Four—Giving

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt {click to read}
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this three weeks ago.

Saving {click to read}
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Two weeks ago, we went through the basics and showed how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result.

Investing {click to read}
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. Last week we covered both the importance and basics of investing.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

The act of giving is very powerful, because sharing makes you bigger than you are. What you give becomes an investment that will return to you multiplied at some point in the future. Becoming a giving person will bring you so much more in your life. You will become the kind of person others look to, respect and appreciate.

Giving is about being fully human. It is about making something of ourselves that goes beyond what we merely do for ourselves. It is very important to work for ourselves, to determine our own futures, but a person could do that and still not reach the peak of their human potential. They could be entirely selfish, and while they build an empire or financial independence, they would also be missing something. They would miss the altruistic part of themselves, the generous, human element that wants to help others, to make a difference. When we choose to give, everybody wins.

Giving of ourselves, especially financially, can make a big difference for us and in us. Plus, it is relatively easy to do, if we discipline ourselves to do it. My recommendation would be to start this discipline when the amounts are small. It’s easy to give 10 cents out of every dollar, but it’s much harder to give $100,000 out of a million if you haven’t developed the discipline of giving. So let me give you four ways that giving financially changes you and five steps to becoming a generous giver.

Four Ways Giving Financially Changes You

Giving keeps money in its proper perspective. Money is a great tool. Money enables you to experience so many different aspects of life that you would be denied if you were without it. But, in the end, money isn’t the end! Money for money’s sake is a hopeless goal. Money is a tool that helps us do better things, enjoy life and help others. When we give money away, we tell ourselves that money isn’t the end all, and it reminds us that money is simply a tool. We gain proper perspective when we give to organizations and people who need it.

Giving makes you more aware of others and their needs. If you are going to give away money on a regular basis, then you will most certainly be looking for where to give. Your vision opens up to many new worlds. When the option is open for giving money away, you will soon begin to see the wide spectrum of people and organizations that can really use your help. Your heart will experience a unique transformation as you see all of the good accomplished through these organizations, because there really are many good groups out there doing fantastic things for people who need it.

Giving enables you to be a difference maker. At the end of our lives, we want to be able to look back and say that the world is a better place because we were here. We made a difference. People are better off because they met us. Organizations made a bigger impact because we gave generously to help support their purposes. Our businesses had an impact on the lives of our customers. When we generously give of our finances, we become difference makers, either through a donation or through the efforts of the organizations we support. And at the end of our lives, we will have stored up for ourselves many intangible treasures.

Giving ignites the principle of sowing and reaping. Ancient scripture says you “reap what you sow.” When we give financially to others, we are sowing—sowing goodness, sowing financially, sowing generosity, sowing a higher purpose. That means we will reap those things, too. We become people with a bigger vision than those who simply work only for themselves. I call this enlightened self-interest. We accomplish many more goals and objectives, and in a way, that makes our world a better place. What an incredible gift we have to offer others, yet, amazingly, it is the giving process that starts the receiving process in our lives. The more we give, the more we open ourselves up to receive—to receive the benefits of generosity, the gifts galore of both tangible and intangible things. So start the process today—if you haven’t already—and watch your life take on an exciting new aspect and for the miracles to occur!

Five Steps to Becoming a Generous Giver

If you have “becoming a generous giver” as a goal, I would encourage you to work to accomplish it in the same way you would do anything: Think it through, plan it out and execute the plan. Here is a process you can implement immediately to move you toward your goal of becoming a generous giver who makes a difference!

Think it through. Who do you want to give to? What causes move you? What groups are doing the work you want to support? Who needs your help? There are many, many groups who need assistance—in fact, too many for any one person. This is why it is important to be very clear in your own mind as to what you want your giving dollars to do when you give them. What organizations would be “good ground” to sow into? There are religious causes, political causes, humanitarian causes and more. Think through and prioritize who and what you want to give to.

Budget your giving. If you aren’t currently giving, take a look at how to come up with the money and then adjust accordingly. Will it come from your discretionary income or from cutting back on a current expenditure? Budgeting will help you decide. Will it be a fixed amount or a percentage? Historically, millions of people use the concept of tithing. Tithe means tenth. So many people give a tenth of their income to charities of their choice. The important idea is that you budget so that it gets done on a regular basis.

Give on a schedule. The easiest thing to do is to give when you get a paycheck. Just as you pay the taxman or the electric bill, give to those organizations you want to support. If you have it in your budget and in your schedule, then it will get done. So when some money comes in, make sure a little goes back out in your giving budget.

Be generous. In the end, most people will wish they had given more. They will get to the end of their lives and realize that they were cutting corners on their giving when they could have given more. Be generous. If you can, make the check a little bit bigger. Review from year to year what you are giving, and if your income has gone up, then increase your giving. Will a little extra hurt you? Most likely not, but it will help the groups you give to and give you a mental boost knowing you’re doing good things with your resources. Ultimately, the amount you give isn’t important; what really matters is what that amount represents in your life.

Be spontaneous—sometimes. We can’t give to everyone who holds out their hand, but it isn’t wise to be so rigid that we aren’t open to helping people who may cross our paths. Use your intuition and err on the side of being generous. If you have an opportunity to give to someone who crosses your path, weigh it carefully and be open to helping. In the end, you may have made a few mistakes, but you will have helped many more people, too.

Giving is a very important skill. It’s so important, in fact, I made it one of four main areas of discussion for this Pillar of Success. We should be people who live by John Wesley’s statement: “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.” And in doing so, we bring our lives into a perfect tension that keeps us with a proper perspective on financial matters.

This week—and in the weeks to come—give!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

-Nick James

The Basics Of Investing

Special Audio Bonus! Chris Hogan, personal finance expert and author of Retire Inspired: It’s Not an Age, It’s a Financial Number, talks numbers and provides answers to your toughest financial questions.

