A Stewardship Mentality

I’d like to stretch your thinking about stewardship today.  Go beyond the popular environmental persuasions to save the planet’s resources and typical discussions about being a good steward of your finances. These are very important, but I want to extend that thought.

I’m suggesting a whole new mindset about nearly every aspect of your life.

  • How would your life change if you had an acute awareness that everything you possess and are a part of is temporal and will someday belong to someone else?
  • What benefits would result with such a change in mindset?

Everything we possess is on loan, and temporal, including our earthly roles and responsibilities.  A sense of humility and long-term perspective is required to accept this fact.  Where is your understanding of this reality, my friend?

My revelation of this fact developed gradually in phases, because of different jobs I had in my early twenties.

First, my revelation about possessions occurred when working as an auction clerk in my small town, which involved going through deceased people’s possessions and setting up for an estate auction. After the family had chosen items they wished to keep, I noticed that often 75% – 80% of the household was left to bidders to haul away. These images have stuck with me. I learned that price paid does not dictate value, and that things are to be enjoyed but then passed on, not hoarded in basements or garages. I also learned to take care of things so that someday they will still be of value to someone else.

My second revelation came during my first and second teaching jobs. Each time I was replacing a woman that had held the job for decades. Each woman was kind to leave behind everything that would help my first year be easier, but even more valuable, they made themselves available before school started to meet me and walk me through things you only learn by experience.  That attitude of caring about the role they were leaving, and entrusting to someone new, stuck with me, and as I taught, I was always careful to create files and leave things organized so that my successor would have a great start to their new career.

There are many benefits to having a stewardship mentality.

When you have a stewardship mentality with your possessions, you will take care of things and appreciate them more. This results in satisfaction of things looking nicer, lasting longer, and holding more value when you are finished with it.  For instance, taking care of your vehicle by keeping up with regular maintenance, and treating it as valuable, will make even a high mileage old car or truck worth more to the next buyer.

Another benefit of the stewardship mentality is that you will develop a thoughtful, caring attitude to leave things in good shape for the next owners. This includes the planet, a job, cars, your house, books, furniture, and equipment.  Thinking of others down the road who can get more use and enjoyment out of your possessions when you are finished with them is a sign of good character, not to mention better for our planet.

A stewardship mentality about your job can give you a greater sense of purpose. Thinking about how your position will play a role in your organization after you leave it should inspire you to make it as great as you can so that it is solid when you are ready to leave. Mentor the ones who will be moving into your position someday. It’s not that things will not change when you leave, but make sure your successors appreciate the vision and have the tools and a roadmap to get a good start.  

A Stewardship mindset benefits you and others. As your collection of material things grow during your lifetime, and as you work through your career path, I hope you apply this mindset, and experience the satisfaction it will bring.

-Jan Jones

For an even more expanded view on stewardship, check out this video:

Decision Making Skills

Are you a quick decision maker? A wise decision maker? Being able to make the right decisions is a critical life skill because each decision you make has the potential to alter your life path, no matter how big or small you perceive that decision to be.

 It is worth your time, my friend, to review the steps in decision making so that your mind switches to auto pilot seamlessly and filters information quickly through each step.

Decision making steps:

Step1:  Define the Problem That may sound easy looking at the surface, but sometimes the real problem is underneath, like an iceberg, and takes some digging. You don’t want to just treat the symptom. It can be as simple as “I’m hungry”.  Before going to grab some food, ask yourself some questions. “Am I just bored?” “When did I last eat?” “Am I just craving sugar?”

Or let’s look at a bigger decision: perhaps you are struggling with the decision of which college to attend. Dig deep and ask yourself why you are finding this a hard choice. Do you want to stay closer to home but know the further away school is better for your major? You want to go to the same school as your best friend?

Coming to grips with the REAL struggle you are having is step #1 in the process to making a wise decision. You have to know what you are dealing with.

Step 2: Consider All Options This is where you need to think outside the box and get creative so you are not just looking at the obvious choices. Research, ask others, and list all possible solutions even if they sound out of reach. There may just be an option you have not thought about.

Step 3: Consider All Consequences If you are a visual person it might help to draw a mind map – draw a circle with the option inside it and draw radiating lines from it with each consequence written on the line, negative consequences on one side and positive consequences on the other side of the circle.  If you are a list person, make a T chart of pros and cons. This exercise will help clarify the outcomes of your available choices.

