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This Is Me!

Who has seen The Greatest Showman? If you have then you’re familiar with the song that shares the title of this blog post. Or, if you missed the movie, you may have watched as Keala Settle performed “This Is Me at this year’s Academy Awards.

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, click here and listen closely to the lyrics. Now, listen again … and again. Does this song resonate with you? If so, which lines moved you the most – and why?

When we first saw The Greatest Showman several weeks ago, we loved it and the music – so much so that we downloaded the soundtrack on the way to the car as we left the theater. We’ve since spoken to several others that also downloaded this soundtrack as soon as the movie ended. It’s just one of those rousing movies that, for some reason, stirs something inside us. Why do you think that is? What is it about this song, this movie, its message that moves so many of us?

Perhaps it’s because, deep down, many of us can relate to having been marginalized, excluded, or alienated at some point in our lives – perhaps some of you feel like that now. If so, then you know very well the deep pain of the disdainful looks and disparaging comments from condescending folks that simply don’t “get it.” And you’ve been fighting to stand out, be acknowledged, and be known for who you are – not who the world wants you to be.

And then along comes a movie with a song that contains lyrics like these:

“I am brave, I am bruised

I am who I’m meant to be, this is me

Look out ‘cause here I come

And I’m marching on to the beat I drum

I’m not scared to be seen

I make no apologies, this is me!”

Often this world can be such a harsh place if we don’t fit the perfect model of what we are supposed to look like, act like, and succeed like. No wonder so many of us are constantly keeping up with the Joneses.

We get it. We really do. But here’s the deal. For some of us, our biggest accuser, discourager, and naysayer is none other than ourselves and, if we take a good hard look in the mirror and are honest, we know this to be true.

We are not discounting the fact that many folks, even entire groups and cultures, are disparaged and discriminated against simply because of who they are. As shameful as that is it still happens way too often.

What we are saying, and we wrote about in our book, Who Are the Joneses Anyway?, is that too many of us are harder on ourselves than the outside world is. And, as a way of trying to become someone we think we should be, we engage in all sorts of unhealthy habits that have a common denominator called keeping up with the Joneses – or seeking to look, act, and live the way others do, hoping that this will help us at last fit in.

Who says you have to become someone other than who you are? We would argue that the foundation of discovering greater joy, impact, and balance in your lives is discovering who you are and living confidently knowing that. Do not think for even a minute you are any less a person just because others’ condescending eyes try to make you believe you are.

If you’ve learned, from yourself or others, to be ashamed of who you are, take a cue from the song “This Is Me:”

“Another round of bullets hits my skin

Well, fire away ‘cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in

We are bursting through the barricades and

Reaching for the sun …

I won’t let them break me down to dust”

Move beyond hope and into a life of courageously expecting greater things than you ever imagined.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

 

 

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Keeping Up with The Joneses by Proxy

“Life is not a race to the finish; it’s about running your own race and finishing well.” – Bob & Susan Karcher

Since the start of the year, we’ve been blogging about expecting greater things in 2018, overcoming the obstacles and fears faced on this journey, and putting a plan together to move your life from where you are to where you want to be.

As we prepared to write our first book, Who Are the Joneses Anyway?, we spent a lot of time studying the cultural phenomenon known as Keeping up with the Joneses. As we did, we discovered that we can all get pretty creative in our unstated goal to appear successful. This creativity is sometimes obvious but, most often, it happens subconsciously. As we view the world around us, we feel like we need to measure up, and our minds start creating ways to make that happen, even if just a little at a time.

One of the most prevalent methods unwittingly used to demonstrate our own success is something we call “Joneses by Proxy.” As the pressure to work hard and prove ourselves worthy develops it naturally evolves into including our children. If being successful means having the best of everything then, by extension, our kids must have the same and providing everything we want our children to have can even start with preschool.