Welcome back! Today we are going over Part Three in our topic called Finances.

Part Three—Investing

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this two weeks ago.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Last week, we went through the basics and showed how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. Today we will cover both the importance and basics of investing.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

This week our focus is on investing.

When you look at the wealthiest people in the world, you are almost always looking at people who are investors. They know the way to long-term accumulation is through investments in a variety of means to develop financial abundance.

I do not believe people with wealth are any better than anyone else; they have simply applied themselves methodically to the disciplines of wealth building, some of which we will look at in today’s edition.

The key is to begin seeing yourself as an investor—an investor in yourself, in others, in businesses, in assets, and in financial vehicles that will maximize your return and begin to help you accrue the kind of wealth you desire.

Let’s take a look at some of the specific things you need to invest in if you want to build a lifetime of wealth and abundance that will provide you and your loved ones with the lifestyle you desire. We all know a variety of ways to make a living—now let’s figure out how to make a fortune!

Here are a few things you should invest in:

Invest in Yourself. You are already making a major investment in yourself by participating in this blog “program”. Those who develop real wealth always invest in themselves. They are readers. They study. They have an interest in people and wealth. They are constantly working on bettering themselves and stretching to become people of knowledge and influence. If you want to be a person who achieves financial independence, then you would do well to continue this journey of investing in yourself. Continue to better yourself by learning all you can about business and wealth. Learn about people and what drives them. Learn about yourself so that you can maximize your strengths and improve your weaknesses. Always strive to challenge yourself and grow more each year than you did the previous year.

Invest in Others.  Zig Ziglar says “a person can get anything they want in life if they will help enough other people get everything they want out of life”. People who develop long-term wealth are those who bring value to others; they help and invest in them—and reap multiple rewards from their investment!

Invest in Your Company. When you look at the richest people, minus athletes and entertainers, you will see a huge percentage work for themselves. They own their own businesses. They work for wealth, not for wages. You’ve heard me say it before: Profits are better than wages, because wages make you a living while profits will make you a fortune. If you have a company, work on building it and increasing revenue. If you do not have your own business but you feel you are ready, consider starting one. Besides the obvious advantage for building wealth, there is also the added benefit of knowing you are charting your own course and determining your own destiny.

Invest in Hard Assets. One of the best ways to develop long-term wealth is to convert your money into assets that increase in value and generate income for you. Examples of this would be real estate, especially income-producing real estate, such as rental homes, apartments or office complexes. Certain collectibles may also fall into this category. When we convert our money into hard assets, we cultivate long-term wealth for ourselves by diversifying into different areas that work on our behalf.

Invest in Ideas. One of the amazing things we continually see is how ideas can become wealth. In fact, every company, every product and every service that has ever existed, first existed in a person’s mind in the form of an idea. You’ve all heard me say you must search for good ideas because rarely do they interrupt you. So read, search, go to the classes and invest the time to seek out good ideas, because if you do, then you will find them. Ancient scripture assures us that if we seek, we will find. Now, when good ideas are combined with intelligent action, those ideas take form and can produce wealth. Invest in your ideas. Cultivate them, dream about them, sharpen them and apply them. Then those ideas can become wealth for you to enjoy for a very long time.

Invest in Public Companies. Typically this would be the stock market. Even with the big dips we see from time to time, the stock market averages about a 12 percent per year return for those who stay in for the long haul. The best strategies are typically those that involve methodical investment in both good times and bad. Think about the power of investing in a public company. Let’s say you invest $1,000 in Microsoft stock. What is amazing is now you have Bill Gates and his people going to work every day on your behalf! This is the power of investing in a public company: You become an owner, and the employees work on your behalf and you share in the returns. Again, when you look at those who achieve great wealth, there is almost always a component of investment in public companies.

Now that we have looked at what to invest in, let’s look at the basics of investing:

1. Let your money work for you, not the other way around. People who achieve long-term wealth and financial independence are those who have found the secrets of having money work for them, increasing on its own. Don’t work for wages—work for wealth.

2. Get a team of help. Even a beginning investor can have a team of people working for them, advising and teaching them. Obviously they start with a team of advisors through the books and financial resources they read. Even a minimal investment at the bookstore will provide you with a broad range of information that will give you a great head-start on investing. Next, a stockbroker, a financial advisor and an accountant are good to have. Most of them will work on your behalf, even if you only have a small amount to invest. It isn’t wise to go it alone. Get the help you need to make good decisions.

3. Do it regularly. The key to accumulating wealth is the same as almost all disciplines—do it regularly. If you want to lose weight, you exercise on a regular basis. If you want to build wealth, you invest on a regular basis. Every week, the first of the month, four times a year—it doesn’t matter, except that you must make it consistent. Whether the amount is big or small, just keep doing it, and you will find that your investments compounded over time will yield a great harvest.

4. Harness the power of compound interest. I wrote last week a little about compound interest and the power it provides. Rumor has it that Albert Einstein called compound interest the most powerful force in the world. Whether he said it or not, it is close to being true. There is tremendous power in building wealth through compound interest. Last week I also wrote about the “Rule of 72,” meaning whatever investment return you receive on average divided into 72 will be how many years it takes to double your money. So, for example, let’s say you receive a 12 percent annual average return on your stock portfolio long term. This means that if you put $10,000 into your stocks and never add another dollar, you will still have $20,000 after six years. That is your money working for you. And after six more years, you would have $40,000. After six more years, (18 now) you would have $80,000. And that is if you had just invested the original $10,000. Where this becomes incredibly powerful is when you are continually adding more investment money to the pot! Grab a calculator and work the numbers for yourself—you will be amazed!

