How to Live Intentionally in Today’s World

Proverbs11:28

What and who are you putting your trust in? Do you trust in your own abilities? Maybe you are putting your trust in the company or people that you work for. Maybe you are putting your trust in that pay raise or promotion you’re expecting to get at the end of the year.

This post is personally a challenge for me. It’s easy to get caught up in the fast-paced society we live in without stopping to take a step back and think about what we are actually doing. I’ve written about this before in past posts but I believe that God has planted a dream in each and every person. And it’s our calling to pursue that dream. With that dream comes God’s purpose and plan for our lives.

When we don’t put our trust in God enough to pursue that calling, we are missing out on the potential impact we could otherwise be making. That calling is where we thrive.

Pastor and author Francis Chan said “Our greatest fear should not be of failure but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” I’ve never forgotten that quote because it has challenged me to change my thinking from what do I want to what does God want? I don’t know about you but the thought of getting to the end of life and realizing I’ve succeeded at things that in the end don’t really matter (and weren’t my calling) is terrifying.

It’s can be difficult sometimes to trust that God has a plan and that His plan is best. However, the following Proverbs offer encouragement to hold on to:

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. The Lord works out everything to its proper end. (Proverbs 16:3,4a)

Whoever pursues righteousness and love finds life, prosperity and honor. (Proverbs 21:21)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5,6)

Francis Chan also said, “It is true that God may have called you to be exactly where you are. But, it is absolutely vital to grasp that he didn’t call you there so you could settle in and live your life in comfort and superficial peace.”

God has you in the place you currently are for a reason. If you feel like you are where God has called you to be, then there is a good chance you are thriving. Continue to do so and make an impact until God calls you elsewhere.

It’s also possible you don’t like where you are at all. Well here is the good news: God has a plan for your life. Proverbs 16:3 says that if we commit everything we do to the Lord, he will establish our plans. God has you there for this season of your life and until he moves you elsewhere, be creative. Make it a game. Figure out ways to make an impact.

Finally, maybe you don’t know where God wants you right now. My advice is to prayerfully search for your calling. But just like those above, look for ways to make an impact where you are. God has you intentionally where you are.

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Stop, Think and Start Living Life

Proverbs 4:26

NIV- “Give careful thought to the paths for your feet and be steadfast in all your ways.”

ESV- “Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure.”

Know Your Why

Often we hear stories of people who once had big dreams for their lives when they were in their 20s and 30s only to wake up one day and realize that over time they slowly moved off that course (probably without even realizing it). Along with this realization usually comes regret.

I heard someone say this one time and I’ve never forgotten it: “If you don’t know where you are going, you aren’t going to be happy with where you end up.” Too many don’t take the time to stop and think about where they are going. And when they look back, they don’t like where they’ve ended up.

What are five ways we can ‘ponder the path’ and prevent looking back with regret?

Stop
Just stop and as this Proverb says, ponder your path. Think about the direction you are moving in. Nothing in life is static. The truth is that we are either progressing or regressing. Which one are you?

Know Your Why
What gets you out of bed in the morning? What’s your hot button? Maybe your why is that you want to have financial freedom. Maybe you want to be able to provide for your child to go to daycare. Or even be able to be at home with your children. Usually the why is something larger than ourselves. Find out what your why is and get in the pursuit. Life is so much more enjoyable when we are in the pursuit.

Focus
Where and what is your focus and is it in line with where you want to end up? If not, the good news is that you can always re-focus. It’s never too late to start over or get a new goal.

Set a Goal
If you have a goal then you’re ahead of most people. If you don’t, then set a goal. What do you want to accomplish? What is your purpose? I believe that we’ve all been created for a purpose in life. We all should have goals.

Have Fun
Have fun. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Life isn’t going to be fun 100% of the time but we weren’t given the gift of life to not live it to the fullest. I see too many people who look miserable all the time. Live life!

This post is also live at http://www.brandonhelderop.com.