Families that spend large amounts to get their children into exclusive preschools can start the race for parents—and their children—earlier than ever before. While some embrace the race, others don’t feel they have what it takes to put their kids through a high-stakes process designed to weed three-year-olds out of programs in which acceptance can be based more on who the parents are and how much money they have than the attributes of the child being considered for acceptance.

In a Huffington Post article titled “Blowing Off the Joneses”, Mike Julianelle described the pressure he felt to get his child into the “right” preschool. This author wondered if his child was not accepted to the best preschool, would he also not be accepted into the right college fifteen years from now?

While recognizing this pressure, Julianelle pushes it away and says he thinks that “the culture of competition that has arisen around parenting and kids is toxic and I don’t want much part in it.”

Julianelle goes on to frame his thoughts: “I don’t care who else is enrolled, or if it puts him on the right track towards the right kindergarten and elementary school and high school and college and graduate school. I’m raising a person, not a chain reaction…Sometimes it’s better to march to the beat of your own drum than get into a race of ‘Keeping up with the Joneses.’”

All parents feel the pressure to be perceived as loving, supportive parents. We all want our kids to have more than we had—but we also want them to be who they are supposed to be, don’t we?

“We all want our kids to have more than we had—but we also want them to be who they are supposed to be, don’t we?”

It’s time to ask, “Are the very things we are doing and providing actually setting our children up for something other than happiness and success?”

Will they constantly be searching to have nicer things later in life because they didn’t get enough as children? Could all the extravagant birthday parties, expensive toys, and designer diapers we provide really be about living out our own keeping up with the Joneses lifestyle vicariously through our children — a kind of Joneses by proxy?

Our culture has bought into the lie that with money and success we can find happiness. It won’t work — it never does! Neither true happiness nor lasting contentment will ever be found solely through possessions or career advancement. There is nothing wrong with money and success until we think they hold the keys to contentment.

Life is not a race to the finish; it’s about running your own race and finishing well. This is a lesson worth teaching our kids through our example rather than just our words.

Let’s all help our children expect more in 2018. Not more stuff … more life.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Do You Know Her Dreams?

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

This one is for the guys. Sorry ladies, you’ll appreciate why soon enough and might even want to share this article with “your guy” after you read it.

OK men, let me ask you one simple question: Do you know your wife’s or significant other’s deepest dreams? I’m not referring to her desire to get a small break from driving the kids around or curling up alone with a new book.

Those are great short-term ways to relieve temporary stress but what I’m asking you to consider goes much deeper than a momentary break from the pressures of daily life. What I am suggesting you consider are those deepest thoughts and dreams that, when she really thinks about them, bring a renewed sense of hope and purpose to her life.

What? You don’t know what those are? You’ve never thought to ask her? That’s okay, most of us don’t. I didn’t ask or know Susan’s dreams, not for a long time. Us men tend to get so darned busy cranking through our lives climbing the corporate ladder, providing for the family, and trying to be a good husband, father, and friend that we don’t take time to consider our own life’s purpose and dreams – let alone anyone else’s.

That’s a subject for another day but, since this is the “Month of Love,” I’m asking you to think about your Valentine for now. You see, like you, she has likely been so wrapped up working and making life happen for you, the kids, and others that she unintentionally turned her “dreamer” off years ago. Most of us do.

Is dreaming about life just for daydreamers – those that spend their days with their heads in the clouds, wishing for times past or imagining what might one day be? I don’t think so. We all have dreams. Kids do. Teenagers do. And it’s not too late for adults to.

What if you could be instrumental in helping your Valentine’s daydreams become a life-long reality? “But, how would I start?”, you ask. In our Fellows Program at the Halftime Institute, we encourage our clients to have the “Courage to Dream.” For your significant other, that might start with asking questions something like this:

  • If money was not an issue, what would you be doing for free if you could?
  • If you could have anything you most wanted in life, what would that be?
  • If you knew there was no way you could fail, what dream of a lifetime would you pursue?
  • What life values do you most want to be remembered for?
  • What issue in the world would you most like to make a difference in?

