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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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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What Would You Do For Free?

“No, my son, do not aspire for wealth and labor only to be rich. Strive instead for happiness, to be loved and to love, and most important to acquire peace of mind and serenity.” – Og Mandino

At the start of my transition following a 25-year tenure in the world of advertising and publishing, I spent a lot of time trying to determine what my next career would look like. Finding my next big opportunity became my mission, the only thing that mattered.

I became obsessed with this mission. What company would I work for? What position would I have? What would my salary and benefits look like? All I cared about was finding the biggest title and compensation package I could get my hands on.

And my approach was all wrong. At first, anyway.

That was back in my old Keeping Up with the Joneses days. After running into one wall after another, I began seeking counsel from those friends, colleagues, and family members I trusted most. One of them asked me a paradigm shifting question that I’ll never forget. He asked: “What would you do for free if money were not an issue? Find that and go do it.”

Wow! This friend really challenged me to stop looking for my next job and start looking for my calling … that thing I was made to do. Friend and mentor Bob Shank, founder of The Master’s Program, would say it like this: “it’s the difference between what you’re paid to do and what you’re made to do.”

This thinking revolutionized my way of thinking, particularly about my career approach. Rather than starting with questions related to how much I wanted to make, I started with goals related to what I wanted most from life. I remained focused on ensuring my career supported rather than competed with these goals. To give you a peak under the hood, here are some of the top goals that made my list:

  • Become a better husband and father
  • Learn what “abiding in Christ” means and move towards that
  • Live a life of generosity and service
  • Seek joy, impact, and balance

These and other goals now keep me focused and serve as a filter for all decisions I make. Without these at the forefront, it would be too easy to slip back into my old pattern of life choosing me rather than me choosing life. And I don’t intend to ever go back.

So, let me ask you these questions. What top goals have you set to guide your life, family, ministry, and career? Are they serving as true filters for all that you do? Do others know about your goals and help hold you accountable to them?

Setting and living by effective goals is not something that happens overnight. It’s hard work. Contact me if you want some pointers.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Because It Really Does Matter

“Every instant of life matters. Humility is knowing so. Passion is feeling so. Wisdom is living so.” – Unknown

This past week has been disturbing as we were all shocked by the shooting rampage in Las Vegas, the largest mass shooting in our country’s history. We remain dumbfounded on exactly how to process the reality that these types of events are escalating in America, a land blessed with so much.

In our last blog post titled How to Do What Matters we asked a question that we now ask again: “Is life choosing you or are you choosing life?”

We have been reminded in dramatic fashion that living life fully every day matters, it really matters!

In the past two weeks, we received word that three, yes three, of our family / friends passed away. And you want to know the really unsettling part? All three were between 53 and 60 years old. That is way too soon for anyone to lose their life.

Of course we had no idea when we wrote that blog post that we would be sitting through three memorial services in such a short time or be faced with the Las Vegas massacre. A certain passage from the Bible (James 4: 13-15 MSG) speaks to the brevity of life and has been ringing in our ears all week. It reads:

13 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

Greg Murtha, former president of Halftime Institute, personally lived and learned the meaning of this Bible passage. In a past blog post, we wrote about Greg’s struggle with cancer. After multiple surgeries, 75 rounds of chemo, and two heart attacks, cancer took Greg’s life this past June. He was 52.

Before passing, Greg was able to share his thoughts on life and what he learned through his struggle in his book, Out of the Blue. This book, which we highly recommend, published a few weeks after Greg’s passing.

We don’t mean for this blog post to be all negative, but we do hope to shatter the perception that our days in the distant and immediate future are guaranteed. The events above should, if nothing else, prove this. None of us are promised tomorrow but we often live as though we are.

If you knew your life was coming to a close, what would you do differently? What would you do more of … less of? How would spend your time, your love, your money? Who would you spend time with? What would you tell them? What impact on the world and personal legacy would you work towards?

Go ahead, take some time (soon) to seriously ponder these questions. And then start living like you aren’t promised tomorrow … because none of us are.

Drop us a note and share how you are going to live differently starting today than you were yesterday. Then, go make a difference.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Designer Living – Part 2

“What we possess no longer defines our lives.”

In our last post we introduced you to Charles and Leann. Remember how they found themselves in a new neighborhood and lured into a “Keeping up with the Joneses” lifestyle? If you missed that article you can catch up here.