5. Think long term. Yes, we still hear about overnight millionaires, but the fact is that they are truly the exception, not the rule. To develop long-term wealth, you must have a long-term mentality. Your stocks won’t go up every year. Not every investment will work out. Sometimes your property values will go down, but most of the time, long term, you will see the trend moves up. Just know there will always be some dips along the way. Remember, it is the tortoise mentality, not the hare mentality, that achieves long-term wealth.

6. Generally speaking, move from aggressive to conservative. Younger people can afford to be more aggressive with their investments than older people because they have more time to recover if their investments sink in the short term. As you get older and have more and more resources available, you will want to move more into capital preservation rather than capital appreciation. You may still have a portion in which you invest in speculative ways, but you will move most of what you have into investments that preserve what you have spent a lifetime accumulating. Of course, your financial advisor can help you set up a plan that fits for you.

7. Invest in what makes you comfortable. Ultimately, you want to be able to sleep at night. Some people can invest in wildly speculative investments with no worry, and others are more comfortable with something safer. Whatever you decide is OK. It is your life, and you have to feel comfortable with how you live it. Research, gain all the knowledge you can, and then invest in what you know and what allows you to feel comfortable.

Keep in mind, our goal is to have the ability to live from the income of our own personal resources, thus achieving our own financial independence. What a powerful feeling of knowing that you depend on no one for your financial welfare.

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Financial freedom is a buzz phrase for our generation. It is the pursuit of literally millions of people. What is it? Is it that elusive? Can anyone achieve it?

This is not about how to earn money or even accumulate more money. Rather, it is about how to find financial freedom, which, surprisingly, may or may not involve making more money.

The first step in finding financial freedom is to realize that financial freedom has absolutely nothing to do with how much money you have or make. What? Exactly. Financial freedom is something that goes on inside you. This is why someone who makes very little can be happy and someone who makes a ton can be extremely stressed-out over their financial situation. The first step is to realize that financial freedom is more about our attitudes toward money than about the amount of money.

Here are a few philosophies that can keep you in the financial freedom mindset.

We do not have to worry about money. Why? Because we can control our income. We can control our outgo. We can make choices to alleviate our worries. Realize that things always work out in one way or another, so why waste time worrying? Work hard, invest, plan for the future, and then rest in the knowledge that you’ve done what you can do. Choose to take action instead of choosing to worry.

We can be happy regardless of our financial state. We know people who are worth hundreds of millions of dollars and we know people who don’t have two nickels to rub together. Some are happy; some aren’t. But none of the people who have a lot of money say, “I’ve become so happy since I got money.” They were happy before they had money, and they are happy now that they have money. Their happiness has nothing to do with the money. Billionaire David Geffen once said, “Anyone who says that money will buy them happiness has never had any money.”

Money is a means to an end, not the end itself. Another way to look at it is that money is the tool to build the house, not the house itself. Definitely set financial goals, but be sure you know what greater purpose the money serves when you reach those goals. In other words, what will the house you build be used for?

Some people think it is bad to earn more money. It isn’t. Some people believe it is bad to save. It isn’t. Some people feel they will be better off hoarding their money. They won’t. Some people believe that they can’t spend anything on themselves. They can. That is financial freedom.

Embrace delayed gratification. We have the option to adopt one of two financial philosophies. Philosophy 1: Buy now and pay (struggle) later. Philosophy 2: Delay buying right now; invest the money you would have spent, and have all you want later on! And you won’t even have to touch the principal! We tend to think having it all now will bring enjoyment, but unless you can do it and not cause yourself financial stress, you will actually get more from waiting!

Have more by managing better. The fact is that most of us earn enough. What would be beneficial is to set our priorities and live by a budget. As we get control, our budget will loosen up a bit and we will find ourselves enjoying it more. Money that is already there can be your answer if you strategically put it to work for you.

You can experience financial freedom no matter how much money you have. Granted, it is great to build wealth, and that should be our goal, but no matter what level you are currently at or what level of wealth you ultimately attain, if you keep money in the proper perspective, you can be happy and free.

Do You Do This With Your Money?

Part Two—Saving

As we talked about last week, money is a tool and resource we can use. So as we go through this month, I want to focus on some simple financial principles you can apply, as well as teach you the underlying philosophies that govern what good people can do and what tremendous accomplishments can be made when we see money for what it is: a tool to improve our lives and the lives of others.

The four pivotal topics we cover this month are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. We addressed this last week.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. This week we go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We talk about saving in today’s edition.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing, next week.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

This week we will cover saving money. Statistics consistently show the vast majority of people live hand-to-mouth or month-to-month, meaning they have no savings to speak of. The average person would be hard-pressed to live for more than just a couple of months if they were unable to draw an income. This means they are not independent, but dependent upon insurance, government programs, friends, family and the like. The primary goal of savings is to provide a much higher level of personal independence and security.

The discipline of saving directly determines how we will take care of ourselves and plan not only for the future, but also for the unforeseeable events that touch our lives at times. It is an act of self-determination to decide that we will provide for and protect ourselves. Saving is not, as you will see further down, the pursuit of aggressive growth of our resources. Simply put, it is added security, our safety net, if you will, that remains in place to provide a solid base on which to build the rest of our financial independence.

So, with these things in mind, let’s take a deeper look at saving our money.

Saving is an act of discipline. No matter how you slice it, saving money on a regular basis is a discipline. It is not “dependent” on income. If you were to ask five people, all at varying income levels, if it’s hard to save, chances are they would all say yes. This is because our natural tendency is to spend whatever we earn. When we start out making $25,000 a year, we think it is hard to save. If only we could make $40,000 a year! But when we make $40,000 a year, we end up saying the same thing. Typically, when our income goes up, so do our expenses—we buy a bigger house, fancier car, etc. There are people making a million dollars a year who save nothing, and at the end of the year, have spent it all and are no better off than the person making $40,000 a year. Professional athletes and entertainers are notorious for this. Pick up any number of magazines, and you can find a story about an athlete who made $20 million over seven years and is now bankrupt. It isn’t a matter of money; it is a matter discipline. On a regular basis, put a little away until it builds up. That is the savings game.

