Being a helping hand and being changed by it

Helping Hand

In keeping up with my theme for this year of being more loving and more generous, this past week I was able to catch up with a friend I haven’t seen in years. While I won’t disclose what he is going through, I will share that his situation is emotionally and physically tough. Still, I was encouraged to see his attitude and resolve to overcome his current situation and be a better man for the people closest to him. He didn’t shy away from the problem and recognized his influence in the situation but made the decision to adjust his course correctly. I was touched to see his resolve.

My role is to be the friend he needs; a brother in arms. To be present in the good and bad times. I want to be that person. I know I can’t change anything, but I can be a catalyst for his motivation to kick-in when needed. I’m being that helping hand but I know that I too am being changed through the process.

You can say it’s a noble act. You can say it shows honor to your friends. You can even say that I’m being an example to my family and the people around me. All of these expressions are true but I tend to see how this process is also changing me. I don’t see myself as better, stronger, smarter, brighter, or more positive. I’m just another person like so many others faced with the opportunity to be present. I know you have had the same opportunity. The opportunity to be that friend, that brother, that source of encouragement and motivation. In looking back at my life I can say that sometimes I took the easy road. But this time it’s different.

In taking the first step to be that someone I have finally said:
“I’m present and I’m willing to take this responsibility. I will be here for you when you need it. I will check in when you least expect it. I will listen to your cry and I will let you vent. I will provide limited wisdom allowing you to see a different point-of-view. I will laugh with you when it get’s silly and things don’t make sense. I will be your helping hand.”

What I was born for

Last week I celebrated another birthday. Another year with a new set of reasons to rejoice in the blessing that is my life. It’s amazing to think I’m turning 31, happily married, with three healthy children, living in a different country, learning about business and about people, building awesome relationships, connecting with the community around me, and finding my place in this world.

I have wished to write more often but the busyness of life has taken much of my attention. When I think of all that I want to accomplish with this blog, the way I want a movement to start, I’m okay to stop writing and to do the things I need to do, to live life fully motivated. And it all starts with recognizing my primary role as a husband and a father. Spending time with my wife in appreciation of all that she does. Being intentional with my children and creating memories that build positive character traits. In these moments, whether a post is written or not, I’m living out what I was born for. I’m grateful for this blessing.

But I want to also recognize the opportunity I have to share from within and make a difference with this post. Next year I want to look back and say that a more vibrant community has been created; with people in their families, their schools, their churches, their neighborhoods, have motivated each other to accomplish more. To be better husbands, better wives, better fathers and better friends. To implement healthy lifestyles. To achieve financial freedom. To give more and be fulfilled in all the potential that is in us.

Get ready!

Inspiring Story 2 – Caine’s Arcade

I first heard of Caine’s story a year ago when it went viral. This is an inspiring tail of a young boy who built his own arcade games from cardboard boxes. You read it right, he BUILT his own arcade from cardboard boxes. This year, Cain and his first customer were featured guests at the Chick-fil-A Leadercast event where they shared about their movement to inspire creativity in other children.

His unique story was appealing by the fact that his passion for arcades drove him to make his own games to share with strangers walking in to his dad’s auto parts store. His desire was simple but there were no customers to play. Still he kept building more games. Until one day a customer by the name of Nirvan, spent the time to ask about the arcade. He bought a Fun Pass – for $2.00 he got to play 500 times!

Inspired by Caine’s creativity, Nirvan invited the community to come out and play Caine’s Arcade. It was all documented in a short film that will blow you away!

What’s cool is that Nirvan and Caine have kept their connection and created a the Imagination Foundation to inspire other children around the world to build their own cardboard creations. As father to three little children, I’m inspired to see where my kid’s imagination takes them allowing me to dream with them.

You can find out more information on how to participate by visiting the Imagination Foundation website at http://www.imagination.is.

I love the fact that one boy’s imagination took a grown man to find purpose and motivation to share a story and inspire other people around the world.

What is you motivation? What story would you like to share with the world?

Four blessings

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It’s been four weeks since the last time I blogged. Much has been on my mind as I experienced life through holidays, special family moments and time with friends. These have definitely been four weeks of much meditation that have reminded me of the importance of recognizing life’s blessings.

These life events, occurrences and simple moments in time, show us the true meaning of a successful life. The things we should be measured by but that we take for granted. A life more often fulfilled in the most simple of actions. I lived through these reminders in the last four weeks. Not just about my blessings but also my real goals in life – to be a man after God’s own heart, a husband, a father, a friend, and a hard worker that shows integrity in each action.

This will be my most personal post to date. However, I believe these reminders to be applicable for anyone. A motivational reminder on how we should at our life. From most recent to my first week, here we go…

You live a good life
I just had a family member visit me from Portugal. Her stories of a frustrating society caught in the middle of an identity crisis hurst most because of the ties I have with this country I call my own. I feel American but there is still much of me that is internally Portuguese. The beautiful beaches, the historical monuments and the always present sense of pride, all fill my memory and reoccurring thoughts from time to time.