Step 4: Make a Decision At this point you should be ready to make your choice. You have all your options in front of you with possible outcomes of each choice. It’s time to analyze this data and make the best choice.

Step 5: Take Full Responsibility Once you have made the decision, you now must be ready to accept responsibility for all outcomes. No blaming, no whining, the choice was yours, and you did the best with what information you had at the time.

Step 6: Evaluate As time passes, it is important to evaluate your decision. Did you skimp on your research and miss something that could’ve made a difference? Thankfully, most decisions can be recalibrated. Ask yourself what you can learn from this decision that will help you with future decisions.

It is good to practice this process with easy decisions so that when it comes to the bigger, more important ones your mind will intuitively run through these steps. You will find decision making will gradually become easier and faster.

-Jan Jones

For a fresh strategy to deal with FOBO (Fear Of Missing the Best Opportunity) watch this video:

Do What Your Future Self Will Thank You For

If you are in your 20’s or younger, today’s topic might be a stretch for your imagination, but you are exactly the age that will benefit the most from this exercise.

You may have heard an older person say that their past feels like it happened to someone else…that they were a different person then. I think I first felt this in my early 30’s, as I thought back on high school and college years.

Today I want to challenge you to think about your future self in new ways:

  • Your future self will not be exactly as you are now.
  • Your future self will be shaped by your daily decisions.

Your future self will likely surprise you. You can plan and have goals, and you should, but most likely life will throw you curves and opportunities and experiences that will change the direction of your life. We will meet inspirational people, go through challenges we never imagined we could, and discover new interests and talents we never knew were in us.

Once you realize this truth, it changes your perspective. It should add an element of humility when we are setting goals or making statements about our future. You’ve heard the phrase “never say never!”  It is a form of self-centeredness and pride to assume your perspective is the end all, and that not just you, but the world will not evolve and change, making your plans subject to change.  I try to remember to say the phrase, “at least that is how I think about things now” to my opinions. 

Realizing people change should also help you have mercy toward yourself and others. Give yourself and others grace with past mistakes. 

Your future self will be shaped by the daily decisions you make now.  It is comforting to know that you do have some element of control of your future self. One of the most important responsibilities you have to yourself is taking care of your health. How you age is largely a direct result of your eating and exercising habits. What kind of 65 year old do you want to be? 75? 85? Do today what your future self will thank you for!

The goals you set today set the direction of your life path, so they should be well thought out.  What education you choose, the career path, the person you marry, where you will live; these are all major decisions that form the strong branches of your tree of life and smaller branches of opportunity and challenges will grow out from those branches. If you make a great number of unwise decisions your tree ends up looking like a tree with branches sawn off, and although some sawn off branches do not ruin the tree, (pruning is necessary) if there are too many major branches sawn, it effects the beauty and health of the tree.  Your future self will thank you for thinking about the big picture when making your daily and major decisions.

Do what your future self will thank you for, my friend. Look around. Observe people older than yourself. Talk with older people. Seek wise mentors. Be humble and learn from your elders. You will hear many regrets and many “thank goodness’s” that you can learn from.  And someday, sooner than you may realize, it just may be your future self that is sharing wisdom with a young person.

For more on the perspective of Your Future Self, watch this video:

-Jan Jones

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

By John C. Maxwell

It’s been over 20 years since Failing Forward was first published, and “failing forward” is still a popular phrase used in business and education circles today. And for good reason.  It’s a hopeful word picture of someone tripping, or stumbling, yet still making progress toward their goal.

The main theme: “The difference between average people and achieving people is their perception of and response to failure.” – John Maxwell.

There are many inspiring personal success-after-failure stories of famous people you will likely recognize throughout the book, mixed with clear teaching principles in list form.