3 Tips I Learned Recently About Being Flexible

Recently, I encountered a potentially awkward situation during a meeting with a client. While in the middle of a meeting, I started to get a runny nose. The only problem? It wasn’t snot. I had a bloody nose. Of course my instant reaction was to excuse myself and let them know I had to run to the restroom. So picture me in the bathroom, head tilt back, a bloody paper towel in one hand and another shoved up my nose (Gross picture, right?), hoping nobody walks in to this potentially awkward sight. While simultaneously trying to get my nose to stop bleeding, I was attempting to think of an excuse since my client was probably wondering where I was and why I had been in the bathroom for several minutes. So what solution did I come up with? Since I am one to joke around, I decided to bring light to the situation and laugh it off with the client. I figured that if I could laugh about it and, at the same time, get the client to laugh about it too, I’d be in the clear. As a result, it worked and I spent the rest of my appointment with a kleenex up my nose. The good news is that we are working on a potential good-size project and we didn’t miss a beat.

I learned a lesson on flexibility through this situation. It’s easy to sit here and write about leadership lessons and principles. It’s another thing to encounter actual situations where you have to react properly and accordingly. There are going to be situations that come up where you didn’t exactly plan for things to happen that way. For example, I was all prepared for my meeting that day and me and my colleague had it mapped out. I have news for you: a bloody nose wasn’t on the agenda.

The following are three tips on flexibility in less-than-ideal situations that I learned from my blood nose incident:

1. Be honest
I didn’t really have a choice in my situation since I was wearing the truth on my face, but the worst thing we can do is be dishonest. If I had tried to play it off and returned to my client acting like nothing was going on, my nose would have started bleeding again and I would have had to excuse myself again. At that point, the client would be wondering why I keep leaving the meeting. He might even think that the reason I keep leaving is because I have something more important to tend to than him . Does anything good ever really come out of being dishonest? Rarely does that happen. Just be honest.

2. Laugh it off
This whole bloody nose incident could have been very awkward. Although it may be cliché to say this, I think it runs true anyway: It’s only awkward if you make it awkward. Don’t take yourself too seriously. I heard someone say once, “Take what you do seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.” Sometimes you just have to laugh at yourself. John Maxwell says, “You better laugh at yourself, because everyone else is laughing at you!” This particular situation made for a good laugh.

3. Keep your goal in mind
Remember your goals and objectives. For me, I knew what my goal was for that appointment and what I wanted to accomplish. Even though I may have taken a detour to get to the destination, we still made it. More times than not, your journey isn’t going to consist of a straight line from the starting point to your end goal. Detours are going to occur. In fact, you should be prepared and expect them. However, don’t veer too far off the straight line. Keep your end goal in mind because all that matters is that that is where you end up. Whatever happens inbetween is just your story.

Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

6 Ways To Develop Your Business Skills

Editor’s Note: Brandon is the founder and author of Proverbs and Business. He is currently in the process of moving Proverbs and Business to his new website, www.brandonhelderop.com. Brandon enjoys writing about Leadership, Social Media and Politics. You can follow him on Twitter at @b_helderop or contact him at brandon@brandonhelderop.com.

In today’s fast-paced business world, information is moving quicker than ever and it’s never been more important for us to be on top of things and constantly learning and developing our business skills. Abraham Lincoln said, “I don’t think much of a man who is not wiser today than he was yesterday.” If we aren’t growing personally and professionally then we run the risk of falling behind our competition who I guarantee is. In order for each of us to become experts in our respective fields, we need to make learning a daily habit. As a result, the following are six low-cost resources available to you in order to hone and develop your business skills:

1. Books
There are an endless amount of books out there for you to read. Unfortunately, it seems like I run into a lot of people today that give me the excuse that they aren’t readers. Well guess what? While it may be cliche, leaders are readers. If you aren’t daily taking in new information and learning, you aren’t growing. My advice is that you just start somewhere. Find a good book by a reputable author. If you are looking to save some money, I’d suggest going to your local library to see if they have the book you are looking for. If not, look at purchasing it on Amazon. I purchase almost all my books on Amazon. You can get a book for cheap and have it shipped fairly quickly to your doorstep. I’ve even found some books in great condition on Amazon for as little as $0.99 and around $3.00 for shipping. It’s worth it.

As far as suggestions for books to get started with, I have some favorites that I recommend. However, it all depends on what you are doing and what you are looking to learn. If you have any questions or are looking for recommendations, drop me an e-mail and I can offer you a few suggestions.

2. Online Courses
Online courses are a great resource and there are several offered by organizations online. For example, right now I am in the middle of a course that is offered through the website, Udacity. The course I am taking, titled How To Build a Startup, is taught by Steve Blank, a serial entrepreneur and professor who teaches entrepreneurship at Stanford, Columbia and Caltech among others. So I’m learning from one of the best professors and the best part is that the courses offered through Udacity are free. Also, did you know that Stanford is offering 16 free online courses for the Fall quarter?