Much like many European countries, Portugal is in the middle of an economic crisis that has impacted the majority of its population. If you’ve heard of the issues impacting Greece and Spain, just change the scenery and that is Portugal’s reality. Her stories were a constant reminder of how my reality was better. But that wasn’t the final reminder.

I also got to learn about the life changing stories of the Watoto church in Uganda. A ministry aimed at raising the next generation of African leaders in a nation affected by war, poverty and AIDS. The majority of children at the Watoto church are orphans cared by women who are being given a second chance in life. New families created in an environment of love and hope that are changing their country. Their mission is inspiring and their impact real.

So how does this link to your current situation? Are you frustrated with your job? Do you wish you had bigger home? Maybe you want a better car? How about… (you fill in the blank) You see, chances are if you are reading this blog post you belong to the 1% of the world population that can consider yourself rich and living with more resources than the majority of the world around us. It does change your attitude when you recognize the blessing of a simple resource as having access to the Internet.

For more information on Watoto, please visit their website at http://www.watoto.com

You are alive
This one sounds simple and it is – If you are breathing you are alive! That is also true for anyone currently battling a terminal illness. Like the old adage, “we’re all going to eventually die.” Well then, take advantage of every single moment to live it up. Spend time with family and friends, don’t stress about work, don’t worry about money, etc. It’s actually easier said than done, but still an undeniable truth that only the sense of death can remind us. This truth is more about life than death though. You can ask my friend Ryan Woods.

I met Ryan in 2001 as he served as a missionary to my church in Lisbon, Portugal. My memories of him were always of someone real, someone that truly cared for you no matter what others thought or said. His was a sense of truly loving people. Not for their potential or what they could achieve, but for who they were in the here and now moment.

I saw Ryan again this time last year. He was in North Carolina because of school and we got to chat and reconnect as he shared about his experience starting a new church in downtown Vancouver, Washington. What happened next has been both sad and amazing. Ryan was a month later diagnosed with a cancer on his spinal cord which has since changed his body but has not broken his spirit. This month his doctor told him he has 3-6 months to live.

The most inspiring part of his story is his ability to recognize both sadness and blessings during this time. His love for God and people remains. His acceptance of how his life story is being written is amazing. Ryan and his family have reminded of how indeed life can be frustrating, but the way you choose to live it is much more important. This blog post is a lot about how Ryan has reminded me to live life.

For more information on Ryan’s story, please visit http://www.grassrootsconspiracy.com/blog

Family matters most
Isn’t this the truth! Nothing is more relaxing to me than sharing memories of family events or looking at pictures with my bride and our children. It fills my heart to overflow. These memories were all too real when Courtney and I celebrated our 9th wedding anniversary. We spent a full day together while the grandparents took care of the children. We were reminded of our dating days in Portugal and how we’ve been blessed through the years with a beautiful family inside and out.

You see I guess I’m different than most people. Growing up my first real dream was not to actually be a professional sports star or have this amazing job in the corporate world. No. My first real dream was to have a family – a beautiful wife and amazing children by my side. Looking back at the times when I would consciencly think of the dream, it’s amazing to look around and recognize that it is here. But like many of us, we dream other dreams and our attention focuses on other things. Our weeding anniversary was a reminder of what indeed matters most.

This reality is far greater than just marriage. Whether it’s your family or friends who are closest, you know what I’m talking about. I hope you have the opportunity today to live out this truth and spend some quality time with your family and friends. Take the time to enjoy the blessing of connecting with others and do life together.

Recognizing who you are living for
I can’t separate this truth. It is just who I am. The biggest blessing is straight forward – I have a maker who loves me beyond compare and who gave his only son to die for me. This is an intrinsic part of all my posts because it’s an important part of who I am. Nothing makes it more real than Easter.

As a Christ follower I have experienced life in an amazing way. No words can express how much I’m grateful for His Salvation and the fact that he rescued me from a life of mediocrity to a life of fulfillment beyond compare. But I want more, to make a difference with my family, with my friends, at work, in my community. I want others to experience this everlasting truth of a meaningful life in Jesus.

His truth is available to all at http://www.bible.com.

If you live in Raleigh, NC I invite you to visit Hope Community Church. For more information you can visit http://www.gethope.net.

Conquering the Marathon

It’s been two weeks since the last time I posted, but my desire to live life motivated and motivate others continues. So what better way to do it than to share a story of my own.

Setting a goal and reaching it is about discipline. But it’s also about persistence and motivation!

Six months ago I had just completed my longest run in a 10k Mud Run. It was demanding, disgusting, and fun – all those adjectives in one packed day! After that run a friend of mine invited me to join him and another friend of ours for a Marathon. He said it would be a bigger challenge but that I was physically up for it. Without yet knowing the full distance (I still get confused between my Km and Miles), I said yes and never looked back. I got a training schedule that would slowly increase my running distance over a four month period, and the next time my friend and I met he was surprise to find out I had taken it serious. Fast forward to last Sunday and I can proudly say I’ve completed my first Marathon. It will go down as one of the best memories of my life. 5 hours and 20 minutes of continuous running just to complete the coveted 26.2 miles!

