Monday, November 9, 2009

October, November, what?

So, October was Organize month...which came and went. That means I was never organized enough to actually do something there!

Tuesday and Wednesday I have off so I am going to go back over the month, look at my goals for the month and see if I was able to accomplish them. I usually post them in my first post on the forums here, so I can go back and track them. I hope I like what I find!

I also came to a realization the other day. I am working on having the first issue of a small series of books head to the publisher this month. It struck me that one of my goals for the year of 2009 was to publish one more book. What is funny is that I was not even thinking on this goal. I was actually just zeroed in on this project that, when it was conceived, had so much rapport with me that I jumped at it immediately.

I cannot tell if it had rapport with me because I had set that annual goal, or if the annual goal came from my inner drive to write. Who knows? Who cares! It is happening, and I am glad to know that an annual goal got knocked out.

So, we are in the throws of November. I titled October the month of Organization in my own life. The month of November is the month of Necessary Planning. Why, you may ask.

I have found that, in many cases, November finds most people rallying for the Thanksgiving. Though people take time for Thanksgiving, we as a nation seem to use it as a transition to Christmas. Very few REALLY slow down and enjoy Thanksgiving. Productivity seems to drop as we slowly approach the end of the month, and, suddenly, the December Race occurs.

December is a bustle! From Black Friday on, gifts need to be purchased and wrapped; taxes need to be completed; family needs to be called, visited, considered; work vacation is negotiated over...and somewhere in this madness we try to find spare moments to master plan our next year.

Hello! Its master planning the year. Hopefully we are doing it with plenty of "big picture" time, no distractions, prayerfully, conscientiously, reviewing the previous years for ways to grow. This takes time people!

It is for this that I used to want to name it Distracted December. I have toned that nastiness down a little bit to December Downtime. I think that I should let you all off the hook and allow you to let December be what it is. As productive people, we want to achieve goals, but not at the expense of family and relationships. December will simply have its ups and downs.

So, when should we do our planning? November's Necessary Planning month, people. At least, it will be for me. (My birthday is also in November, so its kinda like my fiscal year!) Use this month to start reviewing the year.

What goals did you set for the year?
How many have you accomplished?
Did you keep that momentum throughout the months goal-setting and implementation?
What caused some of the fall through? (Check your journal entries, your SuccessFit entries, or blogs to track down some of the distractions.
How can you learn from it for the next year?
Then, go back to your REAL Big Picture. (What you want your life to have looked like at the end of it!)
Remind yourself of those goals. For me, I want to be remembered as one who Activated and Equipped, Motivated and Inspired, accomplishing this through the arenas of Writing and Missions. (This has evolved over time, and I also have a whole master strategy to it. More on that another time.)
From there, come back and ask yourself, what do I need to accomplish in the next 2-3 years for that to be a reality?
Then ask what you would need to accomplish in 2010 to be heading that direction.

Simple. But it does take time (if you are doing it right!)

As I have been doing this over the years, my planning habits have evolved. I know that I have a running tally of things I want to see accomplished every year. I also have a Legacy Life Vision (that took me a while to create, especially one that I was thoroughly and completely satisfied with.)

And, seriously, I have missed a TON of deadlines. But, I shrug it off with the thought of where I would be without any goals and deadlines.

A Plan Is What We Do Until We Have a Better Plan

So, I adjust the deadline, and press on!

I digress. That is the November of Necessary Planning. Get on it. Do not hesitate. The next time you have 3-4 hrs before work, or a few before bed, sit down and go over your goals and dream about 2010. If you do not have those, go to the homepage and download our Top 100 document to get you down the path of goal-setting and planning your life!

If you have any questions, just ask!

3-2-1 GO!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

History of America's Donation Mindset



I love Charity Navigator. From the beginning of our organization (CPIHaiti.org), we have modeled our internal standards of performance based on Charity Navigator's rating system. They are the best guide to intelligent giving.

Through a Tweet from @CharityNav, they showed a time line of giving in America. Or, at least a breakdown of the key events in the mindset of America regarding giving.

The thing I found most interesting is that it shares that in Democracy in America (by Alexis de Tocqueville from his legendary trip to the U.S. in 1835), Philanthropy is hailed as one of America's top traits. This mirrors Peter Drucker's opinion that the nonprofit organization (the organized form of philanthropy)is the apex of American society.

Other highlights of humanitarianism in the united states of America:
The world's first community foundation
Philanthropic giving is usually a majority of individual givers, out-donating foundations, corporations and funds
A possible motive for the founding of the Rockefeller Foundation

View it at CharityNavigator.org.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Exponential Growth by Incremental Work

I recently consulted two young people who had an AWESOME idea for a humanitarian service.

It was the best idea I had heard of in quite a while. They came to me to learn how to launch their project. I have some experience in launching nonprofits over the years and they needed some guidance.

I love innovators; creative individuals who put together new and exciting ideas that can serve others.

This dynamic duo had done just that. They already had the correct mindset of successful people; opulent, abundance-minded, and service-oriented. Yet, there was one problem.

They tried to consume the entire thing at once. They didn't take it one bite at a time.

The trouble with many start-ups (humanitarian, non-profit OR for-profit) is that few get going with the concept of incremental growth.

Exponential Expectations

Many entrepreneurs are idealists. They see the glass as half-OVERFLOWING. They love the challenges involved.

These are great traits to have. Further, I doubt a start up will ever turn over their engine without them! However, it is a commitment to longevity that I have found gets a mission on the road to long-term success.

The problem with entrepreneurial idealists (humanitariansl i.e. you AND me) is that we expect exponential growth immediately.

I have never found this to be true. I DO believe in exponential growth. I ALSO believe that it will be based on a foundation, and foundations, I have found, are built incrementally.

Creating Credibility

Humanitarians, more specifically, DEVELOPMENT humanitarians, rely strongly on good will. That means that, in exchange for donors' good will (their donations), they will be seeking and searching for credibility. They want to know that their investment will bear a return. (That return being credible results in your service.)

Credibility can be felt. And lack of credibility stinks. People can smell a fly-by-night from a mile away.

What does it take to build credibility? Incremental growth. A strong foundation.

A millionaire I worked for called it being "a twenty-year overnight success." He was implying that what the world views as an overnight success is actually the result of incremental growth and foundation building over the long term.

Translation

Plan on the long term. I definitely believe that it takes at least a year of planning and preparation before you make your first peep about what you intend to do. Only then will you have the infrastructure in place to make good on promises (and build credibility.)

Do the nitty-gritty tasks that you keep hoping to recruit someone else for.

In terms of our organization, I spent the last year doing short trips to Haiti, some of them alone with no fanfare. No bands welcomed me. Now donations showered upon me.

Even more, it has taken almost 4 years of sowing, sowing, sowing resources into the field and into our own self-education about what Haiti takes. All this took place before I even showed up!

BUT, exponential growth DOES show up overnight. Just now we are seeing e-mail after e-mail asking for more info. New twitter follower after new twitter follower keep adding us. New church partnerships show up.

We see the years of incremental growth. All they see is a semi-finished organization, which happens to look and act exponential.

So, can you get exponential growth? Absolutely.
When will it come? After you have put in the diligence of incremental growth.
What will happen if you skip the incremental growth? You will get a flash-in-the pan success with little-to-no longevity. This works for the person who initiated it, but has very little lasting benefit for others involved.

Dig in. Plan on the long term. (This demands commitment, so count the cost!)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

7 Reasons We Serve in Haiti

7 Reasons we serve in Haiti AND What to consider when choosing a place to serve:

http://cpihaiti.org/?page_id=157

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Community and Context

Our brains cannot feel pain. They cannot, in fact, feel anything. It is pure objectivity for ourselves.