Saving is much like the familiar story of the tortoise and the hare. Little by little, we put a small amount away, and slowly but surely, we develop the kind of saving amounts we are looking for. Those who put away a lot and then spend it all on a big-screen TV may end up with a TV, but that is about it. In the end, the slow and steady saver ends up with real wealth and financial independence.

Saving builds self-reliance. Our ultimate financial goal should be to become independent and have no need to rely on anyone else. Ideally, we should be able to pay our bills and live off of the interest of the savings and investments we have for the long term. So through our diligent saving, we rely on what we have accrued. Then we become more capable of helping those in need. We are now the lender and not the borrower. Saving allows us to rely on what we have stored up for ourselves if bad times come along. A good savings goal is to have at least six months of living expenses set aside. For example, if your expenses are $3,000 a month, then you should set the amount of $18,000 as an initial savings goal. This gives you the ability to be self-reliant when you need it and the peace of mind of knowing you would be able to handle challenging circumstances if necessary.

Saving money not only helps bring security and peace of mind, but it also begins to harness the power of compound interest. As we will see next week, investing is the maximizing of capital gain and the harnessing of compound interest. Saving money in a standard savings account or money market account will pay a nominal sum depending upon interest rates. As we will discuss next week, there is something called the “Rule of 72,” which says that whatever interest rate you average, divided into 72, will determine how many years it takes to double your money. So, at 3 percent, your money would double in 24 years. That isn’t extraordinary by any means, but it does happen. Your money is working for you. You get more money simply by letting it sit there and letting compound interest do its work. With saving, while this is a seemingly small beginning, it is the strong foundation of security that allows you to build the future of your dreams and goals, and provides the anchor to help you weather financial storms that can come your way. Stay tuned, because the real excitement comes next week when we talk about the power of investing.

Basically, our understanding of the discipline of saving our money on a regular basis is for the safety and stability it creates. Investing is for advanced compounding of your resources.

So here is what we should focus on:

– Adopt the regular discipline of saving.
– Think like the tortoise and not the hare.
– Achieve self-reliance through saving.
– Harness the power of compound interest.

In the next section, we’ll give you some additional thoughts, ask questions for reflection and give you some action points. View

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Supplemental Notes

Saving money is simply a discipline, much like any other discipline. If you want to lose weight, you exercise a little each day. If you want to build wealth and independence, you save a little each month. There is no magic formula, there is no Land of Oz, there are no silver bullets and there is no genie in a bottle.

Saving will come the same way all good things do: through a plan, hard work and discipline.

With that understanding, here are five steps for savings success:

Do it regularly. Every week, every two weeks, every month—it doesn’t matter. All that matters is that it is a consistent practice.

Pay yourself first. One key principle many people promote is paying yourself first. This is sound advice. The taxman doesn’t get it, the credit card company doesn’t get it—you do. That is the way to do it. When you get your paycheck, write yourself a check or transfer it into your savings and put it away. Many people suggest—and I think it is a good idea—to put at least 10 percent away in savings. This should be our goal.

Set a goal of saving enough to cover six months’ worth of expenses. Or, better yet, six months’ salary. As I mentioned above, this is a good standard, no matter your salary. Unforeseen things can happen to even the best of us, and we are smart to be prepared.

Don’t touch it. Do not touch your savings. Set it aside and let it be. Consider it gone except in the case of extreme emergency or opportunity.

Invest after. Once you have your savings established, then, and only then, move on to investing. Investing is the second act of financial independence. Saving comes first for security and safety, and then you move on to investing and placing your capital at risk.

There is obviously a lot to be said about basic financial soundness, but what we’ve discussed is a simple way to begin saving and developing financial independence.

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Getting Out Of Debt

This month’s topic is Money and Finance. I have said always put a strong emphasis on the subject of not just earning money, but also keeping it. Money, like success, is based so much on the “why,” not just the “how.” Why earn a lot of money and why keep it? Is it just so you can buy the finer things in life? Or can money also be a tool used in many powerful ways? For example, to help those in need, to create good self-perpetuating philanthropic ventures, to create more space and time to invest in loved ones, and to leave a legacy of abundance in your home and community.

Money has such incredible potential to be a powerful force and tool in our lives. Let’s make the most of it, and let it be a source of great opportunity and promise for us and for those we love.

Have a great week!

This month, we tackle one of the more important topics—money and finances! Although finances shouldn’t be the highest priority in our lives, I will say money plays a major role in our lives, and we need to see it for what it is: a tool. As Zig Ziglar says, “Money isn’t everything, but it ranks right up there with oxygen!”

Money is a tool that, depending on how we use it, can bring much joy to our lives or it can bring destruction. We need to be aware of all the possibilities it offers as well as the pitfalls. Some of the most amazing things have been done because people had the financial resources to fund them—businesses have been built, schools started and philanthropic charities founded that have accomplished much good. On the other hand, friendships have been ruined, illicit gains profited and lives destroyed—all over the issues of money.

So, as we go through this month, I want to focus on applying some simple financial principles, but I also want to teach the underlying philosophies that govern what good people can do and what tremendous accomplishments can be made when we see money for what it is: a tool to improve our lives and the lives of others.

Specifically, as we do each month, we will focus on four main areas. These four pivotal topics are:

Getting Out of Debt
Debt is a killer. It is a killer of dreams and hopes. It is a killer of businesses. It is a killer of financial futures. And, according to statistics, debt plays a prominent role in many failed marriages. So what should we conclude from this? If we are to be successful, we must have a commitment to stay out of debt! You can make $2 million a year, but if you spend $2.5 million, it doesn’t matter how much money you made, does it? You will be saddled with debt. Today we address this issue.

