Happily Ever After

This past Saturday I had the opportunity to speak at a wedding. The groom had asked me to prepare a short message that would challenge him and his bride and be a reminder to all the married guests in the audience. As I was organizing my thoughts and preparing my talk it occurred to me that marriage is similar to any new endeavor we embark on in so many ways. When I looked at the happy new couple with all of their dreams to pursue I realized their future will be greatly impacted by how they deal with the process of mastery.

In his new book Pails, author Chris Brady explains that there are three stages to mastery in any new endeavor.

1. Ignorance
2. Immersion
3. Intelligence

The first stage, ignorance, is when everything is new and exciting and we are learning lots of new information. The Immersion stage is when we begin to learn more details and the complexity of what it is we are trying to accomplish. This is when the pressure builds due to our ignorance and we have to decide how to handle it. At this point, we can choose to blame other people or circumstances and divert the pressure or even just quit when the going gets tough. There is obviously another option which is to put the pressure on ourselves and learn the lessons and skills necessary to succeed.

The last stage of intelligence comes when through information learned and experiences, the effort to succeed seems much simpler. Those that reach this stage make it look easy to everyone else.

Could these principles apply to marriage? As I considered the question I realized how many couples I have gotten to know who have long, successful marriages that make it look easy. However, as you interview them you realize they have developed the habit of taking the pressure and growing from it rather than being a victim or quitting. They have also taught me that it is never as easy as it appears and to seek out relationships that encourage you in your marriage rather than make it easy to quit.

I am grateful to be a part of the Life Leadership community where marriage is highly valued and there is a healthy peer pressure to improve. Congratulations Kevin and Kaylynne, may God bless you and your marriage in the exciting days ahead.

God bless!


Limiting Beliefs

I guess that it’s time for me to be more proactive about some of the truths that I’ve been learning in my leadership journey.  One of these truths is the negative power that  limiting beliefs have on our results in just about every area of our lives.  When you understand this, it is encouraging because you now have the ability to improve your results if you will confront your limiting beliefs.  Orrin Woodward, who is a great mentor to me, often remarks that a good mentor’s job is to discover the limiting beliefs that are keeping someone from living up to their true potential.  After identifying them, the goal is to direct the person to information that will help them re-frame their thinking.  So, the question is, in which areas of your life would you like to improve your results enough to challenge your current thinking?

I was recently having a conversation with a person who was explaining to me why they continue to struggle with a bad attitude.  It seems there are so many challenges in their life that they feel justified in being negative.  I asked how they were enjoying this negative, “poor-me” existence, and they looked at me as if I had no compassion.  The truth is, they have chosen to view life from the perspective of a victim, and therefore gave up the ability to choose to overcome the issues and/or learn from the ones they couldn’t overcome.  I once heard a speaker, named David Ring, who said that if we are discouraged or down about our life, it is because we are thinking about ourselves.  This is a tough truth and sometimes hard to swallow, but it is also freeing because now we know the solution.  Becoming others-focused, developing a servant leadership mentality, and buying in to the bigger purpose as to why you are here, are all ways to improve your attitude.

How about financially?  How many people have a limiting belief on their ability to overcome their financial struggles.  “Being in debt is just the American way” was a remark that I heard the other day.  I strongly disagree; but if that person continues to speak that way and hang on to that belief, they will fulfill it.  The way to begin to overcome a poor financial situation is to search for information from financially successful people, and learn how to change your habits and beliefs about money.  Learning from the wisdom and mistakes of others is a positive way to develop some belief in yourself and your ability to improve your results–instead of accepting the current situation.

Probably the biggest and most important area in our lives has to do with our relationships.  Starting with our most important relationship, which is with our Creator.  Last Sunday, our pastor mentioned that happiness often depends on our circumstances, and comes and goes accordingly.  Joy depends on our faith and is consistent and present–regardless of our circumstances.  Have you noticed how people who have seemingly accomplished much sometimes live lives with no joy?  What is your belief about this key relationship?  Have you considered the fact that you may be limiting yourself by not searching for the answers?  There is also so much to learn in the other relationships that we all have.  How can we take the lid off our expectations and beliefs and go to another level?  Search for truth!  Be a hungry student!  Improve your people skills!  Learn personalities and love languages!  I suggest to tap into the great resources that the LIFE company offers and leave your limiting beliefs behind.  Begin the journey to becoming the best you that is possible, and live the life you’ve always wanted.