I found four major principles that capture the essence of the book:

  • Redefine failure and success. Maxwell challenges common definitions and offers new ones. One such definition states that failure is not an event. It’s a subjective label for how you handle life, and you determine the label.  
  • Failure is an inside job. A lot of pages are devoted to accepting responsibility for your mistakes and having the right mindset to move on.  He challenges you to face how you deal with failures by clearly calling out a list of self-defeating behaviors such as expecting you won’t fail again or accepting tradition blindly.
  • Embrace failure and learn from it.  Maxwell lists a handful of benefits that experiencing failure can bring and backs them up with true stories. Maxwell warns of the “fear cycle” and finding yourself in paralysis. He adamantly stresses that risks need to be taken and are to be evaluated by the value of the goal. He closes out this section with a list of questions to ask yourself after a failure that will help you learn from it and move on.
  • Top 10 reasons people fail. I found this list very interesting as a teacher, because I could clearly see certain students acting out these behaviors, as well as recognizing my own self-defeating beliefs and actions.  A few from his list included a weak commitment, response to poor information, a bad fit, relying on talent alone and poor people skills.

Maxwell wraps up his last section with a few one-liners worth remembering:

  • Work on the weaknesses that weaken you.
  • The little difference between failure and success makes a big difference. (He goes on to explain that little difference is persistence)
  • It’s what you do after you get up that counts.

This is a book I will keep in my professional library.I love how the list format makes it a quick reference book.  As Maxwell stated many times, failure isn’t something we can avoid. It will happen. And although the disappointment is inevitable, we need to quickly get past the pain and learn from it and move on to the next thing.  This book will be on the shelf to help remind me how to grow through failure.

-Jan Jones

Here is a short video by John Maxwell about possibilities and failure:

Maybe/Someday Lists

Most everyone is familiar with the value of making daily to do lists, but today I’d like to explore a type of to do list that might seem counterproductive at first glance but is actually a great productivity tool worth utilizing.

I’m talking about the concept of the Maybe/Someday List that David Allen promotes in his productivity book Getting Things Done. 

Let’s explore:

  • What is a Someday/Maybe List?
  • Why have a Someday/Maybe List?
  • Examples of my someday/maybe lists:
  • How I use these lists

What is a Someday/Maybe List?

  • It is a to do list you may want to complete but for some reason is on hold or possibly a list of ideas you have but are not sure what to do with them yet
  • Items on this list typically do not have an action plan …yet
  • It could have a timeline as far out as a bucket list, or as soon as this month

Why have a Someday/Maybe List?

  • They help you deal with distractions. You now have a place to capture ideas that run through your mind as you are working on immediate projects. No more running down rabbit holes only to be surprised that you’ve lost valuable time.
  • Projects that have to be on hold do not belong on your active to do list because it will bog you down mentally to keep seeing it on your list and not being finished. It may even subconsciously make you avoid your to do list.
  • It will free up your creative thinking because you now have a place to park all those great ideas you have but aren’t ready to commit to yet. 

Examples of my someday/maybe lists:

  • Books I want to read
  • Topics I want to write about
  • Youtube videos I want to go back to
  • Places I want to go
  • Hobbies I’d like to try

How I use these lists:

  • Onenote is great: I can make each idea its own note that has plenty of room to add information as needed, and tag it “Someday/maybe” to be easily searched later.
  • Notes app on my phone is used for lists I might need to reference while out, such as books I want to read. When I find myself in a used bookstore I can access my list on the go.
  • I use pictures when I can, because my brain will process a photo much more quickly than text.
  • I use Word documents for blog ideas and videos I want to watch and have that doc in an open tab for reference as I write.

Don’t forget to review your lists! I enjoy reviewing my someday/maybe lists and updating them as I get new ideas.  How often you review them depends on your goals. Some lists I review weekly, and others monthly.

Now you have a place to file every “I want to do that someday” idea that pops in your head as you are working on the task at hand! Have fun with it, my friend!

-Jan Jones

Check out this short video with David Allen

Avoid Information Overload with Capturing Systems

Stress! That’s what you can have, my friend, when in a situation where  you have a lot of information flowing toward you. You have to do something with it as it comes in and put it where you can find it when you need it.

Dave Allen, the author of “Getting Things Done” says that the #1 step for reducing stress and increasing productivity is to capture everything in a trusted external system because “your head’s a crappy office”.