What do you think your wife’s/girlfriend’s reaction would be if you took her to a quiet, casual dinner and asked her questions like these? She would probably fall out of her chair. And so might you when you hear her responses.

When I first realized I needed to ask Susan about her biggest dreams, I thought I knew what her answers would be. To be honest, I did get some of it right, but I was also super surprised by parts of what she shared. And now I am as focused on helping Susan’s life purpose, hopes, and dreams become a reality as I am my own. It has proven the greatest gift I could ever give her.

Wouldn’t this be the best Valentine’s gift ever if you could help your Valentine move beyond hope in 2018 and start expecting greater things than she ever imagined?

If you would like some guidance with this, drop me a note. I’d love to help.

Okay ladies, this is where you share this article on social media and forward it to your guy with a little hint that this just might be the best article he reads all year. 

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

 

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Grey’s Anatomy Wisdom

“Never leave until tomorrow that which you can do today.” – Benjamin Franklin

Grey’s Anatomy. You’ve likely heard of or are an avid follower of this Seattle-based TV medical drama now in its 14th season. Several million viewers tune in weekly for each episode. Millions more binge-watch past episodes on Netflix. And it’s one of the most successful TV dramas ever.

Susan and I enjoy watching this series, but there are two parts of each episode that I enjoy the most … the beginning and ending. This is when the main character, Meredith Grey, shares some lightly philosophical views of the world from her point of view.

For instance, one episode started with this observation:

“I don’t know why we put things off but, if I had to guess, I’d say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection. Sometimes we fear simply making a decision because, what if you’re wrong, what if you’re making a mistake you can’t undo?”

In our last blog post, titled The Cowardly Lion, we addressed this issue of fear and courage but, the more I research this idea of fear keeping us from becoming all we are meant to be, the more I realize it deserves more than a single blog post. In particular I think it is worth taking the time to consider the implications of how fear keeps us from making decisions that could be great for us.

Do you think this is accurate? Do you think fear actually keeps us from doing things … even things that could turn out great? Take a minute here. Think back over your life. When has fear kept you from making a decision to do something you either needed or wanted to do? For some of us, we may not have to go back much further than a week or so.

Now … think through that decision. What was at the root of that fear? Do you wish now that you had moved forward? Is it too late to reconsider? Should you?

I believe we all desire to experience life as fully as we can and yet we allow fear to keep us from much of it. The more I speak with and coach folks, the more convinced I am that fear is at an epidemic level. This isn’t based on any qualitative research I’ve conducted but rather on the real-life realities I see and hear all around me. I bet you see it too.

What can we do about it? We can start with ourselves. We often have 20/20 vision when we look into a friend’s life and “clearly” see that they are letting fear hold them back. Yet, the mirror seems a bit foggy when we look at our own situations.

Take some serious time … just you and a journal … and look forward at opportunities you are now considering or are about to. How might fear be driving any of those decisions? Then consider how Meredith Grey ends the same episode quoted above:

“Even the biggest failure, even the worst, most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.”

Move beyond fear this year. Start living life the way it was intended for you to live it.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

 

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The Cowardly Lion

You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” – The Cowardly Lion

You all remember the Cowardly Lion from The Wizard of Oz, right? He’s the one that said “I haven’t any courage at all” but, in the end, proved he had more than enough courage to face his biggest fears.

I believe what the Cowardly Lion actually suffered from was not a lack of courage, but fear. And that fear held him back from becoming all that he was meant to be, but only until he stopped letting fear keep him from being the courageous lion he was born to be.

Have you ever let fear hold you back and keep you from becoming all that you were meant to be? Are there areas of your life where you wish you would move forward but feel like you can’t because you fear doing so?

Fear can be a good thing. It’s meant to warn us of situations in our lives where we need to be extra cautious. But fear can also create such a grip on us that we freeze in place and never find the courage to move forward, be bold, and fully experience life.