Though we can feel our body, it is usually in the context of pain only; when some invasion into the system occurs we can feel it. However, a large degree of that same objectivity expands to encompass our bodies. Sometimes, that objectivity can even include our mirror reflections.

However, show us a picture of any particular body part or a video of us moving and we experience extreme disassociation. We have all had the experience of hearing our own recorded voice and not recognizing it.

Sitting here typing, my tapping fingers are a part of me, but I do not experience them in the way I would experience another's tapping my arm.

This experience causes us to not know ourselves. We all ask “who am I” and “why am I here”. These are questions that result from our inability to experience ourselves.

In searching for God, in searching for relationships, in joining gangs and cults, we are searching to answers these questions. We were created to not experience ourselves, which means we seek to gain context.

The thing about context is that it is about location AND meaning. Whenever we find false identity, we find it in these two things.

Our purpose and our place (in both space AND time) satisfy this.

With community, especially CHRISTIAN community, we gain context by the person sitting across from us. That person is not only an immediate answer to location and purpose (they are looking at us and our service to them gives us great purpose). They represent God in the Body, eternally confirming location and purpose; our divine purpose in the intended location He placed us.

We not only need the Body for ephemeral reasons. We need the community for psychological affirmation. We need the Body to affirm what we suspect God has for us. The community gives us context.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Brief Haiti Update

I would like to offer a far more extensive update, however, as time is limited, and I am focusing on the writing and preparation of our future site as well as our actual work in Haiti.

We are preparing for our next trip to Haiti.

The team will be about 18 people. This is significant for us in that just a year ago it was only 2 of us going to Haiti to see how we can help.

We now have a fruitful church partnership with two others lining up quite nicely. We have broken ground on a building that will serve as a school and training center. This is all due to the potency of the team of educators and ministers from The Crossing Church in Orlando.

They have really taken ownership of the area of Kenscoff, and have poured their best into the area.

On a personal note, I have turned my entire direction toward Writing and Humanitarian/Missions work. For the past few weeks, I have written 1,000 words a day to continue to refine my skills. The material being produced will be used to launch my blog by my birthday.

This is significant because I will be dealing with the topic of living your calling, serving mankind in some way, and the How-To's of Humanitarian work (at least that which we are experienced to teach on at this point!)

Stay tuned.
Subscribe to my blog feed.
Also, check our Haiti site, www.cpihaiti.org.
Contact us if we can partner in any way!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Polk County wanted to suspend my driver's license over $2.50. After some deliberation, I have decided to pay it.

Monday, May 11, 2009

AWESOME meeting w/ Vision 360 in Orlando 4 church partnership.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Check out Faceless Int'l. Solid org that started in Haiti.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

We Can Build An Orphanage

Just talked with www.WeCanBuildAnOrphanage.com.

Great TEAM! Martin, Jeanette, Gala; look forward to working with you. Look forward to partnering soon!

These people are the DEAL. They have a GREAT system on their site to really help the mission in the Jacmel area.

I see BIG things ahead of them.

Check them out: http://www.wecanbuildanorphanage.com
My biggest concern in all the Big Picture/planning stuff is the risk of growing too insensitive to the Holy Spirit. I still do not know how to bridge this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Friday, April 24, 2009

Random $650 deposit to my account. :) tracking down source. Blessed in ANY economy.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

AWESOME training yesterday! Thank you, everyone, & CrossFit gym. Pictures & updates soon on SuccessFit.net

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our First SuccessFit.net Training Event

[POSTED ON OUR WEBSITE, SUCCESSFIT.NET.]

On the day of our First Ever Training Event, we are excited beyond compare.

This is a small, relaxed event.
There is nothing outstanding going on.
There are not a lot of lights or cameras.
There are not powerpoint slides or microphones.

This is a simple event. But I sense that it is very important both for SuccessFit and for me personally.

For SuccessFit, this is nearly 2 years worth of development and countless hours of discussion to hammer out the proper language we want to use to serve you all with a quality, EFFECTIVE framework by which to create Life Success.

Some of you have traveled here from across the country and across the ocean. Some of you have moved here. But we all are moved to be here for relationships that can help us develop CommitmentCommunity andConsistency toward accomplishing our individual goals.

For me personally, my 5 year goal can be summarized by saying that I wish that 50% of my time is devoted to humanitarian work around the globe. The other 50% of my time I would greatly desire that I be Training, much like these events today. That could include Writing, Speaking, and Coaching (one-on-one or corporately).

I have spent many hours on a stage before, both in theater and in the church. I have spent much of the last 10 years speaking or training to some degree. This particular event is, for me, like taking my Fran time from 8+ minutes to under 6. It is taking what spotty consulting and training I have done and making it a more focused event. It resembles the 5 year dream much more than other training I have been doing in all of these past 10 years.

I say all of this because a) you are MY accountability Community as much as we are for you, so b) I hope you know me more so that you can hold me more personally accountable toward that dream, and c) so that you continue to know your value as Community to us and to yourselves.

So, I encourage you all. For those who are here today, I will let you slide on Studying and Planning because we will be learning together. THE REST OF YOU ARE NOT OFF THE HOOK! ;P Press in and press deep today! This thing is shaping up!

3 - 2 - 1 --- GO!!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Drucker on Nonprofits: Balance Decisions

"The Balance Decisions are what we need non-profit leaders for, whether they are paid or volunteer." - Peter Drucker

I have to admit, I have never been one to live what others would call a 'balanced' life.

I have always pushed my own envelope, taken a ton of risks (though they never really felt like risks), and been rash. That has led me around the world. It has led me to preach in a chicken coop in Kenya and been kidnapped in India. It has led me into working with multi-millionaires and being paid once for 2 years to study and educate myself.

The one thing I learned in all of that, though, is that I do not have to sacrifice opportunities like these were I to be a little more balanced.

And, working with non-profits (like I am with Community Partnership International, cpihaiti.com), I have realized a need to really take a look at how to bring in better balance.

Peter Drucker is quickly becoming the next great mind I plan on reading after. He points out in his work with non-profits several key "balance problems". Sadly, he does not offer much in the way of navigating the balance issue, but he certainly equips us better in that he makes us conscious of them.

Balance Problem:

Seeing the Big Picture vs. Being Involved with Detailed Operations
Possible Solution: Be involved in the details of your operation, but get a bigger picture by serving on other boards for oversight.

Concentrating Resources on One Goal vs. Diversification
Concentration gets maximum results but is risky in that you leave your "flank totally uncovered." Diversification stirs the imagination, but can lead to splintering.

Expecting Results Now vs. Long-term Planning
Its "easy" to deal with people who want results too soon. When you want your results this week, just say that you want them in two weeks. Drucker contends that those who err on Long-term planning are harder to counteract.

Opportunity vs. Risk
Ask:
Is the decision reversible?
And what kind of risk is it?
Will it kill us?


Now, as you can see, Drucker does not really offer too many immediate solutions. BUT, just being aware is a step.

And, this has already added significantly to what we are focusing on for Community Partnership International and our work in Haiti, as well as over-arching ideals for managing in general.

Just one small example is how we will be building our ground-level team of unpaid staff members. I know for certain that I have a tendency to stay focused on Big Picture, Take Risks, and Diversify too much.

That simply means that I will need to draw to me at least some representation of people that love Details and Operations, Take time with evaluating Opportunities, and can properly Concentrate Resources.

If you haven't yet, check out our Facebook Cause and join the team. Consider how you can be a part of what we are doing. Another concept taken from Drucker that we have desired for quite some time is that we not only want donors; we want people who would like to contribute their unique giftings, skills, and networks.