Here we now share the rest of their story. Read along and learn how Charles and Leann struggled through their newfound lifestyle, made some tough decisions, and rediscovered their true selves. We think you will find their story fascinating. You can read this story as well as others in our award-winning and bestselling book Who Are the Joneses Anyway?

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Charles and Leann weren’t earning enough to keep up with the lifestyles of their new neighbors, but that didn’t keep them from feeling like they needed to. Over time, the pressure grew. It eventually drove Charles to gambling as a way to make extra money and help him feel he was equal to his new friends, most of whose wives didn’t have to work to make ends meet like Leann had to.

“It’s probably a confidence flaw—like I wasn’t good enough—that drove me to take desperate measures,” Charles told us. “Actually, I donated a lot of money, but now I can see my intentions were misplaced even there. I was donating the money to make me feel good, like a big shot.”

Gambling to make extra money turned into an addiction. Charles found himself staying up all night, then going to work and running on fumes, becoming an absent husband and father at home. Then, just as quickly as he had won, Charles began to lose. He tried to catch up, placing his bets on credit cards. “Let’s just say I had become addicted, out of necessity to sustain this new lifestyle we felt expected to maintain,” Charles said.

Then one day Leann found the credit card statements and was astonished. “At this rate, we are going to end up homeless!” she remembered saying.

“Just the way she said that stopped me dead in my tracks,” Charles recalled. The peer pressure drove them to spend more than they earned and him to gambling. They felt crushed. Keeping up with the Joneses in their town had broken them, financially and otherwise.

After realizing how deep they were in debt, Leann remembered “breaking down in tears—more than once.” They knew they had to look deep within themselves, make some changes, and begin the long process of digging out of their self-created mess.

It was a long road, but eventually they made it. The key was deciding who they were and what was most important to them. From that starting point, Leann and Charles began moving forward confidently, living within their means, and making better daily decisions between needs and wants.

“We bought used furniture,” Leann shared. “I want people to feel welcome when they come into our home. I want it to look beautiful, but having our guests feel loved, blessed, and hugged is most important. The furniture, new or old, will never add a single thing to that.”

“What we possess no longer defines our lives,” Charles offered, to which Leann added, “And the rat race isn’t either.” They admit they are still learning each day. Refocusing and sticking to their priorities has resulted in less stress and more joy as they move forward.

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Can you relate to Leann and Charles’ experiences? We love how they fought back from the brink of disaster and now willingly share their story with others.

What emotions does this story stir in you? Have you ever been through a similar experience? Respond here. We’d love to hear from you.

Thank you for reading along. We are honored that you have done so.

 

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Designer Living

“And the craziest part: They all thought it was normal.”

As we shared our Who Are the Joneses Anyway? story with others, it became more and more apparent that we were not alone in experiencing some of the things we went through in our old “Keeping up with the Joneses” lifestyle. Not even close! So we began interviewing some of these folks and taking notes along the way.

Leann and Charles were one of the couples we interviewed and they allowed us to share their story. The following is an excerpt from our book Who Are the Joneses Anyway? (names have been changed).

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Leann and her husband, Charles, had just moved their family into a new, nicer neighborhood. She and Charles decided on this particular neighborhood because they were looking for some of the same things a lot of young parents want: better schools, sports opportunities for the kids, and a newer home. However, after one particular day, Leann wasn’t so sure this new neighborhood was as nice as she thought.

One afternoon at her kid’s school, Leann had just loaded the kids into the family car when one of her newer “friends” literally yelled to her from across the parking lot: “Hey, Leann! Are you wearing Lee jeans right now? Get those off, and don’t ever wear those again! That’s embarrassing!”

“I wanted to crawl into a hole…I just cried when I got home,” Leann told us. She went on to admit, “Until that moment, I didn’t know there was a difference between Lee jeans and designer brand names. I just bought what I could afford and what fit me. But, I’ll tell you what, it made me become more mindful of what I wore. From then on, I was really careful about what I bought because I was so worried that I would receive more negative comments, especially in front of my kids.”

This wasn’t the only time their family felt the sting of social comparison. Leann also told us about a time they were left feeling unwelcome in their new neighborhood and school—all because they brought a case of sports drinks that wasn’t the leading name brand to a local soccer league game their kids were playing in. They dared bring an off-branded sports drink!