Saving
One of the key components to long-term wealth building is the discipline of saving money on a regular basis. Next week we will go through the basics and show how a commitment to saving money can revolutionize your financial life and provide the kind of security you desire. One simple difference between the philosophy of the rich and the poor is that the rich save/invest their money and spend what is left, while the poor spend their money and save/invest what is left. What a simple shift in our thinking for such a revolutionary result. We will talk about saving in next week’s edition.

Investing
Investing is very different from saving. Investing involves risk—calculated risk—and the possibility for much more reward. Saving and investing are done for different reasons and with different desired goals and outcomes. By taking a portion of our income and turning it into capital to be invested, we will be actively working toward our goal of financial independence. We will cover the importance of investing, along with some basics of investing in two weeks.

Giving
Giving a portion of your resources away is one of the most powerful principles you will ever embrace. It seems counterintuitive, but the truth is that giving will help you achieve the financial freedom you desire. Amazingly, giving makes you bigger than you are. The more you pour out, the more life will be able to pour back in. So giving a percentage of your resources away will help you not only have more money, but enjoy it more as well, and that is the best benefit.

John Wesley said, “Earn all you can, save all you can and give all you can.” What a great quote for us to keep in mind as we go through this month together. A person who sees the powerful force for good that money can be will more likely keep their own life in balance by pursuing the disciplines of earning, saving and giving, which, together, create the perfect tension and balance.

We must also remember that money has a seductive side and tells you it will solve all of your problems, but it won’t. It is great to have money—lots of it—as long as your life is in balance and you have the proper perspective. It is important that we own our money and not the other way around.

The first way to make sure money doesn’t own us is to deal with the issue of debt.

Americans, as well as most of the world, have more debt than ever. We would do well to remember the old proverb, “The borrower is the servant to the lender.”

When we are in debt, we owe someone, and because of this, they have a certain amount of control over us. We are, in essence, their servant. This is not the way of financial freedom.

Interestingly enough, when it comes to debt, I have found that many otherwise intelligent people just don’t get it. So, for a little help, here are “Five Things You Need to ‘Get’ to Stay Out of Debt”:

Develop the Right Mindset. When it comes to debt, the only mindset is one of ruthless opposition. We need to see debt as the very enemy of our financial lives. If we begin to say, “Well, a little debt here and maybe a little debt there,” we will soon see a lot of debt everywhere. In the same way money can compound positively when we save and invest, debt can also multiply and push you deeper and deeper into debt as each month passes. The right mindset is that we need to get out of debt and stay out of debt. Is this your mindset? Many times, we are a product of the environment we were raised in or we associate with currently. Have you thought lately about the mindset you have toward debt?

One interjection here, because I hear it regularly when I say that we should have no debt: It is the question of a home mortgage. Most people believe that their home is not a debt, but an investment. The fact is that in this day and age, homes cost four or five times the annual income of the people who live in the average neighborhood. And while there is potential you could lose money on your home, depending on what the current economic conditions are, historical analysis shows that a person who lives in a home for quite some time generally ends up on the plus side of the financial equation. So, for our basic understanding, a home mortgage can be considered an investment rather than a debt, though there is debt involved. But, it can be argued either way—an investment or a liability—and you would be right. Now, if you want to pay your mortgage off, there is no harm in that, and it would certainly be the conservative way to go! Besides the home mortgage exception, however, we should remain diligent about staying out of debt.

Gain Understanding. Some people have no idea how much debt they actually have. Some people do not know whether or not they have a positive or negative net worth. With many couples, one spouse knows the real financial situation while the other is relatively “in the dark.” I don’t recommend this. You can’t plan your future if you do not know where you currently are. Think of it this way. Let’s say you wanted to visit a friend and needed directions to get to his home. When you call for directions, he would ask you where you are coming from. Typically, we would tell him our town or address, and he would then give us directions how to get there from where we are. Imagine, however, if we told him we didn’t know where we were! He couldn’t give us directions because he wouldn’t know whether to tell us to go north or south, east or west.

The same is true with knowing where we are financially. If you have a goal to save $1 million, your plan is going to be different if you already have $750,000 saved than if you have $100,000 in consumer debt. Figure out where you are financially—get an understanding. In this instance, the old “Knowledge is power” adage is true. There is power in knowing where you stand financially, because only then can you map your financial future!

Seek Help. When you are sick, you go to the doctor. When you want to improve in a sport, you get a coach. When you are in debt, you need to seek some help. Depending upon the amount of debt you have, you will have to look for varying degrees of help. If you have $2,000 to $5,000 in credit card debt, you may just need a friend to help keep you accountable on monthly spending. If, on the other hand, you are over your head in debt, for instance $50,000 in credit card debt, you may need to bring in the help of a financial advisor who can help you with your creditors. Don’t let your pride get in the way. Everyone needs help at times, and wise people get help when they need it. If you have debt and need help managing it, get help. Your future depends on it.

Get Control. Think about the concept of debt for a minute, especially the specific action of going into debt in order to purchase something you want but don’t have the funds on hand to pay. Now, you may not ever articulate it this way, but what you are really saying is, “I don’t have the money for this, but I want it so much that I cannot go any longer without it. And, not only that, but I am willing to pay 10 to 20 percent more for it than it costs.” (Ten to 20 percent is a typical yearly percentage rate on a credit card.)

What this boils down to is an issue of control. Can you control your urges? Or, more appropriately, will you control your urges? Will you take control of your life? Will you take responsibility for your actions and decide for yourself that you will no longer buy on credit and dig yourself deeper into debt, jeopardizing your financial future?