So, if anything we are doing piques your interest, contact us! www.cpihaiti.org.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Peter Drucker on Nonprofit Organizations

I recently picked up Peter Drucker's 'Managing the Nonprofit Organization.' Halfway through the introduction, I knew that this book would be life changing. I would like to share several excerpts, as it is directly affecting what I am doing with our work in Haiti (cpihaiti.org, under construction still.)

Below are some selected sections from this powerful book:

"Business supplies, either goods or services. Government controls. A business has discharged its task when the customer buys the product, pays for it, and is satisfied with it. Government has discharged its function when its policies are effective. 

"The 'non-profit' institution neither supplies goods or services nor controls. It's 'product' is neither a pair of shoes nor an effective regulation. Its product is a changed human being. The non-profit institutions are human-change agents. Their 'product' is a cured patient, a child that learns, a young man or woman grown inot a self-respecting adult; a changed human life altogether."

************************

"We can no longer hope to get money from 'donors'; they have to become 'contributors'...It is much more than getting extra money to do vital work. 

"Giving is necessary above all so that the non-profits can discharge the one mission they all have in common: to satisfy the need of the American people for self-realization, for living out our ideals, our beliefs, our best opinion of ourselves."

Monday, April 6, 2009

USF Student Writes About Our Work in Haiti

Here is an article from friend of our work in Haiti with CPI and a USF student, Krysta Bustin.

*****************************************

About 6 months ago, while working a Sunday night shift at Starbucks, a familiar customer approached me at the cash register to place his order. However, before he even said it—Doppio Espresso—I knew what he would order. I knew his drink, but I didn’t know his name, so I asked. After briefly introducing ourselves, he asked me about the significance of a necklace I was wearing— the same necklace I wear everyday—a skydiving parachute pin which is a small tribute to a sport I love and an expression of gratitude for surviving a near death experience in the sport the year prior. 

We started swapping stories until eventually we were interrupted by more customers wanting to place their orders. From that day on we have been good friends. Our common drive for adventure, pursuit of better health and elite fitness, love of people and community, and passion for travel and humanitarian aid has forged a meaningful friendship.

Grant Nieddu, a self-proclaimed philanthropist, small business owner, college dropout, world traveler, and motivational guru, has an extraordinary gift for networking and inspiring people. That has lead him several years ago to met a man by the name of Jonathan, a Haitian native who at the time was partnering with aid organizations and running numerous missions centers and orphanages throughout his home country, with over 80 other leaders located throughout the country helping him. 

Piqued with curiosity,..more.

Also, visit our sites.
FaceBook Cause: www.causes.com/cpihaiti
Site (coming soon): www.cpihaiti.org

Friday, March 20, 2009

Dreams, Goals, & Oceanic Plateaus

Where did the month go?
I have wavered between total hopelessness and total hopefulness all month.

On the one hand is the resolve to “do it all”; make my dreams a reality, setting and sticking to my Goals and Plans, writing everything I want to write, traveling to all of the places I want to travel, sticking to one thing and doing it well, creating breakthrough for myself and everyone around me.

On the other hand, I want to escape into my musing with the Lord. I want to let Him tell me my dreams, let him reveal my plans and goals as I go, write only when the inspiration sets into me, travel only when the way is paved for me, sticking to whatever is before me that particular day, living in monotony while everyone around me seems to be experiencing life to the full.

These things split my energy, personality, and vitality in two. Suffice it to say that I am feeling overwhelmed and incapable.

Several nights this month I had consulted a few people in ways that turned their life around. I spoke with Stephanie, Brigitte, and Steven. All three were greatly relieved to hear what I told them. They all commented time and again on how helpful and encouraging the information is.

Then, I look at my life and I get down. I look at my financial situation, and I sigh in my spirit. The moment I realize that I am depressed by looking at my finances, I recognize that I am getting some degree of significance or security, some sort of ego needs met, by my financial position. And quickly I realize it is wrong. I push myself into a state of mind where I get my security from where God has me.

However, I have yet to resolve the fact that lack of finances depresses me because I feel unable to accomplish the things which God has put into my heart to do and create. In that instance, I also realize that one of my beliefs is that wherever you are, God has placed you there for a specific purpose. My mind is thus aswirl at least 16 hrs a day.

“I am where God has me.”
“I am unsure that I will survive where God has me; financially.”
“Why am I holding onto survival? What happened to death to self?”
“I started wanting things and so highly valued my 'survival' when I started writing down dreams and visions, and trying to create the dream list.”

And, round and round the cognitive dissonance wheel goes.

However, I should take the advice I have given both Brigitte and Steve. Goal lists and plans should never be attached to a sense of identity; it should never be attached to our sense of security and significance. (This is far easier said than done.)

One can do this by choosing to see themselves as God sees them. They can get security and significance knowing the truth about themselves which God has placed in them. This, too, is far easier said than done.

My own human experiment testifies to this intense struggle for those who wish for nothing but unadulterated truth, as seen in the dilemma that opened this entry.

The real world around us begs us to gauge our self-worth and value by our accomplishments, our level of success. This tangibility is hard to contend with.

I DO believe it is possible to get total security and significance from God. I have seen it only rarely, but I have met and seen individuals who have been able to, more often than not, obtain total significance and security (which I also refer to as ego needs) from God. Namely Terry and Donna Kruse, as long as I have known them, have, for the most part, lived a life that was disconnected from the world's standards.

This I have, however rarely, brushed up against. First my trip to Spain, then the subsequent educational trip around the world, Semester-at-Sea, as well as my having moved to Lakeland, all stemmed from intense times of being totally submitted to internally collapsing all infrastructures of ego needs being met by anything other than fellowship with God. This process I have known as death to self or death to flesh.

This has been the result of a prayer I prayed long ago, which has led to my many seasons of lows (resulting from my cognitive dissonance between what my ego wanted and what God wanted in those seasons.) Almost 7 years ago I sought that God would show me how to die to my flesh and run into the deeper things of God.

Over the years since, like the trials of Hercules, I have faced the different mechanisms of man to feel a sense of control over one's life. From accomplishments such as traveling the world to being the only person in the room who insisted on self-education to being the unique fellow who could trounce people theologically, or to be the Christian who swore because of his sense of grace, or poverty, or prosperity, or an impressive resume; the places where we can shop for feeding our ego monster are infinite.

As an example, I am currently jousting with Goals and the Envisioning/Planning Process. We now know that doing dream boards, writing goals and plans, speaking of visions and even implementing them can cause us to be in very positive “states”. These “states” are merely moments where we have programmed ourselves, like Pavlov's dog, to have endorphins release into our brain and make us feel good.

I do not mean to sound negative on this point. Quite the opposite. It is for this very reason that I still hold strongly to doing the activities listed above and recommend them to clients and friends as I do them myself. These activities have brought me out of doldrums quite often enough to say that they are priceless and, barring someone walking in the truly deeper things of God and the miraculous, should not be quickly done away with.

However, how easy it is to fall into using Goal Setting as a means of obtaining ego and reviving the flesh!

Do you realize how few people write out a Top 100 list? I would be shocked to find if it was more than 1 in a thousand!

Do you realize how few people, of those 1 in 1000, categorize that Top 100 list, put it into a 5 year goal list, and narrow it down to a 1 year goal list, and even begin any of the goals?? 1 in 100 of those at best!

And, can you fathom how many of either groups wind up obtaining some level of significance or security from them? Nearly all, I would venture.

Now, perhaps this is only my struggle. I would not be completely surprised to find that I simply have the weakest will in the bunch. Of this I have very little doubt. Goal setting is valuable; but it need be only a tool, not a source of life.

Should you be one who ventures to read this and have a resolution on walking out a life of total submission to God and still be able to not only write out but implement Goal setting and plans and vision, I would beg that you do share your secret with me. I do not want secrets you read in a book, but that which you have gained by experience.