Some have a fear of roller coasters or driving on freeways. These aren’t the types of fears I’m thinking about. For some these are very real fears that don’t necessarily keep them from fully living their lives. But there are fears that do keep us so bottled up that we won’t step out into new horizons where we can thrive.

Fear of the unknown. Fear of failure. Fear of saying “yes.” Fear of saying “I’m sorry” or granting forgiveness. Fear of admitting wrongdoing. Fear of being rejected. Fear of loving or being loved. Fear of doing something God has called you to do. These and others are the fears I think really hold us back.

I’ve been a victim of fear … more times than I like to admit. It’s a trap that’s easy to fall into. One of my greatest fears in life has always been a fear of failure. I have been so focused on success that failing, at anything, was not an option. This fear has kept me from what likely could have been some amazing times in my life.

One of those times was when Susan and I were called to write Who Are the Joneses Anyway? The entire idea of writing a book, speaking on stage, and sharing the craziest parts of our lives with the public was enough to make me sick. And then there was the fear of failure! I mean, who would care about a book from unknown authors? I didn’t know anything about book publishing! I was totally out of my league. I could hear everyone laughing at me if we failed.

Luckily, I decided enough was enough! I wasn’t going to let fear hold me back from what God had designed me to do. There came a point when I simply had to say “enough!” … I’m not going to let fear of failure keep me from fully experiencing all that God had planned for me … not anymore.

This was a very real “ah-ha” type of life-changing moment for me. I summoned the courage to move beyond fear. And I’m glad I did. Our book has seen success and, better yet, it is changing lives for the better. That is something to be excited about.

Dictionary.com defines courage as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear.” It’s also “having the courage of one’s convictions, to act in accordance with one’s beliefs, especially in spite of criticism.”

You see, courage is not the absence of fear; it’s facing your fear head on, not letting it hold you back, and moving forward confidently in spite of it.

Are there any big decisions or dreams you are considering but you think you can’t move forward? What are they? Is fear holding you back? Aren’t your dreams worth a shot? Doesn’t the world deserve all of you?

Why not be like the Cowardly Lion, summon your courage from deep down, and, despite potential criticism, move beyond your fears? Isn’t it about time?

Make 2018 your year! Start expecting greater things than you ever imagined.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

http://whoarethejonesesanyway.com/

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Our Five E’s

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.” – Thoreau

Happy 2018! This is going to be an amazing year, don’t you think?

What was that? Was that even a little hesitation after that question? Is there a hint of indecision that this will be an amazing year? If so, what is causing you to question rather than confidently declare “yes, this will be an amazing year!”?

We have been working with others for years in our coaching practice, helping them move towards living the lives filled with passion and purpose that they were created for. Do you know what one of the most common explanations is for why so many of us don’t start a new year with confidence? Lack of a plan. Too many of us are simply existing rather than thriving year after year. Much of this is because we don’t take the time to reflect on where we are and where we want to be 365 days from now … and then put a plan in place to get there. The start of a new year is a great time to do this.

As coaches, we believe we have to walk our talk because we believe we cannot lead others where we have not been ourselves. So we thought we’d share our goals for 2018 with you to give you a sneak peek at the areas we are going to focus on this year. Because we like making goals easy to remember, we call these our “Five E’s.” Maybe these will give you a starting point for planning your year.

Expect: We’re looking ahead confidently into a year of great things. We can’t express how important it is to plan with great expectation because what we plan, we will accomplish. We wrote about this in our last blog post. If you missed that, you can click here to read it now.

Engage: We intend to become more directly involved in the people, movements, and interests that we feel most called to participate with. For us, these include our family, our church community, Who Are the Joneses Anyway?, and ministry movements we are called to. We have specific strategies on how we intend to deepen our commitment in each of these areas.

Educate: This always starts with educating ourselves in areas where we feel we need to go deeper. This includes taking courses, attending conferences, reading, and more. We also hope to make a difference with others by helping them become more aware and knowledgeable of areas in their lives where they feel they need to grow.