3. Podcasts
iTunes has an endless amount of podcasts for you to subscribe to. One, in particular, that I subscribe to is a leadership podcast by Andy Stanley, the popular leadership author and speaker who is also the Senior Pastor of the mega church, North Point Community Church in Atlanta. Sometimes I’ll listen to his podcast while I am running. Podcasts are a great way to get some education time in while doing other things. Another great time to listen to podcasts is while you are in the car. If you are able to play your phone over the car speakers, you can get some education time in while driving.

4. Websites
There are a lot of websites available to you. The best part is that the only investment websites require are your time. I spend about an hour each day reading new articles. Here is a list of websites that I visit regularly:

For Business and Leadership:
Inc
Entrepreneur
Young Entrepreneur
Fast Company

For Social Media:
Mashable
Social Media Today

5. Seminars and Events
Seminars and events are great resources available to you. These events allow you the opportunity to hear the experts speak. I try to attend at least one event every month. Some of these events include topics such as start-ups, leadership and social media among others. For example, I will be attending TEDxDetroit on October 26. This event will allow me the opportunity to hear the Metro Detroit’s leading thinkers and creators. It will also be a great chance to do some valuable networking.

I’d recommend looking up some local organizations and finding out their event schedule. For example, if you are interested in social media, there are social media clubs and groups available to you no matter what city you are in that hold monthly events and seminars.

6. Mentorship
Do you currently have a mentor? If not, you are taking a big risk. I’d recommend pursuing mentorship in your field. You can do this by finding 2-3 experts in your field and seeking them out. Take them out for coffee and use that time to ask them questions and pick their brain. I’ve recently been doing this as I am looking to improve my social media knowledge. In the past month, I’ve gone out for coffee with 2 social media experts and had a conference call with another who happened to be in a different state.

It’s unwise to tackle a goal without any mentorship to keep you going in the right direction. John Crosby said, “Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.” Find a mentor and begin picking their brain for knowledge. There is a reason they are where they are and you are where you are. They have already made the mistakes that you would most likely make along the way. Wouldn’t it be ideal to piggy-back their wisdom and save some time, sweat and tears?

What other resources would you suggest?

Four People (Dead or Alive) I Would Invite To My Dinner Party

I came across a blog post recently that really got me thinking. The title of that post was “Ten People You Would Invite to Your Dinner Party”. Since the goal of having this dinner party would be to soak up wisdom and knowledge and learn from the greats, I’ve decided that four people would be a perfect number. In my opinion, a smaller group equals a more intimate and special setting. With that in mind, the following are the four people (dead or alive) I would invite to my dinner party:

Guest #1 – Ronald Reagan
If you know me, you know that I am extremely passionate about politics. I love studying past history and have spent many late nights reading about past Presidents and the United States’ Founding Fathers. One of my favorite Presidents is Ronald Reagan, not only for his accomplishments, but also for a few other qualities. First, Reagan was a phenomenal storyteller which allowed him to draw the interest of the American people and effectively connect. At my dinner party, he would keep us entertained with his entertaining stories. Also, Reagan had a great sense of humor and ability to lighten the mood when the time was appropriate. As the story goes, following the 1981 assassination attempt on Reagan, as he lay on the hospital table, he looked up at the surgeons and said, “I hope you’re all Republicans”. Another story goes like this: during mike check for his Saturday radio broadcast, Reagan came on and said to everyone’s surprise, “My fellow Americans. I’m pleased to announce that I’ve signed legislation outlawing the Soviet Union. We begin bombing in five minutes.” He had a great personality and ability to make people laugh.

In addition to those qualities, I would love to pick his brain on why he was so successful as President. In the future, I plan on running for political office so who better to take mentorship from than the one they called The Gipper.

Guest #2 – The Apostle Paul
If you’ve read any of my past posts on this blog, you would know that I speak often of the Vertical Alignment. The Vertical Alignment is how we prioritize our lives. For me, God is #1 in my life. Therefore, everything I do, believe, value funnels through my personal Biblical worldview of how I see the world.