I found possibly one example from reading the autobiography of Ghandi. He came a point where he wrestled with whether or not one should have any possessions in the pursuit of truth. He even assessed whether or not he should keep his books. In time he drew on his law background and concluded that he was merely a 'trustee' to the things he had. His books, his family, his money was not actually his; he was trustee and steward over these things entrusted to him by God.

This example has been of some value to me. Now I need only to apply it!

Coming back to the point, this period of time in my life has been hugely valuable as I face the depth of my ego needs, like standing underwater on the edge of an oceanic plateau, looking into the depth of the abyss, dark and limitless. I often feel overwhelmed by the currents of the tangible world, but this unseen gravitational force pulls me deeper and deeper. The more I sound the depths of my soul, the more I realize my frailty; and yet the more I yield to knowing Him, knowing truth. Like thousands of pounds of atmospheric pressure on every square inch of my skin, I feel that I can neither move nor stand still. So, I yield and let the currents and gravity pull me where it may.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Latest Haiti Trip Overview

I hope you all are doing well. We have finally settled back in since returning from Haiti and I wanted to give you a report on an amazing trip!

Our Goal

As you may know, the primary goal of the trip was to establish a long-term partnership between The Crossing Church (Clermont, FL) with The Kensckoff Church (Haiti).

The leaders and people of these two churches will create projects that are implemented throughout the year. This will include group trips for construction, training and education, economic planning and meeting basic physical needs.

Needless to say, this trip represented a HUGE step forward for CPI and our partner communities in Haiti. This is the model we want to replicate over and over again – connecting people and organizations to meaningful work in Haiti.

The Crossing Church was represented by Kendal (Pastor), Deb and Sharon. We could not have asked for a better group of people for our first partnership. Kendal has a huge heart and a keen sense for missions work. Deb and Sharon (both grandmothers) were flexible, optimistic, full of energy, fun-loving and committed to this mission.

An Amazing Welcome!

We spent most of our time with the people at the Kensckoff Church. Kensckoff is located south of Port-au-Prince, high up in the mountains. The drive (one way) was about 2 ½ hours on the most absurd roads you can imagine. We delivered the food and school supplies to a group of about 35 adults and 50 children.

When we got out of our vehicles and began the climb up the dirt trail to the church building, we could hear the beautiful sound of children singing. As we rounded the last section of the pathway, we could see the origin of this angelic sound. On the dirty porch of a dilapidated building stood over 40 children, dressed in their school uniforms, singing and smiling with an unmatched enthusiasm.

They were welcoming out team and had been awaiting our arrival. The sights and sounds cannot be communicated through words – you will have to join us on our next trip!

They Were Overwhelmed

Over the few days we were there, we shared meals, played with the children, taught each other how to speak the others’ language (English & Creole), and simply took it all in. We walked around the village area looking at the tiny plots of land that were being farmed.

We were given a tour of a make-shift house owned by Milot and his family. Milot is one of the church leaders and a farmer. His home was made out of wood, some concrete block, and a tin roof. His bathroom (the only one we could find) was a pit latrine off the back of his property.

The entire village had a contagious warmth and hospitality. They were overwhelmed that people like you and me cared enough to come find them up in what they consider to be a forgettable, insignificant place in a huge world.

The Leaders Meet

On the last day in Kensckoff we arranged to share a meal with the leaders from both churches. The women of the church had cooked an amazing meal (rice, beans, green peppers, and chicken fried in coconut oil) over an open fire. We sat in their church building (a block building about 10ft x 20ft) and shared a meal.

In that tiny room, over rickety tables and delicious food, a meaningful partnership was established between The Crossing Church and The Kensckoff Church. They asked questions of one another and dreamed together about how they could bring the love of Christ to that community in a more powerful way.

The ideas covered everything from providing Bibles in Creole to optimizing farming practices to starting a medical clinic. A stake of commitment and potential was driven into the ground that day in Kensckoff Haiti.

A Bright Future

As our plane lifted off the runway and we began to ascend high above the mountains of Haiti, I realized the significance of what took place over those few days. As a result of our efforts, the people of The Crossing Church will spend the next several years working with the Kensckoff Church to forever change their community.

The people in that area will come to know the love of God as children are educated, the sick are treated, the hungry are fed, agriculture and economy are improved, and the dignity of people made in the image of God is restored. I am meeting with Kendal next week to plan a work trip for The Crossing Church this Summer. They raised $4K to build a new building in Kensckoff that will be constructed over the next few months.

Thank YOU!

I wanted to personally say thank you for your donations and your support of this trip. I know Haiti may seem like a distant country and the devastation beyond recovery, but you touched people in that village and are helping us prove that change is possible!

We will be sending out an abbreviated report with some pictures to all of our friends in a few days, but I wanted to get this out to you right away.

Thanks Again for Your Support,

Grant Nieddu
CPI Team Leader

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Great quote

Great Quote:

"No doubt many a state has been preserved by the Godly remnant in it, whom the majority would have exterminated had it been in their power. Hence, the value of good men in bad localities. When you, my dear friend, go into a place where there is no religion, do not be so very sorry at your position, for God may have great ends to be served by you."
Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Itinerary for next Haiti trip

Hey, all!

Here is our itinerary for our next trip to Haiti!
Be praying for us. :)

******************

Wednesday, March 11th
Jonathan leaves for Haiti – 10:10 MIA

Thursday, March 12th
4:00 AM Lakeland/Clermont Groups Depart
4:30 AM Lakeland/Clermont Groups meet at 60/27 Intersect
8:00 AM Arrive at MIA/Check-In
9:00 AM Group Meeting at the Gate
10:10 AM Depart for Port-au-Prince, Haiti
11:30 AM Arrive in PAP
12-2:30 PM Grocery Store/Check-In/Lunch
3:00 PM Depart for Baptist Mission/Fort Jack/Lookout
6:30 PM Back at Hotel for Dinner

Friday, March 13th
8:30 AM Meet in lobby/Depart of Kensckoff
10:00 AM Arrive in Kensckoff/Meet Leaders/Building Site Tour
12:00 PM Lunch with Key Church Members (Q&A – roundtable)
2-4:30 PM Free Space
4:30 PM Depart of Hotel
6:30 PM Back at Hotel/Dinner/Group Time

Saturday, March 14th
8:30 AM Meet in lobby/Depart for Kensckoff
10-4:30PM Arrive in Kensckoff
Market, Play with Children, Make Blocks by the river, Farm, etc.
4:30 PM Depart for the Hotel
6:30 PM Back at Hotel/Dinner/Group Time

Sunday, March 15th
8:30AM Meet in lobby/Depart of PAP Airport
12:20 PM Depart PAP headed for MIA
3:30 PM Arrive at MIA/Load up and drive home

Following God versus Setting and Achieving Goals

Good quote that shares how an ancient warrior dealt with the difference between peace of mind and pressing hard toward a goal:

"I have no confidence in the flesh, my own abilities to produce...
in fact, I count all things I once trusted in as loss...
HOWEVER, I press on, not as though I have attained, but I follow after. 
Again, not as if I have apprehended, but this one thing I do;
I choose to forget everything behind me, 
and reach forward to those things which are before me.
I press hard toward the mark to attain the goal and prize!"
- Saul of Tarsus
to his team in the ancient Greek city of Philippi
(my paraphrase)

As Chad and I continue to work on our goal setting system for SuccessFit.net, I continue to try to work out my understanding of simply following God (flowing with Him) compared with goal setting. 

At first these seem to conflict, yet Paul (once Saul) had this on lock down. He had it figured out quite well.

Tell me what you think


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Mission Statement

This was my submission to the Peace Corps as my personal mission statement.

*********************************

My personal mission statement has been for some time now:

I motivate and inspire, activate and equip, everyone I come in contact with.

This mission statement has followed me in ministry, in my service in non-profit work, as well as in the business world. It has chased me in the way I have viewed the people I have interacted with in India, China, Africa, South America and, most recently, in Haiti.

What I want to see is a certain thing that happens on a person's face when they have a sense of purpose, dignity, yea, hope of improvement.

What I love is that single moment where a smile breaks the hardened, cracks in an worn face when they realize that not only is someone here to help; someone cares. Someone loves them.

It has led me to have a passion and a longing for the most poor in completely underdeveloped areas. This sense of satisfaction started when I served in the church with at-risk youth. Then it was compounded when I served my co-students on Semester-at-Sea when we almost wrecked in the Spring 2005 trip. It compounded yet again with every visit; the brick-making family in Viet Nam, the orphanages in Kenya, the favellas in Brazil, and the homes in rural Haiti.

I cannot NOT serve in this function. I can no longer exert energy for any other type of work. No matter what the skill set required (business, accounting, management, negotiations, etc), I can only apply it to the service of those in need.

I could show you my 5-year goals and plans, or review the things I have done and experienced in the last 5 years, and you would see the trend.

Up until now I have made decisions that have often sacrificed strong potential for large financial gains. Some would say that I have “sabotaged my own success.” I would say that I have made decisions for others' success.

Looking at my goals for the future, there are plenty of goals surrounding financial freedom. There are pleny of goals for travel and development. All of them circulate in making myself free to serve; free to serve humanity, free to serve the poor, free to serve the needy, free to serve the hurting.

My whole purpose and being move toward being free enough to unabashedly seek to motivate and inspire, activate and equip, all that I come in contact with, especially the most poor.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Haiti Update!

Hello, Everyone!

I just wanted to give the update on the going-ons with me, Haiti, and what I have been doing there.

Our last trip was highly fruitful.
I went with Jonathan Capre for a small excursion to scout out quotes on replacing a building, prices for hotels and rental jeeps, and meeting leadership to prepare for partnering the local Haitian church with an American Church. (We focus on strategic partnerships between US people or organizations with Haitian people or organizations.) It was a quick trip, but the people we continue to bring provision and hope to are priceless.

As usual in Haiti, the acrid smell of charcoal is everywhere. (It is their main source of energy for cooking.) The rooster would wake us up every morning at 4 a.m., with the gray of the morning starting to show. How I wished we would eat that chicken! But, I would have to settle for one meal of goat, and the rest of rice and beans. I cannot tell you how many of my friends there would say joyfully at one point or another, "Mesi. Thank you, brother. I did not expect to eat until I felt full today!"

Mosei was a great guide and driver as normal. He is our designated ministry driver who navigates the wild roads in Haiti where you make your own 3rd lane. Scarier than Florida drivers! Clovis, missing teeth and all, has a great smile and is always there to deliver messages and information in a country where mass communication like cell phones and e-mail are hard to come by. He brought news of revival in the north, as well as the degree of need in that area. Chester, one of the better English speakers and leader in the area where we will be doing this first partnership, is a handsome young guy. He is several years younger than me, but, with the help of Jonathan here in the US, is almost finished with his electrical engineer degree; advanced education is a very hard and expensive thing to come by. His wife and children depend on him, so he does odd jobs, when he can find some, between his duties as a pastor of the local church.

And, as usual, many random moments made me laugh. From the time I went to climb into the wash basin (no running water) only to find a rat trying desperately to climb out. You should have seen 2 Haitians and a blan (white person, me!) jump, laughing hysterically, once that mouse got on the floor! Another time, I had a question and approached a man who was sitting only to find that he was using the restroom right there. My Haitian friends and guides couldn't help but laugh at the look on my face. And who can forget Elna's coffee?! Haiti, an island just like Cuba, grows fantastic coffee! Elna, Jonathan's sister who lives in the house with her family, makes the best coffee that trumps any Cuban coffee I have ever known! (While we were there we heard that Starbucks was exploring partnering with a coffee farm there, and we are hoping to find out if this is true. That would bring many great jobs for our people.)

Once we arrived at the partnership location, I became quite hopeful that we can make permanent change in Haiti. The problem quite often is that people are giving handouts, when what they really need are hand-ups!

There are so many half-finished buildings. There are so many partially-fixed cars. Worse, there is so much US money being poured through the Haitian government. These funds rarely trickle down to the people. Having studied micro-enterprise for a short time, I am growing confident that we can build sustainable, small business/small investment solutions for these people.

With the partnerships we are starting to create, with ingenuity and training, and with everyone's help, I believe that we can do more than the same old thing in Haiti. I believe that we can make continued, permanent change for these people.

This last trip we managed to give rice and beans to about 30 people, which, when distributed, will help about 70-90 people. That will only last for about 30 days. This is far better than what they would be facing.

However, the meager $300 that it took to feed them once could be invested into 10-20 people's small business. With the right accountability in place, it could permanently improve those 10-20 families. More than that, they could be significantly better off to hire more people and expand the prosperity further.

The additional benefits are many, but a few are:
a) that money actually gets paid back (98% payback rate) with a little interest so that,
b) the money can be reinvested into another 10-20 people's businesses,
c) there is a social accountability which draws the community together tighter to help make sure that everyone is succeeding, and
d) the group accountability offers a platform for weekly training on medicine, disease prevention, managing finances, learning english, and so much more!

You can see that I really like the idea of sustainability; our donations go much further to actually solve the problem! AND, the people have an improved sense of self-worth. A perfect combination for growth and light and hope!

I love it!

That being said, we are going again in March; from the 12th to the 15th. If you would like to be involved, please let me know ASAP!
  • If you want to GO, tickets need to be purchased by Tuesday of next week! EGAD! I know its soon, but we just had a few positions open up. Get us a deposit for the tickets. Attached is a sample of the Transforming Travel packets that we have put together. (We call these trips Transforming Travel because that's what it does!)
  • If you want to SEND, you can mail in a donation to the contact information below. PLEASE E-MAIL OR CALL ME TO LET ME KNOW THAT ITS IN THE MAIL.
  • You can also send me donations through PayPal at my e-mail address below.
  • Money will go to i) bringing food and provisions to Haitians, ii) group trip costs, and iii) continued research for feasibility of micro-lending/micro-enterprise in this particular area
  • If you are interested in helping us do future research or needs analysis (what are the nutrition, education, agricultural, technological needs, etc.), again, contact me to let me know.
  • If you know of any individuals or organizations that would be interested in becoming a founding partner with our ventures in Haiti, feel free to put us in touch with them. We can work with them to see if there is a potential partnership in helping them meet their goals.

We are ready to go. To make the trip truly effective, we need an additional $1,200. (That's only $20 from everyone who received this e-mail!)

Anything you can do to help is welcome!

I will keep you informed of the awesome things going on in this arena! There are a few pictures of our last 2 trips attached as well.

Thank you so much for everything, and your prayers, and we will keep pushing over here!


Most Sincerely,

Grant R. Nieddu
(772) 321-1840
grant.nieddu@gmail.com

P.O. Box 2115
Lakeland, FL
33806

Monday, February 2, 2009

Trying to Write

Ideas and words spin in a vortex in my mind. Were the only thoughts present about writing this could be a tornado that produces good, but, mixed with concerns about provision and direction, and businesses I have started to provide, and books that I have read of late that stir me, and movies I have watched for entertainment, “writing” is a lone shard of shrapnel whipping wildly on the edge of the storm amid the dusty clouds and debris.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I want to do THAT! I want to do EVERYTHING!

I have this problem that everything I hear about, see, read, or just look at I want to be involved. Teach in Korea: I want to do that! Save babies in Ghana: I want to do that! Become the CEO of a Fortune 500 company: I want to do that!

You name it, and I have already, and continue to, want to do that!

I watched a video last night with Timothy Ferriss (who is quickly becoming a hero of mine) who talked about some of the amazing things he has done. (Check it out here: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2009/01/24/four-hour-work-week-author-reviews-powerful-life-principles.aspx)

I was RE-inspired to focus down and get to the nitty gritty, roll up my sleeves, and make one thing happen. However, when I sat to do it, there was a major disconnection. My hands, my mind, my very being seemed to revolt to any type of commitment to focused work. I wanted to break this cycle immediately, so I thought about it and tried to understand what that problem was.

The difference between the things that Timothy Ferriss has done and what I "want to do" all the time seemed glaringly obvious. The things I throw my affections to would demand a life-time commitment and total life changes. The things he has done, and continue to do, are short, time-bound things...goals.

I have found that most of my goals are really multiple lives I wish to live! I want to live these lives of being a hero to Haitians, or a corporate consultant, or an Indiana Jones-style academic, or a military commander and warrior, or a politician. They are ongoing lifestyles with ongoing demands. They are careers.

I wince to say this out loud, but,..I...uh...gasp...hrm...I do not want a career or a set lifestyle.

How freeing it is to admit that I am not woven like that!
How freeing and inspiring it is to just say, "wow. I really do not like too many lifelong commitments."
Marriage, absolutely.
My faith, most certainly.
Lifelong learning, of course!

Now it seems clear that my inability to commit is my fear that any one thing would become a life with demands that would trap me forever.

In his talk, Ferriss then speaks of what has become to be known as The Parkinson's Principle: The perceived complexity of work will expand to consume all the alloted time given to complete it.

Blah blah blah.
Paraphrased, it states that 'Work Expands to Fill the Time Allotted." I have heard this in a multitude of other self-help materials, but for the first time the revelation of the importance of this rule struck me cold.

These "goals" with their demanding lifestyles that seem like they would take my entire existence can be deconstructed. (Another Ferriss phrase.)

First, they do not have to be lifestyles as I perceive them. I should therefore parse out what things I believe ARE my lifestyles (usually these are more like Values than anything, but they can be more tangible as well.)
Second, I should identify what about those goals I value. I should do this so that I can S.M.A.R.T. them.
Third, I should also be sure to find the provisions necessary to underwrite these goals, so I should S.M.A.R.T. creating streams of income, and this become a first priority.
Fourth, using Parkinson's Law, I should set a very short, very intensive time demand on myself (and/or my team) to accomplish the provision goals.

AH! Timothy Ferris, though you are ruefully shrewd, I cannot help but like you! (If you have read his book, The 4-Hour Work Week, you may have a better sense of what I mean.)

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Needs, Wants, and the Attainment of God

There is one final thought on Goal setting, planning, peace of mind, and the things of God.

That would be that where you are is where you are SUPPOSED to be. God has you right where you are supposed to be.

Often goals cause a desire to be somewhere other than where we are. “I am supposed to be over here.” “I was supposed to have this much money in the bank by this age.” Like “normal” people, I am supposed to have achieved, accumulated, attained thus and so.

The difference between where we think we should be and where we are causes a thing psychologists call 'cognitive dissonance.' In simple terms, it is when the thing in your head is very real and important to you, yet the thing you see in reality is very different. This cognitive dissonance causes physical ailments, high blood pressure, depression, and anxiety.

ARE YOU FEELING THIS DISPARITY RIGHT NOW?

The economy is tumbling. Stocks and real estate follow. In our heads we believe that our home value should look like this, and our stock value should look like that...and we tie our sense of personal value ('Am I valued by God? Doesn't God care? Where is God now?!') to these things.

Hence people jumping out of windows or committing suicide. Hence people withdrawing from society and plugging into their work or the television, avoiding people. They think that they have less worth, (or worthless), or unloved (by God first, then by themselves, and therefore by the world around them), and have dissolving relationships. They let their goals go. They let their finances go. They let their time slip by, hoping yet not believing that things will get better.

Does that rock sit in the pit of your stomach like it does mine when you read that? I find that this trend is true in everyone. And that includes when things are really well! We are elated. We are excited when things are going well. We are walking on cloud nine.

Our identity has been tied to what is going on around us.

To master being able to set goals but not holding the results to0 close to our breast, as if they were our very heart, to disassociate from attaining goals as a means of identity, we would be better prepared mentally to BEING the person we are supposed to be.

When we are focused on ATTAINING and not BEING, we are focused on being somewhere other than we are. We are focused on being a full-time missionary, or financially independent business person, or having that pet we lost, or getting married.

That is the point that cognitive dissonance happens, anxiety builds, and faith fades.

Though none of these things are wrong, and though through goal setting I believe that each one can be attained, the need to be, do, or have these things should be cut.

If, by God's serendipitous foresight, He brought me to where I am, and brought YOU to where you are, we should to take a deep breath.

Breath in and then out.
When we breath in, we need to see a clear picture in our mind, an open air not muddied with the concerns of where we are trying to get to.

We should unwind the sense of needing to attain anything.
We should unwind and tell ourselves, “We are where we are by the divine will of God! We were chosen then, and we are chosen now. We are in perfect lockstep with where He wants me to be. I LOVE where I am. I love where I am going, too, but it does not affect who I am or how I feel.”

Now, some of us are so wound up we cannot see that, and we can talk about that. (Message me!)

But I want to encourage everyone! During these times (and any time really, but especially during these emotionally-charged days) we really could benefit from separating any sense of identity from the external world around us.

We could greatly benefit from letting our anxieties unwind by looking at our goals and asking ourselves if we think we really need to accomplish any of those things, or if we really just want to. Admitting that many of those things are things that we want is elating!

It is elating to say, “I just want to be financially free! I do not have to. I just WANT TO!” Or, “I just WANT my pet back. I miss her. I want her. I just do not NEED to have her.”

Try it!

I hope that you find some relief from any anxiety you might be having. I know that I have always loaded anxiety upon anxiety into my own life, but this is just not so, not any more!

As Christians, the only thing we NEED to do is know Him! From there will stem what we need to be focusing on. From there will come answers for our friends and families. From there will come the attainment of whatever it is He wants us to attain, and to let go of whatever it is He wants us to let go of.

Lets set our goals on Him today! Lets then see what is before us to do, and do it diligently. But let us do it with a light heart, knowing that He is accomplishing all of these things, and that the weight is on Him! God bless you all!

And you thought that we were just talking about GOAL SETTING!! :)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Planning for Peace of Mind

After speaking with my spiritual mentor, I had an extraordinary, yes, spiritual, peace come over me. It was an anointing of peace that certainly came over me.

What he said was that he no longer read the Word for what to do but to Fellowship with the Lord.

I asked if he believed that this was for all Christians at any stage of their faith; or, like most world religions (including Christianity) teach, if this was the “sage” phase of his life. He stated that every Christian at every age should walk in the peace of fellowship.

He contended further that most human suffering came from their planning and the expectations that came from planning and goal setting.

Most fear of provision in America comes when a person's source of income (the place they PLANNED on receiving income) stops suddenly. The anxiety of losing jobs, relationships that shift, having to move, dealing with a broken washer, missing the train or any other thing is intense. However, as my mentor believes, these things would not necessarily stop yet the anxiety would not exist if we didn't have our emotions staked on the plans we made around those things.

Right away I compare this to what my partner and I are building with www.SuccessFit.net. I compare the way I feel about goal setting. I think about how this mentor and his wife used to tell me that I lacked direction.

I picture myself at 50 and wonder if I will look back at this period of my life and say to myself, 'I always felt that I had to build provisions. I had to build the ministry to Haiti. I had to build the music school. I had to find a better job.'

Though I do not feel that this is true, I DO sense a great amount of relief just thinking about that mentality. I feel that an elephant has stepped off of my chest.

Instead of taking that feeling as ammunition to point to goal setting and declare it 'Bad,' I will do something else. I will take that feeling and see if I cannot have that perspective while still carrying plans.

This discussion has given me added perspective on my previous entry about the warrior and the cherry blossom.

One can have goals as a means of direction but to wake every day and give them away.

To look at building the organization to Haiti and say, 'I do not have to do this. It is a good thing, but God does not require this of me. It was initiated by Him. It will be sustained by Him. Should it continue it will be unfolded by Him. AND, should it fail, it would have been stopped by Him. I simply wake, make the plans necessary, and walk it out.'

I could say the same for any of the businesses or ventures I am working on. 'I do not have to build these things. God brought them into my life. I am to be responsible and diligent with them. But they are God's. So, I make the proper plans. I follow through with the plans. When those plans are stopped I adjust. But when God says to go, I will leave them.'

They do not own me.
I am not defined by them.
They were simply the assignment placed before me.

This alleviates so much weight and pressure that I cannot describe it.

So, I find that God is working some things out in me about goal setting and God:

A) God IS the goal. (He is my exceeding great reward.) His fellowship is what I seek. Sailing through this life faithful to a loving relationship with Him wherever, whenever, and however I can. Come, what may.

B) Goal setting is not good OR bad. Goal setting is simply direction. (Like the quote, 'a plan is what you do until you find a better plan.') It does not own me. It does not define me.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Goal Setting Versus Serendipity

Often I feel conflicted as to whether or not goal setting, or Success Fitness at large, can gel with the serendipitous, free-flowing mode of operation that I love so much. I would venture to say that, knowing most of you, we all love that free-spirited way of life.

Setting and achieving goals have often put on weights and anxieties in my life. Some are about my ability to perform. Questions pop into my head.

"What if you don't accomplish this or that?"
"What is you end up a nobody?"
"What is you end up alone because you are so narrowly focused?"
"What if you GET SUCCESS, only to find yourself at the top alone?"
"What if you lose the ability to tap into the serendipitous and spontaneous?"
"What if people only see you for goal setting, and not for the other aspects of your life?"
"What if you miss out on Life?!"

These, and so much more, can often plague my mind.
Does that ever happen to you when it comes to living a life of goal setting?

Totally transparently, thoughts like these have had me stalled for almost a month or so now. My good friend, Chad, would say that I have stalled off and on and looped on these thoughts for almost 2 years now!! And he would be right.

But, I assure you, there is an answer. :)

First, life is not about Either/Or scenarios. As a young man, I always prided myself for believing in what I called "The Third Option." If a scantron (for those brought up in the Florida school system) gave me options A or B, I would inevitably pencil in both, or write in C. If an essay question asked me about a math sum, i would always answer by telling a story about the theoretical aspects as to why the sum was wrong. (But, to be honest, that only happened when I didn't know the answer.)

As I grew up, somewhere in the mix, I had lost this precariousness. Somehow, when it came to the spontaneous, serendipitous, or just flowing with where life was leading me, I created this bipolar view that Goal Setting was the enemy of such a way. Therefore, as I began to see the value of goal setting, planning, and strategy, I naturally put that free-spirited mindset away.

Though I cannot say certainly what The Third Option for this is, I CAN say that I believe that goal setting fits divinely well in the context of where life leads each of us.

Second, how I believe that they fit together is tricky, but here is my current attempt to describe it. Though goal setting and planning is all about setting (and, ideally, achieving) specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound goals, we must not hold too tightly to the results.

Phew! WHAT?! Bear with me.

A very subtle yet potent fruit of goal setting and planning is a sense of purpose; intentionality and meaning, come rushing into our otherwise meandering lives. Many people feel so lost and...purposeless.

Goal setting is about Becoming. It is not about Attaining.

The Attaining will take care of itself, IF we focus on the Becoming. This is old news for some of you, but a reminder is quite necessary. This is because in an environment of setting and achieving goals, it can quickly be assumed that the results (the job, the freedom, the new car, the perfect wife, the perfect vacation, the dream ministry) are a measure of our success.

The Success measurement is found in WHO WE ARE BECOMING in the PROCESS. We seek goals to create demands on ourselves that challenge and grow us. The Success is us stepping up to meet those demands. (Hopefully those demands (goals) are well thought out so that we are becoming a good person.)

We MUST hold the results, not as measures of success or evidence of our value as a person, but as the direction to keep our sight on; the point of focus when the obstacles rise to block us.

This is a dualistic mindset I am presenting, but let me give you an example. In the lore of the samurai warriors of ancient Japan, there was a test of sorts that would determine if a warrior had the proper flow, or presence of mind, in the midst of battle.

The warrior would carry his sword in his fighting hand and a cherry blossom in the other hand. In a battle, the goal was to fight (and win!)...without crushing the fragile flower.

This is seen in 'The Last Samurai' when Tom Cruise is caught in an alley with several ruffians.
He calms himself.
He lets his mind race forward to foresee the fight, breathing deeply.
He adjusts his weight.
He pauses and does not act just yet.
He is at peace with whatever happens.
His at once poised, aggressive, and battle ready; and calm, breathing easy, and peace with the potential of losing, even possibly his life.
He has total presence of mind.

HIS TOTAL PRESENCE OF MIND IS WHAT MADE HIM RESPOND ACCURATELY TO THE FLOW OF WHAT WAS GOING ON AROUND HIM.

This is the way of a warrior; to be at once receptive of the world around us, hearing and responding appropriately to the free-spirited flow of life around us, and yet pressing forward strongly and accurately toward the goal.

The only way to become this, as I see it, is to have goals and set our eyes on them but not hold them too tightly. This should cause peaceful resignation that goal will be attained and yet be void of any anxiety, pressure or fear.

We could talk here about having a mindset of nothing to lose (as is often useful in Fitness; even if you fail to finish the 10k, you stepped onto the track, etc) but I will leave that for another time.

To Summarize, I totally believe that Goal Setting and Serendipity can, and do, coexist. I believe that this coexistence can be found in knowing that serendipity will happen (life will change around us and obstacles will rise to block and sometimes stop us), and not holding onto the results as much as the goal setting process (becoming who we were intended to become).

Now, the the tough part begins; Being that!

Good luck! I hope you were able to find SOMETHING useful here. I would welcome your feedback.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Bon Joune, Ayiti! Good Journey, Haiti!

WOAH, mon amis!!!! Back from 'Ayiti' and trying to catch back up to what Haitians call "la ler blan," or 'White Time'. They call it that because of the pace.

And, BOY, I am feeling that. I feel my pulse pick back up speed as I juggle about 95 e-mails, 20 phones calls, ump-teen texts and updates from every corner of the internet universe, and try to plan my weeks as I try to fit every plan and dream into our only limited resource; time.

We arrived in Lakeland at 2 a.m., but I still could not sleep in. It was the thought of that stinking rooster crowing in my window at 4 a.m. or the mouse I showered with nibbling my toe that kept waking me up. More on that another time. Let's get to the nitty-gritty.

FITNESS: Does hiking hill after hill after our truck's brakes gave out count?? Oui!

NUTRITION: Goat, chicken, sugar cane, rice...rice...rice...and plantains!! P.S. Elna's coffee is better, thicker and sweeter than ANY Cuban coffee I have EVER had.

STUDY: I recorded interviews with local leaders to discover what they needed, what they thought the REAL problems with Haiti were, as well as read through a lot more of "Mountains Beyond Mountains," the novel about Haiti that I am reading.

PLAN: trying to put my finger on "where to start" with Haiti. WHERE DOES ONE START? My mind races with one idea, plays that idea out to a dead end like a 'Choose Your Own Adventure' novel until I am either satisfied or not satisfied with the conclusion. Then, I jump back a few pages and do the same thing with a different idea, solution, or answer to their myriad of problems.

ACTION: Restabilize. What was 3 days to you seemed like 3 months to me. I feel like I have been lost in the Amazon, losing my identity as I pick up Creole and say 'sak pase' instead of 'whats up', feeling stunned when they stare and say 'blan, blan', and mired in their world of diesel congestion and wide open pessimism about their future. I swung from being totally excited to totally depressed to totally appalled to totally hopeful to totally indignant to just relieved to be home.

I walk away knowing...nothing much more about the solution. I know very much more the discomfort of the problem, thought the problem itself is as elusive as hope. I know that so many people have already begun a thing in Haiti, leaving only ruins and dilapidated dreams.

The most common English phrase is "see how poor we are". How can anything we do change that? Only with a long-term, commitment of absolution to make change will bring it. The same level of belief that under girded our founding fathers imbued in key Haitian leadership would do it. A vision that they are pilgrims, starting from scratch, whose mission is the manifest destiny that America was, and creating a complete, civil society from woods and a harsh land.

From all of that, surprisingly, I devise that I must first create my own financial stability here. I must push harder in my own life. The relationships around me need me as much as my Haitian freres. My family and friends have had so much more added value in my heart having visited such a materially depraved land.

Second, I do know that a clear vision on how we can all partner, and spend a life helping, helping all people wasting away hopelessly is necessary. Bon Deau, I need the vision, wisdom, and strength to be able to do that!

Mesi, and bon soi. Thank you, and have a great day!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Putting it Out There

In an effort to do the Edisonian thing by putting my intentions out there, on a much smaller scale mind you, here is what my plan for the day is. After the day has transpired, for accountability, I will post as to what I did and did not do, and what were the obstacles at play!

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I cannot escape the importance I am feeling about goals. I have had some serious conflict the last two weeks in being able to finish them. I do not know if it is because the document is digital, and I should write them out by hand. I do not know if it is the fact that what I have written to date no longer touches me the same, being a sanguine ever in need of a muse. Whichever the reason, I am having difficulty.

Regardless, this afternoon I commit to putting a solid hour in simply transcribing my goals from my yellow sheets of paper into my goal document.

Along with that, allow me to describe my day, serving also as a means to visualize and make real how I shall spend these melting hours in productive manners toward the accomplishment of my 5-year vision.

I will complete this document, finish eating a healthy breakfast, and make my way to work. This should allow me time to fill my head with noble, honorable thoughts by which to lead my approach to my day.

Work will come and go without problems, and after 1 p.m., when my shift is complete, will my true day begin. I will immediately drive to once of my partners' house to pick up payment that he owes my company so that I may pay out certain bills. Along with that, I will pick up any fliers or coupons he has so that I may give those to another partner when I see him.

From there I will drive over to the post office to check my mail. Immediately, so as not to lose the energy of my day, I will turn toward the north side of Lakeland once again, making my way to Panera Bread. After setting up my computer, I will make a necessary call for the music academy and get that issue settled.

I will then find a good song play list to set the mood in an energetic, determined spirit, when, upon completion, I will turn my attention for an hour on filling out the SuccessFit Goal System with instructions, layouts, and complete it to a first draft quality. I will overlay the logos I have onto the document as well, giving it a flair. The result should be several sections of information that could be easily presented in a 2-4 minute video.

After that hour, I will walk around, get a drink, use the restroom, and refocus. As an additional part of the break, I will make calls to two good friends to plan my Saturday.

After a 15 minute rest, I will return to my computer to complete an hour of emails. I will e-mail a partner regarding the notes I have from Nathan Herrera and the fact that I have a check of hers. I will e-mail the music academy team regarding my meetings with the owners. I will e-mail several personal friends in response to their e-mails. I will e-mail a mission-minded business friend regarding her ministry and whether or not she still needs help. I will e-mail my family regarding my coming trip to Haiti next week, as well as the trip in March.

Throw in another break and stretch of the legs, and I will take the next hour to work on Community Partnership International material. I will first open up a new social networking site regarding Friends of Haiti or something along those lines. I will also create a wordpress site for CPI, hopefully finding a way to transfer all of the posts from the previous one to the new one. I will also develop a logo and general corporate identity. After that, I will put my pen to writing a small, 3-5 minute presentation about Poverty and Relationships and CPI's mission, with a final call to action for one of the 3 main ways people can partner.

That should take up a full hour for certain. By this point, I should feel very accomplished. These actions and tasks are vital, and have desperately needed to be done. The only thing lacking is that very little “big picture” work has been done so far. These have been the vital work to be certain, but there remains the work of putting my goals down to paper, processing my values, reviewing and refining my 5-year vision, and planning the rest of the week, weekend, and the coming weeks.

My desire is to “complete tomorrow's work today”, and to ensure that the many tasks I put my hand to above lead me into my 5-year dream. To begin to bring clarity of these tasks and how they are the foundation of my “Big Picture” goal, both the work for SuccessFit and the work for CPI should conclude with at the very least an outline of several small talks I intend to give. These should ultimately be refined, practiced, run through once and critiqued, refined, and ultimately performed. From there, I intend to post them on YouTube (and various other places on the web) and “tagged”.

All of that labor is to refine me into a public speaker. My big picture includes me traveling frequently, earning a yet greater income from infopreneuring, having full relationships and excitement, having a world and mission and calling that I can invite my wife and family to be a part of, to provide for my family, a wife and kids, and to be making an impact through training, writing, and missions in the developing world, as well as influencing leaders in the developed world to make change. The top skills I can see are the ability to study, write, and present (public speaking and training) life-changing, inspiring material to leaders and workers who desire massive improvements in their lives. These changes should be shaking the microeconomic world as massively as the macroeconomic world (though this point is moot in that the macroeconomic world consists of millions of microeconomic components.)

This is the importance of my work today.

After those several hours are complete, I should be comfortable enough to go to the park and work out with a friend or at the gym, should I wish. Then, eating a light dinner at home, I should set down to doing big picture planning, reviewing my goals, reviewing my work, and continuing to put down and refine my goals.

I shall finish the evening by listening to more Brian Tracy on goals (which I would have done working out, were I to work out alone), planning an educational curriculum for the year, posting my day on SuccessFit and commenting there, and hopefully writing on my blog that all this has transpired just as I have written it!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Looking out toward January 2009


If success is begun with goals, the battle is won on setting and achieving little victories throughout the week.


Last week was one of those weeks. I was able to push forward small victories, which place in me a confidence for even bigger victories. MORE than those bigger victories, it instills in me a resolve to continue with the small victories!!

If "little foxes spoil the vine," then little victories guarantee it success. All great goals are simply the accumulation of many tiny accomplishments. It is our aim to help you all walk through that process. We would desire that you were totally empowered for the major victories in life by providing you the platform to accomplish daily, minor victories, with the focus of a campaigning Crusader.

Here is to a POWERFUL week.
  • Return to your major, definite purpose.
  • Then zoom down and read and ponder your dream list, as well as your Top 100 Goals (or however many of them you have completed.)
  • Then, take half an hour tonight before bed and visualize the week. Play it out in your mind. See yourself working around the demands in your life (work, family, etc.) and stealing away to knock out several key actions. (Post those actions here!) Play it out in your mind the character you wish to carry yourself with. Imagine those typical obstructions to success, and visualize how the ideal "you" faces them down. Also, imagine yourself reading your goals 1st thing in the morning and last thing at night. Imagine yourself doing the same for each day of the week.
  • And find some accountability. Again, our website, www.successfit.net, is a great tool to begin being accountable.

Doing this will cause your mind to remember these things as you face your week, and will significantly help you to focus, and, thus, accomplish the mighty, little things you need to!