Create a Plan. To get out of debt, you need a plan. It needs to be simple, effective, workable and tailored to your individual life. There are some basic fundamentals you can follow, but everyone has different incomes, levels of debt and are at different stages in life. A 50-year-old couple who has an income of $125,000 with $50,000 in debt is going to have a different plan than a single male, age 25, who has an income of $30,000 a year and a total of $10,000 in debt.

The key is to have a plan. Once you have a plan that will work for you, then work the plan with all of the discipline you can muster. Your plan should include detailed strategies for spending, income, saving, investing, etc.—we will cover these topics more in depth later this month. I remember the day so clearly that I “If I had more money, I would have a better plan.” “No, I would suggest that if you had a better plan, you would have more money. Remember, it’s not the amount that counts, it’s the plan.” As the old adage goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” So true.

Here are a few additional basics for your get-out-of-debt plan:

– Write down everything you spend. Keep a ledger or a journal or a notepad or whatever works for you, but write down every expenditure you make. This is so important. It creates awareness, forcing you to take a second look at each decision, and helps bring accountability to your spending.
– On all future credit card charges, pay off the full charges for the previous month’s expenditures—no exceptions. This will keep you from paying “new” interest. If you are not able to do this right away, set it as a goal to be able to do as soon as possible.
– Determine how much additional money you can apply to your debt each month and apply it all to your highest-interest debts.

Your financial future can be amazing; it can be anything you want it to be. Part of the heritage you can leave behind is being financially independent, but it will involve some deep soul-searching and some tough decisions to figure out exactly what you want out of life. One of the first issues you must deal with, though, is debt. If you don’t have debt, that is fantastic. If you do, life isn’t over for you; you can still achieve whatever you desire, but only if you make the commitment to shift your priorities. I know that you will!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises.View

Physical Health—Exercise

Welcome to the last week of Month Three with our focus on health! This has been a great month, as we’ve focused on the different areas of health and how being healthy in a holistic way will propel us even further down the road to a successful life.

When we look at health we look in the context of humans consisting of three distinct parts or layers: the Body—the physical nature; the Soul—the mind, will and emotions; and the Spirit—the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Three weeks ago we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Two weeks ago, we covered the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We looked at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire, and we learned how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: Last week, we started a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. We talked about why it is important we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: This week we look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and today we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

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This week, as we look at physical health again, our focus is on exercise. I’ll give you the benefits of exercise, and we’ll add a few tips for getting a simple exercise program up and running.

This week I want to give you a good understanding of just how important physical exercise is. The underlying foundation for exercise—to really get us to take it seriously—are the “why’s” of exercise. Why should we exercise? Why is it important? We have been told many times how important it is and yet so many people do not exercise. Why?

I believe it is imperative to understand the benefits of exercise and why we would do well to adopt a lifelong program of physical exercise that keeps us in tip-top physical health. We should treat our body like a temple, not a woodshed. Because the mind and body work together, your body needs to be a good support system for the mind and spirit. If we take care of our bodies, they can take us where we want to go with the power and vitality to get there.

So let’s take a few minutes here and I’ll give you my 7 Major Benefits of Physical Exercise:

1. Physical exercise strengthens your cardiovascular system and helps support your skeletomuscular system. The two major systems that keep you in shape physically are put into action and driven to health when you exercise. A good workout gets the blood pumping, moving throughout your body, taking those nutrients where they need to go. A good workout gets your lungs working hard and expanding their ability to take in and effectively use oxygen. Working out gets your heart pumping and strengthening itself so it can continue to beat strong and hard for many years to come. Let’s do the math: Have you ever considered that a heart that beats an average of 70 beats per minute will beat 2,575,440,000 times in a 70-year life!? That is more than two and a half billion times! You need to keep it in working order to go that long! A good workout develops and maintains strong muscles so they can carry your body around and remain a good support for the rest of your life! Can you see how important it is, if you want to succeed and achieve a well-balanced life of health, to give a priority to physical exercise? It is imperative we take good care of our body because that is the only place we have to live.

2. Physical exercise raises your metabolism and helps keep your body more finely tuned. Combined with the nutritional aspect we covered last week, these two keep your body, as a system, humming along like the engine of an expensive sports car. Among other things, having a higher rate of metabolism makes your body work more efficiently, burning fat in the proper way, and helps you maintain proper weight. One of the most important areas of physical health is to have a properly functioning metabolism, and a good workout routine can be a major contributing factor in getting your metabolism in the right spot. If you don’t feel well, you probably won’t do well, so invest the time in a good workout plan.

3. Physical exercise relieves stress. You know as well as I do that going about our lives in this day and age is stressful. There are so many factors that can cause stress for us, and the pressures can build the more successful we become. As you achieve more, there is more responsibility. More responsibility can produce more stress. Participating in a regular workout program helps release stress. Your body actually produces stress-relieving chemicals designed to bring your body into a state of physical-emotional balance. This is done when we get our bodies into a vigorous state of physical exercise. So, if you want to have a little less stress in your life, exercise more—it helps!

4. Physical exercise helps you sleep better. , while designed for action, are also designed to sleep regularly. Often, because of other factors in our lives, many people today do not sleep as well as they should. Foods we eat can interrupt our sleep. Stress can keep us from getting the sleep we need, but exercise can act as a counterbalance. Good, hearty workouts can and will help your body reach a healthy state of exhaustion, which in turn helps you sleep better.

5. Physical exercise helps you feel better. People who are in a regular exercise program feel better about themselves. Their bodies are healthier, and as they go about their day they have more energy and are more alert. It makes sense, doesn’t it? When we treat our body right, we feel better. And we feel better in all different kinds of ways: emotionally, spiritually, etc. Remember, all of the three areas of our bodies are tied together and have an effect on one another.