Today the topic is about Capturing Systems, and we at Launch Leadership Development are going to help you avoid that information overload by discussing:

  • Why you need good capturing systems
  • Examples of capturing systems
  • What systems work best in specific situations
  • Organization tips

Two reasons you need good capturing systems include:

 1.) You will feel more in control as information comes in when you have a specific place to save it

 2.) You will save precious time later when you need that information.  How many minutes have you wasted lately trying to find something? Stressful, yes?

Examples of capturing systems include:

  • notebooks
  • apps on your phone
  • post its
  • white boards
  • calendars
  • video
  • recording
  • files on your computer
  • filing systems for hard copies

What systems work best for specific situations: Each of these systems can be the most efficient choice for the right situation.

  • Getting instructions from your teacher/boss? Writing in a notebook may be the best option to make sure you don’t miss anything later.
  • Being shown a how-to demonstration? Get your phone out and record it!
  • Keep post-its handy on your desk for temporary quick notes such as phone numbers and email or website addresses
  • In a meeting? Use Evernote or Onenote
  • Is your teacher/boss using a whiteboard or large screen for instruction? Take a picture of the board with your phone
  • Hard copy documents? Get a binder, accordion file folder, or file folders for a desk drawer or small filing cabinet.

Some basic organization tips that are helpful include:

  • develop the habit of cleaning out your inbox daily. Build folders in your email system to organize information you will need later. Delete the rest!
  • make use of the notes app on your phone by building folders so that you always have information with you.  Mine is FULL of folders such as:

photos of business cards

auto records of last oil change, maintenances, tires, etc.

the type of ink cartridge my printer takes, furnace filter sizes, etc.

to do lists and goals

my budget for the month and where I’m at with it

prayer list

  • make use of the calendar on your phone and develop the habit of checking it daily.  I even write to do lists on each day, the night before, and refer to it often. As I make appointments, I record it immediately on my calendar.
  • Make folders in your computer program to organize all your documents…then folders inside those folders, if needed. A place for everything and everything in its place!
  • It sounds old school, but we still have hard copy documents that need an organized space to live. As mentioned above, an accordion file folder works well. Label each slot and be diligent to file papers immediately.

Try using one of these systems and see if you find it helpful. Your phone may be the easiest, since you always have it with you. Experiment with the Notes and/or calendar.  Reminder: it will only be effective if you are consistent and timely with using them.

I believe you are going to see your stress level drop when you get your information organized, my friend!

-Jan Jones

Check out this tip from Getting Things Done author David Allen:

 Cultivate the Power of a Positive Mindset

The power in positive thinking is certainly not a new topic. Biblical teachings reference to “think on these things…” and list positive ideas to focus our mind upon.  In the beginning of the 20th century the idea gained scientific attention, and studies were done that showed there is more to positive thoughts than just “feeling better mentally”.

Today I would like to explore this idea of positive mindset by looking at:

  • What is a positive mindset?
  • Studies of a positive mindset
  • Benefits of positive thinking
  • How to cultivate a positive mindset

Having a positive mindset means that you choose to focus on the good in a situation and have hope that disappointing news will work out to a satisfactory end.  Notice the word choose. We always have a choice and can direct our thoughts. That’s powerful, my friend! Practice it! Next time a negative thought jumps into your mind, chase it away with a statement such as, “Nope, not going there. It’s going to work out.”  Faith is the antidote to worry, anger, and every negative emotion. It isn’t ignoring facts, it is realizing that everything is subject to change and if you have faith in God, you know that with God ALL things are possible. Expect a good result!

By the way, even if you do not get the positive result you were hoping for, you are still better off not having wasted negative energy being upset. Negative thoughts have proven to have a negative effect on our bodies.

Research continues to validate the benefits of a positive mindset:

There are countless studies that have shown the physiological and psychological effect of anything in our lives can be influenced by our mindset, from blood pressure to actualizing a goal. Read that again.

Take a moment to read this article from a well respected medical institute:

John Hopkins Medical article on positive thinking

Currently a popular buzz word in the research world is Growth Mindset: not seeing yourself, your gifts, talents, potential or situation as fixed, but able to change and grow. In other words, creating positive change with possibility thinking. Our teaching staff had a book study on this topic, and the Indiana State Department of Education offers a course on happiness for teachers as I write this, as this subject is influencing public education practices nationwide.