Encourage: We will encourage our readers, clients, and others to move from where they are to where they want to be, in all areas of their lives. We will continue to do this through our writing, coaching, mentoring, and a few other digital avenues we are exploring.

Execute: Someone once said “a solid plan followed by good communication and effective execution will always equal success.” This absolutely works but remember, this means there has to be a solid plan to start with and we have to be willing to make course corrections along the way.

Our plan includes more detail within each of these Five E’s but, in an effort to keep this brief, we won’t go into all of that here. If you want more detail, just send us a note. We’ll be happy to help you develop your own plan for 2018.

What do you want to accomplish in 2018? Do you have a solid plan that ensures your success? If not, we encourage you to put one in place. Your success just might depend on it.

It’s up to you. You can make 2018 your year. You can do this! You need to do this! You know you do!

Move beyond hope in 2018 and start expecting greater things than you ever imagined.

Drop us a note if we can help.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

 

 

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We’re Expecting!

Bet that headline raised a few eyebrows! No, neither of us are pregnant. Phew! Now that we have that cleared up, let us say again that we are expecting. Are you?

Let me clarify. When we hear someone is expecting, we most often think they are “expecting” a baby … sometime in the near future. But expecting can refer to something other than a pregnancy.

One online dictionary refers to expecting as “the idea of looking ahead to something in the future.” At this time of year we see many forms of “expecting” happening all around us. Children are expecting whatever they asked Santa for at the mall. Adults are expecting to see their children smile from ear to ear when they tear open their presents. And everyone is expecting more sweets than one should consume in a year.

The expecting we are referring to is much more enduring than any of these temporary pleasures. As we near the end of 2017 and roll into another new year, what one or two areas of your life do you want to be better than they were this year?

Notice we are not using the word “hope.” Hope is great. Hope is important. And without hope, we’d truly be lost. But expecting takes hope to another level, doesn’t it? It might even be a little too confident sounding for some folks who might say “we can’t expect anything … all we can do is hope.” With all due respect, we totally disagree.

When we set goals, make plans, and execute new initiatives in 2018, we aren’t doing so with a finger-crossing kind of hope. Rather, we do so with an expectation that we will be successful. We’re not saying that everything turns out as planned … nothing is perfect, and we often fail. But when we do, we simply adapt our plans and renew our forward movement expecting good things to happen.

Wouldn’t you rather have a high degree of expectation that something you desire will work out the way you planned? All of your plans can if they are reasonable, detailed, and hold you accountable in some way.

We ask again. What are one or two things do you want to be better in 2018 than they were in 2017? Are your finances in shambles? How’s your marriage or key relationship? What condition is your spiritual life in? Is that new job or promotion working out the way you wanted it to? What about your health and diet goals? We could ask about many other areas here but you get the point.

Which areas of your life could use a tune-up, or maybe a complete overhaul? What are you doing about it? Are you simply hoping things get better? Or are you stating priorities, setting goals, taking your first steps, and getting help from others when needed?

Look, it’s up to you. If you are like the rest of us and there are some areas in need of work (minor or major), then make 2018 your year. You can do this! You need to do this! You know you do!

Where do you start? Here’s a few basic steps to get you started:

  • Take plenty of quiet time (an entire day or more if you have to) and prayerfully consider where your life is and where you want it to be.
  • Envision what your life will be like one year from now when the changes you are expecting actually occur.
  • Decide what needs to happen in the first month. Then the second, third, etc.
  • Seek out experts to guide, encourage, and keep you on track. A coach, for example.
  • Start expecting a new, better you!

Move beyond hope in 2018. Start expecting greater things than you ever imagined.

Drop us a note if we can help.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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How the Grinch Saved Christmas

 

It’s that time again. The season for giving is upon us. The Christmas music is playing, the tree lots are open, and a few lights are going up in the neighborhood. It all sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? But, the truth is, the real meaning of Christmas has been lost in all of the consumerism. Black Friday now actually starts on Thursday, Thanksgiving Day! Why sit around and spend time with your family and friends when you can go buy something on sale?