6. Physical exercise helps us look better. Hey, who doesn’t want to look better? We all do! A good exercise program can do that. Good vigorous exercise on a regular basis will help you lose fat, tighten skin and firm and tone your muscles. Done right, combined with good eating habits, you will look great in no time! And let’s face it, looking good will help you feel better—there is an emotional connection. Studies also show that better-looking people as a general rule do better in business. As much as people say it isn’t right to judge a book by its cover, many people do, so we should give ourselves a better chance at business by making our cover healthy and fit—and better looking. So make sure your outside is a good reflection of your inside.

7. Physical exercise enables us to live longer. This, of course, is the best benefit. Obviously, there are no guarantees in this life, but the fact remains that those who maintain a healthy state of physical fitness live longer than those who do not take care of their bodies. We should all have the goal to live long and healthy lives so we can achieve all we were meant to achieve here, and give ourselves fully to our families and those who love us and depend on us. A good long life, filled with love and success, is what we should all shoot for, and maintaining our physical bodies is an integral part of that!

There you have them. Seven great benefits you receive from keeping your body in great shape through exercise!

We have covered a lot in this month of health. Take it to heart. Gain some ground on your health this month and in the coming year. You will be glad you did!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

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Supplemental Notes
Here are a few tips for establishing a simple yet effective workout program.

1. Go to your physician and tell him or her what you would like to achieve physically. We cannot emphasize this enough! Let your doctor know and help you along with your plan. Each individual is unique and will need to have a health professional help them decide which is the best plan for them. Believe us, they will be ecstatic to see someone taking their health seriously and will be glad to help!

2. Have a plan. Just as with all of life, we do best when we have a plan. That is why you are here. We do better and are more accountable—as well as more successful—when we plan and then work that plan. So, get a plan. There are so many good health/exercise plans available to us; it is up to you to choose what will fit your needs and lifestyle best. The first and most simple step of your plan should be to become active on a daily basis, even five minutes a day will make a huge difference physiologically, and as a result, will move you in the direction of strengthening your body’s cardiovascular system. A simple start could be walking in your neighborhood, at a nearby park or local school track. The next step would be to add in strength/weight training and alternate strength training and cardiovascular conditioning. Try doing cardiovascular (walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics, etc.) on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and strength training on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. The key here is to do what works best for you and your schedule.

3. Start small. One reason so many people fail to maintain a lifelong workout plan is because they start too big, fail and then quit. You don’t have to go to the gym every day. You don’t have to start off trying to bench press like a middle linebacker. Start smaller, if that is what it takes for you to be successful. The key isn’t the size of your start but that you start! It might mean taking a vigorous walk three times a week with your spouse or friends. Whatever it is—start!

4. Make it regular, whether Monday, Wednesday and Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, whether every morning or three evenings a week. It doesn’t matter what your plan is as long as it is your plan and you keep it regular. If you can keep from being sporadic, your body will be in much better condition.

5. Incorporate exercise into your day. You don’t even have to join a gym. There are people who ride their bikes to work. If you work on the 10th floor, take the stairs three times a week. Park at the outer edge of the parking lot. Bring a sandwich for lunch and walk while you eat it on your lunch break. There are lots of different ways to get exercise on a regular basis if you just put a little thought and effort into it.

6. Remember that something is better than nothing. Sometimes you just don’t want to go work out and do 45 minutes on the treadmill then 45 minutes in the weight room. You could decide to not go and sit on the couch and eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby Ice Cream. But instead, even if you do 15 minutes on the treadmill and then quit, going is better than having done nothing! It is a continual move in the right direction. (You can apply this principle to any area of life—saving even $50 a month is better than nothing!)

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View

Physical Health

When we look at health, we look in the context of humans, which consists of three distinct parts or layers: the body (the physical nature), the soul (the mind, will and emotions), and the spirit (the part of us that transcends this world and communes with God).

Our spiritual life is what gives us the foundation for living and provides the strength we need for everything else. Our soul, the second layer, is the “intangible” part of us. You can’t touch it, but it is there, and not only is it there, but it is what drives most of who and what we are! Then, finally, our body, the outermost layer, is the physical shell that houses our soul and spirit. All of these are intricately connected and affect each another.

We cover these three layers in four different parts this month:

1. Spiritual Health: Two weeks ago we looked at the benefits and importance of developing a vibrant spiritual life and gave you some easy methods to help take your spiritual life to a deeper level.

2. Emotional Health: The mind, will and emotions. Last week, we covered the importance of a healthy soul, specifically the mind, will and emotional aspects of life. We looked at how our inner person is such a vital part in making sure we live the kind of life we desire, and we learned how our emotional life can become healthy, strong and lively.

3. Physical Health—Nutrition: Today, we will begin a two-part look at the body and physical health, concentrating on the area of nutrition. It is important that we fuel our body properly because energy comes from the foods we eat. Just like a vehicle runs off of the fuel we fill it with, if we put the wrong kind of fuel into our body, it will not run properly. Put the right kinds of foods in, and it will run like the high-performance engine in an expensive sports car!

4. Physical Health—Exercise: Week 13 will look at the important area of exercise. “I need to exercise” is the first thought that occurs to most people when they think of health. We do need exercise, and three weeks from now, we will take a more in-depth look at this important topic.

Let’s dive into this week’s focus, Physical Health: Nutrition.

We have covered the two “inner parts” of human health this month, and now it is time to look outward at the body. The body is a fantastic gift, a physical masterpiece that is ours for life. It grows, develops and is the vehicle with which we go through our entire lives. You only get one body, and it’s important to make the most of it. This is why it is so important for us to take the issue of physical health seriously. The body is in a natural state of decay, and it is our job as stewards of our body to treat it well and keep it in tip-top physical shape, which can help delay the process of aging significantly. With proper care, our bodies can stay finely tuned. Especially with the medical advancements available to us in this generation, we can experience the longest life spans in the history of mankind. Today, one of the fastest-growing segments of society is the 80 years and older group! The average lifespan for both men and women living in the United States is now in the mid-to-late 70s. Incredible!