They wrestled with feelings of inferiority over that incident too. Leann recounted, “I thought they were saying, ‘Oh, there’s that family who couldn’t afford to bring Gatorade.’ In fact, we couldn’t. We had to live within our means. But slowly we started living beyond our means, just to keep up.”

These were the beginnings of a new life that Charles and Leann had never experienced before. And with this new reality came something else: pressure. As they put it, “We felt compelled to keep up with the lifestyle we now found ourselves surrounded by. It added a whole new layer of stress to our lives that made it difficult financially and emotionally, and, at times, it affected our confidence.”

“I don’t think we even knew what was happening right away,” Leann explained. “But before you knew it, we felt like we needed to drive a newer, larger, ‘better’ car. Everyone around us seemed to drive a Suburban or Escalade.” And that was just the beginning.

The pressure mounted. Leann recalls, “All the good people and the friends we met were living the same life—the rat race—and nobody could breathe. Everyone was exhausted trying to make it all work. And the craziest part: They all thought it was normal.”

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Can you relate to Leann and Charles’ experiences? If so, reply to this note and let us know. We would love to hear from you and we may even share your story in a future article like this (with your permission of course).

Want to know what happened with Leann and Charles? Be sure to read our next blog post and we will share the rest of their story and how they worked through their predicament.

Blessings on your continuing journey,

Bob and Susan Karcher

Authors | Speakers | Coaches

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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Climbing Ladders

Our level of ‘I’ve gotta have it’ will never match our level of ‘I can’t afford it.'” – Bob and Susan Karcher

How is it that here in America, easily one of the most prosperous nations of all time, so many of us end up significantly in debt or even bankrupt? A big part of the answer is that we have made chasing the American Dream our primary focus. We have moved beyond simply providing for our families, conditioning ourselves to measure success in terms of how well our neighbors are doing by comparison. We have stopped focusing on the true standard—one between us and God—that tells us what we are called to be and do. Instead, we judge success by how high we’ve climbed on our own proverbial ladder.

We have all heard of the corporate ladder, and many of us have worked very hard to move up that ladder in our careers. I certainly did. As I made my way through the publishing industry for 25 years, I fervently sought each new promotion and the added pay and bigger title that came with each.

A closely related cousin to the corporate ladder is what we call the “Joneses Ladder.” It represents our ambition and drive to continuously reach for that one more thing that we believe will finally bring total satisfaction and financial peace.

While on the Joneses Ladder, we start to believe that fulfillment and success lies just one rung up from our current position. We rationalize reaching for the next level by telling ourselves we’re not asking for too much. “We are not trying to compete with Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey,” we say, “that would be impossible. If we could get just one level higher on the ladder, we’d have what we need. And then, we would surely be happy!”

But once we have firmly arrived on the rung of the ladder we were reaching for, suddenly the next rung up on the ladder looks closer than ever. And then something triggers our desire to go higher—the neighbor who got a new car, the friend who got a higher-paying job, or the relative whose kids seem more successful than ours. Or it may be the next job, the next promotion, the next sale, the next accomplishment. The list can be endless.

We come from different levels of education, income, and status. But no matter what level we are on when we start, our level of “I’ve gotta have it” will never match our level of “I can’t afford it.” Instead of being content with our own comfort level, we want more than we can afford—and we keep reaching higher and higher for the next rungs on the Joneses Ladder.

Climbing the Joneses Ladder will never lead to lasting contentment, as there’s always some new level we’ll strive for if we allow ourselves to. As a result, the happiness we seek as we climb becomes impossible to attain because the Joneses Ladder rests on a shaky foundation and is leaning against a crumbling wall that assumes our achievements and acquisitions define who we are. They do not! All of our achievements can’t hold a candle to the joy we can discover when we start with a solid rock foundation.

If you find yourself precariously hanging onto a failing ladder, it’s never too late to refocus your life on the prizes that really matter – like faith, family, impact, and generosity. Strive for these and you’ll discover greater joy than any ladder-climbing could ever bring.

Enjoy this video. It will help bring this message to life.

Blessings on your continuing journey,
Bob Karcher

Author | Speaker | Coach

www.WhoAreTheJonesesAnyway.com

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