Looking back at all those days of training – short and long runs alike – all it took was discipline, persistence and motivation. I had set a goal and I was committed to achieving it. These three words explain my commitment to keep pressing on. They are also key to reaching other goals in life as I learned a lot from this experience.

Discipline – Once I had decided to run a marathon I recognized that I needed training. Even though I knew I couldn’t always keep up with the regimented schedule of weekday long runs (due to work and family), I still committed to exercising during the week and having long runs during the weekend. I never missed one of those weekend runs. Whether I felt good or not, rain or shine, I got out on the road and kept running. There were days that I doubted myself and my ability to run these long distances. I remember thinking that I needed to keep going and stick to the plan. It paid off on the day of the marathon! Discipline is about planning the work and working the plan.

Perseverance – Those training days were hard! Seriously, after a long work week the last thing I wanted was a physical push to my body. But I kept going. Even when other friends had better plans than to spend time running. Even when there was something interesting on TV. Even when my body preferred some lighter workout. Even when… (you fill in the blank). On the day of the marathon I remember my friends words of wisdom, “one foot in front of the other.” That is all you need to keep pushing through; to persevere and run a marathon!

Motivation – During those long weekend runs, there was one thing that kept me motivated. It was the same thing that kept me motivated during the day of the marathon – my family and friends! Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, but I was only made aware of this when my wife and children would wait for me in anticipation during those long training runs. I remember the words of encouragement: “you did great,” “that was quick,” or “you will conquer that marathon!” Those words played in my head over and over during the day of the marathon.

Additionally, my friends and I kept encouraging each other every week. Our running was always a topic of conversation when we would meet. We were together through each of the 26.2 miles. They were there during the hardest time of the run. The last 6 miles were particularly difficult for me. I wanted to just stop and walk. I remember my friends saying “do not stop now,” “don’t walk, keep running,” or “we’re going to finish strong!” That continuous support was key for me.

Completing the marathon was a huge accomplishment. I will remember the day, but also the training and the support that helped me through each mile. A great example for other areas of my life.

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My friends Jason, Derek and myself.

Selling Motivation II

It’s a new day and whatever it is you are doing today, the sense of selling and motivation go hand in hand (see my earlier post). Whether you are starting something new or following a preset plan, how you approach it can make a difference. That is why selling is so important.

The word “selling” is so many times viewed incorrectly because of the association of lies. The reality is that true selling should be no more than a sense of intrinsic desire to share, to offer what is good. But what is good for one party is not always good for another, and the financial associations of the word have led to the lies built up over generations which give it a bad connotation. However, when done right it has huge potential for positive outcome. What “selling” ads is the passion and desire that so many of us lack when reaching for our dreams. An excitement that propels you to do whatever it takes to be successful. Folks that work in sales know this. You long for the next call; to meet the next prospect. We need to use this transferable energy to other parts of our lives.

I see this through my work, but also through the relationships I have created. What are you trying to sell and is it good? If so, I’ll jump on it – that product, that idea, that movement. The reason why someone will buy the widget or follow that leader is mostly about inspiration and less about value. But if you link both, the results are amazing. Still, the real power is in the energy you have when approaching each step towards reaching your goals.

Take today as an opportunity to show that passion. Believe in yourself and believe in your skills. You can do this.

Selling Motivation

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I once heard Zig Ziglar say “We’re all selling something!” I remember listening to that statement and thinking about the numerous applications. It made a lot of sense to me since I work in sales. But it also struck a cord with my family. My 5-year old made it clear when he explained to me his birthday wishes: “I really want a Lightning McQueen party because he is fast and cool” he said. My first thought wasn’t really on the fact he was “selling” me his idea of a perfect party, I was actually more worried on the fact that my child had been sold to the idea of marketing (thanks Disney, 20 children’s DVDs and counting).”I want to be fast like Lightning!” he said!

I think what Zig was saying is that to be successful one needs to market themselves correctly and accept the idea that no else will do it for us. And if you really want it, then you better sell it! In my work I get to partner with individuals in order to maximize their sales potential and I use this expression often. However, I take it a step further by motivating them continuously and connecting with them personally: What do you want to achieve? How does this action link up to your goals? And what is the motive behind it?

This extra step can and makes a difference. I know that it’s part of their job so that should be enough motivation, right? Wrong. There are so many people surviving and not thriving simply because they do not know their potential. And other people’s opinions aren’t helping either. The majority of the time all they need is a little push. This is where WE come in. Me and you!

I believe in a different paradigm, one that recognizes potential for both the person needing encouragement and the one giving it. It’s really our responsibility. I’m saying this while also recognizing that not all ideas will become a success. Sometimes encouragement can be given as directing someone in the right path. There should be wisdom and context with each encouragement. So can you do it? Will you do it? All it takes is acknowledging the need for encouragement, for motivation, and acting on it!

As for my 5-year old? Well, he got a Lightning McQueen party and he is getting faster and faster. He sold it to me and I’m motivating him to believe in himself and helping him see his desires with the right context and the right reasons!