One of the key aspects of keeping our bodies fit is the nutritional aspect. Now, before we go further, let me say that the following advice should not be taken as specific medical or nutritional advice—you should see your physician for that and create a plan specific to your needs and lifestyle—instead, these are general guidelines for leading a physically fit lifestyle as it relates to nutrition. With that in mind, let’s take a look at some specific guidelines for physical health as it relates to nutrition.

Get Back to the Basics
There are two parts to physical health. We all know them, and together we could all say in unison: “Eat right and exercise!” Physical health, in its simplest form, comes down to these two basics: Eat right and exercise. Next week we’ll talk about exercise, but this week let’s cover the “eat right” message. Simply put, we must eat right. At its essence, this is a key that is pretty simple to monitor. We all have a basic understanding of what it means to eat right. Pick one of the following as a good versus not-so-good choice for a snack: A handful of nuts or a candy bar? For dessert: A small portion of fruit or a pint of ice cream? We all know what it means to “eat right.” It is a simple concept, and it’s one we would benefit greatly to focus on.

A good analogy to help put this issue of nutrition into perspective would be to think of your body as a vehicle. Now, imagine for a moment that you had worked hard and had been able to save enough money to buy the car of your dreams. Maybe it is a fine luxury car that costs $75,000. You love every aspect of it. It gets you where you want to go, and it gets you there in style! Now, after driving for a few hours, you know you will run out of fuel, so you turn to the owner’s manual and find it tells you that you need to use unleaded fuel. Would you then go fill up the car with diesel? It wouldn’t run right if you did. It wasn’t designed for diesel. In reading the owner’s manual, you would also see a recommended grade of fuel in order for the car to run at its most efficient level. There will be an octane suggestion; it might be 89. Now, the car could probably run on 87 octane, but not as well as on 89. So you would put in 89 octane. You must fuel the vehicle properly. The same is true with our bodies! We are designed to run on good fuel. There are other fuels we can put into our bodies, but they won’t run as efficiently if we do.

Most of the time, people tend to eat what they eat because they want something that tastes good in the moment—instant gratification. What would happen if we began to eat not what we crave, but what our body needs for fuel? It would revolutionize our physical health. If we begin to view our bodies with the “body as a vehicle” analogy and the need to fuel it properly, we will find our bodies respond by running better, more efficiently and for longer periods of time. That sounds good to me! Start to think of your body as a vehicle that needs to be fueled properly.

Consult with a Physician or Dietitian
I would strongly encourage you to have a visit with someone who is an expert in the area of nutrition. Sit down with your physician or dietitian and go over your nutritional plan. You might say, “But Jim, I am not overweight. I am in good shape.” I would encourage you to visit with your health care professional anyway. Just because you aren’t overweight doesn’t mean you can’t improve your nutrition, which will in turn improve your health.

Take in a Healthy Supply of Good, Nutritional Fuel
Unlike the vehicle we drive, our bodies can run well on a wide variety of foods. Could you imagine if you had to eat the same kind of food every time you ate? That would get boring very fast! Fortunately, we have plethora of foods that can fuel our bodies properly—all of the healthy choices of fruits, vegetables, breads, grains, meats and dairy products that can help our bodies operate at maximum efficiency. Be sure to eat a wide variety of foods and enjoy them!

Stay Away from Foods That Are Not Good for You
What would you do if you went outside one evening and found the neighborhood kids playing a prank on you and getting ready to fill your car’s fuel tank with sugar? You would put an end to that quickly! Why? Because you don’t want the neighbor kids to have fun? No, because sugar isn’t good for the car! The point? There are certain things you wouldn’t put in your car’s fuel tank and there are certain things you shouldn’t fuel your body with, either. The more diligent we are in staying away from foods that are not good for us, the better our bodies will run.

All Things in Moderation
That is an old saying. Most health problems, nutritionally and otherwise, come from a lack of moderation. Can we eat sugar? Sure, just not too much. Can we eat some pie sometimes? Certainly, but not too much. Anorexia is a nutritional challenge we face in our society today that many young people have fallen prey to. They eat too little, and as a result, suffer many serious health problems. Moderation means we don’t eat too much or too little. We eat just enough—in moderation. We fuel our bodies properly. We don’t weigh too little or too much. We weigh just enough for our body frame.

Develop Good Eating Habits
Part of the problem we experience in our nutrition has to do with our habits. What do we do habitually? Do we get in the habit of stopping at a fast-food place for lunch every day and eating high-fat foods? Or do we exercise the habit of taking 10 minutes every evening before we go to bed to prepare a lunch to take with us filled with healthy foods? That simple habit will pay for itself in nutritional soundness. Developing good eating and nutritional habits will pay dividends for a lifetime.

Develop a Lifelong Plan of Nutrition
One of the best things we can do is to sit down and take time to develop a sustainable, long-term nutrition plan. I believe one of the reasons so many diets fail long term is because short-term people will change the way they eat to enable themselves to lose weight, but these changes are not realistic long term. Once they lose the weight and get to their ideal weight, they stop eating the way that helped them lose the weight and they go back to their old ways of eating. And what happens? You guessed it—they gain the weight back. To ensure long-term nutritional health, we need to have a sustainable, long-term plan of nutrition. The plan should be nutritionally sound and one we personally enjoy and are able to commit to.

Again, remember, just as you invest money and time in the pursuit of health in other areas of your life, invest in this area of nutrition as well. Your body will thank you for it!

Until next week, let’s do something remarkable!

Nick James

Be sure to download this week’s workbook pages to complete the Questions for Reflection and Action Points exercises. View