It all makes me think of the Dr. Seuss classic, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. We’ve all read this classic story by Dr. Seuss about the cranky, mean, Grinch trying to steal Christmas from all the Whos in Whoville. He snuck in late one Christmas Eve and stole their wrapped presents and cheerful decorations that awaited the Whos on Christmas morning.

Why would anyone want to do this? Well, the Grinch lacked any joy in his life, and his heart, we are told, was a tiny, shriveled little thing incapable of feeling anything for anyone other than himself. He really didn’t want all the pretty packages he stole, but he sure didn’t want the Whos to have them either. He was trying to steal the source of their Christmas joy just because he didn’t have any.

Andy Stanley once said “I wonder what I would have if I didn’t know what anybody else had?” It’s easy to try and keep up with the Joneses and lose sight of what really matters to us. It’s a trap that leads to a joyless life because you are never going to get enough in that scenario. The great industrialist, John Rockefeller, was asked one time “How much is enough?” He reportedly said, “Just a little bit more.” If Rockefeller — the very icon of wealth and prosperity — didn’t have enough, what makes us think we ever will?

Our joy can’t be tied to our possessions. The Whos had it right. When they all awoke Christmas morning, they were astonished that all their gifts and decorations had been stolen. At first, they weren’t too happy. All of the work. All of the money. All of the surprises. Gone!

Luckily, Lou Lou Who arrives on the scene and makes this now famous declaration:

“I’m glad he took our presents. You can’t hurt Christmas, Mr. Mayor, because it isn’t about the gifts or the contest or the fancy lights … I don’t need anything more for Christmas than this right here: my family.”

Immediately Mr. Mayor, and all the Whos in Whoville, knew Lou Lou was right. They had focused too much on the wrong things … competing with their neighbors for the most decorated home, the biggest gifts, and more. But after Lou Lou’s declaration, all the Whos began to celebrate Christmas without the presents or decorations.

The Grinch was confused. Of course, we know he later learned that the key to the Whos’ Christmas joy wasn’t based on stuff—it was based on giving. And when they didn’t have presents to give anymore, they gave of what they had: themselves.

This was so moving that it changed the Grinch forever and his heart grew three sizes. The same person who wanted to silence others’ joy was now transformed into a joyous, generous giver himself.

So, what about you? What is your focus this season?

This Christmas, may we, too, be givers. And, if we are lucky, our hearts will grow three sizes, refocusing us once again on the true reason for this blessed season.

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Four Ways to Give Thanks This Year

I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
  I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.
– Psalms 9:1-2 (NIV)

Thanksgiving Day is upon us! So why another Thanksgiving-themed blog? Well, because I think focusing on being thankful deserves more than a single day. In fact, we should be thankful every day. Most of us are so blessed and it’s easy to forget that in the hubbub of everyday life.

My brother once said that sometimes “it seems as if Thanksgiving is just a speed bump on the road to Christmas”. Our culture seems so driven towards Black Friday and Christmas that we hardly even notice Thanksgiving along the way. And now many retailers open their doors on Thanksgiving Day itself because we can’t wait even one day to get our hands on the newest gadgets we simply must have.

One of the truly great things about Thanksgiving is getting the family together for at least one day or one meal. A lot of families are spread out all over the country or overseas and the holiday is a chance to reconvene and reconnect. When you do that this year, let me suggest four things that you can do with your family, friends, and neighbors this year between football games and turkey legs:

Reflect Talk with each other about how things are going. Ask each other, “How’s the year so far? Are there any issues that are troubling you? What about successes?”

Doing this will get us past the surface talk that sometimes dominates the Thanksgiving meal and allow us to really talk to each other in a deeper way. What you will find in this exercise is that there have been a lot of blessings during the year. There was a song I sang growing up that said to “Count your blessings, name them one by one.” The truth is, it would take me a really long time to do that. That in itself is a blessing.