How a positive mindset will benefit you:

  • Increases your chances of a longer life span
  • Decreases your chances of heart disease, strokes and heart attack
  • Increases your pain tolerance.
  • Increases your immunity levels
  • Decreases stress levels, which impacts your health in many ways
  • Clearer thinking and frees up creative thinking
  • Lessens depression symptoms
  • Improves relationships
  • Gives you more energy
  • Can bring about positive results

What does negative thinking give you? Worry, stress, illness, confusion, low energy, hopelessness, strained relationships, and can bring about negative outcomes!

How to cultivate a positive mindset:

If you are naturally a more optimistic person, you are blessed! For those who have to work at it, here are some tips to put into practice:

  • Choose your filter.  What are you focusing on? Do you let one negative experience ruin a whole evening? Where are you putting your attention?
  • Reframe negatives.  Assume the best. Perhaps you missed being in a car accident because the line at the store was a mile long. Perhaps you had to go through a disappointing experience to move you to a better place.
  • Visualize things working out.  I love this one because it is fun and I immediately feel stress floating away when I do this.  Play a movie in your mind of things going perfectly in creative ways.  You may just find a solution or better path!
  • Be positive on purpose.  Practice gratitude. Complement others. Do something each day to spread joy or help others.  Choose something that will be “your thing” that you do regularly. Have fun with this!

I encourage you to explore this topic further, because it is THAT beneficial to you and your future.  Remember, a positive mindset is a choice!

-Jan Jones

Check out this video on positivity!

Are You Using Your Device Calendar Daily?

The great thing about utilizing your phone calendar is that it is typically always close at hand. So, are you taking advantage of this tool to make your life run more smoothly? If not, I’d like to persuade you, my friend, to take another look at:

  • How you can make the best use of this tool, and
  • The advantages of using your phone calendar daily

Use it daily.  To benefit from this tool, it is important to develop the daily habit of inputting data and referring to it.  Check it in the morning and sometime throughout the day. The more you put in your calendar, the more you will depend on it, and the more benefits you will reap.

When you make any appointment, immediately put it in your calendar.  I mean, RIGHT THERE. At the doctor’s office, when calling for an oil change, when scheduling a meet up with a friend, it doesn’t matter what- get your phone out and immediately type in the event and time.

Use it for your To Do Lists.  I schedule everything I need to do on the very day in the calendar, from appointments down to remembering to take the garbage out Tues. nights. (I used to forget! Now I don’t!)  I put in when to pay bills, reminders about getting rebates mailed out, birthdays, reminders to call for appointments that are hard to get in, when webinars are happening, shows I want to watch…it’s all there! I even record fall clean up weekends and Christmas decorating days because I have a small window of time to do those things and it reminds me those days are taken.  I also record when free trials expire by reminding myself a few days before to deal with it if I plan to unsubscribe.

Use entries as a log.  I record the days I get gas and how much I paid and put in. It helps me track my budget.  I’ve done it with car washes, eating out, and other activities I want to track for a while.

Record events you might want to attend. When I see something in Facebook about an upcoming event I might want to attend, it goes in my calendar. If I attend an annual event that I really liked, I put it in the next year’s calendar if it’s something that happens the same time each year. 

Some advantages to habitually using this system:

  • You will feel more in control of your life
  • You will not forget things nearly as often
  • You will not double up on scheduling events
  • You will have a record you can search to keep track of dr. appts, oil changes, flu shots, and other regularly scheduled appointments you might want to know the last date of service, or those gas station stops!
  • The more you record in it, the more you will check it, the more efficient you will become.

Have I convinced you yet, on how this tool can greatly serve you? I challenge you to open your calendar app right now and put something on it for several days this week. Then think about the rest of the month. It can actually become addictive once you start!  Then make it a part of your daily routine to check it in the morning and at night.  See if you don’t feel more in control of your life!

-Jan Jones

For more on how to make better use of your calendar, here is David Allen, author

of Getting Things Done

Accept the Challenge:

101 Strategies for Personal Success

By William P. Abram  

At Launch Leadership Development we are constantly researching, reading, and mining for great leadership and personal development materials that will benefit you, our digital family. Today’s blog features a book review on “Accept the Challenge 101 Strategies for Personal Success” by William P. Abram.

First let me just say upfront:  I love this book and think you will as well.  It is a gem that didn’t make the best seller’s list but is valuable for many reasons.

