Reading… INTENTIONALLY!

PersonalGrowth

Over the past several months I have began reading intentionally. I have never been a “reader” and in fact, I despised it. Reading comprehension was no doubt my worst section of any standardized test including the ACT and LSAT. So when I applied for law school it should come as no surprise that I had an uneasiness about the amount of reading that would be required of me. I’m talking 60-150 pages a night people!

The reading is what worried me. I already knew that I could argue all day. That’s evidenced by the fact that I frequently engaged in arguments with both my parents and teachers every day of my life. This phrase was no stranger to me growing up and I can hear my mom saying it now, “You’d be a great lawyer. All you do is argue.” This was also a common phrase, “You’d argue with a brick wall.” To which I’d respond with, “No I wouldn’t.” It was my way of joking… kinda. My argumentative nature is also most likely why many of my relationships with girlfriends didn’t turn out as expected. Looking back at it now, I’d venture to say that 90+% of the arguments I engaged in should have never begun or at least not escalated to the point they had. That’s A LOT of time wasted on senseless babble. I’m sure it had a lot to do with my maturity at that time, or immaturity rather.

life-is-change-growth-is-optional-choose-wiselyReading intentionally has been life-changing. Really, it has. Now, reading just anything is not going to have a positive impact on your life. I’m not reading Maxim Magazine, Men’s Health, Harry Potter, news articles, or Grisham novels where most men bury their noses to get their reading quota for the day. I’m reading books that will help anyone, not just myself, grow personally. I doubt that anyone could lay a solid foundation for an argument that Harry Potter books are doing the same.

Many of my friends have heard me say that this company I am involved with will change your life. To elaborate on that statement, it’s really not so much the company, but the people involved. They inspire you to be a better person, a better leader, and among other things… a better you. It’s almost like a church group filled with incredible leaders. I am frequently introduced with a barrage of book lists from them and after reading the first book recommended to me, I couldn’t be more appreciative of the next recommendation.

I’m sure you’ve probably heard the phrase, “All leaders are readers;” however, all readers are not leaders. It takes reading the right material and acting upon what you read to be a leader. Simply reading a book isn’t going to get you anywhere in life. It’s acting on what you read that will. Reading the right book is just the beginning. As my friends Zahid Buttar and Jason Horsley have said, “Readers who ACT on what they read can potentially be leaders.” Action is the difference. The right book just helps you to see the possibilities of your potential. The action is what turns those possibilities a reality.

“Readers who ACT on what they read can potentially be leaders.”

I am constantly updating my electronic library with iBooks. I’ve gathered quite a collection now. I find it pretty amusing that I now download more books than I do songs. So yes, if you want to give me an iTunes gift card for Christmas or any other occasion I’ll take it. Below I have posted a photo of some of the books I have been reading.
photo (18)

I have created a tab at the top of this blog, which will take you to a list of books that I recommend. I strongly urge you to start reading these books. For those of you that are hesitant to do so, you’re probably in the same position I was in several months ago. If someone suggested a book to me a year ago I wouldn’t nicely said, “Okay, I’ll check that out,” all along knowing I had no intention of even reading the cover.

If you are ready, then I’d start with a book called “20,000 Days and Counting” by Robert Smith. I’m certain that many of you have never heard of Smith or his book, but hopefully you have heard of Andy Andrews. Andrews credits most of his success to Smith, his mentor through life.

If you have any questions regarding the books on my list, feel free to ask. I’d be happy to talk about them.

Advertisements

God Speaks If You Listen…

road-to-changeEarly August 2012, as I sat in a living room belonging to two people I now consider close friends of mine, I made a decision that would completely alter the next year, and quite possibly the rest of my life. Not only did that decision create possibilities that would later transform my financial situation, which I stressed and thought to be dire; it blossomed into so much more.

It should be no secret that God speaks to us through other people. He uses people in your life to deliver His messages. He delivers His message many ways, but this is a common medium.  If you’re not listening, then you may miss it. Plug into His frequency. Pray. Reflect on your situation. Open your ears and eyes.

72660_10151436825874558_695195102_n

The problem most of us have, beside only calling on God in times of need or desperation, is that after we pray we continue to worry about our situation that had our hands clasped in the first place. It is true that if we ask for it, God will give it. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Matthew 7:7 So if after asking for God’s help you immediately spend all your time  worrying and stressing further, then you’re probably not going to see or hear Him answering your requests. He may speak to you through this post for all we know.