The quality that stands out to me about Paul is that he was fearless and unapologetically bold about his faith. Paul knew he was called to be set apart for the gospel and, as a result, had purpose in everything he did and preached to all with absolute boldness. When someone is sold out for something like that, it is contagious and that’s why Paul’s ministry was so successful. My prayer is that I am unequivocally sold out for my faith like Paul was.

I would love to have Paul at my dinner party because I would love to be around somebody like that who is so contagiously sold out for his faith. Also, I would love to hear some stories that didn’t happen to make it into the Biblical canon.

Guest #3 – Rich DeVos
Hands down my business hero is Rich DeVos. For those of you who know me, you know that I have a background in network marketing that began when I was 19 years old. While I’ve since moved on to other ventures, I would not be the person I am today if not for my time in the Amway business (co-founded by Rich DeVos). A quality that sticks out to me about Rich is that he believes in people. That belief is so evident in the Amway organization. In Rich’s book, “Ten Powerful Phrases for Positive People”, he writes, “It’s been said there are two types of people–those who enter a room and say, “Here I am!” and those who come in and say, “Ah, there you are.” Rich is the second type of person. It’s no coincidence that the last phrase in that book is a simple one: I love you. I can attest that Rich uses that phrase. I was lucky enough to receive a few wedding presents from Rich in the form of signed books. Each one at the bottom is signed with “To Brandon. Love Ya, Rich”.

I want to emulate that kind of belief in and love of people and would love to pick Rich’s brain. Not to mention, he’s a phenomenal communicator and storyteller as well.

Guest #4 – John Maxwell
I love to read books on leadership. Specifically, my favorite author is the leadership guru, John Maxwell. In fact, it is because of him that I blog on the topics of Proverbs and Business. I heard a talk of his a few years back in which he told of many leaders he knows personally that consistently read the book of Proverbs each month (one chapter per day). John is not only a leadership author and speaker, he is also a pastor. I love that he comes at you, the reader and listener, with leadership knowledge based on a Biblical foundation.

If you are looking for a good book, you won’t go wrong by picking up any of his books. My favorite, especially, is his book Failing Forward. I’ve written in the past about an online community I’ve co-founded in Metro Detroit, along with two others, called Fail Detroit which is based on the idea of failing forward like John talks about in his book.

I would have a ton of leadership questions for John and he would probably get tired of all the questions I would throw at him. The guy has one of the greatest leadership minds so I’d definitely take advantage of having someone like that to talk to. Not to mention, he is also a phenomenal storyteller as well. Seems to be a common thread among many leaders.

I think this would have to be an all-night dinner party or maybe week long because between all the knowledge, wisdom and entertainment, I wouldn’t want it to end.

Your turn: What four people (dead or alive) would you invite to your dinner party?

What We Can Learn from Insanity

Proverbs 26:11

ESV- “As a dog returns to its vomit, so fools repeat their folly.”

I was taught at the beginning of my business career that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. I later found out that it was Einstein who said that quote.

What practices are you holding onto that aren’t producing the right results yet you continue to do them in hope that your fortunes will change? I wrote on a similar topic in my post on Proverbs 29:1. In that post, I wrote this:

“There is a difference, however, between being stubborn and refusing to quit. When we face challenges, there are those who truly believe in what they are doing. Then there are the people that the NIV translation calls “stiff-necked”. Anthony J. D’Angelo said, “Never let your persistence and passion turn into stubbornness and ignorance.” People like this hold onto ideas or practices that haven’t worked in the past and continue not to work in the present. They stand in denial of a problem refusing to accept a need for change. This stubbornness is not only stiff-necked but also foolish. Furthermore, the end result is never positive and can usually be summed up in one word: regret.”

What are some things that you can think of off the top of your head that you are doing over and over yet not getting the results you’ve been hoping for? As the verse says, fools repeat their folly. So the question I want to answer is this: how do we not continue to repeat folly? Here are 4 check-marks that we should review when things aren’t going the way we’d like:

1) Listen to the Holy Spirit

First of all, I’ve written from day one on this blog that we need to pursue God and offer up everything we do so He can lead us. We need to be in tune with what God’s plan is for our lives. He has a plan for each and every one of us and it is our purpose to figure out what that is. If you don’t feel God’s calling on what you are doing, then it may not be right. However, if you do feel God’s call on whatever venture/project you are pursuing, then run forward.