God Bless!



Something Missing

This morning as I wondered into the kitchen to get some coffee brewing, I realized something was missing.  I have become accustomed to having three of my children–all teenagers at the moment–greet me in the morning with a nice long hug.  We all seem to wake up slowly so there isn’t normally much conversation, but the embrace communicates more than words ever could.  The morning before yesterday, all three of them headed north to volunteer their time for the summer at a Christian camp.  Originally starting as an idea to teach them the importance of serving others; not only is it the greatest investment, but it also yields a tremendous return in both relationships and a feeling of satisfaction that your life is making a difference. Well, they followed my advice, and now I am missing them and all the little things that they add to my life just by their presence.

Isn’t it funny how we pursue so many different things in life, but when you stop and really consider what is important; it always comes down to relationships.  My friend and mentor, Orrin Woodward, said that the greatest of all pains in life is relational pain.  How true–whether it is in your relationship with God or people, when you are truly happy or when you are really hurting–it almost always comes down to a relationship issue.  Therefore, it only makes sense to spend a consistent amount of time working on your relationship skills.  One of the reasons I love the LIFE Community that I am a part of, is the focus on continual personal growth in your relationships–as well as other areas.  Reading, listening to audios, and positive association is so helpful to keep refining your skills and learning to understand yourself and others.

I recently picked up a nugget from a pastor that put things into perspective.  He said that we should ask ourselves and those closest to us, “What is it like to be on the other side of me?”.  The first thing to realize is that you and I have never been there.  We only have our own perspective to go off of.  Therefore, if we really want to get insight into ourselves, we need to humble ourselves and ask others for their thoughts.  This is not recommended if you don’t want to hear some things that may hurt your feelings.  However, if you really want to get better, it will help you see yourself through someone else’s eyes.  It is also beneficial to have a mentor who can direct you to the best resources to help you improve in the areas that you are weak.  The thing to remember is that we are all on a journey through this life.  Perfection is not attainable, but excellence is.  The journey becomes much more exciting when you are working on improving yourself and strengthening the relationships around you.

As I realize that I will be missing some hugs and special times with some of my kids this summer, I also realize that I now have more time to enjoy my wife, my oldest son and his new bride, and the many new friends I will be making.  Thanks to the association with the Team and the LIFE Community–and because of the Mental Fitness Challenge–I am coming in contact with a high-caliber group of people who want to improve their own lives and make a positive difference in the world around them.  Who knows?  Maybe this summer, I will meet one of my future best friends.


God bless!


Vision stretchers

One of the things that I’ve learned on my journey through this life, is that success is a balance; and there are many areas that I have to intentionally focus on if I want to grow.  I have also learned the impact that relationships have on our thinking and our decision making.  We cannot drift into excellence, and therefore we need a plan to get better results.  The book, Resolved 13 Resolutions for Life, by Orrin Woodward, has stimulated my thinking in so many areas; and it is quickly becoming one of my favorite books.  It explores our lives from many different angles, and challenges us to resolve to live to a higher standard.

Recently, I’ve enjoyed playing basketball with a group of guys at the YMCA in my town.  Not only has it helped me with my physical goals, but it is a lot of fun.  The guys that come to play are very diverse in age, profession, background, etc.  From a very fit 59-year old retired government employee, to a judge…business owners, a variety of professionals, and a group of college kids, we play full court basketball for over an hour–three times a week.  As always when interacting with folks, it’s amazing to see the maturity (or lack of) that is exhibited when there is conflict.  To their credit, most of our games are competitive and fun, and very few incidents occur.  I found myself analyzing the different guys, and wondering what circumstances and relationships led them to their current place in life.  It is somewhat obvious to see that some have learned many success principles, have a good attitude, sport good people skills, and have confidence in themselves.  Then, there are those who lack in these areas and seem to feel that they have something to prove.  They get offended easily, and react negatively when things aren’t going their way.  Looking back, I used to be the guy who needed to prove something, because I didn’t see the big picture or realize my purpose for living. That was when God led people into my life that believed in me, and introduced me to information that changed my perspective.  Now, I am on a journey to continue to learn truths and discover what exciting adventures are ahead.  As Helen Keller said, “Life is either a great adventure, or nothing”.

What kind of circumstances and relationships have led you to where you are in life?  Is your life a great adventure?  As I look around and continue to meet people and build communities, I realize that just like the guys at the gym; the difference between people so often comes down to the relationships that they have, and if someone has taught them truths–or more importantly where to find the truth.  It is exciting to think that we have the opportunity to impact people by how we live our lives.  It is also important that we realize the ripple effect of our actions and attitudes on all those that we influence.  It’s a very negative world out there, and a smile, kind word of encouragement, or any positive affirmation does make a difference. As John Maxwell says, ” Those closest to you will stretch your vision, or choke your dreams”.  Let’s be vision stretchers.

God bless! Dean

A Life Well-Lived…

I love to read the stories of successful people, and the challenges they overcame in the pursuit of their dreams.  The LIFE community–led by Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady–that I am proud to associate with, is full of stories of average people overcoming the odds to achieve great results.  I recently finished a book that was written on the life of Harry Bollback, co-founder of an organization called Word of Life (WOL), that has made a huge  impact on many lives across the globe.  Harry’s story begins in Brooklyn, NY, where at a young age he began developing a love for music.  There he met and developed a friendship with another young visionary leader, named Jack Wyrtzen.  Jack and Harry both had a passion as teenagers to share their newly acquired faith in God with the world.  They began their journey on the street corners of New York City, and eventually grew to the point that they were renting Madison Square Garden–and even Yankee stadium–to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

In 1943, World War II was raging, and Harry joined the US Marines Corps.  He was part of many bloody battles in the Pacific, and fought beside many brave men who never came home. In one of the many close calls, Harry remembers, “in my company of almost 200 men, I was one of only seven who got out without being killed or wounded.  Years later I found out 40 percent of the First Marine Division, of which I was a proud part, was killed or wounded in that battle.”  Day after day, battle after battle–through unbelievable odds–God preserved Harry’s life for His future plans.

Upon returning home, Harry again rejoined Jack in his vision to reach people for God.  Through some amazing circumstances, they bought some property in upstate New York; and began some camps for kids.  This led to the beginning of  a Bible Institute in Schroon Lake, NY, that eventually expanded to many countries around the world.  In 1951, as the camping ministry was being developed; Harry felt that God was leading him and his family to Brazil as missionaries.  He packed up, left all the comforts of home in the US, and traveled to the jungles of Brazil.  The next twenty years were filled with exciting adventures and near-death experiences, as Harry followed his God-given purpose into many hostile areas in the Amazon jungles. The stories of tribes dying of disease, not being able to communicate due to language barriers, and being many days away from family with no communication; are heart-wrenching.  Nevertheless, through it all, Harry saw many come to a saving knowledge of Christ through his sacrifice.  Today, tens of thousands of people in Brazil have been influenced by the camps and Bible Institutes that Word of Life operates there.

Returning to the United States, Harry again became involved with the WOL ministries.  With Jack’s encouragement, he began writing music and eventually musical productions, that have been produced and performed all around the world.  Harry says, “you should never underestimate the power of suggestion.  Sometimes God works in us to do something we would have never tried on our own by having someone speak His words to us.”.  Overall, he produced 13 musicals, including “Let Freedom Ring,” “Revelation,” “Daniel,” and “Genesis”.  More than two-million people have attended these different concerts throughout the years.

Today, Harry is in his upper 80’s and lives in Florida.  Last week my daughter, who is attending Word of Life Bible Institute in Florida, was able to hear him speak at a conference.  She said of all the great speakers, Harry’s passion was superior to everyone else’s.  His enthusiasm is infectious wherever he goes.  He is truly a blessing to know and be around.  What makes someone’s life so inspiring, and keeps them going and influencing others around them in such a positive way?  As U.S. Army Major General John H. Stafford says, “The secret to success is to stay in love.  Staying in love gives you the fire to ignite other people, to see inside other people, to have a greater desire to get things done than other people.  A person who is not in love doesn’t really feel the kind of excitement that helps them to get ahead and to lead others to achieve.  I don’t know any other fire, any other thing in life that is more exhilarating and is more positive a feeling than love is.”  Harry found his purpose in life and fell in love with it.  This purpose has taken him all over the world through incredible challenges and adventures; and has influenced millions of lives.

What challenges are you experiencing?  Is your life a daring, bold adventure that is positively affecting others?  Will your story be worth telling?  I encourage you to challenge yourself with these questions, and surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams.  Life is too short to live small.  God has great plans!

May God bless you on your journey!


Work ethic

I have enjoyed building communities with the Team, and learned lots about people in the process. Recently I was  listening to a CD by Chris Brady in which he was discussing the importance of working hard as a beginning step to achievement. Why is it that in our culture today, we want to get great results without putting in the effort? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that everything worthwhile demands that a price be paid. All of our easy new diets, lotteries, and get-rich-quick schemes attract many with the illusion that success is “easy”. Success is well-protected because many are simply unwilling to do the work. In Malcolm Gladwell‘s book, Outliers, he gives many examples of people who have achieved mastery in a specific area due to devoting 10,000 hours to it. For all of you who are not afraid to work hard, this is great news! The question is: Do you have something that you want bad enough to devote the time to master it?

I grew up in a home in which my parents placed a high value on developing  a strong work ethic. When I was old enough to lift a splitting maul and throw firewood on a truck, I was expected to do my share of the work.  We also raised some animals; and now looking back, I think the purpose was more to teach us responsibility and work ethic than actually any benefit that the animals gave us. When I was 12 and the summer break from school had begun, my dad got me a ride to a friend’s produce farm about 5 hours away. I woke up early with the family before light and picked sweet corn, and then other vegetables throughout the day. We worked a 10-12 hour day–every day–with the exception of Sunday, when we relaxed and recovered. I earned the money to buy my first car and some other things, as I worked on that farm every summer until I was 16. Looking back I remember dreading some of the long days and the heat of the summer, and wishing I could be having fun swimming and playing around like my friends from school were. However it was my choice; and if I wanted to have my own car when I got old enough, as well as some spending money, this was the price I had to pay. I realize now how many great lessons I learned, and how comparatively easy so many other ventures have been for me because of those summer experiences. I also learned the value of money, and have been frugal (Teresa, my wife, says “cheap”) ever since. I am so grateful that my parents, as well as the wonderful couple that I lived and worked with, taught me to work and take pride in the quality of the job I did.

What a tremendous advantage we give our children and our teams, when we expect them to learn to work hard for their success. When my children were small, I gave them a summer assignment that they had to work together to accomplish. We have a 3/4-acre, spring-fed pond behind our house that we enjoy swimming in. I had a small beach that led into the pond, and it was in need of some more sand. I ordered 12 tons of sand and had it dumped in front of the house. The kids’ assignment was to fill their little red wagon and pull/push it around the house, and dump it on the beach. Because they were all pretty small, none of them could do it by himself/herself; and therefore they had to work as a team. The stipulation was to take 10 loads a day before they could play or swim. If they did 20 in a day, they earned ice cream as an incentive. When the whole pile was finished, we went and bought a four-wheeler as the ultimate reward. As I recall, it did take them all summer; but when they finished their new beach, they wanted to show everyone because of their great sense of accomplishment.

So, whether you learned the work ethic at a young age, or you are having to learn it later in life; realize that it is a simple, vital part of every success story. John Maxwell says, “there is no success without sacrifice”. Orrin Woodward says, “success leaves clues”.  Keep studying successful people; and you will discover, woven through their journey, a love affair with the effort it requires to win big. As you set big goals and envision the life that you desire, understand that there will be a price tag attached…but the price is worth it.

Dream big! God bless! Dean

A Time to Reflect

It is December, and the time has come to reflect on a year nearly completed. It is also time to plan and prepare for the beginning of a new year. Having been associated for some time with great leaders and visionaries, such as Orrin Woodward and Chris Brady, I have learned the importance of living life on purpose. One of the first steps in doing this is by taking an honest assessment of your performance and results over the course of the previous year. Look at all of the important areas of your life–and ask yourself questions–to determine if you are having the success you desire. I’m sure that if you are like me, you will have areas that you feel pretty good about; and then other areas that you would rather not evaluate. The good news is that you can improve if you are willing to “face brutal reality”, as Jim Collins commented in his book Good to Great. Upon discovering which areas need improvement, you can then use the PDCA (Plan.Do.Check.Adjust) process. I learned to PDCA from the Team system; and it has helped me tremendously in my personal life, as well as in my business goals.

As December brings this year to a close, it also encourages us to set our sights on a new year…with all of it’s potential for growth and success. Which areas will you work on this next year? In which areas will you no longer accept your current results? Will you set a goal that takes your breath away? Or is it “okay” to just get through another year? As Orrin says, “A goal is planned conflict against the status quo.” Therefore, there will be challenges! But I promise that there will be challenges anyway; so let’s go ahead and dream bigger than ever before.

God bless you on your journey, Dean