Luckily, last August I had my ears turned up to Heaven because I knew of nothing else to do. Patiently waiting, as patiently as I could, I looked for the answer, which presented itself through two special people. Did I see it at first? No, well, at least not the full extent of it. I thought the opportunity presented to me could be the answer, but I didn’t at that time know it would be.

In that living room I heard a lot of information that I couldn’t even begin to recite because frankly, it’s all cloudy… with the exception of two things that I remember very clearly. Those two things are as clear to me as if they were just uttered a minute ago. Of the two things I heard my friend mention I don’t find as important anymore and the second and even more appealing was that he brought his wife home from her full-time job in just a matter of months with a company called AdvoCare.

Now I don’t have a wife to bring home, but I knew what that translated into for me. I saw a possibility for a way out. A way out of practicing law. A way out of Montgomery. A way out of this debt prison that I placed myself in several years prior.

I stated in an earlier post that my desire to practice law is little to none. It’s not what I thought it was going to be when I entered law school. I went into this profession to help people and the amount of time I’ve put in compared to the amount of people I’ve helped does not translate into an attractive ratio. I’ve also stated how my desire to be back home in New Orleans and out of Montgomery is stronger each day and I’ve also mentioned my over $200,000 debt mountain that had piled up in front of me.

I know not everyone has been as unfortunate as me to graduate with a massive amount of student loans, but for me it has been crippling. I love donating to charities, especially some of my friends’ ministries; however, sometimes I felt like I needed to be my own charity. Some of you won’t know what it feels like to want to give more yet be financially unable to do so while supporting yourself at the same time. Some of you will. Some of you will never know what it feels like to owe a large portion of your income to loan companies because of student loans, credit cards, mortgages, car payments, etc. But some of you will. Some of you will never know family and friends that struggle financially and have a hard time providing for their kids or spouse. But some of you will. Some of you will sit there and continue to complain about your situation, yet do nothing to change it. But some of you will.

einsteinquotes

One thing I learned from reading personal growth books is that I had to become my own problem. I had to stop blaming my circumstances on everyone else and take responsibility for the mess I created. No one made me take out student loans. I chose to do that. No one made me enter into a profession that I’m unhappy with. I chose to do that.

“A man can fail many times, but he isn’t a failure until he begins to blame somebody else.” – John Burroughs

I am not a failure and refuse to blame anyone else but myself for the circumstances I created. I had the power to change my financial situation and so much more and I took it. Here’s the best part: YOU CAN TOO! There’s no reason you can’t and no one is stopping you except YOU.

Humor me for just a bit. I’d like you to do an exercise with me. Close your eyes and think about your current financial situation. Think about your health. Do you see either of those things improving in the next month? The next six months? The next year? The next five? Ten? Most people won’t because they’re not doing anything about it now to alter their future and change their circumstances. They’re too afraid to change anything. Well, guess what… if you don’t change anything then you better get used to struggling because you’ll be doing it the rest of your life wishing that you could take that trip, wishing that you could get rid of that debt, wishing that the spousal arguments over finances would go away, wishing that things would get easier, but they’re not going to change unless you change.

Here is a great excerpt from a book I love called “20,000 Days and Counting” by Robert D. Smith:

“Become your own problem. Yes, you read that right! This may be tough for you perfectionists, but stay with me. Start thinking, I am the problem. I am the problem. I am the problem. When you do that, you take the outside circumstances and bring them inside. Suddenly, you have power.
If you assume that you are the victim, you lose power. You shut down all creativity. But when you bring it inside yourself, now the ball is in your court and you can do something about it. You have control. See the switch?
Remember, it is a thinking process, not a feeling process. Some people may say, “Well, I don’t want to be the problem. That feels very negative.” But it’s not. It is really good news! If you’re the problem, you can solve it. So assume the responsibility, own the difficulty, and I guarantee you will create a solution.”

You have a choice and that choice is solely yours. You can take action or you can continue to struggle. I have the solutions to your health and financial issues, but you have to make the choice to learn more. AdvoCare is changing the lives of more and more people everyday. Will you be one of them?

keep-calm-and-make-a-change-67