Encourage – Think of someone in your family or social circle that has had a rough year. If you can’t think of anyone, widen your circle – you won’t have to look far. Then, do something encouraging for them … something that makes their life a little better. This doesn’t have to be big or expensive. Remember, time and a listening ear can be the most treasured gifts we ever give to someone. The Golden Rule may be a good one to focus on if you’re still looking for ideas. Give them a call and really listen. Put them on your prayer list and pray daily for them.

Share Do something generous. We can all find someone that is worse off than we are. Do you have anything you really don’t need or can go without this month so you can totally bless someone? Or how about inviting someone over to share the Thanksgiving festivities — food, football, fellowship — with your family? Again, your idea here doesn’t have to be gigantic. Just reach out and make a difference because, after all, giving IS better than receiving, isn’t it?

Practice – Take these ideas with you into the coming holiday months and the New Year. In other words, don’t wait until next Thanksgiving to do thankful things. Commit to leading a thankful life as a big part of who you are and the way you live. They say “practice makes perfect,” so why not be perfect at giving thanks? I can think of worse things to be perfect at.

Here’s wishing you the best season of giving thanks ever.

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Show Me The Money

Money is a good thing, even a great thing—if used correctly. We need money to conduct commerce, provide for ourselves and our families, and help others in our communities in times of need. But can too much money turn into a bad thing?

The answer here, as with medicine and sunlight, is that too much money can become a bad thing for some people and in some situations. It has a great deal to do with how we attained it and what we do with it. But can too much money bring about our own destruction? Having money is not the issue. The problem is focusing too much on money or mishandling it.

A good example of this is individuals who win the lottery. In an article in Forbes magazine, author Susan Adams explores cautionary tales of lottery winners who have gone bankrupt. She writes, “Sudden wealth is most likely to exaggerate your current situation, but it won’t fundamentally change your sense of well-being. If you’re unhappy, you’re not good at managing money and you’re surrounded by people you don’t trust, a big win will probably make your problems worse.” According to one source Adams cites, 44 percent of lottery winners have spent all their winnings after only five years; another she uses indicates that lottery winners are twice as likely as average people to declare bankruptcy.

Professional athletes can also fall into the money trap. Some have little experience managing money, and then overnight they suddenly become incredibly wealthy. Then, if their career is cut short, they might not be able to maintain their large lifestyles when the excessive money stops rolling in. It isn’t the money itself that’s the problem—it’s when it becomes our preoccupation. It’s when we move it from its place as a tool and make it our focus—our god.

The temptation to use money to keep up with the Joneses can start at an early age. Even worse, we can easily pass unhealthy views about money on to our children. What other conclusion are they to make when we put our jobs and acquisition of wealth ahead of them? What else would they learn other than what they see their parents doing?

We think we’re providing a better home, the best toys, and the latest electronic gadgets. We’ll work long hours and make painful sacrifices, thinking it’s for the best. But our children really don’t want all the stuff; they want us—our presence. Instead, through our actions and our words, we might inadvertently pass down a legacy of keeping up with the Joneses to our children

A friend of ours relayed a story to us that makes this point better than anything we could write. She tells of a friend, a single mom who worked long hours in the banking industry. When her daughter turned eighteen, the mother asked what she wanted as a gift. The daughter’s answer: “I would love for you to take time off work and spend the whole day with me.”

The mother refused, reminding her daughter sternly, “Who do you think pays for your room, your car, your insurance, your nice clothes, and your cell phone? I have to work to do that!” Our friend told this mother, “I think she just told you that you are more important to her than all those things you buy her.” Unfortunately, this mother didn’t heed the advice, and years later the preferred focus on work cost her a relationship with her daughter, who now has very little to do with her.

Is the acquisition of more money and stuff or a greater lifestyle blinding you to the impact this drive for more can have on those closest to you?

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob & Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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