2) Personal Growth

Have you grown through the process of pursuit? If a venture/project isn’t going to stretch you and/or force you to experience personal growth through it, then it isn’t worth it. In that case, you might want to take a step back and analyze what you are doing. On the other hand, if it has stretched you, then you are probably on the right path. Keep stretching and growing yourself.

3) External Impact

Are you impacting others through the process of pursuit? External impact is similar to personal growth. If a venture/project isn’t benefiting others around you then what’s the point? It’s very difficult to get any type of satisfaction out of a venture if you are having zero impact on others. But if you are impacting others positively, then keep doing what you are doing.

4) Making Some Progress

This one is a tough one. There are going to be times when you feel like you aren’t making any progress. That can be a very discouraging feeling. If you truly believe that you are doing what God has called you to do, then make it a goal to take baby steps. Don’t go for the home run. Just do a little bit everyday to move yourself and your venture/business/job forward. On the other hand, if you are going backwards with little hope, then you might want to rethink what you are doing. It may be foolish to keep going.

The definition of a fool (according to the dictionary) is someone who “acts unwisely or imprudently”. The French writer, Simone de Beauvoir said, “In the face of an obstacle which is impossible to overcome, stubbornness is stupid.” It’s imperative we understand when it is okay to be stubborn and when it is not.

Next time you hit an obstacle, analyze your expectations and use the 4 check-marks above to help you figure out if you are moving in the right direction. Are you doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results? If so, make some adjustments. Maybe even try something new. You’ll be happy you did.

Find Your Groove and Start Dancing

Proverbs 29:10

NIV- “The bloodthirsty hate a person of integrity and seek to kill the upright.”

ESV- “Bloodthirsty men hate one who is blameless and seek the life of the upright.”

This verse in Proverbs is a warning that we, as Christians, must endure persecution if we choose to take up our cross and follow Christ. Persecution is promised all throughout the Bible. In Matthew 5:11, Jesus says “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

And how should we respond to persecution? Persecution is something we should wear with a badge of honor. Jesus says to “Rejoice” and “Be glad”. It’s proof that we are living for something greater than ourselves. But at the same time, we are told to love those that persecute us. In Matthew 5:44, Jesus says, “But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

If you truly believe that God has called you to do what you are doing, here’s the best way to respond to the persecution: Love your enemies that persecute you but combat the insults and curses by continuing to pursue what you have already begun pursuing.

In the same way, as entrepreneurs and innovators, those of us that step out in faith to follow God’s plan for our lives are going to get those tomatoes thrown at us. In a recent blog post, entrepreneur and writer, Josh Linkner, likens it to dancing and calls it “following your own groove”. I’m going to re-word that: God has planted a groove in our hearts. Our job is to figure out what that groove is and start dancing to it. Josh goes on to say this:

“Ever notice the people making the biggest impact in the world?  They are the first to be shunned.  When these rule-breakers emerge, they’re told to “get back in the line” and are pressured to comply with the “social norms.”

The heroes we celebrate, from the Beatles to Steve Jobs and Thomas Edison to Dr. King, were first laughed at and sharply criticized.  Thankfully, they didn’t waste the time or energy to care much about the onlookers pointing fingers.  The jealousy and fear of others didn’t strip these renegades of their vision; the world would certainly be a much duller place if it had.”

If we, as believers of Christ, make a decision to follow what His plan is for our lives, there are going to be naysayers. Sure, we’ll have some supporters but the naysayers tend to be the loudest. They’ll think we are crazy. They’ll probably tell all our friends about how we went off the deep end. Why? Because us stepping out in faith to do something great makes them feel uncomfortable. I love Mr. Linkner’s message later in the post:

“In your own pursuits, don’t validate those casting doubt and ostracizing your fresh approach to comfort their own selves. Focus every ounce of your energy on your art, and you will change the hearts and minds of those that lack the courage to dance their own dance.

The more original you are, the more friction you’ll notice (if you bother looking). So let the naysayers blend into the background while your unique rhythmic interpretation shines. Before long, they’ll be copying your moves and celebrating your creativity.”

So figure out what that groove is that God has planted in your heart. Enduring persecution from naysayers is part of the process. But, as Josh says, let them blend into the background. If you pursue and achieve the dream God has planted in your heart, eventually the naysayers will become your biggest supporters. So what are you waiting for? Start dancing.