A Summary:

William P. Abram has compiled pieces of life wisdom from his Georgia radio program “Motivational Minutes”, which featured brief inspirational advice on personal growth and business topics. There are not chapters, just topics covered in one page each. This is a light and inspirational read that will spark ideas and help you overcome roadblocks in your thinking.

          There are three themes woven throughout the book:

  • Learning and knowledge
  • The vital importance of goals
  • Laser-like focus is necessary for success

His writing style is that of a loving father giving a short talk to his son or daughter, perhaps in a car ride, or at the dinner table, passing along wisdom, but stopping short of lecturing. He presents the idea and then proceeds to explain how you can apply it to your life and why it will be of benefit.

 Topics include:

Investing your wealth                       The price of success

The truth about accountability        The power of caring

Take control of your life                  The wisdom of goals

Don’t live in the past                        Changing the world

The power of visualization              Never stop learning

Why I love this book:

  • It is jam packed with practical wisdom in bite size chunks. Each topic is completed in two pages, one page being a large quote.
  • The topics are spot on to encourage personal growth such as The Importance of Change, Don’t Fear Failure, Winning Strategies, The Power of Visualization, Dealing with Adversity and The Power of Repetition, What Successful People See, to name a few.
  • An easy read perfect for a morning or evening routine. A motivating start to the day or positive ending to each day that takes just a minute but will leave you pondering how you can apply this truth to your life.
  • It references many historical and influential leaders we can learn from.  Each topic starts with an inspiring quote from qualified leaders and then builds from there, often including personal stories from these leaders.
  • I’ve read a lot of personal growth books, and I found the author’s take on typical topics very refreshing.
  • The author grew up in my town, Fort Wayne, IN and graduated from Concordia College and went on to attend Concordia Seminary.  

This book would be beneficial for any age group, but I plan on buying a copy for all the graduates in my life because of its easy readability.

If you are looking for short inspirational reading to add to your daily routine, this one fits the bill!

-Jan Jones

The Art of an Apology

Do you know someone who is unable to admit they are wrong or made a mistake? What about a person who cannot forgive and holds grudges? They are very difficult to be around, are they not?

The ability to make and accept an apology is a sign of strength, compassion, and humility.  It is a very important communication skill worth mastering, my friend.

Today at Launch-lead we are exploring:

  • Do’s and don’ts of apologizing
  • Reframe the situation: how would you feel?
  • How to gracefully accept an apology

Perhaps the easiest way to break down an effective apology is to look at a simple chart of do’s and don’ts:

Look at the person directlyWrite it in a text, say it in person
Identify exactly what you are sorry forJust say “sorry” and that be the end
Say WHY you are sorryReflect back “sorry you feel that way”
Offer to make it up to them if you canNeglect to make it right if you can
Say it with a sincere voiceSpeak fast, too quietly, or sarcastically
Ask their forgivenessAct like it was no big deal
Tell them it will not happen again Do it again

Reframe the situation: Too often people do not put themselves in the other person’s place and think about how they would feel if what they did was done to them. It is easy to think WE wouldn’t be upset…they are overreacting and need to get over it.

 Perhaps it is true that YOU would not be upset, but this is where compassion and humility come in.  Show the other person you value how they feel with a well-designed apology.  It will pay off in a stronger, healthier relationship, trust me.

The other side to consider is how to gracefully accept an apology.

If someone has offended you and is sincerely apologizing and making effort to make the situation right, a tactful acceptance of the apology is in order to mend the relationship.  It takes a humble person with compassion to not want to make the offender “pay” for their actions.

Here are some hints for humbly accepting an apology:

  • Listen to the whole apology without interrupting or portraying negative body language
  • Put yourself in their place, objectively, and try to understand their side
  • When they are finished, explain your feelings if it helps
  • If you care about this relationship, and believe they are sincere, accept their apology
  • Move on and do not hold it against them in the future

Everyone at times finds themselves in need of making or accepting an apology, whether with family members, friends, at work, or in any other group setting. Be the mature, humble person who values relationships enough to take the time to craft apologies well and kindly accept sincere apologies. Your relationships will be richer for it.

-Jan Jones

For more on how to make an effective apology: