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January 2021

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This weekend I celebrated the 4th birthday of the launch of The Giving Challenge. Honestly, I still pinch myself that I have a book I wrote, people read, and like. Life is surreal some days.

As I thought back on the journey, there are five lessons, probably more, that bubbled to the surface that may help you as you are pursuing a goal or thinking about making a pivot in your life/career.

  1. Think long-term. The Giving Challenge took me about five years to write and launch. Success doesn't happen overnight. Don't get frustrated if you aren't moving as quickly as you would like. Keep plugging along, and over time you'll pick up wins and momentum.
  2. Only get advice from people who have been there, done that. This lesson seems like common sense advice, but we often let people who have never done what we are trying to influence our decisions. When it comes to my books, I have a small team of experts who provide advice and guidance in their expertise. Take, for instance, hiring a coach. I'll only coach people on activities I've done myself. You wouldn't hire me to teach you how to fly a plane, but I could help you write and launch a book.
  3. Put perfectionism in a drawer. Are you a perfectionist? If so, your perfectionist tendencies may prevent you from accomplishing a project or goal you are pursuing. I got stuck in the perfectionist wheel for quite some time. That is why my book took forever to complete. I kept swapping out stories and editing and reediting. At some point, what your working on has to be good enough, and you have to get the darn thing competed. I still cringe when I find a mistake in my book, but then I remember that even James Patterson made mistakes in his books. I know because I've caught them, and they make me feel just a little bit better. No one is perfect!
  4. Not everyone is going to support your big dream. It's hard when friends or family members don't show any interest in a project you are working on. It's easy to spiral into negative thoughts of why someone isn't supporting you. Focus on the people that do help you. Please give them your gratitude and appreciation. Turn the tables. I know there have been numerous projects, due to schedule, conflicts, etc., that I couldn't help someone on. It wasn't anything personal; I couldn't commit. Remember, usually, their lack of support has nothing to do with you or your project.
  5. It's okay to go back and make improvements. On the first version of The Giving Challenge, I must admit that I had no idea what I was doing. I had some connections in the industry, but they were few and far between. Also, I wasn't the best writer. But over the years, I attended writing conferences, developed relationships with experts, and even received an endorsement from Dave Ramsey. Instead of being satisfied with my first book in the original form, I went back and made improvements. The stories have more depth. The writing improved. Resources were created. And the cover got a facelift. Total redos aren't always necessary, but if you feel like you need to make improvements to get you to the next level, by all means, go for it!

I hope the lessons I learned, from writing and launching The Giving Challenge, help you as you set out to conquer a goal or two this year!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”

Each year on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I take time to listen to one of his sermons. They are always inspiring and powerful. Listening takes me beyond just posting a quote on social media but taking the time to learn from the words spoken by MLK Jr. 

But from our learnings, we must then move to action. 

This year I listened to The Drum Major Instinct. Here is a bit of what he said that is actionable,

"I want you to be first in love. I want you to be first in moral excellence. I want you to be first in generosity."

"Everyone can be great because everyone can serve."

He goes on to share what he would like to be said about him in his eulogy.

Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others, loving somebody, fed the hungry, clothed those who were naked, visited those who were in prison, and loved and served humanity. 

So, why is the sermon titled, "The Drum Major Instinct?" He wanted his eulogy to say he was a drum major for justice, peace, and righteousness.

As you go about your week, what will you be a drum major for in your life?

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"

Last week was a difficult week for America. I found myself waking and walking around with a heavy heart. 

As I scroll through social media, I read so many vile, hateful, and condescending posts. I pondered the darkness that has infiltrated our society.

Each morning I turn to the word of God for His insight, guidance, and a reminder of how, as a follower of Christ, I am to conduct myself.

The verse of the day was Proverbs 11:24, on generosity. But another verse caught my attention, Proverbs 10:31-32.

"The mouth of the godly person gives wise advice, but the tongue that deceives will be cut off. The lips of the godly speak helpful words, but the mouth of the wicked speaks perverse words."

Are my words helpful? A simple question to ask before posting or commenting. The advice seems like useful guidance.

I then flipped back to the beginning of chapter 10, and as I read through it, a theme arose.

"The words of the godly are a life-giving fountain; the words of the wicked conceal violent intentions." (v.11)

Are my words life-giving? 

"Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses." (v.12)

Am I loving?

"Too much talk leads to sin. Be sensible and keep your mouth shut." (v.19)

Should I keep my mouth shut?

"The words of the godly encourage many, but fools are destroyed by their lack of common sense."

Are my words encouraging?

As I continued into chapter 11, several other verses captured my attention.

"Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom." (v.2)

Am I humble or prideful?

"With their words, the godless destroy their friends, but knowledge will rescue the righteous." (v.9)

Are my words hurting my friends?

"Upright citizens are good for the city and make it prosper, but the talk of the wicked tears it apart."

Are making actions making my community better? Are my words tearing my community apart?

"It is foolish to belittle one's neighbor; a sensible person keeps quiet." (v. 12)

Are my words belittling my neighbor? Aren't we taught to love our neighbors and our enemies?

"Your kindness will reward you, but your cruelty will destroy you." (v.17)

Am I kind?

Today I am grateful for the words and guidance God has provided me. When I want to respond or post on emotion, I am reminded of the effects my words have on my heart and mind, my friends, neighbors, and community.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”

Finish, it is my word of the year for 2021.  I don't know about you, but I begin a lot of projects. A LOT! I get a good idea, dump the energy I have into it that is propelled by the excitement of the idea, the vision of the impact, and then as the work gets difficult, I fizzle out, put the project on a shelf, and bounce to the next project.

I have found over the years, having one word to focus my efforts, has been incredibly helpful. The year I picked Intentional, I no longer told friends, "Hey let's get together sometime" but instead said, "Hey let's pull out our calendar and figure out when we can get together."  

See the difference? 

Practicing being intentional for a year, changed my mindset, which carried on throughout the year.

What is your word for the year?  

Do you need to focus?

What about being more grateful?

Or being discipline with positive habits?

Whatever word you choose, write it down and post it where you will see it daily. Let that word push you into giving your best life.

Speaking of giving your best life, that is the title of my podcast, and we will be creating our content and transforming our facebook group to focus on ways we can give our best life, in giving to others (and ourselves), gratitude, and goals.

Click here to subscribe to our podcast and click here to join our facebook group to stay on track with your goals, focused on giving and practicing gratitude.

Here's to a fabulous 2021!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"